7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 183)

August 3, 2012 | 81 comments

— 1 —

I am writing this while sitting on the edge of my chair, because I made the mistake of thinking that I could expose my skin to sunlight without incurring immediate and painful consequences. How easily I forget that my genes were expecting that I would spend most of my life shivering in a bog in the rain. Instead of confining myself to shadowy, air conditioned buildings where I rightfully belong, I do things like sign the kids up for a month of four-day-a-week swim lessons at an outdoor pool in the middle of the day. Then that part of my subconscious that secretly hates me kicks in (the one that told me to get the expensive toy set for Christmas that contains about 300 delicate pieces that all must be in place for the thing to work), and it says, “Hey, why don’t you throw on your swimsuit and join them?” Long story short, the people at the pool end up wondering which circus lost its albino, and I end up walking around the house like a red Frankenstein, lurching around with the most primitive movements lest it feel like my clothes are ripping away my skin.

— 2 —

Every time I go out of doors, I am reminded of the words of fellow Irish American Conan O’Brien, who described my life with eerie accuracy on that old show Dr. Katz (excuse the poor video quality and just focus on the wisdom of what the man says):

— 3 —

If I sounded like I was in a bad mood there in #1, I assure you I’m not. I’m merely worn down by the abject toil involved with getting from Point A to Point B after swim lessons. Point A is when I pull into the garage with five overtired kids, all of them wearing swimsuits that come with that patented technology that makes them impossible to remove when wet. Point B is when each of the children is in dry clothes; all nine swimsuit pieces are hanging out to dry (my son’s plus each part of the girls’ two-piece outfits); each child has been fed a custom-prepared meal that he or she will actually eat, with accompanying drink fixed precisely to his or her specification; the kitchen has been straightened up; pillows and blankets have been brought into the living room for the toddlers’ quiet time; and the baby has a diaper change and is put down for her afternoon nap. The kids are always exhausted after lessons so there is usually at least one person screaming through all of this, and it all needs to happen within about 20 minutes.

— 4 —

The other day I was swooning over this post about how to have a super organized garage sale. The custom-printed tags! The themed design! The cleverly arranged categories! On a wave of naive inspiration I sent it along to Joe. I suppose I knew better than to expect that he would reply with urgent questions about whether we should use the same pink-and-yellow-striped border for our signs or go with a different color palette, but this was his response:

Wouldn’t you make more money in less time if you just gave all your stuff away and got a job for a few days?

It must be a sad, sad existence to be an economics major.

— 5 —

The other morning was having one of those days where about 843 things went wrong before 9 AM, the 844th being that our Keurig broke. Instead of the rich, velvety coffee I expected, I got some steam and a hissy screaming sound instead (the latter coming from me). I threw all the kids in the car to go to Starbucks, which I can’t really afford and should probably be boycotting for reasons I could not then recall, but it was the only coffee place within 15 miles that has a drive-thru, so off we went. As soon as we pulled up to the ordering window the kids began requesting strawberries and cream smoothies with the same restraint and aplomb that a man about to die of thirst in the desert might request the glass of ice water you were dangling in front of him, and, long story short, I ended up ordering more beverages that I can’t afford. I glanced at my wallet and was bummed to realize that this was the last of my cash for a couple of weeks, but decided that it was worth it since we’d all had a hard morning.

I pulled up to the window, got our drinks, grabbed my wallet…and the barista told me that the car in front of us had picked up our order. I looked up to see a SUV at the exit. The driver waved briefly, and then turned on to the highway. I have no idea who this person was, or why he or she did it. But I’ll never forget that moment, and will always be thankful for the anonymous person in the white SUV, who showed me a random act of kindness just when I needed it.

— 6 —

With the school year about to start, I need some good homeschool inspiration books. Any suggestions? To help you tailor your recommendations:

  • I’m hoping to find something that addresses big-picture topics like “What is the highest purpose of education?” and “How can we best inspire our children to have a love of learning?”
  • There are noooo worries about the Fulwilers being too rigid with their schooling, so I think I need some encouragement on the pro-structure side of things, rather than pro-unschooling books.
  • I haven’t read The Well Trained Mind, so I guess I should just read that, right?

