Thursday, February 14, 2019

Charlotte Mason Term Two Civil War Year

Since the holidays and getting back on track, we returned to alternating dinner on Wednesday nights. One night my 14-year old made a lemon chicken and rice meal, with macarons for dessert. 

I don't know what the fascination is with macarons, but they are not the easiest dessert to make. Very time consuming. I did not help her.

These were her favorites.

We've been having A LOT of rain. It NEVER rains in the High Desert. It is such a blessing, and we also enjoy the rainbows.

Lots of rain means lots of snow on the local mountains. I took this pic last Friday from the park...because every Friday we head to the park to have our quadratholon...around the track four times...walking, riding, rollerblading, and running.

I hate science. I do. I hated the book that we used last term, suggested through a Charlotte Mason site. So now we are winging it, using books from the library. I'd like to get rid of science from the curriculum altogether. I find science to be subjective, inconsistent, faulty, and boring. Of course, in all my years of doing science, I have yet to settle with a resource I truly love. So for the sake of science, my kids made a chemical experiment out of a volcano. Everyone should make a volcano once in their life.

My ten-year old participates in a book club once a month. This month they had to memorize a poem and recite it on club day. She chose Emily Dickinson's Bee, I'm Expecting You, which she also used as her memory-copy work for four weeks. 

The girls had to construct their own mailboxes and make Valentines to share. 

In addition to making Valentines, she crocheted (that's such a weird word to spell), she crocheted one miniature ice cream cones for every one of her friends in the club, each one a different flavor. She watched a Youtube video on how to make them, and she taught herself. Amazing. I have nothing to do with her talent. I do not crotchet. 

Last weekend we began our field trips. (We have one this weekend and one the following Saturday.) Here we went to Redlands to celebrate Lincoln's Birthday. Check out this Lincoln.

Here are General Robert E. Lee, General Grant, and President Lincoln answering questions. Of course, as with science, history is subjective, according to some people; for example, Grant said that the Civil War was about money. Stop already! The Civil War was about a lot of things. Can we just agree on that?

Again, check out this Lincoln.

On Lincoln's actual birthday, which Google totally ignored - my 11-year old pointed this out, I served Abraham Lincoln's favorite foods (according to the internet) for breakfast: johnny cakes, bacon, apples, coffee, and almond cake (minus the almond slices). Log Cabin syrup was optional. The kids were surprised. 

My fourteen-year old has been working on this. Not sure if it is a blanket or a neck brace. Again, I have nothing to do with this. Grandma influenced these handicrafts, and I am grateful.

In addition, we have been watching North and South, the Civil War saga soap opera. This is my fourth time watching it, and I now think this is the most frustrating storyline ever. Of course, we fast forward through every scene with Ashton Main because she cannot keep her clothes on. There are so many things wrong with the characters, I don't know where to start. But at least we are enjoying the historical aspect of the saga. 

This Saturday, if it does not continue to rain (it is pouring right now as I write), we are planning to attend Calico Ghost Town's Civil War Reenactment. The kids can't wait! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Recovering from December...and settling into January

This shall not be a school post or an update on Charlotte Mason, per se, but it is a recovery post about December and how we have settled into January. 

That first day of December the girls participated in the City parade with their dance studio, then immediately following they had Nutcracker practice; and somehow I was supposed to fit in a wedding, but that never happened because my husband, our two adult children, and I had tickets to see Jordan Peterson that evening in Los Angeles; and that was only the first day of crazy. 

Attending Jordan Peterson 
at the Orpheum, in Los Angeles

All throughout December, Sophia had community events to perform with her Company and Nutcracker cast, and she attended Christmas Tree lightings and a number of senior citizen homes right up until Christmas week. 

Sophia waiting to perform at Christmas Tree lighting


The final Nutcracker practice was the weekend before the show, and it was a long day. 

Eva, dressed as a boy for party scene

Sophia was really excited that her group was able to perform en pointe for the waltz. This was her first performance in her pointe shoes.

Sophia, in light pink, standing on left side.

 Nutcracker was the third weekend of the month, in four shows. Always a long weekend, but definitely worth it.

Here is the video of the Waltz of the Flowers:

Eva bowing, in tan cap


As I said, one more community performance before Christmas, but this time, Sophia's favorite best friend from Chicago showed up. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I have a big mouth.


We hosted our husband's family on Christmas Eve, which went late. After everyone leaves, we always clean up that night before we go to bed. Even with seven people helping, it is exhausting. 

When we discussed putting out the presents for our own family before going to bed, to be opened on Christmas morning, we had no energy left. Instead, we employed the kids to put out their own presents, and we told them where they were hiding. They dutifully brought them out while my husband and I sat comatose on the couch and directed them.

Christmas Day we spent at my sister's house. Our mom had surprised us, when she showed up on the Sunday before Christmas, after driving two days from Missouri. She's like that.


One day before she returned to Missouri, she came over to teach the girls more crotchet patterns.

