AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 10

While Moose had his break/exams week this week, Peanut continued on with her lessons.

She and Moose have informed me that next school year, they want to be able to have break week at the same time. Fair enough. I really like the staggered beginnings because I feel like it gives me a nice ease-in to things, but I know it has been sometimes distracting for the non-break week student.

Anyways, we made it through yet another week of back to back to back snowstorms, cabin fever, and the beginning of Lent.

We made progress in Phonetic Zoo and I decided to drop using high frequency words as Peanut has been improving considerably with her spelling.

She had a math test and moved on to the next chapter in Math Mammoth.

We read more about Abigail Adams, and compared John Adams to Benjamin Franklin.

We also discussed whether or not Robert Louis Stevenson uses drinking (of alcohol) as a way of signaling about the character of the characters in the book Kidnapped.

She’s reading more and more books, her favorite authors are Mary Pope Osborne and Caryll Houselander.

She made two needle-felt cats and gave one to her friend. She continues to learn valuable drawing skills from her friend.


We’re in the final stretch for Moose and soon we’ll be wrapping up term 2 for Peanut. Books for the next school year are starting to arrive, they’re being shelved until this year is done. But both kids are getting excited, seeing what is waiting for them in the future.

Our 2018 Lent Plans

I like to think that we are pretty well-prepared for Lent this year. I used the weeks leading up to Lent to think about what we needed to focus on and make a plan.

Spiritual Reading
Everyone who is old enough to read has selected something to read that will benefit their spiritual life.

Greg: Life of Christ by Venerable Fulton Sheen
Me: Above All (Lenten devotional by Take Up and Read) and The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjon
Peanut: My Path to Heaven by Fr Geoffery Bliss, SJ and Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories
Moose: Illustrated Gospel by Ignatius Press

The family read-aloud (after dinner) is St. Patrick’s Summer by Marigold Hunt. I also read to the kids from Lent for Children: A Thought A Day at breakfast.

Sacrificing
Screen time is cut to 30mins/day for the kids, excluding the (very small) amount of school-related screen time. This also includes video games. Yesterday was brutal: everyone was up early to go to Mass, I was crabby due to fasting, and it was just a long day overall. After a good night’s sleep though, everyone seems to be much more even-keeled and happily accepting their reduced screen time.

I also cut down on my screen time, focusing on the virtual time-sinks that I get drawn into. I thought I was going to have a much harder time with this but in reality it’s been rather easy. My overall goal is to focus what I need to go online for (send an email, pay bills, etc) and not get sucked into the time-sinks.

Deep Cleaning
In addition to the cleaning of our souls by going to Confession regularly and receiving the Sacraments; we’re going to do another major deep cleaning of the house while we wait for spring. My overall favorite is 40 Bags in 40 Days. I find it better for me to just fill a bag a day, hitting various hot spots of the house in the beginning (aka the places that drive me bonkers) and focus down to more specific areas as Lent progresses. Anything still usable will head off to the thrift store, anything that is plain trash will be sent off to the dump.

Prayer
I want to go to Stations of the Cross each Friday, although I’m not sure how that will work out in terms of Greg’s work schedule, the kids’ bedtime (Nugget still goes to bed quite early – usually before 6pm most nights), and the like. I do have a Stations of the Cross booklet I received when I came into the Church; and we have this Stations of the Cross booklet for the kids. So maybe we will do that if we can’t make it to one of the parishes in the town.


God-willing we will all reorient ourselves and put our priorities back in order; as well as make sure we are well and truly prepared for Easter.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 12

This week has been a week of excitement – from the Tesla in space to the Olympics, having Greg work from home due to severe weather conditions; it’s just been one thing after the other.

We didn’t watch Elon Musk’s massive rocket launch his Tesla into space as it happened; but we did watch the videos on Youtube and were Way Too Impressed by the pictures of Starman headed off to new places. Moose was a little bummed that Starman probably won’t be back from his adventure any time soon; but we assured him that it was OK for Starman to be the first one to go on a great “drive” in the solar system; paving the way for the more sentient beings of Earth to do something similar.


