How To Preserve Your Legacy

Keeping a journal serves as a catharsis for me, a way to contemplate life’s events and make sense of life’s experiences, deal with angst.  But that’s not why I write.  Within each of us exists a legacy of memories, recipes, tips and stories crying out for expression.  A sad generation glued to cell phones and Google tidbits for news will one day wish they’d plumbed the well of life experience you carry…and if you write it down, they’ll be able to do just that!  To encourage you, let me share one of my children’s memories.

Fall brings to a close one of my favorite things, so I’ll share a memory fitting the season:

Blue Blood and True Blue

dedicated to Levi

Only Levi shares my passion for royalty.  Far from our humble home and beneath a clear sky, the pageantry begins:  emblazoned symbols, a regal crown and a banner unfurled in the breeze herald the festivities.  The music starts and we involuntarily rise.  Yes, I’d say we’re impressed by royalty.

The lives of the royal family fascinate us.  We cheer their successes and anguish over their defeats, loyal to the end.  We scour the paper for news, and if the press maligns them, we scream, “Foul play!”  Royal names and titles slide easily into our daily conversations.

“Chico’s got a hot bat today, doesn’t he?”

“The Hammer hit another two run homer!  His fourteenth!”

“Monty’s arm sure looks better, and his speed’s up, too!”

Yes, we love those Royals, win or lose, strike or no strike.  It just comes naturally.  My mom never missed a game.  Crippled, she rallied behind the Royals (and the Athletics before them) by radio and television.  Many of my fondest memories include these vicarious friends.  Our favorite Sunday afternoons found us ruminating on the Sunday puzzle, sharing a ball game, a quiet peace between us.  As she lay dying in the ICU, my brother and I stood by her bed, willing her to survive.

“You’ll get better, I”ll get you a Frank White baseball,” my brother promised her.

She laughed.  “What are you going to do? Walk up to his front door and ask him to sign it?”

“If that’s what it takes,” he shot right back.

Well, we started laughing.  We laughed so hard the monitor went berserk and nurses poured into the room to examine her, staring reprovingly at us for administering the best curative of all, love and laughter.  That Frank White baseball lived with my brother until his death, a reminder of the that love we shared.  Fast forward seven years.  Lounging in her favorite rocker, my youngest son now shares the legacy, laughing with each hit or stunning double play.

Home schooling is so much more than books and lesson plans.  Tucked away in the heart of home education is the matrix of shared fun.  The sterile schoolroom, inhabited through business hours Monday through Friday, feels poor and bereft when its lifeblood leaves for home each day, just as learning feels strained in its strange environment.  At home, where we live our learning and our joy, lessons come much more freely, built on a foundation of baseball, firelit nights and the many other pleasures we share together.  Those golden moments set the stage for the lesson plans and written assignments our public counterparts formalize as education.  Without them, learning loses its sparkle.  So, bring on the good times!

Here, we savor the sweeps and hope for at least a wild card slot in the pennant race, and study baseball whenever possible.  I’ll always miss my mom, but I’m so thankful Levi and I slug away our days like royalty, watching the Royals.

Yes, baseball is drawing to a close for yet another season, but the joy of sharing the Royals is being passed onto another Rhoads generation, and I love it!  Most of all I love saving memories of my children, which their children now enjoy.  Perpetuate the cycle of life by taking pen in hand and writing it down.  Capture your memories and pin them to a page.  Your family will be glad you did.

 

 

 

What is the Best Time of Day?

The kiddos arrive and we always start with prayer.  The best time of day? In theory, yes.  In reality, no.  We talk.  we settle into our routine.  We snuggle through math review.  We have fun over lunch.

