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    Seven Quick Takes on FitBit Replacement Bands, Podcast on Love and Learning, Preventing Burnout, and MORE!

    February 12, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    I had to buy a new band for my FitBit Flex this week. Mine started to crack around part of the area where I insert the actual tracker, and I was afraid I was going to lose it. I considered buying a replacement from the company, but they’re pricey. $14 each? Or $30 for a three-pack? That’s more than I want to pay. So, I found a knock-off on Amazon that I’m going to try. We’ll see how it goes — it is possible, of course, that I won’t like it as much as the original, or that it won’t last as long {I got about 14 months out of the first band, and that was with constant daily wear}. I’ll have to report back after we see how it lasts. But still. Five bucks as an Add-On seemed like a way better deal, plus is has a watch-type clasp instead of the buttons. It is definitely worth a try.

    I wanted to buy a bunch of fun colors, but again I was too cheap. I seriously considered the neon green one. But then Daughter A. told me that this would best blend in with my normal attire. So…slate blue it is.


    :: 2 ::

    In other news, Operation Influenza Recovery has been underway this week. My house is still dirty, but the laundry is mostly caught up, dinners were {mostly} regularly prepared, and I’ve also worked back up to my 10,000 step per day goal. So that’s something.


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    • Lost sunken ship reappears 80 years later off Coronado from CW6.
      • Interesting bit of California history.
    • Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children from The New York Times.
      • The official advice, which has been consistently been in publication since I became a mother, but since how long before that I do not know, is no screens before age 2. We actually did that with all of our children, but we are the only ones I know who did. Maybe some of you? You’ll have to tell me in the comments. One thing I’ve never understand is why, if the American Academy of Pediatrics says this, every pediatrician’s office has screens plastered all over the place.
    • Naming Our Children A Thousand Times from Story Warren.
      • This was beautifully put.


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2015:

    Preventing Homeschool Burnout: Get Some Sleep

    I did a four-part series on preventing burnout. Because February. This was the first post in that series.


    :: 5 ::

    We’ve put out another new podcast episode today!

    It’s all about the connection between love and learning — a totally fun conversation to have, for sure. ♥


    :: 6 ::

    One evening this week, I read through Chapter 22 of Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason. Parents and Children is, I believe, one of the lesser-read of Miss Mason’s volumes, and that is really unfortunate because not only is it quite good, but the chapters are more stand-alone, meaning that you can read one and walk away for a month and then start right back up where you started and not be a bit limited by the fact.

    The chapter is titled A Catechism of Educational Theory and it’s longer than some of the other chapters. Like all catechisms, it follows a question-and-answer format. Turns out, this chapter is a very good summary of most of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. I highly recommend it!


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: Is the group rate for Start Here still available?
      • Answer: Yes! Mom groups are my passion, and so there is always a discount available for groups of 10 or more participants. Just use my contact for and we’ll work out the details from there.


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  • Reply Catie February 12, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    We’re going through Parents and Children in our CM mom’s group. Or shall I say, our Schole group!? 😉 I’ll have to look and see how soon we’ll be reading the chapter you mentioned. We’re only on Chapters 8-10 right now but I’ve only read Ch 8 so far.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Are you? I love, love, love it! There is one chapter in it that was weird to me — I can’t remember which it was now. I just remember that after reading it, we all met and asked each other why it had been included in the book! 🙂

  • Reply Celeste February 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Well, you may already know our screen time rules–no screens for any of the kids. Vincent and Gianna started typing lessons this year, and that was their first time on the computer. 😉 My husband has started showing them a horse race every now and then (one of his favorite hobbies), and so they’re watching maybe 10 minutes a week now with him on Sundays. I’m feeling okay with that. 🙂

    I haven’t found it to be a challenge to maintain our rule here at home since my kids don’t know any different. And our families know we don’t do screens and have them off while we’re visiting, which I totally appreciate. I think they actually like the fact that instead of the kids parking in front of the TV, they get out the board games, play outside, or, you know, talk to people. 🙂

    What I can’t understand is the screens everywhere, all the time, wherever I go. It used to just be in the electronics section of the department store. Now it’s the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the library (yep, by the checkout lines!), and the GAS STATION. I mean, really? Is that necessary? I know not everyone is as keen to avoiding screen time as we are, and that is totally fine. My husband and I weren’t screen free and we turned out just fine. 🙂 But I wish our culture didn’t think we needed to be occupied and entertained every single second of every day. (Our study group has talked a lot about this in terms of “Children are Born Persons.” ;))

    I loved last week’s podcast and can’t wait to listen to this one!

    • Reply Catie February 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      “…or, you know, talk to people. :)” That is one of the MAJOR things that bugs me about today’s culture–no one knows how to actually TALK TO REAL LIVE PEOPLE. I’m so going to do everything I can to teach my children to look at people when you’re talking to them and engage them. Although, now that I think about it, maybe I won’t need to teach it so much as *do it* myself. Which I totally do. Because I love people!

