Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sound of . . . Schedules

I so enjoyed listening to Molly and James singing this morning. It was one of those days that I felt hopelessly behind. I hadn't gotten plans made over the weekend, and so was busy trying to write the kids' assignments as they were getting finished with breakfast.

"I don't have an assignment page," said Molly, as she started on her usual morning schoolwork routine.

"I'm behind," I said, adding, "I'm working on it, now."

While I was doing paperwork, James practiced piano. Then Molly got out the ukelele, to show her sister a song she could play. Then James got out his guitar and started playing and singing "You Are," a Christian praise song he is learning. Then he asked me about how to play one of the chords-- an E minor-- on the piano.

At that point, Molly came to the piano and started playing all the chords and singing the song. It sounded great! They decided to try both playing together, with piano and guitar at the same time.

There may not be a sound more lovely than that of your children playing and singing a song to God. So I had this wonderful pleasant feeling while writing out the assignments.

Later, I thought, "Hmmm . . . maybe if they do this on their own I shouldn't bother even giving assignments . . ." But then, if I hadn't been already teaching them instruments on a regular basis would they have had the skills to spontaneously experiment like this? So that idea was allowed to "pop" like a burst bubble.

One thing I've noticed in homeschooling is that having a regular schedule helps things run more smoothly and ensures that things "get done." But there are always those serendipitous moments, whether arising from a planned activity or from someone's temporary interest-- where time and "plans" are no longer all that important, and the enchantment of learning and discovery, or some creative endeavor just "takes over," and we're so glad for the freedom to follow along.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Trip to the Turn of the Century

If you'd like an interesting way to take a look at turn of the century American history, find out if your library has a copy of a reproduction of an antique Sears, Roebuck and Co catalogue. We checked out a copy of the 1902 catalog that was published by Bounty Books in 1969.

James and I flipped through the pages from cover to cover, and commented on some of the amazing prices and interesting objects. We saw an early record player, in the "Talking Machine Department," and a piano could be purchased for $59.45, a guitar for $2.45, and a little wind instrument called the zobo was only 8 cents.

There were bicycles, guns, farm equipment, books, a basketball and basketball goal (an iron frame with cotton netting basket which appeared to be closed at the bottom).
There were buggies and wagons and sleighs to be drawn by horses, and an amazing "electric belt" which was battery-operated and worn around the waist as a health treatment.

This device was said to enable its wearer to "face the world anew," for $18.00. And what's more, the catalog said, "$18 will bring to you health and strength, vigor, manliness and happiness . . ." all with a money-back guaranteed 10-day trial.

There was a vapor bath cabinet, too-- this looked like a cube with a person's head sticking up out of the top-- and must have been a type of sauna, for $5.25.

We didn't look at every single page (there were 1161 pages), but enjoyed browsing through, and seeing china and clothing and cast iron cookstoves. Among the ladies' clothes was a long dress called a "wrapper--" that sounded like a curious name, to me. For some clothing, instead of using standard sizes, the buyer was requested to give certain body measurements.

Sears Roebuck had their name on the label of the "Arsenic Complexion Wafers," sold to preserve and enhance beauty. It was also on "Electric Liniment," a liniment that was electrically charged, enabling it to relieve rhuematism as well as sprains, bruises and sores.

After hearing our comments, Molly took a look at the catalog, too. She made some interesting discoveries, like a ring with two real diamonds that cost $2.75, and cameras that looked more like small suitcases.

I took a look at the shipping prices, too. To ship 100 pounds first class to Washington state was $3. But if you lived closer to Sears' Chicago warehouses, shipping was much less-- in Illinois it cost around 40 cents to ship 100 pounds.

This catalog was so interesting! It was a great way to investigate how things were in America at the beginning of the 1900's. So, for a trip to the wondrous year of 1902, look for this book!