Category Archives: Louise

“A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poetry Friday ButtonFor our first six weeks school term (or more), we are memorizing “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  So far as I know, his works have passed into the public domain, so I’ll share it here in its entirety:

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real!    Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

I have fond memories of learning about Longfellow as a high school junior.  He was the subject of my first literary research paper.  I recognize the fact that his poetry has really fallen out of fashion these days, but I still like it a lot.  My girls and I were practicing it in the van the other day on the way to Bible study.  This week we’re supposed to know down through the fifth stanza:

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

What a wonderful four lines!  Of course, our recitation necessitated a discussion of the word bivouac, one of the few words I specifically remember learning the meaning of at some point during my education.  This, then, made me think of the Apostle Paul’s enduring words from 2 Corinthians 5:1:

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

This passage of scripture has doubly special meaning for me because it is the passage a beloved pastor used at my papaw’s funeral.  Sharing it with my girls–the literary connection between bivouac and tent–and then the connection to the previous stanza–this encapsulates one of the things I love about homeschooling.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.


I also love that Louise pointed out, after considering stanzas four and five together, that Randy Melendy from our current bedtime read-aloud, Then There Were Five, has a particular affinity for funeral marches.

How sweet it is when it all comes together.

:-)

 

 

Dining room update

I thought I’d give an update on our dining room revamp progress since it has changed quite a bit since the last time I shared.  I apologize in advance for the darkness of the pictures.  I took the pictures in the late afternoon after the room was tidied for a birthday supper for my mom.
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I bought this big urn at Hobby Lobby at 50% off and the fall flowers were 40% off.  (This is the third arrangement; I had to make two trips back to return other flowers I didn’t like.)   A funny thing happened when I bought the urn: we were looking at them and I was considering a smaller version of same pot.  Louise piped up and asked me why I’d want a chamber pot for the dining room table!  Another shopper who was standing nearby got a big kick out of that.  ;-)

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It turns out that I didn’t buy anything new for the mantle (yet) except for the artificial flowers beside the picture.  I just kind of stuck things up there.  I’ve admitted it already, right?  I’m no decorator.  (Actually, Steady Eddie is the one who handled clean-up in this room while I cooked on Friday evening, so he’s the one who made the tabletop arrangement.  I’m pretty sure I won’t leave it like this, but I sure was happy to have his help! ;-) )

 

DSC_0039 DSC_0040 DSC_0041We still need something for the big wall (and to move the trampoline–but where, oh where?), but I really like how it looks now.  It’s very warm and cozy, and I love sitting in the living room on the couch and seeing the flowers and the mantle.  After years upon years of having things unfinished, it feels good to really like the space.

 

Odds & Ends

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these hodgepodge posts–so long, in fact, that I fear I’ll leave out much of what I thought I’d share as things happened.  I often think–“I should blog about this!”  But time has a way of slipping away.  I’ll share what I remember.  :-)

  • Lulu completed her first summer as a library volunteer with a pizza party at the library to which Nana took her.  I’m proud of her for her sticktoitiveness in a task that isn’t always a load of fun–shelving books!
  • Lulu also participated in the W.C. Handy Kidz Jam for the Handy Festival.  This event allows the piano students to play with a professional bass guitar player and drummer, jazz-style.  It’s a good experience.   I missed it because I had a CBS meeting to attend, but Steady Eddie recorded for me.  This happened the day after we got back from Dauphin Island, so it had been over a week since Lulu had really been able to practice.  She acquitted herself very well considering that.

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  • We had our annual family birthday celebration in which we rent a local public pool for an evening at the end of July.  This is the fourth year or so that we’ve done this.  We did allow Lulu her own personal birthday party this year since she turned ten, but we usually just have a big celebration in honor of all the kids’ birthdays.  We invite everyone we can think of and ask for no gifts–everyone just come swim and have fun and eat cake and ice cream.  :-)  The kids (except Benny) all picked out the kind of cake they wanted and helped me make it.  Lulu and the DLM picked rainbow cake and Louise picked Texas sheet cake.  Isn’t the rainbow cake batter pretty?

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The finished products:

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(Yes, I did warn everyone that if they ate the rainbow cakes, they’d be ingesting their yearly limit of artificial colorings. :-) )

  • We’ve managed to swim a lot over the past three weeks.  Good times.
  • We went to Montgomery with Steady Eddie on Monday and visited the Alabama Archives.  I’ll try to share pictures from that trip soon.
  • I still haven’t finished sharing pictures from Dauphin Island.  I’m optimistic that I might finish before Christmas.  :-)
  • Our little Benny is just a joy and a delight.  I think the early toddler stage is my favorite.  At sixteen months, he’s walking and talking up a storm.  He mimics what we say a lot:  hot dog, cracker, cocka-doodle-doo (from Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown), big boy, etc.  On Wednesday of last week he got into the pantry and poured out a whole box of vanilla wafers.  He cried hysterically at first, but then he realized he’d hit the jackpot.  :-)
  • On Wednesday our CBS class held registration, and I am thrilled and so very thankful that our fledgling homeschooling classes are growing!  Thank you, Lord!  We’ve registered more children in the whole children’s department (nursery-sixth grade) than the current director has ever had!

