Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CNN: 10 Homeschooled Celebrities Article

I found this quite an interesting short read on CNN online. This quote just amazes me! "Louisa May Alcott studied mostly with her dad, but had a few lessons from family friends Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Can you imagine?"


Monday, April 27, 2009

Around the Preserve with a Touch of Spring Fever

These photos are from the same trip a while back to the pond, so please don't let this blog delude you into thinking I get out a lot, because I really don't. In fact, I still don't like that part of blogging, as what a reader often reads or sees is the better stuff, not the "real" life happenings that occur day to day. My photos often help me through to the next time I can get out. The view of the sky is from the vantage point of laying down on the edge of the bridge to rest. I'm a bit nervous with heights at times, but also am known to thrive on a bit of fear of that sort, and the stone soaks up the heat, which feels fabulous! Fortunately, there are benches throughout, but the bridge still comes in at a handy stopping point. I can't resist marveling at the mossy bench shown above. It's as if there is an unwritten rule that no one that no one is to sit on that one as not to disturb it's natural beauty and growth. I posted it as it's just charming to me. I think when we go next there will be a lot more growth other than this skunk cabbage and the marsh marigolds. In just a couple of weeks time, we have more in our yard than that day as all seems to be bursting forth. I did capture a great trout lilly, which I was thrilled over, but the photo didn't do it justice as the speckled folliage of the lilly was hidden by some of last falls leaves still about. At any rate, we are dreaming of our next trip soon as we know the bluebells will be out but I have to just awake to that day--the one I know I will feel capable of going--so no planning much in advance lately.
Day to day here, we are schooling at a varied pace, but then again it is spring fever time in full swing. We've had the children taking turns being ill which tends to put a damper on organization and our schedule and all have been a little bit down about it. So, we began brainstorming at gathering time two weeks ago what we could do to help ourselves and the solution has been to get in our core subjects and then treat ourselves to diving into subjects that aren't necessarily in our lesson plan book. Also, it is funny to me that the girls have both asked to do so many of the activities we used to do like raising painted lady butterflies, doing spelling words in shaving cream, making home-made play dough and generally a lot of art as well as crafts are going on. It's kind of funny to see the girls, now so much older, doing some of these once loved activities again, but it feels right as I'm not sure how much longer we will pass this way again or if we will. By the way, if you have not indulged in shaving cream play, you have not really lived. It feels incredible and actually one is never too old for it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

They're Back!

Approaching the pond, it is silent. This soundless reflection reminds me of how I’d like my spirit to be...stilled, quiet, a reflection of my Father. I don’t know why the thrill is so strong, every year the same thing since beginning to home school eight years ago as I always loved nature. I transform into a child in my mind or perhaps it is that there is still a part of me that is and will always be childlike. It is also in the blessing of being able to join in the sharing, the hearing together of those first trills in the throat of a frog with children who are also so eager and care free. I want a front row seat. I can’t get any closer to the edge, without flirting with falling in. It’s another thing I don’t want to miss so along with the girls, so I enter in. Slowly, silently and cautiously we wade out into the pond. We hear them, the peepers now. I’ve always believed there is a lot to learn in the middle of a pond with one’s head out of a text book.

Some times I only hear life when I still. I function best when life is simple and I remove the clutter. To me, that is really all about simplifying anything that gets between me and God. Often it is busyness, my computer and possessions, relationships that are complicated, but most often it is the clutter of myself. It’s in my own mind. I’m learning and relearning this as it is the hardest part for me just to be quiet, cease talking and running the show in order to listen closer. God is ever-patient to teach me time and time again, this relentless old girl. All the motioning, spinning, talking way too much for my own good, for my own way and my own beliefs even. The peepers, they are back and a good reminder, a great gift. Still me Lord.

