6 Ideas for Improving Distance Learning and Homeschooling

“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223)

With the closing of in-person schools due to the coronavirus outbreak, families with children enrolled in traditional schools have suddenly found themselves responsible for the daily schooling of their children. Several of my friends in this situation have reached out to me with questions about how I run my homeschooling day. It is difficult when what we have discerned as the right thing for our family is turned upside down and we are faced with challenges we never planned on facing.

So, for parents who feel like they are drowning in distance learning home school style, I want to offer some help. You can do this!

Just think of Ma (Caroline) Ingalls in her isolated homes in the territories of Minnesota and Dakota over long, long winters helping her children learn while running her whole household without electricity or indoor plumbing. You can do this!

Read some ideas to make your days at home more peaceful and manageable at the National Catholic Register…

Life These Days

Somehow we have hit a rhythm that is working this semester. Maybe it is working for me because I get to sleep until my Lyme diseased body is ready to wake up, and the professor is doing the work of getting the children up for the day. But I think that perhaps he is okay with things as well, especially since we put our feet down earlier this year and made all the children ages 5 and up responsible for getting themselves ready and fed in the morning.

I have been waking up around 8 am most days to the sound of my children laughing and playing outside my door. By the time I am dressed and out of my room, the school aged children are hard at work at the dining room table, and the professor is working beside them. His sabbatical has become a semester of studious contemplation for us all. Once I am able to manage the school and teach the subjects that need teaching (about half of their work is independent requiring very little one on one instruction), the professor disappears to do his work away from the chaos of four children.

I guide the children through school until lunchtime at 12:30pm. We have fourth grader, second grader, kindergartner, and a three year old bundle of energy this year. Mostly the younger two entertain themselves with continual reminders to play somewhere else when they intrude upon school space. I do make time to work on math, reading, and handwriting with my kindergartner, and my preschooler is gleaning all sorts of things like counting, colors, playing blocks, building duplos, coloring, from his older sister.

We have found our rhythm in the elementary school level as well. I am used to our curriculum for each subject now (though fourth grade singapore math is getting intimidating–I can’t remember at what grade level I learned the order of operations…but we just covered it!), so teaching is going smoothly.

Lunchtime has become super easy as well since we instituted the “make your own lunch” rule. To clarify, we have guidelines about this for them–they choose from a small variety of healthy options. The older children then move the dishwasher along after lunch while listening to a fairy story from the Andrew Lang Fairy Books (which we learned recently were actually compiled by his wife and some of her friends!).

After lunch is nap time for the three year old and quiet time for the rest of us. The girls and I start of each quiet time with a short prayer time where I read the daily Mass readings to them and then we reflect quietly (or look through saint books or children’s Bibles) for ten minutes. They go off to their quiet time spots for an hour and I settled into reading theology for about an hour (trying to get through St. Gregory the Great’s Morals on the Book of Job before Christmas), and then whatever writing or editing work I need to do for that day.

We have streamlined dinner meals to be shorter an easier these last few years, so I can usually get away with working until 4:30 or so before I cook dinner (which I have been able to do these past two weeks…this Lyme will be beaten!).

At dinner we will often have a discussion topic. We cover one painting and one work of music a week. Lately, we have been reading through the Constitution and discussing it. About once a week we watch Ken Burn’s National Park’s documentary with dinner, and that sparks discussion as well–our kids are turning into environmentalists! Sometimes we will discuss a question from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. Then the professor reads to us from the Bible–a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New Testament in order. We have been doing this for over three years and it is so great to hear it, and for the children to learn salvation history in a family setting.

After dinner, I take my crazy amount of meds (had a morning dose as well), and help the professor clean the kitchen.

We get the kids to bed in a leisurely way with family prayers, stories, and lots of “last drinks” and visits to the bathroom. The professor reads to the older kids from a chapter book. They just finished Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and are reading The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. It is the second time through for King Arthur, but the younger kids do not remember it.

