Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just Under the Gun

I'm making it just under the gun.

Today is April 30, the last day of National Poetry Month.

It is fitting that my last poem of the month is recited by my last child.

And she's talking about Caterpillars.

I am not a crawly, insect kind of girl at all. Just thinking about that Entomology project I had to do in college makes me shiver. In an effort to like caterpillars better, I looked at some fun facts about them on About.com. They actually list 10, but it was only the first one that really made me smile. And a little jealous. ;)

Fun fact: The caterpillar has just one job - to eat.

I'm assuming he loves his job, which means I have something in common with an insect. It may not be my only job, but I do have to do it. And I never have to be made to.

I know they turn into beautiful butterflies - which is something - but the only other reason that makes me smile about this larva, is that my Mary Grace talks about them. She leaves out a line or two, but who even notices? She's so stinking cute and endearing. Who can't help but be endearing when you try your hardest, but can't quite say the word "caterpillar."

Please enjoy this short, and very sweet finale to my poetry celebration.

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.
                     Christina Rossetti


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Swept Off My Feet

Welcome to post #5 of poems performed by little Harris people.

I had completely forgotten about the following poem, which is hard to believe, because when I read it this time, it completely swept me off my feet.

In this clip, Elizabeth recites "When Young Melissa Sweeps." 

When Young Melissa Sweeps

When young Melissa sweeps a room

I vow she dances with a broom!

She curtsies in a corner brightly

And leads her partner forth politely.

Then up and down in jigs and reels,

With gold dust flying at their heels,

They caper. With a whirl or two 

They make the wainscot shine like new;

They waltz beside the hearth, and quick

It brightens, shabby brick by brick.

A happy gavotte across the floor,

A Highland fling from door to door.

And every crack and corner's clean 

Enough to suit a dainty queen.

If ever you are full of gloom,

Just watch Melissa sweep a room!

Glory be! I think this poem has just transformed the chore of sweeping!

So much of the time, it's all how you "spin" something, isn't it?

You can sweep, or you can...
                                               dance with a broom.
                                               lead your partner forth politely.
                                               go up and down in jigs and reels.
                                               caper. (I had an idea what that meant, but not exactly. Looked it up.)
                                               dance the Gavotte - or the Highland Fling. (Depending on whether you 
                                                                                                                     felt French or Scottish that  

The possibilities are endless!

I can't remember whether or not my Elizabeth had a hand in picking out this poem, but I'm awfully glad she recited it so many years ago.  If you're like me, when you see Melissa's hair, you'll smile. And when you hear Elizabeth clicking her fake nails against the poster, you'll smile.

And hopefully, next time you sweep, you'll smile too.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hebrew Poetry

So far this April, I've "embarrassed" 3 of my 6 children. It is now very close to the end of National Poetry Month, and I still have 3 to go! Thankfully, I have found decent clips of the three youngest reciting.

Believe me, I've gone through quite a bit of home video to find these treasures. Do you take home videos? Not only could they potentially win you $10,000, they also record moments that are priceless. Here's a couple of things I've learned after watching many home videos this month.

Take more videos of the everyday moments than you do of the "special" moments. Those concerts, musicals, and sports events are nice, but they have been what I've fast forwarded through. I've lingered over the clips of the kids playing in the house or yard. I'm thankful for all the times I zoomed in closely to their face. I can see - so readily - who they are now in who they were then. That has been a beautiful bittersweet gift.

The poem I'm sharing today is a different kind of poetry, but it is poetry nonetheless.

Hebrew poetry.

Our Faith is reciting Psalm 1, which all the children memorized at one point or another. She is our fast talker, and you will hear me admonish her early in the poem to speak "very plainly, now." She does a great job of trying to slow down and enunciate. She gets tickled mid way through, which is so innocent and happy and real.

There's something profound and lasting about the words a child memorizes when they are young. This was driven home to me just last night when I was about to record this clip. I was watching it through one time on our tv just to make sure I knew when to push the record button, etc, when Elizabeth came in the room. She immediately began saying part of this Psalm with the video.

Those are good, powerful, true words to have in your back pocket.

I've included these good, powerful, true words for you to read before you listen to sweet Faith.

May reading these words and hearing these words increase your faith!


Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Forward Thinking

You know what I've noticed?

God is very forward thinking.

Who would have thought that watching a video of my 7 year old son say a poem would spawn that thought?

I love it, though, when you're in the middle of an every day kind of thing, and you have a "God thought." Some thing or some task is before you, and all of the sudden, you are thinking something true and good about God. When you think something true and good about God, you come away encouraged.  

I was very glad for that "God thought" to appear, too. The thoughts I was having right before it happened weren't too pretty. I'd spent a significant chunk of time watching/fast forwarding through home movies looking for our David reciting a poem when he was just a youngster. (I'm on this little poetry kick because April is National Poetry Month. Don't pretend you're not excited!)

