Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thankfulness Times Ten

 Today's Thankfulness theme is what is going on in my life this day.....

( when I originally wrote it a week ago..... :)  )

Thankfulness Times Ten

Here are the guidelines I have for this thankfulness theme……

Just find ten things I am thankful for, in the moment. I have no rules...I may go over ten, if I cannot help myself......I may repeat myself.....and, I will write in no particular order of importance. If you feel inspired to do the same....do link yourself here in the comment section.  All of these will go toward my own 1,000 Gifts.

As I go through my days, I keep thinking of my gratitude in themes......like, ten items of gratefulness for each member of my family, when I look out my window, while I am on my exercise walk.......etc., etc., etc. 

I am thankful for......

71. .......returning to my latest "new" happy place. That special spot on the river. And where I sit now to write this post. 

The view before me.....

The view to the left.....

And the view to the right.......


Sigh of gratefulness.


72.  .........the relationships between my own children and the children of my best friend. The other best friend. The youngest six of her seven have always had us in their lives. And the youngest of my six, the same. They have grown up together and are as close as siblings. We are so blessed. They just love each other's company.

I found seven of them sitting on the couch together the other morning when I first awakened.......such a sweet surprise. 
Only one of these is mine.....and I love how he is surrounded by her three youngest.


73. ..........a new educational plan for my youngest. One of my other best friends......is going to include my little guy in her home this year as she homeschools her daughter in the same grade. Hopefully this will work out well for all involved. He has known her two kids since their births.....practically as siblings. And he looks like the oldest one, too. They are mistaken for siblings often.

Here they are......homeschooling themselves this summer.......  :)


74. .........hamburgers. I just love good hamburgers. So simple. So yummy. We are having hamburgers for dinner tonight. Yum. My oldest boy will be making them. Yum.


75. .........a day with low amount of smoke. California is extremely dry. Like a tinder box. And like every summer, those dry lightning storms start fires. Only this year......it's too dry. Our little valley has been smoky for over a week due to being surrounded by fires in all directions.


76. ........for firefighters. They put their lives at risk to protect us. I am grateful for that. And I always keep them in my prayers. 

77. ..........naps. Maybe it is the full-time job, but in this last year I have napped so much better than ever before. I also need more naps. Probably because of the job. My friend Micki who passed away in January loved her naps. Every time I think about how much I love my naps, I think of her. I miss her.

78. ........kids who beg me to stop by the store on the way home from the river so they can buy ME some ice cream. 

79. .........friends who can walk my four miles with me when they come to visit. Willa does it. And the other BFF, Gloria, does. That is who I am walking with this week. And probably some of next week when I go to San Francisco for a visit. Nice quality time while keeping fit. Sooooo enjoy their conversation.  So much so......that when they are not with me, I call them so they can keep me company when I walk. :)

80. ........chapstick.  I need it. I don't have very dry lips. I just don't like my lips dry. I have a Burt's Bees in every bag. Every coat pocket. Each of my cars. I even take on my walks and carry in my pocket at work. 

And that's it for now......

San Francisco Summer blessings to you,


P.S.  Research shows that folks who use journaling to write what they are thankful for...instead of just a place to vent, find their lives are more happy, more satisfying.  Let's go there!





Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Little Miss M is Home!!!

My sweet little nineteen year old darling Miss Maddelyn
has returned from her year-long youth exchange in the country of Slovakia.
Maddelyn arrived at the Southern Oregon airport on July 8th.
Two sisters, one brother, one mama and one BFF met her at the airport.
The rest stayed behind to prepare a party for the girl who had been awake for about 48 hours.
Here is a photo-montage of the first meet'n'greet........
Maddelyn in the middle of the two middles....Sarah & Garrett....the two she falls in the middle of......

All the luggage she had to drag through several airports on her own. 
Each bag weighs in at 50#.....and she is barely 5-foot-tall.  :)


Her BFF since birth, Tallulah, drove over from Reno to surprise her.

Little brother Garrett, about one foot taller.  :)
These two are closest in age......22 months.
They were tandem-nursed.
Oh, so long ago........sigh.



