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Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Mason’

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I get out of the “habit” of some of my good habits.

We’ve recently moved (not just into a new house, but moving onto land that had to be cleared and into a new house that is being readied for a Home Visit next month also).

Some of our routines have gotten all outta whack.

We don’t function well that way.

However, many things are finding their way back into the proper places of our lives as things start to become more of a steadied pace rather than the nearly hysterical frenzy they were for a while.

As I’ve finally gotten some time to survey and do some planning for the year, as always, I’ve come across things that were very timely and encouraging.

“The care of her own health is another responsibility which should be made over to the young maiden. She cannot learn too soon that good health is not only a blessing, but a duty…”
(Vol 5, p.246, CM )

My oldest son is on a gluten-free, casein free, dye free “diet”, so this is always an issue in our home. It is not so much because of me, but more because my child would either “sink or swim”, if you will, that nutrition has been a daily topic around here.  We’re at a place where we’re seeing additional changes need to be made to improve things for him. Honestly, it’s a great time to sweep out some bad habits that we have let creep in for all of us during this time of transition. Really and truly, healthy eating is something we cycle in and out of, I’m sorry to say. Our kiddos are always kept on a good track, but we neglect ourselves and therefore neglect the example we are to our children ~ as Miss Mason refers to it = our “duty”.

But, not to despair! Even though we have allowed “the move” and the Home Study preparations to affect how we’ve been eating and taking care of ourselves, I’m reminded that I can do all things through Him who gives me the ability to do so. He really is the best resource for helping instill good habits. I would even say that any good habits in our family are there because He enabled us to create them! I’m also confident that we can get back into some healthier routines around here regarding what we eat. Just yesterday we were experimenting with some fun stuff:

Welch’s 100% Grape Juice + Seltzer = a fun bubbly drink

(without any of the icky stuff)

and eating this on Saturday:

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge!

I also found this encouraging to read just this morning:

When it comes to unhealthy temptations, don’t give into the “I deserve it” – “it’s a special occasion” or “just this once”, voice inside your head.  Truth is, it’s never “just once” and there are “special occasions” almost every week. What you deserve is to give yourself the best health you can. You do more for your health by eating high-quality, real food than you do by giving in to processed unhealthy food cravings. Think about that today as you walk past the bowl of M&Ms on your coworkers desk or you get invited to the break room to celebrate yet another birthday. YOU CAN DO IT! (from Vanessa @Healthy Living How To)

Charlotte Mason asked this in Formation of Character:

“How many know that health is a duty, and not merely an advantage; that a serviceable body, strong and capable, is a debt we owe to ourselves, our kin, and our kind?” (Vol. 5, p. 386)

She always asks the best questions!

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Thankfully, I pulled an old volume of Miss Mason’s from my bookshelf just in time for her to impart much needed snippets of wisdom into my days…

People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well,

and their children live out of doors,

with intervals within for sleeping and eating.

~Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Vol 1, p.42

We have enjoyed an especially Spring-like winter here in the South. It was quite a joy for us to avoid the usual lull of being cooped up indoors during cold temps. I realize that all of the seasons have something special to offer and that many people enjoy the cozy-ness of winter. However, in our house, it only takes a couple of rainy days or a week or two of winter weather to leave us feeling quite cooped up! I love it when things allow for ‘living out of doors’ again…

Charlotte goes on to say…

In the first place, do not send them;

if it is any way possible, take them…

Despite the delightful, sunny days, I had found myself in a rut.

A pattern had developed of the children heading outside after our lessons were over to play for hours…most days until supper time (or until a passionate, brotherly disagreement disrupted things!). I found myself inside working on this or that. I would do some laundry or dust or look over bills or other paperwork. Our doors and windows were wide open so I could keep a close eye on the boys while I toiled away. They are 9 and 10 now, and they are not at a loss to find things to do together whether I am out or not. Still, I quickly found myself struggling between longing to be out with them and needing to tend to things indoors. While certain things do require my attention and are necessary to be done, I had forgotten about how necessary the habit of being out of doors was to my well-being and to my relationship with my boys.

Leave it to Charlotte to gently remind me…

In recent days, you can find me out with them for half hour increments or so pushing them on the tire swing…slipping away for an hour to walk down to the creek and hide in the woods…simply sitting at the picnic table with a book or notebook…or maybe just digging leaves out of flower beds…some of my most beloved things with two of my favorite people!

With the help of Miss Mason’s timely reminders, I’m back to not just ‘sending’ my sweet boys out, but ‘taking’ them out. It’s important. It has always been a priority…when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, as well as now…and really, it always will be for us.

