Monday, May 30, 2011

Hitty - Her First Hundred Years - Mother Culture CD talk

Hitty - Her First Hundred Years

Have you ever read the charming story of Hitty – Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field? Before I give you my review, however, may I show you my doll?

It is an antique doll. She wears her original hand sewn muslin gown, has a petticoat and pantalettes edged in cotton lace. 

I was quite surprised and delighted the day I received her as a housewarming gift. She is the same doll, with the sweet face, that I had regularly admired on the shelf of one of my sister-in-law’s glass display cabinets. My sister-in-law is a doll collector. She buys and sells. I never dreamed that the plain, early American looking doll with the sweet face, would one day be presented to me.

I’ve named her Helen after my great-grandmother. Helen’s hair is of flax and was skillfully refurbished by my sister-in-law’s steady hand. Helen wears her long hair like Dora does in my stories. 

Decorating this post are a few of the dolls from my sister-in-law’s collection. (She wishes to be unnamed.) Her dolls are dressed in a fashion that matches their lavish Victorian beginnings.

Not long ago I read the children’s book, Hitty – Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. (You might have spotted it in the basket of a February post.) My daughters read it silently in their girlhood. I never had. I liked the story so much I wrote a review of it for Christian Book Distributors. Here is a sneak preview.

Hitty, unlike the dolls you see here, is whittled out of mountain-ash wood by a peddler in Maine sometime during early 19th century. The story is her autobiography. But a girl doesn’t have to have a special interest in dolls to be enthralled by Hitty. Her adventures are what she will find so interesting. And there are a lot of them. Settings change dramatically.

Near the beginning of her doll’s life she is carried aboard a whaling vessel in the arms of the daughter of the sea caption, is shipwrecked, marooned on a south sea island, recovered, then dropped for lost in India, picked up by a snake charmer and purchased by a missionary family. (Phew.) She returns to America, lives with Quakers in Philadelphia (where this time her new dress is gray) and meets John Greenleaf Whittier during the War Between the States. After being forgotten in a dark attic stuffed between the cushions of an old sofa, she is shipped to New York City with the furniture. Here, in the arms of another little girl she meets Charles Dickens on the streets of New York.

With suspense the story continues as Hitty is stolen, hidden away, given away and thrown away. Yet amid her tumbles and travels she is always happy when admired and when a new dress lovingly takes the place of an older shabby one.

Written in 1929 before the popularity of television author Rachel Field does a beautiful job describing the geographical and historical settings in words . . the words of a doll who takes courage, even when she doesn’t feel so brave, in life’s uncertain circumstances.

Newberry Award Winner for ages 10 up.

Gail Wilson Designs of New Hampshire makes a replica of the little doll Hitty for sale. Early American clothes, furniture, even a tiny cross stitch sampler for Hitty, are also available, as are kits.  

The wild blackberry brambles are blooming at the edge of our woods. This was my cue to photograph Lessons at Blackberry Inn amidst a setting of white blackberry flowers. Being pricked by a thorn I still managed to take a somewhat interesting picture. 

I hope with home school lessons coming to a close that you will set aside a little leisure for yourself, to read whatever interests you. I trust it will be something refreshing to grow-by. I like to hear what you are reading. 

Thanks for visiting,
Karen Andreola 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh, To Be A Mommy

Oh, To Be A Mommy 

Dean’s cell phone rang. He and I were walking the isles of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania home school conference, weaving in and out of the crowds. “It’s for you. It’s Sophia.”

I stopped to catch my breath. Pressing the phone to my ear I said, “It’s Mom. . . What did you say? It’s loud here.”
“The doctor wants to deliver the baby Monday.”
This Monday?”
“Okay, we’ll be there Sunday. This is exciting.”

Joseph Charlton was born May 16th – two weeks early at 7 lbs, 2oz. to Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Englar. The doctor said he would have had a smoother time of it if the baby weren’t holding onto the cord. Baby Joseph was in my arms later in the day when his dad instructed 3 year-old William to touch a finger to the baby’s hand in greeting. When I watched Joseph wrap his tiny fingers (this time) around William’s, a tear came to my eye. The gesture symbolized the beginning of a friendship. I prayed that they would be the best of brothers for their lifetimes.