Typical Bryan Kid behavior.....dancing in public.  :)

You know that we were the last ones in the airport.......

Miss Maddelyn & her oldest sister, Anne.....matching temperaments.


Three sisters back together again. 
But it was only for a couple of days.
SO BLESSED to have our wee lass home again.
Alas, it is only temporary.....college starts in mid-August. More sighing.
Mid-Summer Blessings,
PS  While I finish this post, I can hear Miss M conversing in Slovak with her host mother, on Skype.  :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thankfulness Times Ten

 Today's Thankfulness theme is what is going on in my life this day.....

( when I originally wrote it two weeks ago..... :)  )

Thankfulness Times Ten

Here are the guidelines I have for this thankfulness theme……

Just find ten things I am thankful for, in the moment. I have no rules...I may go over ten, if I cannot help myself......I may repeat myself.....and, I will write in no particular order of importance. If you feel inspired to do the same....do link yourself here in the comment section.  All of these will go toward my own 1,000 Gifts.

As I go through my days, I keep thinking of my gratitude in themes......like, ten items of gratefulness for each member of my family, when I look out my window, while I am on my exercise walk.......etc., etc., etc. 

I am thankful for......

61.........for finding a new "Happy Place"   My boys talked me into going to The River with them. I can't believe I have lived here 25 years and this was the first time I have been here! Actually, I am writing this blog post from my beach chair. :) It is so nice and beautiful here. I love it! 


This is elephant palm

The only flower I saw that day.

This is The Sacramento River.  One of the two most important rivers on California. Well, the other is "just" an aqueduct. So this is the most important river in California. And it's headwaters are in my little town. 

My oldest boy and my youngest boy and a college friend of the oldest.

62. ........a warm summer. Finally. Even if we are in the midst of one of the longest heatwaves we have ever had here. Think 88*-101*, but mostly high nineties. And while our humidity usually runs around 21%, we have been challenged by humidity higher than 60%. And while that may be laughable to our friends in the East or South...... It is a lot more than what we are used to! 

The boys swimming in the river....a much needed cooling off.


My personal rule to never complain about the heat of summer is because I have "Fear of The Lord".......I worry that if I complain about the heat, He will cheerfully lengthen our winters. And I want no part of that!! ;)


63. ........the wonderful sounds of Nature! At this moment in time there are only two sounds:  excessive cricket buzzing and the mild rapids of the river. Simply wonderful. 


64. ........meeting an author this weekend while I was working. She just finished her third book. There is a bit of story about how I came to learn about her first book (hoping for a blog post about it).......but I will suffice it to say that she gave me a copy of that book for my local library.....but I get to read it first!  I am 45 pages in already......having an opportunity to read here on the river in my beach chair. Hooked. It's a memoir. 



65. ..........the lovely flower bed my friend Louise gifted to me for my birthday last year.  It has been a wonderful and colorful blessing to watch the colors appear from spring through summer. And the bees are so happy and the hummingbird comes in for frequent treats throughout the day.


66.  ...........the chance to feel FIT at age fifty. Getting my daily walks in has been wonderful. Wish I had taken the time when my kids were younger...... Not just with them. I did that. But I mean for my health. Young mothers......take.  the.  time. 

67. .........my offspring who are so amazing in the kitchen. Such excellent cooks. Makes up for my lack of excitement or desire there. 

My oldest boy led the way in creating a delicious four-course meal after our river outing.
As it was just the four of us home for five days,
he made a comment that it was so quiet on those five days,
none of the melancholics were home.  :)
It was so true. Just a sanguine and her phlegmatic boys.  :)


68. .........that my kids made it through the perils of young childhood. All that worry is gone. Of course, they are replaced by bigger and scarier fears.......but I don't expect them to choke on a penny anymore. 

69. ............the internet friends who came by for visits this summer. 

Theresa, whom I have linked on this blog before.......came by from Alaska.   

My Malachy and her J-Bug, both almost 13, got along quite well.
They enjoyed our hike out to the meadow.


And JoAnn, who also has six kids, about the same age as mine, but only one girl.....came by from Colorado. 

