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!

A Brief Look at Biographies of Tesla

A friend of mine on Instagram was inquiring about the various Tesla biographies I’ve read and which one would be a good one to start out with, if one wants to learn more about Nikola Tesla.

As I can be overly lengthy when talking about things I like (and really, anything relating to books will surely trigger such a reaction), I figured it would be easier to make a blog post than constantly run up against IG’s comment length limit.

The first book about Tesla I read was Margaret Cheney’s Tesla: Man out of Time. This is also a book that I did not finish (with 30 pages left) because I couldn’t handle the sudden turn of making Tesla seem to be this beyond human entity. There’s a lot of talk about ESP and Tesla and for me, that was a total turn off. It’s well-known that he had visions – flashes of light where he would see things -but to go from there to full blown ESP is a little much.

Still, there was a lot of good things in this biography, especially the whole “Edison vs Tesla” issue. It’s where I first read that Edison had neighborhood pets stolen so he could electrocute them in a scare campaign against Tesla (which shocked me so much because that was news to me and I always thought Edison is as this noble inventor…). She also did a really good job highlighting Tesla’s eccentricities (which honestly sounds like OCD but could just be how he was wired  and not actually a mental disorder).

[I promise that the amount of puns I’ve written in the above paragraph are completely unintentional.]

After I read Cheney’s biography, I went to the source himself and found a cheap copy of his autobiography on Amazon for $3. It’s a short, 92 pages and is titled “My Inventions” and is mostly about – surprise – his inventions. But he does talk a little bit about his family life. I always like to go back to the primary source whenever possible, especially when it comes to biographies.

I’m halfway through Richard Munson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Modern and am enjoying it greatly. There’s a lot of overlap between this book and the two other books – but this book does get more into his family life (including grandparents), includes little mini-bios of people like Edison and Westinghouse, and has quotes by Tesla sprinkled throughout. There’s also footnotes and a couple of appendices. The actual biography is about 260 pages, then the rest of the book are appendices and footnotes. And there are some pictures in the middle, which are always fun to look at.

Although I’m not finished with this book (and therefore can’t tell if Munson also veers towards the supernatural in a big way), I really enjoy it. Plus, Munson cites a biography of Tesla written by John O’Neill, which is something I’ll have to track down – Tesla actually talked to O’Neill while he was writing the biography.

If I had to rank the biographies in terms of their awesomeness/readability/objectiveness, the list would look like this:

  1. My Inventions by Nikola Tesla – short, cheap and is ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’, so to speak. I don’t have to worry if someone is trying to make Tesla someone he’s not.
  2. Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson – lengthier than Tesla’s autobiography but (as of halfway through the book) the approach to Tesla appears to be very balanced and objective. Yes, Tesla had eccentricities and visions but he was still human.
  3. Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney – mostly good, but the direction of making Tesla seem like this supernatural being was just too much for me. And I’m Catholic, so I’m quite comfortable with mysticism and the supernatural.

For everyone’s convenience, here are some COMPLETELY AFFILIATED Amazon links for the books that will give me a little commission that I use to buy more books, should you choose to use them. 🙂

And as I track down more biographies about Tesla (especially that O’Neill one!) I’ll be sure to update this list!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

I had to do some rearranging of my books, as reading Annals of the Former World along with Superintelligence was really proving to be a bit too much. I figured it would make more sense to read through Superintelligence as I hadn’t gotten too far into Annals.

I finished The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and enjoyed it, although not as much as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Still, it was a great “zone out” book and one I’ll probably revisit in the future. On to the third book, once I can get my hands on a copy.

I actually made really good progress on Superintelligence and now I’m about halfway through the book. The first 3 chapters are really jargony and somewhat dense, and it was hard for me to orient myself and keep track of all the details. But after all that it gets drastically easier and I find myself not making as many notes in my notebook (right under the book in the picture) as I did with the first few chapters. I should be wrapping this book up sometime in the next couple of weeks. Go me!

