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    Seven Quick Takes on Free Starting School, Free Facebook Cover Photos, Argan Oil, and MORE!

    August 19, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    We made it through our first week of school! So far, so good. Monday was a bit iffy. I have one child who really relishes her summer freedom and kicks at the goads of school in general, so settling her in is always a bit complicated. I suppose she wishes to be an unschooler — she would love to focus on one or two things to the exclusion of all others!

    Our tradition is to do some sort of treat excursion on the first day of school. In trying to accommodate my gluten-free girl and my sugar-free boy, I found that a gas station {of all places} not far from our home has a selection of local, hand made paleo and THM snacks! I was so excited, but when we showed up, the refrigerator where they keep their stock had broken and it was all cleared out — there was nothing in the whole store that would work. I headed to Starbucks to try and wing a second-best, but by the time we arrived, one child had decided he no longer wanted anything, and it just all became kind of blah.

    But it wasn’t horrible. Usually, I think the second day of school is the one where things fall apart. This year seems to be an exception. Monday was a little rocky and the attitudes weren’t quite there, but the rest of the week has gone swimmingly. I think it helps that we had our CM group therapy session Shakespeare meeting on Tuesday night.


    :: 2 ::

    Did you grab my Charlotte Mason Facebook cover photos yet? I think they are totally fun, so I’m sharing. I was in the mood for something new for my personal page, and decided it was more exciting to make a selection and then hand them out to others. It’s like a little kick for your school year!

    FB Cover Photos


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2013:

    On Inconveniences in Homeschooling: Meltdowns and Other Messes

    I still maintain that meltdowns are part of the curriculum.


    :: 5 ::

    After reading a lot about it, I took the plunge and ordered some argan oil for my hairI knew it was great for straight hair, but I just wasn’t sure about my curls. After looking around, I found that a lot of women with curly hair were singing its praises as well, so I decided to see what it can do. I need to use it a number of times before really giving it a review because, if you know anything about curly hair, you know it isn’t very consistent. This time of year, when it is so hot, and the air quality is so bad, I find my hair needs a boost beyond my normal Deva Curl spray {which I highly recommend}.


    :: 6 ::

    Oh, people! Is it wrong that I really want to read aloud through the Narnia books again? It’s an interesting thing. Entering high school has done something to me. I’ve talked before about how, deep in the back of my mind, I think of this life as the long goodbye. I can’t get anything to stay in place — it all keeps moving along, and sometimes I feel like I don’t quite move with it — like I keep getting jerked back into catching up.

    High school has brought with it a new level of Book Pickiness, for lack of a better term. I only have four short years of reading aloud {to everyone all together} left, and I know that those years will hold far fewer hours than the previous fourteen. I find myself torn between wanting to read new finds and old favorites. Either way, I have no time for twaddle. Life, I find, is short — only the best books can make the cut.


    :: 7 ::

    Answering Your Questions:

    • Question:  I’d love to hear if you have an update on chore time. Would you be comfortable sharing what number your children actually have? Or you could share about how much time the children spend on work daily/weekly. I know every family is different, but sometimes it helps to get an idea of where others are at.
      • Answer: I am not continuing the ticket system during the school year. Instead, I have chore times built into the day, mainly as a way of giving certain children something to do while I am busy with another child. So, for example, my youngest does his chores while I teach math to the girls. Later, one girl does chores while I work with the other, and then they switch. This seems to make better use of our time than having everyone stop and do chores at once. I set aside half an hour for chores, but it rarely takes that long. I think everyone ended up with about five chores, yes. {I’m trying to think through this without looking at the Chore Board.} Of course, some on that list are pretty easy — like picking up the Eternal Shoe Pile and putting it away. I will say that chores at our house are separate from the Morning Routine — so making the bed doesn’t count as a chores. It’s something we consider part of daily hygiene along with brushing hair and teeth. I think, however, that bed making is the only thing that is more like a “chore” on the Morning Routine list.


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  • Reply Julia August 20, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I totally relate to the long good-bye. I have been experiencing a low-level depression for the last few years with it being kicked up a notch this summer. I finally figured out what my problem is; I am grieving. This is the grieving that doesn’t seem to end. For the last few years everytime I finished reading a book to my youngest or we finished a year, I would say to myself, “This is the last time I will ever do this.” And I would feel so sad.

