This time of year we tend to have lots of dry, cracked skin. My son’s skin was super sensitive when he was an infant, and most ointments made his eczema and dry skin worse instead of better. Finally, I found a soothing salve that worked and actually helped heal his skin instead of irritating it more. The problem was, it cost around $11 for a tiny tin of the salve. And whenever I ran out, I either had to drive 20 miles to get more or order some on Amazon and pay even more for shipping. (This was before the wonder that is Amazon Prime!) So, instead, I decided to try my hand at making my own salve so that I could always have it on hand.
Chamomile and calendula flowers are both known as amazing powerhouse herbs. They have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making them excellent additions to ointments to promote healing and reduce swelling and irritation. This is my simple recipe for a super soothing herbal salve that works great for eczema, cuts and scrapes, insect bites, burns, chapped lips and dry skin.
Hey readers! I’m just popping in to share a little free printable of Colossians 3:12 to encourage you today! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies and negative thoughts we let into our minds. Our modern world is full of lies. Lies about our identity, lies about our roles as women, lies about God. Sometimes we get lost in the busy and mundane activities of daily life and forget who we really are. The enemy tries to make us think we are unloved and unloveable. When we live in this lie, then we also become unloving and tend to lash out at others. We forget that if we are believers in Christ as Savior, we are also children of the King. We are forgiven and free. God has declared in Colossians 3:12 that we are holy anddearly loved by Him! As His beloved chosen ones, we have freedom and grace to live in compassion, kindness, humility and gentleness. We do not have to believe the lies of Satan!
Sometimes I need a reminder of this amazing truth, and maybe you do, too. We need to combat the lies with the TRUTH of God’s Word. The best way to get the truth into our minds is to meditate on it frequently, to memorize Scripture. I find that if I post verses around the house where I will see them often, I am more likely to commit them to memory. When we speak truth to ourselves, we can weed out the lies that are taking root in our minds. We can take our negative thoughts captive and replace them with positive ones! That’s why I created this little printable to share! Click on the image above to download the PDF and print it out. Then hang it somewhere you will see it often as a reminder of Whose you are, and who you are! May it be an encouragement to you every time you read those words.
After I wrote my scheduling posts, I remembered that I had also wanted to write a little about what we are using for curriculum this year. We have made a few additions this year that are really helpful, so I wanted to talk about those a bit now that we have been using these materials for a little while.
The Curriculum Core:
As is clear from previous posts, we use AmblesideOnline for the core of our curriculum. The subjects that are fully covered under AO’s curriculum are as follows: Bible, History, Literature, Artist Study, Composer Study, and Geography. What I love about AO is that it is all laid out for what me as to what books to read and when. It is so much more than a booklist. Using AO actually has taught me more about Charlotte Mason education while I am immersed in doing it on the day-to-day basis.
Another great thing about AmblesideOnline is that it has links to free online versions of such a huge number of the books and resources because so many of them are in the public domain. So it is a very budget-friendly curriculum if you are in need of that. For us, the last two years we have actually bought all of the print books we needed for school for right around $100 just by buying used copies. That is still a lot less than most boxed curricula out there, even with the added cost a few other supplements! And that brings me to those extras…
We have been using the Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP) for a couple of years now. It is a free curriculum from the UK available online to download and print. Being free to access, you might think it would not be very high quality, but we have been very happy with the results so far. It teaches arithmetic in a way that helps children understand why and how numbers function, instead of only teaching rote. It also has a good blend of logic, problem solving and mental math. MEP is not flashy, and the printing of materials is a bit of a job at the beginning of the year. But the skills my son is learning are so valuable that I have zero complaints about MEP thus far!
We started my son out learning cursive using ABeka handwriting books, and we are still slowly working our way through the first one. ABeka moved WAY too fast in cursive for us at the beginning, and handwriting became a real pain point in our homeschool for a while. We slowed down a great deal and even took long breaks from doing any work on writing at times. Now it is no longer an issue, but I still only require a few lines of simple handwriting practice from my son each day. We are starting to incorporate some quotes from our Ambleside Year 2 books, as well, but when I do that he still only writes one short sentence a day.
