Friday, November 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Things I'd Like to Write Longer Posts About

I feel like I have a blogging logjam.  I have lots of things I'd like to write about, but between  perfectionism and a full life, I'm finding it ridiculously hard to do it.  So, I'm at least writing a little, and perhaps this will help me to get going.

I decided to use Ambleside Online this year and we've just finished our first term.  I made a few substitutions and modifications, but I tried to stay as close to the proscribed plan as possible.  It has been a great choice, and I'm really glad we're doing it.  It has made my yearly and weekly planning so so so much easier, and our educational journey is stronger for it.   I really want to write a post about our substitutions, and what we've done to make the curriculum more Catholic.

I've also implemented a version of Celeste's naptime school (I got to meet Celeste and her children a couple weeks back - what a lovely experience and conversation!  She's the first CM homeschooler I've ever met in person, and the first non-family blogger. It was so nice to be with someone who gets what I do!).  I've broken up our morning time into several pieces to make it easier with the littles.  I'd like to say that there are no more time outs during morning prayer, but alas that is not the case.  But still, a fantastic change for our family.  Emma stays in with me in the morning and I work with her while the boys go out and play.  I think a longer post about what exactly this looks like - naptime school with a bigger range of ages - would be a good thing.

Another new thing for this year - Sabbath Schooling.  We are doing formal lessons for six weeks, then taking a week off.  That rest week (this week is one of them) is fantastic.  "Rest" is a bit of a misnomer though, as these weeks are very full too - but full of different sorts of activities.  On Monday we had term exams and Atrium, then went to Costco (I go every seven weeks, as it is over an hour away), getting home at 9:30.  I've also canned 10 quarts of applesauce, 8 cups of apple butter, cleaned and reorganized part of the pantry, did a huge stuff dump onto paper, planned and prepped for Monday's co-op meeting, set up all the Term 2 work for next week, installed a 47 tile Flor rug in our family room, and...  well, there's probably more, but that's the stuff I can remember right now.  Of course there's the laundry and the meals and the dishes.  Phew.  It is nice to see it written out because I've been feeling like I haven't gotten all that much done this week.  It is easy for me to focus on what I still need to do this week!

And another new thing - Mystie's interval planning.  Absolutely brilliant, and it goes along with the six weeks on, one week off thing so well.  [edited - I at first said 6 on, 6 off, which contradicts the 3rd point and is incorrect - we're doing 6 on, 1 off]

Ever since I read Jennifer Fulwiler's Family First Creative (her free ebook for pre-ordering her wonderful book) I've been wondering what my creative endeavor is - what fuels me?  And really, I don't know.  I finished that book feeling like there were a lot of great suggestions, but it made me realize that I can't quite even answer the question that it begins with - namely, what is it I even want to do?  And if I'm generally content managing my home and homeschooling and all that entails  and trying to do a good job of it, am I somehow selling myself short?  Do I need to be doing something more?  Should I be?  Do I have a responsibility to do more than this?


Awhile back I had a post about how I was breaking up my reading into categories and how wonderful that all was.  Well, I still think it is wonderful, but when I started also trying to read all my books as well as pre-read for Ambleside's Y3 and keep up with Y7 as well, everything just fell apart.  There are no where near enough hours in the day available for reading that I could keep up with a list like that.   Now I'm trying to find space to read three books of my own- something having to do with education, something faith based, and a general non-fiction book.  Right now those three books are Consider This, by Karen Glass, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly, and well, I just finished the The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and haven't figured out what my next non-fiction read will be.

I wrote recently about a little hike we did as a family, and I've also been wanting to write about a day trip we took about a month ago.  Can you guess where we went? 

As you can tell, the weather wasn't all that great, so we didn't get to see the Blue Angels fly much, but we still had a wonderful day.  We visited the Golden Gate Bridge, watched the ships sail into the Bay, walked down to Crissy Field, walked through the Palace of Fine Arts and then back up through the Presidio.  We walked over nine miles!  Justin, our three year old, was in a stroller most of the time, but even Nathan (6), who is not the most willing of walkers, persevered and did it.  It was a long day, but a wonderful excursion.  I'm hoping to do day trips to SF every few months, now that we've shown we can do it.  


