What I’m Reading (and Watching) This Week

Here’s what I’ve been busy with this week:

I came across this documentary on Netflix and found it absolutely fascinating and depressing. Peanut watched a little bit with me and it really opened her eyes. Ever try to explain to a 9 year old why things are they way they are in Korea? I recommend you try it.

I’m halfway through A Song for Nagasaki and had to put it down. It was getting pretty intense and rather depressing; so that book (much like the above documentary) will be consumed in smaller bits.
Despite the heaviness, this has to be one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. Absolutely beautiful writing, absolutely heart-breaking. A++++, add it to your “to read” lists.

This book is part of Amazon’s “First Reads” program, so I was able to download the Kindle version for free. I’m 100% sure I won’t read this until the summertime. As someone prone to seasonal depression, I tend to be very cautious about what I read when the days are short and the nights are long.
Buuuuuuuut I expect it to be interesting. If you’re into that sort of thing, which apparently I am.

Filling the gaps from my youth, I realized I know nothing about Asian history and culture except for what comes through Western media. I’m on the hunt for a good “intro to Japanese history” type book that isn’t a textbook. I did purchase this book, and am awaiting its arrival.

I was hoping to find something about Japan written by .. someone Japanese, but this was as close as I could find in English. I think the language is the problem – a good Japanese history book written in Japanese needs to be translated to English, and that probably would be by someone who is not Japanese. But still.

Also in my “to arrive” pile is what’s thought to be the world’s first novel.
I have no idea what to expect with this one.

I did some Christmas book shopping and found a book Greg had been looking for ever since I bought him Volume One earlier this year:
Many of the ones in Volume One read like bad dad jokes. I do not expect this one to be any different. Greg will love it!

{The links to the books in the post are affiliate links, thank you for supporting my never-ending book bonanza!}

AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 3+4 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 2 + Week 6

We are at the end of another week, and this week has been loads better than last week. We were able to finish off last week’s work and get through this week’s work (and actually enjoy it).

Greg informed me that he absolutely loved The Wind in the Willows when he read it as a kid, and has volunteered to read it to Moose each night. Moose and I are of the “ehhh” mindset regarding Wind in the Willows, so it’s nice to have someone more enthusiastic take over. I remember trying to read it as a child and was ??? the entire time.

We are making headway in a variety of subjects. Peanut cleared an entire Phonetic Zoo level in two days (new record for her) and she’s blowing through the high frequency words. Math is taking off for both kids. Peanut’s narrations are incredible, and the discussions we have are really interesting. Even Moose is bringing up his own connections with the material and it’s absolutely amazing to watch.

It’s as if adjusting the schedule gave everyone a shot in the arm, and they have renewed their vigor and excitement for learning.

Moose is in break week next week, and we’ll take some time off for Christmas. Next week is Filling Party for some of the kids, (please hold me) which should be a HIGHLY interesting experience. I also get to see my new doctor (the one who figured out the iron issues) for a follow-up.

Today my parents may be making a visit (it’s hard to say with the weather) but the kids already have finished their schoolwork and are busy playing. Moose and Peanut made an elaborate Lego town, and the little girls are busy with the Playmobil. An idyllic morning for sure, one I’ll have to keep in my mind to reflect on when the kids are swinging off the proverbial chandelier!

Happy Schedule Time

Our break last week was rather short-lived, thankfully.

We stopped midweek to celebrate some liturgical holidays but also to work on some scheduling issues. Through some minor miracle, I had a realization that the problem was with the schedule. When we started this school year, I broke the weekly readings up into daily chunks. We read the daily readings and continued on. It worked really, really well. Until it didn’t.

I ended up going through the schedule and condensing the readings back into weekly readings. Rather than doing (for example) The Little Duke over four or five days; we can do it in one reading (most of the time). When I reconfigured the schedules I left gaps in Moose’s schedule so that we could carry readings across a week if we need to (looking at you, Wind in the Willows). The problem with stretching the readings out over the week is that everything felt like it just d-r-a-g-g-e-d on (even if we were still only spending less than three hours of school for Peanut). Things go much quicker now and there’s a less draggy feeling.

We spent yesterday and today finishing up the last week (Weeks 5 for Moose and 3 for Peanut). This week we’ll continue on with Weeks 6 and 4, and see where we end up on Friday. I’m anticipating we will get through most if not all of Weeks 6 and 4 by then which means Moose has Break Week next week.

