Coming Out of the Shadows

It has been awhile since I have darkened this doorpost.  I have been filling my mind and soul with new thoughts and ideas and this little corner of the world has always been my favorite place to unload those thoughts and ideas…so here I am…to unload.

We became the recipient of a new laptop. New laptops translate into huge learning curves for mom.  This laptop is worlds different than our earlier laptop because this one is a 2 in 1 laptop.  People!!!  I didn’t even know that existed!  That says a lot about my electronical knowledge.  So I have been playing around with this beast and have finally decided to come to this space and see if I can resurrect it in some form.

But, oh my goodness! everything has changed.  I don’t know if it is the laptop, Windows 10 or the site itself but everything has changed!   This is like a totally different space!  So I will need to re-acquaint myself with all of the doo-dads here.  You probably figured it out already but I am not good electronics.  They cause me great angst.

Anywho, I am hoping to to come back soon and write out my thoughts about reading as a spiritual practice,  reading Awakening Wonder by Stephen Turley, and dealing with the oncoming last school year of my oldest.  Eeeek!  This coming year will be her last year!  Her last year!  That brings up so many conflicting emotions.  Emotions that beg to blogged about.

It’s nice to be back here.  The surface of things looks different but the atmosphere is the same.

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Again, Morning Time

I haven’t been blogging for a while because, well, I just haven’t had that much to say. But I am finding myself, as I am listening to podcasts, wishing that I could join in with the podcast conversation, too. No one is busting down my door, though, to beg me to be on their podcasts so I thought that I would have my very own conversation on my blog (no one is reading that either but at least the words are escaping my brain and that is the key to a happy life.)

Last month, I was listening to Your Morning Basket podcast; the episode with Mystie Winkler. I think they were answering questions on that episode and they were talking about what they all do for their Morning Times. Mystie mentioned that Morning Time will look different for each family, as well as for each season of life that family is in. This is the wonderful thing about Morning Time: it is fluid! Every year, heck! every term, it will probably change because your children are changing, you are changing, your life is changing! (Can you tell that we have been reading Dickens for our Morning Time? He is the king of parallelism and it is leaking out into my writing as well. I so love parallelism!)

Case in point: we started out this year with Morning Time being the same as it always has been–first thing in the morning, full of memorization, reading and glimpses of truth, beauty and goodness. Then I watched a scope by Julie Bogart, the Bravewriter lady, in which she gave the key parts of a morning routine. She said that kids need time to wake up in the morning. Breakfast and chores give kids that time to acclimate themselves to a new day. The bell went ding-ding-dinging in my brain. We do MT while we are having breakfast. The kids wake up at 8 and we break out the books and the recitations at 8:05. Yeah, when I read back that sentence I am thinking, “Wow! That is craziness!” We have been doing that for three years now and it has been working. Until this year. The kids were having difficulty in tracking and keeping awake during MT.

So I decided to push back MT later on in the day. But that then brought up the dilemma of the length of MT. If we did MT later on in the day, we would not be able have a 2 hour MT as we always have in the past. That also means we would not be able to do all that we used to do.

Hmmmm, what to do.

I decided to skim down to the bare necessities of MT and, with time, maybe we would ramp things up again.

I decided to do our Bible reading at breakfast as that would give us some leeway in our one hour Morning Time. When MT rolled around (we decided on 11:00 a.m.) we started with our readings (we looped these readings: Whatever Happened to Justice by Richard Maybury, Plutarch Lives and Philosophy for Teens–we do one reading a day,) read a few poems (right now we are revisiting Emily Dickinson) and then get on to our literature reading (we were reading Tale of Two Cities but we decided last week that we are just not ready for Dickens right now so we have moved on to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. )

And that was it.

We have been doing it this way since the beginning of January and I quite like this simplified version. But I have been noticing some difficulties with the kids remembering what we have been reading in our daily readings. In looping those books, the kids were getting confused and simply forgetting key ideas. We have never had this problem before but we have never dealt with puberty before and I think that may be playing a part in our problems with retention.