      But it’s so frustrating to me when we go out to eat or to the store or whatever and the cashiers/waitstaff/etc hardly even look at you, let alone say more than one or two words. I don’t need to BFFs with everyone, but like you said, Celeste, we are all PERSONS and a little eye contact never hurt anyone. ;o) I think our screen-infested society is partly to blame.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Yes! The screens everywhere! Looks like Brave New World has won the day. 🙁

      I had an inkling of how you dealt with screens, Celeste, but I wasn’t 100% sure of the details, so it was nice to have you spell it out. And I was curious about it working in a larger family. For us, the biggest challenge was the youngest child — because the oldest was, by that time, having *some* exposure. We had to keep reminding people that he was still little and, as such, screen-free.

  • Reply Lori February 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    We had much less screen time for our oldest children vs. our last 2. And by screen time, I mean TV. Computers were not part of the equation when we started our family, lol. ( Our children are 28, 27, 22, 21, 17, and 11.) We did not get a computer until the oldest was 8 (floppy disc.) The oldest 2 were allowed to play a few games on the weekend, but limited. Selection was also limited, so that really made it easier. They mostly remember me being pregnant ;0) and reading lots to them. When I was too sick to do anything else, I read, they did crafts. Fast-forward to my last 2…the age of technology has exploded and even though screen time is still limited, learning for these 2 has just changed. My 17yo goes part time to a public school where he is learning welding and has to do certain tasks (like OSHA) on the computer. My 11yo can master the computer, the Nook, my phone, better than I can. The learning curve for it all is way too steep for my husband and I, and we are fine with that. So, we still limit screen time, but just in a different way than we did with our older ones. We still do lots of handicrafts, outdoor time, etc., to keep them in check with real life. What I seem to battle most is the stronger call electronics has on their lives than it did on their older siblings, i.e. their friends all have their own phones (ours still don’t get one until they are driving at age 17) and, it seems, friends having much greater latitude with device use. Maybe it’s because my hubby and I are way older than our youngest child’s parents, lol.

    • Reply Lori February 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Sorry, I meant “youngest child’s FRIENDS parents”, haha.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      It’s the friends that have been a big issue for our oldest, as well. Our younger children are young enough that their friends do not have devices — it helps that their parents are pretty like-minded when it comes to screens. But our oldest has really struggled, not because he wants a device, but because the kids won’t talk to him or each other in social settings and he finds them sort of boring. When he mentions kids he really likes, he almost always makes note of the fact that they are interested in something beyond a screen — he really appreciates that about them. It seems like screens have created a lonely world. 🙁

  • Reply Amy February 12, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    My older child hasn’t had screen time until recently, now that he’s over two. After reading an article on the Atlantic about ‘why parents shouldn’t feel technology shame’, we’re trying to adopt a ‘technology mentor’ mindset, so screen time is something we do together. We usually cap it at ten minutes a day max, and usually not every day. Either my husband or I will sit with him and talk with him about what we are watching.

    We try to find little ‘real life’ videos to watch on the computer – a fox in the wild, tractors harvesting vegetables, etc., which are more slowly-paced than children’s shows. He seems to have a penchant for mole videos lately. It’s hard to find good mole videos – they are all underground and dark!

  • Reply Mariel February 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    That essay from Story Warren was wonderful. Thank you for sharing it. And I’m glad you’re feeling better! 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 16, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks, Mariel! It’s nice to BE better. 🙂

  • Reply Virginia Lee February 12, 2016 at 10:04 am

    We did screen free with all but one child. Some of them much longer than 2 years. The more kiddos you have the easier this gets because they all have each other to play with. Plus not having a TV! We do still have a computer which we watch movies on with older children. Or my husband and I watch a few BBC mini series now and then. It’s not just pediatrician’s offices either. I do believe we have one of the only dentists left without screens above their chairs. Our dentist and dental hygienist plays a mixture of oldies, classic rock, classical, and folksongs. It’s fun! We play name that song in-between times when our mouth is free. Oh, and vans. Tons of them have screens now too. We were at a stoplight the other day and my kids were amazed that the van next to us had a TV.

    Glad y’all are germ free now! I always want to open the doors and windows and just shake out the entire house after sickness epidemics. Instead we all scrub and clean. Lots of work when you’re still tired from being sick, but worth it.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 12, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Yes. The cleaning starts after lessons today. I can’t tell you how excited my crew is about that. 😉

      Yes! The vans! My children have noticed that, too. They think it must be liking riding an airplane everywhere. 🙂

  • Reply Melanie February 12, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Re: screen time…the goal was 2 years but we only made it to 18 months screen free with my first (then entered first trimester of pregnancy, and I started letting him watch a little in the mornings just so I could survive!) but we did make it to 2 with my youngest (by giving my older his TV time during his brother’s morning nap, and when he dropped it they had a nice TV-free stretch for a few months). So you are not alone :).

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 12, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Yay! Thanks for being my screen-free buddy. 😉

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