Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Ramona spent last week doing a theater camp. The performance was Saturday morning, and Atticus brought her roses to celebrate:

The play was a fun version of The Pied Piper. The reviews of her portrayal of a corrupt senator are in, and we expect Broadway producers to start calling any day. (We may be biased.)


Yesterday, Betsy and Ramona broke out the six-hour version of Pride and Prejudice. The following things may or may not have been posted on Facebook recently: 

Girls planning a Pride & Prejudice marathon: 
Girl 1:"We should get a bunch of snacks ready." 
Girl 2:"By snacks - you mean spoons & Nutella?"


When the girls started up the the 6-hr. Pride & Prejudice this morning, Atticus said, "The Lizzy-athon has begun!"

"No," I said, "it's the Colin-palooza."

I can report that there was indeed Nutella, and spoons were spotted. Also present were these indecently good Smitten Kitchen granola bars. I'm pretty sure popcorn was popped at some point, and when Atticus got home from errands, he threw some chocolate bars the girls' way.

We are enablers.


Speaking of Facebook, yesterday I said this:

I wish my life had a soundtrack. Then I'd know if I should be feeling anxious or triumphant.

Life would be so much easier, yes?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry Friday: Leisure, by Amy Lowell

I am all about creating enough margin in our lives that we don't go crazy. I must admit, however, that this summer has felt a little crazy by our standards. The busy-ness has all been great stuff.  I don't begrudge any of us any of it but I am trying to make sure we still have time for the "goddess of a bygone age." 

Amy Lowell

Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.


The round up is at Reflections on the Teche.


"Leisure" is in the public domain. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Our Eyes Should Be Open"

I just haven't had time lately.

I'm not complaining. Life is good and busy, and the busy-ness is all of the good variety. I just feel as if I haven't had time lately to sit down with my friends (you!) and have a cup of coffee and chat about what's going on.

Late June and these first weeks of July simply flew. We got back from a trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas (visits to my side of the family) and soon after that came a speaking engagement at a homeschooling conference in Omaha, and no sooner had we returned home from that than our friends from Florida came to stay for a few days. And whenever I haven't been traveling or asking Atticus what he's cooking our guests for dinner, I've been working on a book that is due to the publisher very soon.

Today is Sunday, right? (I've lost track of days.) Sabbath rest, and we all need it. I'm sitting in my room (which doubles as my office on workdays, but today it's just a haven) with my laptop, and I can hear nothing from the living room. People are reading or napping or scrolling. I just now turned on the air conditioner, because it's been such a lovely day.

I keep meaning to write about the Filled With Joy conference in Omaha because it really was filled with joy, and it felt like such a privilege to be a part of it. We had two of our daughters with us (one of them was at a Steubenville conference), and Friday night was just fun family time and burgers and shakes for dinner. Something happened to all of us, though, on Friday night in the hotel room. We're a family prone to insomnia, but this was ridiculous. This was like some kind of Twilight Zone episode or a "Before" shot in a commercial for Excedrin PM. No one was dropping off, and by Saturday morning, I was running on an "I kinda dozed off a couple of times" level of sleep.

How am I going to get through this conference?

I was so cranky that I was growling at everything, including air, and everyone, including my beloved family. It didn't help that I had just spilled hot coffee on my pajamas and then almost washed my wedding ring down the bathroom sink. Atticus left the room to go jump on a treadmill (no surprise -- I would have run from me, too). I grabbed my iPod and opened my Breviary app.

It was the feast day of St. Benedict, and I read these words:

Second reading
From the Rule of Benedict, abbot
Put Christ before everything

My first talk of the day was to be about a homeschooling mom's prayer life. In that talk, I stress that the reason I do what I do -- everything I do -- is Christ.

Then I read:

Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection; 

Oh, this is getting even better, I thought. Maybe I should incorporate this quote into my talk ... maybe I need to share about the sleep deprivation ... about the way the Liturgy of the Hours always speaks to me ... especially when I desperately need it to.

