Classic in Translation - Don Quixote

I made it! Back in October I only had one book to go with my classics challenge list which should have made it really easy to finish up. Until I picked Don Quixote as my last book! Nothing like 940 pages of translated 16th century Spanish lit to push you to the brink of your deadline. That said, I am really glad I read it.

I choose the Edith Grossman Translation. I don't have anything to compare it to but I did find this translation to be quite readable and her footnotes to be quite helpful. It's actually two books. Most of what you probably know about Don Quixote from cultural references (the windmills!) is from the first part and I was very tempted to stop there. But the second is really where it shines. The relationship between Quixote and his sidekick Sancho deepens and you get past the "crazy guy doing some crazy thing and calamity ensures" repetition. Well, kinda. I mean, crazy things keep happening but its a little more involved.

This is so hard to review. It's so many things. It's lighthearted and funny, sometimes weird, sometimes confusing, often sad. There are stories within the story and sometimes another story mixed in. It's ridiculous and then, there will be this great deep quote or idea. I did get bogged down in parts and finished this mostly because I choose to read two chapters a day no matter what, rarely more. If I was in a hard spot, I knew that even I could manage two chapters. If I was in a good spot, I couldn't read more because after two chapters my brain was full and I had to stop and think. I guess my summary would be - It's worth reading. But really, you didn't need me to tell you that.

Don Quixote is my Classic in Translation for the Back the Classics Challenge. 


Mason for Me - Winter 2017/2018

Wow, we got so many great links for the fall link-up and really great comments and feedback. I'm so glad that so many of us are interested in using Charlotte Mason's methods on own minds!

We've also got a good representation across the forms. I always forget to go back and see what links have been added to carnivals so I assume at least some of you are the same way and I'll be recaping them here unless that gets too unwieldy.

The Fall Posts:

Jenna talks about her plans and initial weeks of AO Year 1.

Blossom over at North Laurels is also starting at the very beginning (it is a good place to start :-) but she's using AO for Groups. She's got more than one post over there so be sure to find both.

Moving up to Form 2, we have Nelleke from Education as Life with her journey through Year 4 and both the joys and the hard decisions it brings with it (like the struggle with handing over books and letting our children be independent - because we like the books too!)

I just recently posted my plans for Year 8.

In other mother (and father!) culture links, we have Dewey's Treehouse sharing her Christmas Countdown and some very cute but simply craft options.

Caleb adds a unique perspective as a homeschooling Dad who's making Charlotte Mason work for his Orthodox family.

And Anna shares her current book choices and goes beyond with music and nature.

More Mother Culture Links:

Once you start looking for it, the Mother Culture ideas are everywhere in the CM community, even if they aren't labeled directly as such. I loved the Schole Sister's Podcast #28 Education is a Life because if you realize what Charlotte Mason meant by that and truly believe it, you can't help but see that you need it is well. And if you don't, go listen and you soon will.

On a practical level, The Mason Jar episode #48 with Mary Jo Tate gave me a good example of what I want to be in 20 years - a mom who can talk about books for as long as they'll let me!

Erin is a good source of inspiration  if you're not up for a full AO year but still want to prioritize Mother Culture. She shares her how and her what in her post a over at Raising Veggies and Humans (I'm jealous, I am raising humans but the veggies part never seems to work out how I plan).

Over on Instagram, #MasonForMe is small but growing so do check it out - and use it! I love looking at a pretty stack of books.

Now for this winter's link up: We've made the plans, now we got to put them into action! And keep sharing!


Mason for Me: Planning Y8 (on a budget)!

I think I've got my plan guys! When I did year 7 last year I pretty much took the literature and history options, cut everything that I had already read or that wasn't public domain or available at my library and called it a day. But for year 8, I really wanted to do the whole thing, or at least more of it.

 Lucy, my oldest, is only in her last term of year 2 right now so I don't have any experience with planning the higher levels with all the choices. It was a little bit overwhelming at first and I just couldn't wrap my head around it until I printed out the detailed list from the website and started marking it up. Then I pulled up the basic/lite version online so I could kind of see what they thought was most important to keep which helped me come up with a that I'm really happy with.

