Morning Time–Fall Schedule

Now that I am educating three teens, our Morning Time looks totally different than when I was schooling three elementary age students.  I have always loved doing Morning Time. It has been the anchor to my day for 9 years now and I can’t imagine not having it be a part of our daily rhythm.  I know that many teens opt out of Morning Time so that they can carry on with their work schedule and I have given my teens that option but they have always denied the offer.  I have to say that that makes my heart sing.

As I said above, Morning Time looks radically different now that I have teens.  It’s just reading now.  I tried to sneak a game into the rhythm but was asked to take it out because they just have time for the readings.  I was okay with that.

Morning Time now has been scaled down to just two readings with the whole group and then I continue on with one reading with just Emma.  I think of it as block scheduling; I do one reading from a book or we do an activity that is considered Fine Arts and then we do a Humanities reading.  That’s  it!   We do our Bible reading first thing in the morning before we start school but we have moved Morning Time to right after lunch.  I know, technically, it isn’t Morning Time but I don’t know what else to call it.  Symposium just sounds too stuffy for farmers. (insert wink.)

When we started school 5 weeks ago, we had to do some Morning Time housekeeping, meaning we had to finish up with some readings that we had left off at the beginning of the summer.  So in September we finished off Othello and read a chapter of a math book that I am finding quite fascinating;  The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life by Marcus Du Sautoy.  We will only read one chapter at a time as it gets it a bit dense to read the whole book in one chunk.

Now we are starting some new books and activities for the next month.  First, for the Fine Arts section of MT we will be doing picture study with Mary Cassatt’s paintings for a week, then we will do a  week on poetry.  I haven’t decided on which poet to focus on but I am leaning towards Luci Shaw.  Then we will read a natural history book, entitled The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.  For the Humanities portion we will be reading Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused? written by Richard Maybury. That will take us to the end of October, for the month of November I’m not sure yet what we will do, either we will read the next chapter in The Number Mysteries book or we will do a theology book.  I am thinking for theology we will read The Creed in Slow Motion by Reverend Ronald Knox.  This is  a series of sermons based on the Apostles Creed.  Rev. Knox takes the Creed, clause by clause and speaks on each section.  It is an excellent book but I’m not sure if my 13 yr. old will be able to grasp it all.  I could always read it now and then revisit it when she is 17.  A thought.

So this plan will take us to December.  Have I said before how much I enjoy Morning Time?






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A New School Year

So a new school year has rolled around yet again.  This will be our 13th year of educating our children at home.

Thirteen years!

I remember when Emma was 3 years old, we had already made the decision of homeschooling her and I was chomping at the bit in researching educational philosophies and curriculum.  I was mourning the fact that I had two whole years to wait until I could actually start teaching her.  That seemed like lightyears away.  A blink of an eye and fourteen years later, I am staring into our last year together.

This is Emma’s Grade 12 year.  This is the year when I mourn all of the things that I didn’t have time to teach her, the year when I reminisce over all of the tear-stained memories we have shared over the years–good and bad– the year that I stand in awe over the beautiful soul that she has grown into.  Yeah, this is that year.

I have dreaded the coming of this year for the past thirteen years.  It has hung over me like a storm cloud for every school year in the past.  The thoughts of this year has induced patches of insomnia, waves of anxiety and torrents of tears.

But now that this blasted year has finally arrived it isn’t all that bad.   I have finally been able to rest in the peace that Jesus offers me.  I have done all that I have been humanly able to do and the rest I leave in Jesus’ hands.  He will take care of her.  He will never leave her nor forsake her and I breathe sighs of relief into that promise.

Most homeschool parents when faced with their children’s last school year, try to squeeze all they can, educationally and socially, into that year.  I have been tempted to do that as well but I have decided to take another path.  I have decided to squeeze all things relational into this year.  I want to watch more movies with Emma, listen to podcasts together, read out loud together (yes, still,) and have what Bravewriter calls ‘Big, Juicy Conversations.’  I want to focus on our relationship rather than on her education.  This will seem all kinds of wrong to many people but it is causing me to let go of the breath that I have been holding on to for the past 4 years.  This just seems right to me and I am going to trust it.

