Monday, February 8, 2016

{This and That}

Hi friends!  First up: some news: f you haven't already seen it, I want to invite you to...
CM West :: Retreat at the Beach!

Amber (from Flare of Light) and I are hosting a little Charlotte Mason retreat at a beach house on the Sonoma Coast.  We're planning that it will be a quiet time of Mother Culture, community, and refreshment.  I am so looking forward to lots of Charlotte Mason chat with a lovely group of ladies.  You can read more details at the website.

There are just a few spots left, so you'd like to join us, please let me know!  You can fill out the registration form and Amber will be in contact with you.


I can't post a {This and That} without including a couple shots of my littlest guy.  He is a dimpled, smiling, crazy-haired little dumpling and we cannot get enough of him.  (Excuse the blurriness--he is never still!)

He learned to roll both ways this past month and finds that far more fun than napping, but with lots of arms to hold him, we're making it work--and his giggles definitely make our school days much brighter!


Speaking of school, we began Term 3 a few weeks ago, and as usual, I did a bit of tweaking to our schedule to start the term.  Our babymoon checklists worked perfectly during the time I needed school to be a bit more hands-off, but I was ready for something more structured now that we're out of the newborn phase.  So we're pretty much back to our Term 1 checklist with a few changes:

:: The Big Kids showed over the past couple months that they're ready to do Latin and dictation study without me.  So I'm keeping those on their independent schedule rather than doing them all together.

:: They also really like doing written narrations, so I upped that to twice a week.  (Just to be clear: I'm only requiring that extra written work because they enjoy it.  I think one written narration weekly for Year 4 is great and what the wise ladies at AO recommend beginning with. :))

:: A.A. Milne is a super-huge-gigantic-through-the-roof hit here with the whole family right now, and we were only halfway through his poems at the end of Term 2.  (He's scheduled for Year 1 for Cate, but we do poetry together in Morning Basket, so everyone listens in.)  So we're continuing with him for Term 3, alongside Wordsworth for my Year 4 students.  (Gianna has loved Milne's poetry ever since we read it for her Year 1, so she is particularly pleased.)

:: Our weekly schedule has also changed a bit since it's a new semester and outside lessons have shifted.  I also don't need as much flexibility in our days because we're not going out much with an infant.  So I did some juggling of the Big Kids' work and divvied it out into four days to give them an idea of how to take their checklist of work and spread it out over our schooldays.

:: My Year 1 student really wanted a checklist like her older siblings.  I gave her one during our babymoon to keep her moving along on her independent assignments, so I basically adjusted that and printed it out for her.  She's pleased to feel more like a Big Kid.  (And again, to be clear: she's not responsible for doing the items on her checklist independently--we do almost all her work together.  She just likes to be the one to cross things off. ;))

As you'll see, our Term 3 checklist looks very similar to Term 1's with slight modifications:

The only thing that is bugging me about this new format is that there's quite a bit of repetition on the charts themselves.  But I'm not bothered enough by it to change it now, especially since it's working really well and we only have EIGHT weeks left in the school year. And that means I'm already getting ideas for how I'll tweak them for next year...


As usual, we celebrated the end of the term with a few treats, including a few books naturally...

The Battle of the Kegs, illustrated by Paul Galdone
Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride, illustrated by Ted Rand

Both tie into our Revolutionary War Readings for Year 4: one a bit more serious and one more fun. ;)

I also gave the kids a book of Brahms sheet music (that was supposed to be an end-of-Term-1 treat but it was lost until I uncovered it during Christmas wrapping!), and this set of origami books I happily found at the thrift store.  So far they are great!  The "Easy Origami" one can be done independently by the Big Kids and with help by the Middles.  The other two are more challenging but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to hand them over to my Bigs after they work their way through the easy book for practice.  Gianna got straight to work and made half the book's offerings so far, including a sweet little cup she wants to full with treats for Xavier's birthday and a tulip she's putting aside for Mother's Day for the grandmas.

Cate's Paddle-to-the-Sea using Easy Origami :)


So I finally took five seconds and added a podcast app to my phone.  Why did I wait so long to do that?!  Not that I have a ton of time to listen to podcasts (it is way too loud for that around here!), but now the time I do have can be so much more efficiently used than the clunky mp3 method I was using before.

On to the real reason I mention this: have you checked out the first Schole Sisters podcast yet?  I listened to their episode on levity last Friday and it was great for this bossy, Type A, first-born. :)  I always say that I'm not the "fun mom" (I'm totally not!), but I do try.  So I can use all the encouragement to "levitate" that I can! ;)


I have a terrible habit of opening a bunch of tabs and leaving them to read later, when I get a bit more free time in the evening or on the weekend.  Unfortunately, that "more free time" hasn't happened in a couple weeks, so I have a big stockpile.  Here's what's sitting in my tabs bar right now:

Charles Dickens' Hard Times: The Usefulness of Useless Things
What is Poetic Knowledge?
Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children
Busy is a Sickness
Unholy Anger: Disciplining Ourselves Before Disciplining Our Children
Catholic or Pagan Imagination
Little House on the Prairie Shows Us Why Kids Need Both a Mother and a Father
The Broken Sword

A great-looking list, right?  I need to get on that!


