Under the Maple Tree

My Book Ownership Manifesto

In this busy season of back to back to back homeschool conventions and book sales, I am running about trying my hardest to make sure all my t’s are crossed and my i’s are dotted.  As I prepare for this weekend’s conference in Kelowna, B.C (which I am SOOO excited for) and next weekend’s conference in Hamilton, Ontario I am envisioning all those wonderful books careening here and there.  Life of Fred books are currently racing up an Ontario highway towards my home from the far off land of California, other books have spanned the distance from Tennessee to British Columbia and I am hoping to wake tomorrow morning to a box from Nevada.  All these and my most treasured shipment will be one that I personally escort home from a print shop not too far from my own front door – more amazing Maple Tree publications lovingly printed and prepared practically in our own backyard.

Then, after a night like tonight, where a shipment gets stopped at the border and it would seem that all hope is lost for getting the books to the folks that ask me to bring them here, I stop and wonder, “Why am I doing this?”  A friend asks, “So, are you going to do that again?  Or will you stop ordering books from the States?”  Nope; I’m a bibliophile.  I love books too much to stop buying them.  I love these books too much.  Tonight was a challenge, a lesson to be learned.  Red tape.  Red tape can’t take away my love for books.

So, you know my weakness: books.  I’ll also tell you another secret: my hubby told me that the only way he would allow me to keep buying books was if I started to get rid of some.  Could I part with some?  Give away some?  Throw them out?  Sell them?  And so, God opened the door for me to be involved with Maple Tree Publications.  Now, my husband blesses me in all the book buying that I do because he knows that I am buying all these sweet treats for my friends – usually.  There are still a few treasured tomes that are allowed past the bookstore shelves and onto our personal library shelves.  But I do have to be careful with what I buy as I am apt to find more gems than I can store. 

So how do you deal with this problem of so many good reads, so little space?  I know that many of my home schooling friends are bibliophiles like me.  So let me share with you the Dean family’s book ownership manifesto:

First of all, when I realize that every book, even good books, if they aren’t e-reads take up space.  And if they are going to take up space, they are going to displace something else that could take up that space.  I often have to ask myself, have I got balance in my home or is this little world that I live in overly stuffed with the written word.  Do I have room (literally and figuratively) for other great things like personal space, the great outdoors, toys and games for the kids and space to love and entertain people.  And those areas that I do devote to my book collection, am I prepared to dust and tidy and maintain those areas ongoingly?  Just like budgeting time or money, I need to wisely budget my limited space and bridle my love of books accordingly. 

Now that I have carved out that little bit of space, I need to remember that it isn’t going to get any bigger without an expensive move or renovation or a reshuffling once again of home space priorities.  So it is at this point that I need to set some high standards for which precious tomes can stay and which must go.  Here are four questions that we ask when assessing whether a book should be invited to live out its life in our home:

·        Is it something that the library won’t store for me?  We have had to say goodbye to some wonderful literary works, classics and other beautiful stories that we were confident would be found at our local library.  As taxpayers, we can be content to store some of our favourite books in that municipal storage facility that we regularly pay fees to (by way of those ample property taxes): the library.  After all, ask yourself, even though Treasure Island is a really riveting story, how often will I be reading it?  It will likely gather dust for years before I reread it or someone else in the house wants or needs to read it. 

The library, however, might not carry a set of Christian novels that are popular at church but not in the general community.  Don’t stop at just looking to the library as a storehouse for good books.  Perhaps you will find these great books somewhere else and still don’t need to keep your own copy.  Many thousands of great books are available free online as e-texts or as audio books.  While we’ve been using e-resources for more than 10 years now, sites like Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) and Libriviox (www.librivox.org) are now practically household names in light of the common use of e-readers and mp3 players.   

