Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Learning the Art of Mother Culture

Learning the Art of Mother Culture
- a message from my daughter Sophia

Sophia, Andrew, and baby William, 2007
Greetings to Mom's blog friends.

I am Karen Andreola’s firstborn child. On the pages of my mother’s new book, Mother Culture – For a Happy Homeschool,* sometimes she refers to me as Baby One, Big Sister, or Sophia.

Despite our family’s many household moves and frequent challenges, the memories of my childhood are happy and magical ones. Some of my favorite memories are of playing make-believe, going barefoot in the creek, our family’s many nature walks, and being absorbed in a good book.

I remember reading this aloud 25 years ago and bought a copy recently. 

Fast forward to adulthood and the exciting anticipation of my own firstborn. As my husband and I planned for our baby’s arrival, I dreamed of creating those same happy memories for him.

My mother made it look easy, but I quickly found motherhood was not as dreamy as I had planned. With his birth came a screaming baby, sleepless nights, exhaustion, and loneliness. Life with my baby was really, really hard. The grace of God and many long distance phone calls to my mother saw me through those early years of adjustment.

Green time for William, Joseph, Eloise.
Now I have three children. As they grow, so do my mothering and home teaching skills. I am learning to apply the art of Mother Culture. These wise principles are the tools I have needed to keep growing into the mother I had dreamed of being—not perfect, but equipped to face the daily challenges of a home teacher.

Chocolate molds make interesting Christmas ornaments in the Keeping Room.
Perhaps those many hours of phone chats with a frazzled daughter convinced my mother of the need for a book on Mother Culture. I can remember one especially trying wet winter’s day several years ago. “Mom, after chores everyone’s been in a sour mood,” I said. “They’re crying and so am I. It’s been a horrible morning.”

Free-motion quilting is a fun way to doodle. The church reminds me of Maine.
“Put on some sunshiny music* and dance with the children,” my mother advised. “When you're good and tired, sit on the floor. The children will gather around you, the littlest one on your lap, to hear you read aloud from a cute picture book. It will calm your frazzled nerves and theirs, too. Then you can return to lessons.” So I did. It worked. Later, when Daddy got home, Mommy took a peaceful walk by herself and read a chapter from an edifying novel. It is amazing how refreshing a 30-minute break can be. Similar words of advice have rescued many a day for my mother’s grandchildren.

Our grandchildren like the steam engines at Strasburg's train museum. 
My firstborn baby turns 11 this month. Today, he and I, along with his younger brother and sister, made some of those childhood memories that I always dreamed about.

By applying the principles preserved in Mom's book, you will not only be encouraging yourself but be inspired to encourage and uplift those you love. As you learn the skillful art of Mother Culture, your days at home with your children will increasingly be filled with joy and peace. - Sophia

Thank you Sophia.

The occasional odd moment of sitting on the hearth rug, is a fast way of getting the attention of young children, who will stop fussing and head straight for Mommy.

*New book: available January or sooner. It is printed and now scheduled to be "baked" the printers told us. 

5 Smile-Making Songs

Some peppy and positive smile-makers, for Mom and her young children, can be found on YouTube. I decided not to provide a link but to list them as titled there:

"Oliver - Goodmorning starshine."
"The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
"(HQ)Peter, Paul & Mary - Puff the Magic Dragon."
"Fifth Dimension - Up, Up & Away, My Beautiful Balloon."
"John Denver - Grandma's Feather Bed"

2 Quieting Songs

"John Denver Sunshine on my Shoulders"
Dad found this little-known quiet-song: "Eddy Arnold C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S."

I made 4 of these trees for family gifts - starting in July.
I wish you a cheery day.
Karen Andreola
A return to the quilt shop, this time, for some reproduction fabric.
Post Script
I spent a pretty penny for an out-of-print copy of Good King Wencelslas by Mildred Luckhardt for sentimental reasons (Abingdon Press, 1964). But also because it is a story I wish to pass onto my grandchildren. It is based on the Christian Duke of Bohemia (907-935). In 1853, hymn writer, John Mason Neale, wrote the lyrics for the Christmas Carol. Do you know "Good King Wencelsas" written to the music of a jig? Mildred Luckhardt also wrote The Story of Saint Nicholas - but I've not read it. I saw a variety of picture books on Wencelslas on this page on Amazon. It made me curious. 


