Friday, October 21, 2016

Morning Basket 2016-2017 :: Term 1

First, a note: I use the term "Morning Basket" to refer to all the work we do together as a family. Even though I call it Morning Basket for organizational purposes, it is really broken up into two parts: one done over breakfast, and the rest done at the end of our Naptime School block and into lunchtime. Our Morning Basket is still very much the same as we have done it for the past few years, so if you'd like to read more specifics about how it works for us, you can read about how we structure it and prior selections.

A look at our Morning Basket plans for Term 1 of this year...

Over Breakfast

Italian (daily) - The school-aged kids and I cover new concepts and hands-on games during naptime, but we usually do our Italian memory work and simple conversation practice with the littles around:

:: Rhymes - "La Vispa Teresa," "Filastrocca dei Mesi," and "Lucciola" from Filastrocche Italiane Volume 1 and Volume 2
:: Songs - "Nella Vecchia Fattoria" and "Girogirotondo" from Teach Me Everyday Italian (littles didn't know these yet)
:: Series -  Big Kids taught the littles one of our previous series: "I have breakfast"

Poetry - one poem from each of our poets for the term, Rudyard Kipling for Year 5 and Walter de la Mare for Form I (daily)

Short Readings - from a couple of the following:

:: The Gospel of St. Matthew from the Douay-Rheims Bible (roughly a chapter a week)

:: Old Testament stories from Schuster's Bible History (one per week)
:: Illustrations for the Old Testament Stories: The Dore Illustrations, The Raphael Bible, and Stories from the Old Testament (tied in to the OT story from that week)
:: Dangerous Journey (a bit a week)
:: Lang's Book of Saints and Heroes (a bit a week)
:: Long's Home Geography for the Primary Grades (1-2 chapters a week)
:: Father Lovasik's Catechism in Stories (a couple a week)

Read-Aloud - With any breakfast time I have left before the babies start fussing, I read from one of our scheduled read-alouds: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch or Pinocchio.

In the Afternoon

Memory Work (daily) - includes review of that day's items from our memory "notebook" as well as time spent on our current selections:
:: Hymns - Bring Flowers of the Fairest, Fairest Lord Jesus, St. Michael Prayer in Chant
:: Folk Songs - Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Blow the Man Down, Jamaica Farewell
:: Bible - The Parable of the Good Shepherd (Luke 15:3-10)
:: Prayers - the Words of Consecration; Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love
:: Poetry - Walter de la Mare's "Someone" (Cate), "The Horseman" (Xavier), and "Trees" (Vincent), AA Milne's "Sneezles" (Gianna)
:: Shakespeare - The Winter's Tale 5.1 for a performance with our homeschool group

Family Riches - roughly one of the following each day:

 :: Nature journaling lesson with The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (once weekly) read a section together and choose a challenge for that week.

:: Picture Study on Jacques-Louis David (once weekly) - two weeks for each piece, alternating between observation/narration and a picture sketch or tableau, along with a reading from
 Hillyer's Child's History of Art the first week.

:: Music Study on Children's Classics as listed on AO (once weekly) - including attentive listening and discussion

:: Shakespeare - A Comedy of Errors, first in Lambs' Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, then along with Arkangel Shakespeare, then to see it performed at a local theater.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

{This and That}

First up, the bit I'm most excited about: if you haven't heard already, CM West :: Conference in the Redwoods is open for registration!  We're actually more than half full already, so if you'd like to secure your spot, head over and sign up soon.

I am highly anticipating this conference -- it's going to be a refreshing, educational weekend with lots of opportunities to dig into Charlotte Mason's principles and practices and forge connections with other homeschool moms.  Brandy Vencel and John Muir Laws are our featured speakers, and I'll be doing a workshop too, along with other enthuastic and experienced moms.

For speaker bios, lodging information, our tentative schedule, and registration information, head over to CM West and read more!  (Really, click on over and read more!  You can come back here and finish this post later. ;))


This week's {From the Archives}...

