Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Education Has Three Faces, or Theory of Aspect

Hey, I just realized that "an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" is like three different faces of the same mountain!

Connections, connections.

But what is meant by atmosphere, discipline and life? Three different aspects of an adequate education, but what exactly are they anyway?

Atmosphere, it seems to me, is like the air we breathe. It is the surroundings and feelings and circumstances that we interact with on a regular basis. CM says that the atmosphere must not be engineered for children, but that there are opportunities for learning within day-to-day living without structuring a specialized "child-environment."

Discipline appears to be training, especially in good moral, physical and intellectual habits.

By life, I think she means a diet of ideas from a large variety of books and things, things and books.

Each one of these, taken by itself, does not provide a well-rounded education. We cannot expect the child to fully become the person God wants her to be merely by standing by and watching her interact with whatever comes her way. CM said that this "atmosphere only" approach tends to lead children away from initiative and effort, and into the expectation that life will just happen for them with no intention on their part. As for a life of ideas only, CM points out that a constant focus on ideas leads to intellectual exhaustion. And if we lean only on discipline as the way to educate a child, we must be wary, because it is so easy, in our attempts to develop the faculties of the child by drill and rote learning, to lose the exposure to noble and heroic ideals. Miss Mason illustrates this well:

The father of Plutarch had him learn his Homer that he might get heroic ideas of life. Had the boy been put through his Homer as a classical grind, as a machine for the development of faculty, a pedant would have come out, and not a man of the world in touch with life at many points, capable of bringing men and affairs to the touchstone of a sane and generous mind. It seems to me that this notion of the discipline which should develop 'faculty' has tended to produce rather one-sided men, with the limitations which belong to abnormal development. (CMSeries Volume 3, p. 151-152)

So each one of these is important: atmosphere, discipline, life. But each one is only a part of education. Without the other two, education is incomplete. And what is education? CM says it is the science of relations, the child forming relationships with a great variety of things, and making connections between one thing (or idea) and another.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. I have been studying CM for two years now, and I am finally beginning to understand the motto. Perhaps within the next two years I will be able to unravel what she means by this:

These three we believe to be the only instruments of which we may make lawful use in the upbringing of children; and any short cut we take by trading on their sensibilities, emotions, desires, passions, will bring us and our children to grief. The reason is plain; habits, ideas, and circumstances are external, and we may all help each other to get the best that is to be had of these; but we may not meddle directly with the personality of child or man. We may not work upon his vanity, his fears, his love, his emulation, or any thing that is his by very right, anything that goes to make him a person. (CMSeries Vol. 3 p. 182-183)
Whew. All these ideas are intellectually exhausting. I think I'd better get to bed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, February 26, 2007

Customer Service

So, like, we were going to the Tom Thumb today? Ya know, the one with the Starbucks? And we had to park in the parking lot? Well, we were looking for a spot 'cause it was so-o-o busy, and d'ya know what we saw? A sign. A sign that said, "Fifteen Minute Parking For Coffee Customers." Front row parking for handicapped folks, pregnant mamas and... coffee customers.

Like, ya know, they might spill their coffee, all right?

(We couldn't even park there, 'cause we were going into the bank inside Tom Thumb and not the Starbucks. Honestly.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What is Charlotte Mason Homeschooling?

Okay, go read this. I had started a post on this subject, but Javamom explained much better and succinctly than I can. She doesn't say it all, but the essence is there.

Monday, February 19, 2007


"Get up, girls," I said as I walked through the hallway turning on bedroom lights. Silence.

"Come on, girlies. Big doin's." Nothing.

I went to the kitchen and fixed myself a cup of coffee.

"Get-i-up, Get-i-up, get-i-up-up-up..."

They let me go through the entire Lone Ranger Getting Up song.

Finally, I looked at my feet. I was wearing sandals for the first time in months.

"Girls!" I singsonged. "It's going to be seventy degrees today!"

"Yah-hooo!!" This simultaneously from three different rooms.

(Don't tell the California relatives, but we may make Texans yet.)

Now, shine on me sunshine,
Walk with me, world~
It's a skip-a-dee-doo-dah day!
I'm the happiest girl
In the whole USA.

