From my earliest memories, I have always loved two things: books and nature. I could not read enough as a child. I brought my book to the breakfast table and propped it against my cereal bowl to read through breakfast. I did the same thing at lunch. My dad banned books at the dinner table so that I would talk to the rest of the family. Hours spent reading was my idea of pure bliss.
I often picked books like, My Side of the Mountain, a tale of a young boy who runs away from home and lives for a year in a hollowed out tree, deep in the forest. I'd climb my own tree fort and imagine I was living off chestnut flour pancakes and wild blackberries too. I had rock and shell collections. Wandering the field next to my house, I'd get a thrill if I saw that elusive, bright yellow bird, or an orange and black butterfly. If I could l have jumped into the pages of The Swiss Family Robinson, I would have.
These two worlds, the natural world and the world of books, were the places I chose to be over any other.
It makes sense then, that I should choose to use the Charlotte Mason philosophy to teach my children. It is a way of educating that speaks to my heart, and not just to my head.
Yesterday, I sat on the couch with my boys, reading poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, singing Amazing Grace and practicing our Bible memory verse together. My 3 year old points out the letters he knows on the title page of the book, and I get share his excitement when he remembers a new letter. "That's i Mommy! I know i!"
I am there when my 5 year old figures out the pattern in counting by 2s. I sit and listen to him as he makes it all the way to 20, and then I guide him on to 30. I see the delight in his eyes that he got it!
I am there when we walk the trails at the nature center and find the acorns in "our" oak forest. I rejoice with them at their discovery.
"Fortunate are they whose children learn delight in small things."
Every day that I am with them, doing these things, stepping out on this journey together, I am amazed and awed by how wonderful it is. I like it. I like it a lot.
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there are things that are hard. It is hard for me to let the pile of laundry sit on the chair across from us as we do our morning reading. It is hard for me to get up an hour before everyone else so that I can get a shower, and breakfast ready and maybe pack our lunches for our day at the park. I don't like those days when it is 3 pm and I am still in my sweats with greasy hair because I can't manage to get everything, or anything, done. This life style takes discipline. And not just for them.
We are blazing a new trail. We are finding our way. Sometimes I feel like we are stuck trudging uphill. It is steep, and rough, and we are out of breath. But there is a view waiting for us at the top.
And it will be worth the climb.