Once everyone is in bed, the professor and I have been indulging in Star Trek: Enterprise. We were both into Star Trek in high school, gave it up in college, and tapped back into it our first years of marriage. This series is new to us, and has been a good way to enjoy the evening quiet while I have been sick. We usually have time for reading as well. I just finished Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and am now plowing through my second reading of Framely Parsonage by Anthony Trollope.

So, despite the annoyance of being sick since we got back from our wonderful trip Out West, I am finding a peaceful enjoyment in the studiousness of our life these days. I think it is good for the kids and for us to spend our days in study, even if my two afternoon hours does not seem like that much, it does wonders for me. This is the home school life I dreamed of, and I wish the professor’s sabbatical would last forever…and maybe we could avoid all the extra curricular activities that have not yet started…

Seven Quick Takes: Home School Plans

I am linking up with Kelly, the hostess of Seven Quick Takes!

1. People have been asking me if we started school,
and I sheepishly admit that, yes, we have. We have been “doing” the Awesome School since August 1. We needed structure. We needed routine. And two weeks of no structure after our final vacation of the summer was too much. So we started right along with two weeks of swim lessons for the two older children. The first week, all I did was 2nd grade math with G and 100 Easy Lessons with L. G did her history audio CD, piano, geography and Latin studying on her own. The second week we added science and spelling. The third week we added catechism, and this fourth week, we added on English for G and 1st grade math for L.

2. This has been our basic schedule, which I have developed as we added subjects. When G can work independently, I work with L. It has been going really well. Not in the schedule are the twice a week school time they have with their father (Latin, Geography, poetry memorization) and the painting and classical music piece per week. We are planning on doing four day school weeks this year (which is also why I started early).

3. G (2nd grade)

We are mostly continuing with what we did last year, but added a spelling and science text. And note that she did her First Communion in first grade.

4. L (Kindergarten)

L spent most of last school year making paper dolls and resisting learning to read. This year she is discovering that if we do lessons nearly everyday, “It is easy!” She also has shown an aptitude for math beyond the kindergarten level, so we are trying out Singapore’s first grade curriculum and will take it as slowly or as quickly as she needs. 

5. F (Pre-K)
  • Printing: My First School Book from Handwriting Without Tears
  • Reading: If she has a desire for it, we will start 100 easy lessons once L is finished. This is a book I dislike in general to force on children until they are really wanting to read.
  • Nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and Beatrix Potter
  • Play!
  • Teach her baby brother what siblings are for

6. Fine Arts: The professor has been working with the girls on poetry memorization, but has also been teaching a painting and piece of music per week. He teaches them about the composer/artist and the period of art the work is from. We do this at dinner time. Here is the Fall semester list.

7. I am really glad we started the school year in steps. It has made it really low stress for me, and now doing a full day of school seems so doable. L is usually finished around 10am and G and I work until 11am. Then they can play until lunch. And now when September hits with the increase of commitments (piano lessons, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Little Flowers, Co-op) we will already be well-adjusted to doing school.

Bonus take: Yesterday afternoon, after I got baby T (14 months) up from his nap (who is so much of a toddler these days), his sisters were demonstrating their gymnastics skills. L showed us several cartwheels. Then F did a few somersaults. We clapped after each physical feat. Then T seeing the floor clear, climbed off my lap, lay on the floor, and proceeded to show us how he could roll front to back to front to back across the floor. So, of course, we clapped.

*Please be advised: Some of the links are to Amazon. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small percentage of the purchasing price. However, I linked mostly to the websites that we actually purchase from and have found the best prices.

Middle of the week ramblings…

Okay, so it’s Wednesday.

For some reason school is taking like no time this week. I think it has something to do with math not taking an hour a day. We got stuck on number bonds and number bond games…So, I looked at my math planning over the weekend and made it more doable.

I am all over Google drive these days, especially since I realized I can use it on the iPad with apps. It is great! I can write on both my devices now!

I also use a Google spreadsheet for lesson planning. It tells us what to do each day. I love having my schedule right there. I do the planned pages and we are done. Yep.

