Butterflies, Cousins, and Mis-Matched Shoes

      This week we are celebrating the life of an exceptional woman. My mother-in-law passed away on Monday. She was smart, sensible, somewhat sassy, and we all adored her. I dedicate this post to her ~ Marty Johnson: Master Wife,  Master Mom,  Master Me Me, and (I can't leave this out) Master Chef. 



     Seven years ago, while in the incipient stage of our homeschooling trek, I was introduced to Charlotte Mason and her maxim, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." As a parent and grandparent, it's clear to me that we all "homeschool" in one way or another. Learning from each other is natural. It happens daily. I like the way Miss Mason worded this obvious fact; one that can be either inspiring, or petrifying, or more likely...a little bit of both. What it basically boils down to is this. How do we feed our children?


Share good books with the children. It is the magic door of contact between the child and some of the most interesting and creative people our culture has enjoyed... Let the words themselves sink in. Don't chew up the ideas yourself and then hand over the half-digested "food" to the child. Let him have direct access to the source... This is a different way of thinking about learning. Our job is to give the best nourishment regularly. The child takes what is appropriate to him at that time.  For the Children's Sake


     Providing the best nourishment involves knowing how and what to cook. The chef must have the proper equipment, ingredients, recipe, and knowledge to prepare an unforgettable meal. If you just throw stuff in haphazardly, the end result may not be very appetizing. 


 Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture ~ a gummy Beef Wellington, say. But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal; perhaps even a life changing experience.  My Life in France


      One of these fresh ingredients just happens to be located in Columbus, Ohio.  Recently, we spent time with family and had the pleasure of visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory, now on the top of my "favorite's" list. Exploring this haunt with cousins made it even better.



     We walked in the steps of giant insects and 
The ants go marching one by one...

we worked our way past the turtles and the iguanas. I wonder if those hats bother them? They sure made them look cute. (Well, kind of.)
Here's looking at you, kid!

     Strolling through different habitats mixed with gorgeous works of blown glass, we eventually found ourselves in the Butterfly Room. Here, thousands of butterflies flitted all around us. It was quiet,  peaceful, and totally mesmerizing.
Notice the butterfly above cousin's head.
 I nearly purred at that.  My Life in France

       I just love that line!




      We left this beguiling setting with smiles and two caterpillars. 



                                  And at the end of the day...








     We watched.


     We waited.

     We released.


     We journaled.
    

Journaling opens up the opportunity (and gives us an excuse!) to make the time ~ whether it's ten minutes a day or an hour every weekend ~ to fully take in the world and reflect on our own lives. It also gives us a structure within which to carefully observe our own lives, as well as all the life that surrounds us, both human and nonhuman. The knowledge gained by such observation is highly satisfying, as we are able to bring greater insight and interest to the world we see each day. Keeping a Nature Journal


And we memorized this poem.
     Needless to say, I delight in being the Master Chef of  Mel's Diner.  I look forward to shopping for the freshest and most nutritious ingredients, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help cook up two delectable meals.



      But the Real Deal is that all this keeps me young; maybe not on the outside but definitely on the inside.


When we no longer care about anything except our own interests, we are then old. It matters not whether our years be twenty or eighty. It is rejuvenation for the teacher, thus growing old, to stand ignorant as a child in the presence of one of the simplest of nature's miracles ~ the formation of a crystal, the evolution of the butterfly from the caterpillar, the exquisite adjustment of the silken lines in the spider's orb web. I know how to "make magic" for the teacher who is growing old. Let her go out with her youngest pupil and reverently watch with him the miracle of the blossoming violet and say: "Dear Nature, I know naught of the wondrous life of these, your smallest creatures. Teach me!" and she will suddenly find herself young.   The Handbook of Nature Study         



     Oh, you're probably wondering about the shoe photo at the start of this blog, and I'm pretty positive that some of you moms are cringing at the thought of a child wearing mis-matched shoes. Well...my three year old grand-niece sported these all day. Kudos to my lovely niece who realizes that sometimes even the best recipe needs to be personalized a bit; that it can be made a tad more delicious when some individuality is thrown into the mixture. That sweet little girl couldn't have been any cuter. In fact, her shoes were the icing on the cake!

     

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandi

 Melanie
A magnificent burst of flavor.


    Linking up with Joyous Lessons