Nature Study is still something we are learning how to do well and consistently at this point. It was one of the things that dropped from our schedule most often last year. I decided that in 2018 we would start using Lynn Seddon’s wonderful guide, Exploring Nature with Children. It is such a lovely resource, and I fully expect us to reuse it again and again over the next few years. Right now we are using the curriculum sparingly, mainly noting the subject for us to observe each week and using perhaps one extension activity to help us give attention to whatever that is for the week. It is helping us have more structured nature study time, and I feel like I have more motivation to get to it each week. If you are struggling to incorporate nature study regularly in your homeschool, I highly recommend Exploring Nature with Children!
Another subject I needed more consistency and structure to implement was foreign language. Even though I know a lot of Spanish grammar and vocabulary myself, I did not know how to actually teach it. So this year we began using Song School Spanish from Classical Academic Press, and it has been a big hit! Both of the kids look forward to our 5-10 minute daily Spanish lesson, and I have heard our 2-year-old singing the songs while playing on more than one occasion! One word of caution to Charlotte Mason homeschoolers…Song School Spanish does include some exercises in which the student is supposed to read and write words in Spanish. Charlotte Mason strongly recommended against children seeing words in a foreign language before they were fluently reading their own language. This is not a problem for us because my son IS a very fluent reader, but if your child is not reading well in English, you would have to adjust many of the activities in this book.
My son LOVES doing art and drawing, but I was at a loss of where to begin when it comes to formal lessons. Although I would love to put him in a class with an art teacher some day, that just isn’t practical for us yet. So this year we started using Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks as a guide. I admit that I was highly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information presented in the book before she even gets to the first lesson! But after I got over that initial “shock” I decided to just dive in and start following some of the opening warm-ups and teaching the basic elements of drawing as she presents them. We only do one brief session each week, so we have not gotten very far. We will see how it goes throughout the year!
Although I know solfege and the Kodaly handsigns myself, this was another highly neglected part of our homeschool last year. I have taught children’s choirs and used solfa singing as presented in the curricula, but I did not know how to present it at home. Enter the sweet and helpful Heather and her Children of the Open Air Solfa lesson videos on YouTube! Each week we sit down and sing a little song and practice our hand signs and solfege along with Heather (and her adorable kids!) It is quick and painless for all of us, and again, it is something even the 2-year-old loves to do!
Don’t know what Swedish Drill is? Neither did I until I found Dawn Duran’s tutorials on the Afterthoughts blog! Essentially, it is an exercise practice that involves teaching good posture, following directions (training the habit of attention!) and using various muscle groups. Last year we did Swedish Drill nearly every day. This year we have been doing it weekly so far, but I think we may add it back in as a daily activity again soon. I need to teach the kids a few more new moves and make some cards for me to call out drills so I’m not always thinking on my feet and leaving something out. I really have appreciated Dawn’s work on creating video tutorials with her kids doing some of the moves. And now she has even created a complete open and go resource called Swedish Drill Revisited to help us implement Swedish Drill effectively in our homeschool! I really NEED to get my hands on this one!
So, there you have it! A complete run-down of what curricula we are using in our homeschool in 2018. Are you using any of the same things this year? I’d love to hear what you fellow classical Charlotte Mason moms (and dads!) are using to help you teach this year!
In my devotional time lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Psalms. I feel like praying through the very prayers inspired by God helps train my heart and mind to desire what is right. Psalm 37 has been near and dear to my heart for a long time, but it has come to the forefront of my mind again lately as I have been working through some trust issues. This prompt of “surrender” took me back to Psalm 37 again. (I also found it a bit…um…interesting that I just wrote a post last week on the same theme of “letting go.”) The main verses that stand out to me with this idea of surrender are as follows:
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
The words in these verses that carry some of the same meaning as surrender are “trust,” “commit” and “be still.” Trusting God is letting Him be in control, surrendering the reigns to him and believing He will take good care of me. If I commit my way to the Lord, I am giving up or surrendering my own way. “Be still” is also a reminder to surrender. If I am still, I am at rest. I am not struggling or fighting. I am surrendered and willing to be used by God. The problem with all these things is that they go against our (MY) natural desire to be in control of our circumstances and to do what we want to do.
