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I’ve always wanted to try needle felting, so for Christmas, we bought the girls a Valentine themed needle felting kit from Nova Natural. We had great fun. I’m definitely getting some more of the kits and individual supplies. It is a good activity we can do and learn together. Even Daddy got in on the fun a little. 🙂
I’m excited to do more.
At Confluence Academy this week, we are taking a break from the routine studies to delve into some holiday fun. The way we celebrate the Christmas season in the US has always been counter intuitive to me. I miss the days of the winter spiral that we had in Louisville when we attended Parent/Child classes at the Waldorf School. St. Nicholas and St. Lucia came by for a visit to our little homey classroom. It was so cozy and introspective.
The rush and fuss of the holiday season often leaves me in tears. Too much stress involved. I don’t like feeling pulled and tugged. Expectations are high. We want to see all of our family, but it is hard to go to at least 3 different places in the course of 2 days. That doesn’t include our own home. There are always too many presents and I end up feeling more frustrated and guilty than blessed because we just can’t reciprocate and our space here is limited for bringing in more things for the girls. It is my problem and not appropriate at all. We are abundantly blessed. It is the consumerism and the pressure that makes me feel like my head is a spinning top and my guts made of mush. I don’t connect with this type of celebration at all. I honestly do not think Jesus, Mother Nature, or St. Nicholas are bothered in the least by my rejection of it, because when they espoused this season they had a totally different thing in mind. I lackadaisically drift in and out of our families’ homes trying to keep an even keel.
The darkness and soft lights… the cold air… the gray blue sky… it makes me want to retreat. I want to read books, drink warm drinks, eat hearty food, and make traditions with my daughters. I want to breathe into the Truth of who we are – beings in the image of God, never lacking.
So, this week we are going to explore in our schooling things that are typically lost to us as we scramble to buy gifts, get to every expected location, and zip through it all barely conscious of why we are doing this in the first place. We are going to look at the great stories, art, and timelessness of the season.
Tuesday, we explored The Nutcracker with this FREE unit. We listened to an adaptation of the story on Story Nory, watched the ballet on YouTube, drew a nutcracker (see Deladis’s below), and read about Tchaikovsky. We talked about composers and choreographers. It was a good time. Deladis has been humming the music since.
We discovered the story of the real Santa Claus – St. Nicholas – on a lovely website – St. Nicholas Center. We read several of the stories. Our favorite was – And Now We Call Him Santa Claus by Kay Tutt. We did an drawing of St. Nick as well (again… Deladis’s is below). Then, we went on a nature walk to gather decorations for the house – moss, evergreen twigs, rocks, seed puffs, and wood. Tonight, we’ll eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate.
We haven’t gotten around to putting up a tree this year with all the running around like chickens with no heads. Sunday night, we decided not to put up one at all. There isn’t the space right now, and I think we are going to go in a totally different direction with our decorating. We are getting real, simple, light. I think the fake tree will be going away beginning this season.
I think it is just right.
We loved our time together. I can’t believe it was 60 degrees out on Wednesday and today – Winter Solstice – it is snowing.
Thursday, we learned how to care for hermit crabs, since the girls will be getting one from us for Christmas. They danced a Christmas performance at the area nursing home in the evening. Today, we are learning about Winter Solstice. Then… a much needed break from school.
Later, we’ll put up our stockings. I’m going to read and do some more writing. We are going inward. Winter Solstice is drawing us inward with its snow and sleepy skies.
Maybe if I make a few reasonable adjustments, I’ll be able to enjoy my first new pair of tennis shoes in six years that I know my mother has under her tree. I know I can manage. 🙂
Deladis graduated from kindergarten with our homeschool association on May 26th. It was a beautiful ceremony. She said about 15 Bible verses to a crowd of about 80 people without missing a beat. I got to give her her diploma, and her daddy played “Little Birdie” for her on the banjo. We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier time. What follows is the speech I gave during the ceremony.
I want to begin this evening by thanking everyone who has come to support our graduates and celebrate this important day with our families. It means a great deal to all of us.
At some point many of you have probably wondered why we chose to homeschool our children, and I’m sure many of homeschooling parents have wondered the same thing at times just like many public school teachers out there who sit after a trying day wondering why they chose the path of an educator. Believe me, we do it. I’ve been in both places. For many homeschooling families the answer is not a simple one. While we all probably have multiple answers to the question of why we chose homeschooling, I believe I am safe to say that all of us felt compelled to do so by the obligation we have to our children as their parents.
