Friday, October 12, 2018

A Weighty Tip

A Weighty Tip
Today I’m sharing a tip. It’s more than helpful in bringing up children. It’s vital. You're probably already making good use of it in your house, in which case, my message will be affirmation for you.

Sophia's photo taken at Colonial Williamsburg. She knows I like yellow.
As a young mother I remember pondering the idea of a peaceful home atmosphere of authority. Whatever this was, I wanted it.

I asked myself, “How do I set the gears of authority to good working-order without harshness in the air, so that my authority is understood and gently felt by the children?” I knew that a booming voice, nagging, bribes, or bigger and bigger punishments were broken gears. I wanted to discipline my children by shepherding them in a spirit of gentleness? (1 Corinthians 4:21, Galatians 6:1)

Taken 1994 during our visit to Amish country. Yolanda, Nigel, Sophia
In the Kitchen
It had been a busy day of home-learning. I was in the middle of cooking double, so I could bring a meal to a family and simultaneously take care of our own supper. Most of the meal was completed. One thing more was left to do. But I stopped abruptly. Leaving steaming hot potatoes in the pot (awaiting salt, butter, cream cheese and mashing) I stood there with my arms crossed, as if crossing my arms would root my determination. I was fortifying myself that I wasn’t going to change my mind about something I had just calmly said “No” to. I kept myself from adding, “And I mean it.” The apostle James tells us to let our yes be yes, and our no be no.
I enjoyed hand-quilted these bow ties. Swirls in the border are by machine. I'm teaching myself free-motion quilting.
“And I mean it,” is superfluous. By being true to her word a mother is trustworthy. She earns a child’s trust by keeping her word.

All civil societies work well only when its people speak truth, do not bear false witness, and keep their word. In early America, to shake hands on an agreement was binding. “I gave my word,” was a big deal then.

Because Jesus our Lord is true to His Word and His promises, His followers seek to be trustworthy, too.

Colonial Williamsburg. 
Tell the Truth
A young child will turn a deaf ear (or drowsily drag his feet) when he has gotten used to hearing another empty threat where Mommy and Daddy do not follow through with a consequence swiftly, or when a privilege or promised treat, never comes. When a mother’s words are weighty, when she can be trusted, when her yes is yes, and her no is no, the child is disciplined fairly. He knows it is fair and will accept the consequence and admit his shortcoming more readily than if discipline is haphazard.
A moment of correction will often come at an inconvenient time (such as in the middle of making mashed potatoes). It is best to stop, breathe, and discipline calmly, anyway.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale 
For my Mother Culture I’m reading Florence Nightingale by Jeannette Nolan (pub.1946). I like its bright writing style and that Jeannette Nolan unashamedly reveals what was born in Miss Nightingale’s young heart. Her motivation to be of service to others, sprang forth from a knowledge and love of the God of the Bible. This religious motivation (in this case, Anglican) would hardly be given a nod in a modern publication (if it were slotted for the school library shelf). But Miss Nightingale’s Christian faith is relevant. A person doesn't live a virtuous life at a whim.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, 
All other ground is sinking sand.       
                                                                            (lyrics, Edward Mote)

My copy has a thick, sturdy library binding that, in its heyday, had held up to repeated handling. Its well-worn its pages tell me it must have been read by hundreds of children long ago (who would be age 85-90 today.)

But I digress. The point I wish to make is this. Miss Nightingale knew she needed to be trusted for her authority to be respected. When she had become head of a group of nurses, having just arrived at the Barrack (transformed inadequately into a hospital) it was a scene of much suffering.

The story reads,

Soon, whenever she had an hour, she must write out some rules for the nurses. She intended that they must be strictly disciplined, for without discipline the best results could not be attained. The nurses must recognize and defer to her authority. She was their leader and she would be obeyed. But to enforce discipline, she would have to retain their affection and respect. They trusted her now; she must never do anything to lose their trust.

Isn’t this the position a young mother finds herself in when surrounded by little children needing her daily guidance and care?