A virtual ice cream sundae to anyone who can remember the artist who sang that song.

(And sprinkles on top if you can tell whether I used "who" and "that" correctly in the previous sentence!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I did not complete the reading challenge. I don't think I will participate in something like that again for awhile.

Here is my current personal reading, with my comments in italics:

Pursuit of Happyness (I will probably finish this book tonight. We saw the movie a few weeks ago and really liked it. This man's determination and focus was amazing. Will Smith is such a good actor. The book is very different from the movie. It goes into a lot more detail, and some of the details are not the same. It is not a book I would recommend to a young lady, as it has all kinds of extremely harsh and terrible realities in it, the stuff of nightmares, vividly told. He had a very tough childhood, and even his adulthood is hard to read about.)

Rob Roy (I am finding this a hard read. I have set it aside and only grab it back up to keep one chapter ahead of Triss, who is reading it for school.)

Jungle Pilot: The Gripping Story of the Life and Witness of Nate Saint... (I am not enjoying this one so much. I thought the writing on his early life was not interesting. I find this sometimes with biographies-- they begin more like lists than literature. I am up to his marriage and move to South America. The best parts of the book are the excerpts from his letters and articles. He seems to have had a way with words. I think I would enjoy a book of his journals, letters and articles more than this biography.

In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose To Believe in Creation(This is a book filled with stand alone essays by different scientists. It is incredible reading, but unfortunately I do not comprehend the science of a lot of what they say.)

I read Thimble Summer all in one night around a week ago. I had never read it, but Triss and Mariel have. It was a breath of fresh air. I think I need an Elizabeth Enright/Lois Lenski/Eleanor Estes break from all the serious reading I have been doing lately.

I'm off to raid Mariel's bookshelves.

Friday, February 16, 2007


As I think about tweaking the schedule and the schoolwork for the next term, I am once again looking for a way to schedule in correspondence, cards and phone calls. Laugh if you must, but I have a very hard time figuring out when to do these things. When I think of so-and-so who would enjoy a card, either I am not in a position to address and mail one, or I don't have stamps, or I don't have a card. We live fifteen to twenty minutes from any shopping, so I have to plan my purchases around when I will be in town.

Also, phone calls. I really have a hard time with these. I hate telling people I have to get off the phone. I do not want them to think I don't want to talk to them. So I just don't call anybody. Doesn't that make a lot of sense? Wouldn't it be better to call and say, "I have a few minutes," and let the person know when you have to move on with your day? I would rather be slow and leisurely and make sure each of us gets to say everything we think we need to say. But then I find that an hour has passed and I have to leave tasks undone until the next day.

And I really like sending and receiving emails, but I can't just send a short reply. I want to really send a good email, so often I put off replying until I forget that the email is still outstanding and it gets lost in the shuffle of subsequent emails. (We get a lot of emails.)

I think this must just be a hard area for lots of women-- we want so much to be connected, and yet we have so many things going on in our lives-- things that don't even have directly to do with us a lot of the time-- that we ache for more connection, but at the same time do not want to flake out on our commitments.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Term 2 Ta-Da List

We have completed another ten weeks of study. We are doing ten week terms instead of twelve this year because something always happens in the middle of the term to throw us off, and we want to have summer for summer-things. Also, we do a week of exams so I can look at how the kids are learning and see what needs to be tweaked. I am fixing to write up some exam questions, but first I want to list the books and things the kids have been studying this term. It helps me think. Making a ta-da list is my way of pointing out to myself that, although day-to-day progress might seem slow and plodding, we are moving right along. (Did I mention that I am a firstborn?)

(What the kids mainly do all day is read and narrate, read and narrate. And follow their math books. And perform the occasional science experiment if it comes up in a book. And they draw diagrams and maps occasionally, and practice their instruments. There isn't a whole lot of "lessoning" going on, but mostly narration and discussion. Also, please note that we have no Latin, and Spanish and grammar seem to have fallen off the radar this term.)

