It is so exciting to see spring unfolding once again and so early this year! As usual, we are excited to be out in the yard cleaning up and dreaming of things to come, preparing gardens, tidying out the garage (let me tell you: that’s a messy job this year!) and starting little seedlings. I am not nearly so much a gardening expert as I am an aficionado, a fan, a devotee to mucking in the dirt with hopes that something yummy might spring from it. Really I am still that kid that makes mud pies and dreams of them really being tasty treats.
In addition to these signs of spring you can also be sure to find me playing with stacks of boxes and leafing through countless books as this is also the beginning of “Conference Season”. Maple Tree will be at several conferences and sales over the next several months and I will also have the funky privilege of chatting with many of you as I teach several seminars at these gatherings and as I visit in our little corner of the exhibit hall.
Continue reading A New Season…
** Please note the date changes below. Thank you all for your kind words and support as our family has struggled to find health this fall. We are pleased to report that hubby is now recovering at home after a week long hospital stay. **
I am so excited to start a new year of Charlotte Mason Support Group! As many of you know I host this little book club for very selfish reasons as I am so energized and encouraged by the visits of like-minded mamas every 5-6 week. You give me a boost that helps me to imagine I might survive this crazy game for a few more weeks.
Continue reading Mother Culture: A Charlotte Mason Support Group in Bradford, Ontario *Note date change!*
One of my sweet friends reminded me recently that this life that we are living is always going to be a juggling act and that we are always going to be dropping the ball. The trick is to choose which ball to drop and when and to make sure that we alternate which one gets dropped from time to time.
I am sure that many of you also have a similar story: there’s my job as wife and then mom and teacher and small business woman. I need to feed little people, and make sure I get some exercise in, and that the laundry is relatively under control, and pack book treats into boxes and envelopes and write. Writing. I miss that. Writing has been the ball that has been dropped lately and it’s time to dust it off and pick it up and get in touch again. I think I am a bit of a modern day old fashioned girl: not much for talking on the phone but I do love to write and exchange notes. If we can’t sit down and have a proper conversation over a cup of tea, then the written word is one of the best ways to communicate.
Writing soothes me. I think that’s why I am a journaller. I write even when I hope that no one will ever read it. And while this sunny little spot Under the Maple Tree isn’t a very large community, I thank you for joining in this conversation. It encourages me to hear from you and to hear of your struggles and your victories. Thanks for indulging me and letting me share my little part of the world with you. I’ve missed this time.
I can’t wait to tell you a bit about what’s been going on here. Most of it is mundane and everyday-ish, some is exciting and exhilarating. Dropping the writing ball has allowed me to do a little better at a few other things. I have become fairly consistent in exercising and eating better, which has lead to me adding a few new treats to the shelves of our store: the book Trim Healthy Mama and some of the specialty foods that they provide like healthy natural sweeteners.
We have also done a bunch of the boring behind the scenes work that needs to be done, updating computer programmes and hardware to make Maple Tree run better. I thought that changing my email address (to firstname.lastname@example.org) would be less cumbersome than it proved to be but now we have an address that won’t need to change again as it matches our website.
We’ve tripled the number of books that are available on the webstore as we continue to work towards being Canada’s Charlotte Mason resource provider, www.mapletreepublications.ca. Check out all the Simply Charlotte Masonbooks that we now stock in addition to publications by Maple Tree as well as Life of Fred math, Mystery of History, Story of the World, Jonathan Park, Learning Language Arts Through Literature and much more.
On the home front, the girls are in senior kindergarten to grade ten, if you want to talk schoolish. I can’t wait to tell you about our experience reading through the whole Bible at the beginning of this school year. Many of you have asked and so I will update you about that soon too.
For now though I should leave you with a few more practical updates as I anticipate the excitement of a few more conferences coming up in the next several weeks. It has been so refreshing to me to see many of you and to serve you at both the KWCHEA conference in Kitchener and the RVHEA conference in Ottawa. Next weekend Maple Tree will be at OCHEC in Ancaster at Redeemer University.
If you are at any of these upcoming conferences, please come by and say hello. And, of course, I will happily pack up an order to bring to you at the conference if you have something that you need and want to make sure it’s available when we meet up.
Here’s where Maple Tree is setting up shop in the next little bit:
May 1-2 OCHEC Convention in Ancaster.
*I will be speaking on “Enjoying Math?”* (Really, it will be fun one!)
*I will be doing a three part series on Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education: Education is an Atmostphere, a Discipline and a Life.* I am really excited to be able to share these ones. Don’t miss out!
June 12th TEACH New and Used Curriculum Fair in Brantford.
