Thursday, March 29, 2012

Catching Up

My, this blog is sorely neglected lately!

I have a million thoughts in a day to share and always good intentions to do so, and then of course real life ends up taking precedence.

Let's see, I thought I'd post about grammar a while back to tell you how I was caught completely off guard with Visual Latin in lesson 2A "Grammar Review" with predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives. My Classical Ed friends tried to help me, but I allowed myself to get lost in that dauntingly complex obscurity for some time. Once I figured it out, I saw how simple it was, but oh that ostentatious terminology! While I do like the program, expect to learn these lessons yourself before teaching them if, like me, you know nothing about grammar!

I also thought I'd write a post on how inspiring it has been for me to read Abigail Adams. I wonder if this book isn't directly for us mothers, and at the same time it is so essential for our daughters to meet and know this woman, not even for the sake of patriotism, but for knowing the true mettle of a woman loyal to God, her husband, and her people. For who knows what our daughters may someday be called to.
One day Johnny came into the house to find his mother and his uncle Elihu, dressed in his minuteman uniform, a hunting shirt with a musket slung on his back. The two were in the kitchen, putting all his mother's treasured pewter spoons into a large kettle. As Johnny watched his mother calmly directing the activity in her quiet voice, he slowly began to understand that they were melting down her precious pewter to make bullets. As his eyes met hers across the room, he felt a surge of love and pride.

"Do you wonder," said John Quincy Adams sixty-eight years later, "that a boy of seven who witnessed this scene should be a patriot?"
You will want to see the note here on this book before reading it with your girls. I skipped over it myself thinking *maybe* at thirteen, not at ten.

I also have a backlog of nature pictures. Here are a few for now in all jumbled up order:

How my kids 'cook'

Our praying mantis egg sac hatching

dandelion seeds - I am always amazed at how spectacular the 'same old thing' can be when you really look at it.

this was Arica's daughter's birthday party at the beach - I took the picture from inside a small cave and the yellow sprouty flower you see is mustard, which is blooming all over the hills here announcing spring.

A flower press Isabella brought to nature study today.

a tick - there were so many of these all over the grass at Laguna Coast, at one point we saw three ticks lined up on one stalk of grass! Suprisingly, our kids ran through the grass several times and none of them got a tick. I think God created these to remind us we are not in heaven.

monkey flower - Isabella showed me today how touching the open stigma on these causes it to close!

California rose

another picture of our praying mantis egg sac hatching - they would hatch in a casing and have to squiggle out of it. One got stuck and never made it out of the casing :(

California Sycamore

Deer Weed

some kind of goblet lichen

stink bug - it never stinks and the kids love to play with them. They stick their head in the sand just like rabbit's relations :)

my current collection of things I'm waiting to hatch and identify with the praying mantis container in the back.

our favorite oak at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

view of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park from the parking area

Red Admiral sunning itself

fiddleneck - can you guess why they call it that?

more sandstone - it looks like it's dripping. Notice the colorful lichen

Monday, March 19, 2012


Courtney, our local Classical Ed connection has been turning me on to audios over at Circe Institute, the latest being "Good to Great: Teaching Literature From Grammar to Rhetoric" by James Taylor, author of Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education, the book our group will be reading next. This is a talk that was issued in 2003, and if you're a 'CMer' this talk with resonate deeply with you as it did me. I highly recommend it.
Here is a quote he mentions by John Senior from The Restoration of Christian Culture:

The Great Books movement of the last generation didn't so much fail as fizzle, and not because of any defect in the books – they are 'the best that has been thought and said,’ in Matthew Arnold’s famous phrase – but like champagne in cracked bottles, the books went flat in minds which lacked the habit of reading.

To change the figure, the seeds grew but the cultural soil had been depleted; the seminal ideas of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine and St. Thomas only properly grow in an imaginative ground saturated with fables, fairy tales, stories, rhymes, romances and adventures: the thousand books of Grimm, Anderson, Stevenson, Dickens, Scott, Dumas and the rest.
Speaking of imaginative, don't you just love the metaphor? I'm noticing and taking a moment to think on it now since reading The Bible and the Task of Teaching. In fact, I'm admiring it and wishing I had such imaginative ways in my writings! It really adds meaning and delight to the text doesn't it? But back to the quote...

Some interesting thoughts came to mind here:

It is not difficult books that are the problem, it is that we are not developing the habit of reading in children. And not just the habit of reading, but the habit of reading 'the best that has been thought and said'. Developing this habit is not for the sake of your child to become some high achiever or high level lit student. It is for the sake of opening up a door that your child can walk through someday. I blogged about my thoughts on this before here: For the Grasp of Language.

I also thought about how many give up when we come across a challenging book! We wonder why we should persist when they aren't getting it, when they are resistant the first few times we read. Shouldn't they be loving every bit of it?

I heard once that there are three categories of knowledge:
1. Things we know
2. Things we know we don't know
3. Things we don't even know we don't know

Shakespeare, Parables from Nature, Plutarch... these to the child (and often ourselves!) are in category 3 - Things they don't even know they don't know. We don't know what is in those books that have passed down hundreds of years, but that they are worthy. Worth working and investing time and unfulfilled readings to come to know.


So you do not leave them with "minds which lacked the habit of reading"

Taylor goes on to speak about the need for our children to be educated by nature before ever coming to the table of higher education, and it was no surprise at the end when I heard a woman ask if he had ever heard of Charlotte Mason.

Taylor quotes Wordsworth in his talk "Come forth into the light of things" so you know I just had to look that up! Here it is, enjoy!

The Tables Turned
By William Wordsworth

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - Poetry

Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

And thanks for joining us all the way out in California this time where we are going to talk about Poetry, a subject near and dear to many a Charlotte Masoner's heart!

