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.

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.

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

Peanut was excited as this week we started the second term of Year 4. Right out of the gate, Abigail Adams is the new favorite with George Washington’s World as a close second. I’m reading A.A. aloud, which is both fun for Peanut and myself (and educational as well).

We’re working on a timeline together (Moose is also keeping one this term), which is something I wanted to add in and finally was able to do so. I found a wonderful template for one on the AO Forums, printed off a couple copies, and put it in the kids’ binders for easy reference.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not to use AO For Groups with the kids and discussed it on the forums. I’ve decided that it probably wouldn’t work, simply because the kids coming and going in the forms and that there would be not a lot of kids in one form at a time (they’re pretty well spread out, even if they are all two years apart). I’m going to keep on trucking and combining what we can and working through the readings for each kid. Right now it’s not too big of a deal, but it should be very interesting as more and more kids are added into the mix.

I did finally have another paradigm shift, in that it doesn’t really matter if it takes 42, 46, or 52 weeks to do the 36-weeks of AO work. It won’t be the end of the world if things need to slow down, if readings need to be even more spread out than just a 4-5 day week. I feel like a lot of pressure is off of me now and I won’t be forcing the kids through their work. I want them to want to learn vs have to learn.

Moose is getting into The Wind in the Willows well (it helps that our copy has a great map in the front, so we plot the travels of the book on it). Other books are also getting really interesting, and the connections are popping up left and right. It’s really, really cool to watch them make their connections and see what is going on in their minds.

What I’m Reading This Week

Slowly making my way through my book pile, hooray!

I did finish up Marry Him and Be Submissive. I liked this book, but I wasn’t over the top impressed with it. I do think that the writing is great – very casual and friendly – and the subject matter is often treated very poorly (or in a really weird way), but it wasn’t in this book. I did like what she had to say about Biblical submission and how it played out in the scenarios she saw around her; but it felt a tad repetitive towards the end. Still, a book I’d have no problems recommending to people discerning marriage.

I’ve also been slowly making my way through Cardinal Sarah’s The Power of Silence. The good Cardinal has such a way with words and I refuse to just slam through it in order to mark it done. I know that silence is so important in this world and there’s such a lack of it, especially in my own house. And I’m not just talking about the kid-noise. I’ve had many discussions with Peanut and Moose about the silence of God, that it is in silence that He talks to us; but they just don’t quite ‘get’ it (and really, who can, fully get it?). Maybe this book can help me explain to them in some way.

Moose and I finally finished Rescue Josh McGuire and have moved on to My Side of the Mountain. Honestly, it took us so long to finish Rescue Josh McGuire because we were still working out when would be a good time for me to read aloud to him and just general household chaos. But, we pegged it to bedtime and it worked out quite well. I thoroughly enjoyed Rescue Josh McGuire, I remember reading it as a kid and so it’s wonderful to share a book with my kid now – and that he received the same (or even more) enjoyment that I had. It helps that it’s set just down the road from us, and the landmarks discussed were quite known and therefore there was a personal connection to the book.

He’s enjoying My Side of the Mountain, which I figured he would. Survival books seem to be his “thing” now, along with learning random German from Greg and I (apparently we drop little German nuggets in our speech, I had no idea I did until Moose started walking around saying “Das ist nicht gut!”) and lengthy discussions with Greg about the Spartans.

For the girls, I’m reading Little House in the Big Woods. As with Moose, I pegged it to bedtime. This gives me time to decompress after reading for the school day, get housework done, etc; and rest my voice before the bedtime read-alouds. I read half a chapter each night since the chapters are quite long, and the little girls (Little Miss Sunshine especially) has a hard time listening for an extended length of time.

At any rate, it’s nice to finally have some sort of a routine around here for extra-reading; and it’s great to get some more of my “to read” list taken care of.

AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 2

Last week was pretty low-key around here. Peanut was on break and exam week, and Moose and I continued to travel through our many books for Year 2, Term 2.

I’m finding him really engrossed now with The Little Duke and Our Island Story. For those using AO in Year 2, hang in there regarding The Little Duke. It does start off very dense and heavy and it feels like you’re slogging, but about halfway through everything makes sense and it comes together nicely.  Now, TLD is one that is asked for and provides some of the best narrations. OIS is also captivating, as long as we manage to keep the people straight and stay on top geography. Otherwise it can get pretty overwhelming. We do our mapwork with OIS – before we read, we plot everything on a map and keep refreshing our minds as we go along.

I really think that the concept of break week is really helping everyone. Six weeks isn’t too terribly long, the break week doesn’t interfere with the overall rhythm, it’s predictable; and the kids know now that after 36 weeks of work, the next “grade level” starts. They get two breaks a term, with one week having exams.

