Sunday, November 27, 2016

Classical Christian Education

Well this hasn't exactly been the greatest month so far.  At the beginning of November we went on a trip and it was a big trip, one we had waited years to do...16 in fact.  It was a trip in which circumstances prevented us from adjusting or playing with the timeline.  A trip in which we had to save up for, we counted down, we ate and lived frugally for months (mostly peanut butter and jelly, chicken, veggies, and rice and cereal and milk).  All spring and summer long, checking off each day with excitement and nervousness and anticipation.

Then the day to leave arrived.  We dropped off our three doggies, made sure the plans were in place for our bunny and guinea pig, squeezed all the luggage and stuff (how is it that we have to take so much stuff?!?) in the car and we were off!

We drove and drove and drove and drove.  23 hours.  We get to our destination, and immediately one of our kids doesn't feel well.  It progressed to the point where we had to leave early before our vacation was done and drive all day and all night in case we needed to see the doctor the next morning.  Exhausted, disappointed, and miserable we passed hour upon hour in the car.

The entire week after we arrived home was passed with my child on the couch, miserable.  Finally Friday arrived and things began to turn around and we all went on a walk,  Half way through the walk I started to not feel so good.  By the time bedtime arrived that night my throat was so sore I couldn't swallow.  Another week of misery, this time knocking us out of Thanksgiving plans.

However, thankfully something happened early in the week that gave my mind something to grapple with as I lay aching and miserable on either my bed or a pallet on the floor.  I guess it was last year that I discovered Sarah Mackenzie?  She has a lovely blog called Amongst Lovely Things, an awesome book that I think every homeschool mom should read (Teaching From Rest), and a great podcast called Reading Revival.  Anyway earlier in the week I remembered she had a special section on her blog titled "Listen Up" - it lists her favorite podcast speakers.  So thanks to Sarah, I spent a lot of time listening to Dr, Christopher Perrin and Jenny Rallens.

WOW!  Through the haze of fever and the exhaustion of not sleeping due to stuffed up nose and coughing, Jenny's talk on The Liturgical Classroom and Virtue Formation captivated me (I have listened to it on repeat).  Dr. Perrin's talk on the Eight Essential Principles of Classical Pedagogy inspired me (again listened to this one over and over and over).  I have spent the long hours lying down thinking and dreaming and wrestling with what this idea, this pedagogy of forming virtues in your children through teaching them to seek truth, goodness, and beauty could mean for our new year.

Now that my youngest child has come down with it, and the nights are long, the days longer, I have something to occupy my mind, something to dig into.  I sit beside the couch, journal and pen in hand and scribble out study notes.  I have found so much, so, so much.

This post of Jenny Rallens,

This explanation and tutorial on commonplacing.

This post on Schole.

And I am making my way through this work on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

I am sure by the end of this month I will have even more, because I still have one child that I suspect may be coming down with it, but hasn't yet.  So even though it's been a pretty miserable month, it's been a fruitful one.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Things that keep me up at night

Do you ever have that running loop of 'what if' thinking that runs round and round through your mind, never seeming to run out of steam or get tired?  Or maybe that's just me?

It can range from something close and personal, like, what if our days never even out and the things that most people take for granted never become easy or second nature for one (or more) of my children?  Or what if one of our animals gets loose?  Or dies?  What if my husband gets sick or dies?  What if I get sick or die?

It can be close to ridiculous, like what if I never lose that last ten pounds and always have chubby thighs?  I spent so much of my life taking for granted that my legs were toned and thin, now they are dimply and not toned and definitely not thin.  What if I can't get another hot chocolate this month?  What if it doesn't snow or really get cold this winter again and it feels like the summer never ended?

It can be something far removed from me, yet it still weighs heavy on my heart.  What if the country we live in continues to fracture and splinter and be consumed with anger and hurt?  What if we as a nation continue to turn our back on God and forget His Word?

