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Category Archives: Education

May 2017 Reads

May was a busy month so my reading time was less than I would have liked it to be, but I got plenty of time in with the girls cuddled up with a good book or two…or dozen. They also followed suit.

 

Home Education by Charlotte Mason — I will be working through the series of Mason’s six books over the next few months. This is the first in the series {which has just been reprinted!}. It was hugely helpful and confirming that our educational philosophy will lean heavily on this over the next few years, at least. I enjoyed her style, but those who haven’t spent much time in philosophical works might find it more tedious to get through.

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay — You will notice a common theme here in both {and only} books I read this month: prepping for next year’s schooling. I sat down and read this in a day. Again, looking at the Charlotte Mason manner of teaching. It is highly accessible and much less intellectual, more practical. I will be returning to this often for inspiration and buoyancy when I’m feeling like I’m floundering.

 

Books Read with My Children

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney — This inspiring read has a wonderful moral my eldest has really taken to heart and is trying to implement with her own sowing of flowers throughout our yard.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork — This was a favorite of mine growing up. I attribute it to my lifelong long of Impressionism, and especially Monet’s works. It is also leading my girls to the same, I think. 😉 It’s a lovely tale of a little girl who travels to France with her friend to see Monet’s works and the actual garden in Giverny that inspired many of his paintings. {This little film based on the book is great too.}

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey — Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk! You can’t help but be captivated by little Sal and his hunt for blueberries — and the surprise that he encounters along the way. Warning: it will make you want to go out to a patch and pick a bunch of your own.

Little Bear Collection by Else Minarik — A much-loved story book character already, Little Bear, was a huge hit to listen along to as we did a couple long road trips this month. Highly recommend for other little ones who love this sweet bear.

Monet at the Legion of Honor

A few weeks ago, we headed down to San Francisco for a long weekend to see the special Claude Monet exhibit at the Legion of Honor museum. It was a collection of his early works–many of which I have not seen–so for this Impressionist aficionado, I was over the moon to view them.

The girls enjoyed seeing the collection too, and it was just the right length for shorter attention spans. {Although, Lucie slept through the first half in the Ergo with Steve carrying her. It was a pleasant surprise that she still fit inside!}

We read a bit about Monet together before visiting from one of my favorite childhood books, Linnea in Monet’s Garden. I’m pleased to say that the girls took to Linnea and her adventures in the garden just as I did when I was young.

There was another traveling exhibition that involved random pieces of artwork(?) plopped down in random place inside and outside the museum. That’s Evelyn sitting next to one right out front. She was very entertained by the sculpture pieces, and confused {as we were} about the randomosity of the ones we saw inside. Her questions increased tenfold and my inability to answer did the same.

We ran into our wedding photographer in front of the museum where she was shooting a couples’ engagement photos. We hadn’t seen her since she took our maternity photos when I was pregnant with Evelyn. She does such beautiful work, I wish she lived closer to us so we could have family photos done by her again.

Our trip to SF also included a wonderful picnic on the bleachers that overlook the Bay, and a quick run through Ghirardelli Square with chocolate samples, of course!

One of the little shops on the Square had this tic-tac-toe game created with rocks and washi tape. The girls were in love. We’re searching for suitable flat rocks to make some of our own.

We crossed over the Golden Gate towards the end of the day for more adventures which I’ll share in my next post….

April 2017 Reads

I found myself with my nose stuck in a book more often than not during quiet time in the afternoon this month. {Not so much knitting.} So many good hauls from the library and so many great picks added to our house library {that is going to need a new bookcase soon}.

We inadvertently added in a healthy dose of poetry during this #nationalpoetrymonth. All of us gained a greater appreciation and interest in the flowing verse. We’ll be diving into more this summer.

 

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines — {MMD Reading for Fun Challenge, “A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read”} I picked up this delightful book without having seen an episode of Fixer Upper. The faith, determination, grit, etc. of this couple is incredibly inspiring. Their belief in the providence of God, an even sweeter cherry on top. Many friends of mine rave about this star couple and I can definitely see their appeal. {And, yes, I remedied that lack of Fixer Upper — made my husband sit through an episode a few weeks ago, and I’m definitely hankering to go back for more!}

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray — {MMD Reading for Growth Challenge, “A book that is more than 600 pages”} I am a huge fan of historical fiction. I read a ton of it. But this one maybe my top pick in the genre for the year. It’s certainly in my favorites of the era, maybe second to this one. I never knew much about Patsy Jefferson, but she is one female whose story should be included in school history books. Such a feminist for her time.

