Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Aiding A Boy's Life by Karen Andreola

Aiding A Boy's Life

This is a girly blog. (Do you like how my son newly crafted it for me? Purchasing is easier.) Girly, yes, but daily I am reminded that there is a male side of life. You see, I am the only female in the house at present. My married daughters are also the only females in their households.

Sophia and her boys

When we get together we talk freely about trivialities – the same trivialities that we stop short of waxing elegantly about in the presence of our husbands. The menfolk are good listeners – but we’ve taken on new house manners. We’ve learned that it is impolite and unprofitable to chatter about more trivial details than our patient husbands can comfortably endure.

Sometimes, however, the Lady-of-the-House forgets her manners.

“Green is fine. If you like it,” the Man-of-the-House replies cheerfully when his opinion is solicited.  

“I don’t mean that green,” the Lady-of-House says, snatching away the color chart he holds in his hand, replacing it with another. She chatters on, “More of a soft celery, I think. Like this one. On this paint chart. It isn’t so muddy that it looks army green. And it isn’t mixed with blue that it hints of robin’s egg. It’s only a teeny-tiny bit yellow-er, I suppose, than crayon-green. And much, much paler. D’you see?” The Lady-of-the-House points to the paint chart with a satisfying decisiveness that finally puts an end to her soliloquy on which green should be painted on the window trim of the parlor.  

“Yeah, green. Looks good,” the Man-of-the-House confirms, suppressing a sigh. He nods (bows out, really) and passes her back the paint chart until he is needed further.

Dean & Nigel and the Memphis Belle!

When important matters arise, my daughters and I, in voices lowered to a hush, talk over the telephone. Since we live apart it is rare that all three of us are together in a room. But when this occurs we are instantly verbose about trivialities. Like a cackle of geese we go on and on. The topic might be curtains – ruffles or no ruffles or maybe bobbles, paint colors – on trim or accent wall, flowers in the garden, something we are hand-stitching for Christmas, a new recipe that was eagerly consumed the week prior by our menfolk, or who had a baby and what color hair it has and how round its cheeks are already, etc.

My son, now a young man, still prefers the topic of  science. I remember washing dishes with a listening ear to the things that he was inclined to talk about - by spontaneous outburst – when he was a growing boy - even if I only responded with, “How interesting.” The topic might be sharks, dinosaurs, dirt biking, the tallest building in the world, the fastest car, the most poisonous octopus, or the useful properties of an element from the periodic table. He brings up similar topics today - add computer lingo. 

Nigel in Maine

Then, there are the important topics - the golden nuggets necessary for good living. These seldom pop up in everyday conversation (unless you have the perfect timing of Andy from Mayberry). And yet, wisdom rooted in the Word and the character it inspires make valuable conversation in a boy’s life. In his books, author Bob Schultz talks about topics from a male point of view. He sets before a boy’s mind and heart, the abstract truths of becoming other-oriented, strong-in-spirit, active, observant, appreciative, faithful, just, industrious - and as I see it from my female point-of-view - gentlemanly.

My husband Dean Andreola highly recommends Bob Schultz’s three books. He reviews two here.

Dean Writes:

Boyhood and Beyond helps build “manly backbone” into growing boys. I searched for years for a book that would be as helpful for boys as Karen’s special edition of Beautiful Girlhood has been for girls.

The late Bob Schultz was a home school dad, loving husband and a carpenter by trade.  He has a friendly writing style and the heart of a mentor. His story illustrations will help your boys glean wisdom and common sense from each of the short chapters. Topics such as: authority, inventiveness, and honesty are covered along with meaty issues such as overcoming fear, laziness, and temptation. He even teaches boys how to love and protect their sisters!

Boys will benefit from this fatherly advice that encourages them to become the men God wants them to be: men of honor, courage and faith. I read this book to my son, Nigel, in his boyhood, and used the questions at the end of each chapter for discussion. Consider it a faithful companion for boys on the road to true manhood.  (For ages 10 -17, illustrated.) 

How fast are you growing? - grandsons.

Dean also Writes:

The late Bob Schultz hit another home run with his “Wisdom from the Woodshop” in Practical Happiness. This book is for teens to young adults. I was sent the manuscript prior to publication and was asked to share some thoughts for the back cover. Here are some of those thoughts:

Modern media teaches young men to think they will obtain happiness when they find the ever-fleeting pot of gold. What they often find instead is a life of filled with disappointment. Rare indeed is the young man who learns early in life how to mine the heart of God for true happiness.

