Monday, October 06, 2014

It's fall.  Nighttime temps have actually dipped in the upper 40s.  Hence the poetry.  It is a reaction I always have to this time of year.  A good pumpkin spice coffee, a bubble bath and a poem.  Good things.  Here's a poem that Kathryn's memorizing for school.  She particularly likes this one, and so do I. 

Afternoon on a Hill

 Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
 
I will be the gladdest thing  
    Under the sun!  
I will touch a hundred flowers  
    And not pick one.  
  
I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,  
Watch the wind bow down the grass,  
    And the grass rise.  
  
And when lights begin to show  
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,  
    And then start down!

(*photo from www.sceptretours.com)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rocks and Marbles

At a certain point in the raising of children, the focus shifts away from the negative to the positive.  There's a lot less of, "don't do this" and "don't touch that" to "do this" and "do that."  At ages nine and seven, my kids don't get a lot of discipline, shall we say.  Corrective actions happen less and less frequently, and we were looking for a way to shift our approach toward rewarding the results of their training.  I stumbled upon a 'system' online, and we adapted it for our own uses.  Here's the original post from which I got the idea.



How we do it:  Each child has his or her own color of glass marbles (Kathryn:green, Alex:blue).  Throughout the day, marbles may be earned for a variety of things (the vagueness started getting to us, so our list is as follows:
1.  Complete morning chores before school without being asked.  (1 marble)
2.  Complete bedtime chores before 8:00 p.m. without being asked.  (1 marble)
3.  Do all homeschool without complaint.  (2 marbles)
4.  Get caught doing something nice for someone else (not their chores).  (Reward up to Mom)
5.  Eat breakfast and lunch with a good attitude.  (1 marble per day)

*  On number four, Kathryn began 'doing something nice' for Alex by completing his chores for him.  He was delighted and more than happy to let her 'earn a marble.'  You can see the problem here.  An example from yesterday of 'something nice' was when Kathryn wasn't feeling good, Alex went and got her a blanket and stuffed animal.
*  On number five, this is a big deal for picky eaters.  They truly dislike so many foods.  I don't die on that hill at suppertime, since that is family time.  At supper, they can pick from whatever is on the table.  Sometimes (rarely) that may be just bread and butter.  They haven't died yet.

Each day, they earn marbles and then at night they combine them in a big jar.  This is intentional, as I don't want them 'competing' for goodness.  Rather, they are being told that loving actions benefit the family as a whole and gets us all closer to our goals.  The goals are lines marked on the jar.  As they are reached, preset fun things are done.  It may be pizza night, or a new book they want, or whatever is on their minds at the moment (and approved as appropriately motivating and budget friendly as possible).

On to the rocks.  Rocks are a big deal.  They are given ONLY when a stranger comments on their CHARACTER.  Not their appearance.  This would be, "You are so polite,"  or "You are so kind," etc.  Sometimes, they get close with a "thank you sooo much," but that isn't a rock.  Needless to say, rocks get us a lot closer to our goals and are hard to earn.

This has also allowed us to pull back a little from stronger forms of discipline.  There are times when discipline (I'll leave this up to your biblical imagination- haha!) are needed.  Lies and outright rebellion are the main two no-no's here.  For smaller infractions (for example, yesterday when Alex didn't want to write and I could tell he was goofing off by s-l-o-w-l-y! writing), I pulled a marble out of the jar.

This is working really well for us.  It is a way to reward progress, correct wrongs, build teamwork.  All with an emphasis (I verbally emphasize this to them on a regular basis) on how doing right affects others. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Daybook Entry:

Outside my window:  The deep darkness that precedes the sunrise.  Yesterday, at 3:00 p.m. there was a beautiful doe tiptoeing around outside our back window eating the wild violets that grow in the low places next to the brush.  Such a gorgeous, delicate creature.  What a fun interruption to our school day as we sat and admired her. 

I am thinking:  about doing another fall series on poetry.  Just for me.  And maybe Sonja Vernon and Kim Neuenswander :o)  Something about the change of the seasons makes me long for cozy blankets and deep thinking poets.

I am thankful for:  a man who is "obsessed with God's Word," as Pastor Potter encouraged the congregation to be last Sunday.  I must admit, it IS all he talks about, and there are times that I say, "OK, my brain is tired, no Bible discussions for the next few minutes, please." (Is that terrible??)  Due to his unique salaried position, he has the freedom during much of the year to study all day long.  And he does.  Every time he stands up to speak, I know the many, many hours he has poured into his topic.  He takes 'rightly dividing the word of truth' seriously, and I'm so thankful for the example he sets for our children.

