Thursday, February 25, 2010

Habits, Revisited

Miss Mason's writings are so rich with information that it takes me awhile to digest what I am reading.  I have been reading volume two lately and especially the sections on habit training.  I believe I will always learn something new and seek to improve my daily mothering habits while I am training my little ones.  There are several quotes that stood out to me during my readings...

this quote speaking  of Edward Waverly...His abilities were even brilliant , but 'I ought' had waited upon 'I like' from his earliest days, and he had never learned to make himself do the thing he would.
Volume 2, pg 64

If my children are never made to do what they ought to do because it is the right thing to do they will grow to be very selfish.  If my littles are only happy and content doing what they like this home would not be a very pleasant place when duty calls. Teaching my children about responsibility is part of the training that I must give them.  Duty does call for a little one.  Some scenerios I can think up after themsleves... sharing with others....considering the need/interest of a sibling instead of wanting their own way, etc.

Obedience in the first year and all the virtues of the good life as the years go on; every year with its own definite work in the training of character.  Is Edward a selfish child when his fifth birthday comes?  The fact is noted in his parent's yearbook, with the reslove that by his sixth birthday he shall, please God, be a generous child.
Volume 2, pg 65

This quote reminded me of something that I read in Shepharding a Child's HeartParents should set aside a time to discuss their little ones strengths and weaknesses.  A plan should be decided on to tackle the weaknesses and encourage the strengths.  Chris and I have been doing this lately.  There are some tendancies we have noticed in our children that we want to help them overcome.  We are still in the process of working out a definite plan to help with re-training the weaknesses.

The physique, the temper, the disposition,the career, the affections, the aspirations of a man are all, more or less, the outcome of the discipline his parents have brought him under, or of the lawlessness they have allowed.
Volume 2, pg 66

This quote reminded me of a verse found in Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Give the ill weeds no room to grow.
Volume 2, Pg 84

These are a few of the thoughts from Chrarlotte Mason and the Bible that I am living with right now.  I am no expert in habit training.  I am daily learning how to best train my children up in the way they should go.

A few older posts on habit training

More to come...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Winter Moments

Boo did not take a nap on Sunday, so after everyone else was asleep we went outside together.  I helped him ride his bike and we soaked up the sunshine and talked with daddy.  I so enjoyed this, he usually naps and it was nice to spend some one on one time with him.

little boy...wobbly on bike...learning...can you run with me mommy

LouLou has been so excited about the new baby chicks.  I have really been enjoying the time I have just watching her love on the chicks.

little girl...cuddling chicks...loving...gently mothering...she seems so big

Sunday morning instead of getting up and showering right away, I took a walk with LouLou in the sling and Bo trailing behind.  It was a beautiful weekend here and we were basking in the sunshine.  It was a wonderful morning to walk and pray and enjoy his creation.

little one snuggled close...sun rising...big boy close sky...coolness of the morning

Outdoor Nature Hour #5

We took our outdoor hour walk last Thursday.  The sun was shining but the wind was cool.  I told the littles we were going to see how many different kinds of birds we could find.  They were really excited and we took a notebook and field guide and made a list of the birds we were able to see.

we saw a yellow/gray bird at the bird feeder (I'm not sure what kind it was)
blue jay
hawk (the hawk and crow were fighting in the air)
brown thrasher
eastern bluebird
american robin
we heard a woodpecker

Here is Bo drawing pictures of the birds we saw on our walk.  I told him to choose one to draw and wanted to draw all of them

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day...Chris

Love Is.....
  • fixing the fire each morning before you leave for work, so that the house will be warm when we wake up
  • building a bookshelf in the kitchen cabinet for my cookbooks, so that I can have a place to stack them neatly
  • crawling under the house in the 18 degree weather and re-plumbing the frozen pipes, so that we can have water
  • checking on Lou Lou when she cries at night and sleeping with her if she is afraid
  • fixing my broken bread machine pan so that I can use it again.
  • coming home from work with a smile on your face and hugs for all
  • leading us in family bible time each night before bed
  • putting on your appliance repairman hat and fixing my broken dryer, so I can dry our clothes
  • helping the boys build birdhouses for Christmas gifts
  • scrubbing the kitchen sink and making it shine without being asked

Happy Valentines Day!
I Love You!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour Challenge # 4

Why did we choose to take a walk to the barn on this cold, muddy, rainy day?
Because the focus area for our next few nature challenges was waiting!
We have chosen birds for our focus area and....
Monday was day 21 for our mommy hen.  That means on Tuesday morning we had 1 day old chicks.
We were super excited to go and see how many of the 14 eggs she had been sitting on hatched.

Upon arriving in the barn we quietly gathered around the mother hen.  We heard faint little peeps coming from underneath.  We listened for a minute then let daddy pick her up and we found four baby chicks.  The other eggs had not hatched.  We talked about the very cold weather when she had laid the eggs.  We believe that the first eggs she laid had frozen before she started sitting.  There was one egg that had broken and it smelled horrible.  The stinky egg had broken on the hen and the chicks had the smell too! So we did not get to enjoy the chicks as much as we would have liked.  But we did hold them for a minute before moving them to a new nest in the shop with clean, fresh hay.

The smell seems to be fading a little.  We hope to be able to hold them more next week.
By the way....our dogs thought the rotten eggs were yummy;-)

There is not a weed or an insect or a tree so common that the child, by observing carefully may not see things never yet recorded in scientific books. 
Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Warm Gifts On This Winter Day

just opened homemade jelly...smells of summer on this cold day...warm homemade bread...loving the reminder of warm days ahead

little boy...reading a book from the shelf...delighted that he can enjoy the story

wobbly letters...made with playdough and cornmeal...showing me his work...proud of his accomplishments

my love working hard...learning to play the banjo...dreaming of the days we gather around the porch and request any song we like

new life hidden in the shadows of the barn...mother hen providing warmth to her eggs in the bitter cold...peeping we hear coming from underneath...peeking we see four new chicks

my love and I sitting by the fire...little ones coming and going...talking...enjoying one another's company

family games on cold winter days...old maid...blokus...laughter...cooperation...time together

sweet little girl...first one awake...crawling into our bed...I love you, Daddy

baby smiles...pudgy cheeks...radiant up the room

cold hands...gathered a bucket full of cheeks...ready to warm by the fire...steaming mugs of hot chocolate...warm homemade granola...enjoying these cold days together

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making Workboxes Work For Us

I've read quite a bit about the workbox system and homeschooling.  While I do not have the official book, I have been able to glean a lot of information through blog posts related to this system. Since my children are still little I do not feel I need a lot of structure to our days.    I am teaching some reading, handwriting and math lessons to Bo who will turn six soon.  Since the workboxes seem to be designed to teach students some independance I have not included any formal school lessons in mine such as handwriting or reading.  I could do this and may end up including some review lessons later.  For now, I have decided to include some books and activites that I would like to do with the littles, but may not always make the time for.  I look at the shelves of books, games and activities and think I would really like to use this or that but when and how.  This inspired my own verison of the workboxes. 

I came up with an alternative to the boxes because of my limited space.  I am using a file folder box with 12 file folders right now.  Each folder is numbered and the number is attached with velcro.  Inside the folders I place the activity or an index card directing the littles to the activity.  The outside of the box has velcro tabs in place.  When we finish with our file, we attach the number to the outside so we can see how many files we have accomplished.  Below is the finished product.  Bo helped me make it and he was very excited to begin trying the activities the next day.

I placed the following activites inside the folders:
2-Old Maid
3-The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis
4-Color the Shapes worksheet
5-Blokus (This is a wonderful game to teach critical thinking skills)  The index card inside says Play Blokus
6-Practice Guitar
7-I Spy card game
8-Practice Bow and Arrow
9-Picture Search
10-The Magician's Nephew Ch 2
11-Gummi Bear Counting Book with gummis
12-Pattern Blocks

We started these activities yesterday and we have already completed the fourth one.  I had no idea that Bo would find them so exciting.  I had originally planned to complete all of the activities in a week's time.  It may not take as long this week since it looks cold and rainy.  And I suspect when it is warm out it might take us a couple of weeks to work through the folders.

I am very pleased with this system so far.  Here's a picture of the boys cooperating while they play legos.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love is...

What an appropriate fruit of the Spirit to study first.  I have been slowly making my way through Living Beyond YourselfThis Spirit living is something I need desprately.  Letting myself decrease so that He can increase. I wake each day with plans to let the Spirit lead and when my feet hit the floor I so easily let the natural woman take over.

4Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.5It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
6It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
7Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

After much studying on this fruit of the Spirit, I was given a perfect oppurtunity to see if I was truly growing in this area.  My sweet husband failed to run an errand and I was hurt. This errand wasn't forgotten, just not done.  I immediately let him know how disappointed I was that this had not been taken care of. He responded that if I would like to see that done, I would have to do it myself.  I was really angry at this point, but I chose not to say anything.  As I reflected on the situation, God kept reminding me about the first fruit of the Spirit-LOVE!

I kept meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:5

5It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

This verse had started to penetrate my heart, it was doing its intended work discerning my thoughts and intents.  I was angry! I felt like screaming, but I couldn't.  Because to scream would mean that everything I'd been learning had been forgotten.  It would mean that I had suddenly decided to become a hearer of the word and not a doer. It would mean that I had looked into the perfect law of liberty and gotten a glimpse of my selfish, ugly heart and decided to walk away unchanged.

22But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
23For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;
24For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.
25But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).

I want do want to be changed,  but transforming to Spirit living is hard.  It's far easier to do what comes naturally.  Paying attention to a suffered wrong does come quite naturally for me,  especially when the perceived wrong came from my beloved.  It's far easier to overlook an offense from someone I don't know.
The ones I love most need this Spirit living, so I persevere because if I can they will receive a blessing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour #3

It looked like rain the rest of the week, so I decided to do our third outdoor hour challenge today.  We took a walk to the end of our road and visited with our neighbor.  She walked us through their small vineyard to a swampy area on their property.

The littles saw a hollow tree stump, dandelion, henbit(I learned this from my neighbor) and some Sweetgum balls.  They had the most fun while play fishing for leaves in the swamp with long sticks.

Each spring when we are out taking our nature walks I have noticed this abundant weed or wildflower.  I was sooo thankful that my neighbor identified it for me.  It is called a henbit.  I quickly wondered if there were any medicinal or edible componets of this pretty little flower.  I found a nice article explaining some of the plants history and uses.  The most important use of this little plant seems to be for the honeybees.   These plants provide nectar for the honeybees during a time when other sources are scarce.

I forgot to bring the camera on our walk so I took a picture of what I think is a henbit in our yard.  This one has not bloomed yet, but it will soon.

We also found some Sweetgum balls on the dirt road as we were walking to our neighbours.  The boys gathered a few to draw in their nature notebooks.

(Bo holding the Sweetgum balls and the picture he drew in his nature notebook)

When we got home the boys got their nature notebooks out and began drawing pictures of our finds.  Bo wrote a sentence all by himself.  I was very proud of his hard work!

We learned something very interesting last year about Sweetgum balls.  At one of our homeschool field trips there was an herb station for the children to visit.  The lady teaching at the station was telling us about important medecinal herbs that would have been used many years ago. 

She had read a book called Mountain Medicine.  In this book she had found a use for Sweetgum balls.  The author explains how legendary herbalist Tommy Bass taught him to gather Sweetgum balls and burn them.  Next, gather the remaining ashes and mix with lard or tallow.  Once the mixture has hardened use as a topical cream for skin infections.  The lady teaching the class had made the littles some of this cream to carry home.  She had mixed it with vegetable shortening.  She had gotten a staph infection in her finger and had taken two round of antibioitcs to cure it.  The antibiotics did not work, so she mixed up some of the Sweetgum ball salve and it did the trick!  Isn't that useful information?  I sure thought so!

So each time we see some Sweetgum balls, I remind the littles what to do in case of a skin infection.  They now know that Sweetgum balls can be used for something besides throwing at each other;-)

(Sweetgum ball salve)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up...

Boo informed me that he wants to be a man who takes bananas away from monkeys so he can eat them.
(the bananas, not the monkeys;-)

Would He Be Interested In The Revolutionary War, If He Were In School?

Our unofficial Ambleside Year 0.5 has been going very well.  Bo is learnig to read  very quickly and he seems to enjoy all aspects of our educational time together.  We have been working through History for Little Pilgrims.  As we read the chapters we are making a timeline to go on the wall to keep our history readings straight.  The timeline is more for my benefit than Bo's at this point.  I am learning so much right along with him. 

Because of my public school background, I had never looked at history as His Story(Gods) before.  History had always been about the names of people and the all important dates to remember.  So making a history timeline with creation at the beginning has been very powerful.  I can see much more clearly the story God is writing.

So a couple of weeks ago we read the chapter about the Revolutionary War in History for Little Pilgrims.  This coincided with Bo pulling a tooth and getting to choose a toy.  He choose a bucket of army men.  He is quite the little battle strategist these days.  He is deeply interested in General George Washington.  Because of this interest I have paused our readings in History for Little Pilgrims and pulled out Edward Eggleston's
Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans and ChildCrafts:Pioneers and Patriots.  He gets very excited when its time to read from these books.  Today we read about Washington outsmarting Cornwallis and Bo immediately went to his army men and re-enacted the story with himself staring as George Washinton and daddy staring as Cornwallis.

 This re-enacting the story is very exciting because it is a form of narration.  Narration is a hallmark of the Charlotte Mason homeschool method.  Once a child is narrating a story it becomes their own.  He is making connections with our readings and I am not having to spoon feed him the connections I have made.  He is never required to narrate yet, that will come soon enough, but he is getting a lot of practice without even knowing it.

I am sooo pleased with the way our school is going.

I started thinking of my former students who happened to be Bo's age.  It made me a little sad to think how  most learning in school is spoon fed to the students.  The connections are usually made by the teacher and given to the students.  And what about exploring the Revolutionary War?  Well, there's really not enough time for that.  The bell rings and its time to move on to the next subject.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moments with the Littles

9.  Instead of napping Sunday afternoon, I played army with Bo.
     little charge of the games...go here mommy....and here...and here...he daily works on these leadership skills

10.  Instead of computer time, I built a farm with Boo.
     Sitting on the front of the fire...building a farm...little boys giggles...farms are his favorite thing

11.  Instead of folding clothes, I took a walk with LouLou.
cool, crisp wagon..little girl riding...enjoying God's creation