Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An Update on Moose's Leg

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit! Alleluia!

I hope you all had a blessed Easter Sunday, and will be able to thoroughly celebrate the Fifty Days of Easter. I know I have a hard time maintaining the Alleluia spirit, especially as crosses come into our lives; but at least trying to helps to keep the eternal perspective. At least it does for me. :)

I always enjoy how whenever life is mostly figured out, another wrench is chucked into the system, mucking up the gears. Poor Moose is having a hard time recovering from his leg break, so his surgeon agreed with our thoughts about physical therapy. We met with the PT last week. I'm still waiting for her written evaluation report but she gave us homework exercises before we even left her office, so I'm guessing it's not just a "mind over matter" thing that we were all hoping for. Moose's leg is incredibly weak, despite walking (limping) on it and his gait is all messed up.

We can add physical therapy now into our weekly lives, including the homework exercises (on top of the OT for handwriting exercises) and make sure that we are staying on top of those, schoolwork, housework, as well as time for leisure. Not to mention all the other appointments and other things we have going on.

Just another string in a line of things Moose has to deal with since breaking his leg. He still has regular x-rays, random pain in the leg (moreso now that we've been doing the PT exercises), and the like.

He's already declared that he will NOT be sledding anytime soon, if ever. I can't say I blame him.

St. Luke, please intercede for Moose that his leg strengthens up well and his gait returns to normal.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Atmosphere of Education

One of Charlotte Mason's mottoes is "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life". She grounded her entire view of education in the simple fact that "children are born persons" and are to be treated as such. You can read her 20 Principles which discuss what exactly she means by the personhood of the child, education as an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life and more over here.
Principle 6 reads: "When we say that "education is an atmosphere," we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child-environment' especially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the child's level."
A child-environment is a false environment, one that doesn't exist once you get past a certain age. I remember the brightly colored Kindergarten that I went to (half-day, I'm that old) and by second grade, it was a different story. I also see child-environments as ones that select which ideas a child should be obtaining - regurgitated ideas, essentially. While children need to learn life skills and basic arithmetic, staging environments for them isn't the way to do it.

Charlotte is pointing us to where it all begins: the home. We aren't to make mini-preschools in our homes, but rather to create an environment where the child is fed great ideas and is respected as a person. Additionally, she mentions that bringing the world down to the child level will kill any enthusiasm for the idea. We should be aiming to create a home atmosphere where a child is brought up to the ideas vs the ideas being dumbed down to them.

What's the difference between a child-environment and reasonable accommodations? My ASD kiddo needs accommodations, my petite girls need them, even the baby needs them. I see accommodations as something that you supply for a person in order to help them function in the world. My ASD kiddo just received a bunch of sensory items in the mail, when we use them my kiddo can then be focused. It's not making a child-environment, but rather giving them a tool to use to help them in the world. My petite girls all need stools to reach various things; without those stools they are deprived of their dignity in some areas (bathroom) and have a hard time functioning in the world (we see this in public bathrooms, actually).