In my kitchen:  only the coffeemaker is bubbling away at this time of the day.  Today I plan to make some lovely roasted butternut squash with cinnamon.  Maybe I'll throw in some toasted pecans.  Who needs dessert?  Never tried it?  Try this link for ideas.  The hardest part is peeling the aggravatin' squash.  My goodness!  It must be impervious to all wild creatures, because I can barely get into it with a sharp kitchen knife.

Around the house:  Alex.  What?  Where did he come from at 6:00 a.m.?  Bad dream.  Sip of milk.  Hug, kiss (since no one is watching). Back to bed with you, short person.

I am loving:  the pumpkin spice iced coffee I tried at Dunkin Donuts this week.  Note to prospective buyers:  there is no need to ask for any extra sweeteners.  It's already good to go.  Loving the shine of wood post-Pledge dusting session.  I normally dust my furniture with a feather duster.  A quick swipe and off I go.  There's something about rubbing the wood down with Pledge, or Old English (even better) that imparts that lemony smell and shine that just inspires me.  When I was little, my Mawmaw would assign me the chair legs and hard-to-reach places with a dust rag cut from my grandfather's ribbed tank style t-shirts.  I can feel the memories flooding back every time I pick up that shiny yellow can.

I am hoping:  the fall leaves will be glorious.  If not, I may have to go find some glorious ones.  See below.  Mentone, AL perhaps?

I am sorely tempted by:  the thought of jumping in the car and taking a road trip with the kids to see Jamestown.  When we study these things in history, I would love to have the money to make it come alive in person.  "Guess what, kids?  We're studying Japan this week.  Here's your passports."  (Can you imagine?) :o)  In the meantime I've discovered "Anna's Adventures" in Jamestown here. These videos take you there and are much cheaper.

I am reading:  Jan Karon's newest novel, Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good.  I am savoring it, like a piece of fine chocolate.  At 77, I think she's at the top of her game.  The book is hilarious, gripping, tear-jerking.  I recently went to hear her speak in Birmingham- more on this later.  It was a magical evening!

On my to-do list:  Find someone, ANYONE, who will fix the motor in my garden tub.  It must a bad sign that no one wants to touch the task.  Hmmm....  Also, pop some wheat bread ingredients with cracked wheat into my machine this morning to have delicious, buttered bread at lunch. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

http://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/crooked_path.jpg
Making the Crooked Paths Straight, Waiting for Our God to Come

When I think of John the Baptist, a couple of Biblical phrases come to mind: "making the crooked straight," "preparing the way" and "I must decrease, He must increase."
  
I heard a well-known preacher say the other day on Christian radio that raising godly kids is not rocket science.  Do Steps 1-5, and voila! Christian kids you can be proud of.  No mention of the fact that godly parents (not those who do 'everything right'- as those obviously do not exist) occasionally have rebellious children.

There comes a time when GOD HIMSELF has to make His grand entrance into the lives of our children, or we labor in vain.  So how do we "make the paths straight" for the coming of God into their lives.  Back to John the Baptist.  He recognized the coming agenda/will of God, and he showed the people their sin and need of a Savior.  He prepared their hearts to receive the Son of God.  In parenting, is this not the 'stacking of the deck?'  It is not enough to say, "Well, God has to do his work, and even He, the perfect parent, had a rebellious child- Adam?"  No!  We shout and yell, "He's coming.  He's coming.  Expect him.  Get ready.  You need him!"  Through intentional, godly, Biblically wise parenting, we do all we can, with His help, to smooth the way for the coming of God.
And then He comes.  Quietly sometimes.  A child will make a remark, and You will realize he/she is starting to hear the voice of God.  Our job is to say, "Yes, here He is!  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away your sins!  Accept Him!"  Then we must be willing to be God-like.  God WILL walk down the path we have straightened for him and offer our children eternal life.  (In fact, He offers life to all.  But for some the path is still so messed up and crooked, I'm afraid they don't even recognize him.)   But he will not force entry or overpower their will.  If they walk away, we continue to call out the truth.  God forbid any of us experience the pain of watching their backs fade into the distance!  But some of us already have.  Becky Keep wrote a beautiful article on this in a recent God's Revivalist issue.  (It begins on page 14 of the May issue here)  I would encourage a reading of it.  Through the tears and personal rejection, we accept the comfort of God, who in Isaiah 5 says, "What more could I have done?!?!"  He has experienced the pain of a wayward child, and we can trust Him to keep asking, to keep knocking.  So, so hard- I can't even imagine.  However, we can't afford to become so demoralized that we leave off straightening the path, preparing the way for the younger children still in our care. 

The other scenario, far more pleasant but yet still painful, is transitioning them into responsible Christian adulthood.  There should come a time when they stop 'following us' and start following Christ.  At some point, we should be decreasing and Christ increasing in their lives.  See Valorie Quesenberry's excellent article here.  That's the goal.  To stand back and watch them become path-straighteners for others.