Emma’s plans for next year is to go to school in New Zealand.  She will be leaving in July of 2017 and I won’t see her for another 4 months.  Faced with that reality, persuasive essays, strong rhetoric, reading all of the books that we haven’t gotten to just doesn’t seem all that important in the light of not seeing my oldest child for 4 months.

So our educational plan for this year, her last year of highschool is: Calculus, Advanced Biology,  modern history mixed in with worldview and philosophy, slow reading (with me) of Anna Karenina, art, home ec and rhetoric.  When I look at the list it doesn’t look all that slack to me after all.

Again, the panic slides back to where it is manageable.




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Coming Out of the Shadows

It has been awhile since I have darkened this doorpost.  I have been filling my mind and soul with new thoughts and ideas and this little corner of the world has always been my favorite place to unload those thoughts and ideas…so here I am…to unload.

We became the recipient of a new laptop. New laptops translate into huge learning curves for mom.  This laptop is worlds different than our earlier laptop because this one is a 2 in 1 laptop.  People!!!  I didn’t even know that existed!  That says a lot about my electronical knowledge.  So I have been playing around with this beast and have finally decided to come to this space and see if I can resurrect it in some form.

But, oh my goodness! everything has changed.  I don’t know if it is the laptop, Windows 10 or the site itself but everything has changed!   This is like a totally different space!  So I will need to re-acquaint myself with all of the doo-dads here.  You probably figured it out already but I am not good electronics.  They cause me great angst.

Anywho, I am hoping to to come back soon and write out my thoughts about reading as a spiritual practice,  reading Awakening Wonder by Stephen Turley, and dealing with the oncoming last school year of my oldest.  Eeeek!  This coming year will be her last year!  Her last year!  That brings up so many conflicting emotions.  Emotions that beg to blogged about.

It’s nice to be back here.  The surface of things looks different but the atmosphere is the same.

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Again, Morning Time

I haven’t been blogging for a while because, well, I just haven’t had that much to say. But I am finding myself, as I am listening to podcasts, wishing that I could join in with the podcast conversation, too. No one is busting down my door, though, to beg me to be on their podcasts so I thought that I would have my very own conversation on my blog (no one is reading that either but at least the words are escaping my brain and that is the key to a happy life.)

Last month, I was listening to Your Morning Basket podcast; the episode with Mystie Winkler. I think they were answering questions on that episode and they were talking about what they all do for their Morning Times. Mystie mentioned that Morning Time will look different for each family, as well as for each season of life that family is in. This is the wonderful thing about Morning Time: it is fluid! Every year, heck! every term, it will probably change because your children are changing, you are changing, your life is changing! (Can you tell that we have been reading Dickens for our Morning Time? He is the king of parallelism and it is leaking out into my writing as well. I so love parallelism!)

Case in point: we started out this year with Morning Time being the same as it always has been–first thing in the morning, full of memorization, reading and glimpses of truth, beauty and goodness. Then I watched a scope by Julie Bogart, the Bravewriter lady, in which she gave the key parts of a morning routine. She said that kids need time to wake up in the morning. Breakfast and chores give kids that time to acclimate themselves to a new day. The bell went ding-ding-dinging in my brain. We do MT while we are having breakfast. The kids wake up at 8 and we break out the books and the recitations at 8:05. Yeah, when I read back that sentence I am thinking, “Wow! That is craziness!” We have been doing that for three years now and it has been working. Until this year. The kids were having difficulty in tracking and keeping awake during MT.

So I decided to push back MT later on in the day. But that then brought up the dilemma of the length of MT. If we did MT later on in the day, we would not be able have a 2 hour MT as we always have in the past. That also means we would not be able to do all that we used to do.

Hmmmm, what to do.

I decided to skim down to the bare necessities of MT and, with time, maybe we would ramp things up again.

I decided to do our Bible reading at breakfast as that would give us some leeway in our one hour Morning Time. When MT rolled around (we decided on 11:00 a.m.) we started with our readings (we looped these readings: Whatever Happened to Justice by Richard Maybury, Plutarch Lives and Philosophy for Teens–we do one reading a day,) read a few poems (right now we are revisiting Emily Dickinson) and then get on to our literature reading (we were reading Tale of Two Cities but we decided last week that we are just not ready for Dickens right now so we have moved on to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. )

And that was it.