As if to mark the occasion, three boxes arrived filled with our Mother Culture® CDs. Nigel did a neat job with the jacket design. Although the company printed the artwork darker than was previewed, the sound quality is very good.

Would you like to refresh your outlook? Could you use some reassurance? This talk sympathizes with the busy, hardworking, self-sacrificing home teacher. It presents an array of tried-and-true ideas for safeguarding enthusiasm.

The principles of Mother Culture are invigorating. I illustrate each with an anecdote. The listener is invited to work out whatever principles appeal to her within the uniqueness of her personality.

“Many a truth is spoken in jest,” I think Shakespeare said. Turning the pages of my notes I uphold the majesty of motherhood, embrace the blessing of femininity, and move onto the funny side of things. Recorded live in 2004, I vividly remember that Friday evening. The audience was filled with married couples with whom I apparently had a rapport. I was quite pleased to hear their laughter.

There isn’t an ounce of info-mercial in this talk. I omitted even a mention of my books  (although writing is how our family earns a living). This makes the CD most pleasant to the ears of a parlor of ladies. I’d be happy to serve the sympathy. Will you pour the tea or coffee?   

To place an order for Mother Culture® CD

Send check for $10.50 to:

Charlotte Mason R. & S.
P O Box 296
Quarryville, PA 17566

(In U.S.A. CD is $8.50, shipping $2.00. In Canada CD is $8.50, shipping $5.00. Send postal money order in U.S. dollars.)

It was fun to be recognized (I wasn’t speaking) at the Harrisburg conference by readers who stopped me in the isles to introduce themselves. It was pure delight to chat face to face.

As we are soon to be out-of-stock I placed my talk (as of Nov 2017)  free on Youtube. 

Seeking to Minister,
Karen Andreola 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Take Honey Leave Money

Take Honey Leave Money

When the late blooming narcissus lift their fair faces to the strong breezes of changing temperatures,

when the lilacs are especially fragrant,

and the bleeding hearts are blushing in deepest pink,

asparagus is ready for harvesting.

Having not lived in one place long enough to harvest mature asparagus spears (although I have planted this perennial and wonder who might be harvesting them now) I depend on my neighbors’ gardens.

Down a country road sits a little house surrounded by large gardens. I take advantage of their produce. “Should we stop for more aspar-a-grass? Dean asks - emphasis on the grass. I'm quite used to his wisecracks but still find them funny. He discretely passes up this vegetable at the table. Nevertheless, I cook oodles of it this time of year for our family and whoever chances to stop by.

On a breezy day this May, Dean slipped some dollars into the plastic container while I removed two bunches of asparagus from the water they were standing in. I was dreaming up the next dish. I’ll admit to hanging onto one (now vintage) 90’s blue jean skirt. I attempted to “smarten” it with a brown tweed blazer as I was hastening out the house. It’s a hand-me-down from one of my traditionalist friends.

Craving a juicy lunch of something fresh and green and citrus-y, I made some honey mustard dressing.

1/3 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup lemon juice
1 Tbl honey
1 Tbl mustard
salt & pepper
chopped herbs

After washing asparagus, peeling it is an important step. This enables the spears to cook in less time and thus remain bright green. They are also easier to chew. In a large shallow pan I simmer until fork tender, often simmering a quantity in separate batches.


A salad is so refreshing. My windowsill harvest of alfalfa sprouts reappear here.  

This morning I made a breakfast sandwich of asparagus and melted cheddar cheese on whole-wheat toast. It is a scrumptious springtime breakfast.

I’ve been gobbling up Edith Schaeffer’s chapter on food in her Hidden Art of Homemaking. At the bottom of a page of inspiring suggestions and high ideals one sentence reads,

“Being challenged by what a difference her cooking and her way of serving is going to make in the family life gives a woman an opportunity to approach this with the feeling of painting a picture or writing a symphony.” Page 124 

I’d like to feel this artistic sense more than I do. I have found, however, that anticipating a new fruit or vegetable in season motivates me to combine ever-present kitchen duties with a touch of art. Reading the ideals held up so affirmatively by Edith Schaeffer, helps too. It’s been years since I last read them. 

