On Contentment

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a pretty upbeat person.
I usually look for the good, and try to find the sunshine.
I’m almost always an optimist.
But, there are times when my optimism fails me.
Sometimes I find it very hard to see anything but the negative.
It’s usually related to my hormones, and the focus of my negativity is always my house.
I guess I can be grateful that it isn’t directed at my life, my circumstances, or the people I love.
But still, it makes me sad that I can get so lost in negativity and focus only on the things I see as imperfections.

This past Sunday we spent time cleaning up our back yard.
We pulled weeds, raked leaves, put things away, did some cleaning in the garage, and just tidied it all up.
Everything looked so much better.
I knew it.
But inside I was struggling because all I could see was everything that was still undone.
It was hard for me to enjoy the good we’d done because I was choosing to see the bad.

photo-12 Last night I snapped this photo during our dinner time picnic.
It was a beautiful night and felt just like summer.
We were eating on a quilt on the patio because our turquoise picnic table finally rotted away after 12 years of service.
We also don’t have a stick of other patio furniture.
This was a point of frustration for me on Sunday.
Like to the point of spoiling everything else because I was so hung up on it.
I hate it when go there.

But last night when I looked at this scene before me, I didn’t care about our lack of patio furniture.
Or the list of other imperfections that were bugging me 2 days before.
All I saw was my sweet family, a cheery quilt to sit on for dinner, our happy, turquoise doors, twinkling lights, and a scene that brought joy to my heart.
Nothing was different from Sunday except the state of my heart.
But what a difference that can make.

Aaron and I dream of a vintage, cone shaped fire place for our back patio.
And vintage patio furniture to match it.
And our back yard would look like this!
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But in all seriousness, those items are spendy, and we’ve chosen to wait on them.
Or perhaps to get something with a lower price when we find that something.
But until then, we make do with what we have: a rickety picnic table , folding lawn chairs from Target, and an old wash tub as our fire pit.
It is not  a look worthy of Sunset magazine. (my favorite source of inspiration for backyard landscape and design)
But they have served us well and given us plenty of wonderful times in our back yard.
And most of the time I recognize that.
And am grateful.
But other times I complain.

This should not be.
I have so many things to be grateful for and it is wrong, yes wrong, for me to complain about my lack of anything.
Because really, I don’t lack for anything.
Not one single thing.
I am not minimizing the struggle and suggesting I just, “put on a happy face.”
Believe me, I know the depth and difficulty of this struggle.
At times I feel paralyzed under the weight of this negativity that comes over me.
I hate it.
But I can’t stay there.
It really is a battle, and it isn’t just in my head.
It’s in my heart too.

Because a big part of what I’m struggling with is contentment.
We live in a culture that is always telling us we deserve more, and then encourages us to buy more and have more.
We start to believe that we need more.
And if we can’t have what we want, we don’t wait and save for it, but just get something else in the meantime.
And then toss that when it breaks or we don’t like it anymore, or we can finally get the thing we wanted in the first place.
There aren’t a lot of messages that encourage contentment with what we have.
What if, instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I choose to praise God for what I do have?
What if I stop and do what that old hymn encourages me to do, “count my blessings name them one by one”?

It’s hard.
I know.
And sometimes I just don’t want to choose contentment.
I’d rather complain because, frankly, it’s easier.
But God always leads me back to this verse from Philippians 4 and I am convicted and encouraged at the same time,
For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

I’ll never be able to be content in all situations on my own strength.
I’ve got crazy pms hormones working against me, I’ve got 4 kids who can’t remember to keep their dirty hands off the walls, I’ve got…life!
I don’t live in a perfect world.
But oh how good it is to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
I don’t have to be perfect.
My house, my yard, my husband, my kids, my life, do not have to be perfect.
With God’s strength I can choose to see the beauty in all of it.
With God’s strength I can choose contentment, even when I don’t want to.
It’s hard.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
It just means it’s hard.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

This may be the summer of patio furniture.
And I admit, I am really hoping it is.
I’ll be overjoyed to spruce up our space some more.
But it might not be.
And that will be OK too.
We’ll just keep spreading out cozy quilts and enjoying this beautiful life we live.
And hey, according to this vintage ad, our folding lawn chairs are the real deal anyway.
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So Maybe we’ll just get a few more of those and call it a day!
Cheers to vintage!
And to choosing contentment.
Greta

How We Home School: Poetry Lessons

A new, How We Home School, post for you today.
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“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I love poetry, and so do my kids.
We read poetry almost every day , and I’ve been reading it to them since they were babies.
We memorize poems and have favorites we like to read again and again.
Sometimes we read a poem that isn’t our favorite, and that’s OK too.