Catching some rays on camera. Sunshine has been a rarity here for months.
On a Domestic Note
I’ve been roasting locally grown vegetables. One of my daughters made soup incorporating her leftover roasted veggies. She told me how happy she was with at how it turned out. “It’s delicious, if I do say so myself,” she said.

Harvest vegetable soup with roasted veggies. 
“What a good idea,” I told her. I took out the little plastic containers of several days of leftover roasted veggies and did some impromptu food combining with corn I sliced off the cob. The roasted eggplant gave the soup a savory flavor. The corn was crunchy. Yum.

To the Cider Mill by Danna York
Coloring with Grandma
One of the things my grandchildren know I’m happy to do side by side with them, is color with crayons. An uncommonly cute coloring book is one created by Danna York, a Christian home teacher and artist. To the Cider Mill reflects one of her favorite memories of an outing she took with her children during their home-teaching years. It is apropos to the season.

Uncommonly Cute
If you are interested in making this book a gift for a child, Danna York would be happy to hear from you. By typing out her email we prevent spam. Yorkdanna(at)gmail(dot)com.

Wool pumpkins (purchased) for a window sill need arranging somehow.
Sophia’s family visited Colonial Williamsburg over a week-end in September. She said it was quiet and that they were almost the only visitors.
Until next time, 
Karen Andreola  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Promotion of the Idyllic

Promotion of the Idyllic
First the Big News
A baby girl, 7 lb. 9 oz., was born to Yolanda and Daniel. They named her Liliana. We are smitten with her and her button nose.

Two Children’s Books
In my Preface to Lessons at Blackberry Inn I admit to something. I admit to joining the ranks of the idealistic. I say

I believe an author of children’s fiction has a duty to describe the world as it ought to be, as it can be. 

A blog friend gave me this book mark after she visited Prince Edward Island this summer.
One of my aims in writing was to demonstrate that the “idyllic principle” is also applicable to stories for grown-ups.

It was the “idyllic principle” that enabled me to warm up to the story, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum. I love this story.

As I continue in my Preface of Blackberry Inn, “All fiction is useful chiefly to animate truth, to inspire some noble aim or sweet spirit.”

Good fiction increases our understanding and our sympathies. Do such books encase us in a bubble? They don’t have to. While upholding virtue, they might introduce us to unpleasant and even life-threatening conflict. In The Winged Watchman, the main characters are a Catholic family living in Nazi occupied rural Holland. Dad runs a windmill, one of the few non-electric water-pumps in service. Hunger and secrecy are part of what this family lives with every day. We learn their secrets one chapter at a time. Meanwhile, as we read, created for us are scenes of faith, hope, patience, industry, trust, generosity, hospitality, parental love - - - and lots and lots of courage.

Love requires courage.
Love is courage in action.

If I could go back and homeschool all over again I would make this a family read-aloud.

A 10-year-old boy, Joris, is central to the plot. I like Joris. And I like his mother very much. She holds the family together. I mentioned some years ago, how rare mothers seem to be in fiction. Motherless characters seem to fill the pages of fiction (including Shakespeare and Dickens.) Here, however, Mother cannot escape notice. And in the last chapter, the beautiful sentiments of admiration for her, voiced by Father, left me with a face wet with tears when I closed the book.

War-torn Holland in WWII would have been unlivable without faithful mothers and fathers. The unity of a strong family is also capable of supporting (and rescuing) members of the community. In The Winged Watchman, this family’s strength has a spiraling effect. (Hilda van Stockum drew the illustrations for her own story.)

Another little quilt made as a table topper with mini charm squares.
Just before I read The Winged Watchmen, I just happened to have watched the fast-paced 1940 Alfred Hitchock film “Foreign Correspondent” with Joel McCrea (a favorite actor of mine) with Dean, so I got a good look inside of one such old Dutch windmill. The film takes place at the onset of WWII.

I picked up another story by Hilda van Stockum: The Borrowed House. This family is not idyllic. I found the tone to be different, too. And the religious motivation dim. It was written 30 years after The Winged Watchman.