 I did end up cutting some stuff but  not much and it's definitely more well-rounded than last year. And I'm less likely to panic when I have to start planning upper levels for Lucy so that's a big win too!

Now that I've said I'm not cutting much - I am cutting all Bible/Devotional, Government and Logic reads because I have my own bible study plan I like and I read all the others back in high school. What can I say, maybe my mom knew what she was doing back when she planned my highschool :-) I'm also cutting Health and Art. Somethings gotta give and better those than laundry. Or at least I feel like that's what a responsible mom would say.

I'm keeping all the History and plugging away at Churchill. And I'm going to buy Churchill this year even thought I could get it from the library because I have come to love it and I don't love having to keep checking it out so many times. Although I might keep checking it out every once in a while because our library culls books like crazy! I consider it my civic duty to keep those good books used so they don't leave the system.

I'm only cutting The Voyage of the Armada from biographies because it's not public domain. I was torn between A Coffin for King Charles and Queen Elizabeth but our library has the former so that settled it. I'm buying A Man for All Seasons and reading the rest online.

For Geography I'm getting Kon Tiki from the library and using the public domain Columbus biography. I will be adding in Ourselves and the Bacon Essays but I've already read Utopia. For Ourselves, I didn't read it in Y7 so I'm doing the Y7 schedule plus a bit of Year 8. I won't be adding Plutarch. I've liked the Plutarch that I've done already but I'll wait for Lucy to do more. She'll be in form 2 in just over a year (what?!how!?) so I won't have to wait long.

There are a few selections of Literature and Poetry that I've already read but everything else will stay as schedule dictates. I'm also thinking of adding in Beowulf because I read the big Y8 poetry back selection in Y7 but I just realized that as I'm writing this and I forgot to actually add it to the schedule. Oops.

I went back and forth about science/nature study books. As someone who studied and worked in the biological sciences field, I don't really feel like I need the science selections and most of these texts are ones I'd need to buy but I do obviously enjoy studying science. So I'm compromising. I'm cutting a few, relying on the library and using the excuse that I'm pre-reading for Lucy. Which isn't really just an excuse. As much as I love the idea of living books, I do get skeptical when it comes to science. I tend to think of science as being more like math in that it has it's own language and needs to be taught that way. But maybe a few years of CM science will change my mind on that.

*And just when I decided to do The Chemical History of a Candle, this post showed up in my feed. What timing! Now I'm even more excited about it.

I didn't get to very many free reads in year 7 and I have a feeling I won't get to many of the y8s either but I've read many already and I will try and use several from that list as books in my yearly Back to the Classics Challenge if possible as well.

I've updated the schedules although in a few cases I just said "spread book evenly" because I haven't checked it out yet to see how many chapters. For keeping, I bought a nicer notebook and will try keeping everything together in one reading journal like Celeste did. I'll also have Book of Centuries and hope to add lots of entries into that but for things like lists and maps, I think this will be nice. I've put the schedule for term 1 into the front of the notebook and copied my year 7 timeline into it, both so I have it as a reference and so I don't lose it because it was just a loose piece of paper before and I'd like to know where it is when the kids hit this year 7 and I need a refresher. Next up I need to downloaded and organized the books. I've got a few left to purchase but I'm getting there. 

I had a pretty small budget for this because I need to make my Y3 purchases by January and I hope to add a couple bigger curriculum choices for us in the spring and to be honest, I have a lot of non-curriculum mother culture books that are really calling my name (Karen Glass's new book about narration! Cindy Rollin's morning time book! Megan Hoyt's A Touch of the Infinite!..I could go on). I did manage to tuck away about $100 for this year 8 project. Then I dropped my kindle for what was apparently the last time. The screen froze up and I cried. So most of my school budget went to replacing that. It's totally worth it because I use it for both me and Lucy and while I have the kindle app on my phone and a fire, if I'm doing ebooks for educational purposes, I really like having an old school, does nothing but ebooks kindle. That left me just a tiny budget for the hard copy books for now, but one of the great things about AO is does not force one to choose budget over quality.

