Tag Archives: Childhood Stories

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Earliest Memory

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I’d forgotten this, but it turns out that WWBC had this same prompt last year! I talked about eating apples that were still attached to the apple tree in our front yard then, so I’ll talk about our tire swing this time.

A baby sitting in a tire swing
Baby Lydia in a tire swing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of toy, know that they’re made from old tires that are no longer fit for traditional things like driving. My thrifty, environmentally-conscious uncle made the one you’ll see in these photographs!

A tire swing meant for young children is cut open lengthwise to create a safe pouch for little ones to sit in.

If you’re small enough to fit into it, you may still need a grownup or older child to push you.

I have such happy memories of gently being pushed back and forth as I sat in it. ¬†The specific adults in question are hazy but always warm and attentive. Sometimes my parents no doubt did it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other relatives took turns as well.

I was the first grandchild on one side of the family, so there were lots of older kids and grownups around who relished playing with a little one again.

A preschooler swinging in a tire swing
Swinging by myself like a big kid.

Those early experiences gave me a lifelong love of swings. There’s nothing like the sensation of riding in one. It almost feels like you’re flying if you go fast and high enough!

This memory probably formed when I was a tad older than the age I was when I took tiny bites out of apples that I couldn’t quite manage to pull off of the tree.

My family moved away from that house when I was about four, so this was a very early memory no matter which one technically formed first.

I’ll end this post with one final tire swing photo so that you will all know there was a time when my first brother and I were small enough to fit into a tire swing together. (Someday I’ll gush about my other sibling and other relatives in their own special posts, too. Everyone is equally loved in our family. ūüôā )

A young girl and her infant brother cuddling together in a tire swing
Tire swing cuddles

This sibling of mine is about six feel tall now and has his own kids to chase around! ¬†It’s a joy to see him make his wife and kids laugh. He can find the humour in anything.

He also gives the biggest, nicest bearhugs you can possibly imagine.

Looking at this photo makes me yearn for the day when I can hug him and everyone else in the family again. Someday the U.S. and Canadian borders will reopen and that will happen.

I’ll leave it up to him to reveal his identity or remain anonymous depending on what he prefers.

But look at those little munchkins. What a sweet moment in time.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt was a little tricky for me because it’s been a while since I’ve received a memorable book recommendation. I can be a bit picky about what I read, so I definitely don’t blame anyone for that. It’s just hard for some folks to figure out my tastes well enough to recommend things I end up loving.

These recommendations were all hits, though! They’re loosely arranged by how old I was when they were first recommended to me.

Title and Author: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)
by C.S. Lewis

Who Recommended It: My uncle sent this entire seven-book series to me when I was in elementary school. I adored it immediately.

 

Title and Author: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Who Recommended It: I believe my fifth grade teacher recommended it during or after we did a history unit on the Holocaust. Anne’s stories about living in hiding as well as the truth about what happened to her gave this era a personal touch that made it easier for my young mind to grasp the horrors of it all.

 

Title and Author: Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

Who Recommended It: My ninth grade English teacher. She didn’t recommend this specific book, but she did an in-depth unit on his work in general that turned me into a lifelong fan of his stories.

 

Title and Author: Jane Eyre by¬†Charlotte Bront√ę

Who Recommended It: A book display at my high school library. I knew nothing about this author or tale, but I thought I’d give it a try. Jane won me over from the beginning.

 

Title and Author: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Who Recommended It: A high school study hall teacher. She had a shelf filled with books for us to read if we’d finished all of our homework. I picked this title out from it and was mesmerized from the first page.

 

Title and Author: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Who Recommended It: My aunt. She had a large personal library that I was allowed to borrow books from while she was away at college and later graduate school, and I believe this was one of the titles she thought I’d particularly enjoy. Yes, she was completely right.

 

Pile of opened books stacked on top of each other Title and Author: The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

Who Recommended It: A librarian at the local public library if my memory is correct. I’d mentioned enjoying Beloved, and she immediately told me to read this next. I’m glad I listened to her!

