Monday, December 2, 2013

Living Books for Little Ones

Dear Amber and other mamma friends with young children,

We recently talked about how children are whole persons-just as we are. As persons, we aren't compartmentalized into what we do in certain places or at specific times.  It is the bigness of ALL of life! Children should spend time out of doors learning about all the curious things God has placed around them. All children are amazing observers and explorers when in the habit of spending time outside in nature.  Music and art should be part of their everyday world. They should be given truths directly from scripture.  The atmosphere of the home should be about natural relationships and “is thrown off… from persons and things, stirred by events, sweetened by love, ventilated, kept in motion, by the regulated action of common sense.” (Charlotte Mason) 

And... don't forget those good books! Little ones are quite capable of understanding and enjoying great ideas from stories; sometimes they glimpse an idea that we miss! Beauty and honor and magnanimity are worthy ideas found in the best stories! These are considered Living books. The careful consideration of issues of life (like those found in fairy tales) and the joy of words well written (like classic literature and poetry) can begin to excite the mind of the young and cultivate a love of literature. Reading quality literature with our little ones is just as important as choosing quality literature for our older children and even ourselves! Poetry and books with narrative stories resonate with us all!

You can find some good book lists when you google "living books", but beware that all those in the category of children's books are NOT Living books. There is quite a lot of nonsense and just plain unworthy reading disguised under the label of children's literature.  Test them; do they contain real ideas, important thoughts? Are they well written? Do they connect directly with your child? Then start collecting! OR Are they abridged to include only the editor/publisher's politically correct choices? Are they 'brought down' to a 'child's level so they can understand them'? Better to pass on those!

Some good resources for children's book titles I have found reliably "Living":
Five in a Row curriculum utilize great books. (They are unit studies built around literature and have plans that go with each book. I would personally adapt for a more Charlotte Mason educational philosophy if applying the curriculum. You can read more about Charlotte Mason methods and approach in many of my other posts-check out the 'Labels' section.)
Ambleside Online YR0 has a great list which is for about 5yrs. 
Penny Gardner's website has some living books and other resources for all ages.

Some of my personal favorites to share:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Culture of Noise

I read a sad but insightful commentary this morning.  Janie Cheaney with World Magazine in the Campus edition writes thoughts about families in Broken Music.  I find that when I am surrounded by the noise of our culture, the vibrations can be overwhelming, and it is so easy to be absorbed and become immune to what our societies call 'normal'.

As I read through my new study in Future Grace (John Piper), I am reminded that our power to live godly lives is bound up in the grace that the Holy Spirit gives for today.  If we are too distracted by worldly noise that comes with daily life in this fallen world, we forget that our strength comes from a relationship with Christ and his Word.  Knowing God takes work and discipline just like any other relationship.  Without that time and effort our joy dissipates and we are no longer holding out to others the future hope we have as Christians; it isn't even recognizable in our own lives.  Let us instead therefore choose to live joyfully today!

As we strive to become more like Christ and cultivate beauty and love in our homes and families, we CAN act, live, and be different-we are different! Because of a personal relationship with Christ.  Friends, it is vitally important to our families, our culture, our relationship with our gracious God that we spend time learning to know him more though his word every day; he provides the power we need to hear the music over the noise!

Here are the words to one of my favorite hymns: Jesus! I am Resting, Resting by Jean Sophia Pigott...

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what You are;
I am finding out the greatness Of Your loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon You, Your beauty fills my soul,
For, by Your transforming power, You have made me whole.

Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what You are;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Your loving heart.

