Monday, January 30, 2012

Anne of Green Gables Brunch

As many of you are likely aware, every January I host the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge over at Reading to Know. Every year various other ladies join in and we relax into the new reading year with old favorites. I've explained before why I like reading Montgomery and I won't elaborate further in this post for that is not the point, here and now.

This year I thought it would be fun to have an Anne of Green Gables brunch/party with a set of friends that I do not get to see very often and so I set about planning it with enthusiasm and gusto. As it all turned out, the weekend I hosted completely fell apart in every way imaginable. Let's just say that I was "well in body, but considerably rumpled in spirit." ;)

My grandiose plans didn't really come to fruition, but that's just the way life works sometimes! (I keep telling myself this. One day, no doubt, I will firmly believe it and it won't be as surprising!) I also keep telling myself that this year's Anne of Green Gables Brunch is a test run. I can always improve the event and/or adjust things as necessary to really enjoy more of Montgomery in the company of others in the future. (Maybe I should invite all of my bloggy book buddies to fly in and we can revel in our favorite books over the course of a whole WEEK or something! Now there's a thought!)

At any rate, we brunched. We crafted. But more importantly, we enjoyed a time of fellowship with one another. We encouraged one another and built each other up. (At the very least, I felt encouraged and built up.) Getting together for times of fellowship can be fun opportunities to create beautiful things for people to enjoy. When you have people over it's like giving yourself special permission to create beautiful atmospheres to delight imaginations and palates. I love trying to put together creative decorations that make you want to look at a table for awhile and take all of the details in. Details are fun! But the joy, for me, in offering hospitality is ultimately the sweet fellowship with kindred spirits.

My faith was strengthened (in part due to the patience of my guests as I scurried about like a madwoman trying to get the table set!) I picked up some additional homemaking and gardening tips. I caught up on the lives of the other ladies' families. I managed to get all of two pages of scrapbooking done. (Better than if they had not come at all.) And in all of this, I was blessed. Therefore the ultimately purpose of the event was accomplished. It just didn't look like what I originally expected that it might.

We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even if we never quite succeed. Life would be a sorry business without them. With them it's grand and great. ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery


Details:

For ambiance, I had the Anne Of Green Gables soundtrack playing in the background:



(This music is completely relaxing to me. When I want to create a peaceful atmosphere for myself, it usually involves this music. Although quite a bit of the time it can also mean playing Aaron Keyes or Steven Curtis Chapman very loudly, truth be told!)

Of course, you can't have an Anne of Green Gables party of ANY sort without making a particular beverage being served.

Surely you can guess which one!

I used this recipe for raspberry cordial and, if I do say so myself (having tried it on Prince Edward Island), it matched up decently with my memories. (Not perfectly, but decently.) Apparently I didn't take a picture of it though!

Other details:




Interesting Fact:

I made a chicken pecan quiche using a recipe that was given to me by my friend Caniad at Dwell in Possibility. (Some of you will know her from the book blogging world!) She made this quiche at a book club gathering which she hosted back when we were fifteen or sixteen. (Something like that!) I make this quiche only on special occasions and every time I do, I think of her. Of course, it's hard not to think of her since the recipe is written down in her handwriting! I thought it fitting to serve it at a book gathering, of sorts. (Thanks, Caniad, for the recipe!)


All in all, I had a very pleasant day and I'm grateful for the friends and the fellowship. I'll look forward to another gathering of this nature next year . . . Lord willing! :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Commenting

I fixed the comment problem and those with Wordpress should be able to leave comments at whim and fancy now. Sorry about that, but thank you for letting me know!

Learning to Be Imaginative


I confess it. I worry that my children aren't imaginative enough. Imagination doesn't seem to come naturally to them; it must be learned. Bookworm1, my oldest, doesn't seem to be naturally imaginative. If he talks to animals, it's because I showed him how it's done. (Grant it, now he has a host of toy animals, each with their own particular identity and agenda.) Whenever I do act something out in play, he doesn't naturally gravitate towards whatever it is I'm playing. In fact, usually he sits back with an incredulous look on his face and just laughs.

Bookworm2 doesn't seem to have much imagination either. Of course, being two years old, about the only thing he works on is getting everyone's attention all of the time - whether it be with good behavior or bad. As for Baby, well, it's too soon to say. I did show her how to put a baby to sleep once. I tucked a stuffed animal under a blanket and patted its back. She looked at me with a peculiar expression on her face and then laughed. I'm not sure what that means.

I don't remember having to be taught how to use my imagination. I just used it. The things I remember best about my childhood are the things I played. Blankets were transformed into princess dresses (huge skirts, you know!) I lived in covered wagons and was attacked by Indians on a regular basis whenever I played with one particular friend of mine. I walked in space. I owned a restaurant. I begged my father to repair a portion of a shrimp boat that had washed up on the seashore nearby where we lived so that I could use it as a raft and sail out in the bay. (He suggested it was no longer sea worthy. I don't know why. About three feet of it was still intact and it had a window which would have made it the perfect glass bottom boat!)

All that to say, it worries me when my kids don't seem to know what to do with themselves when it comes to imaginative play.

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities. ~Theodore Geisel


People tell me that imagination will come to them, in time, and that they are in the developmental stages wherein it will somehow be produced. I trust these people. Really, I do. I'm quite sure that they are right because their kids are older than mine and they have the benefit of experience and hindsight to offer. Still, I work to foster imagination, not so that my children will use it to escape from reality but so that by it they will be able to view reality accurately. In play we learn to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. Boy warriors slay dragons and rescue the damsel in distress. They learn about honor, valor and courage. They learn how to relate to one another and how to interact with the world around them.

