Monday, June 21, 2010

"Just Starting to Be..." and Treasures from Cousins

I am still basking in the afterglow of our trip to St. George where we played with cousins while Valor went to Youth for Freedom. It was the perfect way to kick off our summer. When I was young my parents drove us through southern Utah about twice a year to go see cousins who lived in southern Nevada in this little town of Overton, halfway between St. George and Vegas. It occurred to me how fitting it is now that we drive south to take my kids to see their cousins.My mom grew up in Overton surrounded by cousins. One of her cousins was more like a sister and a best friend. I grew up loving to hear about the adventures my mom had with Verla and their horses and kittens. They grew up playing on their farm, in nature and living in the safest town on the globe, where kids could wander freely. It sounds kind of like Mayberry. Here is a picture of my mom and her cousins and sisters that I snapped at our family reunion last fall. Aren't they beautiful?
Here is a pic of my kids with their cousins. We love all of our cousins and feel blessed to see a lot of them regularly. My brothers and sisters have kids that fit my kids' ages like hands with fingers intertwining. These cousins in St. George, however, are extra-special because they share our family culture of Leadership Education. So our lifestyles are more similar. When Valor started his Commonwealth school six years ago this fall I shared my excitement about it with my sister-in-law Sally. She shared the concept with her homeschooling friends down there so they up and started one for them. So now when we visit it is so fun to hear about what LEMI scholar projects her kids are doing and what dances and activities and even problems her Commonwealth is having.
I've been reading a charming book about cousins to my kids. So far it has two lines that capture my feelings to a T. The first is "cousins...if they are the right kind, can be kinder than siblings and closer than friends." Yes, yes! The cousin bond is one-of-a-kind. The second line is how during the first part of June you just want to bottle those days up. The whole summer is ahead or "just starting to be," as Portia says in Gone Away Lake at the beginning of the story. I feel so full of promise at the beginning of June. (I also feel bittersweet as I reflect back on D-day which happened in early June but that's a post for another time.)These lines come from the book Gone Away Lakeby Elizabeth Enright. A few years ago we enjoyed one of her other books, The Saturdays. for our family read-aloud. I can already tell that this one will be even more darling. Elizabeth Enright was a very talented children's book author who wrote pure, captivating fiction of children's lives in simpler, more innocent times of pre1960. She was also the niece of Frank Lloyd Wright. Good taste runs in the family. She could illustrate but gave that up to focus on writing. I read about Gone Away Lake in my latest catalog from Chinaberry and just knew it would be the perfect read-aloud for summer. (Have I mentioned Chinaberry before? I get the catalog--see and then mark what books I want and get them from the library. Every time it hits my mailbox it's like a breath of fresh air and an invitation to soak in the tub while I peruse the offerings.)

This book and our visit to our cousins makes me also think of an article I read in Mothering magazine (, although they don't have the exact article digitized), which for the life of me, I can't resurrect after looking through my Mothering stash. It was this delightful recounting by a mother of the summer she had spent with her four children. They had lazy days drinking in the magic of the season. They went on nature walks. They picked blueberries. They house-sat for their relatives for a weekend and enjoyed the treasures there. They did some arts and crafts and read classics and played musical instruments. That is how I want my summers to be, full of sensual delights and free from conveyor-belt entertainment, forced learning, deadlines and pressure. Heck, that's how I want my life to be. That's why I homeschool, using the TJED philosophy, and I can honestly say that many times I feel that feeling I got when I read that article, that feeling of freedom and playfulness and love for what we are learning.
Sally told me she feels that the most important key of the Eight Keys of Teaching and Learning is the phases. I actually just looked it up and the phases aren't a key, but they help you understand the keys. See I decided I agree. I have been calling them the "natural seasons of learning" to fit in with the Tree of Life Mothering theme. My upcoming book, Volume III, will have a chapter on these. (Since Volume I will come out this year, who knows when Volume III will be ready.) Anyway, if anyone is struggling with education, whether at home or in public school, or life in general, an understanding of the phases or seasons of learning will help solve a lot of the problem.

I will be blogging a lot about our trip in the coming month. I've got a lot on my plate right now with a family reunion to Colorado next week, a yard sale for LLL this weekend, plus the Holistic LDS Living Conf. But I've got to get these memories about our trip down! The trip was so impactful and full of memories and great epiphanies I had while reading (A Sacred Duty) and great conversations with Sally and others that I don't want to stop thinking about it!

1 comment:

  1. That Sally is a good egg! She has great kids too... I bet they would make delightful cousins! Just ran across your blog from the Davis Homeschooler Group. Tell her Heather from South Dakota says hi... hope her and her family are doing well!