Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Commonplace in My Day and Family

The first couple quotes in my Commonplace are from 2012.  I put it aside for a time while I struggled through a tough pregnancy and a difficult post-partum period.  I picked it up again about a year ago, and while I am not as consistent as I'd like to be, I have copied about 40 pages of quotes in the last year.

I've tried several different ways of using it.  I've copied as I read, which was a dismal failure since I tend to read and nurse Hannah.  I spent about four months setting aside a morning or two a week to copy from that week's reading, which was successful until the baby decided that waking 3-5+ times a night for months on end was really the way to go.  I tried valiantly to still get up early even with this, but had to concede defeat in the face of sheer exhaustion sometime around the beginning of December.  I'm still struggling with this, but I've hit upon a solution that is working even better for me and has some additional benefits as well.

When I read, I either lightly draw a line in the margin of the book and circle the page number or mark the text with the highlight feature in the Kindle app.  If it is a physical book, the line is light enough that I can erase it without damaging the book.  The bulk of my reading is in ebooks, however, and the highlight feature is so convenient.

I've found the best time to copy these quotes is while I'm helping Gregory (9) and Nathan (6) with their math and copywork.  We do these subjects in the early afternoon once the baby and toddler are down for naps because I have a really hard time helping kids with this sort of work while they are  climbing on me.  However, I don't need to be - and shouldn't be! - spending all my time watching my kids' math and copywork because I tend to micromanage the work.  And if I don't have something of my own to work on, I tend to jump up and start working in the kitchen, washing dishes, tidying, or the like.  I need something reasonably simple and interruptible to keep me at the table so I can be present and accessible.

A great solution for me is to bring over my Commonplace, a book or my iPad and open it up.  Nathan really likes seeing me do copywork, because I think it somehow makes his easier to bear.  If I'm copying from an ebook, I really like using because it shows just my highlights and notes in one place across all my books.  I don't lose my place in the book I'm reading, and I'm not trying to switch around from one section or another in the book.  It makes it easy for my to look through what I've read recently, pick what I'd like to copy, and write it down in my Commonplace.

I seldom write out more than two quotes at a time, but by steady effort I'm gradually filling the pages.  And after seeing me do this for a couple months, Emma (13) asked me one day, "Mom, do you think I could have one of those books too?  I think you call it a Commonplace?  I'd like to have a place where I could write down some quotes too."

Emma's Commonplace (age 13), copying from Tolkien's Silmarillion