Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Mt. Hope Chronicles

I needed a quick getaway - I am grateful for beauty in this life and for unexpected friendships! God is good. Carpe diem.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In medias res - the middle child and the beauty of studying classically

We have been homeschooling for over 8 or so years now. We started with our eldest child, Lily and have in the past few years "formally" been homeschooling our middle child and second daughter, Wilder. Now I am taking the time to point out that our first two children are girls because our youngest - Atticus, a boy, is already making me rethink some things that I had thought before - that however is another story or post in the making. I am starting in medias res - in the middle - because when we started "formally" homeschooling our middle child a few things clarified. First, we should just say that in the journey of parenting and definitely in the journey of homeschooling you will have many clarifying moments that will help you see clearly what you are or are not doing and how that will help you meet your end goal. My clarifying moment of late was with Wilder and her lessons in violin. We have been homeschooling in conjunction with a curriculum program called Classical Conversations for 5 years now.  I love the community support in homeschooling it provides. I think that whatever you are doing for homeschooling find like minded people that can encourage you in your work and you them. I have learned so many things from fellow home school parents. I am grateful to be a part of a learning community that reaches across the town, across the internet to the world. 

This deepening of support has continued to help our family in understanding the work at hand of homeschooling. The classical model believes in a lot of repetition in the grammar stage of learning.  What that means practically is learning until you have mastered the grammar. I confess that I personally did not love the classical model in regards to doing math. The repetition in the program that we first started with our oldest daughter was tiresome and dry to me. Now, later in our journey and with at the beginning of our "formal" homeschooling with our middle child I see that the repetition was a necessary component of building her math foundation. However, I have added more to the math to make the dry parts more palatable. Hopefully, at the end of her journey she will find they have blessed her in her understanding and use of math.

This crystallized even more when we started doing violin lessons using the Suzuki method. Suzuki believed that everyone could learn to play. He believed that if you nurtured your children in love and taught them patiently and joyfully they would love the experience of learning too. Guess what? It does work. Daily, repetitive, short and doable practice leads to the action of playing and eventually playing well. Simple - just do it - and do it daily. She has moved from a cardboard box violin, to Twinkle Twinkle Little Start, to Allegro and the learning continues working each piece until mastered and then reviewing the pieces to keep them playable in her repertoire. I haven't written here in awhile because I have allowed my life to not give me time to write here. But, again, this little writing spot has been good for me to again sit an clarify for a minute what I/we are doing in this journey - good, bad, or ugly. Choosing to do the hard and yet simple work of daily and repetitive grammar leads to the abilities of older children to pull from their foundations and or roots so to speak and write, and do math, and all the things you would hope for them. But they need the roots and that starts early. I stressed that we started our "formal" schooling for Wilder because we are following curriculum and striving for goals to meet. But in a homeschooling family you often are being schooled before the "formal" ages and programs you enter into. And even then you are learning valuable things that help you persevere as you journey forth. 

ad august per angusta - to honors through difficulties [ augusta refers to holy places, angusta to narrow spaces - the maxim is that we cannot achieve great results without suffering - from the book Amo, Amas, Amat and more...] For some reason that phrase encouraged me in this journey. I love the opportunity that I am having to reclaim my education as I teach these amazing subjects, but I also love the lessons my children are learning through their daily "difficulties" or struggles. Classical education is something which can teach you perseverance and self control to choose to "just do it". And mastery in grammar can lead to freedom in learning and that is a beautiful and precious thing.

God is good. Carpe diem. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

morning reading - Beauty for Truth's Sake

It is early, I have been up on and off all morning. Atticus did not sleep well last night. Finally he drifts off but I stay awake. I have a meeting early this morning and a full day to do. So much living in each day. I hope to paint some more, to get outside with the kiddos, to do some housekeeping and interior meddling as well as a little homeschooling. 

But for now I try to figure out how to turn on our new coffee  machine and to read a few lines out of my current read - Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education by Stratford Caldecott. I started awhile ago but now I am starting over and pushing through to the end. Completing a thought or conversation if you will with Mr. Caldecott. God is good. Carpe diem.

