29 August, 2006

HS meme

The Homeschooling Meme

Updates added to better reflect our experience in a fuller, more honest way :-)

My friend Mother Auma has tagged me for this meme, which was started by Bookworm.


Like Mother Auma, Charlotte Mason's series on education. Each of my volumes is just marked with sticky tabs and bookmarks, and some of them I've finally allowed myself to write in the margins...in pencil, of course!

Why: CM touches on so many other educational philosophies that I end up doing more research to dig deeper.


~ Search engines on the internet!


I'm going to revise this answer, read further to see why! Math programs. We bought too many for various reasons. One being the "sway" of convincing sales pitches and reviews in catalogues. Most of the time, we got the programs for about half price...which helped the budget, but did not help our boys stay current on math.

(first answer was ~ Spelling Power...As with any other resource, though, we were able to sell it for not too much of a loss.)


Home school co-op for our kids' high school math and science, and *unique* class offerings for them and our younger boys...fun science and math classes, but also mosaics, cooking for boys and Battles and Weapons of Warfare class. Oh! And my spanish classes, as well :-)


We are getting back into picture study and Plutarch, after a couple of semesters away from these resources.


~ A digital SLR camera


~ A decluttering machine, that would organize and put away our treasures, and toss the rest, without the help of my hands and use of my time.


I don't enjoy them anymore. Haven't for a couple of years. I've been at this so long, I guess, that I just don't like to be tempted by the stuff (that's actually not easy to do these days, thank the Lord) or use up my time reading hundreds of descriptions of products, or seeing the newest, latest, greatest, expensive program that I "just gotta have" to make sure my kids get a good education and don't have gaps.

Pish Posh! Being tempted to purchase too many things, and switching too many times among math or language programs can cause more gaps than one would encounter had one not switched about like a feather or a leaf on the wind.

sidebar: We have four homeschoolers, from a sixth grader to a senior. This was our situation, and we are still reaping some negative fruit in the math department with a couple of our boys...and I've heard others say similar things about their flip-flopping. Part of our switching was to try to fit the kids' learning styles. That cost us money, but mostly, it cost us and our students' precious TIME.

That is one reason I like Charlotte Mason's writings. It's all there in six volumes, including her comparisons of other methods, philosophies, and teachers' attempts at teaching children. I enjoy how she points out some good things, then goes on to explain what she believes are the weaknesses in other educational philosophies.

I am a fan of age-old wisdom from the ancient paths. I like searching for meatier and perhaps more obscure resources than many of the ones our 'society' offers us, and digesting those works for a long spell. I appreciate the simple, practical solutions to some learning difficulties, that bells and whistles programs just don't match!

I enjoy being able to do my own search, for old book treasures in used shops, essays or online resources. I enjoy trying to make use of the sometimes simple-but-deep and rich methods that CM recommended, in which one can get more of a concentrated quality and richness in less time than many of the products out there in MARKETING land.

I don't think I'm cynical, I just don't have the time for the extra distraction. If a friend recommends something new, I will look into it, though. We all have different seasons through which we will journey.

I used to collect the Elijah Company catalog to hand out to new homeschoolers, because it was such a good "Get Started" resource.


~ Ambleside Online


~ Tootlestime
~ and anyone else who has time :-). Let me know by posting in comments or to your blog.

24 August, 2006

Communing out loud...

Bountiful and Abundant Provision!

Here is God's provision for us at the end of summer :-). We had to replace our indoor A/C unit last month, and had just the right amount of money to be able to do so. However, that made things interesting for the rest of the summer. I am reminded of what God has placed in our hands to use, and see anew just how far we can stretch what we have! Even for our family of six.

These are a little smaller than the prettiest loaves we've baked this week, but I can attest to how delicious they are. My oldest son helped out a bit (by throwing the initial ingredients into the mixer most days), and we made two loaves a day, every day for the past week. We even made our own flour tortillas and refried black beans (from beans we'd soaked and prepared two days earlier).

