System Status: January 2017

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Life. That’s pretty much all there is to say about why I missed December’s system status post and why I haven’t been able to post as much in January. Just life.

C turned 3 yesterday and it was, thankfully, a good day. I normally don’t handle my kids’ birthdays well and tend to sink into motherly woes along the lines of, “oh, I only have x years left with him/her!” But fortunately, we were so busy with birthday things and getting E ready to go on (yet another) trip that I didn’t have time to be sad about the fact that she’s really, really not a baby anymore.

Well…maybe a little bit of a baby? Maybe? 🙂

In the end of January I’m into….


In December, I finished The Bookshop on the Corner, which was a fun read. This would fall squarely into the chick lit category, complete with (almost) unrequited love, grand gestures, life-changing decisions (for the better), romantic farmers, Scottish brogues, and kilts.

On a bit of a whim but also because it’s listed as a free read in the Ambleside Online Curriculum, I decided to read A Little Princess and I SO wish I had read this when I was younger. I think kid-me would’ve absolutely loved this book.

In the latest issue of the CiRCE Institute magazine, Cindy Rollins reviewed a book called Honey for a Child’s Heart, which discusses the importance of reading to your kids and with your family and then also offers lots of book lists of perennial favorites for various ages. I loved this book. I think it would be an excellent baby shower gift.

I also dove into To Kill a Mockingbird which was a little intimidating. I don’t know why I’ve been thinking that all of these 20th-century classics are intimidating as, so far, the ones I’ve read this year have been some of my favorites and this one was definitely no different. The audiobook was narrated by Sissy Spacek and she did such a good job. I’ve seen the movie, but I want to watch it again now that I’ve read the book. It was really, really good.

At the end of the month, I also decided to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale which I probably read the first time twelve or thirteen years ago. There were so many parts that I had forgotten and it felt a little….ominous?

In January, I finished Mere Motherhood: Morning times, nursery rhymes, and my journey toward sanctification which I absolutely loved. There is a small possibility that I may or may not be secretly wishing that Cindy Rollins would adopt me.

With B, I finished Mother West Wind’s Animal Friends (free on Kindle) and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

I’m currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow (which is taking me a full month to get through but has been very good) and A Room with a View (free on Kindle – for the classics challenge), and of course still plugging away at School Education with my Charlotte Mason book club. With B, I’m reading Ginger Pye and The Adventures of Reddy Fox (free on Kindle).

If you’d like to follow along with my book-reading adventures, you can find me on Goodreads.


I finally got around to watching Doctor Thorne during our 30-day Amazon Prime free trial that we usually get around the holidays for last-minute gifts. It was entertaining but certainly not on par with Downton Abbey, which I think is what I was hoping for since they’re both products of Julian Fellowes. Parts of it were actually kind of….awkward? It did plant an interest in me for Anthony Trollope, though.

E has been traveling a bit lately and doesn’t really care for the BBC stuff (other than Sherlock), so I decided to watch (most of) Death Comes to Pemberley at night after the kids were in bed. It was also a little disappointing and I really didn’t care for the casting. I think most of the Jane Austen-inspired fiction/media I’ve consumed really hasn’t been all that good (though Longbourne was okay). I also do go into it kind of feeling like I’m reading fan fiction, which probably taints it as well.

We’re still plugging along at our normal shows… The Goldbergs, The Last Man on Earth, The Middle, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place (and I watched the Call the Midwife Christmas Special while E was away also). Sherlock started back up at the beginning of the month, and has been AWFUL (in an I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened kind of way) but entertaining so far.  🙂 We also started binge-watching This Is Us, which is very addictive, and we got in a few episodes of 11.22.63 between E’s trips. This one is a lot darker than shows I’d normally watch, but the storyline is very interesting.


The only move we attempted was Minimalism but found it to be a little ostentatious, so we didn’t finish it. Otherwise, no other movies for us these last two months.


Everyday Shea Bubble Bath. I’ve been looking for a cheaper bubble bath that has nontoxic ingredients and happened to see this at Natural Grocers. The smell is wonderful and the kids love it.

5 Calls. I’ve been calling my representative and senators daily about one of the issues listed. This site makes the simplest of political activism extremely easy and it’s especially important to be active right now.


Vote Smart. An easy way to keep track of how your elected officials are voting.

Jane Zhang – Dust My Shoulders Off. Pure fluff, but oh…the art history. This was actually linked on Facebook by one of my former professors. 🙂

First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved in Amber. It’s kind of pretty.

Would an educational philosophy by any other name smell as sweet? “I see an insulation in the Charlotte Mason community, and it concerns me sometimes. Do you remember who Charlotte Mason was? This amazing thinker and voracious reader who wasn’t afraid to think for herself — and wasn’t afraid to let others do so, either? And do you remember the Great Recognition? That here we see the breadth of the thoughts of God — that all of the seven liberal arts come from Him and therefore we needn’t be afraid of them being ‘secular?’ Perhaps the danger is in allowing Miss Mason to be raised up as an idol in our midst.”

