Homeschooling

Making the Most of Meal Times

Multitasking isn’t generally considered a good thing, but I can’t help it. I’m a homeschooling mother. Therefore, I love multitasking, especially if it involves learning.

Now, from the title of this post, you may have thought I was going to wax poetical on the importance of sitting together as a family at meal times in order to strengthen family bonds or some such thing. But you already know that.

No, today, I’m going to show you how I combine meal times with School. This is the best kind of multitasking I can think of–eating and learning.

Breakfast

Yes, we eat breakfast together. We eat every meal together. If we didn’t, then my kitchen would be a perpetual mess with kids in and out all day long. Eating together is practical because then every child has a Clean-Up Chore, and I’m not, therefore, slaving away all day.

But I digress.

While the children chew away at their peanut butter toast in the mornings, I commence Religion Class. Over the last few years, we’ve been making our way through the Bible, reading it in its entirety–a paragraph or two in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament. Sometimes I’ll read a whole chapter. It just depends on the content, the attention spans of the children, and how cold I want my toast to be at the end of it all.

After I read, we talk about it a bit. I keep Jeff Cavins’ The Great Adventure Bible Timeline up on the wall for reference. (Once upon a decade ago, I was a high school Old Testament teacher. Did you know that?)

The best part about doing Religion Class at breakfast is that the children are actually quiet, due to the food in their mouths, which is an especially great way to occupy the little ones, who are not always interested.

Lunch

We always eat lunch with an audio book. I started doing this years ago because my brain was so fried by lunchtime that I needed a break–a break from answering a thousand and one questions from the children about everything under the sun.

My solution? Play an interesting audio book, like, say the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, and play it loudly. This way, I can mentally check out and just serve the food and eat myself.

It’s rather peaceful. And we’ve listened to a score of good books over the years.

Dinner

Dinnertime coincides with more Religion Class, but this time, it’s Dad’s turn. While his food turns cold and stiff, he reads the Saint of the Day from Butler’s Lives of the Saints. This book was originally published in the 1750s and is based on the Traditional Calendar, which we love. The other great thing about this book is that the entries are not too long, which allows for plenty of discussion about the topic at hand and everybody’s day, etc.

Dinner last night. Taco Soup, with the Littlest One protesting under the table.

Happy Ember Days!

Book Review

What Are We Reading?

Today I’ll give a brief overview of what everyone in my family is reading. This might give you some book ideas, if you’re stuck in a rut.

Speaking of ruts…are you stuck in one? I mean, when’s the last time you picked up a book instead of your phone to read something?

For those of you who are addicted to technology and treat your phone like a god, put it down! Take a break. See if you can not touch that Thing for a whole day. (After you’ve finished reading this blog post, of course.)

Books, Books, Books

Shall we start with the youngest?

The two Little Wreckers aren’t actually able to read, so they just drop in wherever anyone else is reading a book. They are not deterred if that person is silently reading. They just plop themselves down and look on.

For example, yesterday, I wondered upstairs to find this:

As you can see, the Older Sister was finishing up Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Littlest Wrecker undeterred, hopped in her chair, threw a doll down, and worked at dressing another doll. The Other Wrecker less obtrusively looked on. Eventually they did beg the Older Sister to read aloud, which she happily did.

I noticed last night, however, that the Older Sister started a new book from the Fairchild Family Series by Rebecca Caudill. Now she’s reading Happy Little Family.

How about the boys?

At this moment, the boys are all deep into the Redwall Series by Jacques Brian, again. There are some twenty or more books in this series, and we only own the first eight or nine. So every now and then the boys beg me to pick up a few from the library, which I did earlier this week. They’re currently reading Long Patrol, Marlfox, and Legend of Luke, I think.

The boys also have a few audio books going. At lunchtime, we’re listening to The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This is the original book–not a modern, edited version–and it’s difficult, but beautiful and definitely worthwhile.

We do own a hardcover Illustrated Classics version of The Pilgrim’s Progress and another edited version that my boys read when they were little, but I wanted them to hear the original language and be very familiar with it. This book is so important. I can’t tell you how many times The Pilgrim’s Progress is mentioned in other books.

The other audio book we’re listening to during Art and History Time is from Tan Publishing. It’s volume 4, The Story of Civilization: The History of the United States. This whole series is great and worth owning in both print and audio versions.

The Eldest

The Eldest is reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe for her Literature class and Honey From the Rock by Roy Schoeman, which she picked up off of our bookshelves for fun.

Honey From the Rock is a fascinating read as it chronicles the conversion stories of 16 mostly well known Jews. I can particularly remember Alphonse Ratisbonne, who dramatically converted while in Rome after taking a dare to wear the Miraculous Metal. He eventually became a priest.

