Learning

Letting Go

June 30, 2012
posted by Tia in Home Schooling, Learning

This little guy turned three years old recently.

He’s also now decided that he’s potty-training. Yeah, we’re a little laid back about that around here.

It was somewhat of a different story five years ago, though, when Captain was in his shoes. I’m in the ranks of moms who are way more relaxed with subsequent children than with the first child. I kept trying to figure out how I could “get” my little boy to potty-train. He just wasn’t in a hurry. And I kind of was. How did I convince him to do it by my timetable? We tried all the tricks, you know: treats for using the potty, begging, reasoning (with a three-year-old – ha!), and we even had a special toy he had picked out, up on the shelf in the bathroom, for him to receive as a reward when the step was finally (and completely) taken. But, he still wanted to do it on his own timetable.

I must not have been too forceful, because he still didn’t potty-train until he was over three-and-a-half. I remember when he did it, though. It was like magic. Something just clicked. He just got it. Because he was ready for it, it was time, and he suddenly knew he could do it. And he did it in a day, and never digressed even a little bit. You know what, I learned from that. Eventually.

Vi was next in line for toilet-training and I think I pushed her more than she was ready for as well, and regret it. But over the next few years that fell between then and now, I’ve learned from those lessons. I’m not so worried about it now. Sure, I’d rather the kids be out of diapers, but I’d much rather do diapers than frequent accidents. I know that none of my perfectly healthy children will wait until they are eight years old to potty-train. They will hit a point when they are ready, and they will do it, and that will be that.

So with Orator, he’s getting a different ride than Captain and Vi did. There are no treats, no mommy begging, no tempting toy sitting just out of reach in the bathroom. The strategy this time: If he keeps the diaper dry and goes on the potty, he gets underpants. If he has an accident (unless it was in an honest attempt to get to the toilet), he’s back in a diaper again. That’s it. And there is no cajoling – I just put a diaper on him in the morning, unless he remembers and asks to “be a big boy today” on his own. And do you know what? It is working!!!

I’ve been amazed at the progress we have made. He is not there yet, but he is getting there. Because he wants to, and because he is ready.

I’m really grateful that Captain is the kind of kid who has to do things on his own timetable. It has made me a better, more patient and understanding mother. But still, as the oldest he has to be patient with me as well as he blazes the trail. He constantly reminds me that it’s okay for me to let go and let him lead in his own paths.

I called my wonderful mother in distress the other day, asking her what in the world I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t Captain reading well yet? What was I doing wrong? Was I failing as a homeschooling mother because I couldn’t even help my child become literate?

Thank heaven for mothers. As a homeschooling veteran, she has taught all of my brothers as sisters and I to read. She was not worried at all, but gently reminded me that each child has their own timetable, and that is okay. It turns out that many of my siblings didn’t learn to read well until they were eight or nine years old. And they are some of the most functionally literate people I know. They read hefty books, write stories and articles of their own, edit manuscripts for other people. Learning to read on their own timetable and through their own readiness and motivation has not crippled them in the least.

I had thought Captain would be an early reader, because he learned his alphabet quickly and easily, with very little prodding, at 18 months. My mom shared with me something she had read about how, often, those children who show early signs of literary ability are those that learn to read later than is normal. Why? Because they are the ones that really want to do it themselves. They don’t want to be pushed. Boy, that described my Captain to a t.

He actually reminds me a lot of my brother that is just younger than me. He didn’t learn to read until he was eight or nine, but when he did learn to read, he learned to read out of an encyclopedia, because everything else was just too boring for him.

Patience, Tia, patience. My mom commented during a different conversation that it takes time to realize that you can’t control those that you are closest to. You can’t make them do what you want them to do by monitoring, manipulating, and forcing. In the end, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. But that’s okay, I don’t want to. One reason that I am homeschooling is so that my children can be self-led academically. There is great benefit in that!