 

Places to “Store” Good Books

*The library

*www.gutenburg.org – free online e-books in the public domain
*www.librivox.org – free online audiobooks in the public domain
*www.mainlesson.com – The Baldwin Project provides free electronic copies of classic children’s literature

*The church library

*Your friends’ houses

*Family’s houses

*Book exchanges like

*The second hand store (if you found it there then send it back as soon as you are done and bless both the second hand store and the next reader)

 

·        Do I need to use it constantly?  There are a few reasons that you might want to keep a book that would otherwise be found at the library.  Take, for example, books that you will be reading or using over a long period of time or which you will use for several years with different students in your home school.  Text books and reference books fall into this category as well.  You can’t be running to the library every time that you need an atlas or dictionary and hard copies can’t always be replaced by the computer and good websites. 

·         Is it hard to find in print?  This is the case with much good Christian literature – like good Christian fiction or classic works of theology and thought – as well as reference books: concordances and Bible dictionaries.  There are also books that are beautiful or useful or out of print: perhaps your Grandmother’s Bible that she wrote in.

·         Is it such a good book that I want to keep it in my lending library?  There are some books that are just so influential or striking that you really should share them with others.  These books are worth keeping just to reread and to lend out to others.  Beware of falling in love with too many good reads though.  I have to constantly look back and evaluate whether I still want to keep one spectacular book or another for my lending library.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to bless a friend with the book permanently so that they can be in charge of lending it out from here on.  Then they can also be the ones who are trying to remember to whom the book was last leant out.

Well, Friends, as you prepare to go to a conference and do some shopping or as you search around online looking for the best deals, I want you to know that while there are literally thousands of books that I would like to share with you, I have chosen, for now, only to carry books that fit the above criteria.  If there is something that you need that I don’t carry then, by all means, ask me and I will see if I can get it in, but for now – with a limit to the size of my bookstore shelves and to the depths of my bookstore pockets, I hope that I can help to meet your needs with my little collection and as economically as possible. 

Looking forward to meeting you “Under the Maple Tree” either virtually or at a book sale or conference over the next couple of months.  Until then, I hope that you too can find a quiet place for a bit of reading time just as I hope to in my little retreat “Under the Maple Tree”.

Peace,

Cori

www.mapletreepublications.ca


– with excepts from Working Together by Cori Dean copyright 2011.

A Messy Muddle and Up-Dates…

I was talking to a friend today – on the phone!  (Just talking on the phone while my kids are awake is something that I gave up on years ago but we had business to discuss so I squirreled myself away in my room during quiet time and hoped for the best.)  She mentioned how I didn’t really have a 9-5 job and I agreed.  My jobs as wife, mom, teacher, writer, and small business guru tend to mush together and overlap in so many messy muddled ways.  Perhaps you can relate?  Just finding time to do work on only one job at a time is often hard.  It’s also hard to find moments of still and quiet while the family is awake.

I love my moments of contemplation and sharing when I get to chatter with you all here Under the Maple Tree but I know they have been few and far between lately.  I’ve missed it but I have also so enjoyed bringing Come Sit by Me back to life for you all.  While it was still looking great on the outside, it sure does look amazing with a face lift.  More than that, there were issues behind the scenes that needed a little TLC.  I didn’t realize that when a book gets to be nearly 15 years old, it is possible for the old file digital technology to fail to keep up with new computing.  We weren’t able to continue to print with the files that were available.  Come Sit by Me needed to be rebuilt on a new platform.  I am so glad that now, at the end of the process, we are still able to provide the Canadian Homeschool community with this spectacular resource.  I am also glad to have a few moments to share with you what is coming up in this little place.

First of all, it’s conference season – so let the visiting begin.  This is the season when I get to come out from my little corner and see so many of you at conferences and sales.  Kitchener’s KWCHEA Homeschool Conference was spectacular as usual.  Smile-per-dollar it is a great conference to go to because there is so much packed into one day! 

Now, I am quickly packing up the last of my supplies so that I can pull out for Ottawa in the morning…  And in two weeks: Kelowna!  So many events to look forward to!

And so many other yummy ideas that I wanted to share with you, but for now I think I will simply let you know about what is coming up so that if I find myself in your neck of the woods, that you might come and say hello if our paths cross. 