There is also the story of Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, which some of you may know from Catholic Answers and LifeSiteNews.

My Husband

My husband is currently reading a Ham Radio manual and Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, FSSP. It must be a good book because my husband enjoys pausing and telling anyone in the room all the biblical and historical reasonings behind every gesture, item, and action during the Traditional Latin Mass.

Me?

I just finished rereading two books: The Quiet Light by Louis De Wohl and In This House of Brede by Rumor Godden. Both are excellent reads. The Quiet Light is a delightful romp through history with spiritually edifying insights. It also features a sacrificial love story of a knight, thwarted by his lady.

In This House of Brede is just downright good. If you’ve read it, you know. My favorite sister is Dame Agnes because she’s so cranky and always right. Dame Veronica, the book’s Drama Queen, gets a close second, though, because I love it when her chin quivers. She’s hysterical.

And what am I going to read next?

I think I’ll read Robert Hugh Benson’s The Queen’s Tragedy, which chronicles the reign of Mary Tudor in England. I’ve never been disappointed with Benson’s historical novels.

How about you?

Have you read anything good lately?

Life is Worth Living

Severed Fingers, Audio Books, & Skirts

Severed Fingers: Warning!  It’s Gross.

I’ve had an interesting week.  My 4-year-old daughter was holding a folding chair by its hinges and running.  She tripped and fell on top of the chair, which immediately sliced her two fingers–one on each hand.  The lefthand fingertip was dangling; the right was only cut through the bone.

Yuck.  It gives me the willies just thinking about it, for I had to put the one fingertip back in place.  Ew.

I debated on whether or not I should post a few pictures of her cut-up fingers. I decided to go for it, but with a warning that the following pictures are just plain gross.  If you’re queasy about such things, you had better skim past ’em!  For the rest of you curious folk…

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This was in the ER, right after the doctor cleaned up all the blood, but before he sewed the one on and stitched up the other.

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Back on!

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Much needed drinks for Mom and Dad the following night.  On the right: 1/2 a lemon, vodka, & dry vermouth.  On the left: 1/2 a lime, vodka, & triple sec.

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Poor Thing.  All her brothers and sisters were outside playing with water the next day.  She sat inside, but with her swimsuit on and a forlorn face.

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A few days later…bandages finally off!  Her finger “took!”  (Notice how the tip is pink.)  Time will tell if her fingernails grow back…

Audio Books

After my last post on Summer School, I had a few of you ask some great questions:

  1. How does your “Art & Tea Time” work exactly?
    Around 3pm, I yell, “Art & Tea Time!”  Everyone makes a mad dash for their cursive books, extra paper, drawing books, and colored pencils.  The Eldest puts on the audio book, and I either fold laundry or do some dinner prep.  During this hour, 4 of the children are required to do 2 pages of cursive, which I never check.  I also give them a snack.  In the colder months, we had tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.  Now I tend to give them anything that will keep the 2-year-old and the 4-year-old quiet–so, like animal crackers or gold fish.  When Art & Tea Time is finished, the children put everything away and also set the table for supper.  Then they quickly disappear, usually outside, so that they can’t receive any more chores from Mom.
  2. What audio books are good for a variety of ages?
    My age range is 2-13.  Generally the youngest two never listen, but just eat a snack and roam around a bit.  I’ve found that if the volume is loud enough, they won’t cause any problems.  In any case, our favorite books that have satisfied everyone are the following:
    a.)  The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    b.)  The Little Britches series–books 1-4–by Ralph Moody
    c.)  The Mitchells series by Hilda van Stockum
    d.)  The Cottage at Bantry series by Hilda van Stockum
    There are others, but that should get you started.  If you have any questions about these books or need more recommendations, drop me a line!
  3. What if your children complain about the audio selection?
    Then they can go sit on their bed in Black Out until Art & Tea Time is over.

Summer Skirts

It’s no secret that I love wearing skirts.  (There’s a whole post on it HERE.)  This summer I added two more.  And yes, that means I got rid of two.  You do remember The Rule, right?  One in, one out.

So anyway, I was in dire need of two new skirts.  Where to find them?  I checked out a few secondhand stores, and while I did find something for my daughter, alas, there was nothing for me.

And oh!  What to do on a budget?

I had to shop online at the Power-Hungry-Giant, otherwise known as Amazon.  Sigh.  But truly, these were about the cheapest skirts I could find that met my length requirement. (I prefer to cover my knees.)

And so, if you’re curious, I’ll link below the two I bought.  They’re great, if you don’t mind a skirt sitting at your natural waistline.

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Skirt #1.  Light material.  Twirls too, which is a bonus.  There’s another more “summery” color available.  I might consider purchasing it.

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Skirt #2.  Also light and twirl-able and available in lots of colors.