System Status: Second Quarter 2020

In the morning, very early,
That’s the time I love to go
Barefoot where the fern grows curly
And grass is cool between each toe,
On a summer morning-O!
On a summer morning!

That is when the birds go by
Up the sunny slopes of air,
And each rose has a butterfly
Or a golden bee to wear;
And I am glad in every toe
Such a summer morning-O!
Such a summer morning!

~ Barefoot Days, Rachel Field ~

We began our summer break the second week of June and I thought I’d finally have time to catch up on some things that have been on my to-do list for a long time. Because of some BIG changes in my husband’s business in the second quarter, I also shuttered my VA business completely that week and ended my agreement with one client while the other one retired. It was bittersweet as there were definitely aspects of being a VA that I really enjoyed, but I also love the feeling of having more time available to me to be with my kids and work on my own things (like more picture study aids!). Of course, thinking that I had lots of obligation-less time coming my way, I filled my calendar with other obligations and last week in particular was just very busy. E was out of town for a week-and-a-half before that and so it hasn’t been a very restful summer so far. I’m hoping to plan a vacation for us at some point…something not too far away and not too long, but that is definitely challenging these days.

Aside from COVID and everything going on in the world, this was a stressful quarter for other reasons as well. Many of our neighbors who have been here since these houses were first built in the early 2000s are moving out, new people are moving in, and I feel like our little world here is being very disrupted. This feeling is especially acute right now from one house in particular where a quiet middle-aged couple lived with their daughter and 6-year-old granddaughter for the last 17 years. B and C liked to climb up on our fence to talk to her and she would swing very loudly while she played on her swingset, which was very cute. They moved out two weeks ago and a new family moved in with teenagers and a younger daughter who might be a year or two older than B and the introvert and mama bear in me is just feeling a lot of anxiety about this.

Also, where there were acres and acres of ranches surrounding our little subdivision when we first moved in, a new housing development is now going in on one side and it’s really only a matter of time before the other side is taken as well (a house has already been built there to block our view of Pike’s Peak on the back patio 😩). And, I found out last week that one of the families in our homeschool co-op with kids that my kids had especially grown close to is not returning next year, which means there will be no one C’s age in it anymore. This was very heartbreaking and I’m really, really struggling with all of these big changes happening so quickly.

So we’ve been looking at moving again….hopefully further south and closer to some of our co-op (or former-co-op) friend families. Because of the changes in E’s business, this feels a lot more doable than it did a few years ago and I feel like God has been slowly opening doors (sometimes painful ones) as well as changing our minds about where we want to live to move us in this direction. But real estate is still quite expensive here and getting what we want, which is land, is not easy. I’m trying to just be still and know and be thankful, because there is SO MUCH to be thankful for. But anxiety is tough to battle.

On that uplifting note…..on to the lists. 🙂


The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I have known about this book for years. I actually worked in a Christian book store in the late 1990s right around the time the Ragamuffin Band was extremely popular. It drew attention to this book, but at the time I just ignored it. In some ways, I wish I had read it back then. So many of the things he talks about are conclusions I’ve come to on my own over the last twenty years. I wonder if I would’ve come to them faster if I had read it. (20RC)

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. The Chief Inspector Gamache books are my go-to for audiobook listening while I’m folding laundry or driving places. I’ve been more lax with them lately, and I think part of it is that I haven’t found good ones that have kept my interest (also…I’m not driving as many places these days!). This one was okay… a little less strange than the first three books in the series. But maybe I liked the strange? I’ll still keep listening/reading because the characters are so interesting and Ralph Cosham was a perfect narrator for this series.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Ann Patchett is a favorite author and this one, the story of a brother and sister and how they lose their parents but cling to each other, did not disappoint. The struggles the narrator had with his mother were especially relatable for me.

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer. Joy Cherrick recommended this one to me several months ago and I picked it up from the library just before the world exploded. I wasn’t able to finish it before my due date, but thanks to COVID, I had two extra months to read it. This was good as it was not at all a fast read, but it was fascinating to hear how the Inklings worked together. As an introvert, I never thought of collaboration as a necessity in creative pursuits, but I can now see how it is so beneficial.

I also finished these books at the end of our homeschool year: The Heroes, Secrets of the Woods, Moses and the Exodus, and The Irish Twins.

With B, I finished Ember Rising and he is absolutely loving this series (C is chomping at the bit to hear it also, but I will definitely wait a few years for her as there are still some parts that make me nervous even reading to B). We’re currently working through Ember’s End.

With C, we finished Among the Farmyard People and we’re currently reading Among the Pond People.

With both kids, I finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While E was away on business, we’d pile on to our bed at night after baths and I’d read two chapters. It was a surprisingly quick read (it’s been a long time since I read it on my own) and we are now on Prince Caspian. I hope to make it through the whole series by the end of the summer as they are both really enjoying it.

I am currently reading Emma (I usually love Austen, but this one has been difficult to get through), Sourdough (I needed a fun read for the summer), and Scale How Meditations.

2020 book challenges:

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 17/24

Back to the Classics (BC) – 2/12

Modern Mrs. Darcy (MMD) – 3/12

20 for 20 Reading Challenge (20RC)- 5/20

On the Blog

Why is Charlotte Mason picture study important?

Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Third Grade Term 2 Recap (and Term 3 Plans)

2020-2021 AmblesideOnline Picture Study Print Files The AmblesideOnline artist study rotation picture study print files for the 2020-2021 school year are now available for download! These PDFs include pieces by Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, and Rembrandt.

Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Picture Study In this post, I introduced a series I offered on Charlotte Mason picture study. I emphasized the importance of including it, alleviate fears that you have to know a lot about art (you don’t!), and lay out a way to do it that is simple, easy to implement, and comes straight from Charlotte Mason’s ideas.

Why is picture study important? In this post, I expand on why picture study should be important to anyone. I believe there are several reasons that picture study is important to include in our homeschool, and in this week’s post, I cover four of those reasons.

How to do Picture Study Here I posted an outline of what a typical picture study session looks like in both our home and our co-op at the link below, but I also think the following quote from a PNEU Teacher’s Handbook sums up the teaching of picture study well: “Parents who are not very familiar with Art need not feel daunted by the idea of teaching Picture Study; teacher and pupil can learn together very successfully in this subject.”

Frugal Ideas for Homeschooling (& free printable book budget sheet!) In this post I shared 12 ways I save money and pay for our homeschool. At the end, you’ll also find a free, printable spreadsheet for keeping track of your own homeschool expenses!

Favorite Picture Books for Summer Reading Reading is obviously a huge part of our life during the school year, but that certainly doesn’t stop when we put our school books away for the summer. Here I shared some of our favorite books with warmer-weather themes. Or no themes….just good books. ☺

Custom Homeschool Planner Covers with AnnaVancePaperCo This week I waxed poetic about how much I love my homeschool planner from my friend Anna, but I also announced that she and I have joined forces and I made a few cover designs for her planners!

Free Printable Calendar! I’ve offered this free, printable calendar the last two years and I finally got around to updating it for the coming school year. 🙂

Picture Study by E. C. Plumptre This week I re-typed an article from a Parent’s National Educational Union pamphlet on picture study because I feel this essay presents a short but thorough view of picture study as a whole. I wanted to share it in the hopes that it might aid you in your own picture study endeavors!

Charlotte Mason Homeschool B’s Third Grade Recap and C’s Kindergarten Recap Overall, the year went really well, especially considering all of the restrictions in place and it was the first year I was attempting to teach two students. On that front, because I was doing a very simple kindergarten year with C, I was able to experiment with how to juggle two students. Also, C and I were able to spend that time together. That in and of itself is priceless as I feel like the last three years, I’ve been very focused on her brother. I’m looking forward to having that more intentional time with her as she gets further into her school.


Altrasonic White Ceramic Aromatherapy Diffuser for Essential Oil I finally broke down and picked up a second essential oil diffuser as I was tired of carrying the lone one we had up and down the stairs twice a day. This one arrived in late May and it’s so pretty!

Walter Santi YouTube Channel In recent years, I have grown to accept that I am a cat person and to not be embarrassed (at least not a lot) when I say that. If you are also a cat person or just like animals in general, we love this channel. He not only has a small zoo of cats living in his yard in Turkey, but he also rescues random stray cats he finds and brings them to the vet (if he isn’t able to care for them himself at home). I love this kind of example for my kids to see that kindness to animals is very important. Also, his laugh as the soundtrack to the antics of his cats is hilarious. 🙂

TruBind Coil Binding Machine I have been wanting one of these for years and finally justified it by using it for a few things in my business. I’ve also been using it for binding ebooks I buy for homeschool and I absolutely love it!

AnnaVancePaperCo Companion Planner Since even before I started using a paper homeschool planner, I was using a generic academic planner to keep track of things for our family. Last year I picked up a cheap one at Target that worked fine, but this year, I’m using one of Anna’s companion planners for this purpose and I had fun this week setting it up for the new year. (And, in case you missed it, I made a few cover designs for both her companion planners and her homeschool planners!)

Window Hummingbird Feeder The window hummingbird feeder we bought when we first moved into this house back in 2016 fell one too many times and finally bit the dust last summer. When I went back to buy a replacement, I discovered that it was double the price I had paid before, so I chose this one instead. It’s been up since April 20th and hasn’t fell at all. I HIGHLY recommend these for up-close hummingbird observation.

Sakura Pigma Micron Ink Pen Set I’ve always just used whatever pens are laying around the house to write just about anything, but Anna’s planning videos got me thinking that I wanted to try something a little better for my homeschool planner so I picked up this set of Microns. It was a good way to see which tip I like the best, but also allows me to use different sizes for different things (eg. headers vs. body text).

In the Shop

To go along with the covers I mentioned above that you can now choose when you buy one of Anna’s planners, I’m also offering printable versions in my own shop (along with the other custom covers I have always offered in the past)!

Bird Sightings

We had a lot of activity at our bird boxes early on with mountain bluebirds and then eventually our yearly house wrens and I was excited to think that maybe we’d have both boxes filled this year. The wren male dutifully started building a nest in one of the boxes and we saw two of them flying around it one point. At about the same time we had our first few eggs in the box last year, I decided to go out and begin monitoring for NestWatch. One of them was sitting on the nest when I opened the top which I assumed meant there were eggs but I checked again a few days later and there was no bird and also no eggs. We saw them go in a few times after that, but they apparently chose a different site for their nest this year as we haven’t seen or heard them since. We also had some interest from tree swallows in the other box, but it was very brief, so both of our boxes are empty this year. I feel like all of our good neighbors are abandoning us!

What are your plans for the summer? Anyone attempting a vacation? Or reading any good books? Share in the comments!

The post System Status: Second Quarter 2020 appeared first on a humble place.

Older Post Newer Post