Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May 2016 Hodgepodge

May was an interesting month!

Here were some of its challenges and surprises:

New Van: This was a complete surprise to all of us. We went from "hear of a van for sale" to "okay, time to drive it home" in under 36 hours.

Freeway Accident: What happened when the aforementioned van burst a tire on the freeway, ripping off our driver-side mirror (and other parts of unknown nomenclature). We were all thankful for the Lord's protection during this time!

Stomach Viruses: Two of them, two weeks apart. The lucky family member who came down with both of them was... Yours Truly. With as much time as I've spent nauseated and throwing up this month, it's just like being pregnant. But without the cute baby at the end.

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Now, enough negativity! Here are some of the random wonderful things we've done, enjoyed, and loved over the past month:

Jules Verne: The boys are enjoying the abridged versions of "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Around the World in 80 Days," and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." My husband is enjoying introducing them to the movie versions (the older classics), which were his favorite boyhood films.

YouTube for Homeschooling: I am using short YouTube videos for hymn study, classical music appreciation, history studies, and memory work. Here are a few videos we've enjoyed lately:

Latin and Memoria Press: Prima Latina is our first curriculum from Memoria Press, and I love it. Excellent quality in every way! I'm now interested in checking out their other curriculum options when they exhibit at our upcoming homeschool convention in July.

Christian Light Reading Curriculum: Another curriculum WIN! This is an excellent curriculum that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Melendy Quartet Book Series: "The Four-Story Mistake" was a complete hit with the 9yo, and we are moving on to "And Then There Were Five." I am very much enjoying sharing one of my childhood favorites with my children.

Amazon Prime: My husband gets a discounted membership through his employer, and we finally caved and tried it. Oh, my goodness. THIS is what I've needed. While I understand the "shop local" idea and support it, I am the type who - if I have to go out running errands to get a certain item - will simply never get around to getting it. Ever. This way, I finally am able to get some of the items we've been desperately needing. (Like a pencil sharpener. Mmmmm.)

Trim Healthy Mama: Love the recipes! Yum! (Have I lost any weight? Um, well, let's not talk about that part of it.)

The Dust Bowl: Our first state study of the year was Oklahoma, and we were immediately captivated by the Dust Bowl and the Okie migration. Fascinating material! See the "Dust Bowl Blues" video above.

El Pinatero: A book that was a huge hit with our children while passing through the subject of the fight for Mexican Independence.

Reading: Some of my own favorites recently have included:

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
    • Loved this.
  • Little Women
    • I used to find this book incredibly annoying. In some ways, I still do. But I am captivated by the gentleness and love of the mother-daughter bond portrayed in this book, and it is an amazing relationship to emulate.
  • Mountain Born 
    • I can't believe I missed out on this awesome book when I was a child!
  • Evolution's Achilles Heels
    • Probably the best refutation of macroevolution that I've read. Highly recommended. It is rather technical - a background in genetics or at least general science will help.
  • The Door in the Wall
    • Another lovely choice. So well-written!
  • Adam of the Road
    • I loved this book!
  • Elements of Style
    • Another book that makes me realize how embarrassingly bad my education in English grammar was. Oh, dear.

Assigned Reading: Last year I told the 9yo, "Read anything from this (history) shelf!" This year I moved on to a specific reading list. I was nervous about this, but it's been a huge success and he is reading voraciously - both in "fun reading" and history reading.

"The Three Musketeers": This book caught the children's fancy, and they have played musketeers endlessly these past two months. My husband is enjoying sharing the Gene Kelly film with them, and they adore it. (Why they like it, I don't know, but I think it's a guy thing.)

Carpet Cleaning: It only took me six years, but I finally got around to this. Anything that involves picking up the phone or otherwise making an appointment is hugely intimidating for me, so this is a huge triumph! Now I'm ready to dive into a bunch of organizational and decluttering projects inspired by the furniture moving. For locals: We highly recommend Revolution Carpet Cleaning.

Abridged Classics for Children: I have always steered clear of these - academic snobbery, I think. But I have come to realize that abridged classics familiarize children with character, setting, and plot - so that in another four years or so, when they'll be ready for the real thing, they will already have a semblance of familiarity with the work. The 9yo has devoured "Frankenstein," "The Three Musketeers," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and others.

