We don’t do link-ups often, but with a few busy weeks under our belts, it seems like we need some sort of catch-up post, so Seven Quick Takes with Kelly it is.
There is a new Charlotte Mason Instagram account to add to your follow list @charlottemasonIRL. Aconglomerationofsomeofyourfavorite CMers showing what homeschooling looks like in their home. We aren’t professional photographers with pristine homes – rather than aspirational, we are calling it practical inspiration.
So… we are past the ides of March and still haven’t talked abut the next room in the Delightful Home. Let’s just say the stomach bug has made our home less than delightful recently. Then we had very delightful visitors, which meant living life rather than writing about it. We haven’t forgotten though!
Hair braiding. That’s a handicraft, right? I’ve only got one daughter (and Amy with her four daughters is too far away to give us in person tutorials) and we’ve been using YouTube to figure out how to make fun braids.
Last term of school starts Monday! We are officially on the downhill. Does anyone want a post of what books we are using? I always like seeing what other families use in their home schools and thought you might also.
Happy St. Patrick’s day. No corned beef around here because it is also Friday, which means we abstain from meat. I am feeling rather more authentically Irish about the holiday though, since the Irish are great fisherman. I mean, they invented the proper woolen sweater just for fishing. Fish and chips it is!
The giveaway closes on Monday! Head over there to enter – you have three chances, so the odds are good one of those Riverbend Press prints could be on your wall soon! Also, the webinar registration is still open for our tuesday webinar on that painting. I can’t wait!
Lastly, would you say a prayer or two for Amy – she is part of a panel on Monday discussing character formation in schools and she is the representative of Home Schools. The discussion is being moderated by David Brooks of the New York Times, so its pretty exciting. If anyone wants to know more, maybe Amy will write up her experience here. She will be presenting her research on CM and character formation at the National CMI Conference in Kentucky this June, if you’ll be there.
As homeschooling mothers, we are often busy with those things the must be done: chores, schedules, driving, schooling. We know there is benefit to reading good books, poetry, good music, and days of rest, but finding the time always seems difficult. The practical things, the urgent things, beckon us.
Soon, school planning time comes around. We look at our year and what wasn’t executed the way we had envisioned and we’ve heard much talk of new ideas and new ways of implementing different subjects; it can feel overwhelming. We must pick out math curricula, history books, science topics… How do we introduce writing? Is narration being done correctly? What if the kids don’t spell well? Many things seem to need our immediate attention. They all seem so urgent.
I invite you to take a few steps back. Perhaps now is a good time to take a bird’s eye view of your home school. Or perhaps fly even a bit higher than the average bird…
Let’s come together and talk about the philosophy of your homeschool. We’ll do it by diving deeply into Charlotte Mason’s “creed picture“. It was here that much of her greatest thoughts are visually expressed.
What will we talk about at the webinar?
The Florentine mind of the Middle Ages, and the “boldness of the scheme of education” presented in the painting.
The Holy Spirit as teacher.
How we can co-operate in the education of our children.
Who are the characters in the painting and why are they important?
What messages did the artist send through the structure of the painting?
How can the discord in our lives and school rooms brought into harmony through unity?
What role does virtue and wisdom play in education? Should they be our aim?
How to understand this painting from the top down and the bottom up and how that affects your school room.
Will it be practical? Yes. In the same way that having a map or GPS device is practical when driving across the country. Can you make it to your destination without one? Maybe, but you’ll be glad to have it when you are on the road. You trip will certainly be full of smooth and easy days if you can plan where to go and what to see. Surely, you will need to worry about gasoline, food, and rest stops – but it is best to start with a map. Consider this painting your roadmap!
We’ve told you how much we loveRiverbend Press before, and so we were thrilled when they offered to give us three beautiful prints to give away to in conjunction with our upcoming webinar on this painting.
This print is really beautiful – printed on a product that is more like canvas than paper, it is durable and can hang unframed, as I do. It is a seamless combination of the upper vault and the wall of the Spanish chapel, which is a big deal! Imagine photographing from the middle of the ceiling nearly down the floor and having minimal distortion. It is an heirloom quality piece.
How can you get one? Well, one way is to visit the shop. Another way is to win one right here! We have three to give away!
One will be randomly drawn during our webinar and given to an attendee – so go register!
Another will be given away to a commenter on this post. Leave a comment to enter, it is that easy. If you share this giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest – link it in the comments for an extra entry.
There are times in a person’s life where they are simply struck by the force of beauty in a way that is transformational. In 1894, Charlotte Mason had one of these moments as she traveled to Florence with John Ruskin’s book in hand and found herself in front of a painting then already 530 years old depicting the ideas around which she had based her educational philosophy. This piece of art would go on to hang prominently in her school for teachers, and as Essex Cholmondeley wrote:
Charlotte built this ‘great recognition’ deep into the foundations of the students’ life and training there. It formed the special teaching of Whitsunday afternoon. A reproduction of the frescoes had its place in a central position for all to live with. The students called it the ‘creed picture,’
In 2013, I was introduced to this painting at the CMI National Conference where Dr. Deani Van Pelt spoke on it. I think they allotted 2 hours for her talk, but no one in the room wanted to move as time ran out and we all could have chatted for many hours more. I spoke to my dear friends and told them that other moms needed to hear this story! At our 3-day summer intensive, I presented what I had learned and what I had found out since that day. Further study of the painting as well as further reading of Mason’s many references to it filled me with delight. Since that day, I have visited the painting twice and presented on it myself at the CMI National Conference last year. In my four years of studying this painting, I have still not nearly exhausted its many insights, but I will share with you the one I treasure most: Unity.
