Audio Post: Nature Study, The Ideal

nature study quote thornleyIn 1905 Reverend Thornley presented the following paper to a P.N.E.U. Conference- well, he presented a longer version- this audio file is just part 1.

In this section on the ‘ideal’ he is not presenting idealistuc but impractical ideas for nature study. Rather, he is explaining the ideology behind nature study- why it’s important, what is it that the children are to be learning from it- and how.

Again, I’m obviously no professional. I’m just reading aloud from my phone in my living room- you can sometimes hear the Cherub walking around or coughing, and you can definitely tell when she does something I find distracting.=)  But this is one way to get this information out to those who might not otherwise have time to find it:

snail nature sketch

Posted in Charlotte Mason, Nature Study | Tagged , , | 1 Response

My Grandma’s Deployment Bag

Grandma's deployment bag

Grandma’s deployment bag

In the comments to this post,

Tracy asked me what I pack in my emergency bag, which is the pink duffle bag you see to the left.  It’s roughly the size of a backback, with straps and everything just like a regular dufflebag, only about a third the size,  just the right size to sling it across my back and it won’t knock me over or hit my knees.  It’s dusty rose colour, and also the right size to use as a pillow if I need one.

two or three pairs of socks; I tend to prefer either plain organic cotton for comfort or bright, splashy, explosion of colour socks for joy because it’s a hospital, nobody really much cares what you are wearing, and it sometimes makes the kids smile you pass in the hallway. Plus, they make *me* smile.  But I don’t waste time looking for them.  I just grab the socks I find, and I happen to have a lot of colourful ones.

Very comfortable slipon shoes and a pair of street shoes- I wear the street shoes  to the hospital, and change when I get there.  Street shoes are chosen based on season (with the Striderling, it was snowboots, with Baby Batman it was comfortable sandals I think), and pack a pair of ‘croc’ style clogs for wearing in the hospital because they are squishy, easy on the knees, slip on and off easily, and if I need to, I can wear them in the shower and dry them off.  If it’s hot, I wear these in the hospital w/o socks, if it’s cold, i wear them with socks.

What I pack for clothes is based on what is in my ward-drobe, you will need to pack based on yours, obviously.  Because hospitals are always too hot or too cold, I pack short sleeved, lighter things and add a sweater and leggings for when I’m too cold.  Usually. With Striderling, midwinter, I wore the same pair of dark blue corduroy pants every day, and five years later I still can’t look at them without feeling chilled and recalling certain hospital scenes I’d rather forget.

Basically, I pick a two colour combo, then everything I choose has to go with that combination- usually two skirts and two shirts, and a pair of footless leggings or ankle or knee length, based on season.  The shirts and skirts all have to match each other so they are interchangeable.   There’s usually an oversized shirt and the shirt with leggings are my pajamas.   What I wear also matches what’s in my bag.

My wardrobe is that way, too- I have way too many clothes right now, but it’s still groups of two colour combos that I can mix and match- black skirts with shirts in purple, black teal, red, pink.   Brown skirts with shirts in red, pink, brown, cream, or blue.    Some mixed color skirts that work with almost all the shirts.

Underwear, of course, and also if I have them, two or three pads because I feel fresher with those if I’m not going to get to shower or change clothes for a day or two. An extra bra, cotton preferred, or a tank top to wear under shirts.

I have a small travel pillow I like to bring because I dislike strange pillows.

I have a small bathroom bag already packed, and the following items are in that or in my purse at almost all times:

travel bottles of shampoo and conditioner (separate – I hate the two in one kind), a razor, a few band-ades,  spare toothbrush with cover, toothpaste or powder, deodorant, a spray bottle of peroxide with lemongrass, orange, and sometimes oregano essential oil (I may change to cassia, clove, and lemon myrtle): I like these bottles, and bought a case of 12, only half this size, and use them to house sprays for kitchen counters, hand fresheners, and use them on feet and under arms when I feel the need for freshining: 2 oz Amber Boston Round Glass Bottle with Fine Mist sprayer

Also in my bathroom bag: those flossing sticks, and some lotion and my own handsoap or else I get a nasty case of dyshidrotic eczema. I bought this recently, and it is pretty portable: Cetaphil Dry Skin Essentials Kit

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm
makes me feel somewhat human, and it doubles as a bit of blush to the cheeks if you need it (I don’t, I’m red as a tomato anyway).  One of those gloves that is a ‘scrubby’. My own soap.

