The Birthday That Isn’t

The Birthday That Isn’t

Today might have been a birthday, or near to it.  There could have been a soft new baby to love and introduce to the family.  Tiny toes to count, and exquisite hands to hold.  Excited squeals from siblings, and the happy, exhausted smiles of new parenthood might have been.  But it isn’t and there aren’t.  I’m carrying a baby (and so thankful to be), but not the baby that could have had a birthday today.

Instead of a new day to celebrate, we have a phantom birthday.  A day to remember the child who lived only a few weeks cradled inside my body, before going to the embrace of our Heavenly Father.

One might not think such a short life could leave such an impression.  I’m not sure I even understood the weight of the shortest lives before our littlest Pea.  The thing is, from the very first moment I held the pregnancy test that whispered our baby’s existence, my mind leaped to accomodate this new life.  I imagined hundreds of possibilities for this baby, just like I’d done for her siblings before.  Just a few minutes before that test my idea of our family had consisted wholly of the 5 of us.  In the space between those two little blue lines, I saw 6.  Even though we had only a few weeks of the knowledge of her, I saw the potential of her whole life, and I loved her.

So then, when the ultrasound technician held her wand over an empty womb and told me the baby was gone, a life sized hole tore into the tapestry I’d imagined.  I’ll never forget that.  No matter how short the life, it matters.  It has meaning.  It has a purpose.  And it is all wrapped up together in the goodness and providence of God, whether we ever really understand it or not.  I doubt I ever will, to be honest.  But that’s okay.  As it happens, we have a new piece to our puzzle–a little boy who, God willing, will give us a new day to celebrate in June.  He’s our rainbow after the storm; and he couldn’t have existed without the storm.

It’s a discordant feeling–grief over a loss mixing with joy over a life that exists because of the loss.  I know this though: I’ll remember that short life for the entirety of mine.  I’ll remember the birthday that could have been, and the day that we lost her.  I’ll be sad that we didn’t get to watch her grow up, and I’ll be glad that I’ve had the opportunity to know the depth of love a parent feels for a child from the very beginning.  To be honest, I expected to be utterly sad today, but over and over as I’ve pondered through it all, all I can see is the goodness of God in every facet of our life–storms and rainbows notwithstanding.  And in the end of the day, all I have the heart to do is thank God for the children he’s given to us, and rejoice for the child he has taken into His arms.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ~ Proverbs 3: 5-6

In memory of our forever littlest Pea on the day that might have been a birthday ~ 05.08.2018

fit pregnancy

Free Fit Pregnancy Workouts: Week 25

fit pregnancyThis week I’m sharing what I’m doing for a free fit pregnancy.  I am all about exercising (pregnant or not) AND I’m all about doing it for free.  As a homeschooling mama with 3 other kids, there is not enough time in the day to be trying to get to the gym every day.  And I wouldn’t want to pay for it if there was.  So I do all of my workouts from my living room.  I’m using a random assortment of prenatal and regular videos, but it works for me so maybe it will work for you!  Oh, and they’re all free!  There are so many great workouts on Youtube for free. I do have a Prenatal Barre DVD by Suzanne Bowen that I use as well.  Frankly though, I cannot do the exact same workout every day in a row.  It’s just too boring.


Free Fit Pregnancy Workouts: Week 25

This week was the 25 week mark in my pregnancy (only 15 weeks to go!).  My low back and hips get angry with me pretty easily these days, so I don’t do a lot of jumping.  If there is jumping in a workout, I take all the impact out of it and just practice a controlled tip-toe hold through what would be the jump. Sometimes I’m feeling pretty good and jump anyways, but it always ends in my hobbling around like an old lady by 7PM.  I should really just learn already… Also, obviously, I’m no longer laying on my stomach for things like back bows.  I modify those by performing as near to the exercise as I can while standing, or doing a variation (bird-dog > backbows forever).  I also don’t lay on my back for extended periods of time, but I will do the occasional stretch.  That’s about it as far as modifications go.  Let’s get into the workouts!

Monday Workout – Cardio

Today I did this Fitness Blender At Home Cardio Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily, with lots of additional freestyle stretching at the end.