So here's my budget breakdown:

-New (refurbished) kindle = $60
- Flexbook Reading Journal = $17
- Ourselves $13.50
-A History of the English Speaking People: A New World = $4.50
-Beowulf = $5
-A Man for All Seasons $8.50

Total = 108.50

Not bad! Now that stuff is coming in, I'm really excited to start reading. I had planned on waiting until January but I'm might start a bit sooner. I'm pretty sure it's gonna take me at least a year to get through all this. And I can't start my classics challenge books until January and too much waiting is bad for your soul. Or something like that ;-)


Mother's Daybook - November 11th

Drinking - Disappointment. Really. I don't get Starbucks or fancy drinks. like. ever. I think my dad bought me a drink when he was here last Christmas. But it's b1g1 week and I just happened to find a gift card in my van from when I needed two for teacher gifts on the way to an event and all they had was a three pack. So Craig picked up drinks after he ran errands but what was supposed to be Praline Chai Latte was just a Praline Latte....that is not the same! One is tasty tea goodness and the other tastes like coffee! Blech. Coffee! I know most of y'all probably like the taste of coffee but pretend you don't and imagine my sorrow. I think we'll try again tomorrow.

Watching - Things on our new tv. I'll be honest, losing my "we don't own a tv" hippie superiority card stings but it is really nice to watch something on netflix with all three kids on a screen bigger than our laptops. I also put Pandora on a couple times for them when they are just playing down there but I'd go to check on them and they'd be watching the screen. All it shows is the cover of the cd! How is that interesting? I'm thinking that interest will fade in time.

We (as in Craig and I, not the kids and I) finished Stranger Things 2 last night even though we still don't have much furniture down there. Is this a man/women thing? I would have preferred small screen + couch but he wanted bigger screen + uncomfortable chair/pouf thing. I also just got Lark Rise to Candleford and now that Stranger Things is done maybe I can find more time to watch it. It just wasn't even Craig's choice - and that definitely is a male/female thing :-)

Being Thankful - for no fleas. We had a weird flea infestation the last two weeks. Weird because we don't own any indoor/outdoor pets. And neither the chickens nor the guinea pigs even showed signs of flea bites. So heck if I know how we got fleas but one look at poor Norah and Jonah and we clearly had some problem. Craig and I had a few bites each too.I couldn't figure out what it was then after racking my brain and feeling like I was going insane, I saw one. And I knew. We only saw a few fleas themselves even after all the cleaning so I started out thinking I'd go back to my undercover hippie roots and try and solve this problem the natural way. I threw all sorts of stuff at them - diatamaceous earth, borax, dawn, essential oils. I felt like I was in Hawkins as I sprinkled salt all over my hard floors, de all over my carpets and put bowls of soapy water under my lights. They laughed at me and kept biting. So I called the bug guy. Well, whose laughing now because those things are gone! The bug guy comes back again for one more spray but I think the problem is solved. I'm still recovering from all the work though. Even with the spraying, I still had a ton of vacuuming ad I washed every single throw pillow and blanket in addition to all our bedding. We have eight beds in this house which at this point in time seems excessive. I mean each bed comes with sheets and a duvet and duvet cover, a blanket or two, a couple pillows. I was putting things straight from dryer to garbage bag to keep it safe unless it was absolutely necessary. It's been a long couple weeks is over but I think the worst is over and I can breathe again.

Looking forward - to a week with no appointments. It's also been appointment season over here. Or maybe I just need to realize that between my chronic health issues that need monitoring and three kids that need all the basic dentist/doctor stuff and being a fostering family that will have social worker visits, we'll just always been in appointment season. But one more crazy week and then we take a break. Yay! I know I'm a homebody but a few really busy weeks proves how much of one I am. Just let me be world! Now this post is ending up more vent driven than I intended so we'll end on a happy note...