  1. Oh my, what a wonderful post. My thirteen year old daughter just studied the life of good King Wenceslas. I really enjoyed learning about him as well. I am so encouraged by Sophia’s words. I pray that my daughters can have this wonderful attitude and philosophy of parenting that your daughter so beautifully displays. You created a magical childhood for her, and it will multiply down through the generations. I too had a magical childhood and those memories give me great comfort when life gets challenging. I can’t wait for your new book, I have all your others, and yes the magic does come through the pages. Just today I used two of your stories from your Story Starters book to teach the students in my writing class. They were very captivated by the stories and we were all wishing that you could finish all the stories. Thank you for sharing your time and your talent with the home learning community and making every season seem magical.

  2. This is wonderful advice for young mothers. Reading Sophia's perspective is encouraging. Your new book will be a delight!

  3. I have the Good King Wenceslas by Seymour and it is beautiful.

  4. We all have had those days that Sophia writes about. There is so much wisdom in "redirection." For too long I felt like I was a quitter if I didn't press on through the day's originally planned schedule, even if it wasn't working.
    As always, thank you for sharing such beautiful photos. And the lovely winter header with so much cozy red! I always look forward to these seasonal changes.
    Advent blessings!

  5. That is a pretty book cover. The words of your daughter speak a lot of your own teachings to your children. I am waiting patiently for the new book.....sigh.

  6. I love those song ideas! I had the most wonderful time with three of my grandsons recently teaching them songs that we had sung 20 years ago and more with their father and his siblings. Singing is really a happy-making activity.

    But I don't have all of your suggestions in my iTunes or repertoire, etc, so I'm going to look for them now, because I recognize them as fun, or comforting, compositions. Thanks!

  7. Is this "Mother Culture for a Happy Homeschool" available now?

    1. "Mother Culture" will be available around Christmas - sold through Simply Charlotte Mason. I will make an announcement as soon as I hear that they have received stock. Thank you for asking. Sonya Shafer visited here and recorded our chat in the my front parlor, some months ago. This interview/chat about Mother Culture will be an upcoming podcast on the Simply Charlotte Mason blog soon.

  8. Oh, I'm looking forward to that interview, Karen! You must be excited for your book to finally be coming out. (I know I am.) :)

  9. Karen,
    You are so blessed to have your children think so highly of you. What a treasure you are! I am so looking forward to your book and I'm prayerfully hoping that our library will purchase it as well. I live in a homeschool-friendly area; your book would be a blessing to many.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. Yay! I always am uplifted by you or your daughter's posts! I am looking forward to your new book. I may no longer be homeschooling my children, but I am always learning!

  11. Thank You Karen for such an interesting post. Sophia is a lovely young woman. You have such beautiful and talented children. We always enjoy your posts. Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas and a Happy,Healthy and Peaceful 2019. God Bless.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

  12. I loved Sophia's perspective. I wish I had had it as a young mom. One of the problems with homeschooling back in the olden days is that the magazines made it look like homeschooling would give us perfect kids. No. It wasn't true. I spent most of my homeschooling years heaped in guilt for not having the perfect results I thought everyone else was achieving.

    Thank you for giving vision and encouragement and hope to young moms and this older, almost done with homeschooling mom, too.


    1. I agree, Laura, there was a lot of "false advertising" at one time. Once one feels like a failure, it's difficult to shake those thought patterns. I wish you a Merry Christmas!

  13. Can't wait for your new book and to hear the interview! I appreciate all your encouragement. Have a happy Christmas!

  14. I am a mom of three children under six and looking forward to homeschooling them. I've been geeking out on Charlotte Mason, so I came across the companion and have been reading it. As I read along, I began to suspect that I have known the same Sophia and Yolanda from a college and career group at WPC over 10 years ago! The picture above confirms it! Back then I was Michelle Van Schoick. I wonder if Sophia and Yolanda remember me? I'd be great to reconnect.

    1. Hello Michelle, What a neat coincidence. I will talk to my girls. They'd probably be happy to connect. My email (spelled out here but not linked directly to avoid spam) is karenjandreola(at)gmail(dot)com. Please feel free to write me. Yolanda is in Lancaster and Sophia is about an hour away in Maryland.

  15. Maybe not so much of a coincidence. Like minded people find each other. šŸ˜ƒ

  16. This was such an encouraging post! Thank you! Also, thank you for your book, "Lessons at Blackberry Inn". I received it several weeks ago as a present from a friend, and it has been such a blessing to pick up and read. It makes hard days a little brighter. You have such a heart for encouraging moms...and boy do we need it! Can't wait to read "Mother Culture"!