One thing I’m thinking of doing in the future is transitioning to AO For Groups. Essentially I’ll be adding a Year 1 every two years for the next six years; and so I wonder if maybe AO For Groups would be easier in the long run. I’m not sure yet, but it’s one of the things swirling around in my mind as of late. Right now the kids have a lot of individual work, and “the riches” are mostly combined (Artist Study, Composer Study, Shakespeare, Nature Study, Art Lessons, etc).

Tomorrow Peanut gets back into the swing of things with the beginning of her Term 2. I pulled out all of the “new” term books and will be doing my pre-reading today. As with Moose, I found her exams highly interesting and really doing a wonderful job of showing what’s working, and what needs to be adjusted. 🙂

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 1

This week was all about endings and beginnings. The ending of one term and the beginning of a new one. Peanut wrapped up her first term and Moose dove into the second term.

Year 4
Peanut was highly disappointed that we finished Poor Richard. I think that was probably her favorite book of the entire term. I’m going to find some other Benjamin Franklin books for her to read and go deeper with, should she decide to.

She finally got over her repulsion about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, “it’s about mice and RATS, Mom”. I think she’s really enjoying the storyline and was expecting something rather disgusting and gross (think Templeton from Charlotte’s Web).

She’s read two Saint biographies by Mary Fabyan Windeatt – the story of St. Catherine of Siena and of Blessed Imelda. She’s working through Blessed Marie of New France, after she spotted it in the parish library. We observe the liturgical year and have daily Catechism lessons from the Our Holy Faith series, based on the Baltimore Catechism.  I am really quite thrilled with the series.

She thoroughly enjoys each subject (although I think she’s not totally interested in the founding of the country, oh well). We did a nature study on the pumpkin we had purchased for All Hallow’s Eve, which was probably the favorite part of her week. 😛

Year 2
Term 2 started with most of the same books carrying on, but The Wind in the Willows for literature instead of Understood Betsy. Moose isn’t so sure about The Wind in the Willows – talking animals aren’t exactly his forte. But he listens well and narrates well, and especially likes the map in the front of our copy of the book.

His copywork and math are both coming along nicely, with math moving at his own pace. I’m super glad that we can move at the kids’ pace, especially in something like math. We just keep moving forward, even if it’s at an extremely slow pace. At least I know the kids are really, truly understanding it.

We read about the Crusades, the jumping mouse, what The Little Duke did in the face of someone wanting to harm an animal, and had fantastic discussions along the way; and talked about what he would do if he were in The Little Duke’s position.


The kids finished up homeschool swim class for the year, and they’ll resume next year. As much as they love swimming, it’s nice to have a break (mainly for me as I kid-wrangle the non-swimmers). I’m not sure what level Peanut is at but I know that she’s in the advanced levels based on what she does in her lessons (diving, butterfly stroke, etc) and her swimming classmates (teenagers). Moose is in the intermediate levels and absolutely adores it and gets along well with everyone, and is pretty brave about everything they ask him to do. He discovered that water polo is played right before swim class, so he quickly gets out on the deck and acts as the ball fetcher when the ball goes out of bounds. The polo players have taken a liking to him and they let him splash around with them and make goals and give him pointers when their game is over (and joke that Moose and Peanut are the next generation of polo players).

Wok just started this year, and she went from “THE WATER IS LAVA” to getting basic strokes under control. Her teacher is a homeschooled young lady who is taking college classes at the local college since she exhausted homeschool curriculum (at age 16). She’s so good with the kids and each kid has worked with her for a while before they move on up to a different class. It’s such a great environment for everyone to be in.

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What I’m Reading This Week

A blessed All Saint’s Day! As with our tradition, we don’t have school on Holy Days of Obligation; so the kids have been enjoying spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, shoveling snow for $$$, and playing with toys. As I posted on Instagram this morning; it’s a good thing we take HDOs off by default.

Anyways. I finished up Wheat Belly {aff link} this past week and it is so, so good. I’m definitely going to have to get a hard copy eventually, just so I can mark it up and keep it on hand. My one complaint is that it became tedious after a while reading chapter after chapter after chapter about how much wheat can impact the human body; but I did find his suggestions for going wheat-free, the recipes in the back, and the appendixes quite helpful.

The process of de-wheating has been one of “one step forward, two steps back”. I accidentally ordered something wheaty from the Costco food court this weekend when we were out grocery shopping and of course I felt like trash afterwards. Such a bad idea. So I will definitely need to adjust my default order there to either the chili (perfect for this weather) or the salad (sans croutons).

Next up on my “to-finish” list is Marry Him and Be Submissive {aff link}. I’m about 3/4 through it and should hopefully finish it by the weekend. 🙂