The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels — I’ve been wanting to do some more serious decorating in our home over these past few months so I picked up this book to gain some inspiration. It hasn’t disappointed. Many practical tips for simple fixes that can really liven up a room, as well as balance it.

Upstream by Mary Oliver — After encountering and loving many quotes by this prolific poet in others’ writings, I thought it was high time to pick up one of her own. This book was actually short essays, but made me fall in love with her writing. I will certainly be looking up more of her work in the future. In addition to a few essays on the works of some well-known poets that we quite interesting, what this book mostly contained was thoughts and memories of the author’s forays in nature. It is an excellent pick for reading in a cabin in the woods.

Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein — I’m diving in deep to begin my first patch of cut flowers this year. This book is an amazing inspiration {even if you just desire it for the eye candy of gorgeous blooms sprinkled throughout}. Behind all the beauty though, the author gets down to the nitty gritty of the details of growing each of the varieties she’s experimented with on her own farm for years. I purchased a handful of seed packets from Erin’s farm in Washington as well, and I’m hoping to share glorious results within the next few months!

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny — Third in the Inspector Gamache series, this one was the most predictable, but that didn’t make it uninteresting. The underlying premise concerning the great inspector that runs through all of the books, came to a deep twist in this episode. {I didn’t purposely time it this way, but it was perfect for the month of April as that is when it takes place, right during Easter.}

Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd — I’ve been following along with the Coffee + Crumbs blog since its inception, and this lovely collection of essays by the team of main writers was no less touching. I found myself emotionally moved by the feelings shared of mirrored experiences of motherhood. So good.

 

Books Read with My Children

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot — My girls have fallen head over heels for Herriot’s delightful stories of farm animals that he encountered over the years. The personalities of animals can be so funny! I remember reading through many of these as a child myself, and even pulled out an old copy of mine that contains his Cat Stories. Simple and sweet, this is an excellent pick for transitioning into reading chapter books as it is well sprinkled with pictures but longer prose.

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson — We’ve forayed into the land of poetry as my eldest is developing an interest in rhyming words {even making up her own words just so they rhyme with others she’s said!}. This collection has quick ones that capture the attention of children as they speak of imagination, rhythms of the child’s life, and play.

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston — The artistry of this book is reason alone to own it. From the tiniest ladybug egg to a whopping ostrich shell, this book wonderfully illustrates the incredible beauty and amazing functionality of eggs in many colors and sizes. I learned so much myself! {We also love A Butterfly is Patient, A Seed is Sleepy, and A Nest is Noisy.}

 Easter Parade by Irving Berlin — Based on the text of a song by Irving Berlin, this delightful book was a favorite of my eldest due to the fun, elegant hat made by the young bunny for the Easter parade. 🙂 There are few things better at Eastertide than a lovely Easter bonnet!

 

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Friday Frivolity {7QT}

So much to share, so little time. Luckily, it’s Friday — time for Seven Quick Takes! Hold onto your seats!

1) Diving into the garden season with a lot of weed pulling and a lot of seed planting. I’m trying my hand at a cut flower plot this year. There will be cosmos, zinnias, celosia, bachelor’s buttons, amaranth, and black-eyed susans {hopefully!}. I’m excited but feel a bit daunted by the task. I haven’t had much luck with growing flowers from seed in the past. I purchased Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden a few months ago, and I’m trying to follow Erin’s advice to a ‘T’ {with a little prayer of hope thrown into the mix!}. We’ll have some veggies and, of course, the strawberry patch too!

2) Last weekend, we attended a local(ish) Scottish Highland Games. The Celtic blood runs deep on both sides of the family, so the girls have taken a natural liking to the heritage both of their parents love. {Evey often asks to learn Irish dancing. One of these days, we’ll find a good group in the area for her take lessons.} We saw a group of harpists that renewed my great desire to own a harp of my own. There was even one for sale! — but, alas, out of our price range currently. We marched in the parade with the Cochrane clan, a surname on Steve’s paternal line.

3) Stephen and I got out for a wonderful date night in March that included a concert and surprise! Eucharistic adoration and Confession. A fellow Christendom alum, Marie Miller, was performing the opening act for Five for Fighting, so we grabbed some of the last seats in the house, up in the nosebleeds, but had the best time anyway. Marie did an amazing job, and we were equally delighted with the the lyrical genius that is Five for Fighting. I don’t own any of his albums, but I certainly want one now.