 

Title and Author: Indian Horse  by Richard Wagamese

Who Recommended It: A coworker. I asked him for recommendations of Canadian books at some point after I moved up here, and this was one of his ideas.

Title and Author: The Stone Angel  by Margaret Laurence

Who Recommended It: The same coworker who recommended Indian Horse. I enjoyed both of these titles.

 

Title and Author: Annabel  by Kathleen Winter

Who Recommended It: A display of new Canadian books at one of the Toronto Public Library branches. I borrowed it with no knowledge of who the author was and had a great time reading it.

5 Homeschooling Tips From a Homeschooler

A toy apple sitting on three textbooks in front of a blackboard. The toy apple has a door, window, and lantern painted onto it so that it looks ilke a litle house. I recently read that there has been a surge of families interested in homeschooling thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As someone who was homeschooled for several years, I have some tips to share for anyone who is planning to or thinking about homeschooling their kids this year.

Before we dive into the meat of this post, please note that homeschooling during a pandemic or other crisis is much more difficult than it is in ordinary times.

My parents had the luxury of time to research homeschooling thoroughly before choosing it. Their main concern was which curriculum to use and how closely to follow it, not whether any of us would catch a dangerous illness during our weekly trip to the library or grocery store.

Please go easy on yourselves. There are many different ways to learn, and most children are adept at soaking up knowledge no matter what’s going on around them. I know that my siblings and I did quite well once we transitioned to public school. In fact, we were ahead of our peers in certain areas like math and reading.

Tip #1: Discover and Pursue Their Interests

Child reading a book while sitting on brown grass and wearing a wreath of flowers in her hair outside
This isn’t me. I simply enjoy the peaceful imagery in it.

Whether they love computer games, sports, poetry or something else entirely, there are ways to tie many different interests back into academic subjects.

To give one concrete example, a kid who is obsessed with Minecraft might also enjoy learning about coding, computer science, history, problem solving in math, or environmentalism if it can be tied into his or her favourite game in some way.

Tip #2: Look for Non-Worksheet Learning Experiences

I must confess that I actually enjoyed our homeschooling worksheets, but that was because they were limited. We did a few of them a day and then moved onto other types of learning. Daily routines can be filled with learning opportunities for students of all ages.

Children learning how to cook
Also not me, but great hands on learning!

Doubling (or halving) a recipe is a fantastic way to practice fractions and mental math in elementary school. Older students could figure out the cost per ingredient, serving, or entire batch of food, and that’s before we get into the cost of substitutions or how many batches of chocolate chip cookie dough they’d have to make to fill their entire room with cookies.

This same pattern could be followed for home repairs, automobile repairs, gardening, doing laundry, cleaning, and so much more. One of the things I didn’t enjoy about public school once I eventually switched to it was how much harder it was to translate all of the knowledge they expected us to learn into anything that was relevant to my daily life.

Homeschooling makes it much easier to show why it’s important to understand chemistry when deciding if you should mix bleach and ammonia* or how quickly compounding interest adds up when you’re deciding how much to charge to your 30% interest credit card or thinking about saving for retirement.

*Never do this!

Tip #3: Go on Field Trips

A cemetery filled with gravestones on a warm, sunny day. No, this doesn’t have to involve being around other people or visiting museums.

There were times when our “field trips” were a walk to a local park and a conversation about the plants and animals that we spotted there. This doesn’t have to be complicated or cost much (if any) money at all.

Some of my favourite field trips growing up were the ones we took to cemeteries and bigger parks in rural areas. My siblings and I had so many questions during these excursions:

  • What do butterflies eat?
  • Why did so many people die young in the 1800s?
  • Why does this stone look nothing like that one?
  • Who was the first person who ever decided to drink cow’s milk?
  • How do trees know when it’s time to drop their leaves or grow new ones?
  • Why would someone build a house out in the middle of nowhere?

Mom and dad answered our questions when we were very young. They also encouraged us to look up the answers on our own, especially as we grew older and could do things like read an encyclopedia or search the Internet.

Some of our questions didn’t have straightforward answers, but many of them did. The more we learned, the more we wanted to know. My lifelong interest in history came in part from the many historical sites my parents took us to when we were on vacation or even simply bored and wanting to explore local history.

