Mother Culturing: Second Quarter 2021

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What we need is a habit of taking our minds out of what one is tempted to call “the domestic rag-bag” of perplexities, and giving it a good airing in something which keeps it “growing”… Is there, then, not need for more “Mother Culture”?

“Mother Culture” Parents’ Review – Volume 3

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

~ The Lake Isle of Innisfree – William Butler Years ~

(I memorized this poem in Junior High and it was also the inspiration for the name of our homeschool – Innisfree Academy. ?)

And here we are at summer! We had our last exam on June 24th but we’re still working through some leftover math and reading so it hasn’t quite felt like a break just yet. There have also been a lot of work projects I’ve been trying to wrap up before I head to the Living Education Retreat in Minnesota later this week, which is stressful but also exciting! I grew up in the Twin Cities area (Circle Pines is my hometown) and I will be driving through there from the airport to get to the retreat, so I plan to stop at a few places to reminisce.

This quarter held a little more adventure for us as we got back into visiting National Parks. In April, we drove six hours north to Devils Tower and stayed at an Airbnb, our first in nearly two years. We also stopped at Fort Laramie (which we had to ourselves) on the way up to get a Junior Ranger badge for C. And we made a little side stop at the Register Cliff as we had just read about it in d’Aulaire’s Buffalo Bill as part of C’s lessons.

In May we stayed a little more local and went 1.5 hours south to Florissant Fossil Beds. This was while COVID restrictions were still happening, so the experience was very different than the last time we were there in 2016. But the ranger was very helpful and gave us the books and badges for Junior Paleontologist and Geology of the Gold Belt Byway as well.

Then in June, we drove three hours south to Capulin Volcano, another site we visited last in 2016. By that time, the restrictions were no longer in place (other than requesting that non-vaccinated individuals wear masks), so that was a nice change! All of these sites matched so well with our geology study this last term, so these were great experiences on many levels.

We also got a few more pets this summer because it’s that time of year. Whereas the last two years we’ve had various praying mantises and a cycle of crickets and grasshoppers, right now we have a frog, a toad, and six crickets. Because who doesn’t need nine crickets? They chirp and also all.night.long, so our house sounds like perpetual twilight, but it’s nature study, right? And I do love that the kids have an interest in them. C pets them and they both care about them so much that two of the crickets were rescues. One was run over by our garbage can and the other was being eaten alive by red ants. It’s good to have empathy, even for insects.

We’ll be starting our next school year (with a fifth-grader and a second grader!) on August 23rd, so we do have about two months of mostly no school, which will be nice. I’m hoping to get another National Park trip in there at some point so we can use our fourth-grade pass before it expires at the end of August, but I’ve heard they’re pretty crowded right now, so we’ll see.

And now on to the lists…


This was another quarter of pre-reads for B, which wasn’t a bad thing, especially as some of them were very entertaining for me too. I have met my Goodreads reading challenge goal for the year already, but that’s really because most of the books were either for school or relatively short pre-reads for B. I’ll keep working away at the individual challenges for me.

For myself I read:

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. This was on Susan Wise Bauer’s “Well-Educated Mind List” and a few friends left good reviews for it on Goodreads, so I decided to give it a try. It didn’t draw me in, but the story was well-written and the characters had good depth. I’ll also offer a warning that the ending is very sad.

Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies. This has been on my to-be-read stack for a while and when my friend Min gifted it to me recently, it was the perfect time to dive in. This was very inspiring in many ways and I appreciated the commentary added by Melissa Edgington.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. I’m headed to the Living Education Retreat later this week and this was the book presented for book discussion. This has also been on my to-be-read stack for a while as I liked Hannah Coulter a few years ago and I’m so glad I decided to read this one as well. It actually reminded me a lot of The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg in that it not only felt like a story about Jayber, but also the town of Port William. I really enjoyed this book.