Picture Books We Love :: Five Favorites for Fall

Are these your favorites too?  Or are my picks for this season new to your family?

It's still fairly summery here, but we did get our first real rainstorm of the season last weekend (the view above is from my hill run right before the rain started), and I've got the clothing switch-out on the docket for the next few days.  So we're getting there!


Last week was Exam Week in our home!  Honestly, we kind of limped across the finish line, not because we didn't enjoy Term 1 but because we were all down with colds the week prior.  The kids rallied and had a full, fun week, despite my only having half a voice.

We always have some kind of treat -- in both culinary and literary form! -- to celebrate a term well done.  This time, it was pumpkin scones and a stack of books, all related to Term 1 in some way...

Audubon's Birds of America
Mammals of California and Nevada (for my Form I Burgess Animal Book readers)
Lester's The Last Tales of Uncle Remus and Further Tales of Uncle Remus (my Year 0s have been reading Uncle Remus in another version)
Robinson's King Arthur and His Knights from Landmark World (for my Year 5 Pyle readers)
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, another Landmark (ties in with our This Country of Ours readings for Year 5)
The First Book of Horses and The First Book of Cowboys (ala Tree in the Trail)
The First Book of Maps and Globes (for our Long's Home Geography readings in Morning Basket)
The Illustrated Atlas of Hawaii (my parents just moved to Maui a couple months ago)
Best-Loved Christmas Carols (not Term 1 related, but to work on during Term 2!)

A few more items from my pre-Term 2 shopping list:

:: A couple more timers.  We use timers quite a bit, but up until now we had been sharing the two kitchen timers, toting them around the house as needed.  Now we have two for the office/schoolroom, which will make our schedule run a bit more smoothly.  The deal I got (and linked above) is a two-pack, and I think I'm going to order another pair because they are easy to operate, read, and hear.

:: Another book stand.  We already have one of these and use it all the time for copywork and commonplacing.  But now it has been useful for holding open the exercise book for Latin and Italian as well as field guides the kids are drawing from and so on.  Having a second one around has been so helpful.

:: Art prints.  I just order ours from our local Kinkos, printed on cardstock, and they come out sharp and durable.  We have Giotto's "The Raising of Lazarus" hanging on our fridge right now.

:: Henle!  I was looking at diving into First Form Latin after finishing Getting Started With Latin last week as sort of a bridge to Henle, but a friend recommended just jumping in with Henle now, taking it at our own (very slow) pace.  We finished the first lesson this week, and I think it's a good fit.  (On a side note, with Henle, the Big Kids and I will be doing Latin mostly together, unlike GSWL, which was independent work for them. Fortunately, we just finished up Winston Grammar Basic last week, which was a together subject, so I've got a free slot in my schedule.  Very convenient timing on that -- which I totally didn't plan!)

And a couple other orders I put in with our charter school so don't have in my hands just yet:

:: I want to get each of my older four kids a proper nature journaling set for Christmas.  I've ordered them each a smaller watercolor journal (unlike the larger ones we usually use and love -- these will be more portable and better for directly painting on), a Winston-Cotman pocket sketcher's box (like I have and love -- as well as the materials needed to "pimp their palettes"!  LOL), a set of Pentel Aquash brushes, white gel pens, drawing pencils, an erasable pen, waterproof drawing pens, and a loupe.  I'll post further details about this little kit nearer Christmas time in case you're thinking of doing something similar.  I have a neat idea for how to store them, but I haven't quite figured it all out yet -- so more on this later!

:: Blank Strathmore cards for our annual homemade Christmas card crafting.  The kids are working on some icons with their art teacher, and I think we might use one of their completed projects for our cards. Christmas cards and gifts are our handicraft for this term!

(Links above are affiliate links.  For every purchase you make through a link on this site, I get a percentage from Amazon. Thanks for your support!)