Wearing - These slippers. I've never really been a slipper person. I liked the idea of them, especially since we don't wear shoes inside and I'm cold natured, but I've never been able to find ones I really liked and get in the habit of wearing them. But I was thinking of trying again and someone recommended this specific style/brand so when I saw Target had all shoes/slippers 20% off, I grabbed them. And I love them. So much. I tried on a few other styles that were okay but they didn't have the cozy all the way inside, just the trim. I think the combination of the full fluffy comfortable inside and the bootie style that won't come off just does the trick. They're actually inside/outside soles but very flexible (and I'm kind of intensively crazy about shoes and I wear minimalist shoes) so I've even worn them in the backyard because I think its a healthy shoe. But also very hygge. And I'm all about the hygge right now. I don't even care if I'm just following the masses. There I said it. I own a tv. I watch Stranger Things. I use chemicals on my house to kill bugs and I like trends like fall and hygge obsession. Man, I better have another home birth soon before people think I've gone all mainstream!


Classics Challenge: Freckles

Oh my, this was my draft from way back in May that I never posted but thought I did! It's a good thing I have been keeping a list on my pages or I might have thought I had one catagory more than I did. I'm actually on my last book. I did pick Don Quixote as that last one so it's still gonna be a close call whether I can finish by the end of the year but I think I can do it. 

After Anna K., I needed a little bit lighter read so I went with Freckles. I read it's sequel, Girl of the Limberlost, last year and really enjoyed it but didn't realize until later that this one was supposed to come first. That said, the stories are only loosely tied together and I don't think it hurt me one bit to read them out of order.

This is another great nature lore book by Gene Stratton-Porter. I challenge even the most city-loving person to read this and not want to spend an afternoon outside, at least at a park if not out on a hike or remote quiet spot where one could find some unusual specimens to observe.

I wasn't sure at first if I was going to like this one as much as it's sequel. It didn't tug at my heart quite in the same way and the romance part was actually my least favorite part but overall, I like it a lot. They are very similar in their sometimes too high level of sugary sweetness and number of coincidences but I'm okay with that. I liked that the plot of this one was a little more unexpected. And one can hardly go wrong with an enduring red headed freckled orphan (but not the same as Anne Shirley, this one's a boy :-) Yes, it's dated and their are some sentiments, especially in the ending, that make you go, "Hmm...not so sure about that" but if you need a little bit of happiness in your reading pile, I don't think you can go wrong. Just be prepared to spend the next weekend hiking or sitting with your nature journal!

Freckles is my Romance Classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Go check out books and Chocolate for more info on the Back to Classics Challenge.


Moana, Belle and a Tiger for for a walk...

Norah and her Beast. Jonah was supposed to be the Beast but, as he has done before, he changed his mine at the last minute and really wanted to be a tiger. So I spent the last Friday and Saturday hand sewing stripes on orange pajamas in time for a Saturday afternoon party. And then he lost his mask at the party! But they found it in time so trick or treating wasn't ruined. I wasn't going to let the Beast costume go to waste so we made it work for Craig. 

I went as the Moana's ocean. My saturday version was cuter with some sea creatures and a treasure chest taped on as well but tonight was cold and I wanted to bundle up more. 

I was just happy I finally convinced Norah she could wear some layers with her Belle outfit. It was a tough sell but once I pulled out the "No candy without a jacket" she caved. I love Trick or treating with a 2 year old. They have no idea what's happening at the beginning but it doesn't take long for them to figure it out. Norah added two new words to her vocabulary today: Candy and Thank You. I'm not into rewards as a general parenting principles but you can't argue that positive reinforcement doesn't work in the short term! Plus, they can't count so my parent tax can be higher.

And  my little tiger was much more adventurous this year.  He was saying Trick or Treat to everyone and even told his joke about 50% of the time (still freezing up the other half but that's progress!). Luckily Lucy's always on hand with hers and he knows if he just stands next to her, he'll manages to get some candy anyway. 