The beautiful thing about the picture of surrender in Psalm 37 is that it also shows the good things God promises when we give Him control:
He will give us safety. (vs. 3)
He will give us the desires of our heart. (vs. 4)
He will make our righteousness and justice shine. (vs. 6)
We will enjoy great peace. (vs. 11)
He will uphold us. (vs. 17)
I could go on, but my time is already up! The point is this: Surrender is not easy, but surrendering to the One who holds our future in His hands is always, always, the best thing to do.
As promised in my previous post, here are the rest of the details of my planning process for scheduling AmblesideOnline Year 2. If you missed that post, you will want to go back and check it out to see the first steps before moving on to these last few! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, and I will do my best to answer or help you find someone else who can!
How I Created Our Schedule for AmblesideOnline Year 2:
Steps 3 and 4: Decide how much time to spend (maximum) on each lesson and in what order to place each subject. I knew that no lesson at this point should go beyond the 20 minute mark. This is not usually a problem, unless we run into that aforementioned frustration over a math problem or have a longer than usual passage to read. Knowing ahead of time which books are likely to have those long chapters that need divided up, such as Parables of Nature and Understood Betsy, I can be prepared to divide up those lessons before accidentally running over-time.
•Recitation: 15-20 min.
•Spanish: 5-10 min.
•AO Reading 1: 20 min.
•Math: 20 min.
•Weekly Subject 1: 15-20 min.
•AO Reading 2: 20 min.
•Weekly Subject 2: 10 min.
•Copywork: 5-10 min.
As you can see, I tried to alternate shorter lessons with longer. Even when I have longer lessons back-to-back, I made sure that the subjects were going to be using different parts of the brain. This really seems to be working out well thus far.
Step 5: For my own sanity in planning, I also assigned specific days for specific types of books. Again, I looked at how many readings were required under each subject. I then spread those out over the week so that, for example, we would not be doing all our History and Tales one day or all Literature the next. I also assigned specific days to each of the weekly subjects, also trying to keep one longer subject paired with one of the shorter ones.
Our Finished Schedule:
I imagine that after all this, someone might want to know exactly how our schedule looks now that it is finished! Please note: This timetable is based on the AmblesideOnline curriculum, but it is not in any way a copy of the actual AmblesideOnline curriculum, which is under copyright. I simply offer this as an example of a way to create your own daily schedule for use the AO materials.
So, there you have it! Now that I have this nifty schedule all written out, I am able to quickly and easily plan each day’s work and keep track of what we are doing next throughout the morning. I also printed off a copy for my student, so he can know what to expect next, too! I hope this example and these steps help you if you are trying to figure out how to create your own daily schedule!
Now that we are almost a month into our second “official” year of using AmblesideOnline, I feel like we are really getting into the groove. Not that I don’t still have a lot to learn about teaching and living in a more Charlotte Mason-esque way! We certainly have not arrived! I do feel, however, that I have a handle on the flow of the academic portion of our school day, and that is a welcome change from last year. Many days I felt scattered, and I often could not remember what I was supposed to be doing from one day to the next.
Now, it could be partly that we were in the midst of pretty major upheaval all of last year, as opposed to feeling fairly settled here at the start of 2018. Another difference this year is that I have a much more mature, less destructive two-and-a-half year old along for the ride, than the high need 20 month old I had at the beginning of last year! But I honestly think that one of the biggest factor in my ability to juggle all the various subjects and moving parts is that I have a much better schedule this year!
Why I Created Our AO Year 2 Schedule:
This year I wanted to be more intentional about short lessons and varying the subjects to stick to the idea of “a change is as good as a rest.” But with so many moving parts (i.e.-some subjects daily, some bi-weekly, some only weekly) I was unsure how to make sure I got everything in the right place. Last year we tried looping some subjects, but inevitably, there was always one or more that got left off or skipped somehow. And some lessons seemed to get drawn out much longer than need be because of frustration or dawdling (I’m looking at you, Math!) I knew I needed a set schedule for Every. Single. Subject. And I knew I needed to use a timetable to keep us on track.