Oh, how great Your loving kindness, Vaster, broader than the sea:
Oh, how marvelous Your goodness, Lavished all on me!
Now I rest in my Beloved, Oh, what wealth of grace is mine,
Standing safe within the promise, that in You I find. (Refrain)

Simply trusting You Lord Jesus, I behold You as You are,
And Your love, so pure, so changeless, Satisfies my heart,
Satisfies my deepest longings, Meets, supplies my every need,
Love that showers me with blessing, Love that carries me. (Refrain)

Ever lift Your face upon me, As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Your smile, Lord Jesus, Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory, Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Your grace. (Refrain)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Comparison Trap, a talk for MOPS: Follow up Q's

I am a child of God,
I ought to do His will.
I can do what He tells me,
And by His GRACE, I will.

  • Do you know for certain that you are a Child of God? (I am)  
  • When do you most often find yourself in the ‘comparison trap’? (by His GRACE) 
  • What is a useful distraction for you (and/or your child) to use when you find yourself in those situations?(I will) 
  • In what ways you can obey God more as you pursue holiness? (I ought) 
  • What is a practical way you can incorporate the Word of God into your everyday life? (I can) 
Read The Comparison Trap posts...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Comparison Trap - a talk for MOPS, Part 3

Dear MOPS moms and other fellow Beautiful Messes,Part 3-Enduring GRACE

I have shared this poem with you before.  It's taken from our educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason) but applies anywhere and actually to any age.  Alongside my children through the years, I have learned how very true this is for my life. And I want to start with this and weave it into our discussion on 'Comparing Ourselves to Others'.

I am a child of God, 
I ought to do His will.
I can do what He tells me,
And by His GRACE, I will.  

We are all so different!  Yet, we make comparisons all the time… Is the grass really greener on the other side?

To answer rightly I should clarify our context for today  - Comparisons vs. assessments. I want to move us from a ‘comparison point’ to a ‘grace point'. Part 1: PERSPECTIVE, Part 2: FOCUS, Part 3: Enduring GRACE.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quote for the Day

- from Future Grace by John Piper

There is a sense in which gratitude and faith are interwoven joys that strengthen each other.
Giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20
As gratitude joyfully revels in the  benefits of past grace, so faith joyfully relies on the benefits of future grace.  Therefore when gratitude for God's past grace is strong, the message is sent that God is supremely trustworthy in the future because of what he has done in the past. In this way faith is strengthened by a lively gratitude for God's past trustworthiness.  On the other hand, when faith in God's future grace is strong, the message is sent that this kind of God makes no mistakes, so that everything he has done in the past is part of a good plan and can be remembered with gratitude.  In this way gratitude is strengthened by a lively faith in God's 
future grace.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Comparison Trap - a talk for MOPS, Part 2

Dear MOPS moms and other fellow Beautiful Messes,Part 2- Focus

I have shared this poem with you before.  It's taken from our educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason) but applies anywhere and actually to any age.  Alongside my children through the years, I have learned how very true this is for my life. And I want to start with this and weave it into our discussion on 'Comparing Ourselves to Others'.

I am a child of God, 
I ought to do His will.
I can do what He tells me,
And by His GRACE, I will.  

We are all so different!  Yet, we make comparisons all the time… Is the grass really greener on the other side?

To answer rightly I should clarify our context for today  - Comparisons vs. assessments. I want to move us from a ‘comparison point’ to a ‘grace point'. Part 1 was all about PERSPECTIVE...In Part 2, Let's FOCUS...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Get Out of that Trap!

'Comparison Trap' Resources from a talk for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting on...

"Is the Grass Really Greener?
Keeping the proper perspective will keep us out of the ‘comparison trap’ and give us a right focus. What our focus is as moms will be a huge part of our children's as well. That is back to that whole person and real life thing. Where you spend your time and energy is what becomes your focus. Habits of the heart are cultivated.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monday Meditations...

on Tuesday...

I am beginning a new study from John Piper's Future Grace.  Come with me as I ponder
the beauty of enduring grace.
...there is something about the faith through which pardoning grace justifies, that makes it a suitable and efficient means through which empowering grace always sanctifies.