We also stumbled upon a Lenten night of Eucharistic adoration taking place at the cathedral that was such a blessing for both of us. Not only did we get to spend some quiet moments with the Lord, but we also were able to partake of the sacrament of Confession.

4) After much deliberation, we’ve decided to start Evelyn in some more formal schooling this fall. We worked through the early set of Explode the Code this year. She’s certainly excelled in learning her letters and their sounds, and is SO ready to learn how to read. {We may just dive into this early during the summer months!} The Charlotte Mason method has been a natural fit for our family so we’ll be following along with their curriculum, particularly that of Mater Amabilis with a few additions/revisions from Ambleside. {I may do a more thorough explanation of our preschool curriculum from this year. Would anyone be interested in hearing more about it?}

5) We instituted “popcorn and poetry” afternoons which we’ve enjoyed several of this month. It’s an alternative to an afternoon tea which will be coming back around when we start school in the fall. Not sure who enjoys it more — the adults or children.

6) Steve began a new job at the beginning of April which required a bit of travel at the beginning for training. Some of it allowed for our family to stay at my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains which are still thoroughly covered with snow…and much was still coming down during the month of April! The girls loved the extra snow play and we made it cozy with hot chocolate treats and many snuggly reading times {with a side of knitting for mama}.

7) I purchased for myself today this lovely new tank for the summer that Blessed is She just released. It will be a constant companion during the summer months in the garden, by the pool…whenever the temp reaches the triple digits, to be sure! The one with the Teresas has me all “heart-eyes” too.

I’m also looking forward to my new copy of the academic Blessed is She planner {if you’re awaiting the calendar year version, it releases in October}.

I might also have to pick one of these prayer posters for our large living room wall. A good {and helpful} reminder to say our prayers!

 

{Linking up with the fabulous Kelly on this lovely Friday afternoon for 7QT.}

March 2017 Reads

Reading was a little light this past month as we had much going on. I spent a good deal of my reading time knitting a shawl, which I can’t wait to share about later. But it was all good reads this month, so at least there was that!

What did you enjoy in March?

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond — This was a fascinating look at the situation regarding housing for those who live below the poverty line in America and what is exacerbating the problem from both sides: tenants and landlords. The author suggests a possible solution in the epilogue: a universal housing voucher system. There is a lot of food for thought here. This would make for an excellent discussion with a book club. {I read this book for the MMD Challenge for Reading for Growth in the category of “A book of any genre that addresses current events”.}

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny — Murder mysteries have never been my cup of tea, but that all changed with this series that I’ve finally had time to dive back into after reading the first several years ago. Besides the excellent twists throughout the main story itself, there is an underlying “search for meaning” happening in the heart of the protagonist that runs through the plot of each book in the series. {I read this book for the MMD Challenge for Reading for Fun in the category of “A book in a genre you usually avoid”.}

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider — Tsh’s writing has long been an inspiration to me both on her blog and through her published works, so it came as no surprise that this would resonate with my deeply too. After selling their house and paring their belongings down to only the essentials, Tsh, her husband, and their three children embark on a 9-month journey around the world. They choose to do this for enrichment — to experience new cultures, see the wonders of the world with their own eyes, taste the cuisine of exotic foods, all in the hopes of discovering their true place in this world. The answer might surprise you…or you may find a strong sense of connection with her findings. Warning: Reading this book may spark a serious case of wanderlust.
{I read an advanced copy of this as part of the #athomelaunch team. The book will be officially released, Tuesday, April 18th.}

 

Books Read with My Children

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert — An excellent choice as we move into the Spring season. My daughters love identifying the colors and learning the names of many of the flowers that are popping up from the ground these days. We’re even dreaming of planting our own “rainbow”!

What Does Bunny See by Linda Sue Park — Along the same lines as Planting a Rainbow, children are taught colors and flower names, but this time in rhyming verse. We couldn’t wait to flip to the next page to see if our guess was right!

A Small Thing…But Big by Tony Johnston — Discovered this beautiful story on our library’s ‘New Books’ shelf. It tells of a little girl who encounters an old man and his little dog at the park. They are both nervous about the other but learn that even a small leap of faith can bring about a big result.