Moose is thrilled because he finished up his 24th week of second grade a couple days early; allowing for an even longer break “week”. Next week is when we will do exams. I’ll be using some of the Ambleside Exams, but write up some questions that reflects what he did, as we add/remove AO books from time to time.

He happened to see that the next chapter in the Burgess Animal Book has to do with coyotes and wolves; which has really interested him. He’s torn between enjoying his break week or moving onto the next term’s books during Exams week. Luckily for him, he’ll wait until the week after next to start, since he works better just focusing on one thing (exams) and not adding in new material on top of it.

In addition to the Burgess book, he’s also really excited to finally start Robin Hood, as well as the Vision biographies about St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

He was beyond ready to be done with this week. Lots of resistance to do almost anything, which is why we went ahead and finished early. When he realized he just had two more readings to do (finish up our biography about King David and our chapter of Burgess) he just decided to get it over and done with. I think the cabin fever is taking a toll on him, most of his days are spent outside but it’s been too cold for him to do so as much as he wants to. He needed a break and I was happy to finish his school ahead of time. We’ll pick up the rest of his math, handwriting, and reading next term.


Peanut is just a few weeks behind Moose, which means she’ll have the same process as Moose when she gets to break week – Ambleside Exams with some of our own questions. I’m noticing that we’re having more and more spontaneous, in-depth discussions about anything and everything – no subject is exempt. I can see how she really is grasping a lot of these concepts and is beginning to see how to apply them in real life.

I’m debating about whether or not to begin written narration next term for her or start it in fifth grade. I read all of Karen Glass’ Know and Tell book about narration (which was absolutely fabulous, a must-have in my opinion) which provided me with a lot of food for thought about when to start written narrations. Peanut is right at the age for doing so and I feel that she is an extremely competent oral narrator. I just wonder if we should spend the third term learning to touch-type, so she has the option of handwriting or typing a narration; as well as make sure that she really is solid on oral narrating. But then again, she can learn to touch-type alongside beginning to do written narrations, as her written narrations aren’t going to be the small epics she tells me right off the bat. Decisions, decisions.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 11

We’re done with another week! And it’s February which means March is soon which means SPRING is going to arrive. We’ve had several days of warmer weather, warm enough to melt some ice or let me go out and whack it apart to clear it off my driveway. I am completely ready for spring to be here, not needing tire chains anymore or being unable to open the windows.

As you can tell from the title, Moose is almost finished with Term 2, which is quite exciting! I need to put an eye towards examinations and see what questions to ask. I noticed that Moose cruised through his phonics workbook much quicker than I anticipated, as he will finish it up next Friday – a perfect way to wrap up the term.

I made a video of Moose narrating a selection from the Burgess Animal Book for Instagram. You can find the chapter I read to him here, he’s just narrating the part of the fisher (we did the narration for the marten off camera).  As Instagram has a one minute limit, I had to trim it down in order to upload it. His narrations are quite amazing given that he was more of the “repeat the last sentence I read” kind of narrator when we started narrating.

(I tried to embed the video but it didn’t work for who knows why, sorry about that!)

You can tell I tried to throw him for a loop towards the end, as sometimes he gets stuck in this “uhhhhhhhhh” land and he can’t seem to get out unless I do something outlandish. Sometimes it works and in this case, it didn’t really work. 😉

Next week is our final week, then exams and break week for Moose!


Peanut is really impressing me. Last week I wrote about her self-motivation in terms of getting her school done, setting her daily schedule, and more. I discovered this week that she if she has a large reading assignment and doesn’t get it done in the time allotted, she will read it at night before she goes to bed (or spread it out over a couple of nights if needed). Neither Greg nor I have been on her case about “homework”, the plan is to roll assignments over as needed, even if it takes a couple IRL weeks to do one Ambleside week. I guess Peanut prefers to stick with the one IRL week to one Ambleside week, which is fine by me!

Peanut is making great leaps with her spelling, and is continuing well through math. She’s reading more and more and branching out into books she wasn’t sure she would like (the total “judge a book by it’s cover” thing).

I noticed that Mary Pope Osborne is the featured author for February over at Read-Aloud Revival, so we had to get a membership so Peanut and Moose can be able to do the author Q&A. Peanut’s Magic Tree House books are Moose’s new favorite books to read, and it’s been so endearing watching them discuss the books after Moose finishes one. They’re busy thinking up questions to submit – maybe one of them (or both!) will have their questions answered. 🙂


I really do feel like we are at the perfect sweet spot for homeschooling. Everything is working absolutely perfectly. Time is managed well and we get things done with minimal drama and theatrics. Things are actually fun vs a drag. I don’t know how it happened or what; but I realized that today this is where I hoped to be when I started homeschooling. For years I have felt like Johnny Appleseed, throwing seeds seemingly everywhere and not knowing which ones would take root and flower and which ones would wither. There’s been a good share of wrong turns and adjustments that we’ve had to make; but I am just blown away at what is beginning to bloom.

What I’m Reading and Watching This Week

Now that our health has been restored, I can finally get back into the regular swing of things.

On Netflix, Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City became exciting with people 1) making meals, 2) going swimming, and 3) doing laundry. Also, the folks are starting to develop crushes on one another. One thing that really surprised me about this show is that there’s a panel of people who watch what’s happening and discuss it. The panel is made up of adults and a 14 year old young man. I’m kind surprised with how the panelists discuss how attractive the women are (and I’m totally shocked that they would do that in front of a 14 year old – some of the language is colorful).

Another thing about Terrace House that I don’t understand is that there’s clips of the participants at university, at jobs, etc. I can’t tell if they’re actually still working their jobs and continuing their education while the show is filming or if that’s something they did before filming. If I remember correctly, the show The Real World just had the participants at the house but not still employed (although maybe I’m wrong about that).

Anyways. I’m finding it fun to watch although slightly turned off by the whole crush-talk.


I needed something to read that was easy to read but not exactly the literary version of candy, so I decided to try Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly.

Kelly discusses how we basically are our own worst enemies, because more often than not; we know what we should do but just don’t do it. If we just did we we know we should; we’d find ourselves happy. He takes the reader through his life – not to be a braggart but to show how people have guided him in forming an interior life, how that’s helped his overall life and happiness. It’s not a biography but a great “guide to forming an interior life” type book that have short, to the point chapters.

I’d recommend this book to new converts, people who have no idea what an interior life even is, those who feel stuck spiritually but aren’t yet ready for SUPER MASSIVE UNDERTAKINGS.

I picked this book because 1) it had been recommended to me a while ago by my parish’s parochial vicar and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t read it and 2) I wanted something to help me get a better idea of Sacred Scriptures and how it all fits together.

This book definitely does a great job of showing how Sacred Scripture foreshadows events, how some of the more scandalous parts of the Old Testament fit into the overview of salvation history, how events are connected, and more. It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be, and I’m definitely embarrassed that I didn’t start reading it sooner!

I’m only halfway through the book but I’m finding it highly engaging and hard to put down. Each chapter flows the next and it’s very well-written. I’ll be a little sad when it’s over because I don’t know what book would be a good follow up book to it!


I’m turning my mind towards Lent to figure out what would be good spiritual reading. Nugget’s Godfather had recommended Death on a Friday Afternoon a few Lents ago. I know Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ is a good book for Lent, as well. I’ll have to pick through my books and see if anything strikes me.

One book that I did already purchase for Lent is the Lenten devotional journal entitled “Above All“. It arrived Monday, is thick and absolutely beautiful inside. I’m really looking forward to using it this Lent. 🙂

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AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 7 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 10

This week has been one of those “turning the Titanic” weeks where we spend a while getting back on the routine. It takes a lot of effort to get back into the swing of things, but at the end of the week it’s always hard work well spent and everyone is much calmer as a result.

Incorporating Wok into school has been easy, simply because we’re super low-key with her. She has a list and we check off what we get done, based on what she’s interested in. Right now it’s math and handwriting, with some art and Mater Amabilis stories thrown in as well. I have no intent on keeping her on a rigid schedule so we’ll get done when we get done. I’m not 100% sure I’m going to do all 36 weeks of MA, right now the goal is to get her ready to listen to AO’s Year 1 readings in the fall with the habits of attention and obedience, and lay the groundwork for narration. So right now everything is fun and light and I have no stress about what she does each week.

