Rivendell, WIS

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Your home has an atmosphere...

On the Ambleside Online Yahoo group, a friend asked how a homeschool mom can focus on the atmosphere Charlotte Mason spoke of ("Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life"). Here are some thoughts I posted in response.

When I think about atmosphere in our home, I think about myself, not my kids. I've found that it is unhealthy for me to focus too much on my children's attitudes, my children's habits. I'm enough of a perfectionist that focusing on them breeds discontent and critical thoughts, if not critical words. For those of you with younger children, believe me when I say that a mother who nags, bosses and criticizes her daughters will reap a harvest of daughters who nag, boss, and criticize each other. :(

I have a much better time of it if I concentrate on my own attitudes, words, actions. "Motherhood is a three-legged stool: prayer, example, and instruction." My example is more powerful than my preaching.

This seems to be in line with Charlotte Mason's understanding of "atmosphere." There aren't too many passages in Volume 1 that speak about atmosphere, but here's one, from Vol. 1, pp. 136,137.

"In the second place, the child's most fixed and dominant habits are those which the mother takes no pains about, but which the child picks up for himself through his close observation of all that is said and done, felt and thought, in his home.

Habits inspired in the Home Atmosphere.––We have already considered a group of half physical habits––order, regularity, neatness––which the child imbibes, so to speak, in a way. But this is not all: habits of gentleness, courtesy, kindness, candour, respect for other people, or––habits quite other than these, are inspired by the child as the very atmosphere of his home, the air he lives in and must grow by."

Notice that the character traits are "picked up" from the child's observation of the people in his home. He even picks up habits from what is "felt and thought." Children are so sensitive. And gentleness, kindness, respect are "inspired by" the atmosphere.

We don't have a picture here of a mother micro-managing every minute of her child's day through a superwoman scheduling scheme, do we? That was what I was aiming for a few years ago, I must admit. Instead, we see a mother who humbly walks before her God, passing on almost effortlessly the things that she believes strongly enough to practice daily. She creates an atmosphere by being who she is in Christ, by being Christ-like.

One more quote from Charlotte Mason,
from Vol 2 p. 247:

"How would you summarise the functions of education?

Education is a discipline––that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere––that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives."

So thankful to have my children at home...

"What if you could give your child the ultimate gift? What would it be?" How about 720 Extra Days of Childhood? Read more at Mozart and Mud Pies. A blog well worth reading. Good job, Ann L. Collins.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Appetizers (provided by one of our guests)
Roast Turkey - Brown Butter and Scallion Mashed Potatoes - Gravy - Stuffing - Cranberry Rosemary Wine Jelly - Applesauce
French Bread - Baked Butternut Squash - Cauliflower Gratin
Apple Cider - Cranberry Cocktail
Pumpkin Pie - Cranberry Walnut Upside-Down Cake - Another dessert (provided by a guest)
Atole - Harvest Spice Coffee

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Food 24/7

A few years ago, I realized that I think about food almost all day long. I'm the mom, you know, so I plan menus, cook, clean up, buy groceries, look through cookbooks, search for recipes online, plan more menus...

This year, I lost about 7 pounds in 3 months. I'm lighter now than I have been since having our first child 19 years ago. People notice, but when they ask how I did it, I have trouble putting it into words.

Today, I thought of one way to explain it. I realized that I can truthfully say: "I only eat what I like. I eat less of most things than I would like to eat, and I eat some things less often than I would like to eat them, but I eat what I like and I'm satisfied with the smaller portions."

The impetus for this change in my eating patterns came from Mireille Guiliano's book, French Women Don't Get Fat. It's a commonsense philosophy of food and health, really.

Favorite quote from the book: French women typically think about good things to eat. American women typically worry about bad things to eat.