I’ve backed off for now. He’s getting there on his own. Captain actually loves to write notes and letters to people more than he loves to read, because he knows enough phonetics that he can usually make a note legible. He thinks writing is cool; reading (for now) still seems hard. So instead of pushing the reading, we are capitalizing on the writing! That way he can have it his way and teach himself how to read, right? 🙂

We have been writing letters to cousins and friends, he’s been writing in a journal, and we’ve been writing letters to each other. We’ve got a simple mail delivery system going on in our home right now, but I think I’m going to make fun felt mail pockets for the wall to make it even better. If you want more ideas, check out this post by my wonderfully clever and creative friend Arianne. It will provide you with some great inspiration!

I’m learning, really I am! Hopefully by the time Orator gets around to reading, I’ll be wiser like my mom, more relaxed and ready to let him lead the way. Sort of like I am now with potty-training him. There is so much value in simply assisting children and inspiring children to educate themselves. They are interested. Don’t push and make them hate it! This is easier said than done sometimes, but it is true and it is worth it. Some children learn to read early, like I did, and others just need a little more time. And that is okay.

*Update* It took me a few days to get around to finishing and publishing this post, and as I write we are on day six of Orator in underwear with zero accidents. And that includes staying at someone else’s house for several days, and other trips. We made it! Hooray for self-motivation!!

What have been your lessons in letting go?

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To My Younger Self

March 3, 2012
posted by Tia in Learning

A younger mom was coming over the other day to talk about homeschooling. And I couldn’t stop cleaning my house. And wondering at myself.

I’m older, right? I know what I’m doing, don’t I? Aren’t I comfortable with myself? Can’t I be “the expert” to her? Who cares if my house is a little messy? It’s not that bad. Why am I not comfortable giving her a glimpse into my real life? Why am I trying so hard to impress her?

Then it struck me: it was me I was trying to impress. I was seeing my younger self in her, with all of my ideals, judgements and preconceptions. And I wanted to look good and live up to those ideals.

I could see myself in my mind’s eye, a brand new mother. And boy, was I going to be a good one. I was going to be structured, and spiritual, and I was going to teach my kids good habits and good manners. I’d have a consistent routine and regularly and thoroughly take care of all of the housework. My kids would be cheerful workers (all the time!) because I would be such a good example. I…could go on.

Don’t we all start out that way, young and naĂŻve? Shouldn’t we, though? I don’t think that I would change it.

I’m still somewhat idealistic, I admit it. But, I’m also a little more realistic at the same time. I’ve come to realize that my dishes will often be undone. There will always be a basket or two (or three) of dirty laundry somewhere in the house. My house will never really, completely, totally be organized the way that I think I would like it to be. Nor will my life.

But still, there is this young, new mother self within me, eyeing the mess critically, passing judgment and shaking her head in dismay. Why couldn’t I live up to the ideal? I was going to be different, remember?

If I could say one thing back to that young mother right now, it would be this: Relax. It’s not as bad as it might seem. Don’t be afraid to lose yourself in the unknown of motherhood and find the joy that is found there. Just let go.

From my point of view, life is beautiful. I’m not oblivious to the chaos around me, but I’ve discovered a beauty in it that I wouldn’t understand if I weren’t a part of it myself. To an outsider, my life would most often resemble this:

Can you even tell what is going on in that picture? I’m not sure I can! But that’s not what I usually see. When I look up from that book I’m reading, I see this instead:

I’m in a place now where I don’t often notice when the baby has a messy shirt or the toddler has a finger up his nose. It doesn’t make a difference to me if my daughter’s clothes are mismatched, or if my son’s pants have gaping holes in the knees, again. Although I take good care of my children and tend to their needs, these things have just stopped being as big of a deal overall. I notice them when I need to, but they no longer change the way that I see my children. I’ve come to truly learn that appearances don’t really matter. ClichĂ©? Yes. But true. If my child’s messy face affects how I feel about them, my love is conditional only.

I’m still learning to love unconditionally. I’m not perfect at it. But that is my new ideal. I hope my younger self inside me can understand. And that I can stop worrying about whether or not she does. Now that I know she is there watching me, I think I’m going to work on helping her to relax and not act so concerned over what she sees.