The faith that justifies gives rise to lives of obedience-not perfection, but growing holiness.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thoughts on Oughts

Dear Friends and Fellow Beautiful Messes,

The real question:

We thought about the 'Comparison Trap' yesterday and the question of, "Is the grass greener?".  A wise comment was made during a discussion time about the positives a comparison can bring as it inspires us to do better.  True, comparisons can give us a goal and be that impetus to get us moving toward change.  If we look deeper at that, the motivation is in response to the question we decided was the better-"Am I reflecting Christ?".  A comparison of that sort is really a legitimate assessment and, though it is about 'me' in the sense of what I need to do better, it is ultimately a focus on God, who he is, and whether or not am I showing that in my life.  That is the good sort of comparison.

I Ought to?:

We need to be careful, as we try to stay out of the negative 'Comparison Trap', that we don't go back to that 'me' focus by confusing our 'Oughts' with preferences or just the reality of who we are.  Here's what I mean...  Ought I to like the color purple?,  Ought I to want pink marshmallow fluff? Ought I to be as organized as my friend? Not necessarily.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Comparison Trap - a talk for MOPS, Part 1

Dear MOPS moms and other fellow Beautiful Messes,Part 1 - Perspectives

I have shared this poem with you before.  It's taken from our educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason), but applies anywhere and actually to any age.  Alongside my children through the years, I have learned how very true this is for my life. And I want to start with this and weave it into our discussion on 'Comparing Ourselves to Others'.

I am a child of God, 
I ought to do His will.
I can do what He tells me,
And by His GRACE, I will.  

We are all different people.  We are each created a whole person.  What I mean by that is that we don’t live compartmentalized lives.  One person at home, one person at MOPS, one person at church, one part as a parent, or wife or Christian… we are all of those together, a conglomerate… a beautiful mess. We are real people (our children are just as much persons as we, only shorter).  We live real lives.

Wasn't it interesting to see all the differences we found in our approaches and personalities as we took the Mommy Personality Test based on the Myers/Briggs.  We are all so different!  Yet, we make comparisons all the time… "Is the grass really greener on the other side?"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A CM school day...

A friend of mine facilitates a CM group and gave the description below of what a school day might look like.  Lovely example, so I asked her to share with you.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Mouse House

A follow up from the mice and cookies post...

I decided to live and let live.  I do have resident mice in my garden.  Who wouldn't decide to stay when there are seeds aplenty at each bird feeding station in the garden?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Possibilities for good or evil

"The consequence of truth is great, therefore the judgment of it must not be negligent" (Whichcote).

1. Children are born persons.
2. They are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.
3. The principles of authority on the one hand, and of obedience on the other, are natural, necessary and fundamental; 
from "A Short Synopsis" by Charlotte Mason (Vol. 6, p. xxix)
The wording of Principle #2 in Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education can be misinterpreted without a clearer picture of the context.  Here are some thoughts for today...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Sabatical to School Day Schedules

Whirlwinds and Hurricanes

The summer seems to have passed with a whirlwind.  The beginning of the school year brings schedules and routine that for some are difficult to embrace.  For others of us, the dust settles a bit and our days become more steady.

Do whirlwinds have centers like hurricanes?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Quote for the Day

A Marred Wasteland and a Deliberate Choice of Quality...
The good news is that just like the lousy books of the past, the lousy books of the present will blow away like chaff. The bad news is that they will leave their mark. As in so many aspects of culture, the damage they do can’t easily be measured. It is more a thing to be felt—a coarseness, an emptiness, a sorrow.  Read Meghan Cox Curdon's remarks in Hillsdale's Imprimis (July/August 2013).
“Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as if it does not matter.” Roger Scruton (English philosopher)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If You Give Me Cookies...

So,  if you give me cookies, I would move in too!

No cookies for mouses in my garden, yet I have a new resident. There is a feeder and bird bath very accessible with lots of ground cover for little visitors to hide and gather all the seeds wanted for a happy family of critters.

