Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesdays with Words: Zucchini and Larkspur

I read Cindy Rollins' new book, Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Toward Sanctification on Sunday and wrote my review on Monday.

I'm still thinking about the Zucchini and Larkspur quote.

It may have stood out for me because when I was nine, my favorite book was The Password to Larkspur Lane - a Nancy Drew mystery. I love Nancy Drew, but to this day I cannot tell you if it was my favorite because I liked the story or because I was intrigued by the title. Larkspur Lane drew my imagination. I don't even think you can grow larkspur in Ohio ...

Anyway, I digress.

Now Cindy is actually writing about gardening and the generosity of her neighbors who would drop excess garden produce on her porch. Because produce in the summer was cheap and easy to access, she started planting more flowers and fewer veggies. She and Andrew Kern would both remind me No Sermonizing or Moralizing or Spiritualizing, but the sentence that I love has stuck in my head and I have been turning it over thinking about it in my life, so I'm going to tread a fine line.
Spring on the farm was beautiful. We had lilacs and peonies which made up for much. Rats and sisns and paint and plaster and critters and husbands were all forgiven when the blossoms were on the apples, the ornamental cherry flaunted itself outside the kitchen window, and lilacs and peonies graced our table. One sprig of lilac in a vase can transform the drabbest environment. Timothy and I put in two or three magnificent gardens, and I developed my philosophy of gardening. In the summer, we planted sunflowers in rows, and we would have flocks of goldfinches flitting through the yard. Vegetables were easy to come by and cheap in the summer. Every farmer for miles around dropped zucchini on our front porch. Flowers were much more rare. More and more of my garden space was taken up with them. I had a white moonlight garden, a dried flower garden, an herb garden, a cutting flower garden, and a butterfly section. I cannot see why anyone would plant zucchini when they could plant larkspur. (pg 54, Emphasis mine)
Now, I am not a gardener. [shocking I know] I don't care for bugs or dirt or outside all that much. But if use the metaphor of a garden as our metaphor for education, what is the zucchini in your homeschool, what are the herbs, the butterfly garden, the larkspur?

The balance of Cindy's garden leans in one way - toward the beauty, the larkspur. The balance of my homeschool leans the other - toward the practical, the zucchini.

Am I planting the wrong things because I'm afraid the abundance won't show up on my front porch? 

If education is atmosphere - at least partially - what atmosphere does my garden represent.

Anyway, that's what I've been contemplating based on one little line of an amazing book.

Wordless Wednesday: 2016 Homeschool Digout

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review: Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward Sanctification by Cindy Rollins

Mere Motherhood: Morning times, nursery rhymes, and my journey toward sanctificationMere Motherhood: Morning times, nursery rhymes, and my journey toward sanctification by Cindy Rollins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I must admit, I loved this book from the moment I knew it was coming out.

I read Cindy's blog for years and years, so I knew she could write. I knew she offered humor and grace. I listen to her podcast, so I knew she had wisdom to impart. I knew she loves Jesus and always points readers and listeners to him.

My friend Sally, from church, was at the CiRCE convention and book release. She brought me a signed copy home. She handed it to me immediately before the organ prelude began the worship service. I didn't get a chance to really get started until around 8.

The first thing I noticed was how beautifully the book was constructed. The cover is both beautiful to the eye and to the touch, smooth as butter. The pages are almost as luscious to the touch: heavy and smooth and to the eye: with a soft white color and easy to read font. CiRCE did a wonderful job producing their first book.

Cindy has written a beautiful book. A great deal of it is memoir - remembering her path. Always laced with humor and a point; she is excellent at telling the reader like it is, and then reminding them of God's grace to remove any perceived sting. Her personality shines through, one of my favorite quotes - because it is just so Cindy - is "I never could understand why anyone would plant zucchini when they could plant larkspur." (pg 54)

A great deal of it, though, is instructive born out of her experience. She learned some things educating 9 children at home (understatement), and she shares them with us.

Her voice is conversational and gentle, but don't let that fool you. She is saying profound things, "That is how love works. You work hard at it and one day the work becomes joyful. Ordo Amoris." (pg 81) and "Education is tethering our children to the past so that they are not adrift in the universe." (pg 129)

The end, though, the end is a challenge. It is her story and a challenge born out of it. She tells us, here's my life, here's what I've learned, here's where I believe God is calling me to go - won't you come along?

I read it in one sitting (essentially, I had read through page 6 before I got home). Before I started, I decided to read it straight through without underlining or folding pages. I made it to page ix before I had to. Cindy reminded me, "God is real. He is there. He doesn't just love your children; he loves you. I have been young, and now I am old, and I have not seen the righteous forsaken." (pg ix, emphasis mine, I really needed to read that) I didn't mark a whole lot more - maybe 7-8 passages, not because I couldn't have marked things, but because I know I will return to this book again and again.

I knew I'd love Cindy's book, but I didn't expect I'd love it this much. I didn't know it would have such a deep impact on me. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

View all my reviews

The Simple Woman's Daybook for July 18, 2016

For Today...

Looking out my window ... the thunderstorms have finished rumbling through but the ground and sky shows evidence of their early morning activity.

I am thinking ... about waking the children up. I'd like to let them sleep in after their week at camp, but it's swim lesson week, so they'll need to get up soon-ish.

I am thankful ... for all the work I accomplished while they were gone last week, for my husband's support and love, and for all the podcasts I listened too.

One of my favorite things ... Breakfast in the oven. It's smelling delicious.

I am wearing ... pajamas still. I got up early, but I've not accomplished much.