Cornflower, age 6

Baldwyn's Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Catherine Vos' Story Bible
Joseph Jacob's Fairy Tales
Among the Meadow People
Charlotte's Web
Aesop's Fables

Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics Grade 1
Supplemented with Making Math Meaningful Level 1

Alphabet Island Phonics Level 1 (She finished it! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! She will now move on to Alphabet Island Phonics Level 2A and receive her first penmanship workbook. All of this is very exciting to the child who has longingly observed her sisters' progress through their studies for the last six years.)

McGuffey Eclectic Primer (She finished this one too. The kids get to pick supper when they complete a long-term book/project like this. She picked macaroni and cheese and hot dogs.)

(Now she moves to McGuffey's Eclectic Reader 1)

A little side note: Cornflower received her first Bible this week. We give the kids their own King James Version Bible when they learn to read well enough to read out of the Bible, and Cornflower has now received hers. I only have readers at my house now. This is joyous, but I do feel a little sad. No more babies here.

Faber's My First Piano Adventure for the Young Beginner Pre-Reading and Pre-Writing books

Mariel, age 9

Minn of the Mississippi (She finished it. She is still contemplating which meal to choose. I had her make a little geography notebook with pictures, descriptions and copies of the maps. I know that Minn is not a general favorite among the Holling books, but Mariel enjoyed this one much more than Paddle to the Sea or Tree in the Trail. My favorite so far has been Paddle.)

An Island Story (we made it through Cromwell's "reign." Whew.)

This Country of Ours (We got through the history of the Jamestown Colony.)

American Tall Tales

Children of the New Forest (This is such a good book. She even referenced it in a persuasive speech for speech club on why people should read books.)

All About Famous Inventors and Their Inventions
Science Lab in a Supermarket (We are still waiting to attempt the final rock candy experiment. The science fair got in the way.)

Pilgrim's Progress (This book took her almost two years to complete. It is finished, it is finished! She listened to a lot of it on CD. I am looking for Christiana's story on CD now.)

Tales from Shakespeare (Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure, which means she has finished the book, begun almost three years ago! She has been invited to participate in the "big kids' Shakespeare readings" at our house-- currently composed of Triss and I-- next term and is she looking forward to it. I have a feeling our weekly readings are going to take on a whole new dimension when Mariel gets into the act.)

The Heroes by Charles Kingsley (We read "Jason and the Argonauts" this term.)

Parables from Nature (One or two stories only. I am not overly fond of this book and neither is Mariel. I am not one to set aside a book or story simply because it doesn't suit our fancy, but I make an exception for Parables from Nature. A few of the stories are wonderful, but some of them I just don't think are worth the time.)

Typing lessons at
Spelling Wisdom Book 1
Scott Foresman Exploring Mathematics Grade 3
Faber's Piano Adventures Level 2A-- lesson , technique and artistry and theory books

(She is also doing violin lessons, and has progressed right out of her Essential Elements book. You go girl! Way to work hard!)

Triss, age 12

Book of Marvels
School of the Woods
Secrets of the Universe series: "Liquids and Gases" and "Waves"
Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Robert Cwiklik
Age of Fable
Rob Roy (She is not finished with this yet, although this was the goal. Neither am I.)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (This book got lost for a couple of weeks, so it is not finished either. We are planning to revamp a couple of our organizational systems during exam week.)
Shakespeare's Richard III (We decided against watching the Olivier movie after seeing the trailer on Netflix, which was one dramatic killing after another. Triss is more interested in the intellectual and psychological aspects of Shakespeare's Richard and the people who were too blind to realize his wickedness. No graphic visuals necessary.)

Plutarch's Life of Pericles (I can't say enough about the study guides written by Anne White. They are so very useful. They are helping me formulate narration questions in other areas of Triss' studies as well as Plutarch.)

What Everyone Should Know About The 20th Century, selected readings
Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World Volume 4: The 20th Century (I know, 20th Century overkill. If I had it to do over I would not use both books, but one or the other.)

Scott Foresman's Exploring Mathematics Grades 5/6

Faber's Piano Adventures Level 3A-- lesson, technique and artistry, and theory books
Suzuki Piano School Volume 1/2 (She finished her first Suzuki book-- and asked for roast, of course-- and is currently bending her brain toward Ecossaise in the next. She loves it, but it is hard!! We are not doing Suzuki's method-- I cannot afford his training-- but I sure do like his books.)