I love Fitness Blender and it was a great workout, even with my sometimes clumsy modifications.  (Hint: What she’s doing in the screenshot.  I did not do that. Couldn’t even reach my toe over my belly if I wanted to, lol.) 30 minutes total (with my extra stretching.)

Tuesday Workout – Lower Body Strength

Tuesday’s workout was this At Home Butt and Thigh Workout from Fitness Blender

I stuck with my 10lb weights (20 lbs total) through this workout for the most part, although I think for one of the squat sets I dropped one and just held the other goblet style.  No other modifications though!  I added a warmup first and cooldown/stretch after.  35 minutes total, but this video is only 26.

Wednesday Workout – Upper Body and Core

fit pregnancy

I did the Upper Body and Core segment from this DVD.  It was a shorter workout than I’d like, but I had run out of time that morning and needed to just get on with the day.  I did more stretching and a power hour of cleaning later.  Does cleaning count if you work really fast?  Definitely not the best workout day I’ve ever had, but I did try to get my heart rate up.







Thursday Workout – Standing Core Work

Another Fitness Blender today. I like Fitness Blender alot, y’all. This standing abs was great, relatively pregnancy friendly core work.

I didn’t have to modify this one hardly at all, except for the standing toe touch crunches.  Toe touching is just not happening over the belly these days.  Also, it made me surprisingly sore.  The X Pivots and Bent Over Back extensions actually really did a number on my hamstrings. 35 minutes, plus stretching.

Friday Workout – Yoga and Upper Body Strength

I had planned to make Friday a really good cardio/total body strength combo to finish out the week and earn my pizza/weekend treat, but I was so sore from the standing abs thing that I had to opt for yoga and a little bit more Fitness Blender in the form of upper body strength.  I’d like to think I’ll do a hard workout tomorrow to make up for it, but I’m more likely to take a walk and call it good.

I didn’t have to modify much in the upper body one, except for the back bows and skull crushers.  Instead of back bows, I did bird dog; Instead of skull crushers, I sat up and did an overhead tricep extension.  Alternated between my 10lb weights and the 5lbs depending on the exercise.


That’s that for this week!  Disclaimer because that’s what you do these days: I am not a medical professional, and you should always consult yours about your exercise habits, especially while pregnant! Every body is different!


kids library haul

Best of the Kids Library Haul ~ March 15

I’m back with the best of the kids library haul for the week!  Well, trying to be back anyways… There are so many wonderful children’s books out there!  I’ve benefitted from the wealth of book recommendations on Instagram and Pinterest, so I want to keep on sharing!  You can see some of my previous library haul posts here and here.  I’ll warn you, at this point they’re all quite old.  I fell off the bandwagon of posting and reviewing when we started school last year.  Can’t imagine why… 😉

Best of the Kids Library Haul

#1. The Lemon Sisters by  Andrea Cheng

kids library haul


This is an adorable story about sisters–old and young.  A lonely old lady watching three sisters play in the snow remembers the days playing with her sisters and making delicious lemon ice out of snow.  It’s her birthday and she suspects nobody has remembered her, but her day is going to be filled with surprises and new friendship.

This is just the sweetest story.  It made me tear up (although you should probably take that with a grain of salt, considering the pregnancy hormones I have going on here now).  My maiden name is Lemmon and I kind of REALLY want to buy this book for all my sisters.  Just because it’s a sweet story about sisters, called The Lemon Sisters. It is one of those books that is equally entertaining to adults and children, but for totally different reasons.  My kids loved it, and wanted to go scrape the last remnants of muddy snow off the ground to try to make lemon ice.  I told them they needed to wait for fresh snow.


#2. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

This is a kid-friendly account of Grace Hopper’s life as one of the first famous female computer scientists.  She was born in 1906 and became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 computer, and she developed one of the first compiling programs that allowed computers to be programmed using English words rather than just binary.

That achievement alone changed the face of programming, and she just kept working at it.  She was part of the Army Reserve from the 1940s until 1965 when she was forced to retire, but they called her back in 1967 and she continued to work until she was 80 years old.

New motto for kids: find a job that will intrigue you even if you work at it until you’re 80 years old.  What an amazing lifetime though–developing computers from the time when they were literally as big as entire rooms, and watching the technology improve within a specific field for decades.  It’s an incredible thing.

I love that there are so many wonderful picture book biographies for kids these days, and this is one of the great ones!