A quiet voice (not a real voice -- I'd love to say that it was a real voice, or that God sounds like Alan Rickman or something, but that wasn't the case. It was just a feeling....) told me, No, you don't need to use that quote. Just hold on to it.

So I did. And I stowed away the idea that if it came up, if I felt truly compelled to share about the rotten night I'd had, I would. I would definitely talk about the way the prayers of the Breviary speak to me, would probably even mention that I had felt spoken to that morning, because I had gone on to read this:

So we should at long last rouse ourselves, prompted by the words of Scripture: Now is the time for us to rise from sleep. Our eyes should be open to the God-given light, 

and this:

Just as there exists an evil fervor, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervor which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks [and wives and mothers, I thought] should put this fervor into practice with an overflowing love: that is, they should surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either of body or of behavior, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another.

and this:

Let them put Christ before all else;

I was ready. Another cup of coffee (unspilled this time), some breakfast. Grace was rescuing me. Conference time.

I was the first speaker, and delivered my prayer talk. I alluded to my more-than-satisfactory conversation with God that morning, but didn't give details. Afterward, during Q &A, a woman asked if I would share what specifically had touched me. I had to laugh, because here was the moment in which I felt compelled to share about the bad night, the insomnia, my crabbiness, and how the words of St. Benedict (minus any specific quotes) had soothed my spirit.

But, remember that St. Benedict quote that I considered adding to my talk? (Of course you do -- it was only a few paragraphs ago.) When Suzie Andres began her talk, immediately following mine, she opened with that same quotation, a quotation she had planned to use all along. (I guess there was a reason I was discouraged from stealing it from her.)

And the whole day went that way -- our talks wove in and out of each other, synchronizing so delightfully that if I hadn't known it, I would have thought we'd coordinated remarks.

Our eyes should be open to the God-given light. 

I loved this conference. Huge kudos and thanks to Regina, Kris, and Maureen, all of whom poured countless hours and endless sacrifices into making it run smoothly and beautifully.

And now, because it's Sunday, I think it's nap time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Life Keeps Traveling at Breakneck Speed

Photo thanks to Free Images

It's all good stuff, but I haven't had time to blog about any of it! Will be blogging soon about:

  • The conference in Omaha and how lovely and amazing the organizers were 
  • Meeting Suzie and Tony Andres 
  • Piano and horses and theater camp, oh, my! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Poetry Friday: The Land of Story-books

I'll be at the Filled With Joy conference this weekend, talking about read-alouds, among other things. And although this Stevenson poem isn't specifically about being read to, it is about books and imagination and the joyful marriage of those two. Happy Poetry Friday! 

The Land of Story-books*
Robert Louis Stevenson

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter’s camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.

So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.


The round up is at The Logonauts.

*In the public domain.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Hey, I'm Sadness! (No surprise for this INFJ.)

Quiz is here

Can I tell you how much I love Inside Out? I love it truly. 
More later, but just had to say that if you haven't seen it yet, you must. You must

Monday, July 06, 2015

Book Lists: A Pile of Notes from Over the Years

Book lists are everywhere. I don't need to provide you with a specific list of what you should read, because our favorites might not be your favorites. But I can give you a list of lists, compiled, referred to, and loved over the last fifteen years of homeschooling:

Alicia Van Hecke's Love2Learn Family Read Aloud List

Reading Your Way Through History

Emmanuel Books catalog

Melissa Wiley's Book Recommendations

Melissa Wiley's Booklist List

Mother of Divine Grace curriculum lists

Catholic Heritage Curricula catalog

Simply Charlotte Mason Read Aloud List

Simply Charlotte Mason Living Science Books

A Charlotte Mason Home booklist by grade level

Maureen Wittmann's For the Love of Literature Book List (and the Kindle book.)

Homeschool Connections List of Living Math Books

Penny Gardner's Living Math Books

Treasure Chest for Tweens (a review site of a variety of books)

Sonlight catalog (download the pdf to take a look at the title index)

Simple Homeschool's Top 25 Read Alouds

Not a free resource, but a great one: Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook.

