Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life is Learning

        I just got Paul and Gena Saurez' new book, Homeschooling Methods, in the mail to review. I've only had time to scan the titles of the chapters that cover different methods of homeschooling, but I'm really looking forward to delving in. My children are not yet "school" age but I'm already giving a lot of thought to how I want to teach them and what sort of style we as a family may have. From observing other homeschooling families and the reading I've done so far I feel like I'm drawn to what seem to be two different ends of the spectrum- the Classical Approach and Unschooling. Maybe that shows that I'm a bit wacky at heart, but I'm really hoping that we can blend the two into something that works. I want to give my children a love of learning and the tools they'll need and then let them explore the things they're interested in. Of course I realize there are things they'll have to learn whether or not they're interested, and that they will have unique learning styles but I hope that we can keep it fresh and exciting. In Gena's book Unschooling is alternately called Delight Directed Studies. I like that!
        Peregrine loves to cook with me and this morning we made an omelette for breakfast. He knows his letters really well but has been having a hard time recognizing numbers so I took a marker and wrote numbers one through six on the eggs. Then I would ask him to get out the egg with a specific number on it and he would then get to crack it for me. He loved it and was learning at the same time. It's easy at his age - three - to keep learning simple and incorporate it into the things we're doing. I know it will get more challenging but I hope we can always infuse our activities and play with learning. (Or at least infuse our learning with activities and play.)
        There's even a chapter in Gena's book called Carschooling! Given mine and Erik's love for traveling I think we may have to throw this one in our mix as well. I'm thinking something like a year on the road traveling all over the country, visiting friends and national parks and strange little towns and historical sights along the way. I have great memories of traveling with my family- Mom and Dad and the five of us all piled into the brown station wagon with all our luggage wrapped up in a blue tarp on top. (By luggage I mean Italian luggage. Also known as cardboard boxes.) We would drive out to B.C to visit friends, then down to California and Mexico to see my Dad's family. Of course there was plenty of sibling rivalry (to put it nicely), but we had a lot of fun stopping to see things, playing games and reading aloud along the way. (Then there are the not-so-great memories, like my brother tormenting me for endless miles and all having to sleep in the back of the station wagon when we ran out of gas in the middle of an Indian Reservation one cold spring night.) After we've seen America, maybe we'll coin a new homeschooling method called Airschooling and travel the world together. That would really make our history and geography lessons come alive. (This will have to be after we become independently wealthy of course, from all the cottage industries that I will be so successful at. Ha!)
        So maybe I'll really be what they call an Eclectic Homeschooler. Then again, Charlotte Mason just sounds like such a gentle and peaceful name and who wouldn't want their child to be a Whole-Hearted Learner? Unit Studies always sound like fun when I hear people talking about them. Of course I don't know exactly what any of these methods are because I haven't read the book. Yet. But I'm sure it will inspire me and get me thinking and dreaming even more.
        We may never really settle on a particular method but I have no doubts that my kids will learn, and that they'll even have some fun along the way. Someday they'll have stories to tell about what a crazy family they grew up in, all the places their parents dragged them to and the embarrassing things they did. They'll learn reading, writing and arithmetic, and if they're lucky they may even find themselves sleeping in the back of the van in the middle of Arizona some cold spring night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Day of Blessing

        In a previous post I mentioned that winters here in Oregon are Grey and Wet. The good thing though, is we start getting signs of Spring in January. Already trees are unfurling their tiny bright leaves and delicate blossoms and the bulbs that poked through the soggy ground last month are displaying their silky petals. Having moved to this home last summer I had no idea if there were any bulbs planted so Im delighted to find crocus in purple, white, and yellow, cheery daffodils, and tiny Dutch iris, as well as some kinds that I don't know. The days seem to go back and forth between brilliant sunshine and pouring rain.
        A few days ago it was sunny and in the 60s. We were out with no jackets and scrambling to find sunglasses. Today it snowed, beautiful, big flakes that fell gently to the ground. Mmmmmm, delicious! Snow reminds me of my childhood. It has a certain smell and a sound like nothing else. A quietness that I don't suppose is really a sound at all but it's the best way I can describe it. Of course there's also howling wild snow but we never get visited by that kind here. Peregrine went out and ran around in the falling snow, exclaiming that it must be Christmas! It turned to rain all too soon, but it was enough to make me feel excited and like a child again. It stuck for a while and I had to go take a picture of my crocus. That was always the first thing I remember coming up in Alberta, right through the snow, a sure sign that the long winter would soon give way to spring.
        Today is also Valentine's Day and my wonderful husband bought me a Mexican Truffle and left it in the fridge for me to find. Then, as if that weren't enough, he had roses delivered! I've been smiling like a schoolgirl all day. I'm the luckiest girl in the world, not because I got roses and chocolate, but because I got him! Four years ago on this day we got the best gift ever. It was the day we found out that I was pregnant with Peregrine, and I can't think of a better gift that we could have given one another than that.
        I am blessed, by snow in the springtime and brave little flowers who dare to open in defiance of the gray. I am blessed to have wonderful happy memories of growing up in a loving family. I'm blessed by my thoughtful and amazing husband who treats me like a queen even when I act like a spoiled brat. I'm blessed by my little Valentine boy, who's getting big way too fast, and by my spring baby, beautiful Poppy. And in all of these thing I am blessed by God, the Creator, who loves me and continues to pour out His gifts of love on us all.