Luke 3:4-6 
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

John 3:28-30
I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

God help me straighten to path and prepare the way in Kathryn and Alex's hearts! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014




My mom's dad was a gardener.  His garden was large enough to feed our family of seven, his family (him, my grandmother and my invalid uncle, "Benny Sherrill"), and have plenty leftover to give to neighbors.  It was big enough to fill 3 deep freezers and a huge pantry of canning jars every year.  It was big enough for him to work in from sun-up to sun-down and still have plenty for us five kids to do for hours everyday.  Between homework and garden, that's about all we did.  We would step off the school bus to bushels and bushels (no exaggeration) of work.  The stain of purple hull peas stayed on our hands for days.  The sandy grit of shelling butterbeans.  The shucking and careful silking of the corn that would be inspected by our (once upon a time) USDA inspector grandfather.  The sycamore tree that popped its bark off during thunderstorms that kept off the sun we shucked for hours.  The many hours of standing on the yummy a/c vent, picking out wormy peas as I ran the batches through cold water (somehow made more lovely by seeing my brothers through the window sweating it out).  The watermelons and cantaloupes that lived all over his house, on all the other a/c vents to chill them.  Ever stubbed your toe on a watermelon in the living room?  The time he accidentally hit a watermelon with the tractor tire, and we stopped right there- to eat sun-warmed, busted up watermelon in the field.  

My grandfather was not a kind man.  Rough, gruff.  He died the week of my wedding; we teasingly said he did it out of spite.  I cried the first time he called me "honey," and then got yelled at.  He shamelessly played favorites with the grandkids, and I was not one of them- haha.  But there were times, like when he would request #160, "Under His Wings," when I wondered what played there inside his head.  Somehow, even through all our complaints (to which he'd respond, "You wanna eat this winter, don't ya?") we all picked up bits and pieces of him which come out in the spring.  Even my younger brother, Ethan, the worst sworn enemy of the garden, has one of his own now.  Will wonders never cease?

Nathan says, "Gardening is in your past.  Let's keep it there."  And for good reason.  I'm not actually good at it.  We were experts in our individual tasks.  That means there are parts of gardening I could do in my sleep, but those mostly involve harvest.  Unfortunately, for me, I was in school when he was putting in the seed and fertilizing and doing the daily things plants require.  But even with that, something kicks in this time of year, and I feel compelled to plant something.  Somehow, the joy of holding something edible that comes from my yard outweighs the fact that I kill off 90% of what I plant.

As a tribute to my grandfather, we often eat purple hull peas, albeit from the store.  He would be proud to know that I still smash them (as he taught me to), salt them and eat them on saltines.  Of course, that pride might disappear if he saw that I planted morning glories ("those nasty weeds") on purpose and plan to let them wreak glorious havoc. 
 


Putting in the Seed

by Robert Frost
 
You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea);
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a Springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

From http://www.budgettravel.com   
Re-reading my favorite 'fun' author, Jan Karon.  Her main character, Father Tim travels to Ireland to explore his family genealogy, and this poem is referenced in his travels.  This is the last poem written by Pádraic Pearse, the night before he was executed as a leader in the 1916 Easter Rising (an attempt to secede from the United Kingdom).  He wrote this sitting in Kilmainham Gaol- a young 36 year old man.  This poem speaks to me in a way few do.  There is just so much breathtaking beauty in this world.  We have been reading through the psalms, where so much of God's creation is celebrated.  Romans 1 says that God is revealed to everyone through his creation, so that they who reject Him are 'without excuse.'  I find it sad that all this beauty (both His creation and the thousands of years of human artistry) will someday pass away.  I know that's ridiculous, as we will be trading it for a perfect new earth, unscarred by sin.  This beauty is a "beauty that will pass," stepping off the stage to allow a superior and eternal beauty to come on the scene....

The Wayfarer – Pádraic Pearse
The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way
Sorrowful.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Life in Pictures
We've been up to... life and homeschooling and stuff.  Here's a little catch-up in pics...  Hope your spring is going well!

The zoo let members ride FREE on the new zipline course for a few days.  We happened upon it- Serendipity and Joy! 
My brave adventurers!

My, my, what high platforms they have!  All the better to jump from, Mom!

Mitzi attempts to escape her bath by impersonating Darth Vader.

Kathryn with a mouth full of green eggs and blue cottage cheese- ick!  This was Earth Day- so we had a green, blue and brown breakfast.  They thought it was cool.

And now we have the requisite spring nights in the basement.  Tornado season.

Which leaves us feeling a bit like this the next morning....