And all of those things– checklists and curriculum and planning– come with small boxes to check and, often, to-do lists to do.
It would give you the impression that I thrive on details.
Confession: that’s not true.
If I get TOO locked into something, I start feeling twitchy and claustrophobic. That will eventually override my (needless) fear of not doing enough, and eventually make me cranky and shut down. If I feel like my day is a huge “DO THIS” instead of “BE THIS,” I languish.
That’s a very old word that seems a bit hyperbole-ish, doesn’t it?**
It’s not, in this case. Ha! I vascilate between all of the definitions up there. It’s pretty pathetic.
I’ve tried to talk myself out of this part of myself. But it hasn’t worked.
And you know what? Maybe it isn’t supposed to.
Maybe I’m not supposed to be a super checklist momma, as convenient as that might seem to be.
Instead, probably since my youngest was born, I’ve had to just come to terms that I have to stop being a control freak– not just over my circumstances, and my kids, but myself, too. At some point, you have to stop wasting energy to erase your weaknesses and instead, highlight your strengths.
You know what? Big picture is my strength.
And it is going “big picture” that saves my sanity a lot of times. The Big Picture showcases what is essential to me.
A brainstorming exercise that I recently did instructed me to write a list of values for my business. As I was writing them, it occurred to me that those values incapsulated 4 key areas that I wanted in EVERY area of my life, not just my business. I want these 4 things in myself, my home, and my homeschooling.
These 4 things can serve as My Right Things checklist for almost everything I want to do, and every lesson I want to teach. I’ve put them altogether in a print-off that I’m going to include on my walls in a few key locations in my home… and I’d thought I’d attach it here, in the hopes that these words resonate with any other Big Picture people.
I hope your day lets you imagine and spark imagination in others. I hope you have the opportunity to both encourage and be encouraged yourself. I hope you enjoy the power of education today– and that the knowledge you give and receive blesses you intellectually, morally, and socially. I hope you take the time to truly enjoy today and everyday by seeking pleasure within the menial, noticing the benefit of each hour, and truly finding satisfaction with the ones you share your life with.
*She drops a lot of business goodies and truth bombs in her book Boss Up! You should check it out if you are balancing momming and businessing at the same time– or thinking about it. I wish I had several of her suggestions and early business walk-thru when I went into business a few years ago. But alas. Better late than never.
**Seriously, languish is an old word. Its origins are from the 14th century and comes from the latin word, languire, and means to “fail in strength and exhibit signs of approaching death.” It was probably originally used by a mother of 13 kids at a river, who was trying to pound a stain from a loincloth against a rock while simultaneously keep her 5 kids under the age of 4.5 from drowning. The other moms around her doing the same thing overheard, quickly made the word a part of their normal vocab, and the rest is history.
I’m teaming up with several handcraft creatives, educators, and resource makers to give all those that attend some great tips and tools to make this next academic year amazing. As an extra plus, the evening will be full of great giveaways, which makes it even more exciting!
Visit us at the facebook event page to RSVP, read more about how to enter in the giveaways (note: it’s ultra-easy!) and get a sneak peak at what to expect!
Here are some of the people teaming up with us:
Along with those amazing peeps and the giveaways they will be offering, there will also be tips and tools about immune boosting, food prep, attention helps, calming techniques, habit-forming helps, and more!
We are on week four of our Fairy Tale/Wonder Story Summer series! I’m loving getting to re-read the stories I grew up with. I’m noticing that some of the stories I know best are actually variations– not the originals. #learnsomethingneweveryday
Before we jump into the week, let’s see some Mother Culture!
MOTHER CULTURE Some thing that I have missed since being in college/grad school/teaching college is learning alongside people my age/maturity level. Ha! I do work from home, and of course I teach– my own kiddos and a homeschool high school debate course during the academic year– but I really miss the peer component. Our community does have a lot to offer in regards to classes and ongoing interest education, and I definitely plan on doing more of that as my kids get older and don’t need me as much/as often (for things, like, for food. Literally. #nursingmom).
