Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sweet, Simple Things of Life

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a little girl I loved the TV series, Little House on the Prairie.

I remember Mom calling us kids in from outside (where we were playing for hours) to have our baths and settle down to watch the show.
Each week my sister and I waited for the opening theme song to begin, waited for the moment (my sister's favorite) when the girls are running down the hill in the meadow and Carrie falls down. 

Each week we watched and absorbed wholesome family values;  saw the tenderness in which Charles treated Caroline and his integrity in the workplace, saw Caroline keep her composure with Mrs. Oleson and her voice low and sweet no matter the stress she felt, saw the girls learn the lessons of honesty, sharing and service.  
For my sister and I, the worst insult was to be compared to Nellie Oleson! 

I still love to watch it.  Filled with simple, homey lessons on life; Little House and later, the writings of Laura Ingalls, helped to shape who I am today.
There are no substitutes for real family, real living.
So much of the modern world is nothing but image and gadgets.  So many items to save time- and yet we spend that extra time immersed in more gadgetry.   

I remember washing dishes with my brother and sister by hand- something we disliked immensely.
And yet, by working together regularly, we had a lot of time to talk, to laugh and yes, to fight.
Somehow kids taking turns loading the dishwasher just isn't the same.

I find that much of the time it's difficult for me to find a balance between modern life and my vision of a wholesome family life.  So many distractions, so many mixed messages aimed at men and women and children.
 Most, I feel, teach that we don't have enough or what we have is not good enough.  
Most of the messages are of a selfish nature.

I am so very thankful that I had a mother who thought for herself.  Carefully she p0ndered ideas and chose good for her family.  It did not matter what others around her were doing- she made wise,  wholesome decisions that she knew were right.
What a wonderful example for a young daughter to witness.

In honor of another great lady, here are some Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes that I love:

"As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good. "

"Oh no, I never do much ironing, except the outside clothes. We must not iron out the fresh air and sunshine, you know. It is much more healthful not to, the doctors say.” Seriously, there is something very refreshing about sheets and pillow slips just fresh from the line, after being washed and dried in the sun and air. Just try them that way and see if your sleep is not sweeter. "

"Vices are simply overworked virtues, anyway. Economy and frugality are to be commended but follow them on in an increasing ratio and what do we find at the other end? A miser! If we overdo the using of spare moments we may find an invalid at the end, while perhaps if we allowed ourselves more idle time we would conserve our nervous strength and health to more than the value the work we could accomplish by emulating at all times the little busy bee.

I once knew a woman, not very strong, who to the wonder of her friends went through a time of extraordinary hard work without any ill effects.

I asked her for her secret and she told me that she was able to keep her health, under the strain, because she took 20 minutes, of each day in which to absolutely relax both mind and body. She did not even “set and think.” She lay at full length, every muscle and nerve relaxed and her mind as quiet as her body. This always relieved the strain and renewed her strength."

"It is a good idea sometimes to think of the importance and dignity of our every-day duties. It keeps them from being so tiresome; besides, others are apt take us at our own valuation. "

And another sweet tidbit for you.  I've long worn aprons- ever since I was given a vintage apron in 1991.  I love them!   Here is a list of the practicalities of this wonderful garment:

Grandma's Apron
(Author Unknown)
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears…
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

And another reminder from Laura:

"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and
have courage when things go wrong." 

 Content copyright © 2010 by Jessa at Graceful Landing

Sunday, September 12, 2010

King Canine

We have a Newfie.  His name is Tucker.
He is large.
He is gentle and sweet.
He drools sometimes.
He loves all humans and animals equally.
He is large.
Did I already mention that?

When we got him, he was just a little fella.

A little puffball that slept most of the time.

But he grew and grew and grew some more.
He is quite majestic-looking.

 This summer, we had to shave his back half. 
He likes water- alot.  And when he gets wet and hot....he gets hot spots.

He looked ridiculous, but felt great.  

Now that his hair is growing back and the weather is cooling off, I decided to take him on a walk.  
He's 2  1/2 and with Newfoundlands, you have to wait until they are two or older to take them on long walks.  Once they've finished growing and so not to strain their joints.