    This coming year will be my oldest child’s last year at home with us as she will be finishing high school and is planning to go to school in New Zealand. This is the top of the slippery slope. Now, every two years I will say good bye to a child and watch them as they go out in the world. To borrow Cindy Rollins’ words, I am undone. This is the good-bye that just doesn’t seem to end. I don’t like it.

    • Reply Erika August 21, 2016 at 4:54 am

      It is a hard thing. I have a long way to go as mine are all littles, but I am close to my mom and have enjoyed our mother daughter relationship grow into friendship. She recently wrote a blog post on this from her perspective,

      From my perspective, I know it’s a hard thing for the mom, I don’t think it ever gets easier, but it can also be an exciting thing. I cherish my friendship with my mom, and I know she does as well (although, she has been known to tell me that my life makes her stomach hurt….). ; )

  • Reply Hayley August 19, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I love the idea to incorporate chores into our school schedule. You are so brilliant with such wonderful ideas! I want to be a bit cranky that you didn’t share this nugget sooner, but everything comes at just the right timing, so they say. 🙂 I sometimes have a child waiting and they have an option: to read from a harder free-read that they ordinarily may not choose on their own, pick up where they left off on their sewing (can be frustrating because they’re just starting and hello, I’m ready for you now), or colour in a picture that I have set aside for them at the beginning of the week. After all, it’s a known thing that colouring is supposed to be a form of stress release, or something like that. Thanks friend!

  • Reply Amanda August 19, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    “I think of this life as the long goodbye. I can’t get anything to stay in place — it all keeps moving along, and sometimes I feel like I don’t quite move with it — like I keep getting jerked back into catching up.”

    Oh, my friend… I am SO with you on this. *sigh* Sometimes I feel like *I’m* still a sophomore in high school; how can a baby I gave birth to possibly be one already?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 20, 2016 at 7:40 am

      I think some of us have better mental clocks than others. 🙂 I envy you that you have a second batch and get to do it all over again, Amanda!

  • Reply Kelly August 19, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Definitely reread Narnia! You want to be sure all your children have memories of it being read while they were all still home together.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 20, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Thank you, Kelly. That is a really good point. ♥

  • Reply Laurie August 19, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    When do you use the Deva Curl spray? You turned me onto Curly Girl Handbook and Deva Curl products. I use their shampoo (no-poo) and conditioner. Do you use the spray on days you don’t wash your hair? Or on days you wash but after it is dry?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 20, 2016 at 7:42 am

      My friend who recommended the spray to me puts it on her hair when it is wet, and then also uses it to refresh on other days. I tried that, and it didn’t work as well for me when I applied it wet. But using it when it is dry is great. I use it immediately after it is dry {or in the morning if I let it dry overnight}, just spraying some on my fingers and applying it like lotion to where it is already looking frizzy. Then I add more on future days, too. 🙂 My friend said I would love it and she was totally right! 🙂

  • Reply Tricia Westling August 19, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for posting that NYT piece about over-sharing about our children. I don’t have a blog or write nationally published articles, but I do post on Facebook. Numerous times I have started a post, and deleted it after considering it from my child’s point of view. Nowadays when I take a photo they might consider embarrassing, I tell them RIGHT THEN that it will NOT be posted. And I keep my promise. More than a few times a friend has posted pictures I considered humiliating to their children, and I cringed for the child without knowing whether or how to intervene graciously. I have sent a “TMI” comment a few times to a relative who over-shared. We all have to look after each other, right?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 20, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Yes! I think it was telling that the author had an awakening after her father said something — we need to hear from others, don’t we? 🙂

  • Reply Dawn Duran August 19, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    One can never read Narnia aloud too much. At least, that is my contention. However, I do understand the desire to read old faves and new finds as well. Best of luck making the decision!
    And – It may be dishonest of me to make that first statement. Our family lives and breathes Narnia but it is mainly through the Focus on the Family audiobooks vs me reading it aloud.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 20, 2016 at 7:45 am

      I have never done the audio books, but that might be fun on a trip sometime! Good idea. 🙂

      • Reply Erika August 21, 2016 at 4:43 am

        If they are the ones my family had, I believe they are audio dramas, but done quite faithfully to the text. Awesome!!! I don’t know how many times we listened to those over the years.

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