Reading about historical events became more appealing to me in middle and high school, but I really liked being able to tie that chapter or book back to my memories of visiting places that were somehow connected to that era.

Tip #4: Offer Many Different Types of Books and Audiobooks

Young boy wearing black, Harry Potter style glasses reading a comic book
Still not me. You all know the drill by now.

Think fiction, non-fiction, bestsellers, classics, graphic novels, and more. I was the sort of bookish kid who happened to enjoy a lot of classic novels, but it always bothered me when adults used me as an example for kids who maybe struggled with reading, didn’t enjoy it in general, or who simply found the classics uninteresting.

Not everyone will enjoy the same stories or subjects, and that’s totally okay. If someone wants to listen to an audiobook of their favourite Spiderman graphic novel, good for them! Their minds are still processing that information, maybe learning some new vocabulary words, and (hopefully) following the storyline closely to see what happens to their favourite superhero next.

Tip #5: Let Them Get Bored 

Bored dog lying on a carpeted floor in front of a couch
I’ll leave it up to all of you to decide whether this is me. ūüėČ

As you might have already guessed, my parents slid closer to the unschooling side of the homeschooling continuum than they did the traditional one. That is to say, we had a lot of say in what we learned and how far we followed each rabbit trail as we discovered new interests.

Yes, of course we learned how to read, write, and do math. But our brand of homeschooling was a pretty casual one beyond that point. We went to the library about once a week to stock up on whatever books looked interesting, and then we were given a lot of freedom to decide what we learned and when.

Given that we lived in Wyoming for most of our homeschooling years, this did lead to times of boredom when snow was falling heavily outside. We either had to read books, write our own stories, study topics that interested us, or try to get one of the few channels on the TV to work.

These hours of freedom created kids who knew how to entertain themselves, teach themselves, and carve out their time wisely.

And, honestly, that’s been a real advantage for all of us in our adult lives.

If you were also homeschooled, what other tips would you give homeschooling families as the school year starts up again?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Linked to Specific Memories in My Life

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Happy 10th anniversary to Top Ten Tuesday! I decided to do the July 23, 2018 topic entitled Books That Are Linked to Specific Memories/Moments In Your Life.

I haven’t reread any of these books in years, so my memories of all of their plot twists is fuzzy. If any of you read them, I hope you like them!

Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry, Wesley Dennis book cover. Image on cover is of a burrow standing next to the grand canyon

1. Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis

The Memory Attached to It: Sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car late one night while we were driving home from a long road trip. Mom read this book to me while my younger siblings slept next to me. I couldn’t wait to find out if Brighty would survive all of his dangerous adventures and kept begging her to read just one more chapter.

Book cover for The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Image on cover is of african-american girl sitting by a window in the 1940s era.

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Memory Attached to It: Sitting on the hammock on my parents’ back porch on a muggy summer day. (I think my dad might have been travelling that week and hadn’t been able to install our window air conditioner yet?) It was too hot for even mild physical activity like a walk, so I slowly drank unsweetened mint tea while reading this book.

Book cover for C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces. Image on cover is of an angel touching a child.

3. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

The Memory Attached to It: Sitting in my grandparent’s basement while eating crisp saltine crackers, drinking a deliciously cold can of cola, and trying to stay as cool as possible on that hot summer day. My grandparents use something called a swamp cooler, so while there is some relief from the heat you still don’t want to run around too much in their house when the temperatures and humidity soar. Quiet activities are best. I really don’t enjoy heat waves, so maybe that’s why they’re playing such a prominent role in today’s post.

Book cover for Julia Watts' The Kind of Girl I Am. Image on cover is of a painting of a vanity and chair.

4. The Kind of Girl I Am by Julia Watts

The Memory Attached to It: Sitting down to a hot, filling lunch after running around for five straight hours at work. I was famished and exhausted. It was such a relief to eat again, feel the aching in my feet temporarily reduce, lose myself in a book, and enjoy some peace and quiet before jumping back into the fray for the rest of my shift.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

5. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

The Memory Attached to It: A coworker asked what I was reading and was a little surprised by the fact it was a romance novel. I had the reputation of being the resident science fiction and horror expert, but everyone needs to expand their horizons sometimes!

