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Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.
~ Summer Sun, Robert Louis Stevenson ~
I’ve been debating renaming these System Status posts to Mother Culture or something similar…. I feel like they’re a bit more like an accountability partner for me. If I haven’t finished a book in a while, I feel a little guilty that I have nothing to post here (which is also part of the reason why I’ve switched to quarterly System Status updates). Also, “Mother Culture” sounds better than “System Status”….. like I’m more of a human and less of a computer. 🙂 We’ll see.
And here we are a month-and-a-half into summer and I’m already wondering where that time has gone and can I have it back, please? It seems I spent the month of May waiting for the month of June to start and then it started and was gone and now it’s past the middle of July. How does that happen?
But back to April where we left off after our last System Status post…. I hesitate to say “the last three months have been insane!” anymore because insanity seems to be status quo these days. Then, too, it’s all relative. I had a “stressful” day a few weeks ago then went to a homeschool co-op meeting that evening and was reminded by one of the other moms (unintentional on her part) that one woman’s crazy is another woman’s day off. And I felt a little silly for complaining.
It’s true, though, life has been busy. In early April, we took a road trip down to Arizona to visit E’s mom and see some sights. We reserved a few Airbnbs on the way down and our original intention was to pack everything into the back of E’s Tacoma. We had plans to get it checked out at the dealership and the windshield repaired (there’s a sizable crack) when we joked that maybe the dealership would find something huge wrong with it and we’d have to rent a car and…. hey wait a minute…. that’s not a bad idea.
So we priced out a few options for rentals using various discounts we had collected due to E’s numerous business trips in recent months and it just kind of made sense in the end, so we got a minivan. Friends, I really do love my Tiguan, but wow…. that minivan was honestly the greatest thing since sliced bread. On the first night when we were driving through western Colorado and eastern Utah in a persistent and torrential downpour, that van paid for itself in the stress we missed out on (the tonneau cover on the Tacoma bed doesn’t keep out rain very well).
So we spent the night in Utah and then headed down to the Grand Canyon and the Meteor Crater (aka. the Barringer Crater) before making our way, finally, to the very bottom of Arizona. While there we visited Tumacacori National Historical Park, Coronado National Monument, and Saguaro National Park. I recapped all of that over here if you’d like to read about our Junior Ranger adventures. I still love the National Park Service. ❤️
After that, E traveled more…. four out of seven weeks to be exact with the last trip stretching to three days longer than originally planned. The work front is hard these days…. just hard. I’ll leave it at that.
We also finished our last few months of B’s first grade year (or Ambleside Online Year 1) and I think the whole year was a big success. I remember back when I was really intimidated by homeschooling, especially by Ambleside Online. I was scared I wouldn’t have the discipline to do it every day, or I just wouldn’t be able to teach him. But after this year, I have so much appreciation for Charlotte Mason’s teaching philosophies, for AO’s amazing and FREE curriculum (and the Advisory who put it together), and for how well this year went. I am excited to start again in the fall, though sometimes I have to admit that I get a little sad at the fact that I now have a second grader!
In the end of June, E took a day off work and we took a quick day trip down to the Royal Gorge (followed by a stop at a dinosaur museum with robot dinosaurs that were somewhat underwhelming). We hadn’t been there since 2003 so it was interesting to see how much it had changed. I think the kids liked it (especially the gondola ride) and it was nice just to have a day together as a family especially as, a week later on July 4th, E had to work and we didn’t get any fireworks due to the many, many wildfires happening in Colorado right now.
Two weeks ago we took another little trip up to Lake Minatare in Nebraska for a few days to get a two more Junior Ranger badges and swim! My kids have never gone swimming…. I’m ashamed to admit that. But I don’t like pools and you have to pay to get into most of the lakes around here. Growing up in Minnesota, I very much took it for granted that everyone or their grandma/aunt/uncle/friend had a cabin on a lake somewhere so everyone went swimming from a very young age. Things are quite different out here, so I was excited to find a campground right on a lake with availability and reasonable prices just a 3.5-hour drive from us. We rented a little hybrid camper which E’s Tacoma did very well towing, and stayed for three days. The only hardship was the lack of internet access, either via wifi or E’s Verizon hotspot, which caused quite a bit of stress as we had counted on that for his work. But it also got us talking about some things and that was good too. The kids LOVED swimming in the lake. And despite the fact that the bugs were bad and we ran out of water in our camper on the second day, we were all glad we went.