How I Created Our AO Year 2 Schedule:
Step 1: First I listed out all the subjects, noting which are weekly and which are daily. Some of the subjects on the weekly list could be done more frequently, such as Swedish Drill and Solfege and Poetry. For us at this time, however, dividing them up with the weekly subject is working better.
Recitation (this is where we do our memory work)
Ambleside Readings and Narrations
History and Tales
Swedish Drill Practice
Step 2: Figure out how many of each type of AO Reading there are typically in a week.
History and Tales: 3 (We are skipping Trial and Triumph at this time, so there would be 4 here if you are including it.
Natural History: 2
Literature: 3 (although these are frequently long and need to be divided over 2 days)
Since this makes an average total of 10 readings in a week, it works out nicely for us to have 2 spots in our daily schedule for AO books and narration. I also plugged in 2 of the weekly subjects each day. With 4 additional daily subjects, I now know I need 8 total time slots in my timetable.
Because the rest of my planning process gets a bit more detailed, and this post is already long enough, I will continue with the rest of my steps in a new post tomorrow. Until then, I hope these beginning steps are helpful to anyone just starting out with scheduling with AmblesideOnline Year 2!
As I mentioned in my post on my personal goals for 2018, I am participating in a 40 Day Sugar Fast hosted by Wendy Speake. When I started this fast, I really did just want to get free of my sugar addiction. I know that sugar is not good for me, in more than just a physical sense. I can tell that it affects my mind and emotions as well. I have gone without sweeteners before when doing Whole30, but whenever the diet period is over, I always creep back into my old habits. This year I decided I had finally had enough of feeling enslaved to my cravings for cookies or candy, and this fast seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do just that.
What I did not realize was that through Wendy and the other fasting group leaders, the Lord was going to ask for more than just my sugar during these 40 days. Right from the start, I realized that I had two choices. I could go along day by day using will power to turn down sweet foods and hope that at the end of the 40 days I’d have replaced my sweet tooth with a taste for more healthy options. Or, I could actually treat this fast as a spiritual experience and seek the Lord at those times when I usually would have gone to the cupboard for a sugary snack, which was what Wendy suggested.
At first, I admit, I was reluctant to try the second option. Honestly, I was afraid of what God might have to say to me in those quiet moments. I was afraid of being uncomfortable, of feeling hungry. I did not want to admit, even to myself, that I had been looking to food for comfort and happiness instead of going to God for those things. Yikes. Finally, however, I pushed past all those fears and decided to let God speak to my heart during this time.
The first few days after that decision, everything still seemed very much the same. But yesterday, I felt a heavy weight on my heart. I knew that the Lord was asking me to give Him than my sugar addiction, and I didn’t want to hear that. All day long I was irritable and moody. When my husband got home from work, I told him how I was feeling, and he told me to take some time to myself after dinner. I went to my room and sat there with my Bible and journal and started the hard work of asking God what it was He wanted me to let go of besides my comfort foods.
Immediately, an image came to my mind of a toddler holding onto a sharp and dangerous knife. She thought it was pretty and looked like a fun toy, so she grabbed it and held on with all her might. But then her father came and asked her to let it go. He knew it was going to hurt her if she didn’t. He gently but firmly took her wrist in his hand, and the toddler started kicking and screaming because she didn’t want him to take her shiny toy. Her father told her he had something much better for her if she would only give him the knife. But she didn’t want to. She didn’t see anything in his other hand. She wasn’t sure if she could trust him.
That toddler was me.
I think the Lord gave me that image as an answer to a prayer I prayed earlier on in the fast, a prayer for a vision of what He wanted to do in my heart and life. I know that there are some idols I have been holding onto, some things that I have been thinking were good for me, that my Heavenly Father wants me to let go of. He wants to give me something better. I just have to trust Him, even though I don’t see how He is going to do it.
I know this is just the beginning of the work that God has started in my heart. I hope to write more as the fast progresses. I am looking forward to seeing how my faith increases and how He breaks through some strongholds in my life. I have some big prayers. But I have an even bigger God!