A darling little field mouse has been tunneling all through my flower garden...  I do hope town mouse decides to not to make a long visit to his country cousin for too long.

So I did some research and found several references to non chemical remedies.  I decided to give it a try - Bounce dryer sheets.  I think I scattered and tucked about 50 of those behind shrubs and under all the hostas.  (I do have a large flower garden-flowers make me smile!)  I'll let you know if it worked.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quote for the day

"Are we who have been made in the image of our creator to be less creative than those who do not know the Creator?" 
~ Edith Schaeffer from The Hidden Art of Homemaking

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Squeaky Clean

Don't you love that clean smell of freshly laundered clothes?  I'm not so excited about folding or ironing, but still, when you unload an armful of warm whites, doesn't it make you feel that comforting homey feel?

I got all homemaker-like and mixed up some homemade laundry detergent a couple of weeks ago. Impressed?  I am :-).  I got it from Pintrest of course:

Here's to having clean clothes this week!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Meditations: Cultural quirks and perspective shifts

Across the Ocean and Thoughts for Home
Dear sisters,
I wrote an article for a Women's Ministry Newsletter and had a request to expand on some thoughts of an earlier post.  On this particular day I was thinking of some far away friends who moved… Across the Ocean…

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CM thoughts for the day

*From Our Philosophy Flow Our Methods*

Especially a good reminder as my last post was on high school...

The core reminder and four quotes (from our last CM Peoria Study Group discussions-Volume 6: Book II, Chapters 1 and 2):

#1  Children are born persons. (encompasses CM's view of the child as a learner)

"One thing at any rate we know with certainty, that no teaching, no information becomes knowledge to any of us until the individual mind has acted upon it, translated it, transformed, absorbed it, to reappear, like our bodily food, in forms of vitality.  Therefore, teaching, talk and tale, however lucid or fascinating, effect nothing until self-activity be set up; that is, self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature."

"...that stability of mind and magnanimity of character... are the proper outcome and the unfailing test of a Liberal Education."
"I feel strongly that to attempt to work this method without a firm adherence to the few principles laid down would not only be idle but disastrous."

"If we work for public examinations, the questions in which must be of a narrow academic cast, we get a narrow, accurate, somewhat sterile type of mind.  We reap as we have sown."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sample CM highschool transcript

Dear CM friend,

Really, you can CM through high school and still keep it CM!

It's amazing what the upper years accomplish.  Our goals didn't change, our educational philosophy didn't change, therefore our methods didn't change.  It does look a bit different - just because they are older.  Of course, this covers four years of schooling, and four years of growing!  Here is what it might look like when you put those upper years into a more formal resume - the transcript.  It is a non-traditional format, but all translated to fit the academia mindset :-).  Take a look and feel free to use it as a template for your own student.  We use Ambleside Online as our base curriculum - this is an unofficial transcript based on that.  You can preview it and download it from my website CM Pages by Grace for the day.  We are finishing up this season and look forward to watching how this wonderful Charlotte Mason Education has made a difference for the next stage of life... and on through a lifetime of learning.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

downloading the Science Guide files

CM Pages by Grace for the day website
I have found a temporary way to get you those resources under my pages section.  I created a webpage to host the files so you can download them for free.  You can still use the Scribd site if you like and have a premium membership to download the pdf forms.  The website has both .pdf and .doc so you can tweak to add a different book or personalize the schedule how you like (please still leave my copyright footnote though).  Both places allow for previews so you can look it over first!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand - A SHORT Review of a LONG book

So, with my choice already decided in my head, I quickly clicked "ADD THIS TO MY CART" without reading the summary or other pertinent information with as much attention as I usually do. I had heard some brief but rave reviews from blurbs of conservative sources.  I confidently planned this book for my leisure reading over our week's vacation in Jamaica not knowing that it would add a few pounds to my personal carry on and 1,168 pages of 'light' reading!  So it was a bit more than I had intended for vacation - good thing we had a beautiful place to relax and plenty of reading time!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Not quite vanished away

Christopher Robin
Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.

from Sneezles by A.A. Milne

Hoping my wheezles & sneezles vanish away... and my voice returns :-)  Never time to be sick, but thankful it came AFTER vacation!  Planning to be back up and going next week with those changes and a book review of Atlas Shrugged which I read over vacation week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New stuff to share...