(You can see on my sidebar that Wok has been moved into Year 0.5 to reflect her status as almost ready to begin Year 1. 🙂 )


We’re getting to the end of some books for Moose – we have one more chapter of The Little Duke and two chapters left of our saint biography about King David. He’s almost finished with The Wind in the Willows (which makes him quite pleased). He’s brought out his next term’s books and is absolutely ecstatic that finally – finally – we will start reading Robin Hood very soon! I think he’s wanted to read this book since he first saw it in his Year 2 stack.

I only need one more book for Term 3 – a saint biography. I was hoping that one of the ones we have in the house would interest him but he’s informed me that he’s interested in reading about St. Ignatius of Loyola. So, I’ll have to purchase the Vision book about St. Ignatius sooner rather than later.

I am really pleased with Moose’s progress this entire year. One of the poems we read today mentioned an ermine, which he remembered (fondly) from when we read about it in the Burgess Animal Book. His narrations are really growing and he’s able to remember longer, more complicated readings before stopping for a narration. Math is finally coming along with a combination of Math Mammoth/Simply Charlotte Mason math and IXL. It still causes a lot of anxiety so we just go slow and stop as soon as we hit resistance. Some days we can go our entire scheduled slot, other days it’s merely 5 minutes. However we are seeing noticeable results and that is helping Moose be less anxious over all.

We are also preparing Moose to receive First Confession and First Holy Communion which is causing much excitement in the house! Peanut is especially excited for him to be able to join her at the wedding feast of the Lamb!


Peanut is also coming along right nicely this year. Having a weekly schedule vs daily is 100% easier and we discovered that Fridays have turned into the “easy” day, where all of her schoolwork is done rather early in the morning. The rest of the day is devoted to playing, exploring her own interests, reading, and coding on her computer (which was Greg’s computer from the early 2000s, hooray for ancient yet functional machines).

Year 4 is really a great year. Peanut is making connections regularly and is developing opinions about people’s characters, which is something she’s realizing outside of books, as well. She is also beginning to get self-motivated and is able to devise her own schedule based on what should be done that way (as in, I can give her a list of subjects and she can organize them in a way that her mind won’t be worn out by doing two hard subjects back-to-back). Her Friday work starts as soon as she’s done with breakfast without my asking as she’s connected that once she’s done with her schoolwork the rest of the day is hers (and of course, she wants a lot of time to do her own thing!).

I am really impressed about her development in terms of motivation and organization. At her age I was no where near that level of self-motivation and I was content on having someone arrange my schedule for me. Sometimes Peanut is fine with however I’ve laid out her schedule, but sometimes she decides that she has a better way and we use that instead. These skills will be extremely useful for the rest of her life so I’m quite thrilled that she’s developing them now.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Well, we have made it through the flu (relatively) unscathed. Peanut finished her Tamiflu this morning, Little Miss Sunshine finished hers yesterday, and Nugget is on his until Thursday (but has shown zero flu symptoms). Greg, Wok, Moose and I managed to dodge the flu entirely, thank God.

I did end up at the hospital on Saturday night with tachycardia and shortness of breath; which made everyone concerned I was experiencing a pulmonary embolism. Again, thank God; the doctors ran every possible test on me including an EKG, chest x-ray, the D-dimer test to check for clots, liver function, electrolytes; etc. Everything came back fine (and now we have some groovy baselines for some tests) and it was probably due to stress and anxiety. I had heard all week long from well-meaning people how absolutely bad the flu is this year and how people were just dropping dead from it and the like. Honestly, that really got into my nerves and contributed to my anxiety. My discharge instructions say “avoid stressful situations”. As if it were just that easy! 😉

At any rate, everyone is feeling better and I’m (literally) breathing easier. Now I’m working on getting our life back onto the regular routine. I had no menu plan ready so I sent Greg to Costco with a cobbled together list of what we use the most and instructions to “get food that’s easy to prepare”. So now I need to make a menu plan for this week, get back on chores, and the like.

Honestly, I am 1000% ready for winter to be over and spring to arrive. I noticed that the cedar waxwings are back with a vengeance so hopefully that means spring isn’t too far behind. The official “beginning of spring” birds are bluebirds and robins, who typically arrive within a week of each other. You can be assured that there will be a happy dance done by me when I see one or the other.