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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.
In the second quarter, I was into….
~Summer Sun, Robert Louis Stevenson~
And so we’re halfway through the year and already a few weeks into the summer season. Honestly, it hasn’t felt much like summer around here as we were still getting snow in the end of May and it’s been raining so much ever since. I’m not complaining, though, as this is good for our drought-parched land (and means we got fireworks for Independence Day this year!) and the cooler temps are also kinder on our electric bill. I wouldn’t mind if the rest of the summer followed suit.
This quarter was a busy one. In early April, we had a trip planned up to the Black Hills, but got a snowstorm the day we were supposed to leave, so the owner of the VRBO property we rented was kind enough to let us re-schedule to May. That was followed by Easter and about two weeks of severe sickness for me which actually had me in bed for a few days, something that never, ever happens. It was bad.
The make-up trip in May was good and we added a few more Junior Ranger badges to B’s collection from Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, as well as Jewel and Wind Caves. Sadly, a few days after we got home, B’s hamster, Hamlet, died, so B made a little shroud for him and we had a funeral in the back yard. That was very sad.
We got more snow in the beginning of May and then more snow in the middle of May and then a hail storm in June. The weather has been terribly exciting. I think this is also the cause of several strange, animal-related things happening in our neighborhood these last few weeks including a bear sighting in the yard of one of the neighbors who adjoins our back fence, a baby rattlesnake in our own yard, and either a juvenile red-tailed hawk or a juvenile Cooper’s hawk landing in a tree just off our back patio (unfortunately too fast for me to get a picture). Variety is the spice of life!
And now on to the updates….
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. I first heard about Jan Karon from Cindy Rollins who has mentioned her many times in different places. I needed something lighter to read this quarter, so I decided to finally check the Mitford series out and it was exactly what I needed. The books are l-o-n-g, but the content is just right for when I’ve been bogged down with life and/or more difficult reading material. Also, the Episcopal references are a bonus. 🙂
Mary Cassatt: A Life by Nancy Mowll Mathews. I read this for one of my Common Place Quarterly articles and I was surprised at how engaging it was. Admittedly, most artist biographies I’ve read have been very dry, but this was well-written and allowed me to get to know Cassatt on a much better level than the superficial knowledge I had from college.
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I’ve started reading this several times before but was never able to get very far into it, so when I was looking for a new book to start on for my morning reading routine, I pulled it off the shelf again. Reading it in small chunks at a time was perfect and allowed me to really let it sink in.
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin. Another book in this series, The Book of Sorrows, was mentioned in Liturgy of the Ordinary, which I read earlier this year. She said that it was perfect for Lent, so I decided to start with the first book during Lent. I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator, who I tend to be a little picky about, was amazing. If you decide to try this barnyard allegory, I can’t recommend the audiobook version enough (and I now want a dog just so I can name it Mundo Cani).
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. I randomly picked this one up at the Little Free Library that sits in front of our church. One of her other books, The Dovekeepers, was completely engrossing for me a few years ago and when I saw that this one was about Camille Pissarro, I was intrigued. It was actually more about his mother and though it was interesting, not nearly as compelling as The Dovekeepers.
Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King. I saw this several years ago propped up on a book stack at Barnes and Noble and have been wanting to read it ever since. While a lot more technical than I was prepared for, it was still a good read with lots of fascinating information about the Florence Cathedral which I have promised myself that I will someday see in person.
B and I also finished Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers. I don’t know if I can recommend these…. B and C both loved the stories, but Mary Poppins is just so mean in the books! B and I are currently finishing Robin Hood and C has requested I re-read Mary Poppins with her. 😳
Book challenges update:
Goodreads Reading Challenge – 16/36
Back to the Classics – 3/12
Modern Mrs. Darcy – 3/12
Modern Classics Challenge – 4/12
On the TV front, my Fresno friend, Meg, and I continued our Monday night iMessage dates to watch season 8 of Call the Midwife in April. The show has changed so much over the years and differs so much from the books, but the story line is still so good. E and I finished up all of our regular season shows so we decided to give Superstore a try and now we’re hooked. It’s a quirky little show with a good cast.
We got in a few more movies this quarter beginning with Bumblebee in April (my favorite of the Transformer characters was butchered by Michael Bay in his Camaro form – this movie was so much better than the other Transformers films), First Man (so sad but very well-done), Captain Marvel (much better than I thought it would be and I loved the cat as well as the 90s references), Avengers: Infinity War (we re-watched it to prepare for End Game), and Avengers: End Game (which we saw in the theater!). It’s been a Marvel month.
Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo. I’ve been using this shampoo for a few years now but decided to try something different a month or so ago and I regretted the change immediately. I went through the whole bottle of the other stuff because I’m
cheap economical, but was very glad when I was able to switch back. This, coupled with Giovanni Frizz Be Gone, makes me actually kind of like my hair, which is an amazing feat as I used to proclaim that I was having a bad hair life. I also found it on Subscribe and Save for half the price it is at the store, so win-win all around.
