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    Thoughtworthy (New Read Aloud, Real Cotton, and MORE!)

    September 6, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

    :: 1 ::

    We began a new read aloud: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier. I’ve become an Auxier fan over the past year (Sophie Quire and The Night Gardener are officially in my favorites category), so I have high hopes for this one. The chapters are short, so we’re reading 2-3 at a time on average post-lunch afternoons … buuuuut … I find it handy that they are short. If we’re in a hurry for some reason, I usually still have time for a single chapter, which is nice.

    We’ve only read a tiny bit, so I can’t comment on it yet. It feels a little slow to start, but sometimes books that do that end up being the best books, so I’m not judging yet.

    :: 2 ::

    This past summer, I ordered A-Age-Fourteen a pair of “denim” shorts online. She just needed one more everyday pair — nothing fancy. I sent them back after finding a tag that said they weren’t really denim but rather made from recycled plastic water bottles. Hmmm … Let’s see. So we’re going to take endocrine disrupters and put them in fabric that teenage girls wear? What could go wrong?

    This week, it wasn’t denim, but the dreaded sports bra. At this point, I don’t trust a fabric unless it’s over 90% cotton. Who knows what is really in fabric these days? I shudder after the water bottle incident. Anyhow, we ended up finding two types that met my criteria over on the Hanes website. I thought I’d share in case you’re in the market for real cotton that is still affordable.

    :: 3 ::

    Yes, the Charlotte Mason in One Hour event is still available. I haven’t shut it down — it’s just that the live portion is over. If you purchased it before today, please remember that your questions for the Q&A Session are due today (Friday 9/6/2019) at NOON Pacific time. You can use my contact for to submit your questions.

    I’ll notify you by email when the Q&A Session is available.

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2018:

    Not everyone agreed with this post, which made the comments even more fun than usual. I love a good discussion.

    :: 5 ::

    Did you download your fall Mother Culture Habit Tracker yet? This is a great time of year to build a habit … or keep one you formed over the summer. Click here to get yours. (It’s free!)

    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    • Teenager Went Blind After Only Eating Fries, Chips, White Bread, Sausages and Ham Since Elementary School from Newsweek
      • So that went badly. I guess I assume enough foods were fortified that this sort of thing really couldn’t happen anymore, but I suppose this is a very strictly limited diet.
      • So sad!
    • Rotten STEM: How Technology Corrupts Education from American Affairs
      • I have to admit this has me thinking. We have been using more technology than ever — what with Latin and math tutoring, as well as piano — and I hope this isn’t true in my home. I feel like it isn’t hurting — O-Age-Eleven and Q-Age-Twelve adore their Latin teacher and E-Age-Seventeen is fairly fluent. But maybe I’m overlooking something? It’s disconcerting to read that having a laptop (statistically speaking) knocks off a letter grade. But perhaps it still matters how it’s used?
      • What do you think?
    • New York is running out of fuel and power — just as Cuomo planned from The New York Post
      • “The utility has stopped taking new gas customers in parts of Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens where it can’t handle the new demand — because Team Cuomo vetoed the proposed Williams pipeline”
      • Newsflash: you have to have a pipeline if you want natural gas delivered.
      • For the record: I adore my natural gas. Seriously. It’s inexpensive and clean burning. We heat our house and water, cook, and dry our clothes with it … it’s amazing.

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  • Reply Katie September 8, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    On the STEM article… I largely agree with his conclusions, though I’d probably express them in a less polemic fashion 🙂 Certainly anecdotally in our home I’ve found that app based learning simply doesn’t work in the way that learning with a person alongside does (though app based _practice_ and play based exploring of techniques can be helpful). And one child on a computer distracts the others (not to mention the high percentage of sorting out what’s gone wrong gs doing what you wanted to in the first place).

    However, computers are also tools, and the ability to connect to live classes and peers is invaluable for our older kids.

    I do also rate coding as a skill to be learned – not from an employment perspective (I say this as a former software engineer), but from the skill it requires of breaking things down into their smallest steps, which requires you truly understand something, and thinking about what can go wrong. It’s very like ancient philosophy in that way. You could just teach very strict logic and get the same results 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 9, 2019 at 8:50 am

      I had never thought of coding as a means to teach logic. I like what you’re saying here!

