AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 5

You guys – we have hit it! HOMESCHOOLING PEACE! We have just the right balance between subjects, the schedule is all figured out, there’s not much drama, and everything is actually enjoying themselves! I am so excited!

Here’s how it all looks now:

Year 5: Math (Singapore), AO Free Reads, Copywork, Spelling (Phonetic Zoo), AO selections for: Science, Science Biography, Geography, History, History Biography, and Literature. We added in religion and health.

Year 3: Time4Learning takes care of science, math, language arts. We do copywork and AO selections for: History and Geography. We added in religion. And we are keeping Drop of Water because it’s really a great book (but working through it much slower).

Year 1:  Math, Phonics (MCP Plaid Phonics), Copywork, AO selections for: History, Literature, and Geography. We also added in religion.

Peanut still has a big workload, but she feels this is more manageable. You’ll notice we removed Latin from her line up, along with poetry from all three kids’ line-up.

Schedule wise, we have a general flow of things. Wok usually does her work before 9am. At 9am, Peanut and Moose start on theirs. Moose is done by 11am, and Peanut works until 11am. 11-1pm is our break for lunch, and afternoons are reserved for Peanut to work with me. If you’re not doing school, you’re either doing chores, playing, reading, playing outside, visiting the Grandparents, and so on.

We still have time for downtime, to play with friends, to keep the house mostly in shape, and more. It’s the perfect balance between rigorous and attainable.

Next week is our final week before Break Week #1. This break week was supposed to be our big vacation, but our plans for that fell through. I’m not sure what our break week plans will consist of now, but I’m sure we will figure something out.

AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 4

Yes, I did skip writing about week 3; that should tell you what kind of a week it was. 😉

We did still more adjusting as we work on finding our routine. Some books were removed from all three grades, some things were added. I decided Moose needs something vastly different from AmblesideOnline, based on how he learns. I decided to use Time4Learning with AO supplementing, as well as adding in religion. So far, it’s working out well. It completely removes me as a teacher (and removes a lot of friction) and it keeps track of everything for me (grades, plans, etc). It’s not my ideal solution but my overall goal here is to have educated adults, so as long as we get there; I’m OK. I don’t feel like I should sacrifice the relationship in order to stick with AO.

Life’s too short to be hung up on things like this.  I do hope to resume AO with him at some point, but this is not that point.

In other news, I put our Family Time subjects on a loop and that helped immensely, as we’re never really behind now in that department.

I also switched where our homeschool room is – Greg graciously agreed that our living room should be the homeschool room. Now we have more room to spread out, and it’s conveniently located next to the kitchen for my flock of hobbits.  (I’ll be posting pictures of it on Instagram sometime in the upcoming week).

I also switched Peanut’s math to Singapore and suddenly things are making sense that she was having a hard time understanding regardless of how I presented the material. Deo gratias!!

That’s a lot of tweaking that I’ve done lately, and I really hope I’m done with it. Probably not, because the kids are living beings; growing and changing and maturing.  What’s the point of homeschooling if I can’t flex and adapt and modify as needed?

Semi-unrelated to homeschooling: I actually built a portfolio and managed to get hired as a technical writer! GO ME! It’s a contract position; part-time and remote. It’s absolutely perfect for me and will bring in a little extra money. I’m hoping to be able to take on more contracts in the future once I finish this contract and keep it sustainable for a while. Having real-world work experience that’s current will be a BIG plus in accomplishing that.

(Sidenote: this blog is absolutely not included in my portfolio. I tend to write here like I speak, sometimes I get a little fluffy but this is not designed to be a showcase of my writing abilities.)

I’ve been knee-deep in tax stuff and figuring out what I need to do for that (hello, independent contractor) as well as that my city actually considers what I’m doing a business and need a business license (a special one, since I’m working out of my home). It’s mostly sorted out now, so I’m looking back to getting back into reading about AI and other things I tend to be interested in.

So it’s been quite a week – next week should be a little more settled down in comparison!

AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 2

This week: oh, boy.

