Sunday, April 26, 2015

Simply Spring #7: Even More Pretty and Practical

Dear friends,

Welcome back to my Simply Spring series. I'm picking up the Pretty and Practical theme again, with pictures and tips for home and the rest of life.

I love the mix of colors in the photo above. I fixed this food basket of sausage & cheese biscuits and fresh fruit the other day for some of our homeless friends. A bunch of them live in the woods within a mile of our home, and we see them often in parking lots or grassy areas. They tend to stick together, and have to move from place to place because they aren't quite welcome. I visit them often to bring food and bottled water. If it is cold or wet, I might also hand out inexpensive blankets, tarps, and ponchos. Melody had seen them when we were out on errands, but by the time we got back with the basket, someone had already dropped off several sub sandwiches for them. They were still so thankful for what we brought - especially since it was home cooked and hot! More folks would be along soon enough to help them eat it all. They are also always grateful that someone will stop and chat with them as friends. I am so inspired by the example of my sweet second daughter Julia, who just turned 26 this month. She organizes a monthly dinner for those who are homeless or in transitional housing. The dedicated group of volunteers also provide clothing, toiletries, laundry detergent, and more at the outreach. Read more here: 13 Ways to Help People Who Are Homeless.

I am also deeply inspired by reading the biography of Clara Barton with my Melody, who is 9. Clara was such an example of serving the poor and needy, even though she was painfully shy and only 5 feet tall. Before she was a Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, she was also a school teacher and school founder. As a longtime home school mom, I am so encouraged at how she kept order in her classrooms, not with rigid rules and harsh discipline, but with imagination, understanding, and mutual respect. That's what I aspire to do as I teach, whether in a co-op classroom or at home. I'm still learning.

A few days ago, realizing we are just several weeks from the end of our school year, I planned out what we are going to read each week. We are studying American history this year, so I went through my shelves to see what we could reasonably cover for literature, history, and science. I typed the list of them into my computer so I can know which ones to grab each day. One of those is the Clara Barton biography, which I had intended to read a few months ago when we were in that time period. I bought it in February when we toured her home/headquarters museum in Maryland while visiting family.  (See Clara Barton House in Glen Echo.)

Speaking of books, after nearly 25 years of home schooling my 10 kids, we have a huge personal library. Last year I sold and/or gave away about 200 of them, but our shelves were still overflowing. I just pulled another 300+ off the shelves and boxed them up. Either I've already read them with my youngest, or I just don't think we'll use them. I am only planning to home school her for another year or two, so there is just so much I will probably never need and that someone else can put to better use. I identify so strongly with words and books that it's hard for me to part with so many of them at once, but it is also freeing. Besides, we still have several bookcases full! I will give some of the ones I culled to my four grandchildren, others to a friend who is a single mom, and still others I will sell at the used bookstore or the used curriculum sale.

I mentioned several weeks ago that I had bought a seed starter tray and flower seeds, but somehow I never got around to planting them until a few days ago. The only packet I could find was delphinium, so I planted them in 30 of the 72 tray compartments. I went out later and got more packets - maybe I'll get to them this week? (See my poem A Mother's Seeds.)

The tray is organized in sections of 6, so Melody and I talked about how to count them quickly by multiplying the number of sections (12) by the number of compartments in each section (6). We also multiplied the 5 sections planted to get 30, and subtracted that from 72 to find the remaining number (42, which is 7 sections times 6). Isn't it lucky that it's the 6 times table that she's learning now? I love to use real life to teach academic skills.

I usually like an abundance of flowers along my walkway. To my dismay, the ones I purchased and planted a few months ago have since withered away. I contemplated buying more plants, but then decided to just wait on the seeds sprouting in a few more weeks. I still have my potted white petunias and some flowering bushes, but for now the remaining bare brown ground is good enough. It's funny that when I was at the ladies Refresh retreat last week, two of the women at my table said they aren't doing flower gardens this year because they are so busy, and that potted plants will have to do for them. I can so relate. I don't have to put a lot of expectations on myself when my life is already a flurry.

I thought of that again yesterday when I walked into a neighbor's house (I had never been there before) and everything was so attractive, clean, and tidy. It made me depressed for a little while thinking of how mine is not usually like that. I am always fighting clutter and grime. Then I remembered - she has less children and they are older, and they had just cleaned up for a party. We do that too when we are entertaining, even if it means throwing bins of random stuff into my bedroom to get it out of public view. And even if all that weren't true, what good does it do to forfeit my peace and joy? Coming from a previous church background that focused a lot on rooting out sin, I started "playing tapes" in my head that said, "Stop sinfully comparing. You are just being proud and selfish and lazy and ungrateful." I had to make a conscience decision to silence those neurotic nagging voices and cut myself some slack. Besides, it wasn't just that single incident that had made me sad. It just happened to trigger a swirl of other icky emotions from other situations where I felt less than adequate, and then it all bunched up on me at that moment. It took a little while to untangle the knots in my soul, but it was grace, not shame, that pulled me through.

That does not mean I give up on improving my situation. I am still on a lifelong quest to get my act together. Two of my goals this year are to get more fit and to organize my home better. I'm recovering from a back injury and my chiropractor has encouraged me to use a resistance band and a foam roller to strengthen and flex my muscles and joints. He had given me a band, but I prefer one with handles since I have arthritis in my hands. They are so much easier to grasp.

I bought the Gold's Gym brand resistance band and the foam roller at Walmart. I found the exercise mat at the ReStore thrift store, which benefits Habitat for Humanity. (I love love love that they are getting disadvantaged people into houses of their own!)

Unfortunately, this stuff kept getting in my way and often ended up on my bedroom floor. Tripping over them would not be good for my back and I don't want my room to look junky, so I had to think of a solution. I had a hamper in my closet holding some extra blankets, so I emptied it out and now I store my exercise supplies in it, right where I can see and remember to use them.

Where did I put those extra blankets? I tucked them into a large basket that I had gotten Salvation Army last year.

Another problem to solve: the insoles of my flower sneakers kept slipping and flopping out whenever I took my shoes off. This went on for weeks, and it was annoying. So I finally decided to get out my little bottle of tacky glue and fasten them back in place. Works for me! I love wearing cheerful shoes!

Here is something for you to ponder from this post. What is bothering you right now? What problems - big or small - keep cropping up? What can you do to fix or at least alleviate them? Then think of a way to serve someone else who is having a tough time - maybe in your family, your church, or your community. You can't fix all their problems for them, but you might be able to provide some practical assistance and help them figure it out. Whether it is your problem or theirs, you are resourceful and creative. You can do it.

Oh! I wrote a new poem and posted it on one of my other blogs this past week. You can find it here: This Is Where I Am In Time.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

No comments:

Post a Comment