Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are you comfortable with silence? If you're home alone, do you like silence or do you need regular background noise? Do you seek out times and places to be silent? What's your favorite place to find silence/be silent?

I'm comfortable with silence, but it depends on what I'm doing on whether or not I want silence. In my morning Quiet Time, I *love* silence and need it! But during the day, if I'm busy cleaning or something, I almost always have music playing. Everything is better with music. :) 

And I don't *seek* out silence. I'm an extrovert through-and-through and I love being with my people! (and new people!) So, if I have the choice of a quiet evening at home or a night out (or in) with my friends (or family), I'll always choose the latter! 

2. October 28th is National Chocolate Day. Can't let that go by without a mention now, can we? Will you celebrate? How? Let's say you can have one of the following right this very minute...a cup of hot chocolate, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, a bowl of plain chocolate ice cream, or a slice of chocolate pie...what's  your pleasure?

I'm not a big chocolate eater. I much prefer candy--Nerds, Lemonheads, Skittles, etc. My choice of chocolate would be chocolate pie. 

3. How do you feel about blue jeans? Favorite thing in the world to wear or nope, don't own a single pair? How often do you wear blue jeans in a typical week? Do you own a blue jean jacket?

I love blue jeans--wear them everyday. (even on Sundays sometimes!) I *do* own a blue jean jacket, but I hardly ever wear it--since I always wear blue jeans, I'm never sure how to wear a jean jacket!?  I feel like J-Lo if I wear both...

4. Are you superstitious? If so, in what way?

I'm not superstitious at all. In fact, at work, I'll say, "I hope we're busy tonight." and someone will say,"Don't say that! Now we won't be!" Drives me nuts. Although I will say, that the Lord has been teaching me that there *are* more to our words than I realize. I'm a work in progress. :)

5. If you had to come up with a costume using only things you have on hand right now, what could you come up with?

Hmm... I have no idea. I would love a reason to dress up though! (we don't really celebrate Halloween. :) )

6. What scares you a little? What do you do when you feel scared?

I get a little scared when my husband takes all the back-roads to work in the winter. Seriously! One time last winter, he went in to work at 4am and GOT STUCK on a back road and instead of calling for help, he DUG HIMSELF OUT of several feet of snow--which took hours! When he got home, he was literally shivering and coughing up a storm. I was not happy. He's a stubborn man, that one. :) 

When I feel scared, I pray.

7. Perhaps today will be the day I _____________________.

Hopefully I'm able to get all of my grocery shopping done with 3 kids in tow. :)  


8. Insert your own random thought here:

One thing I love about homeschooling is that my girls now beg to play together since they don't get to in the mornings. :) 

Head to From This Side of the Pond for more Wednesday Hodgepodges! :)



A few thoughts I've been pondering lately...

It is as we have seen disastrous when child or man learns to think in a groove, and shivers like an unaccustomed bather on the steps of a new notion. This danger is perhaps averted by giving children as their daily diet the wise thoughts of great minds, and of many great minds; so that thy may gradually and unconsciously get the courage of their opinions. If we fail in this duty, so soon as the young people get their "liberty" they will run after the first fad that presents itself; try it for a while and then take up another to be discarded in its turn, and remain uncertain an ill-guided for the rest of their days.
-Mason, Vol. 6 (Towards a Philosophy of Education) p.104 (emphasis mine)
The particular section below was discussed (at great length!) at our latest CM Book Study. It's some interesting food for thought and I'd be interested in what all of you think. Here's the modern paraphrase which helped me tremendously.
When we perceive that God uses men and women, parents above all others, as vehicles for the transmission of his gifts, and that it is in the keeping of his law He is honoured––rather than in the attitude of the courtier waiting for exceptional favours––then we shall take the trouble to comprehend the law written not only upon tables of stone and rolls of parchment, but upon the fleshly tablets of the living organisms of the children; and, understanding the law, we shall see with thanksgiving and enlargement of heart in what natural ways God does indeed show mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep his commandments.
 But his commandment is exceeding broad; becomes broader year by year with every revelation of science; and we had need gird up the loins of our mind to keep pace with this current revelation. We shall be at pains, too, to keep ourselves in that attitude of expectant attention wherein we shall be enabled to perceive the unity and continuity of this revelation with that of the written word of God. For perhaps it is only as we are able to receive the two, and harmonise the two in a willing and obedient heart, that we shall enter on the heritage of glad and holy living which is the will of God for us. ... But, here as elsewhere, the promises and threatenings of Bible will bear the searching light of inductive methods. We may ask, Why should this be so?
- Mason, Vol 2. (Parents and Children) p.20-21 (emphasis mine)

 I love learning about and reading Mason's works!


