Monday, January 4, 2016

{This and That} :: Christmas Edition

Happy 2016 and Merry Christmas!  It's the 11th Day of Christmas here, and unfortunately, I'm dealing with a house full of sick kids.  But we made it through all our Christmas visiting before it hit, so I can't complain too much.

happy, non-sick children on Christmas Day!

So how is your Christmas going?  We had a really nice break.  I didn't get everything done; there were squabbles and time-outs; we planned to make a beach day trip, but it was too cold and rainy (especially with an infant).  I hit New Year's pretty tired from lots of time with family and little time to recharge.

But I felt so aware of my blessings too.  I mean, is there anything as wonderful as a baby at Christmas?


Maybe a toddler at Christmas?


Or a full house of wonder-filled children?


Or a Traditional Latin Mass at a beautiful church?


I mean, really--blessings abound!

~~~

We always place for our centerpiece at Christmas breakfast all the Baby Jesus figures from the various nativities we have collected over the years.  Then after breakfast we have a procession through the house placing them in their mangers.  We have enough for each child to carry one and it is such a special start to our day.  It's my favorite family tradition for Christmas!



Even though we're back to school and Daddy's back to work, we've still got a day of Christmas proper left, and then Epiphany too--so I hope you're still celebrating like we are!  On Epiphany, we always do our traditional house blessing, a special meal, and a family gift.  (I have Mother Loyola's With the Church: Advent to Ascension put aside for is this year.)

~~~

The kids' art teacher happens to be a lady from our parish, which is nice because she encourages the kids to do religious drawings during lessons.  These are the ones they worked on through Advent:



The girls selected images from Christmas picture books to copy: Cate's is from Eloise Wilkins' The Christmas ABC and Gianna's is from the Petershams' The Christ Child.  Vincent really wanted to draw St. Nicholas, so I helped him find a picture online to copy.

And bonus: these drawings made the perfect cover art for this year's Christmas cards!  We always handmake our cards, but I wasn't up for any major art projects, so this worked out great.

~~~

Some good reads recently:

My Book of the Church's Year--a charming illustrative depiction of the liturgical year.

They're right: you'll never look at seeds the same way again.  (A Seed is Sleepy is a pretty great introduction too.)

Keeping the Christmas Season: a Christmas Prayer Companion, compiled by Jennifer at Family in Feast and Feria.  We always appreciate Jennifer's liturgical resources!

This made the Facebook rounds a couple weeks ago, but I got to thinking about it again in the context of our recent holiday celebrations: In Defense of Domesticity.

It's too late for me, but just in case it's not too late for you:  How to Avoid Converting to Catholicism, in Eight Easy Steps.  (Obviously, sarcasm warning.  Ha!  But this pretty much sums up my own conversion, so I just had to share.  Certainly gave me a giggle!)

~~~


Is there anything better than breaking open a fresh planner to start a new year?  I bought this planner a few weeks ago and have been itching to pull it out, but of course, I had to wait until January.   I've already got my old one in the garage hidden away and this new one all filled up with appointments and to-dos.  I am loving the layout and the larger size (I have done a 5x8 in the past but did the full 8x11 this year.)  I'll have to write some time about my personal planner system because after years of tweaking and trial, I have finally found a combination of electronic and paper that works really well for me.

~~~

On the blog in 2016...

I have been thinking about what I'd like to blog about this year.  I have so many potential topics but have to narrow them down just based on time and energy.  As always, my main consideration is what I feel like writing about--this is a hobby after all!  But I always welcome reader feedback too, and I like to know in what ways I might be helpful to the homeschooling community.

In that vein, I've been keeping a list of post requests that I have gotten over the past few months so I can work on answers to some of those to share here.  For example, I have had several emails to discuss my Italian plans, post a Day in the Life and what a week looks like here, make suggestions on how to teach kids about the Traditional Latin Mass, share favorite toddler products, and more.  Want to add anything to the list?  Now's your chance! ;)  What do you like reading about most here?  Any questions you have been itching to ask?