The Bible has so much sound wisdom and encouragement to offer parents on raising children, and if you start reading there, you’ll soon find what a huge responsibility you’ve undertaken by becoming a parent. I know that throughout this year as I have set out to read the Bible from beginning to end, I have at times become overwhelmed by the realization of what it truly means to be a wife and mother.
Psalm 127:3 says – “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Verse 5 goes on to say – “How blessed is the man whose quiver if full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 128 goes on in much the same way. And if any of you have ever prayed for God to gift you with a child, or you were gifted without thinking you were ready – you likely can recall the moment when your baby was placed in your arms and you realized perfectly how much this gift depended upon you as their mother or father for their quality of life. It is often times those moments when we fall in love with that little being so completely that it takes our breath away.
All of us who have fully accepted the responsibility of parenthood want the same thing for our children. We hope with all our hearts that their lives will be healthy, happy, and whole. For each of us how we go about giving them the best possible opportunity for that sort of fulfillment will be as diverse as our family names. I cannot assume what is right for your family, and I feel so blessed, as I am sure you do, to have the freedom to make important decisions for mine.
It is also very likely that if we have envisioned an adult life for our children that the reality of that life once they reach it, will look very different than what we daydreamed about. How many of us are pretty sure we aren’t doing exactly what our parents hoped we’d be doing at this stage in our lives? The very best we can hope for is that they are doing something they love, and that they feel called to do. Oh, and that they call and come home to visit on a regular basis. Yet, we can also look to the values our children hold, and their self-esteem to see the mark their upbringing is making on their attitudes and the way they view the world. If we see signs of a positive self expression and healthy attitudes toward their work, their role in society, and respect for others in our older and adult children, then we should be able to rest. The rest of their life is completely up to them and their Creator to sort out and that is as it should be.
There are so many things that we can’t control about how our children will experience the world. For every good there is a bad. For every right there is a wrong. They come hand in hand. While there might be times in our lives when we become hurt or disappointed by the experiences our children have or bring upon themselves, regret isn’t something we should dwell in for long. The ultimate question is – Does our child know that we love them? That we will always love them? We can be comforted by the words of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I was a public school teacher when John and I were gifted with our firstborn – Deladis Rose Haywood. God told me one day during my prayer time through scripture that I would have a baby by summer. Deladis was born on August 4th, 2005. Before her birth, John and I decided that the time my job forced me spend away from home was too much, and that the time I would gain in resigning my position would be worth the cut to our finances. It was important to us that I be the one primarily responsible for the care of our children and we were willing to live a lifestyle that would allow for that. It was the first huge decision we made as parents. It is a decision we have never regretted though it has dramatically changed the way we live our lives.
Many more decisions would come like – how would I give birth, what was the optimal way to feed our baby, who would provide her healthcare and what would that look like, where should we live, where would we attend church, and ultimately where would our daughter attend school.
For many reasons all of which I won’t go into tonight, we decided that home was the best place for Deladis and any future children to receive their education at this time in our lives. We all have probably heard Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Like our earlier decision of being the ones primarily responsible for the care of our children with our own hands, so was our decision to be the ones immediately responsible for the education our children would receive. In choosing homeschool, I as their only teacher am responsible for the content of their daily lessons for every subject. It is my responsibility to make sure that they have the education that they need to be whatever it is that they choose to be in life whether either of my daughters decide to be stay-at-home mothers gifting me with ten grandbabies, a homesteader living in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, an artist who shows her work from coast to coast, an activist working for impoverished women and children, a social worker finding stable homes for children in need, or the astronaut that leads the first human expedition to Mars, because if that is what my daughter truly wants and feels led to do, then that is what I want for her. Is that a huge responsibility? It sure is. But, what I can know for certain is that as her mother and father, John and I will be her source of information about her world and her place in it. We can have the most direct impact on how comfortably she navigates whatever path that life places her on. We can be the shoes on her feet, the food in her backpack, and the soft blanket that covers her every night of her journey. Her Creator will be her compass.