We have been doing it this way since the beginning of January and I quite like this simplified version. But I have been noticing some difficulties with the kids remembering what we have been reading in our daily readings. In looping those books, the kids were getting confused and simply forgetting key ideas. We have never had this problem before but we have never dealt with puberty before and I think that may be playing a part in our problems with retention.

I was listening to another episode of Your Morning Basket, this time Sarah Mackenzie was the guest. Sarah was explaining how they do Morning Time in their house and the bells started clanging in my head again. She said that they do one subject reading, be it history, religion, picture study, science, and instead of looping through the readings like we do, they just keep with that subject until the book is done and then they move on to another subject/book. So instead of reading a history book on Monday, a science book on Tuesday, picture study on Wed, they read the history book every day until it is finished, then they move on to the science book, when that is done they will do picture study and so on.

As I was musing on this, I thought that we could do the same thing with the fine arts portion of our MT as well. Right now we are reading poetry but when we are done with Dickinson, we could move on to Nature Study( I have a nature study book that I have wanted to do with the kids for a while now) and when we are done with that book, we can do picture study for a while.

I love this! This simplifies things even more.

So this is what our time together will look like: we come together with a hot beverage, light candles, sing the doxology, read from the Justice book, read a few poems and then read from our literature book.

That’s it.

In having three teens now, that is all that it needs to be. MT needs to be simple so that they can get all of their work done. Simple helps in getting it all done.

It seems like we have come full circle.

Posted in classical education, educational philosophy, homeschooling | 5 Comments


2016 is already showing itself to be a year of wonder, growing and becoming. A lot has been happening here in the last month and a half. I have been molded and changed in a few areas, areas that were begging for those changes. I am in awe at how God has been moving, how He has been molding my soul to be more in tune with His plans.

One area that has been molded by His hand is that of Sabbath. Don’t you just love the sound of that word? Just saying the word makes my heart smile and sigh in comfort. Sabbath is a word that invites rest and a slowing down. Even though I love the word, it has taken me quite awhile to actually embrace it and live it out. For many years I would hear about Sabbath, feel that maybe I should look more into it and then do an about face and merrily go about my way in the opposite direction. I don’t know why it took me so long to say yes to it, maybe it was the legalistic characteristics that I attached to it.

Sabbath, to me, was more of a ‘what not to do’ day than anything spiritual. The stubborn child in me does not like to be told not what to do but, rather, appreciates the telling of what I can do. I think that was the turning point for me. I was listening to the podcast, Sorta Awesome, (everything boils down to a podcast these days) last month and they were discussing Sabbath. Their discussion was more of a ‘all of the things that you can do’ rather than the things your couldn’t. The way it was explained on the podcast was that if you view an activity as a thing that you have to do then don’t do it on the Sabbath. But if you view that activity as something that you want to do, something that excites your being and fills your soul, then do it. That intrigued me! That take on Sabbath pushed me to the starting line and, for the last five weeks, I have actually been practising the art of Sabbath.

And it has filled my soul to overflowing.

I want to talk more about Sabbath so I think I will leave it for future posts but I do want to give snippets of some of my Sabbaths to give an idea of what can be done.

Most of our Sabbaths start with spending the morning in church but the afternoons have changed every week, depending on my mood and desires. One Sunday, I made muffins and other baked goods because baking comforts me, baking is something that I love to do. Another Sunday introduced me to the art of bible journaling (oh my goodness! That has filled my spirit in ways that I didn’t think possible.) Then there was the Sunday where spent most of my day reading God’s word and practising what I was learning about Bible Journaling. Last Sunday, Valentine’s Day, saw my Beloved and myself meet with friends for a meal at a restaurant. We haven’t seen these friends for a very long time so it was wonderful to catch up and just talk about all that has been happening in our lives.

Sabbath has become, not of a day of limiting, but a day of possibility. A day where I can rest and relax and in that resting I can ponder and give thanks for the goodness of my Saviour.

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February Frivolity

February seems to be the month where, if school is going to go off the rails, it is going to be this month. I don’t know why but this month always seems to be home for discouragement, depression and disillusionment (like the alliteration?)

I’m going to jump for a minute but I promise that I will bring it back to the above paragraph. I have been listening to Schole Sisters’ new podcast. There have been three so far–one intro and two regular podcasts–and they have already been helpful to me in taking a new look at our learning time.