I like to think the atmosphere of my home is pretty rich, that we have good ideas to feed the children and that they can pick up things simply by being in the house. One doesn't need gobs of money to do this, either:
  • Spotify or Pandora play great music for free (although sometimes ads are not kid-friendly, especially on Spotify around St. Valentine's Day, yikes)
  • There is plenty of art online to look at, as well as books of great artists at the library, thrift store, etc
  • Nature tables of rocks, empty wasps' nests, sticks with buds in vases, and so on provide an up-close and personal view of nature (although make sure you don't have any hitchhikers coming inside with you or else you may get REALLY up-close and personal with nature ;-) )
  • Nature walks provide some greenery when you don't have any. Our yard still has no grass. The kids love to romp in the dirt - digging holes, looking under rocks, and so on - but the mountain in our backyard provides trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, scat, prints of animals and people, and more. 
  • Well-stocked bookshelves of living books - kids can take up and read as they see fit. We also hit up the library for subjects we lack (sharks, at the moment). Most of my books come from thrift stores both online and offline.
  • A prayer corner provides everyone with a quiet place to go to spend time with God. The art and statues in the corner remind us at a glance what our ultimate goal is.
  • Any kind of life skills, such as helping with cooking, cleaning, hand-work (Moose right now is helping his Grandpa with a woodworking project). 
There's always some things that I feel like we could improve on, such as less Netflix; but we're headed in the right direction. Many times one of the kids come to me and say "did you know _________?" without me ever having sat down and formally "taught" them. Yesterday the kids made a plethora of connections with Euclid and Archimedes based on other books they've read, documentaries they've seen, and conversations that they've heard Greg and I have. There's no way I could teach them the connections, they make them on their own. Not to mention I make connections as well - Greg, bless his heart is always happy as I fill the gaps of my own education (especially in history) and patiently listens to me go on and on about the Persians or whatever. (He has a history degree so he can appreciate my enthusiasm!)

With our homes providing a great educational atmosphere, we know our kids are getting good ideas simply by living, Moose is a great narrator for his age, despite me never really teaching him how to narrate like I did Peanut. Simply by being in the house and within earshot of Peanut doing her narrations, he picked up what I was looking for and most days can deliver great narrations. I've given him some suggestions (such as, "tell me in your own words what you remember" lest he tell me verbatim everything I just read), but he does understand the overall goal.

So there's my musings on atmosphere and how it relates to education. I'm a work-in-progress, as is the house and everything else; but I like to think I have a good foundation started that we can build on in the future.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Good-bye, term 2!

We wrapped up our second term today! And really, it didn't feel like 12 weeks worth of work, it was all quite pleasant, actually. We'll be moving on to third term on Monday, and Peanut has that awesome problem of finishing up third grade in terms of required hours before we finish up the bookwork. :)

Here's a quick update on where we are all at:

Peanut - getting into the thick of division and is having zero problems. We're still using Math Mammoth but I'm considering switching her over to Singapore for fourth grade for some challenge. Reading is great - she reads books that are at a 6th-8th grade level in terms of complexity (such as the Chronicles of Narnia, Black Beauty, etc). Her favorite subject this term was Shakespeare.

Moose - took to AmblesideOnline quite nicely. His reading has taken off - he went from Progressive Phonics (short vowel books) to Bob books in no time, and is now reading at a second grade level. His handwriting is improving, thanks to his diligent work and his phenomenal OT. He can write in print and cursive now, and is much less resistant to things like drawing. His favorite subject this term was Shakespeare and learning to read. He could care less with Math, but I think we have figured out how to do Math in a way that doesn't result in hysterics.

Wok - she can now write her first name (as long as I tell her the letters), draws all sorts of things and has a very wiiiiide art streak. Her coloring is much more complicated and intricate, and she has a great eye for detail. Her favorite subject this term was "preschool." ;-)

Little Miss Sunshine - impressed us all by potty-training (day and night) in about 2 weeks flat. Only one in diapers again, whoo-hooo! She often tags along with Wok at "preschool" and currently likes to draw circles.

Nugget - his big success was learning to sit. He's about 20 pounds and has fat rolls for miles; so it's hard to keep that much weight upright. :P He also has 4 teeth, likes to stand with help, and rolls all over the house.

Me - I've been reading about Social Stories for my ASD kiddo, helping other mamas who want to homeschool their kids who are also on the spectrum, reading through Charlotte Mason's Home Education, and making sure the home fires are burning.

I plan on getting everything ready this weekend for term 3, which we will begin on Monday. I like to take time off between the terms, but I think we will push and take off around Holy Week and Easter. We may take a couple days off this coming week, but not a full week. Then we can get a little bit of downtime over the summer and start all over again in the fall!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nineveh 90: Weeks 3-5 Update

Every time I attempt to do this update, Life Happens. So, here's about three weeks' worth of thoughts and reflections on Nineveh 90.