I had glorious plans about writing mostly about scheduling three kids, and perhaps I will still do that, possibly next week. This week has been pretty much the opposite of last week in almost every conceivable way.  And repetitive, almost like the movie “Groundhog Day”.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, here’s some of the good things that came out of this whole week:

  • Moose did exceptionally well again with math. Math had always been a trouble subject for him and it’s turning out that it may not be as troublesome as initially thought.
  • Peanut is about 2/3rds through Phonetic Zoo Level A, which is quite a feat. Her spelling all around has improved massively.
  • Wok is still gung-ho as ever to actually do school and tends to gravitate towards the language arts side of things (loves to write, work on phonics, etc).

Also, I became very fed up and an enacted a severe reduction and almost extinction of screen time. This helped with a lot of kid-angst. The rest of it was removed by taking a “first principles look” at homeschooling in general and realizing that if I gave the kids more control of their educations in terms of subjects, environment, etc that they are less likely to be dramatic about it all. It becomes less of “this is just another thing mom wants us to do” and more of “this is something I’ve designed for myself to do”.  I plan on writing more about that later, as well.

Last week I wrote about adjustments that needed to take place, and this week resulted in the following adjustments and what else needs to happen.

  • The schedule. Front-loading the schedule didn’t work, and so we basically decided to start removing subjects from the schedule. I’m figuring out which ones to remove and will maybe stick them into a summer term or something else. I refuse to worry about it, though.
  • I try and get all of my Year 1’s stuff done with her, but sometimes it’s best to push some subjects to the afternoon.

New things to adjust:

  • The kids want family time subjects moved to the afternoon cocoa time, along with the read-aloud.
  • Adjust my ASD kiddo’s schedule and workload. This is kind of iffy right now because we are going to be getting a massive bunch of psychoeducational evaluations done to check for learning disabilities, etc; so I need to figure out what to do in the interim while we wait for referrals and appointments. If this child struggles with reading, for example; is there underlying dyslexia that needs to be dealt with or are the reading books too hard? Is this a vision problem? Bad habits? I don’t know and I’m not sure how to deal with this while we wait for a professional’s support.
  • I need to give the kids some form of vigorous activity in the morning, after breakfast; but again, not sure what. Running around outside is the default but now the air is extremely smokey and we are under health warnings so there goes that.
  • I need to firm up the routine as I found that my ASD kiddo absolutely thrives under strict routines and schedules. With six other people in the family, how on God’s green earth do we DO strict routines and schedules – the unexpected always pops up and it’s just a mess.

So you can see there’s a few things to tweak, and some rather complex problems I need to figure out or at least get a workable solution in the interim. I am slowly uncoupling myself from what I think our reality should look like and am just looking at what our reality actually is. I wonder how much of this past week’s frustration was due to the clash between the reality in my head and actual reality. I sometimes skip the steps in getting from point A to point Z.

Here’s to a hopefully smoother week 3!

AO Years 5, 3, and 1 | Term 1 Week 1

We finished our first week of school! There was minimal drama although re-entry is proving to be harder than expected.

The most dramatic parts of the day are our morning walks, which is probably a good sign. The kids have a variety of reasons why they dislike them, but none of them are actually a good reason for giving up said walks. That being said, I probably will scale it back to 3 times a week versus 5 just to give them a break.  I think the biggest problem with walks (for them) is actually having to get up and be done with breakfast by a set time!

A lot of my attention this week was spent dealing with medical things. My ASD kiddo needs (vastly) more supports and I have had to have referrals called in, talked with various professionals in a variety of fields, and so on. I have a very strict NO PHONES rule when I’m teaching; but if a professional I’ve been playing phone tag with calls me back at 9:30 in the morning; you better believe I’m answering that call. I’m generating a list of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime documentaries that I can put on for those phone conversations (as some of them can get quite long).