Our Art and Music curriculum are also being put in Google Docs. So, when we have them finished, maybe we will market them…though you can make your own with the help of iTunes and Wikipedia…

School has also forced me to change my weekly chores around. I decided to only do dusting and vacuuming during the week and do the sheet and towel laundry on Saturday. Which means that yesterday, when the kids all wanted to go to the park after school, we could. 

I look at this picture and am like, when and how did I get four kids? Seriously…four seems like way more than three to look at. I am not even 30 and I have four kids… 

But basically, if I do not internally pray all day and focus on being silly with the kids, I am a huge grump. On days I am laid back and give of myself more fully, we are all happy.
Hi, I am Susanna. I am a perfectionist. Being laid back is hard work. My two year old takes after me. Which means she will stay in her nap, but screams if her bib is not on right.
The baby is getting more touchy about sleeping. If he is dosing off and a sister walks by or talks, he pops his eyes open and looks for them. So, we might be needing to get him asleep in a quiet room soon, which will be less convenient than him dropping off while we are doing school in my arms and happily laying down for a dose.

We are all set for a busy weekend, and I am wondering how it is going to go with baby.

We have our first Little Flowers on Thursday, and G and L are both in it this year. This means M and F get some father-daughter bonding time while I take everyone else to LF until 8:30pm. We get home at 9pm, the big girls go to bed, and then I am like, what happened to my evening? Well it should be fun and is only once a month, so… hopefully T will not be thrown off sleepwise by riding in the car at 8:30pm.

Then the philosophy department party is on Friday which will be until bedtime again.

Then another late night on Saturday. And Sunday is our co-op kick-off picnic probably until bedtime… so busy weekend.

I really liked last weekend. M took the girls shopping for 2.5 hours, T napped, and I enjoyed a quiet morning doing some sewing that had to get done. Maybe we will have another quiet weekend at some point. But for now, we press on into busy school time!

I Miss Myself: Why I Need to Write

We started first grade two weeks ago, G and I. We are doing it together. Me the teacher; she the student. Gone are the leisurely mornings of kindergarten where we dabbled in letters, and reading, and numbers. Now are the days of making sure we get it all done.

In my perfect little schedule, we fit it into a two hour window. The baby takes his nap. The other two do a bit of coloring, a bit of letters, and play nicely besides.

But in reality, some days it is less than two hours. She is interested in her work and does it quickly. Other days she is Anne of Green Gables, with her head in the clouds, preferring her books to school which she can grasp so easily but prefers not to do. And school takes FOREVER.

I try to rush her, with my to-do list in my head. I get annoyed at the baby for not napping, even though he is happy on his play mat. I snap at the other two for playing too loudly and for G for paying more attention to their game than her work.

I complain to my husband, and he reminds me that this is why we are home schooling, so the kids can take the time the need or go as quickly as they wish. And I realize that this schooling is again a loss of myself and my desires.

Every new stage, every new baby has stripped me of time to do what I want, but I also have realized that I do need to do the things that I love. I need to things for myself in the cracks of time I have.

I am working on making time for what I love so that I am a fulfilled person. Motherhood is about losing myself, but it is also about being who I am meant to be, it is about being my full self. My motherhood is part of my vocation, but so is my writing. When I write, I am doing something that I am called to do. 
But the problem is, I don’t always take time to write. Before T was born I had a set writing time: afternoon quiet times when M worked on campus. Days he works at home I exercise during quiet time.  Since T was born, I have not reestablished my writing habit very well. I am not taking the time I need for writing.

I am finding the time now. I am nursing T to sleep, the girls are having “recess”, and one handed iPad blogging it is. My plan is to write everyday while nursing. So maybe I will be rambling half the time, maybe I will just tell you about my day. But I think the writing time as opposed to the thousandth daily perusal of my Facebook feed and Instagram feed will make me happier. 
It will make me more me. If the daily grind of homeschooling a first grader while three younger children make a ruckus in the background is really right for our family, then giving myself the writing outlet is what I need. 
And if my writing does not show up here, that means that I am writing elsewhere and will let you know.