Chari & JoAnn about to sit down for a tea party.

JoAnn and four of her kids........in our meadow.
My home is on the other side of those low trees in the background.

I may live in the country, but only minutes away is the most important highway in the west, goes from Mexico to Canada. It means I am on people's' way from Point A to Point B. :)

Like I said on Facebook recently.......Blessed are those who live near I-5, for they shall see many visitors.  :)

70. .........an opportunity to sit here by the river in the cooling air, writing a blog post on my iPhone, surrounded by the sounds of nature, in a very, very peaceful setting. So. Nice. 


So. Good. For. My. Soul. 


I need to do this more often. :)


P.S.  Research shows that folks who use journaling to write what they are thankful for...instead of just a place to vent, find their lives are more happy, more satisfying.  Let's go there!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Colored Dots in the Pantry, and Other Things LIke That

 On Household Things --  I am still loosely following Motivated Moms and Flylady, but I found a way to make progress on the house that is even simpler.   It is something like Brandy's Cleaning Loop Schedule.   I simply spend 5 minutes a day in several different areas of my house.   We have a fairly large house built on an open plan and when I add up all the different rooms and areas I come up with somewhere between 15 and 20.   I couldn't visit all of them every day without spending a couple of hours on housekeeping, but I visit the high traffic zones and then usually a couple of other areas.    I just do whatever seems to most need doing in that particular room.  For example, in the bathrooms (the cleaning of which I need to revisit 3 or more times during the week) I can quickly tidy a basket, swish the toilet and wipe the counter.   It's surprising how much better an area can look after those five minutes.  

Something that I am just starting to work through is having a project going in different parts of the house based on Flylady's zones.   For example, last week was the kitchen.    My husband has been mentioning that when the kids put away the groceries in the walk-in pantry, they are out of order -- mostly because my younger two now help with the unloading and they weren't taught, like the older ones, what areas to put things in.

So last week I organized the pantry and used the labeling dots you can buy at the dollar store to mark all the cans by expiration date.    Now we can see at a glance which pantry food items to use first.    This is the kind of thing I sort of enjoy doing but rarely get around to because there are more urgent things to get done.  That's why I like the "ongoing project" idea because it's not time-dependent and I can fit it into little pockets of the day -- like while waiting for the water to boil in a pot, times like that.

You will notice that I haven't mentioned the kids in this description of daily cleaning.   That is because we are in transition (which seems to have been the case for a few years now as kids grow up, move out etc).    Only 2 of my kids are under 18 now.    One of them, Aidan, loves to take on new household responsibilities.   He collects all the trash and recyclables, brings the bins out to the curb, brings them back to the garage, etc.   He does most of the laundry except for putting in the detergent and putting clothes away.      There are quite a few other things he does either assisting me or on his own.   He's retained that preschool trait of wanting to be involved in every project that's happening, but since he is a teenager and quite tall and strong now, he can actually help with the fun things like making coffee and chopping vegetables and building shelves.

Paddy is the other adolescent in the house and as the youngest child of seven and 16 years younger than his oldest brother, he never quite got phased into the chore system the way the others did.   He is also more conceptual and less hands-on than Aidan is.  This summer I am focusing on getting him in the habit of doing more around the house.   He has a few responsibilities but they aren't quite as extensive as those the older kids had at his age, partly because I often end up more or less cleaning as I go so it's harder to plan specific jobs for him to do, and when I do need help, I often call on one of the big kids because they are taller and stronger and know how to do more already.   But very soon they are going to be gone and Paddy needs to have the opportunity to do more.      I say opportunity because even though he probably won't exactly jump for joy when called upon to sweep or unload the dishwasher or troubleshoot the computer or lug laundry baskets, he will probably enjoy having the experience under his belt, because right now his older brothers give him a hard time for being responsible for less than they were at his age (though their memories are sort of biased....)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Building Shrines and Moving Cabinets

I spent the day rearranging the house.   Spring cleaning fever sometimes comes late but when it does come, I try to take advantage of it!      The master bedroom, the master bathroom, the art closet, and the coat closet look totally different (the coat closet in a bad way -- piles of things everywhere waiting to be sorted -- and I will have to acquire a new set of shelves.  But the rest is all better!)