I find that a lot of adults don’t read poetry because they don’t “get” it, and therefore don’t find it enjoyable.
I think that happens because we stop reading poetry as young children, and most of us never really read it again.
As children, we can enjoy a poem and not worry whether it all makes sense.
We don’t search out the hidden meaning.
We just listen.
The whimsical, made up, or fantastic doesn’t bother us.
In fact, that often makes it more fun.
We can learn a lot from the way children interact with poetry.

When I taught high school, most of my students dreaded poetry lessons.
It made me sad that they were missing out on all the joy that comes from reading a beautiful, funny, or dramatic poem.
It’s true, poetry requires a bit more from the reader than prose.
As we read, or listen to it, we might have to fill in the gaps, and think in a non-linear way.
There is often an element of fantasy, or the fantastic, so we can’t be too literal either.

Poems ask us think harder–they don’t do all the work for us like stories do.
But if we just keep reading poetry, if we start by just letting the sound of the words wash over us, and don’t try so hard “get” it, we’ll find reading poetry can be really wonderful.

Because poetry is often seen as “artsy”, it is taught less often than traditional stories or non fiction.
It is even viewed by some as frivolous.
It’s just something we teachers often “can’t get to”, because we have more important subjects to cover.
But when I think of the critical thinking and comprehension skills my kids are using everyday when we read, discuss, and enjoy poetry, I know it’s actually very valuable, and totally worth the time it takes.

The irony of this, of course, is that our poetry lessons always take less than 10 minutes.
And besides just reading a poem, I use our poetry lessons to teach other things too, such as literary terms and vocabulary.
For example, today’s poem, “Growing in the Vale” used personification.
My kids know what that is already, but when we read, they know to always listen for it and point it out.
And there were two words I wasn’t sure they knew, so we talked about them and thought of synonyms.
There won’t be tests or vocab lists on those words.
But I will use them when I can, and when those words come up in our reading again, I’ll point them out.
We’ve never done a formal vocabulary lesson, but constant exposure to elevated language is giving them a fantastic vocabulary.
Even if I didn’t point out words they don’t know, my kids are learning the valuable skill of figuring out the meaning of a word by context clues.
We also did a little botany, looking up the subject of the poem, a daffodil, in one of our flower books.
All together this poetry lesson took about 5 minutes.
It is quick and enjoyable.
It didn’t require a lot of lesson planning, or any really, from me.
Sometimes we make things more complicated than they really need to be.

For teaching poetry, I really like vintage, illustrated poetry books. (no surprise, right?)
These books use real poems–not dumbed down kiddie poems.
And the illustrations always pull my kids into the poem farther.
One of my most favorite poetry books is from the Childcraft series from the 1940s and 1950s.
They are full of a variety of beautiful poems and illustrations.
The book in the photo above is a Childcraft book from 1949.
Other books of poetry that I like are the Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry, and The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse.
I also love the poetry books by Robert Louis Stevenson, AA Milne, and Shel Silverstein.
I have also found a lot of wonderful poetry from the website I use for much of my home schooling curriculum, Ambleside Online.

I’d love to hear what poems and poets you and your children enjoy.
And how you incorporate it into your schooling.
Please share!

Cheers to poetry and vintage books!
Greta

Sometimes It Takes A Village

“You have to want it, you have to plan for it, you have to fit it into a busy day. You have to be mentally tough, you have to use others to help you. The hard part isn’t getting your body into shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.” Amby Burgoot

The very last thing I wanted to do tonight was go running.
Up big hills .
I mean the VERY last thing,
My legs were so sore from yesterday’s workout that it hurt to walk.
I couldn’t imagine running on them.