Working Together: This year I gave myself the assignment of completing for myself all of the science, history, literature, nature, and Latin assignments that I gave the 9yo - so that he could have someone working alongside him. It has been a grand success, and I'm enjoying the work.

Vision Collision Auto Body Paint and Repair: The repair shop to whom we owe our new van's snazzy new look! Locals, definitely check out this company if you need auto body work in the Phoenix Valley. We highly recommend this team.

Mom Delights: Formerly Large Family Mothering, this blog by a mom-to-15 is absolutely awesome. Definitely check out her amazing wisdom. I enjoy each of her posts greatly. 

As of Friday, we'll be one-sixth of the way done with our homeschool year. Wow, how the time is flying!

We're heading into our busy-busy-birthday-season, and also looking forward very much to next month's homeschool convention. 

Dear readers, I hope that you all are having a lovely summer!

(P.S. I am breaking one of my cardinal blogging rules - that is, I am writing a new post before answering the comments on the last post. I beg everyone's forgiveness, and will do my best to get that done soon.)


  1. I loved reading this newsy post because with limited time for the internet I can get all the updates in one fell swoop. Vehicles drive me batty, they never work the way you expect. Ours has one seatbelt not retracting all the way so it can't be used. We have exactly enough seatbelts without it, and a trip coming up in a week and a half with Grandma so we need that belt fixed. Appointment is set. Crossing fingers it goes smoothly and there isn't a long wait for parts.

    Books, the glorious books! We've not used the illustrated children's classics - and yes, total book snobbery on my part - but I remember reading them as a child and loving a set I had. The only reason I've not used them is I rarely went on to read the classics in their full form until after I became and adult who was homeschooling. If my kids are not ready to meet a classic in full then we'll just bide our time and wait. At least, that's the plan. I've learned never to say never though!

    Amazon Prime is my favorite thing. Just wonderful. We've had it for years. LOVE.

    Have a great June.

    1. Hope that seatbelt-fix went well! Over here, we've moved from car trouble to home-A/C troubles! LOL It's a spring for spending the big bucks with big repairs!!

      Good approach with classics - we'll have to see how it goes over here. I don't personally like the abridged because they just don't seem very good, most of the time, or even very understandable (hard to when all of the details are taken out). I probably wouldn't have thought of them had I not accidentally discovered how the 9yo loved them!!

      An interesting thing about the abridged is that they sometimes - I found, to my surprise - change the story to make it more palatable for children. In "The Three Musketeers," the true story ends with one character dead by poison and another dead by execution. In the abridged children's work, they make it "sick, but not dead" from poison, and banished rather than executed. Interesting.

      Glad to find more Amazon Prime fans! We're enjoying it greatly. As a super-busy homeschooler, and as someone who already despises errand-running, it's been a huge blessing.

      Have a wonderful summer!!

  2. Thanks for the shout out Diana.

    Todd tells me I would have bought him on Amazon Prime if I could have. He's not incorrect ;) I seriously couldn't function without it!

    See you at the Homeschooling Convention ;)

    1. Remembering your enthusiasm for Amazon Prime was one of the things that made me okay with spending the money for it!! I'm glad we did - it's a real blessing. I can't wait to learn more about how to make it work even better for us.

      You're very welcome. :)

      I'm so glad you're going to be at AFHE! See you there!!

  3. I, too, am an Amazon Prime fan. And I totally enjoyed this post. We bought a pass to the beach at our local lake, and we're spending 3-5 afternoons a week there. It is the best! Yesterday I spent the whole time burying kids in sand. For my new ones who have sensory issues, it was just about the best treat they'd ever had.

    You're 1/6 of the way through your school year, and I'm 1/6 of the way through my end of school assessments. I'd better go get another one done. :)

    Happy homeschooling!

    1. Mmmmm. Just thinking of the wonderful-ness of your lake! Though it does surprise me that you have to buy a pass to be there! However, come to think of it, we have to buy a pass to be at our (man-made) lake as well. But either way, I bet you're all having a wonderful time, and I admire your endurance for getting out there so often! Good for you!!

      I wonder if our little guy with sensory issues would like sand or hate it! We haven't tried sand with him yet. He's very unpredictable with textures. He loves beards, for example, but can't stand textured styrofoam play surfaces. When we tried to put him on one of those once, he actually balanced on his little rear with his hands and legs in the air to avoid touching it, LOL!! We'll have to see if he likes sand sometime. :)

      Have a wonderful summer with the 12!! :)


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