My Soccer Girl

Last week Lucy finished up her second season of Soccer. I opted to skip the "professional" and just take some pictures myself. It's hard to capture her cute spirit but I think it shines through.

And now some action shots! Also, take a second and see if you notice anything odd about those next three pictures?

How about how there are three colors on the field? This particular game our team didn't have enough players so some of the red team from the hour before ours stuck around. It was red and yellow against green. If that wasn't confusing enough for the kids, they also decided this was the game they wanted to add in the idea of changing sides at halftime which they hadn't done before. There was a lot of kicking the ball the wrong way and stealing the ball from your own side and parents yelling "no, no, the other way!" But everyone had fun and the yellow jackets were glad they had a chance to play so alls well that ends well. 


Classics Challenge: Wives and Daughters

This was lovely. Just what I needed in my otherwise dense reading list. This is not surprising to me as I really love Elizabeth Gaskell in general and North and South is one of my absolute favorite books (and mini-series!) This one is not quite as good as that one but it's still pretty darn good.

We follow the main character, Molly, as she experiences changes to her family and friends and community and get to watch as she grows through those experiences.  I love Molly. She's not particularly witty or full of charisma or beautiful. Her main attribute is that she's really good.  I really enjoy a lovable character that gets to be good without being a goody-two-shoes. Of course, being a novel, not everyone is as Molly or it's probably be quite a boring story. There are some other wonderful characters (as opposed to wonderful people :-) that add to this delightful tale. Molly Gibson's father, who you want to like, but also blame a bit for the troubles he brings upon himself. Cythia, who above all else is very interesting. And her mother. Well, she does add some humor to the book.

Oh, it's so witty and clever. There are just some great lines in it. Some pensive, some laugh at loud funny. I'm not sure this has the same ring out of context, but I do think it earns it's spot in a commonplace book.

I won't say she was silly, but I think one of us was silly, and it was not me.

It's got a bit of romance but has a lot to say about family and community. Overall, Gaskell doesn't go as deep in her writings as Austen or Bronte in terms of society commentary and tends to be a little more moralistic. They both have their place in my life. This one had me spending a lot of time thinking about character and personalities and choices.

Now, the ending. The only reason I put off reading this one so long was because it doesn't really end. Elizabeth Gaskell passed away before writting the final scene. It's close enough to the end of the novel that you can see where she's going (and there are notes of what she had intended which confirm this) so I was less disappointed at the lack of closure than I expected. Still, I am sad that we don't get to read her real words. Knowing how well she can write an ending*, it's sad she didn't get to write this one. Still, it's a great book. You should read it.

Semi-Spoilers for Wives and Daughters and North and South
*North and South's ending. Swoon. I mean, it's different from the movie which is also swoon worthy and probably does the job better visually so I don't mind the switch but I really like the book ending. A lot. But then I like that whole book a lot. It's one of my comfort re-reads. The ones you pick up when you have the flu and are stuck in bed but have no brain power to read something new. Although thinking of that as a comforting happy book seems a bit odd because - everyone dies! Wives and Daughters strikes me as a little bit more of a downer overall even though the survival rate is much higher. So I can see me re-reading this someday but not at the frequency of North and South.

Wives and Daughters is my classic by a woman author selection. For more classics reviews, visit Books and Chocolate's Back to the Classics Challenge.


Mason for Me - Fall 2017

One thing I've really loved about the Charlotte Mason community is the emphasis I've seen put on Mother Culture. Mother culture is a term used, not by Mason herself, but as the title and topic of a PNEU article.  That article focuses on the activity of reading but the concept isn't limited to that.

 I love this quote, which is from Charlotte Mason herself, in Volume 3 when she is talking about Masterly Inactivity and Mothers.
 If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily
for both children and parents. Vol 3 pg 34
And this one from Volume 6.
But the function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind; Vol 6 pg147
Charlotte Mason's #1 principle is Children are born persons but I like to joke that it really needs a part b: Mothers are persons too! We need books, we need ideas, we need truth and beauty and goodness!

