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    Books & Reading, Other Thoughts

    Seven Quick Takes on Christmas, Taking Vitamin D3, an Awesome GIVEAWAY and More!!

    October 23, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    I’m thinking about Christmas, how about you? I try to slowly collect gifts so that December isn’t quite so shocking. I don’t want my faithful wallet to give up and walk away, after all. I’ve hit a bunch of sales to get clothing items, and of course used book stores for … surprise! … books. One thing I’m considering buying is a Kindle for A-Age-10. This is the age when E-Age-13 first got his. Friend R. recently told me about the Kindle for Kids Bundle, which sounds like it might be a good investment. It’s more than we are usually able to spend, but it has been such a wonderful thing for our oldest that I think it might be worth it.

    At this age, it gets harder to keep them in books, and the ability to send documents to the Kindle has helped a lot with school and life in general. So I’m thinking about it. Do your children have Kindles?


    :: 2 ::

    It’s October, which means it’s time to stock up on some Vitamin D supplements! Depending on where you are, you may not be able to make Vitamin D already. For some of us, it’s coming soon. The proverbial window is closing! Here is the quick test: if your shadow is longer than you are tall, you can’t make it. If it’s too long to make it around noon, then you are done making it until 2016, unless you go to Baja or something.

    I used to be rather ho-hum about the whole D3 thing, but I’ve become a believer over the past few years. Taking D in the winter keeps my energy up, and it also seems to help my immunity. Mom to mom, I encourage you to try it if you struggle in the winter like I do. {Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I know you are shocked by this.}


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    • Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain from Psychology Today.
      • It’s also possible that damaged brains gravitate to screen time. There is no proof of causation here. Still, it’s interesting.
    • Evidence Sodom is Tall el-Hammam from Geeky Christian.
      • Speaking of interesting, this one was, too.
    • HALLOWEEN: ITS CREATION AND RECREATION from The Calvinist International.
      • I’m not telling you what to do with Halloween. I’m just sharing what seems like a good history. I have seen so many articles over the years that are so extreme and historically weak, so I thought I’d share one that a historian friend of mine says is actually well done.


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2009:

    Embracing Paideia Expanding the Kingdom

    As I was searching through ten Octobers, looking for what to highlight this week, this one jumped out. I don’t remember writing it. {It was six years ago.} But the interesting this is that I can see how this post took root in my soul and grew up to become the Aquinas talk that I shared earlier this week. That was sort of startling.


    :: 5 ::

    Who wants to win a Your Morning Basket big basket from Pam Barnhill? You know you want it!! This is everything you need in terms of inspiration and organization to get your family started {or restarted, as the case may be} on Morning Time. I call this Circle Time, and you can find out why I love it so much here. Pam’s built an amazing resource, and I can’t wait for one of you to get one. 🙂 Here’s what our lucky winner will receive:

    So I was trying to decide what hoops I should make you jump through was required for your entry, and I have to tell you that the two blog comment options {you can do both of course!} are my faves. Please note that a regular comment does not count as your entry — you have to answer one of the questions in the form.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    So go enter already! Winner will be contacted via email and must reply to the initial “you won!” email by the stated deadline in order to receive the prize; otherwise, I choose another winner. Contest ends Thursday, 10/29/15 at midnight.


    :: 6 ::

    We’ve been doing a bit more reading aloud lately. It was a big downer when we finished The Return of the King, and we didn’t have the heart to move on. But eventually, you know, it just has to be done. We usually have two books going — one with my husband and one without. More accurately, this would be a Lunch selection and an After-Dinner-ish selection. Right now, the children and I are finishing up Captains Courageous. This is the second time I’ve read that one aloud, and it’s one of my favorites.

    With my husband, we just began The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain.

    I bought a new copy of The Swiss Family Robinson, which is what we’ll go to next. What was wrong with my old copy? I’m glad you asked! Nothing. It’s just that I could never make out whether it was abridged or not, and that always bothered me. So when I found a Sterling Unabridged Classics version super cheap, I bought it. Just in case.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:


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  • Reply Keri October 30, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    This may have been mentioned somewhere in the comments, but I do think that AO has an overview page somewhere the mentions suggestions for each year for language arts at least. (I’ll look)

  • Reply Leslie R. October 28, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    A topic for Newbie Tuesday – favorite ways to do nature walks with a baby and a toddler.

