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    Seven Quick Takes on Mere Motherhood, Podcast Season, Ben Hur, and MORE!

    July 29, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Random nonposts from this past week!

    :: 1 ::

    mere_motherhood_circe_700I’ve been knee-deep in school planning, and I’ve got that accompanying overwhelmed feeling. This has made me extra thankful for Cindy’s book, Mere Motherhood. I read it all in a few days! I have to tell you: it was oh so refreshing. Summer is often hard for me because I watch everyone go on vacation, and I know we don’t get to go. This summer has been a bit much for me, and I started to feel, for the first time in a long while, like I really needed a vacation. Strangely enough, Cindy’s book was that kind of refreshing — it actually felt a little like I had gone on vacation.

    I know I already recommended it, but I’m recommending it again. It was that good.


    :: 2 ::

    I didn’t do a video on Facebook this week. Due to the aforementioned school planning, I was feeling a bit worn and I’ve been ruthlessly cutting left and right. However, comma, when I didn’t write last week, I did do a video.  The topic was Reading It for Yourself.


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2015:

    Voxer 2

    A year since I wrote this post, and I still love Voxer.


    :: 5 ::

    scholesisters_coverThis week I edited Episode 9 {aka the first episode of Season 2!} of the Scholé Sisters podcast. It is just about ready for my son, our podcast engineer extraordinaire, to put together. I was really happy with Season 1, but I must tell you that I think Season 2 is going to be even better. I’m so happy with all of the topics that are on the schedule. August 26 is the season premiere! Until then, you can go sign up for our monthly newsletter.


    :: 6 ::

    I’ve been planning AmblesideOnline Year 6 for the second time in my life. It’s different this time. They’ve made changes, for starters. But also, this is a much different child. Plus, I’m combining some students for some subjects {while my oldest has always worked alone}. In the midst of all of this, I have remembered how meaningful this year was the first time. You know what my favorite book was? Ben Hur. It’s an alternate title, and I’m so glad I made the choice. It’s wonderful. The best part is that I wondered at the time how this daughter, my so much less academic child, would ever read this book. She’s not only reading it … I’m confident assigning it for her to read alone!

    So maybe the other thing I could say {other than read Ben Hur — you won’t regret it} is that you will be amazed at how far your children come over the years. Even the reluctant ones.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question: How much do you discuss books with your oldest student? Do you do anything like “Center for Lit” style discussion?
      • Answer: First, I am not familiar with the Center for Lit style of discussion, so I don’t know how I compare! I mean, I know they have a Thing, but that is the extent of it. Our discussions really depend upon his interest level {or mine} and also available time. Unfortunately, with so many other {needy} students, the discussions do not happen as often as I would like. Generally, he initiates the conversations. He has questions, or something he wants to work out through discussion. Other times, something really struck me, and then my goal is to help the same thing strike him without actually telling him what I’m thinking. I can’t always pull this off, but generally I still, after all these years, resort to my two favorite questions. The first I got from Wendi Capehart, and it is, “Does this remind you of anything else?” The second I got from Andrew Kern and it is, “Should X have done Y?” {X being a character in the reading and Y being some action the character chose to do.} Those two questions have provided us hours of good talking around here! I will say this: it is always shocking to me how many of our good “school” conversations take place outside of school hours. I have learned to value letting things simmer. While the narrations take place directly {or as near as possible} following the readings, the discussions are often much later.


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  • Reply Angela August 2, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Your discussions are similar to the Center For Lit. They are just Socratic discussions with lots of options for questions to get them thinking. The goal is for them to not answer with the “right” answer, but to show that we are both engaging in a conversation to learn together. It’s not every book either, just some. So it fits in well with narration.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 4, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Ha. I felt like I passed a test when you said my discussion were similar to Center for Lit. 🙂

  • Reply Amanda R August 1, 2016 at 3:14 am

    OK, I guess I need to read/watch Ben Hur?! Just a few minutes before reading this post, I saw something about Ben Hur being remade. (Here is a link from IMDB with a trailer for the new movie: I haven’t watched it yet, because the baby’s still sleeping, so can’t vouch for it’s content.)