Amazon First Reads. Getting free books before their release date? Yes please!
Morning Time for Moms Summer Course. My last post was about what I do for my own personal “Morning Time.” Not long after I wrote it, I discovered that Cindy Rollins is offering a course on that very same topic (with much more wisdom and thoroughness than my post even comes close to offering!). So if you’re looking for a little guidance on building your own personal Morning Time complete with poetry, Shakespeare readings, Bible readings, and more, I highly recommend it as anything she puts out is always wonderful!
Index Card Organization System. I’m intrigued by this idea to use an index card system in a loop schedule for household chores. These days my house seems to be a disaster more often than not so obviously I’m in need of some kind of help. This is definitely worth looking into!
I’m 14, and I quit social media after discovering what was posted about me. “Teens get a lot of warnings that we aren’t mature enough to understand that everything we post online is permanent, but parents should also reflect about their use of social media and how it could potentially impact their children’s lives as we become young adults.”
Ten Kitchen Skills Kids Should Learn. I’m a big advocate of cooking as a handicraft. These are ten simple but helpful kitchen skills every kid should know before leaving home!
Please Stop Buying Plastic Crap for Kids. “The strong surge of dopamine associated with new stuff and wrapped gifts will nearly always trump the gentler oxytocin spikes enveloped in a long embrace from Grandma. The Laughter. The Cuddling. The Eye Contact. The Human Touch. If we want our children to focus on the real gifts, we must take off the horse blinders. Occasional, thoughtful gifts are one thing, but we have to cut back on the constant onslaught of junk. When I returned home from this trip, my daughter was running to me for a hug and kiss because she loves me and looked forward to my return. I am the gift. Our relationship is the gift. The minute I start stuffing my suitcase full of trinkets is the minute she starts running to my suitcase instead of my arms.”
Doing a Load of Laundry Every Day Can Change Your Life. I can vouch for this. It makes household chores so much easier!
How This Family of 7 Became Minimalist and Got Rid of 50% of Their Stuff. I always find articles like this very inspiring, especially as it begins with debt elimination. Also, admitting that going the minimalist route in the beginning takes a lot of work is refreshing as I think so often it’s portrayed as a fairly easy process that just takes willpower.
On the Blog.
In the Shop.
I’ve made a few changes and added a few new items in the shop this quarter. The first is that I’m now shipping the printed version of the Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum on my own! I did this partially because there were some printing issues with this year’s version at Lulu, which is who I was using to fulfill the printed version orders. Now I have more control over what is going out, and I also get a chance to actually send things to people, which is fun. 🙂
I also changed the Charlotte Mason Picture Study Aids slightly. I am now offering professionally printed copies of the selected pieces of the Vincent van Gogh and John Singleton Copley Picture Study Aids through my shop. I’ve also started asking a small amount for the PDF versions of these two Picture Study Aids as well. All of the Ambleside-related PDF Picture Study Aids will remain free, but I would like to start offering some more that are not related to the Ambleside schedule as well. Unfortunately, at this time, I’m not able to offer prints for any of the Ambleside Picture Study Aids as I want to be careful to respect AO’s copyright terms.
I’ve also added all of my t-shirt designs with extra sizes and colors for grown-ups to my shop here (verses Etsy where there are fewer options) as well as new listings for t-shirts for kids! And I’ve included a few tote bag designs as well!
Our birds have been a little strange this quarter, and, again, I think most of that has to do with the late blizzards we got in May. Along with the remaining Juncos and our regular House Finches, we started getting Western Tanagers periodically, which isn’t unheard of, but we’ve never gotten them before. And, of course, we’re still getting Eurasian Collared Doves and the occasional Grackle. For a week or two we were also getting a little family of Mountain Chickadees (including babies!) which obviously made my year.
Unfortunately, more recently, we’ve started getting House Finches with an eye disease (Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) that essentially blinds them and causes them to either starve, succumb to the elements, or become easy prey. We saw this with the finches in our old house, but didn’t notice it with any of the birds in our new area until now. So I’ve taken the feeders down for a little while and will clean them thoroughly with a bleach solution before putting them back up. I always feel so bad for them as they flutter around in the air trying desperately to find somewhere to land without being able to see.
We have a House Wren family back in one of our shed boxes this year, but sadly, the tree swallows did not return to us after nesting in one of our boxes the last two years. We did have some investigating the boxes early on (as well a pair of Violet-green Swallows, which I would’ve also been okay with!), but none of them stuck around so it’s empty this year. Hopefully next year will be different.
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Today, #homeschool looked like a Bible lesson, some poetry, sitting down for math, and then a mad dash in the car to a friend’s house to watch baby goats making their way into the world of air and light. A biology lesson at its best. 🙂 . #homeschooling #goat #babygoat #charlottemason #charlottemasonhomeschool
And there you have the state of me. 🙂