The Dish: A Mother's Review #10

The Dish: 

A Mother's Review #10

Knowledge of God

The first Delightfully Feasting Retreat of the 2019 Retreat season was entirely dedicated to The Knowledge of God. We discussed Bible Lessons, Christian Studies, The Moral Imagination, Hymns, Devotions, and more. It was a day full of grand conversations,and many ideas regarding the principle knowledge were feasted upon. Here are some of the ideas that led to great discussion. If you weren't in attendance, you can ponder, pray upon, read about, and think about these ideas regarding The Knowledge of God. 

Knowledge of the Universe

Ocean Study Roundup

Here is a roundup of some of our favorite books for a study of the ocean/coral reefs. One of our science streams for Term 1 of the 2019 school year was Oceanography and our Special Studies topic for the term was Seashells. It has been a great study, with coral reefs being the favorite aspect of the ocean to explore. This is due, of course, to the power of great living books to captivate my children with ideas, and to give them plenty to think about. Here are some of our favorites:

One Small Square: Coral Reef 
(The entire One Small Square series is worth having and reading. We read these slowly, over an entire term, as a "spine" of sorts for our special studies, science, or natural history topics.)  

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

Let's Read and Find out Books:
Who Eats What: Food Chains and Food Webs
An Octopus is Amazing 
Life in a Coral Reef 
(The Let's Read and Find Out Science books are simply without comparison. We love and read them all.) 

Octopuses One to Ten by Ellen Jackson

Little Gray's Great Migration (and other Arbordale books) by Marta Lindsey

Seymour Simon Books (Dolphins, Whales, Coral Reefs, Oceans, etc)
(These are detailed, thorough books best for older children. The illustrations are lovely, however, and the books can be used simply to look out and explore, rather than being read in their entirety.) 

Seahorses by Jennifer Keats Curtis

The Journey of a Turtle by Carolyn Scrace

Field Guides:

 A Pocket Guide to Seashells and the Seashore (Parragon)
(We LOVE this Field Guide. The images are wonderful, and the information is concise and proportionate to the way in which we use a field guide for Special Studies and on nature adventures.) 

More Fun with Nature: Seashells, Crabs, and Sea Stars 
(We love the entire Fun With Nature series and we have the two large volumes that compile all of the guides. The Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars section of the More Fun With Nature volume is a fabulous "backbone" of a study on shells.)

Knowledge of Man

Biography Roundup

I get many inquiries regarding quality biographies. Biography is an important aspect of a living approach to history, culture, and much more. A quality biography is filled with inspiring ideas and introduces a person to another person, rather than imparting to them a list of facts and dates. A quality biography invites you into the world, home, life, mind, and heart of another person who has lived before or alongside you.
Here are several series of quality biographies:

The Childhood of Famous Americans

Heroes of the Faith 

Christian Heroes Then and Now

Trailblazer Books 

Landmark Books

Jean Fritz Books

Food for the Mother's Soul

Have you read Honey for a Woman's Heart? Many people know Gladys Hunt for her Honey For a Child's Heart, which is a must-have for living educators. However, Woman's Heart is just as worth reading, and owning, and reading time and time again. The book lists are helpful and inspiring, but the wisdom shared by a fellow reader and book lover is where the real heart of the book lies. You will find this book immensely helpful and inspiring, and you'll keep in on your shelf forever.

Around the Table  

What is Happening in the Charlotte Mason World?

Did you hear that Cindy Rollins and Angelina Stanford are creating a new podcast, discussing books?

I couldn't possibly be more excited, and I am anxiously awaiting the end of April when the first few episodes will be dropped. Cindy is Charlotte Mason royalty, and her status and wisdom as a veteran is beyond valuable to the Charlotte Mason community, and to mothers in general. The podcast is called The Literary Life, and you can watch for more details and updates in Cindy's newly formed facebook group Mere Motherhood. There is also a Literary Life Discussion Group on facebook where you will be able to discuss the podcast, the books discussed on the podcasts, and all books with Cindy, Angelina and others.

 Another member of Charlotte Mason royalty, Nancy Kelley, has started a podcast as well! It is an exciting time for living educators! You can read about the Sage Parnassus Podcast here.

Something to Chew On

"We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple choice tests or grades, but rather by other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love. We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies...Whether it be gardening, keeping house, or governing a state; love of work- like love of people-teaches things that no school, no system, can." ~Karen Andreola

A mother pursuing a living education can never be too oft reminded to remember, and remain true to, the purpose of education. School and education are not the same things, and we are not about the business of providing schooling to our children. Schooling is utilitarian in purpose and structure and result, but we have chosen to provide and facilitate an education instead of schooling. We have chosen to educate whole persons, rather than to fill minds with facts that will be useful for certain careers and accomplishments. Though we know this, and have chosen it ourselves, we are so very prone and susceptible to a slow fade towards grades and evaluations and tests and checklists. Those things are tangible. Those things are measurable. Those things feel within our control, and that is really the heart of our struggle. We don't like to feel out of control, and we don't like to trust the Lord without also attempting to "help Him along". We know that this is a preposterous notion, but yet we sometimes set about doing it. Remind yourself, dear mother, of what education consists of and of what its very purpose is. Remind yourself, daily, of what it is that you are doing and what it is that you are praying for. Most of all, remind yourself that God is worthy of your trust, and that He loves your children infinitely more than you do. He has given them to your stewardship, and you have made choices regarding their care, their education, their life. You have chosen well, my friends. You have chosen well. So, be faithful....and trust the Lord.   