Someone asked on the AO Facebook page about Catholic homeschool bloggers that are using primarily AmblesideOnline.  I know there are a lot of Catholic AOers out there because I hear from you all the time via comments and email! :)  But are any of you blogging about how you're using AO as a Catholic?  Leave me a comment here and I'll be sure to check out your site and share when I can. :)

Okay, that's it for tonight -- have a great week!

Monday, October 10, 2016

What We're Reading :: October

Enger's Peace Like a River (finished last month for book club -- but it's on the AO list too)
Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich (for this month's book club)
Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter (slooowly making my way through the first volume of the trilogy)
CM's Parents and Children (for an ongoing video book club)
The Story of Charlotte Mason (I planned to finish this over the summer but didn't have a chance)
Please Understand Me II and Gifts Differing (dipping back into some MBTI)

As a Family:
Latham's Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (started this as a read-aloud, finishing it on audio -- you can buy it for much cheaper through Peace Hill Press as an mp3 download)
Ransome's Swallowdale (our car audiobook -- I can't recommend Larkin's versions highly enough!)
Lewis' The Silver Chair (just finished and on to the next Narnia audio)
Collodi's Pinocchio (in Morning Basket)

I have three September birthday girls, and they all got books...

Gianna (newly-10):

Tolkien's Mr. Bliss and Eliot and Le Cain's Growltiger's Last Stand (she loves quirky books)
A lovely hardback Anne of Green Gables (which she read for the first time over the summer)
Estes' The Alley (as you can see, the bookmark is already in that one -- ha!)

Bridget (newly-5):

Caldecott's Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross and A Farmer Went a Trotting (I can't find a version to link since it's OOP)
Walton's So Many Bunnies: a Bedtime ABC and Counting Book
Lobel's Alison's Zinnia
Eichenburg's Ape in a Cape: An Alphabet of Animals
(can you sense a theme here?  she's on an alphabet kick!)

Clara (newly-4):

Eloise Wilkin's Poems to Read to the Very Young in board book format (LOVE)
Wallner's The Farmer in the Dell and Langstaff's Frog Went A-Courtin (both of which I included in my favorite picture book folk songs!)
Wild Animal Babies (Clara adores these out-of-print cut-out books, so I'm always excited to find one)
Keats' Over in the Meadow (another for the folk song shelves)

...and she really wanted a set of Real Mother Goose miniature board books like I gave Bridget last year.  Thankfully my favorite online bookseller happened to find me one because they are out of print!

Grandma gave some great book gifts to the girls also:

The Four-Story Mistake (we still don't own all four yet -- they get borrowed regularly from the library!)
two Elsa Beskow books: The Curious Fish and Princess Sylvie
Little House on the Prairie on audio (she's slowly gifting the collection)
Sunshine and Snowballs, a re-illustrated Margaret Wise Brown

Yes, my mom has fabulous taste and totally supports our homeschooling.  I am blessed! :)

The Boys

Vincent (age 10) has been busy with some American history books in his free time:
Cartier Sails the St. Lawrence, Forts in America (yes, he's reading reference books!), and The Signers (love the woodcut illustrations).

Xavier (age 6) has requested The Kitchen Knight every day this week and has been copying pictures from Sylvia Long's Mother Goose in the evenings.

The Baby Boys (ages 2 and 11 months) have been demanding There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book.

Cate (age 7) is plugging along on Milly-Molly-Mandy with me and is already re-reading Understood Betsy after finishing it a couple days ago.  She declared it her favorite book of Year 2 despite our being only a third of the way through the year. :)

In the Mail:
It has been quite a couple months for book deliveries and library finds!

The Story of One Hundred Symphonic Favorites
McGraw's Mara: Daughter of the Nile
LeMarque's All Quiet on the Western Front
Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter (my favorite book of 2014 -- but I read a library copy)
Gombrich's The Story of Art (a hardcover in pretty good shape for 50 cents!)
Ness' Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine
Snowden's The Young Astronomer (for our reference shelf)
a tattered but still delightful copy of Poortvliet's Gnomes
In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails
a hardcover of McCloskey's Time of Wonder to replace our worn paperback

Buehr's The Spanish Conquistadors in North America (we enjoyed his Marco Polo but haven't read this yet)
The Metropolitan Opera Guild's Lohengrin (so neat! -- I immediately bought the others in this series)

And one that a friend set aside for me to buy from her at the CMI conference: Jeanne Bendick's All Around You.  I've been hunting for this one!  Charming, right?

