Thanksgiving week, school, and more

This week, the best intentions were to continue on as usual; but we decided to shelve all the readings and just focus on reading, writing, math, and religion. This worked out well for us, as it allowed us to get ready for Thanksgiving, give the kids a little more breathing room and lessened my stress level a little bit.

For Thanksgiving, we celebrated at home with Greg and the kids. We visited Grandma and Grandpa later in the day; but it was nice to have just us. We pulled off a gluten-free Thanksgiving, even with gluten-free stuffing! I could have purchased GF stuffing for $7.99/6oz (!!!!) locally, but instead I used this recipe with one loaf of GF bread (that was less than $4/loaf at a local grocery store, hooray!). It was absolutely tasty and better than gluten-full stuffing.

I used a recipe for cheddar drop biscuits made from coconut flour, which smelled AMAZING while cooking but came out quite bland. We were all a little disappointed, but oh well.

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It’s been about 6 weeks since I started getting my iron deficiency treated, as well as trying to go gluten-free. The effects of iron supplementation has been incredible. Almost all of my presenting symptoms have been reversed. My hair still sheds, but what I am more accustomed to as someone with long(er) hair. My nails now need to be clipped as opposed to them breaking off constantly. I am not breathless going up the stairs or chasing after the kids.

I don’t know if the following is because of the iron supplementing or if it’s due to going gluten-free, or even both. But my thoughts are so much clearer, my memory is much more responsive (my Japanese learning is going on quite well now), I’ve lost weight (I am almost weigh as much as I did right before I was pregnant with Moose). My joints don’t ache and hurt. I used to need a sleeping aid each night to fall asleep, but now I don’t need anything and can fall asleep on my own. Furthermore I don’t wake up multiple times a night. I find myself getting almost 8 hours of sleep a night, which probably plays into how much better I’m feeling. My anxiety is dropping and OCD symptoms that I had flaring up are now subsiding.

We haven’t fully “gone keto” since we wanted to get the gluten under control first, as well as letting the iron take effect before doing a massive overhaul. I tend to gravitate towards more keto-y foods over all, but do have some carbs (like corn taco shells). But it’s not everyday for every meal, and I think it’s a good transition into a more keto lifestyle.

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Finally, I wanted to mention that if you wanted to get a good introduction to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, Charlotte Mason Soiree has “A Proper Introduction“, which is kind of like a CM 101 type online course. I’m working my way through it and have found it fascinating. It’s self-paced and free, so it’s a good way to get some exposure. I’m not affiliated with it in any way, other than I’ve really enjoyed it and I think you may, as well.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 11

We’re winding down Peanut’s term one now, next week will be the last week of the term; then break week and exams! It was a lot of fun working with just Peanut this week and seeing where she is at. She is now highly motivated to get her stuff done – “when can I move on to term 2?” When you have 12 weeks of work done, even if that takes 12 or more weeks. “When can I move on to 5th grade?” When you have 36 weeks of work done, however many weeks that may take. She can’t accelerate, in that there’s no speed-reading these books; but she can definitely drag it out.

By disengaging myself that way and letting her determine how well she will work within her lessons; she has been able to maintain focus and stay on task. “Elastic time” is disappearing, we are making good way through the schedule (but not too fast), she’s engaged with the readings and there’s no slop-rush to finish just to play with her friends or visit the Grandparents.

She’s decided that while Benjamin Franklin had his faults, he was overall a pretty great guy. HIGHLY unimpressed about his leaving his wife in America and her eventual death without him (as she keeps mentioning it over and over, haha), but can understand why he’s still revered in American history.

Bullfinch’s mythology is finally starting to become a little familiar to us, and she feels like a lot of the stories are really repetitive. Same plot, different characters. It’s opened up some great discussions about gods vs. God, and how pre-Christian cultures comprehended the Divine.

Plutarch – oh, Plutarch. Honestly, we’re just plugging v e r y slowly through Publicola, but I think it too is starting to become familiar to us. I’ve never read Plutarch so it’s a situation where we’re both learning. If we get through Publicola  in 36 weeks it will be a miracle. 😉

Shakespeare – still wading through A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hopefully we can finish it up this coming week but if it flows in to term 2, that’s okay.