My local Catholic study group has started doing a retreat called 33 Days to Morning Glory.    Today was the second day and the reflection was about Louis Marie de Montfort -- apparently he and the peasants in his parish worked very hard to build a shrine to the Passion of our Lord Jesus.   But his enemies reported it to the government, saying it was a rebel fortress, and he was ordered to tear it down.   He told the people of the village that if they could not have the shrine to the Passion on their land, they could have it in their hearts.

Fr Gaitley, who runs the video retreat and wrote the book, makes the daily readings short so that they can be read even by very busy people, but he tells us to try to "ponder in our hearts" as we go about the day.   In my effort to continue musing on the reflection,  I started thinking that a lot of a homemaker's work is much like that shrine.    The dinner that was prepared gets consumed (in 15 minutes!).  Then there are a lot of dirty dishes.  The clean floor is soon dirty, etc.    I spend several hours with a child -- sometimes several dozen -- helping him work through some issue.    At the end there isn't necessarily any mark left of how that time was spent (though sometimes I am astonished years later how this or that conversation has left its mark).  Certainly I can't check it off my task list.    Yet that time is not really gone.  It remains somehow.

Yesterday I was going to get the chance to be alone in the house for the first time in 28 + years (or at least, as far as I could remember).   My husband was going to take one of the grown boys to the train station and then take the other 4 boys still at home to a baseball game.     Though I love my family and prefer "quantity time" to "quality time" all things considered (that is, I like having my loved ones around, but I get sort of tired out when I am interacting actively for too long -- so basically "parallel play" ), I was looking forward to this once in a quarter century milestone.  Alone!  No one within shouting distance but me!  Maybe I would dance, or just hang out on the computer!   Or sing?   Or something!

But at the last moment, it became clear that Aidan was very unhappy about going somewhere without me (he is not a clinging young man -- he has gone on several week-long journeys with his Dad  by his own choice and quite happily -- but he knows that I am going to Virginia to be with his sister next month, and I think he is feeling a little ambivalent knowing that he will miss me).     Anyway, at the last moment plans were changed.     My husband bought an extra ticket to the Grizzlies game.    Fortunately there was an empty seat still next to their group.   I went with the guys to see Brendan off at Amtrak and then watch baseball in 100 degree Central Valley heat.

Did I have regrets?  NO!  I had fun spending time with my family, I liked the baseball ambience,  and I know that time alone in the house will come someday -- maybe more days than I want!  (I know that I always feel sad when one of the kids departs, even a grown one as happened yesterday, and I wish they could stay here all the time, or at least in the same neighborhood).

Do I regret all the days spent cooking meals that quickly got demolished, moving furniture that will get moved again next year when I am again in a reorganizing mood?  NO!  Though my teenagers asked me if the gigantic chest of drawers could stay put for longer this time -- they were quite astonished at having to move it AGAIN in only 14 months!  I guess I will have to tell them the Louis de Montfort story!

Louis de Montfort was not the only saint to face disappointment in a holy endeavour he had set his heart upon -- Alphonsus Liguori also had to face the possibility of his order being disbanded.    I am no saint -- but I do think that God gives mothers opportunities quite equivalent to those that the consecrated religious receive.    Those crosses may be littler or humbler than the destruction of a shrine or the disbandment of an order, but as far as what goes on in the heart, they probably feel somewhat the same.    We ought to pray for each other as we deal with the little heartaches, the little deprivations, that may be exactly what God needs from us to sanctify that particular situation and make it bear abundant fruit.

BTW -- Chari's daughter is back at home from a year in Slovakia !   (see Item 6.).    I am sure you will hear more soon, if Chari gets a chance to share pictures : )).      WELCOME BACK MADDELYN! !!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Literature Based Education

As we approach the mid-summer mark (yikes, really?) I am pondering literature-based education.     After all, the idea is embedded in our blog statement of purpose.     Chari has written about the literature based life, and I have written about literature based learning:  Literature Themes, more on literature theme approach, some questions about literary learning.