  • Reply Leslie R. October 28, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    How to handle the interruptions of a toddler and a baby while trying to homeschool the older kids.

  • Reply Phoebebopeep October 26, 2015 at 6:33 am

    Hmmm….what topic would I like to see covered in the Newbie Tuesday newsletter? Habit training, perhaps? I subscribe to the newsletter, but often haven’t been able to read them, so it may be that you have already talked about this.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Reply Hayley November 5, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Phoebe,

      I just saw your comment, and here’s a link to the second issue “Habit Training”:


  • Reply Phoebebopeep October 26, 2015 at 6:25 am

    It’s kind of hard to think of a topic you haven’t already covered on your blog- you always have great posts! It would be fun to hear more about the alternative approaches you have taken to treat your family over using conventional medicine.

  • Reply Joy October 25, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I’d love to hear more about reading harder books with your older children.

  • Reply Janell October 24, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Hi. I enjoy your blog very much…lots of great stuff. I would like to see any topic relating to nature study on the blog. Also, the topic of teaching reading with Bob books (I’m using your pdfs right now with my 5 year old) would be fun for your newbie posts. Thank you.

  • Reply Amy October 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    I have been toying around with the idea of the 6 weeks on 1 week off schedule and would love to see a post with your thoughts about that…why you do it, how it works exactly with summer, etc. I am new here so i apologize if you’ve already covered the topic and I missed it (I couldn’t find anything in a search). Just found your blog through Sarah MacKenzie and I’m excited to read through everything!

    • Reply Jenny October 25, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Me, too!!

  • Reply Laura October 24, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    For the newsletter, I’d love to learn more about copy work and writing for the upper elementary years – like year 5 of AO. We are new to it this year and still learning!

  • Reply Laura October 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you so much for the chance to win such a wonderful giveaway!! I could use all the help I can get!

  • Reply Angie Strobel October 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I would like to see more about using CM methods with dyslexic children. On the newbie Tuesday post I would like to see some information on how CM incorporated Swedish Drill into the school day. Thank you for such a wonderful blog!

  • Reply Amy October 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I would love to see a newsletter on dealing with different personalities in homeschooling. My two learn and are motivated very differently and I would love some techniques that would help each of them.

    As for the blog post, maybe something on when/how to push our kids through something that’s difficult and when to take a break and come back to it later. Homeschooling is supposed to be more specifically tailored to each kid, but I don’t want to give something up just because it is a little more difficult and my oldest doesn’t like things that are hard for him…

  • Reply Ashley October 24, 2015 at 8:32 am

    For the news letter, I would really love an exploration of her personal schedule and how it relates to building our mothering culture.

    On the blog, I would love to see more classical education books laid beside Charlotte Mason like the Liberal Arts Tradition posts. It was incredibly helpful, and I’m still rereading those posts!

  • Reply Natalie Kenny October 24, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Hi! I am a newer subscriber and came across your blog in search of CM resources. I love newbie Tuesday, but my kids are still very young (2 yr old twins boys, and a 4 yr old girl). I would love to know how you created an atmosphere for your children (in young ages) that didn’t include a dedicated play space (and if you didn’t maybe how I can). It seems like my children would be happier without one, but my sanity can’t really take that. In general, just how to translate the atmosphere of CM a bit better for 2 very active toddlers ?.

  • Reply Debbie October 24, 2015 at 6:45 am

    Do to pre-read all selections? How???

  • Reply Debbie October 24, 2015 at 6:41 am

    I’d like info on using CM with one child! The rest of mine are college age.

  • Reply Sharon October 24, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Newbie Tuesday Newsletter? Maybe re-emphasize that homeschool parents are ever evolving and honing their school to meet the needs of their children, and that you will NOT have the perfect homeschool the first day, week, year, or even ever. But your best will be good enough and certainly better that public school.

  • Reply Sharon October 24, 2015 at 5:59 am

    I’m not sure what else I’d like to see on the blog. You already post such awesomeness.