School Education by Charlotte Mason. Book 3 for the Idyll Challenge! It’s hard to believe we’re more than halfway through. I have very much enjoyed being part of my Idyll group as it has definitely kept me accountable for actually getting the readings done.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham. I’ve been a long-time fan of Aha! Parenting and this book has also been on my TBR pile for a while. After we were having some behavioral problems earlier this year, I decided to finally tackle this parenting book, a genre that I don’t normally read. While none of the concepts were new, some of the suggestions for implementation were good and I wish I had read this when B was much younger as it’s geared more toward younger children. I may try going through the workbook one of these days.

B quickly devoured all of the books I pre-read for him this quarter. These included the first two books in the Wingfeather saga: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (I didn’t realize this was a parody at first and questioned how well-written this book was going to be based on the title….) and North! or Be Eaten, both by Andrew Peterson (B loved both of these books). I also pre-read Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.

Books we finished reading together for school, either me to him or me pre-reading and him reading on his own, included Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Ocean of Truth by Joyce McPherson, The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Stories from the History of Rome by Emily Beesly, Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober, Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling and George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster. I also read Joshua and the Judges by J. Paterson Smyth on my own to help with our Bible lessons.

The books I finished reading to him at bedtime were The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis and Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes. I read the second one when I was in junior high and remember loving it. It was interesting to read again as an adult. With C, I finished Tumtum & Nutmeg by Emily Bearn.

I’m currently reading The Cross by Sigrid Undset (I want to finally finish this trilogy as I’ve heard this is the best book of the three), Ourselves by Charlotte Mason with my Idyll Group, and I got a few free credits so I’m listening to the Once and Future King by T.H. White on Audible. With B I’m reading Little Britches by Ralph Moody (the homestead was located about 4 miles from where we lived for 11 years, so it’s fun to read), and with C I’m reading Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My current pre-read for B is the next one in the Wingfeather saga: The Monster in the Hollows.

2021 Book Challenges

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 33/33

Back to the Classics – 5/12

Literary Life Podcast 19 in 2021 Reading Challenge – 4/19

Reshelving Alexandria 2021 Reading Challenge – 4/12

Well-Educated Mind List – 8/87

On the Blog

Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: Jan van Eyck A new Picture Study Aid for one of my favorite artists from the northern renaissance!

Hope in Habits “If we can “modify the original hereditary disposition of the child,” we can most certainly lay down new neural ruts to replace the old ones. Just because I didn’t get those pathways started when they were young, I can still work on them now. I can help them choose the better paths because that’s my job as a parent. I can offer them good and beautiful ideas to inspire the formation of worthy habits and help them stay on those paths. It’s definitely not an easy task and takes time and effort, but the feeling that I’m almost being given a second chance when it comes to the formation of their character inspires me to keep trying every day. To keep laying down those rails and help them become better people.”

Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: Diego Velázquez My first Picture Study Aid offering for a Spanish artist!

Free Printable Homeschool Calendar! I update this calendar every year to use in our homeschool and share it with my newsletter subscribers!

Florissant Fossil Beds Junior Ranger Adventures We’re starting to get back into the routine of visiting National Parks, so I posted a little write-up on a recent visit to one of our local parks.

A Homeschooler Guide to Nature Hike Gear I first posted this list two years ago but decided to update it as the kids have gotten older and we’ve learned more the more we’ve gone out hiking.

PNEU Programme 94 Form II Book List This list goes with the one I wrote for Form I last year. I am unashamedly a huge book dork and I love book lists. I devour book lists. And in some ways, I feel like the Programmes made for the Parents National Education Union in the early part of the last century are the ultimate book lists…at least for a Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom.

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Fourth Grade Recap and Charlotte Mason Homeschool First Grade Recap (Take 2) Another school year in the books!⠀⠀


Frau Fowler Tooth Powder + Orawellness HealThy Mouth Blend + Cocofloss. I have been using the first two since late last year and absolutely love them but was eh about the floss I was using. Our dentist introduced me to Cocofloss and I will never go back to buying regular floss again.

