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    Seven Quick Takes: Music Camp {and More!} Edition

    July 31, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    My two oldest children did the first of two weeks of music camp this week. Oh. my. word. I love the camp — I have no complaints. But I have realized through this that I am not cut out to be a school parent.

    At all.

    And since I’m making confessions, I might as well mention that I have never been good at portable food.


    :: 2 ::

    This week was a really hard week for one of my children. This has caused me to be a bit scarce around here — and Behind on Things — which might happen again next week, so please bear with me. Some things are more important than Business As Usual.


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2013…


    It’s a simple little post, really, about how I prepared poetry for my students using only my computer, the internet, and a printer. Click here to read it.


    :: 5 ::

    I don’t have a photo of this {see Take 2: “behind on things” above}, but I’m loving my new “On Deck” shelf in the office. This is where I’m putting all the books that we don’t need for Term 1, but do need sometime during the year. I have everything in one place, and I won’t need to go hunting all over the house for books when it’s time to switch titles out at term. So. Exciting. It’s the little things, you know?


    :: 6 ::

    I think Gelsemium 30 is my new favorite homeopathic remedy. I say this because I have had much cause to thank God for it this week. One of my children is painfully shy, and this child was really, really struggling at music camp {see Take 2: “really hard week” above}. There were a number of issues converging, but one was simply anxiety. Saying memory verses in front of people can be really nerve wracking if you’re shy and don’t know anyone in your group at camp. Or, at least, I’ve been told that this is true.

    A couple of my friends in my study group reminded me that Gelsemium is considered a stage fright remedy. I hadn’t really thought about this being a case of stage fright, but I suppose that if you are really self-conscious, the whole world’s a stage, and all of it makes you nervous. Anyhow, said child has been doing much better since we started it. I’m offering a dose in the car on the way there, and then another dose right before they all go in. This has enabled the child to remember the daily memory verse — before the nerves were too much.

    My husband {aka “Devils’ Advocate”} asked me if I thought it was a placebo effect. I told him I don’t care. 😉 Dumbo’s feather might have been a placebo, but the fact remains that he did in fact learn to fly. Ha. {Personally, I think it works, because everything I’ve learned so far works as long as I’m doing it correctly.}


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: I am new to CM and I was wondering why you chose AmblesideOnline instead of Simply Charlotte Mason? Could you point out some pros and cons? I am overwhelmed where to start, and Simply Charlotte Mason makes it seem more easy some how.
      • Answer: Honestly, I am really not qualified to answer this question because I have never made a choice between the two curricula. I hadn’t even heard of Simply Charlotte Mason until a year or two after I had begun using AmblesideOnline, and I have never had any reason to switch. So while I have read a few blog posts on the SCM site over the years, I really do not know how the SCM curriculum works nor what books it assigns. I believe this question has been asked before on the AO Help Forum, so I would suggest checking there if you really want to hear from an AO mom on why she chose AO over SCM. I’m sorry that I can’t offer you more assistance. Perhaps someone will be able to venture an answer in the comments {hint hint}. 🙂


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  • Reply Melissa July 31, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I am not cut out to be a school parent….LOL Brandy!

    I felt this same way last week during VBS. It was Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m.-noon. I helped lead a station so we had to go a little early. Our kids woke at approx. 7:30 a.m. to dress and eat before we headed out, about 8:00-8:30 depending on the day. We were back home by 12:30 most days. By Friday, one of our boys was an absolute bear!! He loved VBS, but hated the get up, get going routine. Ironically, we are quite structured in our day to day homeschool, but there’s just something different about leaving your home 5 days a week. On Friday morning, during his meltdown, he said, “Mom, why do you sign me up for this stuff, you know I hate it!!” Funny thing is, by Saturday after a good night’s sleep, he was telling everyone, “I can’t wait for VBS next year!”

    Regarding SCM vs. AO, I’ve been dabbling in SCM for years, but more recently as I’ve been reading Charlotte’s actual writing, I long for more depth and have been seriously considering AO, which previously really freaked me out…LOL! I think SCM is a great place to start. Sonya Schafer is an outstanding resource and really makes practical day to day application of Charlotte’s methods seem attainable. On the other hand, AO seems to offer more meat. I think both are great and I’m thankful to all who make them possible.


    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      I’m glad I’m not only bad school mom. 😉 And I totally identify with what you said here — we are pretty structured as well. But it didn’t matter!