This Spring’s Conferences, Sales and Events where you will find Maple Tree:

April 4th Charlotte Mason Meeting

April 6th – KWCEA Conference, Kitchener

Workshops:
            Homeschooling for “Newbies”
            Working Together

April 13thRVHEA Conference, Ottawa

April 26th & 27th BCCHEC Conference, Kelowna, BC

Workshops:

Day by Day and Side By Side

          Enjoying Math?
          Single Income Living in a Double Income World
          In Search of the Secret: The Practical Roadto Contentment

May 3rd & 4th OCHEC Conference, Hamilton

May 9thCharlotte Mason Meeting, Bradford

May 25thParent’s Guide Conference, Barrie

June 1stToronto New and Used Homeschool Book Sale

June 13th Charlotte Mason Meeting, Bradford

June 14th TEACH New and Used Curriculum Sale, Brantford,

July? – Newby Meeting, Bradford

August ? – Newby Meeting, Bradford

Also, check out the new website!  It is, as always, a work in progress but we hope that our new look will again be more user friendly and easier to update.  If there books that you would like to see that we don’t carry, let me know.  Often I am able to order them in but just don’t carry them all the time.  Also, if I you have an order that you want to place and might be seeing me at an upcoming conference then let me know.  I can bring your books and save you the shipping!

Whether I see you at this weekend’s Ottawa conference or not, have a great weekend!

Cori


www.mapletreepublications.ca

A New “Come Sit By Me”!

It’s been a while since I wrote to you all last and this is why!  I have been busily at work on some exciting new developments here Under the Maple Tree.  Take a look at the preface to the newly revised edition of Come Sit by Me:
 
_________________________
 
It was over ten years ago that I found myself, for the first time, in the living room at Cyndy Regeling’s house for a “Newby Meeting” as my hubby and I were just beginning to consider educational options for our then three year old and soon to be newborn.  Mark and I really hadn’t considered homeschooling but I had a few friends that were looking into it and so I decided to join them for a fun evening out.  I’m sure that if I had known then what an incredible world homeschooling and Maple Tree would open to my family and to me, I would not have believed it.

That evening we had a cozy visit with yummy treats, hot tea and great conversation and it wasn’t until weeks later that I found out that I had been in the home of a nationally loved and respected author and educator.  Cyndy is a humble woman but so gifted to have produced resources that have become something of a household name among Canadian homeschoolers.

I guess you can imagine that, in time, we did decide that homeschooling was the right route for our family and when we finally make that leap, Come Sit by Me was a natural first learning tool for our little ones.  After all, what child doesn’t love a good picture book and this teacher-mama’s heart was certainly pleased with the caliber of the books selected and absolutely delighted that they were all products of “the True North strong and free”.  We knew that, for our family, we didn’t just want Christian content but we were looking for materials which were built on a worldview that was foundationally biblical and Come Sit by Me also fit the bill here.  Add to these the fact that we had just gone into full-time ministry, and therefore had severely restricted our pocket book, the general availability of the books at our small local library was impressive.  I didn’t have to make a large investment.  Smiles-per-dollar, Cyndy’s curriculum was a great deal compared to other boxed curriculums which were likely also of spectacular quality but out of our price range.  What a treat to know that home educating my children didn’t need to cost an arm and a leg but that armed with a few good books we could learn so much together.  Finally, feeling like a fish out of water, Come Sit by Me was a gentle introduction to being both the teacher and the mama at the same time.  The curriculum was thorough and yet very simple. 

            Well, over the years, several young ladies at the exclusive all-girls’ school that we call home have begun their learning with Come Sit by Me and, in the meantime, I had the privilege of working alongside Cyndy here and there, doing a bit of editing and chattering over writing ideas and outlines.  So it seemed a natural transition, in 2008, when Cyndy’s boys had finished their homeschooling journey and she had taken on a teaching position in a local Christian school, for me to take over Maple Tree Publications.  Cyndy’s books remained popular but she just couldn’t keep up with the demand.  It was a perfect fit as I had books and articles that were bubbling up, wanting to be printed, and had already begun to be involved in speaking to groups of homeschoolers and to lead workshops.  Maple Tree was a perfect fit for our little family, allowing me to make a few pennies to cover the costs of piano lessons and the occasional field trip while still being with my children fulltime.

