Sunday, October 24, 2021

{This and That} :: Happy October!

Happy to be popping in with an update on a very rainy, very delightful Sunday afternoon!

We begin exams tomorrow after a very full first term. This is the one of the smoothest first terms I have ever had, thanks mostly to lots of help from my husband as we transitioned to a fuller morning timetable. Whenever he is not in meetings, he has been keeping the three youngest with him to play in his office from 9-11am. On the days he is busy, I have a rotation of toys and Littleleben activities ready for them. I no longer have a morning break, but I have enjoyed finishing my school day earlier and am feeling less tired in the afternoon hours.

Home education is always a stretching experience -- there is no avoiding the challenges that each day brings in a family with so many different ages and personalities! But I am so grateful for a joyful fall term and excited for the weeks ahead.

Some recent highlights from our work together...

Form 1 pacing and mapmaking

singing with our TBG Songbooks

sloyd portfolios

Plutarch weekly painting!

Burgess Bird Book brush drawing

flat washes

raffia tassels

reading lessons - word-building practice

breakfast reading

chalk drawing - warm-up with spirals

object drawing in chalk - ellipses

weekly meetings

Form  5 commonplace

Plant Life in Field and Garden - male and female flowers

raffia fringe

European geography with playdoh

...and with the white board!

clay modeling from imagination

high school  chemistry

the littles playing restaurant :)

Trojan horse in the Book of Centuries


My trip to Philadelphia for the CMEC's Fall Mini-Retreat a couple weeks ago was a wonderful time. Amy and I were able to explore composition through the Forms, from copywork in Form 1 through high school writing.

We spent a morning walking in Valley Forge while we brainstormed our community offerings for the next year. The perfect place for perspective and inspiration!

And I had a window seat on my flight home on a beautifully clear day. (Can you tell which part of the country I was flying over in each one?)

I can always tell when I'm back home in California when I see its neat suburbs creeping up the golden hills that stretch for miles.


My three September birthday girls are looking so grown up...


What have you been reading lately? After lots of pre-reading this summer and early fall, I have taken the last month or so to pick up some more leisurely books...

On my flight to Philadelphia, I spent five thoroughly riveted hours reading Willa Cather's Shadows on the Rock. This was actually a re-read for me, but it had been a few years and my high schoolers will be reading it this spring. I was reminded why it is one of my favorites of all time as I tried to hide my tears on the packed flight!

My Form 1 students have been listening through the Little House series for their literature reading this term. After hearing bits and pieces here and there, I decided to re-read the series myself back-to-back last weekend. I have to say: it was a more emotional experience than I was expecting! It had probably been five years since the last time I read the novels, and wow -- it is a different series altogether when your oldest daughter is the same age as Laura when she gets her first teaching job away from home. It gave me a lot to think about.

Today I started The Song of the Scaffold, which I read years ago but don't remember that well. I'm thinking it might make a good addition to next year's study of the French Revolution.

So I suppose it is a season for re-reading? I am always looking for something familiar in the fall. Do your book choices vary by season?


After talking about restful Sundays at the CMEC Summer Gatherings this past July, I have been motivated to refresh my own Sunday routine. It's always nice to build in some special, small practices that help make it a day to look forward to. (Especially because football season means I have several free hours on Sundays while the kids watch with my husband!)

We go to an early Mass so my sons can serve, so we are home in time for breakfast. I always enjoy my leisurely Sunday coffee -- it is truly a highlight of my week.

A fun recent addition: I have been using my Dry Gloss kit from Bare Hands (a gift from a dear friend) to take care of my nails each week. The best thing about this kit is that it gives you neat, shiny nails with no polish -- I love it. While I'm doing my manicure, I listen to a podcast episode. My current favorite is from Optimal Work. Usually I really enjoy the quiet and I'm not generally a podcast person, but this has been a nice change of pace for me on Sundays.

I also work in my TBG Notebook. I don't usually have time to make an artist or composer study entry during our lesson because my Form 1 students need me to act as scribe for their narrations, so on Sundays I set aside time to sketch or write. I also occasionally pull out my Book of Centuries or nature journal if I have something I'd like to add. 

(As a side note, my kids are using the Riverbend Press TBG Notebooks this year and they just adore them. They take such good care of them because they feel so special, and the paper is a dream to work on. But I like a smaller format for myself right now; I'm using a Prat Flexbook for my TBG Notebook.)