~~~

I'll be back tomorrow to post this year's first Keeping Company link-up.  This year, I'm going to merge my "Invitation" and "Link-Up" and just post on the first Tuesday of each month.  On that day, I'll post the linky tool as well as some chat--sometimes a formal prompt, sometimes a spotlight, sometimes an Instagram wrap-up, sometimes a combination of those things.  Basically, I'll be making it a little less organized and a little more conversational. ;)

I'd love it if you'd join me here tomorrow (or any time this month!) to post about your notebooking.  See you then!

46 comments:

  1. I love any and all of your bookish posts, Celeste! Yes, I agree about keeping blogging as a hobby...if it gets TOO serious, then I feel stressed by it! :) Love all the photos of your Christmas time and I'm sorry you have sickies!

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    1. Exactly, Amy--I like blogging to be a no-guilt activity! :) I hope you had a lovely Christmas!

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  2. I appreciate all your blogging ideas and I really learn a lot from your planning posts and your form notebooks and your exam posts. They inspire me a lot. I'm using an adapted version of your form to great effect.

    I'd also second your Italian posts and while my learners are doing Spanish and Hebrew I really like seeing your thought process because it helps me as I make my own decisions. I read your "Learning Languages the Charlotte Mason Way" series and thought it was so well written and very helpful.

    Last, but not least, I'm curious about how you evalidate and make decisions about when to deviate from AO? Related to that is how you choose books and where do you find all those great vintage tomes? Every time you post about books coming in the mail, I'm always thrilled to see what you get!

    Happy New Year and thanks for doing what you do.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, Bev! I appreciate it. :)

      Oh, and I'll give you a quick answer to that last question: my favorite place to buy used books is on Instagram! There are lots of booksellers on there, but my two favorites are @dibbleanddash and @lamplighterlane. ;)

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  3. I love your This and That posts! They are my favorite. But I also enjoy peeks into your nature outings, what you are all reading, and how you all love each other and learning together. It's a double bonus that you have kiddos in my kiddos age group and that we are on the same AO years. ;)

    I really like a video you put on IG of your littlest guy cooing, and you could hear all the other kiddos in the background. I just smiled and smiled. That's how our house sounds.

    I think sometimes when people get a peek into the life of a very organized family people can also think their children/mama are (fill in the blank). But it's good to see that organization, noise, and messes can walk hand in hand. And that shinning over it all is joy! This is truly why I love your blog and "visiting" with you.

    Happy New Year, my friend!!

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    1. I totally agree about it being a double bonus that we have kids in the same years--I love having e-friends that are sharing the same journey we are! :)

      And yes, it's definitely loud here! LOL Maybe I need to post more videos so you guys can see just HOW loud it gets. Your crew of blondies always looks pretty angelic over on IG. ;)

      Thanks so much for your support and kind comments, Virginia Lee. You are always so sweet and helpful. I wish you many blessings in the New Year!!

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  4. I pretty much love any homeschooling or Italian related post that you write! I read that blog post on converting---really good! Would defiantly love more Italian, Plutarch, Art or History study posts.
    God bless!

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  5. Book suggestions and organization posts are my favorites! Questions I often ask myself:
    1. What does Celeste do when she just doesn't feel like doing school, or the house is really messy, or...
    2. How can I push myself to excel as a learner and an educator, and avoid laziness?
    3. What do you do when your new "schooler" just doesn't want to do school, or has a bad attitude"?
    4. How do you incorporate riches into your own life in a way that doesn't involve needing hours without little hands (such as painting or reading)? Every once in a while I'll find time in an afternoon to paint or dive into a book, but it is too rare for my taste.

    I'll probably think of some more...I'm always asking myself "What would Celeste do?" My husband even asks me that once in a while! You're a legend around here!

