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    Other Thoughts

    Thoughtworthy (Anniversary GEAR, Different History Perspectives AGAIN, and MORE!)

    January 12, 2018 by Brandy Vencel


    :: 1 ::

    Afterthoughts is a dozen years old!

    The anniversary gear is now available for pre-sale!! I am so excited about this. I plan to do a video about it later today, but suffice it to say that for a very limited time (two weeks), I have 3/4 sleeve raglan shirts and canvas field bags available in the shop. I wanted to do something special for the 12th anniversary of the blog, and my crafty cousin (owner of Bent Rail Design) is helping me out.

    We’re doing this as pre-order and then she will make everything and we’ll ship is out ASAP. She already made a few just for ME, including my favorite, a Latin is my Love Language field bag!


    Click here to pre-order YOURS today!


    :: 2 ::

    We’re reading many books this year for Year Ten history, but three that dovetail nicely are Arguing About Slavery, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass’ Slave Narrative. There is so much I could say about this reading, but I’ll stick to one idea today: it is so valuable to read more than one book on a subject. In high school, I read Frederick Douglass and that was my education concerning the Civil War. In California, it’s hardly touched on. I don’t think I even realized what a Big Deal it was until I was an adult.

    When I was choosing books for my son, Arguing About Slavery was nonnegotiable — it’s primary sources after all. I really wanted to read Booker T. Washington because I had heard so much about him growing up (I attended an inner city elementary school where I was a minority with my blonde hair and green eyes), but I’d never read anything by him. But I ended up with extra room in the schedule and so I threw in Frederick Douglass as well. (Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a free read, so he hasn’t gotten to it yet.)

    Here’s the deal: Booker T. Washington did not experience slavery the way that Frederick Douglass did. I don’t know if that is because freedom came to Washington while he was still young, or just the nature of where he was (geographically speaking) versus where Douglass was. I don’t know why. But the point is that if you just read Washington, slavery doesn’t sound nearly so bad. Of course, Washington’s book is more about recovery from slavery than slavery itself, so the two don’t compare anyhow.

    This is the point. My son keeps commenting on how bad slavery is in Douglass versus what it sounded like in Washington. I realize now that it was almost accidental that I included them both, but in retrospect I see how important this was. Providence was gracious to me in my planning, I suppose.

    When I say something like “read more than one book” it can sound like too much — like we’re weighing down the curriculum. In this case, both books are quite short, so that’s not happening. But either way, I do think it’s worth consideration, even if the second book is in the free reading pile instead of the curriculum proper.

    My education consisted of stereotypes. North: good, South: bad, Lincoln: the best, everybody else: incidental. Arguing About Slavery alone helps a person see that the North was not holy and innocent and John Quincy Adams mattered oh so much. It’s a great step and if it’s all we do, it’s better than what most of us received. But I think if we’re going to add biographies and autobiographies, we need to add both Douglass and Washington. Because one without the other is only half a picture.

    That’s my opinion, anyhow.


    :: 3 ::

    This month in 2015:

    I started 2015 off by personality typing my childrenThis is still one of the best things I’ve ever done. Really gave me new perspective on my mothering and continues to help me connect with my kids.


    :: 4 ::

    This week’s links collection:


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  • Reply KChem January 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    What are the dimensions of the field bags? Are the straps adjustable? Thanks.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 17, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Dimensions are 12″W x 16″H x 3.5″D. And yep, the strap adjusts. I wear mine cross-body. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Reply Carissa January 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Your round up of links is always so good. Really though, to the point that they’re my husband’s and my talking points over weekend coffee (he brings his and I bring mine). I had meant to read that minimalist article before and was glad for the reminder – I’m still simultaneously amused and grateful someone said something about that trend.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 16, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      Okay, this talking-point-over-coffee thing sounds like so much fun! ♥ I’m honored to be a part of it. 🙂

  • Reply JoyH January 13, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation of ‘Arguing About Slavery.’ That looks like a good read. I have one for you on that subject, Mark Noll’s ‘Civil War As A Theological Crisis.’ Both my dh and I found in an interesting read as Mr. Noll compared what different preachers and theologians of many denominations and beliefs in the North and the South had to say about slavery and the war. It adds another layer to understanding the thinking of the time period, and as Christians, is very helpful in seeing how others followed what they believed the Bible taught, or used the Bible to enforce what they already believed, or a mix of the two (because we humans are so fallible).