            I have loved every aspect of being involved with Maple Tree as I have been able to interact with customers, to deal with the printing and publishing end and to travel across the country speaking at homeschool conferences and in local support groups.  In the wee hours of the night I even have fun writing books, articles and blog posts.  All in all, what I love the best is getting to know people coast to coast and hearing your stories, why you’ve chosen the educational route that you have, what makes your family unique and what you love to do together.

            Consistently, over the years, the people I run into have shouted their praises for Cyndy’s books and for Come Sit by Me in particular.  So many of you feel the way that I do!  It was with this in mind that I embarked on the task of updating and improving this resource so that it can be enjoyed all the more by the next generation of homeschoolers. 

 

So What’s New?

            You may be saying, “I know the old Come Sit by Me.  It’s great!  What needed changing?”  Well, not much, but lots.  Not much because the books that were covered in the unit studies are no less great now than they were when they were chosen years ago and the unit study format remains a fun, popular and effective way to start out schooling your young ones.  The general layout hasn’t changed but here is what is new:

  • 6 new book studies.  It has always been our goal at Maple Tree to make sure that the books that you are looking for to do these unit studies are accessible.  With the advent of the digital age and so many websites that sell both new and used books, as well as the widespread availability of interlibrary loan, even books that are out of print are often quite close to your fingertips.  Even so, we did replace a few books to make sure that the books that are studied are the most available. 
  • Dozens of new activities.  Besides the new activities that accompany the new books studies, you will find lots of other updated, freshened and added activities.  You’ll even find that a few books that weren’t previously available and now are in print again have returned with new activities.
  • Expended additional reading lists.  Let’s face it, I could write a book of good books alone so this is still a very limited list.  I couldn’t resist, however, a few additions – especially some scrumptious Canadian offerings.
  • New photography and graphics.  With all of this new material came the need for a new look.  Everyone likes a new outfit every so often and Come Sit by Me wanted to celebrate its new look with a new jacket and some bling on the inside too.  Crystal Hounsome, at Crystal Xpressions Photography (www.crystalxpressions.com) was the creative genius behind the new look and style.  She would love to hear your kudos.  Stop on by her site and show her some love. 
  • Updated Bible verses.  Come Sit by Me has always used the New International Version for Bible verse quotations and now both the NIV and Come Sit by Me  have been updated so we made sure that wording will match your newer copy of the NIV Bible (copyright 2011).  If you find the wording of some verses slightly different than your NIV Bible at home then the difference is probably due to a different copyright date.  As always, you are welcome to use whichever version of the Bible your family chooses to study.  
  • Updated charts and planners.  You asked me to make them better and I’ve taken your suggestions.
  • Lots of little tweaks and fixes that you suggested.  Let’s face it, everyone makes mistakes and some of you have graciously shared your time and energy in making those fixes that will make Come Sit by Me even better.  Thanks to many independent editors, parents, friends and Maple Tree fans for proof reading over and over.  I’m sure you will still find typos and errors here and there and I appreciate your help in tracking them down.  If you find an error in the text then please send me a note and, as your prize, I will send you a list of the corrections that we have accrued to date.  If you have a contribution to make to this prize please email me at mapletreepublications@sympatico.ca.  I am always glad to hear from you. 

 

I certainly hope that you enjoy this new edition of Canada’s classic homeschool curriculum for your younger children and more than that, I hope that you enjoy the activities and adventures that it helps you along with.  I look forward to hearing about some of your adventures.

 

Enjoy!

 

Cori
 
P.S. – In the next day or two you should be able to check out the new cover under “Product Catalogue” on our website at www.mapletreepublications.ca!

Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Chapter Three: Science

From December 6, 2012

Friends,

Once again, Jacki has blessed us with her organizational talents and shared her notes on our discussion and observations from our Charlotte Mason meeting.  If you are new to our little spot here “Under the Maple Tree” then, please join our little group.  You will find details here about this actual and virtual support group and our previous notes on the blog site under the tag “Mother Culture”.  In short, we meet as a small support group to learn from one another and a good book as well as to encourage and spur one another on in this crazy homeschooling life.  This year our book of choice is A Biblical Home Education by Dr. Ruth Beechick.  If you are interested in joining us even if only virtually, then the book is available through Maple Tree.  Contact me, Cori, for ordering information.

If you are following our little group online or if you missed the meeting in person or if you were here and wanted to look over the ideas and resources that we discussed then please enjoy the notes below with thanks again to the talented Jacki Young.  There are so many great ideas, information and suggestions here that you might want to check back here for a reference here and there.
 
Blessings,
Cori

 ___________
 Chapter 3 – Science to Match the Bible

(p.41) Ruth Beechick states that homeschooling parents seem to “fear science more than any other subject”  (Do you really think that that is the case?)
o As homeschooling parents, we don’t always remember learning the materials we are now teaching. It is difficult to teach materials that we aren’t familiar with
o Many “traditional” teachers don’t invite students to ask questions. Beechick advises that priority should be given to having students ask questions and seek answers. “If you spend more time on space and less time on insects, it is fine as long as children are learning to ask questions and seek answers” (p. 52)
o Many science students and in fact, science professionals, have to hide their creationist stance or risk losing the respect of friends or colleagues
o Good resources like Apologia help to manage the fear of teaching science

(p.55) “Some `readers’ may not enjoy what we call hands-on science activities. Other students may seem more balanced between learning from reading and learning from activities.” How do we know that our “readers” understand the scientific concepts they are reading about?
o Discussion shows understanding of concepts
o Narrating shows understanding of concepts
o Jonathan Park CDs have been shown to teach concepts well

Should we focus on doing dissections with our children as part of learning science?
o Can buy “shrink wrapped” creatures for dissection
o Can easily obtain creatures in our “own backyard” eg. Cori’s dead fish anatomy lesson 😉 (We were camping and found a “science lesson” on the beach.)
o Can extract skeleton of creature by burying near an anthill to speed up decomposition.  That sounds like a science lesson in itself!)
o Can euthanize creatures humanely with baking soda and vinegar.  This is what snake owners often to with rodents that they keep to feed to their pets.
o Some households not comfortable bringing in “dead bodies” due to sanitary concerns or because “life is precious”.  This is reasonable.  Charlotte Mason didn’t see the need for school children to do dissections needlessly.

Some resources for teaching science in primary grades
o Usborne early science books – series of 4-5 books on plants, fish, etc.
o Burgess Bird Book for Children
o Pagoo by Holling C. Holling and other Holling C.Holling books
o Christian Liberty Nature Readers – beginning reader for science topics
o “Apples, Bubbles & Crystals” teaches science as it goes through the alphabet.  This is a fun resource for young students.
o Field guides
o Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock
o “I Wonder Why” books
o DVDs
o Simple activities are helpful
§ Eg. Paint with lemon juice and put in the oven to make painting visible
§ Jance VanCleave book for simple science activities to be done from your kitchen

What is the difference between Babylonians and Sumerians? (p.45)

How did the calendar come to be?
o Calendar Quest by Jennifer Johnson Garrity

Other good resources recommended by HS Freebies website: www.homeschoolfreebie.com

How do I do science experiments at home?
o Apologia kits – don’t have to buy the kit to do the experiments
o For chemistry, some basic materials needed ie. Microscope, Bunsen burner
o If using Apologia check out www.donnayoung.org for schedules for completing the books

ApologiaGeneral Science curriculum

Red Wagon Tutorials – previous years on USB for $120 (Are there copyrights to consider here?)