#3. I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer


Yes, we’re really on a kick with the biographies.  There are just so many! This one is particularly fun if you read/enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes.  The illustrations remind me SO much of the Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip.  I can’t help but love it.  And the kids really loved it too.

I am Amelia Earhart shares a lot of the “fun” details of her life, without going into her disappearance or death.  I’m not one to want to varnish the truth for my kids, but when it’s a fun children’s story that teaches a little history and reads like a comic book, it would just be weird to end it on the ‘she disappeared and nobody ever heard from her again’ note.




#4. A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon


A Bad Case of the Stripes is an entertaining story about the danger of worrying what other people think of you.  Camilla Cream loves lima beans but she’s afraid of what the kids at school will think of her if she eats them.  When she doesn’t eat them, her whole world turns upside down and she develops a very unique skin condition: the Stripes!

Our librarian recommended it after she noticed we were checking out Pinkalicious (for the 400 billionth time) and she was right!  It was an instant hit in our house!

I’ll admit, part of my like for it is related to it not being Pinkalicious.  Another cute story, don’t misunderstand me, but somewhat less enamoring when you’re reading it for the umpteenth time.



#5. M is for Melody: A Musical Alphabet by Kathy-jo Wargin


This is a particularly pleasant jaunt through musical terms and the alphabet.  Each letter/term is accompanied by a rhyming verse and a more in depth educational paragraph.

We had a lot of fun going through and checking our musical knowledge, and it did double duty as an alphabet study for Klaus.  Klaus was disappointed that he didn’t see a didgeridoo parked in there with the wind instruments, which was an entertaining rabbit trail, but overall this one was a favorite!


So, those are our favorites out of the library haul this week.  What were your favorites of the week?

liebster award

Liebster Award for Bloggers

For the first time ever, I’ve been nominated for a blogging award!  I’m pretty excited!  Much thanks to Charlotte from My Little Homeschool for the nomination.  She blogs about homeschooling her two boys in South Africa; I absolutely love seeing the beautiful South African coast through her pictures and learning how another homeschool mama operates.  Her post about daily survival with special needs kids is applicable to all homeschoolers, and sums up some of my favorite things about homeschooling.

liebster award


The Liebster Award is a blogger award, given by bloggers for bloggers.  It’s a great way to discover new blogs.

The Rules

  1. Acknowledge the blog that gave you the award–give them some love.
  2. Answer 11 questions the blogger gives you.
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 11 blogs and notify them that you dig them
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer

My Q and A Answers

1. What is your absolute favorite meal?

Anything I don’t have to cook myself.  I especially love pizza and really good sushi.  (Not at the same time!)

2. Who is your celebrity crush and why?

Chris Pratt probably.  Or the actor who played Gilbert Blythe in the old Anne of Green Gables movies.  I’m so bad with celebrity names, you guys.  I cannot keep them straight, and am forever mixing up actors that like ‘kind of’ similar.

3. Who is your favorite spice girl?

I’m not even sure what a spice girl is.  I think it’s a band, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard their music and I definitely have no idea which one would be my favorite.  Cinnamon?  No?  Bad joke?  Okay, sorry.

4. If you were a cocktail, what cocktail would you be and why?

A margarita, because I used to be a lemon.  Seriously, my maiden name is Lemmon.  Also, I really love margaritas!

5. Beach or Mountains

Beach!  I haven’t been to the ocean in far too long, and I’m really missing the beach.  The beaches were one of my favorite parts of living in Hawaii, and probably ruined me for life.  I would love to have a beach house someday and be able to just zip down to the ocean on the weekends!

6. What is your favorite social media platform and why?

Instagram for sure.  I love being able to connect with other homeschooling families.  It is always inspiring and I get some great ideas from the other homeschoolers out there.  It’s a great community and everybody is so supportive.

7. What is something funny your kid says?

So many things.  The funniest, most recent thing was Klaus (my 3-almost-4-year-old) referring to the bit of snow we got overnight as ‘white dust mites’.  So funny.  And accurate.  We’re done with winter over here.  If the weather could get the memo that would be great.

8. What is something weird your kid does?

Eva is obsessed with her belly button.  All the time.  If I’m reading her a story, she’s playing with her belly button.  Basically any time she’s sitting still, she’ll be playing with her belly button.