Math, spelling, and copywork are all coming along great; she’s decided to copy the book of Proverbs for her copywork, as well the prayers she’s memorizing. Spelling is making great leaps thanks to Phonetic Zoo.

I haven’t had a chance yet to look at which books change for her and which books carry on. I know that we’ll have an astronomy focus for term 2’s science, which I’m really excited for. We’ll be using Sabbath Mood Homeschool’s astronomy guide.

Next week I go back to having two kids in the rotation, and the new adjustment period for the new books for Moose. It should be fun, especially with the time change (fall back, YAY!) right around the corner.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 11

This week was one of those weeks where flexibility was the name of the game. It came apparent to me that we had something going on every day of the week and in some instances; had some double booking going on. Happily Grandma helped out by taking the kids to and from choir for me while I went to the doctor; and we basically forced ourselves through the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday Peanut (Yr 4) and Moose (Yr 2) discovered the wonder of having all their school done by 11:30 in the morning. I have told them until I’m blue in the face that if you finish your work well (as in, not slopped or rushed through) and don’t dawdle; you can be finished before noon – which leaves the rest of the day for playing, reading, visiting Grandparents, playing with friends, and so on. Sure enough they discovered that I wasn’t yanking their chains.

Peanut and Moose both had math tests and passed. Peanut finally finished up Math Mammoth Grade 3 and can begin Grade 4; Moose moves on to the next chapter in his Math Mammoth text. We also went on to the next list in both Phonetic Zoo and high frequency words.

Wednesday was a day where everything went south but we managed to get things accomplished. Our special needs kid had an extremely hard morning of therapies which meant that that child was fried and drained and needed to rest all day (but was irritable making it hard for others to work), I was fried and drained from whatever health problem I’m having, and it was just blah. I didn’t force school too much on everyone because when we’re at each other’s throats, sometimes we just need to shelve everything and have some hot cocoa (or a Snickers bar) and chill. The relationship with the kids trumps any knowledge they may gain. And besides, who can learn when someone’s antagonizing you, you’re frustrated because things “aren’t easy” and so on.

Peanut did have her heart broken a little bit more about Benjamin Franklin, she was entirely unimpressed that he stayed in England so long, despite his wife begging him to return (and not returning until after her passing). She still thinks he’s a “mostly good guy” though. 😉

Thursday was worse than Wednesday, in that I had a blood draw scheduled for 1 in the afternoon. “Please fast for 12 hours beforehand” said my doctor. Welllll I don’t know about you, but I’m not up at midnight getting my last meal in. I ended up having an unintentional 17 hour fast. At least I was hydrated enough for the five vials that needed to be drawn. I forgot to ask the phlebotomist (I was ready to go to the grocery for ALL THE FOOD) when my results would be in, and since I have no new lab reports in my online account I’m guessing all the tests are done across the state. Maybe on Monday!

(My doctor thinks that maybe I feel so screwed up because my ferritin iron levels may be low, so he’s having that checked, plus thyroid antibodies and like 249820675698719584867 other tests.)

Friday was swim class day and absolutely TGIF. Moose wasn’t impressed to learn that we’re finishing Understood Betsy next week. I find that we’re slowly “falling behind” except that we’re not, if that makes sense. Yes, we got off on our Latin schedule so the regularly scheduled quiz wasn’t on Friday, and next week we’ll do some extra reading to get done with Moose’s first term. But really, it’s not a big deal. I’m finding in necessary to cut myself slack and let go of some tightly held (and wound) beliefs. I’m participating in Brandy Vencel’s “Charlotte Mason Boot Camp” right now. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it while feeling so lousy BUT it’s so great, I’m glad I took the chance and signed up. Plus, I enjoy having to make some time to be quiet, read and discuss and pray about certain aspects of our homeschool and life in general.

‘What I’m Reading’ Wednesday

Two weeks ago my spiritual reading book was the book pictured above. It’s a very quick read, written by Fr. Carney about the people he has met as he walks the streets of St. Joseph, Missouri; as well as his motivations for doing so and his plans for the future. I enjoyed it greatly, Fr. Carney writes very simply yet profoundly, and you can feel his enthusiasm for souls leap from the page. I’m extremely glad Amazon’s algorithm recommended it to me, and I’m sure I’ll be rereading it again and again.

