What would your mother do? Make do!

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

This is a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

One thing my mom did was to make things last. She reused everything! Did you know you can iron wax paper lightly and make it all smooth and reusable again? She did. She saved bows and wrapping paper, for reuse, along with empty cardboard tubes, which she gave to us for hitting each other. We were never allowed to hit each other any other time, so when an empty cardboard tube became available, it was one of our prized possessions. We played they were swords. It was great fun.

sock darning

My mom saved holey socks, weaving a patch over the hole (darning) and even saved a burned-out light bulb for the darning form, slipping it into the sock for a work surface, to give it the form it would need to fit right, later.

When our ironing board cover wore a hole, she did not replace it. She carefully laid an old bath towel over the worn area and pinned it tightly in place underneath. It was a great cover. Other old bath towels became bedding for our ill puppy, extra door mats during sloppy weather, and tied to a mop stick, a pretty good wet mop.

I could think of so many more examples, because we were poor yet we always had something. My mom made it happen. I know she learned it from her mom, because I often saw my grandmother sort and store things inside empty cereal boxes. It was just their way, and although I have all I need and more, it is also my way. See if you can find an example in this story.

And share with us how your mom has made do! Thanks!

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What would your mother do? Encourage.

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

Here’s the next part of a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

Mom gave us baked beans for lunchMy mom encouraged me. I remember one of the first encouragements she gave me, when I really might have needed correction on any other similar occasions: I’d been playing with my food on my plate.

The menu that day was hot dogs and plain old pork ‘n’ beans, so everything I needed was at the table already.

I began stirring relish, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar into the beans on my plate. After a sample, I told my mom how good it was. She questioned me, I explained, and that’s when it happened: A new gourmet cook was born at that very lunch table. My mom exclaimed that if I could determine exactly what should go into carefully-crafted old style “baked beans”, then I must be a natural-born cook.

I felt pretty pleased with myself and I never forgot it.

Encouragement can go the other way, too, dragging a person up from a low place, where I was during third grade.

It was election time in our country and in school, we had a mock election, dividing the class into three political parties.

It was rigged. All the popular kids were in one party, the brilliant-student-types in another, and we misfits (the sickly, overweight, or otherwise unacceptable ones) were in the third party. I leave you to guess who won, but will add: I perfected the art of sickly by having one of my semi-annual cases of step throat during the vote. Yeah, we came in last. Amazing, no? We’d had such hopes. We did our best. We mined our mom’s ideas for sure-fire campaign tactics, made posters, and delivered speeches, all for naught.

After a phone call came to our sick-house regarding the results, my mom so tenderly relayed them to me. I cried. She held me and asked me to try to be a big girl, to think what the other children would think of my crying…

I remember the moment so clearly, like the movie re-run it has always been in my mind. I remember feeling rebellious and sort of amazed at myself for what I said at that point.

“I don’t even care what the CRY-BABIES think!”

She did not reprimand me. She did not scold my out-lashing little self. She just held me until it blew over.

And that quiet response told me far more than any words could. She understood. She cared. She had my back.

So when did your mom encourage you? Share.

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What would your mother do? Share.

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

Here’s the next part of a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

My mom would shareMy mom shared. The sixth child of a woman whose husband died young during the Great Depression, my mom knew exactly how it felt to be in need. One of her favorite sayings was, “We might need that someday.” Considering the entire course of her life, that was exactly true.

Her other saying was, “The poor people in (insert your favorite country, here) would kill to get what you’ve got.” Also probably true, more than we’d like to realize.

Given her context, what else could my mom do but share, and by example, teach her children to share.

And so it was that while she always made her children clothing, she also spent some time on a church ladies’ project of making clothing for poverty-stricken people elsewhere. In fact, the first time she ever took on the task of making a man’s long-sleeved shirt, it was for a man she’d never met in Cambodia, a country she’d never heard of.

And when a vacationing family had a wreck near our town and lost the dad, spending time in the hospital in our town, she took me shopping for the poor children who’d lost their dad. And arranged for a friend to take them in, since they were not really injured, and could enjoy his horses and pleasant estate, as a sort of therapy, until the mother could arrange their affairs.

And if there was not enough dessert to go around, my mom always pretended she was full.

What did your mom share with others? Think hard–if she was modest about it, you might have to examine clues to realize it…

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What would your mother do? Fix things!

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

Starting a short series here, today, about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best. ❤

[Unidentified girl in dress holding American f...

[Unidentified girl in dress holding American flag and ball] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

So here’s mine, for today: I was tiny, but I remember the dress so vividly. My mom was shocked I ever remembered it because she said I was only two years at the time. I do remember it, though. It was my favorite dress. Why I loved it so, I am not sure. It was brown plaid, which I like a lot, to this day. It had ruffly lace and puffy sleeves. I don’t know, really, what it was.

But I loved it.

This was back in the days before perma-press, back when little girls always wore dresses, even at play. Always.

And froze our little bare legs off in winter, in case you wondered.

