Christmas in the tropics


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Education is the science of relations, connections, affinities

We dabbled in various types of homeschooling for a few years, but there were things that were always part of what I did, and they were there because of reading For the Children’s Sake- these were the things that I recall particularly resonated with me:
Poetry (Winnie the Pooh, reciting for grandparents, fourth grade poetry book given to me for Christmas when I in the hospital)
Hymns: acapella tradition, sang hymns at homes and on long car trips.
Classical music- we didn’t listen to the radio, but my dad had a number of records (yes, I am so analog), all of them classic. We also had a handful of folk songs in our family repetoire.

Well written books/literature was a constant.
Nature study: My grandmother majored in Botany in the 1920s, when not that many women went to college.  She always showed us the plants and wildflowers on our walks and told us their names.

Education is the science of relations.

Those things appealed to me because they were things I had grown up with- they were, in fact, most the best parts of a childhood that actually wasn’t very good, a childhood that, in fact, resulted in two of the three of us emerging into adulthood already loaded by the burden of PTSD from the abuse we endured. And yet those things were there, glimmering beacons of peace and safety in an otherwise extremely painful childhood.

Assuming you are interested in homeschooling and Charlotte Mason, since you are reading this post- why?  Consider that a moment and see if you can trace the causes.

All those things I mentioned, the poetry, the books, the nature study, they resonated with me because I had a relationship, a connection, what Mason calls an ‘affinity’ for those things- an affinity is a natural connection, a relationship, a sympathetic interest. My interest in homeschooling to begin with was because of a relationship- the relationship I had with my daughter. Then there was the relationship I had with my friend who loaned me For the Children’s Sake, and the relationships I built online with other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers,

I am guessing that for most of you, your interest in homeschooling and CM has something to do with some connections and relationships as well, probably both people and subjects. I had a relationship, with poetry and folk songs because somebody took the time to introduce them to me- that’s not usually the sort of thing children discover on their own. In my case, and probably yours, these things happened in a somewhat haphazard way. A lot of worthwhile things happen that way, and that’s fine. But a Charlotte Mason education is also about having a planned, organized way to help children discover a wide range of topics, activities, subjects, ideas, and skills that they can form a connection, a relationship with, in away that isn’t limited only by what we, their parents, already know and like.

You never know what is that will be just the thing a child needs or will connect to, and how he will form those connections.  A child cannot be interested in or pursue relationships with topics and ideas he has never heard of.  That’s why there are adults in his life to help him learn about those things.  That’s why a CM education is both disciplined and organized and never, ever based on the limitations of what interests you.  But it’s also why a CM education incorporates plenty of free time, so the spontaneous connections can also happen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Response

George Herbert, Nativity

All after pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tir’d, bodie and minde,
With full crie of affections, quite astray,
I took up in the next inne I could finde.
There when I came, whom found I but my deare,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to him, readie there
To be all passengers most sweet relief?
O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,
Wrapt in nights mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right,
To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger:
Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have
A better lodging then a rack or grave.

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymne for thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is thy word: the streams, thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Out-sing the day-light houres.
Then we will chide the sunne for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I finde a sunne
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipt sunnes look sadly.
Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev’n his beams sing, and my musick shine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Davao Diary, some perspective

Something to keep in mind about my observations of Davao-

Davao City proper is 1.6 million people (as of 2015) and metro-Davao is 2.5 million people.  I’ve spent the last dozen years or so living on a country road where my nearest neighbor is my mother, and I couldn’t see her house, and I could pretty much count all the people I might see in a day on two hands, (one hand after the girls started marrying off) and they were related to me.

I find the poverty, the shanties, the people begging for money (many more of these in the October-January Christmas season) very startling and hard to bear. But there was a huge homeless tent/lean to area not far from us when we lived in Everett, Washington.  However, they were hidden because they kept out of sight in the wild blackberry bushes. The numbers are probably not much more here than in New York, L.A. Chicago, or San Francisco.  I was told that people come into Davao this time of year from villages in the mountains around us, and they come specifically to beg. It’s part of their planned income for the rest of the year. I don’t know how true this is or isn’t, it’s just what I was told, and it was by somebody who knows more than I do, so take it for what it’s worth.  I do see a LOT more people asking for money on the streets in December.

I find the traffic crazy and overwhelming, but again- I am small town, country.  I don’t drive in Chicago because I find that overwhelming as well.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What’s up?

I finished my last day at work a couple days ago and am on Christmas break.  I had been going back and forth on whether I really wanted to go back. There are some reasons why me supervising the teens and study hall and some of the rules are not a great fit.  I hate telling people what to do.

Then the new head of school abruptly had to quit and return stateside due to serious health concerns and I thought that I shouldn’t quit in the circumstances.  And then I got an email saying that they were changing up study hall and didn’t think they’d need me any more, but would I be willing to help out later if they changed their minds?  And then I thought of all the free time I would now have and what I could do with it, and then I texted the wife of the head of school, who is still here with her babies (18 mos and a newborn) because the newborn’s paperwork isn’t in yet so she cannot travel with him. I asked what I could do to help and that includes basically being a substitute grandmother and friend while she chases paperwork and is alone at home (she does have an awesome helper, but doesn’t want to burn her out too much).  So January is pretty full all over again.