Well, that's what we've been reading the past couple months.  What I didn't share is the gigantic stack of vintage beauties I grabbed from our little library bookstore a few days ago after popping in there on a whim -- I'll save that for next time. :)

What books keep getting unshelved, reshelved, and then unshelved again in your home? :)  What's on your nightstand?  I'd love to hear!

(Links above are affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support!)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Form I in Our Home

I add In Our Home to my planning posts because what I'm doing with my students is always specific to our family's needs and skill levels.  The same goes for my Form I kids this year -- perhaps more so, since I'm combining them in various places for various reasons.  Still, I think it helps to see that there is room to combine without losing the integrity of the programmes or overscheduling/underscheduling your students.  It requires some familiarity with the AmblesideOnline books, a careful look at the workload of each year, a sense of which children will work well together and in what ways, and a willingness to consider your reality and flex accordingly. 

It also requires an openness to be honest with yourself about what will most benefit your students and balance that with your own needs as a homeschooling mom rather than leaning too heavily one way or the other.  I could easily just throw them into the same year, but I honestly don't think that would be best for those two students, so I choose to give up other things instead -- like outside commitments, my own free time, enrichment activities I could be doing with my older kids, more picture book reading with my littles -- and only combine in ways I find effective.  Similarly, I could have them in completely separate years and attempt to read aloud more hours daily, including those with toddlers and preschoolers underfoot. But I know that will make school stressful and not as pleasurable as it is now, and I'm not willing to sacrifice that.  There is always give and take in any decision we make for our homeschools, particularly in the early years, when students are so dependent on mama for guidance and face time throughout their school day.  We have to discern what is best for now and then move along on our chosen path with grace.

Okay, on to some specifics and a bunch of logistical chat. ;)

My friend Virginia Lee wrote a fabulous post about her Form I rotation over on Afterthoughts -- her plan is more long-term than mine and very well thought out.  I originally thought I too would like to put effort into creating our own formal rotation of AmblesideOnline books for the early years, but the fact that I have so many students so close together means my needs are a bit different.  I do plan on cycling through the Form I years roughly, but I'm inclined to plan that year by year rather than make a grand plan now.  There are just too many factors at play: for example, if my Year 2 student is reading fluently next year, I may spin her off to do her own thing and combine my Year 1 student with his younger sister.  I may not have another new baby in the home for a couple years, giving me the opportunity to spend a larger chunk of my day reading aloud and to combine less.  I may decide to put my 12-months-apart daughters in the same year completely and won't need to do any swapping.  And so on and so forth -- it's hard to predict what our future routine holds in a house full of little ones!

However, this year, I am using the same general categories Virginia Lee does, keeping separate for history and skill subjects and mostly combined for everything else.  And of course we're relying on AmblesideOnline as our general scheme because we love it. ;)

This year, I have a Year 2 student (seven-year-old Cate) and a Year 1 student (six-year-old Xavier).  They are 14 months apart and very different personalities. Both are reading, but neither is reading well enough to handle school books independently, so I decided to do more combining for the two of them this year than I might otherwise do.  Xavier sat in a bit on Cate's Year 1 readings last year, so for the Form I work, we're basically pulling from the Year 2 list.  That means Xavier is the one whose reading list is adjusted most from the usual AmblesideOnline selections.  Cate is getting a pretty standard Year 2 with just a couple small tweaks.

(As a side note: once Cate "ages out" of Form I, my next oldest, Bridget, will start Year 1 and join Xavier as Form I buddies.  When Xavier ages out the following year, Clara will join Bridget and I'll have a Year 1 and a Year 2 again, like I do this year.  Drew will start the year after that.  And so on. ;)  So I imagine I'll be doing some kind of Form I combining every year for the next decade or so.)