Esther Companion Planner My non-homeschool planner ended in June, so I picked up one of these to replace it. I absolutely love how open it is as it allows for a lot of creativity and customization in laying out my weeks, two things that are important to me. You can see how I’ve started to lay it out here, but I’m sure this will evolve. (I also love these and these washi tapes for planning!)

Mountain Mel’s Essential Salve I picked up a small tin of this for our hiking first aid kit because I liked the ingredients and it was small enough to fit and it ended up being our go-to healing salve. It’s smooth, smells wonderful, and works very well!

Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Tea This tea is not only tasty but also pretty with its little sugar candy hearts! I got a sample of this in my April Sips by box and I liked it so much that I ordered a bag. It’s perfect to sip at night before bed when I’m craving something sweet.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook My daughter makes fun of me because I occasionally obsess over a specific cookbook, pulling it out whenever I can and making a lot of lists from the recipes inside. This particular one has been my obsession of late and I’ve gotten so many great lunch ideas from it. It might seem weird to think about packing lunches for homeschooled kids, but when I started trying a few of her recipes by prepping them on Sundays, it was SO NICE not to have to think about lunch after a long morning of lessons. On days that our lesson time went a little longer, those prepped lunches were especially handy to have.

Azure Standard I’ve been posting my Azure Standard hauls on Instagram in the last few months because I’ve been more and more pleased with their offerings and prices. I did struggle with them for a while as they weren’t really cheaper than our local store and things were often out of stock, but they had some price drops last year, got their inventory fixed, and I’ve finally embraced really buying things in bulk, especially organic and whole foods, which ultimately saves not only time but money as well. I absolutely love the Azure brand of products we’ve tried (my kids especially love the fair trade, organic, allergen-free chocolate chips) and I’m always looking for more things to add to my order each month! If you eat traditional and/or organic foods and want to support small companies, I can’t recommend them enough.

In the Shop

I posted several new things in the shop this quarter, including two new Picture Study Aids:

Diego Velazquez Picture Study Aid and Prints -

I also have a new Charlotte Mason quote t-shirt design:

And I started experimenting with vinyl stickers:

I’m also offering a few new custom, printable homeschool planner cover designs:

I also updated of the covers from previous years to offer a custom version as well as a version available or immediate download.

On Patreon

The Patreon productivity printables are going strong with a few fun options this quarter! In April, I offered printable Easter bunting with watercolor flowers. May’s bonus was a printable greeting card for Mother’s Day. And June’s bonus was a coupon code for a free customized printable homeschool planner cover!

Bird Sightings

Sadly, this is the second year in a row that we have not had any birds nesting in either of our boxes. I think the problem may be that our bird feeder stand is too close to both houses, so before next season, I plan to move it to a different spot. Whereas we usually get several pairs of bluebirds and swallows at least checking them out, this year there was absolutely nothing, which was really disappointing.

Otherwise, things at the feeders are standard for this time of year. Right now we’re getting mainly house finches as well as American and lesser goldfinches with occasional mountain or black-capped chickadees, collared-doves, and scrub-jays. The window feeder is still standing up extremely well and hasn’t fallen once since I put it up almost two years ago. The hummingbird feeder, which went up in April, has fallen a few times but is still in good shape and we are getting a steady flow of hummingbirds, which is nice. I also got a new holder for our cylinders to go in the front and

The most amusing thing right now is the many baby grackles that are everywhere. They’re not the brightest birds ever and still haven’t learned to fear humans, so while their parents and aunts and uncles and adult cousins fly around in noisy panic, we can get pretty close to them. They look at us with their little eyes, tufts of gray, downy fur sticking out at odd angles from their little heads. Sometimes they actually move closer to us on the branch before they finally get the message from their elders and awkwardly flap away. It’s fun. ?

On to the second half of the year!

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  1. Sooo much wonderful information.
    Do you happen to share your Goodreads profile?
    I’d love to see the books you want to read or have read in there.
    Many thanks.

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