I just recently rediscovered that almost any aspect of life goes way better if there is a book involved.    What KIND of book, depends on what aspect of life and how I am approaching it.

Though as I mentioned our homeschool is moving along fairly well right now, I feel like we're skimping a bit on the literature part of it.   There is no doubt that Paddy reads a lot --  there is a pile of books wherever he habitually spends quiet time -- but it's separate from our regular homeschooling time, and that makes our lifestyle feel less literature-based to me.

The problem is with priorities and the fact that I have more than one set of them : ).    I want Paddy to have the basics down well enough so that he isn't dragged backwards by lack of them.     This means mostly math and formal English and the like.   I want him to have general cultural literacy -- a sense of the flow of history and the basic topics of science.    This means non-fiction books and some reviewing and follow-up type activities to make sure it stays in his mind.

Perhaps above all,  I want him to love reading and remember his childhood as literature-soaked.   When I was a child, I practically lived in literature-land (as much as I could, at least).  Though sometimes I wish I had developed more practical skills and paid more attention to formal academics,  I wouldn't trade this early ticket into our cultural heritage for anything.    It was also an early gateway into religious devotion (though I didn't realize it at the time), a lifelong sense of wonder and curiosity, and an appetite for the good.    And paradoxically, literature gives you a sense of reality, of balance in complexity, of the ring of the genuine, that you can't easily get anywhere else.

Literature, just because it has this potential, is like life -- it can't easily be packaged into compartments.    It takes leisure time, an attitude of openness and freedom.     A study guide can be helpful, but it can also close doors before you even know they could have been open.    Narration is better.  The best of all, in our family, is discussion and  spin-off creations -- a homemade form of what Jesuit educators called "imitation" or "synthesis".      But great discussions and creativity don't just come when they are called, though they are more likely to show up if you have already showed up -- that is, if I have made room for them in our homeschool day, and provided lots of literary soil for them to grow in.

So I think I am going to be touring our shelves during these mid-summer days.
Also, since a book is the road to almost everything to me, including positive habit changes, I am going to be scanning my shelves for books that focus on the importance of literature in a child's formation.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Parents, the Domestic Shrine and the Life of the Soul

In general, children taught by their own parents do not suffer so much from these misrepresentations of God, as those who have been left with servants and ignorant teachers, themselves warped by a wrong early training. Fathers and mothers must have within themselves too much intuition of the Fatherhood of God not to give another tone to their teaching, and probably it is from fathers and mothers, as they are in themselves symbols of God's almighty power and unmeasured love, that the first ideas of Him can best reach the minds of little children.
But it is rare that circumstances admit the continuance of this best instruction. For one reason or another children pass on to other teachers and, except for what can be given directly by the clergy, must depend on them for further religious instruction.   From The Education of Catholic GIrls, by Sr Janet Erskine Stuart

Interesting to compare with Charlotte Mason in Home Education
Again, what child has not heard from his nurse this, delivered with much energy, 'God does not love you, you naughty boy! He will send you to the bad place!' And these two thoughts of God, as an exactor and a punisher, make up, often enough, all the idea the poor child gets of his Father in heaven. What fruit can come of this but aversion, the turning away of the child from the face of his Father? What if, instead, were given to him the thought well expressed in the words, "The all-forgiving gentleness of God"? 
These are but two of many deterrent thoughts of God commonly presented to the tender soul; and the mother, who realises that the heart of her child may be irrevocabley turned against God by the ideas of Him imbibed in the nursery, will feel the necessity for grave and careful thought, and definite resolve, as to what teaching her child shall receive on this momentous subject. She will most likely forbid any mention of the Divine Name to the children, except by their parents, explaining at the same time that she does so because she cares so much that her children should get none but right thoughts on this great matter. It is better that children should receive a few vital ideas that their souls may grow than a great deal of indefinite teaching.

