28 November 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Black Friday Edition

:: 1 ::

I'm having a Black Friday sale! If you purchase the Start Here PDF ebook from the shop, you can get 25% off this weekend only using the code friday2014.

:: 2 ::

Speaking of finding a scholé group, Afterthinker Lisa V. wants to share a bit about her group with you today:

Two and a half years ago I was privileged to go our local homeschool convention and hear Catherine Levison speak. It was such an inspiring weekend! As a result of that weekend, one of my girlfriends hosted several evenings for those of us who were blessed by that convention and we spent those evening's enjoying good food and discussing Charlotte Mason principles. That fell by the wayside as life got busy and something formal {we were trying to work through Brandy's initial 20 Principles study at the time} was just too difficult for us to keep going at the time.

A couple months ago inspired by Sarah's post on Schole Sisters, I sent an invitation to those ladies and suggested we try again with a more informal purpose. This led to a wonderful evening chatting, enjoying dessert and spending some time with watercolours. One of these lovely ladies has been an artist all her life and even spent some time studying art and she blessed us with an informal lesson. Life gets messy and busy, but these evenings are so worth the effort it takes to make them happen.

And oh my goodness. Click here to take a look at her paintings from that evening! They were just gorgeous.

Our group is going to do a couple watercolor lessons in 2015 and this makes me even more excited!

:: 3 ::

After my most recent scholé post, someone mentioned trying to find a group. There is a listing of Charlotte Mason groups at the Charlotte Mason in Community site that is wonderful. If you run a group, please put your group on the list so that others can find it. If you're looking for a group, and they don't have one in your area, consider starting a group! My advice is to keep it simple: choose a coffee shop to meet at, read something, and set a date to talk about it.

:: 4 ::

I made a simple Facebook Advent-themed cover image for you. Actually, I made it for me but thought I'd share it with you. Feel free to save it and use it as you like. All I ask is that you don't alter it. Thanks!

Yes, that is the Latin for O come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.

And I didn't watermark it because I think it looks better without.

:: 5 ::

Catie mentioned a gift guide for the littles. I'm not up for doing another guide because that one took a long more time and energy than I planned, but I thought I'd share a few things we're buying our own children. We don't have very elaborate Christmases here, and we give the children three gifts: something to read, something to wear, and something to enjoy. I used to say "something to play with" but some of the children are old enough now that they think that sounds silly.

So here is the list of books I've bought! They are getting more than one book because I've had a lot of great used bookstore finds lately, making multiple books affordable.


:: 6 ::

I read fiction and literature just for me in December and summer. I'm trying to decide what to read. I did some Jules Verne this summer. I'm thinking about trying for a Jane Austen title I've never read -- meaning either Emma or Persuasion. I don't know. I'm feeling a little uninspired. Any favorites you want to suggest?

:: 7 ::

We recently finished Rob Roy as our family read aloud, much to my husband's delight. He didn't really like it. To be fair, my Scottish accent is lacking {← understatement}. Naturally, he got to choose the next title. This way, he can take the fall for it if he hates it. He chose Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. So far, so good!

And that's it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone!

More Seven Quick Takes posts are linked at Conversion Diary.

25 November 2014

Keeping December Merry and Still Getting Lessons Done

Our first Christmas after we began homeschooling was very blah. In fact, that is all I remember about it -- that feeling that it was so. much. less. than it should have been. I think part of that is due to the fact that, during the early years of our married and family life, we always traveled at Christmas time. We participated whatever was happening in the home we were visiting, rather than initiating anything ourselves.

That's fine, as far as it goes, but when we were on our own, we found that even though we'd been married for seven years and had four children, we had no traditions of our own.

Our second year of homeschooling was a year of recovery for us as my husband had almost died during the summer months. I vowed that Christmas was going to be different. I wasn't going to let it be blah ever again.

