Monday, August 19, 2019

Journey: An Education for Life Retreat - Registration is Open!!

I've been busy working behind the scenes on school and retreat planning. I'm so excited to announce that registration is now open for Journey: An Education for Life retreat!! Join us, Saturday, October 19th for a day of homeschool encouragement and Christian Classical Charlotte Mason inspired camaraderie in West Central Wisconsin. Encounter ideas on mother culture, how to cultivate rhythm in your day, and spark a love of learning. Find renewed energy to start the year strong and continue throughout your homeschool journey.

Terri Woods, homeschool mom of 9 from Alabama will be our feature speaker. She has over 20 years experience home educating and has spoke at several homeschool events, including Wild+Free. You can find her on Instagram at and I will be speaking as well. You can register, see the schedule, and read speaker bios here. I'm still finalizing a couple breakout sessions, but will post those as soon as information becomes available. 

Lunch will be provided with regular and gluten free options. Living books will be available for purchase. Door prizes will be given. Thirty minutes will be allowed between sessions for transition, networking, brainstorming, bonding, and discussion among participants. I hope this retreat will be a day of encouragement, inspiration, calming, and fun for all involved. I'd LOVE to meet you there!!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Reflections on Year 8 Science with Sabbath Mood Homeschool...

Last week, I reviewed RileyAnn's Year 9 Science, where she used Ambleside Online. Today, I want to share Ruben's Year 8 Science and his use of Sabbath Mood Homeschool guides, combined with a couple AO books. First, a look at the books and resources and how I scheduled them....

Term 1

The Planets by Dava Sobel
SMH Astronomy - Form 3-4

Term 2

Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher - AO Year 7
SMH Physics - Form 3-4

Term 3

Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather by Eric Sloane
SMH Weather - Form 3-4

All Year

The Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp - AO Year 7

I chose the above term books and resources based on exposure and interest. What I mean by exposure is, Ruben didn't have much in the way of formal science in the areas of Astronomy, Physics, and Weather in the past so I wanted him to gain some base knowledge before high school. In addition, I read aloud The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson in our Morning Time, which is an AO Year 6 Science/Natural History book. I thought those three term topics, along with a study of the sea, would bode well for a general Earth Science course.

In addition, Ruben is extremely mechanical, having a natural bent toward physics and engineering. He is also interested in meteorology and the weather so I wanted to somehow tie those interests together. I feel the combination of books and resources we used this year accomplished that goal. On the other hand, in an effort not to be off balance with biology or a life science, I added The Lay of the Land, which Riley really enjoyed last year. Sharp was an American author, professor, and Methodist Episcopal minister, who wrote books about native birds and small animals. He was a naturalist of sorts, who wrote The Lay of the Land in 1908 about a variety of woodland critters and birds, of which, Ruben is familiar due to his passion for the outdoors.

Overall, Ruben had a very rich year of science. We/he enjoyed all the books with the exception of The Planets by Sobel, which I cannot recommend in good faith for a few reasons. I actually ended up stopping it and subbing out part way through the term. Instead, we used a combination of Album of Astronomy by Thomas McGowan and The New Astronomy Book by Danny Faulkner, published by Master Books, both of which I had on the shelf. We didn't read either from cover to cover, but rather pulled information that matched the notebook assignments and experiments in the Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide. McGowan's book does have some evolutionary content, but Faulkner's book is from a creationist perspective and the combination afforded a nice balance.

In my humble opinion, Secrets of the Universe is a MUST READ for middle or early high school or anyone looking to gain knowledge of physics. It's a wonderful introduction. Fleisher's writing is easily accessible and engaging. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for some time, making prices for the original book ridiculous. Fortunately, it has recently been reprinted by Living Book Press in 5 separate books. The Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide is not necessary as Ambleside Online offers a reading schedule in their Year 7 curriculum. However, I wanted a guide to add a bit more to Ruben's study. It gave him notebook suggestions, links to various websites for further study, discussion prompts, and experiments, which he read through, but didn't perform.

Ruben's favorite science book of the year was Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather. Sloane's writing is interesting and his illustrations are amazing! RileyAnn also enjoyed Eric Sloane's Weather Book when she read it as part of her AO Science study in 8th grade. In addition, we read Diary of an Early American Boy by Sloane several years ago as part of Sonlight. Apparently, Sloane wrote a series of six weather books over his life. We will most likely be adding others to our future science studies.

The Sabbath Mood Homeschool study guides include 33 lessons that you can either schedule three times a week for 11 weeks, followed by a 12th week of exams, which is what we did. Or, you could schedule a lesson once a week for an entire school year, breaking for exams at the end of each term. The exams are included in the study guide. Again, they are not necessary to the books. You could simply read and narrate or notebook on your own. However, they were easy enough to follow and I liked having them as a jumping off point. I appreciate the advance work Nicole William's did for me.