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  • We started school on Thursday, despite my feelings of unpreparedness.  We had Circle Time, math, language, handwriting, and writing.  I also read aloud a good bit in a desperate attempt to finish our current read-aloud (Summer of the Monkeys) before plunging into our history curriculum.

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  • I think everyone liked getting back into the routine.  We’re still working things out–aren’t we always?–including finding places for the girls to go when they need to have quiet to do their work.  (Plugging your ears while still in the same room with some Very Noisy Brothers really doesn’t help. :-) )
  • I was particularly happy to note that my dropping of the math ball over the summer (we were supposed to play games at the very least!) didn’t hurt their retention.
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  • We even managed rest time on Thursday, which is a tricky thing nowadays.  I have to be pretty persistent to convince the DLM that we all need quiet rest time.  The girls, of course, don’t mind–Lulu disappears with a book (The Warden and the Wolf King was a big winner!) and Louise reads or makes art or plays with her seashells or dolls.  She’s not hard to occupy.  Mama gets bonus points if Benny stays asleep for the whole time!

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  • I’m still figuring out a schedule for the DLM.  It will involve a good bit of sisterly attention.

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  • One thing that has been a hit for him are those dot markers with accompanying “paint by number” sheets.
  • On Friday morning we had our co-op orientation.  Benny just about wore me out with his aversion to being held, but it was worth it to re-connect with so many friends.  We celebrated by eating lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant where I was complimented by a stranger on the behavior of my children.  (I love it when that happens!)  :-)
  • We usually have breakfast-for-supper once a week, and this week I made a frittata (inspired by the PW, though I didn’t follow her recipe) instead of the standard scrambled eggs.  I loved it!
  • Last night we had my mom’s birthday supper here at home.  It was good to have everyone over–especially my nephews, who are the DLM’s own personal heroes.  They’re big high schoolers now, so we don’t see much of them.  :-)

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  • We now have two parakeets:  Amber, our original, and Emerald.  Just in case you need a closeup:

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  • The children all spent the night with grandparents (a boy and a girl with Nana and a boy and a girl with Mamaw and Papaw) last night.  Steady Eddie and I slept in a little, talked a lot, and went out to breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning.  It was wonderful!
  • We’re gearing up for another busy week next week.

So how are things in your world?

 

 

The end of an era

 

DSC_0018Two of our children have been finger suckers, and two have been pacifier babies.  Lulu sucked the same two fingers as Steady Eddie did when he was a baby–the middle and ring finger of the right hand.  It was quite ingrained in her–to the point that she did it well past her third birthday.  She did it so much that her fingernails on those fingers were flat and a little shriveled.  When she held up her hand with her fingers extended, her tall man and ring man stood close to each other, like best buddies.  One day I read something that made me realize that she needed to stop doing  it!   Today!  So I made a deal with her, and she quit.  Just like that.  She never looked back.

Louise took a paci, and while it was hard to break the habit, it was nothing that a well-aimed snip of the scissors into the paci’s nipple wouldn’t cure.

When the DLM was a few months old, we were astounded to realize that he had that some predilection for the middle and fourth finger of his right hand.  It seemed like too much to be just a coincidence.  What’s more, he loved those fingers even more than Lulu, if that’s possible.  He’s a very affectionate, physical little fellow, and if his skin ever came into contact with someone else’s–even down to his feet stepping on yours–into his mouth went his fingers.  It was downright annoying at times.  (Just ask his sisters!)  Even past his fourth birthday, I had no idea how to break the habit.  What’s more, I didn’t have the mental and emotional stamina to break it.  I just couldn’t even think about it.

So the DLM solved the problem for us.  He broke his right arm.  The angle of the cast made it impossible for him to put his fingers in his mouth.  We thought it would cause problems, especially at bedtime, but it didn’t.  He was able to go to sleep just fine with nothing at all in his mouth.   He had his cast removed at the end of July, and so far, we only know of one time that he’s had his fingers in his mouth.  That was at night while he was asleep.

It’s a pretty extreme (not to mention expensive!) way to break the habit, but it works.  :-)

(Benny is a paci baby, but we really wonder if he would’ve sucked those fingers, too, if the paci hadn’t won out.  When he was younger than a year old, he would often put those very same fingers up to his paci and rest them there.  Really!)