Sunday, January 13, 2019

6 Qualities of Kindness

6 Qualities of Kindness
“You are very kind,” I said to him at last, sounding to my own ears like a character out of an 18th century novel, but the words were not all politeness. They were sincere and what I truly thought of him."

This is what Carol, the main character of Lessons of Blackberry Inn, says to Mr. Fortesque after he confides in her with his startling words of appreciation.

Fireplace Screen - I admired. By a local Pennsylvania artist.
The word "kind" is rarely used in conversation today. It is not a word that normally comes to mind. "Nice" has replaced it.

In a day when virtue and manners were customary in polite society, such as in the days of Jane Austen, I'm guessing the word “kind” was not so rare.

Accidentally buying 2, Yolanda gave me this board book. 1 is for her baby.
"Nice" in Jane Austen's day, according to an 18th century dictionary, once meant "fastidious" or as Samuel Johnson put it: "superfluously exact." Although "nice" has changed, the meaning of "kindness" has not. Still; it simply isn't used much. Is the word too quaint?

Some of us have been attempting to bring it back because sometimes "nice" isn't a nice-enough.

Therefore I use "kind" whenever the situation calls for it in writing or conversation - even if it is within an email or an on-line comment. No matter how quaint or archaic it sounds, I like it.

What is kindness?

1. Kindness is born of love.
The ministry of kindness is to make everyday life pleasant and comfortable for others.

"Beauty is quietly woven through our ordinary days . . . Everywhere there is tenderness, care, and kindness, there is beauty." -John O'Donohue

2. A kind person (such as a protagonist described for us in a good novel) is often God-fearing.
He is:
. . courteous
. . thoughtful
. . obliging
. . considerate.
He shows kindness by refraining or speaking,
. . by his manner,
. . regard,
. . words,
. . acts.

3. Kindness does no bargaining.
There is no backward glance to see how an act of kindness is benefiting self (bolstering himself up to a higher position to ask – or expect - something he wants in return).

My Amish neighbor prefers outdoor chores to indoor ones, she tells me. 
4. Kindness is not show-off-y.
We never mention a kindness we have done, or advertise our good deeds. We seek a better reward – one waiting for us in heaven.

5. Kindness keeps no record of wrongs.
It doesn't balance the books. When we are truly being kind we don't even remind ourselves - “I've done this-and-that for so-and-so, and now see how little he thinks of doing for me?” Worse still, “Nobody cares. With all I do I'm not even recognized.”

Trying out some textures, but undecided about my next project. 
These pitfalls are all avoided simply. How you ask?

6. By being unaware that we are doing anything special. We don't even know we are being kind, it has become so much a part of our nature. To practice kind living we are - in the words of our Lord Jesus - to “Let not thy right hand know what thy left doeth.”

England's poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) tells us:

That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.

I Cor 13:4; Matt: 6:1; Matt 6:3
Charlotte Mason's book Ourselves helped me come up with my outline.

Kindness in an Old Novel

A story I enjoyed recently was the (1891) novel The Little Minister by J. M. Barre, free on Kindle. (J. M. Barre also wrote Peter Pan.) It is set in Scotland, 1840, with colloquial dialects of the locals. Among its sentimentality and dialog, weather conditions produce some startling action near the end of the story. Kindness is on these pages; kindness guided by the Christian worldview. It is the fruit that forms friendships and eventually draws two unlikely people together.

It was because the Man-of-the-House and I watched the old movie "The Little Minister" (1934) with Katherine Hepburn, and I found it curious and sweet, that I picked up the novel - and - because two old books I was reading at the time coincidentally and curiously mentioned the story. The movie condenses the novel yet captures the gist of the story well. The novel gives us more background to the characters than the movie, such as the minister's sweet mother, and several others who deeply care about the minister's well-being.

"Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than necessary?"   -J.M. Barre

Until next time,
Karen Andreola

Friday, December 28, 2018

Start the New Year with Mother Culture

Start the New Year with Mother Culture®
Karen’s book is now in print. Click  HERE  for purchase info.

A Message from the Man-of-the-House.
What a beautifully written book, lavishly illustrated! My congratulations to Karen for the many years she has labored to promote what she calls Mother Culture ®.

Her passion for Mother Culture began more than 25 years ago – when, through her pioneering research, she first introduced it to the homeschooling community. As she further expanded upon the many practical benefits that a Mother Culture way-of-life could bring to her readers, this passion became her personal calling, ministry, and trademark brand.

On these pages you will find some of Karen’s best writing, polished and embellished - - - with fresh and timely encouragement added. This long-awaited book is now safely between its covers! Karen gracefully addresses what matters most to mothers. I hope you will consider her an “older woman in the Lord” and a cheerful companion on an often lonely and difficult journey.

I think this is Karen's most transparent and heartfelt book. I pray that this writing-effort will be a blessing to all the curious moms who seek to apply the many benefits of Mother Culture. 
-Dean, the Man-of-the-House

Thank you, Dean.

And many thanks for the encouragement you’ve given me over the years, my friends.
This is my pastel quilt for Liliana. It was her Christmas present. The free-motion quilting part of making it was fun – even if this meant rolling it up tightly in the small space of my machine.
I sewed off-seam in places but enjoyed the over-all, if not perfect, result. 
The sun was shining through the attic window while I was sewing the binding, which made me think to stop and take a photograph. I attached the binding to the back and here I have brought it forward to stitch with a zig-zag.
Dean found the Holly Hobby Colorform for Eloise – reminiscent of 1975. The calico dresses are so sweet, pretty, and modest. Holly can stand up like a paper doll. We were startled by the fact that something so cute and inexpensive is still available for children these days – that is not electronic.

