Wednesday, July 27, 2022

{This and That} :: Summer's End

Well, we are in our FINAL week of summer here. This break has flown by -- I have gathered some of the reasons why below! Now we are closing out our long break and putting final touches on our plans for a new year of learning together...

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First, the big news: I shared on Instagram a few weeks ago but don't think I shared here yet. We are so very grateful to be pregnant with another little Cruz! I'm almost at the half-way point and the kids can't wait to find out what gender this little tie-breaker will be. He or she will join us in January, God willing.

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A highlight of my summer was the week I spent on the East Coast for the CMEC Summer Retreat! It was so nice to get back to our large, in-person summer event after several years off for Covid.

(We hosted smaller, day-long "gatherings" last summer in three cities on the East Coast, and it was wonderful to meet so many mothers that way, but this format of two days of cohesive talks and immersions is really special.)

The event was absolutely beautiful -- the hosting and planning team did such a stellar job. The theme was "Our Constant Joy: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in Home and School." I spoke on artist study, composer study, notebooks, and a Christian conception of beauty. Amy spoke on singing, recitation, and more. There was a resource fair, time for narration and discussion, and a fantastic dinner with live music and folk dancing.

I will admit: preparing for this event took just all my available energy in May and June. That was the peak of my first trimester nausea and fatigue, and there were many times I wondered what I had gotten myself into! (Do you have moments like that? I often do. I'm not sure what that says about me!) But honestly, I think the talks were all the better for my weakness -- grace abounds! And the worst of the symptoms passed in time for the event itself, which was a huge relief. It was so nice to be in the company of 160 like-minded moms and teachers.

And for the first time ever, I brought one of my children along with me -- my oldest daughter. She helped at the event, including manning some of the tables and holding lots of babies. ;) She also got to meet some longtime penpals.

We also got to do some sight-seeing since it was Gianna's first time on the East Coast, which was a treat for both of us. Amy and her daughter Grace played excellent hostesses -- we were so grateful for the time to be together with our friends.

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Thinking back to last year: a reader recently asked how our co-op went this past spring. I posted about our fall plans but didn't have the chance to come back and give an update.

Some subjects stayed the same and some changed. A peek at our timetable:


And some photos from our end-of-term celebration together:




We did recitations, a Shakespeare performance, folk dancing and singing games together, and a show-and-tell of paintings based on the Form 1 students' historical picture books reading (based on the CMEC programs). And celebrated with lunch together!

We are getting ready to start up again for the fall in just a few weeks. This term, we'll be taking our co-op indoors and switching up subjects again to take advantage of the space we'll be using. More on that later in the year!

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At the Summer Retreat, I mentioned that I print mini stickers of our artist study selections for my students to add to their TBG Notebooks after we have finished each one. I got lots of attendees asking for the details! 

So here's how I create them: I grab the images from online for the paintings, paste them into a Word doc, and print as many copies as I need onto 8.5x11 sticker paper from Amazon/Office Depot (usually used to make full size mailing labels, etc) -- like this. Then we cut them out! Very simple.


I also want to mention that at other times, I have printed our selections as 4x6 prints at Snapfish for my kids to keep in a personal photo album. (I actually am still doing that also since my older kids still want to add copies to their albums-in-progress!) Riverbend Press sells 4x6 sets of the term prints that are perfect for this for those who would rather not DIY and want a higher quality item.

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pre-reading almost always involves a snack for me as a pregnant mom! LOL

I told myself after I got back from the retreat that I would spend the final two weeks preparing our school year: finishing up necessary pre-reading, planning subjects like art and Italian, building our timetables, etc.

I still have a lot to do -- art and handicraft supplies need to be organized, Terms 2 and 3 still have some pre-reading left to do, etc. But it's moving along and feeling more likely I'll be ready to go next Monday! My boys are going to camp the second week of August, so we're actually doing a week of school and then taking a week off before beginning in earnest. So there are a lot of little things I can wait on during that "break week." I'm thinking of that first week as a "soft start."

The timetable is really the last necessary task, so that's my focus over the next few days. With so many students, it really is a puzzle, but once I get it laid out, I know I'll feel ready to begin. 

It's so exciting to think of the weeks ahead with so many wonderful "books and things" ahead of us, even if there are lots of logistics to work out too.

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I had lots of tasks on my summer list that did not get done (once I found out I was pregnant, I put at least a dozen things on the back burner), but one thing I did do was prepare a new chore chart for the year. Little kids needed more responsibilities, some new "problem spots" in our home needed to be added to the routine, and my older kids needed their chores to be a little more flexible now that their schedule is more unpredictable.

(Did I mention my oldest got a job?! Actually he got two! Not sure which he'll keep for the school year, but he has been happy to have the extra hours during the summer.)

Another thing we are working on is a new menu rotation for fall. My 13yo daughter has also been organizing our most-used recipes into reference sheets for all of the young chefs I have in the house now. I'll share more once that project is complete!

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Two of my "little boys" received their First Communion last month! Gianna did their final preparation and my two older boys served the Mass. It was a special day.

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Another exciting change in our home is that with the mask mandate removed late in the spring, my two oldest boys have been able to participate regularly in in-person chess tournaments. They have been playing online chess for a couple years, but going to "real" tournaments has been super fun and built their skills in a new way.

with a chess-playing friend!


a "team" win for our homeschool - LOL

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I'll admit -- this has been an overwhelming summer in many ways! But I think I end up saying that every year somehow. I have come to the conclusion that my particular vocation doesn't lend itself to restful breaks -- ha! I am grateful for the work God has given me in this life and will head into a new school year relying on Him.

