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    Books & Reading, Home Education

    Seven Quick Takes on Geography, Circle Time, THM, and More!

    March 20, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    Recently, I realized that my fourth grader is weak on geography. It’s not a big deal, at her age, but she’s weaker than I’d like her to be, and she’s also really resistant. I was trying to think of a simple way to get her more familiar with geography without causing a battle, so what I started doing was opening our history readings by using a globe. We’re using George Washington’s World for our history spine, and it jumps from place to place, and so naturally my concern was that she wasn’t visualizing how all of it went together. This has been like magic. She’s taken to the globe so much better than she has maps, and after a few days, she started helping me find some of the cities and countries, something that was like pulling teeth before.

    Using a globe is a really simple — and possibly simplistic — way to integrate geography into our day, and it’s really working for us right now.

    :: 2 ::

    I’m not doing any Circle Time plans for Term 3. I’ve decided to continue with review, plus the pile of odds and ends I found in my “on deck” section of my binder {which I had forgotten about}. O-Age-Six has been really frustrated that he doesn’t know many of the songs the others know, so we’re focusing on him for a term. The older children are enjoying singing a bigger variety and revisiting old favorites.

    With that said, I wanted to add something new. It helps liven up the last term, which is especially hard for us when Easter is so early in the year. I decided to add some commentary reading to our morning Bible time. We’re going to use Leviticus by Nancy Ganz because it was highly recommended by Jeanne, one of my favorite people. There is probably something wrong that I am starting with the third book in a series, but I’ve been wanting to read Leviticus with my children, and my hope is that this will keep us from drowning in the minutia.

    :: 3 ::

    Here’s this week’s link collection:

    :: 4 ::

    2015 TwinsWe welcomed twin goats to the microhomestead on Wednesday! One doe, one buck, and both waaaaaay cute.

    The buck we named Socks due to his four black feet. He’s got beautiful blue eyes, and we’re hoping they stay that way. The doe we named Roxy.

    I had been convinced their mama was going to have three or even four kids; she was so huge. It was a very difficult delivery. At birth, they were bigger than our one-week-old doeling, Snowdrop, and she’s grown quite a bit in a week! We are so thankful that mother and babies all survived.

    :: 5 ::

    Congratulations to Misty Newsome, winner of the Simplified Dinners for New Cooks giveaway! For the rest of you, keep in mind that our $5 discount code AFTERTHOUGHTS is good through Monday, March 23, 2015.

    :: 6 ::

    Some of you have been asking me about THM. Yes, I’m still doing it, and yes I’m still happy with it. I find it to be very doable in daily life, and then I just schedule in cheats so that when I go out, I don’t need to worry about it. Here I thought I’d share some of my favorite products:

    • Sweeteners:
      • THM Sweet Blend: This is part erythritol and part stevia, and I like it for smoothies, which I drink almost daily.
      • NOW Eryritol: I use this for hot drinks at home. It doesn’t have an aftertaste like stevia does, but you do have to use a bit more than you would regular sugar.
      • Stevia in the Raw: I have these little packets stashed in my truck, in my husband’s car, and in my purse. I don’t want a random coffee splurge to turn into an unplanned cheat, so I carry this with me everywhere.
    • Oolong Tea:
      • Prince of Peace 100% Organic Oolong: I prefer my teas organic; it’s one of a handful of products that I am picky about. This brand is one of the best prices, and it has great flavor.
    • Whey Protein Powder:
      • Pristine Whey Protein Powder: This is made by THM, and I’ve never seen it on Amazon {which is a total bummer}. It’s the best whey powder I’ve seen because it is comparatively low priced and also free of all the yucky additives found in a lot of protein powders. It tastes great. I find that a scoop of this a day helps me get enough protein; I just don’t take in enough when left to my own devices.
    • Gluccomannan:
      • NOW Foods Gluccomannan Pure Powder: Used in small amounts, this can serve as a thickener, or be used in smoothies to make them smoother. My interest was actually that it is pre-biotic.

