A long time ago I used to do monthly updates here.  I kind of told what things I was doing in a month- a sort of update on our homeschool life, food life, my writing and book life, and more.  I'm not sure that I'll get back to that, but what I thought I would do since books are such a big part of my life (as should they be for all of us!) is share what I'm reading. So we'll see how this goes.  Maybe I'll make it a monthly thing.


I keep track of a lot of what I read on Goodreads.  And you'll see I usually have a LOT on my list at a time.  I used to be worried that this was strange.....then I started reading about Charlotte Mason and her methods and realized I must have been Charlotte in another life.... lol!  Just kidding!  But really, her homeschool methods teach about taking just small bits at a time from a book and giving the child time to think it over and ponder, if you will, and let it all soak in.  And she would have them read from various books each day - history, literature, nature, poetry, etc.  Some books a few pages or chapter a day, some only once a week.  So pretty much I've been doing 'Charlotte Mason' with myself all along.

Find me on Goodreads  HERE.

What I'm Reading

Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson  -  This book is instrumental in understanding the reality of adrenal fatigue.  How one's health can be affected by stressors and the importance of how our food, environment and things we do to cope with stress are all important facets to adrenal health and all of this and more are discussed by Dr. Wilson.  It is written by an expert but also  it a way that is easily understood by the layman without talking down to the patient.  It is a good read thus far.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Tikhon Shevkunov   This is quite the lengthy read and I've been working on it for some time.  I'm about halfway through.  There is a great number of stories in this work that you will find inspiring and occasionally humorous.  And you will certainly know that miracles do happen even today.

Thirty Steps to Heaven:  The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life by Vassillios Papavassilliou  I've actually referred to this book several times in recent posts.  I can't say enough about it.  I personally feel that even non-orthodox would benefit greatly from this book as it talks about all of the virtues we must all strive towards as Christians.

A Beginner's Guide to Prayer: The Orthodox Way to Draw Close to God by Michael Keiser   I started this book before Lent and actually wrote a few posts in regards to prayer before Lent.   Being that I've promised myself to read my bible readings and a few pages of Thirty Steps to Heaven each day before reading anything else and my consumption of adrenal fatigue and other health related selections, I haven't had a lot of time for this one but it remains in my morning devotion pile and will be included in my morning readings again soon!

Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home by Elissa D. Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker    This is the selection my husband and I are reading together.  Blueprints discusses how we are to involve our children in the life of the Church from birth onward both in the church and at home.

6 Secrets to a Lasting Love: Recapturing Your Dream Marriage by Gary Rosberg  I read another book by Rosberg recently and I really enjoyed his style of writing about very intimate personal issues in a non-threatening manner and with a Christian perspective.  I have found some very good guidance in this book.  I really think every couple should read marriage books throughout their lives- always keeping discussion of the marriage and the marriage itself front and center to their lives.  My husband and I aren't currently reading this one together but I do mark spots and read them to him for discussion along with other books we read together.

The Ancient Faith Prayer Book by Vassilious Papavassiliou -  you know I didn't even realize it was the same author as 30 Steps to Heaven until I was writing this out.  I'm enjoying using this prayer book.  I think it may move into one of my favorites.

The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd  -  I read this book awhile back and even wrote a book review.  I just felt that while I often use this as a resource, it was time to read it through again.  Books like these always offer more every time

Delicious Blogging:  The Ingredients You Need To Create a Better Blog by Debi Stangeland  Debi is a book on my Kindle (I seldom use the kindle as I just can't resist a paper copy but it does come in handy ) some great ideas for bloggers, especially those starting out or with smaller blogs who want to have more success with finding readers and interacting with their public.


What I'm Reading With My Son

My son is 7. (Wow- that's the first time I've written that- he just turned 7 last week!).  He's techinically in first grade-  but I don't go by that.  We read what we think is fun and what I think he will be interested in or what I deem important.  I don't consider grade level.  It's more about age, interests and abilities.

Little Town on the Prairie (Little House #7) by Laura Ingalls Wilder  -  Actually, we just finished this one last night!  My son has been loving the Little House series.  And I still have my set from when I was young! We just started with them at the beginning of this school year.  Only one or two of them was on the Ambleside list for this year - a source I used last year and the beginning of this year.  But while I find their book lists as a handy guide, I find their style too restricting.  So while they only have a few of the books listed for this year-  I let my son's enjoyment and enthusiasm to read more lead us.  These books have lent so many lovely discussions.  We have also introduced the TV series-  we don't do a lot of TV here, but this is one series I encourage and enjoy right along with him.