In Practical Happiness Bob once again employs short captivating stories crafted to guide young men toward a life of contentment, even in our pressure cooker world. Your sons will learn that happiness is not found merely in what they have, where they go, or what exciting thing they can afford to do next, but rather in their attitude and response to life especially when “things aren't going their way”.

Behind their brave independent exteriors young men are searching for answers. Without a guide how will they find the path that leads to inner joy and lasting contentment?

Bob Schultz addresses:

What is success?

Will I be able to provide for myself (and my own family) when I leave the protection of my parents and strike out on my own? 

How do I handle personal failure?

How should I respond when others let me down?

Can I find happiness in a world full of sorrow and uncertainty?

True happiness is a precious gift from God available to all who learn to hear His voice and obey His calling. Practical Happiness will light a fire in the hearts of young men drawing them closer to a life of personal fulfillment as they draw closer to God.

Are you interested in Boyhood and Beyond or Practical Happiness?
A click on a book title will take you to Amazon.

Created for Work is another highly recommended title by Bob Schultz

The Lavender Strawberry Kit &
The Parents' Review are now available via PayPal shopping cart.

See my products page.

Thank you for visiting,

Karen Andreola

Monday, September 29, 2014

Feed My Lambs by Karen Andreola

Feed My Lambs
Scrolling, you’ll see I have a contemplative message to share with you today. But before I do, may I take a minute to show you what’s been on my needles? 

This month I got around to sewing up the summer skirt I had cut out of a pale blue-green calico months prior. There were just enough warm afternoons left for a week of wear.  

karen andreola

I added a ruffle of a coordinating print. Then, because this left a slightly puckered seam, I hid the seam with a pleat, and then another pleat to make the whole hem appear intentional. It turned out to my liking, imperfections, length, and all. 

Blue-green is a color that is difficult to match in a T. A lighter version of the color would have matched more satisfactory to my tastes but I knew I had a darker shade of blue-green in my clothes closet before I purchased the calico.  

Red yarn rested snug in my stash for too long. This summer I set my sites on using it up. Content with my stand-by cable pattern (that’s proved itself time and again) and happy with how the size 2 Donegal Tweed fit a two-year-old grandson in 2010 (cute-y here pictured) I am now making another.

This time a size 6 is on my needles for his brother – but in a washable wool blend. My, how fast little boys grow! Anyway, the pattern has just enough diversity-of-rows to make it interesting while being uncomplicated enough to allow ease of conversation with whoever is in the room. My aim is to have it presentable by Christmas.

Donegal Tweed cable knit cardigan

I closed the last page of Miss Clare Remembers with a sentimental farewell, then whizzed through Miss Potter because its author Richard Maltby Jr. carries the reader along almost as swiftly as the film – which makes sense since he wrote the script for it. (Due to comments of a private nature made by Miss Warne in the art gallery, and other details excluded from the film, this book is not for children.) I recommend the film over the book, in this case. I borrow the DVD from our church library, now and again, for the story but also to savor the closing scenes of the Lake District.

Miss Potter by Richard Maltby Jr.

The Chief Business of a Mother
Here is another tool for bringing up children.

What is the chief business of a mother? Is it to be a taxi driver for her children, a law-giver, a laundry-maid, a cook, a home decorator, a fashion assistant, a photographer, a birthday and holiday organizer?

The chief business of a mother is to be an inspirer.

Before His ascension our Lord Jesus told the apostle Peter to “Feed My lambs.” *1 God has chosen loving mothers and fathers for this important work. We are not empty-handed. We have a tool. It’s “a life of ideas.” Miss Charlotte Mason trusted the mother at home to sustain the inner life of a child with ideas as she sustains the child’s body with food. This is how children grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

“What’s an idea?” you might ask. Well, here’s one way to look at it. An idea is like a watermelon pit. A little boy bites into a thick slice of watermelon. It is so juice-y that he gulps it down instantly and then realizes that he swallowed a watermelon pit. With large, round eyes and a tinge of anxiety, he looks up into his father’s face and asks, “Dad, I swallowed a pit! What’s gonna happen to me?”