  • Reply Natasha October 24, 2015 at 5:04 am

    A topic I would like to see covered on the blog is exams. Do you do them? How do you plan them? I’ve been thinking I’d like to make exam week a special time, but usually by the time we get there, I just want t a break!
    I’m really enjoying the Morning Basket podcast. I’m trying it out for the first time this year.

  • Reply Heather October 24, 2015 at 4:50 am

    I’d like to see more of posts that show what your homeschool day looks like. “A day in the life” series. 🙂

  • Reply Stacy October 23, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    We just started Morning Time today after listing to Cindy Rollin’s podcast on Circe last night. I am just starting to incorporate this, so this would be a great help! I can always use more tips for organization!

    • Reply Hayley November 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Stacy,

      If you search on the Afterthoughts blog “Circle Time” you’ll find so many great posts to encourage you and give you ideas!

  • Reply dianna@thekennedyadventures October 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    How much Vit D are you taking? Last winter, I actually had my levels checked, and they were abysmal. My NP said, “So, are you fatigued?” {Lady, I have 6 kids …. what kind of question is that?!}

    I took high doses for 6 weeks, then had it checked again and was all hunky dory. I’m just wondering where to start for the winter. Thoughts?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 23, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      D, about a month after I know I can’t make D, I start taking one of these a day. They are 5000 IU each. If I get sick, I double it. That usually happens once, and right after Christmas. It is probably the sugar! 😉

      • Reply Dianna Kennedy October 24, 2015 at 5:27 am

        I’ve got the 5000 IU caps as well. I’ll start there daily and see how I feel this winter. Believe it or not, I noticed a difference in ‘stiffness’ …. while getting plenty of Vitamin D, be it in a pill or outside, I don’t feel like an old lady in the morning.

        I’m also getting ready to embark on my 2nd Whole 30 — I did my first one in May and seriously felt great all summer. Now, I’m getting ‘brain fog’ …. “what was I supposed to do again?”, and I’m betting that my increased sugar consumption is partially to blame.

  • Reply Jessica October 23, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve never tried D, but I struggle greatly during winter. I plan to give it a try. Thanks!

  • Reply Heather Finley October 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I would love to see a blog post about a typical day in your homeschool life.

  • Reply Melissa October 23, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I’m also a huge vitamin D fan!…here in WI, it’s absolutely necessary IMHO.

    I would love to see you blog more about KISS Grammar. How do you use it, what ages/grades, what results are you seeing, how to implement….?

  • Reply Amber October 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    My two older kids (9 and 13) have Kindles. We’ve decided in our family that they are something the child receives when they are reading fluently. It is so helpful to be able to send books to their Kindles and it makes the ebook bundles I’ve bought over the years so much more usable w/ the kids. They both have Paperwhites, because they like to read in bed and dealing with lights and siblings and bunkbeds just wasn’t working well. We were able to get them on sale which helped.

    I find Swiss Family Robinson a little unsettling, because there are so many different translations of it – and the translators have taken enormous liberties with the book. It seems nearly impossible to find the a version that is actually what Wyss wrote. And sometimes the abridged versions have things in them that the supposedly unabridged versions do not! We have a version from Audible that the kids have listened to over and over again. Personally, I got a little tired of the “we saw something new so we shot it” and the father’s overwhelming amount of natural history knowledge. But it is a fun book to have in our family’s culture.

    • Reply Kansas Mom October 24, 2015 at 8:08 am

      I also didn’t like Swiss Family Robinson. I read a Kindle version. Though I’m not a naturalist, I did study biology and the “science” of Swiss Family Robinson is completely inaccurate. It irritated me from beginning to end and I finally decided I’d just rather show the movie to my children. It’s also ridiculous but I have fond memories of it from my childhood.

  • Reply Arenda October 23, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Hmm, a topic I would love to see covered on AfterThoughts would be a big picture look at homeschooling planning. My son is four and I keep looking ahead wondering, when should we start Nature Study? Latin? Grammar? And while lots of blogs will cover their curriculum choices for the year, not many will fit that within the bigger picture.

