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    Seven Quick Takes: Deer Cakes, Meet Hayley, Consider This and More!

    March 6, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    Daughter A.’s tenth birthday cake was a combination of a couple we’d seen on Pinterest. I think it looks like a hunting cake, but she really wanted to memorialize the fact that she read Bambi recently. I am reminded that we have a rule that the children can’t watch Disney movies until they’ve read the real books. {So that they can appreciate how Disney has ruined the book. Ahem.} This makes for strange ages to first see Disney movies. Who wants to watch Bambi for their tenth birthday? Our kids, that’s who. I keep trying to find a copy. Netflix has me waiting…and waiting.

    Deer Cake

    Anyhow, at least the cake was fun. You can’t go wrong with Schleich toys as cake toppers!


    :: 2 ::

    I want to introduce you all to my friend Hayley. You can say hello in the comments. She’ll probably be horrified that I’m doing this, but I’m willing to risk it. 😉 Hayley is my real-life friend. We’re in the same local CM group, and we also go to the same church. She’s been helping me behind the scenes for a while now, and recently I asked her to guest post. She said yes! So her first post will appear here next week.

    The thing with Hayley is that she has a lot of little ones — five children ages seven and under to be exact. And she is just so good with them. Truly. So I asked her to share about what she does with her non-nappers during naptime, and I think her post might be especially helpful for a lot of you who have been asking me about preschoolers lately.


    :: 3 ::

    I finally got my Christmas gift! That’s right. If you recall, Siah took my advice on gifts for classical, Charlotte Mason mamas and gave me one big, huge gift. A cultural experience, if you will. He bought me two tickets to Shen Yun. The performance was last week. He said I could take whoever I wanted as my guest, so naturally I took him. Any other guest wouldn’t be so easily suckered into buying me a nice dinner beforehand. Plus he’s handsome.

    So it was great and I thought you should know. I love Traditional Chinese Dance — it’s just so beautiful.


    :: 4 ::

    This week’s link collection:


    :: 5 ::

    So we’re almost done with The Green EmberIt’s a well-woven tale, for sure. The children are always begging for chapters, and it is satisfyingly long. The character development and landscape are divine. Truly, it is a good book for the six-and-up crowd.

    With that said, it still bothers me that they are rabbits. It didn’t ruin the book for me, but it didn’t help, either. I kept trying to tell myself that these are human-like animals, such as in Narnia, but I haven’t been able to reconcile myself. I just kept wishing they weren’t rabbits.

    But don’t let that stop you from reading it. It’s awesome, despite the rabbits.


    :: 6 ::

    Are any of you reading Consider This? I read a pre-publication version, but the final version is still of my to-read list. It’s a fantastic book — definitely in my must-read category for homeschooling moms. In fact, I’m considering proposing the book as a selection for our local group, but we’ll see.

    Anyhow, it came to my attention that the study guide that goes with the book is available in paperback. I have the PDF version, which is free, but if we end up doing it as a group, I think I might buy the paperback version because that seems less messy to me.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: How can I instill a love for reading in my children?
      • Answer: Oh, good. An easy question. 😉 This is worthy of an entire blog post, so I’ll try to be concise while admitting I can’t also be thorough. One philosophical principle I’ve acquired along the way is that exposure breeds taste. For some children, books are like ice cream, and for others they are more like Brussels sprouts. In other words, some children have to learn to like them, and might not ever like them as much as the ice cream crowd. To acquire a taste, we have to be exposed numerous times. Over and over and over. So, the answer is reading. For my resistant readers, we have thirty minutes of free reading set aside per day on every normal day. Another helpful thing is reading aloud. Some children only enjoy books that are read to them — they don’t much like reading alone. There are a number of possible reasons, but the point is that if they are enjoying a book, they are enjoying a book, and that’s a step in the right direction. Other than this, I just wouldn’t stress about it or put any pressure on. Exposure breeds taste. So: lots and lots of good books over time, and let God make of it what He will.
    • Question: Do you know of any homeschool groups that do CM in or around the [insert name of city here] area?
      • Answer: I get so many of these questions that I’m not able to answer them all individually anymore. But, let me point you to the amazing resource: Charlotte Mason in Community. I want each and every one of you to make sure your local group is on this site! It is steadily growing, and every new listing makes it more effective. Also, if you want to start a group in your area, you can post a listing and try to find people that way.
    • Question: I would really like to know how other CM/Classical mothers who struggle with low energy levels or health issues manage their lives, and manage to stay balanced in all areas of life. I don’t see this particular issue discussed much on CM/Classical blogs. There seem to be so many energizer bunnies out there.
      • Answer: Maybe I will try to write something about this in the future. I’ve been toying with a post on how I kicked my anemia problem. I feel your pain. I think some people perceive me as an energizer bunny, but I am far from it. I have struggled with chronic severe anemia and other issues. The main thing I will say here is that realizing that we have to manage energy when planning our schedules goes a long ways. Also important are getting help {if and when you can} and delegating. I think that low energy moms need to train their children in good habits. I mean, we all should, but it’s important for survival when Mom has health issues.