9. Why do you blog?

I love to write and I love having a record of our days.  Regular posting is not my strong point–I have too many other irons in the fire and something (or somebody) is always competing for my attention–but I try.  I always hope that someday I’ll get it all together and be able to turn blogging into a side-gig.

10. How do you find inspiration?

In nature, history, books, instagram, and pinterest.  In fact, I guess nature and history are really my two root sources of inspiration.  Even when I look for inspiration in books, instagram and pinterest, I nearly always find it in something related to nature or history.

11. Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Write about things that you’re really interested in.  Don’t try to force it.  If it doesn’t come naturally, it won’t come at all, but when you DO find that thing you love writing about you’ll be continually inspired (even if you can’t find the time to blog :P)


11 Random Facts About Meliebster award

  1. I play the violin (and wish I played more most of the time.)
  2. The library is my favorite place.  When we move, the first thing I do is check out the library.  Don’t care where the grocery store is; where is the library?
  3. I love to dream up new novels.  I’m working on one now that I’m really excited about.  Someday, one of them will actually be successful.
  4. I love budgeting and menu planning, and am mildly obsessed with sticking to our budget.
  5. Being a mom is amazing, but being a homeschool mom is literally the most exciting, awe-inducing thing I’ve ever done.  I love getting to teach my kids, and see their a-ha moments, and learn alongside them.
  6. I like to think I’m a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, but then I’ll reread some of the Classical education literature and decide I’m more classical… and the truth of the matter is probably that we’re somewhere between the two and heavily eclectic.
  7. I’ve read 23 books since the start of the year.
  8. I read multiple books at once.  I’m currently reading about 8.
  9. I love to write book reviews and am always thinking about how I would/should/could review a book.  Lately though, I just can’t seem to find the time
  10. I’m an introvert, but I like meeting and talking to people.
  11. Chocolate is my kryptonite.  Not a lot, but I like to eat a square or two in the afternoon during quiet time.  I stash it all over the kitchen, and my husband is always finding my stash and teasing me about it.  But then he eats it, thus validating my “need” for different caches.


My Liebster Award Nominations

  1. Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
  2. Joshua’s Girl
  3. Our Journey Westward
  4. At Home Teaching V
  5. Here in the Bonny Glen
  6. Blog, She Wrote
  7. Eva Varga
  8. An Intentional Life
  9. A Farmhouse Full
  10. Mrs. Criddles Kitchen
  11. Stir the Wonder









Questions for my Nominees

  1. What is your favorite way to enjoy the great outdoors?
  2. What is your go-to snack?
  3. Are you a one-book-at-a-time kind of gal or more of a towering-book-stack person?
  4. Do you go to the library?
  5. Favorite genre of books or movies?
  6. Beverage of choice?
  7. What do you love about blogging?
  8. Any advice for other bloggers?
  9. Is there anything you dislike about blogging?
  10. What is your favorite season of the year?
  11. What is your favorite book of all time?


So there you go! Hope everybody enjoys playing along and making some new blogger friends!

reading challenge february

2018 Reading Challenge: February Update

reading challenge february

Reading Challenge Update

Thankfully, my reading life is not quite as behind as my blogging life.  This has definitely been the most difficult year of juggling all.the.things so far, but I’m still plugging away!  Unfortunately, between homeschooling and taking care of my family, reading, studying web design, and outlining/researching my next novel, this poor little blog has been grievously ignored again.  According to Goodreads, I’m 2 books ahead of schedule right now.  I’m not as happy with my progress on the more specific goals (You can read about all my reading goals for the year here) but I’ll be more focused on them this month as a result of that, so it’s not all bad!




What I read in February

I finished twelve books in February, 7 fiction and 5 nonfiction.  A couple were books that I made a lot of progress on in January.  Most weren’t planned reads, just found on the library shelf. A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War by Joseph Loconte was one of my favorites, and Rethinking School revolutionized my world.  The Fellowship is always delightful to go through, but my perception of it really deepened after reading Loconte’s book.  That Summer by Lauren Willig was a particularly fun novel for me; I love stories about people discovering the past, and it was just that kind of book!  The other novels were pretty good, too.  Mostly historical fiction, and my least favorite is the one that wasn’t historical fiction.  What can I say?  I like what I like…


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March Reading Challenge Plans

I’m going to really focus on finishing up the books I’ve had in my currently reading stack for a while.  I have at least 10 library books right now, and more on hold that I need to pick up.  But, I’ll save y’all from that until I’ve actually started reading them and just give you the ones I’m actively involved in right now.

