An Irish Heritage

An Irish Heritage
One of our resources for Morning Meeting this year is this book: Then Sings My Soul

It is lovely and has far exceeded my expectations.
I chose this resource- for several reasons.
1.) I want to share the great hymns of faith with my children
2.) I want to learn more of the story “behind” the hymn
3.) I am eager to learn new hymns
4.) I want to share my personal and meaningful favorites in a special way

I chose Be Thou My Vision as our first hymn. I chose this hymn for my wedding as well.
And, thanks to our video, I have the treasured memory of it wafting through the Lehigh Chapel-
sung by precious, precious Christian friends from college… right before the processional began.
This hymn spoke my heart then. It speaks my heart now. I remember- so keenly- how meaningful this hymn was to me- in that season of my life- right on the threshold of marriage. I remember myself- my heart for Jesus and life in Him… the passion that flamed so bright- now seasoned by so much more life experiences…

As I opened our book and prepared to share the devotional story about this hymn- my eyes misted hard with tears and I surely found it hard to make it through the reading and then the singing!

I loved this hymn. I love it now. I did not know the beautiful Irish story of its conception or the heritage it speaks of. This beloved hymn was set to an old Irish folk tune. It is literally- ancient Irish heritage.
This year, I have pondered Irish Heritage- as one of my brothers got married and another is on the cusp. Somehow- Irish blessings and acknowledging of that shared history is a special component. They were for the one just married- and they will be for the one yet to be. And… even my own day of grace… that heritage was there! I was touched deeply to see that this hymn which I have long loved honors this heritage in a special way.

It was a privilege and a blessing to share this with my children. To learn of the heroic Patrick and his heart for Ireland. Over the last year or so- we have learned more of Patrick and this book just served to strengthen that knowledge.

This resource is definitely a God-honoring choice and one which brings special grace to our day. I found it amazing that one of my beloved hymns was a testimony to my Irish roots.

I also challenge myself to search my heart and say again,

“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my life, Naught be all else to me save that Thou art, Thou and Thou only- First in my heart. High King of Heaven- my treasure Thou art Riches, I heed not- nor man’s empty praise…”

Here is a blog post from another writer that captures an essence I am trying to share. The essence of why I misted hard with Spirit-grace at first glance…For further reading…

On Children and Writing

On Children and Writing

I am purposing to raise writers.
Not the great poet of all time or the creator of a classic novel.
No. But children who fear not the written word, the blank white page, and who are
Equipped to wield the sword of language at their command, with their own power,
And give voice to their own fresh thoughts and ideas.

What I am about to share is my philosophy on how. Now- the endeavor is only just begun. In ten years or so- we will see the fruit of this approach, desire, path, and plan. And see, indeed, if I have managed to raise writers. Each in their own unique way. Each with their own expression.

But each equipped. Equipped with the power to communicate with written language. For the word is a sword. And to wield it properly- one needs training. Yet it is not aggressive combat training- but rather- special cultivating. A drawing out of the voice that dwells within and giving confidence and strength when faced with the blank page. And mastery. A mastery of words and ideas.

This is an extension of Charlotte Mason and her great educational counsel toward the place of narration in a child’s schooling. Oral narration which then becomes written narration- which, ultimately, is composition… told in the child’s “very own voice.”

I want my children equipped to communicate.

How am I doing this?

Literature. Lots and lots of excellent and quality literature. Audio books if they are bent in that way (not all are…) but even so- audio books in the car and audio books around the table… filling our minds and hearts and thoughts with beautiful language. A rich store of language, pictures, and ideas. Stories. Story-formed hearts. From the time they are wee high with no words of their own… til forever. From the littlest picture books…til we meet the great masters. Literature.

Never. Never encourage or support any idea that any kind of writing is “hard.” Being careful not to bend young plants with too much… strengthening slowly. Requiring writing from first grade on( even K- in learning letter formation)… just a little but gradually building upon the little each year. Every year. Until it is second nature.
But the expectation is always there. Write we will. Write you will. Write you must. It is just part of what we do. It is not too hard. Now- my third student is a lefty and the fine motor skills are hard. But he will learn to type eventually- and then type he will! If the writing is actually physically too hard. But I will strengthen him slowly and I will strengthen him daily- and even now- I point out what his two year ahead brother is doing… and he is on the slow and steady path to get him there. But I require it. Period. I never allow any negative attitudes to flourish. I take dictation on favorite books and place them in their portfolio binders. I write their words for them as they grow to write for themselves.