It is not that homeschooling families are trying to shelter their child from the world, or sequester them away from society and mainstream ways of living. It is most likely, that our choices were made because we wanted to ensure that our children in the situations that life brought upon our families have the best possible chance at a well-rounded and full life experience. You’ll see us in the community, our children interacting in real life situations with people of all ages and backgrounds.
By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t judging or accusing others who do not, or our own parents if they chose to send us through public school. Because we were educated, we have the opportunity to be educators for our children. Every parent is free to do what they feel is best for their family at the time the decision is made. It is a deep privilege to have that freedom and to respect the decisions of other parents.
By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t calling any public or private educator inadequate. Your job is so very important and to respect our teachers is to listen, empathize with, and support their efforts. Without you and the opportunity you give to parents, we would not have the freedom to choose where our children would be educated. We are on a very similar mission.
By choosing to homeschool, we are simply making a conscience choice. Often homeschooling families view it as a choice of conviction, of necessity, as the result of sincere thought and long consideration. It is a choice we take in earnestness. When we choose to keep our children home for school, we understand that it is exclusively up to us to provide the education our children will need in the ever changing and competitive world.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 says – “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” None of us know the path that God has forged out in the world for our children, but we do know that He entrusted us with their care. As you are here tonight witnessing this graduation ceremony you are participating with us in celebrating what for some of us is our first complete year of homeschooling our children, for others of us a milestone in the middle of what has recently become a steeper winding road, and for one of us the end of a long and very successful journey that suddenly seems like it was just a bit too short. Thank you for playing an integral part in supporting our efforts, and please accept our thanks as your presence has helped us to create a very special evening for our blessed and hard working students. Thank you.
I haven’t had time to write here in so long. When I have had the time I have been way too tired to try. I don’t know how I get so exhausted. Walking around as if I were in a fog all day long, no amount of coffee changing that. Things are going really well for our family. There is nothing at all to complain about, except that I wish I had more energy to enjoy it.
This week Deladis will graduate from kindergarten. We completed our first official homeschool year with success. I’m ready for 1st grade too. We received our curriculum in the mail a few weeks ago. Deladis will have a blue cap and gown, a tassel, and the whole nine yards! This year our group will have 5 graduates and we are expecting around 100 visitors at our graduation. We will be decorating and cooking all week long. I’m doing sausage balls (my own recipe), a type of cinnamon roll (from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook), and chips with salsa (storebought). Deladis is reciting the scripture she learned this year, and I’m making a speech on why we decided to homeschool. I get to present her with her diploma and John will be playing her favorite song “Little Birdie”. I’m beyond excited, and if I can keep the tears in long enough to get through it, it will be amazing.
Can you believe this was her 5 years ago?
I might post the text of my speech once graduation is over with some pictures from the ceremony.
In the meantime, enjoy our family outing to the Lewis and Clark Old-Time Tent Circus when they stopped in Clintwood, VA. It was a blast. I was so happy to see people still dedicated enough to devote their life to such entertainment. It amazed me. None of these acts were performed with any kind of netting under the performers. Pretty courageous and awesome! The performers were really friendly and full of smiles. I wish we had gotten some better pictures.
I finally got hold of the camera, took some pictures, and then let Deladis take some on her own. I’m going to share our last few weeks with you mostly in pictures.
Easter, Redbuds, and Dogwoods – The Tale not Found in the Bible
Today is Good Friday for Christian believers and others who are inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ.
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:10-11
Jesus accepted what was for what it was. He lived the Now and He realized the essence of His being protected by Father God. My maternal grandmother taught me that the redbud and dogwood trees represent some significant things in this story. They grow wild in these hills. Many plant them in their yard.
The redbud was once a large tree with large white blossoms. Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hung himself on one of these large trees. It shriveled up and the blossoms turned pink with their shame.
The dogwood represents the events of The Holy Week. You can read more about how by clicking these statements.Spring has gotten into my being more this year than ever in my life. I have never been fond of rainy up and down weather, but this year the beauty of creation has been recognized as a gift in the core of who I am. The most beautiful part of the redbud and dogwood story is that they bloom around the same time, the redbud a bit ahead of the dogwood.
Deladis Won a Blue Ribbon at the Homeschool Science Fair for her Tree Project!
She worked so so hard! I can’t believe this is a kindergartener’s work!
