I try to do a morning “tea time” where we sit and have a snack mid-morning. The kids see this as a break in school, but actually it’s a way to do a read-aloud book while everyone is sitting (to eat) and I get little interruptions (because there is food in their mouth). This is how reading aloud from chapter books works in this house. It’s the only way I’ve been able to make it work.
We are currently reading our way through Strawberry Girl which is not actually just about a girl, but 2 feuding families, the Boyers and Slaters, living down South I’d say about a hundred years ago, and the children are stuck in the middle of the fight.
One family, the Boyers, hardworking and eager to make all things beautiful, set out to improve their land, and do the unthinkable: farm strawberries. They are set back several times by their neighbors, the Slaters, who let their cows and pigs roam freely over the untouched land.
The Slaters don’t believe in feeding animals, when they can find food themselves in the wilderness. Their children are unkempt and rude. The father gambles and drinks away any pocket of money they encounter, leaving the mother to try to fend for herself and the children, which has hardened her greatly.
When the Boyers decide to fence in their strawberry fields, to keep their neighbor’s animals out, the feud escalates. As the Slater family begins to fall apart from within, the Boyer family ends up being there to catch them, with open arms of love and grace.
Yes, it’s a heavy children’s book, but it teaches compassion in a way that I think kids can understand. Silje has read it many times, but this is the first time for the other kids.
I said I “try” to do tea-time every day. It ends up being about 3 times a week—4 times on a excellent week. Other days I just set a bowl of peanuts on the table and call it good. (Before anyone dares to think that we have such an idyllic homeschool day every day.)
We were having a bit of a rough morning this particular morning, though, so I went all out and brought out the honey-vanilla pears I canned last summer. I only got 6 jars done, so these are especially precious. It was actually the first jar we opened of them. They were good, but the honey was very strong. The kids had no complaints about that.
We were out of hot chocolate mix, so I made some from ingredients we had around the house. This, of course, made tea time late, and the last 20 minutes or so were of me saying 73 times “It’s not tea time yet!!! I know what the clock says but it’s tea time when I SAY it’s tea time!” Followed by the digging deep for patience: “I’m making something really special! Hang in there and it will be worth it!”
Ahem. I was trying. It all ended well, and with grace. The kids were delighted at the spread in the end, and sat quietly as I read about the Boyer’s trip to town.
My mom gave me this teapot for Christmas. I made the mugs for the kids around the same time. I got the children’s sized mugs here, and used porcelain pens to draw, so it ended up being a pretty cheap project. They each got their own little tree (I’m no artist with a pen) as well as their name, and a little heart at the bottom of the mug. It was really easy, except for the whole, deciding-what-to-draw-without-making-it-look-stupid part. It required hours of Pinterest study.
To really change the mood from the dreary attitude infecting our house, I brought out my grandma’s little china fruit bowls, which they really liked. There’s something about china dishes that makes the kids sit a little taller and feel special. (Also, I’ve learned that if I light candles at supper, everyone hushes down and instantly become thoughtful in their speech. I don’t do it often. It’s one of those in-case-of-emergency things in my mom tool box.)
What are some things you do to switch around bad attitudes hanging over the house?