Now some of that we get with the kids when we're doing hymns and picture study with them and that's wonderful. It's honestly one of my favorite perks of homeschooling. However, sometimes we need a bit more than that and maybe some inspiration for other moms as to how to make that happen.

Enter - Mason for Me! It's a place for us to link up to the ways we are making the Charlotte Mason principles work for us - as people, not teachers.

I know several of us are or will soon be working our way through an AO year. I'll be starting y8 in January so I'm sure I'll have lots to say about that - the readings, my attempts to keep timelines and a book of centuries and try my hand at map drills. All those types of posts are welcome here! I'd love to read about other moms and their "AO for adults" journey. But if you don't use AO or are only taking baby steps into the mother culture world, feel free to share more general mother culture posts.

- If you have a post you'd like to share, leave it in the linky below. I find the issue with link-ups is that i forget to go back and check the links that have been added after I leave mine, so I'll still be highlighting the posts left in this quarter, next quarter!

- Grab the button code on my sidebar to add to your blog. Spread the love!

-You can also use #Masonforme on instagram.

- Feel free to ask specific questions in the comments as well. If your struggling to find a keeping style or timeline set-up that works for you, ask! Limited time/budget and wondering what books you really can't drop from a year, ask! You might get your answer in the comments or I can highlight a question or two each quarter and maybe you'll get a whole set of answers/ideas to help you out.

Once a quarter, I'll compile those links to share with everyone and select a few instagram posts to highlight as well. My Winter round-up will go up at the beginning of December so we can all have time to be inspired and ready for the New Year. I can't wait to hear from you!

The Links:

Since this is the inaugural link-up, I don't have too many links to share yet (so help me out, start linking!) But here are a few I've seen lately around the interweb. Hopefully they'll get you inspired.
  • Pam Barnhill's Morning Time Basket Podcast Episode #40 was all about A Mother's Morning Time Basket. So maybe you don't feel up to committing to a whole year of AO, but you do think you want build up the habit of mother culture reading. This podcast has got a lot of ideas to get your started. 
  • Celeste over at Joyous Lessons shares her amazing Reading Journal. This post gave me some great ideas as I was pondering ways to expand my notebooking of my AO readings next year. Plus it has plenty of pretty pictures and I'm a sucker for a nice looking notebook. 
  • My original Mason for Me/Ambleside for Adults post talking about my experience going through Year 7. I think Year 7 is a great place to begin because its pretty much the beginning of the second cycle through history. Which means if you have younger kids using AO, you'll either have already covered this history period or you  might be doing the same period together  - and familiarity helps! 


Happy Birthday Baby Girl

Norah, as of yesterday, you are two! And I guess because you have big siblings to show you the way, you've already learned to be excited about your birthday. All last week we kept asking, "Whose birthday is coming up?" and you'd yell "Me! Me! and try and hold up two fingers. It was really one finger on one hand and then anywhere between one and four on the other but we got the point.  And you were so cute opening your presents. You'd get one and jump and giggle and then finally calm down enough to open it. You certainly enjoy life - and bring us a lot of joy too!

I had to (secretly) help you blow out the candles or the whole thing would have burned up. But you were quite proud of your skills. 

You are very active - climbing, scootering, digging, you just don't stop. Almost every park trip involves another parent/guardian watching you instead of their kid and worrying because your just out there keeping up with the big kids. I just smile and say "She's fine. She does it all the time!"

You love to help. Putting soap into the dishwasher and laundry into the dryer are two tasks that you insist on doing and get very upset if someone else takes that task from you. You also love to help crack and stir eggs for breakfast. In fact, you sometimes decide you don't want to wait for me and get a chair, climb up on the counter to get a bowl and the eggs and start cracking. You can crack eggs quite well. Getting them to fall into the bowl is a bit trickier. You also love to help me get my keys. If you hear me say we are going anywhere, you'll go get my keys and bring them to me. Or you'll carry them around until you drop them somewhere and then I have to figure out where they are so we can go. So not always very helpful - but very enthusiastic about helping!