The Physics of Everyday Things is a new arrival to the library and one that intrigued me. I took physics classes in undergrad for my degree, but I was really, really bad at it (extra ironic given that I somehow ended up as the secretary for my school’s Society of Physics Students chapter for some reason…). I do want to have a better grasp of physics, and I figured this book would be a good book to do that (or at least, explain the concepts that eluded me in university). This is a good book to do that, in simple and non-threatening language. Bonus: the diagrams in the book look hand-drawn and definitely have that “Physics 101 lecture” quality to them. I’ll probably be putting this book in to the kids’ school, probably around middle or early high school.

Underneath that is Tesla’s autobiography which is short but 100% better than Margaret Cheney’s biography. Unsurprisingly it talks mostly about his inventions but does give a little more information about his life. I definitely should have started with his autobiography first. There are some other Tesla biographies out there that I’ll give a whirl to, because it would be really nice to find a really well-written biography of him.

Quirky is … I’m kind of disappointed, actually. The writing is really quite good but it’s not in the format I was expecting. There’s been a run on Edison biographies at the library, which is who I wanted to read about right after reading Tesla to see how Edison thought about Tesla. This book talks about eight different people who are all inventors, entrepreneurs, geniuses, and just outside the norm; including Edison and Tesla. What I was hoping is that each chapter was devoted to one person, so I could just read the stuff about Tesla and Edison. What it actually is that the author points out common traits and shows how it appears in each person’s life. It flows really well. It can start with Tesla, segue into Steve Jobs, talk about Marie Curie, and end up with an example from Elon Musk. Which is great and a really good way of illustrating the “quirky” characteristics of each. But it isn’t what I’m looking for at the moment. The index is really in-depth and I can pull out some information about Edison, but I think I’ll have to wait until all the Edison biographies are back.

I’ll probably come back to this book because I do want to read it all the way through; but probably later on in the year.

Not pictured, because it’s a Kindle book:This book actually does double-duty for me. I want to learn about Scrum because it’s part of my long-term plan and I think that it can be beneficial to include in my homeschool. I’ve done a little bit with Peanut based on what I’ve read from this book as well as the official Scrum guide available online. The results have been OK – a little mixed which I think is due to the fact that I need to do some tweaking and more reading. I’ll write a post later once I (think) I have it understood to the point where I can use it in homeschooling, I’m not trying to become a Scrum master or anything at this point in my life.

What I’m Reading This Week

Happy Spring! There is still way too much snow on the ground, but happily it’s melting with our warmer, springier temperatures. This really has been a long winter, and I can’t wait to resume nature walks, wear short sleeves, and sleep with the windows open soon.

This week was a meh book week, in that the girls all had some random illness which spread to me. I haven’t really felt like reading just from being so sick. But I appear to be much healthier now, and only one kid has a random fever (but normal behavior, so I don’t even know what that’s about), so here’s to getting back into this stack of books.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams – I am entirely thrilled that book two of the five-book Hitchhiker’s ‘trilogy’ is exactly like book one. I really enjoyed book one (probably a little too much) and therefore was a little nervous about book two not being as good as the first. This book is definitely my “escape from reality” book, which is always appreciated at the end of a long day when I all I want to do is zone out.

Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney – I picked this book up after finishing the Einstein biography. I figured I would stay on the “scientists and inventors” rabbit hole and went with Tesla next.

Tesla is pretty much one of the most eccentric people I’ve learned about lately, and I’m entirely impressed by him. I’m finding him so different from Einstein, who wasn’t all into publicity and just wanted to work on his theories; whereas Tesla was definitely more comfortable with “being seen”. He also was devoted to research but he seemed to be more out and about than Einstein. Einstein married twice and had kids, Tesla never did (although he had plenty of ladies who wouldn’t have minded being Mrs. Tesla).

One thing about this biography that grinds my gears though is that the author weaves in strands of “woo” occasionally. Tesla had premonitions that the author hints at being ESP, there’s some acupuncture talk thrown in (trying to suggest that acupuncture works on electrical fields in the human body??) and I just can’t wrap my mind around that kind of stuff. In my opinion it doesn’t really add anything to Tesla’s life and could be removed without being detrimental. Additionally, the book doesn’t move chronologically through Tesla’s life but seems to be more focused on his discoveries and inventions, so sometimes we’re in 1897 and then in the next chapter we’re in 1893. Somewhat annoying.

