Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.
~A Prayer in Spring, Robert Frost~
I have quite a few new subscribers on my mailing list this quarter, so I thought I might give a little background on my System Status posts this time around. In a former life when I actually had time, once per month I’d put together a post about the books I’d read, movies I’d seen, tv shows I’d watched, things I enjoyed, birds I spotted, etc. for that month. Because I no longer have the aforementioned time anymore, I changed that to quarterly. So in this post, you’ll find a little update on what we’ve been up to the last three months along with my mother culturing, links, things that have made me glad, and other ephemera along those lines.
And now on to the update! ☺️
I’ve had another post brewing in draft mode since late February that covers how our Ambleside Online Year 2 Term 2 went and what my plans are for Term 3 (which we started a month ago….). Obviously I haven’t gotten around to finishing that post, though most of it is done. The problem with being prolific with words (aka. talking too much) is that my posts become monsters and I have a hard time finishing them. I DO hope to finish and post that one in the near future and I have some ideas for other posts still bubbling around in my mind and/or sitting in draft mode (including a van Gogh Picture Study Aid!). However, as previously stated, having time these days is a big problem. It’s gotten better since January and I have hope that the next few months continue to improve, but I was wiped out there for a bit.
The last three months have been a whirlwind of activity and sickness. I think those are the two best words to describe them. In January I was helping to prepare for the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat which was the first week of February. During this time, I also had another (unexpected!) article for Common Place Quarterly due. And, as I still provide services as a virtual assistant to two clients, I had work there as well. We also had school, of course. And taking care of a house. And C’s fifth birthday on January 30th (😭) which was celebrated with a tea party with a few friends and a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion. And of course, there was the sickness. If it had just been a single round of run-of-the-mill sickness, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But this was worry-inducing-sickness that caused me quite a bit of stress for a few weeks. Thankfully, we’re all in the clear now (aside from having to experiment with an egg-free diet for one of our family members), but those few weeks of playing nurse and worrying really were draining.
Otherwise, things are status quo except without the usual things we enjoy doing. No hikes (partially due to the insane amount of snow we’ve gotten and partially due to busy-ness). No trips. We did start giving B an allowance in January as he now has a hamster to take care of so he buys bedding/food/etc. for Hamlet. I commandeered three mason jars and made stickers for each (spend/save/share) and he has a little log where he’s supposed to keep track of how much goes into each every week from the $2 he gets. We also don’t tie it to chores as, ideally, he helps around the house because he’s part of the family and we all do something to take care of things together. But it’s been interesting to see how he divides it up.
In the first quarter, I was into….
This quarter, I finished The Eye of Zoltar. When I learned that Jasper Fforde was coming out with a new book in March, I happened to look through his other books and realized there was one I hadn’t read. I really enjoyed the audiobook versions of the first two books in the Chronicles of Kazam, but couldn’t get my hands on it for this one. However, it was on par with all of his other books and a fun little read that was a great way to start the year. I’ve heard the next book in the series will probably be the last one but I guess all good things must come to an end!
Parnassus on Wheels was another quick, fun read. We didn’t have a whole lot of books in my house when I was growing up, but for some reason, my dad had an old copy of The Haunted Bookshop, the sequel to this book, sitting on our one bookshelf. I read it in high school but don’t remember having any kind of impression of it, favorable or otherwise. For the Back to the Classics Challenge this year, I thought I might read the book that comes before it and finished Parnassus on Wheels in just a few days. I love books about books and this one was great. (Read for the Back to the Classics Challenge “Classic Novella” category and the Modern Mrs. Darcy “a book published before you were born” category.)
Next was Liturgy of the Ordinary. I had seen this book mentioned in a few different places and as I like to have one “stiff” read going while I’m reading classic and modern fiction books, I checked this one out for that category. I don’t know that I’d necessarily call it “stiff,” but it did offer some food for thought and I enjoyed all the references to Anglican church practices (as the Episcopal church is part of the Anglican Communion).