"For every great change, every rebirth or renaissance in human culture, has been triggered by the retrieval of something valuable out of the past, making new, creative developments possible..." 

"Similiarly today, we may legitimately hope that ressourcement, a "return to sources" and in paticular to the pattern of humane learning as it was traditionally understood in the West, though expressed in new ways, will lead to a renaissance, the birth of a culture more appreciative of life and wisdom."

"Education is our path to true humanity and wisdom. By this I do not mean simply what goes on in school and university - which all too often turns out to be a path in another direction entirely away from both humanity and reason. I mean the broader process that engages us all through life. To be alive is to be a learner. Much of the learning we do takes place at home, in the family, or after we leave both home and college and begin the struggle to survive in the wider world. Increasingly, in a society shaped by technology that is continually changing, we need to learn a new skill: how to keep learning. We must be flexible and adaptable enough to survive in any circumstances. Even more important than flexibility is a virtuous character and set of guiding principles that will enable us to keep track of goodness amid the moral and social chaos that surrounds us."

Monday, December 31, 2012

"To love another person is to see the face of God."

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” 

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” 

“Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.” 

“Love is the foolishness of men, and the wisdom of God.” 

“Love has no middle term; either it destroys, or it saves. All human destiny is this dilemma. This dilemma, destruction or salvation, no fate proposes more inexorably than love. Love is life, if it is not death. Cradle; coffin, too. The same sentiment says yes and no in the human heart. Of all the things God has made, the human heart is the one that sheds most light, and alas! most night.” 

Still processing the experience of seeing Les Miserables in the theater today. As I am still pondering all of it I am thinking on Victor Hugo's words on Les Miserables. I don't have adequate words yet, but I would encourage you to see it. It is profound. It reminds us to love amidst the struggle of this life. It reminds us of hope. 

Jean Valjean's life, Fontine, Cosette, so many characters in this story had lives of great struggle and hardship. I cannot compare my struggles to theirs but it gives me hope. A new year is beginning and again we take stock of where we have been, and where we are going. I am over 40 now. I was born in a third world country, I grew up for the first 5 1/2 years in an orphanage, my childhood had light but it had much darkness in it. My teen years were a struggle to survive. As a young adult woman I came to know grace, love, goodness, and so much more through a community, but mostly through a man - my husband of now 21 years. I have birthed 3 children, I have adopted one, one has died. I have lost loved ones to cancer, I have watched those close to me suffer illness, and hardships. I have nearly died in a hit and run car wreck. Through this all, God has shown me His overwhelming compassion, His unfailing light in this dark world. He has given me hope and a purpose. Now I seek to live this life with intention, to strive for good, to bloom where I am planted, and to love deeply those He has put in my life. I am grateful for the community of believers, for my dear family, friends and fellow sojourners in this life. God is good. Carpe diem.

Friday, December 7, 2012

the gift of Coco Madalena

Coco sleeping

7 years ago today I was in the hospital. I had been there for days trying to not deliver a baby.  But December 7, 2005 was the day that Coco Madalena was born. Now years later from that date I still remember how precious she was and that for every day of her short life she was loved. We do not/can not have that same intensity in our mundane lives to see the precious as clearly as we do in crisis - but we can try. And that is why I love the saying Carpe Diem - seize the day - do not put off saying or doing the loving things that we should. Follow your impulse to say the quiet things out loud, to do the kindnesses that make this life sweeter - you, me, we, they are all precious. Our lives are a miracle. To live is a miracle. These are all gifts from God. So as I remember this special day for me, I pray that you seize the day and say the things we should say and do the things we should do. Because I for one know life is short and precious and I pray I will live my one wild, precious life well. God is good. Carpe diem. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