This week, I was WAY! TOO! EXCITED! to see that Formed has Cardinal Sarah’s new book available to read.
I read his first book, God or Nothing and was greatly moved. The African church has gone through so much (and continues to do so) and yet the joyfulness they have is amazing.

I also needed some mental candy lately, on a whim I checked this book out from the digital library:
It’s quite a cute book as well as informative. I’m about 2/3rds through it, and so far it’s discussed things like capsule wardrobe, femininity, eating and enjoying it, using the best you have (because saving it for later means that it never gets used), and so on. Delightfully refreshing and still informative at the same time. Hopefully the digital library will purchase the other books that Ms Scott wrote about her time in France, as I’d like to read those next!

The links above are Amazon affiliate links, which provide me a little commission at no extra charge to you when you do your Amazon shopping.

‘What I’m Reading’ Wednesday

And I’m actually writing it on Wednesday! 😉


The spiritual reading I mentioned last week was fantastic. I found it hard to put down, and gleamed so many great ideas from it. It really is great for establishing a Christian household, covering aspects of prayer, devotion, discipline, cleanliness, order, and more. But rather than provide a list of “shoulds”, it provides principles and explains the reasoning behind them.

I found a great deal of Charlotte Mason-y ideas in it, such as reading of good and noble literature, plenty of time outside, limiting the TV (which could be expanded to all screens, although we do need some screens in this day and age), and more.

The Kindle edition is $0.99, and is priceless in its contents. Highly recommended!

This week I am waiting for my dog’s new friend, the UPS man to bring me new book mail (and some vitamins). Our lovely UPS carrier always brings a little dog treat for the dogs on his route, and therefore whenever the big brown van drives by, my dog starts whining and crying to be let out for his treat. Too bad Mr. UPS doesn’t stop by every day (although it’s probably best for my dog’s waistline…).

After lots of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to purchase this book. One of the big factors was seeing a “before” and “while working through the book” set of pictures from my fellow home educating friend in England. I can barely draw stick figures, so I’m excited to maybe improve my ability, even just a little bit.

My spiritual reading for this week is this book, which was a “suggested for you” by the Amazon algorithm. It’s a the (true) story of a priest who walks along with a Rosary and Crucifix in St. Joseph, Missouri; ministering to the souls he meets along the way. The Kindle sample was very engrossing, and I’m really excited to receive it and read it.


I also began Volume 3, and as usual is slow going. It takes me much more attention to read Charlotte Mason’s works, and to understand what she is trying to convey. I’m finding that the Modern English Paraphrase, over at AmblesideOnline; is truly beneficial to me in reading her original works.

As usual, the book links are to Amazon unless otherwise noted. Amazon links are affiliate links, so please use them and help further my book addiction. 🙂 

Hits and Misses for the 2016-2017 School Year

We’re close enough to the end that I can do a good “year in review” on our most recent homeschool year. Hip hip hooray!

The Hits

The biggest hit was switching to Ambleside Online and just going all-in. I tried to stay as close to the philosophy and methodology put forth by Charlotte Mason and used by AO as much as possible. I only substituted books based on religion (eg Trial and Triumph) or if I legitimately couldn’t get my hands on them without spending a lot of money (thankfully which are few and far between). I also haven’t plunged into using the method of reading Charlotte details in her books, as BOB books and MCP Plaid Phonics are working well for Moose.

Math Mammoth has served Peanut well, and we did use with Peanut until she became hung up with division. Moose was still having problems in math as well, no matter what we did with him. It was at this point that I purchased the Living Math Bundle over at Simply Charlotte Mason. Richele basically took all of what Charlotte wrote about math, and put it into an easy to read book, with a  DVD explaining the lessons, so you can SEE how lessons function and how even to teach math. I decided to use Math Mammoth for practice and the bundle for teaching (well, teaching me how to teach CM style math) and we are off to the races. Both Moose and Peanut were frustrated and dreading Math, but Peanut again declares Math is her favorite subject and she begs for the math lessons all day long. Division makes sense now, and the MM worktexts give me great practice sheets for her to use. Moose is also making progress, but one of the great things about CM style math is that you move at the child’s pace. Peanut is flying through multiplication review (and division is taught at the same time – eg, 6 four times is 24, how many 6’s are in 48, etc).