Spelling Wisdom Book 2 (This is actually a book of dictation assignments put out by the folks at Simply Charlotte Mason. Although dictation does help a lot with spelling, I think the name of the book is misleading because dictation deals with more than just spelling. Triss has little need for spelling help, but still benefits from dictation assignments.)

Things We Did Together

Old Testament-- We finished 2 Samuel and have worked our way through half of 1 Kings, with supplementary readings in Psalms and 1 Chronicles (We are working our way through the Greenleaf Guide to the Old Testament).

New Testament-- We completed the last two chapters of Acts and read through Luke and Galatians.

Memory Work-- I listed our memory work here.

Poetry-- We had three poets going this term: Robert Frost, Sara Teasdale and A.A. Milne. Too many, I've decided, after contemplating this post by Lindafay. I'm going to give Triss her own poet to read, and have our together poet be the one that goes along with Mariel’s studies. Cornflower has already been steeped in Stevenson and Milne, so I don’t think her poetry education will be neglected if I jump her to some poets further along on the AO list.

Be Thou My Vision
The Blessed Spirit, Like the Wind
Once in Royal David’s City
To Us A Child of Hope is Born
(It was Christmas)
So Let Our Lips and Lives Express
Prince of Peace, Control My Will
Lift Me Up Above The Shadows
Jesus, Help Me To Be Strong
Have Faith in God

My Grandfather’s Clock
What Child is This?
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
Deck the Halls
The Sidewalks of New York
The Tree in the Wood
Turkey in the Straw
Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
Go To Sleepy

(This looks like a lot of singing, but we were getting bored with one new hymn and one new folksong every two weeks, so we decided to do new ones each week this past term. And we do like to sing. It was a lot of fun, but we pretty much just got the words and the melody of each song. Next term I plan to go more slowly and teach them parts to only a few songs.)

Artist—J.M.W. Turner
The Fighting Temeraire
Rain, Steam and Speed
The Boys Catching Crabs
Rome from the Vatican

(Artist study consisted of having a printout of the artwork displayed in our home and sitting down once every other week or so to play the memory game with each piece—study the piece and when you are ready, turn your back and describe everything you can remember. The printouts from the computer, even with a nice printer, are difficult to make out. It would be better to have a high-quality coffee-table book. But computer printouts are better than nothing. And we did visit an art museum during this term, which really illustrated for us the difference between looking at art on the Internet and looking at art in real life. No comparison.)

Composer— Schumann
Scenes from Childhood
Waldszenen (Forest Scenes)

(Composer study consisted of listening frequently to the selections with Mom occasionally saying, “This is Carnaval by Schumann!” or “This is Scenes from Childhood!” and a halfway-through reading of a short biography of the composer.)

We are also reading through Alice in Orchestralia, which is very entertaining. And the kids and I got to go to Bass Performance Hall for the first time (wow!) to hear Peter and the Wolf and watch it performed by a ballet company. (Can I just say wow again? I have lived in Texas for eleven years and this is the first time I have gone to Bass Performance Hall. Wow. Just beautiful. Those angel sculptures on the side of the building. I don’t know how they did it.)

Also, the older two are in an NCFCA-affiliated speech club and all three girls have been enjoying ice skating lessons every other week-- a Christmas gift from Goggy and Grammy. And they each did a science project for the science fair/Science Night (I do still plan to post pictures). And the older two girls have been privileged to attend a Saturday morning stamp/cardmaking class a couple of times.

Ta-da! :o)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Concerning the bees and the flowers
In the fields and the gardens and bowers
You will tell at a glance
That their ways of romance
Haven't any resemblance to ours!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I do enjoy hearing the dryer as it revolves clothes in the quietness of evening. Secure in the knowledge that several loads were folded and put away yesterday and three loads today, I contemplate the possibility of caught-up laundry on the morrow. Two days ago I didn't even know when (or if) we would be caught up. This is a restful evening.