    Thanks for the chance to win! 🙂

  • Reply Carla Fowler October 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    How deeply do you delve into the art and music study and how can we resources that are free instead of developed curriculum? What languages would CM say were valuable to learn. We are learning latin but I would like to either add or move on in high school. Should we continue latin and add another language or drop it off and add and when is the beat time to do that?

  • Reply Carla Fowler October 23, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Love the blogs from all of you! We do “circle” time and would love the book as a resource! Thanks for your wisdom and insight.

  • Reply Heather M October 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I’d love to see habit building in the Newbie Tuesday.

    • Reply Hayley November 5, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Heather,

      The second issue of Newbie Tuesday was all about Habit Training. You can find it here:


  • Reply Heather M October 23, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I’d love to see a post on how you build schole into your day. Or a post on how to function as mom and teacher and wife with low energy.

  • Reply Dinah October 23, 2015 at 10:02 am

    For newbie Tuesday, I’d love to read your thoughts about the cm way as a system to guide.

  • Reply Hannah L October 23, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I would like to see the topic of using Charlotte Mason with special needs children covered.

  • Reply Dinah October 23, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I’d like to see you write about habits in the early years.

  • Reply Laurie October 23, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Newbie Tuesday- exams, exams, and more exams. Questions and samples answers. What if you do not get the expected answers or the results you expected?

  • Reply Laurie October 23, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I would like to see a post (maybe a guest post) on using CM’s methods with children with learning issues. Specifically I have two with Dyscalculia and some other processing/ working memory issues.

  • Reply Rhebeka October 23, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Newbie Tuesday…..the nitty-gritty-get-it-done. Also, I’d love various examples of oral/written narrations at different ages.

  • Reply Rhebeka October 23, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Hmmm….a topic for you to cover on the blog? I’m interested in how you specifically adapted a progymnasmata program to be CM. I’m almost to that stage with my eldest. If you’ve already detailed somewhere, then I must have missed it. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Reply Katie October 23, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I’m always interested in nitty-gritty how-it’s-done type posts as well.

  • Reply Katie October 23, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I love your reading response posts. The older post you shared today is wonderful! I feel so far behind, though, what is a good way to start the development of this type of family culture?

  • Reply Stephanie October 23, 2015 at 8:28 am

    More on what all you are reading…especially during circle time.

  • Reply Bethany October 23, 2015 at 8:23 am

    I am new to your site, so my apologies if my suggestions have already been covered. I am interested in how to get started with copywork, and I am interested in heading over to the “Teaching Reading with Bob Books” site. 🙂

    • Reply Hayley November 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Hi Bethany,

      Welcome to Afterthoughts! If you search “copywork” on this site, you’ll find some great posts to encourage you and answer some specific questions you may have.

      Oh, you must sign up for the Teaching Reading with Bob Books posts! You’ll gather some great tips for teaching your child/ren to read and it’s so easy.

  • Reply Hayley Croft October 23, 2015 at 8:12 am

    A topic I would like to see covered I the newbie newsletter is how to begin notebooking. I have a 7th grader who has never done any notebooking and a 3rd grader who loves to write creatively, but doesn’t enjoy notebooking.

  • Reply Hayley Croft October 23, 2015 at 8:10 am

    A topic I would like to see covered on the blog is how you converted to a reformed theology.

  • Reply Amy (crossingthebrandywine) October 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Wow – I just bought my 13yo a Kindle – the $50 one. And I think I’m going to get one for each kid. I’m not sure I’ll do the $100 bundle though, I think it is too “young” for my older boys, and with the $18 2-year warranty plus a normal case I think my almost-6yo daughter will be fine. They’ll replace it three times.

    I read some reviews that made the Kindle sound slow and second rate. Perhaps being on a phone only for over a year has changed my definition of “fast” but I am very impressed with the Kindle and might get one for myself.

  • Reply Pam Asbury October 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Sweet giveaway! I love Pam’s show and what she (and the rest of you) have taught me.

    • Reply Pam Asbury October 23, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Sweet giveaway! I love Pam’s show and what she (and the rest of you) have taught me. I’d love to hear from you on how you use Circle Time with AO. We have years 6, 3, and 0 and we love our morning time, but even combining things like Memory Work, Shakespeare, composer study, poetry, Latin…I feel like we take up a lot of time, and we still have math, copy work, AO readings, instrument practice, etc. We’re wrapping up later in the day than I think we should, especially for the youngers.