Sundays always involve some spiritual reading for me as well. I mentioned this before over on Instagram, but I use Sundays as an opportunity to read the week's Bible lessons. A few weeks ago, I read ahead and completed the term's assignments, so lately I have been dipping into The Sermons from St. Alphonsus Ligouri for All Sundays of the Year (which my older kids are also reading weekly), Scale How Meditations, and others from my shelves. Often my spiritual reading helps me form an intention for the week that I write in my logbook as a daily prayer.

And I like to have a treat for Sundays. Right now I am well-stocked with options because my kids gifted me with some fun sweets for my birthday -- I'm enjoying some homemade lavender ice cream right now (!) and have several chocolate bars stashed in my desk drawer. But often my girls will bake something tasty to enjoy over Sunday. We then save the rest in the freezer to pull out for the next Friday's Weekly Meetings. As the weather gets colder, I have been sipping hot water with lemon through the afternoon as I sit and read. Fragrant and fresh!

My Sunday observance too varies with the seasons. Soon it will be time for cozy fires, baking, reading, and crafting. :) What ways have you been making Sunday special lately?


Like I mentioned, I recently celebrated a birthday and got so many fun little handmade gifts from my crew...

Aren't they so creative? I love to see how they take skills they have built during lessons over the years and weave them into thoughtful things.

And the large papercutting in the top center is by my kindergartener and is based on Turner's Dordrecht from the Kinderleben Artist Print Set. This is actually his second time reinterpreting the piece -- he also painted it a few weeks ago!


Before I sign off, a few logistical notes:

First, a few months ago, Blogger somehow switched my comments to moderated without notifying me. I noticed last week that I had dozens and dozens of comments awaiting moderation in my account. I went through all of them and commented back, so you may have recently heard from me about something you asked long, long ago. ;) Sorry about that!

Some of you have sent email requests recently to access documents I have shared here on the blog in the past. Google Drive made a security update that turned off sharing settings for old documents -- and since I have been posting here for over a decade, that affected a good number of my Drive links! I think I have resolved the issue, but if you encounter a problem, feel free to hit that "request access" button so I am aware of which documents still need to be tweaked.

Speaking of old documents, one this has always been popular is the All Souls' Day prayer cards I created years ago -- and November 2nd is just around the corner! You can find that free printable here.

Finally, you may have heard that Google's blog subscription service, Feedburner, was recently discontinued. I converted all existing email subscriptions to But if you used to get email notifications for new posts here on Joyous Lessons and are no longer doing so, you may need to re-request to follow. You'll find the subscription box over in the right sidebar. As always, thanks for following along. I really appreciate your readership.

Have a great week!


  1. Hi Celeste

    What books are you using for high school chemistry (and physics and biology)

    1. Hi there! Our main text for chemistry this year is Atkins' "Chemistry: a Very Short Introduction": But the text is paired with a text of experiments and demonstrations, videos, articles, and additional work as a "course" for CMEC high school students.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned Shadows on the Rock.. I read Cather for the first time this year (Death Comes for the Archbishop) and was blown away! So thanks for confirming which work I should read next!
    I find myself wanting to re-read in the fall, too. Usually A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind, not sure why! Now that I think about it though, I also read Persuasion every summer so maybe I want to re-read all the time, and the season just defines the book! But with Persuasion taking place so much in Bath, I figure it’s basically a beach read, right?

    1. Love Persuasion -- and it has been at least a few years since I have read that one! :)

  3. Totally unrelated to the post but I have a question regarding recitation. Do you have any ideas or system for keeping past recitation passages fresh? We use the SCM memory verse system for scripture verses, but I haven't found an easy solution for the poems and hymns recited. Now all the things my oldest recited for months just a couple years ago are gone from memory!

    1. I do have a method, based on the Simply Charlotte Mason system. You can read more about it here:
      These days I am not putting an emphasis on regular review. I have tried instead to review in more natural ways, like reciting poems for fun on car rides or around the table in the evenings, etc. But this system worked well for us for many years and still does now and then!

  4. Inspired by your blog. Thank you for sharing. What brush is your daughter using in the photo labeled Burgess Bird Book brush drawing? I am intrigued because it looks like it might offer a better grip for smaller hands. Thanks again!

    1. Hi! It is a Pentel Waterbrush: It holds the water right in the barrel, which is so convenient, although it does take some practice. All of my children use them (as do I).