In the meantime, something that I like to do is to find a theme of something I want to learn/teach/make/do myself, and then open my home and do it with my friends (and their friends… it’s an open event for acquaintances!). My husband and I have done a night of culture, where we offered homemade kombucha flights in all flavors and I taught myself to make cheese and let people taste-test it. That was fun! I’ve also done a handlettering class, a succulent learning and potting event, etc. I firmly believe learning is essential, and that includes for us moms and adults!
I’m pretty passionate about natural living, and using things on my skin that aren’t full of junk. I also wanted to make a fun theme because my daughter really wanted to invite some of her little friends over to the event, too. So, I did a little research, got out my natural tools/supplies/ingredients, and made an mermaid make-and-take evening, concentrating on 3 summer pamper products– bath fizzies (like bath bombs, but in a powder for that you can sprinkle in a pool/tub), whipped body butter, and lip scrub. We made it in lots of colors, had fun jars for people to use and customize their products with, and put out some snacks for everyone to enjoy.
E and I even decorated with some original ocean-inspired chalkboards. Along with mermaids, she is kinda into those creepy deep sea fishes that look like something out of nightmares. You can see her drawing of a hatchet fish below. It is definitely cuter than the real thing.
Moms and daughters went around and made their items and then all the girls destroyed played in my daughter’s room while all the ladies talked life downstairs. It was a great night, and helped fill that adult conversation lack that every momma of littles has. I made a resource that has our event’s recipes in it and emailed it out to those who came. If you are interested in seeing what we did and want to try your own momma/daughter mermaid make and take, click here to get the recipes we used.
Note: the bath fizzies make for a super fun science lesson. #homeschoolbonus
On a completely unrelated note, a new subject I’m researching as a part of learning more about health and wellness as it relates to food is Intuitive Eating. There may or may not be a post on that at some point. 🙂
Alright, that’s mother culture for the week. Next stop: our wonder story!
DAY ONE As with all of our Day One’s so far, we read the most original version of the fairy tale to get a “baseline” for the rest we will enjoy through the rest of the week.
It is Hans Christian Andersen that has the original Princess and the Pea story… and it’s actually pretty short and too the point. The last line made E balk a little bit. It reads:
“So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it. There, that is a true story.”
“Seriously?!” She asked, at the true story part.
In her defense, no other story declared itself to be true so far.
We were going to do an art project that day, but decided to take an impromptu trip to a local dairy farm instead. We saw the cows up close, and visited their little dairy and veggie storefront. Jbuddy really loved the cows and wanted to get up close and personal… which sparked an impromptu learning opportunity about what electricity is, how it is in some fences, and we shouldn’t touch them. #noERtripstoday
With fresh veggies, cheese, and milk in hand, we had a full day and the makings of dinner. We took the long way on the country roads back home, and honestly, it was delightful. I’m planning on returning and scheduling a farm tour when I can weave it in.
DAY TWO In keeping with tradition, it was fairy tale variation day!
We actually couldn’t get our hands on very many books about the Pea story, so I looked up the books I wanted to get on YouTube and we “read” them together via watching them online. It isn’t ideal, as I love to read and work from a hard copy when we go over the story together, but if it can’t happen, this work-around is definitely better than nothing. We actually came across online versions to watch as well, and I particularly loved How It Should Have Ended’s version. More on that in a second… 😀
We read Princess Pigtoria and the Pea. We both loved the alliteration, the fact that the princess was a pig, and how <<spoiler>> she decided not to marry the prince because he was a jerk and a half… and instead, married a nice common pig and opened a pizza parlor. (Can you guess which letter was used for the alliteration? #prettyperceptible
The second variation was one produced by Cool School. E thought this one was the funniest one, and she actually borrowed one of the lines from their version to put in her own. The voice of the princess when she finally appeared just cracked me up!