(And, ETA, thanks, Liz in the comments: Honey for a Child's Heart. Great reading lists in that one, too. Can't believe I'd forgotten to include it.)

I know there are more ... now where did I leave that other pile of lists?

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Reading About Read-Alouds

I'm reviewing notes and polishing up a talk about read-alouds that I'll be giving next weekend at the "Filled With Joy" conference in Omaha. But I just had to stop what I'm doing and share this old post, entitled "Why I Love Our Read-Alouds, Part 937." Ramona was not quite six years old:


Ramona asked me if I would read Anne of Green Gables to her. We started a couple of days ago, and when we reached the passage in which Anne describes herself as being in the "depths of despair" Ramona asked me what the "depths of despair" were.

"Well," I said, "'despair' means being terribly, terribly sad, so the 'depths of despair' would be the saddest a person could possibly be. Have you ever been in the depths of despair?"

"I," replied Ramona, "am in the depths of despair whenever you have to go out and I can't be with you. That's how much I love you."

She gazed up at me in a very Anne Shirley way.

And I?

I felt as if I'd just seen the White Way of Delight, the Lake of Shining Waters and had been told by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert that they were going to keep me.

My latest Anne-with-an-e fan (Ramona, not the cat.)

Friday, July 03, 2015

Poetry Friday: Still Life With Invisible Canoe

My girls, sitting on the dock after sunrise. 

Just home from a short vacation -- visited my parents in Arkansas, and also savored this beautiful view from the deck of the rental we shared with my sister and brother-in-law. 

Though my girls are no longer little, today's poem prompted a mix of memories (from make-believe in a living room to walking in woods with a small child) that over the years has left me, as the poet says at the end of the poem -- do go read the whole thing, it's very short -- with "a feeling near holy." 

Still Life with Invisible Canoe
Idra Novey

Levinas asked if we have the right
To be the way I ask my sons
If they’d like to be trees
(Read the whole poem here, at Poets.org.)


The round up today is at Mainely Write

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Poetry Friday: How the Stars Came Down

I am just getting to know Pat Schneider, but, oh, is she worth getting to know. From the bio on her website:

After a search for work took her single mother to St. Louis, from age ten Pat lived in tenements and in an orphanage until she was given a scholarship to college. Those early experiences have deeply influenced her writing, and fueled her passion for those who have been denied voice through poverty and other misfortunes.

"How the Stars Came Down" is a snapshot of a night in her childhood, a shift in her vision, and it's lovely, lovely.

How the Stars Came Down
by Pat Schneider

Night. How the stars came down
arching over us, and the only name
we had for them was shooting stars.
Why there were so many was anybody's guess.
My great grandmother thought the world
was coming to an end when Haley's comet
(Read the rest here, at The Writer's Almanac.)


The Poetry Friday roundup is at Carol's Corner

(Photo thanks to Free Images.) 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Random Instagram Instances

Ramona made me a "Book Writing Encouragement Jar."

Keeps everything in perspective. 


I love that Ramona and I completely nailed the fail when we tried to make cookie cups:

Though a couple of them turned out satisfyingly well:  


Last month, I discovered this portal to another dimension in Ramona's closet: 


We stole this puzzle from my sister. The only reason I gave it to her for her birthday last year was because I wanted to borrow it. (Well, not the only reason....) Doesn't it look nerdily fun?


Sometimes I just want to be a cat. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day with Atticus

Mass, of course.

Indecision about dinner. Does he feel like cooking? (He insists cooking is consistent with relaxing.) Want pizza delivered? Feel like going out? Some waffling.

Open presents. Ramona's homemade card: a picture of Darth Vader with the caption, "Atticus, You Are My Father." Other, equally funny and creative cards from Anne and Betsy.

A nine-and-a-half mile run. (Him, not me.)

Falling asleep on the couch while Anne and Betsy watch an episode of Lost. (Me, not him.)