Take Up Your Cross and Read Hard Books. “Literature is a collection of great stories beautifully told. These stories contain what G.K. Chesterton called ‘the really human things’: war, reconciliation, death, rebirth, grief, redemption, forgiveness, compassion. These ‘human things’ are universal. When we read, we engage narratives with beloved characters, who invite us to live beyond ourselves. This is painful. It means we hear the N-word in all its ugliness through the ears of a child in the crucible of Jim Crow south witnessing the conviction of an innocent man simply because he is black. We feel the injustice of racism through To Kill A Mockingbird. We read about it in newspapers, but that does not engage our moral imaginations like literature. If we want people to feel what we feel, we must give them our stories. Without stories, our inner worlds remain small.”

When The Brain Scrambles Names, It’s Because You Love Them. I’m so glad there’s a good reason for this….and that it’s not just me.

On the Blog.

December 2016 Monthly Meal Plan

Charlotte Mason-Inspired Christmas Gifts (for all ages!)

2017 Printable Calendar

Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aid: Art of the Yuan Dynasty

January 2017 Monthly Meal Plan

Reading Challenge Recap and Refresh

Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum (Term 3)

A Day in the Life: December 2016

Bird Sightings.

The Juncos have officially taken over as our dominant species. We still get House Finches sometimes (and recently House Sparrows started showing up), but the Juncos are always around. Collared-Doves are also regulars and we have a couple who have decided to roost in one of our aspen trees all day along. A few weeks ago, we also had two Mountain Chickadees steal a few seeds from our tray, but he hasn’t been seen since. And in the mornings, we get Blue Jays who have trained us so well that when they squawk for us, we throw some peanuts out for them (and, apparently, for the Magpies). But our bird selection these days is pretty sparse.

Favorite Instagram.

And there you have the state of me. 🙂

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  1. I agree that Bookshop on the Corner is total chick lit but I found it delightful. The setting was fantastic! I haven’t read Handmaiden’s Tale yet but it keeps coming up in lots of places so it might be the universe/internet’s way of telling me to check it out. Loved seeing all your shows and thoughts about BBC stuff. I never know if something is going to be good so this is helpful!

    1. I think if you were in support of the Women’s March, you would probably find The Handmaid’s Tale very interesting. 🙂

  2. Okay, first of all….I REALLY want to get into birdwatching, but I have noooo idea how to start. So, what tips do you have? Do you go out on “hunts”? Do you just keep your eyes open whenever you’re out on walks and things? How do you go about learning about the birds and actually SUCCESSFULLY identifying them? I’ll take any tips and tricks you have to offer, no matter how simple or obvious they may be!

    I’m going to click over to the read hard books link you shared when I’m done here!

    I haven’t taken a bubble bath in years….Sounds nice! And knowing that it’s not full of toxins is good too!!!

    You watched a variety of TV this month!!! Sorry you didn’t like Death Comes to Pemberly. It has a strange feel to it, but I have watched it several times. Have you watched Grantchester yet?!?!? It’s a mystery tv show and it’s super good. Well, I think it is. Some of the themes are a bit inappropriate, but nothing a fastforward button can’t help with!

    TKAMB is my Mom’s FAVORITE book. I tried to read it countless times when I was growing up. Several summers ago, I was getting sick and I needed SOMETHING to read. I picked it up and things clicked. I LOVED it. It was about sooooo much more than the rape case that the movie centered around. I know why my Mom loved it and why it lives on as a classic. I can’t stop recommending it now. What are some of the other classics on your list to read this year?

    1. I’m actually thinking of writing a post about birdwatching. 🙂 For us, it was as simple as getting a birdfeeder, hanging it very near the house, and getting a good bird identification book (we started with Stokes – Then we just watched. 🙂 It’s more difficult, for us anyway, to ID them when we’re out on hikes….they move too fast.

      I haven’t heard of Grantchester yet, but I’ll check it out! Thank you for the recommendation! 🙂

      I have a few classics I’d like to read….though I’m doubtful that I’ll actually get through the list!

  3. What beautiful pictures. That ice…wow. I know what you mean, I was (am) always that mama who struggles with her babies getting older. Love it. Hate it. All at once. Two of mine are coming up on bdays and my heart is torn, as usual. (And, mine are 21, (almost) 19, and (almost) 15 — so I guess we never escape those feelings.) Interesting article about scrambling up names. We refer to it as, “calling the roll.” I’ve often ended up just saying “whatever your name is.” 🙂 — Fun list, Rebecca. I don’t think we’ve crossed paths before; nice to meet you. : )

    1. I guess I’m not surprised that our kids aging doesn’t get easier with time….I wish it did, though! I like “calling the roll”….that makes sense. 🙂 Nice to meet you as well, Brenda! Thanks for stopping by!

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