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Archive for the ‘art’ Category

silflay…

About a week ago, I finished reading Watership Down by Richard Adams. We were returning home from the airport yesterday (Brian’s grandpa passed away, and so we flew to Michigan and back in 3 days. Funerals can be such a beautiful yet chaotic time of reconnecting with family you haven’t seen in years. It was good to be there…finding cosmos in the midst of the chaos.)

Anyway…when we were passing the lake near our house, I saw quite a few ducks biting at the green grass near the edge of the lake. I immediately thought, “I bet they’re silflaying!” Then I realized that that word actually was created for a book about rabbits, Watership Down. Perhaps it’s a universal word used by all the animals, though, eh?

Don’t you love how good books knit themselves into your life?

I must add…if you have not read Watership Down, you really should. This book was so stirring. I laughed out loud, and I also cried. I was so impacted by the rabbits’ sense of community. They served each other. They cleaned each other’s wounds. They healed together. They learned from story. They worked together, for if they did not, their warren would not survive. They would not survive.

I don’t want to say too much in case…like me…you’ve never heard of or experienced this book.

If you decide to read this book…you won’t be sorry! (And please do let me know!!)

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a life of learning…

I’ve had quite a few people lately ask me about how our family learns, so I thought I’d jot a bit down.

Growing up, I always said I would NEVER homeschool my kids. All the families I knew that homeschooled were…well…they were a little different. So when Ashlyn (my now 9-year old) was 3, and I started entertaining the idea of teaching her at home, I had to laugh a little:)

I started researching, which is something I really love. However, if you’ve ever googled “homeschool” then you know how deep that well goes. Unit studies, classical education, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, The Well-Trained Mind, the WholeHearted Child, Abeka, living books, Bob Jones, Veritas Press, a Thomas Jefferson education…and those are just a few!

But I dove on in, and each of the above terms either became a rung on a ladder in which to climb out of that well, or they just sunk back down into the murky water. After many hours of plodding through websites, I finally came across something that resonated with me…

Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another,whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.

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For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetryDeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.

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Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.

Charlotte Mason tapped on the window of my soul with her philosophy of education. I have been shaped by story ever since I can remember. Many of my memories from childhood are intermingled with stories I read. At times, I can’t remember which reality the memories stem from…my life or my imagination.  My heart leapt as I realized how my girls would bloom with this type of learning!

Ambleside Online is an online curriculum (free, too!) that follows Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education. I decided to start there. We added Right Start for math (which we all love!!), and we dug in. I followed AO’s year 1 very thoroughly with Ashlyn. I took about 2 weeks off in the summer to regroup and made some beautiful lesson plans for the year. Charlotte Mason would’ve been so proud! I had an excel sheet with every subject listed for every day. The books we were using were good. We got 6 weeks into this schedule and collapsed. Our love of story had diminished. Everything was too rigid, and it was all just too much.

Where had I gone wrong? I started thinking and praying. I stumbled across a beautiful blog of an experienced homeschooler. Her kids were grown, but she shared many posts on how they learned at home. As I was reading, I quickly saw what was missing. I threw away my well-crafted lesson plans and just started letting the girls learn naturally. And…I started reading again. Books…lots of good books. We were able to get lost in story. Before, there was only time to read a couple of pages of each book. That allowed us to dip our toes in the water when we really needed to submerge.

That was 2 1/2 years ago, and nothing has really changed since then. We “school” year-round. For us, learning is how we live life. We do try to do math and writing daily, but reading is a must! The girls read on their own. (Emryn still reads aloud to me most of the time.) I read aloud to them between 1 and 3 hours each day. Brian reads to all of us at night. We live immersed in story. In every single room in our house, you will find stacks of books. There are even books in our closets. We breathe them in, and they give us life.

We do have a routine that we loosely follow. That gives structure to our day, and it helps the girls rest. I tried it with no routine…they didn’t know what might be coming back, and they got a little nervous in the chaos. For us, there is more freedom within our schedule.

Another thing I have done is to have all sorts of creative materials available. Our girls have a craft table that gets used more than any other piece of furniture in our house. They go to it first thing in the morning to create and return to it frequently throughout the day. It rests against 3 huge windows, and on their ledges sit glass jars and baskets containing buttons, knitting needles, stickers, various types of paper, tape, tools for sculpting Sculpey clay, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, markers, ribbon and the list goes on. I have baskets spilling over with yarn, embroidery floss and fabric. We have cabinets littered with paintbrushes and acrylics. We even have boxes full of nature. Twigs, stones, dried leaves, pine needles…you name it (as long as it’s not alive and can possibly be used to form something).

My girls almost always create while I read. Art begets art.

Wow…this has gone a little different direction than I initially planned. I wrote at various times throughout the day. Sorry if it’s not too fluid! Please let me know if you have specific questions about what books we read, resources for finding those books, what our schedule looks like, or anything else. I’m happy to share:) I know that what works for us may not work for others, but this is our life…saturated in story and creativity and full of learning…and we love it!!


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not the only reality…

just read this in Frederick Buechner’s Listening to Your Life...

People who tend to write off the validity of the religious experience in general and the experience of God in particular on the grounds that in the Real World they can find no evidence for such things should take note. Maybe the Real World is not the only reality, and even if it should turn out to be maybe they are not really looking at it realistically.

as i read this, i was reminded of one of my favorite Puddleglum quotes…

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all of those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones….I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.

