• celebrations,  the learning arts,  wonder and inquiry

    A generous education…

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    We finished up our school year just under a week ago. We’ll be taking the rest of the month off and a teensy bit of August, and then we’ll jump back in. I wasn’t exactly intending to become year round schoolers, but given our wacky and often unpredictable schedule, it fits just right. Looking back over these pictures just from the last month or two, my heart is so full. This year was so, so, rough, but I look back over these and I just see all the fun and joy we were having in the midst of it all; how much learning was going on even when I couldn’t be intentional about it. I look at these pictures and see my small intention and God’s mighty increase, filling us up. This year was full of so much overflowing grace. I can’t begin to express how much happier and more joyful this year of homeschooling has felt compared to our past homeschooling years prior to public school. It is like night and day.

    And my goodness, did the test scores show it. To me, testing is for the birds and a ridiculous anachronism of our industrial schooling model, and a rather odious one. I was so stinkin’ nervous about the stupid things. Our state requires them by law, and given all we endured this year, I was a ball of knots going into it, especially given some of the learning challenges we face. I should have known better after trusting the words of wise counselors. Everything I learned from Andrew Kern and Matt Bianco, Sarah Mackenzie, Christopher Perrin– about mastery, about scholé- and put into practice- showed in those tests.

    The proof is in the pudding, dear readers. I’m a restful teaching, classical learning, read aloud lifer after this. 😉  It’s not that these arbitrary numbers matter, but it gets the state off my back, and I, for one, am super grateful. Y’all, I cried some happy tears getting those results back. It was so encouraging to see. I had nothing to do with it. This was all them, all God. He is faithful. 

    This is a post in the continuing series, Wonder and Inquiry.

    wonderandenquiry

  • celebrations

    A cup o’ kindness yet…

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    And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
    for auld lang syne

    It is hard to believe the last days of Christmas are with us. I hope yours was beautiful. For the last three Christmases I’ve found it very difficult at first to enter into the joy and hopefulness of the season, and as has been true, eventually I fall all in, find my way to the magical-ness of it all. It’s the light that always gets me eventually. The way the darkness takes a step back in the face of the small, pin-pricks of light set forth- the candle flame, the twinkly Christmas light, the stars hung from the window. It’s just so beautiful, and it will always suck me in no matter how hard I try to bah humbug and hold off Hope.

    ***

    I have not forgotten my promise to blog more in the wonder and contemplation vein. I have been getting so many notes about it, such lovely thoughts- I hope to have that ready for you all next week. It has been a fascinating, eye-opening, brain-stretching, yoke-lifting journey for me so far and I can’t wait to hear what you all have to think about it too.

  • celebrations,  collecting stories,  Ebenezer

    It runs in the family…

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    “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

    –Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

    “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”

    –G.K. Chesterton

    Honoring all the veterans in my family from every branch of the military stretching back generations. I am so grateful for those who returned home, and I remember and honor those who were lost. We will never forget. Thank you for your service. 

    Please, today, consider how you can get involved with caring for our veterans and wounded warriors coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq. For so many of them, the war is just beginning. The rates of catastrophic trauma to the brain (TBI) have exponentially increased for our military brothers and sisters returning from these engagements more than any other war before. The co-incidents of PTSD have also rocketed. Every day, a veteran commits suicide. Never forget that these are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons- family- so very loved. Reach out and consider what you can do to help. They have lost so much. Let us give back as if they were our own family.

    This grand-daughter, niece, daughter, sister and cousin of the military thanks you in advance.

  • celebrations

    Oh, Autumn…

    punkinfieldBar none, one of our favorite times of year. Where we live Autumn is very short- we tend to go from summery temps to winter-y temps in just under a month, leaving this very sweet, very beautiful time of year. We had been trying to make it out to the pumpkin patch for weeks and it just hadn’t happened. After a very tough week as a family, we made it a priority. I’m telling you- this is pretty serious business. Lots of strategizing, investigating, weighing, circling about, coming back…it’s hilarious to watch. So very fun. There are few traditions we treasure more than this one. Oh, and for the record, the proper pronunciation is punkin. Ben started it when he was very young and now we all say it that way, because cute lisps should not be forgotten.

    punkinwalkellypunkincut zpunkin zpunkinface zandepunkin ellypunkin punkinkids punkin

  • beautiful things,  celebrations

    Beauty and bedlam…

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    Our vacation was so achingly full of beauty it almost felt like drinking from a fire hose. When you live in the mountain country that we used to live in, you take for granted the beauty and nature all around you. Step out the front door and be greeted by sunrises that make you want to cry, hear the whisper of the river. You forget how rare it is. Those aged, smoky mountains worn down to hills will always be a bit of home for us.

    Some of our favorite people in the whole wide world live there, too, and we come home with our cups full of fellowship and laughter with the people that love us wide and deep and true.

    I don’t have to tell you how much it was needed, do I, after this harum scarum year?

    All the same, as beautiful as it was, it was also hard and exhausting by its turns. We knew that taking this vacation was going to be very different than the ones we took before. We knew that the littles’ chronic medical issues would shift the dynamic…I just don’t think we really realized how much. I don’t think James and I realized just how truly depleted and exhausted we had become over this last year. Things that were once simple just aren’t anymore. A wide margin of down time is absolutely necessary now- in some ways the littles’ tire much quicker now then they did when they were younger due to their unique needs, and it means we have to shuffle and adjust in ways that most families normally wouldn’t. We also have to budget our own energy better, and it is perhaps this dynamic that I was least expecting for the trip. It isn’t much wonder that three of us fell ill the day after returning home. Gratefully, James had already planned for us to have ample reboot and recovery time built into the schedule before he returned to work, so it was much less of a difficulty than it normally would be. This, too, is a learning curve.

    For all that, it was so lovely…such a deep, deep gift. I know that we all will carry our time with us through the weeks and months to come, a little bit of peace to tuck in our pockets.