The story is for children somewhat older. The main character is a 12-year-old girl, Janna. In Germany she is indoctrinated in Hitler’s Youth Camps. Yet, what she observes and experiences after moving to Holland, gets her thinking. Janna's ideas privately turn around without anyone debating her early impressions. My first thought was that such easy wanderings off her foundations is far-fetched. But perhaps in the stressful times of war, life and ideas are intensified and it might be believable. Therefore, perhaps we have the idyllic principle here after all.

I should tell you something that felt uncomfortable during my reading. Janna’s mother receives friendly attentions from the handsome baron, although she is happily married. This worries Janna. It worried me, too. It is the baron who, by some connection, is letting the family “borrow” the house with its servants – a house that belongs to a well-to-do Jewish family (who were forced to leave.) The fine possessions of the Jewish family fill all its rooms.

We noticed the idyllic principle applied by this painter on Saturday.
The value of The Borrowed House is its presentation of ideas, however lightly touched upon these conflicting political views are. In the last chapter it is a relief to Janna to learn that her beautiful mother remains faithful to Janna’s father. And although I am giving this away for obvious reasons, I am not giving away sub-plots involving some likable courageous characters of the Resistance. 

Life is not idyllic. When I heard my cousin started chemo-therapy and radiation I started knitting.
Other News 
My new book is about to be sent to the printer. Its quotes and footnotes are many. These all had to be checked and re-checked for accuracy. Nigel worked patiently with me on the fussy lay-out. On his computer he cleaned up more than 40 antique illustrations that were scanned from my collection of antique books. He fixed a cloudy eye, softened a sharp nose, removed a misplaced shadow, etc. With this big project finally ready for printing my eye has stopped twitching. My prayer is that it will minster to the biggest concerns of the busy home teacher.

Knitted Lace
I like this simple scalloped edge from Knitting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein, p.88. I used it for an inch before knitting k2,p2.

(multiples of 6) Place markers are helpful.
Row 1  (ws) Purl.
Row 2  K1,*yo, k1, sk2p, k1, yo, k1; rep from * to end.
Rep rows. Knitting in the round Row 1 is K from now on.

(sk2p is: skip 1, knit2tog, pass slip st over knit2tog.)

Cap for a cousin.
By Hilda van Stockum

The Winged Watchman

The Borrowed House

I'd like to read her story The Mitchells, next. It is published by Bethlehem Books.

Alas, the table topper is serving its purpose on the night stand. Dean reads Charlie Brown to unwind.

Dean likes photographing the swallowtails on our zinnias out front. Aren't they beautiful? 

Until next time,
Karen Andreola

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let's Preserve the Wholesome and the Good, Karen Andreola

Let's Preserve the Wholesome and the Good
Whoever is telling the stories is interpreting life. This is why during my homeschooling years, being unfamiliar with children’s literature, I relied upon recommendations in the paper catalogs of family-owned Christian companies. Now book lists can be found on-line.

Made entirely on machine for Yolanda's upcoming baby. Yolanda likes yellow. 

During visits to the public library, I gravitated to the “outdated” picture books - fiction and non-fiction. I would sometimes purchase library discards. Scavenging through used book shops also supplied me with out-of-print "finds."

It wasn’t until years later that I noticed many of the books I liked best were published pre-1963. These books are disappearing from libraries.

What’s the big deal about 1963? I found out. That was the year that the United States Supreme Court declared Bible reading and prayer in public school to be unconstitutional.  

Not reading Scripture aloud each morning during homeroom, or saying the Lord’s Prayer, is one thing. But publishers took this ban too far.

I like the pink and cream border fabrics immensely and am glad I had entire yard of it, rather than a forth. 
To ensure that their schoolbooks were included (and to stay in business) it seems they removed every mention of God, the church, and reference to the ten commandments. 