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and the Mother who learns to dry brush…

by Marcia

from I wonder why


As we began to incorporate more Charlotte Mason techniques into this homeschool, I introduced nature journals to the students.  This mother has begun to keep one too.   I’ve tried my hand at pencil drawing and charcoal, watercolor palettes and liquid watercolors,  and new colored pencils that change into watercolors.   It can be hard to decide what medium to take on a nature hike.  But above all it’s been a discipline to keep a nature journal going.

In the area where I live, a growing number of mothers meet on a monthly basis to talk about using Charlotte Mason techniques in the home.  In July of 2010 we decided try some Mother Culture of drybrush painting.  We began by watching a DVD by Eve Anderson.  She teaches the children how to observe in nature and then returns them to the classroom to demonstrate the  “dry brush technique” of watercoloring.

So we, too, went out to collect specimens

I found a birch tree similar to the one in my front yard.
A small portion of a branch was collected.
Then I spent about 10 minutes looking at my branch.
Determining the colors of green and brown.
Considering the leaf shape and the vein directions.
Then I layed my specimen next to my empty sheet of watercolor paper.
I used a basic set of 8 watercolors.  Basic watercolor brushes.
Upon Eve’s suggestion, I spent some time mixing the colors
to find the correct shade of greens.
She said that the one green color that comes
in the set is not a natural green and should not be used.
 I took some yellow and some blue to make these greens.
To mix the colors, I filled one medium brush with water.
Choosing yellow or blue, I collected a lot of color on the brush.
I moved the color to the side palate of the watercolor container.
 I also added some white and brown.
Each time a color was added I cleaned my brush with water.
With the basic colors created, I dried my brush on a paper towel
and collected the color onto the brush…
just a little at a time almost as if they brush was completely dry.
Using small amounts, I put color down onto my dry paper.
After quite a bit of time I found it much easier to make
the colors and shapes that seemed similar to the tree branch.
You can see at close up that I used some yellow, greens, and
some darker greens to create a shading effect as well as some empty spaces.
We mothers were very pleased that the discipline
of learning dry brush painting came as easy as it did.
Now to the discipline of keeping up the practice….

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It’s not really sticky-beaking if you are invited in, right?!

” ‘…I daresay she is too ill to move or speak, and to-morrow, perhaps, she’ll be our jolly mother again…’
‘That’s because your dear mother has no self, Charlie, boy; no sooner does she feel a bit better than she does more than she can for us all,’ ” (Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character, p. 98).

Such were the whisperings in the home of Poor Mrs. Jumeau, the woman in CM’s The Formation of Character, who constantly does herself in by doing too much. Mrs. Jumeau loved her family, she was smart and well organized but her strengths became her weakness. She failed to take for herself that necessary time of refreshing and revitalization often overlooked by mothers.

Having the privilege of sharing space at Educating Mother you would think I would know better than to become overdone as Mrs. Jumeau. Yet, with end-of-term exams, portfolios, chicken coop construction, spring cleaning, laundry and sundry that is right where I found myself or, to put it more aptly, lost myself.
Believe it or not, the mudroom is where I found my self. Amongst shoes, bb guns, recycle bins and all the mayhem of a family running in and out…and in and out…I heard the echo of a hope voiced three years ago when the realtor first showed us this house not yet our home. This could be my space to read, write and meditate.

I cleared an afternoon and cleared everything out, even washing the walls and ceiling in order to start my project with an entirely blank canvas to fill.
Mudroom after. An antique vanity functions as a desk, Hiroshige prints are from our Term 1 Picture Study and a slipper chair adds an additional touch of femininity. The room still welcomes everyone into the house so an indoor/outdoor rug was also added. Beginning each day here with cafe’ au lait and a time of morning revival equips me to better attend to that which has been entrusted to my care.

Mudroom before – south view. Visible in the background is the first birdhouse our boys built.

After. A large drawer-style trunk which began life housing a wooden train set and most recently held blankets was repurposed for shoe storage. The bushel basket keeps work gloves and hats handy, while our nature journals and watercolors are stored in the hanging wire basket for easy access.

Outdoor treasures are on display, while insect repellant and sunscreens are tucked away in a tin.

And what of Poor Mrs. Jumeau whose illness gained her the attention she had hoped her self-sacrifice would? A wise doctor was summoned who revealed to her husband,

“She must, even the cherished wife and mother of a family, be in touch with the world’s needs, and must minister of the gifts she ha; and that, because it is no dream that we are all brethren, and must therefore suffer from any seclusion from the common life” (Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character, pp. 106-107).

Happily, Mrs. Jumeau, upon having the above words relayed to her, took measures for self-preservation and came away victorious.

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“Besides my Bible, I always keep three books going that are just for me – a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel or one of poetry. I always take up the one I feel fit for. That is the secret: always have something ‘going’ to grow by.”