*technically this is a frog amongst the duck weed, not exactly a true peeper, but those peepers are amazingly small, fast and difficult to get a photo of! More around the pond photos to follow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Every Day is a Holy Day

You might wonder why a Friend is writing on the topic of a holiday, why once again I’ve brought my bare wooden forsythia branches inside and put them in a cream colored pottery pitcher. I hang the same real hand painted eggs I have for about two decades now and this year have added some actual bird nests, which are a treasure to me. It is simple, it is quiet and before all the bustle interferes.

The "why" is because we are a family and we are diverse, but we are more the same than we are different. Each of us is more comfortable with stressing different elements of worship of this same God. And so yes, as a Friend I do celebrate Christ’s resurrection with my family and the renewal that brings each and every day in my heart. I breathe in and out because of this, so I am not offended by the day and hope to grasp hold of it every single holy day I live not just one day. Do I need bunnies, candy, church and eggs hunts–huge representations and symbols of this holiday event? No, not at all, but I need to love and honor those who do. To not do so, would not be Friendly in my mind at all to those around me.

As much as I try to subdue them, Christmas and Easter still get elevated more than I’d like here. Every year I make subtle changes to rid as much emphasis and commercialization as I can. I’m willing to let it slide for those who need it and do it up big style. As Friends, I do believe that no one day should be singled out as more holy than others. For me, it is not a case of not celebrating it, as it is more about remembering to celebrate it every day in between. Perhaps what sets me apart is HOW it is done. Christ did not establish special days, but did tell us to be aware of numbering our days and has shown us our earthly days are fleeting. So, I do not regard it as inherently sinful, but do yearn to do it vastly different than I did previously. Though as a family, everyone must make choices that best reflect their own set of values, even within a solely Quaker family. There is melding to take place, variations to consider, negotiations to be chewed upon.

My branches bloom brilliant yellow and my nests are a simple reminder of renewal and a promise of hope to come. We meld together; we lean into one another and I contemplate this in a wider context of diversity and variants amongst the branches of Friends. Not only on this subject but on many, many topics and how to bring renewal of openness, love and acceptance within them. I’m not sure how. It seems to be much more problematic than I first thought, but I pray it can begin in small ways within me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do the Next Thing

Some times I fail to know what to do; what step I should take next and what purpose life now holds. In the past years, I’ve tried on various roles like some people try on clothing. At times I make mistakes and need to yield to where God is leading me more. I am not a perfect girl. It’s a serious topic for discussion actually, but today I’m not delving in deep. In fact, I’ve gone rather quiet about talking over such matters. But actually, I do attempt to seek what God intends for each day and I try to listen.

So, I listen and in the mean time wonder what do I do when I’ve failed 2 adoptions, been diagnosed with autoimmune disease, and lost my career? What do I do when I have to put a horse down, put money on another horse and it suddenly goes blind, and then next be told I may go blind some day?!? I know, I know–it all sounds like a bad riddle!

The answer is I don’t know. Not only do I not know, but I don’t intend on sitting here any more thinking about it all so much. That didn’t work as it was upsetting, selfish, dull, dangerous and just not much fun to be around. It’s time to recall God’s faithfulness in the past and once again time to try to do the next thing. So I have–we have–this past weekend, brought home two new miniature horses. Please meet Starlight and Moonshine, our new 3 year old geldings. The "next thing" is I am going to learn how to cart and my husband and daughter are going to teach me. After that, I’m not quite certain, but I think I’m on the edge, to the brink, of making more peace within while not always knowing what is next in just living each day. Not every day, but most days. Perhaps another way will open for more serious endeavors or maybe my path is being made plain and clear to become more still and faithful than I’ve been in the past. At any rate, it took no time at all to love these minis, as it was love at first sight. I got my boys.....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday Photos

My photos today are of a very special family reunion of my siblings and their children on the occasion of my father's 70th birthday. He's not just my father, but I consider him to be a wonderful friend as well. Doesn't he look awesome for 70?!? I am blessed and thankful too for my stepmother coordinating the day.