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That’s what I’ve been reading, and what I am reading!  What’s in your to-read stack this month?

reading gals 2018

Reading Goals for 2018

Reading Goals 2018

It’s a new year (even though January is somehow already behind us) and time for new reading goals! But first, let’s discuss last year.  My goal last year was to read 120 books, of which 40 would be nonfiction.  That was basically my only criteria.  I knew that the nonfiction take me longer to get through, but I did try to have one going all the time.  At the end of the year, I had read 128 books, of which 41 were nonfiction.

This year, I want to go for a little more structure and depth to my reading.  I’m keeping the number goal of 120, but upping my game to 50 nonfiction.  I’ve made a list of about 30 classics and professional development books I want to get through.  Not all of the 30 will qualify as nonfiction, but there are some challenging classical fiction reads in there.  I’m anticipating that I will easily fill in the gaps just by following my fancy at the library.


What I read in January

And since I’ve been stupendously slow about getting back to blogging this year, we’re already to the point that we can evaluate how I did in January.  I’ve read nine books so far, and Goodreads is telling me I’m one book behind schedule.  However, I’m currently reading 8 books, so I’m not really worried about that right now.  As I finish these off and work in some lighter fiction reads I’ll get back on track.

Miss Buncle was my favorite light fiction read, and Miss Prim came in a close second.  “How to Homeschool” by Gayle Graham was the best nonfiction read of January.  If you’re beginning to homeschool, the practical tips on how to manage house, littler kids, and school are invaluable.  The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder was absolutely fascinating.  Honey for a Child’s Heart was a thoughtful discourse on the benefits of reading aloud in a family life.  It also included some great booklists, broken down by general age/reading level.  I always love a booklist!

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What I’m Reading in February

Hopefully my currently-reading stack on Goodreads. Ha-ha.  I have 2 books by Susan Schaffer McCauley going (For the Children’s Sake and For the Family’s Sake) and Ourselves by Charlotte Mason.  The Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the classics on my list for this year too.

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War by Joseph Loconte, which has started me on The Fellowship of the Ring (and Narnia, but I’m doing those as read alouds with my kids and I don’t count kids read alouds towards my reading totals even if they’re books I would have absolutely read alone.  Hey, I have to TRY to keep it reasonable! ha-ha…)

I haven’t started any of my light fiction for the month, but I have 4 from the library that I plan to get to.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m working myself into a lovely hole here of reading plans that outscope my reading time already this year.  It’s a good problem to have 😉

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Hopefully I’ll check back in here at the end of February and let y’all know what I’ve finished!  What’s your reading life looking like this year?  Favorite book so far?  Let me know in the comments!

reading gals 2018

william whitley house

Kentucky Field Trip Diaries: William Whitley House

The Second Installment in our Field Trip Diaries: The William Whitley House, Stanford KY

Our visit to the William Whitley house was the second official field trip in our second term this year. You can read about our first field trip–to Camp Nelson–here

The House

The William Whitley House is an impressive brick home, nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of Lincoln County, Kentucky. Built by William Whitley between 1787 and 1794, it was the first brick house built in Kentucky. During the time of its construction, there was still frequent fighting with the Indians and Whitley built this house to be a fortress for his family and guests.

It was built 2 feet thick, in the Flemish bond style, with white bricks added to make a very unique pattern on the ends of the house. The windows are all raised significantly, so that nobody would be able to shoot directly through them. For similar reasons, though there is a front porch now, when Whitley built the house he chose not to add porch or steps. Family and guests entered the house by way of a rope ladder cast through the front door.

Although the house is clearly unique as a stronghold, the inside was carefully crafted to be comfortable and stylish. The decorative wood trim throughout the house is both symbolic of his Irish heritage and shows patriotism towards his new country.