Last but not all least: years ago when Joyous Lessons began, it was a joint effort between me and my in-real-life dear friend, Angela.  She eventually stepped away from homeschooling (and blogging) for a time, but we remained the best of friends.  And now I'm so pleased that she's back to both: home-educating her two sweet children, and blogging about it at her new spot on the net, Glimpses of a Living Education.  She's the real deal and pretty wonderful, so go take a peek at her life in the mountains and say hello!


That's it for today!  Coming soon: a look at written narrations and Keeping for my Year 4 students, What We're Reading in January, nature swap fun, our Term 3 Morning Basket, and a recap of our Term 2 exams!


  1. Can't wait to hear about the Term 3 MB & Term 2 exams!! Thank you for keeping us all up to date with your life. Justin is adorable! :)

  2. Thank you so much for telling folks about my little spot on the web! I'm so happy to be back to writing and homeschooling. Love you!

    1. Oh, you are welcome, my dear! I'm happy about it too. :)

  3. I'm excited that Angela is blogging again. She left not long after I found your blog and started following.
    I am constantly tweaking our checklist. I started off copying yours, Celeste, but Nadia (8, Y3) found it too cluttered. She doesn't like having more than one little circle to check off next to an item and often ignores it on subsequent days. After 3 or 4 tweaks, I think I finally found the one that works for the moment. I'll be blogging about it soon.
    How old is Justin now? I've lost track of when he was born. I love his fluffy hair. Nora Grace had hair like that a few months back :)
    We have 12 weeks left and I'm already looking ahead to Year 4. Age of Fable and Madam How just arrived in the mail yesterday :)

    1. I'm so glad you remember Angela here! She has done some lovely writing that still is there in the archives of this blog, and I'm excited to see what she's going to share at her new space. :)

      I'm looking forward to seeing what your schedule looks like! I think for next year, I'll be taking my big kids' daily work completely off my list (they already do it all on their own anyway) to make room for my new students--otherwise mine will stay the same because it's working great for me. For my Big Kids' schedules, I'll be trimming it a bit to account for their working almost completely independently. Right now I cut and paste from my master list to theirs, then print--I need to adjust that method because that's what causing the repetition. Luckily the kids don't seem to mind so I'm in no rush. ;)

      Justin will be three months old tomorrow. It's going so fast!

      12 weeks left in the school year is just about when I start getting my itch to plan for next year. We homeschool moms are such nerds. :)

    2. After looking more closely at your new schedules (the ones pictured in this post), I realized that what you did on the bottom (dividing it into the 4 days but on one sheet and horizontally) might work for us. I was dividing it into days but on separate sheets of paper and it was so much paper! I made a schedule for week 26 and showed it to Nadia and she thinks it will work for her. So now I have just three pieces of paper - a checklist for out together work, one for Y3 and one for Y1. I think a blog post showing the progression of the development of my scheduling might be in order. :) Thank you for all your help. Your blog is such a blessing!

  4. I love your Catholic implementation of AO, what a blessing for other catholic families! So excited to see that Angela is back blogging!! Also, very cool that your Y4ers are moving even closer to independence. Can't wait to hear about the MB & Term Exams along with eagerly waiting for next years plans to be up. (I have 2 Y4ers (twins) & 2 Y0/1ers (17 months apart) and our school year does not "run" at the same time as yours so I take many inspirations off of you. :) God Bless!

    1. Yes, Celeste, you are such a blessing to other Catholic families using AO!!

    2. Thank you! I love all the sharing that happens in the Catholic AO community. :)

  5. Your Y4 checklist looks very similar to my Y4 kiddo's. Except I do not assign specific things for each day, except Friday. I do have a spot on his list for those days. Caleb then fills in the choices for the week himself, shows me, and we discuss. I assign Fridays because we have outside commitments and I INSIST that nature study be on that day. If not, then they would fill everyday with that and other things would not get done. Ha! The rest of his list has daily things with boxes to check after each and weekly readings with their chapters and so forth.

    What does NOTES mean on your list? You have me curious. Caleb takes notes when he's doing his readings because they help him when he does written narrations. But I do not look at them, they are just for his reference. Are you referring to something like that?

    We also do not have a Weekend Reading section. I like that idea. As of right now my kiddos read from a shelf of Free Reads I've given them and their Bibles. I have noticed Caleb will read all the non fiction free reads from his shelf first and Caroline all the fiction free reads. =)

    The thing I want to change is that my Y2 kiddo's list is so different from my Y4. She likes choices, but she's not ready for too many. I have to keep track of all of her list because I fill in with what she does not chose. This is fine for now, but after baby comes I'm worried I'll drop a ball. But I do want her list to reflect some choices as well as her daily assignments. So I'm giving that some thought. I do not think in as organized a fashion as you. Her list reflects that. =)

    1. I didn't assign things to specific days until this term. I prefer working from a weekly list but my kids were picking the same five things every day anyway and actually asked me to list it out so they wouldn't forget their preferred tasks for each day! Go figure. :) It is working this term but we may go back to just a weekly list next year. We'll see!