I promised everyone in my sessions at convention some links and pages on my blog.  I will spend the next couple of weeks working on getting those new areas up and accessible.  I plan on adding a history area, a language arts page, a high school section, maybe some homeschool schedule examples, and some more general Charlotte Mason Education information.  Whew, I'm getting ambitious!

Constructing a GRACE filled site
If you have any suggestions of what you would like to see discussed more, let me know. In the meantime, see the labels from the sidebar for specific topics from previous posts.  If you are interested in the Educational Philosophy of Charlotte Mason,  you can follow along with my study notes (under Pages at the right) from Volume VI, 'A Short Synopsis'; you should keep in mind that the chapters that follow will address each of these points in detail as you move through the book.  Check back a few times in the next couple of weeks to see what's new!

Or follow me or join as a friend and see when I post something new to encourage your day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday Meditations - seeing the Beauty of God

Dear Friend,

My mind is full and my days are busy this week.  That's why Monday Meditations has posted on Wednesday! The upcoming conference this weekend has me busy preparing my sessions (I am sure I will share some thoughts on those talks a bit later).   A silly refrain about being 'dreadfully busy' from a Veggie Tales song keeps popping into my head!

When I was a young mother of three active preschoolers there seemed very little time to accomplish the tasks of the day.  And the laundry was never done (even today it seems there are way too many piles).  So, a 'quiet time' when there seems to be not a moment of stillness was always hard to find in my day.  There are some resources listed below that you might find helpful; It does get easier to fit in deeper Bible Studies and just more time in the Word - hang in there!

In the past couple of weeks, I have added some specific prayer requests to my list.  The issues are varied, yet truly the one thing that can change these needs is for these individuals to see the beauty of God.  It reflects his character which is unchanging regardless of our situations, needs, struggles or questions. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Calendar of Firsts - A Follow Up

You asked about My Calendar of Firsts book I mentioned in the 'Signs of Spring' post.  Until I was introduced to this one a couple of years ago at the ChildLight Conference, we used a regular wall calendar to jot notes on days - which works great.  I used the Backyard Birds, like the one pictured at right, to record the weather, keep a list of the bird sightings in our yard, and write about happenings in the forest from our walks.
It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar––the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations (Mason, vol. 1, p. 54)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Picture Study

A narrative remembrance after five years: Eve Anderson's class (and our evolution toward a CM methodology)

This past month we discussed "The Knowledge of Man; Art" from Miss Mason's Towards a Philosophy of Education (vol. 6) in our local CM study group.  As there were several who were new to CM or Picture Study, I gave an integrated narration of sorts - a bit from our own home school experience, a narration of Eve Anderson's class from the Perimeter School DVD, and a fusion of CM's writings and descriptions.  Overall, probably TMI for a brief explanation.  I will give you a more succinct version of "How-To" at the end.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quote for the Day - Rembrandt

Rembrandt - A Girl at a Window
It is not in a day or a year that Fra Angelico will tell us the beauty of holiness, that Giotto will confide his interpretation of the meaning of life, that Millet will tell us the simplicity and dignity that belong to labour on the soil, that Rembrandt will show us the sweetness of humanity in many a commonplace countenance... (Ourselves, Charlotte Mason)

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Lovely Visitor

I was in the kitchen a day or so ago when the loud, clear 'fee-bee' call caught my attention.  I went out on the back deck to try to find him - there he was, at the top of the Honey Locust singing away.  I had seen a pair flitting here and there across the deck and around the Japanese Maple.  Already nesting?

click here to listen to the "fee-bee" call