Other resources that helped immensely:

* A Delectable Education podcast – although it’s really hard to listen to podcasts around here because of noise, it’s a great resource to have available in that I can get a lot of the WHY learned in easily digestible bites.

* Online reading groups on Facebook – one is reading through Volume 1 together, and the other is reading through For the Children’s Sake currently, and is hosted by Leah at My Little Robins. I am probably the worst active participant ever but reading and watching the discussions are super helpful for me.

* stepping WAY outside my comfort zone and starting a local Charlotte Mason group. All we are doing right now are nature walks but we have to start somewhere.

* Scheduling cards. Love these things because they make my schedule so easy to play with and I don’t feel entirely overwhelmed getting everything figured out.

* An occupational therapist for Moose. Worth every cent right there.

The Misses

Sooo, the misses for this year are mostly on me. Lots of disorganization, as Greg and I basically decided on a whim to try out AO and go “all-in”. I need to do some work in the summertime doing things like printing off the picture study prints, getting maps together, and the like.

Non-existent habit training. Another one on my part. Moose’s leg break threw us all out of kilter and we are just now righting the ship in terms of habits and the like. But it isn’t just Moose with bad habits, we all do. I know what we’ll be continuing this summer.

For the first time ever I don’t have any real curricula related misses. It’s all been on my shoulders, which isn’t a bad  thing, just more of a ‘this is where I need to focus on’. Plus, it’s nice to have an idea of what to fix and how to fix it vs feeling entirely in the dark.

* * *

I’m looking forward to wrapping up our loose ends and taking the summer off. I plan on doing my best to get as organized as I can, so come the fall we can start Years 4, 2, and 0 without much hassle.

Good Habits Start With You

As we slowly get on the right page with regards to habit-training, one thing I’m noticing is just how bad my habits are. I am seeing exactly what Charlotte Mason was talking about when she compared habits to wheel ruts. I have some good habits, but I have a plethora of really bad habits that were so automatic, I had no clue they were even there.

One of my children is extremely good at negotiating. Like, “if only the bar exam was available to minors” good. I prided myself on withstanding the little lawyer but upon closer inspection, I will have to plead guilty on that charge.

The habit I want to teach the kids first is obedience, because that (to me) is the one habit that all the others rest on. Not to mention, when we are walking near lakes and other bodies of water; obedience is crucial if they want to stay dry. If I ask my little lawyer to take a shower, the response comes back that they’re busy and will do it later. I, thinking I’m SOOOO good, say “OK!” and then later never happens.

Do you see which habit is starting to form? I thought I was being flexible but it turns out I was training my little lawyer to 1) always negotiate and 2) bank on the fact that I have 4 other kids, a dog, a house, a husband, a life – and that I will end up distracted in some way, shape, or form.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a kid telling me they want to finish up [whatever they’re working on] and then go shower. But to simply say “I’ll do it later!” – that’s not cool. It’s actually bleeding over into all aspects of life, including school. Now school is becoming more of a struggle than it used to be, because I’ve allowed my little lawyer to negotiate. My lawyer would prefer to do school RIGHT before bed, at that point I’m running on fumes and my eyes are tired and I just want to read a book without someone going “MOM MOM MOMOMOMOMOMOMOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!” for the 900th time.

Ahem.

After I had that little epiphany, I started looking at my other habits. I have some pretty sloppy ones – and then I wonder why the kids don’t do the things that I would like them to do – because they aren’t seeing me do the same things!

The adage “you can’t give what you don’t have” is tossed around a lot in terms of making sure your Mama (and Papa) cups are full – get good sleep, eat good food, etc. But in terms of character and habits that aren’t easy to teach step-by-step like putting away silverware; the kids need to be inspired by something. Or in most cases, someone. There’s plenty of great literature out there, but if a kid lives with someone who, for the most part; has their act together and can model things like obedience (to God), attention (to the kids, and to their spouse), orderliness, etc – they’ll do the same thing.

Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don’t teach and model desirable habits – less than desirable ones will take their place.

ONWARD!