Dad teases. “A big watermelon is going to grow and grow in your stomach until it gets this big,” he says with arms wide.

An inspiring idea isn’t stagnant. It may start as small as a seed. But then it grows. If it’s a good idea it nourishes and vitalizes. Ideas and their naturally occurring associations, come to children through various means;

through observing nature,
recognizing beauty,
appreciating art and melody;
through the rhythmic movement of their games,
through handicrafts,
good conversation,
a Sunday sermon, etc. 

When people asked pastor’s wife, Edith Schaeffer, “What’s your advice about bringing up children? What did you do?" she said, “If there is any one thing I would stress . . . it would be this: I read aloud to the children, both individually and together.” Mrs. Schaeffer believed that sharing ideas in the family circle is one of the most beneficial and close “togetherness-things” we can do.*2

pumpkin patch in Pennsylvania
Landis Valley pumpkin patch

Ideas are found in books, most importantly. Of these, children need quality and quantity. Through books, written by enthusiastic authors, we give children what the apostle Paul in Philippians recommends.*3 Books supply us with something pure, lovely, noble and just, to think about. They do the teaching for us.

Speak the Truth with Hope
The maturing child sees that this fallen world is not all sweetness. Therefore, we must reach for books that accompany life’s hard truths with hope. During the confusing and scary week of 911, Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood appeared on public television with a message. He said to children, “Look at the helpers.” This is what his own mother taught him. In life and in books, we look at the helpers. 

And we look for the heroes. 

Heroes are the basis of our religious life. The heroes of the Bible – those faithful ones -  are a cloud of witnesses to inspire us.

In literature we find adventure, sorrow and sin – and perhaps those who take pleasure in sin - but we should also meet large-hearted characters that comfort, protect, correct, bring joy and reconcile.
In history we meet those who destroy and oppress. Therefore, the history books we give children should also include those brave souls who build, defend, and minister the gospel. Who are these brave people? What were they like?

Science seeks to discover how the world works. If it is not only self-seeking it will rise to meet the challenge of relieving hardship and sickness. It is inspiring to meet the inventors and healers. Who are these curious, perseverant people? What did they accomplish?

Pass the Torch
Inspiration comes by way of those who uncover truth and pass on the flaming torch of ideas (especially needed in dark places). Someday our children may be one of the torchbearers, the helpers and the heroes of the next generation. Whatever is noble, true and pure should be considered and appreciated because it all comes from God, whether it is delivered to us by a believer or an unbeliever.

It's a pity when a child has no one to look up to. This child suffers a great loss. He becomes dull, complacent, and thinks, “Why bother?” Any amount of hero-admiration is good for us. Not only does it pull us up out of the dull-drums with its little sparks of enthusiasm, but it changes a “why bother?” into a “let's go for it.”

We can get caught up in ourselves. But it only takes a little hero-admiration to alleviate concept. Teens can get caught up in themselves. But if they care about others to the point of admiring them, then they will waste less time admiring themselves.

Landis Valley

What happens when we feed our lambs? Inspiration can be a personal and quiet thing. When a child admires someone, he will notice things about this special person that he, himself, is lacking. He may become conscious of his frailties or inexperience, yet – at the same time – his admiration stimulates a desire in him to become more like his hero. 

Set the Table
Children are a mixed bunch. Just like we spread the table with a variety of healthy foods, let’s spread the table with differing ideas, because we do not know which our child will choose to care about. In Ecclesiastes we read, “In the morning sow your seed [or watermelon pits]. And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper.” *4

Astronaut Jim Irwin
Jim Irwin's autograph

A Hero Face-to-Face
My husband, Dean Andreola, worked at the Christian Bookseller Conventions back in the hay-day of publishing. As a perk, he got to meet Christian authors and singers. One year a long line of people waited to meet a popular, flamboyant vocalist, to get her autograph. There was no line for astronaut Jim Irwin. In fact, there was no one there at all. Born in 1956, astronauts were Dean’s heroes. The television seems to have been invented and widely in use (in his boyhood) just in time for America to watch (live) the moon landings. Therefore, Dean was excited to walk up Jim Irwin to meet a man, face-to-face, who flew in a rocket ship to the moon. Mr. Irwin penned his name on a photograph and handed it to Dean. It reads, “Dean, Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

A true hero lives for, and points to, the greatest hero of all (of Whom one day we will meet face-to-face.)