How about you? Have you ever had a time when God asked you to let go of something so He could give you something better? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!
Welcome to the first 2018 edition of The Reading Report! I hope that you are off to a positive start to this new year. I can hardly believe that it is already the middle of January! Here in Middle Tennessee we are enjoying a beautiful snowy day, which is a bit of a rarity around here, I think. We have already chuckled just a bit (sorry Southerners!) at the speed at which everything gets cancelled when a little snow is falling. But, homebody that I am, I guess I don’t mind the added excuse to stay home and enjoy the extra time playing in the snow, drinking hot tea, and (of course) reading good books. Which leads me to the main point of this post–what I’m reading in the New Year!
What I’ve finished reading…
If you read the last installment of The Reading Report for 2017, you know that I have taken on the “Back to the Classics Challenge.” That post outlined the 12 (or more) books that I plan to read to fulfill each category for the challenge. I do, however, plan to read other books as well, and I have set a goal to finish 30 titles this year. I have already made a small dent in that number in just 2 weeks, which is good because I actually have been so busy with other things that I feel like I haven’t spent as much time reading as I should.
First, I finally finished Triggers! This book was so packed with good spiritual insight and practical help for me in my parenting struggles. I really think I need to read it again, focussing on just one chapter every week and intentionally trying to improve in that area. If you have any anger issues at all as a parent, I highly recommend this book!
The kids and I listened to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland together on Audible. We enjoyed it so much! I had read this book years ago, but it was delightful to get re-aquainted with the story with my children. We listened to this one for free on Audible Channels, which is a feature for Amazon Prime members. They have several classic audio books, both for families and adults only, as well as newer releases. If you have Prime and haven’t used Audible Channels, you should give it a try! And if you don’t have Amazon Prime, you should! Ha! 😉
Another great book I finished (also via Audible Channels) was The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie. It was so good! I am finding that Christie’s mysteries make a really good “break” from heavier reading or non-fiction.
What I am reading now…
The first book I am diving into from my Back to the Classics list is Howards End by E. M. Forster. It is also the current selection being discussed on the Close Reads podcast. I knew nothing about Forster or Howards End before I started reading, but so far I am thoroughly enjoying it. Several thought provoking passages have jumped out at me, as well as many humorous lines. I still am not sure where the plot is going, but the characters I have met so far are delightful!
One of my goals for this year’s reading is to work my way through at least one of Charlotte Mason’s volumes. Since I still have young children, it made sense for me to start at the beginning and read Home Education. I am taking it very slow, only reading a few pages at a time, because I want to absorb the ideas and make lots of connections as I go.
The third book in my basket right now is Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction by Asheritah Ciuciu. I started this one as a companion to the 40 Day Sugar Fast devotionals. Although I am only a chapter in, I can already tell it is going to be good! The focus of both the book and the fast is not food as much as it is on breaking free from bondage to food fixation and other sins so that we can find our satisfaction in Jesus. I am looking forward to talking more about these concepts as I go through this journey over the next month.
Oh, and I almost forgot! I also am listening to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Since this was one of the books that I said I was “afraid” to read on the Back to the Classics list, I decided to get an early start on it. The first several chapters have been fine so far, just a little slow, perhaps. It is a lot of character set-up. But I think listening to it on Librivox has been a good way to get into it. I will probably start reading it in print, too, and go back and forth between the two.
That’s all for now…
I have been interrupted so many times while writing this post, I certainly hope it doesn’t sound as scattered as I feel! If it does, and you still made it this far, thanks for hanging in there with me! By the way, if you are a regular reader of my blog (or hope to be one in 2018), would you mind filling out this quick little survey for me? I am looking for some input on what you all would like to see more of in this space, as well as how I can best connect with you in the future! It is just 3 short questions, so if you can give me just a minute more of your time, I will be so grateful.
This time of year there seems to be a plethora of self-improvement choices around the internet (and elsewhere). We are bombarded with choices for courses to take, books to read, or programs to join in order to better ourselves in some way or another. Some of that is good. It is helpful for us to have training and accountability in pursuing our goals. At the same time, though, sometimes all this amounts to is more noise, more comparison, more ways to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.