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    1. Sarah!! You are so funny. Syl is probably so tired of hearing about me! LOL

      I will be filing away your questions for future posts, for sure. Now MY question for YOU is when YOU will be starting a blog... ;)

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    2. I just asked Syl yesterday about the blog idea, and he made a face at me! A month ago he thought it was a great idea, but now with the move coming, he thinks it'll stress me out. But I am seriously considering it, though it may have to wait for a few months (maybe I should start writing now!). I have so many questions, though, about the process, that I may have to pick your brain a few times before I start. I really can't decide if I want a focused blog, or a "stream of consciousness" type of thing. oh yeah...and then there's the time factor. When do you sleep, Celeste? ;-)

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    3. Well, yeah, you might want to wait until after the move. :) BUT I bet it would be a great accountability for you! And yes, the time factor is something to consider, but I think of it as some of my "Mother Culture" time. I read less than I do before I started blogging, so that's what it basically took the place of. But I have learned so much THROUGH blogging that I am fine with that trade-off. I also love that we now have a record of the kids' education. Maybe that would convince Syl? LOL

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    4. It's so funny that you mention both "accountability" and "mother culture." Syl and I had a good discussion about the blog yesterday, and I think if I started a blog, I would want it to be about my experiences with "mother culture." Which Syl said he felt was a good middle ground for some of my blogging ideas. He doesn't want me to blog about anything controversial or invite criticism on the blog. He also wants me to limit specifics about the kiddos. Plus, I am not an expert at anything to be offering advice to anyone about much of anything! (He suggested a food blog, which made me laugh because, while I love to cook, I am a lazy cook). I also feel that blogging would offer me some accountability to participate in the riches of the home and create the culture that I want, and plan for, but often fail at following through with. Plus, the writing and photography is a rich discipline in and of itself. One I actually used to do regularly with my love of journalism. Which seems like ages ago. Perhaps things will move forward! It's nice to know I'll have one reader ;-)

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    5. WE say the same "what would Celeste do" at our house! Seems every other day or so husband hears me raving about you! :)

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    6. I must give off the wrong impression, like I am in possession of all the answers! I assure you I am not! LOL

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    7. No, no you just come off as very confident, yet authentic at the same time.

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    8. Thank you, that's a lovely description. <3

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  6. Lovely art work! I love reading much of what you write, but I have especially gleaned a lot of inspiration from your AO related posts and book-themed posts - it helps that your oldest two are just a term ahead of my oldest so I am often able to put ideas I've gleaned from you to immediate use. Your Gianna and my Bethany have similar tastes in reading too, so we always appreciate your book posts for new ideas.

    Happy New Year to your beautiful family!

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    1. Wouldn't it be fun if all the AO kids could get together? Your daughter and mine would probably get along so well. :) Thanks, Jen!

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    2. I know. I was just posting something on the Forum about needing to revisit that AO commune idea. I do have a feeling that our daughters would very much enjoy each other. :)

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  7. Maybe a bit off topic, but I'd love to hear more about your running! I'm also a mom of many and a runner!

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    1. Oh, how fun! I know, I never write about my running here since I tend to keep the blog pretty homeschooling-focused, but maybe I can fit into some of my {This and That} posts! ;) I just started running again a couple weeks ago, as a matter of fact! Slow going, as always, but I know a few months from now I'll be starting to feel back to normal running-wise. It's definitely nice to get out of the house and let off some steam, no matter whether I'm slow or fast! (You should friend me on FB or IG if we aren't connected already--I love meeting moms of many that are also runners. :))

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  8. Celeste, how in the world do you manage to snap such great pics of all your kiddos? They are so very lovely!! My boys have become immune to my picture taking and resist it at every turn at this point. There is something in "less is more" when it comes to photos, I suppose, but that is a lesson I have not yet learned.

    I love reading everything you write. Everything. I particularly value the Exam posts as I model my own after yours and so grateful that you have gone before me in this. I also love your Nature Outing posts - they are so inspirational to me.

    I am blown away with how artistically gifted your children seem to be. Just WOW. Their drawings are far better than ANY I have ever done - at their age or now in my 40s!!

    I learned something new from your Seeing Seeds link. I have been trying to identify eastern red cedar berries for months now and there they were right in the post. Thank you! First Darth Maul ducks, now Eastern Cedars. See? A plethora of nature knowledge AND inspiration abounds at Joyous Lessons.

    Sigh. I do so long for all the AO kids to get together, as you mentioned to Jen. One day - in that great AO community currently under construction but with no projection for completion - too many library shelves to be built with more added daily.

    OH! I loved seeing a picture of your husband! It's nice to have a complete image of the family now:).

