The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason {a review}

I think I can safely declare that this book will be my favorite non-fiction book read this year.

I was so inspired by this book-- not just as an encouragement since we homeschool with a Charlotte Mason approach to education, but in my *own* life as I constantly find myself putting pen to paper. (Indeed, my own journal-- with all the quotes I've written in it and Scripture carefully copied-- is really a type of Commonplace Book.)

Laurie Bestvater has thoroughly researched Mason's writings, particularly any references to keeping notebooks. She has also studied the notes and examples of others who followed in the usage of Charlotte Mason-inspired notebooks, in an attempt to gain a clear understanding of what Mason was after in this whole art of notebooking.

The three most familiar notebooks are probably the Nature Notebook, the Commonplace Book (or Reading Diary), and the Book of Centuries. But there are so many more!

I have finished this book, but I know I will come back to it again and again. My pencil was a constant companion as I read this book, and several parts are now underlined, and there are notes in the margins throughout.

I am inspired to be more diligent in keeping my own notebooks. (I can't wait to begin my own Book of Centuries after having captured the vision of what Charlotte intended for this book to be!) and I am excited to incorporate what I have learned through this book as I educate my own children.

Thank you, Miss Bestvater, for your careful research and for the inspiration. And thank you, Miss Mason, for so understanding a child, and how to capture their interest and imagination!

Paper dolls!

{ Updated, from the archives }

Today everyone wanted to play a game that Audra (5) didn't want to play, but she was content doing something else, by herself, just as long as I came up with the ideas.  ;)  I suggested that she could get out some paper dolls, to which she said, "Can you draw me some?"

It was then that I remembered these:

Four years ago we went on a family vacation (that included several hours in the van) so I put together some travel games and these coloring books for the kids.

The doll pattern (above) is Sarah's from The Small Object, so I can take no credit for it. You can find it here.  I just added some details (hair, bows and outfits) to her original pattern to make more dolls.

I'm so grateful to have found Ginny's post at Small Things~ for the coloring book idea, and for the idea for the scaled-down version of the doll in order to create your own doll.

When Audra asked today if I could draw some paper dolls, this was what I thought of, and I was trying to remember if I still had any master copies of these... (I tend to save things like this), and mentioned to Ella, "Honey, do you remember those coloring books with dolls that we colored for vacation that one year?"   She was up in a jiffy and came back with some blank ones (from that trip) that she hadn't completed.  Audra spent HOURS drawing these (and cutting them out) today.

Voila:  Paper dolls!


twins!  :)
Then Isaac wanted to photocopy some pages and do some, too:

IMG_6349 - Version 2

Ella was working on them later tonight.  (And if I can sneak in some time tomorrow, I'm going to do some myself!) 

Nature Study in the yard

{drawings by Audra, Ella and mommy}



The above were all drawn by Audra (5).


Garden, planted.

We planted our garden one week ago:




Our garden right after planting.  What was green then: Isaac's volunteer pickling cucumbers (upper left), our happy rhubarb plant (upper right), and our spinach starts.

One of the things that delights me these days is an early-morning walk through the garden.  Just so I can peek to see if any tiny plants have poked their heads up through the soil into the light of day.

I seriously love this.

Just two days ago we saw the first sign of green.  Our rows of romaine and butterhead lettuce were taking shape.  Nothing new the next day, but last night we spotted some cucumbers, and by today the sunflowers were also coming up.  This evening I walked through the garden and snapped some pictures:

a row of butterhead lettuce
sunflowers.  (how much do you love that little seed right there, tucked over the green plant coming up?)

And so our garden grows.

I'm still on the lookout for our beans, carrots, and the dill.

{Recent} picture book favorites

Here are a couple of our recent favorites in the picture book category:

the-goat-lady A girl (our storyteller) and her brother move into a new home and curiously observe the happenings at a shabby-looking farmhouse nearby.  There are goats, geese, chickens and a rooster, but the owner seems elusive.  The neighbors complain about the animals and the mess, but the two children befriend the owner of the farmhouse and discover a friend.  (Based on a true story.)

I loved the illustrations in this book and the story is a gem.

TheWorldChampionAtStayingAwake It's bedtime for Stella, but she has three silly stuffed animals to put to bed first.  The trouble is... Cherry Pig, Thunderbolt the puppet mouse, and Beanbag Frog are very wide awake.  They each claim that they're The World Champion of Staying Awake, right up until Stella's creative endeavors put them straight... to sleep.  Super cute.

pigs-from-a-to-zArthur Geisert's Pigs from A to Z was a favorite amongst my kids, because it's a good Finding Book.  On each page there are pigs and alphabet letters hidden in the picture, so we spent many sessions curled up on the couch, heads bent over the page to see who could spot them first.

Also of note by this author: Pigs from 1 to 10, OOPS, The Giant Ball of String, and Lights Out.

May poem



The country vegetables scorn
To lie about in shops,
They stand upright as they were born
In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you
Don't buy it from a shelf,
You find a lettuce fresh with dew
And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas
And shell them on the spot.
You cut a cabbage, if you please,
To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy
From sacks before they sup,
Miss half of the potato's joy,
And that's to dig it up.

~Eleanor Farjeon


Hello friends,

I hope all of you are well!


We are so enjoying this lovely spring weather we're having.  It's been positively summery!  Sunny days, blue skies, flowers all abloom, clothes breezily drying on the line, picnic lunches in the yard, and the kids happily playing outside for hours on end.  *love*  I am so grateful.

My girl with her snail family. {Ew! to the snails!  But I love this girl and her affection for all living things.}
I think we're all much happier when we can have lots of outside time, and while my kids are usually happy to play outdoors no matter what the weather, the rainy days definitely make for much shorter outdoor times.

(This little pile of Salt Water sandals by our back door makes me so happy.) 

We've been reading lots of good books, and I want to update you on those, too.  I will.  And we've been taking advantage of our warm days to get outside and do nature study, so I'll post some photos of that soon, too. 

Have a wonderful day!