“The night is cold, the hour is late, the world is bleak and drear;
Who is it knocking at my door?”
THE NEW YEAR:
“I am Good Cheer.”
“Your voice is strange; I know you not; in shadows dark I grope.
What seek you here?”
THE NEW YEAR:
“Friend, let me in; my name is Hope.”
“And mine is Failure; you but mock the life you seek to bless. Pass on.”
THE NEW YEAR:
“Nay, open wide the door; I am Success.”
“But I am ill and spent with pain; too late has come your wealth. I cannot use it.”
THE NEW YEAR:
“Listen, friend; I am Good Health.”
“Now, wide I fling my door. Come in, and your fair statements prove.”
THE NEW YEAR:
“But you must open, too, your heart, for I am Love.”
~ New Year: A Dialogue, Ella Wheeler Wilcox ~
Happy New Year, friends! I know I said last quarter that I wasn’t going to do System Status posts anymore, but a few of you replied to that newsletter letting me know you would miss them and so, here we are. A new year, a new quarter, but the same System Status post.
This quarter was pretty much status quo for us. We managed a few nature hikes, a trip to a pumpkin patch, and had a quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. Both B and C also had their first experience roller skating when a co-op friend chose to have his birthday party at a local rink. I managed to fall just once, which I am counting as a success as it’s been about thirty years since I was last on roller skates. It was fun to take that little trip down memory lane to many birthday parties from my childhood. Cheap Skate in Coon Rapids, Minnesota holds a lot of fond memories for me.
2019 was a tough year and I am very glad to be bidding it farewell. I feel like I’ve said that a lot during the last few years, but with good reason. The last five years have been quite a roller coaster for our little family. I have hope that 2020, and a new decade, will be better.
For the last quarter of 2019 and the decade, I was into….
Emily Carr: A Biography by Maria Tippett. This was fascinating. Emily Carr, a Canadian artist who had her very own style, was active primarily during the early part of the 20th century. I really didn’t like her throughout most of this book and based on what others have said about her (including a random review I found of a book about her that was actually more of a review of her as a person [1 star]) she really was not very likable. But as the end came near, I found myself relating to her a lot, and even coming to think of her as a kind of kindred spirit. I’m not sure what that says about me….
Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien. This was fun! And this edition receives bonus points for the illustrations scattered throughout that are highly reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.
Andrew Murray on Holiness (compiled) by Lance Wubbels. I’ve had this on my bookshelf for years. When I was looking for a new book to add to my morning reading time, I remembered having seen Andrew Murray’s name mentioned in Celebration of Discipline (one of my favorite books ever), so I decided to go with this one. It was compact, probably a little too much so, and I may explore his other writings more some day, but this one did not inspire me as others have.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I calculated that it has taken me 20 years to read this book. When I arrived at college the first time back in 1999 and got stuck with a roommate who was my polar opposite, I spent a lot of time in the library. I wanted to find a book of some kind, any kind, and for some reason this one popped into my brain. I loved the idea of reading it, but actually getting into it was another story and I abandoned it a few months into the school year. I’ve tried several times since to read it since but was honestly intimidated by all the negative reviews so I never got far. In October, I picked up a used copy at the library and finally decided to just read it for the Back to the Classics “tragedy” challenge and I actually did enjoy it. It’s a horrible and very weird story, but very well written.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I had an art history professor in college from Nigeria and he incorporated parts of the culture in which he grew up in our daily discussions, primarily making us really think about a western vs. non-western point of view in ALL things, but especially art. Many of the themes he introduced us to in that class were mentioned in this book, so it was interesting to re-visit them. I read this one for the Back to the Classics “classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania” category. This was not at all what I expected nor did it end how I thought it would either, but still compelling.
With B, he read The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh and I read Leonardo da Vinci by Emily Hahn and The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald during our lesson time as well as The Green Ember by S. D. Smith at night before bed. Right now, B is reading My Side of the Mountain to me and I’m reading Swallows and Amazons to him.
C and I have been making our way through Among the Farmyard People as well as many, many picture books.
I’m currently reading or listening to For the Family’s Sake, Parents and Children, The Ragamuffin Gospel, A Rule Against Murder, Memoirs of Madame Vigée-Lebrun, The Bookman’s Tale, and Home Education with my Charlotte Mason book group. If you’d like to follow along with my book-reading adventures, you can find me on Goodreads.
2019 book challenges final counts:
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 33/36
Back to the Classics – 9/12
Modern Mrs. Darcy – 9/12
Modern Classics Challenge – 5/12
Nature Study Hacking Guides. This is not an affiliate link! I’m sharing because this has been so helpful for us! We’re studying weather and climate right now both at home and in our co-op. Before the term started, I checked out several books from the library and just planned to read a little from them each week with maybe a weather experiment or two from a science kit done as well. However, over the course of Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, I discovered a little gem of an ebook called Weather, Wind, and Water. It includes 24 simple lessons that are easy for us to implement twice per week, weather-related resource suggestions, poems about weather, and exam ideas as well. It’s been such a wonderful resource to have during a particularly trying time for our family that really lays everything out for me so it almost feels like she’s teaching me as well. 🙂 We’ve also managed to draw and/or enter several things into our nature notebooks since we started, which has been a struggle up to this point outside of co-op. If you’re looking for ideas for nature study on specific topics in your own homeschool, definitely take a look at her books!