(Quote Credit)

My current Bible Plus Three:

After an intense semester of taking the Perspectives class…a welcome intensity and stirring in my soul that I pray is never quenched…I echo the sentiments of Amy Carmichael who said,

“Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God”.

Soon after, a series of questions began to evolve between God and I that led me to Psalm 51. I have stayed here for a while combing carefully over David’s words. To make a long story short, I had come to a place where I was asking God for a “clean heart”…wanting Him to search me in the deepest, most intimate places. I wanted anything that stood between He and I to be brought to Light. Any habits I had come to accept or ignore that were not a reflection of Christ in me, I wanted them exposed . I wanted to turn from them. If there were any impure motives or attitudes, I wanted them wiped away and my mind renewed. I needed Him to “teach me wisdom deep within”. So while Psalm 51 is actually David’s prayer for restoration after Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba, it has also served as a guide for me. Much of it has been a step by step ‘search and prayer’ effort.

*****

A Passion for the Impossible

This book deserves, and will likely have, a post all its own. I had never heard Lilias Trotter’s name until a lecturer in one of my classes brought her to my attention. While he merely mentioned her name, that she was an artist, and that she made the trek to North Africa, I was compelled to seek her out. She is a kindred spirit in so many ways. She was a gifted artist, a fellow sojourner, a brilliant writer, and a brave pioneer! Lilias’s “passion for the impossible” is fiercely contagions. I also love the CM connection in that Miss Trotter was a patron of sorts to John Ruskin, and Miss Mason references him in her writings!

*****

Back To Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills

Love it, love it, love it! Right up my alley is what this book is! My boys have also picked it up and completely laid out their future homesteading plans!

There are SO many things in the  book that we hope to be able to do at some point. Right now, the gardening information alone makes it a staple in our home. Raising our own chickens (rather than collecting eggs from Grandad’s coop down the road) is next on the agenda, and there is enough to get us started in this book as well.  A plethora of topics range from canoeing and kayaking to preserving produce to waterpower to natural dyes to patchwork quilting to beekeeping to broommaking…and so much more. It’s everything I wish I’d paid more attention to that my grandparents and great-grandparents did and then some!

*****

Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families

We are not in the process of adopting. However, our family is open to it. For now, it is a matter that we have committed to prayer. Either way, whether we do or do not adopt, we intend to care for orphans.  The pages of this book provide abundant details, examples, Q & A, and practical steps/helps. A portion of the book is also dedicated to “Adoption as a Ministry: How You Can Help” for those who are not necessarily going to adopt but who could support and nurture those who do. The author has done an amazing job of sharing her own experience with adoption as well as compiling many others’ experiences. She manages to make the reader feel like she is there step-by-step, hand-holding you through the process from the very beginning: “What Adoption Is and What It Means”.  An unbelievable amount of effort has gone into this book!

*****

So….what are you reading these days?

Something…

practical?

enlightening?

inspirational?

enchanting?

*

*

*

Note: Bible Plus Three (Entry 1) can be found here.

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As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.

~Charlotte Mason (Vol 1, II,  p.54 )



My nature journal has actually become much more of a delight to me in the past 9 months.

After I read through “Keeping A Nature Journal” by Clare Walker Leslie, I found (without sounding too dramatic) a new “freedom” regarding my nature journaling. I am also becoming a better observer and lingering longer over the things that capture my interest. My pages are now adorned with a rudimentary sketch, questions, observations, and even some personal thoughts or “poetic” words. All in all, I think the most profound thing, is that my nature journal has actually become my own.

For some time, I had trouble defining the purpose of nature journaling. I sort of crave the need to identify and/or know the purpose behind many of the things I’m doing or pursuing (don’t judge me :)). One day while reading, this set off the tuning fork within in me as it put into words what I hadn’t been able to do for myself….

Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world (God’s vast creation) around you.

~CWL, parenthesis mine

Another thing I had to overcome was my negativity toward my own inability to sketch or draw things well. Really, it’s quite the deficit I have! However, now I have this written in my journal to keep me from being discouraged on the topic….

Don’t judge your drawing. You are not an artist. You are a scientist, simply recording what you see, in this moment in time.

~CWL

Ahhh, sweet liberty! I can’t read those words often enough.

One last thing that has really brought about the a fore mentioned “freedom” is in regard to how to record in a nature journal I have come to realize…

…the recording can be done in a wide variety of ways…some people prefer to record in written prose or poetry…some do it through drawing or painting, others with photographs or tape recordings, and still others through musical notation…

~CWL


Charlotte Mason suggests that we are all “born naturalists” (Vol 1, II,  p.58). I am inclined to heartily agree. I hope the naturalist in you finds delight in keeping a nature journal of your very own!


