A Legacy …

There was a time when a man spoke very impatiently to my father. He had seen a copy of the Iliad lying on the table. “You are reading this?” he asked.

“I have read it many times. Now I read it to my son.”

“But he is too young!” The man protested, almost angry.

“Is he? Who is to say? How young is too young to begin to discover the power and the beauty of words? Perhaps he will not understand, but there is a clash of shields and a call of trumpets in those lines. One cannot begin too young nor linger too long with learning.”

[…]

My father was a tall man, and now he stood up. “My friend,” he said, “I do not know what else I shall leave my son, but if I have left him a love of language, of literature, a taste for Homer, for the poets, the people who have told our story–and by ‘our’ I mean the story of mankind–then he will have legacy enough.”

Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods, p. 141-142

(emphasis mine)

Though our homeschool has changed a bit here and there over the years, one thing has been constant pretty much from the beginning – we wanted to make sure we read to our children, read often, read good books, and gave them a love of reading. Honestly, you could say this began Ian’s first night home from the hospital. He had his nights and days very mixed up, so after he nursed, John took him and hung out with him until it was time to feed him again. Starting that very first night, John read to Ian. If I remember correctly, it was Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You Will Go! It didn’t matter that Ian didn’t understand a word of the story. What mattered is that he knew his daddy’s voice, heard the rhythm and cadence that comes with hearing spoken language, and knew that daddy was with him.

That practice has continued throughout our children’s lives. Even now, I still read to them in the mornings during the school year, John reads to them most nights at bedtime, and we often have a family audio book going. Reading – together, alone – has become part of our culture as a family.

I still remember something my principal told a group of us when I was still teaching. His two sons were older – one in college and one in high school – but he said they still read aloud as a family. They often took turns, sharing books they loved, with each other. They also would listen to books in the car as they drove places. To realize that once my children were able to read to themselves that it was still a good thing to read to them made a huge impact on me. Ian, that little newborn who heard his first story the night he came home from the hospital, still loves to listen to his father and I read to him and his siblings. Truth be told, they all still love to listen to the early pictures books being read to the youngest two.

“Who knows how much he will remember? Who knows how deep the intellect? In some year yet unborn he may hear those words again, or read them, and find in them something hauntingly familiar, as of something long ago heard and only half-remembered.”

Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods, p. 141

We may not have monetary riches to leave our children. At this point in our lives, with my oldest nearing the end of his homeschooling career, I’m just hoping we have riches enough to help with college for five children. But, we can leave them a few things money can never buy – a love for language, a love for literature, a friendship with some of the greatest writers who wrote some of the greatest works. Combine that legacy with being able to give them their faith, and they will be rich beyond compare.

Why I Feel I’m Living in a Picture Book

If you have read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, then you can understand how wanting a cookie can turn into needing a hair cut, drawing a picture, and taking a nap. And if you have read it, then you might also understand how painting a bedroom or three could turn into not only cleaning out the attic and garage, but also painting the living room, den, and “touching up” the kitchen.

In the back of my head, I’m sure I knew it would come to this. You put a very nice color up on a few walls and think, “This would look really nice in *that* room also.” Then you realize that room is the same color as the next, so they both should be painted. And while you are filling in the dings and dents that have accumulated over the last six or so years since you last painted, you realize the kitchen could use a little spackle too. The next thing you know, life is chaotic (well, more so than normal), there is a fine layer of dust over most all surfaces, and you wonder if you will ever be able to sit on your couch again.

In the midst of this, I still have sixth grade and eighth grade to plan for my older two (third grade is almost planned), my husband has to figure out high school math Common Core in the next four weeks, and we’d love to get a couple “field trips” in before the school year begins. At least I’m 99% sure I have finally ordered everything we need, aside from a few school supplies. It’d be overly embarrassing to mention how many times I forgot something while ordering online, only to have to put in another order once I remembered. What I hope is the final order is on its way now. If it isn’t, then we will just do without.

Adventures in painting the bedrooms, or why moving might have been easier

As last summer was the summer of the very long road trip (more on that later, probably in a different post), this summer has become the summer of home improvement. Honesty, ending one school year (our homeschooling year and my husband’s teaching school year), embarking immediately on a month long road trip across most of the US, and coming home just in time to prep and plan new school years left us very little time to do much of anything around the house. What began as a simple desire to declutter some of the mess that manages to find its way in our house has turned into an empty attic, almost empty garage, and rooms that should actually be painted. The painting seemed a good idea and relatively easy on the home-renovation scale. The kids’ rooms were painted a nice sky blue, and though I didn’t see it as “boys only,” it did feel “little boyish.” Plus, over the years, numerous stickers had been stuck on the walls near beds. So, fresh paint was a good excuse to scrape all stickers off the walls and neutralize the walls a bit.

We ended up choosing Dunn Edwards’ Sandcastle. I first saw it when my mother-in-law painted her house. It’s a beautifully warm and yet light color, changing with the light in the room. It doesn’t pop out from the wall and yet doesn’t dissolve into it either. In keeping with my desire for simplicity, I decided all three bedrooms would be painted, plus the hallway. I think my husband fears that will extend to the living room, kitchen/entry, and den. It probably will. But painting isn’t that big of a deal.

For some reason, cleaning out the bedrooms to get ready to paint turned into my husband declaring that the attic needed cleaning out. Now, before you picture wonderful “grandmother” attics, complete with rocking chairs, old chests full of treasures, and even a window overlooking the yard, let me explain by my loose usage of the word. Our attic is a glorified crawl space. I think Miss K is the only one who could probably stand up in there. We do have a drop-down ladder in the hall for access. But getting anything in or out requires staying very low if you wish to preserve your head. With that said, even with our “attic,” we did manage to fill it quite nicely. Three boys can collect many toys over the years. Add to that Christmas decorations, most of which we don’t even use anymore as we decided the electric bill was not worth it, and it doesn’t take long to fill the place. All of it came down, one box or bin at a time. I vowed that most of it will not be returning. There is simply not enough time in their lives to play with everything we have accumulated over the last thirteen years of child rearing. Our over abundance will make some other children very happy.

Well, with the attic cleared out, and with the promise that it will only house a few select things after this weekend, it was only natural for the garage to get in on the action. I mean, what’s a bit more mess. Not only does our garage house our stuff (think bicycles, bike trailers, skateboards, RipSticks, tents, coolers, baseball equipment … you get the picture), but still houses many of the things my dad left behind when he passed. I don’t think we will ever have use of a table saw, for instance. But when we inherited the house, we just kept everything. Much like the attic, the garage will be cleaned out and put back together with far less than it has now. By this point, and with the mess we have made, it seems moving might have been easier. We already have a large portion of our stuff “packed up” and ready to go. But I love our little house. It’s a nice house even if it’s a big snug around the edges. A little decluttering. A bit of paint on the walls. A cleaner attic and garage … maybe not the easiest things to do, especially with Miss K underfoot, but in the long run, much easier than moving.