Recommend away!

— 7 —

What are you up to this weekend? I always love getting a glimpse into how others spend their down time. Hope you have a great time, whatever you do!



  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I recommend outsourcing at least part of your homeschooling to Bill Nye and Ms Frizzle. You can’t go wrong!

  2. Susan

    #7: What I’m doing this weekend: It looks like I might be driving a fish tank from Southern California to Berkeley, CA. It should probably be a fun trip except for the fish tank part.

  3. Tracy

    I find Ruth Beechick’s books helpful when I set out to plan a school year and Elizabeth Foss says all families need Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the World: Rethinking the Foundations of Education. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my wishlist. Although, being that it’s August already, I suppose should probably get it here pretty quickly…

  4. Kara

    LOL.. I hear ya on #1. I’ve been there. FAR too many times.

    I totally remember that Dr. Katz episode!! SO FUNNY! So sadly true. Sigh!

    Love random acts of kindness. I had a sweet man give me a card with $5 in it randomly at the mall one day that said, “Smile” It was so sweet.

  5. Araceli

    I’ve gotten a lot from the following books: Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist, and A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola .

  6. Erin

    no 4- every time you share something Joe says I just laugh, he sounds SOOO much like my David (business management)
    no 5- Wow!!!! how wonderful, no you can pray for them:)
    no 6 – I’ve shared my top how to hs bks here and why they appealed

    however the longer I hs (over a decade now) i find i’ve changed, I no longer worry about making it fun now, (very sad that) but about giving them solid basics, so important. Can’t stress that enough. I used to focus on fun alot, but we ‘played at learning’ more than did it.
    have begun sharing my story, sorry if I sound a wet blanket above

  7. Beth

    Yes, do read “The Well Trained Mind”. I was terrified of that book when I first started homeschooling. After putting it off for 3 or 4 years, I read it to find it is a clear explanation of classical ed but also a great basic framework for a schedule (I’m talking rough, here). I think there’s a lot of comparisons to a Charlotte Mason education (narration, memorizing, copywork, dictation, living books, training attention and progressively longer lessons as the child gets older and other things.

    I also really enjoyed “And The Skylark Sings With Me” by David H. Albert. If you can get past your feelings of inferiority from not necessarily being motivated to help your child build her own telescope and the fact that you can’t play the rare Indian instrument that he does, it and the 2 follow-up books are good reads. Otherwise, don’t miss Elizabeth Foss’ “Real Learning”.

  8. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Will you believe me when I say I totally get #1, even if I’m not a fair-skinned Irish lass? My skin may not be milky pale, but it IS sensitive to sun–and sunscreen. I thought I’d found a sunscreen (CA Baby) that would work, but my skin rebelled after 1 day, so I spent all week hiding under floppy hats, rash guards and baggy t’s.

    #5: LOVE. What a gift.

    #6. Yes! Read The Well Trained Mind. But for some faster inspiration, why don’t you go download one of Susan Wise Bauer’s lectures from her Peace Hill Press website? She always inspires me to keep at it and reminds me why we started homeschooling in the first place. Try one of these. They’re only a few bucks each.

    The Joy of Classical Education: Introduction to Classical Education at Home.
    Homeschooling the Real Child

    Have a great weekend, Jen!

    • Amy @ Consecrated Housewife

      Have you looked into Australia’s Invisible Zinc? I have a friend who swears by it and she has really sensitive skin. Her dermatologist sells it. I had a bad sunscreen reaction at the beginning of this summer and I tried her stuff and had no problems but the Invisible Zinc is a bit pricey and hard to come by in the US so I’ve spent my summer trying to stay out of direct sunlight for long periods of time!

  9. Shaunda

    Homeschooling book rec:
    Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion
    (I think that’s the title)
    You can find it at tjedonline.com
    Step up from unschooling in the structure but not a complete 180.
    As a fellow mom of many little ones, we love it.

