Friday, June 1, 2018

Love and Duty

Love and Duty

"Karen, please give a short and simple definition of Mother Culture," was the request on Facebook. Wishing to accommodate I typed away. Then I worked to cut it down quite a bit.

     To me Mother Culture is a mingling of love and duty. It is the skillful art of a mother looking after the ways of her household and herself. With a heart of devotion, she seeks to find happiness in those things she "has" to do, as well as whatever she might set her hand to do to express her creativity.
     Greatly helped by an understanding of the educational method of Miss Charlotte Mason, she is a home teacher who learns how to cultivate the souls of her children and herself while she is free to not be too exhausted for her husband's company.
     So nourished and refreshed with ideas, she keeps growing closer to God and into the Christian woman God is designing her to be.

I hope this definition helps you introduce Mother Culture new home teachers in your circle of acquaintances.

In the Works 
Nigel finished the cover of Mother Culture - for a Happy Homeschool (above). If it is difficult to tell whether he used water color or oil paint it is because he used neither. Using his large wacom tablet and wacom pen as a paint brush, he worked meticulously on my front and back covers for a good many days. It is a skill he taught himself. By a kind of trial and error he designs his own paint brush tools to accomplish the strokes he needs to get the look he imagines. "Necessity is the mother of invention," said Aesop.

One morning he said, “I have a surprise for you. I added something to the picture.”
“Really? What?” I questioned.
“Take a look,” he said.

He had painted my purple book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, on top of the pile of books he had placed within easy reach of the mother. 


Fabric 
As you know, fabric makes me smile. In between daily chores I enjoyed making a pint size "courthouse steps" inspired by Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy. Using the 4" Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright, my piecing turned out less wonky. With this plastic ruler you trim after you piece each new pair of strips in a continual sort of "squaring-up" of the block as it grows. You end up with a pile of scraps,which in olden days would have stuffed a toy. I watched a YouTube tutorial about how to use it.

I placed this little quilt on my tea table to photograph it, while I was drinking a watermelon-strawberry-orange smoothie, and decided to make the quilt its table top for awhile. Some "wonky" is still in evidence but I tell myself this is part of the charm of something handmade.



I hand-quilted in-the-ditch with blue thread and added a scalloped edge to put some "round" in the design.




Wild Flowers
Walking back from the mailbox early in May I was pleased to see that a wild azalea (rhododendron prinopyllum) was blooming in our Pennsylvania woods again, this year with more blooms than last. I found a second bush on the other side of our property. I only know its name because I identified it (the old fashioned way) with my field guide some years back. I've managed unscathed, to keep the prolific poison ivy off both wild azalea bushes.



At an antique store two little out-of-print books caught my eye: First Delights - A Book About the Five Senses by Tasha Tudor (pub.1966) - a well-read library discard - and And It Was So by W. L. Jenkins of Westminster Press (based on Scripture) illustrated by Tasha Tudor in 1958. One is for Sophia and Andrew's children. 


The other is for Yolanda and Daniel's little girl on the way.



Speaking about babies on the way. I collected fabric for a "pink lemonade" crib quilt. As this quilt has a thicker batting than what I usually use in my doll quilts I quilted it with a walking foot on machine. I will show you my photograph after the baby shower as Yolanda reads this blog and I want to keep the finished quilt a surprise.



In April I spent a week with my parents in New Jersey. Then one of my children had surgery and I tried to be supportive.

And yet, since last November, rarely a week has gone by that I wasn't either contemplating, writing, or re-writing, my book.

A Family Affair
For the book, my husband Dean spent weeks scanning choice pictures from our collection of antique books. His computer died and he had to take it to a computer fix-it place to recover the scans. My daughter Sophia wrote the Foreword in the middle of a major household move. Nigel has started the lay-out.


The Calendar
The calendar I wrote for Simply Charlotte Mason titled Hope for Tomorrow is for sale.

This spring Sonya Shaffer wrote an inspiring blog article, "8 Reasons to do Nature Study" that I enjoyed reading.

SCM is planning to carry Mother Culture. I feel honored and encouraged.


Learning Styles
In March I re-wrote (and polished up) my article "Learning Styles and Charlotte Mason" for the blog Charlotte Mason Poetry. You will find a wealth of topics there.


