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    Books & Reading, Home Education, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on the Second Week of School, Books I Am and Am not Buying, Parenting Advice I Didn’t Give, and More!

    August 28, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    We’re on our second week of school, and it’s been an interesting thing. I feel like I’m starting what I think of as the Long Goodbye. I think of a lot of things this way, but homeschooling is one of them. We feel like we’re doing it forever, but I know it will end up feeling like diaper changing: all of a sudden, it’s over. It’s sort of surreal starting my last student. Each time I read a story aloud to him — now so familiar after all these years — I start to wonder if I’ll ever read this story aloud again, or is this the last time? It’s strange.


    :: 2 ::

    This book is killing me! I am encountering great reviews from all sorts of people, but I told myself that I would. not. buy. another. book. until I had {1} completely finished with writing all of my conference talks for September and {2} finished at least two books from my scary-big book stack. And then Pam had to go and start reading it and tell me it was great. This is like putting a piece of chocolate cake in front of a glutton on a strict diet!!!

    But I will survive.

    I will write these talks. I will conquer the book stack. And then? Then I will buy The Awakening of Miss Prim!!


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2013:

    My Child Doesn't Like X Homeschooling Meets Resistance


    Some thoughts on our response when Johnny doesn’t like it. {Whatever it is.}


    :: 5 ::

    Speaking of September, I think there is still a bit of room at the conference, if you need some early-in-the-school-year encouragement and inspiration. I’m so excited. In addition to how great a conference like this would be in general, exchanging our perennially hot summer weather for Seattle in early fall sounds very nice indeed.


    :: 6 ::

    A-Age-Ten has been asking for books on Native Americans. While she’s a great little reader {she just finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer}, I really couldn’t resist this beautiful picture book called Buffalo Bird Girl. It’s based on the true story of a gal that lived in the early 1800s and her tribe’s lost way of life, and I think A. is going to love it when I add it to the family library next week.

    Do you have any suggestions on Native American books for little girls? I have found it difficult to find ones that are historically accurate, so this book was a pleasant surprise.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering your questions:

    • Question: Can you please help me with my difficult child?
      • Answer: To be honest, I took a number of questions I received this week and mashed them together. They were all centered around mothering advice and dealing with difficult children. While I do actually have a difficult child, I am by no means an expert on homeschooling difficult children. I am really, really hesitant to advise anyone on parenting, especially when I don’t actually know any of the people involved. But, I totally get the frustration and the desire to seek out wisdom wherever it can be found. So, with that said, might I suggest the AO Forum? There is a lot more than curriculum discussed there, and the ladies there won’t just spout advice — they’ll ask you some really good questions and help you think through your situation. I highly recommend joining and asking those sorts of questions there. I think you’ll be glad you did. 🙂
    • Question: My daughter is reading [enter AO title here] for history this year, and she is not connecting with it and is unable to narrate it well. It feels scary to drop this book, but I don’t know what else to do.
      • Answer: Sometimes, we really do need to drop or substitute out books. If a child can’t narrate a book, there is a problem — we only know what we are able to talk about and retell. With that said, before giving up I would suggest getting creative. Can the child narrate smaller chunks — like if you divide a larger chapter up into multiple readings? Can the child narrate through a creative way {like acting it out or drawing a picture}. My approach is always to try solving the problem this way before I say that a child can’t do a certain book. I want to be open to the idea that, theoretically, some children just aren’t mature enough for certain books, but I always try to see if we can figure out how to rise to the book’s level before we seriously consider giving up. Please note, though, that giving up doesn’t mean you’re a failure.


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  • Reply Andrea September 2, 2015 at 9:42 am

    To ease your impatience! I just finished miss prim. It was okay and nothing more than an easy, sweet (as in all the characters did is eat delectable, sweet goodies with tea) read. lots of gaping holes in it for me and it didn’t make me think, laugh or cry which I like at least one of those met in fiction. Hold out for a library copy.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 2, 2015 at 10:32 am

      If I had a library, I would definitely try that option. As it is, there is not a library {nor a post office} in my entire zip code. So…now you know why I buy so many books!