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    1. Thank you so much, Dawn! "A plethora of nature knowledge AND inspiration abounds at Joyous Lessons." << If I were running a professional blog, I'd hire you as my marketing guru! ;) You are so encouraging, as always. And I will pass on your compliments about the kids' artwork. They drew these under the instruction of their art teacher, who really encourages them to work super carefully and slowly. It has been great practice for all three but especially for Cate, whom the teacher calls her "Speedy Gonzales"--Ha!

      Yes, it would take a long time to build the community we all so pined for on the forums, what with the never-ending library shelves (as you said), the artist studios, the gardens, the extensive kitchens, the running trails, the handicraft workshops, and all the rest! Some day... :)

      And it's funny you mention my husband in the photo up there--he must be behind in his blog reading because he hasn't given me a hard time yet about my squeezing him in! ;)

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  9. I just want to thank you for the time you take to post all this stuff. Not that you are old by any means, but this blog makes me think of Titus 2: 4-5 " Then they (older women) can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." So many moms I know of almost big families (around 5 kids) feel overwhelmed and frustrated because having a big family is new to them, and they/we have no clue how to conduct their households and everything we try is just a stab in the dark. So thanks again for taking the time to share what works in your home.

    I really love seeing how you have your home set up. Simple, beautiful and clean! This is my goal with our home, but like I said, everything seems like a failed stab in the dark. I love your decorating style!

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    1. Katie, thank you--I am very happy to be a help! You are right that there's a point around four kids or so when it feels like you've suddenly made a big step from normal-sized family to large family, and with that step come a new set of challenges that makes you feel like you're new to motherhood all over again. I remember that feeling well. ;)

      I have to say: I always classify my decorating scheme as "as little clutter as possible, nothing too precious that it can't handle eight small children, and lots of books!" LOL Thanks so much. :)

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  10. I would also love to know about how you don't watch movies and such! Little to no movies is a goal in our family, but so often I use them for good behavior or if I need sleep (which is alot!). But movies make my kids act like brats and the choice to watch one always backfires. SO I would love to know how you get quiet time (if you are pregnant, or were up all night with a sick child!) with lots of littles running around!

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    1. Oh yes, I will add this to my list also! I actually planned to write up something about what to do with littles beyond media options when I was working through my Schooling with Littles series, but I never finished it. Great reminder!

      By the way, I hope your pregnancy is going smoothly! You must be out of the first trimester now, right? Remind me of your due date and I will keep you in prayer. :)

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    2. I can't wait for that post! I am due at the end of June. Things are going smoothly so far... Thank you for your prayers!

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  11. I second everything Dawn said and I just enjoy your blog so much. One post request idea I didn't see mentioned is meal planning! Your scheduling by week strategy and forms for lessons have helped a lot of people including me, and I often think, when I get to the end of the day and things have gone pretty well but I haven't made dinner, "I really need to ask Celeste how she does this!" I know healthy, whole foods are a priority at your house as they are at mine and I'd love a peek at your system for planning and how you keep meal preparation from taking more time than you have.

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your family's life with us! It is a blessing!

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    1. I will add it to the list, Andrea! A meal plan is absolutely essential for me, and it definitely seems like the house falls apart on the weeks I get lazy about it. So I can relate! Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment here. :)

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  12. I hope your kiddos are feeling better soon! I have some sick kids here too.

    I really appreciate your blog, Celeste, and thank you for taking the time to write here. I'm not sure I have any requests for things to add that other people haven't mentioned already. There's lots of great possibilities there!

    (And I loved that how to avoid converting article - I found myself nodding and laughing all the way through it. It summed up my experience quite well too!)

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    1. I have a feeling a lot of my convert friends would enjoy that article! It seems like so many of us converted in a similar way. :)

      As always, thanks for your support, Amber!

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  13. I love reading about all your book finds and suggestions. I love picture books and you always seem to be able to share a new one (or more) with me that I have never heard of! I also love to hear about all your homeschool plans and what goes on in a day in your (very busy, I'm sure) household!