Don’t worry so much about the mess, sweetheart. Live the joy.

4 Comments

Oh How Differently They Learn

November 21, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

My two oldest children, Captain and Vi, are only about 19 months apart in age. They are the best of friends, and I have loved it.

One thing in particular that makes it fun is that they tend to hit a lot of milestones together. If one of them is doing or learning a new thing, the other one wants to be in on it too. And, just as I thought they would, they have recently hit a new milestone together: reading.

Captain has been on the verge of reading for a little while now. I could tell he wanted to. But he is a cautious child, and likes to take a good long look before he leaps into the unknown. I was starting to wonder if it would actually be Vi that initiated this time.

One morning several weeks ago, we sat down for personal scripture reading at the beginning of our devotional. I have been taking the first 5-15 minutes (okay, sometimes it’s 2, depending on the morning) to read scriptures and journal about them to help model these habits to my kids. I invite them to use the time to look at the pictures in their scripture story books. This time, though, Captain broke down and started to cry.

“I’m tired of looking at the pictures,” he said in frustration. “I want to be able to read the scriptures by myself.”

We stopped what we were doing, right then and there, and did our very first formal reading lesson. Vi, of course, was in on it, too, as I had expected. What I didn’t expect, however, (although perhaps I should have), was how differently they each approached reading! It was so interesting to watch them as they took turns reading on each page.

Captain has a very good memory and has always enjoyed memorizing things. He memorizes things easily just by hearing me recite through them a few times – more than once he has surprised me by reciting an entire poem, song, or scripture that I’ve never heard him say before. He doesn’t want to say the scripture or whatever it is over and over in general, though. He wants to just listen to me recite it, and he’ll pick it up that way. Interestingly enough, he is approaching reading the same way. He is not particularly interested in sounding the words out phonetically. Instead, he prefers for me to just tell him what the word is, and then he can try to remember it for next time. In general, he remembers quite well. Also, he is very literary and is very good at guessing what the next word is by the context of what we are reading.

Vi has a completely different approach. She loves to sound words out! Even if she already knows what the word is, she likes to pretend that she is sounding it out. I’m amazed at how well she does; that method really works well for her. She really enjoys having the tools to figure out how to say the words by herself.

Another interesting thing is that Captain, from the time he was small, was always begging to be read to. All the time. Every book. Several times a day he brings me books, asking for me to read to him. (And he asks his dad. And anyone else he can pin to the couch for a few minutes.) My younger son, Orator, is the same way. Vi, on the other hand, loves to be read to, but often would rather sit and look at the book herself. I remember that even as a toddler, I would often find her looking at books alone, but when I would offer to read them to her, it was as likely as not that she would actually turn me down!

This difference has meant that Captain has been taking learning how to read at a pretty easy pace. He’s not in too big of a hurry because, hey, he’d just as soon have me read to him most of the time anyway! Which is fine. He’s catching on. And I’m sure that once he is reading independently he will be very happy to be able to enjoy books by himself even when I’m to busy to read to him.

Vi, on the other hand, is still pretty fired up about reading. She checked out a Dick and Jane book from the library the other day, and has been working her way through it, bringing it to me when she wants help with a word (she wants to read it by herself as much as possible). She’s thrilled with the thought of actually being able to read books all day on her own. She can’t wait. (Neither can I!)

Math has been the same. Captain wants concepts to be fully explained, and then he can do the work, no sweat. Vi would rather try her hand at figuring it out herself.

Can I just say again that I love homeschooling? What fun to be able to sit down with my two oldest kids and be able to help them to learn how to read, all at the same time, and be able to cater to their pace and their learning style. I’m so excited about this new phase!

One Comment

Reading in the Evenings as a Family

November 8, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

It was the beginning of June, right after dinner on a Friday evening. My husband asked me what we should do for fun that night—something relaxing, maybe, like watch a movie . . . ?

