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    December 16, 2016 by Brandy Vencel


    :: 1 ::

    We had a couple new additions to the microhomestead this past week. This summer, both girls lost their rabbits. Daughter A.’s was injured by our dog when she escaped from her cage. She lived quite a while afterward, but never really recovered. Daughter Q.’s rabbit, on the other hand, being on the older side, just didn’t handle the heat very well, unlike the previous summers. They were devastated and have been asking for rabbits all. the. time. ever since. “I need something to take care of,” says A-Age-Eleven.

    Well, I’ve learned to be cautious about where (or from whom!) we purchase rabbits. One year we got a beautiful rabbit from a breeder who never interacted with her rabbits and the result was that we later sold said rabbit because she was scary. I was afraid to put my hand in the cage because of her biting!

    We have a breeder we love, and she finally had babies ready this week. On Monday, we went and picked them up. They have the best temperaments and were definitely worth the wait.

    Meet Autumn and Van Gogh:


    You can probably tell by looking at him where Van Gogh got his name — he’s got just a little nub of an ear. He’s so cute and just about the friendliest rabbit we’ve ever had.


    :: 2 ::

    pints-with-aquinasI discovered a new podcast recently and I am loving it so far. It’s called Pints with Aquinas. Many of you know that I fell in love with Aquinas’ Summa Theologica a number of years ago when I was trying to comprehend the fullness of a certain fresco in Florence, Italy. Anyhow, this podcast is super handy. If you aren’t familiar with Summa Theologica, it’s important to note that the format is something along the lines of:

    • Ask a question
    • List the best objections to an affirmative answer
    • Explain why all those objections are incorrect
    • Mike drop

    Or something.

    This podcast is set up to go through one question — with all the objections and counters — at a time. It’s very Catholic, of course. Even though Aquinas preceded the Reformation, Protestants have hesitated to embrace him. Personally, I think this is a mistake. I mean, yes, there are some differences in doctrine. But I found those differences to be far less than I expected, while the similarities were everywhere. Aquinas was one of the clearest — if not the clearest — thinkers in history. This is an easy way to get a taste of him.


    :: 3 ::

    I’ve perfected my sugar-free mocha recipe even more! I wanted a way to round out the flavor without adding extra sweetener or more chocolate syrup. It dawned on me that salt is always a good way to round out something sweet. It worked well. So, here is my revised list of ingredients:


    :: 4 ::

    tdn-products-1Congratulations to Jennifer Stephens, winner of the Third Day Naturals giveaway! I’m so happy for you! I think you all know that I adore Third Day Naturals. The products are perfect for all the sensitive skin we have around here — plus I prefer to put food-based products on my skin since I know skin tends to absorb what’s put on it. Anyhow, if you are still looking for a great gift, or even stocking stuffers, make sure you use my code AT20 which will give you 20% off anything in the TDN store!


    :: 5 ::

    This month in 2013:


    I had been wary of a book on Charlotte Mason notebooking, and I couldn’t have been more wrong!


    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 7 ::

    Answering your questions:

    • Question: I’ve been homeschooling “since the beginning” … now my oldest is in ninth grade and I’m lost. 🙁 I gave into the pressure for an open-and-go curriculum and bought Sonlight History of the Christian church … it’s overwhelming! I’m trying to mix CM with it and it’s quite difficult. Do you have any suggestions? I can’t return the curriculum because all the books have been labeled. 🙁
      • Answer: First off: I’m sorry! That’s hard! And I completely understand wanting to salvage it all since you’ve already used your budget! I can think of three possible options for you, but maybe the Afterthinkers around here will also share some ideas in the comments? I hope so!
        1. Sell it used and use the money you get to buy the curriculum you really want. It’s possible you could also do this in part, which will make more sense when we get to the other options. I’m not familiar with how Sonlight works, but I checked out what I think is the package you’re referring to, and many of the books would be worth keeping.
        2. Use Charlotte Mason’s methods with what you have. This might mean paring the curriculum down. But this is mainly history and literature, right? So you could schedule in the best books and do readings followed by narration (written or oral), and then schedule the other subjects (math, sciences, etc.) around your history. The videos in my posts Creating Simple Matrices and Blank Templates and Creating Weekly Schedules for the Entire Year might help you think through how to do this.
        3. Spread this out into something like AmblesideOnline. Many of these books are used in AO and so if you are willing to spend more money to round out the year, you really could use most of these books in other places over the next four years. I’d say about half of the books at least could be used this way. If you have younger children, you could use some of the books in lower years as well. This would leave you with some leftovers that you could either sell, or keep for free reading options. Here are some examples:

          I didn’t go through every single book, but do you see what I mean? There is a lot of overlap between what you own and what a “real” Charlotte Mason curriculum might use. I don’t have time in this space to get more detailed than this, but I really think that you don’t have too bad of a collection if you want to just change how you schedule and implement. The important thing to note is that it will all work out okay in the end. Truly. Why? Because a lot of these books are really, truly good books.

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  • Reply Erika December 29, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for the podcast recommendation. I’ve just subscribed to it as it sounds like a great way to get an introduction until I’m at a place in life where I can start reading more/deeper.

  • Reply Hollie December 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I never knew all the care and work that went into running a rabbitry until my 13 year old became rabbit breeder. She puts tons of time and work into it. There are a lot of bad rabbit breeders out there though. Glad you found a good one. Your new bunnies are so cute!

  • Reply Raquel December 18, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I love Matt Fradd’s podcast, and as a convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism, I appreciate that you introduced it on your blog, Brandy. I have had to unsubscribe to certain (homeschooling/Christian) blogs/podcasts because the hosts were so dismissive of anything even remotely Catholic 🙁 I love the Schole Sisters podcast and how you, Mystie, and Pam work together despite differences in doctrine. We are all just trying to grow in our faith and wisdom and love of the Lord. St. Thomas Aquinas, ora pro nobis!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 18, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Oh, thank you Raquel! You know, I think it is easy to be dismissive of the things we have never taken the time to understand. And I agree: we are all attempting to grow in faith and wisdom. ♥

  • Reply Steph December 16, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Which translation of Summa would you recommend? Thank you

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 16, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      This one was recommended to me by a Catholic who teaches the Summa — it’s a free Kindle version of all things! I have tried to find it in a hard copy, but I think it was too expensive? I’m trying to remember why I didn’t buy it. Anyhow, it’s the only one I’ve used and I definitely love it. This link only goes to one part, but I believe all the parts are out there if you search Amazon.

  • Reply Catherine @ A Spirited Mind December 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Brandy, you mentioned magnesium supplements for intense/gifted kids. How do you recommend doing that? Do you just do Epsom salt baths?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 16, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Personally, I like Jigsaw brand because it contains some of the cofactors and it’s also slow release, but kids have to be able to swallow them, of course, so when they are little things like the baths are much easier to do. And in those cases I also add the Mag Phos cell salt to help because they can just dissolve a dose in a clean mouth under the tongue.

      There is a group on Facebook called the Magnesium Advocacy Group that has a whole approach to correcting magnesium deficiency and I’ve learned a lot from them — there were some cofactors I wasn’t aware of, and some things to watch for (magnesium can deplete sodium!) that I didn’t know. If you are on FB it might be worth following them. They even have a list of magnesium forms they recommed based on symptoms (i.e., take this form if you have neurological problems, this other form if you have cardiac issues, etc.). It’s super helpful.

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