The Awesome School 2015: What We Plan to Do (K and 1st grade)

Once upon a time, M and I decided to home school our children. Well, we did not have any children, yet. And I have been slowly dreading it to some extent. I mean, it is a lot of responsibility to educate your children, and we have this vision of a classical-traditional-sacramental education we want our children to have so that they can be awesome people.

Last year we went to the curriculum fair at the homeschool conference, and I cried got overwhelmed about homeschooling. I was trying to decide if I should do some first grade things with G (who was five at the time) or not. I finally settled on giving her a year of casual kindergarten. And we did this, and I am going to do the same thing with L (5 in November) for kindergarten this year:

I finished this book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) with G last school year, and it was a struggle. We may have fought and cried our way through the lessons. I wish I had become a more patient person through it, though I am not sure that I did. Well this summer (five months after finishing the book and reading really simple library books together), she came up to me out of the blue and said: “Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to read.” I really did cry then. Now she reads everything she is able to read. She loves it. She reads to her sisters, she reads to herself. She gets better everyday.

(NOTE: I know this sounds like the book 100 Easy Lessons was awful, but really it was just personality and my dynamic with G. L and I have done 20 lessons so far and it is much different. We think G does better as a self-learner.)

We have been working through the Handwriting Without Tears (Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me) curriculum, so we just did that everyday. She wrote to her penpal, wrote cards for family birthdays, etc.

I did not buy a kindergarten math book, we just got more comfortable with numbers doing Montessori activities from this book: Teach Me to Do it Myself And it all went well.

And we did random science activities from that book as well. We also joined a twice a month co-op which had art, gym, and a science class for her.

So, I am going to do what I did with G last year for L this year, and if it goes well I will decide if she is ready for first grade next year or just do another casual year.

First Grade:
When M and I were discussing first grade, I really felt like I wanted to get a set curriculum. I am a slight perfectionist, and I can’t do something as major as homeschooling without something like, “You will do this exact thing today in this subject, and this in this other subject, etc.” That seemed the only way.

But my dear husband, reminded me of our plan to give our kids the education we preferred for them and none of the set curricula do what we want. So, he agreed to plan meticulously with me, with our textbooks and other books, what we are going to do this year.

We decided to start the Awesome School next week. Summer weather will hopefully continue, but I think we are all ready for some structure after the baby.

We are going to do two half weeks, and then after Labor Day jump in full swing. But this also means that I have to get my act together. This week is home organization, and school supply purchasing.

Here are the books we are using (minus the St. Joseph Catechism, because a certain six year old wanted to read it during quiet time):

For reading and spelling we are using the Catholic National Reader Primer and Book One.

I love this. It is an old fashioned reader with reading practice, phonics, plus comprehension, plus spelling words. I am slightly geeked out to use it. We are also supplementing with Explode the Code  because G really likes the activities in it.

For English I am finally going to learn grammar, I mean G is going to learn grammar with Shurley English Level 1. The teachers manual is very scripted, fortunately for her. This must be my post about crying, because I cried for about a week trying to learn the parts of speech and how to diagram a sentence Freshman year of high school because I was not taught how these things in elementary school.

Once G gets the hang of grammar and reading a bit more, we are going to start Latin with Prima Latina . She is already memorizing the Latin prayers with M in his memorization hour he does with her twice a week.

For Math we are going with Singapore 1A & 1B, largely because we have heard it is the only curriculum that prepares students for advanced math. There are already algebraic concepts in 1st grade!

For science we are going all Charlotte Mason/unit study:
M is currently planning units including birds, trees, dinosaurs, astronomy, simple machines, and rocks. We might throw in the human body as well. For this we are using library books, the above pictured books, going outside, and are getting a science museum membership.

In Theology we are possibly doing First Communion prep since G will be 7 in March. We are giving her a couple months before we decide. But we will be working through two books: Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and Our Heavenly Father (scripture based). We will also be discussion saint days and the liturgical year.
We will also be doing Fine Arts for everybody. We have selected a famous painting and a musical composition for each week to learn about. And we will work on some basic drawing with Draw Write Now.