On to the schedule!  The notes below are posted with the permission of AmblesideOnline.  As you can see, I have used books almost entirely from their Year 1 and Year 2 booklists with the exception of our religion selections.  Visit their site for a complete lists with links for purchasing, weekly break-downs, study guides, and more.

Cate in Year 2
Xavier in Year 1
Understood Betsy (T1)
Grahame's Wind in the Willows (T2)
Pyle's Robin Hood (T3)

Pyle's The Wonder Clock
Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare

Poetry by De la Mare (T1), Field (T2), Rossetti (T3)  *MB
Dangerous Journey  *MB
Aesop (T1)
Our Island Story
Child's History of the World

The Little Duke 
Joan of Arc (T3)
Keeping of binder timeline

D'Aulaires' Leif the Lucky (T1)
Our Island Story
Fifty Famous Stories

Abraham Lincoln (T2)
Columbus (T3)
Holling's Tree in the Trail (T1-2)
Holling's Seabird (T2-3)
Long's Home Geography  *MB

Keeping of maps from Tree in the Trail and Seabird
The Burgess Animal Book

Weekly nature outing and journal entry
The Gospel of Matthew  *MB

First Communion Prep reading with Xavier
RightStart Level C
RightStart Level B
Using Startwrite copies of selected poems
Family Work
With the Big Kids: picture study, music study, memory work, Italian, handicrafts, physical education

Some of the method behind my madness, so you can see how specific these plans actually are to us:

:: Morning Basket.  Form I readings I'm actually reading to the whole family are labled *MB.  I am incorporating a few books that are narrated into Morning Basket this year though I never have in the past.  For example, the Big Kids have additional religion reading that they do independently, but Cate and Xave have all their religious instruction in Morning Basket right now.  (The way it works: my Form I students narrate the Old Testament and Dangerous Journey, and my Big Kids narrate the Gospel reading.)

:: Literature. I wanted to use Understood Betsy for Cate and I to read together, just us two, so he did some additional Aesop this term instead -- although he listened to quite a few Aesop stories last year and remembers them well, they're great for new narrators and I didn't want to skip them entirely. Then Cate and Xavier will be combined for Literature in Terms 2 and 3.  I'm still not quite sure how that will go: Wind in the Willows and Robin Hood are challenging books for a Year 1 student!  But those are both long weekly readings that will take several slots in our schedule, so I didn't want to devote that much read-aloud time if it wasn't going to be for at least two students. ;)  Luckily he is an eager and attentive listener generally speaking.

In lieu of Just-So Stories and Lang's Blue Fairy Book (which Xavier remembers well and I do too! ;)), I opted to read him The Wonder Clock, an AmblesideOnline alternative for Year 1.  Cate insisted on listening in as well since she hasn't heard it yet, so I scheduled it for them both.

Instead of the original Pilgrim's Progress, we're reading Dangerous Journey since we hadn't done that yet and I think it's suited to reading as a family, with the littles along (like in Morning Basket).  We just do a few pages weekly.

:: Year 1 Biographies. Xavier loves the D'Aulaires' books.  Since he read George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Buffalo Bill with us last year during Cate's Year 1, I scheduled a different set of three for him: Leif the Lucky, Abraham Lincoln, and Columbus.  Coincidentally, Leif the Lucky  and Columbus are Year 2 history alternatives for This Country of Ours, so Cate will join us for those.  I also may add in Pocahontas if I have time since he's skipping Viking Tales after reading it with us last year.

:: Reading Practice.  I have a slot in the evenings when I sit down on the sofa and whoever wants to can bring a book to read to me.  I allot about 5-10 minutes per kid (more for Cate).  Currently, Cate is reading me from Milly-Molly-Mandy and Xavier is working through some of the later Bob Books sets.  But they're free to bring to me what they'd like to read and we do reading lessons on whatever they have in hand.  I don't do any formal reading program.

ha!  (my kids do like bob books)

:: Math.  I start my kids veeery slowly in RightStart Level B during their kindergarten year, just a few lessons a month.  This year, Xavier is working through the rest of Level B and Cate started Level C a couple months ago.  I do combine them for the math games when it is convenient.