      I really like what you said about SCM and AO. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I just love hearing what everyone has to say. 🙂

  • Reply Rahime July 31, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I often say that about placebo effect…if it works, I don’t care HOW it works. LOL!!! So, even if it is placebo, bring it on! (Personally, though I *do* think homeopathy “works” somehow or another.)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2015 at 10:31 am

      I think it works, too, because I feel like I’ve seen it work too many times for it to be placebo — different remedies for a wide variety of circumstances. In fact, when I gave my children the wart remedy I mentioned a week or two ago, I purposely didn’t tell them what it was for. 🙂

      But yes: placebo. If I can trick my brain into making me well without intervention, I think that is ideal, actually. 😉

  • Reply Tanya Stone July 31, 2015 at 7:31 am

    I’ll also take a shot at the question, since I discovered SCM and AO at the same time, and for about a year used both as guidelines to do my own thing. Two reasons why I use AO curriculum over SCM.

    1) I like how Lena puts it, that SCM is a more modern interpretation. I think Sonya Shafer offers solid advice and explanation of the CM method. But her application is more modern and traditional school oriented. NOT that she doesn’t use CM’s methods, she does. But the way she does flows with modern American school format. Which can make it easier for some people who are taking kids out of school to start homeschooling. Also, her curriculum plan, that is her booklists, are not set up for you, and she offers a lot of curriculum options of her own to fill in the gaps if you don’t want to put together your own booklists. Having a large family it can be helpful how she joins the family together on almost every topic, but you still have to make your own curriculum. I will say that her “How To Plan” ebook is worth the purchase if you want to do that, and even if you don’t it can help you get your footing.
    For me, even with a large family, I gravitated more and more to AO because I liked the classical application. The more I learned the more I wanted to do school the way Charlotte did, with the books she used if I could, and AO offered that. To me the classical way of doing felt more purely CM, and that’s what I desired.

    2) I also read on a blog–I think it might have been this one lol–that while you CAN put together your own curriculum, AO has done the work so why reinvent the wheel? On SCM, you either have to spend a lot of money on their curriculum, or do all your own work. I was doing that for about a year, the second year I was still doing it but it was about 80% AO and 20% SCM, then the third year I finally said, “What am I doing?” and went 100% AO. LOL About the only thing AO hasn’t done is tell you how to structure your day because every family is different, and SCM has some good plans you can use to set up your day.

    All that said, I use SCM materials all the time. I love the picture study portfolios, I’m using the video series for monthly CM meetings/discussions, the books on applying and using CM are so helpful (I’ve used “Education Is . . ” and the “How To . . .” books, and keep referring back to them), her blogs are filled with encouragement, and I’m so tempted to try the Spelling Wisdom series LOL. Her materials are great for those extras, or even for those daily subjects, either the materials themselves or how to approach them. I really REALLY want the book on mathematics, I watched one video clip and I’m drooling.

    You pick the one that fits your family and your needs. I like classical, purist ways of doing things and I felt that AO offered that, especially having done all the work for me with the booklists and breaking the books up over the year (something else you have to do on your own with SCM, though she gives guidance on how to do it). I also respect the years of hard work the ladies at AO have done to provide such detailed plans to the world, and they themselves are from all over the world.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Thank you, Tanya, for sharing so much detail! This was really helpful! ♥

      • Reply Julie Z August 1, 2015 at 10:03 am

        I use Sonya’s Spelling Wisdom for our Copywork and our Dictation. Although I know that I could just choose things from their reading, it is way worth it to me to have a 100 beautiful excerpts already pulled out for me and ready at my fingertips in a bound book, especially when I am dealing with four children doing this at once. Highly recommend!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel August 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm

          I am glad to hear this review! I’ve been thinking about that one lately…I think I’d be more consistent if it was done for me in advance!

  • Reply Lena July 31, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Okay, I will get the ball rolling. First my qualifications. I am more of a Latin centered classical educator then CM. I use amblesideonline for book recommendations and I have used several SCM products. I believe both sites are pedegogical followers of CM. however, when it comes to actual curriculum, ie books read there is almost zero overlap. Okay, they both do Shakespeare. AO would be cheaper, SCM is way more user friendly. But SCM is to my mind lighter in the sense that they encourage a slow pace for language arts and recommend simpler book. AO let’s you pace phonics and recommends reading difficult texts from year one. AO is more classical to my mind, and SCM more a modern interpretation. But this is not really to knock SCM. Personally I flounder to give structure to our days, but I can find good books. So I use SCM to provide some history structure and then I up the challenge level myself with more complex books. But by itself, I would consider SCM too lightweight academically for my purposes. Her enrichment items for things like music and art though do make things easy! I am way more likely to enjoy and do picture study if I have a nice print rather than looking at a computer image. I use all the shortcuts I can afford to enjoy teaching enrichment! I mean all those feast subjects, art, music, handicraft, hymns, etc. I hope that helps, but I can’t say that I have ever tried following either completely, because I try to model my days after the Liberal Arts Tradition rather than PNEU schools.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 31, 2015 at 6:51 am

      Thank you for this, Lena! I really appreciate you helping to answer her question! 🙂

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