But the best part of the day occurs when we don’t DO anything at all.  Cuddling on the couch, playing word games and taking selfies is as important in raising a child as reading and math.  How I pity children locked into sterile classrooms where laughter and tickle bug are edged out by grammar and geography.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in a well-rounded curriculum.  I just believe it should include liberal amounts of love.  One day she will enter formal education, whether it’s next year or junior college, and these days will be the basis of her confidence, her joy, her sense of well-being.  You just can’t buy that with a private school education or mandate it with government regulation.  Too bad.  I think all children need lessons of love extending into their adolescent years.  Even Matthias, a teenager struggling with algebra, enjoys a close relationship.  He’s past tickling, but he still revels in just cuddling up and talking about things.

There exists no greater insecurity than adolescence.  There is no meaner creature than a 7th grade girl, and no rougher environment than a school.  Any school.  Every single youngster struggles to find his/her place, compares his/herself with every other developing student, fears ridicule, and feels inadequate.  At home it’s different.  No one else is the same age, so there’s no comparison except with yesterday’s version of yourself.  No one else stands out as the beauty, the jock, the most popular, the class president–so no child feels less worthy.  These lessons are all learned, but learned at a later time with muted drama.  For now, learning to be the very best person without drama and pressure are paramount.best

The best part of my day results in beefing up security, growing confidence, filling a little soul with love.  Today we played word games theough free reading, took selfies, and enjoyed an extended cuddling session on the couch.  The. Best. Time. of Day.

And Now She Makes Music? Is This Kindergarten?

I ought to begin by admitting that chronologically speaking, none of us are actually in kindergarten.  I leave it to you, gentle reader, to decide if we function at grade level or not.  And I include myself in this grading of our work habits, for I am one of those in the mix of household personalities who make up our sweet little home/work stations.

I like to work from the living room couch with my laptop on the coffee table, but my grands find their own favorite nooks for their studies.  Katelyn likes to start out in the sun room, nestled into the cushions of a comfortable wicker chair with a bench for her work surface.  And she hums.  Yes, this child who rarely sings at church, tunelessly hums her favorite hymns as she works.  She likes to hum in the rocker when she’s touching up her work, making everything perfect.  But she’s always humming.  Hers are happy sounds.

Matthias either smooshes into the pillows of the reading nook or spreads his books across the dining room table.  He erases a lot.  Rattles his papers.  Sighs when Katelyn hums too loudly.  (He sighs a lot.)  Creaks in his chair.  His are working sounds.sounds of school

Meanwhile, I sip my coffee.  Write.  Work on Sunday school lessons.  Knit.  Work on Posh.  Post on the Expo.  Do what I do, all the while enjoying the serenity.  I love their companionship on these peaceful mornings.  It is the quintessential kindergarten scenario of parallel play.  We work alongside each other, never really interacting.  It spells warmth and comfort.  Our lives are colored in shades of happiness.  Perhaps by coloring outside the lines and spelling by heart I prove I am still a kindergartner at heart.  Mrs. French, my first teacher at the Old Rock Creek elementary school, would be so proud.

Crisp Thoughts Come from Insightful Reading

“So many books, so little time.”  The quote is attributed to Frank Zappa.  Visit a local bookstore, library or Amazon, and you know that books abound.  Here’s the thing:  Reading without contemplation, without introspection, without making the author’s message personal, is a lot like eating a Snickers for lunch.  Tasty, but little to no nutritional value.  Pure pleasure reading produces the lamentable Scarecrow of Oz, unable think deep thoughts.

One of the best books I found for encouraging me to think, reflect, and create coherent thoughts comes in the form of a workbook.  You’ll find it loaded with inspirational quotes and writing prompts for learning the craft of writing, but basic to the heart of the process are the daily morning pages.  The simple act of capturing thoughts on paper trains the mind to think critically.  Consistent practice produces the tendency to think more critically about literature, politics, diet and all parts of the geographical map where my mind wanders.

Ya’ll know how much I value a reading plan that stretches the mind to think When Not to Lose Weight.  This I consider just as important.  Learning how to think critically comes with practice.  Using that old gray matter for something besides figuring out “who done it” in a page turning mystery requires usage.  Reading insightful literature.  Consistently practicing my morning pages.