The Crayons’ Book of Colors by Drew Daywalt — Another great book for color identification. Written by the author of The Day the Crayons Quit, this is more suitable for the 2-5 year old crowd. The author utilizes a touch of humor making the color choices in the drawings unforgettable.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — A young girl dreams of what she would grow {or not!} if the garden was completely under her control. Yes, just yes, to the jelly bean bush!

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo — We listened to the six Mercy Watson stories on audiobook during our long car ride back and forth to Southern California a few weeks ago. Even mama, couldn’t help laughing along to the antics of this porcine wonder and her affinity for hot buttered toast.

 

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February 2017 Reads

Can’t believe February has flown by and it’s time for another reading round-up. I had a good stack of reads this month, as did the girls. I even found a book of poetry that I can’t live without!

 

The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson — A wonderfully inspiring read that’s been on my TBR list for over a year now. Broken down by months, it gives theoretical ideas and practical tips for inculcating a home that brings life and love to it’s inhabitants. It’s less about material things, more about culture. I will be returning to it again and, perhaps, make my way through this companion.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson — Another that has been on my shelf for some time. This was a gift from my brother, Ethan, for my birthday last year, but one that had been on my radar before as many friends had recommended it. I knew it dealt with a heavy topic {facing death} so I was waiting for a suitable time to read. It is written in the style of a personal journal. It is a series of letters to the narrator’s son in which he reflects as he lives out his last months on earth. The issue of forgiveness was prominent in the second half of the book. I’m still mulling over the actions of the parties involved and what I would have done in a similar situation. {MMD Challenge book for growth in the category: “A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner”}

News of the World by Paulette Jiles — This reminded me a bit of True Grit by Charles Portis, probably because of the Western setting. But what it is more is a story of relationship between an old man and a young girl, neither of which understand each other {verbally or otherwise} at the end, but grow to be the best of friends by the end. It shows the importance of listening and understanding another without allowing yourself to be clouded by your own ideas first.

Caught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson — The author here does an excellent job of explaining the importance of story in the lives of children {and adults, for that matter!}. I notice much of what she points to in my own children at already a young age: liveliness of imagination, expansive vocabulary, a desire for exploration. It was a great encouragement in the direction we are leaning with our home schooling. {MMD Challenge fun book in the category: “A book about books or reading”}

 

Books Read with My Children

Stuart Little by E. B. White — The adventures of Stuart are small, yet big, for such a tiny creature. It’s hard to wrap your mind around a mouse living in a world of persons, but he does it with flair.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White — The last of our E. B. White reads. It was hard to get into during the first quarter or so, and I don’t think it held their attention as well as Charlotte’s Web {although, it is hard to surpass that masterpiece}. Ultimately, we did find ourselves enjoying the antics of Louis with his trumpet, his interactions with the boy, Sam Beaver, and laughing at Louis’ father’s monologues.

Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit  — This has been Evelyn’s favorite Valentine’s Day book since she was only a year old. We read it multiple times every year. The young protagonist has such a zealous heart for all things Valentine, but her eagerness to do well in one arena, leads to neglect in another. We love the way she improvises to save the day. {Also, don’t miss Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose We are so drawn to Engelbreit’s vivid, bold pictures. This is our favorite of all the collections of the nursery rhymes.}

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning — This was Lucie’s favorite during the season of love. It tells the story of a young boy who mails his grandmother a giant hug and the route it must take to reach her. For those with affectionate hearts.

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood — This one was pulled out of book storage and memorized in a day by both girls after repeated readings. It was a favorite for both Steve and I growing up, so no surprise that our girls like it too. Perfect as we move into strawberry season soon.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano — I often find poetry hard to appreciate but this little book of seasonal poems, from Spring to Winter, is perfection. It is for children, but I want a book for our shelf to peruse from time to time.

 

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January 2017 Reads

Reading is a huge part of our family culture. As I type, the girls are sitting with stacks in the other room, flipping through books and either just looking at the pictures or attempting to recount the words read to them from the pages. {It’s really the cutest thing to listen to them!} I want to share more of our favorite pastime here on the blog to inspire you too!

In the past, I’ve shared snippets of books here and there throughout the year, and, then, done a compilation of everything read at the end of the year, but we’re going to change things up a bit. Starting with this post, I’m going to do a month recap {a little late here on January — I’ll try to be better about February}.