The third story was fun, as the point of view of the tale was from the PEA, versus the normally 3rd person narrator. This story, called The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be, gave E and me an excellent opportunity to talk about point of view and how each person in a story–and in life– have their own way of looking at things.
Note: E did NOT like the mother’s eyes in this story. I have to admit; it is an odd choice for a children’s book. #nopeasforeyesplease
And last, but not least, is my favorite version, The How it Should Have Ended for Kids one. It didn’t escape me when I read the original version and most of the more common variations that the princess had to be tested for her purity and worth before being allowed to married the prince, but yet the worth of the prince to have HER wasn’t really questioned. Although I don’t want to get into feminist theory with my 6 year old– both the pros AND the cons– I don’t mind her learning sooner rather than later that stories/messages communicate more than what you might notice at first reading/hearing.
Overall, I felt like this week’s versions gave us a lot of things to think about, and I can see how they gave her ideas– and freedom– to get creative on her own version by the end of the week.
DAY THREE Remember that craft we were supposed to do on day one? Yep, it made it’s appearance here. #betterlatethannever
What was nice about this activity is we practiced math with it as well. I asked her how many mattresses the original story used, and she answered twenty. So, she cut 20 “mattresses” out, and we used them to discuss and practice skip counting by 4s and 5s and did some adding and subtracting before gluing them onto our bed.
She drew the princess with “super crazy hair” because she was tossing and turning all night, “and everyone knows that you get crazy hair when that happens.” In the end, she made a little video explaining her art and narrating the story to me using her piece.
She likes math and crafts, so she enjoyed making something so large. It’s now a mural on her wall in her bedroom. Ha!
DAY FOUR As always, our last day with our Weekly Wonder Story is spent creating our own. This time, we took Babykins with us on our momma/daughter writing date. E likes it when it is “all of us girls.” We hit Target first and did some father’s day shopping… and decided to get some dollar sunglasses from the dollar section. This is the first time Babykins has worn a bonnet and sunglasses (let alone star ones), and I just think she looks so incredibly cute! #biasedbutidontcare
Aaaaaand lucky us, our Target has a Starbucks, so we did our wonder writing right there. 🙂 I haven’t shared any of E’s actual wonder stories with you so far, but I will this week. All ideas are her own; I have not coached her in any way.
The Princess and the Pea – An Original “E” Wonder Story
Once upon a time, there was a Princess. The Princess wanted to get married. She really wanted to marry somene. So she looked up the princes near her. But the 1st prince was too short. The 2nd prince was too tall. The 3rd prince she looked up was too furry. She found a 4th prince and asked him, “do you like dogs or cats?” The prince replied, “I like hamsters.” She didn’t like that so she said, “Next!”
She talked to a 5th prince. And she said to him, “Do you like dogs or cats?” And the prince replied, “dogs!” She liked that. Then the princess said, “You’re the one!”
Then she whispered to herself, “if he’s really a prince, I should test him to be sure. I’m gonna have him sleep on lots of mattresses– like 100, because the castle is super tall. Then I’m gonna put a pea under all the mattresses. He will feel the pea if he’s a real prince.”
Then the cooker names Baileywick cooked a delicious dinner made of chicken and pasta. Then after all that chicken and all that pasta, the prince was tired and said, “Where’ my room?” Then the princess sighed, “It’s in the guest room,” and she said, “Baileywick!” And Baileywick came right away. And Baileywick showed the Prince right where the guest room was. Then the prince said, “Ooooooooooooh. I’m really tired!” And he went to go to sleep right away. So he climbed a latter. Up up up he went! Then the Princess said to herself again, “If he is definitely a prince, he will feel that pea!” And the Princess got a dessert and it was called a smoothie. The Prince feeled the pea. Then the Princess went upstairs to her bedroom and fell fast asleep and woke up in the morning. She called Baileywick and Baileywick came right away and made breakfast. The Princess had breakfast with the Prince. She realized that he didn’t sleep a wink so he must be a real prince. So they got married right away and lived happily ever after.