I like to use a three ring binder for my morning pages.  I use a 3-hole punch to insert not just notebook paper, but beautiful papers igniting my creative juices.  Sometimes I continue to journal after my morning pages, and that lovely paper makes my pen slide better across the page.  Really.  I like to write snippets for my book, list topics I need to study, work on my to do list, write about a good book or a controversial topic.  In short, I write.  At the end of each year I remove the bundle and start anew.  What are you doing to become a better thinker of great thoughts?books

My Top 5 Reasons to Change the Way You Read

Educators and home schoolers alike know this simple truth:  Teach a child to read, to read voraciously, and he will learn independently all his life.  Voracious readers are quirky readers.  I know it well.

Aaron, our firstborn, fell in love with Jim Kjelgaard.  Big Red taught him compassion, loyalty, and about overcoming obstacles.  He proceeded to work his way through every Kjelgaard novel over time.  I recommend a few books of personal ownership.  Don’t get me wrong.  We visited the library every week and exited with a bag full of books each time, but there’s something about a dog-eared well loved book that captures a place in a child’s heart.  If your child likes animals, by all means, check this out!

Katelyn’s current fave is a series about personified dragonets, who exemplify a full gamut of human emotions: love jealousy, fear, loyalty, deceit.  I recommend them cautiously.  Talk about them.  What better way to learn how to deal with tricky emotions than to read, see, and discuss together?

Sadly, many of us escape the classroom of mandatory reading lists and slide backwards into constantly reading for pleasure, if at all.  We read our news online in short snippets lacking depth and varied viewpoints.  A recent online study stated 24% of all American adults report they didn’t read one book, or even part of a book in the last year.  (Can you sense my horrified face here?)  Here’s the problem:  Little eyes watch what you read.  Nothing preaches an indolent reading program more than an adult reading nothing but titles for pleasure.  Whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor…and I think that includes all of us…your habits influence all the youngsters around you. When our sons were young I followed a strict reading regimen of pleasure, inspirational, how to, and classic with daily Bible study.  I still like the plan, but I no longer force myself into that same sequence.

Why should you change the way you read?

  1. Reading a book to educate or broaden your horizons each month keeps your mind facile.  Whether you want to learn a new calligraphy font or how to overhaul the engine in your Camaro, learn something new.  Reading about current issues by different authors forms the basis for an educated electorate, a prerequisite for our republic.  Read a book.
  2. An inspirational book continues your personal development and makes you a better person.  We could all profit from some self improvement.
  3. A well written and timeless classic embodies universal values.  Its seamless style helps you appreciate other books and provides a measuring stick by which all literature is better judged.
  4. Daily reading of scripture puts the Word into not just your mind, but your heart as well.
  5. Little eyes watch you.  Always.  Whether they know you or not.  Set an example worthy of emulation.words

Be an avid reader.  Be a lover of words, the hallmark of our evolution into the people we are meant to be.  Follow a well balanced reading regimen.  In short, change the way you read.

A New School Year…Love it or Hate it?

A younger version of me loved the start of school.  Crisp leaves, new pencils, new clothes, the scent of new books…it inspired me and made me smile.  As a long time veteran of home schooling, I now dread the start of school:  August heat, using up last year’s pencils with no erasers, moaning children…there isn’t enough coffee for this.  The part I actually look forward to?  Getting it over with!