If there's anything we have learned through implementing the Charlotte Mason method, it is that words are so very significant. There is meaning behind those words that dance along a page, revealing picture, story, thought, ideas, and impacting our lives evermore. Poetry takes those words and elevates them forming new dimensions between the one who gives and the one who seeks to know; another avenue from one mind to another. It is beautiful.

We hope you enjoy the carnival!

...so with poetry you must believe that a child is capable of enjoying and admiring the very best, if only you show him how to begin. You must let him see that you yourself delight in well chosen epithets and true pieces of word painting; you must let him feel that you only care for poems which put a pleasant thought into your mind or a pleasant picture before your eyes; you must let him realize that when you go with him for a country walk, you can add a charm to the brook or the meadow, or the oak tree, or the wild rose, by a familiar quotation, and his taste will not be long in forming itself. ~J.G. Simpson, The Teaching of Poetry to Children

Nancy Kelly shares her daughter's assignment to write an alliterative verse as modeled in Sir Gawain in Intellectual Culture - Poetry over at Sage Parnassus. She has also announced The Seventh Annual Living Education Retreat which you will not want to miss! The theme this year is "Pursuit and Passion: Charlotte Mason and Science".
Amy at Fisher Academy International shares some excellent resources for Poetry study in her post Poetry: What We Do

Rachael over at Homeschooling Kiwi Style shares a poem by Edgar Allan Poe in her post Tintinnabulation and then, thankfully, tells us what it means! Oh, and if you enjoy fun words, don't miss Jeanne's comment following the post :)

Here is Tammy's post (corrected!) Telling it Slant over at Aut-2B-Home in Carolina.

Cori shares her insight as she notices with her boys that It has to Matter over at Wonder in the Woods.

Dana shares Teaching Poetry to High School: Anne Bradstreet Puritan Poet at Epi Kardia

We shall not then, perhaps, be far astray if we conclude that the purpose of poetry is to communicate or extend the joy of life by quickening our emotions. How it does so, by what magic of art or nature, we should require to be poets to know. But this is what it does: it teaches us how to feel, by expressing for us, in the most perfect way, right human emotions, which we recognise as right, and come ourselves to share. ~Rev. H. C. Beeching, An Address on the Teaching of Poetry

Patti lists some of her favorite Poetry books in her post Poetry over at School Days Scrapbook and shares two poems from her favorite poet Amy Carmichael over at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Lanaya tells us how her friendship with a yellow flower began in line at Legoland in her post On Overcoming Boredom at Gore Family News.

And Sarah at All That's Good talks about the bio books and pockets she puts together to teach Ancient Egyptian Kings and Queens Pockets.

Leah shares Poetry, the simple way over at Home Grown Babies.


It seems a few posts managed to get bumbled in the jumble of things in the last CM Carnival themed "Education is an Atmosphere". Amy asked that I send you all her apologies for the mixup, but really what I want to do is thank her for all she does to run this Carnival for us and for shining her light so bright. Thank you Amy, bless your sweet, sweet soul.

So here now are the missed posts in our...

After-The-Carnival, Carnival!

Kathy clarifies for us what a Charlotte Mason Education looks like during the Preschool years over at Piney Woods Homeschool and explains her thoughts on teaching children to use money wisely in A Penny Earned.

Sarah at Over and Around Us shares a post on Nature Study:: Local Conifers and includes her little ones' nature journal observations.

Allison shares a post about Artist Studies with samples of her children's culminating "masterpieces" at Adding to the Beauty.

Tiger's Mum shares a post Learning from Literature at The Tiger Chronicle discussing Tiger's transition from reading lessons to literature lessons and how she utilizes text and study guide while avoiding busy work.

That's all for this month's Carnival!

Next month's Carnival will be on March 20th. The theme next month is "Education is a Discipline" over at Epi Kardia. Here is the optional reading:
* Vol.2 pgs 60-68 and 173-177
* PR article: Discipline

Thank you for stopping by!

The Poet's Song
Lord Alfred Tennyson

The rain had fallen, the Poet arose,
He passed by the town, and out of the street,
A light wind blew from the gates of the sun,
And waves of shadow went over the wheat,
And he set him down in a lonely place,
And chanted a melody loud and sweet,
That made the wild-swan pause in her cloud,
And the lark drop down at his feet.

The swallow stopt as he hunted the bee,
The snake slipt under a spray,
The hawk stood with the down on his beak
And stared, with his foot on the prey
And the nightingale thought, “I have sung many songs,
But never a one so gay,
For he sings of what the world will be
When the years have died away.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Big Bear, San Bernardino National Forest

I think it's been over two years since our kids have seen snow, so when some friends said they were renting a cabin for the weekend and invited us up to Big Bear in the San Bernardino National Forest, we didn't think twice.

For Orange County folk Big Bear is a quick two hour jaunt to snow, mountain forests, lake and an escape from the hustle and bustle down below.

Once off of the freeway, the drive is just beautiful. It's hard to see here, but there were sunflowers in bloom all along the sides of the road.

Higher up there are breathtaking views and at some points you're right at the edge of nothingness. My daughter, bless her heart, felt she was helping me as she reasoned that gripping the door handle and console would do nothing for me if we were to fall off the edge.

Snow is such a rarity you often see people pulled over on the side of the road to play in it.

Just walking through the neighborhoods you'll find all kinds of curiously decorated cabins.

We managed to squeeze in a hike up the Woodland Trail which starts right across the street from Big Bear Lake. It's a 1 1/2 mile loop through mixed conifer and Pinyon-Juniper woodland habitats. We saw Mountain Chickadees and Woodpeckers and Steller Jays and an American Robin along the trail muddied from all the melting snow. The trees and sights were breathtaking.

Isn't it beautiful!? I hope we can return again soon :)