I must admit, I love how she switched the roles of the prince and the princess. As a sidenote: I’m not sure what she meant when the 3rd prince was too “furry” except she saw a man with a lot of body hair without a shirt on doing yard work in our neighborhood the other day and seemed kind of shocked. Ha!
And that about wraps up our week! Hope you enjoyed another week’s worth of ideas and links and seeing how our Wonder project is working for us!
This week was our official start of Fairy Tale funschool and we had a wonderful time! (To read about the resources we are using, etc., check out this post.)
MOTHER CULTURE Something that I absolutely LOVE from Charlotte Mason and echoed in contemporary ideas like Mom’s Morning basket and Brave Learner’s “awesome adult” chapter is the fact that enrichment for you as teacher/mom/fellow braver learner is so incredibly important.
So, whenever it applies, I’m going to include what *I* did to prepare/enrich myself before jumping into the week. 🙂
The weekend before we started Rapunzel, I road-mapped what we would probably cover when– but then I jumped into some amazing podcasts that I heard about to get me geared up.
My undergrad and Master’s degrees are in performing arts and English, so I’m not a stranger to the importance of myth and story to cultures, history, the arts, etc. But even with my degrees and background, these two podcasts by Angelina Stanford were amazing!
I HIGHLY recommend you listen to them! They are so thought-rich and inspiring!
There are a few more podcasts I have on a list for this coming weekend, and I’ll share them another time.
Now that we are done with the dose of Mother Culture, let’s move on to what we actually did over our 4 day week.
DAY ONE E was super excited for Monday to come! We began the morning with a trip to the zoo– which wasn’t Rapunzel-related at all. But playgrounds, animals, and picnics with siblings and a cute cousin isn’t a terrible way to start summer/funschooling. 🙂
In the afternoon, we talked about what fairy tales are and that they HAVE to have a happy ending or they aren’t a true fairy tale. (That’s the difference between fairy tales and cautionary ones.) We talked about how they used to be called Wonder Stories which eventually evolved into “fairy tales,” as more and more stories included fairies and wands, etc.
Next, we read the “original” Rapunzel story, as found in Andrew Lang’s, The Red Fairy Book. It was the first time she had heard about the prince falling from the window and the thorns gauging out his eyes and how tears from your true love can apparently fix that. (A great quotation from her was, “I thought that you only got one set of eyes…” :D)
It was a good introductory day, and definitely set the stage for the week.
DAY TWO I’ll have to be honest, *I* was sooo looking forward to this day!
We wove in some math while using the scale to measure the ingredients in grams (versus measuring cups like we normally do) and decided to knead it by hand instead of pulling out the kitchenaid. Does that count as P.E.??? Ha! (Those pioneer women must have been beasts!)
It rose well, we beat it down, and then we followed instructions on how to plait it. E got the pattern down quickly (more math?)… and we think it turned out fantastically!
During the afternoon, we read three different culture’s versions of the Rapunzel story: the German, Filipino, and Italian adaptations. The most familiar was the German one… and the Filipino and Italian ones were so interesting and different! We had a great Big Juicy Conversation about how the versions were alike and how they were different, and then we voted on which one was our favorite.
We both picked the Italian version! The magic gallnuts that saved Petrosinella from the ogress made the story extra exciting!
Fun fact: Petrosinella means “parsley” in Italian, and is a change from the rampion from which Rapunzel was named. In the Italian version, not only did the mother steal parsley (which is why she had to give up her child), but the baby girl was also born with a sprig of parsley on her chest. Thereyago.
DAY THREE We moved on from the written renditions of Rapunzel and decided to watch Disney’s Tangled to compare to the four different versions from Day 1 and 2. There’s enough funny physical humor in it to amuse J (my 3 year old boy) along with E. The baby even woke up half-way through and seemed enchanted by it as well.