In my purse:

Kindle and charger (sometimes nurses who are cranky about cell phones have permitted kindles).

Phone and charger and earbuds, which double as noiseblockers

Pens and pencil and a small notebook for doodling, writing down notes, etc.  I write down basic information like my family members names and birthdates as well my own, plus phone numbers because in crises, I forget these things and often need to know them- less necessary as grandma, but vital when I was there as Mom and primary caregiver.

Mints, gum, and Emergen-C and/or teabags

Water bottle of my own


coin purse filled with change from the change jar

safety pins, a few band-ades because I will cut my legs shaving, painkillers, and some spare barrettes or a ponytail holder or two.


I usually wear a headcovering with clips and a barrette so I don’t have to hunt one up.  I finger-comb my hair, so don’t need to bring a brush.  If you have one, a mask for your eyes at night is pleasant.  It’s even more important to find one to buy and give to a new mama in the hospital with her baby.


Now, except for the clothes, most of these things are already packed one way or the other all the time.   I may or may not bring my laptop as well as a spare paperback and a Bible (have a bible or two on my phone and kindle, but sometimes I want one in my hand).

You may also want
a deck of cards
craft project (crochet, cross-stitch, knitting)
crossword puzzle book

With the advent of smart phones, much of the extras for whiling away long hours are taken care of by smart phones, these days. But you may not be able to use your phone, or maybe you don’t have the data, or maybe you just prefer real things in your hands.

I’m probably missing something, or packing more or less than you. But that’s the gist of it.

This post does contain some affiliate links

Posted in health, housewifery, Who We Are | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Writing changed how we think

writing quote Alex Soojung-Kim Pang“Writing supported social enterprises of unprecedented complexity, but it also had a powerful effect on the human mind. As Walter Ong memorably put it, “Writing is a technology that restructures thought.”

Reading knits together regions of the brain that evolved for different purposes but connected around the challenge of recognizing and deciphering texts.

Writing also externalizes ideas, making it possible for people to abstract and analyze concepts in ways that are very difficult in cultures that do nor have writing. The flourishing of Greek philosophy and science, for example, was preceded by the spread of literacy through cities on the Greek mainland and in Greece’s colonies in what is today Turkey. Literacy supported the development of longer, more elaborate forms of argument built on a wider range of sources. Writing made it possible for a person to take a mental step back and examine how authors made their arguments, to analyze the rhetoric and logic they used. From this point on, even spoken language bore the imprint of cognitive attitudes supported by writing.”

The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul

Posted in Books, Words: Writing, blogging, Wordspotting, etc. | Leave a comment

valued for its own sake

( According to Notes on the Teaching of English Literature by E. E. Speigiht, in School: A Monthly Record of Educational Thought and Progress, Volume 1, 1904):
“Four years ago Prof Skeat wrote me a characteristic letter, in which the following remarks occurred: “Your statement that in the Public Schools and in many of the High Schools English Literature is valued highly as a means of education comes to me as a pleasant surprise. I was wholly unaware of the fact, being under the impression that with a few exceptions no interest whatever is taken in our Public Schools in the subject of English Literature; and I still doubt whether it is valued for its own sake. One use of English Literature in our Public Schools is to select fine passages for the purpose of being turned into Greek and Latin verse or prose. But it is done for the sake of the Greek and Latin. Another point is that attention is often paid to the use of choice language for the purpose of translation from Latin and Greek into English. But here again the real object is the improvement of scholarship in Latin and Greek. In some schools candidates are prepared for the Local Examinations, but here the English subjects are really taught for the purpose of securing marks. A list of the names of the schools where English Literature is taught for its own sake would be very interesting. I wonder whether they amount to half a dozen.”


