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So, That Happened

When I posted last, I was a week away from meeting my one month goal of regular blog posting. That was 18 days ago. Normally, I’d say there’s no real excuse besides life, but this time I think I do have a pretty good reason.

 

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We live in Baton Rouge.

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Our house took three feet of water and we had to evacuate Saturday August 13 as southeast Louisiana began the flood of a century. We are thankfully not without a place to go; we’ve been bouncing between my parents’ house and a condo we have access to for the next week.  We are knee deep in the insurance and FEMA claim process and hope to be granted temporary housing soon.

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We were able to save a lot of our furniture, but we did lose a bit too. Right now we are focused on what we need day to day. It kinda sucks trying to cook real food without my fully stocked kitchen. The kids don’t really know what to do with themselves being outside their normal environment and routine.

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Despite hell and high water, homeschooling starts tomorrow. Originally, I planned to start after Labor Day, but I think the structure and work of homeschool will be good for Evangeline. She seems to be the most affected by all of this. Of course our cute homeschool area and the so so cool desk we made for her are gone, but we still have all her books. I’m replacing supplies as we go, but we are going to make a go of it this week.

So this is just a quick update to let you know I haven’t given up and our homeschooling adventure just got more interesting.

 

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Cooking for Six

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Savage

As I sit down to plan out our menu and grocery list for this next week, I can’t help but notice that it’s pretty expensive to feed 6 people three times a day every day.  And I do mean 6 people. Reuben may be little but he can eat you under the table if he sets his mind to it, especially if black beans are involved.

Having full-appetited children has certainly changed what we cook. We haven’t had chicken cordon blu or handmade ravioli in, well, Evie is almost six so….. What hasn’t changed is how we cook. There are a few principles we try to stick to:

  • Whole Ingredients
  • Little or no processed food or mixes
  • Lots of Vegetables
  • Nutrient Dense

It sounds easy enough until you hit the grocery store. There are only so many rice and bean meals we can cook before we’re over it. Our own creativity only gets us so far before the grocery cash runs out. That’s why we have come to loooooooooove Budget Bytes. Beth, the creator of this site is a pure altruistic genius. This is how she introduces herself:

As a food lover and a number cruncher I’ve decided that cooking on a budget shouldn’t mean canned beans and ramen noodles night after night. This is my web log of good food cooked with little cash. My stomach is full and my wallet is too.

Don’t you want to hug her? I say thank you every time I print off one of her recipes.  We have a number of her recipes in our “go-to” stack and eat one of her meals at least once a week. Our favorites are her meat ball meals. They are so simple and filling. Filling has become a very important quality we look for in a meal.

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I’m adding the Ultimate Southwest Scrambled Eggs to try week! If you’re into this sort of thing, you can follow my pinterest board “Cooking“. I pin a lot of Budget Bytes and others that look healthy but not super expensive.  And hey, if you’re thinking “man, I want to buy something for those cool Carruths” The Budget Bytes cookbook is acceptable😉

 

Book Tag

Have you heard about this? I just stumbled across it. For someone who wants to be a blogger, I’m pretty out of the loop. Anyway, a book tag is a list of questions and prompts about books you’ve read. There are some that are more themed but I found this one that’s just straight forward fiction. It looks like fun and who knows, maybe some of you will want to read it!


Author you’ve read the most books from:

cc6ef39d0da1aa5f938d388f547bfc5aHands down Rex Stout. I’ve read nearly every Nero Wolfe mystery. There are a few left on the list and a few that are really hard to come by, but it’s got to be around 60 stories: short, novella and novel.

Next would be J.K. Rowling. I’ve read all the Harry Potters and all the Cormoran Strikes, so 10 books total. I read 50 pages of Casual Vacancy and put it down. But I think I should still get credit for those pages.

Best Sequel Ever:

Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien I guess. I liked it better than The Fellowship of the Ring. The Tolkien enthusiast might say it’s not really a sequel, but I’m not an enthusiast and to be honest, I haven’t read that many other series.

