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.