So we took him on a 2  1/2 mile walk around the country neighborhood.
He loved it!
One thing we noticed though, was that every dog knew he was coming.  
Normally a few dogs bark here or there when we walk this route.  But this day, they could smell Tuck coming and every dog around was at their property line, barking like crazy.

The funny thing is; as we neared each dog land-owner, they did the same thing.

They would wait until we got close, then turn to the side; bowing their heads slightly and averting everything but one eye, which they kept right on Tucker. 
 He, in his happy-go-lucky joy to be out walking, didn't seem to notice much.  
Every house/driveway we came to, the dogs adopted the same stance. 
I felt rather like I was walking  Mufasa from the Lion King.

I may have even held my head a little higher, my nose slightly elevated.  
Okay, maybe not.  Maybe I was just laughing over the courtesy paid to such a large dog.

A large, loveable mass of canine humanity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken 
 written by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a wood,
And sorry that I could not travel both,
And be one traveler, long I stood;
And looked down one as far as I could,
 To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair.
And having perhaps the better claim,
because it was grassy, and wanted wear,
though as for that the passing there,
had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay,
in leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back!

I shall be telling this with a sigh,
somewhere ages, hence and hence,
Two roads diverged in a wood—and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

 Earlier this summer, I called up my two grown children to ask them their opinions on having been home educated.
I was nervous.  Mainly because my now-grown daughter and I butted heads a lot during her educational years.   She was very stubborn and that mixed with slight dyslexia was not a good combination.    She was a very hands-on learner and not super interested in grammar skills and spelling.
Oh how I anguished over that child!  Read tons of books and articles and prayed.

For much of her childhood I was caring for babies and toddlers and trying to find my way homeschooling.  I often felt she and her older brother were guinea pigs in a way- although I spent countless hours making careful decisions for my little guinea pigs.  

In spite of my teaching and guiding, at age 8, my daughter could barely read basic words.  It wasn't until she was 11 that she really took off.   Once in her teens, she was reading 2-3 books at a time.    At age 12, I lamented over her spelling and yet; over the next two years her desire to spell correctly came into play and she became proficient in that area.

During this time, she also learned to play three instruments, sing in a choir, crochet and embroider beautifully, train her horse and run an entire household if I let her.

My oldest son was the model student.  A quick and eager learner, I'd find him reading science and history books for fun.  He often created his own experiments and wrote endless stories, began college classes at 15.
What a difference for a child if they can read early and have high levels of comprehension!
  A difference in the subject of Language Arts, anyway.    I can honestly say that he and his sister were complete opposites on the learning scale...and yet they are both so intelligent in their own ways.  And those ways compliment each other.

But back to my phone conversation.  I called my son first- the same son who always tells  his younger siblings to listen to me and be grateful for the experience of homeschooling.  That they are incredibly lucky to have the freedoms to learn as they do.  He even thanks me.

Of course I called him first.   I knew what he would say. 

He reinforced my desires to educate my younger children and gave me ideas to keep stress at bay.  He reiterated his feeling that he is so much more knowledgeable about life than other young men his age.  
I left the conversation strong and ready to ask my daughter how she felt. 

I was really surprised.  The same girl who 4 or 5 years ago told me she wished she could attend public school and  would never homeschool her own children, suddenly had different opinions.  
She said she had learned a lot from friends who had attended public school- middle and high school, especially.  She learned that she had missed out on a lot of social garbage.  Social garbage she is thankful to have lived without.  
So thankful, in fact, that she mentioned that she's thinking about educating her own children some day...she and her husband both.

Wow, what a change.
The message that rang out from both of these now grown, wonderful adults is this:

They are thankful for the road less traveled...and it has made all the difference.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Baby Chicks

We downsized our flock of hens this spring, knowing that we would be moving at some point.  This left us six hens- very easy to care for.