  1. I'm glad you wrote this! I'd been wondering how things were going with school this year. Sound like your changes have really smoothed the way. I'm glad.

    Josiah is "officially" in kinder this year, but in reality he is doing (and needs) 1st grade work. I found it utterly impossible to school him well with Timothy awake, so we started doing nap time schooling. Hard for me to give up the time that I used to use for myself (be that online, or reading to myself, or working on church music) but it has been so rewarding for both of us to spend that time learning together.

    I love the idea of sabbath schooling! It makes so much sense! Because the older boys are in year round school, we operate on a somewhat similar schedule. It doesn't break as frequently, but the theory is similar and honestly I love it. For us, it allows us to get the benefits of both worlds - public and home schooling! We spend their breaks doing all the fun, hands on, field trip kinda of learning that they don't get in school!

  2. I know that comment was super long but I had one more thought: maybe it isn't that you don't have a passion, but that the creative thing that recharges you is something you think of as "just" whatever-it-is. Maybe for you it is education? And maybe as your children grow you'll be able to take that and share it outside your home as well, but for now you are busy and fulfilled where you are. You do SO MUCH in your home, and so much is creative (I'm thinking of the cooking and canning here, as well) - it sounds crazy to me to think of you "selling yourself short" and needing to do more!

    1. I think what nags at me is the sense that I'm "only" serving my family, and perhaps serving the family in ways that they don't exactly need to be served. Do I need to make 10 quarts of applesauce, or should I just buy it and spend the time doing something else? Should I spend as much time as I do cooking and maintaining, or should I lower my standards and do something else that might have more of a positive impact on people? Granted, people around here might get grumpy if I started serving fish sticks and frozen peas... *grin* But yes, I do find much of the cooking and even a lot of the home maintaining (at this point, at least!) invigorating and recharging. And I do wonder how things will change as kids get older... one of my faults is that I tend to look at how things are now and project them forward indefinitely, like things will never change.

      I appreciate your comments, Emily, thank you!

  3. I do hope you'll write about the Catholic changes you have made to the AO curriculum. I think a lot of Catholics get turned off at the get-go because they think it will be too difficult to tweak, but at least in the early years, I haven't found that to be so. And your history background makes your perspective even more valuable.

    I would also love to hear more about your routine. I have a feeling that starting next year, I'll be doing what you're describing: keeping my big kids in for a bit of extra school time in the mornings when they usually all head outside. They'll have more work, and I'll have another student (Cate in Year 1) that will need some "naptime school" set aside for her studies as well.

    I haven't been to SF in ages. Kinda sad since it's so close! My husband and I used to go pretty often when we were dating, to see shows, go to the museum, attend the Walk for Life. But it's never seemed all that doable with the little ones. Kudos to you all! SF can be so much fun. :)

    And with what you described that you accomplished in your "sabbath week," I don't think you're selling yourself short! But I know what you mean about not feeling all that creative. My hobbies (running, reading, blogging, lesson planning--ha!) don't feel particularly creative in the artistic sense, though they do help me to recharge mentally... I've made it a goal to engage in the Keeping practices long with the kids, which stands in for the more artistic side of my Mother Culture for now.

    1. Your hobbies sound a lot like mine, Celeste! I will endeavor to write more about how we're doing AO and what our schedule looks like. I have a draft that I'm working on right now. I haven't started the AO tweaks post yet, but I'm thinking about it. And yes, I would think that SF would not seem particularly doable these days... but I bet you'll get back there. There is so much to do and see there, I'm looking forward to making the effort to go more often. I think it is good for my country-bred kids to get some city experience too. I remember going to the Walk for Life several years ago and taking them on a bus in SF... I think that was the highlight of their trip.