I think we will probably be doing school 4 days a week for 2 hours (8:30-10:30 depending on baby naptime), and 1 hour on Fridays or our twice a month co-op (the same one we did last year). Science and the Fine Arts will be only twice a week.

In addition to what I am doing with the girls, M is going to be working on poem recitations, Latin prayer memorization, geography, and some history with the girls a couple hours a week. He did this last year with G, and she did really well.

F (3 in November) is going to just tag along, color, listen, and be little. 🙂

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, March 13

1. I have been pregnant with and/or nursing my babies for just over 3 months shy of seven years.  Since my first was born six years ago, I have had a three month, four month, and am in the middle of a seven month gap of not nursing anyone. Well, mothers of young children will know that it is not really possible to get nights away from exclusively nursing babies, so when they are weaned and there is no other baby out of the womb, there is a window of opportunity. For what, you ask? For a SILENT RETREAT. I am departing this afternoon for 48 hours of prayer and reflection without my family. This is the first time since I have been married that I will be away from all the members of my family for even one night. Further, I have not been on a longer than three hour retreat since my last semester of college seven years ago. That being said, please pray for me this weekend, because I am not sure I can really handle uninterrupted, prayerful silence for more than about 20 minutes. Yeah…

2. Not only am I abandoning my family for a weekend, but I am doing it on their birthdays. M has to celebrate his birthday (and real Pi day 3.1415) without me. I am sure he will have a lovely time with the girls. And let us not forget about the Ides of March, and the change it brought in our lives… I will be back for dinner for G’s birthday. And being the awesome person that she is with amazing taste in food, she has chosen this pie for her cake:

Which means I can take on some good old fashioned third-trimester laziness, and just eat peanut butter, chocolate filled pie goodness. Also, pizza pie for dinner. Is it okay to honor Pi day on the Ides?

3. In other news, where did all the snow go? It has been so warm here, that we have been grilling. M had an early birthday/traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas dinner last Saturday. We splurged on shrimp (which I cannot even smell comfortably while pregnant), and M grilled it along with vegetables and threw it all on pasta Alfredo.

It is in the 30s, so why not grill? I was told that I will not have to cook dinner again until the Fall if I just keep a steady supply of charcoal and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on hand…

4. And here is my almost six year old looking like a reader. She says that she was “just looking at the pictures,” but it gave me a glimpse of a girl who might, like her parents, spend hours every day, curled up with a book. She has been doing really well with her reading lately, and I do not think this possibility is too far into the future.

5. If your mom is not big on doing crafts, you make your own:

G (6ish) and L (4) have been cutting out and gluing together surprisingly recognizable paper dolls, and other creatures. It is pretty fun to see them create. F (2) has been sucking on capped glue sticks while wearing socks on her hands. That is called being 2.

6. My basil seeds have sprouted, but only one has made leaves. I might have to do a redo with the other seeds. But since we started the plants so early, I do not mind:

7. Hello, third trimester! My earliest baby was born at 38 weeks… that is ten weeks away… yikes!

I think I finally have leveled out in size compared to week of pregnancy…

Linking up once again with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.


Seven Quick Takes: Friday, January 16

I finally found a use for the hooks between those partitions…

 1. Happy Season After Epiphany! We like to celebrate Christmas until Candlemas (February 2) in our home, so I spent the 3 days after our three weeks of out of town visiting with family unpacking our suitcases and getting up the last of our decorations. This meant putting Christmasy things on the front door wreath, changing the Advent candles for red ones, and hanging the Christmas cards up for display. It just feels more right to me to have the tree up for all of January rather than in the middle of Advent. I have been playing the Christmas music still as well. Being raised an Advent purist, it is nice to listen to Christmas music well after Christmas day without guilt!