Grandpa is NOT interested in crocheting


Sophia wanted to use some of her Christmas money to buy her second pair of pointe shoes. We took her to a Discount Dance in Fontana, and she found a Russian pair that she loved even more than her first.


New Year's Eve we hosted a little party with both of our families, but since we celebrate New York midnight our time, no one stayed until midnight. After that, we cleaned up again and went to bed. 

We put 2018 to bed. 

Good riddance! 

I must admit...2019 was a little slow at the start, but it is getting much better. I am finding so much inspiration in my reading of Scripture and other books, my faith is encouraged, and my problems from late last year are dissipating, and I am working them out. It is definitely better. 

School took time to get back to something close to normal because we took off four weeks and did not keep up our good habits. My fault for not leading. 


Dance has started again, and I love these pictures of Eva in ballet tech class. I did not take them. 

Eva, second from front
Look at this awesome mom/teacher...
(My girls' dance school has the most dedicated teachers)


I instituted Chef Wednesdays again. Vin made dinner last night. He made English muffin pizza and molten lava cakes (recipe by Pioneer Woman).

making the messy molten lava cakes

making the homemade pizza sauce with tomato paste
And look at this amazing Molten Lave Cake...

Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

One last photo...Sophia found this picture of herself during her first ballet class, when she was eight, at a different studio. I just had to share it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Charlotte Mason, Term One (Almost Done)

Six or so weeks ago, I reviewed our first month homeschooling Charlotte Mason style, and you saw how that went.

(This is how it went.)

Now we are in our twelfth week, or finishing our first term, and it gets better.

My son improving in his handwriting.
He now leaves spaces between his words.

The first week of October, my husband came home one afternoon early from work and said, "I no longer have a job. They let me go."

My husband has worked with this company for seventeen years. Six years ago they were acquired by another company, which was a scary time; he fought for his job, and it made a difference. He so impressed the new leadership that he was asked to take the general manager position. It was both a blessing and a curse.

Nature study

Fast forward to 2018, and his company was sold again; though this did not have the same ending. He was under the impression that he would have a job after the acquisition. Regardless, my husband has been meticulous about preparing us for this day, just in case all the upper management was wiped out; and since it was now a reality, his diligence paid off. It is because of his hard work that we hardly felt the lay off. We could see ourselves floating for a good six months or more, if it took that long to find a new job.

Nonetheless, the reality of being out of work was devastating for him because he takes his obligation to provide for his family severely. Two mornings after his layoff, he lie awake, distraught. I finally got the courage to tell him: you need to make a habit of praying and reading your Bible every morning, and drawing strength from Him.


Do you know, he got up, went to our school room, where his desk is, and read from 1 Peter. When I came out later to see how he was, he told me what he read and pointed out where it suggested that husbands should pray with their wives, which is what I've been praying for for a long time. I have always wanted my husband to make time for God, reading His word and praying daily, but his job as GM took up his waking hours and energy. He never had time for God, except Sundays.

So right there we prayed for the first time as husband and wife, and there were a lot of tears, too. Each morning, he wakes up at 6 am, reads his Bible, and then after I read and pray privately, I go to him and we discuss what we read; then we pray together. Each morning, we've been doing this for a month.

Art illustration

Meanwhile, every day he would take care of business, while seeking work and submitting applications and resumes, up to 15 a day, sometimes.

Finally, he found a something (a customer of his previous employer), and it was a perfect match. He knew the industry, it was in the salary range he was looking, pursuing them assertively. He immediately got an interview, and a second interview, and finally an offer. He starts next week. He is super happy.

Picture Study/Illustration
So that's our story of being unemployed for five weeks. Yes, it affected our daily homeschool. We had to sacrifice our schoolroom so my husband could use his desk all morning, which he did all the way through to the afternoon. We returned to the dining room table and did our best under the circumstances.

Also, mornings always got off to a late start because I would spend a good hour talking, praying, and discussing life with my husband until we had to get started on the day. By then it was 830, and the kids still weren't up.

But this is life. We managed.

Here are our accomplishments for Term One:

  • Read Macbeth in its original language, and watched three different film editions of the play. 
  • Studied Lewis and Clark, Napoleon's Empire, the War of 1812, and miscellaneous other events that took place between 1800 and 1830.
  • Covered maps of US western expansion, Lewis and Clark's expedition, Napoleon in Europe and Russia, Native American Tribes, and battles of the War of 1812.
  • Read numerous stories from Plutarch.
  • Read Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and a couple stories from Tanglewood Tales
  • Learned six poems from Alfred Lloyd Tennyson.
  • Listened to six compositions from Mendelssohn.
  • Studied six works by Jacques Louis David.
  • Learned numerous American folksongs and folklore, like "Cumberland Gap," "Ol Dan Tucker," and "The Birth of Davy Crockett."
  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading a little bit at a time from Ourselves, by Charlotte Mason. (Great life lessons!)
  • Covered Old and New Testament.
  • And of course, math and grammar.
  • Girls are doing French, and son is doing Spanish and Latin, like nobody's business.
  • Read nature parables to the younger students.
  • Older one studied biology, while the younger two studied meteorology.
  • Older one studied carnivorous plants and nocturnal animals, while the younger two studied wildflowers and spiders, against my youngest daughter's wishes. 
  • Furthermore, my older one read and narrated: Mere Christianity, The History of Painting, How to Read a Book, and Whatever Happened to Justice. All of these studies will take 2-3 years to finish reading.