These asparagus peelings were reserved for the earthworms that live in a garden of lupines and pin cushion plants. With a few sweeps of the hoe they can be worked directly into the soil without composting.   

Potato peelings keep the earthworms well fed, too.

In turn the pincushion plants are happy and so are the butterflies.  

Don’t you love spring?

Comments are welcome. I will read them while I am away for a bit. The bleeding hearts in this post mark one year of blogging. Thanks for visiting, Karen Andreola 

Friday, May 6, 2011

All Education is Divine

All Education Is Divine
 If I’ve learned a thing or two about my fellow homeschool mother, it is that she is conscientious. And, she is not lazy. I admire her for this. It is possible, however, to be so very conscientious that we may sink under the weight of our responsibility.

There is no escaping the fact we educate in part to equip children to pass tests. We must prove to government authorities (or college entrances boards - eventually) that indeed our children are achieving. But this must be subordinate to “knowledge pursued for its own sake,” - to use a phrase of Miss Charlotte Mason.

With this aim knowledge becomes holistic. It is this broader view of knowledge that wonderfully goes into the making of the whole person.

What are the symptoms of a home teacher who is loosing sight of the bigger picture? She may be worrisome, over-worked or overwhelmed. In her efforts to be sure her children are learning she may test them on every page of every book they read. She may feel the need to explain away and away to make sure they get it. But children’s minds are naturally active when they are fed ideas. The mind grows into an understanding gradually with every idea it receives. Do you believe this? I do.

A mother may choose materials, arrange lessons, guide, emphasize, foster noble thoughts, instill habits, but knowledge does not come to her children by her efforts alone. When I first read the following paragraph by Charlotte Mason a little “worry spot” in my heart (that I was holding on to) vanished. It introduces a principle held by the PNEU. Don’t you think it provides an outlook on education like no other?

 “This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God is one which we [PNEU] have ever labored to enforce. We take a very distinct stand upon this point. We do not merely give a religious education, because that would seem to imply the possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the Supreme Educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may, at the same time, be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God . . . We hold, in fact, that great conception of education held by the mediaeval Church." (Page 95 School Education)

This is why self-education in the home school works so well. And this, also, is why we can read a book that may not be written by someone professing to be a Christian and yet still glean some truth from it. Truth is truth no matter whose mouth speaks it. All truth originates from God.

To be awakened by this mediaeval conception of education, and then to trust in the influence of the Supreme Educator makes the home educator’s yoke easier and her burden lighter. She works in tandem. The Holy Spirit, in varying degrees, illuminates the minds of the writers of living books. Above all it is the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit that applies our reading to our hearts and minds.

In my book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, on page 75, I use a quote by Miss Mason to highlight the power of an idea. Sowing the seeds of an inspiring idea in the mind of a child is a positive component in child training.

“It is because we recognize the spiritual potency of the idea that we are able to bow reverently before the fact that God the Holy Spirit, is Himself the Supreme Educator, dealing with each of us in the things we call sacred and those secular. We lay ourselves open to the spiritual ideas, whether these be conveyed by the printed page, the human voice, or whether they reach us without visible sign.”

Knowledge cannot be poured into the head of a child like we pour milk into a glass. Knowledge is absorbed by “the person” of the child.  He, like a morsel of bread, must soak up the milk. Our children will soak up ideas when dealing with living books, engaging their own minds with narration.

Therefore it is okay to give children leisure to think about their lessons. In an empty moment, a quiet or bored moment, they may reflect upon it. They may even act upon it.

Should we guide our students to:

Progress to a higher skill level?
Prepare for tests?
Create an interesting portfolio?

Yes, by all means. But let’s remember to keep the bigger picture in sight; knowledge pursued for its own sake - applied to our hearts and minds by the work of the Supreme Educator.  

PNEU = Parents National Education Union

Discussion is invited

Post Script
I think I polished this post more than I polished my house this week. The subject requires sensitivity. I did, however, make some meal-starters for the freezer. My daughter Sophia is scheduled for a C-section at the end of May and I’d like to be as much of a help as I can. 

Anticipation is in the air.  
 Karen Andreola