    And that’s about it. I’ve tried some of the other things out there, of course, but these are the only things I’m purchasing again and again. I tried noodles made from gluccomannan and they were just okay, and then later I had an aching tummy. Really, I prefer spaghetti squash or spiral sliced zucchini, and I think that is a lot more nutritious anyhow.

    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: What makes classical education different from modern?
      • Answer: For years, I wanted an easy book to suggest for this question. Karen Glass finally wrote the book on the subject last year. It’s called Consider This and it is concise, easy to understand, and focuses on the most important things. I love Norms and Nobility by David Hicks, but it is very expensive and also difficult to read. Consider This is the book I recommend over and over, especially for those who are just beginning their course of study on this topic.
    • Question: Is there a way to find older posts or do I have to scroll through them backwards? You’ve got some great ones I would love to be able to access again. Is there maybe an index somewhere?
      • Answer: There will be. I’m sorry! When I moved to WordPress, not everything transferred nicely. There were posts without tags, posts with wrong tags, and no categories. Hayley and I are working on categorizing and tagging everything, and when we’re done there will be a navigation bar to make it easy for you. I only wish we could go faster, but alas, we have children. 😉
    • Question: Should I just read the written narrations or should we discuss them?
      • Answer: I have my children read their written narrations aloud to me, with my eye on the page so I can know that what they say they wrote is actually what they wrote. They catch basic mistakes themselves, without my saying anything, when it is done this way. My year four student only writes a couple sentences, so I actually rewrite them correctly, and then she copies them. This is due to her horrible, terrible spelling. 🙂 With my older child, I usually choose one thing to correct. I don’t know if this is the “right” way to do it, but it’s what I’ve been doing.

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  • Reply Kortney March 21, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    If you don’t mind me asking, how much protien are you aiming for? I *know* that I feel better when I’m getting plenty of protein, but haven’t tracked it since I was pregnant…and don’t know what a good target number is.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      At one point, I had read something about how much non-pregnant women need, but later I started using something that is weight-based {meaning I have had to recalculate as I have lost weight} that works so much better for me. It also makes sense to me that I at almost 5’7″ would need more protein than my MIL at 5’0″, you know? {I think THM says shoot for 20g per meal, plus “some” protein with each snack. That didn’t work for me, either, but you might like that better.} So…most of what I’ve found tells me that .4-.6 g per pound of body weight per day is fine, and even up to .8-1g per pound can be better if you are working out heavily. The exception would be if you have kidney disease.

      I like having a range rather than a target because I find that to be easier to manage — I just try to end up somewhere inside the range. Once I knew how to mentally calculate my protein (1 cup of Greek yogurt is about 22g, an egg is about 6g, etc.) it’s been easy to aim for the range without feeling like I have to put pencil to paper and be precise.

      • Reply Kortney March 25, 2015 at 7:30 am

        Thanks for this detailed reply, Brandy. I think your point about a range instead of a target is great.

  • Reply Kelly March 21, 2015 at 8:18 am

    So your hubby is okay with xylitol and erythritol? I’ve been reading up on them because my basic position is if a chemist has to make it in a laboratory then it’s Not Food. But I don’t have much of a sweet tooth to begin with, so I’d only be using small amounts, and hopefully not forever.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 21, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Okay with it is probably too strong of wording. 🙂 It’s more like he’s ignoring it because I use only small amounts. 😉 I don’t use xylitol — it causes abdominal pain for me. This post at Mark’s Daily Apple explains a lot about sugar alcohols. There *is* a whole foods THM group on FB, and I’d be open to it, except that before I even started this I had gotten very sensitive to sugar. So, for me, I think I pretty much have to stay away from sugar right now (and by sugar I mean even raw honey and maple sugar and such were bothering me), diet or no diet. I tried to just switch to oolong tea all the time, because I like it without anything in it, but it just wasn’t the same as my morning brewing chocolate ritual, so for now I’m using the erythritol…I don’t have much of a sweet tooth either, though. It’d probably be something I had to research extensively if I was baking all the time or something!

