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. 🙂

(All links are Amazon affiliate links, thank you for your support.)

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.

AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 9

Despite the sickness that has invaded the house, we slowly chiseled away at Moose’s week. It’s important to give him some level of routine, even when the days are really NOT routine. Both days where we were taking kids to Urgent Care were just free days for him, in which he used his free time to build a giant diorama of Jurassic Park. Once everything settled down, I just looked at my list and picked something off of it to read/do and left it at that.


I’m experimenting with a Happy Planner “Trendsetter” planner to record all of our schooling. Right now I’m recording the hours in the notebook that I’ve been using all year; but will switch over to the Trendsetter for the next school year once I find a good way to use it. The “daily” pages are simply lists like the one above – my goal is to use each week, record all the kids’ weekly assignments, and cross them off as they do them (and record times). There’s a two-page spread at the beginning of each month that I plan on using to track homeschool goals, when to administer reading level tests (for my own edification), etc. So far I’ve just done the one page up there, but I’m really liking it. Red is Moose, purple is Wok, and pink is Peanut.

(I should do a “how I plan” post because I’ve totally figured out a great system for recording all the things that need to be recorded.)

Anyways.

The big shocker this week in our reading was the SHOCKING DEATH in chapter 11 of The Little Duke. I cried during the pre-reading and got choked up when I was reading it aloud to Moose. Even he was shocked and stunned and didn’t know what to think. Interestingly, I received the best narration from him that I’ve ever heard. So it clearly left an impact on him!

We still have a couple things to wrap up for Moose, which we will probably do sometime today or just push it to Monday. My overall goals for the week are to keep the healthy people healthy and the sickies comfortable and not get worse; which seems to be happening nicely. As everyone get better we’ll slowly return to our regular schedule. But until then, it’s nice to sit back and take it easy.

 

What I’m Reading and Watching This Week

We managed to get two school days in for Moose until influenza moved in and has been slowly taking people down. Little Miss Sunshine was the first one to get sick, sporting a 105 degree fever out of no where. Greg came home from work and took her to the doctor while I stayed with the rest of the flock; where they confirmed influenza and sent her home with Tamiflu. Due to Nugget’s age, he also needed Tamiflu. Yesterday Peanut told me she didn’t feel well and started getting a fever (not as high as LMS’ though) so off she went. Flu was confirmed, Tamiflu prescribed. Thankfully Greg has been able to work remotely during this season of influenza so he can take sickies to the doctor.

School has been officially canceled although I have been doing some things with Moose as he’s still standing strong against the virus and needs some level of the routine. It’s been very light though so I can take care of the ones who are sick, make sure that things are getting disinfected, making sure no one else is developing fevers, and so on.

Anyways.

I did finish watching Erased over the weekend, and it was quite good. Lots of plot twists at the end and a tie up of all the plot lines. I think it was quite well done and much different than Western shows. I think if it had been done in the U.S. it would have been much more violent, possibly having some love interests, and loaded with profanity. It’s nice not having all that around.

I’ve moved on to Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, which is like a Japanese version of The Real World. I love(d) The Real World in college, especially since MTV was blocked in my house growing up. I described Terrace House to a fellow Real World loving friend as “100% less edgy and 100% more polite than The Real World”. It’s in Japanese with English subs, but I’m finding that I can recognize and understand a lot of the words if I concentrate hard on what they’re saying. So far it’s enjoyable but really different from anything in America – much more slow paced, a lot of extra noise is left in (like footsteps on floors, grocery store music, etc), and it just seems like nothing really is happening. It’s great.

I received A Brief History of Japan, but haven’t been able to start it yet. Hopefully soon but maybe after we’re well past the influenza infestation. 😉

AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 5+6 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 7+8

We resumed school last week, and did a great job of not doing the weekly write-up. In my defense I slammed my hand in the car door and typing up anything was the last thing on my mind. Happily, nothing was broken (but my poor pinkie is beyond bruised and still slightly swollen). Typing is getting easier and easier. (This week’s injury was a pulled muscle while shoveling snow, sigh. I’m thinking I’ll just wrap myself in bubble wrap this year!)

At any rate, we had a gentle week last week to help everyone get back into the routine. This week I made judicious use of the Technositter as in addition to my mangled finger, three of the five kids had the same cold. It’s passing through, but this week was definitely a low expectations week.