wonder like a child

There are so many things that I love about being a mother. Today it was glancing over at my daughter and seeing the wonder she sees in everything. It is magical. Children see possibilities and light in everything. I pray that we will never lose that wonder and if we do that our children will remind us of it. God is good. Carpe diem. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Many Thanksgivings have passed in my life - over 40 and I am still learning things that I have to be thankful for. This season in my life continues to be dominated by the things I and my family are involved in. That is natural. However, there is a building of life bringing things that will bring value for years to come. That I think is the gift of intentionally living. I once said to a friend - "you are living the dream". She responded by saying, "No, I am living MY dream." We are each living out the lives God intended. It is an amazing adventure to open up to the possibilities and then invest in them with our time and resources. This morning a few of us women folk got together and talked in the quiet. We all have such different personalities, but for this one moment we are together, living our lives in community. I am grateful for the perspectives they bring. I pray that we will have more moments, but the thing I know at this age, is that I am grateful and truly thankful, for all the days we have to share with our people. They are a gift. God is good. Carpe diem.

perspective no. 1

perspective no. 2

perspective no. 3

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Fall traditions - this year we had a Hobbit-ish girl, a little Red Ridinghood, and a pirate boy who later became a cranky pirate boy who said "aargh" alot. It worked. God is good. Carpe diem.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall lives

Apple cider margaritas
Friendly friends
--- God is merciful in the fall.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homeschooling 3 ages and stages

This fullness. We are digging deeper into how we do Classical Conversations, how we use the curriculums with Lost Tools of Writing, IEW's Primary Arts of Lanuage & Writing, Story of the World, and so on. Somehow we are still moving forward and yet somehow we have slowed some things down to really try to grasp what we are doing and where we are putting our energies towards.

Lily is loving her Challenge levels and has added a new language to her studies - French. This year in Challenge B is the year to develop critical thinking skills - Math - preAlgebra with some Algebra dabbling, Latin, Logic, Science Research, Current Events, Exposition. That has been amazing to watch unfold in these past few weeks. I can see leaps and bounds of growth.

For Wilder we are pushing int the beginnings of reading, writing, etc. Her violin studies are progressing nicely and the method of Suzuki combined with the classical methods of CC seem to be a very good match. She is a beautiful learner. The world is opening up this year. It is so much fun to see her reach and climb.

Atticus is a typical two year old in most respects. We have some concerns about some health things but in general he is a classic toddler boy. I think we all love him so much and truly couldn't imagine our life complete without him.

This week we have done everything from an architectural dig to working on mapping the world, to debating current events and learning Logic. It is stretching me from head to toe and heart to soul. Tucker and I have added a Kierkegaard study that has been such fun. Little snippets of great heart felt thinking. Here are a few of our moments this week. God is good. Carpe diem.

learning to draw the world in kindergarten
following along
archaeological dig
homeschool soccer practice
classification of living things

Sunday, September 16, 2012

all of us

all of us
blurry photo with my iPhone, early sunday afternoon snuggles, all of us crammed into a frame, pure bliss of this work at hand. sometimes i can't seem to grasp all this life, this blessing around me. i have been to the depths and i know despair. these bright moments are to be breathed in deep and swallowed whole as God intended. all this lovely life. thanksgiving overflows. second chances are amazing. i throw a prayer out for being spared and for the ability to be a giver of life. God is good. Carpe diem.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

homeschooling middleschool

This new homeschool season is off with a bang, this week we added our core curriculum of Classical Conversations Challenge B. We started dance again. Next week starts French. The kids are beginning to look a lot more mature at this age. The topics are amazing at this age. We start our day with Math: Algebra, Latin: Henle 1, Logic: Intro. Logic, Research: first day was the Hippocratic Oath and Archimedes, Current Events/Debate, Exposition. We are working on learning Greek. Music this year will be a little free form but it is a subject of study. We also have some other special topics that are leading us to a very fun and interesting year.  Homeschooling 3 with such a range I am so grateful for establishing routines and yet still having the flexibility to enjoy the fruits of a homeschool life. Here are a few snippets from this week from the big girl's day. God is good. Carpe diem.
dance - ballet III - new teacher

godson Evander and Lily on the first day of CC community - they have been homeschooling together since preschool

some of the cohort

new tutor this year - very fun stuff

learning from algebraic manipulatives - fascinating

learning logic this year - not as scary as I thought for either of us ; )

study sessions are full of laughter and deeper insight - truly I am grateful for the depth
first day of homeschool community - this year
first day of homeschool community last year

wow a new year of adventures - wish us luck and godspeed ; )