I thought for a moment. The older kids had already run outside to play, and it was so nice and warm out, and the sunshine was beautiful. It seemed a crime to call the kids in to the house to watch a movie. Perhaps we should think of something to do out of doors this summer that would keep us outside more in the evening.

As a result of this musing, we devised a plan. Reading a book together in the evenings, but with rules to keep it special:

Rule #1, All of us had to be there together (no reading without Daddy when he was at orchestra, etc.).

Rule #2, It had to be evening.

Rule #3, We had to read outside.

The first book that we picked out was Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. We had the old copy that my mother-in-law had read to her kids when they were little.

It was a success! Right away the kids started looking forward to reading together outside every evening that we could. They would rush through any evening chores or cleanup that we asked of them. One evening, Captain even jumped right up after finishing his dinner, then went over and filled up the sinks and started doing the dishes himself! Hurrah!

The book was a definite hit. The kids loved Summer of the Monkeys—all of us did. The kids would sit on the swings of our backyard set, or lounge on the blanket I had spread on the grass, and listen, fully enthralled. Captain was the most involved in the story, and we all got a big kick out of his expressions when we would reach a twist in the story line.

Alice in Wonderland was the next book we read. The kids weren’t quite as involved in that one, but it was fun, and it was short. We read this one while waiting for or watching fireworks outdoors more than once.

After that came Treasure Island. This, too, we enjoyed. However, half way through the book it got too chilly to read outside all the time, so we changed the rules with the season. Now we could read indoors, sitting around our fireplace together. We switched off for a week or two, reading sometimes indoors and sometimes out as we straddled the seasons. But we’ve had snow on the ground for three days now and I’m pretty certain now that we’ll stay in.

Last Friday evening we stayed up late finishing the last few chapters of Treasure Island. I can’t wait for our next book. We’ve had so much fun reading while the TV stayed on the rolling cart in the closet.

What are your favorite ways to read as a family?

Rainbow Moments

October 6, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

There are as many unique and complex reasons to homeschool, I suppose, as there are parents doing it.

I love homeschooling. It is a family lifestyle that I have just fallen in love with deeply and endlessly both when I was young, and even more so since I’ve been going that route with my own children. It would probably take me a week to tell you about all of the reasons that I love it, but this is one that I have been pondering about the last few days.

Rainbow Moments.

When a rainbow appears, you didn’t know about it far in advance. You can’t schedule it on the calendar. Those grand, lovely, real rainbows way up in the sky are out of our control. They are unplanned, fleeting, and breathtaking.

It is like that in our families, too. Home is the perfect environment for rainbows. A child’s curiosity is sparked and you run with it. The Spirit whispers something to your hearts, and you teach with it. Large, serious eyes come to you with a question, and you help to answer it. These moments are unplanned, breathtaking, and easy to miss.

The other day, the kids and I were doing our devotional together and something—I couldn’t even tell you what, now—sparked a powerful spiritual conversation. Suddenly I was sharing something very close to my heart, and my children were listening intently, and then I was turning to Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 and teaching them that:

“…Of him unto whom much is given much is required…”

We talked about how very much we have been blessed with, and how the Lord asks us to share those blessings with others, because He loves His other children just as much as He loves us. How we need to do our very best to follow the Lord’s guidance so that we might reach our full potential and use it for His work and glory.

I can’t remember now exactly what I said, or how they responded, or any other particulars. But I do know that the Holy Spirit was with us, teaching me as much as it was directly teaching my children.

It brings to mind a scripture, Isaiah 54:13:

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

There we were, sitting together, and suddenly there burst upon us a rainbow. We would have missed this particular one if Captain and Vi had been in public school. We would have missed it if we hadn’t been taking the time to read the scriptures together. I don’t need to rush my kids around in order to help them get a good education. Because Home is the perfect environment for rainbows. And having my children taught by the Lord is certainly my primary goal for their education.

Home school is not the only way that rainbows can shine. I hope we all take the chance to spend precious time with our children. But I think when you are homeschooling, you catch them more often than if you were away more.

When did you last see a rainbow?