When I was thinking about this the other day I realized most of my fears have one thing in common.  Me.  Either how it affects me or what I can or cannot do about it.  Rarely if ever does it factor in God or what He has to say about it.  So starting tonight I want to do something, I want to conquer these fears.  As they come up.  I want to find a verse that speaks directly to the heart of my fear.  Because really, is it the hot chocolate or the comfort and routine of it that I desire?  I often say getting a hot chocolate is like getting a hug from the inside out.  It is chocolaty and warm and comforting.  But it's not my source of comfort, or it shouldn't be if I have made it so.  The death of myself, my husband, my child, my parent, my sibling, my friend - why do I worry about that?  Psalm 139 clearly states that every single day was recorded in His book before one came to be.  I am not going to add one more minute to anyone's life worrying about it.  I struggle with fear, have pretty much my whole life.   I think I came out of the womb worrying.  It's not easy for me to trust, life has taught me that it's safer not to put yourself out there, but then there is the whole Jesus thing.  Jesus kinda blows that out of the water.  Actually there is no safer place to rest than in His hands, so why I am always so full of worry that I have a low grade tummy ache?  Part of it is just my DNA, it runs in my family, tipping over into full blown anxiety and panic for some, but part of it is some days I spend more time reading and pouring over the latest headlines or what so and so has to say about God than I do actually digging in and meditating on what God has to say about God.

Those things (the latest news or words from someone else) are not solid enough to stand on.  So this week as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to make sure that my heart is right, that it is so full of His Word there isn't room to worry.  Or fret.  Because one thing I have learned, oftentimes the hard way, is that His Word is strong enough to stand on.  It's strong enough to support me when I flounder and fail, strong enough to support me when I kneel and cry out, strong enough to support me when I dance and soar.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Well Hello There

Next week is in the world did that happen?  I am reading Mary Poppins to my kids right now, my husband & I recently saw 'Saving Mr. Banks' and oh my.  I immediately dug out our copy of Mary Poppins so I could stop everything and read it out loud.  So glad I did.

Speaking of my husband, we started something fun a year or two ago: we pick a series - either TV or movies and watch them.  We went through the entire James Bond collection, we started with the very first one and watched them all until the latest Daniel Craig one.  After that we watched Blacklist, Sherlock, Robotech, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent (haven't watched this one completely yet) and now we are on Indiana Jones.  We watch a movie or two occasionally interspersed - but mostly we stay on our series until we are done.  It has been a lot of fun, spending time together, watching things together - its our cheap version of date night.  And it is worth every single minute.  I love my husband - he is so much fun to spend time with.  He has a great sense of humor and does sweet things like makes me a bowl of m&m's, a fresh cold drink, or his 'macho nachos'... yummy!!!!!!!!!!!

I rarely get a full night of sleep.  My kids have a tough time sleeping through the night for various reasons and two of our dogs - one is a puppy, one is a senior citizen - they have bladder control issues.  I get woken up several times a night and for one reason or another it is really, really hard for me to go back to sleep.  Then I discovered audible.  It initially started off to be a way to help our kids still get to enjoy books as they struggled to master reading on their own, but then I noticed a book here, a book there I would like to have.  My favorites?  The Harry Potter collection narrated by Jim Dale (LOVE his voice!) and a Jane Austen Collection in which one of the narrators is Benedict Cumberbatch.  Have I mentioned that I looooove British accents?  One time in Target while I was wondering around looking for something, a dad and his daughter passed by.  The dad had a very thick, delicious British accent and much to my children's embarrassment, I drug them around the store so I could follow them (at hopefully a non-threatening, non-creepy distance) and listen to him talk.  Anyway...I discovered that if I pop in my headphones, set the sleep timer, then I can fall back to sleep while listening to my favorite books.  It has been awesome.

On that subject, one of the best help you fall asleep books is 'Sleepy Bunny' (narrated by Fred Sanders).  We checked it out from the library first, then I picked it up at a local bookstore.  The only problem?  By page three I was yawning and dropping off to sleep before my kids were.  So excited to find it at audible!

I know this post is rambling and boring to most, but I love rambling and boring - it means life isn't too hard to get a deep breath in now and then.  Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you have had a beautiful fall.