Charlotte Mason writes in Volume 2, pages 55-56 of Parents and Children: The role of the parent in the education of the child:

"Communing out loud before the Children––Is it possible that the mother could, when alone with her children, occasionally hold this communing out loud, so that the children might grow up in the sense of the presence of God? It would probably be difficult for many mothers to break down the barrier of spiritual reserve in the presence of even their own children. But, could it be done, would it not lead to glad and natural living in the recognised presence of God?

Think of the joy of the mother who should overhear her little child murmuring over the first primrose of the year, 'Dear God, you are too good!' Children are so imitative, that if they hear their parents speak out continually their joys and fears, their thanks and wishes, they, too, will have many things to say."

23 August, 2006

Cafe Terrace

We just started school this week. Picture Study got set aside for the most part since early in 2004, so our younger two boys needed a reminder of how this works! We always have several prints displayed around our home, on various easels or shelves, but I needed to officially reintroduce active picture study again. Today, I displayed our copy of Cafe Terrace by Vincent Van Gogh for just a few minutes and told them to pay attention to detail. Then I turned the print over (hiding it) and asked them tell me everything they could about it. I had them draw their own copies of Cafe Terrace. They really got into it!

Our younger two boys are 11 and 13, btw. They even brought up how we like cafes as opposed to fast food. I asked why. 11 yo's answers were funny, thing such as fast food not being healthy and that cafes are fancy (huh? Nah, they are just very cool) but then he realized the true answer~that we prefer cafes because of the friends we have meet us there and the time spent lingering with them. They also talked about the atmosphere being more conducive (no, they did not use that word) to talking with friends: warmer and softer lighting and color pallettes. Most of the time, they have good music playing in the background.

We have also made Wednesdays our Plutarch days. On this day, our older two kiddos aged 15 (daughter) and 17.5 (son) each have a Worldviews class (Year 1 and year 3) they get to take with other homeschoolers, and this provides the perfect time for the younger two to focus together on "Nobler things," as Plutarch or Goethe would say. Even better, the boys and I thought of Philipians 4:8-12 and turned to it after our Plutarch reading of the day.

Vocubulary words from today:
trifles (which our youngest said he had just learned in his small group at church)

This was one of those really good hs days.

22 August, 2006

My son asked...

How do you do that?? (He meant color matching and tinting) So I showed him how to choose colors. I'm happy that my 17.5 yo was fascinated with it...and I hope I'm not tiring my readers with my enthusiam for this type of hand craft! We do have other handcrafts that we do in this family! Really! I like to quilt. Fabric color matching is not much different from the color mixing that I do for book restorations. I like scrapbooking & stamping/card making, as well. I do a tiny bit of sewing for curtains or costumes. I like painting and faux finishing walls. Both are a lot of fun, and very rewarding. You GET to get messy, and you also get to be as precise as you want to be (or not).

final photo: tinted, pressed, and ready to give back to its owner!

Hum de dum...

Digression while my photos load:
Hubby is making another guitar with a good friend of his, showing him the steps as they go. This is his third guitar built from scratch and throw-away but quality wood. When his friend is not able to come to the woodshop, Hubby works on his "All Texas" mandolin. It is cut from Bois D'arc wood (it is yellow-orange in color!) and Mesquite wood, with *alligator* bone inlay. Does he have pictures? No. The silly fellow. I asked him nicely, too.

The alligator bones were picked up in the spring, when Hubby took the sophomore class at his school on the regularly scheduled class trip to the Gulf beach for beach cleanup. The poor alligator did not do well during the hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
I'll stop rambling, now!

Expect my next post to share more educational thoughts. Our CM bookclub met again tonight, and we had some very lively and thought inspiring discussion. I just love this group of ladies.

19 August, 2006

New Book Meme

Update Sunday August 20 ~ photos added at bottom of post

Krakovianka has made up her own meme. My friend Mother Auma has said that I ought to play along. So, since I am Javamom, and I can (am able to) participate, I ought to go ahead and work on it, now (while the kids are off with other friends), so I will (isn't that a cheesy use of CM's quote?)

The task is to name ~

1. One book on your desk right now?

En Todas Partes Hay Tesoros by Bill Watterson - it is Calvin and Hobbes There is Treasure Everywhere en Español.