Looking forward to seeing many of you soon in person and to hearing from you Under the Maple Tree as I get back to adding the writing ball into this jumbled up mess that I juggle.
We recently learned that our daughter needs to embrace a gluten free and dairy free lifestyle. Until now I would’ve been one of the last people to jump on this band wagon that seems to be so prevalent now a days. However, after seeing my daughter go through several months of pain and suffering and realizing that we had overlooked many symptoms before we started seeking medical and paramedical advice, my experience has changed my own skepticism. I have seen the need to change her diet validated by the evidence that has been presented. This journey of the sceptic into dietary changes has reminded me of some of the key things that I learned as a student.
When I think back to my university days a few key lessons jump out at me. One of those lessons was that we need to be very deliberate in our understanding and judgments because there’s often information out there that we don’t know. I think I learned very well not to ever assume when I was in university when doing research and drawing conclusions. Very quickly I learned that if I didn’t site my sources when making statements of fact I was quickly questioned and my writing lost its credibility. When that happened, I was just a lowly student with an idea that didn’t necessarily stack up against all of the ideas that my professors had catalogued over the years. I needed to make a conscious effort to find the proof for the idea I was arguing.
A second key lesson that I learned was that no matter what your position is on a particular idea or issue, there’s always going to be someone with an education and a research grant who will substantiate your ideas– and especially more so now that we live in this intensely digitalization world. So I learned to constantly question not just whether I was arguing well but was I arguing truth: “What is the root of this truth, this idea that I am espousing? Where does my reasoning find a firm foundation?”
Both of these ideas, of substantiating my claims and using right reasoning, are ones that Charlotte Mason addressed directly nearly 100 years ago and I really appreciate her words when she speaks about the way of the will and the way of reason.
“There are two guides to moral and intellectual self-management to offer to children, which we may call ‘the way of the will’ and ‘the way of the reason.’
The way of the will: Children should be taught, (a) to distinguish between ‘I want’ and ‘I will.’ (b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will. (c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour….
The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to ‘lean (too confidently) to their own understanding’; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
In other words while me must constantly exert an effort to do and think rightly, we must also recognize that our ability to reason is limited by our own understanding and so we can, of our own volition, defend and convince ourselves of ideas that are logically flawed.
So, there is a need, both intellectually and spiritually, to find a firm foundation. I love it that she turns us back to our Creator for this reasoning: Proverbs 3:5,6 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV84).
The way to guard against leaning to confidently on our own understanding: trust in the LORD with all our hearts!
As I stumble through this life, there are many times when I will question the ideas that are presented to me and even worse, there will be many times that I embrace, without even realizing it, ideas that are flawed. My best defense will always be to look to God for truth and knowledge on this crazy journey. All the rest will fall into line.
Wishing you a peaceful day as you lean on the author of truth.
As many of you know, this Maple Tree is littered with many good reads and I am constantly shipping them out from our little space. I thought I would let you know of a few good books that I have here and would love to share with you…
First our Clearance books. These are all new books that are discounted because I have more than we need even at this busy time of year.
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series $50 (Regular $62!)
You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Dr. Ruth Beechick $12 (Regular $14)
*Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra and Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra Companion $36 (Regular $48)
*Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra and Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra Companion $36 (Regular $48)
*These Life of Fred books are being replaced by a new volumes which combine the companion into the text. In other words, these four books are now coming out as two books which will be $42 each. As far as I can tell, the content is the same.*
I also have a hard cover, “scratch and dent” copy of You Can Teach Your Child Successfully available for $10. There is no visible wear and very minimal damage.
As well, not wanting to jump into the Christmas shopping rat race, but also wanting to respond to the requests of some of my customers, if you have items that you are thinking of purchasing for your family and friends for Christmas and think that Maple Tree could help you out with them, I do very much appreciate your support of our small business from one home schooler to another. I have in stock several items that you might have on your Christmas list including:
– The Jesus Storybook Bible ($19)
– The Jesus Storybook Bible with CDs ($28)
– Jonathan Park CDs. (I hope to have the newest volume, #9, in stock in the next week to 10 days!) ($25)
– What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver DVDs by Phil Visher ($15)
Also, I am able to order thousands of other titlesthough a distributor that I am working with that supplies both homeschooling resources and many of the books and other items that you would might find at a general Christian bookstore. Please let me know if you would like me to special order something in and I will see if I can help you with what you are looking for. I plan to make an order this Thursday so please send all special orders in by Thursday at 10am. Thanks!