Anyway, I loved me a dress.

Then one day the horrible happened. I spilled my milk on my favorite dress. I was devastated. I could not begin to understand much of anything, yet, but I knew I did not like the way my favorite dress looked, now. So I did what any red-blooded American two-year-old would do.

I cried.

My mom couldn’t understand, and asked me what was wrong. When I told her about the spill, I remember what she did.

She got down, sort of sitting on her heels, at face-to-face level with me, and told me it was okay, that she could wash the dress and it would be fine again.

Those of you who’ve read here a long time, know what happened next. And you know what good it did. The rest of you can read the links. Have fun!

And share with us your story: What did you mess up, in your childhood, that your mom knew how to fix? Aren’t moms great!

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How to Make a Man Cry—Memorize

BibleI’ve always taught my children to memorize the Bible. I think it is good for their spirits, good for their souls, and even good for their bodies, if they heed it.

People seldom made me memorize anything until I was fourteen, but I remember much of it, today. I want my grown children to have lots and lots of the Word hiding in their hearts, and they do. It was worth all the work, just for that benefit.

Several times, though, we realized a different benefit.

I always had my children recite their memory work during our homeschool closing programs. It always was a large Scripture portion, such as The Book of James or The Letters to the Seven Churches. One night, when they recited Hebrews 11, “The Faith Chapter”, one preacher in attendance asked if we could recite it again, at his church, during the normal worship time.

After that presentation, a man remarked to me that it was such a great essay and wondered if I had written it, or where he could get a copy of it. Hmm.

I assured him I am not that great a writer, that it had been a selection from Scripture. He was astonished, said he’d never read anything that good in the Bible before. I gave him the reference. He marveled and promised he would go home and read it again, with the children’s voices still sounding in his ears, and seek for more meaning. Hmm.

But another time tops this. One night my children recited “The Sermon on the Mount”. Our youngest bravely wanted to help recite and assured me he could, although he was only seven at the time. I wondered at the wisdom of it, but knew the audience would forgive a flawed recitation from one so young. I knew this, especially since he desired to recite solo the entire parable of “The Wise and Foolish Builders”.

As the presentation progressed, I felt good about it. My children were totally prepared for this and giving, truly, one of their best recitals. However, as they neared the end, and my young son’s solo, he began to waver. After several bobbles, though, he collected himself and made it through to the end.

Bravo, Darling.

Later, I asked him what was wrong, what made him fearful. He replied, “When I saw that man in the audience crying, I thought I was doing a bad job.”

Further checking revealed this man in a rumpled suit, slumped down in his pew and openly mopping tears from a crumpled face, was the back-slidden relative of one of our group.

Oh, the power in the voice of a young child reciting Scripture! A grown man weeping to hear it, a churched man desiring to read it, what more could a mother want for reward?

Only this: that they would remember it, walk in it, and turn and teach it to their own.

Another story in this series here!

Nothing scarier than a fire set by an inventive child. Near your garage. On a windy day. How did we survive?

Did a Scary Angel Visit? Or a Savior Tramp?

Burning pine straw

One of our little boys was inventive and fearless.

And one day, a stranger came knocking at our back door.

It had been a mild-weather day and the main back door was open to let breezes in and to allow my supervision of our little boy’s outdoor play, while I tended to some laundry. The only separation between me and this huge visitor was the screen door of the back porch.

Over the expanse of his body he wore a grayed t-shirt, overalls with one strap fastened, and grubby boots untied.  Some of his teeth were missing. He badly needed a shave and his oily hair flattened in several directions. Something about the urgency of his loud knock startled me. That was before I turned and spied his unkempt estate.

I admit I was beyond distressed. Wild images of countryside kidnappings captured my mind, uninvited.

Timidly, I approached the main door, breaking all my rules about talking to strangers.

When you don't know if your are safe or not, when fire is the enemy, when friends are weird...“Yes?”

“Ma’am, it may be none o’ my business, but did you know y’ur little boy has got hisself a fire a-goin’ in the pine straw out here?”

“Oh, no! Oh, no! Please, PLEASE, stay and help me!”

Funny how outward appearances don’t matter much, sometimes.

I followed that kind and insightful messenger of mercy to the scene, and found that, sure enough, as he’d seen his daddy do countless times, our little son had raked up a pile of pine straw and set fire to it. He never guessed his tiny blaze was only feet away from oceans of pine straw, some of it drifted against our garage, downwind on a breezy day. The fire had already broken out of bounds.

We two adults raked and sprayed water until it was out.

I told the man he had probably saved our son’s life, and surely saved us great property loss. I thanked him until he was embarrassed and left.

I forgot to ask his name.

I guess he was an angel in disguise. Sometimes we need help, and God knows it. Yeh, maybe an angel. I can imagine my asking him his name, and him saying, “Folks jis calls me Gabe.”