      • Reply Brandy Vencel March 21, 2015 at 8:43 am

        ps. Not saying it’s food. 😉

      • Reply Kelly March 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

        Thanks, that’s pretty much what I was thinking — that it’s something that’s not good for you, but is tolerable in tiny amounts for a particular purpose. I’ve been putting a couple of drops of stevia into my coffee on occasion (I usually drink it unsweetened; if I want it sweet, that’s only after supper and I use Irish Cream 😉 ) just to try to get used to the flavor in case I decide I want to try some of the dessert recipes, but I haven’t really gotten used to it and wanted to try out some of the others.

        By the way, your second link to sweeteners says Erythritol, but the link goes to a packet of xylitol.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 21, 2015 at 2:30 pm

          Oh, thank you! I will try and fix that.

  • Reply Misty March 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Yay! So happy to have won, have been really digging into your blog and LOVE it!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Well, I’m glad you’re here, Misty. 🙂

  • Reply Mystie March 20, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Oh, let me know what you think of that commentary! Interesting!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 7:27 am

      I will! We’re starting on Monday. I’ve glanced and it and I’m trying to figure out how I want to pace it so that the readings aren’t too long…

      • Reply Claire March 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        When you’ve spent a bit if time with it, I’d love to know if it’s appropriate for a messianic leaning family. Ie, if it spends a lot of time saying, ‘isn’t it great that Jesus has abolished all this for us?’ From the description it didn’t sound like that, and I don’t mind one or two comments along those lines, but not on every page, yk?

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 21, 2015 at 2:30 pm

          I will try to write a review — maybe not when we’re done with it {because that will take a while} — but once we’ve read enough that I have a feel for it in general. 🙂

  • Reply Michele March 20, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Swanson carries the Pristine Whey, I haven’t tried it yet. I use this one
    They have a 5# bag as well.

    For sweetener I carry the Skinny Girl monkfruit extract in my purse. I like the flavor and the fact that it is a liquid.

    Sorry to hear the delivery was difficult, but so happy everyone is ok. Difficult deliveries are what got me out of goats, lol. I had “The Book” and pulled my goat through a bad case of milk fever naturally and somehow that made me the go to for difficult births, lol. So, my first kidding season was a doozy 😉 I was happy to help others, and still am, but I didn’t want to go through it with my own again 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 7:27 am

      I am TOTALLY checking out your protein powder! And I haven’t tried monk fruit extract yet, but my sister swears by it. I’ll have to ask her if she has tried your brand. 🙂

      I didn’t know you were the queen of hard labors or I’d have called you! Ha. Because you need more of that grief in your life. 😉

  • Reply Kansas Mom March 20, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I was so impressed she got David Hicks to write the forward for Consider This! I’m reading it now but am afraid I’ll have to return it to the library before I finish it. Already I think I need my own copy so I can make notes in the margins.

    Since you brought up written narrations, do you give your children a word or sentence target? My 11 year old son (year five) will write exactly what I assign and not a word more which I find frustrating, though I assume it’s typical.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 5:59 am

      David Hicks has a long history with AO because he gave permission for his work in Norms and Nobility to be used in the designing of the upper years, so I think that is the connection. 🙂

      I adore Hicks!! 🙂

      In other news…I don’t have to give targets to my oldest because he is long winded. 😉 Ha. With A-Age-10, we just started this past term, so I literally began with one sentence. Now we are at two. She is about as opposite from her brother as it gets, so it will be a long road, I think, but I see improvement each week, so I’m trying to be extra patient with her. Because it is so short, I am still requiring some oral narration after we go over her writing because it just isn’t thorough…

  • Reply Laura BTB March 20, 2015 at 3:49 am

    Have truly enjoyed your blog. I’ve just been visiting a few days, through a link on Heidi’s blog, Mt. Hope. The links and suggested reads- wow. I’m a classical homeschooler, but love Charlotte Mason, and find there is a natural connection. I will be looking for ‘Consider This’. Thanks for this post!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 5:34 am

      Welcome! I’m glad you’re here! 🙂 I love Heidi’s blog, so I know you’re good company. 😉

      Consider This definitely explains Charlotte Mason’s connection to classicism. By the way, the foreword is written by David Hicks, and it is so wonderful. I love the glimpse we get into his own classical education!

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