Now, mind you, I don't mean expensive or complicated. I've never had the budget for expensive, and I can't ever pull off complicated. The solution was so simple when it hit me: I'd start with a special December Circle Time!

These days, we call it DecemberTerm, and it's the highlight of our year. We already have the time set aside, first thing after breakfast in the morning. What better way to begin each day of the season than with singing Advent and Christmas songs, doing Jesse Tree activities, and reading old favorite Christmas books?

It really is a delight.

For the first three weeks of December, which is most of Advent, we still do all of our AO readings. We still do Latin and math, though we do cut things like grammar, Shakespeare, and Plutarch. After that, we take three weeks off: Christmas week through the week of Epiphany. {I don't plan again for school until after Epiphany.} I love the rhythm of it -- of Advent as a sort of transition, and then the Christmas season as a total break from lessons -- as a season of festivity.

Today, I thought I'd share about this year's DecemberTerm, and a couple other things we're doing.


First, I'll show you my plans:

Click here to download a copy of these plans as a PDF.

Here are my resources for pulling off these plans:

Other Changes

Even though we are continuing with normal lessons, there are a few other changes I make as we begin to get into the season. For example, I schedule days for Christmas baking. Also, instead of our regular handicrafts, we make Christmas ornaments, which we later give as gifts to extended family. I haven't officially decided what our ornaments will be this year, but I'm leaning toward glue-based ornaments because I think my two younger children will enjoy them. Last year, I aimed the style of ornament at the older children, and I want to return to a few of the simpler, younger ones before all of them are too old for it.

Getting Lessons Done

This year's Average Day Chart has really worked for us, so I won't be tinkering with it. Fridays will still be our enrichment day, but it'll have more of a Christmas preparation focus with time for making more ornaments, baking, or even going to our local Children's Nutcracker.

So while we change some things, we don't change everything during Advent because, to us, Advent is waiting for Christmas. The celebrating part -- full-blown festivity of it all -- begins on Christmas Eve.

What are some of your favorite Advent or Christmas traditions?

23 November 2014

Stupendous Selections on Sunday

  • links collection for 11/23/14
  • This one is so cool!!
    • The mosaics, created in the 2nd century BC, are constructed of boldly colored glass and are being covered for protection until excavation is complete.
  • Let's see: good advice. Also: funny. Good read! {language warning}
    • A friend and I came up with a game called Raconteur. You pair up with another Raconteur at a party and talk to everyone you can. You score points by getting people to disclose something about their lives. If you dominate the conversation, you lose a point. The two raconteurs communicate using hand signals and keep a tally on a sheet of paper or in their minds. You’d think people would notice but they are so amused by the attention that the fact you’re playing Raconteur escapes their attention.
    • One thing about being polite is that you know that within you there lurks an incredibly impolite person.
    • Emily Post couldn't cover everything, so I have to make do. I am, admittedly, a deeply anxious person. But also a polite one.
  • This is interesting because I have always thought that my husband is neither a lark nor an owl. The thing is, I can't help but wonder if the "energy all day" type is the ideal and the "lethargic all day" type has health problems.
    • “owls”—people who prefer to wake up late and are more alert in the evenings
    • “larks,” or crazy people those who prefer early mornings
    • In addition to early and late risers, they say, there are also people who feel energetic in both the mornings and evenings, as well as people who feel lethargic all day.
  • A little crazy, but what a fascinating person.
    • According to the Guinness Book of Records, she had more titles than any other   person on the planet, being a duchess seven times over, a countess 22 times   and a marquesa 24 times.
    • her collection included a first   edition of Don Quixote, Columbus’s first map of America and the last will   and testament of Ferdinand the Catholic, the father of Catherine of Aragon
    • head of the 539-year-old House of Alba
    • María del Rosario Cayetana Paloma Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Fernanda Teresa   Francisca de Paula Lourdes Antonia Josefa Fausta Rita Castor Dorotea Santa   Esperanza Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva Falcó y Gurtubay
    • descendant of King James II of England   through his illegitimate son James Fitz-James
  • Those of you who have read Halliburton's Book of Marvels will appreciate this blog. Amazing! {HT: Melisa}
  • Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • Less cocoa is being produced as more and more people are devouring chocolate.
    • a fungal disease called frosty pod has destroyed 30 to 40 percent of global cocoa production

