Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Middle Ages and Beyond

I've been in my middle ages for a short time now. Okay, maybe a little on the long side of a short time, but I've had much (much, much, much) older middle ages to think about this week. 

My oldest daughter has been doing a segment on the middle ages. Our nightly reading was a few chapters from Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi. 

The story's setting is well done. The authenticity of the book's medieval language, customs, and culture was brilliant. We learned a great deal about life for a medieval English serf. I learned some new terms too, like complinethe last of the seven canonical hours. Or mazer, a drinking bowl usually made from hardwood.

My daughter even knew what wattle and daub was before I had to look it up. As you can see in the picture above, the wattle is the frame of interwoven sticks. The daub is the mud or clay mixture slathered over the wattle--a common building technique in medieval England, and other parts of the world.

I'm hoping my children are learning as much as I am. Homeschooling isn't easy, but in all raw honesty, it has been more rewarding than I thought possible. 

I've been able to see my children blossom in their new knowledge. I've been able to watch my oldest daughter regain the fiery personality she'd had as a toddler. 

I was speaking to a retired teacher several months ago. She asked me how old my children were, and after I told her, she smiled and said, "Those are good ages--the children still have their own colors. When they start leaving primary school, they become gray." 

Of course, this is paraphrased into English from my really bad understanding of Spanish, but the idea of gray children ping-ponged in my brain for months after, especially as I watched my daughter "fit in" yet again to a new school year. 

Taking my kids out of school was a hard decision, but seeing the color come back into my daughter's personality has helped me feel at peace. In fact, I think we've all regained a little color. 

I've certainly livened up my usual day with gusty renditions of The Ants Go Marching On and B-I-N-G-O  (complete with actions), not to mention our morning poetry recitations. Shel Silverstein is my children's current favorite.

Oh how I've missed his poetry. And for that matter, all the poetry I didn't know was happening all around me. 

Thus far, the middle ages have been good. And perhaps if I'm lucky, my middle ages will be followed by a Renaissance of my own.

Have a great week. 


  1. Your post makes me so happy, Johnell. You're all blossoming in new ways. Recovering that *color* is HUGE!!! I think I've learned more about the middle ages through historical fiction than anything else and sometimes I long to experience it myself. I suppose it's a lot safer reading a book than putzing around with a time-travel machine. Have you read Timeline by Michael Crichton? It's wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Vijaya. I haven't heard of Timeline. I'm excited to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Sounds like you're all having a great time! :)

  3. Great post, Johnell. I think homeschooling has got to be one of the biggest challenges to tackle, and you are doing it beautifully. The comment from your retired teacher friend about children still having their "colors" was so poignant. What if we could grow up and retain that vibrancy? You are a great mom and writer!