November Pezze e Piselli, by Briana Elizabeth

Hopefully by this time of the year, everyone has settled into a routine, and schooling is just chugging along with some beautiful moments of grace tucked into every day. I’ve challenged myself to actively look for the beauty and grace in our every day, instead of having to have it smack me over the head, and I have to say, it’s working. Flannery O’Conner wrote about those every day graces that we pass over, completely blinded to their brilliance because our glass is so dark, but if we look, if we seek it out, we can find it, and I can say it softens my day when I dwell upon it.

Following those small graces, I’ve also tried to actively slow down enough to enter into them. It’s so much easier than I’ve made it out to be in my head. On Facebook, there’s been talk of Hygge as we settle into winter, and my feed this week has been filled with Hygge’s cousin, the Norwegian Koselig. (And for some fun, a video. We’re now calling Headbandz “Card Head” at my house. You’ll understand when you watch the video.) One thing that really struck me in this article on The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter ,  was the idea of creating a habit of getting outside every day, no matter the weather. It’s a long-standing European habit that you can hear echoed in Charlotte Mason’s writings, and in other writings of Europeans (Mansfield Park comes to mind). After a tough day of homeschooling (Middleschoolers. Following directions. ‘Nuff said.), I took the article’s advice, leashed my dog and went on a long walk in the cold November drizzle. It was an instant mood change. I arrived back at house with a cleared head and a happy heart. Apparently I needed to just kick myself outside. I have to warn you though, getting out the door is the hardest part of this new routine? Have you made getting outside into a daily habit? What works for you?

One thing that is pushing up like a wall against my every day grace hunt is the avalanche of holiday preparations. But I’ve made some purposeful changes to battle that, which is crafts and Advent. I realized that sometimes I need to make room for the grace. I can say “HERE, and no more.” With Thanksgiving coming, and the holidays after that, we’ve been collecting pinecones and crafting supplies. My kids make place cards for every holiday, and even when it’s just us, it seems to elevate the day into something special. Make some place cards, set the table, light a candle–instant wonder. You can make them as simple as gluing on some leaves or letting the kids draw pumpkins on them. We’ve used watercolors, crayons, and acorns to decorate them.

In following that idea of making these hectic upcoming months easier (and all of homeschooling easier), Vera shared her family’s menu-making plan. We use this system in our house, and it really reduces dinnertime stress. Another rule that I adopted from a friend was to make sure I had dinner going by 10am. Staring into the fridge at 5pm with starving kids behind you is anxiety-inducing. And always have a back up in the freezer. Not a frozen chicken backup, but, say a bag of frozen sauce with meatballs. Something that you can defrost in a half hour while the water for the macaroni boils. Do you have any tips for feeding your people that make your life easier? Vera will be following this article up with another, so keep a watch for it!

Also on the Sandbox Facebook page this article titled “This 1897 Text Gives 3 Clues Why Today’s Students Can’t Write” really gained traction, and it reminded me of the saying, “Garbage In; Garbage Out.” I’m so happy for having read my children all of those bedtime stories, with long, winding clauses and beautiful language. If you haven’t read to your children–including your older children–I encourage you to break out the tea pot, the coffee pot, and a book. As my children got older, we moved our Morning Basket reading time to an afternoon Tea Time, and it’s my teenagers who make sure it happens every day. They love it as much as I do. If you read aloud to your children, how do you deal with wiggling toddlers or scoffing teenagers?

Speaking of books – we just have to know, what have you been reading together? Or for your own enrichment? I’m going to be writing a book report on The Awakening of Miss Prim to share in the upcoming weeks.

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