The World's Worst Fairy Godmother by Bruce Coville   This is just a humerous story by one of my favorite children's authors. We are starting this tonight. I don't necessarily like all of Coville's books, but some of them have been favorites.  We recently read Jennifer Murdley's Toad.

Misty of Chicoteague by Marguerite Henry  We just started Misty.  While fictional, I chose to read it as part of our history type literature as it does talk about legendary history and the story behind the wild ponies of Asateague Island (where I spent my honeymoon incidentally).  I wanted to introduce him to the Marguerite Henry books and selected this one to see if he would like them.

Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who? The Story Behind Some of America's Patriotic Symbols by Teresa Bateman and John O'Brien     This is a charming little book to introduce youngsters to the symbols of our country including the Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Lincoln Monument and more. I've chosen to use picture books for the most part in our American History studies thus far but am looking to start on some nice biographies soon.

What My Son is reading TO ME

Yes-  he has started reading to ME now.  This is his choice- his desire and I love it!

The Mystery at the Taj Mahal (India) by Carole Marsh    My sister got him about ten of this series for Christmas.  I selected to allow him to read them to himself at night while I sit and read in bed. He has read one on his own, is reading another and reads this one to me every now and then.

He also reads from his Children's Bible Reader to me on the way to our Schole class every Tuesday and at other times when I'm cleaning up the kitchen before we start our short lessons for the day.


So--  that pretty much sums up what I'm reading.

How about YOU?




I've been all over the board when it comes to homeschooling.  Well, maybe not all over the board, but pretty close to it.

We started homeschooling  way back in , gosh, what year was that?  My daughter was in 5th grade when we pulled her out.  She's now a senior in college (doing really well, thank you!) Wow.  What an adventure it has been!  When we first took her out, we spent the remaining months of the school year (it was March) in a rather relaxed state.  Not as relaxed as I would have liked it to have been knowing what I know now about all the different styles of homeschooling, but relaxed for what I knew.  Her emotional and physical health were my priority.  They were definitely more important than academics so since math and science totally stressed her out, we didn't do much with it at all.  Oh, I got raised eyebrows on that one all right.  Especially from family members and others that just don't get the concept of homeschooling or that education does NOT have to look like what it does in public schools.  I have to admit I allowed it to unnerve me a bit and I really wish  I hadn't.  I wish I would have read more about Charlotte Mason and more about unschooling back then.  If I had, we would have dumped ALL academics the rest of that year and just focused on nature study and art study. Oh well, I can't change the past.  But I can learn from it and from the experiences of others.

The following year we added my son to our homeschool (he finished out 1st grade but wanted to be home with us) and it was more of a school at home setup.  We did okay, used Sonlight for most things and Abeka Math.  We enjoyed the Sonlight materials but threw out a lot of the fluff by the end of the year.  The rest of the years was me piecing together this and that- but still looking for 'curriculum' for most subjects-  other than science the year we still lived in York and the kids did Envirothon with the homeschool group there.  Oh , THAT was grand!  I think they still look back as one of their best homeschooling experiences.

Time went by and now I have my senior in college, a senior in high school (yes, still at home!) AND an almost 7 year old.

My schooling style with THIS young man is completely different.  It's even progressed during the last year.  I started out completely on board with the Charlotte Mason approach but quickly decided, that while I love her philosophy,  a mixture of her methods and unschooling methods may be more along our lines of educational philosophy at this time in our lives.  And it's definitely more in line with my son's needs and learning style.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you the things we are doing - the reading, the memory work, the nature walks, the timeline, the US map, Life of Fred, and, most importantly, the amount of FREE PLAY he is allowed.  Oh yes, and the JOY.  🙂

In the meantime, I have dinner to cook, a Lemongrass Spa event to plan, a 6 year old to read to, and lots of things to catch up on from the week before driving my oldest son off to his girlfriend's grandmother's home where he will be leaving for a trip to Florida to see his girlfriend.  So while you are waiting for the next Homeschool Update Segment,  WHAT KIND OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE ON YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY?




We took a walk today...finally.

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One of the biggest things of the CM method I wanted to implement this year was nature walks and nature study.  And if I grade myself according to the quantity of time we actually spent doing any of those things... I failed miserably.  At least, the way I would grade it.


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My son LOVES nature.

So I must be doing something right.