2. One book with a bookmark in it that you haven't picked up for a few days?

It is also here at my computer desk. This book would be my Español/Inglés Diccionario. It is marked in the letter 'b' page, as I was looking up 'bajada' last week sometime. It means slope (if used as a noun); or it means to go down; to lower or bend (verb).

3. One book marked with a pencil (or other irregular marker) stuffed between the pages instead of a proper bookmark?

Our Guestbook...everyone always sticks the pen inside it after they're finished signing in. Doesn't drive me too nutty :-). It does when our 13 yo son does that to his Chalkdust math book, though!

Here's an odd one. My Charlotte Mason volume number Two, Parents and Children, has (I kid you not) a cracker bag liner at page 116 being used as a bookmark. Who did that?? Yes, there are a few little crumbs in the bottom! Smells like Teddy Grahams that my oldest son stole from a box I never got to enjoy...

4. One book with the cover falling off, or other grievous injuries? Or maybe two books...

I have a simple but lovely leather copy of Emerson's Society and Solitude. It is a tight-back binding with false-raised bands, but both the front and back covers have completely come off. The original marbled endpapers are still there, though, and can be reused when restored.

I also have a gorgeous, 1854 copy of The Knickerbocker Gallery, in leather with raised bands and gorgeous blocking designs/impressions. BUT some ebay dummy desirous of making more money, no doubt, cut out some of the ink drawings of the popular poets/authors of the time. Namely the fireside poets. Ugh. I didn't notice it right away, years ago when I bought it for hubby for Christmas. When I noticed, it was too late to do anything about it. What a way to ruin the value of a book. Grievous, indeed. -sigh-

5. One book you "ought" to be reading, but don't feel like it?

A big Bible Curriculum notebook to preview and test for Harding University called Until Christ is Formed in You. Just haven't had the gumption to jump into it, except when it first arrived.

6. One book sitting on the shelf and enticing you to read it instead of anything else?

Mansfield Park. I am trying not to read it too quickly or exclusively, like I did with Northanger Abbey months ago. On the latter, I did not do much of anything but read for much of two days straight. Hubby's orders! It was amazing to have that freedom. But I couldn't do that every time I pick up a favorite author. I'd feel far too guilty.

7. Your most recently acquired book?

My most recently acquired treasure was given to me by my hubby, much earlier in the summer:

The Restoration of Leather Bindings by Bernard C. Middleton, the (British) master of leather bindings

8. One book on your "wish list?"

Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner, recommended by the hs mom of a friend of my teens.

9. One book you literally threw in the trash?

A moldy and badly curved copy of The Magic (or Flying) Carpet by one of the AO children's authors

10. One person who ought to answer these questions? Leslie and Carolina, and anyone else who wants to!

Mother Auma suggested I add ~

#11: One book you are currently restoring? Just one? But today I worked on two. Really.

Little women. This is a 1955 library copy that needs just a little tlc for a mom in book club. Saturday, I color matched some cloth to repair the spine, which is separated from top to bottom on the front.

In the first photo, you can see the spine torn away from the front cover. You can also see the repair cloth in there. In the second photo, the original spine has been glued onto the repair cloth (not with elmer's -bad-, and not glued onto the inner spine lining...so the spine is still hollow, as it should be).

I'm also touching up a copy of Ivanhoe for the same mom. It is from the late 1880's, when gorgeous gilt covers/spines with decorative impressions were the rage, but the papers used inside were very acidic. The brown, crumbled papers really cannot be restored. I can try to stabelize them. I am lining the title page with tinted tissue and adding in a large "puzzle" piece to make up for the chunk that was missing out of it. Then I can paste it back in, along with a loosening spine to stablize it a bit. It is so brittle. That is almost all I can do.

Out of Print but worth obtaining!

Consider this part two of my last post. I can't say enough about this book. It is one of my personal favorite non-fiction books. Every parent should have this in their home library. Whenever I see it at a used book store, I buy it to give away to another parent.

