Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not-Enough Syndrome

   Not-Enough Syndrome


        When I was a new mother I felt insecure. My baby cried. She cried everyday. That’s what newborn babies do, I was told. They may cry when they are hungry. Sometimes they cry or fuss when they are overtired or when Mommy is overtired, when they need to be burped, changed, cuddled, kept warm, and any number of things. Weeks went by. My baby cried. I felt nervous and anxious. When I heard, “How do you know if your baby is getting enough?” I couldn’t answer. All the women in my family chose to bottle-feed. I was on my own.

     I was on my own geographically, too. Dean and I had moved to another state, to his new job position, four months prior to the deliver of our firstborn. Therefore, I read about babies and nursing in books.

Yours Truly, Mother-to-be  1982  Pennsylvania

     When my second child was born I settled into a rhythm of nursing, changing, cuddling, bathing, etc. more naturally. I slept better. I was more relaxed. Supply and demand calmly took care of itself. This baby hardly cried or fussed at all. She gave me a satisfied milky smile. I never really knew exactly how much my babies were getting at any given hour of the day or night but they grew none-the-less. They grew out of their tiniest, cutest outfits and became heavier to hold by the week.

Sophia  1983  Florida

     This is the trust a mother needs to have when she home teaches. She can trust that her children are born with a hunger to know. When she gives to them a wide curriculum of ideas they will grow. Aiming for order she will eventually settle into the rhythm of short lessons. She may read aloud several times a day, review phonics or math facts with an energetic wiggler, listen to a child hobble through his sentences in a reading lesson, listen to a narration with just as much required patience.  

Yolanda  1985  New Jersey

     These same hobblers and wigglers are the ones who pick up classic literature in later years and are thoroughly absorbed in it – sophisticated vocabulary and all – sit for 30 minutes writing a history composition, spend 45 minutes with higher math, pick up and play their musical instrument because they want to, etc. Give children opportunity, skills and a wide curriculum of ideas - what they need to grow - and they grow – even without hourly evidence that comes by so-called accurate measuring.

     “How do I know my child is getting enough?” This is a question I was asked frequently during the years I spent writing A Charlotte Mason Companion. New home teachers understandably felt insecure about doing things differently, about using living books, assigning copywork, listening and recording a young child’s narration rather than have him complete a multiple-choice quiz or the questionnaire from an authoritative teacher’s guide.    

Nigel 1990  Tennessee


     The “not-enough syndrome” doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern as it once was. This crossed my mind recently. Many in the home school world take courage in using all kinds of lovely books in the curriculum and it isn’t bizarre to hear children “tell” about them or write about them. A generation of home taught children have come of age since A Charlotte Mason Companion was first published. These children are teaching their children with confidence today. “My mother read your Companion,” is the message shared with me now. This was my greeting from the pianist (a mother of four) of my daughter’s church. I smiled. And momentarily reconsidered whether I should be dying my hair.  

On our married daughter's table,  Maryland

     An envelope came to my mailbox from a long distance friend. In the letter she wrote that God has graciously enabled her to complete another year of home teaching. I love this statement. It shows her meekness, contentment and gratitude. She has been diligently teaching her children for twenty years. In raising her good size family I know the daily effort she puts out has to be enormous but she acknowledges from whom all blessings flow.

Dean and the children  1990  Tennessee

     As mothers we ought to give all we can give. Our eyes are open to where we might make adjustments or improvements. But we are also faced with human limitations. Perhaps you have felt that your children aren’t getting enough or that you aren’t able to do enough. Take heart. Here is a truth that is trustworthy. If we are Christians we can place our trust in God to bring fruit from the seeds we lovingly and dutifully sow. Remember the parable of the loaves and fishes. The boy who offered the loaves and fishes gave all of his lunch, sacrificially. Was it enough for the multitude? No. Did our Lord Jesus make it enough? He blessed it, multiplied it and made it more than enough. He is able to do exceedingly more abundantly than we ask or think. 

Our grandsons, yesterday, behind their home,  Maryland

     “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”
     (2 Corinthians 9:10 from St. Paul’s message on giving)

Comments are Welcome,
Karen Andreola

Post Script
An Unexpected Link to Encourage the Educator

I was a fan of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood in days gone by. Dean stumbled upon this Remix on YouTube. It’s a jazzed up version of one of Fred Roger’s songs. The music isn’t my chosen style but because it conveys what Miss Mason sought to convey about trusting in the power of ideas, I link it here. It proves a curious collaboration.  


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spring Greens

Spring Greens

Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing. 
From Milton’s “May Morning”


     The Lady-of-the-House has been gazing upon a profusion of green. Spring has dressed the woods around her. So much green does indeed boast blessing and it is gratefully received.

wild violets

     Taking a turn about the grounds some weeks ago she spied a violet (Viola papilionacea) at the foot of a tree. Where else have I seen these? Her daughter’s nature notebook from years back - that’s where - and also the country diary of Edith Holden (Viola odorata) 

violets in a Nature Journal

    Certain months of the year the Lady-of-the-House commonly finds herself slipping into a rut in the kitchen. For efficiency ruts are helpful. It is advantageous to have a repertoire of recipes that you can perform easily.  Over time, however, change is welcome to the pallet.  In the countryside spring ushers in this change. Recipes follow the dictates of what gardens produce. Up sprouts green asparagus, green onions, herbs and lettuce - lots of lettuce.