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Back to School

September 20, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

“Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.”

Tom Hanks (in You’ve Got Mail) is on to something here. I’ve never seen New York during autumn, or any other season, but I just take this as proof that there is a universal “something in the air” this time of the year. Just breeeeeathe in that air, will ya? That says school time.

I was homeschooled. I am the oldest of quite a few children, and my mother has homeschooled every one of us—rain or shine, sleet or hail. (Luckily, we rarely had to venture out in any unpleasant weather as we did the majority of our homeschooling at home. Go figure. :-)) Schooling, for us, was a way of life rather than a seasonal necessity, so we didn’t really take the summer off. Perhaps we eased up a bit on the tougher subjects, and did more Science and P.E. in the great outdoors. But for the most part the regular flow of life carried on.

Summer afforded us just enough of a break, though, that by the time the local schools were airing out and preparing for a new year, we were ready to jump back in with both feet and recommit to all those things we were excited to learn. I’ve heard of lots of fun things that homeschooling families do to celebrate “back to school” like a special breakfast, field trip, etc., but we never really did anything like that. We did, however, always take advantage of the Back to School sales.

As a youth I had somewhat of an obsession with school supplies. I loved them. I would spend babysitting money on new pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders. Give me a new binder with tabs and paper and I was in heaven. I loved to write, and doodle, and write, and plan, and make lists. I finished a handful of stories that I wrote while I was young and started dozens that never survived past the first page (sometimes they didn’t even make it past the title).

The funny thing is that I had no idea until I was much older that “Back to School shopping” for most kids had more to do with clothing than with school supplies. Tehehee. Boy, was I socially backwards. How silly of me to think that a notebook was more relevant to school than Nike. 🙂

Be that as it may, I’m happy to say that I seem to have passed on my special brand of “Back to Homeschool” supply giddiness. We took the kids on a shopping trip two or three weeks ago, and when we got them each new art books and notebooks, they couldn’t have been happier. Even the two-year-old was dancing down the aisles with his specially picked notebook covered in green (his favorite color).

There is definitely something in the air in late August, and early September. Is it really the shifting of the seasons we sense, the drop in temperature? Is it just feeling a readiness for cooler days ahead because we’re tired of summer’s pace? Who knows. But almost every year there’s a morning that I wake up, and there it is. Something in me thrills to the new season and I know this is it. I’m excited, I’m ready, and I announce at breakfast: “Okay kids, today we’re starting school again!”

He Has Something to Love

August 21, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

A couple of days ago I read this great article over at http://www.tjed.org/ and I loved it so I wanted to share. It made me think about my oldest son, Captain.

This article is entitled “Something to Love“, and it is written by Oliver DeMille. He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, among other books. Here are a couple of great quotes from it:

“Give the student something to love. This is essential to helping them fall in love with learning and, later, hard study. The learning environment matters. . . .

Moreover, when a student is deeply in love with one thing—from a sport to a topic like math or Shakespeare, to a club or genre of books—it is easier to help inspire her to excellence in other arenas.”

Read the whole article. It’s great food for thought.

I don’t think Captain was even two years old when he first asked me to read St. George and the Dragon to him (the one by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman). Now, this is a long book for such a little guy to sit through. So, at first I just told him the story using the pictures rather than reading the actual text. However, Captain kept bringing me that book to read to him, over, and over, and over. Finally, I decided that I would just read him the full text in the book…yes, to be quite honest…in order to perhaps discourage him from picking this book so frequently. (Couldn’t he pick something a little more fun to read, like One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss?)

But my plan to bore him with the book failed. He loved the whole story, and after that wouldn’t even let me get away with just telling it to him in my own words using the pictures. Pretty soon I had a little two-year-old who would tell me, “Mommy, I’m fighting a dragon, grim and horrible!”

Pretty soon he discovered swords. Then armor. Then knights in shining armor. For his third birthday, we got him a play suit of armor and matching weaponry, as well as a homemade shield crafted by a good friend. And we kept reading that book to him, and he never got tired of it.

