Friday, June 24, 2011

A Poem ... by Louisa May Alcott

Tonight I discovered that the author of one of my favorite books is also a poet ... and her poem touched me deeply. I've been out of sorts and out of control of my emotions and my reactions, and I'm struggle to keep control of myself. Perhaps I need to stop struggling with myself and let God take over the struggle, for I've always found that when I let God have control of me that I somehow have control of myself.

My Kingdom
by Louisa May Alcott

A little kingdom I possess
where thoughts and feelings dwell,
And very hard I find the task
of governing it well;
For passion tempts and troubles me,
A wayward will misleads,
And selfishness its shadow casts
On all my words and deeds.

How can I learn to rule myself,
to be the child I should,
Honest and brave, nor ever tire
Of trying to be good?
How can I keep a sunny soul
To shine along life’s way?
How can I tune my little heart
To sweetly sing all day?

Dear Father, help me with the love
that casteth out my fear;
Teach me to lean on thee, and feel
That thou art very near,
That no temptation is unseen
No childish grief too small,
Since thou, with patience infinite,
Doth soothe and comfort all.

I do not ask for any crown
But that which all may win
Nor seek to conquer any world
Except the one within.
Be thou my guide until I find,
Led by a tender hand,
Thy happy kingdom in myself
And dare to take command.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This NOOK in my Side


A month ago, my life was blissful. I had no desire for an e-reader. Then my mother let me borrow her Kindle...

and I fell in love. :lol:

Actually, I guess I feel into envy. I wanted a Kindle so bad, but we couldn't afford one and so I hoped that [I]maybe[/I] I might get a Kindle for Christmas/anniversary. The crazy part is that I knew I was envious and so I wouldn't even pray about my Kindle desires.

Then this really amazing thing happened. I was visiting with a friend of mine and jokingly telling her how sorrowful I was about having to return my mother's Kindle. This friend of mine is quite a bit older than me, and she is fairly well off. She laughed and said, "I have a NOOK. But I hate it. I much prefer to read a real book. In fact, I haven't used my NOOK in months and months. If you want it, it's yours. I will gladly give it to you!" I was stunned into silence (which can be a hard thing to do because I like to talk just as much as I like to write). Here was this amazing and completely unexpected blessing that I certainly knew I didn't deserve it because of my envious heart.

So one might think I could be happy now ... but NO. I am miserable. I keep recalling how easy it was to use the Kindle. With my mother's Kindle, reading books was so easy. Downloading books was a snap. I had that Kindle for 10 wonderful days. I've had the NOOk for 3 weeks now, and it has been 3 weeks too long! It has many more features than the Kindle, but all I want to do is to read a book and I can't seem to do that with this dadgum NOOK!

I can't really afford to buy books for the NOOK right now, but I *should* be able to download library books onto it. I have been trying unsuccessfully to do so for 3 days. By the way, my library e-book system doesn't support Kindles ... so even if I did have a Kindle, I couldn't use the library system with my e-reader. More proof that I should be thrilled beyond words to have a NOOK, but apparently I have a heart that is hardened toward NOOKs.

It all boils down to this: I wish I didn't have this dadgum NOOK. I just want a Kindle ... and that makes me feel incredibly ungrateful. But it is the truth, as ashamed of it as I am. :(

Sigh. Somehow this blessing of a NOOK seems to be teaching me more about my ungrateful heart than anything else. Lord, teach me to be content ... without an e-reader!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Painting the Sistine Chapel

After six months, I can say that I'm finally finding my homeschooling groove once again! It's certainly different this time around ... older children, more children, a variety of ages and interests and talents. Coupled with moving and sick husband and kids who were used to public or private school settings, it has taken me several months to figure out how to do this, and as a former homeschooling mom I was not expecting such a long transition.

I'm finding my groove once again with a marvelous curriculum: Five in a Row. It's the same curriculum that I used before. Joel, Nathan and I loved it then. Once again, we are all loving learning with FIAR lessons. Each week, we read a book. From that book, we spin our language arts, history, geography, science, art, music, Bible, cooking and even math lessons for five days in a row.

And the kids are learning and the kids are engaged and the kids love school and I love teaching ... and all of this makes our home a happy place of learning.

This week our book is Angelo, written and illustrated by David Macaulay. From this story, we have discussed personification, birds, the process of restoring something old (like a building or painting), Opera, working diligently even in hard circumstances and as unto the Lord instead of for men. We've cooked spaghetti together. We've discussed showing kindness to the widows and respecting the elderly. The story takes place in Rome, so we are learning a lot about Italy.

As we talked about Italy and Rome, we discussed Michelangelo ... looked at his sculptures and paintings, and talked about his importance in art and history. As a fun activity, I let the kids paint Michelangelo style ... lying down! It's actually a legend that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel while lying on his back. In a letter to a friend, Michelangelo actually wrote a funny little verse (talking about how his neck ached and paint dripped in his beard and how he struggled to maintain his balance) and he sketched himself painting ... standing up and leaned backwards! However, the kids still loved the experience. Here are some pictures of our fun afternoon of painting.

Meg, Julia and Nathan paint on their backs under the dining table. It was an afternoon of summertime fun, but none of us thought we'd like doing it for four years, which was how long it took Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

Maddie works on her painting while lying under a chair.

Joel's finished product ... "Paint in My Eye." I loved the title he gave his painting! He did indeed get paint drips in his eye, while paint dripped on Julia's hands, onto Meg's leg and hair, and all over my dining room floor. No matter how you go about it, painting on a ceiling isn't easy!

For more photos of our Michelangelo painting fun, please see my facebook album "Painting the Sistine Chapel."