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  • Reply Amber March 11, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I love the trees on the cake, they turned out so well! And I recently finished Consider This and found it enjoyable and thought provoking. I have the study guide, but didn’t use it as I read it. I thought about it… but in the end I didn’t pull it together. It was just too easy to read the ebook version on my phone. I still need to finish adding my quotes to my commonplace too!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      I think the study guide would probably extra helpful if it was being read in a group study.

      I have a bunch to commonplace out of that, too! 🙂

  • Reply Claire March 7, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I’m reading Consider This with the AO form discussion. I kind of wish we were going a little bit faster, but it is certainly worth chewing over.

    Hi Hayley!

    • Reply Hayley March 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Claire! 🙂

  • Reply sheraz March 6, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    That cake is cute – we also use our Schleich animals. So much easier to decorate. lol

    I finished reading Consider This a couple of months ago and found it wonderful. When I was 16 I was reading through Dorothy Sayers “Lord Peter” series and found myself wanting to know what he did – the quotes and ideas that just came from him so effortlessly. I knew that I wanted a classical education for my kids, but didn’t have a great “response” when people asked me why. So reading Consider This was like meeting a friend who helps you work out your thoughts in a more coherent way. It was so enriching and helpful that it is on my re-read list with the study guide in hand. It is now one of the books that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in Charlotte Mason and classical education. Now I am working my way through The Living Page among other books. 😉

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 7, 2015 at 7:25 am

      I had never asked that question before about Lord Peter. I love that! 🙂

  • Reply Tristan March 6, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I always read your quick takes by email and never take time to click over and comment. I decided today to change that! I loved the Bambi cake. I have a little guy who wants a skunk cake, he loves skunks, and Schleich is a wonderful solution. Thank you!

    I also wanted to say “Hi!” to Hayley. It will be fun to read a post by another momma of many littles. I have eight going on nine children and five of mine are age 7 and under. When the new baby is born I’ll have 6 age 7 and under unless baby decides to come late, then the 7 year old will turn 8. My oldest is 13. It’s a delightful houseful! (I have two daughters and six sons. The kids are debating what the coming baby will be.)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Oh, Tristan, your household DOES sound delightful! 🙂

      • Reply Hayley March 7, 2015 at 12:01 am

        I vote for a girl!

        • Reply Tristan March 7, 2015 at 8:15 am

          LOL, so do most of the kids Hayley. 🙂 I have to admit, it would be fun to do pink and purple girly clothes for a change, the last 5 have been boys. My youngest girl is 9.

          • Hayley March 8, 2015 at 6:52 pm

            There’s something exciting about dressing a baby in different colors. I felt that way when I had a boy after three girls. I loved the blues, browns, and greens. When is this little one due?

  • Reply Nelleke from P.E.I. March 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I’m looking forward to Hayley’s post, too…I only have four children aged six and under and am feeling like things aren’t getting done right now. 🙂 I breathed a sigh of relief as we finished Ambleside year 1, term 2 today. Time to rest (ha!) for a week before we jump back into term 3.

    And I just love the trees on your cake.

    • Reply Hayley March 6, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Only four? Oh my, four is plenty to keep us on our toes! And a newborn in the mix makes for very full days. We are in right in the middle of year 1, term 3.

      I popped over to your blog today- there’s much we have in common! 🙂

  • Reply Sharon B March 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Fabulous cake!

    We finished up The Green Ember a few days ago. I found myself forgetting they were rabbits and then something would jar me back to the fact. But in the end, I did love those rabbits with swords, and pottery, and stained glass. The story of remaining true to the fallen king and preparing for the Mended Wood…beautiful indeed.