Boy, did he have something to love. And this love has branched out, just as Dr. DeMille said that it would. As Captain got older, his interest led him to other books about knights, into medieval history, then ancient history, and then modern. He wants to know about all the wars, the strategies and weaponry used. He’s enthralled with samurais, revolutionary war heros, zulus, and the nations of Greece, Rome, and Britain—among others. Captain asks me to read him history stories every day. Tales of heros and warriors every day. I could go on.

Of course, he’s only scratched the surface of all of these. I mean, he’s only seven. But. He has something to love. And just so you know, it works, because it’s given him a whole world of things that he wants to learn.

It may start simple. But it works! If it’s a wholesome topic, don’t discourage them. They will branch out, and they will have a passion for learning.

What do you love to learn?

3 Comments

Music in our Home

August 11, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning, Loving

I have this 20-year-old memory of my mother which I found recently, tucked away in a far and dusty corner of my brain. I remember hearing her play the piano.

Us kids were already in bed and the house was pretty quiet. I can’t remember whether I was lying in bed or whether I was staying up late to read or write (most likely the latter). I just remember that everybody was in bed, and in the stillness of the house upstairs, my mother was playing hymns on the piano.

I remember picturing her up there, sitting on the bench, playing. It isn’t my only memory of her playing, but it’s one of a very few. She knew the piano well enough that she could play church music, but I think that was about it. I wonder now why she was playing on that particular night. Had it been a really good day? Or a particularly difficult one?

I loved the piano, and I wanted to be able to play it so badly when I was young. I don’t remember if that desire started at that particular moment, or if this only fueled a fire that was already burning. But one thing is for sure: my desire to play the piano, and my love of beautiful (and especially religious) music, is bound up tightly with this memory of my mother playing.

I begged my mom to teach me to play. She taught me to play in the treble clef with my right hand, and to play basic chords to accompany the melody with my left. When I was nine, my sweet grandmother offered to pay for me to have piano lessons in exchange for my help in cleaning her house. I gleefully accepted, and began what turned into three years of lessons before my family moved to another state. I didn’t love my teacher or her methods; I hated being asked to play scales; and I always felt like the music we worked on was much more basic than what I wanted to be learning. But I loved playing the piano, and nothing ever dampened that.

Fast-forward about five years. I’m off to college. After self-teaching myself on the piano for a few years I’d had an additional year of music lessons with a wonderful teacher before I left home. But now I had moved again, and the curriculum at the school I was attending didn’t include any type of music.

The best it seemed that I could do was to join the Institute Choir. Since I loved singing next best to playing the piano, this worked out just right. In more ways than one! Turns out my future husband was in that choir, singing tenor as I belted out my best soprano.

Fast-forward a few more years to married life with kids. Music, we’ve decided, is important to us, and we want it in our home. Neither of us are overly talented—perhaps about average and with rusty skills—but that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be talented to pass on a love of music.

As our kids started getting older (the put-him-in-lessons-now-in-case-he-is-a-prodigy age), we began to wonder what to do. We knew families that had been very successful in giving their children consistent musical training from a very young age. After looking into it, it just didn’t seem right for us. Both of us had picked up music of our own initiative, and were content to have it be that way for our children. Our most important job, we’ve now decided, is to inspire them.

How? Well, that’s when I began to remember that night that I listened to my mother playing. The memory is so sweet and moving that it often brings tears to my eyes. If I could be that inspired from hearing my mother, just that once, then all I need to do is to play and sing music. This isn’t too hard for me, as I have a piano always standing at the ready, calling to me. Also, since we’ve had children I’ve consistently had a music calling of one sort or another at our church. James finally took the plunge and decided that, decade old skills or not, he was going to pull out the old trumpet and join the community band. And then the orchestra. He’s only third trumpet, but he’s playing. And he loves it.

And the kids see it. And hear it. And love it. They know that music is beautiful, and that it is an important part of their home and their parents’ lives. And for now, that’s all that they need to know to get them started on a life-long love of music.