The Dry Seasons

"We need Thee more than tongue can speak
'Mid foes that well might cast us down;
But thousands once as young and weak,
Have fought the fight and won the crown;
We ask the help that bore them through,
We trust the Faithful and the True
-  by Bright, taken from The Cloud of Witness p.503

I'm in a spiritual dry season right now. I feel like God is farther away than usual and my prayers are just hitting the ceiling. I feel like my desire for closeness with Him isn't where it needs to be (even though my head tells me to keep pressing on.)

My tendency is to think, "What am I doing wrong, God?" But speaking for myself presently, I know the Lord is revealing to me that I need these times of 'dryness.'

While I haven't felt as close to God as I'd like lately, He has still been faithful to show me the roots of some sin in my life and is allowing me time to work through them. You've heard the saying, "If we feel distant from God, then we're the ones that moved"? And mostly, I agree. But I wonder if sometimes the distance is needed and not necessarily a by-product of our bad choice; otherwise how would we see our need for Him? How would we learn to work through our junk (or Mud, as Jacque refers to it. Check out that podcast, you guys!!!!!) and push further into Christ, if there was never any distance there?

I was just reminded of Beth Moore teaching...she had 2 ladies stand on the stage, each of them holding one end of a rope. One lady represented God, the other represented Beth. She took the rope and cut it, signifying a time in her life when she felt that her relationship with God was severed. When she tied the rope back together, she was even closer to God than before!

Isn't that beautiful?

Again, I'm not here to say whether or not those times are God's doing or ours. Probably depends on the situation. Either way, it's just a chance for us to look more closely at ourselves, trust in God's faithfulness, and come out better and closer to Jesus on the other side.
"We ask the help that bore them through,
We trust the Faithful and the True!"


More About Why I Love Charlotte Mason's Philosophy

In this post, I talked about how un-complicated (and not highfalutin) a Charlotte Mason education is. But I wanted to reiterate that it *is* more about looking a painting (Artist Study) or listening to classical music (Composer Study).

I don't want to detract from the fact that a Charlotte Mason education is about the why and the how.

Some philosophies and methods that drew me to Charlotte Mason are:
  • Narration - telling back what is read in your own words (vs. testing and worksheets)
  • Copywork - to teach spelling and handwriting
  • Short lessons - in years 1-3 lessons range from only 10 to 30 minutes each!
  • LOTS of time outside - Mason recommend about 6+ hours outside everyday
  • using living books instead of textbooks
  • Giving your child a "feast" for the mind (LOTS of choices and subjects) and letting them take what they will
  • Starting with the idea that ALL good things come from God and that all of us are first and foremost His children. 
Charlotte Mason said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life." (Principle #5) So while it isn't an elitist education it is about more than looking at nice paintings and reading living books.

To me, it's about offering my children a generous education that applies to their whole selves (mind, body and soul). They take in a lot of great ideas and develop a love for learning, so when they've graduated high school (or college!), they don't put their books away and say, "Well! Now that I'm educated, I can start living!" 

There are much more eloquent people out there that can tell you more about Mason's philosophies; some of my favorites are:

If you feel like a CM education is too highfalutin for you, rest assured, it is not! It is about the Good, True and Beautiful, and those things are available to everyone! :) 


Our Circle Time Plans Fall 2015

WARNING: A{nother} very long post! I'm long-winded in real life, too, in case you're wondering.

Here's what our Circle Time (Morning Time) looks like right now. We are in Years 0 and 2 in Ambleside Online. Keep in mind, this is just how *we* do it. Yours probably looks a little different. And it's not to show off how much we do, because honestly, if other bloggers didn't share their ideas, we wouldn't have much of a Circle Time! I'm just sharing what we do to inspire and for my own records.

I'm using the binder system from Mystie Winckler at Simply Convivial. It's pretty much exactly like hers and is based on the Scripture Memory System at Simply Charlotte Mason. (THIS is the video of Mystie walking us through the binder. LOVE.)

I like doing it this way because I don't have to think about it. We just flip to that day's tab (Daily, Even or Odd and Day of the Week) and read through each thing (passage, poem, song, etc.).  It *is* a bit of a process to get the binders ready, but once they're set up, it's really not that much work to maintain them. Really!

