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    Seven Quick Takes on Seeding my Lawn, Cleaning my Counters, Eating Liver, and MORE!

    March 11, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    Our back lawn has been a disaster for a couple years now. During the time we had a construction project going out there {a future mother-in-law unit}, the crew accidentally crushed or broke a couple sprinkler pipes. It took a long time to diagnose and repair the issues, and even if it hadn’t taken very long, they were throwing trash out next to the unit {not that I’m complaining — construction is what it is} and I probably wouldn’t have wanted to soak it anyhow. I was able to keep alive a couple large strips that I could reach with a sprinkler attached to a hose, but for the most part, the pasture died and the goats I had at the time survived off whatever was growing wild plus piles of hay.

    Once the apartment was done, it was summer, and too hot to do anything about the situation. Once it was cool enough, we were on drought water restrictions. Our allotment was not sufficient for any sort of lawn repair — sod, seed, nothing.

    Fast forward to last Friday. We knew there was supposed to be a lot of rain this week, but it arrived earlier than expected. Friday afternoon, after recording a Scholé Sisters episode with Pam and Ravi Jain {oh yes — you will love this one!}, I ran out to buy some topper and a new seeder {Sophie the desert tortoise had had her way with the old one and it was unusable}. E-Age-Thirteen stayed home and prepped the yard while I was out. I grabbed a few pizzas on my way home, and by late afternoon, I was at work seeding the lawn. By early evening, my kids and the neighbor kids were helping me put on the topper and lo and behold! Right before sundown the lawn was seeded and {mostly} topped and ready to go. It rained enough on and off from Friday to Wednesday that I only had to run sprinklers a couple times, and for only a short while. I am so excited to maybe, God willing, have something like a lawn again!

    My seed, in case you are interested, was actually a pasture mix of bermuda and clover. Lots of clover. This way we can still graze the rabbits and, honestly, clover takes about a third of the water as grass to maintain, so my hope is that a clover lawn might be my drought solution.


    :: 2 ::

    Christa introduced me to ecloths and I am already in love. I have a couple children who are sensitive to cleaning chemicals, but I hate paying for the more natural stuff. I do it, of course, but I dislike it very much. Anyhow, I took the plunge and went all in on Amazon by buying an 8-pack that had clothes for range, kitchen, bathroom, glass, all sorts of things.

    Oh. my. word.

    These are pure awesomeness!

    You clean with hot water and the cloth. That’s it. The microfiber technology does the rest. No more searching for spray bottles, dealing with chemicals, or other excuses. I practiced on my bathrooms this weekend and it came out amazingly — my tile hasn’t looked this great in a loooooong while.

    Here’s a boring but explanatory video if you are interested in how they work:


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2011:

    Strength for Today Bright Hope for Tomorrow

    A bit of encouragement for when it feels like we’ve messed up…


    :: 5 ::

    Someone asked me about getting kids to eat liver. Um, yes. One does. But sometimes, one doesn’t. Or good quality liver is hard to come by. In which case, I really do like Perfect Dessicated Liver.

    High Quality + Good Price = Happy Mommy.

    You know: #thingsilove


    :: 6 ::

    Oops — I almost forgot! The fourth episode of Scholé Sisters is out today: We Dare You to Read the Classics:

    You can do it. You can read classics and not be afraid. 🙂


    :: 7 ::


    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: I wanted to ask you about math. One of the the reasons I thought I could do MEP (after thinking it was just an all around great program) was that Brandy was doing it. 🙂 My oldest is in Year 2 although I suspect that there are several places where he’ll cruise along quite quickly. However, I’m not doing a very good job at teaching right now. We’ve only just begun about 2 weeks ago. I’m not sure if I should drop it for a less “teacher intensive” curriculum or if I’m just not doing it well. I’m asking you though because you’ve juggled multiple children. The Lesson Plans often seem a bit hard for me to follow on the fly. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe this isn’t a fit for us right now. Maybe there is something else I can do with them for the next 6 months…. Would you mind sharing your thoughts and experience?
      • Answer: Well, I don’t know how helpful I’m going to be, but I’ll give it a shot. 🙂 Probably the most important thing I could say is that for me the big appeal of MEP was that it was teacher intensive — I recognized that my girls needed a lot of direct teaching, and I didn’t really know how to teach math, so MEP’s scripted lessons were a good solution. My oldest didn’t need as much direct teaching. My youngest probably doesn’t, but he’s doing MEP because everyone else is. With that said, I’m not juggling all that many grades. Not really. My girls are combined, and E-Age-Thirteen is super independent in math. So I’m really only juggling two {the girls and my youngest}. I say this because I think that juggling more than two might be hard, although Jeanne assures me that MEP is designed to be more independent in about Year Five {my girls aren’t there yet}. I have all the worksheets printed out and waiting in a binder. I’ve also printed out all the shape and number cards and such, and those are in plastic baseball card pockets in the same binder. Dawn taught me to put the lessons {the scripts for me to use} on my Kindle instead of printing them, and this has saved me tons of ink. Hallelujah. So all I do is follow the script, except on the rare occasion when I don’t understand it. Then I {gasp!!} skip it. We sit at the kitchen table, and I teach one grade at a time — youngest first, followed by the girls. It did take me a bit of time to get used to the feel of the lessons, so perhaps you just need more time to get your rhythm? I’m sorry I’m not more helpful. This answer feels sort of lame to me!


