To Everything There is a Season

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    By Monica Cappelli

(Editor’s note: Please excuse us for the delay in posts. We’ve been having some technical difficulties and are working diligently to fix them. We’ll resume our regular posting as soon as possible.)

Autumn = Baking.

Muffins. Bread. Cake. Pies. When autumn days are crisp and a roaring fire warms the night, my circadian clock chimes the magic words, “Let’s bake!” My family agrees.

Autumn is a wonderful time to bring your kids into the kitchen. Yes, as a homeschooling mom and nerd, I appreciate the math lessons inherent in any baking project. As I parent two ten-year-olds, I love having a fun and delicious way of teaching basic homemaking skills such as planning a dessert to complement dinner (especially if you plan to eat dessert first), shopping for a recipe and, best of all, kitchen clean-up. Gifting baked goods is also a yummy opportunity to teach your child the Godly art of hospitality: Invite a friend for tea and scones; be a great guest and take along a treat when you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, and give baked goods to home-bound or sickly people in the community. And nothing says “geography” like preparing desserts or meals from other times and cultures. Most importantly, though, I love the creativity my kids experience as they measure, mix, adjust, embellish, decorate, and anticipate eating their yummy confections.

Over the years, strangely enough, I’ve discovered a happy truth: even ugly baked goods are delicious! Trust me, I’ve received several unappetizing custom creations over the years, and I have never ever turned one down. Lopsided loaves, rubbery rolls, fallen cakes, terribly “crispy” cookies, sunken cupcakes, and even sad-looking pies (private joke, dear Renee), can be redeemed with laughter and a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s — or a serious whirl of whipped cream! Moreover, a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar is like fairy dust to an ugly pie
crust! In other words, you’ll be able to survive with grace and encourage your child’s earliest forays into the world of baking. Know that friends, kind neighbors, aunts and uncles, grandparents and pastors (especially the last two) are willing recipients of even the most disastrous dessert gift when presented by your child with their very proudest grin.

Last week I posted some of the kids’ and my favorite bread recipes (yes, on Facebook! Yes, I spend too much time there. Yes, it’s a problem.) That post led to requests for gingerbread from friends. Those requests (slurping solicitations, really) led to this article. Which leads me to invite you all to post or link to kid-friendly recipes or some of your other autumn favorites!

P.S. Those ugly pie crusts? Yep. They’re mine. Somebody, help me, please. I could really use a good high altitude recipe!

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    Monica Blog PicMonica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

Plain of View

    By Shilo Bartlett

IMG_0065Our children as a whole are incredible creations. They have minds that were meant to be shaped and molded from a very young age into what they will eventually become as adults. I personally haven’t been a mom for an incredibly long amount of time (11 years to be exact), but I have observed enough to know that it is much better in the long run to encourage that shaping and molding than to push against it.

I say that because we are in a phase right now with our children where we are greatly appreciating our decision to homeschool them with the Garden School as our supplement. Our kids are shaping and molding every day, and we are watching this happen rather than observing it happen from a distance. The children imitate behaviors they see every day, and we are glad that we can have them watch us and then help change what needs to be changed. We understand that days are not to be thrown away; that every moment needs to be grasped, and that the little things in life matter very, very much.

I have had moments lately with my children where they have challenged me greatly in the area of discipline. They have chores every day that must be taken care of, and then their school needs to be attended to. And we have come to an agreement that they have to be somewhat self-motivated, as I am only one person, not five, and cannot be constantly following their little hands everywhere to pick up after them. But along the way, we have found a very nice key to life… something I have known, and yet hadn’t fully grasped until recently. Let me share a short story to illustrate:

We as a family were at the Sukkot festival at the school a few weeks back, going from booth to booth and enjoying the crafts. At one particular booth, I sat down with my girls on the grass to help them. A little one-year-old girl from another family came alongside us and started watching what we were doing. Pretty soon, we had her saying the words and touching the craft too. We moved to the next booth, and the same thing happened. She was right there beside us on the grass, watching attentively and trying to touch and say what we were doing. Now, the interesting thing is, the minute that we stood up (i.e., were above her plain of view), she would wander away and find something else that she could touch and feel. But the minute we were back down on the grass, she was right there.

Why is this important? Well, my kids and I get along much better when I am living in what I like to call “their plain of view.” Just like the little girl on the grass, she does not see what you see, or hear what you hear. She has her own little world going on at her level every day! Same thing applies to my kids. When I am on their “level,” I see things I would have never seen, hear things I would never have heard if I was just living in “my world.” My children are teaching me every day about all the new amazing discoveries they make, just by being them!