  • Reply Questions September 7, 2019 at 11:04 am

    So do you avoid all polyester? What do you wear for workout clothes? All workout gear seems to be poly.
    Hiking&travel clothes?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 7, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      I aim for *less* polyester because it seems to not be reasonable to set 0% as a standard. This actually started because I was just so tired of so much static electricity in the laundry. Turns out, there is way less with cotton. I’m a cotton fan, so we buy that as much as possible. Usually it has some elastane or spandax — especially in workout clothes. I like Spalding brand because they still use a lot of cotton. The yoga pants I’m wearing right now are 92% cotton.

      I’ve seen advertisements for hiking clothes in wool that intrigue me, but are out of my price range. Still, I’ve considered getting one of my daughters (my most avid exerciser) a wool shirt for Christmas. With that said, I always wonder if it will be hot, which is why I gravitate to cotton (I think it’s cool). It is usually hot at least 6 months out of the year here.

      • Reply Katie September 8, 2019 at 10:34 pm

        Bamboo is good for workout clothes too. Super pricey but I buy second hand or as a gift.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel September 9, 2019 at 8:49 am

          Ooh! Thank you for saying this! I’ve never seen that, but we used bamboo sheets with a child of ours that was so hot at night. Worked like a charm. I can imagine it’d be wonderful for workout clothes!

  • Reply No Sophie Here September 7, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Both my husband and I started to read Sophie Squire by ourselves after reading Peter to our kids but both quit reading Sophie because we found it way too dark and inappropriate.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 7, 2019 at 12:31 pm

      Are your kids younger? That might be why. Mine were 10-16 when I read it to them.

      • Reply No Sophie Here September 9, 2019 at 10:35 pm

        We found that we as adults didn’t want to read it. It had such a dark, sinister tone, especially compared with Peter Nimble. I’m pretty discerning about what goes into my mind bc you can’t unsee it.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel September 10, 2019 at 8:49 am

          Well now, that is a GOOD thing, of course. And I would never recommend someone go against their conscience.

          With that said, Sophie is probably one of my all time favorite books. I adored it. ♥

  • Reply Jennifer September 6, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    This post is so full of good stuff! I am trying to de-plastic our home, but wondered if the BPA free varieties are endocrine disrupters? Or if there are so many other questionable ingredients that those aren’t safe either? Also, I have used Corelle dishes for years. Wondering if we should switch to ceramics? So many other things to read/discover this week, thanks so much!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 7, 2019 at 9:19 am

      I read that the BPA free versions still have issues and that some of them have MORE. But this was years ago when they first came out, so maybe things have improved? I just switched to glass as much as possible. We drink out of glass (easier than it used to be because my youngest child is 11). I prep my husband’s lunches in sealed glass containers. I try to mostly store things in the fridge in baking dishes. I love my Corelle. 😉

  • Reply Jaime September 6, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Auxier is a favorite here too. If Sweep doesn’t have you in tears at the end, I’lI’ll be shocked. So, so good!

    • Reply Stephanie Breuner September 7, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      Sweep, on Audible, has a darn good narrator.

  • Reply Debbi Hamm September 6, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster was our favorite family read aloud last year. I read it at our lunch time as well. Can’t wait go hear your thoughts on it! I’m sad that I haven’t found a family read aloud time this year. The 16yo’s classes have shifted our schedules a bit and I don’t want to leave him out. Or rather I’m not ready to fully let him go…..

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 6, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      I don’t know if this will help, but I have three read alouds going. One is for when everyone is together, including my husband. Another is when all 4 kids are here. The other is when it’s just the younger two and the high schoolers are gone. This REALLY helps us keep reading. ♥

      • Reply Laura September 7, 2019 at 11:06 am

        That’s a great idea. I always feel bad when Dad comes home and doesn’t have a clue what is going on in our read aloud. I’ll often set it aside instead of reading. This would be a good alternative.

    • Reply Valerie September 9, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Ugh. The “Rotten STEM” article makes me wonder if I should switch my children to something other than Teaching Textbooks for math. But it’s so nice not to have to grade their work.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel September 10, 2019 at 8:51 am

        I know exactly what you mean! Having computers grade some things for me SEEMS to have helped because the feedback comes way faster. Math drills are the perfect example.

        I’m still pondering. I know that with my own online learning, I take in way more if I take notes, so I’m wondering about having my kids do that. Or narrate. Probably both. But something to reinforce attention.

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