The CMP Review — Week of July 1

The CMP Review — Week of July 1

July 1, 2024

Reflecting on the books I’ve read in the first half of 2024, one stands out and continues to resonate deeply with me: Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth by Catherine Pakaluk. An economist and mother of a large family, Dr. Pakaluk shares her insights on why some women choose to have many children despite global trends of falling fertility and birth rates.

Developed nations are facing demographic decline and governments are implementing various incentives to persuade couples to have more children; Pakaluk however, takes a unique approach. Rather than focusing on why these programs fail, she turns to the women who have chosen to have large families and asks them, “Why?”

Through interviews with women across the country, Pakaluk uncovers that these women did not have large families by accident or out of ignorance. They made deliberate choices because they value children immensely. They see their children as more valuable than the careers, financial stability, and personal freedoms they may have had to sacrifice.

Pakaluk applies the economist’s notion of “opportunity cost” to show that these mothers perceive the benefits of having many children as far outweighing the costs. Their stories offer insights into what it means to prioritize higher goods over economic gains.

Hannah’s Children has been a balm to my soul, offering encouragement as their stories lined up with and reaffirmed my own beliefs in prioritizing the higher goods over economic gains. Whether you’re a mother to many, a mother to few, not-yet-a-mother, or unsure if you want to be a mother, this book is a witness to the value of life and the human heart.

*There are a few curse words in the quoted interviews.


July 2, 2024

Many people ask how to learn the Charlotte Mason method. This is an important question for all homeschools, co-ops, and schools that are inspired by Miss Mason’s ideas. What is the best way for aspiring teachers to learn the concepts and practices Mason emphasized? Wouldn’t it be the way Mason herself taught aspiring teachers?

Of course we know that Miss Mason established the House of Education for the express purposes of developing and equipping teachers. Unfortunately, details about what happened at this school are in short supply. Wouldn’t it be neat to go back in time and take a virtual tour of this almost mythical school?

In 1952, two third-year students at the school provided just such a virtual tour. By then, the name of the school had changed to the Charlotte Mason College. But most of the routines and practices were the same. “A visitor arriving at College would climb the steep drive from the road and might see…” wrote J. Christie and A. Wheatley. Read or hear the rest of their account here.


July 3, 2024

If what Robert Louis Stevenson says is true, what would be your most profitable work this month? I don’t have a green thumb, nor do I have the desire, but my month began with harvesting garlic and will hopefully contain some nature journaling.


July 4, 2024

“The Couples’ Idyll Challenge has been a beautiful and enriching way for Bethany and I to connect, learn, and grow together as parents and educators of our children,” writes Dave Stillwell. “We’re looking forward to the upcoming two-year journey of reading through Charlotte Mason’s volumes and the encouraging and insightful monthly meetings with other couples.”

Over the years, Dave and I have spent many hours discussing the volumes with other dads. One truth shines out again and again — given that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life, fathers play an important role in any Charlotte Mason homeschool. What better way to learn about it than with your spouse?

The Idyll Challenge groups form only once every two years. Many of our groups are already full. But there is still room in the couples’ group. I encourage you to join my friends Dave and Bethany on a wonderful and enriching journey. Sign up here.


July 5, 2025

So much rain.

So many giant mushrooms.

We’ve had so much rain over the last month. We don’t see such large mushrooms around here. Here it is when we first saw it and then again a few days later.

It is such fun for us to go back and forth to check on its progress!


July 6, 2024

Sometimes I forget that tea can be made from herbs other than mint. Thank God for oregano and for Florence M. Haines taking us through the changing year.

“The Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) takes its scientific name from the Greek όρος, mountain, and γάνος, joy, it is the only English species and is cultivated as a pot-herb, and also employed in medicine, while an infusion of its leaves makes a refreshing ‘tea.’ Anne Pratt tells us that Marjoram was formerly called Organy, ‘and the long-disputed Oregon territory is said to have received its name from the prevalence of this plant there.’”

Listen or read “A Walk in July” here.


📷 Nikolett Emmert

July 7, 2024

Charlotte Mason had many ways emphasize the knowledge of God. She called it “the chief part of education,” and said it is “first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making.”

Charlotte Mason said the knowledge of God is the “principal knowledge,” the “fundamental knowledge,” which is “before all and including all,” and is to be “put first.” In terms of method, it is “to be got first-hand through the sacred writings.”

In her poems, however, she assigns a new superlative to the knowledge of God. She called it “The ultimate Knowledge.” And while the sacred writings are indeed our primary means of receiving this grace, we also need a light. Two lights, in fact. “That they are One, is our eternal gain.” Read more here.


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