Finally, as it is my goal to give gifts that are doubly beneficially this year, I also wanted to pursue items at Maple Tree that could be doubly beneficial. As such I have started to carry a few titles by talented Canadian independent authors. These books are a wholesome treat to have in your home and your purchase can also support independent Canadian authors and small businesses.
· May I introduce to you a beautiful children’s picture book by Janis Cox called Tadeo Turtle. Mrs. Cox is a very talented artist and has filled her book with amazing watercolour paintings. The book is a story and learning opportunity about painted turtles and other animals and has a sweet moral to it about how we are all special because we are different. There are many activities and learning extensions included in the book. It retails for $13 and for Christmas I am shipping it for free! (These books are so new to Maple Tree that I don’t have them on my website yet but you can preview them here: http://www.janiscox.com/information/)
· Carolyn j Morris is another independent Canadian author whose stories have been a treat in our home. She has published three novels entitled Mourning Dove, Barn Swallows and Pine Warbler. These novels are suitable reading for about a grade four level and up and can easily be enjoyed as a read aloud by younger children as well. In the first story, the main character, Billy, is dealing with the recent loss of his father. In this and all the stories the reader becomes acquainted with rural Canadian life as Billy spends a lot of time on his grandparents farm. You will laugh and cry at the tender moments in these stories but will also learn some of the ins and outs of life on a farm in Canada. A real treat. These books also retail for $13 each but I have an introductory special of $12 each or all three for $30 plus shipping. (You can read more about these books here: http://www.railfencebooks.com/books.php)
I hope that these few volumes will be of use to some of you. Please let me know if I can help you with any of these titles or with a special purchase.
It’s been a while since I got to spend some time in my virtual home here Under the Maple Tree. I have been rather absent this season, just like at this time last year, because I have been out in the real world more often seeing so many of your encouraging faces at homeschooling conferences and other events. It was such a busy time as I worked and spoke at more conferences than ever this year and had the opportunity to travel across the country to meet even more amazing parents who are walking this crazy homeschooling road with me. What a treat it has been.
Throughout this season, one small lesson has resonated with me. Perhaps it is because it takes so many repetitions to get through to such a thick head as mine or maybe it is just something that the Lord wanted me to learn. I think it’s a bit of both.
On our first family weekend camping trip of the year the weather was beautifully warm though the water at the beach was still quite chilly. The kids played the days away in the water while I just tiptoed in and out around the edges of the water when I got overheated, the water rippling around my shivering knees. It was a peaceful reprieve, watching the water moving out in tiny waves from the places where my toes displaced it.
You see, midway through the season, conference season (which used to be called spring in my world), my precious Nana died. It was sad. It was hard. But at the same time, we were relieved for her, hoping that she had finally found peace after a very long battle with Altzheimer’s disease. She had long since left us and it was only her body left that finally gave up. It was, of course a time of tears and of memories and of telling stories of old. I, being the talker in the family, again got to share a eulogy for a grandparent. I remembered her in her big moo-moo dresses, rubber boots, winter coat, slacks and straw hat in her garden growing more food than the whole family could eat. I remembered family celebrations with KFC, kielbasa and cabbage rolls because my uncle didn’t like turkey. After the funeral, when we came home that day it seemed the most fitting tribute to eat KFC and spend the rest of the day in the garden. Ripples. Her life cascading into my own.
Most recently we have cried many hours with friends as they have suffered loss, the results of many years of ripples rocking their boat, influencing them in ways that they weren’t aware of until they capsized.
Ripples. They have become a focal point even in the smaller events, seeing how our decisions affect our children’s decisions, their demeanor, their values. I’ve also noticed that so often we are affected by what is rippling out from someone else’s life, their ideas, their actions. So often I want to think that homeschooling my kids will allow them to come only under my influence but that is so often proven wrong, and often to their benefit. I don’t always make the right decisions, say the right things.
The lessons I have been learning this spring are of how powerfully we are influenced and how we also influence others in ways that we may not even imagine in this lifetime. It makes me afraid to dive into my roles, scared that I may unknowingly be the source of someone else’s undoing. I think, too, how often I suppose to speak with authority about something and really I am just flapping my gums, sharing an opinion that may or may not be founded.
As we formally wrap up another year of schooling I, as usual, am taking some time to look back and see where we have come from. I see that we have learned a lot, but have we learned the right things? I also look forward and anticipate. I know that the unknown future holds many waves that will rock my boat, waves that will rippleout and threaten the sunny happy days that I desire for my kids to live under. But rather than praying for a smooth ride, I am praying for a strong boat, for a firm foundation, and for waves that will propel them towards their Saviour rather than sink them in a mire of uncertainty.
Wishing you, Dear Friends, strength and perseverance as you ride out the waves that shake you in this season.