Some things that need some adjusting:

  • The schedule: while all my kids are great students, I need to readjust the schedule and front-load the week. With more therapies coming down the pipes for my ASD kiddo I get a suspicion that our weeks are going to go crazy in terms of appointments and therefore we need to get work done on days that won’t have therapy appointments interrupting them (or dentist, eye doctor, doctor and even vet appointments for the dog). This week we had our dog’s vet appointment which was right after a therapy appointment and TA-DA there went our afternoon.
  • My Year 1 is an excellent little student with reading and writing, but is having a hard time with the whole structured school day thing. I’m going to break up her times so that she does a subject, goes to play for an hour; does another subject, etc.
  • My Year 5 needs an exercise ball to bounce on for listening (her request, I’m so proud of her in that she can see what she needs to be successful and ask for it).
  • I need to decide whether or not to drop or punt subjects in Family Time if we can’t get to them for some reason (Thursday we skipped it to help Grandma do soil tests on her garden).
  • Why are the riches falling to the wayside again? I need to up their priority.
  • Habit that needs to be taught and enforced: cleaning up the school room (which doubles as the toy/TV room so that may be part of the problem)
  • I need to adjust books for my ASD kiddo – either remove some or lengthen the week, move books to a different term, maybe do a summer term with books I eject?

Despite what needs to be adjusted, there are a lot of great things happening already:

  • All the kids love German and are picking it up extremely fast.
  • My 2 year old STILL NAPS 1-2 TIMES A DAY! Thank you sweet baby Jesus! All the other kids gave up napping around 12-15mos. It’s so nice to have those naptimes still to work in.
  • My ASD kiddo hit a giant leap in math and doesn’t have any real hangups about math anymore. I felt like I was doing a disservice by not pushing math because of the hangup but happily some maturation helped with that. We just did it when it could be done without anxiety and meltdowns. There is catching up by leaps and bounds, which is what I was expecting to happen.
  • Moose reads independently now so we are FINISHED with formal phonics lessons. HIGH FIVE!
  • A couple weeks ago, Mystie Winckler had a great workshop about planning your homeschool with your kids’ Myers-Briggs personalities in mind. It dovetailed nicely with a book I read this month titled “Neuroscience of Personality”. If you’re an MB geek, my kids are most likely ESTP (Peanut), INFP (Moose), ENFP (Wok). That’s a whole lot of “P” in contrast to my “J”. And let’s not even THINK about the level of “E” in this house vs us lowly “I”s! But just knowing that alone has really helped grease the skids for a successful school year, because I am aware that they are able to deal with glitches in the schedule than I am (for example). The uptightness I exhibit about schedule glitches is my J speaking, and really they don’t care. I can let it go. I had a lot more great insight from that book and Mystie’s workshop that will really help this year, I think.  (The workshop gave me the aha moment behind Wok’s all-encompassing enthusiasm and her talking all.the.time and now I just take her as she comes vs trying to get her to stop so much.  Now I just need to get her in the habit of politely interrupting as opposed to MOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM.)
  • Peanut completed her first written narration this week (and did quite well for her first time).

I plan on spending this weekend to implement what I wrote above. Even though homeschooling is a giant, complex thing that is slowly turning into a full-time job for me; it is beyond the right decision for everyone involved and the kids are truly thriving and learning so much. Thank you, Ambleside Online!

July Reads


This month I only read four books (three of which are pictured above), which is the least amount of books I’ve read in a month since February of this year. The reason is two-fold: first, I spent a good portion of July planning out the first six weeks of the school year, finalizing whether or not we had all the books, printing out maps and other things; and so on.

Second, July was a lot like February in a lot of ways. February was supposed to be recovery month from a nervous breakdown I almost had in January. February was almost like January Part 2, minus extreme panic attacks.  I didn’t start recovering until March and in some ways I’m still recovering – I still need a lot of sleep, I get stressed out easily, and whatnot. While I may not have come close to a nervous breakdown this month, I have had a massive upswing in anxiety and stress which halted my ability to read books. This starts a cycle because I get mad at myself for not reading – it’s my favorite thing to do and it’s how I collect information in order to solve problems – so when I can’t do it I feel broken and dysfunctional; which shuts me down further from reading (self-fulfilling prophecy) and I feel worse and worse.

Fun, right?

