Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

June 15, 2006

three things

Here's what's going on:

1. Our beloved hamster, Elephant, died last week after two and a half years with us (a very good, long hamster life). We were all very sad and had a beautiful little funeral for him in the back yard, complete with flowers and prayers. I wanted a picture of the girls putting flowers on the grave because they were so sweet and sincere about it but it didn't seem right. Elephant was our first pet that we had as a family and his presence did a lot to teach the girls responsibility for a little life. Maya especially loved to clean his cage. I didn't have many feelings about him for most of his life except nervousness about him biting me (which he did) but then recently he got to be a very old hamster. He really showed his age and got thin and small and blind and shaky and it reminded me of how babies are when they are first born, more baby hamster than baby human, but still very endearing. Making it hard when he did actually die. We mourned for a few days. And then I really wanted a new pet. A healthy, young, new pet that would nip at my fingers and act very alive. So we got two gerbils, and they are very lively indeed. They dart around and chew on things all the time and they are awake during the day so we can watch them play (hamsters are nocturnal). Maya named her brown gerbil 'Gerbie' and Georgia named her black gerbil 'Elephant'. Yeah, we're definitely on the rebound here at this house.

2. I went to a fantastic mother's retreat that Suzanne Allmart planned at Brown Deer Farm in Wisconsin. It was really great to talk to moms and share our experiences and talk about how to make the world a better place for mothers and children and families. (Plus I got to meet little Olivia Davis! Three weeks old and so cute and peaceful. mmm. ) There was a lot of talk of reaching out and creating the village that you need to raise children instead of trying to do it alone and isolated. Very good stuff. There will be a group blog by the moms that were there to support each other in village-making and friend-making. I'll definitely share the web address when there is one!

An aside: This all reminds me of something I just read while studying "A Thomas Jefferson Education" (for homeschooling purposes). It was part of a large idea from child psychologist Erik Erikson where he describes 'Stages of Psychosocial Development'- from birth to 65+ and says what the primary concepts that are learned in each age group. For the age range that I'm in (and most moms), 18-40, the concept learned (or perhaps struggled with) is intimacy vs. isolation, with the resulting virtue aquired (if intimacy is chosen) being Love. I think that pretty much sums it up.

3. On that note, a friend of mine (and homeschooling mom) here in C-U just e-mailed me that she and some of her friends are starting up a little mom-run 'private school' based on Charlotte Mason's philosophy (I don't know how to characterize this yet because I have barely begun to find out what it means myself- I think reading the classics, keeping nature journals, and letting kids learn at their own pace may be part of it). They are also working with a book called 'A Thomas Jefferson Education" which is a philosophy in itself, but more of an overarching one- more how, less what. I've started to read about this second one and am really impressed with how many questions it answers and the ways it challenges me. The part I'm really taken with right now is the idea that the mentor (be it a homeschooling parent, public school teacher, or any other kind of mentor) needs to lead the children by the example of their own scholarship and love of learning about things that they (the mentors) themselves are actually passionate about. They are challenging homeschooling mothers to be scholars in the field of their choosing and to show kids by their everyday example how to really study and know things deeply. So according to this philosophy, I'm supposed to inspire the kids to a love of learning by my own love of my own learning, instead of following down the path of requiring them to learn because I said so. How can I disagree with that? The cool thing is that these people have been practising this method for fifteen or so years and have a list of ingredients of your life that need to be in place to support that kind of philosophy working in a real home with real kids. Good stuff. I highly recommend reading about A Thomas Jefferson Education to anyone who wants to figure out what their own educational philosophy is because it challenges you to go to the original sources and read the classics and really think for yourself and then offers some (ok, lots of very specific) advice on how to structure your time so you can focus on that instead of less important things (like a spotless house).
(Arg! It's so hard to explain something that I don't really understand. Maybe I'll say more about this later as I learn more.)

So- life and death, love, initimacy, passionate learning, mentoring the next generation of leaders- it's all here. I'm going to call this the good life today.

Posted by Bahiyyih at June 15, 2006 11:57 PM