Just thought I'd share.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nary a Hobbit to be Found

What do we do when we have the odd spare moment together? We could talk about shoes or measure feet (I actually do have shoe post draft around here somewhere), but no. We take quizzes to discover where we would land in Middle Earth. (Hat-tip to Pipsqueak)

This is mine.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

This is Cornflower's.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

Take this quiz!


This is Mariel's.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

This is Triss'.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

This is Mr. Honey's.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Day in the Life -or- What The Dish Guy Saw

I was preparing eggs and sausage for breakfast this morning when there was a knock at the door. We rarely have visitors at 8:30 in the morning, especially without previous knowledge that they are coming, so I wondered who in the world it could be.

It turned out to be the man coming to install Mr. Honey's new dish. We have had no end of trouble with the cable company. Rather than continue the argument, which seemed to be an exercise in futility, Mr. Honey decided it was high time we join the satellite viewing community and leave cable behind. Hence, the dish man at our door at 8:30 this morning. I did know he was coming, but it had completely left my mind.

After verifying that it was indeed the dish man and not some intruder disguised as a dish man, I let him in, answered his questions and agreed that the roof was the best place to install the dish. He went outside. I fed the kids and decided to continue the day. We rarely have strangers in the house, or even any kind of visitors while we are doing school, so it felt kind of funny. I began observing what we were doing while simultaneously directing the work of the day, and here is what I saw:

8:45-- The dish man went to work installing the dish on the roof outside. The kids ate their breakfast while I read Galatians 4 aloud. Then we had discussion, sang "Have Faith in God" and "All The Pretty Horses".

He came in looking for the attic entry. While I showed him the pull-down door, Triss took over, leading her sisters in memory work, which consisted of the following:

*CM motto sections I AM and I WILL, including scripture references (Ephesians 2:8-10, Proverbs 14:34, Psalm 119:30)

*Kings and Queens of England rhyme

*Rule number 7 from The 21 Rules of This House ("When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.")

We use a rotating memory binder similar to the one found on Simply Charlotte Mason, so today was Daily, Odd, Wednesday and The 7th of the Month memory items.

9:30-- The dish man began installing the box next to the TV. I set Triss to correcting her yesterday's math pages with a green pencil. Mariel practiced piano until I moved her out of the living room, at which time she went to her bedroom to practice violin. I worked with Cornflower on her board for Family Science Night, an evening of science sharing being organized by our homeschool support group. (She is documenting the growth of her amaryllis bulb and bean plant. She is so excited. She didn't get to participate in the science fair, so she is really looking forward to Science Night.) She colored in some drawings she had already put on her board, and then I found a Bible verse to add. I printed it out and she illuminated the edges of the page with markers. In between helping Cornflower with ideas for her board, I washed the breakfast dishes.

Mariel finished her violin practice and started a typing lesson on the computer. Triss finished correcting her math and showed it to me, then started today's assignment. Mariel finished her typing lesson and began studying her dictation assignment.

10:00-- The dish man went out to his van to get another box, as the first one wasn't functioning correctly. As he came back into the living room, Mariel and I began reading about Clarence Birdseye, a man who invented a process of quick-freezing foods. Cornflower continued working on her board, and Triss continued her math. We had to look up Labrador as we didn't know where it was (it is in Canada near Quebec). We also looked up Clarence Birdseye to see if he is still living, as the book we are reading was published in 1955. (He died in 1956.)

10:45-- The dish man finished his work and explained to me how to use the remote. While I was involved in this exchange, Mariel slipped into the computer chair and began working on a Clarence Birdseye narration. (This child really wants to do written narrations!) Triss put her math aside for the moment and began reading a chapter of Age of Fable.

After the man left, I suggested to Cornflower that we wrap the remote like a present and give it to Daddy tonight. She thought this would be great fun and got right to work. Mariel finished her written narration and read it aloud to me, then we went to work correcting her yesterday's math test. Triss began her Age of Fable narration.

So that was our morning. I let the kids go outside for thirty minutes at 11:30, as we had not had P.E. or recess (normally we have one or the other). We still have a list of things to complete, and I do not know whether we will get everything done, but I know learning is taking place, and I am content. This is a big step for me, being a person who takes great pleasure in checking little boxes.