At any rate, I did read four books this month so it wasn’t a total wash:

Blackfeet Indians by Frank Linderman. This book went back to the library already, but I really enjoyed it and will use it in our Montana history studies. Linderman was an ethnographer who was adopted into several Native American tribes and wrote extensively about them, after countless interviews. This particular book was all about the Blackfeet Indians – it’s very anthropological in that it talks about clans and how children are named and whatnot; but still quite accessible for the average reader.

Smart But Scattered by Richard Guare and Peg Dawson. One of the books recommended by my autistic kiddo’s diagnostician way back when. If you have a child who struggles with executive functioning, this book can help immensely. I found it helpful for all my kids (minus the baby), as it helped me figure out who’s EF skills were developed where, where there was still development going on, and so forth. This book can feel a bit clinical at times; but it’s extremely details and thorough. You can essentially develop an EF “treatment plan” off of this book.

Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss: This is one of the books that really solidified my desire to homeschool and that I could actually homeschool my kids. It’s one of the perennial Catholic homeschooling books and is always a good read. I feel like I’m sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a sympathetic ear. There is so much good information in this book. If you can get a copy of it, I highly recommend it. Copies are hard to track down but if you wait; you can get one rather inexpensively (mine was $15 from Amazon, actually!). I like to read this book when I need a good reminder about why I’m homeschooling or when I’m feeling discouraged.

Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain: I was hiding out in the library as opposed to going to a social for rock club (which is like the canary in the coalmine of RAPIDLY RISING ANXIETY for me), and I wandered into the biography section to see what was available. My entire town essentially put holds on all of Bourdain’s books in the digital library after he died, so I knew that getting a digital copy was going to be a while. Happily, the physical library had this copy in, so I justified my avoidance by checking out this book.

Let me state a huge, giant, MASSIVE disclaimer here: if you don’t like profanity, if you are offended of detailed R-rated descriptions of various events; if you know that you prefer to have clean reading – stay away from this book.

And if you want an indication I’m probably not a good role model; I rather enjoyed this book.

If you took the Sopranos and put them in a kitchen; you’d have this book. Bourdain, like in his shows; was no holds barred, extremely blunt and open and held nothing back. Most of the book was his stories about working in various kitchens, going to the Culinary Institute of America, trying to “make it” and the various working hazards (like drug use) along the way.  There were a couple of chapters in there where it’s almost like he went on a HUGE tangent and talked about cooking equipment – knives, pots and pans, even towels; various dishes that people order and what not to order; herbs to use, and so on. Then he went right back to his stories.

The best part of this book is that he wrote exactly how he talked. So, I read the whole thing with his voice in my head, which was quite amusing. Despite the sordid subject matter; he was a fantastic writer and really could turn a phrase with dry sarcasm and great humor.

Recommended if you like The Sopranos or Anthony Bourdain, and aren’t easily scandalized.

Next month we start school and hopefully my anxiety can get a little more under control. I don’t have any massive plans for what I want to read, I figure I will let next month happen as it comes. That being said I do have two books coming in the mail – one about neuroscience and personality; and (yet another) biography of Tesla. 🙂

Putting It All Together – A Hypothetical School Day

Now that I have three kids to teach this year, our standard operating procedure won’t be sufficient. Last year, we simply worked at the kitchen table. My then Year 2 worked in the morning while my then Year 4 worked independently; then in the afternoons I worked with her on things like spelling, math, and reading the books that were a little hard for her.

This year, my Years 1 and 3 will need 100% of my help. My Year 5 can do 99% of her reading but will need me for things like math, spelling, Latin, and the stretching books of Year 5. I don’t want to be doing school all day long, we have family subjects to do AND I have two other kids who won’t just sit docilely all day long!

The first change was turning our downstairs play room into an informal school room. All the books are kept in this room, and it would be easier on everyone to be able to leave their work spread out. We can keep everything in one area, keep the kids in one area, and still have toys accessible for the two non-schooling children. My table is long enough that child (or two) can saddle on up and work with me; and there’s desks in case they want to have their own space.