Picture Study/Illustration

One thing I dislike is The Young Citizen Reader, which I removed a few weeks ago because it is outdated and not easily read aloud. I need something else for our citizenship study. My kids are completely disinterested in this version, and so am I. We tried.

Some things did suffer because of the changes, such as art illustration and nature study, which is usually what happens when you slip up. I tried to incorporate it here or there, and we managed to do some art in nature study and picture study, but not as often as I imagined. 

Next week is Exam Week. Being my first time, I want to keep it fun and interesting. Praying for good attitudes. After that, we take a week off for Thanksgiving, which will be a great time to redo our schedule, prepare for the next term, and organize the school room, now that Dad returns to work and we will have it to ourselves again.

Mom's contribution to art study

We survived a term of interruptions and life changes. We adapted. We still learned. 
Now on to Term Two. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

One Month of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Week one of our new school year using the Charlotte Mason method was wonderful. 


But of course, already I had to deal with personal issues, and while we still managed to keep to most of our schedule, there were some days it did not go smoothly. 


This is what I call crazy week because my girls have rehearsals all week for their upcoming recital on that following weekend. Every night we spend several hours at our local community college, and usually come home late. It is tiring. Both were in opening number and had four and five numbers each. We were a little distracted during the day and tired from the night before. Nonetheless, we kept to our schedule, though took a break on Friday to rest for the weekend. 

The following pictures are my girls in a few of their costumes from picture day at their studio.

Instead, on that Friday, my girls went to book club and my son had his piano lesson. Then we called it a day.

Saturday and Sunday were four recitals. They were long, and we were exhausted, but it was all worth it.


Monday, I let everyone sleep until 10am. And I cancelled school. Later I found out several other homeschool moms at the dance studio also took the day off and let their kids sleep.

Then on Tuesday we went on our hike to Pine Knot Trail in Big Bear; and I am sad to say, I am regretfully hanging up my hiking boots. I am the only one in my family who loves to hike and be around nature. My kids complain, always: one hyperventilates, another has chest pain and heart palpitations or head aches. I do not make a major issue of the drama, but often wonder if maybe it is true. The hikes are not easy, and even I struggle, though I keep it to myself and push my way to the end. But this hike we were left behind, alone in the woods, because my youngest one was in tears. I do not like being left behind because...bears. It was really scary. So I am not doing this anymore. I am done being left behind and forcing my kids to hike when they hate it.

Starting out on the trail

Our group

My two hypochondriac children at the crest of the trail.
 On Wednesday and Thursday I crammed our two lost days into these days, and we skipped literature (because we already finished The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and our daily copy work and memorization, and instead we all recited Revelation 20, which we have been memorizing for church all summer.

Now, on Friday, only my son and I were up early enough to go to the park to rollerblade. While we were there, my son spotted this strange bird that we had never seen in the area, in all our years of living here. He was so excited, he ran onto the grass field in his rollerblades to get a closer look at it. I had my camera with me, and I was able to zoom in and get a picture of it.

When we arrived home, my son searched and searched our bird books, but he found nothing. So I finally resorted to Google, and found that what we saw was a white-faced ibis, probably a juvenile, migrating south. Of course, I pulled out my nature journal to record our observations and suggest my son do the same, which he did reluctantly because, as I have said before, he does not like to draw.

Mom's nature journal, dry brush and ink

son's reluctant scribble, pencil and ink


We still are loving Charlotte Mason. We love the short lessons and the variety. And I have every confidence that they are going to improve in their narration. One of their weaknesses is comprehension, and I believe constant narration is going to strengthen their comprehension skills, as they learn to have better attention.

My son was so inspired by our study of Lewis and Clark that he made us a meal, using recipes from The Lewis & Clark Cookbook, by Leslie Mansfield, making macaroni and cheese and mocha cream pie (minus the mocha), all from scratch. So yummy!

My son also said he likes how they are "forced" (in the afternoon) to do what they think is fun. He's been cutting out and making these Minecraft cubes and said it is like computer coding, because he engineers his own game.  He also spends extra time learning Latin, reading about Ancient Rome, and solving his Rubik's Cube over and over again.

Minecraft cubes and characters

My daughters have been working on their own cardboard dollhouses. They are also making the furniture. Both are totally under construction, as you can see by the mess, and my school room is always in chaos! Scissors, glue guns, paper, cardboard, paint and yarn everywhere!

Now that all has returned to "normal," and we have two weeks off from dance, I am hoping that we get back to our usual schedule. Life can be such a distraction and obstacle to homeschooling.

Looking forward to week five.