Janet Erskine Stuart goes on to say:

 We speak as we believe, there is an accent of sincerity that carries conviction if we speak of God as we believe, and if we believe truly, we shall speak of Him largely, trustfully, and happily, whether in the dogmas of our faith, or as we find His traces and glorious attributes in the world around us, as we consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or as we track with reverent and unprecipitate following the line of His providential government in the history of the world.
The need of right thoughts of God is also deeply felt on the side of our relations to Him, and that especially in our democratic times when sovereignty is losing its meaning. There are free and easy ideas of God, as if man might criticize and question and call Him to account, and have his say on the doings of the Creator. It is not explanation or apology that answer these, but a right thought of God makes them impossible, and this right thought can only be given if we have it ourselves. The Fatherhood of God and the Sovereignty of God are foundations of belief which complete one another, and bear up all the superstructure of a child's understanding of Christian life.
To be well grounded in the elements of faith, and to have been so taught that the practice of religion has become the atmosphere of a happy life, to have the habit of sanctifying daily duties, joys, and trials by the thought of God, and a firm resolve that nothing shall be allowed to draw the soul away from Him, such is, broadly speaking, the aim we may set before ourselves for the end of the years of childhood, after which must follow the more difficult years of the training of youth. 

 And here is more from Charlotte Mason

How to select these few quickening thoughts of the infinite God? The selection is not so difficult to make as would appear at first sight. In the first place, we must teach that which we know, know by the life of the soul, not with any mere knowledge of the mind. Now, of the vast mass of the doctrines and the precepts of religion, we shall find that there are only a few vital truths that we have so taken into our being that we live upon them––this person, these; that person, those; some of us, not more than a single one. One or more, these are the truths we must teach the children, because these will come straight out of our hearts with the enthusiasm of conviction which rarely fails to carry its own idea into the spiritual life of another. ... Let the parent who only knows one thing from above teach his child that one; more will come to him by the time the child is ready for more.

I guess with these hints (both authors give a few more specifics within the chapters I have linked to), it is easy to see why parents have such a key role.

Charlotte Mason said:

I once peeped in at an open cottage door in a moorland village, and saw a little child in its nightgown kneeling in its mother's lap and saying its evening prayer. The spot has ever since remained to me a sort of shrine. Charlotte Mason, First Approaches to God

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Of Planners and Habits and Loops

I am intermittently blogging about systems updates this summer, because it's the main focus of my daily life right now.   I've posted on housekeeping routines and on health and fitness habits.

Third Topic:  Homeschooling 

As far as what we are actually doing in the homeschool, we are in a good holding pattern for the summer.  

In my lesson planner I write down enough work for 3 days and then we just try to have the bulk of it done by the end of the week.   That means that there is room for summer projects, for appointments (I am trying to catch up on doctor's appointments and that kind of thing) and for field trips/ life experiences and for the general open time that one associates with summer.  

I guess it's a kind of loop schedule, come to think of it.   As with Brandy's loop schedule for cleaning, some subjects need to be more "high traffic" than others.   Mostly math, since that seems to be the least likely to be done naturally around here, and the children don't seem to progress as fast with math as with some other things.

I am trying to work with Paddy, my 11 year old, on the habit of using a planner.    His planner is basically a set of weekly checklists with the names of the books/ materials which we are using.    I write notes on the checklist about what we actually did so I know if we need to revisit the topic again.  

Aidan's checklist is mental.   I hear him at night sometimes saying, "Tomorrow for school -- we'll do some reading, and I'll write my story, and do the adding game online, and some dot to dots...."    Even though he is cognitively delayed, in many ways he is right on developmental track or even ahead, in his ideas of personal responsibility.   He has his own internal list of duties --many of which he takes on for himself, like collecting the trash around the house and bringing the bin out to the curb, and now bringing it back to the garage again.

Kieron has graduated, so now it is just the two -- Aidan and Paddy -- that I am directing daily.

As always when things are going pretty well with homeschooling logistics, I feel like the spark is gone.  In connection with that phenomenon, I am reading a book called Mini-Habits which had an interesting take on the relation between habits and the emotional feeling of motivation -- basically, he says that the relationship is inverse.  You start off, say, with a highly motivated feeling that inspires you to make changes.   Then you come to a point in about 3-5 weeks where you actually have somewhat established the habits, but your initial inspiration is basically gone.     You are doing better but it doesn't feel like you are.   He points out that habit is automaticity, which by its very definition is rather emotionless.    The whole idea of fluency is that it is second nature, so you no longer notice how wonderful it is that you can drive a car, or diaper a struggling infant, or make a dinner where all the parts are done at the same time, whereas once those things were very difficult.

