After a week of being very out of the loop due to head injury + flu, it felt really good today to start getting back into normal routines. Sure, I didn’t do everything today I normally do, because my head still aches (a bit) and I'm still sniffly (a bit), but we did some homeschooling, and a lot of cleaning up, and the kids made masterpieces out of playdough and right now there is a double batch of corn-sausage chowder bubbling in the cast-iron Dutch oven on the stovetop. Yum. All is not right with the world, but it's getting closer.
I’ve been thinking a lot about books recently. I’ve been thinking about what I want to read next, now that the 15 books in 15 days challenge has convinced me that I really can be more ambitious about what I tackle. I now have de Tocqueville and Boethius downstairs, and I think I'll actually get through them. And I’ve been thinking about next year’s curriculum, because Bess is going into first grade, and we’re going to keep homeschooling.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether or not the real reason I was able to be convinced that homeschooling was the right fit for our family was because I knew if we homeschooled I’d have the excuse to acquire and read many, many more books. I am just a bit of a bibliophile. This past weekend was our library’s used book sale, and to my amazement, even though I got there three hours after it opened, they still had two whole tables full of kids’ books. I got a copy of Peter Spier’s Jonah and James Thurber’s Many Moons and several easy readers and a picture book copy of Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, along with many other wonderful things. And I have more wonderful things on the way from that online used book sale. (Thanks, Mom!)
And my husband’s been building bookshelves. A month or two ago he found a great deal on a saw he wanted, and I opined that getting a new saw was a fine thing if that saw meant that I could get new bookshelves. I mean, a new saw should equal that new saw getting used, right? Adam thought that made sense, and he got his saw. And now, he has used that saw to make me some new bookshelves. The odd, unusable spaces in the corners of our home are now filled with books, and we both think it makes it look more like our own home than it ever has before.
He made a narrow little shelf that fits between the loveseat and the corner cupboard. He made a wide shelf that fits between the other side of the corner cupboard and the sofa. There’s now a tall shelf dwarfing our television set and now all our children’s chapter books are on it instead of taking up space on the giant bookshelf upstairs where the grownup’s books are supposed to reign. Ah. The giant bookshelf upstairs looks much neater now that it's a bit emptier, but I don't imagine it'll stay that way long. And – wonder of wonders! – Adam also made a shelf to replace the dingy, falling-apart, particle-board monstrosity that was holding our homeschooling curricula. The new shelf fits in the same space, but it’s bigger and sturdier, and the shelves are more sensibly spaced.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about books. I’ve been thinking about my books too, the ones I’m writing. I found out this weekend that I didn’t final in the latest contest I entered, but I’m finding that I’m okay with that, especially as I can already find in the manuscript I sent in at least two things any competent judge would mark me down for. I’m waiting to get my critiques back. If they marked me down for the same mistakes I can see myself, I think I’ll actually be encouraged, because it’ll mean I’m on the right track in learning to see my own weaknesses. And learning to see my weaknesses is a great step in learning to fix them.
And I’m wondering how much I’m going to learn about writing as I start teaching my children how to write, and how much I’m going to learn about story-telling as I read all these good books to them. I do think homeschooling, at least right now, is the best educational path my kids can take. But it’s also beginning to look awfully self-serving. It’s really a second education for me.
Peace of Christ to you,