Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Way to Idealize Homeschooling

I'm not sure if it's the spring weather that makes me coddle Secret Gardens in England and visions of Hill Top Farm but every spring I find myself scanning my bookshelf for my dog-eared, spine-weary, winter-dozing Charlotte Mason Companion.

Every spring I seek the good counsel of a 19th century English educator.

Her Companion awakens within my hand.

And it awakens much more within me.

Memories. Pleasurable spring days spent in the garden. The value of nature.

The study of habits. The richness of living literature by reading living literature. And ideals...

Gosh, the ideals! All the ideals that I had! Once upon a season!

The ideals I bred within my home!
The ideals I fought to protect!
The ideals I balanced into my days with as much diligence as a cook measures her chicken stock and flour.

I am now the mother of three young adults, a young teen, and a nine-year-old who spins life-giving circles within our home. Through the years, as my children have grown and taken flight into the scary unknown, our schooling has changed though we still call it "homeschooling."

My mother comments about the stack of Seton and Catholic Heritage Curricula hoisted before my youngest at the work table. I sigh. Yes, I know, but it has taught her diligence and study skills and good work habits and perserverance. We travel to co-op every Monday and that has been a blessing which requires fortitude and a bit of work ethic but it is a blessing nonetheless. A blessing many times over.

My new teenager grumbles over Math. I rely on someone else to teach her Science. I depend on her incessant reading to develop her Grammar. My high schooler is developing his last two years of schooling in co-op classes thoughtfully planned out and equipped just for him. I am a very small part of that task.

This spring I wondered, however briefly, if those ideals were still of any use to me...to us. Or should I leave them upon that bookshelf to rest, to sleep. Had I lost hold of them so much that they were no longer found in our book bags?

Have I uncaged my ideals to the idol of self-reliance and realism?

Charlotte Mason reminds me of quieter days and little ways. She whispers of rhythm and rhyme and embracing the educational process not as a battle but as a retreat.

It is in this spirit that I shun realism. It is in this spirit that I pity those who believe that fighting our way through life is ever the best way to live life.

Nature study? Habit training? Classics over Logic? Classes over garden days in the sun?

In the adoration chapel the following night I was guided to a poem by Samuel Ullman that enarmored General Douglas MacArthur high upon the wall of his office and with which the Holy Spirit spoke to me.

YOUTH by Samuel Ullman

‎"People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." ~ Samuel Ullman

Then this morning I read this quote at Ambleside:

"In the early days of a child's life it makes little difference whether we educate with a notion of filling a receptacle, inscribing a tablet, moulding plastic matter, or nourishing a life, but as a child grows we shall perceive that only those ideas which have fed his life are taken into his being; all the rest is cast away or is, like sawdust in the system, an impediment and an injury." ~ Charlotte Mason
Do I hear an Amen from the homeschooling community?
I realized that I cannot give up on those ideals I formulated under the clothesline while pregnant with my third child and deciding to chisel my first child out of the brick-and-mortar. And the Holy Spirit was not ready to let me give up on them either.
This spring I am receiving counsel with a new set of educators. From America and abroad they are part of the 21st century educators who believe in high ideals and nourishing them, in making a difference in the lives of their children, in putting their children above curriculum, and in daring the years to wrinkle their enthusiasm.  

Suzie Andres and an ideal group of mentors have strewn a new homeschooling book upon my bookshelf. A Little Way of Homeschooling is for homeschooling mothers, new and old, who are seeking to explain, and perhaps justify (even to themselves), how homeschooling goes beyond books and curricula and lesson plans and can be found in the everyday ordinary of little things, little habits, and little ways.

It's found in the little people around us. Even the little people who might now be bigger than we are but who are forever little ones to us.
It not that we have lost the ideal in the greater scheme of things but that we can resurrect our ideals when the largeness of life looms before us.
As my friend Cindy Kelly wrote: "I have loved this journey!"
Oh, so have I. So have I! And the ideal of it all will keep me forever young and forever filled.
I idealize homeschooling and the life it affords us.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Cost of Me, Myself and I

18 yr old son arrives home this morning: "These gas prices are killing me! It just took $25 to tank up my car. Used to take only $20."

Me, Myself, the Mom: "Would you rather have the truck that takes about $75 to tank up?"

18 yr old son: "Oh my, GAH! Y'all are such babies! This is about me and what it's costing me to tank up MY CAR!"

