• the learning arts

    Another in the collection…

    Yet another of those ideas tucked into my homeschool aims and mantras, seen here, as bumper sticker on our van. (Side note: I love how much my Coexist sticker makes all my nerd friends laugh. I’ve even seen it tickle the funny bones of monks and nuns. Which makes me smile all the more.)

  • the home arts,  thrifting adventures

    Mindful Money: Slow Fashion

    I’ve been having a sort of ongoing conversation about Slow Fashion over on Instagram lately. There is a part of me that has always loved the ‘hunt’ of finding clothes for a few dollars on the clearance racks or at Goodwill, but lately, I’ve begun to feel uncomfortable with even that. My dear friend Tonia has been talking to me about the ideas of slow fashion and mending for years but it didn’t really start to click until this last year. Perhaps it is a function of growing older and growing comfortable in one’s skin- I know pretty well what my style is, what clothes flatter my figure, what colors I love. My closet has grown to reflect this paradigm shift. Imagine my discouragement when I realized that quite a few pieces have become damaged this last year when I did my bi-annual closet cleaning!

    I know that in past, I probably would have given up most of the clothing for lost and consigned them to the rag basket. Thanks to great IG accounts like Katrina Rodabaugh and Elise Joy, I felt much more confident about the needed repairs. They both have wonderful walk-throughs and tutorials in their IG Highlights- worth a look if you are getting started on a similar endeavor!

    We had a rather…erm…eventful weekend, and I had a lot of quiet time on my hands on Sunday afternoon. I was able to repair six pieces of clothing yesterday afternoon, and one more this morning. I still have two pieces that need more major reconstructive/thinking work, so I’ll have to save them for another quiet moment. I have about six pieces of knit clothing that have either been damaged in the dryer or might (!) be moths, and I am going to use some of Katrina’s great visible mending ideas to fix/refashion those pieces a little at a time. They will probably make nice handwork while I listen to lessons from the children this fall.

    More than anything I am very grateful to know that this is yet another area of spending needlessly (heedlessly?) that I can step out of, saving both the planet, people’s livelihoods, and my pocket book.

    Here’s some of the projects, below, from my Instagram Highlights, with notes on each repair.

     

  • the kitchen arts

    Harvest Time…

    Our garden has produced a decent amount this summer, which is a vast improvement over the last few years, when results have been anemic at best or non-existent at worst. We planted lettuces, cauliflower, peppers, spaghetti and butternut squash, and salad tomatoes. If our squash can manage to fight off the powdery mildew that has afflicted them after the endless rain and damp this summer, it will be quite a boon to me! I love both kinds but they are rather pricey at the grocery store. I have been so grateful to pull cucumbers off the vine for our lunches nearly every day…the tomatoes are almost ready. How yummy it will be for my little (and big!) snackers!

    I appreciate dearly the help to my grocery budget the garden has provided. I love knowing, too, that no dangerous herbicides and chemicals have been near them, as sensitive as Elliana is to those sorts of things.

    I am praying that as my grocery budget stabilizes thanks to Trim Healthy Mama, I will be able to put a bit by for harvests of a different sort. I’d like to be able to solidly replenish my pantry, which has been rather down to the dregs over the summer…well…for quite a while now. We have a really nice Mennonite bulk foods store a short drive from here (their prices seriously can’t be beat by even Amazon or the national whole foods co-ops like Azure) that carries the things we use so much of in proper bulk sizes. My plan is to get at least 50-75lbs of oatmeal, which we go through like water. 25lbs of gluten free flour. Sugar. Syrup, at least 4-5 gallons. Kidney beans. Great Northern Beans. Pintos. Rice. Oh my goodness. I can’t decide if we go through more rice or more oatmeal, I swear. (Large family problems!) With that, I could shop my pantry nearly the whole winter, and my grocery budget would go down even further. It will be lovely!

    What are your ‘harvest’ plans, friends? Do you know how to can? I’d love to learn, but there just hasn’t been any time for it until now. How is your garden doing? Do you have a garden?

  • the learning arts

    Accensisque ignis

    (The four younger kids decided on an art project this summer- their goal is to fill this long living room wall full of drawings and paintings by the time Grandma and Grandpa visit in late August. Here they are hard at work and planning the next steps.)