But I knew Aaron was going to ride his bike home from work, pedaling as fast as he could, so I could go.
And he was going to be supportive and for me, even though I was leaving him with 4 kids at dinner time.
Because that’s the kind of guy he is.
Still, I emailed him and said, “I’m not going tonight. I’m too sore. I’m in pain. I can’t do it.”
He didn’t say, ” yes you are.”
Or even, ” yes you should.”
He just said, ” your legs will feel better if you run. It will stretch them out.”
How could I get offended at that?
Or accuse him of implying I needed to go running and therefore implying I was fat? (because you know I’ve done that to him before)
I couldn’t.
Blerg!

So then I texted my friend Jocelyn, and said, “the thought of running makes me want to cry. You better tell me a good reason to come or I’m going to bail.”
Of course she texted right back and said,”you need to be there. Your legs will stretch out while you run. You are strong. You will feel so good when you are done!”
How could I argue with that?
I couldn’t!
Blerg!

So I went.
And when I pulled up, Jocelyn and my trainer Shannon cheered for me, and made me feel like a hero just for coming.
It’s good to have people on your team.

The first 10 or so steps were brutal.
Brutal.
But after that my legs started feeling better.
And then they felt good .
I couldn’t believe it.

So much of exercise is mental.
If you can push past the excuses, then the exercise is the easy part.
For me, having people to support me is key to getting past those excuses.
I know the sacrifices Aaron makes so that I can work out, and I don’t want to let him down.
His support motivates me.
Knowing I have friends waiting for me to show up at boot camp, or for a run, also motivates me.
And having a trainer who will ask where I’ve been is another great help for the times I don’t want to lace up my shoes.
There are times when I can get there myself.
And there there are days like today, when I need some extra help.

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We ran down the last hill watching the sun set.
I felt like a million bucks.
Everyone was right; I felt so great after it was done.
It’s like that every single time.
I know that.
But sometimes I still need the reminder.
You know the saying about it taking a village to raise children?
Well, sometimes it takes a village to get me to exercise.
And I’m so grateful for my village.
Aaron and Jocelyn, thank you for making me run tonight.
Shannon thanks for cheering me on when I wanted to walk.
I loved tonight’s run.
When it was done!
Cheers to fitness!
Greta

Living Fit–My New Blog

Hey guys!
I am so excited to tell you about a new blog I am writing for the boot camp I work out with, Long Beach Boot Camp.
The blog is called Living Fit and I’ll be writing there weekly.
Fitness has become such an important part of my life that I am thrilled to have the chance to write about it regularily.
I’m starting off by sharing my own journey to healthy and fit lifestyle.
I’d love for you to follow my blog on the Long Beach Boot Camp website.
I’ll be posting a link here every week when I do my write up over there.
Today my post will be here, too.
I hope my story can be an inspiration and encouragement to you, wherever you are at on your fitness journey.
Cheers to Living Fit!

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How My Journey Began
If you would have told me a year and a half ago that I would be writing a blog about fitness and fit living, I’d never have believed you.
Well, I might have believed the writing part, because it has always been a passion.
But fitness has not.
I’ve been active my whole life: swimming, hiking, and playing numerous sports while I was younger.
But dedicated, everyday, get sweaty and uncomfortable, kind of exercise was not my thing.
I didn’t want to do it, and was pretty resentful when anyone suggested I try it.
I wish now that I would have listened to that helpful advice earlier (sorry Mom!), but it wasn’t until I was really sitting in a hard place that I was ready to do what it took to change my life.