End Notes
*1  John 21:15
*2  Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Tyndale House Pubs., pg 152
*3  Philippians 4:8-9
*4  Ecclesiastes 11:6
Some of the paragraphs in this post were adapted from earlier posts here on Moments with Mother Culture.

Thank you for your visit. Write anytime.
Karen Andreola

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Yes, Mommy," by Karen Andreola

Yes, Mommy
At present, I’m teaching a Sunday school class for moms. My topic is motherhood and child training. I've titled it, "There's No Place Like Home." Moms of all ages are welcome to take part. On this post I share my notes from the second class – yesterday. The first class was on love and “The Majesty of Motherhood.” I’m finding preparation to be formidable but I am enjoying the passing on of ideas that had helped me most during the years of bringing up my children.

karen andreola
Karen-Yours Truly, 1961, Watering the Violets 

Today I have something very practical to talk about. It’s nitty-gritty. And it will take some grit to apply it.

In the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo used tools skillfully. He is probably best known for using a paintbrush to create his magnificent fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But he was also a maker of statues. With hammer and chisel he created people and cherubs out of rough, chunks of marble.

He said, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. 

Children are born with possibilities.

A mother unlocks the possibilities. Like Michelangelo who used tools to set the angel free, a mother needs tools to build character in her child; to set him free to walk in the spirit for an abundant life.*1

"Watering the Foxgloves" Jessie Wilcox Smith

3 Tools
Three tools help a mother turn out the design she has already conceived in her mind for good, happy, healthy children.

Atmosphere of Home
Discipline of Habit
Presentation of Ideas

I’ll be straightforward with you. Nagging, scolding, a booming voice, empty threats, and empty promises, are broken tools. Habit is a fit tool. “Atmosphere” and “Ideas” are helpful tools too, but I am jumping in the middle today. 

foxglove - yellow

Admonish One Another
The 5th commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. God put parents in authority over children. The business of children is to obey.

In 1984, while living in Florida, an older mother in the church couldn’t help noticing that my two-and-a-half-year-old wasn’t so obedient. She gave me a little talk and handed me a child-training book. This ruffled my feathers a bit. I didn’t care for the book, either. Humph. But I looked up to her and admired her lovely family. The next day, in my quiet time, I softened. I humbly took her message to heart and was grateful. The book, although disappointingly bereft of practical ideas, did at least hold out the call. Practical ideas soon suggested themselves to me and I set out to correct and train my little one. From then on, she and I did drills over and over for fun every day until she got “Come to Mommy” down pat. Her first lesson was to obey and obey promptly. 

Yours Truly, talking with the gardener, at Robert Fulton's birthplace

In America we are over-familiar with democracy. During the 1970s I remember the children of hippies addressing parents by their first names. It was a sort of progressive-socialistic in-thing. Americans are supposed to be on equal footing. But we don’t all have equal roles. The New Testament states that we are to respect authority and that, like it or not, God puts people in positions of authority over us.*2  

Focus onto a mother’s little kingdom of the home. If God is there, we should find, not a democracy, but an absolute monarchy. In a Christian home, mother is queen. She serves with love, sympathy and dedication; while she expects from her children: honor, loyalty and obedience. Children do not have equal say. It doesn’t mean they can never share an opinion, share their feelings, make a decision, or even negotiate, but it is generally accepted that Dad and Mom set the rules and uphold them.  

Robert Fulton

Habits Reduce Friction
Lay down the rules in your house. Then, lay down the rails of habit. Every locomotive runs along rails. The railroad track allows this enormously heavy engine to glide along, pulling its cars, without friction. But someone (with much muscle) someone with slow and steady effort, laid down the rails – often in the sweltering heat of the day. Miss Charlotte Mason, said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days: while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with children.”*3

Two Weeks
Anything you or your child do for at least two weeks – and do consistently – is becoming a habit. If the rule in your house if for your child to put his clothes in his laundry hamper, but he forgets and throws his clothes on the floor by the hamper on most days, he has been allowed to form a different habit. Using her habit-tool a mother trains herself, so that she can train her child.

