29 August 2014

Seven Quick Takes: A Sixth Birthday, Read Aloud Confessions, Announcements, and More!

— 1 —

O-Age-Five became O-Age-Six last Friday. I cannot believe that my youngest child is six-years-old. I really can't. Even though it was tiring, I mostly enjoyed having lots of littles around, so I miss it. On the other hand, I feel like we're in that sweet spot where no one is really in the throes of puberty and yet we also don't have any little people throwing food or tantrums. It is almost peaceful.

Of course, I just purchased our first non-adult-use deodorant, so I figure this will last about five weeks. That is barely time to fit in a trip to the beach or something, but I'll take it.

— 2 —

What are you reading aloud these days? I think I mentioned before that we're doing Swallows and Amazons for our lunchtime read.

I usually have two going. One is for just the children and I {and usually aimed more at the younger set} and the other is for when Siah is with us, and it's usually more adult or at least older seeming. It's read on evenings and sometimes weekends or long drives.

So, our current evening read aloud is Rob Roy. I'll admit it: it's just not as good as Ivanhoe, which was the first Scott book we ever read, and is still our favorite. This is hard to get into, and sometimes it still loses me. With that said, we're persevering because this is famous literature, so there must be something to it, right? If nothing else, it's an interesting cultural study, and I'll try to make it up to everyone with a selection that is almost twaddle after this!

— 3 —

Because we aren't Facebook friends, I like to share here occasionally when I have an interesting week. This week definitely qualifies, at least in regard to A-Age-Nine, who has been in rare form. I think beginning a new school year has been good for her, in a strange sort of way.

— 4 —

In my Grammar of Poetry post, I said that I had only purchased the teacher edition and the student workbook. That is still true, but I also have the DVDs now! The publisher, Romans Road Media, was kind enough to mail me some so that I could take them for a test drive. I'm pretty excited about it. The comments on my original post seemed heavily weighted toward using the DVDs, especially if you don't know poetry that well.

I'm come a long, long way in my relationship with poetry, but I still don't know the mechanics very well at all. So my hunch is that the DVDs will be helpful for me. Possibly really, really helpful. I'll let you know what I think of it once we have done more of it.

— 5 —

And guess what else Romans Road Media sent to me? I seriously feel like it's Christmas. It's this:

This is pretty much awesome, and I had never heard of it before until they offered it to me. This DVD set contains 48 lectures on Greek literature, history, and philosophy, which is pretty much one of my favorite subjects. The Epics covers the Illiad and the Odyssey. Drama and Lyric covers a collection of Greek plays and poetry. The Histories covers Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. And The Philosophers covers selected readings from Plato and Aristotle.

In addition to the lectures, the reading assignments are included as digital texts {!!}, and art is also woven into the presentations. The websites says that this is appropriate for high school or "adult enrichment." The latter is what we're going to use it for, at least at first. It's hard for me to know what I would do with this without going through it first, and my husband happens to love history lectures on DVD. It is one of his many quirks. I mentioned to him that we could start with Epics and see what happens, and he was on board, so that's what we're going to do. We did this years ago with an American history course we acquired and it was great fun. And then eventually we let the children use the lectures on the occasional stormy day, which they greatly enjoyed.

— 6 —

I wasn't going to do a 31 Days series again this year. I really wasn't! I even told other people that I was. not. doing. it. Last year was a lot and it wore me out and while I've never felt "burned out" on blogging in the almost nine years I have been doing this, that was the closest I've ever gotten.

But apparently all I was lacking was inspiration, because once I had a good series idea, I found it irresistible. Like last year, I'm going have a fantastic lineup of guest posters.

In the last year, I've become more and more aware of misconceptions that float around out there among homeschoolers in regard to Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy, and most of it seems to stem from something akin to the Telephone Game. Remember that game? Where you whisper something to someone, and then they whisper to their neighbor, on and on down the line until it gets to the end? And then everyone laughs at the end result?


That's basically what happens sometimes because a lot of people think they know the CM philosophy because they read something by someone who read something by someone who may or may not have read Miss Mason's actual works. We're going to have a lot of fun and clear up a bunch of misunderstandings all at once.

If you haven't already subscribed, make sure that you do so that you don't miss any of it!


I'm working on all sorts of things for the blog. It's been quite enjoyable, and I can't wait to show it all to you. But one thing at a time. Mystie is teaching me to prioritize.

Or something.

But first, I plan to have a fun weekend. What are you doing this weekend? Enjoying the final days of summer before they're gone?

And that is all for this Friday. I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

26 August 2014

Local Group Meetings and Conferences for Continuing Education

Last time, we talked about magazines as continuing education. Books are huge, of course, but Miss Mason's parents and teachers also received training via magazines, and so can we.

Now we're turning our attention to two other components: local group meetings and conferences.