Basically, Ruben followed the guides by doing a different lesson Monday through Wednesday. Then he read a chapter from The Lay of the Land on Thursday. He studied a different book each term as noted above. After his reading, he created one notebook page each week as part of his written narration. As you may know, Ruben is dyslexic and struggles with writing. Often times, I would help him pick out a main idea to summarize after the reading or assign him a copywork passage from the reading to accompany his illustration. Here are samples....

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Review of Form III-IV Science Using Ambleside Online

RileyAnn has officially completed AO Year 7 and AO Year 8 Science. I highly recommend it!! The Ambleside Advisory did a tremendous job of choosing a variety of living books and piecing together a wonderful introductory and preparatory science study for the upper years. Because Riley completed the study in her Year 8 & 9, I did make a few minor modifications and additions for high school, but nothing major. I'm not going to spend too much time on AO Year 7 because I did a reflection of that here, which also includes some of my thoughts on scientific literacy. Rather, I will share the books Riley's covered over the past two years, as well as samples of her notebooking pages to hopefully give you ideas.

Riley's Year 8 Book List Based off AO Year 7

Eric Sloane's Weather Book by Eric Sloane
Social Life in the Insect World by Jean Henri Fabre - (A book I substituted for AO's The Life of the Spider)
Secrets of the Universe: Discovering the Universal Laws of Science by Paul Fleisher - (This book has been reprinted by Living Book Press in 5 separate books.)
The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Henri Fabre
First Studies of Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom
Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy by Jay Ryan
Great Astronomers by R.S. Ball - (I highly recommend the linked edition!! It is a well done reprint with original illustrations.)

Riley's Year 9 Book List Book Based off AO Year 8

The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday - (Be sure to add the free online videos linked at AO)
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking 
The Microbe Hunters by Paul DeKruif
For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin - (I added with Sabbath Mood Homeschool guide.)

Overall, Riley enjoyed her study. She felt there was a nice variety of the sciences represented and she said she learned a little from each book. Her least favorites were those by Fabre, A Briefer History of Time, and The Chemical History of the Candle because the writing and subject matter was not as interesting to her. 

Like last year, the schedule was such that Riley read from two books per day, four days per week, and then completed one notebooking page per day from the book of her choice. Here is a sample of her work....

I realize this is a lot of pages to showcase, but my hope is to allow you to see the variation of knowledge gleaned by this study throughout the year. I love the way AO mixed sciences in these years using living books. However, I will admit, initially, I was a bit skeptical, but after doing a variety of research a couple years ago, I realized the US is one of the few countries that segregates the sciences. Also, Charlotte Mason did not separate them, as she taught the various branches of science concurrently. 

In addition, I was very pleased with Riley's standardized test results this spring, which clearly showed she had mastered the different streams of science well enough to beat the test. This was especially interesting since the test was based on current common core standards, to which we have never adhered in our homeschool. 

In closing, I want to highly recommend the AO Science we used! I'm so glad we chose this route and hope to continue with a mix of science streams each year throughout high school. To those that worry about using old books that may be outdated, I say stop worrying. You can always Google updated information if you feel it necessary...we did not. Also remember, scientific literacy should be the goal. If you have a budding scientist, they will narrow their field and specialize in college, not middle and high school. Right now, providing a feast and allowing adequate time and space for your student to digest it should be your main concern. The AO Science choices afford you the opportunity to do just that.

Note: Ambleside Online is a FREE Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum. They offer schedules for Year 0-12, as well as a variety of resources to help parents educate their children. All opinions are my own and I am not being compensated by AO in any way. However, the books in my lists are linked to my Amazon affiliate account. I appreciate your consideration in clicking the links. By doing so and making a purchase, you are supporting my efforts here on this blog and in our homeschool. Thanks!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Spring Term 2018-2019 Wrap-Up

Much like the slow spring season this year, our 2018-2019 academic year limped to a close. We got'er done, but it wasn't pretty. Today, I'll share with you what we did and didn't do.

First, here are the lists of resources I had planned at the beginning of the year when things were shiny and new....

Year One
Year Eight
Year Nine
Morning Time

Next, you can find our Fall Term Wrap-Up here and our Winter Term Wrap-Up here.

Finally, here is a list of resources we used in Term 3 to end our year....

Morning Time

Bible: DK Children's Bible - we finished the Old Testament
Citizenship: Ourselves by Charlotte Mason - we finished Book I - Self Knowledge
Economics/Government: Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard Maybury - finished
Literature: The Holy War by John Bunyan - finished
Tales: 50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin - we only got about 2/3 of the way through. I'm undecided if we will pick this up again.
Poetry: When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne - finished
Natural History: The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, adapted by Terry Ann White - finished
Music: Classics for Children - audio CD; Peter and the Wolf; The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Nancy Willard - finished
Art: The Story of Painting by H.W. Janson - skipped
Artist Study: Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist: Paul Cezanne - finished

All three kids also participated in our local homeschool choir, as well as art classes outside the home this spring. Therefore, I dropped the Folk Song and Hymn study this term. In addition, they each memorized multiple poems this year for Recitation. They practiced them during our Morning Time.