A few weeks ago, this was how I was feeling—as if all the noise from social media, books, blogs and podcasts was just cluttering my brain and heart to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything. It dawned on me that I needed to simplify my focus. After all, I can only do one thing really well at a time. I needed to quiet all the noise so I could focus on what was really necessary and important. And it helped, as it always does, to clear my head and pray and take a break from scrolling the internet.
As I was thinking back over my goals for 2018, I noticed a common theme, especially in terms of my “whys” for setting those particular goals. I could boil it all down to two questions: what will help me better serve my family, and what will help me better glorify God? I may have many different goals and ideas for how to accomplish them, but if I really simplify my focus to those two things, God and my family, I will always be headed in the right direction.
Here it is! My last post in my Goals for Growth series: Professional Growth! If you missed Part 1 on Relationships, or Part 2 on Personal Growth, feel free to click back and read those posts! Also, if you want to know why I picked “Growth” as my word for 2018, you can find out more here. This last post in the series is all about the growth goals I have for various aspects of my blogging and business in 2018. Let’s get started!
Professional Goals for Growth:
I think I need to preface all these goals by saying that the whole reason I even have “professional goals” this year is because I want to contribute financially to our family income. Because our current situation with having a house (still) on the market in another state and having a cost of living that is at or above our current income, I need to do what I can to supplement my husband’s paycheck. Even if I only make enough to buy my son’s school books and the kids’ clothes, or just enough to pay for groceries each month, every bit counts. I want to help get us closer to financial freedom. So, in addition to the reasons I have noted below, gaining financial freedom is a big “why” behind having these goals in the first place.
1. Blogging Goals:
In 2018 I would like to see my regular views and readership stats double, as well as double the number of subscribers to my email list. Since I have only been blogging here for about 6 months, my audience is still pretty small. Up to this point, I have not been able to put a lot of money or time into promoting my blog or networking. But my vision for this site has always been that it would become more than just a place for me to write and send my random thoughts out into the ethernet. My ideal would be that this site would become a community for like-minded women to exchange ideas, to encourage one another, and to have conversation about things that really matter. And if I don’t have readers, especially ones who come back regularly and leave comments, then I am just talking to myself…and that is not much of a conversation! One of my action steps for working toward increasing my blog followers is networking with fellow bloggers in a couple of Facebook groups to which I already belong.
2. Virtual Assistant Goals:
In 2018 I want to add 1-2 new clients for whom I provide virtual assistant services. I started working as podcast manager for MacKenzie Monroe of Cultivating the Lovely this past fall, and I loved it so much, I decided to launch my own virtual assistant business. I am hoping to add one more podcast or project manager position to my repertoire. I would also love to do some editing/proofreading for other writers. I know some people really need technical help with maintaining their WordPress websites, and I have some knowledge I can share in that area as well. One action step I am taking to move forward with this goal is to compile a list of people I can approach to offer my services, sort of doing the online version of “cold calling.”
3. Young Living Distributor Goals:
I am hesitant to put this out there because of all my professional goals this is the one I have been most hesitant to pursue. However, I am seriously considering building a Young Living team under me in the coming year. I have been regularly using YL essential oils in our home for years, and I do believe in the power of these natural substances to promote health. I do not, however, desire to be a salesperson. (I’ve been there, done that! It’s not my gifting!) I also don’t want to be another one of those people you have to unfollow on social media because they are always marketing and nothing else. What I do want is to help educate people on safe, effective options to OTC medications. I also want to help people find natural alternatives to toxic skincare and household products. So, if you start seeing some more posts around here about DIY natural body lotion or household cleaners using essential oils, you’ll know why!
Ok, I did not expect this, but it feels a little scary putting my business goals here for all the world to see in black and white. Some of these goals feel really big and unattainable to me, quite honestly. I guess publishing this also makes it all seem more real, and now I am accountable to you all to follow through and attack this stuff! So, help me not feel so alone here. What is one scary big goal you have for this year that you are a bit afraid to put out there? Let’s cheer each other on!