One of the hens became broody about a month ago.  Even though we removed the eggs from the nests each day, she was determined to stay in one with the hopes of hatching out one of her infertile eggs.  
(We no longer have a rooster.)

After the second week of her broodiness, I began looking on Craigslist for baby chicks.  I continued to look, with no luck, until a few days ago.  Our local farm and feed store had ordered a batch of chicks and finally got them in.

 My daughter and I drove down early Friday morning and picked out a few.  We brought them home, debated whether to wait until dark or not, and then decided to slip them right under the hen in her nest. 
She never missed a beat.  Immediately, she began clucking and 'talking' to them.   Later that afternoon we moved them out of the coop, which was too high off the ground for the babies.

The Man of the House made them a temporary shelter on the ground until they're old enough to roost.

 It's an amazing thing; to see a mama hen take care of her babies in a natural state.  So many times we've raised baby chicks in boxes with heat lamps. 
 I love to see her cluck a certain tone, calling her babies to her, and lift her wings to engulf them with her body heat; tucking them in underneath.
 The chicks are healthy and happy and instantly looked up at her as if to say, "Are you my mama?"  

She was taking care of them so well, the very next morning, we made another run down to the store to pick up a few more.  They blended in perfectly and she never seemed to know she'd adopted some extras.

She talks to her babies constantly, stay close to them and puffs herself up while performing a protective dance when the other hens get near.  She picks pieces of grass and drops them before her chicks to help feed them. 

The other hens can't figure it out.  They'd rather be single ladies without a family.

I can't identify with hens like that.  Give me a mama hen any day!

Motherhood in all its glory!

Friday, September 3, 2010

School Pictures

School time has arrived!
One of the first things I always begin with is school pictures.  I feel an urgency- before their summer tans fade, before anyone gets a Fall case of sniffles,  and just to begin the new year with great photos.  
For several years now, I've been taking my own school pictures.  
We used to have them done at Wal Mart...but I prefer a more natural setting.

I think at times my kids feel the grass is greener in a studio.
But when I point out the great cost people spend on outdoor sessions for senior pictures, they get over it.

As long as I get theirs printed in wallet size to send out to friends, they're happy. 
And I'm happy doing what I love- taking pictures of my family.

My oldest-at-home son, in 10th grade this year.  Growing up before my eyes and suddenly very critical about his appearance and school photos:

My youngest son; my baby boy.  He, too, is beginning to grow up on me.
He opted for a few photos with his favorite cat.

I won't mention the fact that we had to search his drawers for a few clean shirts.  This child's room is immaculate and he keeps his clothes that way, too.   He also thinks he can wear a shirt 4 or 5 times before it needs washed.   He keeps them that clean.  
But moms have different ideas about that.  I wanted him to wear something that was truly clean.  
Then we had to discuss clothing guidelines and start a load of laundry before his photo shoot.  (sigh)  Kinda takes the fun out of the morning. 
But what a handsome, sweet boy!

My oldest-at-home daughter.   6th grade this year and growing  into a lovely young lady.
I begged her to wear blue.  I had to-  it's her color. I could go swimming in her eyes.

She, too, is suddenly very critical of her pictures.  Worried about her hair and how she should style it.  What happened to my little Mophead who pulled out barrettes and pigtails and didn't seem to mind her hair in her face?
Apparently even little Mopheads grow into young ladies.

And this child- my baby.  Taking pictures of her is like taking pictures of a squirrel.
She can only hold still for 5 seconds...or less.   Her expressions change even faster than that!

I have more of her being silly than anything else- which is who she is most of the time.
I plan to take a few more, when I capture her in a quiet moment and the lighting's a little better.  That's the beauty of doing this myself- I can take them anytime, anywhere.

It's when I compare the new pictures to last year's or the year before that I want to sob like a baby.  

Anyone know of an invention for keeping  children small?
Shouldn't some of our tax dollars be going toward that kind of research? 
Just askin'.  

And in case you may wonder, all of these pictures were taken with our little digital camera:
  It's been a great camera.  Still...some day I hope to own something professional!

Link Within

Related Posts with Thumbnails