    Then, this morning, just before I went to comment, I turned on my Kindle Fire to hand off to my son, who woke up early in a bit of a panic that it is so dark out, the new Ben Hur was advertised on the loading screen. I’ve never given the movie a second thought, and had no idea there was a book until I read your post yesterday morning. Guess what’s I’ll be reading sometime this fall? 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendation, the incredible blog, and most of all for being someone who not only seems to “get me” (without even knowing me!) but who gives me the best advice on how to be me while fatigued and raising little ones. Love the blog!

  • Reply Alissa July 31, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I loved this post Brandy! When I first began Ambleside (thanks to your tutelage) year 6 was one of my firsts… 5 years later, and my third time through year 6, on a whim, I switched my youngest to BenHur- and WE LOVED it. Safeguarding my young adults from the sure to be botched hollywood re-make…

    P.s. Friends just came back from the Circe Conference with Mere Motherhood in their hands… can’t wait to read it!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      I have been wondering about that remake. When I saw a preview for the first time on FB I kept thinking that it didn’t sound quite right!

  • Reply Meghan July 31, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I totally agree about Voxer. It saved a life-long friendship that was dying and revolutionized my relationship with my mom.

    Also waiting with baited breath for my copy of Mere Motherhood to arrive!

  • Reply Christa July 29, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    The Vox article was interesting. I JUST finished reading Ready Player One (which is mentioned in this article and explores the future of virtual reality) this morning, so it was a bit creepy reading the article and feeling like I was still in the book. And this was the kick in the pants I needed to get Cindy’s book. Thank you!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 4, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      I had never heard of Ready Player One until now so you have my attention! Should I read it sometime?

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol July 29, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I really enjoy Voxer and I’m so glad I’ve found a few people to use it with. I’m so glad you mentioned it last year!

    I’m still waiting for my copy of Mere Motherhood to come. I accidentally forgot to order it the day it was announced (argh!) but I’m hoping it will be here soon.

  • Reply Glenna July 29, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Ben Hur was also a fave of our Year6 journey. My slow reader took it over about halfway through and I was thrilled! They really do rise to the occasion and grow beyond our expectations!

  • Reply SarahD July 29, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Mere Motherhood did that for me too. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and feel that I’m going into this school a lot less prepared than usual because of our big project that is still underway and will be until about a week before we plan to start our ambleside lists. It’s easy to panic or be discouraged about this. But I’ve had a forced “vacation” this week due to a cold that turned feverish and chesty. So I read Cindy’s book cover to cover and it helped me relax about the upcoming school year.

    I have to swap out a year 6 book too because my son already read the Hobbit and now I know just what to put in…Ben Hur. Thanks for sharing.

    I have to say that we too have many spontaneous discussions here too without any format or prompts and often outside schoolhouses. It’s happened naturally as our oldest has entered his teens. I like the two questions you use, though. I’ll have to borrow those.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 29, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Oh, Sarah. I’m sorry you have been sick! I hope you enjoy Ben Hur. I wasn’t sure about it when we started it but it ended up being SO lovely. 🙂

      • Reply Michele August 2, 2016 at 12:38 pm

        I can’t really seem to understand how voxxer is different from something like voice messaging through text. And I seems to delete conversations after a while. I wish I had know that, because I was pretty devastated 🙂

        • Reply Michele August 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm

          *it seems *known Ugh! 🙂

        • Reply Brandy Vencel August 4, 2016 at 7:53 pm

          I would say that the main reason Voxer is different from voice messaging is first the sound quality — way better, at least than from when I voice messaged in the past. But also, because I use an iPod rather than a smart phone, I can only text with people who have iMessage. Voxer allows me to keep in touch with people who have Android devices.

          I am sorry you lost your messages. People who have Pro have permanent access to all their messages, but those of us who don’t only keep messages for a month. For me, that works well because otherwise it would take up too much space on my iPod. 🙂

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