It's definitely incredibly hard. I suppose that self-denial isn't supposed to feel like a gentle massage but I was terribly underprepared for just how intense it was going to be. I don't think that I'm a Nineveh 90 Flunkie, because I've learned some incredibly important things the last couple of weeks with regards to my spirituality.

First, I've had to pare back more the sacrifices because Our Lord has definitely sent His own ideas for them. The biggest being that my father, who cares for my mother; became quite under the weather and needed some serious assistance so he could rest. We left on a whim (thank God for homeschooling, as we could just grab our supplies and leave) and stayed for four days to do things like laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, caring for my mom, and the like. I'm thrilled to say that my Dad is on the upswing and was ready to resume his regular role.

Second, one of the biggest things that happened was while I was going through these rather intense acts of self-denial, I basically made my penances everyone's penances. Essentially, I became extremely crabby. I basically had to make a decision - either keep on keeping on and continue to be crabby or to stop, re-evaluate and resume with what I can do right now (clearly I was too optimistic when I modified it originally).

I'll let you guess what I opted for.

It's incredibly humbling to realize just how weak I am at this point in time; but I'm understanding that it's through no fault of my own (well, not entirely). I still have an infant under one who is depending on me for nourishment. I have a flock of young children who definitely need an even-keeled mom in the house, not one who is crabby, sleep-deprived more than normal, and just wrung straight out (see point the first, above).

And as would be anticipated, the Peace that surpasses understanding has arrived and the Holy Spirit has been moving in significant ways.

My even more modified program has dropped most of the sleep and food fasting. I still keep the radio off and I struggle to stay off the Internet (which, hey hey, started as a way to escape some stuff that FINALLY, praise the Lord, has been resolved), and work on developing the prayer-side of Nineveh 90 (Angelus, Rosary, 20 minutes of mental prayer).

In the true fashion of Holy Father St. Benedict, "always we begin again". Even if we have to start over every single day, as long as we start over in our search for the Lord, we will always get where we are wanting to go.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My two pieces of homeschooling advice

If there is one piece of advice that I wish I had heeded, and that I could offer anyone who is just starting out with homeschooling; it would be to trust the process. The second piece of advice would be to respect the personhood of your kids.

Peanut, who has had spelling struggles for a while now has had several massive leaps where spelling suddenly makes sense. Phonetic Zoo is helping, but even words that aren't "Zoo-words" are no longer fouling her up. The only thing I've done with her that's a "proper" spelling program is Phonetic Zoo. I explain some of the spelling rules as they come up when she's trying to write journal entries; but other than that it's all been her brain learning, growing, and adapting.

At the same time that her spelling improved seemingly out of no where, so did her handwriting. It's as if those two skills were linked and improving one improved the other. While we did work specifically on handwriting, I think a lot of her improvement has come from old-fashioned time.

Looking back, I wouldn't have given any concerns over Peanut's lack of spelling and would have been much more laid back regarding her handwriting. I suppose this is why the eldest children are considered to be guinea pigs, more or less!

For me, it's hard to break free of the mentality that the kids have to be "somewhere" academically; when in reality what they need to do is keep moving forward. Wherever they are academically is where they are, and it's not a big thing if they are "ahead" or "behind". Obviously, Peanut wouldn't do first-grade math or Moose do 3D Calculus right now; but I think many people (myself included) get hung up on "grade-level" or "behind" or even "ahead". Especially in February, the Worst Month of the Year For About Everyone In the Northern Hemisphere. Sometimes, being behind isn't something bad but rather a signal more help is needed - like getting an OT to help Moose with writing (he can write in both print and cursive now).

