Let me begin by saying that I really like a lot of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. But my review is not about Charlotte Mason, it is about tLet me begin by saying that I really like a lot of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. But my review is not about Charlotte Mason, it is about this book. It is a miracle that I finished this book. Clearly, like most homeschoolers, Levison is uber Christian. Fine. But she also seems a bit self-righteous, feeling the need to frequently drop references that demonstrate just how devout she is (ie, censoring all Charles Dickens novels because of A Christmas Carol--she doesn’t allow ghost stories in her home. Or this comment about art appreciation: “If you’re like me, you may want to place self-stick notepad sheets over any objectionable scenes or body parts.” Or worse: “With these [art books she owns:], a sticker or black marker can reduce objectionable content.” What!!! I call that blasphemy. How about…select a different art work, or wait until your children are older…or um, open your mind. Aside from the close-minded assumption that anyone interested in homeschooling is Christian and therefore lists the Bible as the first and most important in any list of study topics (which Levison does repeatedly), this book is really just very poorly written. As a writer and a lover of good literature, it was painful to read. It lacks style and cohesiveness. Levison seems to jump all over the place. It’s as if the book is actually just her raw notes from reading Mason’s original writings, sprinkled with a few useful but mostly useLESS, overly detailed descriptions of what her family does. Take this little gem, for example, on the subject of handwriting: “We have been using those composition books that are lined according to grade level. They have been inexpensive for us, but I am going to try those attractive blank books you can find at the book stores.” Thanks, Cath. Unfortunately, there are only two introductory books about the Charlotte Mason method that I know of and this is one of them (the other being Karen Andreola’s, in which I find the same problems, just more because it is longer). In that regard, this is a nice book to have around so those of us who are not completely sold on the method don’t have to commit our lives to reading Mason’s original tomes unless/until we choose this style of homeschooling. But there is certainly room—and need—for a similar book that is written more deftly. ...more
I read this book on the recommendation of one of my new favorite bloggers, and because I love organization and reading about organization. UnfortunateI read this book on the recommendation of one of my new favorite bloggers, and because I love organization and reading about organization. Unfortunately, most of it was kind of lost on me as I already do about 90% of what the author talks about (the rest just doesn't apply to my life). Fortunately, it was a quick and simple read so I didn't lose too much of my life to it. I think this would be a great book for someone whose home is chaotic--it has good basic information and it is concise enough that nobody can procrastinate taking action for too long. If your home is already relatively orderly, probably not the best use of your time....more
I really liked this book. It was a little difficult to get into at the beginning but once I was in, I was IN. Stegner is a great storyteller and his wI really liked this book. It was a little difficult to get into at the beginning but once I was in, I was IN. Stegner is a great storyteller and his writing is just beautiful. I loved it for the same reasons I love John Steinbeck. Great imagery, beautiful word choice, poetic phrasing, and just the right amount of description.
My favorite thing about this book is the choice of narrator. Using a narrator who is “writing” the story himself, Stegner is able to speak directly to the reader and explain why he is writing the story the way he is. That is a luxury that fiction writers don't otherwise have. And I love the times that he tells an entire episode and then basically says, “Actually, I don’t know if that ever happened. I just made it up based on other information that I do have.” As a reader it made me furious. Here I am, totally involved in the story, investing emotion even, and then the writer tells me it never happened. But then I realized that none of it ever happened—this is a novel (although it is based on a true story). But it’s an intriguing experience because it really plays with your mind. Just what is fiction? And what is nonfiction? Even nonfiction has to be reconstructed, and that reconstructing is always done by a human whose memory is imperfect and whose philosophy and biases will inevitably influence the end product.
I just LOVE the title of this book. I love the analogy of marriage to a pile of sand where the grains are tumbling, tumbling for many years, until they reach their angle of repose, where they finally rest. Who knew engineering could be so romantic? ...more
I won't lie, I didn't exactly finish this book. This is a review of what I did read, though. I was really excited about this book because all the tighI won't lie, I didn't exactly finish this book. This is a review of what I did read, though. I was really excited about this book because all the tightwads seem to really love it and I'm always open to new money-saving ideas. I did find some good ideas in this book but I stopped reading it after Dacyczyn explained how she has time to employ all of her crazy tightwadisms. She only reads her kids one book a day? She doesn't get involved in organizations? I don't know, I guess saving a few dollars here or there just isn't worth some of the sacrifices she makes. It is more important to me to raise children who love books (which requires reading to them often) and who are involved in their community than it is to save a few cents by making "ribbon" out of mylar potato chip bags...which, incidentally, is super tacky. Call me crazy.
