Thursday, August 5, 2010

Building Memories They Will Cherish

As a homeschooler, I think a commonly shared summer ritual is sorting through our massive accumulation of books and assorted schooling aids and supplements which grows larger with each year that passes.  I think many of us develop a passion and addiction to books and other such items ~ so many wonderful helps and treasures irresistibly available that in order to keep from getting lost in our constantly growing collection we must sift through and weed out that which we no longer need or realize we're never going to actually use.  : ) I often find myself in an emotional tug-of-war of sorts ~~ the relief that comes with clearing out the clutter offset by the slight melancholy of saying good-bye to another year of my children's childhood that seems to be passing by at an alarming rate of speed!

This summer, I have sold off and passed on some of our true favorite curriculums so far, including Five in a Row ~~ my all-time favorite for our primary/elementary homeschooling years.  What fun we had during "school time", exploring science, history, art, math, grammar, etc. through these studies using the most wonderful children's books with this curriculum.......building not only educational skills but cherished memories as well! 

This week, after a day of constant begging by my daughter to take a trip to the library, I strolled around in the children's department  while she browsed for books of her choosing.  As I roamed, I picked out several books that jumped out at tied forever with my memories of their young childhood years.  I sat down at a little table and opened each book, smiling with each memory of the four of us piling up together on our couch, reading and discovering while giggling & growing together. 

There were days we visited China with a duck named Ping, then ate lunch on the floor around a cardboard box "table" while sitting on pillows and made egg rolls for dinner......

.....and other days we made apple pie & saw the world!

As children played around me, I remembered bringing my own small children to choose our books for the next couple of weeks.  I would gather together my own "schooling" choices and they would come to me with stacks of their own choosing, hoping I would let them get them all......and I usually did.  : ) 

When my children were born, I fervently desired to fill their childhood with many traditions in the hopes of building memories that when they would older they would look back on and cherish.  I have often driven myself a little crazy trying to keep these traditions up when times are stressful and it would be easier to let them go.  Nightly "storytime" is one tradition I started as soon as they could focus on a book......I would read to them not one book each night but one for each child.  This became quite the task some evenings as they got a little older and their storybooks got longer.  : )  Often when I was tired, I would be tempted to make them choose just one.....but they would stand before me with their little blond heads (which are no longer blond) and pleading with little blue eyes, clutching their books that they had carefully chosen with their chubby little hands ~~ I could rarely say no!  I have to admit, on some nights while I told myself I was wisely heeding the advice of those who told me to cherish these years & make the most of them because they would be gone before I knew it ~ I would be tired, the kids would be fighting & whining, the phone would ring, the dog would go crazy, the dishes were waiting.....and I would wonder if it was worth all the trouble I was going to.

My children are not that old now.....two still in elementary & one in middle school.  Yesterday, I opened up my cedar chest to look for something and in my search pulled out a collection of favorite books that had been placed by them in the "give-away" bag & snatched my me to save because sentimentality wouldn't allow me let them go.  ♥Jacob♥ came up and sat by me, looking at the books as I continued sorting through items in search of what I was looking for.  He came upon one of his favorite Winnie-the-Pooh books and started reading, giggling and smiling...."Remember when I would ask you to read this every single night?"......"Oh, look!  I forgot about this one!".  He then ran downstairs and retrieved his brother...."♥Robert♥, come here!", and before long all three of them were on the floor with me ~ reminiscing with their old storybooks and talking about "when they were little" they're all grown up already!!!  We kept up the "storytime" tradition faithfully up until about a year ago, when life became a little more stressful and a tired Mom was really too tired at night to keep it up.  With things being a little more balanced lately, my OLDEST
child felt free to ask, "Remember last year when you started reading that Lamplighter book to us?  Could we start reading that again?  I miss doing that". ♥

and so.....last night we started again with chapter 1.

Why do they have to grow up so fast???  So much of motherhood is bittersweet......I ♥Love♥ watching them grow and change with each stage of life, but I'm all too aware that they won't be mine to keep for long and their willingness to do these things will be gone, so I will hold it close & continue as long as they want....and I have to admit that I am thankful the Lord chose to show me that I am building the memories I was hoping to all along.

Since several people have asked, the quote from my last post, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..." is from a another book.....


.....and I can't claim it as my own idea.  I was at a MOPS meeting at my church when I still only had two children, and the mentor mom of the day (some of you may know her - Christine Carter) was speaking on developing family traditions.  She mentioned this book and this quote as something she said every night at bedtime.  Our traditional "special words", as my children have always called them, began as a tradition that very night and has continued to this day!  We adapted it a little by changing some words to "forever & ever" and at the end inserting a special name instead......and they have always repeated it back to me (♥Ashlyn♥ is my Sunshine, and ♥Robert♥ calls me his Pretty Pie♥ ).   As they get older, I am so glad I started some of the traditions I have......on difficult days when it seems that ATTITUDE reigns supreme and certain children who shall remain nameless have spent more time rolling their eyes and talking back than anything else ~ I make sure to go into that feisty child's bedroom and whisper these words.  Often, there is a hostile attitude masking a remorseful spirit.....and these words whispered in the dark reminding that no matter what I will "love them forever & like them for always" is just what they need.  More times than not, I hear the words repeated back to me, sometimes with a giggle....sometimes with a hug....and sometimes just an "I love you".  ♥

This post was featured at :

Carnival of Homeschooling

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