      About "Notes": after the kids narrate their selection, they make notes right on their checklist of any people/events/places they want to add to their century chart, timeline, or maps. Then on Thursday, when they do those tasks, they work from their own lists. They do it after narrating, so they don't currently use their notes to write/tell their narrations. I tell them not to bubble in the "narrate" bubble next to each reading until they've both narrated and done their notes. I don't check their notes, though--they're for their own reference for their Keeping.

      We have always done Weekend Reading, but I have just never had it listed as such on the checklists. Weekend readings are always ones I have added to the AO list and are not narrated. They're basically scheduled free reads. One each term is an AO free read and two of them are religious readings: our saint's biography and our liturgy book. They change each term. They don't narrate those, but we do discuss them at our weekly meeting because I'm reading along too (unlike with their non-scheduled free reads).

      And the way you described Caleb and Caroline is pretty much exactly how Vincent and Gianna choose their free reads. :)

    2. That's funny! =) We do all become creatures of habit I guess. But I must admit none of mine have asked me to do that. Although my 5 year old wants a checklist. I told her maybe when she's 6. =)

      I have Caleb take the weekly list and break it down over the week because he was having a couple of days that were slow starting for him. So his school was dragging on too long. I did not want to have to constantly remind him to hurry up and get started, or ask if he'd done such and such yet. I figured this might help him see the weekly list in a more realistic way. It does seem to have helped him see what needs to *really* get done in a day. We will keep it up for the rest of the year since it works.

      I'm keeping your Notes idea in mind for my daughters and for Caleb as he adds in a Century Chart on top of his other Keeping. Right now Caroline and I do Timeline and Maps together right after our readings. Y3 is when I really start teaching them how to transition to more independent work. But this is streamlined and another good way of narrating. I'm thinking you've mentioned this before and I liked it. But this time I've written it down so that I remember! Ha!

      Thanks, Celeste. I really enjoy picking your brain. =)

    3. Yes, it is always fun to "talk shop" with you! :)

      I do mapwork and timeline together with Cate (Y1), so only the Big Kids are responsible for doing their own history and geography Keeping solo. (They actually do it together often, so that helps too--having two kids in the same year is fun that way. :)) I think Y4 is really the earliest they really *could* do it independently anyway, because before this year, the books have far fewer dates and specific place names listed, so even though they were choosing what to include on their maps/timelines, I had to help them look it up online or in the atlas. This year, they're able to take notes from their books, consult their maps, and make their additions without any help from me. Before this year, I was the one that took the notes on my weekly checklist during my pre-reading, then used that as a reminder of places to mention before each reading session. I only started the "notes" task for them this year.

    4. I love the notes idea!!

  6. Eeekkk!!! What a wonderful newsy post. I can't wait to peek at your links. I usually listen to podcasts when exercising, or early in the morning. Your retreat looks LOVELY. I'm not going to any CM retreats this year, because my mom, sister, and I are going to ENGLAND. I know, right?! :) Can't wait to look at your friend's blog and looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    1. Thanks, Amy! I have had difficulty fitting podcasts into my day. Sometimes I listen in bed if I don't feel like reading...but usually I feel like reading. ;) When I'm running, I prefer music. And while my kids are up, I like to be available to them. But lately I've been taking some time after dinner while the Big Kids are doing their dinnertime chores to have a bit of quiet time while my husband wrangles the littles. And this weekend I had a little chunk of time while doing my Term 2 filing that was perfect for a podcast. :)

      I am SO jealous of your England trip. I hope you have an amazing time!!!

  7. Would you tell me where in Charlotte Mason's writings I can read more about Mother Culture, please?

    1. CM doesn't use the term herself, but it comes from the title of a Parents' Review article, which was the magazine she edited:
      (And at the bottom of that article is a link to a related one: )

      There are quite a few quotes from her writings that do speak to this idea, though. One of my favorites, from Volume 3:

      "Serenity of a Madonna.––It is not for nothing that the old painters, however diverse their ideas in other matters, all fixed upon one quality as proper to the pattern Mother. The Madonna, no matter out of whose canvas she looks at you, is always serene. This is a great truth, and we should do well to hang our walls with the Madonnas of all the early Masters if the lesson, taught through the eye, would reach with calming influence to the heart. Is this a hard saying for mothers in these anxious and troubled days? It may be hard, but it is not unsympathetic. If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would be able to hold herself in 'wise passiveness,' and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye––she would let them be."

    2. Thank you. This is helpful. The passage you quoted is inspiring and convicting.