I was listening to another episode of Your Morning Basket, this time Sarah Mackenzie was the guest. Sarah was explaining how they do Morning Time in their house and the bells started clanging in my head again. She said that they do one subject reading, be it history, religion, picture study, science, and instead of looping through the readings like we do, they just keep with that subject until the book is done and then they move on to another subject/book. So instead of reading a history book on Monday, a science book on Tuesday, picture study on Wed, they read the history book every day until it is finished, then they move on to the science book, when that is done they will do picture study and so on.

As I was musing on this, I thought that we could do the same thing with the fine arts portion of our MT as well. Right now we are reading poetry but when we are done with Dickinson, we could move on to Nature Study( I have a nature study book that I have wanted to do with the kids for a while now) and when we are done with that book, we can do picture study for a while.

I love this! This simplifies things even more.

So this is what our time together will look like: we come together with a hot beverage, light candles, sing the doxology, read from the Justice book, read a few poems and then read from our literature book.

That’s it.

In having three teens now, that is all that it needs to be. MT needs to be simple so that they can get all of their work done. Simple helps in getting it all done.

It seems like we have come full circle.

Posted in classical education, educational philosophy, homeschooling | 6 Comments

Sabbath

2016 is already showing itself to be a year of wonder, growing and becoming. A lot has been happening here in the last month and a half. I have been molded and changed in a few areas, areas that were begging for those changes. I am in awe at how God has been moving, how He has been molding my soul to be more in tune with His plans.

One area that has been molded by His hand is that of Sabbath. Don’t you just love the sound of that word? Just saying the word makes my heart smile and sigh in comfort. Sabbath is a word that invites rest and a slowing down. Even though I love the word, it has taken me quite awhile to actually embrace it and live it out. For many years I would hear about Sabbath, feel that maybe I should look more into it and then do an about face and merrily go about my way in the opposite direction. I don’t know why it took me so long to say yes to it, maybe it was the legalistic characteristics that I attached to it.

Sabbath, to me, was more of a ‘what not to do’ day than anything spiritual. The stubborn child in me does not like to be told not what to do but, rather, appreciates the telling of what I can do. I think that was the turning point for me. I was listening to the podcast, Sorta Awesome, (everything boils down to a podcast these days) last month and they were discussing Sabbath. Their discussion was more of a ‘all of the things that you can do’ rather than the things your couldn’t. The way it was explained on the podcast was that if you view an activity as a thing that you have to do then don’t do it on the Sabbath. But if you view that activity as something that you want to do, something that excites your being and fills your soul, then do it. That intrigued me! That take on Sabbath pushed me to the starting line and, for the last five weeks, I have actually been practising the art of Sabbath.

And it has filled my soul to overflowing.

I want to talk more about Sabbath so I think I will leave it for future posts but I do want to give snippets of some of my Sabbaths to give an idea of what can be done.

Most of our Sabbaths start with spending the morning in church but the afternoons have changed every week, depending on my mood and desires. One Sunday, I made muffins and other baked goods because baking comforts me, baking is something that I love to do. Another Sunday introduced me to the art of bible journaling (oh my goodness! That has filled my spirit in ways that I didn’t think possible.) Then there was the Sunday where spent most of my day reading God’s word and practising what I was learning about Bible Journaling. Last Sunday, Valentine’s Day, saw my Beloved and myself meet with friends for a meal at a restaurant. We haven’t seen these friends for a very long time so it was wonderful to catch up and just talk about all that has been happening in our lives.

Sabbath has become, not of a day of limiting, but a day of possibility. A day where I can rest and relax and in that resting I can ponder and give thanks for the goodness of my Saviour.

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February Frivolity

February seems to be the month where, if school is going to go off the rails, it is going to be this month. I don’t know why but this month always seems to be home for discouragement, depression and disillusionment (like the alliteration?)

I’m going to jump for a minute but I promise that I will bring it back to the above paragraph. I have been listening to Schole Sisters’ new podcast. There have been three so far–one intro and two regular podcasts–and they have already been helpful to me in taking a new look at our learning time.

The second episode was on levity; being able to keep things light even during the difficult and serious times. Homeschool moms shouldn’t be serious all of the time, they need to have a sense of humour. The second episode is on loving that which you are learning. I came away from these episodes with some ideas on how I can combat the drudgery that seems to pop up during the month of February.

