One Bite at a Time – Adjusting a Classic Saying

For years I have used the old saying,

“How do you eat and elephant – one bite at a time.”

Recently I realized something was missing. In light of the disposable nature of a commercial world and the addiction of instant gratification, I feel the old saying needs to be adjusted.

So how do you eat and elephant?

One bite at a time, day after day, until the task is complete. 

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Daily Fiber… Addiction of a Healthy Kind

A discussion on the addictive nature of working with fiber, particularly in the spinning of fiber into yarn, led to the following observation on my part.

Addiction is the only way to truly describe it. It starts with an enabler, “Just give it a try. It won’t hurt. You will like it.” Then moves to where we are looking for suppliers, and then if allowable, we begin to process our own from start to finish. Yes, certainly an addiction.

There really is something wonderfully addictive about working with fiber, wool in particular. When the process begins with a fleece fresh from the sheep and ends with a sweater, one can’t help but feel connected not just to the world we live in today, but the world of yesterday. The feelings generated are hard to describe, but they are so rich and nuanced that indeed we beg for more.

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Roller Coasters Rather Than Rockets

Well-balanced young people, especially those who are venturing into the world of adulthood away from home, tend to ride roller coasters rather than rockets. While this is extremely stressful, for them and for their families, it is actually a much better mode of transportation than rockets. Sometimes it may feel like the roller coaster simply goes in an unending loop, but unlike the rocket, the roller coaster remains on a sure track. Rockets on the other hand shoot off into space and seldom land gently back to earth. The chance of crashing or burning up on reentry is much greater than the chance of roller coaster derailment.

As a parent who chose to homeschool her children, I have faced more opposition than support in my decision. With the public or private school options there is no guarantee that the children will succeed, but there is a greater notion that utter failure will be less the parents fault than the systems fault. With homeschooling, from day one, there is the fear (more often the public’s not the parent’s) that the children will be socially inept, and the blame will rest solely on the parents. Homeschooling takes years and therefore the parents live with this worry for a long time; a worry that accompanies the worry that all parents share, the worry of a child rocketing wildly through life only to crash and burn on landing.

My kids are now off on roller coasters of their own choosing. Some days are filled with thrill and excitement, other days make them queasy. Failure and success now rest on their shoulders and their choices. They have already recognized that mom taught them well, and they know that they must now build on the foundations learned at home. Their roller coasters of life take them up and down on an undulating path, sometimes fairly extreme in its course. Over time, their course may smooth out and be less extreme, but maybe it won’t. Only time will tell. In either case as long as they do not derail, they will not crash and burn.

As for me, I am finding the job of mom different these days but strangely familiar. While the work is never done, the 24-7 routine is no more. I can’t track their every move, success, or failure. I can’t share every joy or pain. Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it doesn’t feel so much so. Yet, early this morning something dawned on me – I succeeded. I ran the race, did the time, and persevered to the end; not to the end of their roller coaster ride, only to the end of my homeschooling ride. The questions, well-meaning concerns, and downright rude comments from friends and strangers about socialization have stopped! Why? Because like any other human, my children must now blend or standout among the human mass of diversity we call society. The skills they learned outside the classroom, as they mingled with people of all ages, are helping them find their way. Amazingly, they are finding that they have less bad habits than their contemporaries, and I am not speaking of the bad habits like drugs, etc. I am speaking of the habits learned in the classroom: regurgitating rather than thinking, seeking the grade rather than the knowledge, and working the system rather than the task. Added to these habits are the learned anxieties that come from a system that puts monetary and popular success above the health of one’s body and mind.

Today as I write, my children are riding their roller coasters, and while I still stress over their journeys, they have shared with me their gratitude for the lessons I taught them. Lessons which have helped them stay in the tracks rather than derail. Certainly, they have long lives to live and there are no guarantees, but it is a comfort to know that my journey as a homeschooling mom, with all its bumps and bends, was a successful roller coaster ride. I did not derail, crash, or burn.

 

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Reflecting on the Early Days of a Fiber Artist

Many years ago, when my daughter was still very young, my husband and I were given two enormous, white, couch pillows. Crayons in hand, my daughter without my permission turned one of the pillows into her canvas. In reflection, I must admit that on that day so many years ago I was clueless as to how much fun coloring on fabric could be. Now all these years later, I chuckle when I think of the bins, tubs, and boxes of paints, dyes, inks, and crayons that I have supplied my daughter; all of which she uses with my permission to color cotton, wool, and silk fabric.

Fabric Painting

Fabric Marbling with Dye

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You are a Mom

One day they are little and the days are long. Then before you can catch your breath, they are grown and the days seem unfairly short. Confident and sure, they are ready to embark on the adventurous journey of adult life. Having done your job, a job well done due to the endless hours and days in which your frustration, tears, and worry threatened to overshadow the precious moments of their youth, you watch as they pack their bags and depart from the safety of your home. As they wave goodbye, you pray for an assurance greater than the confidence that has inspired their departure.