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Centered. In the zone. Zen. Flow.

That feeling you get when you are really focused a task, usually something you love, and the outside world recedes and it’s just you, doing your thing. You are not reading a book, you are the story in the book, you are living it. YOu are not writing something you are marking up or creating, the words are flowing out of your fingers, unforced, naturally, and the noises around you are muffled, distant, and then you are cocooned in silence, no matter what is going on around you. For Jenny, it’s sewing. For ohters it migh be baking, or gaming, or building something, or painting, or anything- really. Making lox, even:

Reading The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul, and I found this:

“As reading shows, becoming so familiar with technologies that they become part of ourselves, being able to use them effortlessly, and feeling them extend our physical or cognitive or creative abilities can be intensely pleasurable. You can experience the same feeling driving or cycling in those moments when you feel like the machine is an extension of your body and you’re connected through it with the road. You can have the same sensation playing a sport or game, those times when the racket or controller becomes a part of your hand and you react to new threats before you realize it, feeling challenged but in control. You can feel it when rock climbing or hiking, when every sense is absorbed by your surroundings and your body is stressed but you don’t feel like you’re going to crash; rather, you feel like you’re going to crash through your old limits.

That state is What Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. Flow has four major components, Csikszentmihalyi writes. “Concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or to worry about problems. Self—consciousness disappears, and the sense of time becomes distorted. An activity that produces such experiences is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, with little concern for what they will get out of it, even when it is difficult, or dangerous.”

You can reach flow doing almost anything. Csikszentmihalyi (it’s pronounced “Chick-sent—me—high—ee”) has been studying flow for decades, and he and his collaborators have interviewed or surveyed thousands of people around the world, people of various different ages and in a wide variety of occupations. “We find people who have to slice salmon all day for lox and bagels in Manhattan, who approach their work with the same sense of creative commitment as a sculptor or a scientist,” he tells me over Skype from his office at Claremont University’s Drucket School of Management, outside Los Angeles. …”

Almost anything, but there are some things that make it more likely:
“Situations in which there are challenges, clear rules, and immediate feedback are likely to support flow. This is one reason that games—be they board games, like chess, or video games—are so appealing: players can get into flow states quickly. With simpler video games, Csikszentmihalyi says, “You have aliens and you have to shoot them. That takes a good trigger finger and an ability to react quickly.” Jobs where people can construct short—term goals for themselves—rotate these three sets of tires, write live pages, load this cargo in a way that balances the weight and keeps the ship stable—keep their attention long enough for them to enter a flow state. (Having the autonomy to define one’s goals also helps create a sense of independence.) Indeed, Finding those goals, defining them in ways that make them challenging but achievable, is itself a skill and a sign of real mastery.”

Challeges. Goals. Feedback (which can be your product, not necessarily outside input). Hardwork, because you meet those challenges. And one more thing:

“Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues in the field of positive psychology—essentially, the science of happiness—have discovered that people are happiest when they are absorbed in difficult tasks, not when they’re diverted by sybaritic pleasures. “The best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times,” Csikszentmihalyi writes. They “occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Challenge, exhilaration, worthwhile and rewarding difficulties, and an intense awareness of them: these are what produce flow, and flow is the key to happiness. The intensity of flow experiences help people understand who they truly are. “When you pay attention to the point that it really reflects who you are, what you’ve done, what you want to do,” Csikszentmihalyi tells me, “you fulfill your role in this world; you feel good about yourself and your work.”

The ability to pay attention, to control the content of your consciousness, is critical to a good life. This explains why perpetual distraction is such a big problem. When you’re constantly interrupted by external things—the phone, texts, people with “just one quick question,” clients, children—by self-generated interruptions, or by your own efforts to multitask and juggle several tasks at once, the chronic distractions erode your sense of having control of your life. They don’t just derail your train of thought. They make you lose yourself.”

Attention. Focus. Like Charlotte Mason said all those years ago.


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