Pam, from Ed Snapshots, suggested having brain breaks during a lengthy time of learning to lighten things up and wake up everyone’s brain. Having a list of things that you could do a few times during your learning sessions that would only take 5 or 10 min. or putting the activities on popsicle sticks and have the kids take turns to pick out a stick and follow that activity when it is break time.

I really liked that idea. Now that I have 3 teenagers, learning is a solemn, serious event. Gone are the days of math games, art activities, and nature walks. We have fallen into the pit of reading and writing; that is what our days seem to consist of these days. Our days need a shot in the arm; a shot of wonder, a shot of fun, a shot of bearable lightness. So I gathered the kids today (we are having a week off this week so I did need to gather them) and asked them for some ideas of things that we could do for our breaks.

This is what we came up with:
Just Dance on the Wii
painting
jump on the trampoline
go for a mini-walk
do some karate–kick through cardboard boxes
zentangle
play a game
play with clay or playdough
yoga

I will be thinking more about this list but I like what we have so far.

On the third episode of the podcast, Mystie and Brandy talk about how to love what you are learning. They talk about math games and puzzles. This conversation made me nostalgic for the years when we played math games all of the time or read living math books. Brandy was talking about the I Hate Mathematics books by Marilyn Burns and I thought that my youngest could probably still benefit from that book and from the Beast Academy books . She is having some difficulties in math so I think she would still benefit from the puzzle aspect of these books.

Listening to these podcasts helped lighten things up for me. It has been hard for me to find wonder and discovery in the high school years. I am hoping that the suggestions made in the podcasts will help spark a bit of wonder in our days. I am actually looking forward to getting back to school next year…even though it will still be February.

Posted in classical education, homeschooling, living art, podcasts, wonder | Leave a comment

Becoming

I have never been big on making resolutions for the new year. For me, that is just setting myself up for a fall. I am doomed before I even get out of the starting gates of the new year. Fruitless is the word that springs to mind in relation to resolutions.

for some reason, which I don’t fully understand, picking a word for the year works out much better for me. If you are not familiar with this concept let me fill you in: you pick a word that you want to reflect the oncoming year and, voila! you are good to go. You can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. Some people read books that are related to their words, some people purchase jewelry, wall hangings that sport their word and then there are those of us who don’t really do anything except pray their word and let God do the rest.

I have been doing this word of the year thing for 6 years now. The catalyst for taking on this process was cancer. The few months following my cancer episode left me shaky and it plopped me full on into fear. I decided to pick the word ‘courage’ for my beacon as 2010 showed itself. Courage, indeed, became my word. That year saw me and the kids drive 6,000 miles by ourselves to visit my parents. It was also the year that the kids and I started going to a new church. Courage abounded through those days.

For other years, my words have been ‘deep,’ ‘be still,’ and ‘grace’ (that one didn’t turn out very good.) My word for 2015 was ‘healing.’ God graciously and abundantly gave me healing this past year in many ways. My heart was healed from anger and bitterness; relationships that were wracked with tension and bitterness were healed. For the most part, it was a year of release.

So.

On to this year.

It did not take me long to find my word. Actually, I found my word in a book title — The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons. Now, I have not read the book but I listened to Jenny on a podcast and when I heard the title to her book, it struck a chord with me. The word ‘becoming’ is home to hope, delight, curiosity and just plain old being. I love that word.

Becoming.

Meet my word for 2016.

I could go on and on why this word is so important to me but I will try to keep it short for today and maybe go on at length in future blog posts.

My kids are all teens now (well, they will be by the end of January) and I am seeing the end of this stage of parenting. Five more years and we will not have children living with us any more ( well, maybe not.) Five more years and I will not be homeschooling any more. Then what? What do I do then?

I have been pondering this question at depth in the last few months. I need to be prepared for this next season of life. So I am taking little baby steps towards who I want to become after my kids are gone.

I am also searching and questioning various tenets of my faith. Don’t get me wrong; I am not searching outside of Christianity. My faith in Jesus is as strong, if not stronger, than it ever has been but I am searching within the freedom of Christ about things that I was told when I was a young Christian, that I am now wondering if those things are actually true.

Things are changing quite a bit in my life.

I am Becoming.