You're finally starting to talk more.  You can name everyone in the family (Mama, Daddy, Do-do for Jonah, Noo-Nah for Lucy, Baby for herself). Jonah's been teaching you lots of words. Like Up and Down complete with hand motions. And lots of colors - blue, purple, brown, green, yellow. But not pink. If we ask you to say pink you say no. I don't know why. It's fun but I wish he'd stick with more useful words. Like milk or book. You love books but mostly just tell us you want one by hitting us with it. It does get the point across!

You LOVE your brother and sister. You love to give kisses and hugs to them and play with them. But you love having your own way too. You throw fits with me by gently laying down on the floor and curling up in a ball to cry when you don't get your way. But with them, you just yell, "No, Me! NAAHHH!" and push right back.

To be honest, you're a bit bossy. If I call the big kids to dinner or off the playground and they don't come soon enough, they'll soon hear a little "Do-do! Do-do! Noo-nah! Noo-NAH!" and if Jonah forgets his medicine drink and you see the sippy cup, you'll chase him around with it until he takes it - and thanks you for it! If anyone is drawing, you not only insist on a piece of paper and pencil, you also insist that someone draw you a kitty or two - or twelve.

You're also quite the fashionista. You have definitely opinions on what you want to wear right down to what shoes to pair with it. You want so badly to have long hair like Lucy so it can go in a pony but seem happy with the bows you got.

Likes: Books especially those by PD Eastman, babies and animals, swings and slides, milk and "tea" (both actually tea and watered down juice" and fresh vegetable juice (the other kids don't even like fresh carrot or apple juice but you'll chug down my romaine/celery/cucumber/lemon juice!) You love to play in the sandbox. You love to brush your teeth and wipe down your hair. You like naps and wake up so happy after them all ready for snuggling for 20 seconds before you want to know what Lucy and Jonah are up to and how you can join them.

Sick Norah realizing that everyone else just left for church without her. 

But she was clearly sick because here she is actually lying down still on a couch. This is not a staying still kinda kid. 

You dislike baths and getting any sort of dirt on your feet because you think its chicken poop (which considering our back yard, is a reasonable guess). You hate having any sort of messy diaper and it is not uncommon for us to hear you calling and walk into a room with you lying on the ground with a diaper and wipes set out next to you all ready for changing. You really hate being left behind and not (physically) being able to do what you want. It is most distressing. You clearly belong in our family and we are all so glad to have you in it!


Fast keeping, slow keeping

We're finishing up our fall break time over here. Technically we have one more week but that week will hopefully involve potty training so we aren't planning on going anywhere or doing anything else. It's gonna be all about the potty and nothing but the potty.

Which means this was out last week to cram in that last play date,  visit the park (twice!), go on a field trip with our cm nature group and visit the butterfly house. We were supposed to do that last one with a local cm mom but as it often the case when you make plans involving lots of kids, someone was sick. Sad. I briefly considered canceling because I hadn't even told kids we were going yet but I decided to fight the laziness inside me and keep to the plan. And since it was just going on a random, kinda yucky cold Thursday, I thought we'd probable have the place to ourselves and could actually stop and draw things in our nature book. And we did and it was awesome.

We sat on a bench and studied the two biggest butterfly types. They were quite similar on the outside so we were unsure if they were different species or maybe just male/female of the same. We later learned it was different two types and what each of their names were but I'm glad we didn't know at the beginning. One thing I've had to fight with nature study is the urge to get the name right away. Because it seems like once I do, my brain is done. I think I "know" it and it's much harder for me to keeping looking and observing and not just move on. The kids don't seem to have this issue. This situation was a great example of why I should keep fighting that tendency in me.

Jonah's butterflies

Lucy's butterflies

My butterflies. 

We also saw several carnivorous plants. Jonah really loved the venus fly traps. The picture in my blog header of him looking down over the bridge is actually him looking at a venus fly trap at a state park in North Carolina so this isn't his first exposure. He doesn't remember that though and thought these things were so cool (which, let's face it, they are). Lucy and I drew some pitcher plants. We also explored the new halloween bugs they had on display and the scorpion is uv light exhibit. When we left to go play at the playground, I could honestly say it was one of our best nature mornings in the past year. Great discussions, great observations, great attitudes (the hardest part sometimes!).