Monday, September 10, 2012

where is the time going - kindergarten for the younger sister

I cannot keep up - time keeps marching on. But it is good work we are at. Today I snapped a photo and thought - oh good - that can be her kindergarten homeschool photo. I love the bare feet as they are a mark of one of the best things of this lifestyle - freedom. 

God is good. Carpe diem.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

clam bake, late summer nights, seamus heaney

It was a late night, a late summer evening,  and Tucker read the oysters poem by Seamus Heaney...

Tucker shared this poem late in the evening while we tasted and drank the juice from the clams and later broke the lobster and devoured the evening. It truly was poetry alive. God is good. Carpe diem.

Seamus Heaney, “Oysters”

Posted by jack in poetry
Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.
Alive and violated
They lay on their beds of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean.
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.
We had driven to the coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool thatch and crockery.
Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south to Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege
And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from the sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

from the corner of my eye

This was caught from the corner of my eye. A blink and they run towards me on my evening walk. So many times life feels like this. The beauty surrounding me in a quick flash. Maybe that is why I try to still it in some small way to remember. 

We were up late last night visiting friends. Just the parents visiting. That is a huge step in our little world to be able to run over to visit with friends while our children stay home. It has been happening more this last year but last night solidified it. That is a milestone moment.

We have had a good and full season. It has been a catharsis time and a chance to get some good solid work done on so many fronts. I am very excited. I will try to post something about where we are in our educational journey later. It has been an amazing year and this next year seems to be a good opportunity to continue the work that was laid out from last year. 

All this is to say, when I awoke this morning I got on my work out clothes and got ready to go. I am just doing life one day at a time. Always with the awareness of trying to see the gift of it all. And some days it is easier to summon up the perseverance needed in this [my] middle age to keep the fires strong. Inertia and a good cup of coffee could keep me from the good work and yet I know how right it is to pursue this health. God is good. Carpe diem.

Monday, August 20, 2012


A popular book going around circles is Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. It has been out for awhile I had been pondering her highlighted word eucharisteo - thanksgiving. 

She breaks it down into 

charis - grace
eucharisteo - thanksgiving
chara - joy

In this season of being a woman in my forties, married to my dearest friend for over 20 years, working on learning how to juggle many jobs - wife, mother, entrepreneur, homemaker, photographer, educator, and so on...I wonder about this meditation on eucharisteo. It has inspired such great conversations among the people. Are we hungry to be satisfied with what we have. Do we acknowledge that this life is lived best IN the moment. Do we know that our souls long for the rest of one thing at a time. I am so grateful for the community of believers, of families working on nourishing the whole family units, of camaraderie in the journey. Today so many little unexpected joys came in to my day. The breath of my sweet girl on my cheek as she snuggled in early this morning, my little boy trying to speak excitedly to me as he explained some new concept rocking his world, my eldest coming to sit in my arms arms all akimbo, my husband working hard to carry the load of this family as he juggles the pressures of working, an unexpected visit from an old friend, a summer evening walk. 

And yet amidst all that the hard stilling news of a dearest of dear ones having cancer. It takes ones breath away. And so I think of my early morning meditation of eucharisteo. Thanksgiving for this life. This work. We are all walking our own paths and I pray that I am encouraging my children by example to walk with care this beautiful gift. That I work hard, and play often, that I travel light, love deeply and unreservedly, that I pay attention, that I continue to work at learning and growing, be open, be kind...the list could go on. But for today I remember my dear friend saying "I am in the practice of trusting God, and this is no different." What an amazing testimony. 