When are you starting school -- will you be back to it in August, like us? What have been some of the highlights of your summer? I'd love an update!

22 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new baby! What a blessing for you all! Thank you for sharing what you are working on this summer and reminding me to focus on some of the logistics to make the year run smoother. One question, where online have you found to be a good place for your children to play chess? I have three children who love playing but there isn't as much competition playing your siblings all the time.

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    1. Hi Christina! My kids play at lichess.org. There is a kid mode that doesn't allow private messaging and has a few other safety controls. :)

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  2. Congratulations! It's such an amazing thing to introduce siblings to a new baby. Such a blessing. Always happy to see a new post from you!

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    1. Thanks, Denise -- and yes, the sibling interactions is honestly one of my favorite parts of parenting. <3

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  3. Congratulations, Celeste! A new baby is so wonderful!

    I have to know about the "rice" chore on your dinner chore chart. We have major rice mess issues after dinner... Do you have a child assigned to clean up just that particular mess?

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    1. Hi Laura! Yes, rice issues are a pain! My husband and kids eat rice with almost every meal, so one of the little kids has always been responsible for using a wet wipe to grab grains of rice on the table or floor before a sibling washes the table and sweeps. The rice just smears if it isn't picked up beforehand, so it makes the whole clean-up much easier! ;)

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    2. Thanks! Your chore charts inspire me. I have always been the rice-wiper-upper around here, but why? I have a handy four-year-old 😊.

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  4. Congratulations on the new baby!

    We started school today (first year with CMEC) and it went well. We're starting much earlier this year since we'll be welcoming a new baby in late September and I wanted to give us the opportunity to take a break without feeling like we were getting behind. Plus, it gives us a little bit of leeway if grandparents decide to visit. :)



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    1. Happy first day to you also! I too wanted to get a couple extra weeks in here in August to make sure we could break in January without feeling "behind." And September is a great month to have a baby -- I have three girls born in September! :)

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  5. Congratulations! That's so exciting!

    The chore charts are so helpful to look at as I think about chores for the kids this coming year. I found we were able to keep on top of things around the house fairly well until my youngest was born last year... and homeschooling is becoming more challenging as my kids get older. This has given me some ideas! My biggest struggle is my kids constantly making things out of paper and cardboard but never wanting to get rid of any of it... I'm very glad they're being so creative, but we can't keep it all either!

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    1. I can totally relate!! I do limit how many homemade things they can keep, especially in the house -- I do let them move extras to the garage to play with outside for a little while if they prefer that to throwing them away. After outside play, they end up falling apart faster and get thrown away naturally at that point. ;)

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    2. Outside play is a good idea... I'll have to try that!

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  6. Is there a place on your blog you’ve described your TBG notebooks in detail? I tried searching but couldn’t find anything. I’m about to start first grade with my son and your blog has been endless help to me in the past few months!
    -Audrey Greer

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    1. I don't think I have described our TBG Notebooks much here on the blog, but they are really just our narration notebooks for artist study and composer study, along with a place for copying recitation passages, hymns and folksongs, etc. For my Form 2 and up kids, I use the ones from Riverbend Press: https://www.riverbendpress.com/shop-notebooks/tbg-notebook They last for several years or work. We actually talked about TBG Notebooks a lot at the CMEC Summer Retreat this year! The recordings for the retreat are being prepared for purchase: https://www.thecmec.org/sys/website :)

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  7. Congratulations on your pregnancy, Celeste! And to your boys on their chess victories! Isn't it so nice having things open up again? Our kids were able to do soccer and choir this spring, and it was so refreshing to actually get out and socialize again. Your summer sounds like it was a busy one!
    I think the best part of mine was a camping trip with three other couples and their children. The setting was so peaceful and beautiful, I felt like my soul was just drinking in the beauty the whole time - the lovely lake, the call of loons over the water, the intense stars at night. My husband also prepared all our meals and that was a lovely treat, too!

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    1. That sounds like a wonderfully restorative trip, Arenda. It is so important to get special times like that now and then!

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  8. Congratulations!
    I would love to know what “move bath” on the chore chart means.
    I go back and forth on chores so I haven’t decided on a good system. Right now we do every other day for certain tasks but I know of a large family mom who has her kids do an area for a long time, like a year or more. I can’t seem to decide if it is easier to switch often and always wonder what day it is for what, or to have them stay the same for a long time and then everyone gets sick of their job (and efficient).

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    1. "Move bath" means that they help the person cleaning or mopping the bathroom and move things for them, out of the way and then back into place.

      We switch tasks during the week because I like multiple people to be trained in every area so that if someone is away/sick/etc., there is someone who can take over. For example, I like having four kids who know how to clean bathrooms. ;) But we keep the chores as scheduled for a long time -- at least a year.

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    2. That is helpful! Thank you for taking the time to reply!

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  9. Congratulations! We just found out #6 is coming in April! :)

    Jessica K

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    1. Congrats to you too, Jessica -- I will add you to my prayer list for pregnant moms!

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    2. Thank you! I need all the prayers I can get right now. Morning sickness is wiping me out so I am barely staying afloat. Just about 6 more weeks till the second trimester so I have something to look forward to. :)

      Jessica K

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