Thursday, January 19, 2012

Heathcliff and Homeschooling

"My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath - a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff - he's always, always in my mind - not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself - but, as my own being..."
- Catherine Earnshaw

"You loved me - then what right had you to leave me? What right - answer me - for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart - you have broken it - and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me, that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you - oh God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?"
- Heathcliff

Wuthering Heights - one of my favorite classic novels! I loved it when I read it in English class 20+ years ago, and I'm loving it even more reading it now as one of our homeschooling assignments.

Little did I know when I first started homeschooling my middle-school boys last August how much fun I would have revisiting certain subjects (although there are a few that aren't so thrilling for me just as they weren't so thrilling 20+ years ago). But every time we crack open a new novel for literature class, I'm giddy with anticipation of the story that lies within its covers. My kids think I am an absolute freak - and maybe you do too, but that's ok.

Perhaps I get so excited because it seems that over the years I have gotten 'too busy' to read or become 'too lazy' in my book selection - resorting to quick reads that generally tell a good story but not with the eloquence or details of such writers as Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens and others. That's not to say there aren't great writers out there now, it's just that many readers, including myself, overlook the wonderful charm, complex characters and thought-provoking prose of these classics for the latest and greatest New York Times bestsellers.

Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to make time for these classics again (I promised my kids when we started homeschooling that I would read everything they have to read - little did I know how much reading their teacher would assign!). And even though I enjoyed reading many of these books when I was in school, I appreciate them even more now.

So treat yourself to a classic once in a while - who knows what great characters you'll meet. (And no, I won't assign you a character sketch or a paper comparing and contrasting the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine to Heathcliff and Isabella.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year's Tweaks

(Is it too late in January to do this kind of post? We're still in the first half of the month - so I think I'm OK.)

I strongly dislike the word RESOLUTION along with the whole idea of New Year's Resolutions. To me, it's asking for failure. I also equate it with the idea that there are major things wrong with me or my life and that flipping the calendar to January 1 is somehow going to magically fix all that needs to be fixed. (Big disclaimer here - This is just how I feel about how resolutions relate to me. If you are a resolution-maker and it works for you, then more power to you!) That in no way implies that I don't have areas I need to work on or that my life is perfect - far from it. It just means that I don't let those areas define who I am as a person.

But if I'm so content, then why even write a New Year's post? Sometimes my contentment, as nice as it is, can lead to laziness or idleness. Not the "sit-on-the-couch-in-my-pajamas-all-day" kind of laziness, but the "I'm-OK-with-everything-so-let's-just-keep-the-status-quo" kind of laziness. I know God wants me to be content in - and despite - my circumstances, but He also wants me to continue to grow. And that growth encompasses a lot of areas - spiritual (in my relationship with Him), emotional (in my relationships with others), personal (in discovering, exploring and nurturing gifts and talents that He has given me).

That being said, there are a few changes I'd like to make in 2012. Instead of referring to them as New Year's resolutions, I will call them New Year's "tweaks". By definition a tweak is a minor alteration. Now don't you think a minor alteration sounds much more doable than a drastic resolution? (Maybe it's just semantics, but it works for me.) Without further ado, here is my list:

1) Spend more QUALITY time with my kids. If you know me, you know that I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools my two older kids (while my youngest runs amok and single-handedly destroys the house). Why would I need to spend more time with them considering they are basically with me 24/7? One word - QUALITY. They may be with me all the time, but how often do they have my undivided attention.

Since the older two are very close in age, they've kind of always been a package deal - you take one, you take the other - even by me. For the most part, they are fine with that. But now that they are getting older, I want to make sure they know I view them and love them for the unique individuals they are. As for Mia, she is slowly requiring less "care" but she does love some good crafty or snuggle time. That's not always easy with homeschooling and her older borthers' busy sports schedules. But I'm going to do better even if that means sometimes overlooking the dust bunnies, hand prints and dirty toilets.

2) Date my husband again. He will agree that we are both guilty of sacrificing our time with each other for our kids (those pesky little - or big - creatures, JUST KIDDING). But when we do manage to step out for a late-night romantic stroll through Target, we realize what we're missing out on. So this year we have promised ourselves one "real" date a month. What constitutes a real date? I don't exactly know but it's something other than a stroll through Target at 9 o'clock at night. Don't get me wrong - we love Target but it's not exactly the most romantic locale.

3) Actually complete a creative project or two (or three or four). Boy do I have some grandiose ideas for household projects, crafts, blogging, etc. And that's the problem - they never become more than just grandiose ideas floating aimlessly in my brain. This year I intend to do things differently and hopefully I'll have something to show for it when December 31st rolls around.

I've never been a planner - face it, plans seem so restricting. But alas, I have realized that to accomplish any of these projects, I need to start with a plan. May sound logical to you, but it is so against every fiber of my being. (Although homeschooling has forced me to lesson plan - so maybe that's a start). Perhaps to make myself accountable, I'll post my project ideas and plans for completion here. (Whether anyone is reading this or not, it makes it seem more official if it's on the Internet.)

4) Blog again. - This kind of goes along with number 3. I like to write... I want to write... I just never plan to write, so it always gets shoved to the bottom of the list. Maybe it's a subconscious thing - maybe I'm no good at it, maybe nobody will read it so why bother. But in the end, I'm not doing it for anyone else but me. So that's why bother.

This is by no means an exhaustive list - just some of the things I'm starting to tweak now. (The typical things you might think of like weight loss and being healthier are things I've been working on for a while now - so not new to me.) I'm sure I'll identify more areas for tweaking as 2012 progresses. So even if resolutions aren't for you, then perhaps you'll decide to make a few tweaks of your own.