  • Reply Christine October 23, 2015 at 7:50 am

    I never thought about a kindle for my kids, that’s a great idea.

  • Reply Sharon October 23, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Just curious Brandy, how much D3 do you take each day? And how did you decide on this amount? Also, do you take it all at once in the morning, or take it at different times of the day?

    I know you are not a doctor. I’m not asking for a prescription; I’m asking what you do and how you arrived at it.


    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 23, 2015 at 8:06 am

      I have purchased my winter D3, but I won’t be taking it regularly until it’s been a month that we can’t make D. After that — because this is such a powerful pill — I just take 1 per day. If I catch something — say when cold season really takes off in January — I might take two per day during that time. But taking it in advance usually keeps me from catching much.

      They do make smaller 1000 IU pills, I just prefer the efficiency of only have to take 1 pill per day.

      As an aside, my mother was recently telling me about her friend whose doctor was using D3 to treat a chronic pain problem. I didn’t get a lot of details, so I don’t know if they tested her for deficiency, or if this is just an assumption based on her pain issues. Anyhow, they started with something really high — 20,000 IU or something — but even then it was only for a few weeks, and then they lowered to 15,000 and then 10,000 until the amount she was taking was more like what a normal person would take.

      I’m not comfortable taking more than 5,000 per day without knowing that it is truly medically indicated — I would need a blood test or something. While I think that D3 is amazing, I also think the toxicity risks are real since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.

      Does that help? I feel like I’m rambling. 🙂

      • Reply Carla Fowler October 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

        I take D3, have been for a couple years. Have you read articles on taking K2 along with for the toxicity issue. If you do not get enough animal fats through diet?

      • Reply Sharon October 24, 2015 at 6:36 pm

        Thank you Brandy. I appreciate all of your ramblings.

  • Reply Rebecca October 23, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I pulled the trigger on the kindles this morning, so now I feel like I have Christmas nearly done. We went with the tablet package since I wanted some apps we use at school and we are replacing outgrown leappads. I think my favorite part of the deal is the two year unlimited warrantee.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 23, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Christmas nearly done!! I’m envious.

      But also: I’m getting there. It isn’t so bad as some past years, so that’s something. I would love to have most everything done by Thanksgiving so that all of Advent is focused on the more important things rather than frantic worrying and shopping and worrying about shopping. 🙂

      • Reply Rebecca October 23, 2015 at 9:49 am

        I probably just ‘feel’ like it is nearly done. I usually really struggle to find one thing I know the kids would love, but everything else comes more easily. Even though I haven’t actually made the other purchases yet, I know what I will be buying so I feel like the pressure is off, ya’ know? I have been buying and setting aside this year though, so I think it will be a more relaxed advent for me.

  • Reply Sumer October 23, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Thank you, Brandy, for the chance to win this great resource! I’ve been looking at it for a while.

  • Reply dawn October 23, 2015 at 6:00 am

    I already have Pam’s Morning Basket resources and they’re wonderful! I would encourage anyone to buy it if they don’t win it!

  • Reply judy kay October 23, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Curious, do you also have your kids taking VitD through the winter? We live in the south, so I’m pretty sure we still have teeny bit of time left. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel October 23, 2015 at 7:38 am

      You know, I usually don’t. If I *did* for some reason need to, I’d use a lower dose because I think 5000IU is a lot for a child. My reasoning — and of course I don’t know for sure that I’m right because I’ve never had them tested — is that they are outside so much that they really are able to store up enough for our short winters. I, on the other hand, spend a lot more time indoors, and so I’m much more likely to end up deficient. If we lived further north, I probably would because there is a shorter number of days per year to make it on…

      • Reply Heather M October 25, 2015 at 9:03 pm

        Bummer…I was going to ask about the kids too! I feel like my kids need it during the winter too. But they do spend a lot of time outside during the summer, but about this time we are all bundled up. I’ve given them the liquid drops like what you give nursing babies which is 400iUd, but was wondering if that was enough.

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