We school year round, taking off just a little bit for summer camps, federal holidays and such.  I get Fridays off for good behavior.  Let’s not forget that, always a plus, but basically we school year round.  In Missouri the new year rolls over August first, so we start a fresh year the first full week of August.  No crisp leaves, just lots of hot muggy days.  It profoundly lacks the inspiration I need.hs

Pristine books should excite my kiddos, but keeping it real here–it just foreshadows many months ahead of filling in blank pages.  Don’t get me wrong, they like learning new things.  But the whole process of getting down to business, scouring a book for the correct answer, thinking it through, answering it in their own words…neatly…just isn’t fun.  Home schooling begins with fun hands-on learning, and some of that always exists, but eventually a transition into the ability to take a subject and excel in a college classroom takes the front seat.  Yes, the process is exhausting and challenging and a hair pulling endeavor.  Tangentially, training children for a successful future, putting prayer and scripture study into the daily “classroom” regimen, having time for breaks when we need them and TIME to actually be with them makes it all worthwhile.  When I scold a feisty little girl for not doing her best and it ends with her hugging and kissing me, repentant and wanting to do a good job, I know it’s a struggle I love.  This is what I tell myself the first full week of August.  Breathe.  It’s one week.  I love it, really.  About 51 weeks a year.

For All the Princesses

princess1I’ve written a book and am in the process of figuring out how to publish it…but in light of yesterday’s blog, I thought I’d post a chapter for you to critique.  The book is for all our daughters, helping them find a right path, a good self-concept, a right relationship to God.  Experts say to write what you feel passionate about.  This is it for me!  What do you think about this chapter?

 

Let Your Mind Be Transformed

Chris awoke to a bright sky, the sun gleamed through her window.  A smile spread across her face as she threw back her covers and jumped out of bed.  She hastily pulled on her clothes and tiptoed out her bedroom door.

“Good!” she thought, no one’s up but me.  A spark of decision settled it—she was going outside to explore the garden before anyone had the chance to stop her.  “And after all, I am the princess.  I should be able to command my breakfast whenever I want it!  And everyone else can wait for me!”

As she reached the lower level, she heard servants at work in the kitchen, so she stealthily crossed the hall.  “They won’t even know I’m gone,” she thought.  With that she ever so quietly opened the side door, slipped out, and carefully closed it without even a click to give away her presence.

She quickly crossed the courtyard with the fountain and benches she enjoyed each afternoon, and proceeded to a walk through stately elms along the opening path to the garden.  Once again she reached a juncture where the path divided into three sections.

Looking at them, she saw with dismay that through the night each path had changed dramatically.  The path on her right, which had seemed so appealing yesterday, looked grim and foreboding.  The daisies she had picked from a frothy bank of golden sunshine yesterday afternoon had vanished, as if they had never grown there.  Instead, the edges of the path were overgrown with thistles and dandelions.  “How is that even possible?” she wondered.

Tentatively, she reached out to pull a yellow flower from the nearest dandelion, but the moment she touched its stem, her fingers burned as a toxic film oozed out.

“Ow! Stop that!” she cried, and instantly, her father’s image appeared before her.  “Give me your hand,” he said quietly.

Chris held out her hand.  He grasped it gently, and in a flash, the ooze disappeared, the pain with it.  She stared wonderingly at her hand, rubbing it in disbelief.  “How did this happen?” she asked.

“Christine,” He said quietly, “what are you supposed to do each morning?”

She looked down, contrite, ashamed.  “I am supposed to present myself each morning and receive my work for the day,” she responded.

“There is a reason for that,” He replied.  “I know this garden in all its forms—joyous and deadly, wild and groomed, pleasant and frightful.  Indeed, I planted it here for your protection.  That means I know how to direct you and protect you.”

A spark of defiance lit her countenance, and she placed her hands on hips and argued, “But I am the princess!  I should be able to explore and map out the garden all on my own!”

“Your tone, little one,” He chided her.  His eyes gazed at her, full of love, piercing her soul.  “You are the princess, and while this garden is yours, and while it can please you, it also separates you from the outside world.  You will have dominion over it in time, but you are not yet ready.  When you slip out of the castle on your own, you are also out from under the protection of the guard I have posted here for the express purpose of seeing that no harm comes to you.”

Christine felt His sorrow deep in her soul, and a tear or two brimmed her eyes.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered.  As she had learned before, she added, “Will you forgive me?”