Homeschooling is like chiseling a sculpture out of marble. It's hard work, it's a long-process, it's tedious and many people look at the work in progress and think, "what is that?" But before long, an arm appears, or a leg; and it makes more sense. Homeschoolers chip away every day, little by little; to form the character and minds of little people who are made in the image and likeness of God. Sometimes (a lot of times) it looks like a hot mess. But, things like spelling and handwriting improve, the kids enjoy the books that they are reading (or having read to them), and they start really loving each other and themselves. The fruits are beginning to blossom in a big way, much like the arms and legs appearing for the sculptor. Suddenly things are making sense to us and to those around us, and it's truly breath-taking to watch the development happen.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

My Lenten Resolution for 2017

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. There are a lot of posts out there about what people are going "to do" for Lent. It's the new Big Question - what are you doing for Lent? What are you giving up for Lent?

I've thought long and hard about this - well, at least since the beginning of February. Originally I had expected that my Nineveh 90 obligations would more than suffice. Over the last month, I've been evaluating my behavior, the kids' behavior, how the house is running, what's working, what isn't. I've decided that while the Nineveh 90 obligations are definitely a great thing to do and continue through Lent; my personal "giving up" for Lent is more of an "adding on".

For Lent, I'm keeping it simple for me - all I will do this Lent is the next thing. It may look simple but much like St. Therese's Little Way, it's easy to remember but not exactly easy to execute.

Crying baby in the middle of the night? Do the next thing - feed him without sighs, whining, or hopes he'll fall back asleep (he won't).

ASD Kiddo having massive meltdown about something only God knows? Do the next thing - engage all meltdown techniques and stay calm.

Want to futz around on the Internet but the laundry needs to be done? Do the next thing - finish up the library, then futz - or even better, read something spiritual. Pray a Rosary.

So, it seems simple but I'm expecting it to be freakishly hard, in that it will require a lot of dying to self and sacrificing what I want for what I need to do. Lent should be ... interesting.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nineveh 90: Week 2 Update

Today ends Week 2 of the Nineveh 90 challenge. The last week has been ... rocky, to say the least. Week 1 was pretty easy, to be honest; but this past week I've definitely felt the spiritual pressure. So much that can't be talked about online, and even barely able to be discussed in person. It's a very dry time right now.

1. Let go of repetitive sin
I'm focusing on the absent-minded computer time, which was off to a good start at the beginning of the week, but miserably failed at the end of the week. 

2. Wear the Brown Scapular, attend daily Mass if possible, go to Confession monthly
Check, check for Sunday Mass, and I'm intending on going to Confession at the Catholic Women's Conference in a couple weeks (or earlier if I need it, of course!).

3. Daily prayer: Morning Offering, Angelus, Rosary, Holy Hour or 20 minutes (not neccessarily before the Blessed Sacrament), bedtime prayers
Failed miserably. Prayer is incredibly hard to do, it all feels so pointless and empty. 

4. Regular and intense exercise, seven hours of sleep, no alcohol, no dessert, no sweets, no pop or sweetened drinks, no TV or movies, only music that is uplifting, no televised sports, limit recreational computer time
I've also fallen off the wagon regarding some parts - like exercise, alcohol, and pop. And limiting recreational computer time. I have managed to stay away from the Top 40 and it's easy to give up televised sports when you never watched them in the first place. ;)

Week 3 begins tomorrow, and of course Lent begins on Wednesday. I'm really not exactly looking forward to Lent, because Lent will most likely end up being Lentier than usual.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How We Use "The Story of Civilization"

The Story of Civilization is a four-volume tour of world history, written from a Catholic perspective. It is published by TAN Books, and written by Phillip Campbell. There are books, a teacher's manual, activity book, audio dramatization, a timeline, and even video lectures that go along with it - we just have the book, the teacher's manual, and the activity manual.

We aim to cover one chapter a week. We do World History twice a week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm all for Keeping It Simple, so everyone who is not napping sits in during World History time. I've done something sneaky and put it into our teatime rotation, so the kids are happily occupied with hot chocolate and popcorn. Hot chocolate is a special event here, so the kids are quiet and listening as they know that shenanigans will pull the plug on their blissful hot chocolate during teatime sessions. As the weather continues to warm up, we'll change from hot cocoa to things like freeze pops, frozen fruit, and maybe even a milkshake or two. 