:: With the Big Kids.  Obviously, we do much of our schoolwork as a family.  That includes our Morning Basket (both the reading I do over breakfast and the bit we do before lunch -- picture study, music study, nature journaling lesson, etc). We study the same Shakspeare plays as a family, with the Form I kids listening to and narrating Lambs' and then sitting in for whatever they want to of the "real thing" on audio. They're also working on a scene they'll be performing together for our homeschool Shakespeare Festival.  I take these four on a weekly 3-mile run as well as a bit of daily exercise, so PE is a shared activity.  We do memory work together (which comprises our folk song, hymn, poetry, Bible passages, and prayers).  The kids have been working on paper crafts together this term, with different projects scaled to their various ability levels and the older kids giving hands-on help to the Form I kids.  They do chores together: Xavier is training under all three older siblings for various tasks, and Cate and Gianna work together on lunch every day.  We may be studying different periods in history, but so much of our life and learning is together that the days run very cohesively.

:: Outside Activities.  Cate is doing piano and art weekly with the Big Kids, but I'm waiting to add Xave to those activities until next year.  We all do a weekly nature study outing with our friends. All four will also do swim lessons again later this fall and probably in the spring as well.  I have them doing semi-private lessons all in the same time slot: Cate and Xavier are taught together by one teacher and Vincent and Gianna with another.

And here's what their daily schoolwork looks like:

:: Morning Block with Mommy - First thing in the morning (as in 6:45am -- LOL), I spend about 40 minutes between the two of them: about 15 minutes of math and 5 minutes of copywork with one, then the other.

:: Naptime School - I spend the first hour of naptime working with my Form I students.  That usually works out to one reading for my Year 1, one reading for my Year 2, and one reading for them together.  In between that, we do some kind of "keeping" activity: mapwork, timeline, or looking up photos of the animals we head about in Burgess to draw on cards.  When I am reading with their sibling, they do their math worksheet from the morning's lesson and/or piano.  Then they go off to play together.  I bring them back at the end of the second hour of Naptime School to join us for family work: one "riches" activity, Italian, and recitation/memory work.

And that's about it!  We have Morning Basket (over breakfast time), Nature Study Fridays, and cover handicrafts on the weekend.  But the rest of their schoolwork is done in those morning and naptime blocks four days a week.  I'll chat more about that when I share this year's schedule, but hopefully that gives you an idea of how light their school days are.

That's a very nuts-and-bolts post for you.  For those couple of you still reading (ha!), I hope there was something there you might be able to use.  I'd love to hear how you've combined your Form I kids -- I'm always looking for ideas!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Keeping Company :: October

Welcome, October!  It's a lovely time of year for Keeping, isn't it?  Still warm enough for journaling outdoors, but crisp enough in the mornings and evenings for tea and a commonplace.  The new school year also feels fresh yet familiar, and new habits have become smoother in practice but still inspiring in their novelty.  Can you tell I love autumn? :)

Starting the Discussion

I'll share a quick look at something I'm hoping to write about more soon: my own history keeping.  Here's what I've got going so far as we finish up Term 1 this week...

As you can see, these are works in progress, but I'm having fun with these simple but effective activities.  I feel like they're boosting my retention of the readings and helping me make connections -- and I'm having fun with it too!  And my Big Kids and I enjoy seeing how different our maps and charts look.  For example, here are their century-charts-in-progress at the end of Term 1:

Seeing our work side by side drives home how personal these are to the student.  They require the student to cull, organize, connect, ponder, notice.  There is no formula to make some perfect final product.  This is mind work coming through in ink.  It's inspiring to watch and even more to join in on!

This Month's Round-Up

Some bloggy favorites from September...