After that was My Family and Other Animals. This book was hilarious in parts and really made me not only want to travel myself, but also give my kids that gift. (Read for the Back to the Classics Challenge “classic comedy” category.)
Early Riser was the first Jasper Fforde book published in four years and it did not disappoint. I really, really wish he’d continue the Shades of Grey series (which came out before the more well-known series of the same name….), but this one was very, very good also! (Read for the Modern Classics Challenge “Book Written between 2001-2018” category.)
I re-read The Haunted Bookshop after reading Parnassus on Wheels. As I couldn’t remember much about reading it when I was a teenager, I hoped the magic of the first book would continue. Sadly, it did not. It was an okay read, but had a lot of rants that I didn’t find particularly necessary for the storyline. Ultimately, I’d highly recommend the first book, but then probably suggest you stop there. I did send this one off to my friend Angela in Florida to borrow as she mentioned wanting to read it as well. (Read for the Back to the Classics Challenge “20th-century classic” category.)
Your Eight-Year Old is part of a series of books I used to read faithfully every year near B’s birthday. They summarize typical child behaviors and what to expect for each age which was helpful as I had no idea what I was doing nor what to expect when I became a mother. I stopped reading them when C came along just because of lack of time, but decided to pick them up again recently as I still have no idea what I’m doing nor what to expect.
B and I also finished Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, which neither of us particularly enjoyed (sorry Charlotte Mason friends!), and Brighty of the Grand Canyon, which both of us particularly enjoyed. Right now we’re reading The Story of Doctor Dolittle.
If you’d like to follow along with my book-reading adventures, you can find me on Goodreads.
Book challenges update:
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 8/36
Back to the Classics – 3/12
Modern Mrs. Darcy – 1/12
Modern Classics Challenge – 1/12
We got two movies in this quarter (both animated) which was more due to nothing particularly interesting coming out rather than not having time for it. On a whim, we rented Ralph Breaks the Internet which was…entertaining? I guess? 🙂 Not much depth there, but a little mindless escape is sometimes needed. And the same can be said of Incredibles 2, which we also watched this quarter.
We’ve added a few more shows to our regular line up. The Good Place is done for the season (entirely too short!), so now we’re watching The Goldbergs and Shark Tank. A.P. Bio just came back a few weeks ago and we’re also all caught up on Schooled (a Goldbergs spin-off about the 90s that is okay, though not nearly as funny as its parent show) and The Orville. I was skeptical about The Orville at first, but the Star Trek/Wars and random humor fan in me was won over. A few of the episodes have had iffy content, but overall I think it’s a good show. See comment above about mindless escape. 🙂
Our second WindTunnel vacuum bit the dust back in October and as it was also the second one we had that didn’t last very long, we decided to give those crazy-looking Dysons a try. Costco was having a sale on the Dyson Ball Animal+ Upright, so we picked one up and I don’t think I’ve ever loved a vacuum cleaner this much before.
MyChelle Dermaceuticals. I’ve been re-visiting my skin care routine again as I finally decided that since I buy second-hand clothes (get $10 of at that link!) and cut my own hair, maybe I could afford to splurge a little on my skincare? So I started looking into MyChelle and it’s been a nice little way to pamper myself in the morning and evening. I’ve been using the oil cleansing method to wash my face for years and have had good results in terms of keeping my skin clear, but I noticed that my little fine lines are getting worse, so I thought I might do something to combat that. Many of their products are all copacetic with the Cosmetics Database and their Pumpkin Renew Cream smells and feels wonderful. They have a handy little guide on their website recommending a skin care regimen as well as what products to use for different types of skin. And I’ve found that most of their products can be found on Amazon for great prices.
This filing cabinet and Freedom Filer. I’ve been on a cleaning/purging/organizing kick lately and our filing system was high on the to-do list. I’ve been using a little Elfa roll-around cart to hold our files for years and though I do use the Freedom Filer system to manage our paperwork, which keeps it to a minimum, with the addition of two children to our family, the little roll-around cart wasn’t big enough to hold all of the files anymore. So I started looking around for a new filing cabinet and did you know that filing cabinets, at least aesthetically appealing ones, are very expensive? I do now. I finally found one that was more my style and not quite as expensive as the others I liked, so I bit the bullet and got it. Now all my files are happily contained in one piece of furniture that does not move around.
