"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Musings, HOOT!, and a Green Shake

I don’t want to tell you what we did today. Not because it was a bad day. Just because… I am worried. What we do here, in this house of bread (and honey), is unique to us because we are a unique family. Just like every family is. Many of the things we do, things that mean the most and teach us best, are really happy accidents showered on us by Divine Providence.
How many times do I see what someone else did today, like it, imitate it, and come away frustrated. Your good day isn’t going to look like anyone else’s good day. God made every family as different as every angel. As different as every species of flower. And only by becoming more and more yourself do the good days increase! In our house we might use Spanish, English, Spanglish, olde English, Latin, and ridiculous slang in the same dinner conversation. It makes us US, and it makes life fun. But it’s hardly worthy of imitation. Recently a friend asked me, “How can I learn to think like you?” Being tired and not quite my usual reserved social self, I snapped, “You can’t. You can’t learn to think like me. You’ll have to learn to think like yourself.”
As a mother, I am an expert. An expert in my own children. You, as a mother, are the expert in your own children. There are plenty of experts out there, in all the fields of “stuff” you can think. Experts in medicine. Experts in law. Experts in education. Experts in child development. They just won’t be THE expert in YOUR child’s development ALL the time. And, frankly, neither will you. You will be always working to keep up with the ever-changing little people under your care.
Now before you come batter down my door with stacks of scope and sequence charts, consider with me: at La Leche League meetings a mother often hears for the first time that the only expert in HER baby is herself. How many fellow mothers have I seen light up with joy at this revelation. No one needs to tell me when to carry, nurse, cuddle, or feed my baby? WOW! That feels like freedom! Awesome. Yet I am often shocked by the mother of a school-aged child who hears that she can be the “expert” in her own family, and instead of lighting up with joy, she pales in terror. “No! Just tell me which catalog to send for!”
Sometimes in a homeschool, there can be a sense that
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”
or rather, the day is a play, a performance, and if it doesn’t go how it’s ‘supposed to’, then it’s been a bad day, a show that’s flopped.
But rather than an actor, why shouldn’t a home-educator be more a scientist? A scientists learns as much, if not more, from a day of failed hypotheses than from a day of endlessly successful ones. In fact, a scientist whose experiments succeed every time probably isn’t doing much creative thinking at all! But a mother must slow down, give herself time for meditation and thought, in an objective fashion. . She can ask herself- why isn’t this working, and what might work instead? She must put her expectations into perspective continually, and this is hard, emotional work.
Life, including scope and sequence charts, curriculum catalogs, and booklists, are a feast laid for us by the hand of God. There are a few courses of which most everyone should partake. But perhaps we should not so anxiously fill the children’s plates for them. Perhaps we can dish out just a bit of what they must have, and let them taste and sample and enjoy their ‘food’ just a bit more. Yes, it takes time to enjoy the feast, instead of just shoveling in the fuel. Maybe I can’t stick to the scope and sequence laid out by the experts from August to June. Maybe our scope and sequence is a wider scope in a strange sequence… but here’s the rub. INFORMATION CHANGES. At the speed of light. An increasing number of the things taught even 15 years ago are becoming out of style, kicked off the chart, redesigned. To some, it seems scary. To a home-educating mother, it may leave a feeling of hopelessness- where do I start then? I take comfort in many things, but one thing in the biggest way. Information is interesting, helpful, enjoyable, necessary. Information changes, facts get redefined, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It’s a perspective I hope to pass on to my children.
If these ideas are interesting to you, here’s some more food for thought for you to chew on:
The Relaxed Home School
Homeschooling with Gentleness
How Children Fail
How Children Learn
Learning All The Time
For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School

"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
-George Bernard Shaw

So what DID we do today? Our usual Monday fare in the morning- Monday is our big ‘academic’ day. Ahem. But in the afternoon it was HOOT! At the Great Plains Nature Center. I almost forgot that we were going back out there today, but I’m glad we did. If you live near Wichita, it is ALWAYS worth attending. Every first Monday of the month, September through May, at 2 pm.

Afterwards, the children begged for a nature walk. And as I overheard the naturalist mention that there were blue herons on the grounds, even though I wanted to get home to make dinner, we hit the trails. And I’m glad we did. Because I’ve NEVER seen a mommy turtle kiss her baby before:
Or a blue heron in flight:
Or “our” burr oak look so lovely under a stormy sky:
Or the prairie grasses seem so magical:
Or enjoy my children’s antics more (yes, they’re all from the same gene pool):
And hearing Isaiah say, “God sure did make a good choice when he invented turtles!” and watching Rosie touch everything, and watching a teething toddler forget his mouth for a few hours, basking in the spring.

Before we headed out, I made my Basic Green Smoothie for a monster quantity of energy. Very easy, with endless variations.
You put 2-4 loosely packed cups of spinach in the blender. Add ½ a peeled, diced lemon, 2 chopped bananas, ½ t vanilla, your milk of choice in whatever amount you like (I prefer a really thick smoothie), and a bit of sweetener if you must.
More buzz than a whole pot of coffee!

"One cannot think well,
love well,
sleep well,
if one has not dined well."
-Virginia Woolf

1 comment:

  1. My dear friend, I keep thinking that one day I will feel guilty for constantly benefiting from your knowledge without returning any. But I still don't! Thank you so much for sharing the smoothie and almond milk recipes. Your writing is lovely and so full off goodness - like you are in real life!