Overall, I would say MT was a slog this year. I saw value in the books we read and yet, there wasn't much enjoyment. Many days were like pulling teeth. Sometimes, this is OK...and actually necessary. However, in the case of MT, if truth, beauty, and goodness are the goal, there must be some enjoyment or else it's hard to see the beauty and goodness of it. I will definitely be reassessing MT for fall.

Year 9


Riley finished the AO Year 8 Bible Reading Plan and continued to copy Psalms in Do You Journible?, which she finished at the end of Term 3.


A History of the American People by Paul Johnson - finished reading Parts 1 and 2 this year.
John Adams by David McCullough - finishing over summer
The Children's Plutarch: The Tales of the Greeks by F. J. Gould - finished
Book of Centuries - ongoing


English Literature for Boys & Girls by H. E. Marshall - finished

IEW's Phonetic Zoo Level B - finished


Introductory Algebra by Margaret LialMy Homeschool Math Class - finished

Science/Natural History

Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper - finished spring reading
Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif - finished assigned reading 
Great Astronomers by Robert Stawell Ball - finished assigned reading

Riley also finished up her participation in our local High School Community. I will post more about that in the future. 

Overall, Riley finished well! She has a couple books that she'll be working on completing over summer. She met both goals I set for her at the beginning of the year, which were: to participate in a High School Community and to begin formal composition. Her two favorite subjects this year were History and Literature. Some of her favorite books were The Last of the Mohicans, The Betrothed, The Tale of Two Cities, and she is also loving The Count of Monte Cristo, even though she's not quite finished yet. A few books Riley didn't care for this year were A Briefer History of Time, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and she is struggling to finish Founding Brothers, not because of difficult content or reading level, but rather interest level. All in all, Riley had a great year and finished strong.

Year 8




The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien - 2nd time reading - finishing over summer


RightStart Mathematics - switched mid term to MCP Mathematics and began tutoring at local Christian School - will continue over summer

Ruben had a very difficult winter and spring after his farm accident last November! He was laid up for several months, really until April, and had many doctor appointments to attend. Through it all he was a real champ and made tremendous progress in his academics. He also met each goal that I set for him at the beginning of the school year: 1) increase science; 2) focus on math; and 3) increase independent study. Ruben completed three different Sabbath Mood Homeschool science studies this year and he read most of his books independently, creating notebooking pages or giving an oral narration after each reading. We started the Fall Term very strong with math, but that is one subject that fell by the wayside after his injury. However, in April, we picked back up again with a tutor. She helped Ruben to gain some ground that he lost over the Winter Term. Math is an area we will continue to focus on in the upcoming year. Ruben LOVED his all his Literature books this year, in particular, Rifles for Watie was a favorite and seemed to leave a lasting impression. He highly recommends it!

Year 1

Phonics & Reading 

First Start Reading by Cheryl Lowe/Memoria Press - continuing


Charlotte's Web by E. B. White - continuing over summer


History/Science & Enrichment

A Mind in the Light Natural Worlds 1 - finished parts and pieces

Levi was such a trooper this year! He started the year very excited about "school". Unfortunately, things faded after the First Term when Ruben had his accident. Being completely dependent on my teaching, his academics took a sabbatical while I tended his brother. We did pick back up in the Third Term with some sense of regularity. However, we have taken a break now in June. I do plan to begin again with him over summer to make up for lost time, but it will be light as I do want him and I to have some free time to recoup and refresh before fall. Levi did meet the goals I had set for him at the beginning of the year to start formal academics and begin reading instruction. I feel like we finally have a great phonics and reading program in place and it will be easier to carry on. 

If I focus too much on my beginning plans, I feel a little deflated that I wasn't able to carry them out. However, when I look at the big picture, I see so much positive! My children are alive and well. Each and every one of them met the academic goals I set. They all showed tremendous growth, not only academically, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I am so thankful the 2018-2019 academic year is behind us....and, I am looking forward to planning the new year. My biggest takeaway this year is that sometimes God's plan isn't my plan. :)

This post does contain affiliate links. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spring 2019 Mother Culture...

The calendar says spring, but it really hasn't felt like it yet here in Wisconsin. We've had really cold, wet weather and we're about two weeks behind as far as the growing season. That's not great for the farm, but it's been good for my literary life, as I've continued to pluck away at my reading indoors. You can see my winter reading list here. Today, I'm going to share an update on past reading and show you my current book list.