Magnetic poster frames. I’ve been getting the Cavallini posters with the hanging kits each new term of our school year to decorate our school area based on whatever topic we’re learning about for nature study (eg. trees, night sky, amphibians). This has been fine so far, but I can see it becoming a problem as we get more and more posters and less and less wall space on which to hang them, not to mention the hanging kits are single-use and kind of expensive. I found these magnetic poster frames when the amphibian poster didn’t come with a kit and I am very impressed by the quality and how easy it was to put together. They also allow me to save some money by just buying the posters each term rather than the default kit and they sell them in a wide variety of sizes so they’d be good for quote and Bible verse prints too! ☺️
GOODNIGHT MOON Is Overrated And Other Controversial Kidlit Opinions. I know I’m in the minority, but I actually really like Love You Forever (if you look at it from the point of view that it’s a silly book written for children and is no way suggesting that a mother climb into the window of her adult son’s home), though I could easily do without Goodnight Moon. What are your thoughts?
1922 Time Table. I attended our local Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat in February and took away quite a few good bits of practical and inspirational advice. One thing mentioned was alternating types of subjects during the week (eg. copywork one day, handicraft the next day, drawing the next day, etc.), so I thought I might re-visit this post my friend Dawn wrote a few months ago on the CMER blog, complete with a downloadable version of the 1922 time table from the PNEU. There are also links to Programme 94 itself with book lists! Who doesn’t like booklists?!
Glorious Spring Reading Trackers! Brandy has posted her new mother culture habit trackers for the next few months! These are a great way to keep track of what you’re reading!
Character Building Is Inescapable. “Character building is sanctification. The hard truth is that it’s easy to see what other people should do to grow, but hard to actually do what we know we must do to grow. Yet it’s our own sanctification God tells us to work out; though we’re to help others, we are not the ones making another’s sanctification happen.”
Excess Toys May Cause Decision Fatigue in Childhood. “When there are too many toys, they are not as valued and respected. Ten matchbox cars? If one of them breaks or gets stepped on, it’s no big deal-there are nine more. When a child has too many choices, the value of every toy decreases. And as the items continue to accumulate, the value becomes less and less.” What do you think? Lots of toys? Or just a few?
Common Place Quarterly Coffee Chat. Check out my talk (and my messy basement bookshelf!) with Jessica Swenson about picture study and Johannes Vermeer!
On the Blog.
2018 Reading Challenges Recap and 2019 Refresh. The books I read in 2018 and my reading plans for 2019!
In the Shop.
All of the PDF downloads I’ve posted in the shop in the last two years are now available as physical prints shipped to you! You can check all of those out in my Etsy shop. I’m also slowly adding a few more fun items like shirts and mugs! If you see a design that you’d like to see on a shirt or mug, let me know!
The warm-weather birds are slowly making their way back and our winter juncos and house finches are slowly being replaced or added to by starlings, grackles, and occasionally a random towhee. We saw our first robins of the season last week, which was fun, and I cleaned our bird boxes out earlier this month as well, so those are all ready for new inhabitants. I’m hoping we at least get the tree swallows we’ve had the last two years, but if a chickadee ends up in one or both of them, I would certainly not complain! I picked up a cylinder of Nesting SuperBlend from Wild Birds Unlimited in the hope that the bluebirds, who arrive in droves this time of year, will like it (also, chickadees), but so far, the starlings are the biggest fans.
The magpies and the collared doves are still visiting quite often as well, but it’ll be nice to start getting more variety!
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Confession: sometimes when I’m scrolling through my IG feed and I see one of your pictures of books (particularly other AO users), for a split second, I wonder how you got into my house and took pictures of my books. 😳🤔 . #books #bibliophile #bookworm #amblesideonline #charlottemason
And there you have the state of me. 🙂