May All Your Days Be Spent.....Delightfully Feasting
Crystin <3

Term 1 Favorites (2019)

Term 1 Favorites

January- March 2019  

As we near the end of Term 1, we have chosen our favorite books. Some are their favorites, some are mine, but we all loved each of them. Some are serious, some are silly. Some are new, some are re-reads. Some we will use time and time again. Some we have been using for what seems like a lifetime. From poetry to field guides, and everything in between, these are the books that we loved the most this term. Every subject and lesson isn't represented here, but the wide feast of our days certainly is. These are the books that come to mind immediately when we asked the question "What did we LOVE about Term 1?"


A Fine Dessert:
This book is beautifully illustrated, and any book that captivates my 5 year old's eyes while I read is sure to be a favorite of mine. It is a wonderful depiction of generational tradition and the changes of people over time, painting a picture of the ways in which we stay the same, even as we change.

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA:
This is a fun "trip" across the United States, while pulling the thread of making a cherry pie. That thread kept everyone's attention, and allowed each child of different ages to be interested in the geographical location on the current page in different ways, for different reasons. We read this at bedtime, and it was a fun addition to our living U.S. Geography studies that will be read over and over.

Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

We simply adore the Poetry for Young People series, and Longfellow has been a favorite of both boys. The illustrations, as always with this series, are fabulous and the selection of Longfellow's poems is perfect.

What's the Big Idea Ben Franklin?

I love Jean Fritz. This biography, like many of hers, is short enough to be read as a picture book, yet long enough to be stretched out and read like a chapter book. We did the latter. This was our biography for the term. Sometimes, our biographies are longer, but as my 5 year old begins to participate and be drawn in to more subjects and more books, I am seeking to meet him where he is with a few books that are living and robust, but that is just the right portion for him. Jean Fritz is perfect for that, and we love this Ben Franklin biography. 

Sarah, Plain and Tall
This was our family read-aloud this term, and I dearly hoped that my boys would enjoy it. I was excited to share it with them, and they met my hopes with enjoyment, and for that I am thankful. It is perfect for a read-aloud, because it is short enough to take in small bites, and to not get to every day and still make progress. It is a short, simple book but Sarah never ceases to gain my respect and my admiration, no matter how many times that I read it. She may be plain, but she is resilient and that matters more to be than beauty. ;) 

Farmer Boy
Oh, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Farmer Boy was our literature this term, and although we've read several of the Little House series before, we started this round of going straight through the series with Farmer Boy (If you're a Little House fanatic, I know that this is controversial, and I don't care. :) ), and it was their first time reading Farmer Boy. They laughed at Almonzo, they admired Almonzo, and they wanted to be like Almonzo. They thought James Wilder was a faithful, wise man and they thought that farming was honorable work, and worth the effort. They had fun, and they were hanging on my every word as we reached the end and Almonzo decided whether he wanted to be a farmer like his father, or seize the opportunity to be something much more glamorous and exciting. Our moments spent reading Farmer Boy were my absolute favorite moments of the term. 

The Burgess Seashore Book

It is impossible to pick a favorite Burgess Book, and I think that our favorite is whatever one we are reading at the time. ;) But, right now, we are thoroughly enjoying the Seashore book. I am so thankful for Burgess' ability to help us form relationships with God's created things, so that we can enjoy them fully and be interested in how they function and why. 

Corn is Maize

We always love the Let's Read and Find Out science books (if you don't own a handful, you should get started on that right away!), and this one was no exception. Science presented in a living way is a true gift, and when it is history, culture, and science wrapped into one fun, interesting package then it is sure to be a favorite of everyone.

Mercy Watson

We started the Mercy Watson series, and laughed our way through the entire first book. They are picture books, but they are broken into "chapters" so they are good practice at "reading a chapter book" for my 5 year old, but don't let my 9 year old fool you because he loved it just as much. We are starting the second book in the series now, and we can't wait to read them all. They are silly, they are simple, but they aren't twaddle. They are just plain fun. 

A Pot O' Gold
This collection of Irish poetry, tales, and folklore is just simply delightful. We read bits of this each year during March,and we always enjoy it. I never stop laughing heartily at Irish Blarney, and I never get tired of this particular book.

Birds of Texas Field Guide 

We have many field guides, and we love the "gold standards" of the field guide world (Audubon, Peterson...), but we have a new favorite. We only own the Bird guide, but Stan Tekiela has an entire series of these guides for Texas (birds of prey, mammals, tress, cactus, wildflowers, sport fish), and I will be collecting them all. My 9 year old has reached for this guide every single day since we bought it. The photographs are wonderful, the index is easy to use, the information is presented perfectly, and Stan's notes at the bottom of each page are useful and enjoyable. The little map showing where the birds reside, and migrate to, in Texas is my 9 year old's favorite part, and he pretty much hasn't put this guide down as he observes the birds in our yard, and everywhere else. 