Yeah, right!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Signs of Lukewarmness

I always wondered what the criteria was for lukewarmness!

"Signs of lukewarmness:
  • To have little or no regard for venial sin, and to fear only mortal sin;
  • to perform one's spiritual exercises out of a spirit of routine or human respect, with disgust and with negligence reflected
  • upon and consented to;
  • to pray habitually without attention;
  • to confess one's faults lightly, without the serious resolution of avoiding them;
  • to communicate without devotion, by not striving to obtain it;
  • to perform one's daily actions without the proper intention, without order or method;
  • to be given over to exterior things;
  • to be rarely present to one's self, and yet more rarely to have God present;
  • to renounce the exercise of great virtues, even those whose practice is suited to one's state or profession;
  • to be content with a state of mediocrity;
  • to shun the company of those who work with ardor for their perfection;
  • to seek the company of those who are more dissipated, less fervent and less regular;
  • to form an erroneous conscience, the cause of which superiors and directors often attribute to lack of good judgement;
  • to employ false principles to silence remorse;
  • to nourish, despite the frequent use of the sacraments, interior aversions, jealousies, movements of pride, and particular and dangerous affections;
  • to encourage a spirit of harshness, insubordination and cavilling, which manifests itself in offensive and contentious words;
  • to entertain continually a secret self-love, which, mingling in all one's actions, corrupts and infects them with its virus;
  • lastly, to shirk whatever entails labor and self-abnegation, and to seek rather for comforts, futile consolations, and ease."
Thank you to Anne for sharing this free ebook on Facebook: Counsels of Perfection (free pdf)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Saddest Addiction of All

This title peaked my interest and I streamlined it looking to see where in the web I fell and what spots I might fall victim to: Why Technology is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech Burnout

I'm constantly evaluating technology and my use of it.

Some might say I'm in denial but really I don't feel I have an addictive problem with technology or the Internet. I still ask my children to do simple things for me...turn on the television and load apps onto my iphone. If I was addicted I'd already know how to do these simple things.

I do appreciate technology and really love the Internet but, in evaluating my usage of these things, I've read what past Popes have said about Communication and what Pope Benedict XVI has written about the Internet.

And I've made conscious choices. And I'm deliberately aware of those choices.

I see all this technological communication as something humans feel drawn to do...communicate with one another...and I see it as an upscaled form of the telegraph machine and telephone. It's quicker. Nothing wrong with that. I don't see us pulling away from others. If anything, we are being drawn more intimately together.

It's the multitasking that hinders us the most, not the form of communication.

The part of this article that rang the most with me was this:

"Never Apologize

"Maybe you've said something like this before: "Hey so and so. Sorry I didn't answer the phone/your text. I get bad reception at the gym." In that scenario, you'd have not only apologized for being unavailable during exercise but for your phone's inability to get you the message immediately. At some point we've probably all apologized for missing a call/text/email even when we've responded in a short amount of time. If this is a frequent action for you, you're a slave to immediacy. Stop apologizing and welcome the freedom of responding when you can and when you feel like it. If you create the expectation that you're not always going to respond at the precise moment of the call/email/text, people will begin to assume that you'll respond when you can. You don't want to neglect your friends, family, and coworkers by not responding for long periods of time, but you do want to let everyone know that you respond on your time. Breaking free of these social obligations will help you feel fewer obligations to constantly check for messages."

* * * * *

It was the first time someone over the Internet told me that I was correct in feeling that no one else is as entitled to my time and space as much as I am.

The exception here is my family. I will answer to all six immediate members of my family. That little realm expands to any calls that read Oma and MawMaw Red. Outside of that tight, very intentional, circle, lies my decision as to how much I want to open myself up to someone else's time and energy and needs.

Not that I don't care about others. Not that I don't want to help them. Or that I won't answer their call or call them back. But it comes back to expectations. I wrote about those expectations. I am not, contrary to what people think, a high energy person. I need my space...lots of it...and my down time.

I don't think my immediate family realizes how much I need, because I am always available to them. I have stretched myself, opened myself, and pressed myself to come to the point where I am today. No one knows how much.

It's not my fault I'm this way. I blame it on God. ;-)

Opening myself completely to that intentional family circle leaves little energy for the expectation and ringings of others.