It was the summer of 2012 and my 5th baby had just turned 1.
I usually lose my baby weight within a year, but this time things were different.
I didn’t have a single pair of shorts that fit, I could hardly button my biggest pair of pants, and the only things left in my wardrobe that were any bigger were my maternity clothes.
I wasn’t going back there.
I was frustrated with myself, and uncomfortable in my own skin.
I had never before felt such a dislike for my body.
I wanted to keep up with my kids, to be active and healthy with them.
But instead I was mowing down the chocolate in an attempt to make myself feel better, and then ending up in tears because my clothes didn’t fit.
I was desperate.
And I was ready for a change.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make the change, but I knew it was going to have to be drastic.
I wanted it to be a lasting change, so I knew I was going to have to do something I hadn’t done before.
I was going to have to push myself and step out of my comfort zone.
That was when I saw an email in my inbox for a 1 month membership to Long Beach Boot Camp.
Boot Camp?
I didn’t do boot camp.
I didn’t run, lift weights, or do push ups.
The thought of it terrified me.
But this was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

All the excuses I usually had didn’t work this time.
It was affordable.
I wouldn’t have to find childcare for my kids. (I’d just have to work out at 5:30 in the morning!)
There were no long term contracts, or pledging away 2 years of my life to a gym.
It was doable.
I signed up.

I waited a month to tell my husband because I was scared to get started.
I was scared to admit out loud what I already knew in my heart to be true.
And I was scared to be accountable for making changes in my life.
I was scared I might fail.
I’m not usually scared of much.
But we all have our something–and this was my something.

It might not seem like much, this signing up for a month of boot camp classes.
But to me it was a big thing.
And little or big, it was the thing that I was looking for.
It was the thing that changed my life.

There is so much more to tell, and I can’t wait to share more of my story with you.
Right now, wherever you’re at in your fitness journey, I’ll leave with this inspiring thought.
It’s been a help to me from the very beginning.
All the best,
Greta

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That Day We Almost Lost Davy

In almost 10 years of parenting, I can only think of 3 times when I have been truly terrified for my children’s safety.
Today makes it 4.

I was making lunch today and it was unusually quiet.
“Can someone find David?” I called.
Lilly and William went in search calling, “Davy! Daaaavvy!” as they walked around the house.
They went into the backyard and a minute later called, “he’s not out here Mom!”
Trying to quell the nervousness that was rising in my breast, James and I joined the search, calling Davy’s name.
I looked in every room, the closets, the bathtub, under the beds, and on the top bunks.
I looked in the garage, the playhouse and Aaron’s studio.
Nothing.
The kids were doing the same thing, all of us calling his name as our search grew more frantic.

I am a bit OCD about keeping our back gate closed.
I am always on the kids to make sure the gate is shut and check it multiple times a day.
None of my kids have ever wandered off.
But the gardeners were here today, and even though we all stay inside when they are here, and they are very careful to close the gate , I thought they must have left it open at some point, and Davy slipped out with no one knowing,
I don’t panic often, but I started to panic.

The big kids were still searching, yelling Davy’s name, and calling out to me, “I’m praying right now, Mommy!”
I could hear William crying
I ran across the street to my neighbor’s.
He was standing outside with his son and a Triple A mechanic.
“My 2 year old is gone ,” I almost sobbed,
All 3 Looked at me, utter expletives that were perfectly fitting for the situation, and started to run to their cars.
“What’s he wearing?” they asked as they were all climbing in.
A diaper. Just a diaper.

As I was calling 911, all I could think of was that I was a terrible mother.
How could I let this happen?
I hated myself.
Would the police declare me an unfit mother because I let my 2 year old wander away in a diaper?
Would I still be allowed to home school?
How would we live without Davy?
It is amazing how slow time moves in an emergency, even though everything is really happening at   the same pace as usual.
I felt like I was underwater, and drowning.

Before the 911 operator even picked up, my boys called from across the street, “we found him! We found him !”
“Thank God! Where is he?” I almost screamed back.
“In your bed, under the covers!”
“But I looked in there! I called his name !”
“He’s asleep Mommy! He’s ok!”
I waved my neighbors back and told them we found David.
And I walked back into my house, fell onto the floor, and just sobbed.
There are few things in this world more horrible than not knowing where your child is.

The big kids gathered around me and we prayed a prayer
of thankfulness to Jesus.
And then, through my tears, I praised them.
For not panicking.
For praying while they were scared.
For continuing to look for Davy even though we had looked everywhere.
And for finding him.