I always enjoy the weekly round-ups at A Peace in the Puzzle -- this time she got me with her Til We Have Faces excerpt (it's perpetually on my to-read list!) and the connection she made between Mr. Legality and Seneca.

Melanie takes their Morning Basket on the go!

Don't miss these lovely words Amy shares from her commonplace.  I've been thinking a lot about place and space -- so intangible but also so tangible.  This quote hits that balance so well.

Hurrah for another peek at Moozle's work from the ever-inspiring Carol!

And some favorites from #KeepingCompanyCM over on Instagram...

aolander - legendsandlace - msjschole - littledrops5
theycallmemommy618 - vlcjrogers - jennyp0208 -

thanks33 - kaypelham - sarahjokim - theycallmemommy618
tribecham - oneripetomato - northlaurel - catieredhead

beuniqueheather - abundantsoul - athena_amidstthereeds
witheagerhands - mariasugiyopranoto - stoppingforbutterflies

And now it's your turn...

The Link-Up

:: For bloggers: Click on the "Add my link" button below, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.
:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM to join the link-up.

:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to your blog's homepage. 
:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book.
:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.
:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

As always, thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

{This and That}

Hi friends!  I didn't mean to disappear, but life took over.  Boy, have we had a busy few weeks!  I'm behind on email, blogging, podcasts... but we're right where we need to be to finish up Term 1 at the end of this week, so that's something. :)  Thanks for your patience as I catch up on comments and emails.  And Keeping Company!  The October link-up will be up available later this week.  (In the meantime, check out the September submissions.)


The best part of this past month was our trip to visit Amber's family up in the Sierras -- which you have heard all about if you've follow me over on Instagram.  We had a fabulous time.

everyone except my husband (taking the photo!) and baby justin

I was totally blown away by her authentic commitment to a Charlotte Mason life as I saw how her family learns, plays, and interacts.  They live on a beautiful piece of property in the mountains that was pretty much a boy's paradise.  I wish I had more photos of my sons running around like hooligans with homemade bows and arrows, but they were too busy, well, running and shooting for me to take many.

The girls had their wild moments but also wrote and directed a short play for the parents during our week there.  They wrangled the boys into joining them on stage.

We got to visit some of their favorite nature spots, including an old mining-site-turned-pond, a lush creek just a short walk from their home, and the lake they get to spend time at weekly.

 Amber took my Big Girls out in her kayak and taught them to paddle themselves in.

The kids took turns trying out her son's homemade coracle.

We drew in our nature journals.  We chatted about the upcoming Northern California conference.  (Registration opening in just a few days!)  We shared meals together made by Amber, who is not just a crafter and an intellectual but a wonderful cook!  I admired how her oldest daughter can both hike trails and crochet a lovely snood at the same time.  I smiled over her youngest daughter patiently attempting to chop veggies alongside mama in the kitchen.  We all enjoyed her responsible young gentlemen escorting us home each evening.  It was such a blessed time and I feel thankful to know the Vanderpols!


Since we've been back, we were hit first by a heat wave...

... and then by the Loma Fire, which broke out about ten miles from us.

That's our house at the bottom center, on my way out to our Charlotte Mason study group last week.  It looked much more threatening than it actually was -- we are firmly in town and were never in any danger.  But we definitely suffered from poor air quality!  The fire is still burning, but the temps died down, we got our first sprinkle of fall, and it's almost contained.

Now we're all suffering from head colds while attempting to wrap up our first term in spite of low sleep for Mommy thanks to two miserable baby boys.  But we're chugging along and looking forward to exams next week!


In the midst of all that, we celebrated our three September birthday girls...

bridget turns 5, gianna turns 10, clara turns 4

You know that means I've got birthday books to share, right?  :)  What We're Reading coming up soon!


Speaking of what's to come: I haven't forgotten the rest of my school plans.  Later this week I'll be chatting about my Form I kids, and then (maybe) a big fat scheduling post next week.  Maybe. ;)

Okay, that's all for now.  Have a great night!