It still leaves me with how to schedule everything. There’s several options:

  • work with everyone on one subject at once, like math and copywork. The upsides are that everyone gets me at once and the subjects are done for the day. The downsides is that it still leaves me with lots of reading to do and I have a very hard time changing gears when lots of people are asking questions or talking at once.
  • work with everyone like train cars – everything for my Year 1 at once, then Year 3, then whatever my Year 5 needs. The upsides is that it gets everyone’s school taken care of in one block. The downsides are that I have a lot of kids hanging around, and it makes for a long day for me.
  • work in blocks. I’m thinking this will make the most sense for me. My Year 5 should be able to work in the background, so this will mainly apply to my Years 1 and 3 but still have me available for my Year 5 as she needs help.
    • Top of the hour: do subjects that need individual help like math and copywork. Year 1 first, then Year 3 due to age and attention spans. (15-20 minutes)
    • Set up one child with something to do (or draw, read, watch documentaries, play with non-schooled kids) and begin working through the AO readings with the other child. (20 minutes)
    • Switch children and repeat. (20 minutes)
    • Repeat each hour until subjects are completed. As the Year 1 readings are less, Wok will be done with school and can go play while Moose would then get more time each hour to do the readings.

Hopefully this will work and still allow my afternoons free to work with my Year 5 on the things that she can’t do independently as well as family subjects. I’m anticipating an hour of specific Year 1 work, about two hours of specific Year 3 work, and about three to three and a half hours of specific Year 5 work (I’ll let you know when we actually run the schedule out when school starts 😉 ). Family time should be less than an hour, except on experiment days for the science we’re using. SO all in all:

  • Year 1 – one hour of specific work
  • Year 3 – two hours of specific work
  • Year 5 – three (maybe 3.5) hours of specific work (this includes working with me)
  • Family time – one to two hours depending on experiments
  • Totaling: 7 hours of “school time” all together.

A way of scheduling this out could look like:

  • Breakfast and chores: 7-8am
  • Family Time: 8-9am
  • 10-11am: Hour 1 with Year 1 and 3
  • 11-noon: Hour 2 with Year 1 and 3
  • Noon to 1pm: Lunch and chores
  • 1-2pm: Hour 3 with Year 3 (if needed), work with Peanut
  • 2-3pm: Experiments, or work with Peanut if needed
  • 3-4pm: work with Peanut if needed

There’s a real possibility that we may decide to do something completely different once we actually start running the schedule and living it.

I was talking with a homeschool friend yesterday about scheduling and planning and not being a slave to dates, as well as finding that happy medium where you’re not RIGIDLY SCHEDULED but you’re not just flapping in the breeze of unstructured. I like to plan things way out but then get crabby when things don’t go to plan (and they never will go to plan). But not enough structure sends everyone in to hysterics.

My hopes by planning just six weeks out and making a rough draft, so to speak; of how the days are going to go is not to say “this is how it’s going to be if it’s the last thing we do!” but give me an assurance that everything can fit and we all won’t be doing school from sunup to sundown.

Here’s to a great new school year!

Our 2018-2019 Family Time Plans

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to do a “family time” where we combine everyone for a variety of subjects. I wanted to write out what tools we will be using for FT and a basic schedule outline.

First, the subjects and resources:

  • German – Deutsch Mit Felix Und Franzi, found free at the Goethe Institut.  My father-in-law also has a massive German library, including a plethora of easy readers and kid-books, movies, tapes, and more. Both he and my German mother were excited that the kids are going to learn German and thought the lesson plans were quite good.
  • PE – I don’t really feel the need to have an actual PE “curriculum” as the kids are already outside running around, riding bikes, climbing things, going to the park, etc.
  • Artist study – AmblesideOnline has a very phenomenal artist study rotation, with artists and pieces already selected. I wanted to weave in as much Montana history as possible; so we will be studying Montana artists this year. I’ll list them when I post about Montana history resources. 🙂
  • Composer study – same as Artist Study
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Geology – I wanted to add some more science onto AmblesideOnline, specifically experiments and a deeper focus on some topics. Due to my involvement with the local mineral club; the older kids have been on geology field trips and therefore have wanted to learn about geology in-depth. I found that RS4K has the most of what we’re looking for – focus on a specific topic, experiments, and isn’t overwhelmingly expensive. There are five ‘focus on’ subjects of RS4K, I plan on doing one per term until we’ve done all five.
  • Nature Study – honestly, this is my weakest thing to do because sometimes it feels like I have 500 kids versus 5, and I am at a loss of where to go that is interesting but also safe for littles. A friend of mine who does nature study with me suggested we focus on learning about local flora and fauna, which is fine with me.
  • Typing and Programming – We have used in the past for typing with Peanut and have been successful, so we will use that site again. I may put Moose on it but his frustration tolerance is rather low so we may just focus more on programming. Speaking of Programming, we plan on using Scratch Jr to play with, as well as other resources like the Hour of Code and some great coding games I found at Target to supplement. We don’t want the kids to program for the sake of programming but want them to learn how think like a programmer. If you know how programming works in general, then learning programming languages should be considerably easier.
  • Shakespeare – nothing fancy here – read from Tales from Shakespeare, then watch the play. I’m skipping the “read the actual play” because it’s just too confusing for the kids since I’m the only one who can read the plays. I could have Peanut read with me but I still think it will be too confusing.
  • Montana History – post coming soon!
  • Folk songs – We plan on using AO’s folk songs that are already selected as well as some Montana-centric songs. And a couple of cowboy songs for good measure.
  • Hymns – We will be using Erin McFarland’s Sacred Music Studies (starting with Year 1).
  • Read-aloud – I selected a book from the free-reads list from AO for each year I’m teaching to read-aloud. I selected Pinocchio, Men of Iron, and Anne of Green Gables. We should be able to read one book a term.

The plan for getting all of this accomplished is as follows:

  • German is done 4-5 days a week, including review days
  • Real Science 4 Kids is done five days a week
  • We will loop read through our Montana History books – the spine on Thursday, and biographies and other books on Monday and Tuesday
  • Artist study done on Wednesdays
  • Composer study throughout the week
  • Nature study TBD but probably on Thursday, this worked well for my friend and I; hopefully we can get some other homeschooling families involved as well
  • Shakespeare on Friday
  • Folk songs and hymns each day
  • Read-aloud daily
  • Typing and programming at least 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

And there you have it! Subjects that often were neglected in years past or just wishful thinking can now be done without me having to replicate it three times.

Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Plans

We are less than three weeks away from our first day of school! I finished planning the first six weeks of the term so it’s time for me to post what books we will be using this year.

This year, I will have three kids in school: Wok in Year 1, Moose in Year 3, and Peanut in Year 5. Little Miss Sunshine and Nugget will be along for the ride.

Peanut is essentially independent as she should be able to read almost all of her schoolbooks, although I expect she will need me to read a couple like Age of Fable. Moose is getting there, but will most likely have me read his schoolbooks; and Wok will need my help 100% of the time.

I’m doing a “family subjects” time, that combine some subjects and add others that I want to do:

  • German
  • PE
  • Artist study
  • Composer study
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Geology
  • Nature Study
  • Typing and Programming
  • Shakespeare
  • Montana History
  • Folk songs
  • Hymns
  • Read-aloud

As we are studying Montana History this year, all of our artists and composers are Montanans as opposed to using Ambleside Online’s artist and composer selections. Folk songs we are going to learn some Montana themed songs such as the state song; as well as using some of AO’s folk song selections. Our hymn selections will come from the Traditional Catholic Living’s Sacred Music Study selections.

For the kids, we are following Ambleside Online’s curriculum somewhat closely. I did substitute some books and add in others. I’m linking each AO Year we’re using below so you can see the entire year that AO has designed.

AO Year 1 | AO Year 3 | AO Year 5

Here is my list of substitutions and additions. My list is based on the kids’ abilities, our family dynamics, our faith, the books I already had on hand, and if I could find the book for an appropriate price (unless they’re public domain books).