Here is a review from Publisher's Weekly on Children of a Greater God (click to see multiple copies available) ~

"By drawing on the classics in music, literature, the visual arts and scripture, and by living with parents who set an example themselves, children have the ability, Glaspey believes, to assume right moral values and to embrace Christianity on their own. Himself a parent whose background lies primarily in the areas of intellectual and cultural history, Glaspey presents sound arguments braced with commonsense ideas and substantiated by superb appendices. Followed faithfully, this is a book that will indeed help parents help children to the strong foundation that comes from learning to think for oneself and away from the more shallow footings that come from always being told what to think."

As Goethe so aptly put it ~

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that wordly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul."

16 August, 2006

The Power of Story

On The Value of Stories

As homeschoolers (especially newer homeschoolers) ask about the different character building "curriculae" available to us, I want to pose this thought to consider.

Don't underestimate the power of the stories, poems, books, biographies, missionary bios that you will probably be reading aloud to your children this year. They are just the best at illustrating and reinforcing the traits that you will be reading in Proverbs, without any extra teaching needed. This is just another way the Holy Spirit can prompt our children's (and our own!) hearts. We note how Jesus used stories to teach and illustrate his messages.

As teacher, Christian author, and homeschool dad Terry Glaspey writes in his book Children of a Greater God on awakening moral imagination in our children:

"For some of us, the idea that stories could help us develop our moral values is a foreign one. Many of us have 'learned' moral values by memorizing lists of moral directives. How could stories move us to moral action or change our moral perspective? This is possible because stories can reflect real life more than abstract teaching can."

The imagination is profoundly connected to the "will." In stories, we (and our children) get to see what doing the right thing looks like within the context of a real-life (or types of) scenarios. By the same token, we see what making the wrong choices looks like, and what the consequences are (both natural and imposed) when the characters choose to do the wrong things.

14 August, 2006

On the schedule this week

Just to update so as not to seem so daunting (sorry Tootle!! If I'd just returned home from a lovely vacation, I would NOT be ready to have a week like this!)-

Most of these things on the list already have an old idea, outline, or template to follow, so I am not starting from scratch, just updating, deleting, making sure links are updated and still working, change dates on the Spanish syllabus from last year, etc. The new hs curriculum was written with a friend, so we use this time to fellowship, too. It is a recharge!

Hubby is a high school English and Lit teacher, so he wants to see the kids' paperwork, so he can feel like we are on top of their progress. I will make sure I don't need to add something new to our two high schoolers' transcripts, and double check that I put in their grades correctly. Ds just got his official Worldviews class grade recently, even though we already pretty much knew that his average was an A, we weren't sure how it was going to break down among the sections for debate, speech, economics, history, composition, etc.

My book club notes are basically cut and paste from e-texts, and I can define words that need to be delved into more deeply. I love to write and think, and making time for that in my week keeps my aging brain sharp.

My well-check-up was pleasant with a new lady doctor. She has a warm and talkative bedside manner!

I probably won't attend the bookfair (no money till next month) and the kitty cat wants attention twice every day. But that is when I get to relax in a comfy chair, myself!

~ pet the cat, who just claimed my seat in order to get some attention
~ update Spanish class syllabus for hs co-op
~ attend homeschool co-op high school teachers' meeting
~ gather new supplies for my two Jr. High and High School classes
~ decide on lesson plans for first ten weeks, figure out what copies need to be made
~ update intro and lesson one of mentoring curriculum that I co-wrote a couple of years ago for new homeschoolers with the co-author
~ visit the doctor for check-up
~ teach one more bookbinding small class
~ fine-tune kids' personal and homeschooling schedules
~ add to our high schoolers' transcripts
~ assign new chores or refine what the kids' already doing
~ celebrate end of summer with a family ice cream party, family prayer time
~ Read Charlotte Mason volume six, Book 2 chapter 1 "Theory Applied" for CM Book Club
~ type up narration notes on Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, chapters 4-6
~ attend homeschool bookfair?? Make list of last few needs

What are my readers' plans this week?

10 August, 2006

La última mano

The finishing touch...add a label and trim down the endpapers.

Nice and straight! Yay!

09 August, 2006

Book progress

Preparing to attach the spine and book cloth. The text block is pasted securely on the boards.