Some important considerations to apply to home school science:
o Focus on teaching younger children what they’re interested in, and teaching middle & high school students what they need to know for their future plans
o Teach children to think for themselves & take responsibility for their own work
o Do science as a family group
o Talk together about what is learned so siblings have something in common and can learn from each other

(P. 58)”Science students can usually learn from any ol’ book”
o Are illustrations, colour and design wasted on “science minded” students?
o Science minded students will learn science regardless of the colour and design qualities

Nature Study

Project FeederWatch to learn about birds in your backyard. Submit data on birds visiting your backyard feeder to Cornell during the winter months
Country Diary of Edwardian Lady – a naturalist’s diary from 1906
Engage grandparents – you may be surprised how much knowledge and interest they have
Books by Susanna Moody & Catherine Parr Traillm (for older children and adults)
o Catherine Parr Traill’s “Backwoods of Canada” describes a naturalists experience emigrating from England to Canada
Local resources such as Eleanora’s Diary – journals of a Canadian pioneer girl
AGO
Great Canadian ArtPak by Cyndy Regeling
James Herriot – Childrens’ Treasury and other stories
Burgess Book series
Clare Walker Leslie’s “Keeping a Nature Journal” – suggests journaling topics through the seasons, sketching tips, and how to teach nature journaling

Notes


1) A couple resources to add to the last meeting’s topic of “History”:
o Series of accordion style history timelines @ Coles/Chapters/Indigo ie. “The Timechart History of the World”, “The Timechart History of Jewish Civilization”, etc.; very thorough and detailed ($19.99 each)
o Timeline of World History poster @ Creation.com incorporates Bible history and “secular”; gives high level look for reasonable price ($2 small, $6 large)
2) How to explain to “traditional schoolers” that our children always get an A? If the student hasn’t mastered a subject, we don’t move on!
3) Article on Finlandschools:  Why Are Finnish Kids So Smart?
Standardized testing has negative consequences on curriculum and teachers
Teaching in Finlandis prestigious career with good pay, high educational requirements (3 years masters) and high level of competition for jobs
Teachers focus on what’s best for students, not what will make them better than other students

Method to this Madness

I don’t usually take the time to blog during daylight hours,certainly not in the morning.  Morning is our time of concentrated learning.  We have a routine that we follow and this year we have really been enjoying our learning times in the morning.  This week is a bit more relaxed though and so I thought I would take a few minutes to write. 

This week has become a tradition in the Dean house: it’s “January Reno Week”.  Over the past few years our good daddy has booked a week off in January to be Mr. Fixit.  He usually takes the time to catch up on the “Honey Do” list and to focus on one area of the house that needs some special attention.  This year it is some much needed repairs to our basement bathroom, specifically a leaky shower.  Big job.

It’s nice that some of the girls are now old enough that they can be quite involved in the project and as such we have modified their school schedules for this week.  So, as I write, one daughter is downstairs helping with and learning about plumbing, another is writing a letter to Grandma, and another is making cookies to bring to Awana on Wednesday night.  The little one is creating her daily painted masterpiece.  Peaceful. 

As I enjoy this relaxed learning time I have been reflecting on our goals for the year.  You see, every year in the Dean home we make learning goals.  I have noticed over the past few years a divergence between our long term goals (about things like virtue, compassion, and work ethic) and our yearly short term goals (about things like math and spelling and science).  So this year we decided on four subjects that we thought would best integrate the short term and long term goals…

This year all of our learning is focused on these four topics: love for God, love for family, love for others, and love for learning.  So while writing to Grandma will fulfill the need for writing, spelling and grammar lessons, it is most importantly a means of loving others.  While painting is a wonderful creative thing for a preschooler to do, it is primarily a manifestation of the beauty that they Creator has instilled in the heart of a child.  We learn to love God by all that is beautiful in this world.  Learning plumbing is very useful life skill but is above all a method of being able to love and care for our family.