CM Study Group

In March, we finished reading The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. We also read the section on C.S. Lewis from The Great Tradition by Richard M. Gamble. In April, we discussed The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers. That was a re-read for me, but much more interesting the second time around. I will be posting more on that in the future.

In May, we began discussing A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle. There are four parts so we will discuss a different part each month over late spring and into summer. I am also discussing this through Voxer with a couple gals I met on the Schole Sistership. I believe very strongly in reading in community. If there is no one in your area, technology has made it amazingly easy to find someone online.

Convivial Circle

I didn't finish Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot, which was on my winter reading list, but will pick it up again at some point in the future. I did, however, read Finish by Jon Acuff earlier this year, which is a current book being studied at Convivial Circle.

I am also leading a study on Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott at Convivial Circle, which is amazing so far! I will be blogging on that in the future.

High School Community

Our High School Community concluded in March, but I did finish reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens at that time. Both of which are excellent!

Read Along

Riley, Ruben, Steve, my dad, and I all finished reading True Grit by Charles Portis in April. It was such a fun study! When we were finished reading and discussing, we watched both the 1969 and 2010 True Grit movies. Reading along with family is another great way of reading in community. Create your own family book club!

Schole Sistership

I have joined a group of women being led by Cindy Rollins through a reading of Seeking God by Esther De Waal and The Rule of St. Benedict. However, I haven't started reading yet. I do aim to over the next couple of weeks as we are just finishing up school this week, which will afford me more time.

Literary Life

If you haven't joined Cindy Rollins and Angelina Stanford on their Literary Life journey, you should! They've started a podcast that explores all aspects of life cultivated by books and stories. I listened to the first episode and loved it! They are currently hosting a study of Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, which is also on my list to be read. My only Sayers' read thus far was The Lost Tools of Learning mentioned above. I have heard a great deal about her mystery stories and can't wait to get started.

Summer Schole Sisters

Lastly, I will facilitate discussion locally as we read through Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset beginning this spring and running into summer. We will study Book I for June, Book II for July, and Book III in August. I'm nearly done reading Book I, The Wreath and am really looking forward to our June 2nd discussion! I love this summer group!

You may remember in past summers, we studied Anna Karenina, The Grapes of Wrath, and Les Miserables. We meet at a local restaurant one Sunday evening a month over the summer (typically June-August) to discuss our read. Several women in the area were asking to continue the gatherings this year. This will be our third summer and hopefully, we can continue for many more!

What's included in your spring reading list? Please share in the comments below...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

True Grit...

"There is no knowing what is in a man's heart.", Mattie Ross - True Grit.    
One day, I was doing some research on the Close Reads podcast and mentioned to the kids that True Grit was initially a book written by Charles Portis. Riley and Ruben had seen parts of each True Grit movie. They are John Wayne fans and asked to watch the 1969 movie in it's entirety. I proposed a book study first and they were both intrigued. We decided to include their dad and grandpa, so I ordered multiple copies of Portis' novel from the library and we each set off in our own direction to read.

A month later, we gathered to discuss. True Grit is the story of 14-year old Mattie Ross, who's father was killed by his ranch hand, Tom Chaney. Mattie sets out to avenge her father's death. First, Mattie goes to town to identify her father's body and settle the family's financial affairs. Then, she hires Reuben J. Cogburn, also-known-as Rooster, a rough and tough, hard-drinking, one-eyed U.S. Marshall, to bring in her father's killer. However, there is one condition, that Mattie must travel with Rooster in order to see that justice is served.

In the meantime, a young Texas Ranger named La Boeuf shows up also looking for Tom Chaney. He decides to team with Cogburn in his quest, but doesn't want Mattie tagging along. In the end. La Boeuf looses the battle and the three of them set off for their fugitive, who's hiding deep in Indian Territory. Their journey proves to be quite an adventure! Mattie Ross, a proud Presbyterian, is a wonderful protagonist that I would liken to Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn.

After reading and discussing Portis' novel, we watched John Wayne's 1969 Academy Award winning performance as Rooster Cogburn. With a G-rating, I would say it was an excellent family film! Then, we watched Jeff Bridges' 2010 portrayal of Rooster, which was equally good. Both Bridges and Wayne bring Cogburn's rough and tumble, but highly lovable character full circle on the big screen. The 2010 film is more true to Portis' book, but John Wayne certainly can't be beat in his display of true grit. Interestingly, the 2010 version is rated PG-13. It's funny to see how ratings have changed over the years. Both True Grit movie versions have some minor language and violence in them, but so does the book.

Whether it be True Grit or not, I highly recommend book studies with your older children. Sometimes while parenting teenagers, we get lost in the day to day grind of them trying to assert their independence. It is so wonderful to build family culture around books and movies. It creates a bond that surpasses the most difficult days. I can't tell you enough how much I love reading along with my older kids!