I was frustrated because, although each tape is dated, it is not labeled, so I have no idea what is on each video. So, instead of going directly to the tape with the card that says, "David - poem," I kept my finger on the fast forward button, scanning for that sweet little face of his.  Obviously, I did not have much forward thinking as far as home videos are concerned. Can I recommend right now, to any of you out there taking videos of your kids, to have some kind of card included by your tapes or DVDs that generally describes what is on the silly thing? 

Finally, my frustration gave way to relief and I found a poem.

Below, you'll enjoy David saying "Boats Sail On The Rivers," by Christina Rossetti. It's a simple poem that reminds us that the beauty God creates trumps all beauty that man creates. Remember to read through it first before you watch David, or you'll be leaning in close to try to make out what he's saying. Enunciate, boy! For an encore, I included an even younger David saying the very first poem he memorized. 

Also, I guarantee your going to notice something immediately when you watch the first video. This "something" inspired my "God thought." So after you watch my sweet boy recite his poems, I'll end with that.

                                                             Boats Sail On The Rivers
Boats sail on the rivers,
And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
Are prettier far than these.
There are bridges on the rivers,
As pretty as you please;
But the bow that bridges heaven,
And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
Is prettier far than these.

Encore: Thirty Days Have September

Like I said at the beginning - God is very forward thinking.

I think those teeth in that little boy is proof of that! He knew that my boy would need them and grow into them - perfectly! He fashioned us, and knows exactly what we need and when we'll need it. I also thought of a forward thinking verse found in Ephesians 2:10.

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God made us. He knows how we work best and what brings us great joy. Good works. Which He prepared in advance for us to do. 

That's forward thinking. 

That's encouraging. Reminding yourself of that truth will help you get out of bed in the morning!

Thanks, God.

And to show you just how well David has grown into those teeth...

He's on the left:)

David and Luke

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"The Secret"

Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler.

I couldn't help but think that when I found the second installment of my April celebration of National Poetry Month. Our dear 5 year old Hannah was my first victim student. What a ready learner she was! It's weird to think that she is about to graduate (with honors!) from The University of Arkansas.

I think poem memorization is directly correlated to the "with honors" part. ;)

But I digress.

Even though I'm not an active homeschooler anymore, I still find myself thinking like a homeschooler. When I watched Hannah say this perfect spring poem, I immediately went into lesson plan mode. I never thought like I'm about to describe when I was first homeschooling. I was too novice - too nervous - to do much outside the curriculum I ordered. But knowing what I know now, here's a few activities I'd do with Hannah the week I introduced this poem to her. If this were a real plan, I'd have to break it down into what we'd do on a particular day. Here, I'm just going to write some of the ideas as they come to me.

Introduce the poem. Read through it, dramatically, a couple of times every day. 

Look at pictures of robins. Have Hannah color a picture of one.

Look at pictures of cherry trees. Have her draw one.

Take walks outside to look closely at trees and to look for robins and nests!

Make a spelling word list from the words in this poem.

Practice handwriting by copying a couple of lines a day.

Illustrate the poem.

Talk about when/if it is appropriate to keep secrets.

Dig deeper into bird anatomy. Identify the different parts of a bird.

Dig deeper into the parts of a tree. Be able to label one.

Count all the words in the poem out loud.

Discuss and practice words that rhyme.

Talk about our great, good God who gave us birds, trees and all of nature.

I could go on. There is so much to learn! So much to wonder about! How good of God to put the ability to learn, to wonder, in us all. What a gift it was to see the world again through they eyes of my children! May we never, ever lose that sense of wonder.

You can sense Hannah's wonder and excitement as she says the poem. At the very beginning, she actually asks to say it! Once again, I've included the words because my little 5 year old is a bit difficult to understand at times. And, there is some background noise and activity. There's also background mess - a true reflection of our every day life with a house full of kiddos!

May this inspire you to wonder again at all the secrets coming to life this spring!

God is good.

The Secret

We have a secret, just we three,
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry-tree;
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

But of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the—I shan't tell the rest;
And laid the four little—something in it—
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute.

But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep;
Though I know when the little birds fly about
Then the whole secret will be out.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Thing

April is, as I'm sure most of you know,  National Poetry Month. Last year, I celebrated by gracing the sidewalk outside of Bolivar Family Care Center with the poems, "Trees" and "The Sun.".

This month, I'm going to celebrate by embarrassing my kids.

During our homeschooling years, I was big into making my students memorize poems. I loved (and still love) the beauty, the order, the vocabulary, and the rich meaning squeezed into the carefully crafted stanzas of poems. I made the kids memorize because I wanted great ideas, thoughts, and clever wording to be available at a moment's notice in their memory banks. I'm not so sure my children felt the same way, but they did their part and memorized.

I did my part and recorded, forever and always, the recitations of the many and various poems they memorized. 