    My social media feeds are full of back-to-school pictures and first day of homeschool pictures and everything in between. Is it just me, or is the school year seeming to start earlier and earlier? It used to start after Labor Day ‘back in the day’. Not that I have anything to say about it, really, as we went through the summer this year on a relaxed schedule. Ha!

    We usually don’t even begin to think about the new school year until after the Feast of Dormition, which is tomorrow, August 15. As it stands, I don’t think we’ll roll into true blue full school days until after Labor Day; we like to layer in a few subjects in at a time and have a gentle transition into full days. For us that will look like wrapping up our summer subjects by Labor Day and then adding in a few more activities that first week after Labor Day.

    This year is a bit different for us. One of our older children decided to return to a more formal school setting, so they started on August 8.

    This year we are only adding in two new curriculum choices. Both were more for my sanity than for any other reason. We are using Teaching Textbooks for all of the children’s Math this year after a successful roll-out with some of my older students last year. Teaching individual math lessons across six grades was really becoming difficult for me- it was such a HUGE chunk of our learning day and I am happy to be handing most of the heavy lifting off to the video lessons. They’ll still get individual tutoring from me as needed, of course, but I won’t have to teach so many lessons. Frankly, it made my brain hurt having to jump back and forth from Algebra and back to basic arithmetic and back again. Mathematics has never been my gifting anyways, so- fhew. Most of my kids also like to play on Prodigy, which is pretty hefty in mathematics, too.

    We are switching from Story of the World history, which we have used consistently for the last five or six years, to The Good and the Beautiful’s History, Year 1. Part of it is just that we’ve used SOTW for so long that I feel like we’ve explored all that is available in that vein. And, while I love SOTW’s global focus, you really almost need a separate US History curriculum or extensive supplementation to each US Chapter to stay abreast of testing requirements. More work and thinking it through that took time away from actually teaching them. As I looked into Good and Beautiful’s set-up, I was pleased with the mix of both Global and US History, and that the curriculum is more heartily broken down between each age/grade group (elementary/middle/high) for assignments- SOTW is heavy on Elementary assignments and very, very brief on higher grades, so I had to come up with my own assignments for my older kids, as well. It was just getting to be too much. One of our struggles as Orthodox Christians in finding history curriculums has been the tendency of ‘Christian’ history books to skew towards Western and Reformation history, leaving out, well, half the globe, and most of the development of our faith, which predates the Reformation. I’ve found that both SOTW and The Good and Beautiful do a good job of keeping a more global, holistic, and well-rounded focus without disparaging or ignoring many peoples and faiths’ contribution to the story of History.

    We have been somewhat light in the science department over the years, choosing primarily to focus on nature study in the younger grades. My older kids have enjoyed the Tiner Science that Memoria Press puts out for middle school and Apologia for High School, but my current spread of kids this year is sort of in-between the two options and a bit old for just nature study. We’ve chosen to do the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics by Apologia this year. Two of my students will use the regular companion notebook and two will use the Junior notebook. Again, this is for my sanity. Trying to track across so many grades was getting very nutty for me and I like that we’ll be doing it together again, which is what we’ve always liked to do. My high school student will be doing Apologia Biology.

    We are keeping our Good and the Beautiful Language Arts and Handwriting programs, which we’ve really enjoyed this last year. Outside of math, this is where I spend the most time one on one with each child, and G&B makes it easy to hop tracks with each kid and keep track of where we are. I love how comprehensive it is. The kids like the mix of subjects within the program- it rarely gets boring and it is colorful and engaging without being overboard. I like how straightforward the handwriting program is without much extra fluff.

    Our morning basket will be a Read-Aloud (pulled from the Ambleside Online lists), Age of Fable/Bullfinch’s Mythology, Tending the Garden of Our Hearts and Saint of the Day, plus our history and science work. Their picture study is included in their individual Good and Beautiful Language lessons, so we will most likely only do Composer Study together. I haven’t quite decided on who we will study this year, but most likely I will pull from Ambleside Online suggestions. (Why re-invent the wheel when fabulous homeschool mamas have already done the work for you?) The kids also have individual Latin lessons, and we will begin German for two of the older students.

    We all want to be more physically active this year but have not decided what that will fully look like yet. Two of our kids are in ballet, and we are thinking about a kickboxing class for the other three. Our formal school kid has PE at school, so that is covered.

    I like that we have a well defined spine this year. We will always plug in extra things as we get curious about something, but I am very grateful that all of the main subjects are already planned out for me. More time for floating in the pool!