On Waiting

“The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude.  The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint–virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy.  These virtues seem to find precious little shelter, in fact, in any modern quarter of this nation founded by Puritans.  Furthermore, we apply them selectively:  browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example.  Only if the wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances (the story goes), will they know its true value.  ‘Blah blah blah,‘ hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now.  We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by whole sale desires.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Thanks for the book, Fr. R.B.!

I think she has a point, don’t you?  What do we wait for anymore?  Not information, there’s the internet.  Not food, there are microwaves.  Not TV shows, even: we have DVR.  Not letters, a phone call is quicker.  Not babies, their ‘delivery’ is scheduled for our convenience or our doctor’s.  There does seem to be a pattern.

It wasn’t a VW bus, was it?

“There was a time when good academic qualifications guaranteed a job, but not any more.  One reason is academic inflation.  In the next 30 years, more people worldwide will be gaining academic qualifications than since the beginning of history.  But as more people get them, their currency value is falling sharply.  A university degree used to be an open sesame to a professional position.  The minimum requirement for some jobs is now a Master’s degree, even a PhD.  What next?  But there is a second problem.  Many companies are facing a crisis in graduate recruitment.  It’s not that there aren’t enough graduates to go around; there are more and more.  But too many don’t have what business urgently needs:  they can’t communicate well, they can’t work in teams and they can’t think creatively.  But why should they?  University degrees aren’t designed to make people creative.  They are designed to do other things and often do them well.  But complaining that graduates aren’t creative is like saying, “I bought a bus and it sank”.

-Ken Robinson, Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative

16-year-olds are people too?

“There is a natural and accepted view that one of the main purposes of education is to prepare young people directly for a place in the labour market.  Obviously, general education should do this.  But there are two complications.  First, thinking of education as a preparation for something that happens later can overlook the fact that the first 16 or 18 years of a person’s life are not a rehearsal.  Young people are living their lives now.  What they become and what they do later depends on the attitudes and abilities they develop as they are growing up.  Linear assumptions about supply and demand can and do cut off many potentially valuable and formative experiences on the grounds of utility.”

-Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.  (emphasis mine)

Babies and Sisters…

It’s amazing how kids learn.  It’s so totally effortless.  There are always the examples of four-year-olds casually using curse words in polite company, much to their parents’ embarrassment, or course.  Yesterday, on the other hand, Lucy was walking around the house with her Fish do the Strangest Things book, standing on top of things, holding the book in front of her, and proclaiming, “A reading from Saint Paul.  Babies and sisters…”  I stopped in my tracks.  She is clearly paying much closer attention while she wiggles away through Mass than we have been giving her credit for.  (I asked about the “babies”, and she seemed to think that made more sense than “brothers”, which is understandable I guess since she has a severe lack of brothers at the moment.)  Anyway, we are redoubling efforts to have such good influences and Saint Paul and his letters around, so that her osmosis can do its thing.

Zoo Trip with Nana

This is Lucy’s first “official” narration.  A big part of the homeschooling method we’re looking at is telling back stories the child has heard as well as the story of what happened on a trip, during the day, etc.  We went to the zoo today with Craig’s mom today, and here’ is Lucy’s story (which required some prompting, but not too much).  Here it is!

“I’ll tell you about the zoo.  We went to the zoo.  And then we saw the animals.  And then we didn’t go see the lions.  Abnd then what did we did?  Samantha and us and you and mommy and me and Samantha and NaNa.  I didn’t want to walk.  Because my knee hurt because I got blood because I fell on th ground because I wnet on the mountain on the grass and then I got hurt.  Then I got a yellow snowball.”

And here are the pictures…

Gorilla – they were busy today.


Lounging gorilla

Posing by the orangutans.

Lucy and Samantha at the zoo

Samantha’s new friends.

Samantha's new friendb]s

Home Schooling

We start tomorrow with “official” homeschooling.  I thought it would be fun to let grandparents, et alia, follow along, so there is a new page (you should see it at the top under the title) devoted entirely to Lucy’s little projects, my lesson plans, the books were’re reading, and the like.