The second episode was on levity; being able to keep things light even during the difficult and serious times. Homeschool moms shouldn’t be serious all of the time, they need to have a sense of humour. The second episode is on loving that which you are learning. I came away from these episodes with some ideas on how I can combat the drudgery that seems to pop up during the month of February.

Pam, from Ed Snapshots, suggested having brain breaks during a lengthy time of learning to lighten things up and wake up everyone’s brain. Having a list of things that you could do a few times during your learning sessions that would only take 5 or 10 min. or putting the activities on popsicle sticks and have the kids take turns to pick out a stick and follow that activity when it is break time.

I really liked that idea. Now that I have 3 teenagers, learning is a solemn, serious event. Gone are the days of math games, art activities, and nature walks. We have fallen into the pit of reading and writing; that is what our days seem to consist of these days. Our days need a shot in the arm; a shot of wonder, a shot of fun, a shot of bearable lightness. So I gathered the kids today (we are having a week off this week so I did need to gather them) and asked them for some ideas of things that we could do for our breaks.

This is what we came up with:
Just Dance on the Wii
jump on the trampoline
go for a mini-walk
do some karate–kick through cardboard boxes
play a game
play with clay or playdough

I will be thinking more about this list but I like what we have so far.

On the third episode of the podcast, Mystie and Brandy talk about how to love what you are learning. They talk about math games and puzzles. This conversation made me nostalgic for the years when we played math games all of the time or read living math books. Brandy was talking about the I Hate Mathematics books by Marilyn Burns and I thought that my youngest could probably still benefit from that book and from the Beast Academy books . She is having some difficulties in math so I think she would still benefit from the puzzle aspect of these books.

Listening to these podcasts helped lighten things up for me. It has been hard for me to find wonder and discovery in the high school years. I am hoping that the suggestions made in the podcasts will help spark a bit of wonder in our days. I am actually looking forward to getting back to school next year…even though it will still be February.

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I have never been big on making resolutions for the new year. For me, that is just setting myself up for a fall. I am doomed before I even get out of the starting gates of the new year. Fruitless is the word that springs to mind in relation to resolutions.

for some reason, which I don’t fully understand, picking a word for the year works out much better for me. If you are not familiar with this concept let me fill you in: you pick a word that you want to reflect the oncoming year and, voila! you are good to go. You can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. Some people read books that are related to their words, some people purchase jewelry, wall hangings that sport their word and then there are those of us who don’t really do anything except pray their word and let God do the rest.

I have been doing this word of the year thing for 6 years now. The catalyst for taking on this process was cancer. The few months following my cancer episode left me shaky and it plopped me full on into fear. I decided to pick the word ‘courage’ for my beacon as 2010 showed itself. Courage, indeed, became my word. That year saw me and the kids drive 6,000 miles by ourselves to visit my parents. It was also the year that the kids and I started going to a new church. Courage abounded through those days.

For other years, my words have been ‘deep,’ ‘be still,’ and ‘grace’ (that one didn’t turn out very good.) My word for 2015 was ‘healing.’ God graciously and abundantly gave me healing this past year in many ways. My heart was healed from anger and bitterness; relationships that were wracked with tension and bitterness were healed. For the most part, it was a year of release.


On to this year.

It did not take me long to find my word. Actually, I found my word in a book title — The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons. Now, I have not read the book but I listened to Jenny on a podcast and when I heard the title to her book, it struck a chord with me. The word ‘becoming’ is home to hope, delight, curiosity and just plain old being. I love that word.


Meet my word for 2016.

I could go on and on why this word is so important to me but I will try to keep it short for today and maybe go on at length in future blog posts.

My kids are all teens now (well, they will be by the end of January) and I am seeing the end of this stage of parenting. Five more years and we will not have children living with us any more ( well, maybe not.) Five more years and I will not be homeschooling any more. Then what? What do I do then?

I have been pondering this question at depth in the last few months. I need to be prepared for this next season of life. So I am taking little baby steps towards who I want to become after my kids are gone.

I am also searching and questioning various tenets of my faith. Don’t get me wrong; I am not searching outside of Christianity. My faith in Jesus is as strong, if not stronger, than it ever has been but I am searching within the freedom of Christ about things that I was told when I was a young Christian, that I am now wondering if those things are actually true.

Things are changing quite a bit in my life.

I am Becoming.

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