May 27, 2015

why "hello hive"?

I realized recently that I've never shared the original intent behind the choice of my blog's name. I must admit that somewhere along the way (really, quite shortly after beginning this blog), I lost sight of the purpose I had in mind for Hello Hive from the start. I'm certain that's probably contributed to my long season of quiet!

Hello Hive was originally intended to be a blog about home and hospitality. I draw an easy comparison between my home and a bee's hive- it's always buzzing with the activity of keeping up with these kids. I love to imagine busy bees, making their honey while keeping up with their ordinary to and fro.

I always want my home to be productive and sweet: organized and beautiful: welcoming and cozy. I like to be quick with the hellos and reluctant to say goodbye. Hospitality is important to me, and a welcoming atmosphere is one way to show generosity to guests in your home. As a homemaker, I feel like it's important for my husband to look forward to coming home each evening (not feeling dread for the chaos he might find here- though chaos does arrive on our doorstep pretty regularly!) and it's important when we have company that they feel comfortable in our home.

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Soon after I started blogging here, I began to get really discouraged about the idea I had for Hello Hive, so my posts turned more to lifestyle and journal-style entries. Ugh, I hate to admit my failures! But, there it is. I want to write about something I love and feel passionate about, but I often feel disqualified from that call because I haven't achieved perfection yet.

I want to share simple home improvements, but I can't because improvements aren't happening around here. I want to give you before and after tours of our home, but we're in a constant state of "before". I lament the kitchen remodel that never comes and the bathroom updates we can't afford to do. I want to share gardening tips, but I'm too busy trying to keep my toddler from beheading the petunias prematurely to take pictures. I want to share recipes we love, but my food styling skills are lacking and my geriatric camera is often more trouble than it's worth.

Often, I find myself starting a post about something that fits my vision for the blog, but a few paragraphs in my text begins to spiral down into a tone of whiny complaining, and I have to scrap the whole idea to move on to something else! Geez, that's embarrassing to admit, because I don't want to be that blogger! But I hope that admitting my shortcomings and sharing my vision for Hello Hive will jumpstart a season of more focused and purposeful blogging.

It can be a real challenge to brand a blog and stay true to your "voice". There are so many wonderfully unique and relevant blogs out there that truly stand out above the rest: how can you compete? For starters, I think it's important to quit trying to compete.

If you've been around these parts long, you know I don't shy away from vulnerable, so here it is. I have a jealous spirit and I'm always comparing myself to the people around me. I think about some of you that might be sort of like me in this way, and I don't want to share home inspirations anymore because I don't want to make you feel the shame of "less than" and "not good enough" that plagues me. I want you to come away from my blog inspired and encouraged! Isn't that true hospitality- to leave someone else's space feeling better for the experience?

To that end, I'd like to totally rebrand Hello Hive and start off on a new foot. I've been brainstorming a lot but it's slow going because I don't have much time to really dedicate to it! I just wanted to share this because it's been on my heart and I felt like maybe at least a few of you could relate.

Have you defined your intent for your blog? How well do you "stick to the plan"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Image source, Creative Commons license.

May 26, 2015

a fifty-year silence.

I am several months late with this book review, but my mind has been so preoccupied with other things it's a wonder I remembered it at all! I noticed the book sitting there on my bookshelf a few days ago and felt the time has arrived to finally share it with you.

I was drawn to A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot instantaneously: I'm such a sucker for memoirs. I can't explain why I love them so! Maybe it's just a fascination with how other people live their lives, a latent obsession with true stories and various expressions of humanity itself. Whatever you call it- memoir is easily my favorite non-fiction genre.

Through the early pages of this book, I had a difficult time getting attached to the characters and the flow of the narrative. Miranda is a young woman haunted by her family's past who expatriates to France in order to find answers about the life her grandparents lived together before their ultimate divorce and estrangement from one another. Anna is her grandmother: a brilliant, colorful woman: a physician with a gypsy soul and adventurous spirit.

Miranda is very close to her grandmother, who had come to the United States to start a new life with her children after the demise of her marriage to Armand. Her relationship with Armand, however, is strained. Armand is the sort of person who's hard to grow close to: embittered by the past (he won't even speak Anna's name out loud), he built a meticulously ordered existence in Geneva, Switzerland to the exclusion of everyone around him like a wall to keep the painful past away.

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As a teenager, Miranda travels to live with her grandfather in Geneva for a time. During her stay with Armand, they take a trip to Alba, France together and Miranda learns that he owns an ancient house there. Armand gives her a perfunctory tour of the place and Miranda is entranced by the history and nostalgic beauty of the place. Immediately, she feels at home in the dusty ruins and begins to dream of returning one day. Years later, as a college student, Miranda returns to live in the antiquated house and try to discover the truth about her family's history.

