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?









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

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