One of my grown sons told me he feels like he has gotten stupider in the past couple of years.   This is at the same time as he is getting A+s in college and being asked to join honor societies.    I think this is part of the same picture.   A lot of times, as you get further into the nitty gritty of some habit, skill or area of knowledge, you feel like you are doing worse than you were originally, because the learning curve starts leveling off.   You have a more acute sense of your relative lack of skill and knowledge, and less of the naive ignorant kind of enthusiasm that you started with (one notices this in the spiritual life, as well).

This seems to have gotten rather far from the topic of homeschooling systems, but I wanted to remember that whereas once the lack of "spark" as we go about our homeschool day would have scared me into thinking we were being too mechanical, which would have driven me back to the drawing board to reinvent the homeschooling wheel (strange confusion of metaphors there) -- now I have a better sense of how these things operate.   Sure, my homeschool WILL become mechanical if I simply rest on "systems",  rather as my prayer life or my relationship with my family will become too pedestrian if I let them run on autopilot.  But at the same time, the habits are like the underweave or as Charlotte Mason says the "rails" on which the good things run.

So all in all, I think I want to keep the "loop" idea even when summer is over, though I may go about it differently as the seasons change.

Friday, July 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Volume SIx

July 4th, 2014     Silly me.  I started this post 5-6 weeks ago....thinking that I could at least blog once a week.  I can see that is so not going to happen.  As the cheerful, Pollyanna-type, I will still keep believing that I might.  Perhaps if I aim for one-sentence Quick Takes I could possibly pull it off.  As if........I could stay that minimalist with my writing.  Oh, well.......here this goes......

The below was started in May.......and completed today.


Even though Willa has blogged since I started number one........I will keep the following thoughts anyway:

 Well, I am sure that Willa and I have some good explanation as to why the last time either of us published a blog post, it was 2/15 for me and 4/13 for Willa.  The last time that I wrote, I finished by saying that until I had written a memorial blog post for my friend Micki who had just passed away, I would hold off on writing any blog posts at all.  I was trying to make that memorial a priority.  It did not work very well.  Not only have I not written anything for the blog, but I have not written that memorial. Sigh.  I am not going to beat myself up……but I sure wish that I had accomplished all.

And now…….I believe that both of us have just hit that time when we just cannot get to writing here…..for whatever the reason.

For me personally, I have not been able to keep up enough in life, to spend time on a hobby: writing, for instance. Since I wrote my last post, I have been working full-time……recovering from my long work days……helping one daughter get herself accepted and choose her college……..figure out the financial aid of four college students……study for a required course for work…….visit family in Reno twice…..my 92 year old grandmother on the coast……..a week for spring break with my boys in San Francisco……..and the usual stuff…… like watching my boys play lots of sports (both boys were on championship basketball teams), chauffeuring, laundry and what have you.

I still have so much on my plate right now, I just do not seeing me doing lots of writing….maybe any writing….though as Willa knows….sometimes when I state that……I end up on a writing roll.  Still….probably not this time.  I may aim for doing these Seven QuickTakes……just as a minimum.  It will be one way of keeping up a journal of our present moments….more for my own sake than for the blog’s sake.

I currently have four of the six kids at home….the two little boys (ha! 12 and 17 now) and two of the college students.  My exchange student will be home from her 11 months abroad in about 5 weeks or so. That will make five home……and then another college student will come home for two weeks in July.  This very well could possibly be the last time all of them are under the same roof for a long while.  Christmas vacation could be a possibility.  Hey…maybe even Thanksgiving.