The People

William Whitley and his wife, Esther, came west to Kentucky from Virginia. In 1788 he put in a circular race track and declared that his races would be run counter-clockwise, rather than in the British tradition. The great racing tradition began in William’s front yard, where he would invite friends from miles around to gather for races in the morning and an extravagant breakfast on the front lawn after. He gained fame as a frontiersman and for his success in battles with the Indians, served a term on the Kentucky General Assembly, and volunteered in the War of 1812. It was there that he died, in service of his country.

william whitley house
The House

Esther was a wonderwoman of the time. She traveled on horseback through the Allegheny mountains with her two young children tied onto her for safekeeping. When they reached Kentucky, she raised those two children, plus NINE more, and was frequently the sole protector of the household when William was away. During the late 1780s and 1790s while the big house was being built, she lived at various forts in the area and fought alongside the men when the forts came under siege. By all accounts, she was a crack shot and a pillar of early society in Kentucky.

Of course, I have only barely glossed over the known facts here. For more historical context and details, check out the brochure here.

The Site Today

Today, the William Whitley house is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday, April to October. Admission to the house is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and children under 6 are free. I highly recommend touring the house. The docents are very knowledgeable and share so many wonderful facts about the house and the people who lived there. After you’ve finished touring the house, make sure you walk to the small graveyard, and then to Sportsmans Hill.

william whitley house- field trip 2
The Graveyard

The opportunities for nature study abound here too. There are many trees to identify, common wildflowers, and various berries. And that’s not even mentioning the wildlife! This place is saturated with wonderful learning experiences–from history, to science, to civics and political science, to household economy. Check it out!


The Case for Re-Reading

In which I make the case for re-reading…

Are you a re-reader? Some people are, and some people wonder how on earth there can be time to re-read the same books. I have personally been in both camps. There are some books that I want to re-read but just don’t find the time for. The classics I read in high-school, for example. I am certain that I would enjoy them more and gain more from them if I read them again now. However, when I sit down and think about what I’m going to read next, the list of classics that I still wish to read could pave a path to the moon.

Then there are books that I can’t lay aside forever, because it would be like abandoning an old friend. Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron. Anne and Gilbert and Diana. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Shasta and Aravis.
You see, I don’t think books remain stagnant. As we grow and change, the books grow with us, reaching different parts of our understanding with each re-reading, and touching our hearts in different ways. Simply, you notice different characters as an adult, and empathize more deeply with them. In a way, they become more and more real.

Mrs. Weasley

If you know me, you probably know this about me, but I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. As in, I have re-read the series at least once every year since I first started to read them sometime in my mid-teens. I truly get more out of them every time I re-read them. Different scenes make me teary, different remarks strike me, and the character building never fails to impress. But one of the best surprises of re-reading is discovering the amazing qualities of a character that previously seemed to be little more than background noise. I will never forget the first time I re-read Harry Potter after I became a mother, and every time since. Mrs. Weasley moved to the frontline of the story for me. Everything she does, from taking care of her family and taking Harry under her wing, to the ultimate moment when she steps into battle wielding the fury only a mother defending can have… every scene just clicks now. I recognize that! I know how she feels.

Anne Shirley

Anne has been another of my long-time friends. I’ve reread the series (some books more than others) countless times, delighting in different things each time. I grew up with her. I’ve read the books as a teenager, as a newlywed, and as a mother. Most recently, I re-read “Anne’s House of Dreams”. In it, she gives birth to a baby who dies after her first hour of life. I have read that chapter 20 times, but it wasn’t until re-reading it this last time, in the wake of my own miscarriage, that I felt the depth of that chapter and the poignancy of the rest of the book as Anne adjusts to an altered future from the one she imagined. Each grief-riddled sentiment settled right into my own thoughts; before, they had been passing fancies that I experienced in the space of an afternoon and quickly forgot. I never understood how deeply that experience changed Anne through the rest of the book. Now I do. I recognize that. I know how she feels.

I’m not saying that every book should be re-read, but I’m making the case for the stories that have lingered with you through the years. Read them again. Let the characters speak to you in new ways. The main joy of reading is getting to know these other lives, true or imagined. If you get to know them for the space of a book, and love them, give them a chance to return as old friends.

So… do you reread? Who are your fictional besties that you meet up with once a year or so just for coffee and a chat?