Local Group Meetings

I explained before that the magazine Parents' Review was the publishing arm of the PNEU. The PNEU was the organization that helped promote Miss Mason's philosophy initially, and later played a huge part in the Liberal Education for All movement.

One regular feature in Parents' Review was called PNEU Notes. In it, we get a glimpse what these local groups were up to. One thing that becomes evident very quickly when we read through these is that they met regularly {probably about once per month}, and the meetings included lectures and addresses. We see a huge variety of topics -- everything from physical education and health to books for children and habit formation to teaching chronology and on and on. One thing is certain: people who attended these meetings left knowing more than when they arrived.

Some of the best articles appearing in Parents' Review are actually transcripts of these very lectures.

Parents who were teaching their children at home, or directing their governesses to give their children a CM education, were attending these meetings and growing their knowledge base every single month. This was lifestyle of learning and intellectual fellowship with others.


Did you know that the PNEU also hosted an annual conference? Miss Mason was usually there. We know this because in 1901, she was unable to attend due to illness, and wrote a letter of regret to Lady Aberdeen {Lord and Lady Aberdeen presided over the conference that year}. These conferences apparently lasted a number of days. I say this because the 1899 conference was four days long and the 1901 conference was as well. They were quite large, with a reported {in 1897 -- the very first conference} 150 people attending Miss Mason's afternoon lecture and 300-400 attending the evening Conversazione.

Here are a few notes on the content of the conference, based upon my reading in the Parents' Review:
In all, the conference was both practical and principal-based. It sounds like it was truly amazing.

The End of our History Lessons

Through all of this series, I've tried to focus on giving a sort of history lesson. What happened with Charlotte Mason and the PNEU and the college graduates and the mothers involved and so on and so forth? I was trying not to spend much time on my own opinions or observations.

Next time, as I write my final wrap-up post, I'm going to try to bring all of this into our time and discuss what I think are the huge possibilities in light of all of this.

25 August 2014

Organize Me

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be DoneMy friend Mystie is my personal organization guru. I know that when I make a mess of something, I can email her or talk to her, and she'll help me fix it.

So, the other day, she asks, "What would you say is your biggest situational challenge to your organization efforts right now?"

Oh, my.

I'm doing better than I was doing the first half of the summer when I was drowning in conference and working the equivalent of a full-time job in hours, while pretending to be a stay-at-home mom.

But still.

What I told her is that
I just wear so many hats. So obviously: prioritizing. This is pretty much always my biggest issue, I just didn't realize it until recently. I need to prioritize the various jobs I do, but then also I need to assign priorities within each job and...I'm not naturally a detail person, so I just wing it and eventually things get done. But I'm pretty sure there is a better way.

Pretty sure? After doing some thinking this summer, I became painfully aware that there is a better way.

I work intuitively, and, on the whole, my intuition isn't half bad {if I do say so myself}. But after structuring our school for the year and working the new schedule for a week, I realized that the same sort of thing could be revolutionary for the other things I do. Our week went oh so smoothly. Yes, we had a few bumps and hiccups, but in general the schedule worked and everyone blossomed within the structure.

A well-planned school day is a beautiful thing. I want that for the rest of my duties, too.

So Mystie replied, "Brain dump & the vocation module will be just the ticket.," and I'm all, "WHAT??"

{Actually, I told her I loved her, but work with me here.}

I knew she always had it in her to help people because she has helped me so very much. Siah was complementing me on something the other day and I basically told him to thank Mystie because she was the reason it was working out this way.

So Mystie has created an online, self-paced organizational course. She had me at the subtitle! It's called Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must be Done. Anyone who quotes Goethe in their subtitle has both my respect and my attention.

I kiddeth not.

Anyhow, Mystie gave me an advance copy of her new e-course for Simplified Organization, and can I just say that it is fantastic? She's not just talking about technique. She's talking about Scripture and virtue and expressing truth with our lives.

I also love that this is self-paced. I can work on it a bit at a time, building good habits as I go along. This is important because change overwhelms me, especially one that feels a bit out of my nature. I like that I can go slowly, or repeat things as I need to, and that there is no pressure to "keep up with the class."

Anyhow, I thought that some of you might be like me, and ready for some fresh thoughts on organization as we start this new school year. Also, Mystie gave me a discount code. {You were hoping for that, weren't you?} From now until September 4 you can use the code backtoschool to get $30 off the regular $99 price.


Also: I think that as I work through the course, I'll be sharing my progress as a "take" in my Friday posts. If any of you are taking it, I'd love to hear about your progress in the comments!

Get organized. Stay organized.