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms. I started soaking the wild rice in the morning, dumped everything, including frozen chicken thighs, into the Instant Pot at 5:30 pm, and had this very tasty soup a half hour later. Easy!
You Need a Budget. I’ve been using YNAB for several years, first the standalone version, and now the online version. It wasn’t until these last few months, however, that I really started paying close attention to why some of our budget categories were consistently over (I’m looking at you, groceries) and seeing how I could change that. I looked into some of the newer features they offer and the different types of goal tracking are my new favorite thing ever. If you’re wanting to be better about budgeting in the new year, I honestly can’t recommend YNAB enough. It fits with just about any budgeting philosophy out there, including Dave Ramsey. If you’re not sure about it, they do offer a 34-day free trial so you can experience a full month with their system.
Pumpkin Spice Latte – This recipe, from this cookbook, flavored my autumn. I substitute coconut milk for the almond milk and it’s beyond rich and creamy. A lovely treat to enjoy on our long drives to co-op!
Around the Internet
Revisit-Motherhood and Our Attitudes “I think cultivating a beautiful attitude towards motherhood means truly surrendering ourselves with a purposeful attitude of gratitude towards our new role. By that I mean, allowing ourselves to fall in love with our babies, letting ourselves be reformed into something new and start on a brave new learning journey of reshaping our old lives to build a joyous family life together.”
Become The Teacher You Long To Be. “It is really easy to think that all we need to do is organize a great curriculum. We can buy all the supplies and books, format a perfect schedule, and execute it in good time, being done-by-lunch-of course. Macaulay reminds me of the Apostle Paul here. Without love, all of these things are a clanging gong. And love comes from the inside, and love is something we can’t organize into existence. We can’t fake it, and we can’t manufacture it.”
National Geographic Mapmaker 1-Page Maps This is an excellent resource for making custom maps to use in your homeschool for map drills as well as general reference!
Picture Study A wonderful article from the Parents Review published in 1913 discussing picture study and offering suggestions for implementation. This is not a long read and offers very helpful ideas!
Masterly Inactivity: A Million Letting-Go’s “God used Charlotte Mason’s wisdom to prompt me to practice letting go and I am incredibly thankful. It was hard — I know it will be hard. But it wasn’t until reading Till We Have Faces that I ever considered the alternative. Grasping and holding on is a selfish, ugly thing. It cries out Mine! concerning something that was only on loan to me for a time, something it was my duty to eventually release… And so motherhood really is a million letting-gos. We let go for their sakes. We let go for our sakes. We let go because it is good and right to do it.”
The Key To Homeschooling For Christian Moms “Charlotte Mason believed so strongly in her 20th principle, that she called it the ‘mothers’ key’ to education. But many of us stand with this key in hand, refusing to use it to unlock the door. We know that we can turn to the Holy Spirit for help, but instead we turn to social media, we hesitate, and we don’t trust. What if all Christian homeschooling moms decided to tune out some of the loud voices shouting their dissent, and instead tuned into the Holy Spirit?”
The Enneagram Homeschooler Betsy put together a series of images of each of the nine different types of homeschoolers according to the Enneagram of personality. You can see types one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine and I have to say, speaking from personal experience, that four is pretty much dead on. 🙂
Educational Needlecraft I shared this on Instagram when I wrote a little background on Ann Macbeth, the first of the artists I used for the Advent Art Devotions. If you’re interesting in adding needlepoint or embroidery to your handicrafts, this book may be a wonderful option for instruction.
Jane Austen’s Most Widely Mocked Character is Also Her Most Subversive An interesting take on Mrs. Bennet.
Knowing Nature by Name: Why I Teach my Children to Identify all Parts of Creation“The issue isn’t that kids can’t store the names of different natural species, because they can. The issue is that we are not inspiring or equipping them to do so.”
On the Blog
In the Shop
I’ve posted a few new things in the shop in the last few months and have more plans for new products in the coming months! You can subscribe to my newsletter to get updates when new items are added!
Johannes Vermeer: A Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid$8.99 – $16.99 Select options
Titian: A (FREE) Charlotte Mason Picture Study AidFree Download
AnnaVancePaperCo Companion Planner with Rose Cover$38.00 Buy Now
AnnaVancePaperCo Companion Planner with Rainbow Cover$38.00 Buy Now
AnnaVancePaperCo Companion Planner with Moon Phases Cover$38.00 Buy Now
The birds are staying pretty quiet these days with mostly just House Finches showing up at our feeder. We had a Northern Flicker show up a few times and just sit in our tray feeder, so I picked up another woodpecker feeder that’s supposed to discourage black birds, but the flickers, nuthatches, and chickadees haven’t discovered it yet. I also never switched from safflower to regular seed, which I usually do in the end of September, so the Juncos haven’t had anything to forage on the ground. I’ll pick up a 40-lb bag at Costco ($16!) next month and hopefully we’ll get some better variety.
And there you have the state of me. 🙂