It shook us all up.
It was a good reminder to us all how precious we are to one another.
Sometimes we get frustrated and annoyed at each other, but how much more do we love each other!
I am not much of a drinker, but man oh man could I go for a stiff one right now!
And holy cow can David ever sleep!
Sheesh.
This parenting thing is not for wimps, is it?
I’ve never been so glad for happy endings.
Greta
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Ma and Pa Modern Cook: BBQ Pizzas

Today has been quite a day.
After being up almost the whole night with a sick kid, I still had a full day of caring for him, every one else, teaching school, trying to clean up the house (not happening) and all the other stuff we have to do when we have kids.
You know the drill.
At dinner time, after making sure we had the appropriate barf-in-the-car supplies, just in case, we dropped my oldest off at his baseball game.
I really wanted to stop at In and Out on the way home and get myself a cheeseburger and fries.
We don’t eat any fast food except In and Out.
And, sometimes, it is totally worth the calorie splurge.
But I knew the kids didn’t need In and Out, and neither did I.
We needed something more wholesome.
So I made pizza!

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If you are going to make pizza, these are really the way to go.
Especially once the weather warms up and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
That’s happening right now where we live, but it’s been a weird winter here this year.
These pizzas are a breeze to make, and they’re delicious.
You really can’t ask for more.
Plus they are just as easy to make a bunch for a crowd or just one for yourself.
Perfection!

You’ll want to make these at some point, so I’m going to tell you how.
Ingredients:
Olive Oil (for this I like the kind in a spray can from Trader Joe’s)
Pita Bread ( I like the whole wheat kind from Trader Joe’s)
Spaghetti sauce (homemade if you have a little extra time, from a jar if you are in a hurry–I do both)
Grated Cheese (But fresh mozzarella is a revelation)
Toppings of choice–our favorites include: salami, pepperoni, sliced, pre-cooked sausages, sliced squash and zucchini, cherry tomatoes, sliced scallions, greek olives, grilled eggplant–the options are really endless.
And very important, fresh Arugula for when the pizza is finished cooking (don’t leave it out!)

Once you’ve gotten your ingredients ready, you can make your pizza.
Here’s what you do:
Preheat your grill to medium high
Spray or brush the bottom side of your pita bread with olive oil.
Cover the top side with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce
Sprinkle on a thin layer of cheese
Arrange toppings of your choice on top of cheese
Carefully place the pizza directly on the grill
Remove when the cheese is melted and the bottom of the pizza is getting crispy
This will only take a few minutes, so don’t leave it on the grill for too long
After you take your pizza off the grill, cover it generously with fresh arugula.
Trust me.
Add some fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt and you’ll have a great, wholesome pizza on your plate.
It’s seriously delicious.
Your welcome.

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I’m hopeful tomorrow is at least a little better than today.
It won’t take much, so I think my odds are good.
And if its not, I have more BBQ pizza ingredients.
I’ll be fine.

All the best,
Greta

Tears, Loss, and Daffodils

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It’s daffodil season.
Every time I see that first bunch of them in the market, I catch my breath, and feel the tears filling my eyes.
4 years ago when we lost our 4th baby, I was given many beautiful bouquets of daffodils.
And so they became my baby’s flower.
They are a sweet reminder of the care I received at time when I was broken hearted.
But they are also a reminder of the little person that I never got to know.
4 years later, I still cry for that baby.
Those yellow blossoms are heavy with feeling, sorrow and joy mingled together.

I’m still surprised at the sometimes intensity of my grief.
In the beginning, when I could finally get through a day without dwelling on the loss constantly, I felt guilty.
How could I live my life normally after losing a baby?
And then, years later, when I suddenly find myself sobbing about a long past miscarriage, I feel guilty about that.
Should I still feel the hurt like this?
Is it right for me to feel this way when there is so much goodness in my life?
And besides, other people have losses much greater than mine.
It seems no matter what I feel, I struggle with finding an explanation for it, a justification.
As if I need one.