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We have read a lot of nature books.  In the winter, when I was a sissy- yes, despite the very mild winter we had- we stayed indoors a lot.  We watched the birds and we read books.  He does love the nature books.  Though he did NOT seem to appreciate the Burgess book on birds....everyone on Ambleside raves about it.  But my boy?  He was bored out of his mind.  I finally put it down for awhile.  I got the Burgess chapter books instead.  Much less valuable information is inside these little gems, but he loves them. And we still read his nature magazines and other books.  And since the kid recognized , all on his own the other day, a red breasted grosbeak... the first I've ever seen and have never pointed one out to him in a book (in other words, he looks at the bird book himself quite often), I'd say we are doing okay.  🙂

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I'm still using Ambleside as a guide for next year...but I am going to use a lot of my learning I absorbed from Teaching From Rest to tame things down and simplify quite a bit.  There's no need for me to be stressing.  This kid is a sponge.  He's soaking up knowledge everywhere we go.

I'm continuing things through the summer but at a much much slower pace and with time to enjoy life and , well, especially nature!  At least, that's the plan! 😉

I know I haven’t written much lately. Part of my time has been spent  reading more about various aspects of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Teaching from Rest – a VALUABLE book by Sarah Mackenzie – if you homeschool and you haven’t read this book you absolutely MUST!, observing my youngest child and, of course, being overwhelmed by the other

Pixabay had no matches for the term "Teaching from Rest"- but I liked this one for 'rest'.
Pixabay had no matches for the term "Teaching from Rest"- but I liked this one for 'rest'.

aspects of life: changes brought about by the holiday season and the season of winter upon us, maintaining a home with all the boring details that go with it (you know – cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, laundry, cooking, over and over again!), and with all of this, basically reevaluating where I am on our homeschool journey.

As most of you know, I have two kids that I am now homeschooling (my third is a junior in college!); I have a 5 year old and a seventeen year old. The seventeen year old is in his junior year of high school. The 5 year old is my extrovert….quite the challenge to this introverted mother and while I don’t have to label him as anything at this point according to our Pennsylvania homeschool laws, I’m calling him a kindergartener.

For this post, let’s start with the highschooler. While I thought I had a great year planned- sort of laid back but still getting the academics necessary in and also allowing him to explore his interests- having coffee with a friend made me realize I could have done so much better. UGH. Face Palm. But….. relax….take a deep breath, Carol…. We’re all learning, here, right? That’s really what life is about I think…..loving others, and keep on learning - keep improving- finding ways to be at peace and closer to God….

So….. the friend I had coffee with is a unschooler…and it took me being enthralled with Charlotte Mason and really listening to this unschooling friend and her outlook on education that made me really see how bent out of shape I get on ‘meeting those academic requirements’. Yes, absolutely, the requirements must be met. BUT… I must get out of my public school mindset on HOW those requirements must be met and that the bottom line is I need to educate my son in the way that best suits HIM.

SO…… what to do now? Well, I have all sorts of ideas on what to do next year….but how to tweak this year so that I don’t drive him crazy asking him daily if he’s caught up and we can relax about the other activities that have cropped up since I planned the year (like his trip to Florida over the holiday break and the guest we will have in March and scouting activities, and time away from school to get to the weight room at the high school to work out with the football team, etc. ).

Well, first let’s look at what he’s doing this year:

English 11 - that’s not much of a problem as I really made this to be more relaxed this year already.

The only requirements I gave him this year was to read at least 15-20   quality books with a figure of about 3200 pages total(one book was allowed to be twaddle as I knew there was a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book coming out and my son has always LOVED that series and , let’s face it, reading should be fun and why not read a book JUST for fun?) and to give oral narrations as well as a bi-weekly written narration of each book.   In addition to the reading, he was to complete 2 research papers via a online research class.

Anatomy & Physiology - this is taken with a local homeschool co-op.

This was the class we knew would be challenging, not so much as the material is hard but as it’s set up to be a college prep course, we knew it would be a LOT of material, fast paced, and would require a lot of time.

Consumer Math & Finance - This fulfills his third math requirement as he has already fulfilled the algebra and geometry requirements.

I set this class up quite similar to my daughter’s class from years ago. He is completing various chapters I assigned in a consumer math book (I chose the Abeka curriculum) as well as Dave Ramsey’s high school curriculum on finance. To me, the most important part of this class is what he learns from the Dave Ramsey program. This, in addition to him participating in our family monthly budget meetings, will give him a sound understanding of money (making it, saving it, spending it) that he will truly need throughout his life, regardless of anything else he does as a career or family man.