Well, this First Take is taking long enough……and is possibly worth three takes as it is…….  J


 I am so sorry that I have not kept up with The Short Story Club.  Really???  How hard could it be? I already know what stories I was using for most of the year.  I will try to pick that up, too as well…….if I remember.  ;)


And now, some literature talk, on our literature-based blog:

I finally finished a book that I started over a year ago. Or is it over two years??? Either way, it is an audiobook, from Audible.com.  I was alerted to purchase 20 free books one day….and I got all of them, even though I had read about half of them.  I figured it was better than listening to those Librivox versions with so many different readers.......which I still would prefer over nothing, but these free professionally-read books are a serious treat.  :)

So in my effort to tackle more Dickens, I decided to listen to David Copperfield.  Do you know how long that book is???? It is 34 hours of listening time! And because I only listened for 5-15 minutes only a few times a week, it did take over a year.  Anyway, it is done.  Finally and phew.

I needed something short, next.  Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton made the cut.  Interesting turn of events at the end, that novella.

And now I have already started listening to A Tale of Two Cities.......endorsed highly by my eldest daughter and Willa. I had avoided listening to Dickens all these years.....knowing that I would prefer it in hard copy......and I cannot help, but think that I was right.  I feel like I am missing out on seeing the lovely vocabulary and details in his words. Oh, well.  At least I will have the storyline.  :)

And.......I am still trying to read Our Mutual Friend on my iPhone.  Slower going than David Copperfield........

--- 4 ---

Today is the 4th of July.  The nation-over celebrates the birth of our country. As is appropriate.

But in my father's family.........we have a veil of sadness hanging over our festivities. 

My dad's family at his first wedding......left to right:
someone I cannot recognize with half a face, my grandmother and grandfather,
my great-grandfather with my cousin Claudia behind him,
my great-grandmother Charlotte, for whom I am named, my Aunt Nancy and lastly, Aunt Joanie.

In 1966, just a month before my sister was born, and I was a little over two years old, my Aunt Joanie, one of my dad's younger sisters was killed by a drunk driver on the 4th of July. She left behind her parents, an older and younger sister, a brother (my father) and her significant other and her 10 month old baby girl, my cousin Julie.  She was only 18 years old. :(

My Aunt Joanie
Aged 15

It was a strange turn of events that led her to be driving where she was........

Anyway, I have heard enough stories of my Aunt Joanie to feel like I knew her......and so I do miss her.  And my heart always broke for my cousin, losing her mama at such a young age.
And for my dad who loved his sister.

May the faithful departed rest in Peace,,,,,,,,

North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
My soul is having muscle memory flashbacks:  one year ago tonight, after the fireworks, my youngest sister and I left for almost three weeks in Hawaii, visiting the middle sister.

My soul aches to return to my favorite places on Oahu.

Above is a photo that reflects one of the best days ever in my life........my sister Teresa and I went kayaking here, a mile up a beautiful and peaceful river with green sea turtles.  Heavenly.

--- 6 ---

Only five days.......and Miss Maddelyn, who has been living in Slovakia for the last eleven months as a Rotary Exchange Student, will be home in our arms.  Tuesday night, just before midnight.
Blessed are we.

Saints Christopher and the Three Holy Kings,
Patron Saints of Travelers, Pray For Us!

--- 7 ---

Today is the 4th of July!
Since we all stayed up late........it was a sleeping-in-till-nine kind of morning.
They listened to American Favorites music.......then 1776, the musical......and all have now scattered.  That is what happens when they get old enough to drive themselves......
One will go to Castle Lake with a friend.......after hanging out in downtown Mount Shasta around parade time.......three boys are watching the World Cup game this am at a friend's house (she has cable & Tivo) .......the youngest is with my best friend and her young family, doing the parade, hanging out and then to the lake. The oldest is relaxing........and might be talked into joining me.  :)
I am spending the morning writing this piece.....and then I will put together our annual 4th picnic food for dinner, take a nap if there is time (the 4th is always a late night here), go visit a close friend and her young family (where they have an ice cream cone waiting for me) and then head to the lake where I expect my kids will join me (because I have the food :) ) for that picnic dinner and fireworks over the lake.  Thinking about going to the lake early enough to walk the trail around it for my daily exercise.  It seems the day will have a nice breeze to counter the heat.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


Independence Day Blessings,