      Yours is the first negative review I’ve read, and so now I’m intrigued! You make me wonder what I will think! 🙂

  • Reply Kate September 1, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I just finished reading The Awakening of Miss Prim and loved it! You definitely should buy it 😉

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

      I almost bought it last night, Kate! I was ordering Add-Ons on Amazon, and wondering what I could add. VERY TEMPTING! 🙂 But I persevered and bought Something Responsible. 😉

  • Reply Cassie W. August 31, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I was the same way with #2. So, I checked the library which didn’t have it. I then requested that they purchase it . . . . they did . . . . it’s now waiting for me to pick up. I was hoping it would take longer so I could finish other books! I also get first dips on it since I made the purchase request. I’m waiting until the last day that they will hold it for me to pick it up, lol!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      But you get to READ it! That is so great! 🙂 ♥

  • Reply Joy August 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Oh no! I did not need another book suggestion and this one sounds just delightful. My library does not have it, but I plan to borrow it through ILL as soon as I have time (aka Fall Break). Thank you for telling us about it.

    I have been fascinated by the lost colony for years and years. I look forward to reading the article.

    I am homeschooling my last child with only two years to go. All of these “goodbyes” each year are very hard. Selling books that I will never read again with my children has been hard. But I am enjoying just hanging out with my youngest and doing school together so there are benefits.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 31, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      I can only imagine. I have actually been wondering about that: do I sell them? Do I keep them, hoping we’ll have occasion for them sometime in the future? I mean, LOTS of them I want to keep. But should I be more discriminating? That is the question…

  • Reply Elizabeth Johnson August 28, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Have you heard of the book “Naya Nuki, the Girl Who Ran”?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 31, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      I haven’t heard of that book, Elizabeth. I will google it! 🙂

  • Reply Catie August 28, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I loved that article, “…when Johnny doesn’t like it.” I especially loved reading the comments!

    Also thought the Lost Colony article was interesting.

    We are just starting our homeschool journey and I can’t imagine reading my *last* book to my *last* child! 🙁 (that’s not very encouraging, is it?)

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:09 am

      I couldn’t have imagined it then, either, Catie. Even now it is sort of surreal.

  • Reply Heather M August 28, 2015 at 10:29 am

    “Sing Down the Moon” and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” were favorites of mine as a child.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Ooh! I haven’t heard of Sing Down the Moon. I’m going to have to look that one up.

  • Reply Michelle Dawn August 28, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Oh, and I found that article on macroevolution fascinating. Thank you.

  • Reply Jessica August 28, 2015 at 8:24 am

    This won’t help, but I loved “The Awakening of Miss Prim.” It was my favorite fiction book I read last year.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

      :::fingers in ears:::

      la la la I can’t hear you! 😉

  • Reply Virginia Lee August 28, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Thought the National Geographic article was very cool! I passed it along to some family members I thought would be interested. Then we can speculate together. Ha! Loved seeing the pictures of their finds. It never fails to amaze me how something as little as an aglet can help tell the story of an entire peoples.

    As for the Long Goodbye, are you trying to make all of us mamas cry this morning?! 😉 I just keep praying God will eventually bless us with another little one so that I can postpone that whole situation as long as possible. My oldest turned 10 this summer. I was so excited because it’s been so wonderful on many levels as he’s gotten older. Especially the conversations and discussions. But at the same time I was thanking the Lord that my youngest is still two. I really enjoy having a range of seasons. You know, the best off all the worlds.

    Really glad notify me of follow up comments is back!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Your oldest turned 10? That felt really monumental to me. Did it to you? I felt like we were entering the next stage then, I think.