24 August 2014

Stupendous Selections on Sunday

  • Another review of Karen Glass' upcoming book Consider This!
    • In this simple, straightforward, well-researched book Karen maps out the foundations as well as some of the fallacies of classical education, resetting our course towards intrinsic truths in education and inspiring us to pick up this vital torch for the children's sake.
  • Want to know how bad our drought is? Look here.
    • Enterprise Bridge spans the same reservoir, which has dwindled to a mere trickle in 2014 as California is forced to draw alarming amounts of water from its vanishing reservoirs
  • So all that stuff about the Genesis flood being "nonsense" and there is "not enough water for that" is now what? Not so reliable? Think about all the other things we don't actually know. By the way, they are free to send that water over to my state anytime.
    • Four hundred miles beneath the United States, there appears to be enough water to fill all our oceans—almost three times.
    • water is everywhere beneath North America
    • these findings suggest the oceans actually hail from water deep inside the planet
  • Amino acids are considered essential for a reason.
    • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad cholesterol” that doctors consider a sign of potential heart disease, is merely a marker of a diet lacking all of the essential amino acids, says University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Fred Kummerow, 99, a longtime opponent of the medical establishment’s war on cholesterol.
    • “LDL is not a marker of heart disease,” Kummerow said. “It’s a marker of ApoB.” And ApoB is a marker of a lack of tryptophan, he said.
    • Doctors who advise their patients to avoid cholesterol-rich foods may actually be undermining their health, Kummerow said. Turning patients away from foods such as eggs and other animal products that are rich in essential amino acids may actually raise their LDL levels, he said.
  • A crazy person gives advice on raising children.
    • We want to live in a safe world, says Ruskin, “But we don’t.”  Kids 7,8,9 and 10 should not walk to school or even venture outside without you, she says. Perhaps by age 11 you can let your child out in “short spurts,” but really, folks, “It is your job to be the parent,” and if you trust your kids to walk the dog or bike to a friend’s, you are guilty of “parentifying” your child — turning the child into an adult.
  • Whoa. This is sort of blowing my mind. {HT: Hayley}
    • Right-brained dominant learners tend to learn to read beginning between 8 and 10 years old.
    • Many children are being diagnosed with dyslexia before the reading time frame for right-brained learners even begins.
    • Therefore, it’s normal for right-brained children to learn to spell in the 11 to 13 year stage, as I explain comprehensively in my book. I also explain the right-brained factors as to why writing develops later in the 11 to 13 year time frame
    • If they begin to read at 9 or 10 years old after early intervention starting at 6 to 8 years old, is it the early intervention or the appropriate developmental time frame that promoted reading to begin?
    • Some right-brained children will learn to read before age 8, many right-brained children will learn to read between 8 and 10 years old, and some right-brained children will learn to read after age 10.
    • I do believe dyslexia exists. I do believe those with dyslexia are right-brained learners. I do believe many children are misdiagnosed because the right-brained developmental learning pattern isn’t understood or honored.
    • The defnition of dyslexia should be a right-brained learner who continues to struggle with reading and such after the appropriate developmental time frame, and after a well-matched learning environment up until that point.
  • So cool! {HT: Contently Humble}
    • we took Street View to some of the most stunning locations throughout the country
  • Ahem.
    • Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells (ESC), and the stem cell line was established many years ago under ethical guidelines set by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS); this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research.
    • The bigger issue, though, is the look-at-me culture this promotes. Hashtag activism is not real activism. Dumping a bucket of ice water over your head does not make you a hero.
  • Have you ever thought about what it looks like the first time you are NOT prepping homeschool -- when everyone has graduated?
    • it has been a surprise to me to find that now that it's over I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be
    • I well remember the times older women would tell me, "Enjoy your children, they grow up so fast!" Yeah, I know, I know. But guess what? I found out they were right.
    • Try if you can to live in the moment, savoring this precious time with your children making the boring sameness of the moments count. Try not to waste the time you will never be granted again. Try to savor it.
  • A worthy read.
    • it was a chemical fix that required that I take no real responsibility for my habits and behaviors, instead allowing me to write them off as unmalleable and inherited flaws of my own faulty wiring
    • the key characteristic of malignant technology is its tendency to completely displace and box out any opportunity for human activity
    • it has the capacity to destroy that which makes us human with terrifying efficiency
  • Perspective.
  • I love scheduling posts, and this one is particularly good.
  • Love this. ♥
    • Your whole childhood, puffed and gone. Tomorrow, I’ll look in the fridge and realize you aren’t coming home for dinner anymore. There really are last suppers.
    • How can you spend so many of the fleeting days of a child’s life on the fleeting things?
    • How could I forget that the only thing that we’re always really teaching is love?
    • Motherhood is made up of childhoodand what if I missed it?
    • I’ll never regret every page we chose over screens.
    • And don’t live safe. How many times have I thought safe mattered when Jesus died to save us not to make us safe. No one ever got saved unless someone else was unsafe.
    • So that’s what the parent does: Do not only grieve that it’s over — be grateful that it was.