Posts Tagged ‘Mother Culture’

We usually run Tuesday and Thursday nights together as a family…2 or 3 miles. I generally go for a couple more on my own.

It’s been quite hot and humid here in the South, so we’ve only been running a couple of miles after 7 or so in the evenin’. However, I was feeling a bit stressed and tense yesterday. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint any one factor, but a nice run always seem to help my stress level. I wanted to go for that reason alone, even though it was sultry. I also knew that since we hadn’t gone on Tuesday because the temperature was up over one hundred (we opted for some interval training at home that evening!), it wouldn’t be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for me. Going several days without running generally makes it hard for me to get goin’ again.

Before I left, I stopped by Books Should Be Free

I usually do not run with music, but I felt like I might need the company with the heat, humidity, and lack of running up to that point!

And….I am so glad I did! It only took a few minutes to get Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (an all time favorite of mine) from the website, to our iTunes, and onto my husband’s phone. I grabbed some headphones, and we were off!

The fellas ran the first mile with me, then opted to practice guitar, play on the swings, and read a chapter of their book together. I, however, ran three more miles by myself…or rather with fine company of Jane Austen! The hot, sweaty, humid time flew by!

A wonderful, familiar book

~like an old friend~

3 miles for just myself

~leaving my stress behind on the pavement~

Talk about Mother Culture!?!?!



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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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Quilting as Mother Culture

a Guest Post from

Rachael of Homeschooling Kiwi Style

“It seems to  me that, whether it is recognized or not, there is a terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live, into anything artistically satisfying to them.”

–          Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

I’ve always loved to try my hand at different forms of creativity.  When I was about 15 years old, I started  cross-stitching, and from then on I cross-stitched pictures for gifts for friends and family for several years.  I delighted in the finished product, but it also gave me something to do with my hands on those cosy winter evenings.  I find it fascinating that I can look back at a portion of a cross-stitch picture and remember where I was or what I was listening to at the time.  Sometimes it was a movie, sometimes it was a youth Bible study, sometimes it was listening to a particular speaker on a Christian radio station.  I have since found that I retain a lot more if my hands a busy when listening.  Not that I advocate taking along your cross-stitch to church, but we certainly find now that our girls take in a lot more of the Sunday sermon when they have taken notes, keeping their hands busy, rather than trying to sit absolutely still and just listen.

Another reason I love creativity is that it is simply like breathing to me.  If I haven’t done anything particularly creative for a while I start to feel it!  I’ve tried my hand at several new creative outlets, particularly in the past few years as my girls have gotten older and are able to join in.  We also love doing an art project as part of our picture study.  I’ve dabbled in a little bit of drawing and water colour, sometimes wishing I could set up and spend days painting!  But then I come across something else that I want to try…perhaps that’s why they are called the “liberal” arts!

One hobby that I have started recently, and that has stuck, is quilting.  I didn’t sew much as a child.  I did a couple of those “home economics” courses at school, but I don’t think I produced much more that a little patchwork cushion!  I have certainly never made my own clothes.  I tried a bit of stretch sewing back in the nineties, when tracksuits were fashionable, and sewed a few little pairs of leggings for my elder daughters.  But I didn’t own my own sewing machine until a few years ago, when another homeschooling mum gave me an old Necchi.  That old Necchi has had a workout!  It all started with a quilting class at church, taught by our pastor’s wife and another lady who is a beautiful quilter.  We had a few basic lessons on piecing fabric and learnt how to make a “quilt sandwich”.  This is when you put all the layers together: the pieced (or patchwork) top, the batting in the middle, and the back.  From then on, my old machine has made numerous small quilts.  I’ve also tried out other sewing projects, such as tote bags and cushion covers.  I’ve been able to take up curtains for the rooms we’ve renovated, and probably best of all, my girls have all had a go too!  All I had to do was say “yes, you may use the machine” and off they would go.  Bethany (12 ½) has made numerous little bags for herself.  These all have linings and trimmings. She has adapted a basic tote bag pattern and got creative!  Lately she has been producing “Little House on the Prairie” costumes, complete with fancy hats!  Emily (11 ½) has also had a go, and produced little cushions for gifts for  her brother and sister.  Ainsley (8) is also a keen sewer and has made miniature quilts for her dolls and cushions as well.

It has been wonderful to have a go and see the results, and it’s also been wonderful to see my daughters using their own creativity to produce beautiful projects.

We have been made in the image of our Creator, and this is just one little way in which we can mirror God’s creativity and add some beauty to our home.

Here are some of my favourite inspirational quilting blogs and websites:




Check them out, you never know, you might love quilting as much as I do!

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