I am creating ... a book review in my head.

I read ... Cindy Rollins' new book, Mere Motherhood, last night in one sitting. I laughed, I commiserated, I loved it. Such humor, humility, and encouragement to rest in Jesus and his work. To see her learning process. Get your hands on it. I'll be writing more.

I am hoping ... that the school room I worked on last week stays as beautiful as it is now - or at least gets returned to that beauty consistently. I suppose it oughtn't just be hope - I'll need to Work the Plan.

I am learning ...

In my kitchen ... I sauteed some peppers and onions and ham in a big pan, then I poured 10 egg (scrambled) plus milk over the pan and a big handful of cheese. I stirred the cheese in. Then I topped it with more cheese and threw it in the oven to finish. It smells divine. I'm looking forward to breakfast.

In the school room ... last week, it went from this to this. Those are video tours, below is a still picture of the "after."

Post Script
I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved Mere Motherhood. Cindy has written a book that takes my breath away in its tying together the whats and hows and her life. The subtitle: "Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes nad My Journey toward Sanctification" is what you'll find laced with humor, a humble and contrite heart, and straightforward admonition tempered with grace. I absolutely loved it ... and I don't think it is because I loved Cindy before, though I did.

Shared Quote ... "That is how love works. You work hard at it and one day the work becomes joyful. Ordo Amoris." Cindy Rollins, Mere Motherhood page 81

A moment from my day ... I had to leave at 6:30 Saturday morning to get my kids (and a friend) from camp.

It was worth it:

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesdays with Words: Seeing, Counseling, and Encouraging

I'm going to ask you to endulge me once again by sharing some of my own words for Wednesdays with Words.

My friend Amy Milcic, who blogs at Busy Boys Brigade, asked me to participate in her 20 Days of Homeschooling Encouragement Blog Party and my post goes live today.

When she asked me, I was curious what I'd write. My first thought was "Homeschooling is hard." Not so encouraging, you know?

But that started off a meditation on how, yes, Homeschooling is hard work, but, I remind myself - I speak to myself - that Homeschooling is valuable work.

So, that's what my post is about, Homeschooling is Hard (Yet Valuable!) Work

From that post, I wanted to share this - preaching to myself:
Seeing their wonder, excitement, and struggles; counseling them in the midst of their temper tantrums, frustrations, and successes; encouraging them in their joy and sorrow are all privileges for the homeschool mom.  

I hope you hop over to Busy Boys Brigade, read the rest, and are encouraged. It was good to remind myself of these things.

Wordless Wednesday: Kids to Camp, Mom will play

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

History: Hook Your Kids on Story

Did you know I was a Social Studies Education major?

I love History, but at The Ohio State University, you can't major in History Education, it must be 'Social Studies' with History and two other concentration areas (Geography and Economics were mine.

I think that's part of why I fell in love with The Well-Trained Mind as it's organizing area of study is History.

I fell in love with History when I was in fourth grade and from that time on, all I wanted to do (except for a brief stint in fifth grade where I wanted to be an FBI agent) was teach History. Fourth grade was not a banner year school-wise for me. I made a friend unwisely, who cheated off me without my knowledge, and I was completely convinced my teacher didn't like me. She was the first teacher I didn't like.

But, she read The Diary of Anne Frank aloud to our class and that began a fascination with studying the Holocaust and European Theatre of the Second World War that lasted me through college.  I enjoyed other parts of History, but I always - always - came back to WWII. I read everything in the children's non-fiction section about the topic. All of the survivor stories. All of the Normandy invation books. The books of artillery? Yep. My grandpa trained pilots in Illinois and Texas and I begged for all of his stories.

I became more and more fascinated with other areas of American history and World History, but it was WWII that started me on the path.

Recently, I was a part of a discussion that asked "What about chronological history? Isn't that important?"

Five years ago, I would have said "Absolutely."

Now I would say, "Nope. Not in the Elementary ages."

We started off with Story of the World - which I still like and will absolutely keep on my shelves - but do you know what my kids remember? the Beowulf chapter that they acted out. Do they remember mummifying a chicken - Cluckenbalmen? Nope. Do they remember the span of ages that we studied? Nope. Do they remember migrations of people groups? Nope. They remember a story a tale.

History is a collection of story. If we want our children to love history; to become intrigued by vast swaths of time; to observe God's hand and become wise we really need to start with story.  They don't really have a sense of "years" at these young ages (let alone decades, centuries, or millenia). But they know a good story when they hear it.

Later, in Middle School and High School, is a great time to tie the stories together, but while you're building relationships with your kids and their world, enjoy the legends of John Henry and Johnny Appleseed. See how Ben Franklin flew a kite.

Now, I use AmblesideOnline which does follow a chronological history, but that is a way of organizing the story of history through individuals more than through ideas in the younger ages. As we advance in age, though, I already see ideas being pulled into our study in the upper elementary where we learn about the people who broker ideas - like Voltaire and Rousseau - but my kids are still picking up more on the people than the ideas. That's OK.

We all know (or should) that the best entrance into Narnia is through the Wardrobe. It gives us a taste for the place and a desire to know more. We want to know more of Aslan and his work. That leads us through seeking out the rest of the story.

When we tell others about Jesus, the story of what he has done in our lives and the way he has worked with others and the way he worked when he walked in Israel 2000 years ago is the best way to introduce people to the Lord. Then we can go and see his hand through creation and time. Hook them on Him through His story.

The study of History is like this. Hook them on a story and an interest for the rest will come.