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 16, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Ooh! Thanks Joy! I will add that to my list. I had wondered about the theological component — the little references I’ve read to preaching in both North and South make it sound like there was a loss of the Gospel during this time. What I mean is that it sounds like it was crowded out by politics (even though the political issues really were huge and important).

  • Reply slvenn January 12, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I just wanted to comment on that minimalist article that you linked to. I consider myself a minimalist, but the way the article portrayed it was absolutely ridiculous to me. Do people really take it that far? Or is he ignorant of what minimalism really is and took it to an extreme. I really am curious if people believe what he was claiming. I’m hoping that his article was just taking it to the extreme in order to be funny. I have to admit that it did ruffle my feathers a little. I try to keep clutter out of my house and only have one of a certain object, instead of four, if I don’t need that many. (A ladle for instance.) I do ask myself if something is necessary to life or if I love it. If not it may have to go. I try not to let my kids have too many toys, so they aren’t overwhelmed by clean up or cannot find a toy that they love. They also appreciate what they have. I guess I also apply it to our extra curricular schedule a bit. I do not want to be busy constantly and driving my kids somewhere every night of the week. We purposely schedule family nights at home. But that is about the extent of it. I would NEVER apply this philosophy to people or my religion. His last two paragraphs were worth reading, but I couldn’t believe that anyone would actually need that cautionary advice. I think these people must be outliers and not the norm. Please know that we are not all that extreme and minimalism has brought a lot of peace and margin to my days.

    That being said, I LOVE your blog. I don’t expect to agree with you on everything, so no hard feelings or anything. Thank you so much for all of your advice. It is so comforting to see a mom that is years ahead of me on the homeschool journey. Yours is my favorite Charlotte Mason blog so thank you for all you do!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 12, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Oh he was definitely over the top! I agree. 🙂 I *think* he was trying to be funny? That’s how I took it, but of course I could be wrong.

      I don’t know how old you are, but I have seen a number of millennials weigh persons and ideas they way they would so much clutter, which is why I appreciated the article. I could see how, if you haven’t seen that before, it’d seem like he’s crazy. It’s all in a lot of business advice I’ve heard lately — the idea of “I made my business more successful when I gained focus by cutting out all toxic relationships.” And I get how some relationships really can be that. But it’s been sort of shocking to me what people consider toxic: others who don’t agree with them, others who push back or question or challenge them, relationships that aren’t easy and require some extra energy for a season, etc.

      I can’t say I’ve seen this with ideas the way I’ve seen it with relationships, but it didn’t seem like too much of a stretch to me because of what I’ve witnessed.

    • Reply Lynette January 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      His references to the question, “Does it spark joy?” come from a book by Marie Kondo. I have been reading her book and finding it really helpful actually. I’m trying to learn how to declutter and I’ve been thankful to her advice for example to get rid of all the clothing I keep because someone gave it to me – if it doesn’t spark joy. But Josh Gibbs’ remarks are very relevant. There’s a reference right in the book to a woman deciding to divorce her husband because she realized the relationship wasn’t sparking joy. The book is also really geared toward single people living in apartments and some of her advice is really unhelpful for a large family who likes to be frugal by stocking up on sales for example. My husband and I have been really benefiting from the book on the whole, but we’ve directly discussed some of the dangers of the philosophy which are apparent and we’ve had to reinterpret advice for our context. I think Josh Gibbs might have done better to define his context better. I would have been offended as well had I not had the context of the book.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel January 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm

        Oh, thank you for this, Lynette! I knew he was referecing Kondo’s book, but I had NO IDEA that she actually mentioned divorce in this way. I have just seen it happen — the fact that she actually goes that way says a LOT, doesn’t it?

        I’ve read a few articles *about* her book that I did find helpful, but it also crossed my mind that with children there are things worth keeping that don’t spark joy for *me personally* and that should be okay. Taken to an extreme, I guess it could dangerous even in regard to things when we live in shared spaces and have to deal with other persons…

        • Reply Lynette January 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

          Yes, exactly. It was very tempting to just go through my children’s things and get rid of everything that I find burdensome. But instead I did just go through my children’s things with them and help them ask that question. There were a few items I guided them on so that they would see that *this item does not actually being us joy, remember…?* and there were a number of items I would call *junk* that they now have in their treasure drawers. Marie Kondo inspired me to organize it that way, but I had to filter her advice for sure.

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