Wednesday, September 4, 2019

{From My Commonplace}

Just as powerful for mothers as for children:

"He was St. Joseph's assistant now, learning from him how to do the village carpentry, to make yokes and ploughs and the rough cottage furniture, learning to do it all in St. Joseph's way. It was a rude unskilful way we may be sure, and the clumsiest joiner nowadays would turn out more shapely work. Our Lord might well have been St. Joseph's teacher, and shown him how to do better. But that was not what He wanted. He was there in the shop to humble Himself, to be obedient, and thus to teach us something far more important than good carpentry. What He wanted was not to do the work in the best way possible, but to do it as He was told."

from Mother Mary Loyola's First Communion

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Two Weeks In

We are now two weeks in to our school year, doing almost a full schedule. I will be adding in poetry and Bible recitations, Italian with the Form 1 and 2 kids, and clay modeling next week, because we have family visiting and some other appointments keeping us busy over the next few days.

Our Online Orientation for the CMEC last week was so much fun. It was great to see a bunch of new faces and kick off the school year with mutual enthusiasm and some inspiring thoughts. Our Fall Form Meetings are Monday and Tuesday and I will be sharing (very briefly) about notebooks for each Form. I really enjoy the Form Meetings. They always feel like a jump start to our term!

A peek at last week in our homeschool...

Form 2 dictation

hard at "work"

mommy's curated weekly newspaper :)

Monday, August 12, 2019

{This and That}

It was our first day back to school today! I don't feel completely ready, but that's okay -- we're doing a light week this week because of the Feast of the Assuption and a few other commitments already on our calendar (like seven children with dental cleanings scheduled! LOL), so it will give us some time to ease in. The kids have been eyeing the bookshelves eagerly for months now, so we all can't wait to dig into our readings.

I did my first formal pre-reading session for the year on Saturday and it felt so good. There is something about getting a varied and generous helping of "worthy thoughts, well told" that refreshes and sustains me. Plus it just feels wonderful to be back to that fall routine.


Speaking of the new school year, I want to share about a new project:

After working on retreats with the Charlotte Mason Educational Center for the past couple summers, I am excited to join their team as they offer their curriculum and community more widely this year! I have been working on website content, editing, research, support materials, and a bunch of other odds and ends. During the year, I'll be helping with the monthly meetings as well as the mother's education course and fall retreat -- all offered live online!

If you would like to learn more about the CMEC, check out our website, and please feel free to email if you would like more details. Our family will be using the CMEC in our homeschool this year, so you'll see peeks at the program here as well. :) I am so excited to see what this year and the years to come hold.


It's only three weeks until CM West :: Retreat at Puget Sound. I just heard that they opened a few commuter spots, so if you are local and would like to come, there's some room!

I'm not quite done with my talks yet but am getting there. :) They have actually been very fun to work on as I think through some new insights into the three tools of education. It's wonderful how trying to present ideas to others helps me think so much more clearly about those ideas myself.


Speaking of CM West, I have been trying to keep up with the "100 Days of Keeping" project leading up to the event by working each day in one of my notebooks -- you can see some of this summer's work above! I definitely haven't been 100% consistent (more like 80%?) but it has been such a good habit builder and a respite during a challenging summer.


We are back to Nature Club meetings after six weeks off.

Midsummer nature walks can be tough here in California! The key for me is always getting our EARLY and looking harder than we do at other times of year. In a season where everything really just seems dead (ha!), there is still much to see when we are carefully observant.

(We're kicking off a special study of insects for fall, but I can never pass up a wildflower!)


When are you starting school? Are you excited or intimidated? Are you doing a "soft start" and easing in or jumping in with both feet? I feel like every year I do it slightly differently!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What We're Reading :: Summertime

summer vibes

Pearl Buck's Peony and Stratton-Porter's Freckles (finished last month)
C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet (not a sci-fi fan, but really trying to stick with it since this gets such good reviews)
Cold Sassy Tree (just started for local book club)
Nellie Allen's Asia and North America (just finished writing some geography guides for the CMEC)
Chrlotte Mason's Volume 4 and Volume 1 (for reading groups)

Vincent, age 13
His birthday books have been keeping him busy...

Learning to Serve, republished by St. Augustine Academy Press (he started serving Low Mass at the beginning of this summer and is now training his younger brother)
Eells' Tales from the Amazon
Yarnell's Through Forest and Stream
Bottom of the 9th (not a book -- it's a card game for my baseball-loving crew! They have been playing games all summer.)

Just as a reminder: I don't buy barely any of our books new -- they are all from used bookstores or online sellers. So when I link here to Amazon and their price is high, please know I am not recommending you purchase at that price! I just share in case you'd like to keep an eye out at the thrift store like I do. :)

Gianna, age almost-13
She has been doing bunches of re-reading this summer, including...
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill and the Emily of New Moon series
Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper
Kipling's Captains Courageous

But I did stock her with a few new ones too...
Stratton-Porter's The Girl of the Limberlost (she and I both devoured Freckles, so this one was next up!)
And all the Little Britches series (we delayed reading these because I didn't own them and our library owns only a few, so now I'm building our home collection)

Cate, age 10
Gentle Ben (she likes this a lot more than she thought she would -- that tends to be the case with her ;))
The rest of The Wizard of Oz series (after listening ot the first one on audio)
And the rest of Nesbit's Psammead series (also after listening to the first one on audio -- this is her MO!)