  10. Sandy C

    Absolutely start with The Well-Trained Mind. Another good big-picture homeschool inspirational book is the first I read, nearly 20 yers ago, “homeschooling for Excellence” by the Colfax family. It leans more toward unschooling but the successes of the family are well worth The quick read. (I think all four of their children were admitted to Harvard). I’m pretty sure the book is somewhere around my house. We are moving soon and in major decluttering mode. I would be happy to send you the book (if I can find it). Email me if like and I’ll look for the book. The Well Trained mind discussion boards online are a wonderful source of inspiration as well. I survived my two kids’ high school homeschool years with the help of some wonderful homeschoolers on those boards.

    • Kelly the Kitchen Kop


      Are you sure that’s the correct title? I’m searching for it at our library and can’t find it.


      • Kelly the Kitchen Kop

        Oops, forgot to check the box to get notified of any replies…

  11. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I love #8-when I am not student loan poor, I want to do that too πŸ™‚

    Also, Joe is my husband. So much. He just doesn’t understand the thrill that is garage sale-ing.

    This weekend? Hm. Mike is on call at work. I will be wrangling the beast by myself.

  12. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    I’ve learned (after only 18 years of parenting!) there is no point trying to reason with or herd exhausted children. The trick is to *hand them something to eat and drink* before you head home from swimming. Do not wait. Do not talk. Do not discuss. Just hand’em the granola bar or cheese and crackers, and let that low blood sugar stabilize before you utter a word.

    They’ll still complain about the wet suits, but it will be normal complaining.

  13. el-e-e

    My favorite thing about coming home from the pool is that both of my kids want to get out of their suits immediately, in the laundry room which is just inside the back door. Then they ruuuuuun upstairs so fast and it’s a blur of sunscreened skin and giggles. πŸ™‚

    I’m hoping it’s rainy this weekend so we really CAN have downtime. I need to clean house. I know that isn’t what you were excited to read about, but there it is! Excitement! And I’d also like to dive into a project: re-painting my bathroom. We’ll see about that. I’m not good about projects.

    So cool about your random act of kindness!

  14. Gina

    Do you know the essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers? I believe it’s online somewhere, though I don’t have the link at the moment. I understand a lot of homeschoolers have found it inspirational.

  15. Catherine

    Re: #1, I am of the same ancestry, and I finally got a fix to the problem. I still have to be careful, but Wellness Mama’s post on eating your sunscreen has been instrumental in keeping me from bursting into flames in the sun. I’d link, but I found her through you, so I hope you can find it. She recommends Hawaiian Astaxathin, or something like that. I’ve taken it for a few months (it takes a few weeks to work, but would be totally worth it for a person who lives where it is too hot most of the year). I have a tan, a real tan, and I can actually hang out outside now!

  16. GeekLady

    Well, APPARENTLY I’ll be shaving my legs this weekend. Other than that, we should be unpacking and cleaning up after returning from The Vacation to End All Sanity. Instead a college friend and her family are coming to Houston for a home schooling conference, and they want to come over and visit a little.

    Also, I have to do laundry and pack again, because Himself and GeekBaby are leaving for the valley on Monday to visit los abuelos. I’ll be here all by my lonesome, since I used up all my vacation time on The Vacation to End All Sanity. This will actually be nice and relaxing and I can get stuff done around the house next week. (Hah, I say again, Hah.)

    I passed up on a copy of The Well Trained Mind at Half

    • GeekLady

      (continued, grr.)

      I passed up on a copy of The Well Trained Mind at Half Price once last winter, and I’ve regretted it deeply ever since. It was only $10, but the next time it was gone. So sad.

      It’s a good book, she seems very sensible about home education, but it seems to me like it’s good for self motivated, get your butt out of bed on time every morning people, and thus not entirely appropriate for us.

  17. Kathleen Basi

    #5 brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gift!

  18. sara mcd

    “What is education for?” is a huge question. I’ve been reading and think I agree with those who say it is largely for the “ordering of affections.” In fact, this blog by Cindy Rollins has been helpful. http://www.ordo-amoris.com/

    • sara mcd

      Oh and “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is great.