In a trace her Father’s image vanished and peace flooded her soul.  She turned and retraced her steps.  Entering the castle through the side door, she saw servants setting out breakfast for her and her retinue.

“My lady,” Kelsey said.  “Your Father asked me to prepare your favorite breakfast.  He wants you to present yourself right after breakfast.”

“Thank you, Kelsey.  Are any of my ladies ready for breakfast?” she asked.

“No, my lady.  You are alone this morning.”

Good, she thought.  I need this time to settle myself.  Christine happily sat down to a plate of waffles, which she generously doused with syrup, remembering the bountiful harvest of sap the trees in the garden had provided this year.  “Kelsey, these are delicious!  Please give my compliments to Cook this morning,” she exclaimed.

“I will my lady.  She will be most pleased,” Kelsey replied.

It was some time later when Christine left the table, ready to enter the throne room.  She entered reverently.  Awe, as always filled her senses.  The ornate carvings depicting her Father’s realm reminded her of how little of the world she had really seen.  This castle, these grounds, these servants, these guards, and her ladies-in-waiting were all she had ever known.

As she reached the empty throne, her Father’s image appeared.  “Christine.  How good to see you again this morning.”  His smile gladdened her heart, and she marvelled that she couldn’t detect even a hint of reproach.

“Your majesty,” she answered, as she bowed before Him.  “What are your instructions for this day?”

“It is my will that you begin a course of study to prepare you for your work in life.  Listen to your instructor.  Let the words you hear transform you into the handmaiden I need at my side,”  He said.

A smile broke across her face, and she bowed in acceptance.

 

Study:   Read Romans 12: 1-2.

  1. What does the word transform mean? Look it up in dictionary, and write its meaning in the space below.

 

  1. How does God renew your mind?

 

  1. How would your life be different if you actually imagined presenting yourself to the King of your life each and every morning…and did it? Try imagining it now.  What might the throne room of God look like?  Would trumpets blare when you enter the room, or would it be quiet and serene?  When you kneel before the Lord, how would you feel?  Try it and see.

 

  1. What are your orders for today?

Spelling Tips for Boomers

The benefits of home schooling speak for themselves.  I know, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  After home schooling my three sons K-12, my neighbor’s kids for four years, and now grandchildren, let me just say this:  The building blocks of character training and the 3R’s stacked upon each other day in and day out create at last a masterpiece…a way of life I heartily recommend for other grandparents as well.

  • The structure of everyone doing their jobs each morning gives me time to focus on projects for ministry or for my business.  By lunch time we all feel productive.  I need the structure as well as my littles.
  • Evidence of learning new concepts, developing both knowledge and wisdom, blesses them…but it also blesses me with meaningful purpose in my life.
  • Intergenerational learning fosters bonds and maturity in both the younger who model older siblings, and in the older teaching the younger.  I know I still learn new things.  I always share from my perspective.  We all benefit from the arrangement.

Critics of home schooling bemoan the lack of socialization, never realizing that the home, full of all ages and all personalities, remains the primary classroom for rounding off the rough edges and errant ways of people rubbing shoulders all day long.  No one escapes to catch a bus.  We work out our differences.  When children learn to cherish the family day in and day out, their ability to fit into society is guaranteed.

Over the years I heard many a bureaucrat “tsk tsk” the notion that home school parents protect their children.  Yes, we protect them from drugs and gun violence, but what parent doesn’t want a safe environment for their children, especially when schools seem unable to stop mass shootings?

You may fault my spelling, but home schooling spells F-A-M-I-L-Y to me.  Our littles range in age from 3 to 13, and we dote on each and every one of them.  Grandparents enjoy a unique opportunity to participate in this process.  Let me see…precious days with the littles or sitting with the gray heads at McDonalds each morning…I can’t imagine living any other way.  It’s about producing a lasting legacy.  It’s a lifestyle I heartily recommend.