Garden Flowers
In early May (in between all our rain) I enjoyed surrounding the front lamp post with pink zinnia. I can highly recommend keeping up with any physical therapy home assignments. If it wasn't for PT I would not have the joy of using a shovel again, kneeling on my garden mat and getting up again even with curious bees whirling around and buzzing in my ears.

You can see in the foreground how our hungry wild rabbits like our crocus, nibbling leaves in a series of "meals" until they are chewed down to the root. I try not to mind because somehow the crocus always manages to bloom each spring.


Reading
I think I did more reading this year so far than I've ever done. I hope to share highlights of some of these books in upcoming blog posts.

Links
Kathleen's Tracy's Small & Scrappy

Log Cabin Trim Tool by Jean Ann Wright

My article on Charlotte Mason Poetry

2018-2019 Hope for Tomorrow Calendar Journal for Simply Charlotte Mason

Sonya Shaffer's "8 Reasons to do Nature Study."

Keeping in touch,
Karen Andreola




Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Few Resources for Boys

A Few Resources for Boys
Nigel Andreola and Dean Andreola, Maine 1999

Some boys will read but they aren't particularly excited about it. Some, drag their feet.

To remedy this we look for books that capture interest. Boys age 10-14 enjoy Ralph Moody's stories because they are based on challenges of his own life.

Are you familiar with Walt Morey? He is best known for Gentle Ben because a television show based on the book, aired 1967-69. It accounts for it being popular on Amazon.

My children tell me, however, that his other stories are better. Therefore, I nodded when I spied a comment on Kavik the Wolf Dog expressing: "What a story! Way better than Gentle Ben." It was all the comment the reader left but it was a happy exclamation.

Another writer of adventure is William O. Steele. My children read his Buffalo Knife. Most of Mr. Steele's books are out-of-print. I read The Story of Daniel Boone. He also wrote another Landmark; The Story of Leif Ericson. A generation ago or so, the Landmark Books made a noteworthy contribution to a child's knowledge of history. That was when children studied history. I'm sorry that so many living-book-histories are out-of-print. Keep an eye out for them. (Some Landmarks are better "reads" than others.)


It is encouraging to know that avid book rescuing is going on. Home teachers are building their libraries with used and sundry cast-offs. With these old "finds" they are preserving history. Rather than hide truth under a bushel, they are letting it shine for their children and their children's children. Ambre Sautter is building a website with a heart for rescuing books and chronicling them. Her Facebook readers at "Reshelving Alexandria" post their recent "finds." Many library discards have become treasures.


Getting back to the subject of boys, I'll let my son Nigel tell you about a gem for leisure reading. Thankfully these "clean" comics are still in print.

The Adventures of Tintin
 Review by Nigel Andreola
The Adventures of Tintin will satisfy cravings for wholesome action-packed adventure. Devoid of blatant sexual immorality and foul language it is appropriate for most ages. Kids as well as adults from all over the world have loved these books ever since the Belgian Mr. Herge began writing them in the 1930’s.


Tintin is a boy reporter who (along with his faithful dog Snowy) solves mysteries and fights crime. Although he is small, he is tough and delightfully clever.

He brings to justice international drug smugglers, thieves, slave traders, spies, and warlords. He restores peace and good government to countries at war.

And if this isn’t enough, he narrowly escapes death while he saves his friends lives in every book.

Unlike modern comic book formats, here we have witty dialog (with a large vocabulary) and an intriguing novel-like story line.



My father introduced me to this unforgettable cast of characters when I was a boy. But my sisters read them, too. You can meet the bumbling twin detectives, Thomson and Thompson, the eccentric hard-of-hearing mad scientist Professor Calculus with his priceless inventions, and Captain Haddock, a sailor with a weakness for whisky, to name a few of the characters.


Friends of all ages have borrowed my Tintin books so often I am surprised the well-worn covers are still holding. Brimming with real-world geography, Tintin’s adventures take him to colorful and exotic locations all over the world. He faces many dangers in Africa, the Americas, China, India, Nepal, Arabia, Eastern Europe, England and more.




It is true that Tintin will occasionally encounter the strange customs and pagan rituals of primitive cultures, and the books are politically incorrect by today’s standards, (firearms are used).