  • Reply Katherine March 6, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Wow – I didn’t know there was a study guide to go along with “Consider This”. Thank you for that link. Downloaded and printed! I’ve begun reading Consider This and it is slow going. I’m in Chapter 2. Have already gone back and re-read Chapter 1 and then again to underline. It is rich!!! I’ve never read the 6 Charlotte Mason volumes, only books like A Pocketful of Pinecones and Charlotte Mason Companion. I liked what I read about the method. But Consider This – well it’s ripping the cover off of my educational paradigm. As I’m drawn to classical (trivium as skills, not stages) and Charlotte Mason and self-teaching but at the same time struggling to choose curriculum (Ambleside Online? Charlotte Mason Help? Robinson Curriculum? Pieces and parts of classical? Workbook or narration or scripted or non-scripted?), the book is changing my end goal. I am the product of a private school education. I was trained to perform well on tests. And I reject that for my kids. But since my experience is performance-driven and scoring high on tests, I’ve had a difficult time understanding what to aim at instead. Enter Consider This into the picture. And I’m beginning to see that instead of just using a different method (and not performance driven), that I need to look at why Ms. Mason and classical educators did what they did. Not just copy their method. And to look into the end goals of character, virtue, right thinking and right action. Wow. This is soooooooo different from what I grew up with.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Oh my goodness. This was brilliant! You really need to write this in an Amazon review! ♥

  • Reply Celeste March 6, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Great cake! I have a couple handfuls of Schleich animals to put in the kids’ Easter baskets with this year, so I’m guessing we’ll have cakes like this in our future. 🙂

    And hi, Hayley, from another mom of lotsa littles! 🙂 Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

    • Reply Hayley March 6, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      I always enjoy popping over at your blog, Celeste. You are a quintessential Charlotte Mason mama!

  • Reply Kelly March 6, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Love the cake!

    I’ve been reading the Farmer’s Almanac for about ten years now and it’s always accurate. Not just the weather forecasts, but also their tips for the best times to do things — planting, pruning, etc. — are accurate. I once pruned a shrub when it was “prune to discourage growth” time and it nearly died. I’ve learned that if I want a shrub to stay the way it is I should prune it between the “encourage growth” and “discourage growth” periods.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Oh, now that is fascinating! The one I have every once in a while says “best day to go camping” and I keep wondering if that would make me like camping? 😉

      • Reply Kelly March 6, 2015 at 7:25 am

        Now that I’ve read the article I have to point out that I’ve been reading The Old Farmer’s Almanac. I hadn’t realized they were different publications — I thought they were different versions of the same thing, like Coke and Coke Classic.

        Ah, camping. I loved it the few times I did it as a kid. I don’t think I’d love it as the mom. :-p

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 9:00 am

          Interesting! I was wondering about that, whether they were different or not.

          Camping as a mom sounds suspiciously like Extra Work, doesn’t it? Hmmm…

      • Reply SarahD March 7, 2015 at 4:39 am

        Too funny!! Got a chuckle out of that one.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 7, 2015 at 7:21 am


  • Reply Annie March 6, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Love your posts, thank you. I’ve always been drawn to CM, but have trouble fully implementing. I am enjoying your newbie series.
    The question on low-energy moms is one that I’ve been thinking about lately. It rings a bell and isn’t touched on often.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 7:08 am

      Thanks, Annie!

  • Reply Sharron March 6, 2015 at 5:17 am

    The cake looks great! We can usually get all those movies at our library.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Ah. The library again. Have I ever mentioned we’ve never been to one? 🙁

      • Reply Sharron March 6, 2015 at 9:06 am

        Oh my goodness! Really?? We could have never gotten even half of the books we’ve read if not at the library. We are close to a large city with an amazing library system. I forget that not everyone has that option.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 9:14 am

          As a child, I really enjoy the library, but I am so used to our life now that I forget there are such things! 🙂 There is neither a post office nor a library in my entire zip code, and the libraries here have quite limited hours. I know that some homeschooling families here use the libraries a lot, but I’ve just resorted to buying books. It would take up so much time and gas money to make the library part of our habits…and I don’t know that I would call our library system amazing. 🙂 It’s just okay. 🙂

          • Sharron March 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

            I’ll shed a tear for you! 😉

          • Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

            Yes! Tears! 🙂

            The only benefit is that I have a huge library myself, and that is definitely one of the reasons. 🙂

  • Reply RobinP March 6, 2015 at 4:43 am

    We are almost finished with The Green Ember as well. My 11yo boys have enjoyed it, especially the closer we get to the end and things start coming together. It’s a GOOD book, though not a GREAT one. Some of the expressions I felt were out of place for the setting. But it’s been a good read overall. I don’t have a problem that they’re rabbits but I did find myself thinking the other night, when the rabbit blushed, “How does a rabbit do that??” 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 6, 2015 at 7:06 am

      I’ve noticed a couple expressions sticking out, too. You’re right!

      The metaphor, though, or living for the Mended Wood, is very apt, I think! 🙂

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