Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Collector of Books

I just had to share with you and an interesting experience I had last week.  I'm sure I could write about the wonderful time spent at the Great Homeschool Convention in Long Beach and the helpful, inspiring speakers I heard.  Especially how great it was to listen to some very influential ladies like Sonya Schafer, Catherine Levison, Rea Berg and even Susan Wise Bauer.  Oh, don't let me forget Adrew Pudewa's talk on boys and learning ... But I'm sure that you already know how wonderful they all are.  So, no, this post is instead about the $1.00 Bookstore my friend discovered directly across the street from the Convention Center.

I think that between her, another friend and I; we walked away with about 120 books total.  Everywhere we turned there were books.  The shelves were just packed with books.  My friend discovered that they re-shelf daily!  An attempt at sectioning was evident, but, honestly, there was no real order to the shelving.  There were books on top and behind other books.  You literally had to move some around to see what else was hidden on that shelf.  I had not been to a used bookstore like this before.  Certainly a book lovers and a Charlotte Mason educators heaven.

I'm sure I could have spent all day there but for time sakes I stuck to the children's section of the store.  Even doing that cost me an extra $6.00 because I had to pay for the CD of the workshop I intended to go to but ended up missing  ; )  I had no trouble recognizing authors and titles that my mind has catalogued after years of looking through others lists and of course searching the 4Real engines.  Even more fun was handing my friend titles that we already own and know are worth while living books.  Then there were those titles that I didn't recognize but just by looking at or reading a few paragraphs I knew could potentially be a great living book. 

My friend jokingly stated she felt some pilgrimages were going to be a must.  We live over 60 miles away and in Los Angeles traffic: oh, my!  In all seriousness, she might be right.  Forget, that the books were only a dollar a piece, but the plethora of used and out of print titles to choose from was dreamy.  Don't get me wrong, the price makes searching through the sea of books even sweeter.   I know that not everyone can find a gem of a store like this one, but I guess my point is one that didn't strike me until a few hours after we had paid for our books.   Catherine Levison touched on living books at her last session.  I'm paraphrasing of course, but the statement that really struck me went something like: you need to build a book collection, have shelves full of books, then you can choose what to teach from your shelves, the task becomes easier than searching out living books you might not find.  There are so many wonderfully written books out there and now with free e-reader books, there really isn't a reason why we can't give our children a worthwhile living books education. My friends and I looked at each other and were wondering if she knew about the book store across the street ; )

I also spent far more money at the convention hall on a handful of study guides mostly to be used as references for myself, but had no interest in any of the boxed curriculum I saw.  I enjoy putting together a year full of living books for my children's education.  I enjoy reading through book lists, cataloguing them in my brain and notebooks.  Am I becoming a Charlotte Mason snob?, I think I'm just fulfilling my love of books and my faith in Ms. Mason's philosophy.  I'd say I'm just a collector of books for my children's sake.

Pictured are just some of my bookshelves, there are more shelves in the family/learning room, in the kids bedrooms, several book baskets around the house, hidden storage areas too.  Yes, as I'm blushing, think I got the living books suggestions down  ; )

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Little Yosemite Valley and Merced Lake in May

My amazing husband is our households biggest trekker, adventurer and nature enthusiast thus far.  When we were first married he enjoyed at least two annual back packing trips.  As our family has grown he is down to the must have annual trip; camping and road trips don't count.  I have to admit, while I've always enjoyed the photographs he returns with, I've never really thought that trekking into the back country with 30-40 lbs. on my back was all that interesting.  But, the more nature study, time spent outdoors and reading of natural history have become musts in our education...oh does it sound tempting and oh so interesting!

Vernal Falls,  Nevada Falls with Liberty Dome in the center

Last week he took a very quick two day 30 mile trek through Little Yosemite Valley with Merced Lake being his destination point.  The weather was amazing for this time of year.  He's been on these trails before and thought he would surely run into snow but instead he was greeted with 80 degree sunny weather.  He definitely did too many miles in just a few days and suffered for it; boy did he have the blisters to prove it!  Well, the blisters are all healed now so he finally got around to putting away his gear this morning.  And you want to know what  he said?  "I can't wait for next year's trip."   Look at these amazing pictures and tell me that hiking into the back country doesn't sound just a bit enticing:

almost there!