      • sara mcd

        Oh and I’d like to add my voice to those who have recommended Ambleside Online. It’s an excellent structured way to give a good, round education.

  19. Smoochagator

    Your Starbucks story… well, I nearly cried. I’m sure you did. That’s just awesome.

    Also, yes, one might make more money per hour working a temporary job for a few days instead of having a super organized yard sale. But one would have to A) leave home to work, thus spending money on gas and perhaps childcare B) bother with a W-4 and Uncle Sam’s fingers in the till C) wear something other than pajamas while working (THIS IS THE DEAL BREAKER FOR ME) and D) not have the pleasure of using those darling printables. Clearly your husband is not calculating all of the important factors into his ROI analysis.

  20. Thomas

    #7 Going to a Detroit Tigers baseball game with my wife!

  21. Kerrie

    Your Starbucks post reminds me what I used to do before getting EzPass (a pre-pay toll system)….Every so often, I would pay the toll for a bridge, tunnel, or road for the person behind me. Back in my single days, it was always for a cute guy πŸ˜‰

  22. Jean

    Great coffee story. People are wonderful. πŸ™‚

    This weekend: turning a room into an office. Also finishing (I hope) an online class. Maybe some lounging on the deck – in the shade, while wearing sunscreen, while the sun is on the opposite side of the house. πŸ™‚

  23. Darren A. Jones

    Jennifer, I would strongly recommend β€œ5 Steps to Successful Home Schooling” by Pamela Patnode. I just read it last week (I work for a homeschool organization, and part of my job is to review books).

    Here’s my take on it: “5 Steps” is designed for Catholic parents who are considering homeschooling for the first time, and also for Catholic families who feel a need to reassess their educational and life priorities. Focusing especially on the areas of prayer (both as a family and individually) and planning, the author sets out a very practical guideline for starting or improving your homeschool program.

    β€œ5 Steps” will be most helpful for people who enjoy lists, who are energized by spending copious amounts of time designing schedules, and who are uncertain as to whether they are actually capable of teaching their children at home. It’s not for everyone – if the thought of taking a week off to prepare a mission statement and business plan for your family makes you want to hide under the covers, this book may not be the most beneficial use of your time. But for those who thrive on organization and to-do lists, this book will be of immense value.

  24. Deanna

    Weekend plans: 2 graduation parties, sewing, promoting Eucharistic Adoration in my parish.

    Aloe gel works great for sunburn relief. It was a staple for my son every summer!

  25. ceciliamaria

    I won’t get much downtime this weekend with a dance performance on Saturday, which will take up half the day and helping with another performance on Sunday (again, half the day). Normally, I’d be at my family reunion this weekend, but that’s taking place in Ohio and I’m a few states away. At least the dancing will distract me from the fact that I’m not with my entire extended family on my favorite weekend of the year! πŸ™‚

  26. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    Loved your Starbucks story!! There aren’t many DT SB where I am in Pasadena, but when we where in MO, I did that a few times. The Baristas would usually ask if I knew the person… but I am not sure why?

    #7= We have an 8a flight out of LAX for 20 days back home in Wisconsin!

  27. Emma

    Jen, I’m not a mom, just a teacher, but I love Father Schall’s “Another Sort of Learning”… as soon as you look at the cover and reading the bazillion-word-long subtitle, you’ll see why.

  28. Sarah Scherrer

    laughing so hard at Conan that I’m actually snorting…..

  29. Lou Bragg

    Hi, Jen!

    I’m struggling with the faith and your blog has been most fascinating, as your appearances on “The Journey Home” and “Deep in Scripture.”

    However, I’d like to help you out with homeschooling. You asked the broad question of “What is the purpose of higher education?”

    I am a huge libertarian and a loud promoter of homeschooling (although I have no children).

    Since you’re already a homeschooling mother, I assume you’ve heard of him, but I want to highly recommend the work of John Taylor Gatto. Gatto is a former New York teacher of the year for New York City and the State of New York. He left public schools once he realized that public education is wrong.

    His books have become very, very popular in the homeschooling community. I want to highly recommend you read his books, but visit his website: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com.

