Admittedly it has been awhile and only a sick at home hubby, two boys napping and a balmy 50 degree day made such a feat possible. It gave me a chance to think, and ponder over this last year, my first as a CM'er, and take note of all the ways that it has changed me.
Of course there are all the ways her teachings have affected my approach to teaching and training my children but I see just as many changes in how I approach my days and how I see things.
Until last year I had enclosed myself in a very narrow cocoon of daily duties and habits feeling that as a young mom with 5 small children I could not "waste" my time and energy on anything but what was right in front of my face. But as I made my way through "Home Education", a desire began to stir within me that had almost been forgotten.
A desire to know;I began to remember all of the joyous hours I spent throughout my growing years in the pastures, fields and orchards around my home and began to wish that I could experience some of that again.
A desire to learn;
A desire to experience.
A desire to learn;
A desire to experience.
You see, I myself am a homeschool graduate and unwittingly grew up under many of Charlotte's methods, especially of being "left alone" for hours to discover nature myself. I also had the opportunities to learn several handicrafts and enjoyed "crafting" at every chance.
But that was years ago! Now what could be done? I didn't have the time and bless me if I did I certainly didn't have the energy. And yet, there it was, this itch that must be scratched; this wrinkle that must be smoothed. So I began to look and to seek for times, for moments to learn. And in the seeking I found!
For starters I hung a cheap bird feeder from a tree limb outside my kitchen window at the beginning of spring and was amazed at the prolific amount of birds that soon gathered to eat. Not only birds, but squirrels and rabbits. I would spend my dish washing time watching and learning. It didn't take me long to do some internet searching for the names and songs of these different birds. We've lived here for years and I had no idea that American Gold Finches gathered here in such large numbers!
While hanging laundry out on the line I grew curious to know more about trees and after a bit of research found that we have red and silver Maples, two Sycamores and a row of Elms in our backyard. Of course I shared both of these ventures with my children but I also found moments to treasure just for me.
Some days instead of checking on the kids from the windows I would grab the baby and walk outside. Sometimes I would just stand on the porch taking deep breaths and watching the clouds. Other times I would walk around the yard picking lavender blossoms and breathing in their scent. My favorite experience was to stand in just the right spot in the backyard where I could catch the perfume from the wild plum blossoms in my neighbors backyard. I love keeping my windows open during the spring and summer as much as possible and spent many delightful moments listening to the cacophony of bird songs coming in.
Lately I've taken to standing on my front steps and just breathing deeply and taking note of the clouds in the sky, the wind blowing through the trees, the early spring birds singing and watching for signs of spring growth. It is amazing at how much just an extra few moments taken to be still will refresh my soul and rejuvenate me for the remaining hours in the day.
Other ways that expand my portfolio of knowledge and skills have been to learn new crafts and handicrafts and to hone the ones I already know. I have taken up crocheting again this year by making woolen soakers for my baby and have learned something new by dyeing the wool yarn that I purchased to make the soakers. I also spent some time working on knitting and although I'm still not very good or fast at it I did make some small progress.
I have always been a "bookworm", not in the sense that I'm really brainy or anything but I am always reading something. I started reading at a young age and haven't stopped since, lol. I have found that as a mom I have needed this tool more than ever.
For me reading encompasses many different methods. I read books, I listen to books on tape, I subscribe to and read magazines and I read blogs and website articles on the internet. I have found that keeping several books going and always researching and expanding my knowledge in practical and daily ways have been vital to staying sane. Most days I enjoy reading thoughtful and "stiff" books as this gives me things to think on and meditate over throughout the hours. I also read articles and books on child training and homeschooling so that I keep a fresh perspective on the daily things going on around the house. I also enjoy diving into books on decluttering and organizing and often sit down to go through my files to reread papers that I have saved over the years.
You may be thinking right now that there is no way that you could find the time to pick up a book and actually get any "real" reading done so I will let you in on a little secret of mine. Shhhh, make sure you don't spread this around too much because it is rather, well, improper. But, most of my best reading gets done on the ....toilet! That's right, one of the few places where you can actually close the door and be left alone for a little bit. Honestly this is a trick I learned from my mother (a homeschooling mama) and have utilized with great success. I keep at least one book on the back of my toilet and often a homemaking, homeshooling or parenting magazine sits there as well.
On occasion I pick up a book from the library and have participated in a few summer reading programs for adults, and while I don't always, in fact hardly ever, get all the books on my list read I do make progress. It has taken me over 6 months but I am only a few pages from finishing Charlotte's first book "Home Education". I also take a bit of time most every day to read a few blogs and I am currently making my way slowly through one of Beth Moore's bible studies.
Which brings me to the last and most important area of creating your "mother culture". Nothing renews me as much or lifts me up more than my daily "talkings" with Jesus. Yes, it has been hard and some days I am more heedful than others, but I have made this a priority and have been utterly blessed by the ways and areas that my Lord has ministered to me. I meditate weekly on a bible verse from my Clean Heart, Clean Home journal (courtesy of dandelion seeds blog); I spend 20-30 minutes every morning delving in and studying about God's tabernacle in my daily bible study; I spend time everyday on my knees in prayer for my children and husband and I offer to God my thoughts, prayers and praise as I go throughout my day.
So as you take stock of the culture that you have created for yourself I hope that I have given you some inspiration and ideas. Remember you are the source of most of the learning your little children will have in the early years and if you are excited and inspired with learning new things for yourself then they will pick up on that same enthusiasm. Try to find at least one thing new to learn or study every month and I guarantee you won't regret it.