I like bread and butter pickles from the health food store. When my store-bought pickles are all eaten, I fill the jar up with fresh cucumber, peeled and sliced. Here is a photograph of one Saturday morning’s refill. These “fresh” pickles can be kept one week in the refrigerator.

I made some pecan cookies in December. Have you seen these clay sugar-bears in fancy kitchen shops? I finally bought one. Not only are they decorative, they’re practical. These bears really do keep the brown sugar from turning to rock in your storage jar.

To read my short article/interview on my website, click here.

To listen to a 14 minute podcast of a conversation Sonya Shaffer and I shared about some important aspects of Mother Culture, click here.

Mother Culture - For a Happy Homeschool   Buy Now

Until next time,
Karen Andreola

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Learning the Art of Mother Culture

Learning the Art of Mother Culture
- a message from my daughter Sophia

Sophia, Andrew, and baby William, 2007
Greetings to Mom's blog friends.

I am Karen Andreola’s firstborn child. On the pages of my mother’s new book, Mother Culture – For a Happy Homeschool,* sometimes she refers to me as Baby One, Big Sister, or Sophia.

Despite our family’s many household moves and frequent challenges, the memories of my childhood are happy and magical ones. Some of my favorite memories are of playing make-believe, going barefoot in the creek, our family’s many nature walks, and being absorbed in a good book.

I remember reading this aloud 25 years ago and bought a copy recently. 

Fast forward to adulthood and the exciting anticipation of my own firstborn. As my husband and I planned for our baby’s arrival, I dreamed of creating those same happy memories for him.

My mother made it look easy, but I quickly found motherhood was not as dreamy as I had planned. With his birth came a screaming baby, sleepless nights, exhaustion, and loneliness. Life with my baby was really, really hard. The grace of God and many long distance phone calls to my mother saw me through those early years of adjustment.

Green time for William, Joseph, Eloise.
Now I have three children. As they grow, so do my mothering and home teaching skills. I am learning to apply the art of Mother Culture. These wise principles are the tools I have needed to keep growing into the mother I had dreamed of being—not perfect, but equipped to face the daily challenges of a home teacher.

Chocolate molds make interesting Christmas ornaments in the Keeping Room.
Perhaps those many hours of phone chats with a frazzled daughter convinced my mother of the need for a book on Mother Culture. I can remember one especially trying wet winter’s day several years ago. “Mom, after chores everyone’s been in a sour mood,” I said. “They’re crying and so am I. It’s been a horrible morning.”

Free-motion quilting is a fun way to doodle. The church reminds me of Maine.
“Put on some sunshiny music* and dance with the children,” my mother advised. “When you're good and tired, sit on the floor. The children will gather around you, the littlest one on your lap, to hear you read aloud from a cute picture book. It will calm your frazzled nerves and theirs, too. Then you can return to lessons.” So I did. It worked. Later, when Daddy got home, Mommy took a peaceful walk by herself and read a chapter from an edifying novel. It is amazing how refreshing a 30-minute break can be. Similar words of advice have rescued many a day for my mother’s grandchildren.

Our grandchildren like the steam engines at Strasburg's train museum. 
My firstborn baby turns 11 this month. Today, he and I, along with his younger brother and sister, made some of those childhood memories that I always dreamed about.

By applying the principles preserved in Mom's book, you will not only be encouraging yourself but be inspired to encourage and uplift those you love. As you learn the skillful art of Mother Culture, your days at home with your children will increasingly be filled with joy and peace. - Sophia

Thank you Sophia.

The occasional odd moment of sitting on the hearth rug, is a fast way of getting the attention of young children, who will stop fussing and head straight for Mommy.

*New book: available January or sooner. It is printed and now scheduled to be "baked" the printers told us. 

5 Smile-Making Songs

Some peppy and positive smile-makers, for Mom and her young children, can be found on YouTube. I decided not to provide a link but to list them as titled there:

"Oliver - Goodmorning starshine."
"The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
"(HQ)Peter, Paul & Mary - Puff the Magic Dragon."
"Fifth Dimension - Up, Up & Away, My Beautiful Balloon."
"John Denver - Grandma's Feather Bed"

2 Quieting Songs

"John Denver Sunshine on my Shoulders"
Dad found this little-known quiet-song: "Eddy Arnold C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S."

I made 4 of these trees for family gifts - starting in July.
I wish you a cheery day.
Karen Andreola
A return to the quilt shop, this time, for some reproduction fabric.
Post Script
I spent a pretty penny for an out-of-print copy of Good King Wencelslas by Mildred Luckhardt for sentimental reasons (Abingdon Press, 1964). But also because it is a story I wish to pass onto my grandchildren. It is based on the Christian Duke of Bohemia (907-935). In 1853, hymn writer, John Mason Neale, wrote the lyrics for the Christmas Carol. Do you know "Good King Wencelsas" written to the music of a jig? Mildred Luckhardt also wrote The Story of Saint Nicholas - but I've not read it. I saw a variety of picture books on Wencelslas on this page on Amazon. It made me curious.