    While his work is far, far too advanced for your children to read, I’m sure you or your husband would find his work thrilling and beautiful. I cannot recommend an author more highly than Gatto.


    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Thanks for this info, Lou! I actually met Mr. Gatto a while back and was very impressed with him. BTW, I tried to reply to your comment but the email bounced. Shoot me an email if you get a sec.

  30. Kris

    I will direct you to Charlotte Mason’s methods, For the Children’s Sake by Macaulay, and Elizabeth Foss for a Catholic spin. πŸ˜‰ We do the Ambleside Online curriculum as a way of implementing the CM approach. Good luck!

  31. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

    First, #5 was my favorite. You never know how a simple act of kindness is going to bless someone. Thanks for the reminder.

    Second, here are my favorite homeschooling inspiration books:

    A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
    Homeschooling the Early Years by Linda Dobson
    The Relaxed Home School by Mary Hood
    The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
    The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

    Have a great homeschool year!

  32. elizabethe

    Hey Jen,

    totally agree with the idea that feeding kids should come before anything else. Try getting your lunch/snack set up before you leave for swimming (at least make the PB and Js or set the table) (HA! like that’s going to happen. When I make an effort to pre-prepare meals, it makes so much difference, well worth trying it out).

    And, I am CRYING reading about your stranger paying for your Starbucks! I know exactly where you were at with that, that was the nicest thing anyone could have done. (I also just had a baby, so I might have some hormonal things going on).

    Also, about Joe. it’s so funny how things that are supposed to save you money actually usually wind up costing more in either actual money or time and stress. I once knew a woman who kept her basement packed full of things she was planning to donate, but wouldn’t get rid of it because she wanted to do the tax deductions for it all. She lost the use of her basement for years because of that attitude. Too many people don’t realize that maintaining a depression era mentality in a disposable world is not adaptive and is really detrimental to their lives.

  33. Laura

    Loved your Starbucks story! Wow, after 14 years of homeschooling, I guess I should go read The Well Trained Mind…or maybe it’s too late????? You can go here for my thoughts on homeschooling πŸ™‚ http://www.catholic-homeschooling-resources.com (wow, two plugs this week in your comment section for my website, how did I manage that?? Thanks and God Bless.

  34. Jennifer

    I would highly recommend “Educating the Wholehearted Child” by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I read it last summer and found it renewed my motivation for homeschooling in a big way. I have 4 kids, ages 8, 6, 4, and 3, so I can relate to the feeling of burnout and exhaustion that you describe. Hope this will help!

  35. lisa

    reading recs: Dorothy Sayers – anything on education she wrote; anything about classical education; anything on the Ignatian Method in education (Kolbe has a couple of things) – reason being that they (the Jesuits in ages past) had a firm grasp of the nature of man, our end, our purpose on this earth and how to equip said members of mankind to work All For the Greater Glory of God. Then pray and think about what you want for your kids as adults and what God wants for your kids as adults, and work backwards from there to build their education.

  36. Amy Jane (UntanglingTales)

    So very precious, the story of your drinks being covered for you.

    I am so *blessed* to be reminded of the many ways our good Father provides for us.

    As to the well-trained mind, and classical schooling in general, I really liked this post from the Bearing Blog, because it articulated so well things I hadn’t thought to put into words yet (And isn’t that just our favorite stuff to read?).

  37. CC Jen

    I recommend The Core by Leigh Bortens. But TWTM is fabulous too πŸ™‚

  38. Amanda

    Can’t read every response right now, but I am working on going from a less structured Charlotte Mason inspired schooling (oldest is going into 3rd) to a structured CM education with Classical influences. I’ve been reading When children love to learn by Elaine Cooper with essays by those who run CM schools today. We use a Mater Amabilis (free CM Catholic curriculum) framework and build off of there. Also not a book but love Jen Mackintosh’s web site, Wildflowers and Marbles. I’ve never read WTM because I think it really is too much… thinking of reading Latin Centered Curriculum and Stratford Caldecott’s first book, Beauty for Truth’s Sake on the Re-enchantment of Education. Sounds great- a why book.

