As we finished Caddie Woodlawn, Anne-with-an-e made an observation.
"It seems," she said, "that families were closer in those days. In some ways. I mean, they had more time. They weren't always running off to the next activity."
I had been thinking the same thing. I've been thinking it off and on throughout this school year. "The next activity" seems to be looming over us all too often.
Then, I remembered a conversation with Betsy from a couple of months ago. It was a frigid, snowy day and we were working on a puzzle together. Betsy said she knew how Laura Ingalls must have felt in those long winters, because sometimes it was hard when you couldn't get outside and do fun things and go places.
"But,then," she reflected, "Laura really did have a good life. She had her family, and dolls. And they could read."
"Yes," I replied, "and although they may have been cooped up in their house for days -- or sometimes even weeks or months -- they had each other and that made all the difference. We can sometimes forget, can't we, what it's like to live without all of the busy-ness of our "go-go-go" lifestyle."
"Yes!" she said, looking at me pointedly. "Yes! We forget how to live!"
These little confirmations of what's been brewing in my mind this school year were all I needed to make it official.
Back to Anne's observation. I replied:
"I've been thinking about our activities, too. You know, sometimes I feel like all of our activities, as great as they are, get in the way of other things we really want to do. Lately, it seems that we have to put something aside that we'd really like to do -- like have a new friend over, or bake a cake, or do nothing but read all day -- because we need to be ready to head out to the next activity."
"Yeah," said Anne and Betsy, their eyes widening with discovery. "Yeah!"
"What would you guys think of an experiment for next year? Where we radically cut back on outside activities so that we are freer to make some different choices about our time?"
They exchanged a look that answered my question.
"I think that might be a good idea," said Anne.
"I agree," nodded Betsy.
"Me, too," said Ramona, with a slightly furrowed brow.
And so it has been decided. The vague, nagging feeling that we need to tweak our schedules and lives a bit has come more sharply into focus.
So, was I lying when I recently told a fellow homeschooling mom that this year had been a good one, with a nice balance of home-time and activity-time? Nah. I meant it when I said it.
It has been a good year, and I am grateful for all of the activities and opportunities that have presented themselves. I firmly believe God takes care of our needs and provides the right thing at the right time. For example, a couple of years ago, when I was beginning to fret over time (or lack of it) spent on science and art, we suddenly met a new family. The mom alerted me to a new set of classes at the local arts center, just for homeschoolers. And, she offered to teach a science co-op. Coincidence? Methinks not. I was paying enough attention to that little series of events to say, "Thanks, God. That's awfully gracious of You."
And last summer, just as the kids' Girl Scout troop was falling apart (because aforementioned mom was moving, and she really had been the glue holding it all together) God provided a new friend who invited us to join her American Girl History Club. This club (thank you, Linda!) has been the perfect "girl time/craft time" opportunity for my kids. Thanks again, God. It's amazing how You know just what we need.
And this year, events in our life have taken us down a meandering path that keeps pointing us toward this one thing: Slow down.
I think I'll pay attention.
And continue to love our read-alouds.