E decided to get out pillows and stuffed animals and turn our living room into a theatre. So of course, we had to bring out some popcorn and make it official. I’m not sure why E decided to wear a cloth easter basket on her head during the Tangled debut at our home, but I’m sure it felt right.
It’s said that experts on Wonder Stories/Fairy Tales/Myths didn’t care for the animated versions, as they project the ideas that attractive people are typically good and ugly/unattractive people are typically bad, and generally ignore the tradition of the tales. (Angelina Stanford in the Myth podcast linked above gives an excellent example about how the dwarves– which typically represent wisdom– are dumbed down and made clowns in Disney’s Snow White. Tolkien and Lewis lovers might find this tidbit interesting: supposedly, the two friends bought tickets to see Snow White, went together, and didn’t like it. I don’t know about you, but the thought of the two of them going to the movies and talking themes, plot points, and likes/dislikes like people do now about Marvel’s Endgame just kind of blows my mind a little.)
I had seen Tangled a long time ago when it first came out (9 years ago?!?! Whatthewhat!), but the kids hadn’t– and I had forgotten about Eugene dying at the end. When we watched it, I was afraid that E would get upset because she’s typically sensitive to when characters she likes gets hurt, let alone completely perish. But she didn’t seem phased by it.
When Flynn cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and the way for him to get well disappears, E gasped, but recovered quickly and turned to me and said, “It’s gonna be okay, Mommy.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because see her eyes filling up with tears? Remember, they are magic!”
Of course, they were.
I loved seeing her take a common thread from the Rapunzel stories we read and apply them to this version, although the circumstances were different. Instead of restoring sight, the tears of Tangled’s Rapunzel restored life. (Another interesting sidenote: not every Rapunzel story blinds the prince. It is a plot point in Lang’s version and in the German version… which actually might be the same? Lang collected most of the fairy tales from the oral traditions of Germany, Italy, and France… so his version very well could be the German, as they are super similar.)
We finished up the day talking about what all the Rapunzel versions had in common and what they didn’t. (We did that some on Day 2, but she wanted to revisit it after watching Tangled.) Something E noticed about all of them were that they all had towers, they all had a villain, that the villain was punished (although I do disagree with that a little bit– in the Lang and German versions, it doesn’t actually punish the witch. The stories just kind of ignore her once Rapunzel and the prince reunite… but I’m not going to “correct” her observation), and that each ending had a happily ever after.
The other things like the iconic long hair, magic tears, stolen vegetables, etc., weren’t actually common among all the stories, which I found interesting.
DAY FOUR This was our final day with the Rapunzel part of our fairy tale/wonder project… and it was my absolute favorite day with E during the week.
Day 4 ended up falling on Friday, which is music day for E and for Jboy. Most of our day was out-and-about, and frankly, a bit on the rough side. (I’m employing understatement here. Sheesh.)
By the time we got home and dinner was made, honestly, I was feeling D.O.N.E. (Anyone else been there?) E had been asking for some momma/daughter time and even though I felt like just hiding in my master bathroom, I decided to take my girlie and my notebook and head to a coffee shop to do our writing together. I figured it would give her the time she was asking for, it would finish up our week, and maybe the change in scenery would reset all of our moods.
It worked wonderfully.
I am just so pleased and proud of the Rapunzel version she came up with at the end of our date! We started with a treat– and coffee for me– and spent an hour or so letting her think about and brainstorm how she wanted her story to go. She talked it out, I wrote it out, and let her use the Rocketbook to illustrate it. If you haven’t heard of the Rocketbook, check it out! E loves drawing in it, and I love that I can directly send her drawings and handwriting to her homeschool file on Google Drive. And the pages? Completely erasable, so they can keep up with all her doodles. They are in black and white, so once we print the story and illustration out, she can color on it like a coloring sheet.