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a bit more…

I just posted this over at the Rabbit Room, and I thought I would just put it here as well for those of you who don’t read there but are wondering a bit more about what Hutchmoot was all about. I plan to share more soon, but Brian and I are enjoying our last day in Nashville together! Tomorrow we head back to my parents to pick up our girls and then home on Thursday! Once I have some time to reconnect with my girls and grocery shop and do laundry and get back into school…basically once I’m back into life…I hope to share more of what this weekend was and what I learned:)

Here’s my comment from the RR…

First of all…thank you so much to each of you for a beautiful weekend! And especially to AP, Pete, Evie, Kate and all of you who worked so hard to plan and execute this amazing thing that happened! I, too, am still decompressing this past weekend. Everything about this weekend was woven with beauty, honesty, truth and ultimately drew me closer to the Creator.

After a year of many deep and painful thumbprints from the Sculptor, I came to this weekend tired and somewhat emptied. I left (still tired!!) but filled. Filled with the stories of others, the story of myself and most importantly…the Author of Story.

Kim…I like your idea of sharing our art here. I was also stirred to reconnect with my art in order to shape the chaos of my own life and those around me. One thing I wish we could’ve experienced a bit more of was sharing our art forms with everyone. Though I do some writing and song-writing, I also do some work with pieces of nature, and I am raising and homeschooling 2 beautiful girls. All of that is art. My husband is very much an artist, but he does not write. Though he is a storyteller, most of his art streams forth through his hands. He carves wood, he sculpts with clay, he sketches, he forms things from “almost” nothing.

I also heard someone mention they use the pages of old books and form something (I didn’t hear what it was!!). I want to experience others through their art. I want to be stirred by them and see my Maker through their eyes. I want to get ideas from others to better my own art. I hope we can all share this:)

Evie’s art is not only the pieces of work that were hanging on the wall (which were amazing, I might add), but her art was thoroughly enjoyed by each one of us in each bite we took. I had never experienced food in the way I did this weekend. Thank you, Evie!!

And Laura Peterson, I loved what you said about sharing things being your art! I do some of that as well, and isn’t it wonderful?! Really…life is art, and I am so thankful that we were each created with a special way to express our Maker and tell others his truth.

And now I’ve gone on and on:) And there’s so much more to think through!!

Oh…and…to the person who mentioned Muppets in Space and the Gonzos…I totally agree! It was so good to be surrounded by other Gonzos this weekend. I think that played such a huge role in how quickly we all connected. The foundation of not having to explain who our favorite authors are, to not have to define living a creative life, etc…those roots were there, and we were able to branch out quickly and beautiful from that.

Can’t wait ’til next year:)

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*sigh*…

sitting in my hotel room after Hutchmoot.

so tired.

so aware of the Maker.

so blessed by the community.

so full of the beauty and truth of the weekend.

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returning to rightness…

One of the benefits of illness is that, either from general weakness of from the brain’s being cast into a state of rest, habits are broken for a time; and more simple, childlike, and natural modes of thought and feeling come into action, whereby right has a better chance. Some sicknesses may well open windows into the unseen. A man’s self-stereotyped thinking is unfavorable to revelation; his mind works too strongly in its familiar channels. But illness, in weakening these habits and breaking down these channels, strengthens more primary and original modes of vision. More open to the influences of the divine question are those who are not frozen in their own dullness, cased in their own habits, bound by their own pride to foregone conclusions, or shut up in the completeness of human error, theorizing beyond their knowledge and power.

…George MacDonald

i read this this morning and have found it to be so true in my own life. i would add that not only illnesses can allow the bare truth to shine, but trauma, chaos and just taking a break from the norm can also be the open doorway.

how thankful i am for these gifts…these pathways of returning to rightness!

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giving hope…

what would it feel to lay down at the end of another day with that all-too-familiar gnawing in your stomach, knowing your children feel the same thing because, again, there was nothing to eat?

what would their eyes say  to you the next morning when you awoke, knowing that if you didn’t use them or yourself in unthinkable ways, there would again be nothing to fill those hollow spaces?

or what if you were too old to remain in the orphanage that had been your home and you knew what evils awaited you on the streets because you had no money or learned skills?

what if you longed to save money to learn at the nearby university, yet the only ways you knew how just felt wrong?

would you just become numb to it all? could you still hope for more?

over the last couple of years, i’ve had the honor of learning about and working with some beautiful organizations. these organizations give these women a chance to learn, to dream, to grow, to hope! these places provides a place of beauty, friendship and safety for them to learn and create so they can feed their families, save money for education or whatever else  their desires/needs may be.

i am obviously focusing on the women here, but there are a couple of places i’ve worked with that also aid men. i am sure there are many more out there, but my heartbeat, to date, has been for these women.

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have you heard of katie? if not, i urge you to spend some time with her over at her blog. her story is absolutely amazing! and recently she has brought together women from various tribes to teach them not only how to make these beautiful necklaces but also what it means to live in community…together!

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have you seen these bags from Timbali Crafts?  or what about these from Haitian Creations? these beautiful women have learned how to create with fabric and threads, and this not only allows them to provide for their needs, but it gives them self-worth.

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and what about Sseko sandals? aren’t they fun and pretty? i hope you’ll take the time to read the stories of the makers of the sandals as well as the story of the founder of Sseko Designs. beautiful and brilliant!

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and the slippers and other goods from Satch & Sol? have you seen them yet? they are so beautiful and sturdy! my girls have had their slippers for over 2 years now, and they still barely look worn!

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i was going to share some other organizations that i’ve worked with, but their focus is a little different. i think i’ll just stop here for now. we have been trying to share these types of gifts with friends and families (unless there are needs), and it has been so beautiful and life-giving in so many ways.

do you have other organizations like these that you love? i always love learning of others, so please share!!

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