  39. Crete

    Ok, can’t stop you from burning, BUT get yourself to a drug store – and grab a bottle of Malox – yeah really. When you get home shake bottle and apply gently with a cotton ball. Keep the remainder of the bottle in the fridge – according to a nurse my husband knew years ago this neutralizes the acid your skin makes as a result of the burn and thus takes the sting out. All I know is it works.

  40. Camille

    Oooohhh…. homeschool books. I love ’em. I would say that Well Trained Mind is a great start. It is not as intimidating as it looks as about 2/3 of the book is dedicated to the practical application of teaching kids older than yours – you can read that part in future years! Other than that, I loved “The Core” by Leigh Boortins and “Climbing Parnassus” by someone I am forgetting right now. Also “Design your Own Classical Curriculum” is a good choice. Enjoy!

  41. Lindsay @ Lindsay Loves

    #5 sounds familiar, actually. Not that it has happened to me, but I listen to K-LOVE sometimes, and they promote that exact idea. They call it the “drive-through difference.” I’ve never actually done it, though; maybe once I pay for my new glasses and recover from that wallet shock, I’ll give it a try.

  42. Jo Hawke

    #4 That sounds like something my husband would say. And rightly so. The last time I participated in a yard sale, I ended up with about $60. Divided by the hours I put into getting everything together and cleaned up and transported and set up, not to mention the hours spent in the blazing heat trying to sell the stuff, per hour I made roughly enough for one of those little sticky thingies in a plastic ball for one of my kids. Never again!

  43. Meg

    I burn even when slathered with SPF 100, wearing UPF 50 clothes (and hat), and staying in the shade as much as possible. Some of us were not meant to be in the sun, ever.

  44. Robin Lee

    HANDS DOWN….read A Thomas Jefferson Education. A Well-Trained Mind is great, but not as quick a read. You’ll finish the ATJE quickly and be motivated to attack the Well Trained Mind.

  45. Sarah Scherrer

    If you are interested in Montessori at home, try Natural Structure: A Montessori Approach to Classical Education at Home by Edward and Nancy Walsh.

  46. Kate

    I don’t know if someone recommended this already or not…but to fix your Keurig run a mixture of water and e white vinegar through it, then run plain water through it a few times.

    Coffee problem solved!

  47. Cat W.

    I love that Starbucks gesture, but 2 things came to mind here. 1) I bet that person had NO IDEA they were going to end up spending about 5x what they thought they would because you had a car-full of children! And 2) How does that work, exactly? Do they just hang on to the credit card info and put it on there? Does the restaurant hang on to your info like that? So confused about this. I also rarely use the drive-thru (hate those things because I’m too short to ever get close enough), so it will probably never happen to me.

  48. Mary

    What am I doing this weekend? I’m currently participating in a 5 week Catholic program for young adults with the Community of St. John called Ecclesia, and tomorrow we are going on a foot pilgrimage to a shrine of Our Lady to end our program. I’ll be praying for you!! πŸ™‚ PS, if you have never heard of the brothers and sisters of st john, you should look them up! They are all stars.

  49. Elisa | blissfulE

    My sister-in-law, whose opinion I respect, has highly recommended this book and given it to me as my birthday gift this year. It’s next on my to-read list. Haven’t read Well-Trained Mind but it’s on my to-read list as well…

  50. Claire

    I love the Starbucks story. I don’t have children, hence I have no wise words about homeschooling, other than to “high-five” you for taking on this task.

    You asked what everyone is doing this weekend. I really must start organizing the overabundance of “stuff” in this house, and we plan to hit the beach.

    I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

  51. Tammy

    I cant figure out how to do Quicktakes and my blog is about death, so I hope you will excuse me from the assignment. This week, something from my blog was the featured article in a parent support newsletter in Queensland, Australia (and Im in the US, so that was cool for me).

    I actually saw the Embassy from Australia yesterday when I took my only daughter and her BFF out for an excursion. We had lunch in a British restaurant in DC picked because its the favorite of her celebrity crush. On to Georgetown where we ate in a French bakery and then to the very American mall where they dragged me around for 6 hours but didnt buy anything.