Currently Reading:

Funny you should ask, The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water. Disappointing, I know

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book. I need the sense of accomplishment that comes when there are more pages on the left side than the right.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

anton-yelchin-odd-thomas67-e1374441431596I’d like to think sweet, sensitive Daniel Sempere from The Shadow of the Wind (provided he could speak English) but more likely it’d be virginal Odd Thomas (series by Dean Koontz)

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. To date my favorite sci-fi, post-apocalyptic story.

Hidden Gem Book:

The Good Thief’s Guide series by Chris Ewan. I picked it up on a whim from the library literally based on it’s cover and now they’re among my favorite books.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

When I stayed up all night to read A Matter of Honor by Jeffery Archer, when Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made me cry and when The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier scared the shit out of me.

Just Finished:

North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Such a beautiful travel journal.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Slasher Thrillers. I like suspense and thrillers, but if it’s gory or over the top sensationalized, I won’t touch it.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

gone_with_the_wind_coverGone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The edition I have is 959 pages.  Again, the Tolkien enthusiast will say The Lord of the Rings books are really one book broken into three parts and in that case, when I finish The Return of the King, I’ll have read a 1,008 page “book.”

Major book hangover because of:

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Safran Foer. This applies to book and movie really. It took a few days to just take it all in.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Five and a half. Three in the master bedroom,  half a shelf in Ryan’s closet, one in the girls’ room and one in the living room. I want more in the living room.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I’ve read it about 5 times, I think. Once every other year since senior year in high school

Preferred Place To Read:

Somewhere cold with lots of cushions and blankets.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

From the poem Evangeline by Longfellow:

“Whispered  a gentle voice, in accents tender and saint-like,

‘Gabriel! O my beloved!” and died away into silence”

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Reading Regret:

I regret not getting on the Harry Potter band-wagon when the books were being published. I read all the books before the final movie came out but I missed out on the experience of waiting with half the world for the next book.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I’ve read the first four and really like them. From what I understand the series is headed toward a great conclusion.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

The History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

f0efe-strikeCormoran Strike \ Robert Galbraith

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

The next Cormoran Strike!! Whenever that’ll be.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Checking out alllllllll the books by an author or pertaining to a subject from the library at the same time. I read one, the first chapter of another and return the whole lot.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is one of the few fiction books we own that I haven’t read. I fully intend to, I just need a proper psyching-up to read Victorian England books.

Your latest book purchase:

Democracy Now! Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America by Amy Goodman. I’ve read the first chapter and I find it all very interesting. The problem I’m having with it is that it reads like a news report which can be dull after 5 or so pages.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


What about you? Could you answer each of these questions?

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Homeschool Preparations

I posted last week about our decision to homeschool. But now the real fun starts!! Ordering books and buying school supplies!! We should have some really fun mail days over the next few weeks and there are few things more exciting than getting packages in mail…all tied up with string.

Ordering books is a big part of our preparations, and I’ll get to the nitty gritties in a moment. There are a few other things we’ve done around the house to get us organized and ready.

First was a desk for Evangeline. We have these basic laminate press board cabinets in our kitchen serving as our pantry. We took some down last summer; one went to our storage room outside, the other has been our “homeschool” cabinet. It failed miserably. I had a lock on it to keep the littles out of it, but since there’s there’s no back to it they figured out how to turn it around and get into it that way. Sigh.

Enter Super Granddaddy! My dad went above and beyond the few modifications I asked for and made Evangeline a really cool desk. He raised the height so it would be more comfortable to sit at with a regular chair, added a back then topped it with a huge desk top and cubby slot. Ryan was a little bit jealous.

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Desk is next to the window a la Richard Louv’s (Last Child in the Woods) suggestion

I decoupaged Dollar Store maps all around the base and painted the top and sides with chalkboard paint. It took some time, but it was a really cheap project. Chalkboard paint stretches really far, I only used a little bit. The shellac was the most expensive thing. I hot glued some bright Dollar Store pencil cans to a piece of wood and bam now it’s a desk organizer. Right now the desk holds the math manipulatives and coloring books for the little ones. Once all of our supplies come in, I’ll decide what is best to store in there. It’s seriously the coolest desk.