Before you get too excited about it though, remember that Lucy is only two.  So “homeschooling” at this point is going to focus on a letter a week (with themed books, crafts, snacks, etc.), a saint or two a week, and lots of playing and being two.  But I’m hoping that getting an early start on the structure (!) of organized (!) home learning will pay off when we get to quadratic equations and the like in a couple of years (kidding, only Craig thinks that will really happen).

So check out the new page, there promises to be plenty of cuteness oozing from it in the weeks to come.

A Spiritual Goal for Women

Elizabeth Foss uses this quote from Edith Stein in her book:

“The soul of a woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings; it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to benumb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self contained, so that no invasions from without can impede the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraeneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call.”

Essays on Woman, 132-133 (In Real Learning, 210-211)

That should be an aide to personal growth goal setting…

This week’s news

We are experimenting to see how long we can survive without air conditioning. I’m shooting for Memorial Day. (We will get a respite on Mother’s Day, since Craig’s parents are coming over and I’m not going to impose this penance on anyone else!) We didn’t use it last month, and our electric bill was less than 1/3 of what it had been. We’ve been spending lots of time outside (in the shade mostly!) and leaving the house open for the breeze. It’s not terrible, just a little uncomfortable, and I have a new appreciation for those little breaths of cool air!

One benefit of being outside so much is all the nature we get to see in our own back yard. We found a frog in the laundry closet! Here is a pic, and we have a video of it making its escape, as well, but it’s too big to post at the moment. These are the sort of things I am really, really looking forward to with homeschooling.


My book list on the side has been updated. I’m on a homeschooling binge at the moment, re-reading Elizabeth Foss’s wonderful book, as well as a couple of new ones Craig decided to order from Amazon rather than get from interlibrary loan.

Our seniors are done with school, and we will be, too, at the end of the month. I just have one quiz and exams left to make!! This is all very exciting, and coupled with the encouraging homeschooling reading, is giving me back some of the energy I’ve been lacking lately.

Here are a few more pictures of the girls doing what they do.

Samantha attempting to eat grass.


Lucy drawing.  The Easter eggs she made at Grandma’s months ago have been recycled into Easter season decorations (on the wall behind her).  Most of them have now been removed and the stickers rearranged again (and again).

Lucy Writing

Lucy’s block house.

Lucy's house

Samantha is teething like a mad woman and enjoys the pieces of Lucy’s puzzle.

Samantha and blocks

Cutting play-doh


Clearly, it’s been a busy week.  : )


Someday I want to live (and think, and write…) like this.  Elizabeth Foss was one of my first introductions to homeschooling, and I’m re-reading her book right now.  I have a hard time even imagining the sort of faith and love she lives everyday.

Another reason we forgo “Baby Einstein”

“Adults have taken it for granted that children are sensible only to gaudy objects, bright colors, and shrill sounds, and they make use of these to attract a child’s attention.  We have all noticed how children are attracted by songs, by the tolling of bells, by flags fluttering in the wind, by brilliant lights, and so forth.  But these violent attractions are external and transitory, and can be more of a distraction than boon.  We might make the comparison with our own way of acting.  If we are busy reading an interesting book and suddenly hear a loud band passing by in the street, we get up and go to the window to see what is happening.  If we were to see someone act in this way, we would hardly conclude that men are particularly attracted by loud sounds.  And yet we make this conclusion about little children.  The fact that a strong, external stimulus catches a child’s attention is merely incidental and has no real relation with the inner life of the child which is responsible for his development.  We can perceive evidence of a child’s inner life in the way he immerses himself in the fixed contemplation of minute things that are of no concern to us.   But one who is attracted by the smallness of an object and focuses his attention upon it does so, not because it has made a striking impression upon him, but simply because his contemplation of it is an expression of an affectionate understanding.”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood