Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Communing Out Loud and Other Thoughts on Prayer

A Mother and Children By a Window at Dusk  Viggo Pedersen (1854-1926)

Is it possible that the mother could, when alone with her children, occasionally hold this communing out loud, so that the children might grow up in the sense of the presence of God? It would probably be difficult for many mothers to break down the barrier of spiritual reserve in the presence of even their own children. But, could it be done, would it not lead to glad and natural living in the recognised presence of God? 
-Charlotte Mason, Vol. 2, p. 55

Prayer and housekeeping - they go together.  They have always gone together. We simply know our daily round is how we live. When we clean and order our homes, we are somehow also cleaning and ordering ourselves.
-Gunilla Norris

Pray without ceasing.  I Thessalonians 5:17

Grace by Erik Enstrom (1875-1968)
A copy of this ubiquitous colored photograph (I always thought it was a painting!) was hanging in my Grandparents' house on Hobby Horse Lane in Mentor, Ohio some 45 years ago.  I have always loved it.  Our local antiques store has at least 25 copies in various frames stacked against the wall.  I had no idea that it was the Minnesota State Photograph. Nor did I realize the charming story behind it. 

In 1918,  photographer Erik Enstrom took this photo of an old peddler that stopped by his shop in the mining town of Bovey, Minnesota.  He thought of a simple composition that would help people remember to be thankful in the midst of World War I.  It's a good reminder today, too.

our copy on top of a bookshelf

Finally, a note about where we might meet over the next month or so.  The intimate Homewoods Gathering will by May 15th and 16 in Little Flock (not Rock!) Arkansas. Contact cindyvasquez@cox.net for the flyer. On May 29th will be our bi-annual Awakening session at Shalom Hill Farm in Windom, MN.  There are a few spots still available for that.The Farm in spring is a thing of beauty.  And don't forget the Charlotte Mason Institute Conference at Asbury Seminary on June 17th-20th.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Storied City Pics

Must-have gem that we referred to often - Storied City: A Children's Book Walking Tour Guide to New York City

We began at the Met.
Transfixed by Caravaggio's The Denial of St. Peter
Frederic Remington's Bronco Buster (a sculpture we studied in TBG)

James Jebusa Shannon's Jungle Tales - Can you guess what this is all about?

Thrilled to see Juan de Pareja by Velazquez (a familiar friend from a recent picture study)

Snowdrops in Central Park

Our architectural guide, Jeannette, shares details about the Dakota including why it is named The Dakota!

rather creepy Mother Goose statue

K. by the Balto statue!

Stopped by E.'s future home
King's had Hannah More books in their Wilberforce collection!

Viewing the collectible books and art at Books of Wonder

Iconic lions - Patience

Loved the murals depicting the history of the printed word.

Gutenberg Bible

And just look at the original Piglet!

Children's room

St. Pat's

Last stop - Grand Central, delicious lunch with a cherished friend, and a historic speakeasy.

It's been 17 years!

For more pics go here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Laura's First Composition

Funky ornament found in one of Charlotte Mason's boxes at the Armitt in Ambleside

It is always interesting to come across descriptions of schools and learning in the past.  Here is the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder's first composition!  It's from These Happy Golden Years (p. 96-98.)  I can imagine  how her unhurried upbringing, love and attention to the natural world,  limited but quality reading, and numerous recitations probably helped her in this area. Oh, please note that she is 15 and has never had a composition lesson. (And doesn't her composition sound like something straight out of Ourselves by Charlotte Mason?)


Then the girls began to talk about their compositions, and Laura discovered that Mr. Owen had told the grammar class to write, for that day's lesson, a composition on "Ambition."...Laura was in a panic. She had never written a composition, and now she must do in a few minutes what the others had been working at since yesterday...She found herself staring at the yellow leather cover of the dictionary on its stand by Mr. Owen's desk. Perhaps, she thought, she might get an idea from reading the definition of ambition. Her fingers were chilly as she hurriedly turned the A pages, but the definition was interesting..At last Mr. Owen said, "Laura Ingalls," and all the class rustled as everyone looked at her expectantly. Laura stood up, and made herself read aloud what she had written.  It was the best that she had been able to do.

Ambition is necessary to accomplishment.  Without an ambition to gain an end, nothing would be done.  Without an ambition to excel others and to surpass one's self there would be no superior merit.  To win anything, we must have the ambition to do so.

Ambition is a good servant but a bad master.  So long as we control our ambition, it is good, but if there is danger or our being ruled by it, then I should say in the words of Shakespeare, "Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition.  By that sin fell the angels."  Act III, scene 2, King Henry VIII

That was all. Laura stood miserably waiting for Mr. Owen's comment. He looked at her sharply and said, "You have written compositions before?"

"No, sir," Laura said. "This is my first."

"Well, you should write more of them, I would not have believed that anyone could do so well the first time," Mr. Owen told her.


That story goes along with Mason's famous quote about composition lessons:
 "Lessons on 'composition' should follow the model of that famous essay on 'Snakes in Ireland'-'There are none.' "(Vol. 1, p. 247)

I look forward to Sandy Rusby Bell's thoughts on this that she will be sharing at the Living Education Retreat.  Meanwhile, there are some informative posts at The Common Room about how Mason went about her very comprehensive plan for teaching composition. 


-HT to Alison for bringing that passage to my attention long ago!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Like a Comet Going By - William Blake

lambs in Ambleside last spring
Let Blake's 'Songs of Innocence' represent their standard in poetry. - Charlotte Mason

Blake's colored engraving of The Lamb

One of the first pieces of poetry my oldest son memorized was The Lamb by William Blake from Songs of Innocence.  Few things are sweeter than listening to a six-year-old recite this. (Why didn't I record that?)  Consequently, I memorized it also.  That was 20 years ago.  I believe it was Carole Joy Seid who gave me the idea.  Do you know it?

The Lamb
William Blake 

Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee. 

In our TBG community, William Blake is our poet this term,thus exposing my youngest 4 to this eccentric genius. A fabulous living book to read about Blake is James Daugherty's William Blake. I enjoyed how he portrayed Blake's solid marriage to Catherine, detailed descriptions of his ground-breaking engraving techniques, and quirky as well as terrifying visions.   Karla, our poetry teacher, has done an amazing job of letting us know about his engraving and life while keeping the poetry the main focus. The thing is the thing. 

Now, while the students are enjoying the poetry, we moms share all sorts of findings amongst ourselves. I recently read and loved Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More - Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior. So you can see how thrilled I was when we came across this quote regarding Blake and his visits to a Mrs. Mathews:

Mrs. Mathews, with Mrs. Sarah Siddons, the tragic actress; Angelica Kauffmann, the portrait painter, and Hannah More, the poet and writer, were only a few of the brilliant women of the new Age of Reason, of Invention, of the Machine, and of Liberty that was rising out of a changing world as the eighteenth century drew to a tumultuous close.  Men in Britain were beginning reluctantly to admit that women had minds.                -from William Blake by Daugherty, p.39
I love it when that happens! Hannah More knew William Blake!   But I must tell you why he stopped attending these evenings:

Blake began to come less often to Mrs. Mathews' intellectual evenings. He felt humiliated by Mrs. Mathews' patronage, and the artificial atmosphere and silly chatter of her stuffy evenings was becoming unbearable.  Gossipy ladies found it disconcerting to listen to an intense young man seriously report that he had recently attended a fairies' funeral and who told of having just had a pleasant evening's conversation with Socrates and the prophet Isaiah. Beneath his mild, soft-spoken manner there was something that blazed and shone like a comet going by. -from William Blake by Daugherty, p. 41

He was such an interesting, weird, well-read man.

So when we learned we would be reading Blake this term, the words of The Lamb came back to me almost instantly.  I suppose that's part of why Mason only wants us to give our children the best - it becomes part of who you are.  And my youngest has chosen The Lamb for her recitation piece!


Here's the full quote from Mason - 

Children must be Nurtured on the Best––For the children? They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake's 'Songs of Innocence' represent their standard in poetry; De Foe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature––that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life. Perhaps a printed form to the effect that gifts of books to the children will not be welcome in such and such a family, would greatly assist in this endeavour.  Volume 2.263

A few favorite lines from Blake's Augeries of Innocence
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.