After we lost our baby, well meaning people assured me there’d be more babies.
And then, after Davy was born, other well meaning people said we could be glad because we never would have had Davy if it weren’t for the baby we had lost.
I understand what they were trying to say.
And I wouldn’t trade my wild Davy boy for the world.
But please, please, understand something, the gain of one wonderful thing does not erase the loss of another.

Oh I know we should count our blessings.
And I know we should be grateful for the way God brings goodness out of brokenness.
That is redemption, and redemption is the most beautiful thing in this broken world.
But don’t you think God cries over the brokenness too?
I do.
He was with me in my tears.
He still is.
And it’s OK to cry.
Even when we reach that point where we can say, “I’m am so sad about that, but I am so glad for this.  This goodness which has come after such sorrow.”
Even then, in our gladness, we are allowed to acknowledge the loss that is still there.

I have been a crier my whole life.
I cry because of beautiful things.
I cry over broken ones.
I cry when I look at my husband and children because I love them so much.
I cry when I am sad, happy, mad, when I’m reading a good book, or when I know a friend, or a stranger, is hurting.
I used to be ashamed of my tears.
I was embarrassed.
But I’m not any more.
My tears don’t mean I am weak.
They mean I feel deeply all the goodness and the hurting this life holds.

I still miss my baby.
I think I always will.
And that is how it should be.
I will never forget a friend who told me, with tears in her eyes, that she still felt the pain of a baby lost 20 years ago.
What a gift she gave me.
She gave me the freedom to cry for as long as I need to.

Four years later, I am learning that I don’t have to explain away this sadness I still feel.
I can walk through the days of spring with joy in my heart because life is beautiful and full of much goodness.
My eyes can fill with tears of happiness when I spend a beautiful day in the sun with my 4 sweet babies.
But I can also sit still in the waves of sadness that wash over me at this time of year.
I don’t have to fix it, pretend it isn’t there, or wonder what is wrong with me.
I can cry tears over a love lost.
I will wipe them away, but I won’t stop them from coming.

I love the poem, On Another’s Sorrow, by William Blake.
It talks of how we should be with one another in our pain–that we should sorrow with one another.
Like the friend who came to me with arms full of daffodils, and a candle.
She sat next to me on the couch and cried with me.
She was with me in the hurting.
But the poem speaks also of Another who is with us in our sorrow.
In those times when no one is there to see us cry.
When everyone else has forgotten, or we just can’t share the hurt.
When we’re crying over a lost baby, aging parents, a failing marriage, financial woes, loneliness, a child with special needs, or feelings of desperation, He is there, crying with us.
You aren’t alone.

The last stanza of the poem really speaks to me.
O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.”
To you who are hurting, may you find joy.
And until then, may you make peace with your sorrow, and know you are not alone in it.

All the best,
Greta

*The beautifully illustrated quote is by the amazing artist, Lisa Congdon.
*And if you are interested, here is the full poem by William Blake:
On Another’s Sorrow

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear -

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
O no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.
Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow's share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear -

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
O no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!

He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.

 

Back In the Saddle Again

I went horseback riding today with the ladies in my book club.
After I got the hang of what I was doing, I had an hour to sit on my horse, watch the world go by, and think.
Here’s what came to mind as I sat atop my horsey, Trigger.

photo-14

When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

There were 2 girls in our group today who had never ridden a horse .
And most of the rest of us hadn’t ridden since we were kids.
It was a little bit scary.
As we lined up to get on our horses, there were nervous giggles, talk of upset tummies, of courage draining by the minute, and a couple, “why did I say I’d do this ?”
Once we started off, I alternated between, i love this! and , this is going to be the longest hour of my life!
I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.
But after a while, it was really, really fun.
For all of us.

Trying new things is so important.
It’s important for me as a person.
Amongst other things, it makes me more interesting, and helps me grow.
But right now, I think it is most important for me as a mother.

