Diana's Homeschool Blog

Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

My Sound of Music Experience

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Bill AndersonIn the spring of 2000, my family (Bill & I, plus our three teenagers) went to the FPEA convention in Orlando, Florida. FPEA has always been one of our favorites, but this time we were particularly excited as Bill Anderson, the author of Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was going to be at the convention promoting his newest book. I had not yet had the privilege of meeting Bill, but we had been working together on the Musical Memories project for several months via phone and email.

As we discovered him amongst opened boxes in his booth, I was delighted to finally meet the author with whom it been such a joy to work. With great enthusiasm, my kids and I asked, "Bill, do you want to come over to our hotel room for dinner one evening? We would love to have a chance to chat!" He seemed pleased with the invitation, but hesitantly asked for one provision: "Would it be all right if I brought a guest with me?"

There is ALWAYS room around the Waring table for an extra guest, so we enthusiastically said, "YES!"

I was curious, however.

"Who is your guest?"

Bill motioned to a lovely older woman, standing off to the side, and invited her to come into the midst of our jollity.

"This is Rosemarie Trapp, the first child born to Captain and Maria von Trapp."

REALLY???????????????

As it turned out, Bill's latest book was on the Von Trapp Family Singers, and, during his interviews, the adult children of this famous family took him to their hearts. When he had the opportunity to come to the FPEA convention, he invited Rosemarie to come along. She actually did a workshop (I sat on the FRONT ROW!) and shared a bit of her life. She even invited us to join her in singing Edel Weiss, one of of the most poignant songs from The Sound of Music.

The Waring family with Rosemary TrappThus is was that, one evening during the convention, Rosemarie Trapp came to our room. We spent hours with Rosemarie and Bill, talking, laughing, eating, swapping stories and even SINGING! She thought it was delightful that we sang together as a family, because she knew personally the dynamics of performing family concerts. And, when she learned that we had just returned from a life-changing seven months in New Zealand, we discovered yet another wonderful connection—her family had also loved traveling in the Pacific region!

I have to say that it was a magical night. And it remains one of the most amazing memories in my life.

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Today I Choose Joy

I love this week's topic. Experiencing the bubbling up of real joy is one of the most precious, wonderful gifts life has to offer, isn't it?

Joy is possible at all ages, in multi-faceted ways.  Consider these few:

      • successfully riding a bike for the first time;
      • picking up a squirming puppy who happily licks you;
      • seeing a sparkling hummingbird sip from your feeder;
      • hiking up a mountain to a spectacular vista;
      • promising "I do" to the one who has captured your heart;
      • holding your new born child.

But joy is not limited to wholly happy situations.  Joy is possible in times of difficulty, as well.  And it is as much a gift in that time, if not more, as it is in times of happiness.

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Today I Choose to Love

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Sitting by the beach at Lake Erie only a few days before Mother's Day, I am pondering the concept of "choice" in love.  In the English folk song, "Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier"—which was a favorite tune during the American Civil War—a young woman determines to sell her spinning wheel in order to buy her beloved a weapon of defense in a time of war.

I have a spinning wheel, two, in fact.  The novel experience of spinning wool into yarn is usually fun, though I seldom make the time.  In fact, it took me eight years to spin enough wool to knit my husband a sweater!  Fortunately, since spinning is just a hobby for me, we have the opportunity to buy sweaters in a store.

It was not the same for the woman in the song.  In her era, a spinning wheel was a dearly held necessity.  Though it is hard to imagine now, a spinning wheel was once the technology that allowed one to make yarns/fabric/clothes and, for many, it was the critical piece of equipment for earning a living.

She chose to sell it in a breath-taking act of sacrifice.

Why?  Because of her love for Johnny.

Real love is photo-8not mere words. Instead, love is a day-by-day choice, most clearly discerned through generously unmeasured acts that benefit the loved one.

Today I choose to love.  How about you?

Diana

P.S. If you are in the Harrisburg, PA, region, I would love to meet you at the CHAP convention this weekend!  Be sure to catch my mini-concert at noon on Friday, featuring some of the stories and songs from the Experience History Through Music series.  Bring your sing-along voice, as it will be an audience participation concert! 

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Today I Choose to be Brave

I choose to be braveI have been thinking a lot about the realities of life for a slave in America, prior to the Civil War.  Research on the slave spiritual, Wade in the Water, reveals a connection between the experiences of the ancient Israelites as they fled enslavement in the Exodus, and the experiences of American slaves, who fled captivity on the Underground Railroad.  It took courage to leave the only life they knew, despite its brutality, and to flee into the unknown. And the leaving was not easy, as terror followed close behind—Pharaoh's army for the one, brutal slave-catchers for the other.  

What made that possible?  Why did some slaves in America brave the terrors of the trail while others remained behind in the familiar difficulties?

For me, the answer lies in the strength of the vision before them.  For those who fled, there was a soul-stirring hope that life could be different, that it could hold a freedom and joy beyond imagining. . . And it was vision that gave them the courage to leave, it was hope that emboldened their hearts to face the journey, despite the terrors following close behind.

There are many ways to be enslaved today.  And the answer is still the same:  with the courage borne of hope, take your first steps towards freedom, regardless of obstacles before you or  terror behind.

It is not easy.  But it opens the door to a life beyond our wildest dreams.

Today I choose to be brave.  How about you?

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Today I Choose to Sing

America Coverpage Westward Ho Coverpage Musical Memories Coverpage

Ok, I'll admit it.  I love to sing.  I've sung onstage, in church, in the shower, at meals, in the car, and at Starbucks in Auckland, New Zealand, and, most recently, in a fabulous performance of Beethoven's 9th.  Singing with my guitar, my husband, my kids, friends, choirs, all of it delights my heart.

But that is not what I am singing about today.  In researching the folk song, "Old Dan Tucker," I was intrigued to read of the Hutchison Family singers who turned it into a popular abolitionist tune. A family making music made me stop and think about 21st century America.

With our headphones, our iPods, and our music apps aside, what if we took a moment to explore an idea that is radically different than the norm? What would happen if, sometimes, singing were not canned, not orchestrated, and not perfect? 

What if sometimes we:

      • Sing--and encourage our children to sing?  
      • Make our own music, whether that meant writing it or playing it?  
      • Sing simple nursery rhymes with our kids (like, "Three Blind Mice")?
      • Teach others to sing in rounds (like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")?
      • Pull out our dusty guitars, open up our old pianos, and find old sheet music for songs we used to sing?
      • Until recently, that is the way it was done.

Home-grown.
Home-made.
Home-joys.

It's not that I am not thankful for iTunes, who effortlessly provides me music while I write.  It's just that we seem to have lost something that can't be replaced with a purchase.

Knowing gardeners assure us that home-grown tomatoes have a taste no grocery-store tomato will ever have.  Singing is like that—open your mouth and give it a try!  I think you will discover, as I have, that singing will bring an invigorated delight no canned music will ever offer.

It takes time.  It takes practice to really enjoy the experience.  And, it is pretty counter-cultural in this era.  But, oh, my, it is FUN!!

So, today I choose to sing.  How about you?

If you need some encouragement to get singing, you will LOVE our new Experience History Through Music series!  You can sing with it, learn the songs with the sheet music and sing it yourself, and discover the American history surrounding the songs. Coming soon. . .

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