Economics – Economics fullfils a requirement under social sciences. (1/2 credit course)

I attempted to make this course as interesting as possible and refused to use the typical textbook but used a popular book in the homeschool world – Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard J. Maybury as well as various parts of A Bluestocking Guide: Economics and The Money Mystery.

Home Economics - I had to make up this course on my own.

While there are numerous homeschool home-ec courses out there, there isn’t a single one that I could find that really tailored to a boy. There was soooooo much emphasis placed on girly things. I know (don’t get me wrong) that men do cook, sew, and take care of babies. And yes, that’s all part of his home ec course too. But I don’t feel that the home ec courses that I saw emphasized the male role in the household. What about home maintenance? What about general repair? What about the automotive aspect? Most curriculums offer these things as separate courses but I know, having been the second half of a household now for 23 years now, it all comes together. So I tailored the course to include these things as well as cooking, sewing and the general topics that are usually included in home-ec courses. But, rather than sewing and cooking taking up the bulk of the course, they are not emphasized as being the end all and be all of home-ec.

Introduction to Christianity - To know and teach our faith to others, one must be aware of what others believe. (1/2 credit course)

I knew right away that I was including Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. To me, being an Orthodox Christian and creating this course for my homeschooler just automatically led to the use of this book. I just wasn’t sure what to use in addition to that. But in my research of college courses offering an introductory course, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bishop Ware’s book – The Orthodox Way- was used in a few that I came upon. Thus this book became the second book to be used.

Study Skills - A must course for anyone that is considering college in their future. (1/2 credit course)

I kept this course the same as I did for my daughter several years ago, using the same books and very similar requirements for both. (If you’re wondering about the books, we use “College Study: the Essential Ingredients by Sally Lipsky and How to Study in College by Walter Pauk”)

So that’s the gist of what he’s been doing this year. Being that I’m using narration for a lot of the courses, not just English, and that I’ve strayed from the common textbook, I’m already on the right track for using better education strategies. But coffee with my friend made me realize, I wasn’t using my son to truly gear my decisions on his education. I wasn’t really focused on his interests, his GOALS, his input. Of course, when I ask him, he doesn’t know what to say. After all, I’ve been the one taking the lead for all of these years. Yes, I ask for input- but not a lot of it – sad to say.

So in listening to my friend talk about unschooling and what she has accomplished and how she has done so (and the struggles), my gears started working….and I have already formulated ideas (just ideas- need to sit and actually PLAN with my son) for next year. So what about now? How can I lessen our stress load NOW?

Well- it shouldn’t be terribly hard. The set up of English with narrations is easy. Obviously I need to ditch the idea that there needs to be a set number of books. What I need to focus on his discussing the quality books he reads, whether it be 5 or 15 or 50. I’m relying heavily on gems of information I’m gleaning from the Read Aloud Revival – another great source offered by Sarah Mackenzie- on how to gear these discussions. He’s completed one research paper and has also given a speech (a surprise in the Anatomy & Physiology course) and will be giving another presentation in the spring so I am dumping the second research paper and will do the online course next year. Anatomy & Physiolgy isn’t controlled by me but I do need to step up my participation and make sure I’m helping him study. I could kick myself in that I allowed him to choose whether to start with that course or the Christianity course at the beginning of the year and realize now, that shouldn’t have been an option since he was taking a college prep course and NEEDED to know how to study. Aw, well…. he isn’t doing poorly- but it has been a bigger challenge than expected and I think his father and I guiding him on how to apply the study skills he’s starting to learn to the class he’s taking is a necessary step. Next is Consumer Math & Finance- this isn’t going too badly but I’m wondering what I can do to eliminate some of the textbook stuff in the consumer math book. I’m thinking more participation in our budget meetings and some general computation at the grocery store, etc. I’m really thinking there can be more overlap for some of his home ec course that we haven’t gotten to yet that can be applied to both courses. I’m still thinking on this one. As for home ec itself, my only problem has been the logging of the hours. I’ll need to check with my friend (who will also be the evaluator since I’m filed under the homeschool law this year rather than home tutoring that I usually select). His economics course is almost completed. I think just reading the last book and giving a few narrations will suffice. And the same thing to complete the second book for the Christianity class- just read and give oral narrations- forget the written narrations- they are not truly necessary- unless perhaps one at the end to show a general summary for his portfolio? And there’s the Study Skill Course. I’ll need to reread the requirements I gave him. I still want to use both books- though I may shorten the second one and pick what I feel to be the best chapters and tweak some of the requirements. The goal there is he has lots of tools to use to succeed. Obviously what’s most important is he read the material, understand it and be able to use what works best for him- NOT whether he does personal action statements or fills out tables and charts….so….