Next was clearing off space on the bookshelves in our room to house more of the books, teacher’s manuals and craft supplies that I don’t want the kids to have access to. This initiated the great book purge of 2016. We’ve made two trips to Goodwill so far and have at least one more to go. Obviously this will get more attention as books start coming in.

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Make Way for Booklings

Now for the fun part. I was embarrassingly giddy as I hit “place order” on Amazon this morning. I was a little bummed that all the books we needed weren’t available through Prime. But then I thought how much fun it will be to get more than one day of mail fun. So now I’m back to giddy. As I mentioned before, we are using the curriculum designed by Angelicum Academy. We made a few changes but for the most part are using their recommendations.

Phonics — We’ve done the first two Hooked on Phonics already, Evie seems to like them. She is beginning to read. Instead of the Kindergarten level, which we’ve already finished, we are starting with First Grade. The recommended handwriting and spelling books are hard (and expensive) to come by. A friend suggested Handwriting without Tears and we’re going to give it a try.

  • Hooked on Phonics First Grade
  • Handwriting with out Tears

Literature — Their reading lists are based off of John Senior’s “Good Books” list and is exclusively classics.

  • Favorite Uncle Remus by Joel Chandlar Harris
  • The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • (An additional Novel to be decided because we just finished reading Pinocchio)
  • Fairy Tale Selections from: Andrew Lang, Charles Perrault, Grimm and Mother Goose

Art — We also have already finished the first book in this series. It’s a lot of fun and helps practice art and handwriting.

  • Draw, Write, Now Book 2

Science — We had this book last year and did a number of lessons \ experiements. I’m excited to use it again. They include fiction books you can read that go along with each lesson’s subject. I really like that.

  • Science is Simple

Math — Again, we did Saxon Kindergarten and now moving to First Grade. I’m not super crazy about it, but we’ll see.

  • Saxon Math First Grade

History — We got a copy of Bede’s History and started working through it last year. It was a lot of fun and very simple. I may include it with this just for funsies. I’m excited to use the books written by Susan Wise Bauer.

  • Dinosaurs! Pre History
  • The Story of the World: History of the Classical World by Susan Wise Bauer

Religion — I thought weekly catechism classes with the Sisters of Charity at our home parish would be sufficient, but Ryan said not.

  • Who Am I? Image of God

I’ve created a tab on the homepage for books and general info we are using for homeschooling, check it out. I’ll continue blogging about our homeschool experience as long as you agree to keep us in your prayers as we try to make it happen😉

 

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Early Female Flyers

I love books. I love learning from books. I love how you can learn something without meaning to from seemingly unrelated sources. Reading books, you can accidentally learn about the early years of aviation and women’s contributions, as I now know.

17345258I read Fannie Flagg’s The All-Girl’s Filling Station’s Last Reunion  two years ago because I was looking for a funny Southern book. I found it. Then this year, I picked up a biography of Anne Morrow Lindbergh on a whim and then one of her early non-fictions, North to the Orient. I now have a small insight into a part of American history I was previously unaware of without even trying. To be fair, I’m pretty unaware of most of American history, but that is neither here nor there.

I knew of course the Wright brothers, Kitty Hawk, Charles Lindbergh, Spirit of St. Louis, Amelia Earhart, all those things that have made it to postage stamps. But what I didn’t fully understand was the adrenaline-seeking that came in the early years of aviation technology or women’s role in it’s advancement.

Planes were first used en masse in WWI. Men trained to fly had a hard time staying on the ground after the war ended. Some of them started flying schools. Many took to circus flying, traveling the country putting on death defying shows, wing walking and barrel rolling. Crowds were mesmerized by the men and women making a mockery of gravity, dancing in space hitherto restricted to man.