But to me, the political incorrectness heightens the suspense and humor.  Although the stories are secular, they are moralistic, so the presentation of good versus evil is well-defined and portrayed.

By the way, if any of my friends are reading this, isn’t it about time you consider buying your own copies?
---Nigel


Post Script
I finished piecing my log cabin table topper. You see it is pictured here - yet to be quilted. It's rather large for a table topper. I got carried away. I admit.



Red is traditionally used for the center of an American log cabin quilt square. It represents a warm hearth. The centers in this design are larger than is typical. I used the "Log Cabin Trim Tool" by Jean Ann Wright, to "square up" and keep my strips accurate. This trim tool (plastic ruler) comes in three sizes and is demonstrated on YouTube. I'm already day-dreaming about making a tiny log cabin doll quilt Amish style, using solid colors and the smallest trim tool.


Fabric makes me smile. This topper certainly has the scrappy look with lots and lots of different of fabric. I may have been a too scrap-happy. It's rather busy. But it will be something to look at on a gray day (when it's finished.) What's delightful about Mother Culture is that you can choose to be creative and decorate in ways that make you smile.

Listed on Amazaon:

Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey

Buffalo Knife by William O'Steele

The Adventures of Tintin by Herge
Cigars of the Pharaoh 

You will see other books by these authors surrounding those I linked here. Happy book hunting.
Thanks for stopping by,
Karen Andreola  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Drawing Shyness by Karen Andreola


Drawing Shyness

My children all liked to draw - - - and were unhampered by drawing lessons because I didn't give them such lessons in their early years. Only in later years did they have a few drawing lessons, on shape and shading.
(One resource was an old kit by Jon Gnagy. It was eagerly taken up.)

Before that, I simply said, "Draw what you see." 

That was enough.


I let them draw here and draw there - with no criticism from me (unless I was pressed. Then I'd give "one" pointer.)

"You like our pictures because you're our mother," they would moan.

"Okay, okay, if you wanna get picky - - - that sunflower is disproportionately wide in the stem." Choice vocabulary would always appease them. With that, my job was done. "Now, let me bring this basket of clean laundry upstairs and get another started in the washer."

Drawing is a sort of slow-growth "learn-as-you-go." I found children are self-correcting. Doesn't this make a teacher sound lax or lazy?



Miss Mason humorously admits to being "shy in speaking" about drawing. This is because she didn't hamper her students with instruction, either. The less a teacher does "for" students, the more she is frowned upon by the school-ish establishment. 

She didn't care, however. She simply let children draw what blossomed in their imagination connected with the reading of the day.

She was impressed, too, with how the children used "all their paper" in drawing what they observed of the world around them. *1




She says,

"They give you horses leaping brooks, dogs running after cats, sheep on the road, always with a sense of motion. . . a gardener sharpening his scythe, their mother sewing, a man rowing, or driving, or mowing.

They have a delightful and courageous sense of color, and any child will convince you that he has it in him to be an artist.”

“ . . . Their field studies give them great scope. The first buttercup in a child's nature notebook is shockingly crude . . . but by and by another buttercup will appear with the delicate poise, uplift and radiance of the growing flower." *2

How delightfully sweet!

*1&*2 Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Ed. p.217

Dear friend,
You are not a lax or lazy teacher if you give your students the assignment to draw - - - and then set them free - - - to draw what they see.


(I first made this a Facebook Post for Monday morning. Then, I thought I ought to place it on the blog here for those who prefer not to scroll there.)

Good News
Yolanda and Daniel are moving back to Lancaster County because he found a job here. Meanwhile Sophia and Andrew (and my grandchildren) are moving an hour away rather than three. We are all looking forward to seeing more of each other this year.

Yolanda is expecting a baby this summer. She has waited a long time. I'm praying she will keep the baby as the women in our family have a history of miscarriages. 

Spring is around the corner. Snowdrops are in bloom down the road. I hope, very soon, to be relieved of the symptoms of cabin fever. Weeding the garden has risen in my estimation to be a sought-after occupation. 


I am looking forward to digging in the garden - especially after watching the film "Secret Garden" with Margaret O'Brien last week. This melodramatic version (complete with temper tantrums) is actually pretty close to the book.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola 

Copyright Karen Andreola, 2018