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. ~G.K. Chesterton


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You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain


One of the most notable things to me about successful entrepreneurs is their ability to imagine and think about things outside of the proverbial box. They ponder possibilities and aren't handicapped when they run into roadblocks. Creative and imaginative people are problem solvers. They do not sit about glumly proclaiming that they are bored or that there is 'nothing to do' because a whole wide world of possibilities is waiting for them from the moment their feet hit the ground in the morning until they fall asleep - exhausted - at night. Imagination feeds their soul and makes for a productive and satisfied human being. Anything is possible.

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. ~G.K. Chesterton


As I look around today, I see an struggling economy and many people out of work. Jobs are hard to come by these days. It can make a person out of work become quite frustrated, quite easily. This is exactly a time in history though when men need imaginations. Creativity is an essential in order to find and enjoy satisfying work while providing for one's family. The future in this world is uncertain and I can't predict the struggles that our own children will face but I do know that a healthy imagination will take them quite far beyond whatever the struggles may be.

So while I do believe imagination will come (because I've been told it will!) I do not sit idly by and hope without assisting them in discovering who they are in their own minds. What do I do to foster this?

1. I read to them. Constantly. (It helps that this is my favorite thing to do.) Our house is positively filled with books. There are always books to be found at their fingertips so that they can explore as many fictionalized worlds that they like! To date, most of our reading material has been ye olde picture book. Bookworm1 and I are getting into chapter books and the older he gets, the more daring the tales I like to pick out. I'm starting to look for books which include great battles of good against evil and also books which deal with the topic of death. I don't mean to shock or scare him, but broaden his realities. (I actually think I may have been reading him the wrong sorts of books for too long and a correction needs to be made in our reading materials. I've played it safe in the reading world up to this time. I'm feeling like getting a little risky!)

2. I've instituted Play Time in random moments scattered throughout the day. I don't know about your kids, but mine would live by my side 24/7 if I allowed it. (This does admittedly get very old at times.) I discovered in the past month that I'm unable to tell them to go and play with each other and just expect them to naturally do it. They'd rather be with me. So during the month of January I've been saying things like, "You can choose. You two can either go play with each other for awhile, or you can help me clean the kitchen." This method tends to work like a charm. (Yesterday though my two year old opted to reorganize the bathroom cabinet with me instead of play with his brother. Go figure. The job did need to be done though and it turned out that his help was valuable.)

3. I sing random silly songs to them throughout the day. Occasionally this does get on Bookworm1's nerves but most of the time it makes him laugh. If I make up goofy rhymes, I'm hoping he'll learn to do so also. One must develop a sense of humor, you know! (And yes, my silly songs will include bathroom material from time to time. But this is ok for now since we're at the tail end of potty training #2.)

4. Every so often Daddy or Mommy will point out something that could be imagined. (i.e., "Look at this stick. You could use it for _______.") And hopefully at that point their imaginations will kick in and take over.

I'm discovering that learning to be imaginative is a process and it requires more intent than I ever thought possible! I still have many things to learn about how to foster this in my kids.

I also do confess that I'm the happiest mother alive when one of my children come up and tell me about something crazy and outlandish about themselves or their toys. In my opinion, an imaginative child is a healthy child. They will also make amazingly productive, interesting and incredible adults because they'll see things that the majority of us will never see unless we imagine with them!

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~ Michelangelo

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why This Blog?

Why start another blog? I have others (most notably Reading to Know.) However, Reading to Know is designed to be very specific in nature. It exists to keep track of what books I've read and my immediate thoughts about them.

For a long time, I've been quite content with Reading to Know being my online diary. It's still a most excellent place to record my thoughts on the books I've read, and I shall keep it. The problem, or the challenge, of Reading to Know (for me) is that it limits me to moments in time. I read a book, I think it through, and then I begin to apply the truths I glean from the books to every day life. But all that I usually record on my blog is what I initially thought of it. I don't take the time to point out how my thoughts have been further developed, how I've extended my application of those thoughts or how certain truths have translated to (sometimes) major life changes. Books have a way of changing you, you know. (This I why I think it is both important to read them and to choose your books wisely and well! They are made to express worldviews and change them.)

The title of this blog, Living Like a Narnian, should bring a smile to my Reading to Know audience. (It brings a smile to my own face, I admit it!) I love Narnia. Every July I host the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge, because I think C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, besides being imaginative literature that is fun to escape into, also holds powerful truths and thought-provoking messages. Every visit that I make into Narnia changes who I am. The way I live my life can be dramatically altered by Narnia - as well as any other book or story I dive into.

Living Like a Narnian is meant to document life application after the cover of the book has been closed and the story has been read. It's meant to encourage creativity, imagination and delight in the Christian faith and all that is wrapped up in that. I am a Christian, and everything I do I hope and pray will reflect the Lord Jesus Christ. (That's not to say that, at times, I do not stumble and fail in the journey.) But I have a goal in mind and I'm running towards it. And I intend to keep running towards it, no matter what obstacles I encounter along the journey. I shall live in and believe in God, and put my faith and trust in Him, regardless of what my feeble eyes may see and what others may tell me. I shall live as a Christian. It's where I've "staked my claim."

If you'd like, I invite you to join me in this journey of faith, home and family. Whatever I ultimately end up "taking" from a book (and other aspects of life) will likely land here in some form or fashion. And, beyond that, this site will likely contain things like recipes, homemaking discoveries and tips, ideas for family fun, encouragement for mothers, and more.

I invite you to journey with me and "live like a Narnian" - no matter what the cost. To the glory of God!