Ballads, Grasses and Bliss


When I was a child, I loved slipping a stalk of Timothy from its grassy home, pinching it between my fingers and putting the sweet end into my mouth. How delightful, then, to have my nine-year-old celebrate this simple grass with a spring poem.

"At Last"

Timothy, I hear Timothy,
surrounding me
everywhere a breeze
blowing its furry fluff
of warmth to last it
through the frozen days.

At last the coming of
spring's luscious sound,
hors d'oeuvres
before the dinner of
warmth and blossoming

ready to move life to the
sunset road of eternity,
and eternities of happiness.

— by Sonia

On a different note, I began reading a book on poem-making to my girls. While I was reading the section on narrative poems, my Eldest tried her hand at one form: the ballad. Hers is not quite a ballad, but it's a good beginning. And she seemed to understand enough about the concept to go searching for Tolkien and share with me her favorite ballads tucked between battles and journeys. Here is her own try...

"The Ballad of Narrative Poems"

Mommy read a chapter
of narrative poems,
I went up to look
for a book,

that book had a good
poem, more than one,
of narratives there
were tons.

A ballad, said Mommy,
is something true,
can't be about me,
could be about you.

I've read a few ballads,
all in books,
but the books, well,
they were all fiction.

— by Sara

And here's a poem I just found in my study. I love that any occasion is becoming an occasion for poetry!

"The Worst Thing [or, Grandpa used to get comp copies
and when he cleaned out his study he passed them along to us]"

Well I was reading a book,
but it was the second.
What came before?

I know he did
one thing,
I know he did another,
but what was the whole story?

I wanted to know,
but I never will.
The book was from
a series that grandpa had.

They were given to him,
but then, not all!
Every single series
has at least one missing book.

But this was the best book,
so this is the worst.
It's the same person,
and it happened right after!

So this is the worst thing,
it really is true,
when you haven't read 1
but you have, number 2!

— by Sara

Over at Seedlings this week, I wrote about following one's bliss. It's becoming clear to me that poetry is one of those bliss-places I want to further-cultivate in my life and in the lives of others. Indeed, I have been doing it almost without thought... the way those lovely succulents at the top of this post were growing so beautifully by a fountain, way off in Texas (another source, I am finding, of bliss).

You could say that poetry is my Timothy, waving in the breeze, my little ballad of bliss.

Succulents photo by L.L. Barkat.

Postscript: My favorite "overheard" statement this week from another 11-year-old to mine... You mean your Mom's MAKING YOU learn Old English? [mine replied: NO! I'm teaching it to myself!]

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Win a Free Weekend to Heaven for Your Family

Laity Lodge Water

I found this offer today at a friend's blog:

Note: This post is part of the Family Fun Time Giveaway with Laity Lodge Family Camp. Since I work for the H. E. Butt Foundation, I can’t win a free weekend for my family there, but you can. That’s no small prize by the way. A weekend at Family Camp is worth nearly $500. And air fare is really cheap this year. (I flew from Texas to Pittsburgh for $200 a few weeks ago.) If you live in Texas, air fare isn’t really an issue. And the contest is easy. Read the details here there are all kinds of pictures and stuff you can include in your post. And there are videos like this one...GoodWordEditing.com, Apr 2009

Cool contest. And all you have to do is post and link to enter, by April 24. I've been to Laity Lodge, by the way, and it's a little bit of heaven on earth (See the Frio River up there at the top of the post? Like I said, a little bit of heaven).

[Okay, and now I am amending this post so I can include it in Robert's What I Learned From Adversity writing project that Goodwordediting co-opted for the giveaway.

Here goes:

I have learned from parenting adversity that it is hard enough to parent sweetness, compliance, and hugs (hey, even good things take energy!) without having to parent adversity as well. Some days I just want to pack it in (or pack up for a trip to Texas heaven.)

I wish I could say I've figured it out, that I welcome the adversity my children bring, like I'm some kind of Mary Poppins of the parenting world. I haven't. Adversity makes me sad. Sometimes it makes me mad. How about... confused, frustrated, tired? On the bright side, adversity also draws on deep creative resources I didn't know I had. I may never be Mary Poppins, but I might just become a Picasso of parenting, making something unexpected and strangely beautiful of life's sharp edges.]

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5 Things I Love About Home Education



Tomato towers

1. Well, you get to stay home. (In between shuttling kids to violin, piano, Tuesday arts & sciences club, 2-day enrichment program at a sustainable farm, and the occasional play date).

2. There's plenty of time for talk. Okay, so sometimes the talk is in the car. Which is technically car education. But who can resist conversations like this one yesterday... "Mommy, what does 'insubordination' mean?" [Mommy pauses to try to think of an example that doesn't involve particular child asking particular question].

"Um, it means rebelling against someone in authority. You could figure it from the Latin, right? In means not. What does sub mean?"

Littlest Child pipes up, "Under!!" Mommy swells with pride (these kids may just do well on the SAT someday) and replies, "Okay, so altogether it means someone who can't put herself under someone else."

Eldest Child summarizes, "It means not following orders. That's what they did in the chapter I was reading, called 'Insubordination.' They didn't follow orders and it saved everyone's life."

Huge Philosophical Conversation ensues along the lines of pros-and-cons-of-civil-disobedience.

3. Kids go to the grocery store with Mommy. They learn how to find a ripe avocado, why mental math is important when trying to evaluate toilet paper options, how to find fair trade chocolate even when it doesn't say "fair trade" all over the wrapper, how to pay for vanilla yogurt and figure change, and (most important) they develop surreptitious ways to consume multiple servings of the best free food samples in the store (that's only insubordination if Mommy catches them and tells them to stop and they do it anyway).

4. Kids cook dinner (and set the table with... seashells... and other creative things). They have time for this because they already did their homework (Education happens all day at home, right? So it's all been homework.) Last night they made eggplant and tomato towers, white bean salad, and chocolate/vanilla meringue swirls with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Mommy heated up leftover penne and did a lot of dishes (it takes time for kids to learn how to manage the cooking process, but we're on it.)

5. Kids have time to play. Especially outdoors. If you've ever read Last Child in the Woods, you know why this is good for their brains, their happy-factors, and Mommy's ultimate sanity. (See, Mommy gets to model it as well as reap the benefits of happy kids.)

As a former public school teacher, I wish I could home educate other kids too. But that would be neighbor education.

Photos and table setting by Sonia. Used with permission.