Right now, the attendees for teatime are Peanut (age 8), Moose (almost 7), and Wok (age 4). We set up in the kitchen with my trusty whiteboard (a 16x24 board from Hobby Lobby) and I read while they enjoy their treats. As I'm reading, I illustrate what is going on. We also look up maps of the world at the time (for example, the reach of the Persian Empire), so the kids have a good grasp of how the world has changed through time (and military conquests). This also doubles as part of our mapwork, so they're also getting geography lessons at the same time. Additionally, we add events to our simple timeline - the timeline catches events from all subjects, as we fill it up the kids are starting to see how it all fits together.

I don't ask for narrations from The Story of Civilization because the discussions we have tell me what they are (or aren't) comprehending. My history education was .... eh, at best; so I'm learning plenty of things about the past right along with the kids. Both Peanut and Moose follow along well, and I'm not sure how much Wok is; but just hearing it will help her down the road.

I utilize both the teacher and the activity manuals for ideas on how to expand on the chapter. We don't do all the activities, but I do like having them around for some back-up ideas.

Teatime is the favorite subject of the day (probably due to the hot chocolate), and they thoroughly enjoy The Story of Civilization. I like that I can combine multiple kids into it and it's neither too easy or too advanced for each of them. What strikes them is different and they can learn from each other based on the discussion with each other and with me. It is written from a Catholic point of view, but it's not as if every other line relates to Catholicism. But I do like having that assurance that I won't have to edit out any potential anti-Catholic issues (usually doctrinal misrepresentations, not whitewashing the Church's history - she is made up of sinners, after all).

We're eagerly looking forward to Volume 2, which should be released some time this year.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nineveh 90: Week 1 Update

Everyone who is in the Nineveh 90 challenge wrapped up their first week yesterday. I thought I'd break down how I've been doing, given that penance hasn't exactly been a strong suit for me. 

Nineveh 90 – Ten Elements (source)

>> For these 90 days, resolve to let go of repetitive sin you struggle with
I've been working hard on making sure I use my time wisely and not just fritter it away doing mindless surfing of the Internet. It's been hard but I think I'm slowly working towards a balance between what I need to be online doing (paying bills, homeschool, etc) and using it as a tool.
>> Wear Brown Scapular (Scapular Medal allowed) – Akin to Sackcloth
>> Daily Mass (This is more of an encouragement, as many cannot do this)
Right now we just go to Mass on Sundays, as the dailies that are locally are not possible to attend.
>> Confession (at least once a month … immediately following grave sin)
>> Support System: Create or join a “Nineveh 90 Squad” of 3-8 people. Meet 1-3 times per week (in person or online). Join together with an “Accountability Buddy.” Meet daily or, at least, 3 times a week.
I am in two Facebook groups, one for moms and one for homeschooling moms. I tend to find myself checking into the group for homeschooling moms more than the other one. I have an accountability buddy and it's been nice knowing I'm not in it alone.
>> Daily Prayer
  • Morning Offering
  • Angelus (6,Noon,6)
  • Rosary
  • Holy Hour (or at least 20 minutes – does not need to be before the Blessed Sacrament)
  • Bedtime Prayers
Everything is entirely possible except I have been missing the 6 o'clock Angelus. Apparently 6pm is prime freakout time for the kids, and I would like to figure out why. I usually try and pray it once the storms have passed. Without doing this time of prayer and penance, I wouldn't have figured out that 6 o'clock is a very hard time in the house, for whatever reason.