That said, she obviously has a lot of great ideas, many of which I employ. I just don't care to sift through all the ridiculous ones to find them....more
This book is incredible. Jacobs is so inspiring, particularly from the perspective of a mother. All I can say is that I really, really had a great expThis book is incredible. Jacobs is so inspiring, particularly from the perspective of a mother. All I can say is that I really, really had a great experience reading this book. Thanks to Rachel for recommending it and lending it to me. :)...more
I found the basic concepts in this book very helpful in dealing with my toddler. Previous reviews indicate that a lot of readers have what I considerI found the basic concepts in this book very helpful in dealing with my toddler. Previous reviews indicate that a lot of readers have what I consider some pretty serious misunderstandings about Dr. Karp's method.
First of all, with regard to the comparison of toddlers to Neanderthals…Dr. Karp is not making an argument for evolution in this book. That’s not what this book is about. All he is saying is that, based on how scientists describe Neanderthals, toddlers exhibit many of the same behaviors and intellectual capacities. You don't have to have an internal evolution-versus-creation battle before you read the book. You don’t have to agree with the theory of evolution in order to appreciate Dr. Karp's comparison. (And it is indeed true—toddlers are strikingly similar to what scientists claim about Neanderthals. I considered toddlers to be little cavemen before I ever read this book. They grunt, they stomp, they have little to no emotional regulation…)
Secondly, my first reaction to the idea of speaking to my daughter in “Toddlerese” (“Norah is MAD,MAD, MAD! Norah want OUT!”) was definitely that this man was crazy. My daughter learns her language from me. Shouldn’t I speak to her in proper English if I want her to learn to speak correctly? Of course. I soon realized, however (from reading further), that Dr. Karp is not advocating Toddlerese as a primary form of communication. He only uses it when toddlers are so upset that they don’t hear our proper speech (in much the same way that adults literally don’t hear things when they are very angry—that is a scientific truth). Once Toddlerese helps calm the toddler down, we can return to good English.
Based on what seem to be very common misinterpretations, maybe Dr. Karp doesn’t communicate very clearly in his book and the writing itself isn't stellar, but a lot of his ideas are pretty good. I’ll admit that I probably won’t ever be quite as animated with my Toddlerese as he suggests (flailing my arms and stomping). And I don’t necessarily agree with some of the little specifics in this book, but the basic Toddlerese lesson makes the read worth it because I have really found that it gets my daughter's attention and stops fits almost immediately. ...more
I loved this book. I wish I could convince my husband to move to the country so I can use more of it. But until then, I'll just dream of a big gardenI loved this book. I wish I could convince my husband to move to the country so I can use more of it. But until then, I'll just dream of a big garden where I can grow all of our wheat and vegetables, some fruit trees...well, that's pretty much it. I can't really get on board with the cow thing because in order to keep a cow lactating it has to have a baby every year and guess what happens to that baby? Sold for veal. So sad. I can't do it. I would want to keep all the babies and then we'd be running a cattle ranch.
Aside from lofty amibtions like completely living off the land, this book has a TON of good information for home food production and preservation, gardening (even for us apartment dwellers), and simply good skills. I love it....more
I wish I had read this book before I had babies, but I'm definitely glad I'm reading it when they're still little. It is about the field of ethnopediaI wish I had read this book before I had babies, but I'm definitely glad I'm reading it when they're still little. It is about the field of ethnopediatrics, the comparative study of parenting across cultures, with the ultimate goal of determining where mismatches between biology and culture exist so that we can better meet our babies' needs.
A major tenet of Small's argument is that the biology of babies has evolved at a pace much slower than our culture's technology and lifestyle. As a result, we have accepted as the norm many parenting practices that simply do not jive with what our babies really need from us. That chapter about the evolution of babies isn't quite as interesting as later chapters but it's important for understanding and appreciating them (though I decided to skim after awhile).
An interesting fact: The SIDS rate is lower in countries where babies sleep with an adult.
"The United States consistently stands out as the only society in which babies are routinely placed in their own beds and in their own rooms; in one survey of a hundred societies, only parents in the United States maintained separate quarters for their babies, and in another study of twelve societies, all parents but Americans slept with their babies until weaning." WEIRD. Equally weird: I feel almost ashamed to tell people that my babies sleep with me. I've learned to keep that little tidbit to myself just to avoid looks of concern from people who have been convinced by pediatricians--and crib manufacturers--that I'm going to roll over and suffocate my baby. What is our deal! Oh, it's our obsession with fostering independence from day one. I even know someone who said to me, "My job as a parent is to teach my kids life skills. Sleeping is a life skill and he may as well learn it now." This when his son was just a few months old and wailing in his crib for an HOUR.
Perhaps the most important thing I gleaned from this book was the simple realization that almost all traits, both good and bad, are culturally defined. What Dutch parents consider to be an "intelligent" child is far different from what Kipsigis Africans think, or even Americans. What we consider a "difficult" baby is completely different from the way even Italians define it. It makes me look at milestones and all of our other expectations of our babies in a completely different light. The things we take for granted because of the culture in which we are raised, really aren't granted. They're just cultural.