We’d already made arrangements to be detoxing and unwinding from a crazy busy, hectic, exhausting schedule the last couple of months at a beach get away popular with the other missionaries. We’ve already heard of 3 other staff members who will be there, and we told them if we happen to see other, absolutely no work talk is allowed.

I’ve worked with my husband to put together a book reading plan for one of his Korean child students who needs work on language and vocabulary but in a way that will stick.  I tutor her two days a week for an hour each week, and currently he’s doing one hour a week, but wants to increase that to five extra hours a week and I am working on a booklist for him to use.  If you’re ever in the market for something like this, let me tell you the Yang family books are fantastic.  (affiliate link)

I’ve been working on language lessons for my Korean family- I’m adding another couple in January.  My latest venture is to pick a couple family friendly shows or movies on Youtube and sort of write some language tips and lessons around them.  This came about because the husband of my current couple of learners said he’d tried to find something to watch to help with his language progress, but, and here he was clearly uncomfortable, he thinks most American programming is for adults, and he didn’t mean that as a compliment.  He’d been interested in talk shows, and if you have watched any Korean variety shows, you can understand what a shock that was to him.  I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I know our mainstream culture is degenerate and disgusting, but when I don’t ever watch any of that myself, I forget how bad it is.  The level of degeneracy in American culture is heartbreaking. So I really need to pick some specific programs or shows to recommend. It’s too embarrassing otherwise, and then, if I know what shows they are watching I can build some discussion points around it and search for usages of phrasal verbs and figures of speech.

I finally settled on some Hallmark movies, but for now they have to first be cleared for all ages by .  This means I miss a lot of shows that might be suitable, but this screening tool helps me save on wifi usage by not wasti g time on shows I will not be able to recommend.  If any readers have some other suggestion, that would be terrific.

Hallmark’s The Magic of Ordinary Days is one I liked.  The lead female character is a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock and is pushed into an arranged marriage with a stranger by her embarrassed pastor dad, but that’s all back story.  You don’t see the previous relationship, and it’s never glorified.  The movie is about how she learns to put the past behind her and to fall in love with her husband (K-drama trope catnip for me), who is a fantastically good man.  It’s set in WWII, and there’s a Japanese internment camp connection as well.   It’s a bit slow, but that actually makes it easier to follow and there’s not a ton of dialog, but enough to make it easy to discuss.

The Pumpkin Pie Wars is another one I might try.

I am sticking to Hallmark/Dove right now because there’s a great chance they are clean and understandable to new English speakers, and I don’t have a good enough internet connection to use up much wifi juice on things that are 50/50

Requirements are:

Understandable English- so Andy Griffeth and Sue Thomas FBEye are not good options because the accents are difficult for new learners.

Clean.  Sweet.  No language and no heavy skinship scenes.


Youtube, probably.  There may be other good free sources for American shows here, but I don’t know what they are.

Optional, but so desirable: Good , real captions.  Not auto-generated.   In the pilot episode of Sue-Thomas, FBEYE, for example, she *says* “That was prompt.” But the autocaptions said, “That was F***ed.”   Not acceptable.  So far, I’m just telling the learners to turn the captions off, but if somebody has a good recommendation of one that has decent captions, I’d love it.

Netflix and the like is no good  It’s not really available here and these are missionaries.  Few of us make enough money to cover little extras like paid monthly subscriptions for movie sites.


We have company for dinner regularly, at least once a week.  To make it easier on me we have them on a day the house-helper is here, and she cooks the main dish. I made side dishes and have been practicing and refining a toaster over snack cake recipe I have, since my toaster oven holds 3 pans if they are the size you could put in an easy-bake oven.

I think that’s it.

Regarding Christmas, I’m afraid I’m opting out this year. I brought no Christmas decorations at all, except for one dish towel. I didn’t buy any here.  I am not playing carols.  We do get carollers every night- three to five groups.  You have to pay them, though (it’s not expensive).  But there are three or four boys who keep returning several times in a night, the rascals.  The thing is, I miss the kids and grandkids and this is our second Christmas without them.  I do better if I just dont’ have Christmas stuff here at home.  Otherwise it rains on my face.   I’m fine otherwise. Still very happy to be here.

But I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas!

Update: We are fine.  But a few coworkers lost everything in flooding from the tropical storm,  and so far there are nearly 200 deaths.  In addition there was a mall fire here and at least 29 are dead and countless others have lost their livelihoods.

Smoke from the mall fire 24 hours after it started, taken from a nearby island.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Responses

  • The Common Room on Facebook

  • Amazon: Buy our Kindle Books

  • Search Amazon

    Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

  • Brainy Fridays Recommends: