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    January 17, 2020 by Brandy Vencel

    :: 1 ::

    Ah, the new year, how I love it. I love coming back to homeschooling and the blog after taking a long, leisurely three weeks off. Back when we first started homeschooling, we only took two weeks off at Christmas. I was basically following the schedule of the local public school. But one year I realized I always felt worn when we started back. I poured myself into Christmas and New Year’s. We celebrate Christmas for 12 days, so many times “Christmas” was still going on when I was trying to get school off the ground. Plus, one of our daughters has a birthday during that time.

    I added a week to our break and it was a huge sigh of relief. I felt like after the break — which isn’t really a break for Mom (and I’m totally okay with that) — then I got a break. It’s been so nice.

    :: 2 ::

    Anyone make any interesting New Year’s resolutions? Some years, I make a big deal out of Resolving Things. I didn’t feel particularly motivated this year, other than to start tracking a few more things compared to last year.

    I was resistant to the Scholé Sisters 5×5 Reading Challenge when Mystie first invented it. I didn’t want to have a reading plan. But then I decided that if I’m basically done pre-reading midyear (having read almost every book assigned in all twelve years of AmblesideOnline because my senior is graduating), it’s probably time to make a plan of my own. I do better with a plan, even though I get a claustrophobic feeling if I think about them too much. The problem is that when given the chance to be spontaneous, I waste too much time. Plans help me be a better steward.

    Anyhoo. I filled our my 5×5 Challenge sheets and now I’m feeling eager. The first check-in on the Sistership is at the end of the month and I’m pretty stoked about it.

    :: 3 ::

    We finished reading The Fiddler’s Gun aloud. I have mixed feelings about this book. The language and content are such that they are definitely not for younger kids. My older daughter is in love with the book, but all four of my kids (who are brown belts in Goju Ryu) found parts of the book ridiculous. It is our guess that authors who think a young woman can beat up a grown man have zero experience in actual fighting. And if you’re like our family and watch or participate in fights (we call it “sparring”) every week, it’s hard to suspend your disbelief.

    I find the main character unlikeable. My kids aren’t in love with her, but they like her a lot more than I do.

    Do I recommend the book? I suppose so. I don’t not recommend it, if that makes sense. Some kids love it. It’s not twaddle (but it’s also not literature). It’s a decent adventure book and teens will probably like it.

    We started on the sequel, Fiddler’s Green. I’ll let you know what I think when we’re done.

    After we finish that, I’m inflicting another Dickens title on my children. I feel this is only fair. 😉

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2017:

    I had a ton of fun writing this post because it was a fusion of so many things I love: Charlotte Mason, MBTI personality typing, Socrates, and more.

    :: 5 ::

    Podcast episode of the week:

    • The Highwire with Del Bigtree: Who Is Lying to You?
      • I have always appreciated Del Bigtree and his fight for parental rights and informed consent, but I appreciate him all the more lately. Big Pharma companies have gotten incredibly aggressive over the past few years and it pays to know what’s going on. I read a lot of research, but listening to some of it summarized saves me some time. This is a fabulous episode if you’ve never listened before. It’s also available as a show on YouTube, but I don’t watch; I listen.

    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:

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  • Reply Noel January 19, 2020 at 5:40 am

    I planned a long Christmas break. I thought I could use the extra time for planning, deep cleaning and finishing some crafts. And then we got the flu. And then a sinus infection. My plans were written as we implemented them, my house is surface neat only, and my craft table is still piled high.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2020 at 7:19 am

      Oh!!! I’m so sorry! That has happened to me a couple times and it is the worst. I hate spending our whole break sick.

  • Reply Katie Finlayson January 19, 2020 at 1:56 am

    Oh, I have such complicated feelings about that Scruton article! It was definitely interesting though, thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Is it the obvious elitism? I really had to tease that out to appreciate what he was saying because I’m all in with CM’s liberal education for ALL, you know?

      • Reply Katie Finlayson January 20, 2020 at 7:51 am

        Yes, mostly. I agree with him that educated individuals are important for society as a whole, and I agree that parents are going to – and should be allowed to – give their children whatever benefits they can. I think independent schooling, including home education, is an important freedom because it allows parents a choice to provide for their children as they think best (which includes offering alternative forms of education as well as just ‘similar but selective and better funded’). And there’s no point outlawing it anyway because it simply turns into moving to be closer to a better state school or providing private tutors outside of school.

        I just don’t agree that the independent school system is the best or only way to achieve the highly educated elite he’s talking about. I went to my very ordinary local state schools, and then on to Cambridge. My husband went to the independent school in his town, and also then on to Cambridge. We worked at a place with many Oxbridge graduates and just among my friends I knew four who had been to Eton, on varying levels of bursary (from none to full). It wasn’t just the schools we attended that made the differences between us. I’d rather see more options within the state school system for all students to get the education that’s best for them – whether that’s classical or vocational, or a bit of both (imo a failing of the grammar school system is that it all gets decided once and for all at a young age and there’s no options to mix and match or vary over time). One thing I really appreciate about Charlotte Mason is that she wasn’t just talking about the higher classes and their governesses; she wanted to bring the feast of learning to EVERYONE.

  • Reply Kristie January 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    I really enjoyed Fiddler’s Gun but sadly did not enjoy Fiddler’s Green. I can’t even exactly put into words why I did not like it. Maybe I felt the story should have ended where it did? I don’t know!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2020 at 7:17 am

      We’re only a handful of chapters in, but so far I think it feels like an entirely different book rather than a sequel.

  • Reply Stephanie N January 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I’m glad to read you had issues with The Fiddler’s Gun! We started listening to it on the Rabbit Room podcast – and after many chapters and kinda getting into the characters, boom – the Lord’s name taken in vain as a curse word. Multiple times. After the third one I turned it off and told my boys we were done. Not that they haven’t heard the Lord’s name taken in vain – but when the Rabbit Room introduces the podcast with Christian talk and promoting their Christian books and then we hear that…not the best IMO.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 20, 2020 at 7:17 am

      Since I’m reading it aloud, I’m just skipping that, but I totally get what you’re saying. I have mixed feelings about that — on the one hand, of course it’s blasphemy and therefore wrong. On the other hand, real pirates would talk like that (and worse). So I’m torn. But obviously, I couldn’t read that aloud because *I* don’t want to say that, even when it’s technically in a character’s mouth.

  • Reply Denise January 17, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    I think you wrote your thoughts on the 5X5 right to me! I too am “reading plan resistant” and also need accountability or I fritter away my reading time….
    As for the pens, yes it does seem it was a thing with Clinton and I do remember other poor taste comments and attitudes flying around during that trail too….the more things change, the more they stay the same. I appreciate the stance Christianity Today has taken on this …

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 18, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Ew. I hate that this happened with Clinton, too! Thank you for the link, though. I was trying to hunt something like this down, so that’s perfect. ♥

  • Reply Elaine January 17, 2020 at 8:39 am

    I teach in a private school that takes three weeks for Christmas break. It’s an amazing blessing! I treat the third week as a prep week, and it keeps me from trying to start our school year with the house in shambles. It also gave me a chance to work through more of Flourish because, despite my best intentions, it was utterly unrealistic to think I could do it during the Christmas season.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 17, 2020 at 11:06 am

      Yes! Treating it as a prep and get-your-sanity week is such a perfect way to look at it. And I think that was why I always felt so worn before — because I was trying to do school AND prep all at once and my mind was just torn in too many different directions!

      I think it’s wonderful your school takes three weeks!

  • Reply Nicole Walters January 17, 2020 at 6:35 am

    I felt it was poor taste as well because it is usually done in celebration. So I searched to see if it was done with Clinton’s. Does not appear to have been done. This article talks about some other pens and “souvenirs” but they weren’t taken from the signing like this.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 17, 2020 at 11:06 am

      Interesting, Nicole. Thank you for the link!

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