    Im not a homeschooler but I did use moments in our eat& shop to teach them “that is the embassy of Tunisia… Tunisia is in north Africa…” . What a blessing to do this excursion on half a tank of gas.

    As for the swimming lesson challenges…I coped by simply hating summer until very recently. You are a great mom.

  52. julie foley

    I don’t know if a nyone else has recommended it yet, but Stories for the homeschool heart by Pamela Armstrong is pretty good. She also has a website and I liked her on Facebook and get tons of great ideas and inspirational things. Give it a try.

  53. Joy

    I’m in Hawaii this weekend! But only till tomorrow… *sigh*. Sounds like you’re skin is made like my second daughter’s. We have been coating her in SPF 1,000,000 all week and somehow she’s still sun burning. :-/. But about the homeschooling books…. I highly recommend Educating the Whole-hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. It will give you purpose, but not overwhelm you. (Well, actually it does kind of overwhelm, but in a good way). Personally, I am not such a huge fan of TWTM. I think it’s good for homeschoolers to read because of the breadth of information covered! But I found many of the suggested resources to be awful for one reason or another. I.e. The early grammar books Bauer wrote are about enough to make you want to stick your fingers in your eyes and swirl them around lest you read something so obnoxiously boring ever again. The science recommendations all flopped and were equally boring. But as far as giving you purpose and a wee bit of structure, Educating the Whole… is great. It covers so much but in an encouraging way.
    I second the readers who recommend Charlotte Mason’s books — sounds like it might be a good fit for you. And there are a number of homeschooling ebooks I have recently read that I found to be very encouraging — Simply Homeschool by Karen DeBeus and Back to Homeschool by Misty Krasawski. Also Home Learning Year by Year: Designing a Curriculum… By Rebecca Rupp. the only thing about that book is some of the resources are out-of-date.
    Anyway, I hope that helps! Back to my last day of vacation!

    • Kira

      OH. I love your description of the early grammar books JUST SO MUCH. I thought my cellular-level hatred of them was evidence of my innate laziness. And it still may be. But THEY ARE SO BORING AND AWFUL.
      Thank you. Just…thank you.

  54. Dwija {House Unseen}

    College friend in for the weekend!

    Need another beer….

  55. April

    Educating The Whole Hearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson.

    It’s my favorite.

  56. Susan

    Try this next time you go swimming!

  57. Luke

    I’m sitting at home recovering from skin cancer surgery- not fun. SO BE CAREFUL IN THE SUN!.

  58. syd

    All six are good, but at leas read Volume 1 & 6 of the Charlotte Mason series. Volume 1 is called Home Education and Volume 6 is Towards a Philosophy of Education. I like the version with footnotes.

    I highly recommend Ambleside Online for inspiration.

    http://www.amblesideonline.org/ All the books are on there for free by the way, plus versions updated in modern English (I prefer the old ones though).

    I sold my copy of The Well-Trained Mind.

  59. Elizabeth Mahlou

    Vinegar will help that sunburn. I suppose, living in Texas, you know that. We lived in San Angelo for a while, and Donnie and Lizzie, both very light-skinned, had to take extra precautions against the violent Texas sun.

  60. catie

    This article is great for explaining the history of Christian education (aka: the higher purpose of education): http://claanews.com/2012/04/11/the-history-of-education/

    The writer is the founder and owner of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, which is an online academy providing just what the name says. πŸ™‚ There are some really helpful articles under the Family Resources section on this page: http://www.classicalliberalarts.com/

  61. Jenni

    For homeschooling encouragement, not necessarily “how to” I always went back to “A Mom Just Like You” by Vickie Farris (Wife of HSLDA Michael Farris). It is not just about homeschooling, but also about living with a big family and being pulled in all directions, written by Vickie with the help of one of her adult daughters, so it really rings true.