The information about Tesla is interesting but overall the writing is pretty lackluster. There are some footnotes, although some things are left un-cited that I wish were cited (such as talking about how Edison had neighborhood pets stolen so he could electrocute them as a scare campaign against Tesla’s AC discovery). Overall, this biography is pretty “meh”. Don’t pick this biography if you’re just trying to get into biographies.

I do have a copy of Tesla’s autobiography, which is what I’ll be reading next (and honestly that’s where I should have started from).

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee – I started this book yesterday morning so I don’t have much to write about regarding it yet. One thing that struck me is that in addition to a standard table of contents; it has a narrative table of contents. Things are discussed and mentioned in such a poetic way that it makes me excited to read the entire set of books (my copy is all five books in one giant book, so this one will be sticking around for a while). It’s a geology book, written about American geology; so I’m really excited to get into it and see how it is.

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom – oh, this book. It still reigns as the undisputed “most complicated book of 2018” for me but is endlessly fascinating. I read a lot about AI when I was in college, so it’s fun to get back thinking about all that. I’m still clocking in at around half a chapter a week, including time to write things in my “things I’m learning” notebook, looking up things that are unclear and just generally thinking about what Bostrom is writing about.

What I’m Reading This Week

Look at all that glorious sunlight! It’s been absolutely wonderful lately, with lots of snowmelt and playing outside. Naturally it’s supposed to rain/snow/sleet/have freezing rain tomorrow so we’ll have to last through another bout of dreariness.

I’ve been working through the books above this week, none of them are really ones that you could fly through in a short amount of time. But they’re all wonderfully thought-provoking and my brain is quite thrilled.

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom: When I originally commented about this book, I lamented about the jargon that was completely foreign to me. I had anticipated that it would take a year to read, which I was content with. While I’m not even close to finishing; it did get suddenly easier to read and understand. I find it harder for me to find time to read this book because I prefer not to be interrupted a million times. Naturally interruptions are a dime a dozen around here so if it does take me a year to read; it’ll probably be due to that.

Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend: recommended by a friend, highly enjoying it. It reads just like the original Boundaries book, except the focus is for parents and their kids. Cloud and Townsend are working on the assumption that kids are taught poor boundaries (or at the very least have them demonstrated). The goal of this book is to have good boundaries with your kids but also to help them have good boundaries so they can be constructive adults.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey: Slightly eye-rolly title, but absolutely jam-packed with every possible thing you’d ever want to know about personalities. This works off of Myers-Briggs 16 personality types and unpacks each one in gory detail. I had my personality typed in college and came back INFP. Greg (who was professionally typed at work) informed me that when one does that personality typing you have to answer it honestly, almost off of a gut reaction (as opposed to what one thinks the answer “should” be, which is exactly what I did in college). So, I retyped recently and it came back INTJ and I swear my entire life now makes more sense. Ever since I was a young kid, I always felt like the square peg in a round hole and now I have a better understanding why I felt that way. Even Greg is shocked by how much more “sunny” I am simply by discovering that little bit of information. I’ve been on a giant personality typing/learning kick since and have probably upped the page views significantly at Mystie’s blog on all of her personality typing posts.

(Greg’s an ENFP, if you’re curious.)

Einstein by Walter Isaacson: appropriate reading today, as not only is it Pi Day and Greg’s birthday but Einstein’s as well. I grossly underestimated how giant this book was until it came in the mail and I was honestly a little shocked. But I’m halfway through it and it’s absolutely fascinating. I have been narrating to Greg what I read and we’re learning all sorts of things about Einstein. I’m already looking for my next biography to read so biographies is definitely a genre I can get into.

“What I’m Reading” Wednesday

I am noticing that my books this year are really becoming quite different from what I have been reading over the last few years. I spent entirely too long in nonfiction land, save the occasional kidlit book (and of course, excluding all the books I read for the kids’ school). It’s kind of funny that I’m getting back into fiction but also exploring sci-fi, a genre that I had convinced myself I was fatally allergic to.