It’s Electric – Boogie-Woogie-Woogie
The Chickens – Photos by Deladis Rose – Titles by Mommy
And Finally – The Mole Killer – Not for the Squeamish – Photo by Deladis Rose
I’ve been holding out on a new post to wait on getting the camera back from John. He is teaching now and has been doing photography with his students the past few weeks. It doesn’t look like he’ll be done before too long, so I’m going to post anyway.
We got our spring garden in! Cauliflower, Broccoli, Lettuce of several kinds, Swiss Chard, Potatoes, Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Peas, Italian Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, and Chives. It felt so good to be outside in the dirt. There is such peace there in most cases. The girls were much more helpful this time around. They are getting older. All the plants are perked right up and growing. Hopefully the seed will show sprouts soon. I’ve been craving good veggies after a pretty rough winter. It is hard to find good produce in the groceries here.
We also had some homeschool friends give us 5 hens and a rooster in order to make room for their upcoming 4H projects. There were two little bantams – hen and rooster, and some large mixed breed hens. The little bantam hen, we called Little Lady. She had blueish gray feathers along with some tan, and she was so very gentle. We even brought her in the cabin to eat macaroni and cheese. I did away with her body yesterday. The larger hens had pecked her to death. 😦 There was no sign of them bullying her. She stayed in the coop most of the time, but I thought she was just getting used to things. After loosing 4 entire flocks, including all the grown diddles from last year, you’d think I’d be over caring. I’m not. Well, especially when a hen will let you pet her and will sit in your lap like a dog. We are getting eggs daily from our free-ranging flock. They are healthy and roost on the front porch. It makes a mess, but Lars (our dalmatian) sleeps there with them and keeps them safe. It would be nice for these new hens to eventually be free ranging too. It seems we have better luck that way. I told them though, they better start laying or they’ll be in the pot for killing Little Lady – barbarians.
It is so close to warm here. We had a week of 70 degree weather and the girls were so happy. We will be getting new water soon, and I won’t have to take them to my mother’s for baths any longer. Deladis graduates from kindergarten on May 26! Our homeschool group has a great ceremony planned and I’m going to cry like a baby. I just know it. I ordered her 1st grade curriculum yesterday on sale. I can’t believe it. It’s funny that Ivy still seems so small.
I’ll try to get some pictures up soon, and some exciting news. I hope to start hearing from folks again. I’ll do my best to comment back as well. My computer reading time has been kind of limited lately.
The weather has given us a break, and the girls and I took a hike this past Saturday. It was lovely. We got home and both the girls fell asleep by 6:30 and didn’t wake up again until the next morning!
I’m excited to be back and writing here. I don’t know how often I will get to post, and I am thinking about putting this page on my own domain so I can host certain things along with the blog. I don’t have any money to hire anyone to help me and figuring it out for myself is a bit intimidating, but maybe soon I’ll tackle it. In the meantime, I’m here. I hope to get back to reading more of your blogs too as I can. Work has been keeping me busy, and some writing projects too. I’m also looking into a new educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason), which is taking up much of my reading time, as well as reading the Bible in a year with Life Walk. Anyway, I won’t update too much. I’m just going to jump right in, right like I left off. 🙂 I hope to hear from you.
I’ve never been much on Valentine’s Day. It always seemed like such a cheesy holiday to me, and I was never the “lucky” girl who received gifts from a secret admirer or even her own husband or boyfriend. John did buy me a mug once with a little stuffed Dalmatian holding some fabric roses. The handle of the cup said “BOSS”, which he hadn’t noticed when he bought it, and was cracked. I still have the cup put away in my cedar chest for safe keeping. I also received flowers delivered to school from both my grandmother and my dad, but that stopped when I was in high school. There were always feelings of the holiday being too forced for me. It didn’t seem fun for the people around me, and deep down I knew/know that getting a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day does not equal true love always. I haven’t ever truly celebrated the holiday, and have never shared it with my girls.
This year, that all changed. Our homeschool association throws a Valentine party each year. It is like the traditional one we probably all experienced in school. Everyone makes a box in which to receive valentine cards from each of their classmates. There are plenty of goodies to eat, games to play, and visiting with one another. Last year, we kind of coped out. I brought a red gift bag to use for the girls’ boxes and the construction paper hearts we cut out for valentine cards was not fun for neither me nor Deladis. I was thinking of getting to the party only, visiting with other mothers and letting my girls have some social time with other kids.
