Leftover Breakfast Crumbs

Messy hair,
leftover breakfast crumbs,
baby on the table,
oil pastels smeared into my fingers and on my bare feet.

This is one of those homeschooling days that feels hard. I’m not sure why. Teething baby? Endless messes? Tired mama? Overworked papa? Too many interrupted moments?

Today, I wish I could call a substitute teacher and take a few hours off. Is there a service out there for substitute homeschool teachers?!

For the Love of Neighbors

Wallace talks about our neighbors, Mike and Paula, every day — pointing over at their house, waving, and repeating their names (and their cat’s name, and their grand-dog’s name). After a visit from another neighbor’s puppy, he has added “Puppy!” to his repetoire.

Spring Beauties

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wild flowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.

— Wendell Berry
“Given: Poems,” Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005

Golden Hour

I love backlit photos, but the learning curve is steep! Inspired by my friend Jenny’s recent podcast interview with Summer Murdock, I followed my children around on the dunes last night during golden hour — trying to capture even a sliver of this gorgeous light.

Summer shared so many helpful tips on how to use and experiment with backlight. If you’re interested, you can listen to their conversation by clicking here or searching for The Family Photographer podcast, episode 15, in your podcast app.

Learning Shakespeare

Have you discovered the book “How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare” by Ken Ludwig? I brought it home from the library last fall and it sat in a stack of books, unopened, for three weeks. It wasn’t the right time. Or maybe I was intimated by the thought of Shakespeare? Where to begin with Shakespeare?

Well, I brought it home again last week. And this time I managed to open it up on my lap on a quiet Sunday morning when everyone else was still asleep. The result? I’m hooked! I love it. We’re learning Shakespeare. Memorizing it!

I love Ken Ludwig’s philosophy and his emphasis on the importance of hearing Shakespeare’s poetry aloud and memorizing passages with your children. He writes:

“With Shakespeare, memorizing is the key to everything. . . In order to memorize something, you have to be very specific and very honest with yourself. You have to work slowly, and you have to understand every word of what you’re memorizing. There was a time not long ago when memorization was considered to be one of the basic tools of an academic education. Students were expected to learn hundreds of lines from the Greek and Roman classics, then, later, from poetry in their native tongues. This tradition has faded from our lives, and something powerful has been lost.” (p. 6 & 8)

Reading this I realized how much memorization was part of my own education — and yet I hadn’t thought about it much before. So many choir songs; solos; lines in middle-school and high-school plays; passages from the Bible; and French! Oh, the French memorization I did in college was endless.

But when I studied Shakespeare in high school, it was all in written form. Always read silently, to myself. Never spoken — let alone memorized. And so the thought of learning Shakespeare through memorization, right from the beginning, was completely new to me — and yet it felt absolutely right. And so we dove right in with A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows . . .”