24 February, 2007

Massive Dust Storm

It is all a pinkish-brown haze outside and incredibly windy. We are losing shingles as I type. Neighbors' play forts have blown over and across their half-to-full acre yards. As the sun tries to burn through, the sky becomes more pink, as it moves behind the haze, it becomes more of a grayish-brown. Take a look.

23 February, 2007

Friday Evening Comforts

I've been ill for the last two days with a lot of aches and a low-grade fever. I missed co-op today, as I knew I wouldn't be up for standing much of the day to teach and help. It took me longer than usual yesterday to make sure my lesson plans (for my three classes) were more detailed and nicely laid out for my assistants to take over for me. I also made sure all necessary paperwork and assignments were easy to find. My growing children were such good helpers to see that my supplies got to the right people this morning. They are awesome. I was able to sleep long and peacefully today.
The previous night was terrible, as I awoke every hour, and never could get very comfortable. My neck ached something awful.

'Twas especially nice for Dread Pirate Sparsebeard to bring home some Hot and Sour soup and a couple of old Poitier movies. The house was all quiet with the teens gone for the evening to a Literary costume ball. Our third teen is spending the night with a friend. Only our youngest was home, and he'd earned some time on the computer.

Soup, Tea, and Poitier. These are some of the comforts of home.


19 February, 2007

CM comments, Parents' Review Ads

Heard at Book Club tonight: Queen Shenaynay to group: "Remember, Charlotte didn't have Google." to which Javamom quickly added: "Charlotte *was* Google!"
[side note: A lovely, growing group of friends who have joined me in a CM book club, read volume six together over the last two years. This year, we began and plan to complete volume one.]

We were referring to all the references Charlotte sprinkles into the pages of her writings. Much can be picked up in reading Charlotte's own words. She was incredibly well-educated. A product of her time? Well, sure...but not all people living in that time were so educated.

Her 'campaign' if I may call it that, was that she wanted all children (and I might say even their mothers!) to be able to have a liberal (well-rounded) education as well, not just the children of the
privileged, wealthy class. Her writings provide *and* inspire quite an education.

One of the most important thing to consider when delving into reading CM is that one will take in far more from her writings if one looks up all the little references Charlotte makes that are often (though not always) in Italics, or in indented quotes. Then one is truly able to dig into the meat; the deeper meaning of her thoughts, examples, and her principals, as she shares quotes or paints word pictures with references...most of which might not be caught, "partly because of our own defective education" (CM vol. one page 67).

(click to enlarge)

I've been meaning to share some pictures, maybe even a few quotes, from an old copy of The Parents' Review that I purchased several years ago. I was urged on before CM BookClub tonight by QS at the Beehive to post this at once to share with our Charlotte Mason friends via the blogworld. This comes from the advertisement section of the June, 1933 issue, Elsie Kitching, editor. Charlotte died in 1923) Just in case you can't read it, it says "Notice to Members of the P.N.E.U. Peter Robinson, Ltd. are the official suppliers of the Parents' Union School Uniform. The new badge is registered and copyright and therefore obtainable only from the appointed outfitters or P.N.E.U. office. Enquiries should be made to, and price lists obtained from...etc., etc."

The second ad in the first picture is hopefully easier to read. These were photographic prints one could order for Picture Study., in the recommended 10 in. by 8 in. format, or lantern slides made to order.

The many advertisements
(not shown in this post) for various CM schools all over England fill the ad sections of the PR Magazine. They provide for us some of tiny missing pieces of what some CM schools / homeschools were like, many of them with photos of the building(s) or partial grounds.
Many of them were lead by Head Mistresses who were Ambleside or HOE graduates, themselves.

The section we read and studied in book club tonight was pages 42-69, much of which discusses just what it was about nature study that Charlotte thought was so important: "Training the children's powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas...she is training them in truthful habits, by making them careful to see the fact and to state it exactly, without omission or exaggeration." (Vol. one pages 46-47)

Throughout this section, she very specifically lays out how mother can lead her children through this, both by example and with minimal interference. She does give instruction, but it is leading instruction, with examples of things she remembers from her own memory (of a painting or a landscape) and with phrases that encourage the children to look and observe on their own, and very discriminatingly.

Some people get hung up on Charlotte Mason because in a blanket judgment, they say something like, "CM is just all about nature study and not much else," which is so discouraging...not to me personally, but that such false representations exist and run rampant within the homeschooling community!

Nature study is but one of a multitude of aspects of a Charlotte Mason education. It is not a separate or even the primary subject. In fact, I'll share a quote by Monk Gibbon from the Parents' Review magazine that I've shown you today, which puts my thoughts on this matter into a nutshell.

He says, "Literature is not a 'subject.' Music is not a 'subject.' Drawing is not a 'subject.' Religion is not a 'subject.' Rather, are they all activities of the spirit, valid in themselves. And yet, they become 'subjects in the hands of the pedants."

pedant - a person who pays more attention to formal rules and book learning than they merit.

1. One who pays undue attention to book learning and formal rules.
2. One who exhibits one's learning or scholarship ostentatiously.
3. Obsolete A schoolmaster.