Last night I took Triss to a Girl Scout meeting. Mr. Honey had to work late, so I brought Cornflower and Mariel with me. We stayed at the Starbuck's while Triss was in her meeting, and worked on a little bit of narration and a little bit of yarn handicrafts, and looked at a book catalog and visited. I was surprised and pleased to find that Mariel is no longer highly distracted in noisy or public settings. She was able to clearly and completely narrate the end of Measure for Measure (out of the Lamb book). This portends great things where "have schoolwork, will travel" is concerned.

At the beginning of this year, I knew I was going to have to do a one-room schoolhouse rotational kind of teaching for these three girls at three very different stages of development. My efforts at organizing our schoolwork continue to evolve. It is a flowing, one into another, not always in the same order and not always the same subjects, and not always smooth; but learning is taking place, and is often a delight.

Here is the verse I found for Cornflower's board this morning. I may take it for myself as a kind of motto or watchword, as it applies to more than just amaryllis bulbs and bean plants:

In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." Ecclesiastes 11:6

[Edited to add: Mariel noticed this afternoon that the bean plant is actually a sunflower plant-- as evidenced by the sunflower seed still clinging for dear life to the sweet little leaf-buds. I is my kid's teacher. :blush:]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Beginnings of Kings and Other Things

I am going to post on the science fair soon (they each took third in their divisions) but right now I want to share an unsolicited written narration by Mariel, age 9. This is the first written narration she has done, I think.

(When I asked her if I could post it to the blog, she said that would be fine and that I ought to correct it first because it wasn't very good English. I asked her to make her own corrections and I would publish it as is. I had her look it over before I hit "publish" and she wasn't satisfied with her spelling but said I could post it.)

Saul was king of Israel and David won meny Battles for him and Saul was Jelsus [jealous] of him and he seeks to kill David. David Ran and Hid from Saul, but all the Peaple didn't want Saul to hurt David so the son of the king, (whose name was Johnathen) who was David's Friend and he helped David Run, But later in a Battle Johnathen was killed.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2007 Science Fair

Well, this is it! The kids are completely finished with their science projects, down to the last wording change and sticker application. The fair begins tomorrow morning at 8:30 am.

Triss altered and redid her experiment from last year. She not only conducted her experiment and documentation without help, but has done all her computer work herself. She drew her diagrams in Paint, typed up her report pages, setting fancy borders around each page and added Word Art to her title board. She even figured out how to load data into Excel and make her graphs. I stood by and said things like, "How'd ya do that?" or "Hey, I didn't know you could just move the tab to make it line up!" I foresee that this will be the child that fixes my Internet and computer problems for me. I am not inclined in that direction.

I was her personal assistant, reminding her of deadlines, making sure she kept her things where she could find them and requiring her to practice her speech at least twice a day as soon as her board was finished. I am working on handing even that responsibility over to her next year.

This is Mariel's first science fair. She is very excited about exhibiting her project. I was her personal assistant, secretary and advisor, helping her stay abreast of requirements, typing down her tellings as she dictated them to me, discussing results, and making board recommendations. We decided against any kind of graph as she is not yet ready to give explanations of them, so she is relying on basic math to explain the results.

I would display pictures, but my camera is in my purse and I will be banished from Fair Mommy-Land if I dare to forget it tomorrow.

Cornflower has not been left out of all this. Our support group is having a Family Science Night in two weeks, where children of any age can share their scientific work. She continues to "swell wisibly" as I encourage her to document the flower she is growing, and today solemnly proclaimed, as she carried home a heavy piece of concrete aggregate for further observation in the backyard, that she was a scientist.

This is so much fun.

The laundry is terribly behind, the dishes have piled up despite my desultory efforts at tidiness, the carpet has not been vacuumed in a week-- but the children are satisfied that their science projects are ready and I feel vindicated in my role of Family Support Specialist/Manager.

(I will be glad to go back to normal, though. I'm a bit tired of looking for socks in the laundry basket and wondering whether anyone else will notice we missed dinner if I say nothing about it.)