Praise. Praise hard all attempts at any creative and personal writing that dare to show me. (This is not school writing). Never criticizing any mechanical error. Trusting that they have been exposed to such quality literature- their comprehension soars far beyond their mechanical skill. Trusting that their mechanical skill will begin to mesh with their mind’s ability as we continue faithfully with our grade- level Language Arts materials. This I have begun to see with my oldest as his mechanical writing ability is catching up with his vibrant mind. It is amazing how far his writing has come. I trust. I am not shocked with the spelling errors and the grammar errors. I know the thinking process that is occurring in this free writing is a creative process and very different from a skill process.
Just as a baby understands so much more than he can verbalize… so they can express so much more than they have the ability to perfectly write.

Follow the same advice I was given all through my upper level school writing life. Write first. Edit later. The important priority is the “birth of the idea.” This is no different for my young vibrant-minded child than for me- as a college student. Get the idea out… then we can go back and work on the mechanical details.

Choose a solid grammar program and spelling program and work through it gently and faithfully- together.

Practice dictation of excellent literature. This is a daily exercise starting in third grade.

Teach children to narrate Charlotte Mason style and narrate Well-Trained Mind style. To do this: I use Writing with Ease and the Reading Notebook. The Reading Notebook is my term for taking narration on the books they are using for the reading component of their school year. They are required to narrate a vivid or special scene with detail from the book. They are also required to narrate a summary about the book’s total content. In fifth grade- they write this themselves.

Daily copywork with illustration starting in first grade.

I have a matter-of-fact expectation about writing and I require it in our school. I never, never let on that writing is drudgery or hard. It is just something we do. I choose resources that make it enjoyable. And I keep it low pressure.

We are still at the starting gate. We are at the cusp of all the varied writing that comes with middle school and high school work. So… when I pass that finish line… I will report again. But for now- I am happily, happily cultivating joy and language skills through being a print-rich home. With a teacher who loves the written word. We love it together. We are in it together. Their fresh minds catch words and ideas and then birth them in their own precious expressions. It is this I wish to keep and guard and nurture.

What I am using for writing:
Copy work and cursive copy work (3-5th grade)
Writing With Ease
Spelling Wisdom
Building Spelling Skills
6th grade and up will keep a CommonPlace book- as more and more writing is required across all subjects.
5th grade and up- begin with creative writing instruction
Rod and Staff Grammar
Wordly Wise (the word is a sword)

Endless Gifts

holy experience

Mondays are always the hardest. Always.

They have been for years.
And still… still
I haven’t figured out quite
I need to do in order to smooth out their rough edges, oil their creaking wheels,
Calm their ever, ever- so billowing sails…
I have just- hung on, pressed through, gutted it out,
Mondays have found me with that
Wild look in my eye,
Hair standing on end,
House topsy turvy turmoil
On the bed.

Today- was a better one… Truly.

And then-
Swirling round my head I realized- I want to join the Gratitude Community.
In my own small way, on my own small blog.

I can’t help but laugh- you see- I really didn’t know. I didn’t know. The Gratitude Community- it falls on MONDAY.
Called Multitude Monday, in fact.
Called 1000 Gifts: The Grace Bouquet

What better way, to redeem my Monday, redeem it ever on-
Through His Endless Gifts…

Without further ado-

1.) Four students gathered round the table, each working in their own level of copywork and the older ones giving sage advice to the younger ones, and the younger ones looking wide-eyed and large at the future of their work…
2.) Little One singing: O, He is so wonderful, and I love Him, O He is so wonderful and I love Him because He first loved me… at the top of his young voice all alone, in his crib
3.) Golden butterflies sipping daintily on our purple flowered butterfly bush
4.) Chicken Enchiladas and a happy husband
5.) Little Girl Queen of the Amazing Jumping Jacks
6.) Bananagrams and we just can’t help ourselves- so we play again and again and again
7.) Little One on lap; quietly working sticker book, while Little Girl hustles close and works hers, too
8.) Better yet, Little One on one side, Little Boy on the other, Little Girl hustled next, and we all work sticker books together
9.) Tall Son intelligently and accurately explaining Treasure Island to me… just at the part I got totally lost…
10.) A clean shaven lawn and mountain drive
11.) Water that works from the faucet
12.) Perfect Hard boiled eggs
13.) Two chicken roasters perfect fit in my extra large crockpot
14.) Soy Sour Cream
15.) Bigelow Cinnamon Black Tea with a dash of French Vanilla Silk Creamer
16.) Pizza and Popcorn and a wild game of Pooh Stamp-It while Little One intercepts every move
17.) Little Girl in Sweet Long Dresses…flowered blue and green this Sunday
18.) Children who cry, “More, More, More…” when I stop our read aloud
19.) Thoughts of Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and treasured traditions; and mouth waters… we’ll have Turkey again this year…a big roaster turkey scenting the house with wonder
20.) Afternoon nap cuddled under while rain pours down