21 November 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Movies, Finishing Term 1, the Cousins, and More!

:: 1 ::

So we finished Term 1! And then we did the first week of Term 2 because Thanksgiving is so late this year, but I didn't want to take this week off -- I wanted Thanksgiving week off. So we did a week. It was sort of fun because a new term usually means a new book or two or five, and starting new books is one of my favorite things to do.

:: 2 ::

Last Friday, we watched a movie called About Time. Initially, I wasn't sure this was a good decision. I figured out later that I had accidentally rented an R-rated movie, something we usually only do if it is R for violence {because I don't like watching p*rn ahem}. In this instance, I did have to do a bit of fast-forwarding.

I'm telling you this as a warning, in case the rest of what I say entices you to watch it. I don't want you to come back saying I didn't warn you. I. did. warn. you.

I also warn you that you might like this movie. So. This is the first time I've ever seen a movie about time travel that manages to not feel like a sci fi film.It's incredibly moving, and I admit that I cried near the end. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll just say that the movie refreshingly portrayed a family -- a family that really, actively cared for its members. A family that learned to be thoughtful about what matters.

Dare I call this movie excellent?

I might.

:: 3 ::

Tonight's movie {because Friday is movie night for Si and I -- or should I say Sinai?} is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Yea, verily, it's a little different from that other movie. You see, I try to alternate movies that are really for me with movies that are mostly for Si and what I find is that we usually end up liking each other's movies anyhow.

My guess is that it'll be Just Another Action Film, which is fine because that is what I was going for.

Have you noticed there are a lot of heroes named Jack lately?

Just an observation...

:: 4 ::

If you perused the gift guide that came in your email yesterday, be aware that I made a couple updates. First, it came to my attention that some of you are running ad blocking software that prevents you from seeing images hosted on Amazon's servers. That is too bad because Amazon book images are to my website like real book are to my house: decorating opportunities. Ha! To accommodate this, I added simple text links at the bottom of each section. Not nearly as pretty, but totally functional.

Additionally, I added an ad for Craftsy to the handicrafts section. I only recently became aware of this company, and I forgot to include it before publication. This is a fantastic source of  online training in handicrafts, if you don't have anything available locally. I get to take one class for free, and I'm trying to decide which one. Drawing and embroidery are my top two. What would you take, if you could choose anything?


:: 5 ::

Those of you on Facebook already know, but I thought I'd confess it here: I'm doing THM. This is something I thought I'd never, ever do. I already eat cook-from-scratch, raise-your-own-milk healthy most of the time. But when my cousin and sister started it and saw amazing results -- and we all have thyroid issues, mind you -- I thought that perhaps I'd give it a whirl. So far, I don't mind it much. The recipes are doable for a family. And at about Day 10, I got more energetic. If that lasts, that alone will be worth it, as I've been dragging lately.

The funny thing is, the plan actually makes me eat more often than I normally would, so I can't complain. Plus, it is in favor of smoothies, meaning it'll work long term for me.

:: 6 ::

The cousins are coming for Christmas! We are oh so excited. Siah's twin brother is flying out along with his wife and their four little girls. Two of the girls I have never even met! I'm a little nervous about preparing food for 12 people for a week {something I've never done}, but it's going to be such fun. I can't wait to get a photo of their girls with our girls.

I usually take a week or two off the blog at Christmas. That will be extra necessary this year!

:: 7 ::

There's only a little bit of time left in the year. What should we talk about in the next month? I have a few ideas, but I'm open to suggestions.

And that's it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone!

More Seven Quick Takes posts are linked at Conversion Diary.