I’m looking forward to him getting back from Chicago with his dad (yeah, another event to divert away from the academic curriculum- though an absolute positive experience) so we can sit down and look things over together- yes, even dad because he’s the principal afterall J . I’ll have to post more later, but if you have any ideas- please fill free to share!

As for the kindergartner? Well, that’s to be continued on another post, another day!

And REALLY, if you haven't read this book yet- order it TODAY! And check out Sarah's website too! AmongsLovelyThings.com


As most of you know if you are following the blog, I'm using Ambleside Online as my guide through my first year of 'officially' homeschooling my youngest.  He's 5.  We have homeschooled my two oldest children as well but I was not wise to the Charlotte Mason methods at the time of starting and that is unfortunate.  I LOVE this method!

But Ambleside is not necessarily an Orthodox 'curriculum'.  However, there's really not much modification to do.

2015-11-11 12.47.44Ambleside Online suggests a particular bible reading schedule.  As Charlotte Mason believes in using Living Books and not twaddle, they highly recommend using an actual bible for bible reading.  I have elected not to do that at this point.  I find the Children's Bible Reader to be a Living Book and I truly feel that reading it cover to cover a few times before moving on to the Orthodox Study Bible is a better fit for my son.  I want to read through this enough times that he is familiar with most of the key stories that Christians think of when they think of bible stories.  And I want to practice narration with stories that I feel he can fully comprehend. So rather than following Ambleside's suggested reading schedule, each school day we read from the Children's Bible Reader, in order, one to three stories - depending on length and his interest.  And we practice narration.  One thing I have discovered is he actually does a better job of narration later when telling his older brother or father the story than he does with me.  So if you are struggling with narration, this may be something to try!

We started reading from the reader many years ago- and have read through it several times.  I'm guessing we will read through it at least 2 or more times before I start using the actual Orthodox Study Bible consistently, however I have occasionally read the Sunday reading and gospel reading ahead of time to help prepare him for listening to the reading during church the next day.  That, in my opinion, is a fair introduction to the actual bible for a 5 year old.

So what else do I do?  Well, I don't use Trial and Triumph as recommended by Ambleside.  Instead, I use various Orthodox Sources.

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As you can see in the photo above, I use a variety of sources, some of which aren't pictured and I'm constantly adding to the collection.  I keep everything in an antique wooden box that we just refer to as our 'faith basket'.

So what does our 'faith time' look like?

After Morning Prayers and our Bible Stories, we go over a list of habits we are working on which contains a list of  quotes from the bible at the end which correspond to the three main habits we are continuously teaching:  Obedience, Attention, and Truthfulness

Next,  we work on memory work.  At this point in time we are still working on The Creed.  We started working on the Creed back in September.  He was already familiar with it of course, but then I printed it out.  I quickly decided that having it all on one page was too overwhelming for him.  So I divided it into 7 pages and also included visual images to help him associate the images with particular words.  He loved it and was instantly motivated!  He can now recite the whole thing with only one or two word discrepancies. For now, I'm going to just keep practicing it for another week or so - while I determine what our next item for memory will be.

Then we read a 'faith' story.  That's just what I call the books we have in that antique
wooden bucket by the couch.  It's basically a collection of Orthodox Picture books that he gets to choose from.  The short ones we read in one sitting (The Littlest Altar boy gets read once a week- I won't let him pick it more than that! LOL) while longer ones such as Christina Learns The Sacraments   may be divided among 2-3 readings.  He usually gets to pick them at this point.  I want to be sure that I focus on his interests.  Occasionally, I will make a suggestion or give a reason to read a particular selection (we read Sweet Song on October 1st because of the feast day for St. Romonos).

After the faith story, we listen to the song of the day.  I purchased the curriculum titled Garden of the Theotokos over the summer.  I'm not super impressed by it but I have decided to use a few things here and there from the curriculum, one of which is the CD that comes with it. I do like the songs that are sung and each day of the week has a particular song.  My son loves the songs and has even figured out how to play the basic tunes of a few on the piano! (Have I mentioned I think he's a genius?  😉   )

2015-11-12 12.44.39Another source I really like that we use when applicable, is Papa's Clock.  It follows a story of a brother and sister who go camping with their grandfather and end up learning about the 12 feast days.  So about a week before a feast day, I get the book out to read the lesson on the upcoming feast.  This is written at exactly the right level for my son.   The Garden of the Theotokos actually does not contain material for all 12 feast days- which is one reason I don't like it- but may use it in addition to Papa's clock for some of them.