A while back, when I was trying to find the kind of exercise that I enjoyed doing, I took some aerobics classes.
My performance was laughable.
And what I mean is, the instructor laughed at me because I was so bad.
I just could not get it.
It was really hard for me.
And sometimes frustrating, and sometimes embarrassing.
At the same time, I was trying to teach my son to read.
He was struggling.
There were times when I wanted to throw the books across the room and give up.
I wanted him to just get it, because it surely could’t be this hard.
Sometimes I wondered if he was really trying.
One night in aerobics class, as I went the wrong way, again, I suddenly understood how my son felt.
And I had so much compassion for him it brought tears to my eyes.
He was trying.
But it was hard.
And that was OK.
It was going to take a while.
And that was OK too.

We expect a lot from our kids:
Stand in front of that hard ball, that’s coming at you really fast and hit it with this little stick.
Don’t be scared!
And if it hits you, don’t cry!
Go into that group where you don’t know a soul, and talk to people and make friends, and I’ll pick you up in an hour.
Don’t be clingy!
Sound out these letters into words, and read them quickly, out loud, and in front of people.
And you better do it before you are 6.
Don’t mess up!
And don’t get frustrated!

Of course it’s imperative for us to encourage our kids to try new things, to meet new people , and to learn new skills.
But we also need to show them kindness and gentleness during the process.
We need to give them grace when it’s hard.
We need to hug them and say, “it’s OK to be scared.”
And we need to know where they are coming from.
Like Atticus Finch said, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

photo-15
So go for it.
Be the new kid.
Be a beginner.
Be not good at something.
Struggle.
Be scared.
It will help you love them better.
And after a little while, you might even start having fun.
(or you might stop doing aerobics forever and do boot camp instead.  and that’s ok)

All the best,
Greta

Your Daily Vintage : How and Why Wonder Books

Hi there!
I’m back with another Your Daily Vintage.
This time I’m sharing one of my favorite vintage book series, the How and Why Wonder Books.photo 1I found my first How and Why Wonder Book at a used book sale, and was instantly in love.
Since then I’ve continued to add to my collection whenever I stumble across them, usually finding 1 or 2 at a time.
Last week, though, I found my biggest haul yet: 6 books in all!
They were 75 cents each.
I tried not to squeal with excitement.photo 4Besides being fun for my kids to read, and crammed full of interesting information, I think the illustration and design work of these books are fantastic.
From the front cover to the back, to the end papers in between, it’s all just so well done.
Take a look at the logo on the front of each book.
The color blocking of those stripes, with the bold, clean type of the “How And Why”–genius!
Then there are the end pages.
I’d like to blow this up and paper a wall with it.photo 1-1All those little illustrations, the fab turquoise color, and the way each rectangle is a little off set so it isn’t sterile and boring–genius again!
The front covers are to die for.
I’d like to blow them up and turn them into posters.
This is one of the favorites in my collection.photo 2I like this one too.
Here are a few others that I don’t have (yet) and just love their cover art:
Sound, Planets and Interplanetary Travel, Insects, and one of my most favorites, Rocks and Minerals.
You can find more covers on my vintage children’s books board on Pinterest.photo 5Even the back covers of the book are well designed.photo 3-1photo 2-1How and Why books were published in the 1960s and 70s.
There wer 74 books published in all.
They are all still available, and can be found easily on line, or with more work, at used book stores and sales.
Each book is full of of full color and black and white illustrations.
Some of the information is out dated (interplanetary travel anyone?) but most of it is still accurate.
As I said, my kids love to look through them.
I keep them out on the coffee table for them to pick up and browse whenever they like.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to collect all 74, I’m at 15 now, but I’m sure going to have fun trying!

Remember to check out my Instagram feed and the hashtag #yourdailyvintage for lots more posts like this.
Cheers to vintage!
Greta

Your Daily Vintage: Wayfarer’s Chapel

I’ve started a new feature on my Instagram acoount. (@maandpamodern)
It’s called My Daily Vintage, and it’s a place for me to share my love of vintage everyday.
Sometimes it’s just items from our home–since it’s full of vintage–but it is also vintage signs, architecture, design, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Besides sharing the image, I might share a story, interesting facts, or some of the history related to it.
I throughly enjoy learning more about the vintage I love, and this seems like a fun way to share it with the, hopefully more than a few, of you who enjoy it too.
If nothing else, it is a way to entertain myself and grow my mind.
That can’t be a bad thing.