Oh! To be a child again

With wonder in my eyes,

To pick the golden buttercups

And chase the butterflies.

Oh! To be a child again

Climbing a gently sloping hill,

To watch the world awaken

And hear the whipporwill.

Oh! To be a child again

Running in the sun-warm breeze,

To kiss alive the blossoms

And watch unfolding leaves.

~Nora Norton


Check here for a chance to win your own copy of the wonderful, practical,

and all-around-amazing-book “Keeping  A Nature Journal” by Clare Walker Leslie

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A Guest Post by Jimmie from Jimmie’s Collage


Adventures in Creating

I always cringe when I hear a woman say, “I’m not creative” because we are all creative. At the least, we have the potential to be creative. God created us in His very own image as beings that can create.

If we do not use that creative potential, it can, over time, grow dull. But on the other hand, we can revive our creativity with gentle prodding and consistent use.

I go through seasons when I have a strong urge to create. Taking an art class, sewing an apron, writing an article, cooking a new dish, or even crafting with paper are ways that I can fulfill that desire. Although I do get a sense of satisfaction from my finished product, the point is the act of creating.

Creating is invigorating.

If you have these creative urges, too, you know that glorious feeling of flow – an uninterrupted focus on a pleasurable task. Time seems to stand still as I immerse myself in my creative work. Ideas come easily and there is an intense sense of being in the moment instead of planning for tomorrow or worrying about yesterday. If I am drawing or painting, I find it difficult to carry on a conversation because I am relying on a part of my brain that doesn’t use words. It feels good to use my brain in that way much like a workout feels to your muscles. I come away from creating feeling invigorated.

Creating is generous.

When I create, I am making something new that can be shared, displayed, eaten, worn, used, or given. Instead of being a consumer, I am being a producer. Instead of being a taker, I am being a giver. I can bless others with my creativity.

Creating is healing.

When I create, I gain a sense of control over my world. The circumstances in my life may be (and often are) totally out of my control, but in the kitchen I can take back a feeling of authority. I have power over those eggs and vegetables. They will mold to my will and form a quiche which will bless my family. It is empowering to transform a few ingredients into a nourishing meal or a comforting dessert.  When I create, I find a retreat from the stresses of life.

But let’s come back to reality. Creating is often pushed aside for the urgent and pragmatic. Dinner has to get on the table, and there is no time for experimenting with a new dish. The boring but reliable favorite recipe is served once again. Laundry and homeschool lessons have to be done, so painting and sewing supplies stay in the closet.

Like anything important in our lives, we have to be deliberate about making room for creativity. I find that these four things foster creativity in my life.

Change (versus Routine)

Any change in my regular routine is a chance for creativity to break out. Taking a different route, reading a different genre, sitting with different people – anything outside of my norm gives me fodder for creativity.

Challenge (versus Rut)

My life is already full of challenges that I need creativity to overcome, so this one isn’t something I have to actively pursue.

I love this quote by Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette, “Frugality without creativity is deprivation.”  Isn’t that true? When money is tight or resources are simply unavailable, I rely on my creativity to devise substitutes for what I need. Without that fun creative twist, the situation feels miserable. But when I apply my creativity to the challenge, I find that it becomes an enjoyable game.

Chance (versus Fear of Risk)

Dr. Linus Pauling said that “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” So true.

My mother, brother and I have our own version of this, “It’s a good idea, but it stinks.”  We say this when we want to encourage one another for thinking of an idea even while we realize that the idea is terrible.  To be creative, you have to be willing to risk mistakes or even failure. Our paradoxical saying was a way of being realistic while encouraging more creativity, “That idea wasn’t good, but keep on trying. One of them will work!”

Silence vs. noise

I definitely must be intentional about silence since most public places now have music playing non-stop. Why does my own hand instinctively reach for the car radio to fill up the silence that would bless my mind with peace and room to think? Habit is the only answer. But I’m working to change that.

I’m now enjoying the first two laps of my morning walk in silence before I crank up the MP3 player. Although the music helps me keep a brisk pace and distracts me from the exercising itself, the silence offers a priceless gift.  I can think.

My thoughts are random – a mixture of prayers, complaints, thanksgivings, plans, and longings. Yet in the midst of the mental jumble, a new insight will pop out that helps me solve a problem or cope with a difficulty. I get ideas for repurposing thrift store finds and for writing blog posts. The silence is an important element for fostering creativity in my life.

So where are you in your adventure in creativity? What helps you be more creative? And what steps are you going to take to protect creativity in your life?


*Jimmie is the mother of one creative eleven year old daughter. Jimmie blogs about their Charlotte Mason styled homeschool at Jimmie’s Collage. Her second blog, The Notebooking Fairy, features free notebooking printables and how-tos.

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