There you have it....our favorite books of Term 1. Spreading a wide feast is such a joy, and hearing what everyone loves the most reminds me that children TRULY are born persons, that ideas TRULY are living sustenance, and that the feast TRULY is worth my effort to spread before them. 

I would love to hear what you are loving most right now, or what you have loved most in your most recent term. What are you favorites, and why?

May all your days be spent....Delightfully Feasting 

Crystin <3

The Knowledge of Man Retreat

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Charlotte Mason Fatherhood: An Interview

An Interview With a Charlotte Mason Dad

I speak often with homeschool mothers about their husband's support and understanding of what their days entail, what philosophy they hold to, and what struggles and triumphs their days hold. A living education is, by definition, a way of life. It is a family affair. The roles of homeschool motherhood/teacher and homeschool fatherhood are distinctly different, yet both are parts of the dynamic playing out in homeschool homes and the hearts of homeschooled children.

Homeschool fathers are involved in homeschooling in a variety of ways on a wide spectrum of intensity. Some fathers teach some lessons, oversee planning, and discuss methods and philosophy. Other fathers simply pick up pizza on the way home so that exhausted mothers don't have to cook at the end of exhausting days. Homeschool fathers, whether actively teaching or simply drying their wives discouraged tears, are actively involved in the education of their children, as both learning and formation of character extend far beyond the specified hours of a homeschool day.

In the interest of seeing into the mind of a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Dad, I interviewed my husband and sought his perspective on what is happening within our homeschool. His answers provided insight, encouragement and hope to my homeschool heart. I pray that they do the same for both you and your husbands.

1. What do you know about Charlotte Mason?

I know that it is a teaching and learning method in which the child learns in a natural and practical way of life, through books, nature study, and delightful living. 

2. Describe the way in which your wife homeschools your children.
First of all, I would say that she homeschools through patience and interaction with our children in a natural environment instead of pressuring them with conventional schooling and drilling methods.

Second of all, she allows the children to be who they are, intellectually and spiritually, and gives them the tools they need to learn and follow up with what they are being taught.

3. In what ways have you observed your children thriving because of being homeschooled, in a living way?
They thrive by not being afraid to be who they were designed to be. Specifically, I have observed my son be eager to read where he was struggling before. (*Note from Crystin: Our 9 year old is dyslexic, and he began to hate reading until we adopted Mason's approach to reading. Now, he finds the effort to be worthy.)

My children enjoy school time instead of going through the every-day motions of public school.

They enjoy nature studies and are always concerned with preserving what God has given us to enjoy and have dominion over and not to abuse.

4. In what ways do you think homeschool fathers can be most supportive of their wives and their homeschooling efforts?
First, by listening and understanding that it isn't always perfect and it might not always look perfect or like you envision, but it is what a child needs to become who they were ultimately designed by our Creator to be.

Next, it's okay (and even good) to ask questions and be involved, but be sure to notice the progress and encourage the children and mother on a path that educates, but is enjoyable. Encourage her to educate them, but not hinder or complicate learning for them.

Lastly, enjoy all of the moments while you can.

5. In what ways is the education of your children different than the education that you personally received?
I was taught by sitting in a classroom with 20-25 other same aged, culturally similar children being given instruction by a teacher. If you were lucky enough to understand what you were being taught then you went on to the next grade, and if you weren't so lucky then you could go to summer school and attempt to pass through or you were just set back a year and put in a class and labeled as a "slow learner". They didn't have time to develop true knowledge.

This is all in direct contrast to how my children learn and develop knowledge.

6.What goals do you have, or things do you envision, for your children and their education?
I envision that my children will develop the knowledge and skills that it takes to be a well-rounded adult.Whether that be a "high functioning" adult (according to society) or simply a middle-class, hard working, blue-collar worker. They will be who God made them to be.

They will have good values, compassion for other people, and good stewardship over nature. They will be good stewards of what we were given by God, and be respectable men for their wives and children.

I ultimately want them to be comfortable and happy being who they are, and were created to be, and not have society dictate who they should be and what they should look like.

7.What would you say to a father who is reluctant to homeschool, or to a father that is questioning the Charlotte Mason method of education?
I would say that given the chance to be homeschooled will serve your children tremendously, and will create a positive environment for them.

We all want what is ultimately best for our children, and I can honestly say that this way of learning is better and that children are better suited for a parent teaching them naturally than being sat in a room and drilled. Natural learning is better than being told "this is what you should know and look like in order to be considered as having been taught."

Give your children a chance to demonstrate that they are intelligent, have knowledge, know their worth as a person, and that they have benefited from not just being a number, but truly learning.

There you have it: a look into the heart and mind of a (handsome) Charlotte Mason father. ;)
This task of living education is a family affair, and I pray that this perspective of a father blesses you as you go about the business of spreading a feast and delighting in it.

May All Your Days be Spent....Delightfully Feasting
Crystin ....and Wesley <3

The Knowledge of God Retreat Registration

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