Thanks, Mom. I hope the beautiful notes you played in that moment of musical inspiration will continue to resonate throughout generations.

What is something that you have been inspired to pass on to posterity?

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Learning from Characters in the Classics

July 29, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

“Vi,” my son Captain said to his sister the other night as we were preparing for dinner, “you sound like Eeyore.”

Stopping short in the middle of her complaint, Vi looked up at him in surprise. And then she laughed. “Why does Eeyore always sound sad, Mom?” she asked, turning to me. “He belongs to Christopher Robin, and Christopher Robin is always so happy.” A short, impromptu discussion ensued.

This little interchange reminded me how much I really love classic books. In fact, possibly my favorite thing about them is how much you learn by relating to their characters. “You sound like Eeyore” was a comment that awoke interest, surprise, and curiosity, whereas “Why are you being so grumpy!” would have had an entirely different effect. (Not that I’d know…people never say things like that around here, let me assure you. *cough, cough*)

My husband and I absolutely love reading classics together, and with the children. One of our favorite authors is Jane Austen. Half of the reason is that many of her characters are so ridiculous! But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve squirmed while reading an Austen book because I related too closely to the sentiments of one of its characters. One never wants to be as vain as Sir Walter, as self-important as Aunt Norris, or as prejudiced as Elizabeth Bennett.  And yet as we read classics, we see our reflections in their pages, uncomely though they may be.

Classical characters reach inside our souls to illuminate their likenesses buried there. Once discovered, we may do with them as we please; diminish or enlarge them as we choose. Silence our inner Eeyore, perhaps, and invite Christopher Robin out more often. It’s like a game: Choose Your Classical Character. Which do you want to be?

Who is your favorite literary character?

Building a Blog

July 18, 2011
posted by Tia in Learning

Who knew that building a blog could be such an education in and of itself? I’ve learned so many things about myself as I’ve been setting up Homemade Learning. Here’s a few:

I am not a very creative person! This manifested itself in two different ways. The first was when my web designer asked me what I wanted my blog to look like, and I had no idea. So he had me look over several different design ideas and design elements so that I could point out things that I liked. Good thing I have an incredible web designer! (His link is at the bottom of my page!!) Once I had made a few suggestions of things that seemed to fit, he got right to it and came up with exactly what I wanted.

The second manifestation of my lack of creative juices was while I was looking at design elements with him. I realized that I was steering away from any elements that looked too…creative. Too artsy. Why? Because it seemed that would be misleading. I want for my blog to be thoughtful, inspirational, deep, challenging and practical, yes! I hope so. But chances are that it won’t be very creative…because in general, I’m not.

I don’t know, that doesn’t sound right. Maybe creative is the wrong word. I’m not artsy; perhaps that works a little better. Let’s just say that this won’t be your one-stop-shop for this week’s amazing craft idea or imaginative jaunt through Never-Neverland!

Other things that I learned:

I really, really like purple.

I overanalyze everything. Beginnings are hard for me. It’s taken me months to get past writing an About Me page and my first blog post. (What is the world is the “right” thing to write for a first post, anyway?)

In finding fake web names to use for my children, my oldest daughter was by far the most difficult to come up with a suitable name for.

I’m not frilly or showy; instead, I love real beauty, symmetry, and a sense of order.

One neat thing that I realized was that I couldn’t find another blog that looked just the same way that I wanted mine to look. Perhaps that is a sign that the writing I plan for this blog will be original as well. I absolutely love the way that it turned out design-wise, and I feel hopeful that, in the same way, my writing here will be a worthy voice in some peoples’ lives and educations.

I get overly self-conscious about my writing when I’m doing it for others’ eyes. But perhaps we are all that way when we haven’t practiced enough. My husband tells me, “Just pretend like you’re writing in your journal.” Hmmm. Maybe I can do that. Then maybe eventually this blog will evolve into what I’ve dreamed that it would be.

Creative-less-ness and all!

What are some quirky things that you have learned about yourself recently?

 

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