I can't adequately describe the collective groan that erupts from our kids today when we are watching home videos and one of them appears on the screen in the "I'm about to recite a poem" position. That is quickly followed by, "Oh, Mom!" and laughter as we share the tortured happy memory of those eventful days.

So, to celebrate this year, I'm going to share with you some of the poems I recorded them saying way back when.

Our Luke, now 23, will start us off. It is more than ironic that the first poem I found him reciting was "The Things That Haven't Been Done Before," by Edgar Guest. He has recently embarked on some new adventures of his own - and these, like the ones described in the poem, are at the rim of the far-flung sky. As his dad and I watched his 10 year old self say these noble and courageous words, we loved him more and prayed for him again.

I've included the words to the poem before the video. I encourage you to read them before you watch. When Luke recites the poem, you can understand most of the words, but not quite all. Our ten year old still needed to work on enunciation and projection!

My apologies for the couple of seconds at the beginning (about 8) and the couple at the end of the video that aren't Luke reciting his poem. I didn't know how to edit the video and my technical crew (Faith and Elizabeth) weren't here to show me how. My internal posting deadline was looming, so it went up "as is."


The Things That Haven't Been Done Before

The things that haven't been done before,
Those are the things to try;
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.

The many will follow the beaten track
With guideposts on the way,
They live and have lived for ages back
With a chart for every day.
Someone has told them it's safe to go
On the road he has traveled o'er,
And all that they ever strive to know
Are the things that were known before.

A few strike out, without map or chart,
Where never a man has been,
From the beaten paths they draw apart
To see what no man has seen.
There are deeds they hunger alone to do;
Though battered and bruised and sore,
They blaze the path for the many, who
Do nothing not done before.

The things that haven't been done before
Are the tasks worth while today;
Are you one of the flock that follows, or
Are you one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whether you win or fail,
Strike out for a goal that's new?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Walked on the Moon

When you read the Bible, you never know what God's going to bring to mind.

On Thursday morning, it was the comedian, Brian Regan.

One of our favorite comedians, Brian has given us many lines that are now part of Harris family lore. "Man these bananas are good!" and "He shouldn't be painting!" probably mean nothing to you, but they make the inner circle of us Harrises smile. These and other Reganisms are apt to be quoted at appropriate moments.

Or thought at appropriate moments.

Yesterday, in Luke 10:17-20 , I was reading about "The Return of the Seventy Two." The passage goes like this:

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

You need to know a little background on this passage before I proceed. At the beginning of chapter 10, Jesus had sent the disciples out two by two ahead of him. They took no moneybag, knapsack, or sandals. It was quite the spartan trip. He sent them out as "lambs among wolves." He told them to heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom of God had come near to them.

Apparently, some spectacular things happened, because in verse 10 we are told they returned with joy saying that the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name. I'd say that's spectacular. I think I must have expected Jesus to say something like, "Wow! That's awesome!" But he surprised me in verse 18 when he said "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

After a statement like that, you don't typically think of a line you've heard a comedian say, but that's what I did. Brian Regan's "I walked on the moon," was the first thing that popped in my head after Jesus said he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (What!?!)

"I walked on the moon," is part of the climax at the end of one of Regan's routines that's all about one-upmanship. (I'm including a video of it at the end of this post for your enjoyment :)

When I read what Jesus said back to the disciples, it sounded a bit like one-upmanship at first. (Satan falling like lightning tops demons being subject to disciples).  But let's just be clear about the fact that if anybody has the right to and can always "top" someone's story, it's definitely Jesus. It just seemed like something he wouldn't say here - especially since the disciples were so excited. I was expecting Jesus to match their excitement with something like, "Way to go!"

I was in the middle of all these thoughts when our Faith came downstairs. I proceeded to tell her what I just told you, knowing she'd appreciate the whole Brian Regan side of things. She chuckled as expected, but then said something that I don't remember exactly word for word, but roughly, it went like this.

"Oh, funny...But you know what I think? I think Jesus is telling the disciples that he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven when (because) the disciples were doing all the miraculous things they were doing!"

When what she was really saying sank in, I nearly screamed! What a cool insight!

Jesus wasn't one-upping the disciples, he was affirming them. He was letting them know that when they obeyed him, not only were the demons dealt a blow, but so was their "master," Satan. Jesus was letting them know just how far reaching obedience is - what effect it has in the spiritual realm.

This conversation has had an effect on me. I thought about it all day yesterday, and my fingers were itching to type the whole scenario out.

One other truth occurred to me as I mulled all this over: the benefit/importance of community.

Of talking over thoughts and ideas with someone else. I, thankfully, stumbled into this conversation with Faith. Boy, am I glad I did. My world was expanded. My faith was strengthened. Our chat in the kitchen at 7 a.m. made me love God more. It was unplanned and unexpected, but very good. We can reap similar benefits in planned and expected times of conversations like small groups and Bible studies. Our world will be expanded. Our faith will be strengthened.

And, we'll probably laugh, too. You never know when Brian Regan might be mentioned.