Some highlights:

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is picking up (finally) and it’s becoming a favorite of both Peanut and me. I’ve found it best for Peanut to read almost all of the book selections except for the literature selections, history biographies, and mythology. I reallllllllllly want to read ahead but I’m being good and sticking to the schedule.
  • Moose had a great breakthrough with math and is so exciting to watch. I’ve noticed he’s been drawing and coloring more, as well as building more intricate creations with his Legos. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that and his sudden “aha” with regards to math.
  • Even Wok is getting in on the fun – her drawing went from the “tadpole people” stage to “stick figures” to “stick figures with lots of details, like fingers”.  She continues with her kindergarten-y workbooks and thoroughly enjoys them. I’ll start moving her towards Mater Amabilis’ kindergarten program when she’s done with workbooks in preparation for her starting first grade in the fall (!).
  • Peanut and Moose lost the same tooth about 3 days apart from each other.
  • I’ll be slowing Peanut down in Latin, as it’s getting harder as we go along; and I prefer she actually learn the lesson vs cramming it in and forgetting about it.
  • Moose is beginning to read chapter books (Magic Tree House) which is quite exciting for him. He’s currently into pirates so no surprise he should begin with the pirates MTH book.

Peanut goes on break week next week, and I’ll continue on with Moose. He’s desperately excited to get to Robin Hood, but that’s in Term 3. Almost there, buddy!

I’m starting to put down on paper the next school year – Years 5 (!), 3 (!!), and 1 (!!!). I find it helps me get through the February burnout if I start thinking ahead to the next school year – what books I want to use, substitutes, etc. Right now I’m in the brain dump stage – looking at a variety of sources and dumping everything into a text document. As the weeks move on, I’ll start organizing things and removing books from the list; until I get a final list and start book shopping. Moose will finish Year 2 first, so I need to look at a calendar and figure out when that is. He’ll get a week or two off and then move right in to Year 3. I have a similar plan for Peanut, although her break (may) be slightly longer than Moose’s).

What I’m Reading & Watching

First, the Netflix show Erased: This show is still really good. In episode 8, it goes dark really fast and rather intensely (violence and assualt). Peanut had been watching this show with me (after I watched each episode and screened it for fast-forwarding purposes), but she fell out of interest around episode 3. I’m quite happy that she did because well; there’s no way she could continue to watch it. I haven’t finished said episode yet because it’s obviously not something I want the kids wandering in on and how much free time do I get to myself to just watch Netflix? Not a lot.

I plowed through some books at the beginning of the year, including Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, the rest of The Japanese Mind, and finished off A Song for Nagasaki.

My friend Laura had asked why I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads, so I figured this would be a good spot to elaborate. It’s the space stuff, really! I find it so hard to get into anything that takes place in space. I also felt like the plot stalled a couple of times, or at least had to be drug on a little bit. But what I did like is just how utterly crazy Willy Wonka is. I grew up with the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka, and while Gene did a great job at portraying Wonka as someone who’s eccentric (and deep); the books really show that Wonka was just plain crazy and I think Johnny Depp portrayed a much better version of Wonka. And I’m typically someone who prefers the original to the remixes.

(Laura, I have completely scandalized Greg by my confession of my three star rating for Great Glass Elevator AND that I haven’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So you’re in good company! 😛 )

This book is in Give Your Child the World, and I was quite thrilled when I saw it in a thrift store for $0.50. I bought it, read it in under an hour, and cried my eyes out at the end. I will be putting this into the rotation when we learn about World War II. The book is based on a true story, which makes it even more intense.

(I can also state that the book, Give Your Child the World is fantastic and highly recommended. I’ve found so many great books in that book that I would have never even come across on my own.)

I finally finished up The Japanese Mind on New Year’s Day. I found it quite interesting and could easily pick it up and put it down as I needed to. I think the title is a little eye-rolly – can you really sum up an entire population’s ‘mind’ in one book? I do like that the essays talked about the traditional view of things, and then if that view has changed – how it’s changed. I also like how balanced the essays are – it’s not a “100% Japan is amazing” or “Japan is the worst place on the planet” type book, which is appreciated.

I’m glad I came upon this book and will probably end up reading it again when I need something casual to read.

I also finished this book early in the New Year and oh my. Another book that I just put down and cried at the end of. I’ll be putting this book into the highschool study of World War II, simply because of the sometimes graphic descriptions of what happened after the atomic bombs were dropped.

What’s incredible is that Dr. Nagai saw first-hand the devastation of the bomb, had to bury his wife after she died in the bombing, saw the illnesses that came up after the bomb had been dropped, watched the Cathedral go up in flames; and still was steadfast in his Catholic faith. Even when people confronted him about why he was so at peace with everything; he never wavered. It really helped me put a lot of things into focus, and I now have something stored in my mind the next time it feels like God is absent.