Chicken Enchiladas (Dairy Free)

Chicken Enchiladas

I onion
2-3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
4 cups cooked chicken (at least)
2 TB taco seasoning
I can green chilis
1 container Better Than Sour Cream (divided ¾ to ¼)
¼ cup Rice Dream or Soy Dream
Large Tortillas
Cook onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and almost clear, but not browned.
Add chicken, ¾ container sour cream,green chilis, 2 TB seasoning, Rice Dream, and mix.
Fill Tortillas with chicken filling and layer in casserole dish. Spread remaining sour cream
Over the top of tortillas. Top with salsa as desired.
Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes (depending on how crunchy you desire meal to be.)
TA-DA! Borger Family Favorite.

What’s On My Mind

What’s On My Mind

That I am really glad to have water again- and I just wish it was clean enough to drink. Soon.
That my feet finally fit into my white sandals this morning for church. It felt good.
That I really want to start the Gratitude Journal on this blog that is led by Holy Experience.
That we have an amazing, new Borger family favorite dinner:Chicken Enchiladas and it has been a long time since I wowed my husband so well with a meal.
That I wish, wish, wish I could somehow find time to keep writing Dragons of the Heart: A Tale of Virtue for Young Men
And get my preschool literature lists in decent, printable order.
That booklists are my favorite and I can’t help myself continually researching.
That I want whole books to be the mind food of our school and family.
That I want to raise thinking children, who can engage richly with ideas and words, and defend their faith.
That I really, really want Todd to read Lord of the Rings and share in that experience with me.
That it really makes a difference in my school day when I stay up at 6:30 a.m. rather than sleeping longer.
That I am looking forward to a full and productive week of school. Our choices are good and we are happy.
That I want to treasure each day with my children- even though sometimes they send me “over the edge” because the days are fleeting
And we only have this moment.
That everyday- they know I love, I live for God in my family relationships, and I live for God by doing my duty joyfully.
That we have ridden the rocky rapids of June, July, and August (even some of May) and I am hoping for a cozy and productive Autumn.
I hope.
That the seeds of change are floating on the air; the new season is nigh-
Even though it is still just as hot and humid as ever… somehow I reckon- autumn.
That Sunday dinners are the best and family game nights are fun, fun, fun.
That I have a two year old who pretends to be a puppy dog- complete with sound effects and actions.
And then he says, ”I- a puppy.”
That today, at church, someone said, he’s not a baby anymore. You don’t have a baby anymore. How long has it been since then you haven’t had a little baby in your arms? And I had to say,
“Ten years.” Ten years. Has it really been that long? This two year old gives me a run for my money and I feel like a rookie all over again
And yet- he’s my baby. Baby. I still have a baby. ‘Course I do…
That the “African Savannah” is no longer off limits- cause the Copperhead really WASN’T in the pumphouse right up our hill- but INSTEAD
Is in the pump house down the bottom of the road.
That wild, mountain living has its downfalls and I have been through more LIFE experience than I knew I needed.
That the thought of our upcoming PA trip has my stomach in knots- especially as I ponder traveling with Joshua. He does not travel well. He does not.
That EVERY DAY, every day- and some days especially, I rejoice in eggs, eggs, and eggs,
And happy am I that I can throw chicken in the crockpot and create
Meal after meal after meal. I love it and I thank God, thank God for it. Praise Him.
That a treenut fail is no big deal. Who needs walnuts anyway? Especially when you have eggs, and chicken, and peanuts, and soy, and beef, …
We’ve come a long way, baby.
That I want to create an atmosphere of grace, love, peace, and joy in our home and I want every child to know it.
That my little ones need me, and I need to stop what I am doing, and meet those needs.
That even though it is late and quiet and I want to stay awake and enjoy
This still silence-
I must sleep
To this week
Finding Him
The still small moments.

When words closed in tight

Sometimes hearts are quiet
Closed tight.
I can see
When I close
Images of
This and that.
Nothing flowing lucidly together.
Just one cock-eyed image after another.
Harried mom
Schooling away
In a
Houseful of
Somewhat non-compliant
Holding the clear liquid of the
To the lamp light-
Ascertaining all is well and non-expired
In preparation for a food challenge
Little boys fighting over who sits first on my lap
And the
Two year old
Is Louder.
Late night light shining for sleep eludes
Anxiety claws
The belly.

Crunched on the couch all together with six.
Surrounded in story. My favorite.
One child actually seems to be sitting on my head.

Unleash, unleash
Peace anoint