Wok – AO Year 1
Remove Trial and Triumph, replace with Saint stories
Remove Parables from Nature
Add in Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 1: My Father and Mother on Earth and In Heaven

Moose – AO Year 3
Remove Trial and Triumph
Remove Parables from Nature
Remove Pilgrim’s Progress
Add history supports – The Old World and AmericaA History of England for Catholic ChildrenOur Lady’s DowryChrist the King Lord of HistoryLight to the Nations, Our American Catholic Heritage (note: most of these books I am simply reading sections out of in order to give a rounded view of the Protestant reformation as well as Columbus.)
Add Saint biography – St. Edmund Campion
Add additional reading – Crossbows and Crucifixes
Add Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 3: God’s Truths Help Us Live

Peanut – AO Year 5
Remove Trial and Triumph
Remove Madam How and Lady Why
Substitute Bold Journey by Charles Bohner for Of Courage Undaunted
Substitute Blood and Guts by Linda Allison for Christian Liberty Nature Reader
Add Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 4: The Vine and the Branches
Add Saint biographies – one about Fr. DeSmet and one about Fr. Palladino, two priests who were instrumental in both Montana and Catholic history
Add Native American biographies
Add a three-term course on health – The Care and Keeping Of YouThe Care and Keeping of Your EmotionsThe Care and Keeping of Your Mind and Spirit
Add history supports – Our American Catholic Heritage, others as needed

Finally, all three kids will be using a combination of Math Mammoth as well as Simply Charlotte Mason’s living math. Wok will use Handwriting Without Tears for her handwriting refinement (she already can write quite well). Wok and Moose will use MCP’s Plaid Phonics Program – Moose will continue with Book C and Wok will begin with Book A. Wok will be the third child to use BOB books to gain fluency and hopefully she will be into easy readers by the end of the year!

I think that covers all of what we are using! I will post what we’re using for Montana History as well as go deeper with our “family subjects” in later posts.

June Reads

I read these books this month, pushing my total number of books read for the year to 38. I went to the eye doctor yesterday and received a new prescription; so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done while I wait for my new glasses to be made.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius – This is one of Greg’s favorite books and he cautioned me about falling down the philosophical rabbit hole when he saw me reading it. We have been discussing how a lot of what Aurelius wrote about is echoed in Christianity. I believe St. Augustine expanded on Aurelius but I’m not too sure about that.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman – Back in my undergrad years, I spent more time with the physics and computer science folks than the folks in my major so of course I heard a lot about Richard Feynman. This was on my “to-read” list in those days but never was able to get it read. I’m glad I read though – it’s a great read, funny at times; but also somber (especially the parts about the Manhattan Project). I may put this book into our highschool years.

Your Two Year old and Your Six Year old – these child development books are somewhat old but informative. I really like them because they’re short (about 120 pages usually) but really do a good job about conveying what typically developing children go through. I like the giant caveat in each book that every child is different and not to stress too much if your child isn’t EXACTLY BY THE BOOK. I like these books to give me a reality check and make sure I don’t have wildly inappropriate expectations for my kids.

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr – another slightly outdated book, but the overall message is solid. What IS the internet doing to our brains? I know when my kids have overdone it on screentime they are just absolutely bonkers afterwards. Even I have a hard time switching from screens to books from time to time. I’ve always liked this book because it’s not a fatalistic almarist “we’re all going to die!!” type book, but one that definitely makes you stop and reevaluate a few things.

It Happened in Montana by James Crutchfield – a preread Montana history book. Short, sweet, and full of fantastic stories about Montana and important events for the state.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance – I find Elon Musk extremely fascinating, and so I had to add him to the list of people to read about. I liked this biography because it was more like sitting down with the author over a beer to discuss Elon Musk vs some scholarly tome about him. The author actually had multiple dinners with Elon while writing the book, so hooray for first-person sources.

I read this book in one sitting, so I clearly found it engaging and informative. I knew next to nothing about Elon Musk, except for very little bits that come through the media.