Formation is easier than reformation – so start early and nip things in the bud. But don’t fret. You can weed out a bad habit by replacing it with a good one. “One custom overcometh another” the old saying goes. It just takes repetitive watchful diligence. It isn’t surprising that on some days, you might feel the formation-of-habit-stage to be a tiresome job. Keep at it, in due time, you will reap the fruit of the seeds you sow, and weeds you replace.  

You can start today. If you are a Christian you have a holy advantage. The Holy Spirit will guide you. Call on Him every morning. He will be by your side. 
4 Steps Toward Forming a Habit

Command:  chose an age-appropriate “must.”
Explain:  demonstrate, be an example, provide an inspiring idea 
Expect:  show confidence in your child’s God-given ability
Inspect:  inspect the “must” daily until it becomes a habit

I stood there with my arms crossed as if crossing my arms would root my determination. “The queen has spoken,” I said, reminding my children, and fortifying myself that I wasn’t going to change my mind about something I had previously commanded. I stopped short of adding, “And I mean it.” The apostle James tells us to let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Mothers need to stand on their word. To win our children’s trust our words must carry weight.

A mother speaks please and thank-you if she would like her child to do likewise. She will also demonstrate how to make a bed, hang a towel, sweep the floor, wash the dishes, speak the truth, be punctual, be thorough, if she’d like a child to do so. Along with explaining – she might also offer her child an inspiring moral idea or story. Aesop’s Fables work well.

Whatever you normally like to give your child as a privilege - can become an incentive during the habit-forming stage. You might tell your son, “After the floor is swept everyday this week, on Saturday we’ll go out and buy a new fish for the aquarium, or invite your friend Bobby to join us on the nature trail.” etc. My son was our floor boy. Earning privileges are incentives that reduce the need for punishment and reward.

With teens be diplomatic. Teens do well with stipulation; a tactful “first things first.” For instance, expect dishes to be washed immediately following lunch or supper, reserving leisure for after dishes are done – the counter-top clean and de-cluttered, sink and drain shinny, – faucet sparkling, and tea towel hung neatly on the rack to dry. Be as specific as you like with your expectations.

The godly homemaker “watches over the ways of her household.”*4 Form one habit at a time, keeping watch over those already formed. If your child hangs up his bath towel the first, second, and third time in a row, don’t stop your inspection there. Follow through. If he forgets on Thursday, the habit will take longer to form. Avoid lapses. Consistency is the key for both mother and child.

What new habit would you like to initiate?

Is there a bad habit you would like to weed out and replace?      

Habits Keep Children
There are habits of right thinking as well as right living. The habit of truth-telling and not fibbing out of cowardice comes by training the conscience. Habits keep children. If my verb sounds strange it’s because the sentence begs particulars. The only useful habits children keep are the ones we train in them.

“Keep” is also a noun. In 1987 we walked through the grounds of Windsor Castle not far from London. It was a mild February day. Surrounded by a mound of green grass and hundreds of yellow daffodils, was the castle-keep. This cylindrical building with its thick walls of stone was once a retreat for the royal family in times of political danger.

Good habits are like castle-keeps. They protect and preserve. Teaching courtesy, punctuality, attentiveness, thoroughness, neatness, purity, industry, integrity, teaching please and thank-you, demonstrating affectionate hellos and goodbyes, keep a child respectful, grateful and diligent. Who does this honor and please most?*5 

End Notes
*1  Galatians 5:16
*2  Romans 13:1, 2
*3  Charlotte Mason, Home Education, page 136
*4  Proverbs 31:27
*5  Colossians 3:20

A Program for Sure and Steady Habit Training
Habits of obedience are what the Accountable Kids program, age 3 to 14, is all about. I’ve introduced this book to my class and handed out copies to those interested. The tangible reminder cards and tickets are a big help for little ones. 

Children with attention deficiencies have greatly benefited from this program. Any way you look at it, the practice of earning privileges, and of receiving the natural consequence of our actions and attitudes, are preparation for life. My daughter uses this program. It is making a difference with her two busy, boisterous little boys. The six-year-old no longer needs a reminder card to make his bed, sit still long enough to finish his breakfast, feed the cat, and take care of the guinea pig cage each morning. What a relief. What joy. This season, as home teaching has begun, he is embarking upon a new set of habits. His little brother is learning to answer, “Yes, Mommy.”  

May something shared here be useful in your life.

To visit my post; an introduction to “The Majesty of Motherhood.” Click title.
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Karen Andreola