Here we have the scheme of a magnificent unity. – Charlotte Mason
The things of God have long been understood as those that are Unum, Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum. Unity, Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. While we may often hear of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness spoken of in homeschooling circles, the transcendental of Unity is lesser known, yet encompasses so much of what God is (a Unity of one God in three Persons) and what he commands of us:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. -St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:1-6
This is so much the case, that our word Devil comes from the Greek Diabolos, one meaning of which is “to scatter, disperse, separate”. God unifies, sin divides. God gathers, sin scatters. Now, as a fallen people prone to sin, we step into this error all the time: we divide and subdivide ourselves over all sorts of things. Though we see the warnings throughout Scripture and we are warned by St. Paul:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment… Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? -St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 1:10, 13
This painting, as Charlotte noticed, shows a great scheme of unity. The artist shows it as a unification of faith and reason, the sacred and the natural, Divine revelation and natural law. Charlotte sees this as well and discusses this throughout the volumes – the fact that there is no division between the sacred and the secular, between science and religion, piety and intellect. The unity comes in when we realize that “every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit”1. Our God has a plan so large and His thoughts are so unlike ours that He can work though any soul, even those “whom we might be lightly inclined to consider as outside the pale of the divine inspiration.”2
That’s a lot to chew on. I know it is for me. “It is truly difficult to grasp the amazing boldness of this scheme of the education of the world which Florence accepted in simple faith.”3
Would you like to spend some time learning about who is depicted in this painting, the painter, the Florentines, and Charlotte’s writings on it? I’d love to have you join me for a webinar on March 21 at 8pm. It will be the presentation I gave last year, reworked to make some time for discussion and questions at the end.
Grab a glass of wine and enjoy some mother culture.
Our winners have been chosen! Our blog comment winner is Brittany, who chose the darker color and our Instagram winner is Amy who chose the same color! As soon as we get your addresses the books will be sent out. Thanks to everyone who entered!
Also, if you are not the winner this time, we have some more special giveaways in the works with our good friends at Riverbend Press!
We all need beauty. It is simply how we are made. Truth, beauty, and goodness give us a window into the Divine and so while it would seem to be enough for us to have a kitchen that is practical and uncluttered, it would never feel complete. We need to bring in something beautiful.
What is beautiful? Surely, there is some aspect of beauty to a space that functions well. That lacks the excesses and allows the person using the room to enjoy its use. Then, the space should be clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness they say. Take the time, if not this week, then perhaps during the Lenten season or the springtime to do a deep clean of your kitchen. You know the feeling when you are done – it is absolute joy. There is nothing like a sparkling sink and clean floors and an oven with nothing burnt on it to make one feel like cooking a delicious meal for others.
So you have a space that is functional and clean, but what then should you add to it? The answer is as personal as the person and the family. I’ll give some ideas to spur your own creativity and then welcome your ideas as well.
Favorite cookware: Is there a space to hang your dear cast iron pan, show off your wooden spoons, or somewhere to display those copper pots you love so much? If you reach for it often and love how it looks as well, why not bring it out for others to see?
Favorite serving pieces: Perhaps you love to look at the platter from your wedding or your favorite Polish pottery rather than just storing them away. Put some pieces on the wall if you have the space and you can enjoy them for their beauty as well as their use.
Quotes or inspiration: I personally love the quote I have over my sink from St. Teresa of Avila that says, “God walks amidst the pots and pans”. It reminds me that when I am doing simple tasks for the love of others, that is often exactly where God wants me most – especially if it is my least favorite chore. Maybe you could find something equally inspirational for you!
A rug: Kitchen rugs are useful in spots where floors get chilly in winter or standing on tile can make legs weary. Don’t feel limited to the selection you find in the designated “Kitchen Rug” section at the big box stores. Sometimes a runner or area rug meant for another part of the house can have a beautiful pattern that brings a smile to your face each day.
Curtains: Does the room need a bit of simplicity in the way of beautiful, white panels over the sink or perhaps your neutrals in the rest of the space can be livened up with some color and pattern framing the window?
Upgrading just one thing: Is there a small appliance that is on the verge of dying or a utensil holder you just don’t like or some similar item that for you, is the opposite of beautiful? You don’t need to update the kitchen to love it, sometimes it is just replacing the one thing that really bothers you. It could be as simple as some beautiful new hooks, new knobs on the cabinets, or getting a new coffee maker. Donate the old thing if you can and bring some joy into your kitchen with a small upgrade.
This is the time to really think about what brings you joy – what would make you smile each time you saw it? Add that!
There are a few companies that just do things really well. I’m talking about the type of companies started by people who pour their heart and soul into it because they love what they do. Riverbend Press is that type of company. Begun by a homeschooling mother of two darling girls who also happened to be the daughter of an old fashioned book binder, she couldn’t find what she wanted when it came to high quality notebooks – so she stepped out and partnered with her dad to start a whole new company. Her creations are based on hours of poring over the Charlotte’s volumes, PR articles, and L’Umile Pianta articles to make sure her books were as authentic as they could be. She then had the books printed on the best paper with sewn bindings so they lay flat and finished them with beautiful gold-stamped covers. This is a company that cares about quality, produces their goods in the United States in a family-run business, and aims to offer the best service to all of the families who trust them with their patronage. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with them for our very first giveaway!
Today, we are announcing a giveaway of two Books of Centuries in your choice of grey or wine cover. We will give away one here on the blog and one over on Instagram, so head over there for another chance!
The Rules: Leave a comment below stating the color you would prefer. If you share this post on social media (your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc), leave a separate comment with a link leading to where you shared it and you can earn an extra entry! We will allow up to five entries per person. The comments will be closed at 8pm on March 2, 2017 and the winner will be chosen at random and announced here on March 3. Books can be shipped within the US only.