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    1. Thanks, Bethany! There are SO many good books out there--I'm always finding new ones myself! :)

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  14. Merry Christmas!! It's been awhile since I've popped in here to say hello, but just wanted to thank you for the last year of posting! I had to laugh at your How not to convert to the Catholic church post, because that was almost exactly step by step how I entered the Church. I think I read one book by Scott Hahn and was basically a goner! Although I would add in find Celeste's blog and discover the Latin Mass as a step in there! I always enjoy your book posts and what your kiddos are reading and have always wondered how you are able to get so much done without relying on the TV. I'm due next month with our first baby boy and I'm trying to wrap my head around life with two little girls and a newborn without much TV. Our home is so much more peaceful if there isn't any TV or movie watching, but it's an option that gets used frequently when I'm tired. I am always curious how you find your Catholic religious books. I really want to start building up our home library since converting in April, but I always want to see books in person before ordering them.

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    1. Right, Jamie?! I know there are a lot of us Hahn-verts out there! ;)

      The whole TV thing comes up a LOT and I really do want to share about that. Congrats on a baby boy! I'll be praying for a smooth last month of pregnancy and delivery.

      And as for Catholic books: I am like you, I love to see them in person first! But we don't have a traditional Catholic bookstore close enough for me to do that, so I started just buying on the advice of bloggers I trusted (like Jennifer at Wildflowers and Marbles, who has some wonderful Catholic booklists for children and who attends the TLM). I buy a lot used off the cathswap list, which makes me feel better about the price. ;) Our library grew *very* slowly and has been ten years in the making now. But I can't say enough about having wonderful Catholic children's books in the house. My kids have learned so much from them. :)

      Happy New Year to you and your family, Jamie!

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    2. Hahn-verts.....I love that!! Thank you for prayers for pregnancy and deliver. They are much appreciated as I had HELLP syndrome last time due to undiagnosed Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I will take all the prayers I can get! Thank you for the tip about cathswap. I will definitely have to check it out. And Happy New Year to you and yours as well!

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  15. Can you talk about how you handle all the out-loud reading you do, especially with all the AO reading lists? I get so easily overwhelmed reading aloud novels to my kids, even on a good day I get exhausted from reading aloud anything bigger than a few 30 page picture books (we read picture books for about 15 minutes at a time about 6 times a day). Reading a nice short chapter book exhausts me! How do you keep up with all of the AO readings?
    Also, echoing the above comment, the movies.... can you share a list you kids do watch?
    Thank you for all the blogging you do! God bless!

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    1. I too tire when reading aloud for too long, though I really enjoy it. I do about 15-20 minutes of reading at breakfast time, then usually three 15-minute sessions during nap (one for Y4 and one for Y1). Then I do maybe 15 more minutes of picture books to the littles at some point. It is a lot but it is broken up over the course of the day. And thankfully my Big Kids read almost all their books independently, so my schedule is not as full as it could be if they weren't the strong readers they are.

      Tips I have for read-aloud sessions: stay hydrated--lots of tea! Use audiobooks when necessary. Try not to read above toddler noise too often--that really strains the voice. (I do most of my reading aloud during naps, when it's nice and quiet.) I also have my Big Kids spend 15 minutes each reading aloud to younger siblings daily, so that frees up my time/voice a bit. Next year I'll be reading all of Y2 and Y1 aloud, and that will be a bigger challenge than this year, I think.

      As for movies: my kids don't watch any just yet! We decided early on to completely forego media for the children for as long as we are able. One of the questions I get most often from local friends is how we survive without relying on any media for the kids. I really do need to hit that topic soon! :)

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  16. I see that your girls are all wearing skirts/dresses. Do they always? Do you? God bless!

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    1. Yes, I have been skirts-only for maybe ten years. I started having my daughters wear more skirts about five years ago. We wear skirts/dresses all the time except for exercise. :)

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    2. Wow! That's so cool. I've been trying to do skirts 3-5x a week (instead of once or twice a week for mass) for about a year now. It fails to workout as it heavily conflicts with my farm lifestyle. Do chores, working with cattle....doesn't always work well in a skirt. :)

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    3. We have a mild climate here, which makes it much easier! I also don't have farm chores. :) On nature study outings, I often dress like my daughters and do a shorter dress (just above knee-length) over leggings or pants for warmth and mobility.

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  17. Can you talk your favorite marriage books?

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