Her version of Rapunzel? Definitely imaginative, and I’ll be honest; there were several times I had to keep my “straight face” on. Particularly when the farmer (yes, farmer) sees the tower and says, “This is the life I need.” And a horse tries to throw her “calf” in the tower with Rapunzel, but it doesn’t work… and finally, the farmer’s neighbor man rescues her. At one point in the story, Rapunzel is eight, and a few sentences later, she is 25. The explanation? “She was 25 now, because time flies when you are having fun.” Ohmyhead!
We spent the last 20 minutes or so of our momma/daughter writing date discussing what’s next: the Frog Prince. She had some ideas to bring to the table, such as making a crown for our frog puppet and putting on a show and having another movie day.
She’s looking forward to next week already, and I have to admit…
My son is considering swapping out his “warm pants” for shorts. That’s saying something.
He’s 3 and lives in sweat pants, people. Or no pants. It’s all or nothing over here.
“Shorts” weather means it is time to shift from school days to… funschool days!
Now, I know lots of people school year round… and I know that lots of other people take breaks.
I think our family will find it’s place somewhere in the middle. Summer begs to be treated differently with its warm days and lighter nights. And yet, my kids tend to work best with some routine and a decent bedtime. They are still young– my oldest being 6– and kinda sorta lose their minds when they don’t get the sleep they need. (Let’s be honest. Don’t we all kinda sorta lose our minds when we don’t sleep? #guiltyascharged #tenmontholdisstillinthemiddleoftheninemonthsleepregression <–#longesthashtagever)
So, when we have nothing else planned for the day, it will be school and backyard play of some sort. If the pool or zoo or playground or friends are calling our names, there will be no guilt in leaving the routine behind and swapping out learning/playing at home for learning/playing somewhere else.
Can I just say… I’m sooo looking forward to what I have planned for my E girl this summer?! She’s six, and all story. I’m planning on keeping our current math and LA going at least a couple of days a week in the summer to finish it out (we started new books in January)… but we are going to focus on major fun with our theme: fairy tales! I snagged the Funschooling Princess and Ballerina Journal (see a flip-through here) that E is excited about, and I’m weaving in the infamous Fairy Tale Project from Brave Writer’s Jot It Down resource.
If you aren’t familiar with the idea behind it, Julie Bogart gives a nice summary in her book, Brave Learner— which is phenomenal, by the way. I’m so glad I have it as a resource at the beginning of our homeschooling journey! (Do yourself a favor and just buy a copy. You won’t want to give it back to the library, I promise.)
Basically, The Fairy Tale Project encourages you to read several versions/adaptations of various fairy tales, and illustrate and write a version of your own. By the time the Fairy Tale Project is done, the student has several stories and illustrations that can be collected and put into a Fairy Tale book of their own. Isn’t that amazing?!
We are starting with Rapunzel!
(I’m reading the version from The Red Fairy Tale Book by Lang, but also snagged this Rapunzel book that has 3 different versions of the story in it. You’ll see the “classic” version that most of us think of is actually the German version. The book also includes the Filipino and Italian stories: Clotilde and Petrosinella, aka “Parsley.” Who knew?)
I think the thing that I’m most excited about is the “Princess Camp” we are going to have during the summer. I have some ideas bouncing around about merging self-care, etiquette, lessons from fairy tale princesses, the contributions of past and current princesses on their kingdoms, what it means to be a daughter of the King, etc. that I’m going to weave in. Of course, we will incorporate fairy tale/princess-themed activities, a Royal poetry tea-time, art/crafts, maybe even some flower/plant care, etc. I think E and her friends will have a great time!
Now to get all my ideas fleshed out and organized and into a workable resource!
Between all the reading and writing and imagining we are going to be doing, I can’t wait to see what E girl is going to come up with!
Best of all… Fairy Tale Funschool gives *me* an opportunity to be creative and construct Story myself.
Who knows? I’m going to see if my 3 year old boy might want to make a tale, too.
I can almost guarantee the protagonist prince probably won’t be wearing any pants.