Through letters written by her grandmother and tedious conversations with her grandfather, time spent pouring through historical records and piecing together the timeline of her grandparent's doomed romance, Miranda begins to slowly unravel the truth of her grandparents' history and their narrow escape of the Nazi invasion and Holocaust. Meanwhile, Miranda meets a young Frenchman in a cafe in the nearby village and they begin to fall in love.

While narrative in this memoir didn't immediately draw me in, I shortly found myself hooked on the poignant details of Miranda's familial history. Like the young author herself, I grew desperate to know more about her grandparents and the forces that drew them together, and ultimately flung them so far apart that Anna chose to put an ocean between them. Although the mystery of Anna and Armand's estrangement is never fully resolved, I think enough details are given to draw conclusions and finally put their shared history to rest.

A Fifty-Year Silence is poignant and beautifully written. The love story of Anna and Armand will continue to haunt me for years to come. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a great memoir, and especially those who are drawn to tales of Holocaust survival and life in Europe during the World War II era.

I received a review copy of A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot from the kind folks at Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own.

What have you been reading lately, my friends?

May 21, 2015

school rules.

Today is day four of many in our life as a homeschooling family, and I'm pleased as punch! Goodness, no- it's not really easy. But I know we're doing the right thing, so I'm content.

Seth finished preschool last week, and I'm so grateful for his teacher this year and the foundation she poured for me. I'm thrilled with how much he already knows! To my great surprise, he's already about a week ahead in the lessons I had planned for reading, and he's begging me to let him go farther! I had pegged him for a math kid... (so why not both?)

All around us, people are chattering about summer break and the last day of school, so some folks may wonder why we decided to get started so early. I guess my thought about that is, why should learning have to stop and start for particular seasons? I'd love to see my kids grow up seeing learning as a natural function of life.

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This week so far, we:

  • Made a list of "School Rules", including Pray first and Be kind and Take care of each other, our home and our community and The lesson plan is a roadmap. Detours are welcome! Enjoy the journey.
  • Almost finished reading Charlotte's Web.
  • Made watercolored butterflies out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners.
  • Conducted a science experiment to determine if a bird's feathers are waterproof.
  • Went to the library twice and the park one time.
  • Made homemade crackers together and topped them with Italian seasonings. Yum!
  • Used the feathers from our science experiment for painting and collage.
  • Practiced handwriting a LOT. Seth isn't too fond of this activity, but his improvement with a little coaching is remarkable!
  • Discussed communities and our place in the world as a whole.
  • Listened to an audiobook of Judy Blume reading Superfudge
  • Went for several walks together through the neighborhood and chatted with all our neighbors.
And it's only Thursday! What have you been up to lately?


May 4, 2015

out with the old, in with the new

It's crazy how fast things can change. Just a few months ago, I wrote in my journal, "I don't know why I ever thought I could homeschool these kids. My five year old defiantly rejects every fact I ever present him, and he won't let me teach him how to do anything!" But the seed was there in my heart, ready to grow- God was making me ready to realign all my priorities.

I've prayed and prayed for Him to change my heart and make me love the thing He's called me to do. Slowly, surely, I've begun to let go of everything that's all about ME ME ME and focus on my precocious precious children. Why did it take this long? All I can say is that my child's stubborn heart surely reflects my own. That's humbling.

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The past few months have been all about breaking our screen-time habits and bonding with each other. We've finally got to a point where most days, Seth doesn't even ask if he can watch TV. Often, the computer sits on the counter all day without ever being cracked open, and I might go several days without peeking at Instagram.

This morning, Seth and I were talking on the way to school. He said, "I wish I'd never gone to 'real school', Mommy. I wish you'd always been my teacher." Sadly, I thought, Maybe I have been your teacher- just not a very good one. I unintentionally taught you some of the wrong things. That's a sad thing to think. But at the same time, my heart leapt with joy for having another chance!

Five or six weeks ago, when all the curriculum I'd ordered began arriving in the mail, I eagerly sat down to plan a year's worth of lessons. Let me tell you, for my first time, it was thrilling. I was pretty proud when I got done, looking at that perfect spreadsheet!

The more I look at that spreadsheet, though, the more I realize it flies in the face of every reason I ever thought I might want to homeschool in the first place. For all the intentional simplifying and minimizing and saying "no" to things we don't need- there I was trying to micromanage the details of days months into the future, ready to put my kid through the wringer to pound book knowledge into his head.

So, back to square one. "Seth, I want you to make me a promise," I told him the other day. "School should be fun for you. If it's ever NOT FUN, I want to to tell me right away so I can fix it!" He was ecstatic about that idea. And I'm scrapping the schedule so we can take things day-by-day.

I plan to keep a journal of what we've done so there's a record that we're actually "doing school"- in the state of Alabama, I will be required to report our curriculum choices and schedule to an umbrella organization. Aside from that, I suppose that unschoolers we will be!

We counted on our fingers this morning how many days there are until Seth's last day of preschool. Only 8 days! EIGHT.

"When do you want to start homeschooling?" I asked.

"The very next day!" Seth exclaimed.

So, on to the next adventure we go!
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