The thyme has revived.

     “I found something you might like,” said the Man-of-the-House. He was searching for an out-of-print book on-line and spotted a book cover with artwork from Edith Holden’s country diary. “Are you interested?” he said.

     “Hmm, it’s a cookbook. Oh, yes, I could use some fresh ideas just now.” 

     So he upped the order.


    When The Country Diary Cookery Notes arrived the Lady-of-the-House found the recipes to be traditionally British – no big surprise - but amusingly so. Her first thought was, I wonder if these were the kind of dishes that Beatrix Potter would have eaten. This probably came to mind because she had recently watched - and was enjoyably immersed in - the film “Miss Potter” with actress Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor (Although food was far from being a prominent feature.) The other reason is plainly found in the book’s introduction. Here, Alison Harding states that she put together a collection of recipes that would be familiar to Edith Holden (1871-1920) in her day – Victorian to Edwardian. 


The ingredients are based on what grew in English gardens or what was farmed, fished or trapped locally. Cooks had to use it up in “ well-tried and ingenious ways.” Parsnip cakes, eel soup, oxtail soup, leek pie are mainstay. How about trout with oatmeal for breakfast or a kidney omelet, and grouse on toast with jugged hare for dinner? Entire chapters are dedicated to puddings - to use up eggs – afternoon tea, jams and preserves - to use up fruit. 

      Of these curious old-fashioned recipes, some of the vegetable dishes are inviting. Most of the recipes will likely remain untried. Several she is adapting. But it only takes a few new ideas to make the Lady-of-the-House lug out the pots and pans with renewed anticipation.

     The Man-of-the-House brought home a couple heads of bib lettuce from a local growers' market. It seemed a little tough for a salad. The Lady-of-the-House could use it for a green smoothie but she recognized that here was the incentive to give her first new recipe - spring herbs soup - a try. It called for a handful of dandelion greens, green onions, a head of lettuce, stock and fresh herbs. (She happened to have some healthy dandelion greens from the Amish grocer on hand.) She used veggie bullion for the stock and then – because the Man-of-the-House likes cream soups - she decided to whip up the soup in the blender when it was cooked, add a dash of coconut milk and a teaspoon of honey.

     Sitting at the head of the table was the Man-of-the-House. At the start of supper he watched his wife slowly ladle murky green liquid it into his bowl and sprinkle it atop with minced herbs. “Is this a new recipe?” he asked.

     “Yes, it’s from the new book you found,” his wife informed him. She made the last bit sound as casual and innocent an accusation as possible.

     “It looks lethal,” he said and made a show of picking up his spoon with uncharacteristic hesitation.

     The Lady-of-the-House held back a laugh. She held back a laugh and held her breath because although she knew he was kidding, after all her taking-care in the kitchen, she would not give him the slightest satisfaction. She had to know if he liked the soup. “Go on,” she quipped. 

The woods are a home to wild roses.

     He brought the soup up to his lips. He did like it. Looks were deceiving for there was a light, springtime freshness to it. The Lady-of-the-House thinks that it was the teaspoon of minced cilantro she used for garnish that contributed to the success. 

     The next day the Man-of-the-House ate the leftovers and so did she. But she wonders when she’ll make spring herbs soup again – next year perhaps. Already the Lady-of-the-House has fitted comfortably back into a rut of making her regular green soup - broccoli with a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of fresh thyme – a green soup that those around her table are most accustomed to. She can see beyond the bend in the road, however, and knows it won’t be too long before she bravely embarks upon another new recipe.   

Their fragrance is a welcome greeting.

     The Country Diary Cookery Notes is out of print but across the Atlantic – here in America you can sample recipes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood, recipes from a similar time period. The following is a review written by the daughter of the Lady-of-the-House.

broccoli soup
Broccoli soup with thyme and sour cream.

The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
Review by Yolanda Andreola - Mott

     When I open The Little House Cookbook, memories of my childhood come flooding back. Passages from The Little House Series accompany each recipe and so do the beautiful pencil sketches by Garth Williams that are so familiar to me. I especially remember the passages from Farmer Boy that my mother read aloud to us. I can almost taste the apple turnovers, buckwheat pancakes, crackling cornbread, and stuffed roasted hen. One winter Mom helped Sophia and me make molasses candy in a pan of cold gathered snow - just like Laura and Mary. I am delighted to find the recipe for it in this cookbook. The Little House Cookbook, with its story passages, illustrations and more than 100 well-researched pioneer recipes, will inspire you to bring simple, wholesome, frontier food to your table. For ages 8 and up.

Thanks for visiting. Have a tasty week,
Karen Andreola