Xavier, age 9
Xavier's birthday books (plus a couple other goodies that made it into the photo)...

Pyle's Bearskin, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (big winner!)
Babbitt's Kneeknock Rise
Gruelle's Raggedy Andy Stories
Hoffmann's The Bearskinner
He also got that pack of wool felt (from which he made his dagger!) and an over-the-door basketball hoop that has gotten lots of use so far.

Bridget, age 7
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books (she did remark after reading that none of the mothers seemed to be very good mothers in these books -- ha!)
The Complete Brambly Hedge (my kids seriously never tire of this collection! they draw from it constantly too)
Burnett's A Little Princess, illustrated by Tasha Tudor (reading this after listening to it on audio)

Clara, age 6
All summer my non-reader Clara has been roping people into reading to her -- and mostly succeeding! She has been read to by Bridget and Cate every day, including...
The Moffats books (they all have their own favorites from this series)
Henry Cole's A Nest for Celeste
Genevieve of Alea (they love this one, written by Amber Vanderpol's daughter!)

The Little Boys, ages 5, 4, and 2
They are all in love with Lois Lenski. Who isn't? We added a couple more to our Lenski board book collection for Damien's birthday...

As you can see, they have already been taped together and creased. He shows his love by dragging these books around the house with him and it shows. ;) I have them all memorized from reading them over so many times! (We have other toddler books of hers NOT in board book format (vintage) and I really wish they would republish those too.)

And for Drew's birthday, he got a smattering of random goodies. He's such a funny little guy and I knew each of these would make him smile.

Lobel's As I Was Crossing Boston Common (fun one!)
Hague's Mother Goose (you really can never had too many good ones!)
Galdone's The Horse, the Fox, and the Lion (another for our Galdone collection)

As a Family

It has been a summer of audiobooks, mostly relistens to old favorites.

First, we finished the Swallows and Amazons series! So, so wonderful. Definitely one of our family's top audiobook series!

Then we moved on to re-listen to...
Burnett's The Secret Garden and The Little Princess (we liked those particular audio editions)
The Wizard of Oz, narrated by Anne Hathaway
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Peter Pan, narrated by Jim Dale
Anne of Green Gables, narrated by Rachel McAdams

That's what happens when I am not feeling well. Every day I'd get the littles settled for naps, start the audiobook for the rest of the kids, and then go down for a nap myself for an hour! Life saver.

And Gianna read The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen aloud to everyone and is now working through Anne of Avonlea. I am so pleased to have such a good read-alouder in the house. Listening to her is a delight for us all!

There has also been a resurgence of interest in the Bobbsey Twins lately! I have a dozen passed down from my mom's childhood that we have held onto. They are my middles' first foray into mystery, which is why I think they are so attractive. They have been reading and passing them from one to another all summer.

In the Mail
School books arriving, of course! Most of them have gone straight onto the shelf as they have come in. A sneak peek...

Atlases and Buckleys...

 And inside one of those vintage lovelies on the right (swoon!)...

More on these as our school year unfolds. I can't wait to dig into my pre-reading!

What has your summer reading looked like this year?

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

2019 CMEC Summer Retreat {Recap}

Have I mentioned here that I LOVE the Annual CMEC Retreat? Oh yeah, I have. Well, going back this year was a balm and a joy, to meet up with good friends and make new ones, to get a chance to brainstorm with like-minded moms about philosophy and education, to be inspired by living ideas at every turn.

All the work Amy and I put into our talks for this retreat (over six months worth of thinking and writing!) was worth it.

no filter -- just crazy blue skies until I hit the East Coast!

My flight there was delayed, but my mind was clear and I got a TON of work done so I almost didn't mind. :)

I flew in early again so we could had to the museum the day before the retreat -- it's a tradition! Last year we went to Cloisters in New York, and this year we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum.

I was so impressed. Their collection is fantastic.

And lunch after!

The Barnes Museum

Some of the best ladies I know. This picture is sadly missing Dawn Duran, who was taking it! (And many others coming next, which she very kindly shared. It is hard to take photos at an event when you are one of the ones running it!)

The retreat began the next morning. Our overall theme was the formation of character in the Mason model. The first day, Amy set the stage with the overall scope of a living approach to character. I covered how character is built through the curriculum. And Amy spent the afternoon on citizenship: how we might define character through citizenship, the components of citizenship in the programme, and an afternoon of immersion lessons and reflection time. That evening was our off-site dinner with Dr. Jeanne Schindler as our speaker. I really appreciate her as a thinker and as a person.

The second day we focused on habit training for younger children, for older children, and for mothers -- all offered from a living perspective. We also did a fun Q and A panel and offered some final ideas to close. A very full two days! I met so many wonderful ladies.

Interspersed were poetry recitations, Swedish drill, brush drawing, book binding, singing, and more!

They will be packaging the talks once again this year and offering them along with the beautifully-designed handbook on the CMEC website -- hopefully by early September! I'll update here when those are ready.

For now, I'll be missing these ladies and the wonderful work they are doing over on the East Coast. It is good to together every so often for refreshment and mind-food. I'm planning a trip back for another retreat in October and I can't wait.