2. We started the “spring” semester at the Awesome School this week. This meant that we attempted some of our normal school things everyday, but did not cry if we only got to one or two subjects. I feel pretty accomplished considering that G was recovering from a touch of the flu she had on Saturday. L (4) has decided that she wants to start Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and my goodness, there is huge difference between my children and how easy they are to teach…

3. I am hoping that we stay healthy, since we have not really seen anybody since we got back to town. It will be nice to get back into the routine of play dates, mom’s group at church, and our home school co-op. So far G is the only one who had any symptoms of the flu and it has been almost a week since she got sick. Maybe it helped that she quarantined herself in her room for three days with the Chronicles of Narnia radio plays.

4. We are starting potty training on Monday with F (26 months). She has been interested for months. Since we told her that we are going to start training her on Monday, she is obsessed with the bathroom and talks fairly continually about it whenever anyone uses it. It would be nice to have diapers used only during nap and bedtime… plus our toddler size prefolds are pretty useless at this point. They are more like rags than diapers.

5. I made an attempt at movie reviewing on Truth and Charity this week. M and I went to Exodus: Gods and Kings on our date last week in Michigan, and while we had lots of commentary on the movie, I limited myself to one theme in my review.

6. Gee, it is nice to be in the rhythm of writing again. Vacation always takes from my writing time which is generally nap time or in the evenings. I was pretty wiped out every afternoon, which I attributed to being pregnant, but also may have been from a lingering cough/sinus infection which I finally got treatment for this week. I hope to be more on the blog than I have been and maybe on some other sites soon.

7. In your charity, please remember in your prayers our elderly next door neighbor who is on hospice and dying of cancer. He does not have much time left. Please also pray for his wife and children. While we have only lived here a year and a half, they have been very helpful and kind neighbors.

Linking up with the lovely new host of Seven Quick Takes, Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.


Seven Quick Takes, Friday, October 24

1. I am mentally planning a post on our favorite Mass books for different ages, but today I just have a funny story to tell about one of them. F (23 months) has an illustrated Mass book that goes through the parts of the Mass. She really likes the page at the consecration of the Precious Blood where you can see the consecrated hosts in the ciborium, and always points to them saying, “Cookies!” I told this to M, and he suggested that maybe I should redirect her to understand that the hosts are not cookies. So, last Saturday at morning Mass I explained to her that the hosts were Jesus. During her second flipping through the book, she paused on that page, pointed to the hosts and proclaimed, “Jesus cookies!”

Jesus Cookies. From We Go to Mass.

2. Also, last Saturday, when I was busy in the morning, M winterized the vegetable garden. I am eternally grateful to him for doing this chore. I really am. It makes me really happy, thankful, and loved. He dug up all the dead plants and turned over all the soil, and trimmed back the lilac bush which tries to shade the garden. We plan on throwing some mulched leaves into the beds to add to the soil, and I am still planning on getting a compost bin for the garden stuff. We really should compost, I know, but the garbage disposal is soooooo nice.

The Empty Garden. Here you also see our crazy oregano plant and the hearty parsley.

3. My friend, Jacqui, mentioned to me that she loves my food/canning posts, but due to pregnancy I have been having a really hard time eating things that are not either made out of beef, are junk food, or are extremely bland. Maybe I should share my favorite whole wheat pancake recipe, which always works to settle a pregnant stomach. I can’t really think of anything else worth sharing…

4. Speaking of food, I discovered that my yogurt recipe works even if you let the crock-pot go on low for an extra hour (solo bedtimes will do that to you). It went all the way up to 195°F, which seems to be the limit on other yogurt recipes. But I cooled it to 115°F and added my room temperature starter, and it worked. I was pretty nervous that I had wasted 8 cups of milk plus a brand new yogurt, but instead I ended up with super creamy yogurt. I think I might have to let it go to a higher temperature every time. Maybe after a little experimenting I will update my yogurt recipe.

5. We pray a litany of our family patron saints every night during family prayer time. Tonight, L (almost 4) decided to throw out a few suggestions, wanting to repeat her patron saint as well as her sister’s. I explained to her that we do not need to do saints more than once because they are always listening when we pray to them. Her response, “I don’t always listen.” At least she is honest, right?