I have some books in the currently reading stack – one for the local Charlotte Mason group discussion, The Tale of Genji (and check it out, a site devoted to it that has pictures and explanations, hooray!), and How to Cook Everything. I haven’t decided which book about Catholicism to read yet, but I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of books.

(As always, book links are affiliate links so I can continue to buy books – thank you for your support!)

New Year, New Beginnings, New Hobbies

Well, that was quite a break! I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and New Year, and are ready to get back into the swing of things (and prepare for Lent – you know it’ll be here before you know it!).

I received the results of my bloodwork that was done right before Christmas in order to see what my ferritin iron level was at. My overall levels almost doubled, but I still have at least another three months of iron supplementation ahead of me. The good news is that I was able to reduce my supplementation amounts, so hurrah!

What really made me happy was that my doctor ordered a lipid panel as well as a vitamin D panel in addition to iron. Obviously, my vitamin D needs supplementation but my cholesterol is finally doing good things. The overall level went down, triglycerides went down, and “good cholesterol” went up. I can live with that.


We resumed school last week, which was a rough reentry into the routine. In hindsight, I could have waited until yesterday or done a “light” school last week. But, homeschooling means adapting, and I’ve found that if I keep my death grip on what I think is “right” nothing will get done and the kid will get frustrated. We did some adjustments and things flowed quite smoothly yesterday, hopefully we can have the same momentum for the rest of the week.

I changed things up by letting the kids pick where to do things that aren’t writing related (Moose chose snuggling on my bed, Peanut was content with the kitchen table), as well as making sure we are sticking to the schedule and the time limits.

The one thing I’ve done that has had the most effect on my life is getting serious about self-care. I used to think I was serious but oh no, I was not. It takes a lot of effort from everyone but I feel like it’s really paying off for everyone. My doctor suggested a hobby, so I stumbled on some things I like to do (I don’t know if they’re hobbies per se but it really helps my mind to relax and not think about the 493496734699401 things going on that are stressful that I can’t get away from):

  1. Japan. I need to get a system going for learning the language; but while I work on that I’ve been enjoying learning about Japanese culture, history, and pretty much everything else. My husband is awesome and bought me a couple of Japanese cookbooks for Christmas (Iron Chef Morimoto’s, to be exact) and has lovingly put up with me trying out some recipes. We have found that hambagu (think meatloaf but better) is absolutely incredible and the kids will eat nikujaga (beef stew) as long as you don’t tell them that the broth is actually a seaweed broth. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t taste like seaweed. (I’m absolutely shocked I could find kombu (seaweed) and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) locally.)
  2. Cooking. Between Morimoto’s cookbooks and Bittman’s How to Cook Everything {aff}; I’m learning so much about food and cooking and seasoning and the like. I’m not exactly a culinary genius, but it’s really fun to learn and try things out.
  3. Reading. Now that my brain is back up and running thanks to the iron; I can get into books again. I try to have several books going, not so much an easy/medium/hard but more of something related to homeschooling, Catholicism, and Japan.

I used to think that homeschooling would count as a hobby but it can’t; at least not in the capacity that I’m doing it in. It’s really tempting for me to think “oh, I’m starting a Charlotte Mason group as a hobby!” or “oh, I’m reading this book/blog post/etc about homeschooling as a hobby!” but in reality it’s more like a job than a hobby. I do read homeschool books but I try to keep a balance in that I’m reading more about Catholicism and Japan than I am about homeschooling; and trying to talk more with homeschooling friends (both in real life and online) about what’s going on.

I’ve also been extremely picky about my emotional bandwidth. There are some situations going on that are just draining the life out of me but I need to deal with them (aka my mom’s health, the possibility of another one of my kids being on the autism spectrum, etc) and so I’ve had to limit other stressful input. I’m in a group on Facebook for caregivers of people with Parkinson’s; and I’ve had to unfollow the group simply because I just couldn’t handle the posts anymore. I still am in the group so I can get questions answered and the like but I simply can’t emotionally see the posts anymore. (And I’m not even my mom’s main caretaker, I don’t even know how my dad does it.) It feels really selfish but honestly I need to do it or else I’m probably going to have a massive crash and burn fest.


All that being said, I can feel the effects of turning off my brain and just losing myself in a good book or a good recipe. I feel much more peaceful, I’m sleeping better, and I’m not nearly as cranky as I am overall. And because I am more refreshed and patient, everyone in the house is benefiting.