God is good. Carpe diem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

light filled

"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society. When visitors came in larger and unexpected numbers there was but the third chair for them all, but they generally economised the room by standing up. It is surprising how many great men and women a small house will contain."
Walden - Henry David Thoreau

It has been a wet summer day. I have been working away from home today. There is so much that I am wanting to get done right now. Things that will help settle my mind and keep the house orderly - creative things, healthy things. All good and yet I am tied to my daily lists of things and the needs of the family. But for just a moment a glimpse of what is on my mind. I am writing this at the close of the day. Lily is puttering on the piano. Wilder and Atticus are scampering about. The house is a bit of a wreck. Tucker is reading and I am selfishly squeezing in a few lines....

This is a detail of a photo that I took of a little moment in the country with my girl and her friends. This young lady is a dear heart I have known since she was a wee thing. This image in its' entirety and in this detail is so dreamy to me. The light streamed through her to me from above the trees. Today as I sat listening to another of my friends speak about her specialty a note came across my desktop asking for photos for a project. It was a little hard not to want to jump into that but the conversation at hand was so good I was able to keep focused. However now that I am home and as I wander through my photos, some of these images filter in from my recent musings and I cannot help but be grateful for this gift of seeing that God has given. This gift of  sharing and conversation people have given me. I don't know at times why God has made me with this bent but I know that when I get to see my friends growing up and our lives and communities in play it makes me feel filled with light. And for this I am grateful. There is enough darkness in this world to know that when light happens we must celebrate it. God is good. Carpe diem.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

gratitude in the mundane

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." 
Sarah Ban Breathnach

It has been a few months since I have been on this page in this little bookmark that I have been saving. I don't know how that has happened. You know those moments when you get so full of the now that you can't even pause to write it down. And then when you get the space you are so needing to be unencumbered that you just breathe. The currents of life are changing again. In mighty good ways but change and growth and forward movement can carry you. We are hard at work right now - all of us. It is challenging me so much so that I have felt a revitalization at a deep hearts core. The secret of these middle ages is that what is brewing now is so rich and multi-layered. The colors are deeper than any I have seen in my youth. There is a storing of the energy for the next burst of life. And yet amidst that one must always be breathing in the mundane and remembering how we are so profoundly changed. 

God is good. Carpe diem. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

star filled night

It's recital time again. The girls are dancing, dancing, dancing. It is fun to see this other part of our lives continue to grow and flourish. We have been a part of this community for over 7 years and have had the joy of watching many children grow into their abilities as dancers. Now watching my girls at their stages I realized again what joy this art has brought to our family. 

I was watching the rehearsals yesterday and I leaned over and talked to a fellow homeschool mama who does Classical Conversations and we remarked how much we saw that this was indeed a classical activity/methodology. I will have to explore that more but it was interesting to see the dancers continue to learn the grammar of this activity and to work to master it. 

Anyhoo, Wilder was in a creative dance class and did a Twinkle ballet dance. It was fun to see her sing, act and dance all at once. Lily was in ballet, tap, and the youth performance group. She has loved it. Tomorrow I get to go with more friends and family and see it in action. God is good. Carpe diem.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

climbing the mountains in community

Today was a good day to climb a mountain. After church I looked out at the sunny sky and thought I must go be in nature, I must. So, I suggested a few families should gather and hike. Some of them took us up on our proposition. It is the first hike of the season. With baguette in hand, cheap plastic cups, sliced oranges, meat, cheese, tapenade, wine, and good friends we 3 families climbed a mountain. It was a beautiful evening for a mountain climb. Us mama's couldn't help but compare this journey to life's journey. We muttered thoughts of gratefulness. We climbed. It was hot and hard to climb. The children scampered, the babies fussed and then we all settled into the climb. At the top, we celebrated. The children ran and explored, the parents prepared a simple meal, and then we ate. We brought simple foods and then broke out the wine. Truly the beauty, the friendship, the exercise, and the joy was all so good. I was grateful that the men and women talked, that husbands and wives embraced, held hands, that children played and shared with each other and that when one fell, they were comforted and helped back onto the road. Isn't that all a part of what we hope for in this life? It really doesn't take much to enter into such beauty. God is good. Carpe diem.

the end of the hike