I also used to think I was too busy to pray, turns out I was just filling my day with mindless distractions.
>> For 90 Days, Commit to …
  • Regular and intense exercise
I'm doing exercise every other day, as I haven't been active as much as I ought and I'd prefer not to go from zero to one-hundred and hurt myself.
  • Seven hours of sleep is essential
This has been hit or miss, depending on how Nugget is sleeping (or not).
  • No alcohol
I'm not really a big alcohol drinker, given my semi-regulat states of pregnant and/or nursing.
  • No desserts & sweets
This has been ridiculously hard because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. I've been staying strong though, for the most part. WHEW. 
  • No eating between meals
You don't know how many times I've stopped myself from doing this, which turns out I tend to do when I'm either bored or stressed. News to me!
  • No soda or sweetened drinks
We don't do soda too much around here, so I've reduced the amount of sugar that I have in my tea. My goal is to go to just straight black but it's hard y'all. I'm doing a slow taper. I did cut out my mocha latte from Costco which I looooooooove. (Greg actually went to Costco on Sunday just to get me a mocha latte as a "good job on week 1" gesture. :) )
  • No television or movies (news allowed)
I do admit to watching Cheers! each night with Greg, because that's something he likes to do with me.
  • Only music that lifts the soul to God
My times in the car are silent. I've been downloading homilies, I need to get them onto CD so I can put them in the car (or get some sort of a car adapter so I can play them off my tablet). 
  • No televised sports (one per week allowed)
Can't give up what you don't already do. ;) Good thing this isn't during the World Series! 
  • Limit recreational computer time (only use for personal needs and fulfillment. May be needed for Nineveh 90 too)
As I mentioned above, this has been a delicate point for me. I need to be online since some of the books we use in homeschooling is online, as well as things like paying bills. But do I need to check Facebook a lot? Nope, unless I'm checking in on the Nineveh groups. 

There are days of fasting and abstinence that I've modified as I'm still nursing Nugget. I don't do the fasting, but I do try to do the abstinence. If I can't for whatever reason, I add extra prayers in. I've been mainly listening to my body - eating and drinking when I'm hungry, not eating just because I'm bored, upping protein and removing mostly carby junk food, that sort of thing.

This is extremely hard for me to do but very rewarding spiritually, physically, and mentally. Only by the grace of God have I been able to fulfill most of the obligations. It really has been a stark reminder of how little I can do on my own and how much I absolutely have to rely on God to do even the most basic things.

More importantly, when I do cave in (sugar), I find myself being easier on myself. Less perfectionistic scruples, more grace and mercy. I'm only human and therefore it's just a matter of getting back up and starting over again. 

Onward to week 2!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Best Day Ever: Cast-off Day

At 8:40 this morning, we checked into the orthopaedic surgeon's office to do one thing: take off that blasted cast!! 

Thankfully, they doctor's office wasn't running behind schedule, so we were able to go back almost right after we checked in. The cast took a while to cut off, given that it was stretching from mid-thigh down to his toes - and had several layers of fiberglass wrapped around it. There wasn't any problems with removing it.

Moose had more x-rays done and they show AMAZING bone regrowth. He will continue to have x-rays to ensure that his leg is healing straight and that the bone continues to regrow. His next round is in the end of March, thank God.

Right now Moose is having a rough re-entry to the land of bipedalism, but nothing out of the ordinary. Those leg muscles are weak! But, he's a trooper and working hard to try and get less wobbly. That will come in time - we just don't want him pushing himself too hard or too far.

I'm glad that this is {mostly} behind us now. The worst of it is over and soon we can all look back at the time Moose broke his leg sledding!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: The roads outside are literally a sheet of ice. We've had warm weather, melting snow and even rain, which then all refreezes during the night. Last week the county Sheriff declared "emergency travel only" (which of course went out after Greg had gone to work, grr).

I am thankful:
:: We are nearing the end of Moose's leg journey. I'm beyond ready for that cast to be off. Tuesday we will be making some Valentines for the surgeon, his nurses and P.A.s, as well as the surgical center where his surgery took place. We can deliver them on the 15th.