Now the neat part about this is that when applied to our school at home, this principle becomes (and has become), an integral part of how I interact with them. When school needs to be done, I take into account what they have been doing, what they are doing currently, and then how best to apply that to their learning habits. As a practical tool, it has meant the world to us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little excursion into our world!

How do you apply your child’s learning into your school plan every day? Let me know in the comments–I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Handling Grief With Grace

    By Dave Miller

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." --A.A. Milne.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –A.A. Milne.

I knew I would have to write about this sooner or later. I’ve been able to get a lot of it out on my Facebook posts. (What a surprisingly effective tool Facebook has become for allowing us to bear one another’s burdens!) A college friend commented on one such post, “Being your Facebook friend has been a crash course in how to handle grief with grace. God’s blessings will continue to sustain you and your family, David.” And so it is and so they have. So now I’m putting down a few of the ways that, by God’s grace, I’ve dealt with my own grief.

It is certain that no one is immune from loss. Who has not been touched by the death of a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a parent, a sibling, or a close friend? For the youngest among us, the passing of a cherished pet ushers in the knowledge of “the way of all flesh.” May my own crash course help in your own grief observed or to come.

The inexorable facts:

At 11:46 p.m. on Friday, February 15th, the cell starting to play my ring tone. I remember thinking, “Who could be calling at this hour?” It was the phone call no parent ever wants to get. Renee and I were in bed watching a forgettable movie that we’d downloaded from Amazon.com. We did not finish the movie that evening and I doubt we ever will.

“Are you the father of Marquelle Miller?”

“Yes.” I’m thinking this is not good.

“This is ____________ from Victim Assistance.” My first thought was Kellie had been assaulted. What else could this be about? She was living with her friend in Denver, a big city with more crime than in our little town.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that your daughter was killed in a car accident this evening…”

“No!” I slam the laptop shut. By now Renee is standing up with the realization that something is seriously wrong. I speak out the words that will change her life forever, “Kellie was killed in a car accident.” As the sentence, like electricity, flows into her being, her legs buckle and she kneels on the floor crying out, “No God, please, no, not my little girl, not my Kellie…”

In incoherent sentences, I try to talk to the victim assistance woman. (She came over a half hour later, and was very kind to us in our grief.)

This was the beginning of a journey that we–and many of you who knew and loved our daughter and Malachi, the young man who was also killed–have been shoved into. It’s one we would never choose nor wish on anyone, but our path is irrevocable. As is all of ours…

Marquelle "Kellie" Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Marquelle “Kellie” Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Though it’s excruciating to remember those first traumatic moments, I’d like you to have a window into such a gut-wrenching loss and how I dealt with the events that followed. I can’t go into much detail here but hopefully enough to reassure you that you can handle more than you ever thought you could, even the death of a loved one.

In this kind of a loss, some of the things you do will be automatic, some will take more thinking, but be at peace with whatever you do or decide.

We drove through the night with our family to be near Kellie. We stayed at our niece’s house in darkness. In the morning, I contacted the insurance company, spoke to the coroner, made a decision about seeing the body—he advised me to wait. Try to sleep, drink water, can’t eat. My son-in-law proved to be a godsend as he made calls to the towing yard and the police when the grief would overcome me.

Arrangements have to be made: Transportation of the bodies (both Kellie and Malachi came back over the mountains for the last time together in a van), funeral preparations (some funeral homes require payment upon services rendered. Ours let us pay later), burial or cremation (burial), open casket or closed (open). Will the graveside burial be for close friends and family or open? We decided to have the burial be small and the memorial service be for the community at large. Upwards of 700 people filled the local high school auditorium to remember Kellie and Malachi.

Dealing with the raw grief in the first days: I built Kellie’s coffin. It seemed the right thing to do. Activity is good. A dear friend helped me design and build it along with his son, my son, and son-in-law. My two brothers helped put the finishing stain on the Alderwood casket. It turned out to be beautiful beyond words, a worthy container to hold such precious contents. Her cousins made the cushion and found a suitable blanket. They wrote poems and verses on the cushion and the boys wrote and drew on the boards below. With every board I cut came a little healing, even though the realization of what I was building would force its way in.

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There is so much more to say. Just know that people will come around you, help you take care of details, support you, love on you, feed you, say well-meaning but sometimes insensitive things to you. Let them. This is their way to help you deal with your grief. It will also help them heal from their own sorrow.

Perhaps you’d like to get more of the “raw footage.” I aired my grief to the public on Facebook. Scroll down to February 15, 2013. I’ll warn you, though, the cost of tuition is your tears. For it is in your tears that healing comes. http://www.facebook.com/davidjoelmiller

Feel free to add your comments either below or on the FB posts.

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    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.