Colorado Retreat, CMER 2016, Part III

Registration commenced!

Sarah made our beautiful tags, Heather and I made handmade nature journals, we had ordered and prepaid painting kits (a pallet and three basic colors to mix and make the rest), and the binder with the schedules.

I talked about Thursday already, this was the day’s layout,

Thursday, Feb. 18
4:00-5:00 PM:  Registration
5:00-6:00 PM:  Optional Dinner
6:00-6:30 PM:  Registration
6:30-7:00 PM:  Welcome
7:00-8:30 PM:  Workshop I
8:30-??? PM:    Free Time
8:45-9:15 PM:  Chat

The first workshop was Jennifer’s. (I hope in time we can all access them all in document format). We live in a time in between times. We live in a fallen world. Charlotte Mason is part of a continuum, her principles come to claim and restore our humanity. I know her beautifully written presentation will be available to all of us soon.

The first chat was with Dawn on Charlotte Mason apologetics. That session was dear to me. Experienced moms and young alike talked on the importance of being humble and kind, because in life, we know that to be kind is most important than to be right. How are we going to bring others to Christ if we we don’t let his light shine on us?, how are we going to inspire others to enjoy some of the Charlotte Mason principles of life and learning when we don’t embrace them but force them down the throats of others? How can we explain this to others in simple terms, and at the same time, educate and elevate without being conceited, respecting where they are in their journey, throwing life ropes, not the whole boat on their heads?

This was Friday:

Friday, Feb. 19
8:00- 9:00 AM:  Breakfast
9:00- 9:30 AM:  Free Time
9:30-11:30 AM:  Workshop II (We split our whole group in two, half with Heather and half with me)
11:30-12:00 PM:  Free Time
12:00-1:00 PM:  Lunch
1:00-1:30 PM:  Free Time (We did a Nature Study guided by Karen Canon)
1:30-3:30 PM:  Workshop III (Those with Heather in the morning, came to me, those with me in the morning, went to Heather)
3:30-5:00 PM:  Free Time
5:00-6:00 PM:  Dinner
6:00-6:30 PM:  Free Time
6:30-8:30 PM:  Workshop IV Sarah presented on Schedules
8:30-???  PM:  Free Time
8:45-9:15 PM:  Chat. Dawn talked to us about stories and the value of story-telling

This is my presentation on Heritage. It was just a extension of my journey from broken into healing and being made whole again.

When one prepares to present, one cannot supersede who she is and how she sees life. I see life through my experience, I spoke to an unknown audience, based on those who write me emails, those who talk with me on the phone, or at the park. I brought with me the experience of those who are insecure, full of fear and doubts, those who are overwhelmed by how new all this is to them and their families.

Dawn presented on the more practical side of a Charlotte Mason education, with her wonderful (and thanks to me, -gulp), short sessions on narration, and her warm and full of wisdom session or chat on story telling. Sarah also tackled the ever difficult and so needed reality of schedules.

I believe we all needed a full week (or even month), to truly have been able to do some session on the Myers Briggs personality tests and other beasts, :), in order to group ourselves with those akin, and be able to sort out how to organize our days. But Sarah brought us the principles, seasoned with tangible examples, and left us all with tools to pursue a rhythm and order to our days, plus tons of grace and humor,

and coffee

or tea

and chocolate

and chat



and all of your favorite things

OK, back to typing


Did I mention how fabulous was not to have to cook 6 (or 7 meals?) Ah! the princess treatment. One can get used to that life.

Back to the Myers Briggs, before I forget, I believe these tests and our renewed interest in part of the homeschooling community to understand our children and ourselves better, it’s part of a bigger and higher attempt to reclaim us as poetic and fully human. I believe it’s a noble attempt to unite the divorce between the why and the how, a lawful effort to include us all and acknowledge our different ways but keeping us inside the principles and an objective reality where there’s Truth, and Art, and Beauty, and where all good comes from Him.


As I mentioned, Jennifer lead us in hymn and folk song singing, and also, in two morning optional prayer times. Thank you, Jennifer, and thank you to all of you who lifted heartfelt prayers at the retreat, and from all over the world.

At 1:00, we all had a brisk nature study opened by Karen Canon, who showed us how simple it’s to initiate a so called ‘special studies nature walk’. She read from our beloved American naturalist, The American Seasons by Edwin Way Teale.

We surely did not see any of that Teale got to find one winter day in one of his walks (frozen insect specimens buried in the snow!) Karen said she was going to take a path that was dryer and not too long, and dismissed us saying we could all go our ways. Needless to say we all followed YOU, Karen. We were too excited not to use the walk to talk. But the Coloradans did not disappoint, and showed us a few things of that area called Black Forest. We had an interesting discussion on the etymology of  “missal”, “missile”, “measles”, followed by Sarah with plant guide in hand, debating the type of pine we were looking at, and if the one I got the small branch from was the same kind. I believe Pinus Ponderosa (Ponderosa pine) got the most votes. The branch and bark was dark, the clusters were alright with the description. I also was given what we thought was lambswool, but what was verbascum, mullein, or velvet plant, a leaf of the plant, and they are velvety.