I’ll share what I’ve read, books I’ve read aloud with the girls, and some of our favorite picture books that month.

{I’m also participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge for the 3rd year in a row. This year, she has two lists — one for fun and one for growth — I’m attempting to do both. I’ll mention the category I’m reading it for if the book is for one of them.}

So without further adieu, here’s January’s reads!

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi — Moving through generations, this story follows the family lines of two girls descended from an African slave woman on the Gold Coast as it was being colonized by the British. It is fascinating to see the direction of each girl’s family tree and their subsequent progenies outlook on life as they are affected by cultural influences and circumstances.  To be honest, this is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but when researching for a book to read from the growth category of “A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author” for the MMD Challenge, this one stood out to me. I highly recommend.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom — A page-turner that had me neglecting my household duties one morning, this follows the story of an young immigrant orphan who ends up on a plantation in the South during the Civil War era. She’s neither slave, nor entirely free, so her relationship with the household folks and the slaves, whom she mostly lives with, is an interesting one that forces her to question her loyalty to and love for each. A huge hit for this historical fiction fan.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by Bill Lascher — This was my pick for “A juicy memoir” in the MMD Challenge book for fun. Memoirs and WWII history are always a happy combination for me. What I found fascinating about this book, however, was its American perspective of Asia during WWII. So much is written and said about the European conflict, but relatively hushed about Asia. {Although I can’t tell you how many WWII Navy seamen I know of who fought in the South Pacific, including my own grandfathers!} The story of these journalists sheds some light on the hidden history.

Five Love Languages for Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell — I’ve read the original Five Love Languages numerous times. This one is geared toward your children, but I didn’t glean too much more, other than a few practical examples, that I didn’t already know from reading the original.

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe — One of the best works of spiritual reading I’ve read in a long time. It forced me to sit with a journal to copy out passages and read only a few pages at a time to digest the wonderful meat in this gem of a book. I only wish I had picked it up sooner, per my husband’s recommendation.

 

Books Read with My Children

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White — This classic never grows old. White’s writing is poetic, seamless, and grand. I enjoyed this even more than when I read it as a child. And, of course, my girls latched onto all the favorite characters and talk about them often when they come to mind throughout the day.

Some Writer! : The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet — This was a beautifully done, work of art by the incredible illustrator Melissa Sweet {we also enjoyed her Balloons Over Broadway about a puppeteer in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade}. She lives in the town where White had his farm house and his granddaughter still lives, so she had direct access to many of the things he loved and which influenced his writing. She does an amazing job sharing the story of the man. {I even came to find out an interesting tidbit: He’s THE White of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style!} There’s an excellent interview with the author at the Read Aloud Revival podcast here if you want to learn more about her.

The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson — Lucie is obsessed with this adorable picture book that has a beautiful rhyme which the girls love to repeat. It was an excellent read during our month of talking about hibernation and migration.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner — This fun story looks at which animals stay awake and which ones sleep during the long winter months. Beautifully illustrated. I was happy flipping through it myself.

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel — The repetition could drive the reader batty, but the children love it. 😉 For those who live where it snows, they will understand well this peeling on and off of layers in order to go in and out of the snow.

 

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{Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit this month.}

#write31days ~ day 3: BIG painting

big painting

With two little people who are super inquisitive, I decided to glean a little extra help with a structured, yet very loose, curriculum from The Homegrown Preschooler this school year. It’s called A Year of Playing Skillfully. I am very much into play-based learning, hands-on experiences, etc. and this curriculum fits that to a ‘T’.

big painting

big painting

Last year, I read The Homegrown Preschooler, written by the same authors of the curriculum, Kathy H. Lee and Lesli Richards. I appreciated their educational philosophy and incorporated some of the activities offered into our day. Between this and Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven {which we LOVED and are supplementing with again}, we had a great thing going last year.

big painting

big painting

But I could tell this year that Evelyn needed a little something extra. I was faced with the decision of, essentially, putting together my own curriculum or seeking a bit of help. I chose to do the latter because I was feeling a tad overwhelmed at the prospect this time around.

