AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 11 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 1

What a wild week! Nugget, my 19 month old; has been transitioning out of the coveted double nap times into seemingly no nap times and has decided to become a force to be reckoned with. Climbing up chairs into cabinets, going up and down the stairs, climbing on the table – things have been very hectic around here lately. We’ve learned to take whatever time we can get – so some days he takes one nap – lots of school happens in that one nap time! When he simply has decided that napping is not happening; we do our best to keep him contained in the room we’re in so that we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

We also purchased a new oven so there was some Serious Excitement when it was put in. Okay, the Serious Excitement was from me – the oven we replaced we had for almost a decade and just couldn’t keep on going. Good job, oven!

Peanut is coasting into the end of Term 2 and has been highly motivated towards finishing up strong. Dropping out the high frequency words for spelling practice was a great idea, as was giving her control of the Latin schedule. We have been more diligent about keeping timelines, which is helping to cement in some knowledge.

Some highlights from Peanut’s week:

  • Multi-part multiplication is not nearly as intimidating as Peanut thought it was going to be.
  • Olympic bobsledding is her favorite sport.
  • She took part in the live Mary Pope Osborne event that Read-Aloud Revival held (and was completely spellbound)
  • Age of Fable is still really not impressive to her

I’ve tried to scaffold the lessons better also, which has helped her in terms of being interested. It’s very easy to slip into a checklist mentality, especially with a mostly independent kid like Peanut.  As Charlotte Mason writes, the goal isn’t JUST to produce educated people. If that’s the answer to the question, we’re asking the wrong question:

“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170-171).

Moose has been waiting for this term since the beginning of the school year, when he saw Robin Hood in his bookstack. We finally broke into it, and Moose has spent the whole week pretending to be Robin Hood. I’ve split up Robin Hood into a five-day reading – we need to stop a lot for narrations and the like. But that’s okay. I found this great map of the locations of Robin Hood that we reference as we come to places in the book. And all the other times we look at maps of Europe, Robin Hood is used as the reference point!

Moose had another big leap up, in that he can now be content with sitting down and working on Math Mammoth without major drama. Using IXL to supplement really helped boost his confidence (although he seems to be over IXL now, haha). We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s math for explaining concepts, Math Mammoth to drill them, and IXL to supplement. It’s working out well until the next big thing happens that would make us change things up.

I’m hoping that my little toddler tornado will give me some time to write up my “what I’m reading” post – it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do one of those! Thankfully I’ve been able to post bits and pieces of that on Instagram – you can find me here if you’re so inclined!

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.


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. 😉

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.

What I’m Reading (and Watching) This Week

I am finally getting back into a nice rhythm for my life. School is going well, housework is getting back onto a system, the kids are mostly behaved again, and the Christmas presents are pretty much purchased and needing to be wrapped.

I did see my doctor this week for a follow-up, who was pleased with my talons fingernails and that pretty much all my presenting symptoms reversed themselves or went away. He ordered more bloodwork to check my current ferritin levels as well as my vitamin D levels so he can tell me how much vitamin D to take. If my ferritin is up enough I can discontinue the iron – hip hip hooray!

He did tell me that I need to do some serious lifestyle changes as the constant stress of having a special needs kid, being in the “sandwich generation“, and others factors are starting to take a physical toll on my body. His recommendations:

  • Three square meals a day, well-balanced and high in protein; minimize processed food as much as possible (which I already have been doing, hurrah)
  • LOTSSSSSSSSSSSS of sleep, as much as I can and as good of quality as I can manage.
  • Light exercise
  • Something to get my mind off of the stress (aka a hobby)
  • Mindfulness
  • Bonus if I can get out of the house at least once a week by myself. If not, lock myself in a room and recharge.

At any rate, here’s what I’ve been keeping busy with:

Netflix was more than happy to recommend “Erased” to me. Chatter in some of the online Japanese learning groups I’m in said it was quite good, although some of the dialog is childlike (which makes sense as kids are doing the talking) and that it’s in a dialect (Hokkaido, if I recall correctly). The Netflix description of the show reads:

After finding his mom killed, Satoru’s time-traveling ability takes him back 18 years for a chance to prevent her death and those of three classmates.

I just started the show and am only in episode 2; but it’s not overly dark or creepy. Gritty, I’d say but not nightmare fuel.

This book arrived and I’m about halfway through it. It’s a series of essays written by Japanese students at the university level (of course, translated into English). The essays take an aspect of Japanese culture and discuss it over a few pages. There’s discussion questions at the end of each essay, which I tend to skip. I can dip in and out of it as all the essays stand alone. They’re well-written and really informative.

We’re expected to get a bunch of snow this weekend, so I’m looking forward to hanging out inside with hot chocolate and the woodstove running. 😀

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.

Wok’s Kindergarten

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that we can start whenever we feel like it. Peanut started formal lessons at five (although in retrospect, it would have been better to have her wait until she was 6 – she does well but I think she could have used an extra year of maturity). Moose started right before his 7th birthday (mainly because 7 is the compulsory age for education here).

I had decided that with Wok, she would start formal lessons around 6; mainly because I was concerned about repeating what had happened with Peanut. As we made it through our Term 1’s, Wok was increasingly interested in “doing school”. She already had been folded into the family subjects, like Shakespeare, nature study, composer study, artist study, picture study, etc. And yet she wanted more.

I noticed that even with “video school“, she still was apt to get into mischief and slip into bad habits of whining for cartoons or Netflix, general whining about everything, and picking on siblings. I finally decided (last week, actually) that Wok would start formal lessons under some specific conditions:

  • she needed to still spend plenty of time outside.
  • she needed to have good habits – if bad habits arose then those needed to be dealt before schoolwork.
  • she would be leading the show – I would not sit down and make her do any level of schoolwork.
  • she would be involved in the family subjects of the big kids, and have her own read-alouds to listen to.

I decided to start digging around online, wondering what Charlotte Mason thought about Kindergarten. I was well-acquainted with her List of Formidable Attainments of a Child of Six, her emphasis on letting as much time as possible be spent outside during the early years, starting school at a later age (6) – but was there anything I was missing?

Oh, yes; there was. I came across an entire section in Volume 1 about Kindergarten. I’ve read Volume 1 but it wasn’t registering for me at that time, so I simply didn’t pick up on it (kind of like what registers with the kids when we read their schoolbooks…). Read it, it’s fascinating.

I also found a couple of blog posts at Piney Woods Homeschool – about that Formidable List and about Kindergarten as well.

I decided to give her some level of formal lessons, mainly focusing specifically on learning to read, refining penmanship, and basic math. She enjoys the workbooks we have of phonics and math concepts. We talk about what numbers, do a little bit of copywork, and work on our reading skills. Like Moose, she’s using the BOB Books combined with Plaid Phonics – he just finished the entire series and she finished reading Book 1, Mat. And then she read it about 100 more times today just because she could.

Each day, she demands for school (usually right after breakfast) and I do try to keep her semi-reigned in, especially with the math book. She wants to do tons of pages in it, but I limit her to two since I know that plowing through it will end up in burn out. And who needs to be burned out at 5 years old?

We’ll see how things continue with Wok’s Kindergarten, and always keep the door open that we may need to shelve things for a while and make sure that she can continue to do the hard work of childhood.