Right now, these are the activities that take up our faith portion of our mornings.  There are other things we do, here and there, and I plan to write about those things another time. But  if I get nothing else done in our homeschool day with my youngest son, this is what we do.  Our faith is the most important aspect of education.  Without it, nothing else really matters.

I would like, at some point in time, to add a page to this blog on Orthodox Homeschool Sources and Activities.  I'll post reviews there and ideas for including Orthodoxy into the homeschool days. I'd love to hear how any of my other Orthodox Readers include Orthodoxy into their homeschool days. Please feel free to drop your comments and suggestions here or email me sometime.  Your ideas are very welcome!



I keep stumbling upon this 'word' over the course of a year.  Reading about Charlotte Mason one can't help but come across the term, "Commonplace Book."  What on earth?

Well, once again, here's an idea that totally resonates with me.

A Commonplace Book is a collection of quotes, thoughts and passages from any reading that strikes a chord with you.  For me, lately, that's been quite a bit.  I don't have time, or the paper, to write it ALL down.... but I have started my collection of the snippets that reach out of the page and grab my heart and mind.

I've used pens and highlighters before to mark these things in my books, and I've even written a few things down on paper here and there.  But I've never made a concentrated effort to keep a notebook just for this purpose, and up until this year, I don't believe I've ever heard of a commonplace book before.  It must be a new fad??

It turns out, commonplace books aren’t anything new and have been around for hundreds of years. What goes into a commonplace book is also highly individualized.It doesn't have to be a direct quote that you write down though they (commonplace books) often do contain those.  It can be a summary of your thoughts, a drawing, or whatever way you wish to convey what it is that resonated with you from whatever it was you were reading. A commonplace book can contain thoughts and quotes from a variety of sources across a vast amount of time.  It's sort of a personalized notebook (not one kept for a class) which can accompany you on all your journeys and be a great companion at any hour.

So as I read more about these in the books I've been reading -


and on amongstlovelythings.com   I actually paid for the $5.00 workshop @ http://amongstlovelythings.com/commonplace-book/

It's so worth it.  There's a webinar video with Andrew Kern speaking as well as a 'cheat sheet' on Andrew's highlighting system and reading sequence and another source by the scholesisters.com full of links to many sources related to commonplace books....I've barely scratched the service on it yet!

So I've started my Commonplace Book.

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For now it's actually a part of my prayer binder.  I figure this way I'm more likely to take it everywhere- at least everywhere that I'll be if I'm away from home for more than a few hours and might have time to read- whether it's scripture or another book.

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*** If you want to know more about my prayer binder, check out the site that I got the idea from:  Adventures of an Orthodox Mom -  I just started it a couple weeks ago- but I'm already using it every morning as part of my morning prayer time and I really love it!  The commonplace book is simply the section in the back of my binder- at least for now.

If you haven't read about or started a commonplace book yet, I highly encourage you to do so.  I have a feeling my commonplace book is about to become my new best friend!

Here's a sampling of my early writings:

 "Obey your conscience, deceive no one, and above all pray to God; everything comes from Him.    p. 61  The Way of a Pilgrim

"There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn, winter, and spring." ~ William Browne

Tell me-  do you have a commonplace book?  What's your favorite thing(s) to write inside it?





The fact seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they are born so; that is, with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and evil.  Here we have the work of education indicated.  There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion.

I found this quote in the book, For The Children's Sake (chapter three on Authority and Freedom), taken from Towards a Philosophy of Education (p. 46) which is volume 6 of the Charlotte Mason's homeschool series.  I have not ventured so far as to read many pages of the Charlotte Mason 6 volume set yet.  I found it very overwhelming at first (I bought it well over a year ago) but am now eager to begin again as soon as I am through with For The Children's Sake. I 'think' it's serving as a good prelude to Mason's own works.2015-04-01 15.36.44-2

I have reread the above quote over and over.  It resonates with me.  As the author, Susan Schaefer Macaulay, points out , "the first task of education is a moral one".  I wholeheartedly agree.  I can't possibly say I have educated my child if I ignore morals and the teaching of our faith and  don't spend time to foster the good heart that my child was born with as well as attempting to weaken the tendency to do wrong. So while I strive to offer my child all that I can in the way of reading skills, math skills, knowledge of history and science and the other academic areas, my ultimate goal is to weave our Orthodox Christian faith in God along with good habits and morals into those lessons and all parts of our day.

Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training

We do not start our day without morning prayer and our bible story.  It simply isn't done.  I feel I failed my older kids on this current determination of mine.  We often did our morning prayers as a family and occasionally did some bible reading, especially during Lent; however, too often we also skipped this important part of our day in our rush to an outside activity or the chaos of the morning.   My priorities are set right now.  Bible and prayer comes before any academics.  If I get nothing else done in a day, it must be that.

Right after bible stories with my younger son, we go over our habits list.  I printed out a list of habits that I want to currently instill in my son.  While Charlotte Mason followers believe in working on one habit at a time, I realize there are smaller habits that must be worked on continually.  So my list may be a little long, but it's the goals we are specifically targeting right now (my son is 5).

  • Say “Excuse Me, Please” when interrupting
  • Say “Please” and “Thank you” when asking for something
  • Do morning and evening chores daily
  • Always Hang Up Your Coat
  • Always put shoes in closet basket
  • Always put dirty clothes in laundry in hamper;
  • Pay Attention -  Always listen and only ask ‘what’ one time IF NEEDED. (Adults avoid repeated directions; say “Alexander, pay attention to what I’m about to say…)
  • Place tissues, wrappers and other trash in the garbage.
  • Use a fork or spoon when eating a meal.
  • Use a napkin to wipe your face and hands when eating.
  • Always be honest.
  • Be kind to others and our pets.
  • Always do the right thing even when you don’t want to do it.

As you can see, some of them are pretty basic while some are a bit vague.  Where is God in this?  Good Manners.  Kindness.  Honesty.  Always Do the Right Thing.  These are things taught in the bible.  When we talk about them, we talk about bible stories and what God wants for us.  We were made in His image.  What does that mean?  It means we are to be loving, kind, honest people who always strive to do the right thing.

Will my son always do the right thing?


Do I?


My son is a person.  Just like me.  And we are all sinners.

So what do I do when he falters?  Shall I chastise?  Shall I send him off to a corner? Tell him he's lazy or bad?


Children can be helped to acquire habits of Godly beings.  The habits of being respectful, being honest, doing the right thing? They need to be modeled.  So when he lapses in his own display of these moral habits, I must use the habits I'm tryining to instill in my approach of correction.  I must be kind.  I must respect and care for my child in a way that not only teaches, but fosters the love I want him to display.

It's not always easy.  I sometimes falter too.  And then what?


Always, Always, ALWAYS apologize to your kids when you have wronged them or fallen short of the habits you are trying to instill in them.  What good is it to tell someone what they must do if you do not display that habit yourself or to arrogant to admit your failures?

And now to my main point of this post:   Foster the Good!

When I notice my son has done something in accordance to these habits- I bestow praise.  I take notice.  "You put away the silverware so nicely today- it makes it so much easier for us to find a spoon when we need one."  "You were so kind to your friend at church today.  I'm sure you made him very happy."  "I like the way you said your prayers without jumping around today."  "THANK YOU for using good manners!"

We help a child the most when we notice and focus on their strong points and demonstrate a real liking and loving of his personhood. My son has an avid imagination. And he loves, loves, LOVES to draw and write!  There are signs and drawings posted all over our house.  That's one way I try to demonstrate a liking of his personhood.  I can do this by listening avidly to his wild crazy stories and by respecting his love of making all these signs and drawings.  As much as the clutter on the walls and fridge drive me insane (I'd much rather the fridge be bare!), I realize this allowance is honoring him for who he is. Eventually, they do get taken down, but there are ALWAYS MORE.

Appreciation of the person they are  helps them to learn self-respect and self-confidence.  We must love the person they ARE. The person they ARE was made in the image of God.  There IS good there and it must be recognized and tended to.  If I focus on all the times (and there's been plenty) he's drawn on the table, floor or wall, then I am not focusing on the good.  Rather I focus on the times he's done right and drawn and written marvelous things on paper- paper I must provide often so that he's not tempted to draw in the wrong places!

2015-03-27 21.11.36My son loves to be read to and he loves to play games and he loves to be a part of what I am doing and he LOVES me to be a part of what he's doing.  So I need to make sure these things are happening.  I need to make sure he is read to often (rarely a problem) and I need to make sure I sit down and play a game with him from time to time (a bigger problem I need to tackle) and I need to figure out more ways to let him be a part of helping me out through the day so that it doesn't kill my nerves. 😉  And I need to take a few minutes here and there to watch him and join him in his free play time.  All of these things are ways to show him love, respect and opportunities to practice the habits and moral attributes we are trying to teach.