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The public face of aviation was rogue cowboys doing stunts for the adrenaline rush but major advancements were happening at the same time. There was a world-wide race to make planes commercially useful during peacetime. The people who could make that happen would became instant celebrities, not without merit. Flying was still a new science; many, many people died in every stage of flight. Enter Charles Lindbergh. His successful flight across the Atlantic catapulted him into a level of world wide celebrity unheard of before. He not only made America proud, he excited the world showing just what was possible and what the future held for airplanes.

The trans-Atlantic flight was just the beginning of Lindbergh’s career. He spent years connecting cities by air, creating flight courses to be used by commercial planes, including a route to the Orient. His contributions are enormous, and he is rightly held in high esteem. What history has not remembered very well is his modest wife’s involvement.

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Early flyers were fly boys, rogue explorers on the exciting forefront of adventure. So was Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She was the first female to be given a glider’s license, she was co-pilot to nearly all of Lindbergh’s post-Atlantic flights, and she was among the first airplane radio operators in the world. In their trip to the Orient, Anne was the first white woman to see many of the Canadian and Alaskan out-posts. Charles got the reputation of being an aviation bad-ass, but his wife was with him nearly step for step, and oftentimes, while pregnant.

7477849Anne Lindbergh was also able to bring a female’s perspective to flying. She knew how to fly, she could operate a radio in flight, she could crash land on a deserted lagoon and set up camp. She appreciated flying in a different way than her scientifically-minded husband. She saw the beauty in it; she could capture what it was to leave the earth’s surface and see the world. She could impart not only the thrill and the adventure of flying, but also the magic and wonder of it all.

At the onset of WWII, America, like much of Europe, rushed to build air forces. Planes were needed fast, as well as flyers. With the men overseas fighting, women took to the tasks of running the country and the war machine. This meant the aviation jobs that were previously just for rugged cowboy types, were now done, and quite successfully I may add, by women just off the farm. These women took on the training and the risk of fixing and flying planes to air bases. They took the thrill and the pressure of flying in stride and did more than their share to help the Allies.

Unfortunately, like many of the women who proved themselves as capable as the men who left their jobs to fight, female flyers took a back seat when soldiers came home. Aviation is still a pretty male-dominated field, but thanks to the likes of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride, it’s not so surprising to see a woman in the cockpit.

Are you fascinated by the early days of aviation? What books do you recommend?

Is there a part of history you stumbled upon unexpectedly, or accidentally learned something you didn’t mean to by reading?

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The Decision to Homeschool

We have a busy, hectic home. It is loud and there is a lot of unsolicited nudity.  At a time when many parents look forward to sending their children to school, we are keeping ours home. We may be crazy, but we have thought it out.

It is a real blessing to have so many options available to us to educate all of our children. Having so many options also creates a lot to consider. We’ve found many reasons that make us want to homeschool. There are practical concerns as well as educational ones.

156599We are dissatisfied with the structure of a child’s day in the classroom. I understand many parents are – this is nothing profound. The expectations of a child to sit still and focus for extended periods of time is unkind. The limited time now given to recess and unstructured-play is unacceptable. Young children don’t have long attention spans, their day should be spent mostly in free-play pandering to their imaginations. This is the time when their senses are filled with all the things that will later fill their minds.

The simple fact of classroom management makes field trips and projects much more difficult. Lesson plans are rigorously planned and can’t be changed without consequences. Ryan already works long hours teaching at a local high school. If the children also spent the majority of their day in school, used the evenings for homework and weekends for projects our family life would take a huge hit.

In these regards homeschooling has so many advantages. Lessons can be tailored to our child and their attention span. Lessons can be scrapped or switched easily to fit a child’s interest or simply because of environmental factors (i.e. it’s storming, let’s talk about how lightning works).  At home, we can spend most of the sunlight hours outside at parks or visiting family rather than spending hours at a time indoors in structure and control.