Read some Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Ramona, with older girls warning me she might not want to hear all the details of the giant rumble. (Me, not him.)

Read some Retribution, by Max Hastings. (Him, not me.)

Go out for Mexican food. Eat too much. Come home. (All of us.)

Call my dad. (Happy Father's Day, Dad!)

Kiss husband. Thank God for him. Feel amazement and happiness at the privilege of having had a family with this man.

Happy Father's Day, Atticus.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poetry Friday: Swallows by Leonora Speyer

Photo thanks to FreeImages.*

Swallows are much on my mind of late. They love our porches, view them as prime real estate.

We always let them build in front. Why? I don't know. The front of the house should be what we're more concerned about, right? The mess the birds leave behind, the cleaning up of the droppings. But a number of years back, when the swallows first decided that we were their own private Capistrano, I just couldn't say no to them. Instead, I called the girls over to the window, we watched a pair of swallows investigate this corner, then that one. We imagined their conversations: "Yes, dear, the corner you like is lovely, but think of the children. The corner I chose will be cozier, don't you think?" Then the swallows would start a family, and the girls and I followed the family's progress as babies appeared, cried and chirped, were fed, grew, flew the nest.

Every year, on the front porch, they build, they leave a mess, we clean up, they raise their brood, and then they're gone.

This year, a pair scoped out the back porch. I guess they heard it was a builder's market at the Edmisten house, and two corners on the front porch were already taken.

That's enough! Atticus and I cried. We'll have bird droppings all over the back porch! The grill! The lawn chairs! We are putting out foot (feet) down!

Oh, but they're crafty, those swallows. This is a determined pair, and once they had their eyes on a building site, they did not want to give up or move on. Every day, they start building. A little mud, some dried grass, dab, dab, dab. Atticus and I knock their foundation down, sweep it away. The swallows attempt some half-hearted dive bombing, but they really aren't as aggressive as everyone says. They swoop near us, but don't seem to have the heart to really attack their potential landlords. One day, I took the dog out back and I caught the swallows red-handed, flying away from their first mudding of the day. They both landed on the power line that crosses the backyard. I could tell they were trying not to look at each other, pretending they didn't know each other. Pssst, just ignore me for now ... maybe she'll think we're not together. We're not the ones trying to build that nest. That's right, Missy, just move along with the dog. Nothing to see here. 

That cemented my love for them.

We've swept some mud away the last couple of days, but I'm about to give up. They are too clever, too determined, too beautiful for me. I can't bear to thwart their plans anymore.

What I have is yours, swallows. I hope you will name one of your children after me.

Leonora Speyer

They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.


The round up this week is at A Year of Reading.

*In the public domain.

Ramona's Summer Art

Lots of good stuff going on, but one thing I want to share is the live Mark Kistler 3-D drawing class that she's taking. The classes are available for free this summer, through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.*

She's been available for only two intermediate lessons so far and she wants to try the advanced level next time, if we're home at the right time.

Mark Kistler's virtual classroom is here,  and the schedule of classes is here. On this page, you can find Kistler's top 400 recorded lessons that can be used anytime. 


In other drawing news, Ramona is sorting Disney princesses into Hogwarts houses. So far, Ariel is a Gryffindor and Belle is a Ravenclaw. 


* Several other free offerings from the co-op can be found here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Poetry Friday: Looking at the Sky

Today I'm sharing my beloved Anne Porter. She always stuns in small, quiet ways.

Looking at the Sky
by Anne Porter

I never will have time
I never will have time enough
To say
How beautiful it is
The way the moon
Floats in the air
As easily
And lightly as a bird

(Read the whole thing here, at The Writer's Almanac.)


One of my absolute favorite Poetry Friday bloggers (one of my favorite bloggers of any-kind-ever) is hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Jama Rattigan always dishes up scrumptious food, delightful books, whimsical posts, and bears. Today she has blueberry crumble and a wonderful poem by Mary Szybist, as well as the round-up.