I’ve been encouraged to come back to blogging (thank you kind friends who have encouraged me!) and not simply “micro blog” on Instagram.
Apparently not everyone is on IG.
Really?
Oh yeah, I wasn’t on there just 6 months ago.
So, I’ve decided to start up with this feature here on the blog too.
Sometimes it will just be the same content that was on the Instagram post (which probably violates some kind of blogging protocol, but I don’t really care) but other times it will contain expanded information, like this post does.
All this is to say, here’s the new feature on IG and here on the blog, I hope you like it, and I hope you’ll follow along!
Now, here we go.

Today’s Your Daily Vintage was inspired by this photo:photoMy good friend Rachel, sent it to me in a little care package, knowing I would love it and be entranced by the history behind it.
She was right.
It’s a photo from the building of Wayfarer’s Chapel on Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Wayfarers Chape was the dream of a Mrs. Schellenburg.
She “dreamed of a little chapel on a hillside above the Pacific ocean, where wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God for the wonder and beauty of creation.”
I like her.
The chapel was designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the famous Frank.
Mr. Wright’s design was inspired by a Northern California trip to the redwoods.
Looking up at the beautiful, arching branches above his head, he was reminded of a cathedral.
His design also reflects one of the mid century modern design elements I love best: letting light and nature in.
The chapel is constructed largely of glass, directing eyes to the sky overhead, as well as to the branches of the redwood trees that now tower above it.
It is awash in light, and is peaceful and utterly beautiful.

photo-9

One of my favorite parts about home schooling is all the “extras” I get to add into my kids’ education.
Not surprisingly, I add in a lot of the liberal arts: art history, literature, architecture, poetry, and design, to name a few.
That’s why we stopped to visit Wayfarer’s Chapel yesterday, when we were right near it to go tide pooling.
Our favorite tide pooling spot, Abalone Cove, is right down the hill from the Chapel, and every time we’re at the cove, I long to visit the chapel.
We managed to have enough time yesterday for a quick visit, and a brief talk about mid century modern architecture, design, and one of America’s most famous architects.
It was a beautiful addition to our day.
photo 1Here they are, getting their first glimpse of the chapel.
True to form, William and Lilly are speechless and just taking it in.
James on the other hand, is taking it in by telling me about everything he’s seeing.
They were all taken in by the architecture–unlike any building they’d been in before.photo 3We weren’t in there for a terribly long time, but long enough to admire, appreciate, discuss, and spend a lot of time looking up.
I felt very comfortable taking my 4 kids inside to look around.
They were respectful and quiet of course, but I’ve been to places where I’m still made to feel less than welcome with 4 young kids.
It was nice that this wasn’t the case at Wayfarers Chapel.
photo 2After taking in the chapel, we explored the grounds.
The views beg to be enjoyed.
The chapel sits in a beautiful spot.
If you aren’t there with 4 little ones, there are lots of benches scattered about for spending time in quiet reflection, reading, or just basking in the glorious ocean views.
Just like Mrs. Schellenberg dreamed it would be.photo-8photo 2There were a few other visitors at the chapel besides us.
None of them seemed bothered by us.
In fact, one elderly couple smiled at us all as we trooped past them.
The gentleman stopped me for a moment and said, “my, aren’t you the lucky one!”photo 1Yes, I am.
Lucky I get to share my love for beautiful things and places with these little people, lucky to be their teacher, lucky that they are always up for an adventure, and luckiest of all to be their Mama.
I don’t take it for granted.
I’m so grateful.
I think that’s just how Mrs. Schellenburg would have wanted me to feel.photo 3

If you are anywhere near Palos Verdes, this place warrants a visit.
It doesn’t have to be a long stop, but even a short stop will be worth it.
Wayfarers Chapel Info:
5755 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Open daily 9-5
For more info, visit the website here

And after you visit the chapel, you can head down to Abalone Cove for great tide pooling and a beautiful beach.
Pictures of our time there up next.

Cheers to vintage!
Greta