Friday, February 10, 2006

'Cuz I'm the Mama

        There's a good reason why a certain small boy feels like he can traipse into my bed at all hours of the night and find sleepy arms to welcome him. And why a certain tiny girl knows that her needs will be taken care of whenever they arise. Or why, for example, after being up with both small people one night, I later found myself covered with the vomit of the boy. It's 'cuz I'm the Mama, that's why. (I must say here that Erik takes a lot of the night duty, gets up with the kids more than I do, and is winning in the who's-been-barfed-on-the-most contest. He's the best!)
        There are some parts of being a Mama that just aren't as nice as others. I'm a person who really values my sleep. If I'm well rested I feel pretty good and can usually handle my days okay. If I don't get enough sleep, I turn into an emotional, irrational being who falls apart way too easily. Kids really interfere with this whole sleeping thing. First off, when you're pregnant, you have to get up and use the bathroom about ten times a night. I think it's just to get you used to what's coming. Then, as your belly gets bigger and bigger there's no possible way to get comfortable and you just thrash about and rearrange the nest of pillows that is slowly pushing your husband off the bed. Finally, your sweet baby arrives and life becomes a blur of happy tiredness. Once you recover from labor you get used to sleeping in small spurts and caring for your tiny bundle the rest of the time. As they grow they sleep more but when you're on call 24 hours a day, you just don't sleep like you used to.
        So there are definitely some trade-offs that come along with being a Mama. Getting to be the only one who can feed your baby means a lot of cold cups of tea and less than hot meals. Being the one they want to hold them when they're sick means you might get covered in their vomit. There are a lot of sleepless nights and sleepy days that come along with all the cuddles and kisses. Potty training just wouldn't be as joyful if it weren't for the thousands of diapers you had to change leading up to it. And all those long months of pregnancy? That's when you earn the right to be called Mama for the rest of your life.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Boy's Life

        Even as a teenager I laughed at those studies that said there was no difference between boys and girls. Now that I have a boy of my own , I just have to shake my head at some of the very boyish things he does. He certainly doesn't learn that behavior: it's just part of who he is.
         We spent yesterday out at the coast. Peregrine's little face was beaming with joy as he explored tide pools, collected sticks, dug in the sand, and climbed his first tree. As I watched him I realized how little boys just seem to fit in the wild. There is something in them that is alive in the great outdoors. They have a God-given drive to conquer things, to climb trees and hills and mountains. They want to discover things and figure out how they fit into this earth. Peregrine has a new pair of rubber boots and he marched happily through all the little streams of water running out into the sea. He picked up as many sticks as he could hold, and then some. He wanted to hit his sticks on a rock, like Moses did, and watch water come out. He picked up rocks, the biggest ones he could lift, just so he could throw them into the little pools of water and watch them splash. He and his cousins found a great tree with low branches, perfect for them to climb. He looked so happy all day, his cheeks rosy from the cool sea breeze and his eyes shining.
        I grew up on a farm. I remember my brother playing outside for hours. He and our dog would take long excursions out into the "wilds" of the Alberta Prairies. It was a good life for a boy. Our culture has come so far from that sort of life; most of us live in cities and are glad for a bit of a yard to call our own. Peregrine loves to go out and play in the yard and we are thankful to be just a few blocks from the river and miles of paths to walk and run on. But I still wonder how I can give him what I feel a boy needs, wild lands to explore and dominate. I think it's part of what God put in boys that makes them who they are: they need to subdue and dominate this earth. They need to have ownership of something, a piece of life that they have responsibility for.
        My daughter is still a baby, but it will be interesting to watch as she grows, and to see the differences that God has put in them. I love that God has made us male and female. I pray for wisdom to raise each of them with the unique traits that they have, to nurture the things that God has put into them. Having never been a boy, I feel a bit clueless sometimes when it comes to Peregrine and his boyishness. But I'm trying to understand and to give him room to be the sort of boy that God designed him to be.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Carried on the Wind

        I'd been mulling over the idea of starting a blog for a while. Erik, my husband was encouraging me to do it, so I finally decided to "jump on the blogwagon." I had recently read a quote by George MacDonald that said "There are other winds in this world besides those which shake the fleeces of sheep and the beards of men." From that quote I came up with "Carried on the Wind" as my blog name.
        I've always been a wanderer and enjoyed traveling and seeing new places. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that His Spirit is leading me through this life. When Jesus was talking with Nicodemus He said "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." I've had a lot of ideas and made a lot of plans about how my life would be, but most of the time other things have happened. I believe that it is God who has ordered my steps, not that I have followed Him perfectly, but that He has carried me along, like a bird on the wind, or a seed that is scattered far from the plant that grew it.
        The more I've pondered being carried on the wind, the more I think it's appropriate for the Christian life. The disciples marveled that "even the winds obeyed" Jesus. This, to me, is an assurance that when the gentle breezes turn to howling storms, our Master is still in command. We have no control over the winds that blow, but if we know the One who controls them, then we can rest knowing that He carries us still.