A few notes about our Circle Time:
  • We do CT Monday through Friday. It's the one thing I try to do every day. Emphasis on "try."
  • To memorize all we do is read the passage out loud every day. That. is. all. Sometimes I will leave a word out then have the child fill in the blank. Sometimes we'll take turns reading a verse or line. I try to keep it somewhat interesting. :)
  • We are memorizing beautiful things--hymns, Bible passages, poems, etc. not facts, dates and *just* information. I think it's important to hide {beautiful} things in our hearts.
  • If one of us has something memorized, we'll ask the other person to read along while the other person recites it. Oldest loves it when I recite something from memory and she can "check" it! :)
  • We sing a song at the beginning, middle and end of CT. I did that on purpose; again, to keep things interesting. 
  • It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the kids memorize things! It takes me a little longer, however. cough.
  • Before Circle Time we've already read our Bible passage for the day and prayed at breakfast.

Here is our Memory Work:

  • Doxology - First, we sing this every morning and probably always will. I got the idea from Sarah Mackenzie after watching this Scope. I'd have to agree and say that it *does* fix our focus. :)
  • Calendar - the girls trace the date on our monthly calendar.

  • 24 Family Ways by the Clarksons - It's set up to do one Way per week and talk about it all week, but we do one Way every day or so. We'll just keep circling through them. Probably until Jesus comes back.
  • Hymn of the month - Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing - We do one hymn a month and move on whether or not it's memorized. I just want my kids to be familiar with them. We review them all eventually anyway.
  • Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 
  • Passage - Psalm 23 - I've taken the advice of Cindy Rollins and instead of just memorizing Bible *verses* we memorize *passages*. The idea is that by memorizing a passage, you get more of the context. We might still do a verse here and there though.
  • Middlest's Poem (5yo) - "The Tickle Rhyme" taken from New Treasury of Children's Poetry by Joanna Cole
"What's that tickling my back?" said the wall.
"Me," said a small
Caterpillar. "I'm learning
To crawl."
  • Oldest's Poem (7yo)- "Butterfly, Butterfly" taken from The Year Around (we read everyone's poem together, but this way, we do age-appropriate poems for each child.)

  • 'Poet of our Term' poem - "The Lamb" by William Blake (see the beautiful engraving below by William Blake)

  • "I am, I can, I ought, I will" - we are working on the first part right now, "I am a child of God..." (This is a Charlotte Mason motto.)
  • Folksong of the month - Home on the Range
 I try to add a simple picture to each passage. :)

Even / Odd:
Once something is memorized, it moves to the Even, Odd or Day of the Week tab, then I add a new passage to our Daily Tab; about every 4-6 weeks. Presently, we don't have much in these tabs because we're just starting out.

  • Even: Family Way #1 - "We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with wholehearted devotion."
  • Odd: empty. I'll probably move Psalm 23 there soon.
  • Mon: The Lord's Prayer - Matthew 6:19-13 & Catechism Questions for Commandments 1 & 2
  • Tue: Ooey Gooey (Middles't last poem) & Questions for Commandments 3 & 4
  • Wed: Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne (Oldest's last poem) & Questions for Commandments 5 & 6
  • Thu: Questions for Commandments 7 & 8
  • Fri: Questions for Commandments 9 & 10

To clarify, if it's Tuesday, the 24th, we do the "Even" and "Tuesday" tabs.

That means we only do four more things that what's in our Daily tab each day, including the hymn and folksong at the end...

Hymns & Folksongs:
Lastly, we have "Hymn" and "Folksong" tabs where I put all of the hymns and folksongs we've ever learned. We review one of each per day. (again, Mystie's idea)

Circle Time Reading:
Then, if there's time (if not, we do it later in the day), we do our Circle Time reading.

We read them in a loop which means if we miss a day we just move on to the next book in line. We don't play "catch-up."

I'm hoping to add more readings to CT, but right now, with my kids being so young, I aim to keep it as short as possible without missing out on the good stuff!


So that's our Circle Time these days. I really, really love the binder system. I've been working on a plan like this one (video from Mystie. Again. That girl is so organized!) but I've dropped the ball on it. Maybe I'll have it done by the time school starts in the fall of 2016?

I know this might look complicated, but it's really not! I promise! It takes all of the guess work out of what to do when. And I love that it allows us to review all of the past things we've learned without having to think about it. (have I mentioned that I like not having to overthink it?)

It usually takes 45 minutes or so. And to be honest, the girls love doing it. There's something about having their own binders and flipping to the next "thing" that keeps them engaged. The only problem we really have is keeping Littlest busy and included. :)

I also love this Circle Time plan from Stacy at With Great Joy.

Another great resource is this talk from Brandy at Afterthoughts CT, Memorization and the Soul. If you're not sure why memorization is such a good thing, I suggest listening to that! :)

Thanks for letting me share my plans with you! But they are just that--plans. Things don't go as planned sometimes, but that's why I love the binders. If we miss something, it's easy to get back on track. 

Do you use binders in your Circle Time?