The most thought-provoking part of the book (for me) is at the very end, where Vance talks about how everything Elon does is for one goal. Is Elon’s overall goal to get to Mars or to make a “fantastic future”? I’m not sure, but Tesla (the car company), SpaceX, Boring Company, and whatever else he’s up to all seem to feed into each other and work to support his overall goal/vision/dream. There really isn’t any waste in terms of “let me devote my time and money to something that won’t further my goals and desires of going to Mars/better humanity/etc”.

I need something like that in my life because as of now, I feel very fragmented, like my overall dream/vision/goal is still something that can’t be put into reality. I want to raise children who are critically-thinking adults, content with doing things perhaps not how society does it; who are good and virtuous. But what does that look like? I would like to say “I’m doing X,Y, and Z to get to my goal above” but who knows what that looks like because I’m dealing with people here (something that ultimately can’t be controlled), AND there’s a danger in defining a goal so focused on my kids. Something for me to (over)think.

Also, you should know there’s a lot of profanity in this book. I’m not bothered by profanity (thanks, oilfield work) but I know some people are. So just a heads up for y’all.

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson – this is absolutely a “book of the year!” read for me. I just loved this book about Tesla. It is objective, factual, has lots of quotes from Tesla throughout it, includes Munson’s thoughts about Tesla in a curious but still objective fashion. I can’t stand it when biographies paint a specific picture about a person in either extreme. Everyone has their flaws and a good biography (I feel) will include them. Munson did a wonderful job talking about Tesla’s mystical experiences without turning him into some sort of extra-terrestrial. This will definitely be included in our curriculum for high school.

If you’re new to Tesla, start with his autobiography or this biography. Absolutely a wonderfully written book.

Every link except for the one to Meditations is an Amazon affiliate link, purchasing through them gives me a small commission which I turn around and buy more books with. Thank you!

Catching Up

It’s certainly been a busy summer lately. Once we wrapped up our school year, we have been decompressing as much as we can and just relaxing. I was thinking about doing some nature walks over the summer with the local Charlotte Mason group, but I’m starting to think maybe not (mostly due to the inclement weather that’s been going on).

As we are going to start our next school year towards the end of August, I’ve been ramping up book purchasing for the kids. I have all but one or two left to buy for Wok’s Year 1, nothing for Moose’s Year 3, and still a lot or Peanut’s Year 5.

Some books for Year 5, Year 3, Montana history, and geology.

I’m also adding a “family time” component where the four oldest kids will be participating in, will probably happen during Nugget’s naptime; and will consist of Art Study, Composer Study, Hymn, Folk Song, Swedish Drill, German, Programming/Typing, and in-depth science topic. Peanut selected term 1’s in-depth science topic: geology. I’m also doing our own artists and composers for study – Peanut is doing Montana history this year so the artists and composers will all be Montanans. I’m putting together a page here that has a list and links to all my Montana history resources.

More books for the upcoming school year. I helped with a garnet dig for kids at a local festival, and the festival organizers put the dig right in front of the used bookstore. 😀

I’ve been getting out into the field more with the local rock club. It’s a lot of fun, great specimens are found, and we even ran into a juvenile moose! We were nervous it was a mama with babies, but since it wasn’t; we were just ignored. I also have made a couple new friends who are more into rocks and minerals than I am; so we (naturally) have a grand old time together.

The cubes are barite.

Sometimes the kids come out into the field with me, and they get to make their own discoveries! It’s also why Peanut chose geology for the first in-depth science topic.

Blue calcite, epidote, and I think there’s some garnet in there as well. Collected by Moose, age 8.

Finally, when we have had good weather and break in my husband’s on-call schedule; we’ve been CAMPING. The kids have all enjoyed it and even the dog loves all the new smells and sights he gets to take in. So far we’ve gone up into the mountains and camped by a river. It’s nice to get away from everything and not have to do much other than hike and camp and watch wildlife.

I also had a friend come over with her daughter for Peanut to play with, where we just discussed paper planners and personality theory. 😛

I need to finish getting the rest of the books for the upcoming year, then plan out the 36 week plan, and start making sure we have all of our extra resources (science experiment items, nature study stuff, do we need to refill any art supplies, etc). I’d also like to get some more camping in if the sun returns and rivers cease flooding, and keep on reading great books!