Another thing I did was make a Master Schedule that we (mostly) stick to. I made a column for each kid and scheduled out their entire day, marking naps, food, snacks, chores, play, quiet times, school, etc. For Nugget, his is rather fluid since he’s a little guy but for the big kids it’s quite structured. Everyone is less frenetic because I can say for certainty that Netflix time is in the afternoon (and has a definite end time) vs kids wearing me down and next thing you know they’ve watched a lot of Curious George or something. I also took commenter Flos Carmeli’s advice and went off to the dollar store for some fun “school book” things for Little Miss Sunshine, which seems to have scratched that “I want to do school!” itch nicely.

“Teachers must in this, as in all other matters, mix their work with brains…”
~ Charlotte Mason, as quoted by Elsie Kitching

Just a handy little pro-tip from Miss Charlottte. 😉


AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 3 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 1

This week was the Great Slowdown Week. We had no school on St. Nicholas Day, and no school today for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Thursday we turned into a Game Day, playing the new game St. Nicholas brought for the kids and other games we have around the house.

The kids don’t know it but school is canceled until further notice. Nothing too drastic, but an early and possibly long Christmas break.

There is a lot of things going on behind the scenes in my life: we had a death in the extended family last month and there’s a possibility of another death in the extended family this month. There’s health issues with members of my family. Our schedule has broken down because both Wok and Little Miss Sunshine want in on the schooltime – and while Wok can handle a level of Kindergarten; LMS definitely can’t. A couple kids need fillings done (SIGH) and all the kids need flouride treatments at home. One of my kids is so ridiculously hard right now and my stress is high.

I need to sit down and figure out the following:
– what can LMS do that will scratch the itch of “doing school” but is still developmentally appropriate for her age?
– how can I incorporate both LMS and Wok into schooltime in a way that makes sense, flows well, and everyone can be taught appropriately?
– how can we rearrange the schedule to include school but also playtime (usually outside), chore time, and quiet time?

I mentioned all my drama to a friend who had some wonderful advice and this part from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

[6] Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.
[7] And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
[8] For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.
[9] The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.
[10] Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, as you did also think; but you were busied.
[11] I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.
[12] I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: (everywhere, and in all things I am instructed) both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.
[13] I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me.

So that’s where I’m at right now. The time we have “off” from school will still be filled with home ec, games, nature study, read-alouds, and more. But I think we need to shelve the books while I tweak the schedule, and enjoy this time of waiting and preparation.

Advent 2017

I’m a little tardy in getting this posted, but better late than never!

Each year around Thanksgiving, I tend to sit down and figure out how our family traditions will line up with the year’s Advent. Sometimes Advent is l-o-n-g, and other years such as this one, it’s incredibly short. I try to have a list made up so I can have something to reference to since things get crazy around here.

Our Advent is as follows:

First Sunday of Advent (December 3rd)
Christmas tree is put up and stockings are hung. Nativities are set out, minus the Baby Jesus.

Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th)
St. Nicholas comes and leaves gifts in the stockings and a reminder to prepare their hearts for the Christ Child. This year, he brought the kids the following (all affiliate links):

as well as a day off from school.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8th)
Another day off from school, and we have our traditional “white meal” in honor of Our Lady’s purity. Chicken alfredo with pasta and rice, corn (ok, not white but still tasty), and Martinelli’s if I remember to pick it up in time. And of course, we get to Mass.

Second Sunday of Advent (December 10th)
More decorations go up around the house.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th)
We have a bunch of books to read about Our Lady of Guadalupe and we have a Mexican themed dinner to celebrate (complete with Mexican hot chocolate – yum!).

Feast of St. Lucy (December 13th)
The lights go up on the house! I string the lights on the tree when we put it up, but we don’t plug in the tree until today. After dinner we all load up and listen to Christmas carols and check out light displays around town.

Third Sunday of Advent (December 17th)
We decorate the tree and put up any remaining Christmas decorations. If I’m going to bake Christmas cookies, I try and do it this day or on the last Sunday of Advent. The O Antiphons also begin.

Peanut’s Baptismal Anniversary (December 22nd)
Peanut picks out dinner and we all renew our Baptismal promises. Christmas dinner is planned and purchased by this point as well.

Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 24th)
This year, since it’s Christmas Eve; everything should be done by this date.

– – –
In addition to above, we have a couple Christmas parties to attend, Confession, Mass, and Advent candles. This year, I added in Advent to Epiphany “Morning Time” plans. The kids really enjoy it, and it provides a different way to start the mornings.

I try to have a good mix of Advent activities and things to look forward to as opposed to throwing it all up on Black Friday and being over it on the 26th. We leave everything up until January 8th, the Baptism of the Lord. I also did my best to incorporate traditions from when I was a kid, from when Greg was a kid, and new traditions for our kids. 🙂

Blessed Advent, everyone!

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

This week, we’re back into our regular schedule of AO readings. I’m not totally sure on what our Christmas schedule will turn into; but I think we’ll just be playing it by ear and taking our time through the month of December.

Over on my Instagram, I posted about how I had a great idea to help Moose stay focused on getting school done, but also respecting his needs as a boy and be moving around a lot. It has helped so much (even if we have only been doing it for a couple of days, haha).

Speaking of Moose, we are getting through The Little Duke {aff link} with rapt attention. This is one of those books that I see mentioned a lot on Facebook and in the forums. It starts out so … dense, but about halfway through everything changes and it becomes quite seamless in terms of what’s happening and why. I absolutely love the self-realizations that the Little Duke learns during some of the more pivotal parts of the book. It is really a great book, and it’s definitely making Moose think a lot about governing yourself, friends vs foes, chivalry, devotion to a cause greater than yourself, and more.

I am really pleased with how well Moose is taking Year 2. I wasn’t sure if how everything would work out given compulsory age, his rough start to 2017 (that broken leg, which should have been a good indication about how 2017 would progress), and his general shutting down for anything smelling like “education”. Alas, we have done some adjustments and I can see him actually getting excited for all his schoolbooks.

I’ve started to look at Year 3 and begin tracking down books we will need. I also had a realization I need to get some books for Year 1 for Wok!

* * *
Peanut and I had a great conversation tonight about World War II, Pearl Harbor, A-bombs and more since she saw me reading A Song for Nagasaki and was curious about what Nagasaki was. We had some very good questions – who was at fault for the bombing of Japan? Could you put someone at fault for that? Was the pilot right in bombing? Did the Emperor think we were bluffing? What was the motivation for the attack on Pearl Harbor? Why even learn about this stuff, anyways?

It’s those unscheduled conversations that pop up seemingly randomly that make this all worthwhile. All the hard and frustrating days, the days where it seems like nothing is sinking in; totally worth it. All the stuff we’re learning currently (American Revolution) sets a foundation for when we do talk about WWII. It all builds on itself and relates into everything else. We’re all connected, and she’s starting to see that.

What I’m Reading This Week

I haven’t had too much of a time to read during this past week. There’s been a lot of stress resulting from things beyond my control, figuring out logistics with my parents in case my mom comes to hang out with us if my Dad does end up needing a surgery; and more. I’ve been resorting to stress cleaning; mainly decluttering as a way of dealing with everything (which is good, as St. Nicholas Day and Christmas are right around the corner).

I’ve been reading A Song for Nagasaki in my post-cleaning times, though. I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and it’s a beautiful book. The writing is evocative and I’ve discovered that I don’t know much about Asian history (both secular and Catholic). I’m finding Takashi Nagai’s journey of Shinto to atheist in college to Catholic rather similar to what I went through in college (minus the Shintoism starting point) but definitely the whole “one doesn’t need God” vibe that I heard echoed throughout most of my courses (which intensified after my conversion).

One part that made me think is that Nagai mentions that he boarded with a Catholic family in college and I’m guessing that family played a huge role in his conversion. If someone were to board with my family, what kind of an impression would they receive? It’s a very interesting thing to think about, and it has provided some great ponderings when I am doing my stress cleaning.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book, especially if more details are shed about the family that Nagai stayed with. The book has already discussed a lot about how Pascal’s PensĂ©es influenced Nagai. I would like to put this book in at the highschool level for history/religious studies; I’d put it in earlier except there’s a rather gruesome part describing the crucifixion of Japanese Christians that would really disturb my kids if they read it in the next few years. I’ll make my final determination about if it will be included and what year once I’ve finished it.