  62. Kris, in New England

    We went to SoulFest 2012 in New Hampshire. Just on Saturday, it was the last day of the 4 day festival. Christian everything – books, music, organizations, music, music, music. Tons of food, prepared by Christian people :-). We saw Jason Upton, Maeve, Kutless and the magnificent Casting Crowns.
    It was a day filled with the Holy Spirit shared with 15,000 people. It was overwhelming…it felt like every person I walked by, smiled at or bumped into shared a piece of themselves with me as I shared myself with them.
    It was a day of renewal and even re-birth.

  63. Christine

    Oh…and a good book to read is Norms and Nobility by David Hicks. Real light reading there. *snort*

  64. Pat Johnson

    I went to my niece’s wedding this weekend. The sweetest part was during the final prayers when the priest, who is the groom’s great uncle, had everyone lift their arms toward the couple together in prayer. It was like a blanket of love. Of course we also had fun making quips about relatives who are ordained. Do you call the priest uncle-father, or father-uncle? Also, there is my brother, who is becoming a deacon. Do I call him brother-deacon or deacon-brother? It was a wonderful weekend.

  65. Amanda

    The sunburn humor is unfortunately lost on me and my native american genes. My son and I are at that point in the summer where we’re so brown that driving around Arizona would be likely to get us arrested as illegal immigrants. Good thing we live in Pennsylvania πŸ™‚

    And yes you MUST read The Well-Trained Mind. Even if you don’t end up going that route it seems to be one of those mainstays of homeschooling. I myself liked it, and I especially like listening to Susan Wise Bauer and her mom Jessie Wise’s audio recordings on various homeschooling topics. They’re such well-spoken women, very matter-of-fact, especially Jessie with her pleasant southern accent πŸ™‚ And for the record my oldest son LOVES the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, he asks for more reading lessons. I have no idea why, seems kind of simple to me, but I think SWB is right when she says that young kids are just so programmed for memorizing and soaking up new stuff and that we should take advantage of that. And $20 for a reading curriculum that gets them from “A says /a/” to a 5th grade reading level in 5 minutes a day!? Can’t beat that in my opinion. Seriously, we started it at 2.5 years old and are halfway through at 4 and he’s reading at a 2nd grade level. This is an oddly smart but otherwise typical rowdy, goofy boy and even he enjoys our lessons on the couch during quiet time. I used SWB’s idea of “do you want to nap or do you want to learn to read”. Trust me, they will almost always choose learning to read over a nap come 4 years old, lol!

    Other than that, I’d think John Taylor Gatto would be right up your alley, and your husband might enjoy him too. Not super well-cited imo but his ideas are definitely interesting and most of what he has to say really resonated with my own experience as a public school student and then teacher. Plus he’s just fun to read or listen to, he’s got an attitude that I enjoy πŸ™‚

    I’m currently reading through Charlotte Mason’s stuff. I like her stuff but find a lot of the recommendations vague and oftentimes wonder if she’s ever met a real live boy under age 6? I definitely recommend her original writings over any of the Charlotte Mason interpretations in modern day CM books. CM’s education from herself sounds very challenging but balanced, however the modern books that call themselves Charlotte Mason education sound more like unschooling than anything.

    It’s not strictly homeschooling but I think C.S. Lewis’s Abolition of Man is a must-read for any parent, especially one who is home educating.

  66. Christine

    I have been to a zillion garage sales and never ever seen one like that. That one is too ..not sure what to call it…but dude…it is just a garage sale. Settle down!

  67. mary

    The best book is “Raising Good Children” by Thomas Lickona. What is the purpose of having intelligence, success and wherewithal if character is not the premier purpose of education? Having taught all levels of elementary reading in a structured, school setting, I found the preschool curriculum of A Beka Book (a program developed in Pensacola, Fla.) to be superior to all other programs for reading and math foundation up to age 7 years. I discovered the program went I sent my older children (ages 5 and 3 at the time) to the program three days a week for three hours each day. They came home reciting things like “B says buh – believe in the Lord and be saved!” and “O says oh, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right!”
    Our four children are all over 26 years, papists, and good, decent people. They all had their share of academic, sport and academic recognition. They practice their Catholic Faith and they raise the character bar.

    • mary

      And we prayed a lot.

  68. susan

    Classical liberal arts academy..william michael’s online academy…outstanding

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