Peace descends upon you as you pray and calms the emotional storm that threatens your composure, sanity, and well-being. You know with a certainty that you did your job day after day. You did it well through sacrifice, gritty determination, and boundless love. Although the daily chaos will settle into memory, you realize the journey is not over because you did your job and you did it well. You are a mom.

 

 

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Stop Condescending the Youth

Stop Condescending the Youth – my thought on banning books. Inspired by John Green, after reading one of his recent tumblr posts and watching a 2008 volg.

Parents should have a voice in their student’s education, and balanced curriculum is vital, but at the heart of any book banning discussion seems to be the perceived notion that the youth cannot handle the material. Is it any wonder that so many 18-20 year-olds make terrible choices once they leave the confines of parental oversight?

I would rather have my youth confront life while still at home than to have them face it for the first time when they are on their own. This philosophy has not made parenting easy, but I didn’t sign up for easy.

I grew up in a very conservative community where one very conservative religious group dominated the society and the politics. Yet, I still read books considered controversial, some that have been on banned lists elsewhere. The best classroom discussions came from these books and prepared me for the great human stories I went on to read in college. More importantly, these books have aided me throughout my years as a mother.

So my take on controversial reading material – Parents READ the books, and then DISCUSS them with your teen before they discuss them in class. The shock you will receive from the book is nothing compared to what your kid already faces or will face in school, particularly in college even if they attend a very conservative/religious college.

The material that seems to be at the heart of this latest controversy pales in comparison with what my son encountered while taking classes at a nearby school. It was not material addressed in class but was the conversations and actions outside of class, and it shocked the administration when my son finally reported the language and behaviors he encountered in non-classroom activities. As a parent, I assure you, I would have been much happier if my middle-school child would have had exposure due to “book discussion” rather than exposure due to normal youth behavior. Normal had changed since I was in school and since the administrators had been in school. We were all shocked, dismayed, and deeply troubled by what we learned.

Discussion of the issues and norms needs to be part of a youth’s education. Maybe if the older students had been more aware, more educated, then they could have acted where adults could not have. We need to stop condescending our youth and instead empower them with knowledge gained from discussing hard, controversial topics.

Since I am personally acquainted with the people behind the latest petition to remove books from school curriculum, I would ask that anyone reading this avoid emailing the people directly, but instead only contact the school district in question with comments. While my readership is small, only a minuscule fleck of dust compared to John Green’s, I would not wish to cause issue for the people involved. Comments of criticism and/or comments of support should ONLY be sent to the district. Edit – it appears John Green removed the link to the petitioners. Good.

 

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Outward Expression of Who You Are

I teach a simple statement to both my son and my daughter, “Your clothing is an outward expression of who you are.” This statement hinges on a very important factor – knowing who you are.

I recently taught my son’s youth class about how in everything we do, we are communicating something. Knowing what we communicate and how we communicate it is very important. I made the simple demonstration of putting on and taking off an oversized, black cardigan. The class was amazed at the transformation one garment could make in my appearance. I then proceeded to have the tallest, coolest boy in the class stand next to me. I asked him to read a passage and then I read the same passage. Then I asked the class what were differences about the two of us. This time the class was intrigued. Youth vs. age, male vs. female, pitch of voice, and the list went on; each of these things can affect the way people see and hear us.

How we dress, how we move, how we interact – great tools of communicating who we are and what we believe – BUT first we must learn to know ourselves. This is what I wish more parents and leaders would focus on rather than simply listing what today is considered modest or popular. Teach the endless possibility of Dos rather than always the specific Don’ts. Certainly providing boundaries and guidance is important, but more important is providing guidance on how to become the wonderful individual that each of us is. This guidance must include teaching our youth how to dress in a way that is an outward expression of who they are because then we are helping them develop of the courage they will need to be that person in the world.

In my experience, it takes much more effort to provide a creative, personal wardrobe than it does to provide either a modest or popular wardrobe. It does not necessarily take more money, but it certainly takes more time and sometimes more skill. It also takes a really strong parent/child relationship because it must be a team effort or it will not work. I have had a wonderful time working with both my children and will miss this part of parenting and homeschooling. In reflection, I believe I have learned as much as my children have, and that is truly a great blessing.

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Saith Me… Chocolate Stash

The only thing worse than your kids finding out you have a chocolate stash…              is them finding that chocolate stash!

 

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Saith Me… New Adventures

Take the leap of faith and then take one step at a time.  Oh, and remember to breath.

Life would be easier if we knew how the journey ended before taking each leap, but then life would be less of an adventure.

 

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Saith Me… Thesis Lesson #7

Thank you archivists and dedicated graduate school interns!

My admiration for archivists and interns has abundantly grown in the last hour. When a document is placed on the web for public use, but not in a manner that facilitates creating a searchable pdf, it is a massive pain and reminds me to be forever grateful to those dedicated souls who transcribe original documents for public use.

 

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.