      I hope God blesses you with another little one, too. 🙂

      • Reply Virginia Lee August 31, 2015 at 11:03 am

        Yes, it was a big deal. All the times we had said, “we will start this when he’s 10” are now upon us. =) Plus the whole, I have a child in double digits how is that even possible, thought. So far 10 is grand though!

  • Reply Michelle Dawn August 28, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Have you read Clyde Robert Bulla’s Pocahontas book? My daughter loved it in year 3, so it might be too easy for your girl, but she told me it was important to learn both sides of the story after reading that book. 🙂 So it impressed her on some level.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:44 am

      I haven’t read that one! I will look it up!

      • Reply Melissa August 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Oh yes, we LOVE Bulla as well!

  • Reply Tanya Stone August 28, 2015 at 7:45 am

    My 7yo also likes Native American stories. Her favorite picture books are “Dancing with the Indians”, about a former black slave’s descendants joining an tribe each year for their celebrations, and an early reader book called “The Warrior Maiden: A Hopi Legend”. It’s written in the style of traditional Indian storytelling. The other one is written in poetry form by one of those descendants about her ancestor’s experience. I would call both of these living books, even though they are picture books, because of how they are written, and the first because it’s true. She also likes An American Girl book called “Meet Kaya”. I don’t know if you consider the American Girl series books living books, but I like all the historical information and language they include.
    Kind of laughing about your statement about Seattle. Not to put anyone off–I would go in a heartbeat if I could–but they’ve been having a heat wave as well, and now the fires on the east side of the mountains are sending smoke even to Seattle. I have family and friends there, that’s where I’m from, so I’m getting regular input. I really hope it’s cleared up and cooler by the time you get there for the conference. 😉

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

      These are GREAT ideas, Tanya. Thank you.

      And I am going to pray that Seattle decides to be itself by the time I get there. 🙂

  • Reply Sharron August 28, 2015 at 5:07 am

    When my 15 yo daughter was a baby I read an article in some magazine about how the author wished she had known some of those “last times.” Like the last time she’d read a certain board book or the the last time her baby would want to nurse. I’ll never forget that article. I’ve thought of it many times with my youngest. She’s 9 and she wanted to read Good Night Moon last night. I hope my grandchildren live close because reading to my girls is one of my very favorite things to do and I just can’t imagine not doing it every day.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:48 am

      My sister was actually saying something similar to me the other — about how she wished she had realized it was the last time the last time her older son (now 14) held her hand.

      But then maybe it would ruin the moment to know? I don’t know. I do feel like knowing I had lost my fertility from my last pregnancy and knowing that my youngest was, in fact, my last baby the whole time did make a difference. But I was also kind of sad along the way of his first few years of life. But I do think I paid a bit more attention, rocked him even more, that sort of thing.

  • Reply Melissa August 28, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Hey Brandy,

    Our dd really enjoyed Pocahontas: True Princess by Mari Hanes. It was more historically accurate than some. The author also has a follow up book, titled Two Mighty Rivers, which is the story of Pocahontas’ son. I can’t remember if she read it or her opinion on that one….(gasp!)…I know, she’s a voracious reader and I can’t keep up 🙂

    You know, I’ve thought about that Long Goodbye thing before and try not to ponder because it really makes me sad….not changing diapers…but nursing, a certain child snuggling on a lap, reading a book, etc. I was just thinking the other day, even though they often drive me nuts quite often, I really do love and enjoy being with our kids. I can’t imagine it any other way.


    • Reply Kansas Mom August 28, 2015 at 10:48 am

      I’ve almost always liked everything by Joseph Bruchac. He seems not only to know his own culture but to be willing and able to share it with those outside of it without being overbearing or angry.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

        Joseph Bruchac. Thank you. I haven’t ever heard of him, but I look forward to looking him up. You are always full of good ideas, KM. ♥

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Yes, diapers are the sort of thing we are all glad to see go away. 😉 As hard as the growing up is, it IS nice to have them all using the toilet on their own. That is true. 🙂

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