They removed any connection between certain noteworthy Americans and their Christian faith, even if that faith was their strongest motivation for serving their fellow man.The final step, it seems, was to drop these people out of the curriculum altogether.
Photograph in hand during a morning stroll. Hollyhocks, their a familiar faces.
Censoring these heroes from the schoolbooks was easy. Simply do not teach history. This removes them from the minds and consciences of millions of American children, silencing their testimony forevermore. Teach social studies instead, (or social issues) which can conveniently be filled with the Left’s propaganda.  

Hummingbirds like the red Bee Balm. I always cut them way back but they are prolific.
Terrence Moore, in his book The Story Killers, believes that the goal of the authors of our government school’s Common Core (slipped in place without a vote from the Senate) is to keep America’s children “from reading stories, particularly traditional stories, that run counter to the political ambitions” the Left represents. He sees Common Core is the “educational arm of the progressive state. As Plato pointed out in his Republic . . . whoever writes the stories shapes – or controls – the minds of the people in any given regime.”*1  

Dean bought me these salt and pepper shakers. Do you know who these funny British folks are?
I spent a little time reading The Story Killers this year. It disturbed me so much that I was losing sleep over it, so I had to put it down. It is written gentlemanly (Terrence Moore is a professor at Hillsdale College) but I found the facts disturbing. I will link (below) to his eye-opening lecture that gives a peek at what he uncovered in the high school English curriculum. You will be very glad you are home teaching.

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater . . .  

The removal of the best fiction of the Western World is being done quietly. There are no book-burnings, not yet. Schools and libraries simply promote other books, books with contemporary themes. (Yikes. Their recommendations are startling.) Occasionally the discrediting of a classic book leaks out. These discredited books were once considered wholesome and good. Read and re-read for decades, they seem to be read today by few besides Christian home-taught children. Why?

These books have their feet planted on a morality and worldview understood by the Christian of an earlier America (for example, monogamy in marriage, between male and female.) The same books ignored, discredited, or discarded, by the Left (woefully in power of the schools and libraries today) are those home teachers are snatching up.

We are educating our children with them. In so doing, we are preserving a culture.

This Upset Me
One recent discredit upset me. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beautiful stories, yes her “Little House” series, had its award removed only weeks ago. The Association for Library Service to Children stated their reason.“Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with [ALSC’s] core values . . . ”
Pink Astilbe being crowded out by the Sassafras tree with its 3 shapes of leaves, one being a mitten. 
Are the core values of Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories that "far gone" and immoral? Un-American? Evidently, the ALSC is offended by them. Joy Pullman writes in defense of Laura's values and perspective. I link (below) to her article: “It’s not Laura Ingalls Wilder Who is Prejudice, It’s the Librarians Smearing Her Legacy.” 

Are we entering into the reality of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?

“But why is it prohibited?” asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.
The Controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here.”
“Even when they’re beautiful?”
“Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted to old things. We want them to like the new ones.”

On a Much Lighter Note
Many find Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn and its sequel to be favorites. They were favorites in our house. Are you looking for something light and cheerful to read this summer? Here is another story by this beloved author. To lighten up this sober post and to lighten up your summer I feature it here. Baby Island has a sprinkle of the ridiculous that will had some humor to a hot afternoon. My children are all grown now so I read it to myself. But it made me chuckle so how can I honestly say I read it "silently?"

Due to a storm at sea, two sisters (conscientious babysitters) drift in a lifeboat and end up on a deserted tropical island with four little children. No one is hurt but the babysitters are bit stressed and bewildered.

The theme of this story uphold an idea misunderstood by a multitude of people today who do not have a Biblical understanding. Therefore, we can no longer take it for granted. Babies are persons and precious. In the name of love, self-less effort is always needed to protect, care for them, and guide them. (I Cor. 13) And they are worth it. 

End Notes
*1 The Story Killers, Terrence Moore, pg 8.

I recommend his “The Story Killers” on Youtube. After the first 5 minutes of introduction the lecture is about 50 minutes long. I listened while ironing.

Joy Pullmann’s article on Laura Ingalls Wilder at The Federalist.

Baby Island at Amazon.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Keeping in touch,
Karen Andreola