We’re a month in, and although we didn’t get to half the prescribed activities in September, we had a great time with the ones we did. It’s a great program because Lucie can easily get involved too, even though she is only a fresh two years old. {She’s much more interested in kinesthetic learning, so she truly has no problem diving into many of the activities!}

big painting

big painting

One of last month’s activities was BIG painting. We took out a large roll of paper, cut about 15 feet off, and got to work on it with paints, sponges, paintbrushes, and a few other natural items we found in the yard {Lucie really liked stamping with a large rock}. Evelyn surprised me by instigating the body painting, which she is usually hesitant to try.

big painting

big painting

They had the best time working together…and individually when they each needed a bit of space. It easily allowed for that.

big painting

big painting

Since we used washable paints, clean-up was relatively easy. Even mama got some on her shirt and it washed out. 🙂

painted

painted

Looking forward to sharing more of our projects with you as the year progresses!

What I Learned This Summer

I’ve enjoyed linking up with Emily for her monthly “What I’ve Learned” posts throughout the year. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a while, adding a little as time went along because I haven’t seen a post up all summer. Well, turns out she decided to do an end-of-summer round up. Good thinking, lady. Here’s my summer’s worth:

  • My girls enjoying things that I once enjoyed as a young girl brings me even greater joy than the joy it brought me in my youth.

Evelyn and carrots

Toys, clothes, little tchotckes that brought me much joy — slowly, I pull these out for my children and witness a similar love. Evelyn, especially, has a sentimental heart just like here mama and takes great pleasure in knowing that something she is wearing or playing with once belonged to her mama when she was little.

  • A little water can make a big difference for growing a garden.

We’ve been in a terrible drought here the past couple of years. Last year, everyone was asked to kill their lawn for the summer, to reconfigure their landscaping to a more “drought-tolerant” scape. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that it would be difficult to grow a single thing in that parched soil.

I was close to throwing in the towel when it came to gardening because of this. As much as I suspected the lack of water was a huge culprit in the piddly garden I was producing, I still was feeling like it was my lack of green thumb.

But about a month into our plantings, and we had so many sprouts this year. I was a bit giddy with excitement.

We’ve had several rainfalls throughout the months of April and May and they greatly contributed to the health of the garden. I could tell as I was ripping out weeds, witnessing all the earthworms ranging around, that the soil was a million times healthier. And I was hopeful.

It seems I had reason to be.

Rapunzel tomato plant

munching strawberries

  • Tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with other tomatoes. They need some of their own kind. {Same goes for squash varieties.}

On that same garden vein, we planted one tomatillo plant and waited. And waited. And waited. Watching tons of flowers pop out, but no tomatillos husks appear. I asked about this at our local nursery and, sure enough, was informed that we needed at least two to produce the little buggers.

It was a little late in the planting season when I realized this, so I had trouble locating others. I eventually found a few tiny seedlings that will likely be too late to help my first, but maybe we’ll get something from them later.

Surprisingly, the other day, a couple husks showed up on my plant! Maybe one of the neighbors has some too. Thank you, kind neighbor, for the good deed you have done unknowingly.

  • Short, but sweet, podcasts are my jam. 

Perhaps it’s because my occasion to listen is always in short spurts, but I’m really a fan of quick podcasts — ones that are 10 minutes or less. This one to inspire writers is one of my favorites right now.

  • Even a three-year old is capable of finding enjoyment in needlecraft.

Evey stitching

Evelyn has been begging me for months to teach her how to knit. I really want to but I’m afraid 1) she’ll find it too difficult and just get frustrated & 2) I feel completely incapable of such a feat. Someone suggested to me trying out finger knitting, which I will have to read up on. But, in the meantime, we found a little embroidery kit at the craft store that she is absolutely enjoying. I mean, she’s not doing the stitches the way that is shown on the box, but I figure, at this point, what is important is getting the hang of threading the needle in and out of the correct side each time. {Easier said than done, even for a seasoned crafter!} I’m so impressed by her desire and drive in working it out.

And last, but not least…

  • I am so happy we chose to live a quieter summer this year.

skipping rocks

All extra-curriculars were cancelled, spontaneous trips to the cabin occurred, many, many books were borrowed, purchased, read, countless hours were spent splashing in the water outside, and we spent a lot more time just being. {Plus, there were about a hundred hiccups/disappoints that needed dealing with and it always helps to have a tad more freedom to give those things the attention their due.}

 

What did you learn this summer??

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Height of the Summer

homegrown sunflowers

Outside my window: Heat. For one more day temperatures hovering around 100, and then we’re dropping down into the 80s for a little while. Looking forward to the reprieve.

relaxing with daddy in hammock

Listening To: The hum of the air conditioner and the squeaking ceiling fan above my head.