This week I’m reveling in the fact that I have nothing big planned for the rest of the summer! Except organizing and purging….probably (hopefully?) a lot of that. And a few more picture study aids. And school/co-op planning for the fall…. okay, I guess that’s not nothing.
In the end of June I was into….
I am so far behind in all of my reading goals (according to Goodreads, I’m 4 books behind in general, but who’s counting?) that I’m fairly certain I won’t meet any of them this year. I’m trying to be okay with that….trying… I had hoped to catch up this summer, but I only finished a single book in June, so the reading future is looking rather bleak.
Last quarter, I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am, again, so glad my friend Sarah handed me that first Harry Potter book way back when. These were so, so good. So good in fact that I can’t watch the movies because they are so, so bad in comparison. When the kids are a little older, I’ll be glad to read these with them.
I also finished Murder on the Orient Express for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Despite the library having only the movie tie-in edition (with photos), David Suchet was the only Poirot I was picturing in my head. I was a little disappointed by this one, honestly. I’m not sure why… it just didn’t suck me in as I thought it would. It was, however, a nice and quick read and though it wasn’t extremely compelling, it was at least entertaining.
The Lifegiving Home was finished in the end of June. This took me about two years to read. I started it after a few people mentioned loving it and thought it might offer some good ideas. Admittedly, I often found myself and my family and my upbringing quite inadequate in comparison to the Clarksons when I was reading it which was honestly very discouraging. As an introvert married to an introvert, there are many things in the book I don’t honestly ever see us doing for various reasons. However, the main premise behind the book – that home should be a place of comfort and belonging – I found inspiring and I can get onboard with wholeheartedly so I’m taking many of the other suggestions to heart.
Right Ho, Jeeves was another one for the Back to the Classics challenge. I wish I knew more 1930s British lingo as I think the book may have been really funny. I laughed at a few parts but I had high hopes based on various reviews I had read that I would be laughing non-stop. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough? 🧐 I did decide that I need a Jeeves, though. Where can I get one?
Hannah Coulter was kind of on a whim as the audiobook version was available on Hoopla, so I started to listen to it while I was folding laundry (which was perfect to do while she talked about all of her domestic responsibilities on the farm). I did actually read some of it from a book but mostly listened to the audiobook version and the narrator was perfect. It reminded me in a lot of ways to Gilead and, to a minor extent, The Whole Town’s Talking. I liked this one a lot.
B and I also finished Just So Stories (for AO Year 1 🙂 ), A Nest for Celeste, and Poppy. Avi (who wrote Poppy) was a favorite author when I was young (I still have my dog-eared copy of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle), so I was excited about this one. It wasn’t as good as Charlotte Doyle, but B really enjoyed it. Right now we’re reading James and the Giant Peach.
I’m currently reading Peace Like a River, Mansfield Park, and Celebration of Discipline. While I was reading The Lifegiving Home, I was inspired to start a “quiet time” for myself in the morning. Admittedly, I haven’t had any kind of regular Bible-reading and prayer time since my kids were born, but the way Sally Clarkson described reading and praying time in the morning and the influence it had on her kids made me want to do it as well. So in the mornings, sometimes before the kids get up (most of the time not), I go down and grab a stack of books which I read through a little each day. These include The Cloud of Witness, just a few pages from Ourselves (per the recommendation of a friend), and I’ve been doing the daily Bible readings from the BCP. That’s followed by prayer and I’ve decided that it’s an excellent way to start my days.
If you’d like to follow along with my book reading adventures, you can find me on Goodreads.
We watched a few movies but nothing that really stood out to me. In recent weeks, we’ve been watching more of The Man in the High Castle which has us completely hooked. Meg and I watched all of the last season of Call the Midwife in April on our Monday night iMessage dates and it was soooo sad. So sad. We won’t resume our Monday night dates until Poldark in the fall, but I know it will be worth the wait!
Taproot. I subscribed to this magazine several years ago, but found it a little discouraging because so much of it extolled the virtues of working your own land…which we didn’t have at the time. So I let my subscription pass. Earlier this year, though, I saw it mentioned somewhere and decided to give it another try now that we’ve got a yard and a garden and the ability to “work our own land” (within the limits of our HOA anyway….). They’ve made a lot of improvements and the first issue I received had recipes and a knitting project and hook rug pattern and embroidery templates and more recipes and all kinds of wonderful things and I decided that THIS can be the “handicraft” part of my mother culture. That even if I only make one or two things from each issue, I’m still making more than I would have otherwise! I’m hoping to start including in these posts what I’ve been up to in that aspect of Mother Culture, also to hold myself more accountible. Hopefully once I get all of my craft supplies organized so I know what I acutally have, I can dive in.
Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Body Lotion. I think if heaven has a smell, this is it.
thredUP. I may be a little addicted, friends. I am not a clothing shopper. At all. I have the sense of style of a snail, as I often say (I’m also very redundant), and I often get home after having bought some item of clothing and already don’t like it. I have a hard time navigating women’s clothing stores and so often feel out of place. I hate going to thrift stores (especially for clothes, though I do make an exception for books). I tried StitchFix and really wanted to like it, but the two fixes I’ve gotten so far were busts (their customer service is amazing, though) and I’m afraid I’ll drive the stylists bonkers with my indecisiveness. Admittedly, I didn’t like thredUP for the longest time either (does this post make me sound complain-y?), but then I started subscribing to different searches on the site as I was in need of some new hiking clothes for the summer. And what do you know? I got some pretty fantastic deals on some clothes that I love. So now I’m hooked. If you’re looking for a way to save money on brand-name clothes that are used but still in really good shape (I’ve been very impressed at the shape of the items I’ve received and despite the fact that I don’t have much style sense, I am very picky about how well an item has been cared for), thredUP is a really great option…especially if you save searches! (Also, you get $10 off your first order with my little linky up there!)
Anna Vance Paper Co. Dated Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschool Planner – I don’t have one of these but I drool over them every time I see a sample come through on my Instagram feed. I have my trusty Rifle Paper Planner for non-school stuff and I do my school planning online, but these absolutely gorgeous planners have me seriously tempted to switch to paper. I was also contemplating making a homeschool planner of my own to sell at one point, but I truly don’t believe I could do as well as these. They look amazing.
Am I invisible? One mom’s pain-relieving response to being excluded. “Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness.” (I can relate to this acutely.)
Forest Children. This sounds like an amazing way to start “formal” education!
Thanks & Confessions ~ The Simple Lunchtime Liturgy That Changes Everything. I love this idea of offering thanks and confessions every day at the lunch table and I’m trying to make it a habit with B and C!
On the Blog.
In the Shop.
Three more prints were added to the shop!
I also added custom, printable homeschool planner covers! I currently have five designs from which to choose, but may add more later.
So much bird news! After my last update, we kept getting visitors to both bird boxes on the shed including House Wrens, Tree Swallows, and Mountain Bluebirds. There was one male House Wren who was particularly persistent in singing his heart out and filling one of the boxes with twigs and spider sacks to attract the females, but we assumed he was not getting any takers as we didn’t see any other Wrens around. While this was happening, two Tree Swallows finally claimed the other box for their own (possibly the same pair we had last year). Imagine my surprise when I decided to start checking both boxes for NestWatch and found 4 little Wren eggs in one of them. There ended up being 7 total with all 7 of them fledging. A few weeks after that initial discovery, the Swallows started laying their eggs with a grand total of 4 eggs, but only 3 hatching. I’m fairly certain all 3 fledged, but I still need to clean out the box to be sure.
Aside from that, at the feeders we’re really only getting House Finches, both Lesser and American Goldfinches, and the Broad- Tailed Hummingbirds are stopping by their feeder often. We did get one Spotted Towhee for a few days earlier in the year and a random Black-Headed Grosbeak stopped by, but there isn’t a whole lot of variety these days. Our Mountain Chickadees have disappeared again and the Scrub-Jays stopped dropping by when I took the peanut feeder down because the Grackles were getting out of hand (though their babies are very cute). I saw a few baby Chickadees in the front of the house last month, but other than that they’ve been absent. I did switch to safflower to deal with the Grackle problem, so I’m hoping that once September comes around and I switch back to the better seed that we’ll get a better variety.
And there you have the state of me. 🙂