The retreat was intimate, refreshing, and too short 🙂

Another view of the retreat surroundings. Did I tell you it is 64 acres? I didn’t. The owner, Jason, made it into what it’s today, a facility that accommodates 44 overnight, 50 total people when in full. It used to be Jason’s parents home. We were using half of the Hideaway, the other section was being occupied by a lovely group of quilters. Jennifer and I (and other ladies I saw), went to their main room that was furnished with white big tables, and lots of machines humming, beautiful color fabric, and lots of smiling women with grey hair. Some had old ‘antique’ machines that were in perfect use. I met Ginger Di Lorenzo, her husband ex military, Italian for sure, and she was having fun sewing a shirt for a military man who loved and played drums. This is what they do. The parts that show in the uniform (collar, cuffs, front chest), have to be white, and the hidden parts can be decorated with other fabric. There is where she was adding patches of the fun fabric with drums in it.

The quilters showered us with love, and commended us for teaching our own children.

That Friday some of us kept talking in the room where Dawn had the chat on story telling. Dawn is quite the storyteller herself. Her dad is a wonderful story teller. She told us the story of the yellow sweater. She brought a story of a day 100 years ago, when CM and other guests had a conference, and sat down, and talked, and a story was shared. I made many connections with my idea of heritage and her thoughts on the gift of story telling. She had asked us all to share our ‘CM stories’, and she did not have time to share hers, so she did here.

Friday night I couldn’t sleep. So many wonderful women and no children to put to bed! We talked and had some fun with the ladies in the room next to us. We went to bed at 11:00 pm. In all honesty, I don’t know if others could not conceal their sleep because of our noisy and silly night laughter. If we ever meet again, please, those with noisy neighbors, go to their rooms and remind them that they can go to the common areas that are away from the bedrooms! (We could have always gone to the main level, where the coffee and the tea remained in abundance)

And Saturday came:

Saturday, Feb. 20
8:00- 9:00 AM:  Breakfast
9:00- 9:30 AM:  Free Time
9:30-11:00 AM:  Workshop V
11:00-12:00 PM:  Wrap-up Panel
12:00-1:00 PM:  Optional Lunch
1:00-2:00 PM:  Free Time

The best day. The worst day. The day when Karen presented. The day when we had to depart. (I’m not laughing in the picture, because inside, I was already crying and feeling the intensity of the shared time).

Karen is our down to earth Renaissance woman. I’m deadly serious. She is the perfect marriage between the sciences and the arts. Her presentation testified to it. She lifted us with the whys while traversing the hows. The title of her presentation was


Karen, if you are listening, you MUST share the presentation with the world. (She said she would, she had a unique power point with a picture of Charlotte Mason as a dragon slayer that will no doubt catapult her to fame in the CM community. Her presentation was so full of ideas, practical and philosophical, that I can’t say anything other than stay tune to enjoy it by yourself.

A personal note, something that moved me to tears of joy was when Karen told me she read Don Quixote, inspired by my passion when talking about it. Her oldest son is reading it as well. There was a young mom who also read it, and who told me that Bonhoeffer learned or perfected his Spanish reading this book too. Heather has read part I. Other friends not at the retreat, online friends, have read part I or the whole book just because it matters to someone you love. It’s a joy beyond measure to see how internet has been our tool to establish meaningful and everlasting relationships, a path to leisure, and not just a mindless source of entertainment.

Before I close, I must add that to me, it was the ladies attending who made this unforgettable. They received the fruits of our labor in such a gracious and kind manner. Here, they talked about the audience participating, playing a part. That’s so true. We take what we put, and those at this retreat, gave all of themselves.

This is all for now. I’m sure as we have time to regroup, get back into our routines, and meditate on all this we lived, we will continue sharing through the website. (And we will try to answer many of the wrap up panel questions that couldn’t be addressed. After all, it’s the never ending dialogue that brings forth growth, the ideas that beget ideas, the chat that becomes the grand conversation among us, the moms, and that swifts again to the small details and mundane things that matter to us, the stories that are our heritage, the small steps that become a life time).


4 thoughts on “Colorado Retreat, CMER 2016, Part III”

  1. YOU were one of my highlights, Silvia! I enjoyed all of our time together. You wear your heart on your sleeve. So humble, so gracious. So funny. So excited to read and re-live your talk on Heritage. It is still echoing through my mind! Hugs, hugs, hugs


  2. Thanks again for sharing about your retreat. A lovely location and an amazing group of women with prayer and hard work supporting — how could it be anything less than great? All these details are great for us looking to build something similar in the future. 🙂


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