I am thinking:
:: about summer travel plans...

I am working on:
:: beginning the Spring deep cleaning and decluttering spree. Greg and I have done the preliminary sweep, but I imagine we will need multiple sweeps in order to get it thoroughly decluttered and to allow for the many kid interruptions/hours in a day/etc. I'm so ready to fling the windows WIDE open and air this entire place out.

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fifth baby
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fourth baby
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:

One of my favorite things:
:: Um, cast off day? The lovely tulips I have on the table to make it seem like spring is springing? Tea? :)

Clicking around on the web:
:: Have you heard about Nineveh 90? It is a group of men and women undergoing penance and prayers, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima. It begins today (February 13) and you can find more information here. Don't be intimidated by the list of elements if you choose to do this - remember, the whole point is prayer and penance; not burn out to the max and run yourself into the ground.
This week's plans:
:: Science School
:: Parish patron celebration

Friday, February 10, 2017

Changes are a-foot

As you can see, there are some changes happening around here on ye olde blog. I pulled all the posts into draft setting, so I can check links/update pictures/polish and repost them back online. I'm also working on changing the focus of the blog from personal day-to-day events to more nuts-and-bolts about how we homeschool, how I teach subjects like Shakespeare, the nitty-gritty of running the house, things of that like. I'm envisioning something more topical and less mundane, as I finally feel like I have something to offer to the homeschool community at large (now that I've been doing this for about 4 years).

You can tell by the tagline that I also changed curriculum at some point (again). I detest changing curriculum, it's not easy to do and it's hard on the kids. So I don't take changing curriculum lightly.

I started off with Mater Amabilis, which was great. It fit well with our family. I love that it is entirely Catholic and has great books selected that are both beautiful and full of great ideas. Third grade, however; proved to be too hard to find the books and fit the budget.

We (tried to) use Kolbe for Peanut's third grade. We lasted a term. Over our Advent and Christmas break, I sat down with Greg and took a long look at what was working and what wasn't working for our house (this was before Moose's Great Leg Break of 2016). While I still love Kolbe, I need the lesson plans. Enrolling isn't financially feasible, neither is getting the lesson plans for each subjecct. I think with the lesson plans, it is a great program - maybe we will use it for highschool.

Greg asked me to make a spreadsheet of all the Catholic curricula to find one that would work. We assessed them based cost, science, math, history, accreditation, acquiring books, supportboth online and offline, and their educational philosophy. We then added in other curricula like Bookshark for extra comparison. We ended up back at Mater Amabilis, but we were both worried about finding books and staying within the homeschool budget.

We ended looking at Ambleside Online, which is not Catholic but still Christian. Greg liked AO better due to the easier accessibility of books (a bunch are in the public domain and on Librivox), the history selections, as well as the online support (website, forum, blogs, Facebook groups, etc). He wasn't impressed on the science, but thought it was a great all-around curricula and asked me to please give it a try with Peanut and Moose, supplementing in science.

Once Moose was off the heavy painkillers, we started AO. I made a modified Grade 3 for Peanut that combined the rest of Kolbe that she was working on, Year 3, and some of year 3.5. My goal was to transition her {and me} back into Charlotte Mason philosophy and prepare her for AO Year 4, if we kept going with it. Moose I put straight into Year 1, without any real modifications. I dropped some books like Trial and Triumph and added in Saint stories as well as Catechism; but overall it has been very easy to adapt to my family.

Currently we are 2/3rds of the way through the second term (which made more sense for us than starting at term 1 for the given year) and it has been wonderful. It has fit us like a glove and we really couldn't be happier. Switching to AO was part of rebooting everything and getting into a functional routine with life. Everyone is benefiting.

So that's what's going on around here. Ideally I'd like to get into some sort of a semi-regular posting schedule, at least once a week but shooting for twice a week. We'll see how life goes and what happens. But I do hope that you all will still stick around!