As Susan Shaeffer Macaulay states, "...everything seems to come back to love and moral framework".   When we demonstrate the morals and values we want our children to have, when we treat them as persons and love them for who they ARE, they will shine.  Macaulay contends, and I agree, the curriculum is all that goes on outside of school hours as well as what we do in school.  It is the balance that counts as education takes place during all of the waking hours and in all of our waking actions- not just the math lesson, science lesson and bible reading.

We absolutely must foster the good in our child every day in every possible moment.

What are some ways you foster the good in your child?









I've been reading several homeschooling books as of late and they have me doing much reflecting on my past and current methods of homeschooling.

In short, the three books are these:


All of the above books really are must have's in my personal opinion.  ESPECIALLY if you are looking at wanting to educate your child in a relaxed setting with high standards.  If you need to learn about teaching from rest, look no further than Sarah's book.  Her insight on what true rest is, is uplifting and spot on.  And if you are looking to understand the methodology of Charlotte Mason and the why's behind  this methodology, thus far (I admit, I haven't finished this one just yet) Susan Schaeffer Macaulay  does well in explaining that our education that we give our children really CAN be a joyous celebration of life and prepare them for life in a fashion that will far exceed what most are able to procure from the public school setting.

While I have finished the first two mentioned above, I am torn between wanting to tear through "For The Children's Sake" as I thirst for more (I'm in the third chapter of 6) to going back and rereading  what I have covered thus far and just let it simmer.  There is much to glean and reflect upon.

I have a feeling I will do both.  I am eager to see what else she has to say... and then, I believe I'll go back and use Charlotte's own methodology and just read ten to 15 minutes... reflect, perhaps do a written narration and just let it soak a few days before moving on.

In the meantime, I'll share with you what I have highlighted so far (well, some of it... I have gotten a bit carried away with the highlighter in this one!).

"Parents need to evaluate their priorities.  They need to consider why they respond, "We wouldn't have tie to read a book together every day.  We don't have time to hike/camp/paint/talk with our children."  What is really important?"

"Look well at the child on your knee.  In whatever condition you2015-10-12 10.32.39 HDR find him, look with reverence."

"Charlotte Mason rejects the utilitarian view of education and the conventional standards of her day.  She challenges us instead to identify the child's actual needs and capacities; to serve him as he is, on the basis of what is right and good for him as a person."

"By being allowed to learn at their own speed, the children taught by Charlotte Mason were happy with their mastery of skills.  They did not 'fail' or 'pass'.  They learned how to read and write accurately.  A high standard was expected, but at a level appropriate to the child's ability.  It was like climbing one's own private ladder.  It was not to be like a race."

There's much more I could share  but I will leave it as this for now.  there is much more highlighted words  I'd like to write about but have no time to write a novel today!  Okay, maybe it won't be a novel, but I'm sure I have many more posts waiting to be written in the back of my mind....but I must reflect a bit more before writing them.  So for now... read over what I have written above.  Mull it over and then share with more your reactions.  What are your own thoughts about Susan's words above?  In the meantime... I have more reading to do!




While you are waiting for me to post more on homeschooling, I thought I'd give you an overview of what the little guy is doing.....

So I took a picture of my planning area today where I spent time writing in plans for next week (using plans from the Ambleside Week 8 to guide me)

2015-09-10 15.29.35 HDR


and  my lesson plan book.

2015-09-10 15.30.25

Here are the materials we will be using next week if all goes well!

Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Nature Study
Nature Study
Language: Reading and Writing
Language: Reading and Writing
Artist/Picture Study
Artist/Picture Study


There it is! Most of the materials we will be using during week 8 of Year One using Ambleside as a guide.  If you have any questions from the photos as you wait for more homeschooling posts to come, drop by and let me know in the comment section!  Have a great week!


I wear a lot of hats with homeschool these days as the homeschool mom of a college student (she still asks my opinion on some things), a high school student and a kindergartener! And there's so much going on in our homeschool year now.  Being that I haven't really posted much about homeschooling (or anything else for that matter) for so long that I don't really know where to begin!

Hmmmm.... so let's start with the oldest child- she's not even home any more so that will be short! LOL.  Our daughter just started her junior year at our Alma Mater!

Picture by wikimedia.org

...continue reading "The Many Hats of an Orthodox Homeschool 2015"