Almost finished! It still needs endpapers and a title label. Notice the headband (endband) in the bottom photo. I love how this marbled paper looks with the light burgundy cloth.

It is tedious, but wonderfully rewarding work!

08 August, 2006

Hand-binding a Blessing Book

Sewing frame built for me by Hubster out of high-quality, donated wood scraps.

lying/finishing press also built by Hubster. The book is drying in the press.

This is the next "book of letters" job that needs to be completed this week. This particular book is a book of graduation or "right of passage" type Letters of Blessing. It has a couple of photos in it, as well.

I'll post the finished product, hopefully by Wednesday eve. or Thursday morning.


06 August, 2006

Things I wish I'd done

This is a tag started by Carol from My Heart's Desire. She says to share "10 things you have never done, but wished that you had."

~ While in Germany three separate summers in a row, I dreamed of Bicycling across Denmark...it never worked out! Did get to stick my feet in the cold, North Sea.
~ Never got to live overseas for a solid year, as was my dream (but not God's) at one point during my college years.
~ Invested well
~ gymnastics
~ played in a real soccer tournament. I used to enjoy playing soccer a lot!
~ Gone to a Boston Red Sox game when we lived in Boston
~ I should have gone to Louisa May Alcott's homes, Emerson's home, Thoreau's home, the rest of the
Fireside Poets in the Concord and Boston areas. We lived one town over from Concord and hung out at Walden Pond, though, on many a weekend afternoon. This was long before I was much of a reader of anything but non-fiction.
~ Never got to sail to the Greek Isles while in Greece, but did swim in the Mediterranean
~ Never been to Canada, but have flown over it!
~ I wish I had taken pictures of swimming with friends and my daughter in the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian Gulf

~ I thought of one more: I have not flown in a helicopter. It was just brought to mind this morning when I heard that one of my nephew's just got accepted to Helicopter Pilot Training school in our city! 50 applicants out of 900 made it. He was number 24 chosen. How cool is that?!?!

What Louisa May Alcott was reading

In her journals, in 1852, Louisa May Alcott made a note to herself: "Make a resolution to read fewer novels, and those only of the best."

This is her list of books that she liked-

Carlyle's French Revolution, and his Critical and Miscellaneous Essays
On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (also Carlyle)
Goethe's Poems, Plays and novels
Plutarch's Lives
Madame Guyon
John Milton's Paradise Lost and Comus
Schiller's Plays
Madame de Staël - (author and friend of Goethe's)
Louis XIV
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Hypatia by Charles Kingsley

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Emerson's Poems

01 August, 2006

Upon Having the Imagination Warmed

CM says that education is the Science of Relations (principle #13)...and I just made another relationship/literary connection last night.

I think I read Mother Auma (waves joyfully at MotherAuma :-) quoting CM somewhere on warming our imaginations.

[UPDATE: I just remembered that I think Mother Auma was quoting another CM passage that had a different Jane Austen reference in it: from Vol. 1 page 83...on games! Well, at least I remembered the Austen reference correctly! -blush-]

In her section on Composition on Page 193 of vol. 6, CM borrows from Jane Austen, and it seems as if she must have quoted similarly in another of her volumes. I just found it in Volume 3, as well.

She writes in Volume 6, page 193:

"the point to be considered is that the subject be one on which, to quote again Jane Austen's expression, the imagination of the children has been 'warmed.' They should be asked to write upon subjects which have interested them keenly."

In Volume 3, page 243:

"Eudcation By Books:
For the last twelve years we have tried the plan of bringing children up on Books and Things, and, on the whole, the results are pleasing. The average child studies with 'delight.' We do not say he will remember all he knows, but, to use a phrase of Janes Austen's, he will have had his 'imagination warmed' in many regions of knowledge."

Well, as I was reading Mansfield Park, Chapter nine last night, I came across this quote:

"while Fanny, to whom everything was almost as interesting as it was new, attended with unaffected earnestness to all that Mrs. Rushworth could relate of the family in former times, its rise and grandeur, regal visits and loyal efforts, delighted to connect anything with history already known, or warm her imagination with scenes of the past."

Very cool, eh?? Thanks for indulging me.