On investigation, I learned my husband’s matches were stored high on a wall in the garage, good, but under them was the mower, rolled there by our son in less than five minutes, and topped with a milk crate, making him tall enough to reach. So young, but so brave and inventive.

And so perfectly protected.

Another story in this series here!

Mountains in Ecuador

A Week of Answers – Space and Budget Squeeze

Mountains in Ecuador

Mountains in Ecuador

Dear Katharine,

My husband and I are becoming missionaries. Our current home is in Hawaii but he spends a lot of time in places like a mountaintop in Ecuador. We have three children and are fairly certain we want to continue home schooling them, although some of our friends say we will waste my missionary education. My question is how to provide effectively all they need in a way that will store in a maximum of six feet of shelf space. That truly is all we can spare for their materials, so I want to find some way to do without regular curriculum. Also, when we want to take our children into the field, how can we make school as portable as possible? Our life is rather flexible or relaxed and our funds are low. Is there a way that is really good, that you can truly recommend?  –Dina

Dear Dina,

Yes. And you are not alone.

Let me start by emphasizing that missionaries are not the only ones with little space, low funds, and the need to travel. Several home schoolers that I have known had the same question.

Those who work in building construction are one very mobile group that includes many home schoolers. Those who work in the music ministry business are another.

How to fit it in, how to afford it, how to make it portable, are questions I hear frequently.

Wasted?

Missionaries are also not the only ones accused of wasting Mom’s skills on a mere lapful of children. We must be careful to realize that people base these accusations on the popular devaluation of children, the opposite of the ways of Jesus, Who took them up in His arms. Your friends would let you reach out to Ecuadorian children with impunity, right? Why not to your own?

Inexpensive.

There are some incredibly inexpensive ways to make learning happen, though, and they all take very little space. The first resource that comes to my mind is the Bible. Since you lead a flexible life, I suggest you try the idea of studying all the concepts presented in the Bible.I think you would never run out of “curriculum”.

For instance, in Genesis 1:1, you could study the earth for a month. Of course, you probably do not know everything you would like to share about it, so my second recommendation is to obtain a set of encyclopedias (for about $5.00 at garage sales, and the older, the better) or at least a world almanac (a few dollars at a discount store.)

One thing you would never have to do, in Hawaii, is make a fake papier-mâché volcano. You could just visit a real one and learn about it, probably all you want to know, without cost, in a tourist center, right? It would make a good study.

For spelling, you could work on “created”, “heavens”, and “earth”, and add words like them, to teach the different “ea” pronunciations.

For math, older children could calculate things like the circumference, diameter, and volume of the earth.

And then comes Genesis 1:2, in which you study oceans, spell words that compare to “form”, “void”, and “covered” for various sounds of “o”. Do you get the idea? You are probably thinking of many other ideas that I am not, just because you know what God wants you to teach and I do not.

Your mission.

  • If you are surrounded with people of many nationalities, obtain their input, please.
  • Introduce your children to many missionaries and let your children reap the richness that would never fit onto any shelf, but is inherent to your life.
  • If you speak any Ecuadorian languages, your children should too, so get busy creating a bilingual home. Really, social studies should be a breeze for you.

A little-known fact about most reading curriculum is that many of the accessories are optional. In fact, if you can find moral, age-appropriate material at your library, use that. As long as your children are reading, they are learning more about how to read. You could just read the Bible. For phonics, stick to very simple books that you read to them while pointing, and explain a lot. Or , buy a few workbooks for first grade, to get over the phonics hump at first.

Math.

For math, you may feel you need one text per grade, per year, which you sell or lend once you do not need them any longer. Alternatively, you can  teach the basics as you remember learning them when you were little, incorporating the lessons into your daily lives.

Are we still fitting onto your shelf? Good! We are almost finished shopping.

All I would suggest after the above is a book on scope and sequence (which will help you gauge the math lessons, if you do not obtain texts), a good collection of moral classic literature, a good Biblical world  history, and a good English handbook.

Actually, with those four and the Bible, you could probably skip the encyclopedia as long as you have a public library. Since most missionaries have outstanding computers and Internet service, you might even skip the library and obtain information from outer space.

Once you master this way of teaching your children, you’ll be able to visit Ecuador with them, teaching with nothing but the math book and your Bible. It will unfold itself to you in a way that only God could explain, but perhaps with which you already have much familiarity. When you are in the field, in other words, let God be your explanation and your scope and sequence. All of us could use more of that input in our home schools, anyway.

This method, as you requested, is really good, and I can truly recommend it. God did not leave out one particle of important information in His Word, and when you lean upon Him, He will guide you perfectly. You already know that.

Finally, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of forming or joining a support group. Even if only one other missionary mom is home schooling, but will store half the encyclopedias on her shelves, you both will gain. You could share all the above resources, cutting both your expenses in half. This says nothing of moral support, but you would certainly find that, too, not to mention prayer support.

Yes, you can continue home schooling your children, and you must. Nothing else will accomplish the very things you desire.

May God bless your efforts!

Love, Katharine

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