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Best Books of 2015

It’s that time of year, the time where we read everyone’s ‘best of’ lists for the year. I do enjoy reading the book lists. As I was reading over my list of all of the books that I have read this year, I was surprised that most of the books that garnered my appreciation and wonder were non-fiction. I didn’t think that I had read much non-fiction this year but my list proves me wrong. So in keeping with that, I will produce a non-fiction list as well as a fiction list.

Best Fiction
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. A dark, dreary story but the writing was excellent.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. Again, a dreary story but the writing was so beautiful.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. This book is in keeping with Girl on the Train and Gone Girl but the ending even had me surprised.

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. An enjoyable retelling of Sherlock Holmes

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. After looking at this list, I am convinced that for some reason I am drawn to the dark and depressing tales. This book was jarringly graphic but the words used to describe the kidnap victims inner turmoil were jarring as well.

Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. An enjoyable children’s book that shows us how children should be taught.

Rain/Reign by Anne Martin. Another children’s book. Rose’s story of how she deals with life as a person of Aspergers struck deep inside of me and of my children as well.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It has been a long time since I have been so deeply moved by a book. There are multiple layers to this story, layers that equally have you pondering it’s ramifications.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fennolara. Another book that shows how education should be.

The Genevieve Lenard series by Estelle Ryan. I know. I’m cheating. But the whole series is good, I can’t just pick one book. I am usually not a fan of book series. I will read the first book but will wait a few months if not longer to move on to the next, but I read the first seven books of this series in a month and a half and am hoping to read the latest book before the end of the year. I loved Dr. Lenard and how she maneuvers the world of art insurance fraud.

Non-Fiction
As You Wish by Cary Elwes. I am long-time enthusiast of The Princess Bride. It was a treat to read about the goings on behind the scenes of the making of this classic movie.

An Experiment in Criticism by C.S.Lewis. In reading this book, I know now which kind of reader I want to be.

The Narnian by Alan Jacobs. Intriguing read, even though it shattered the pedestal on which I had placed C.S.Lewis. I realized that this icon was just a man, a human like myself–sinful but loved and delighted by God.

The Romantic Rationalist edited by John Piper. A series of essays about the various facets of C.S.Lewis and his faith.

How Dante Can Save Your Life by Rod Dreher. The life lessons that Dreher had learned while leading Dante also helped me to come to terms with some issues in my life.

Secrets of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. Excellent memoir of how a lesbian university professor became a Christian. What struck me the most was the theme that hospitality is the foundation of evangelism.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines. The writing in this book is word-music. The author is breathtakingly gifted in the art of writing. The writing is what made this book onto my favourites list but I must say that the flowery language sometimes got in the way of what the author was trying to say. I was so intent on the word combinations that were used that I didn’t always pay attention to what was being said.

Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey. This was my first time reading Sarah Bessey but she has me hooked. Currently, I am reading her first book, Jesus Feminist. I am a huge fan of Sarah’s now. I totally related to what she was saying in this book. I loved how she sat in her spiritual confusion and stayed there until things started to make sense. She didn’t leave Jesus but, rather, realized that maybe there were different ways to follow him. She cobbled together her own faith, a faith that was her own but was still biblical and rooted in doctrine. I am hoping to write more on this book and what it has done to my own faith.

Music of Silence by David Rast. Since reading ‘Found’ by Micha Boyett last year, I have been enamored by the practices of the monks. This book shows us how the monks pray through the day. My interest has deepened. I love how praying through the hours enables us to be more present and intentional in our days.

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A Monday Prayer

For those of us who feel a bit bruised from a thoughtless word or a careless gesture, may You soften the blow by supplying a soft landing place that is lined with your grace.

May we feel the glory and awe-filling wonder of your presence in our lives. May this presence lessen the blow of life’s harshness.

As we move into this week with all of its demands and deadlines, bring to our minds the important aspects of this week: a small child brought into this world to save us, time to spend with our family– with our family, not for our family.

May we be able to slow down enough to breathe, enjoy.

May you give us the same gift that you gave Mary all those years ago that we may store all of our experiences and feelings into our heart and ponder on them for years to come.

May we take this week to praise and honour you in all that we think, do and say.

In Jesus precious name we pray,
Amen

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