However, when we got the party, I saw the decorations and the boxes the other children had made. They do have a little contest for “best box”, but I didn’t feel we’d participate last year. What struck me though about the boxes of those who were participating in that way was the obvious time put into the creative process of making those boxes. I knew it had been a family project and the time spent creating something nice was a love offering from mother to children and from children to their friends. Love offering – is that the real meaning of St. Valentine’s Day?
This year I dedcided to learn for myself and alongside my girls what the real purpose of our love holiday is, and maybe find some magic there to make it a more joyful time for our family. We went to the library and checked out two older books on the history of the holiday and the symbols used. St. Valentine’s Day by Clyde Robert Bulla which is a wonderfully written book for all ages about the history behind the holiday. Then, giving us some ideas of how we’d celebrate the holiday we borrowed Hearts, Cupids, and Red Roses: The Story of the Valentine Symbols by Edna Barth. The full text is on Google books at the link there. It is great too.
From the Barth book we decided to make puzzle purses for our valentine cards and put within them a traditional holiday poem we found in the book.
Sure as the grape grows on the vine
So sure you are my valentine
The rose is red the violet blue
Lilies are fair and so are you.
But, before even settling on this we created a real valentine box. I wanted it to be a project that Deladis could take ownership of, so we made nothing extravagant. We did spend about 4 hours on it though. A whole Saturday.
The design was Deladis’s creation. Painting, gluing, and cutting were done mostly by the girls. The idea for paper lace came from the Barth book, which I decided to make using the heart shapes. The images you see decorating the box were illustrations from the Barth book by Ursula Arndt. They are gorgeous, old-school illustrations that Deladis enjoyed so much.
I’m looking forward to sharing our valentines, box, and our treats with our homeschool friends. It will be a fun time I know, especially for Deladis and Ivy. Deladis is so proud of the box, and she hasn’t stopped making valentines. Another thing the homeschool association is doing is having the children create valentines to take to the nursing home as a service project, which we did as well. Deladis put her best effort into those.
Yet, what I am looking forward to the most is sharing with others what I have learned about St. Valentine’s Day. How there is a bit more to it than couples, cupids, and love songs. I typed up a one page history to share with the families at the party. This approach has helped me to enjoy St. Valentine’s Day this year, and I have had a good time making it something for my girls to enjoy.
Our Valentine’s Day comes from a Roman Catholic Feast Day for the many Christian martyrs by the name of Saint Valentine in early church records. The feast day for all St. Valentines was February 14th. There are many legends as to who the St. Valentine was. But, we believe he lived in the third century after Christ and was martyred for defying the Roman Emperor Claudius II by performing marriage ceremonies when the Emperor had outlawed marriage in order to keep and recruit young men as soldiers. Another popular legend is that St. Valentine helped Christians who were persecuted by Claudius II even winning a jailer and his family to Christ. Regardless of which legend is truth, Valentine was beheaded on February 14th. The story goes an almond tree which grew near his grave burst into pink bloom as a symbol of lasting love.
As Rome adopted the Christian faith, the Roman Catholic Church sought to replace some lasting pagan festivals with those which they saw as Christian. An important Roman Festival, Lupercalia, was celebrated near February 14th. It is believed that Valentine’s execution was carried out as part of the ceremony of this festival.
At that time February came later in the year than it does now, and Lupercalia was a spring festival. The festival is so ancient that no one is sure of its origins – not even the historians in the last century before Christ was sure. It was a very important festival however, and recordings of its celebration are lasting. Animal sacrifices took place, fertility rites, and purification ceremony. Lupercalia was probably established to ensure good crops and to protect flocks from wolves. It honored the god Faunus who was similar to the Greek Pan.
Roman young people would draw names and become couples for the year at this festival. When the Catholic Church replaced this holiday with the feast day of St. Valentine, the emphasis on “love” and fertility never quite left it. And those sorts of celebrations attached themselves to the saint’s name.
Eventually the name drawing and extravagant gift giving turned into giving valentine letters, simple treats, and cards to friends and sweethearts sometime in the 18th century. This was only after the Puritans banned the holiday for quite some time during the 17th century.
adapted from Edna Barth’s Hearts, Cupids, and Red Roses…