Annie Does Not Make Such a Good Elocutionist

Cornflower is a big fan of Annie Oakley, especially the stylized Annie Oakley of "Annie Get Your Gun" fame. But as a result she has unwittingly picked up some Western vernacular.

I recently realized that every time she tries to say "for" it comes out "fer."

The other day she read, "God shows that he loves us by all that he has done fer us."

I pointed and said, "What does that say?"

She said, "Fer."

Well, needless to say, this became a habit with her before I caught it. Not only does she read "for" as "fer", she also says "fer" for "for" in conversation.

Tonight, as we got ready for the older kids' big day tomorrow (science fair, and are they excited/nervous!), Cornflower wanted to know to what time she should set her alarm.

(Yes, they have alarms. Isn't that awful? All three of them have alarms and they set their alarms to seven every school day so we can start at the same time each day. In theory at least. No, we do not take advantage of the homeschoolers' luxury of sleeping in. Call me Too Strict and Not Relaxed Enough, if you like, but there it is. Even the 6 year old has an alarm clock. So she makes it to breakfast on time and I do not feel like a short order cook all morning in between math and history. We also have morning together time which she would not like to miss, as it contains not only Bible lessons but recitation, singing and poetry, all favorites at our house. So we have Our Little Routine and like it very much, except for the getting up on time part. But I digress.)

So she came to me and said, "Mom, what time should I set my alarm fer?"

I said, "For."

"Four?!!" she cried.

"What-time-should-I-set-my-alarm-for," I repeated. "Set your alarm for six. We have to leave at seven-thirty."

I am going to have to pay more attention to her pronunciation. Any and all suggestions on how to get her excited about fixing this word would be much appreciated. Mr. Honey is going to make me a list of enunciation techniques he learned when he was a student at American Conservatory Theater.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


"Mothers owe a thinking love to their children." --Charlotte Mason

"Authority is alert; she knows all that is going on and is aware of tendencies. She fulfils the apostolic precept––'He that ruleth (let him do it), with diligence.' But she is strong enough to fulfil that other precept also, 'He that showeth mercy (let him do it), with cheerfulness'; timely clemency, timely yielding, is a great secret of strong government. It sometimes happens that children, and not their parents, have right on their side: a claim may be made or an injunction resisted, and the children are in opposition to parent or teacher. It is well for the latter to get the habit of swiftly and imperceptibly reviewing the situation; possibly, the children may be in the right, and the parent may gather up his wits in time to yield the point graciously and send the little rebels away in a glow of love and loyalty. Nobody understood this better than Queen Elizabeth, who contrived to make a curious division of her personality and be, at the same time, a model ruler and, as a woman, full of the weaknesses of her sex. It has been well said that she knew when to yield and how to yield. Her adroitness in getting over many a dangerous crisis has been much praised by historians; but, possibly, this saving grace was not adroitness so much as the tact born of qualities proper to all who are set in authority––the meekness of one who has been given an appointed work, the readiness to take counsel with herself and with others, the perception that she herself was not the be-all and the end-all of her functions as a queen, but that she existed for her people, and the quick and tender open-minded sympathy which enabled her to see their side of every question as well as her own––indeed, in preference to her own. These are the qualities proper to every ruler of a household, a school, or a kingdom. With these, parents will be able to order and control a fiery young brood full of energy and vitality, as Elizabeth was, to manage the kingdom when the minds of men were in a ferment of new thought, and life was intoxicating in the delightfulness of the possibilities it offered. " (CM Series Vol. 3 p. 17-18)

Ouch. No comment. Please, Lord, help me not be autocratic, but an authority under Your authority. Help me, in meekness, to think and notice and imperceptibly evaluate things. Help me to stay on my toes and be gentle and cheerful as well as diligent. Amen.

I have thought of a new title for myself. It is Family Support Specialist. Mr. Honey said I should be called the Family Support Manager, as that sounds more professional. Maybe. I am training up future Family Support Specialists. Not that I have any problem with the titles of Homemaker, Housewife or Mother. But in this day and age when professional sounding titles are all the thing, it helps me understand better one of the functions of my office.