So, while not all days have this relaxed pace, and while it’s not all roses, (We have had the chance to learn about reacting with grace when our beads spill all over the floor this morning!) we are enjoying the day to day method to this madness.  It reminds me of what I have been reading in Charlotte Mason’s books lately…
“Method implies two things – a way to an end, and step-by-step progress in that way.  Further, the following of a method implies an idea, a mental image, of the end or object to be arrived at.  What do you propose that education shall effect in and for your child?  Again, method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all-pervading, all-compelling.  Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end; but with no more tiresome mechanism that the sun employs when it makes the winds to blow and the waters to flow only by shining.” (Home Education, p. 8)

Friends, what do you purpose that education shall effect in and for your child?  I hope that as you search out your purpose in education that you will find it as natural to learn together as a family as it is to enjoy the sun on your faces.  We continue to strive for this depth and this simplicity rolled into one.

Have a great week!

Cori


www.mapletreepublications.ca

32 Pairs of Socks

For Christmas my family tends to get practical things in their stockings as well as an orange and a candy or two.  Fairly predictable.  More often than not, this means that Christmas time is a time to restock on socks.  And, boy, did we need socks!  It seems that we are constantly rifling through the clean laundry looking for a pair of socks for the day.  How nice to feel like we are restocked and spoilt again in the New Year. 

But here is the catch, as I sat trying to catch up on the laundry this past week, reveling in how nice it is to be healthy again (after sharing all together in being dragged down by a horrible cold/flu virus all through the holidays), I realized that maybe I had erred in the sock purchases over the holidays.  You see, I sat for a quite moment – probably a good half hour – and sorted out half a dozen piles of “what belongs to who” and then proceeded to start the pairing…  I paired up Hubby’s socks and tucked them away, then I folded mine.  32 pairs of socks.  No, not his and mine.  I folded 32 pairs of my socks.  Really?  Do I really have 32 pairs of socks…. And that would also imply that it’s been a month since I last folded socks…  And that it will also likely be another month before I am sufficiently motivated to fold socks again.  Sigh!

How often is my life like this?  I invest time, or energy, space, or money in something that is meant to help or simplify life and yet makes no difference or a negative one.  I was thinking this when I considered other things in my little world too.  How often have we “needed” a new book or curriculum that only seemed to make us busier but not smarter?  How often have I stuck with an old activity while adding a new one on to our already busy schedule and hoped to be able to fit it all in? 

I know that New Years is a time for resolutions and reflections but I don’t tend to like to follow the crowd and don’t want to make these grand commitments to change just because everyone else is.  I do however want to continually be striving to be all that God created me – and my family – to be so New Years is as good a time as any to strengthen my resolve.      

So I am strengthening my resolve to strive for the purpose and simplicity that we set out for so long ago in our family life.  I want to constantly question why we do things and how we could do them better.  In our school this year, that has meant lightening some of our work load to be able to focus on other things.  Namely, we chose to take a break from reading and writing curriculums so that we could spend more time just reading and writing.  Sounds simple, I know, but it has been revolutionary.  The kids and I are so enjoying just reading a lot together.  It’s been fun to take the time to make cards, write letters, to teach them to blog and to write out their thoughts on the things that they are learning, to listen to a beautiful poem or Bible verse or saying and to set it aside for later to be copied and kept.

Now, as I try to jam my 32 pairs of socks into a too-small drawer, I am reflecting on other ways to keep it simple in areas that I tend to invite the complicated, ways to redeem wasted moments that could be used more wisely.  I think that one thing we will do is to read our Bible more, to simply enjoy it as literature with our other readings rather than parsing the meanings to death.  Teaching my children to view the world through a biblical lens can only be enhanced by reading the Bible more and discussing all of life in light of the living word of scripture.  It seems to me like a spectacular way to continue to “throw off everything that hinders” so that we can “run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” knowing that to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2) will only bring us closer to that ideal that we strive for.

Blessings, Friends, as you strive to be all that you were created to be in 2013!

Happy New Year,

Cori

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