But there is still a part of me that I cannot completely give up nor does God expect me to. If He expected me to, He wouldn't have made me this way.

And that is why I never apologize for missing calls/emails/texts. I hope this doesn't sound selfish or rude but, in fact, people have used exactly those words in referring to people who don't answer their phone/emails/texts right away.

And I think that is coyishly selfish and rude of the accusers. Thus the accusations and expectations become a constant battle of etiquette.

For me that is the saddest addiction of all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brink of Lent Daybook...and Beyond

FOR TODAY... from Cay's Daybook

Outside my window...a beautiful spring day. Amen!
I am hearing...the rustle of the newspaper.
I am thinking...of Lent.

I am thankful for...the Church's feasting and fasting.

I am wearing...blue jeans and springtime pink!

I am remembering...actually it was earlier this afternoon that I remembered. Something I'd rather not. As I drove home from Lake Charles, I had one of those out-of-the-clear-blue memories of fussing and fuming (is that putting it mildly enough? oh, dear!) at my oldest daughter when she was about the age my youngest daughter is now. Actually it was her older brother who caused her to do it (I won't say what) but she was always the one getting in trouble for it. Why? Because we were young parents and our reactions were too quick and we were consumed with other things and we weren't seasoned in the least to know that these things really don't matter. We made a bigger deal out of it than it was ever meant to be.

The memory was so heartbreaking that when I got home I asked her if she remembered those times and my fussing and fuming.

Yes, she did.

Did it dramatize her for life? I asked.

Yes. Yes, it did. A tremble of a smile crossed her lips.

I'm so sorry. I remembered it out-of-the-blue and, you know, it's one of those times you wish you could go back to and erase and redo.

Her daddy hugged her skin tight.

And we laughed. Because we are probably more dramatized by the memory than she ever was.

This is my note to myself...You will survive 2012. You will. You will. Enjoy the serenity of 2011 and remember that God will send many people in your path to help you waltz and party through 2012. And remember that all the things barrelling in on the eve of 2012 are rich celebrations. Joyful noise! Happy proclamations! Of life! And family! There is no reason to stress when things are joyful!

I am reading...
I am creating...1st Communion booklet for our church parish and a study guide
I am hoping...for a truly spiritually quiet Lenten season.

On my mind...the lessons God will teach me this Lent.

From the learning rooms...No co-op this week. No dance this week. No school this week.
Let's just call it a mini-spring break.

I'm very grateful for that co-op though. It gives our learning structure and order and accountability. It offers so many things...only one day a week.

From the Lenten calendar...I have my Magnificat in my purse and saw in today's church bulletin that Stations of the Cross are held every Friday at 4 PM. Stripping our nature buffet this week in anticipation of our Lenten fast.

My list this week...Clean house...Declutter house...Purge house
Begin my Lenten Observances.

Pondering these words..."Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." —Genesis 3:19

"It's so cool being marked with the sign of your faith on your forehead, with Ashes. :)" ---Lee Sonnier

From the kitchen...
  • This was Sunday when I began typing this daybook: Sauce Piquante and Chocolate/Cream Cheese King Cake
  • This was Wednesday when I worked on this daybook: Tuna Fish Poboys, sliced apples, pasta salad, deviled eggs from our chicken coop
  • This was Thursday when I finished this daybook: Spaghetti and meatballs, cheese and garlic Texas toast, sliced apples, salad
Around the house...
Must hide, pick-up , throw away, declutter, cover-up, sort the three front rooms of my house. At least, the very least, front three rooms. Kayleigh is throwing a baby shower for one of her best friends next Sunday. I must make these front three rooms (sitting area, kitchen, living area) look as though no one lives here. I must make these front three rooms look as though Better Homes and Gardens has a studio here. Somewhere!

It is my personal, self-inflicted, Lenten purge.

One of my favorite things...the birthdays of each one of my children. Really! I am always joyful to celebrate each year of their life. I have one who will be 18 years old next week. Eighteen years I would not trade...no way, no how! Eighteen happy years!

I am praying...
  • the Kimble family who has just lost a huge part of their heart
  • for Kayleigh's friend whose baby is due in April, for her sister whose baby was born in February, and all pregnant women who give so selflessly the gift of life.
  • My brother-in-law who had surgery Monday. It went well and he is recovering.
From my picture journal...A view from my chair on Sunday...Mark and my Godchild, Mr. Seth Michael

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