I decided I would give this extremely well-known book a go, and figured if it wasn’t all that up my alley it wouldn’t be a big deal. I found it absolutely hilarious and flew through it in a weekend. It’s the perfect mix of lunacy and sci-fi. Poor Greg (who, for someone who says they’re into sci-fi hasn’t read this book) was constantly asking me “what? WHAT?” during my multiple breakouts of laughter while reading. Absolutely fabulous book and I’m ashamed it took me this long to read it.

I mentioned this book on my Erin Condren giveaway post, and it’s probably one of the most complicated books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s about artificial intelligence – can we design something that would become smarter than us? What would happen if we did design something smarter than us (or became smarter than us)? It has a lot of terms I’m unfamiliar with, and I spend a lot of time looking things up (backpropagation algorithms, for starters). So far I’m halfway through chapter one. Go me! It’ll probably take me a year to read this book through.

In my mailbox
My birthday last week resulted in a lot of books coming this week. I’m still waiting for a couple but here they all are:

Book 2 of the Hitchhiker series. I had no idea there was even a series, but if the rest of them are as good as the first, I’ll be in for a good time. If 2018 is the year I apparently go beyond my regular genre of book reading, let it also be the year I try my hand at biographies. One part experimentation (do I even like biographies?) and one part reading to possibly include for the kids’ highschool years.
Some PKD. I’ve read The Man in the High Castle and I’m upset at Amazon for not releasing Season 3 of their (amazing) show based on the book. I’m not entirely sure where I sit regarding PKD (I thought the book of High Castle was enjoyable, if a little messy, especially at the end) but I’ll probably have a good idea once I finish this book.

Something I should have read during my undergrad years but had never even heard of, much less read. This book is about 700 pages, so it too will fall into the “long read” category. It’s a lovely book about North American geology, and I’m really excited by it.

This one isn’t a birthday gift book, but one recommended by a friend. I’ve read the one relating to boundaries with other adults and it was incredible; so I have high hopes for this one.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Let’s catch up what I’ve been reading lately! Watching things hasn’t really happened, which may or may not be a good thing.
The Fault in Our Stars: I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book, I have heard people who have read it either love it or hate it. I checked out the book from the library, read it, and returned it in about 3 days. I wouldn’t say that I loved the book but I really, really enjoyed it (although I could live without the sexual situations, in my opinion it didn’t really add anything to the whole plot). The characters were deep and multi-faceted, it talked about subjects worth talking about (human suffering, terminally ill people, idolizing people, love and pain, etc). I found myself crying at the end and actually quite mad with how the book ended. Great story, but I wouldn’t let me kids as teens read it (which is unfortunate because the overall story is really good).
Know and Tell: This book is the answer to almost every narration question I’ve ever had. Why do it? How does it transition to written narration? How does narration replace an entire writing sequence all together? What about kids with special needs? Late to narration narrators? I wish this book had come out when Peanut was just learning narration, as it would have saved me a lot of mental heartburn; but better late than never. It will definitely help me with my up-and-coming narrators.
The Long Winter: read this in one weekend in order to feel less bad about constant snowfall we’ve had lately. We haven’t had as much snow or as cold of temperatures that Laura and her family dealt with; but we have had the incessant snowing and the inability to go outside and do things. And of course, we completely lack that whole starvation aspect. Walking With God: if you’ve ever wondered how the Bible fits together, or why the Old Testament God seems so different from the New Testament God (even though they’re the same God), this book is for you. Absolutely incredible and does a wonderful job explaining the overall story of salvation, important cultural notes that explain a lot of things and clarify a lot.
The Living Page: I’ve had this book on my bookcase for an embarrassingly long time and finally have decided to read it. This book is to keeping notebooks (not the current “notebooking” style that is common in some homeschools) that Karen Glass’ book is to narration. The Living Page has really done a wonderful job (complete with actual PNEU notebooks!) to show which were notebooks were kept, how they were kept, why they were kept, and so on. I’ve found the “general Charlotte Mason lesson plan” schematic in the back super helpful; and have implemented it with much success with both Peanut and Moose. A must have (along with Know and Tell) for any Charlotte Mason homeschooler (or anyone who has an interest in narration or simply wants to know more!).

I have several more books in the ‘currently reading’ section of my life, and hopefully it won’t take me a month to post about them. 🙂

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.

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.

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.

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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