Clothing Myself In: Still in pjs at 2 in the afternoon. When we aren’t going out, I’m terrible about getting myself dressed.

relaxing at the cabin

Talking With My Children About These Books: A few favorites this week from the library:
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor — It may seem early for this, but the pumpkins in our garden are ripe so it’s a topic of conversation right now. I hope none of our pumpkins are as big as the ones suggested in this book, though! 😉

Bear in the Air by Susan Meyers — A super sweet story about a cute little bear that gets bumped out of his owner’s stroller and goes on quite the adventure. My children are especially taken with the illustrations.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — Great for the imagination. If only our garden would grow

In My Own Reading: Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. Can you tell my mind is gravitating towards school days? I’m gaining great inspiration from these about a little “curriculum” to follow with Evelyn this year. Both are wonderful resources for reading to your children, too, even if you aren’t doing home education.

Also, anxiously awaiting The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera recommended highly by Christy. The Fountains of Carrots Facebook group will be discussing soon on their page so jump on in if this is up your alley!

socks and flip flops

ladybug backpack

Thinking and Thinking: About the Fall. Gardening, schooling, birthdays, cooler weather. It is just around the bend.

Pondering: These words of Pope Francis during World Youth Day last week, applicable to any age:

God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: We’ve been rather lax with a schedule of any kind this summer, but I’m kind of looking forward to falling into a bit of one as we move into the autumn months. I need a bit more regularity to my days and I think they girls would benefit with a tad more routine. It’s been good, though, to relax some, though.

riding cars at state fair

sierra wildflowers

Creating By Hand: I finished a scarf and hat set for my brother who is headed off to Michigan in a few weeks for law school. Can’t have him freezing to death! This is my second Barley Hat and loved the formation of the Purl Ridge Scarf. Perfect for a double wrap and fittingly masculine. {But modeled here by Evelyn.} Oh, and can I tell you how in love I am with Malabrigo yarns?? <3

purl ridge scarf

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

barley hat

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

Learning Lessons In: Home education. Nervous, but excited, about the prospect. Reading all the books I can, praying about the direction the Lord wants us to take with this, and trying not to be the perfectionist I have a tendency towards.

Encouraging Learning In: All. The. Things. Evelyn has hit the “why?” stage and I’m trying to be patient with the onslaught. The latest: What is electricity? Why do we need those black lines to carry it? Why does it zap us? etc. I wish my brother, who is an electrical engineer, was a little closer right now. 😉

walking in tandem at the beach

Crafting in the Kitchen: With tomatoes coming out of our ears and frequent trips to the farmers’ market for all sorts of seasonal finds, ratatouille was an easy choice last night. {Although it barely touched the plethora of tomatoes covering almost all the surface of my counter.} My recipe was from the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook {what? you didn’t know I wrote a cookbook?? ;)} I substituted a red onion for a regular as that is what I had on hand, as well as tossing in fresh basil in lieu of the dry. I used white eggplant from my mother-in-law’s garden which I might just prefer to the traditional purple. Surprisingly, it turned browned when cooked, too!

To Be Fit and Happy: I’m not, and something’s gotta change. I did a 20 minute Pilates video with my girls this morning which was a good kickstart. I will be attempting to follow the exercises in Core Performance Essentials as soon as it makes its way to my house via the mail. I’ve got some serious work to do on my core which has never been this out of tune. It’s been difficult for me to know where to begin on this whole endeavor of reconstructing it, so I’m feeling sort of thrown for a loop, discouraged. Just need to commit and make it happen.

Lucie Little Tikes car

Evey running

Loving the Moments: My girls playing together. Watching their joy in interacting together makes all the difficulties of two toddlers just melt away…almost. 🙂

sisters in Hanna Andersson

sisters in the pool

sisters "scrubbing"

Living the Liturgy: Looking ahead to feast days this month….. We’ve got Lucie’s baptismal day on August 6th (Feast of the Transfiguration), St. Lawrence on August 10th (my patron), Assumption on August 15th (Holy Day of obligation), St. Rose of Lima on August 23rd (patron to both myself and Evelyn), and a few others in between. I’d like to get back into living a bit more liturgically and I think this month will be the one to ease back in.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Halfway through this one, so looking toward the weekend full of home projects and a pool/birthday party. Definitely can’t wait.

 

Linking up with this week’s Yarn Along over at Ginny’s. 

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