This weekend my in laws were over for dinner and my husband showed them his pictures.  As he and his dad exchanged memories of previous trips and locations I couldn't help but think of our dear Charlotte Mason.  Mind you, neither of these men know much about Ms. Mason and her works except for what I enthusiastically share with them; but, oh,  how clear it was to me how one father's love of nature lore and adventure has been passed down to the son.  I know I've quoted part of this before but the second half just resonated so much this weekend:
The Force of Public Opinion in the Home.––Some children are born naturalists, with a bent inherited, perhaps, from an unknown ancestor; but every child has a natural interest in the living things about him which it is the business of his parents to encourage; for, but few children are equal to holding their own in the face of public opinion; and if they see that the things which interest them are indifferent or disgusting to you, their pleasure in them vanishes, and that chapter in the book of Nature is closed to them. It is likely that the Natural History of Selborne would never have been written had it not been that the naturalist's father used to take his boys on daily foraging expeditions, when not a moving or growing thing, not a pebble nor a boulder within miles of Selborne, escaped their eager examination. Audubon, the American ornithologist, is another instance of the effect of this kind of early training. "When I had hardly learned to walk," he says, "and to articulate those first words always so endearing to parents, the productions of Nature that lay spread all around were constantly pointed out to me . . . My father generally accompanied my steps, procured birds and flowers for me, and pointed out the elegant movements of the former, the beauty and softness of their plumage, the manifestations of their pleasure, or their sense of danger, and the always perfect forms and splendid attire of the latter. He would speak of the departure and return of the birds with the season, describe their haunts, and, more wonderful than all, their change of livery, thus exciting me to study them, and to raise my mind towards their great Creator." -  Home Education, Volume 1 pg 58 (1906)
I see the enthusiasm between him and his dad; one that honestly sometimes is hard to understand  by those who haven't trekked the back country like that.  And while, yes, one of my goals is to join my husband on a back packing trip one day; I know that the love for it will really be passed down to the kids by him.  I've been fortunate to be able to provide the more scientific and structured part of nature observation in our schooling thanks to Ms. Mason's guidance.  Now, I'm looking forward to the trips that our children will take with him and who knows between both of our  influences we might just have a true Field Naturalist in the midst.  A nature lover at the very least! ; D

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

A little poem and my 7 yr. old son's Mother's Day paintings; he is giving them away as presents tomorrow. I love to watch him work and I'm just tickled that he recently started to title his work : D 

Field of Flowers

Night and Morning
by Dorothy Aldis

The morning sits outside afraid
Until my mother draws the shade;

Then it bursts in like a ball,
Splashing sun all up the wall.

And the evening is not night
Until she's tucked me in just right
And kissed me and turned out the light.

Oh, if my mother went away
Who would start the night and day?

Creative Sunset
I sincerely wish all of you a Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Death Valley, CA in April

My husband finally loaded all 100 plus pictures from his 3 day camping trip with the kids to Death Valley a few weeks ago.  For a few years now he has taken the older 3 and now 4 children on camping trips.  We've been chicken about doing these road trips with non-potty trained little ones : ( maybe next year.

They have always headed towards woodsy mountain terrains. The desert was a new experience for all of them; including dad!  We know how hot it can get and thought that a spring trip would help with the weather; it kind of did.  They weren't sure what to expect or if there would be much to keep their attention.  Oh boy,  let me assure you they came back talking up a storm about all the beauty and wonder they found.  Take a look for yourself and enjoy: 

Red Rock
monolith at Red Rock

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes the sun is extremely bright!

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes, it was close to 100 degrees 

Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon
Artist Palette
Artist Palette
Ubehebe Crater
road filled with ash near Ubehebe Crater

These are but just a select few shots from their experience.  I have another handful of pictures they took of wild flowers, shrubs and even a few trees.  I shamefully admit we don't own a dessert  desert field guide.  That will be changing soon; we still have to sort those pictures and find out what they are ; )