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  • Reply Andrea March 13, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    HA! I just purchased the cloths too and am LOVING them! So far so good!

  • Reply Rebekah March 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    How many liver capsules do your kids take? I have purchased frozen raw grass-fed liver from Azure Standard, cut it into pill-sized chunks which I keep in the freezer, and taken them myself in the past (need to get back into that), but my kids won’t have any of that. 🙂

  • Reply Heather March 12, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I saw the article about AL’s Supreme Court earlier this week, but from all other accounts that I could find on the web, they did not officially reject the federal ruling. Instead it sounds like they gave a seven word acceptance, ending the standoff between state and federal law for the probate officers, and then wrote at length how theoretically dissatisfied they were with the federal stance.

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol March 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I am really intrigued by the cleaning cloths! I have some cheaper ones that I used to like a lot, but they lost their efficacy very quickly. Hmm… I’ll have to think about that one.

    And I’m embarrassed to admit that I am mostly winging it with MEP and using it *gasp* without the teacher’s guide. It is not an ideal situation, but we’re doing pretty well with it actually. It probably helps that I like math, and I’ve been using MEP long enough that I at least kind of get where they are coming from. But I’m really hoping to figure out a better solution next year w/ my Y2 and Y4 boys. (One who is about a 1/3 of the way into Y2 with MEP, and the other who is almost done with Y3 – yes, we are a behind, but I try not to worry about that part)

  • Reply Amanda March 11, 2016 at 10:28 am

    My kids loooooooove liver. We get ours when we purchase our grass fed, organic cow every year or so. I detest it, but my husband grew up eating it as his family was from the Netherlands and well, apparently they eat a lot of liver over there? I don’t know. Either way, the smell alone makes me want to die, but I am so glad that the kids like it because it is soooo good for them (not me, just them, right?)

  • Reply Toni March 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

    To piggy-back off of the MEP question, about how much time do you spend on each lesson? I feel like our Year 1 (K) lessons should take 15-20 minutes – in the interest of my own time as well as CM recommendations (yes, I know she wouldn’t have started formal education until 1st grade…), but in reality they last 30-40 minutes. I have all of the material ready to go, similar to your own set-up, but I usually don’t look ahead, but rather do the lessons on the fly. There seems to be enough variety built into the lessons to keep my daughter’s interest for the duration of the lesson. Any thoughts?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 11, 2016 at 8:35 am

      My youngest is finishing up Y1, and I feel like some of the lessons are too long, so I make one of two choices — I skip something I know for sure he doesn’t need, OR I just stop and come back to it the next day. It’s a messier process to try and keep the lessons down to 20 minutes and so be finishing up one and starting another some days, but it’s worked for me.

      I do agree on the variety — that’s one thing I’ve really appreciated about MEP, that they built in the variety we’re looking for!

  • Reply Julie Zilkie March 11, 2016 at 6:47 am

    We are on Year 2 in MEP and I am finding my groove. However, I have been surprised that they have not taught 2 digit addition by “carrying” yet. It has all been mostly mental so far. Does this change as you go further on? Will they learn to carry and borrow eventually?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 11, 2016 at 8:40 am

      You know, I don’t actually remember because we’ve been working on division so much lately BUT I will tell you that I just went ahead and introduced it, right when we really got into double-digit addition and subtraction. I have one child for whom the stacking makes *so* much more sense than the linear, and she didn’t really get how the tens/ones digits worked until we did the stacking. So my opinion is that we can just add that. For me, it wasn’t adding more because I just had us do the problems that way sometimes.

    • Reply Claire March 11, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Yes they do teach those things in time. I think it’s really great that they don’t just start with the algorithm but make sure the kids have plenty of opportunity to actually work with the numbers first. It really is true that people can learn the algorithm without understanding what they’re doing (I didn’t really believe this for a long time, until I heard a conversation in which someone who was totally capable of adding in columns using carrying *couldn’t* grasp that this was a form of the Singapore Math concept of ‘grouping’). So getting a real feel for place value and how to add and subtract before working with standard columns seems like a good idea to me.

  • Reply Kansas Mom March 11, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I use microfiber for almost everything and it really does make my kitchen cabinets look cleaner than they ever have since we moved in here. After reading the articles and watching the videos, though, I still don’t trust them with real germs – raw meat and such. There we stick to the cleaners (which I make). Still, my kitchen looks great and I buy a lot less soap.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Isn’t it amazing! I know what you mean about the raw meat — I haven’t done a switch there yet, either. I say yet because I’m planning to turn it into a science experiment and we’re going to use our microscope and a couple other tests and see if we can figure out if it really does the job. 🙂

      • Reply Kansas Mom March 11, 2016 at 9:42 am

        Wow – that’s brave! If you really want to test, you’d want to pour petri plates and try to grow some microorganisms. Be very careful, though. Seal those plates and throw them away without ever opening them! You’d need a hood to guarantee safety and I’m betting you don’t have one. (They get a lot more concentrates when you grow them in colonies.)

        I’m resisting the urge to give you a thousand instructions on how to do it. I guess I miss designing experiments.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 11, 2016 at 9:45 am

          Brave…or stupid? 🙂

          I wish you were here and I’d totally let you boss me around!

          • Kansas Mom March 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

            I’d love to do that experiment myself! Actually, I really want a lab to do that experiment because either everyone really needs to know it works or everyone needs to know it doesn’t work.

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