6. And now it is G’s (5) turn. M has been doing some home school with her twice a week in the afternoon, and one of the topics they have been covering is geography. Lately, they have been working on states. However, M, as a native of Michigan seems to favor Michigan above all other states. You can take the man out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the man. The other morning at breakfast, G held up her hands to represent the Upper and Lower Peninsulas and said, “Mommy, this is Michigan. It is like two hands!”

7. In case you missed it, I am running a giveaway of a beautiful rosary book. The giveaway ends at Midnight at the end of the day Monday/beginning of Tuesday. Click on over to see the review and enter the giveaway!


And as always, I am linking up with the lovely hostess of Quick Takes, Jen at Conversion Diary.


Seven Quick Takes, Friday, September 26

1. Well, we are four weeks into the school year here at The Awesome School, and I think I am getting a good rhythm. We have found a good balance of a little bit of schooling on the most basic kindergarten level material, followed by play, chores, and or errands. Even with a few random schedule interruptions we have kept our rhythm.

2. Today we had our first session of our new (to us) co-op. It was really nice. Since I am new, I had no responsibilities today, and it was the strangest thing to drop G off in her class, L in her’s, and discover that F did not really care whether or not I was in the nursery.  So, I spent 2.5 hours sitting at a large table with other moms doing “Mom’s time.” I spent a whole morning not worrying about children. That was not quite the truth, I worried about F a little bit, but knew someone would tell me if she was having trouble. It was relaxing. After co-op, we ate our sandwiches on our 20 minute drive home and had some fruit, nap time story, and now it is quiet time. I think I am going to like this co-op.

Two bushels.

3. End of September means apple sauce canning time for us. This year, I opted for market apples, which I ordered from the farmer by email, and picked up at the market 2 minutes from our house this morning. It was nice. It was real nice. Also, doable. We plan on making lots of sauce, and I am going to try my hand at apple jelly. I was slightly disappointed when I discovered that I could have been making peach jelly from our peach peals and pits, so I am determined to do apple jelly. I am thinking about pie filling maybe as well, but then that will also be determined by how excited M is about all of these things. He is, after all, the master canner in our home. I think we will head out to an orchard in early October, but not for lots of picking, more for the experience.

Tomatoes, meet Victorio Strainer.

4. We did our first tomato canning last weekend. We decided to do 1/2 bushel just to give it a try, and it took 3 hours to cook down the tomatoes, which was a long time! We ended up with 6.5 quarts of crushed, cooked down tomatoes that still have to be turned into sauce. So, I guess we are going to see if we like our home canned tomatoes better than store, and decide if it is worth it to do this every year. We think it is the case with peaches, apples, and jams, so we will see…

The final product.

5. I started an Instagram account this week, but am probably just going to post food pictures there, because, well, food is good, and it is an easy way to share what I cook. Also, I have to post from the iPad, and it is a bit of an effort to get quality photos onto the iPad. I am still resisting the iPhone. I even added an Instagram button on my page (see upper left corner). I feel slightly techy… but I am not… I got a friend to give me a link to a Youtube tutorial which made it easy…

6. M and I watched Schindler’s List for the first time this week. That is a tough movie to watch. Everyone has told me this, but seriously, it kind of leaves one heartbroken, shocked, and speechless. I don’t really have anything I can say about it at this point, except to beware of evil and love others the best we can. I have further thoughts on evil in my last two T&C posts (here and here), which I wrote before I saw the movie, but were influenced in part by the atrocities that people committed during the Holocaust.

7. On a lighter note, the kids and I had a cold for most of this week, so we cut back on our normal social life (you know, play dates, play dates, etc). I confess, sometimes I like a week where we just sit tight and I don’t have to socialize too much. When I do too much, I get more introverted and just want to stay at home. So, this was a week off for me, well until today with co-op and another commitment tonight. And another thing that wiped me our socially, was that little radio interview on the Son Rise morning show I did last Friday. If you missed it and really want to hear me, the podcast is here and I am on right at 1:45:00. It has taken me a full week to recover and hearing the first 2 seconds of myself to find the right spot for you, freaked me out a little….

Linking up once again with Jen at Conversion Diary!