Thomas Keller on Chores

Emelie took this in Europe, a land of classical beauty.

I have been reading "The Soul of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman, a book which profiles three prominent chefs and their restaurants. As I was reading about Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, I was struck by his description of what had driven him to such high standards in both his cooking and his restaurant. He says, "What makes a person strive to do his very best, some innate motivating gene? I don't know....in hindsight, I was very lucky to have been raised by my mother in such an ideal way as to allow me to understand the details of things. A lot of it is based on having to do certain chores around the house. You clean the bathroom, which was my job. There was a way to do it. Everything had to shine. Everything had to be just perfect. Her definition of perfect. Which became my definition of perfect. To this day no matter what I do, it's kind of based on cleaning the bathroom."
He smiled, then laughed and said, "That's kinda funny," and laughed some more.
He goes on to explain some more, "You don't create good habits all of a sudden. They were created somewhere in the beginning."
A meal in France.
This was very meaningful to me, because as a mom, although I have emphasized good basic habits I have often in the name of love, or perhaps personal laziness, allowed my children to slide by in their chores. I want them to feel loved and appreciated, but by not teaching them the proper way to do things and then reinforcing it by inspection, I give them a sense that good enough is okay.

There are many aspects that make a fine human being, and some perfectionists can become difficult to live with, but it is important to find a balance. Offer love and appreciation to your children for their efforts, but also make the effort to teach them to do a job properly and develop good habits. You never know, the bathroom cleaning lessons, may just be the seeds that produce a great chef, brilliant inventor or innovative engineer. Keep on teaching mama, it matters more than you know.
Ella polishing the faucet.

 A link to a bathroom cleaning tutorial by the queen of perfectionism.


Multi-Tasking Subjects

My favorite part of homeschooling is when I gather my children in our comfy school area and do Bible time which is followed by any other teaching on my list for the day. I read to the children, do math drills and spelling tests all from the comfort of a recliner with my coffee close at hand.

One way I pack a little extra learning in is by assigning the children with some copy work or art while I am reading aloud. I have recently started reading Little House in the Big Woods, which the older children have all heard, but the younger ones have been eagerly anticipating. Even Ezra who is 3 sat enthralled as I read about the panther chasing Grandpa's horse in the first few chapters of Big Woods. As I was reading I also gave the children another page to complete in "I Can Do All Things," the art curriculum by Barry Stebbing which we are working through this summer. Some of these art lessons are a bit simplistic for my older children, but it is a nice opportunity for them to mindlessly draw and color while I am reading. The finished products also make great presentation sheets for a thank you note or get well letter.

Homeschooling does involve some tedium. Getting busy boys to sit and concentrate on math lessons or to redo copy work so that it is actually legible can be a drag. However, I can think of few things that are more enjoyable than sitting in a quiet room reading, while surrounded by busy artists who I have had the privilege to nurture from their conception.