It was one of those mornings here. I was frustrated, feeling inadequate. I set my alarm early to get the best start: to read my Bible and do a bit of planning and maybe even do a bit of exercise before the masses required my involvement. Suddenly though it was 9am, breakfast was still in the works, the kitchen a mess and the dining room table strewn with bits of oatmeal, a dry half of a sticky bagel and several school books, including my lesson planner! Who got into that? Well, my diligent older students had looked through the planner and were asking for work that I hadn’t prepared yet. My younger more playful kids were trying to figure out how to sneak out into the new snow before they had to attack their work without me noticing.
Do you ever feel like there’s so much to do that you don’t know where to start? That was my morning. In fact, I often feel that way.
Then a sweet friend texted. She reminded me to pace myself, that I wasn’t expected to get it all done before noon on Monday. I don’t expect that of the kids; I don’t expect it of anyone else. Why would I expect it of me? In fact, I get over excited about all that I want to get done so often and with so much more than just school assignments. I wish I had blogged more, I want to fix so many things on my website, I want my storage room to be at least passable, if not somewhat tidy. I have so many ideas about how I could better serve the Awana programme which I run at our church. Sigh.
But then, I remember that there are 25 hours in a day on Mars. If God wanted us to fit more into a day he would have made us Martians.
I am reminded that there are a few things that I do need to do a better job at fitting into my overcrowded schedule. I need to take the time to prioritize, to play, to pray.
God, in his infinite wisdom, ordained 24 hours for each day that I am alive. He wants me to spend those 24 wisely each day, to prioritize. I need to respect that limitation that He has placed on me and make sure that I am a good steward of that gift of time that I have been given. When I think of it that way, I realize that I have often misspent my time. Have I spent it on useless things, or on things that have eternal value? On running myself to exhaustion or on taking care of own body, getting the rest, rejuvenation, and nourishment that I need to be able to care for my family and others? On connecting to Him and His life-giving Word or on things that might be very good but aren’t necessarily the right things for me to pursue right now?
It’s often hard for me to stop and play. I know that I tend to be driven. I know that it is a common personality trait for us homeschooling moms. I get up in the morning with a long to do list and am not good at taking the time to stop and take in a new card trick or piano tune that one of my young performers wants to share. Why do I sigh and reluctantly sit for a game of Skipbo when the world isn’t going to end if the chores get put off a bit longer? If I put my time into perspective and start to pursue God’s priorities, I know that relationships are far more important that lessons checked off on a planner or chores completed to perfection. The moments that impact my family are the ones that draw us together, and play timeis a key part of that.
Finally, I need to pray more. I need to pray in the moment; I need to pray in private; I need to pray when I am perplexed or happy or upset. I need to take the time to quiet my heart so that I can wait on the Lord and learn His priorities so that I can pursue what He wants me to run after and have confidence in cutting out so many of the busying activities that only serve to pull me away from what I should be doing.
Friends, as we embark on another day, I wish you moments to play and to pray and the wisdom to seek His priorities for your days. I wish you peace that transcends the usual Monday morning rush.
It’s been a while since I got to spend some time in my virtual home here Under the Maple Tree. I have been rather absent this season, just like at this time last year, because I have been out in the real world more often seeing so many of your encouraging faces at homeschooling conferences and other events. It was such a busy time as I worked and spoke at more conferences than ever this year and had the opportunity to travel across the country to meet even more amazing parents who are walking this crazy homeschooling road with me. What a treat it has been.
Throughout this season, one small lesson has resonated with me. Perhaps it is because it takes so many repetitions to get through to such a thick head as mine or maybe it is just something that the Lord wanted me to learn. I think it’s a bit of both.
On our first family weekend camping trip of the year the weather was beautifully warm though the water at the beach was still quite chilly. The kids played the days away in the water while I just tiptoed in and out around the edges of the water when I got overheated, the water rippling around my shivering knees. It was a peaceful reprieve, watching the water moving out in tiny waves from the places where my toes displaced it.
You see, midway through the season, conference season (which used to be called spring in my world), my precious Nana died. It was sad. It was hard. But at the same time, we were relieved for her, hoping that she had finally found peace after a very long battle with Altzheimer’s disease. She had long since left us and it was only her body left that finally gave up. It was, of course a time of tears and of memories and of telling stories of old. I, being the talker in the family, again got to share a eulogy for a grandparent. I remembered her in her big moo-moo dresses, rubber boots, winter coat, slacks and straw hat in her garden growing more food than the whole family could eat. I remembered family celebrations with KFC, kielbasa and cabbage rolls because my uncle didn’t like turkey. After the funeral, when we came home that day it seemed the most fitting tribute to eat KFC and spend the rest of the day in the garden. Ripples. Her life cascading into my own.
Most recently we have cried many hours with friends as they have suffered loss, the results of many years of ripples rocking their boat, influencing them in ways that they weren’t aware of until they capsized.
Ripples. They have become a focal point even in the smaller events, seeing how our decisions affect our children’s decisions, their demeanor, their values. I’ve also noticed that so often we are affected by what is rippling out from someone else’s life, their ideas, their actions. So often I want to think that homeschooling my kids will allow them to come only under my influence but that is so often proven wrong, and often to their benefit. I don’t always make the right decisions, say the right things.
The lessons I have been learning this spring are of how powerfully we are influenced and how we also influence others in ways that we may not even imagine in this lifetime. It makes me afraid to dive into my roles, scared that I may unknowingly be the source of someone else’s undoing. I think, too, how often I suppose to speak with authority about something and really I am just flapping my gums, sharing an opinion that may or may not be founded.
As we formally wrap up another year of schooling I, as usual, am taking some time to look back and see where we have come from. I see that we have learned a lot, but have we learned the right things? I also look forward and anticipate. I know that the unknown future holds many waves that will rock my boat, waves that will rippleout and threaten the sunny happy days that I desire for my kids to live under. But rather than praying for a smooth ride, I am praying for a strong boat, for a firm foundation, and for waves that will propel them towards their Saviour rather than sink them in a mire of uncertainty.
Wishing you, Dear Friends, strength and perseverance as you ride out the waves that shake you in this season.
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
*www.mainlesson.com – The Baldwin Project provides free electronic copies of classic children’s literature
*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”.
– with excepts from Working Together by Cori Dean copyright 2011.
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
Homeschooling for “Newbies”
April 13th – RVHEA Conference, Ottawa
April 26th & 27th – BCCHEC Conference, Kelowna, BC
Day by Day and Side By Side
Single Income Living in a Double Income World
In Search of the Secret: The Practical Roadto Contentment
May 3rd & 4th – OCHEC Conference, Hamilton
May 9th –Charlotte Mason Meeting, Bradford
May 25th – Parent’s Guide Conference, Barrie
June 1st –Toronto 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!
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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!