I feel bad that I haven't posted in so long. I have been very busy and not-just-a-little stressed lately. I think I had posted before that I've started taking classes. Well, Anatomy and Physiology is kicking my behind! It is very intensive and there is a ton of work to do and I just got slammed with a lab test and a lecture test right in a row that required massive studying. So I hope that you will forgive my trespasses. I promise that I will try to be a better blogger!
Amidst all that, one very fun thing that's been going on in the last couple of months is that DD #1 has entered the stage where she is really capable of listening to longer chapter books rather than looking at short picture books. I've really been enjoying reading her a chapter (or two or three!) of a book every night at bedtime. It's time consuming but it has done so much for our relationship and home life in general--it's a nice anchoring part of the day and it has pretty much elmiminated a lot of the struggle from bedtime. That plus tightening up some of the other aspects of the daily routine seems to be resulting in us both being calmer and happier.
We started out reading two of the Honey Bunch books. Apparently, these books are not very well known, but they were published starting in 1923--I have two of them that were my mother's as a child and then mine when I was a child. They are about a little girl and her home life and various adventures. Now we have moved on to Little House on the Prairie. I read Little House in the Big Woods to her a few pages at a time a couple of years back, but Little House on the Prairie was still a bit above her head and boring to her until recently. Now that she's old enough she's really enjoying it.
One of the things I love about these two series is that--whatever criticism one might otherwise have about either the Honey Bunch or the Little House books--both of the little girl protagonists have very happy home and family lives with very kind and loving parents. I am not always as calm or patient as I'd like to be, but the gentle, loving but firm ways of Ma and Pa are comforting and inspiring.
Reading such books as a child is different from reading them as an adult, but I must have read at least these first two Little House books a minimum of a dozen times from childhood until now, and I get something new and different from them every time. As a parent, it helps me think about what my children are going to think back on and remember about their childhood and about me as a parent, and I'd like these to be memories of a warm, secure, happy and loving time.
It's not an entirely bad model for a marriage, either--one of the subtleties that has struck me reading this time around is the value of being generous with your appreciation of your spouse. I can be, shall we say, somewhat critical and demanding at times and my poor dear husband often feels the brunt of it. Ma speaks her mind when needed, but she also really finds the good in her husband and builds him up and she is always so appreciative of the things he does for her and their family. He chinks the log cabin or builds her a bedstead, she tells him what a great job he did and how comfortable she is--she's not bitching about the things he hasn't gotten done yet. Pa, for his part, is very loving and respects Ma and values her, as well as being a bit of a romantic. All things that we could all probably use a little more of in our relationships!
The whole Little House theme is giving rise to some other interesting discussions and activities too. DD and I talked about the fact that a covered wagon could travel about 15 miles in a day. So today on a drive to a friend's house, we set the trip odometer and saw how far we traveled and how long it took us. (9 miles and 20 minutes each way, for the record!) In last night's chapter, the Ingalls family got a cow, and were excited to have milk and maybe even butter on their cornbread. So we made butter tonight by shaking cream in a jar, and I baked some cornbread to put it on. DH enjoys listening to the book too and I find myself looking up information about things like The Homestead Act to better explain to them both--since DH grew up in India he never learned a great deal of American history, but he's always an interested and enthusiastic learner.
Next weekend we are also all excited about attending a maple syrup festival. We went to it a couple of years back and it was a lot of fun. They have demonstrations of both traditional Native American and Pioneer methods of making and using maple syrup and maple sugar, and also have all kinds of pioneer games and crafts as well as food and various maple goodies for sale. Should be a good time! I hope to post more as we progress through these adventures!