Ouch! (for some). Sorry about that. Well, not really. My whole point of home educating (and guiding our children to self-educate) was to get off the track of "standardized education" and allow them the time to truly learn; to form relationships with great minds and with real things, FIRST hand, to seek wisdom, be led by the Holy Spirit, and to value learning. I'll stop there for now, or I may become preachy.

Instead, I'll close with one of my favorite finds (actually a friend found it for me) that hangs in our family / dining room. It is a map of the state birds and flowers of the US. It is surrounded by some of the fascinating things we've collected on nature walks that reflect God's highly specialized and creative genius in nature, such as a sample of wild-grasses (on the left) that have a three-sided (triangular-shaped) stem. Who knew such a plant existed? Why should we care? One reason is that it is evidence of God's order in nature.



18 February, 2007

Flat Stanley

Has he ever visited your home? Check out Amazon for his story, and how you can get involved with his adventures, too. This is a fun way to get multiple generations of family and friends involved in the lives of your children. By participating, and adding to Stanley's adventures, you can pour into another family member's life in a rich and meaningful way, even if you live far away from them!

One of my great nieces sent Stanley to stay with us over the weekend recently, so we took him everywhere we went, and took pictures along the way. Stanley got to learn some Spanish while with us. He got to see an outdoor sculpture garden while visiting our big city, learn about photography and visit a real photography studio, go to a family birthday party for my father-in-law (who is a seasoned professional photographer), be read aloud to by our teenagers, be carried to church with us, read from my Spanish Bible. He also got to go to work at Starbucks with one of our teens, listen in on some poetry reading of Billy Collins, nap in Mexican hammocks, and hang out with the family cat.

I highly recommend that you introduce Stanley to your family!

Javamom, homeschool mom of four, ages (almost) 12 to 18, who have always homeschooled.

11 February, 2007

Nature Photography

His mate was close by, but out of camera range at the time. Cardinals are simply stunning.

07 February, 2007

Switching Gears

Time to lighten up with some of our favorite things:

~ Hanging out in hammocks

~ our kitties

~ good books and good art

11.5 yos called me from his room to point out Tigger hamming it up in the hammock for relaxation. Here is mittens on H.E. Marshall's _English Literature for Boys and Girls_. She had been admiring Monet's "The Corn Poppies" that you see behind her. I catch her napping behind that easel fairly often.

Mittens is more literate than Tigger. She has always preferred being near the books, on the books, and even looks on while the kids read their books! You think I jest?

:-D Javamom

06 February, 2007

Mandatory Cancer Vaccine

I'm extremely disconcerted and undone over the latest mandate that our governor (who just so happens to be in the party I end up voting for much of the time) has made.
Friend of homeschoolers? Sure, when it helps to get him elected. For better or for worse, politicians are standing up and taking more notice these days of the ever-growing homeschool voting block and how it may be important for them to get on "our" good side!

There was just that type of something about him this past year that made me not want to vote for him again or be seen supporting him in the election last November. Why, we homeschoolers even had the chance to go stand on stage with him the night before (or was it on?) election day, and also get to see our President. Wow. That really bothered me and I honestly felt by that point that he was just using our huge voting block for his own advantage, not necessarily for our interests. I didn't publically share my feelings at the time, as I didn't want to stir up anything with many whom I know would probably not agree with me.

Well guess what...parenting issues such as these, and choices regarding vaccinations and other health issues are a couple of "our" interests. And I think he just blew it, big time. I hate to say that I am not surprised at all by this. I don't have a lot of facts to back up my reservations, but I had them.

To me, this mandate is disturbing on at least two levels: 1) requiring something of us that is our decision as parents to make and 2) Merck stands to earn millions of billions of dollars on this "mandatory" vaccine (they were lobbying for this last week). Whose pocket is Merck in, anyway? (or did I just say that backwards...who is in Merck's pocket, LOL).

Follow the money, I say. I just think it is wrong for this governor to make such an executive decision with so little discussion or warning. This vaccine doesn't even cover all types of cervical cancer, just those caused by HPV (an STD). It brings up my frustration that the drug companies have too much power, now (I hate, hate, hate all the advertising they get to do...when some of the JUNK they send down the pike is probably as dangerous as Tobacco), but that is another issue for another day.

Hmphhhhh. I wonder if our "One Tough Grandma" would have pulled this kind of slick "Good old boy" move. Somehow, I really don't think so. But the crowd was so upset by her supporting teachers and teachers' unions. Gosh. Too bad we didn't consider more of her positions than that, 'cause in Texas homeschools ARE private schools, so we are teachers. So what if a lot of schools don't like or approve of homeschools. So far, we still have an upper hand, that of course we should fight to keep. I liked that Tough Grandma, even if she was idealistic and even if she was backed by Texas teachers. At least we knew where she stood!! Beats a back-stabbing good ol' boy any day. Austin needed shaking up.

Sorry, y'all. This just really bugs me.
Javamom on a soapbox (which doesn't happen so very often) chiming in with my two bits-worth of an opinion

02 February, 2007

We have snow!

It looks significant (for *Texas*) from my window, and there's another wave on the way! This has been more of a real winter for us! Pour up the hot chocolate - with a shot of espresso, of course! (as it will all be gone by this evening--the snow, not the coffee :-)