 But even at the best of nature times, it's a bit of a parenting marathon. I'm trying to spell things for Jonah, write things for Lucy because she had more to say that she can easily write, keep Norah from wading into the little river all the pitcher plants are next to, fish out the pencil that was dropped into the pond by a different child and make sure everyone follows the no touching the butterfly rules lest they become a butterfly killer. Worth it I think but still exhausting.

So my nature journal isn't always what I want it to be. I get notes. Sometimes pictures, sometimes, like the blue morpho above, basic outlines and a few arrows. I actually had quite a bit of time with the pitcher plant because Norah was having fun taking all the colored pencils out of the bag, zipping and unzipping it and loading it back up. Then she discovered the water and my time was up. And that's really what made me realize that this WAS a really good nature journal time and I still didn't get what I wanted. I just have to admit that fast (notebook/nature journal) keeping is gonna be the name of the game on nature exploration days. At least until none of my children are old enough not to drown in 6 inches of water.


Jonah's venus fly traps on the bottom and something smiley over it. 

So last night after the two little kids went to bed, I had about an hour before Craig and Lucy got back from scouts. So I grabbed my "fast keeping" drawings and I stole Lucy's watercolor set. I have a nice full size watercolor palette and paints and a nice small travel set but it would have taken my 20 minutes to find that so I skipped it. And I made the type of nature journal page I wanted to make earlier. It's still my beginning skills level dry brush and shh, don't tell the drybrush people that I committed the cardinal sin of dry brush nature journaling - I didn't mix my own green, I just used the palette one. But I was able to take my time and think a bit. It cemented what I learned and I'm really happy with it. It was just a lovely way to pass some time. I was just wrapping up when Lucy came home so it took about an hour but it was an hour worth spending. Definitely better for my soul than if I had just watched an hour of netflix.

So fast keeping works. I'm observing and learning and setting a good example for my kids. And I wont' worry about a picture perfect nature journal outcome. But slow keeping can work for me to. I want to do this again. And I have this feeling that my painting skills will improve much faster if I practice more than 3x a year. So here's to slow keeping. And fast keeping. And whatever works keeping.


Classics Challenge: My Family and Other Animals

Not knowing what to expect from this one, I found Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals to be exactly what it says. It's about two things. His family - eccentric but lovable British expats living in Greece - and the animals he meets as he explores the island as a young boy. At the beginning it almost feels like two separate books. Despite the descriptive nature (and my self-proclaimed struggles with that), I did enjoy the nature sections a good deal but found myself more excited when we got back to his family. But as the book progresses, he sort of weaves them together until your laughing along at his families response to all the different treasures he finds invading their house.

He does get bogged down a bit. I mean, I love nature as much as the next gal but two pages about a tortoise is a bit much, and that's just the eating, it keeps going until you're hearing about tortoise courtship. But he also clearly loves nature and his enthusiasm rubs off of you so that reading those two pages about a tortoise eating is not nearly as boring as it sounds....but I still do think one page would have been sufficient. That's my one little beef with the book. Other than that, it is delightful. Some of the characters are hilariously funny in that awesome British way and there were a few scenes I read when Craig was gone and I really wanted someone to be around so I could share it with them. Craig was probably glad he was gone because I think my doing this really annoys him but he's too wise to say that. I'd ask him if I'm right but if he confirmed my suspicious I'd feel obligated to stop. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. 

There are two more books in the series. I'm not desperate to grab the next one right now but if my to be read pile ever dwindles they might make there way in there. I haven't watched the PBS show based on this book but I am curious now. I'm guessing it would be more people focused and since that was my favorite part, plus add in Masterpiece, can you go wrong?

My Family and Other Animals is my Back to the Classics Challenge Classic about an Animal selection.