These classroom and scheduling problems are also major complaints of many parents and parents work very hard to combat this. Homeschooling is a viable option for us, however, to avoid this common struggle.

Schools are full of educated and caring teachers, people who’s profession it is to impart learning to students. Well-meaning as I may be, I am not professionally trained. But, unlike teachers in the classroom, I do not need to know how to simultaneously teach 25 children to read; I just need to teach my child at home, in their most comfortable environment. The student to teacher ratio alone gives us an advantage. There is a wealth of knowledge and support as well to homeschooling parents to fill in the gaps of our own education and help us become better capable of teaching our children.

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We have looked at a few different homeschooling programs, I even tried my hand at putting together a curriculum myself. We really want to use a classical method and we’ve settled on The Angelicum Academy for this fall. The classical method uses the syllabus and structure based on the Medieval model of education. A child’s education is divided into three phases roughly coordinating with their natural development: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.

A child first learns, essentially, everything they can, both in their bodies and in their environment. Gymnastic play and dance are important elements to introduce the child to the abilities of their own body. They experience as many different environments and are encouraged in unstructured play to interact  with as much of the world around.  Taking advantage of their natural curiosity and sponge-like minds, they are taught to memorize as many lists, facts and poems as their mind can absorb.

From this stage, the child moves into the Logic phase. This is roughly around the ages of 10-12 when the child can begin to use reason. Now they start to apply the knowledge the have learned and begin describing the world. The goal of this stage is to understand and comfortably use formal logic. Their reading becomes more advanced as they seek to expand on their elementary knowledge of various subjects. They begin to explore all sides of things, taking advantage of their natural argumentativeness.

ta-logoThe final stage, Rhetoric, corresponds roughly to the mid-teen years. The student understands much of the world, as well as how to discuss and explain it. They are now ready to delve into philosophy and speak of truths and un-truths. They understand language and the ways in which it is used to impart truth as well as misconceptions. They understand also the theoretical knowledge of those subjects they have chosen to study more closely. They can now express themselves clearly and logically. They can put forth arguments and dissect fallacies. This ability can be applied to any area of study.

The ultimate goal of classical education is to produce a well-rounded, educated adult capable of complex thought. A successful classical education builds a firm foundation for future learning.

This is what we want for our children and we hope homeschooling will help us achieve just that. This fall will be our first real step into teaching. If you think of us during the day, say a prayer for us, will you? We are jumping into the deep end teaching Evangeline with three smaller siblings at home. Below is a list of books we’ve read that have helped us to understand and choose both homeschooling and Classical education.

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Farewell Fair-Feathered Friends

It was a soggy, fourth-trimester day in July when the chickens came into our lives. That was just over two years ago. And now, gentle reader, it is time that I share some news that may sadden of you. The chickens who have brought you so much entertainment over the years will be moving on later this week.

And by on I mean the big stew pot in the sky.

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Here to peck our ways into your heart

They have educated us in so many ways. They have provided unique conversation starters, encroached on our territory and covered our driveway in crap. They have terrified us and they have cultured our children in ways we can’t undo

What they have failed to do, is keep laying eggs.

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I see you have clean clothes there. It’d be a shame if someone….shit on them.

We’ve had a surprisingly long run with these chickens. This has been our first real step into homesteading and overall, it’s been a success. We like the addition of chickens to our lifestyle — we eat eggs from them, they eat scraps from us, it works. The kids think the chickens are just the coolest and we like them growing up with this small insight into farm life. We hope  in the future, maybe as early as next spring, to start again with new chickens and a more sturdy coop.

I want to take a moment to scratch out a small space on the internet to honor the time the chickens have been a part of our lives.

Thanks for the memories, chickens.

 

 

 

Chicken Run
(I know insurrection is spelled wrong)
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I am the one who knocks

For further reading about the chickens, check out these posts:

The Chicken — A Ghost Chicken Poem

The Birds…In Your Mind and In Your Backyard — Psychological toils of having chickens

With a Cluck Cluck Here — Welcome chickens