A Mindful Approach to Headaches

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any medical conditions. Please consult with a medical professional if you need medical advice. I’m simply writing about my own experiences here.¬†

The first multi-day tension headache I remember experiencing happened at age seven or eight soon after my family moved to Wyoming. Our house was small and comfortable but rarely quiet due to the simple realities of how trailer homes are constructed and the fact that two adults, three young children, and a small assortment of mischievous pets shared that cozy two-bedroom home.

Ordinarily, the overlapping, never-ending conversations, barks from our excitable dog, clangs from the kitchen, and other noises didn’t bother me as a child of that age, but I did wish for quieter corners of the globe when my head pounded for days in a row. What I had instead were cold wash cloths on my forehead and the stillness that comes from lying down and waiting for all of our home remedies to chase that discomfort away.

woman lying in bed with a headache
Are anyone’s headaches actually this photogenic? Mine sure aren’t.

My life has changed in countless ways since then.

I’ve since learned that mild dehydration, caffeine, and stress are among my biggest triggers for these long-lived headaches.

But every once in a while, one of them still sneaks past my best prevention efforts.

This past weekend was my most recent experience with a stubborn headache that lasts multiple days.

Along with drinking extra water, getting more rest, and eating chocolate when taking over-the-counter pain medicine to help amplify their effects, mindfulness is another tool in my headache-busting toolbox.

Headaches can’t always be prevented, but I can have better experiences with them when they show up by remaining in the moment.

Less Tension, Less Pain

Chalkboard with the words stress and relax written on it. The word stres is crossed out with a red x. My headaches often spiral into a negative feedback loop of pain leading to tense muscles that in turn lead to more pain.

The best thing I can do when a new one begins is to relax my muscles as soon and as much as possible.

This is where mindfulness comes in. Whether I’ve undertaken a formal meditation session on that particular day or have simply decided to breathe in and out deeply and slowly, every ounce of relaxation matters.

Sometimes this looks like me lying down and closing my eyes for twenty minutes. While it can lead to a nap, sleeping isn’t the goal. Breaking that cycle is the goal.

A Distracting Walk

Woman walking barefoot on a beach as the tide comes in. Her footprints are straight and even across the sand.I know I talk about my love of long walks a lot on this blog, but this time I’m thinking of them as a type of distraction instead of a form of exercise.

Ideally, the walk would take place in a natural setting like a park or a beach, but it can happen on city streets as well. It’s generally slow and meandering instead of brisk.

The purpose of it is to gently pull my attention away from my discomfort and to anything else happening around me.

It could be the sight of two seagulls fighting over a french fry someone accidentally dropped or the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze.

Maybe a jogger will run by and I’ll take a moment to silently congratulate them on their good running form. The sun’s rays could shine down on my forehead and almost feel like a warm kiss from a loved one.

These sounds and sights wash over me. I acknowledge them but do my best not to dwell on them once they’ve passed. Responding to small moments like these is a nice reminder that headaches, too, will pass and that I shouldn’t spend time thinking about how long they’ve been going on or when they’ll end.

There’s something about this sort of distracting change of scenery that does a body good, especially when you’re in discomfort.

Living in the Moment

person walking in a forest. The forest floor is shaped like a person's hand held up to their mouth in a shushing motion.

Patience is a skill I’ve honed nicely over the years.

While medication dulls the pain of a headache in the short term, this is one of those ailments that needs time to truly fade away.¬†It can’t be rushed.

One of the beautiful things about taking a mindful approach to headaches is that it teaches you to sit with yourself in this exact moment.

There’s something freeing about doing what you can to alleviate the pain of a headache and then stopping and observing everything you’re experiencing in that moment without judging it.

Will mindfulness cure headaches? No, not in my experience, but it can make it easier to handle them when they pop up.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Memory and Why

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. My family lived in Laramie, Wyoming for four years when I was a little girl. We were low income, so my parents came up with all… Read More