We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”
― C.S. Lewis, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

field trip diaries camp nelson

Kentucky Field Trip Diaries: Camp Nelson

The Debut of our Field Trip Diaries: Camp Nelson, Nicholasville KY

In light of my new goal to make sure we’re getting our field trips, I’m going to share them. This was the first field trip of our new term. The Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park is a huge 500+ acre park and museum. The camp was created in 1863 and originally covered more than 4000 acres and sprawled from the Kentucky palisades and Hickman Bridge (the only bridge across the Kentucky River in the area at that time) up to the Heritage Park currently stands.

field trip camp nelson
Fall 2016

It was created to be a supply depot for the Union Army in Kentucky. However, while the camp was very defensible, it’s efficiency was hampered by the lack of railroads. Even though it’s purpose was to get supplies to different contingents of the army in Kentucky, it was difficult to do so in a timely manner. The camp served another purpose though and became the largest recruiting station for African Americans in Kentucky, and the third largest in the union. Many former slaves received their emancipation by joining the army and working at Camp Nelson. Many of them brought their wives and children along as well, and the camp also became a refugee camp.
The white house aka the Oliver Perry House

That’s the history in a nutshell–a seriously limited nutshell. There is so much more to it! For further reading, check out this history by Dr. Stephen McBride.

Admission to the heritage park is free, and tours are available to go through the white house. Volunteers do the majority of the tours and I would dearly love to volunteer some time! Maybe when the kids are older… There are trails all through the acreage, and signs explaining where different elements of the camp would have been. There is so much history and natural beauty here that I feel perfectly justified in my regular visits.
field trips camp nelson
Camp Nelson is one of my very favorite places to take the kids locally. There are wide open fields, lanes lined with trees, signs to read, a brook, a spring and hills to climb! And that’s all outside. There’s also a museum set up with scenes from camp life and archeological finds from the area. We do go to the museum, but the main appeal is in the grounds for us right now. Last time we went, Eva was terrified of the wax figures in the museum. It’s slightly more difficult to read all the signs and see all the things when there’s a 19 month old clinging to your neck and whimpering any time you go close to the exhibits.
camp nelson field trip
There are so many wonderful opportunities for learning, all tied up in this beautiful, (FREE) heritage park! I love Camp Nelson, and if you’re in the area you should definitely check it out!


First Term ~ Homeschool Year 1

First Term

Our first term of the school year ended last week. We plan to school year round, with a 8 week term. Most terms throughout the traditional school year won’t have much break between them, because ultimately we want to be able to take our breaks when it suits our family. Anyways, all that to say, the term is mainly for my own organizational purposes. Before we started school, I planned our first term and set our larger goals for the school year. However, I held off on the specific term lesson plans until 2 weeks before our new term starts.

The biggest reason for this is simply self-evaluation.

I did not want to put all my hours of planning into our terms and eventually realize that for whatever reason, “the plan” wasn’t working. This gave us an opportunity to get into the flow of our homeschool days and then critically evaluate them. More than just assessing the material we’ve actually been able to cover, I also check our family schedule. A lot can happen in two months! Obligations come and go, but by reevaluating every 8 weeks, I can be more mindful of how our days need to be structured.

Things I’ve Learned in 8 weeks

1. Keeping lessons brief and poignant is essential to holding and building the attention of a 5 year old. Charlotte Mason frequently talks about developing the habit of attention. The ability to remain focused on any subject for much longer than 20 minutes is not innate in a child and must be carefully developed.

2. The habit of attention is not developed over night. It’s far too easy for me to think that progress should be immediately apparent, when the truth of the matter is that it takes time to see fruit. We’re not looking for an instant fix anyways–we’re on a journey that will have many changes and last for many years.

3. Probably most important and most obvious of all (though somehow I’d missed it): My children’s interests will not necessarily be the same as mine. I am utterly fascinated by world history. We’re using Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, and I love it. Without even realizing it, I found myself expecting my kids to be enthralled as well. When they weren’t quite as obsessed as I was, it was quite a shock to my system. The truth of the matter is though, Sophia is not very interested in world history right now. She is mildly interested. We’ll give her that. But she is much more intrigued by her math and science work.

4. Different fascinations are not a bad thing. I’m finding myself so much more engaged by math and science than I ever was during my own “school years”. My goal isn’t to raise carbon copies of myself anyways, but to engage my children and help them learn how to learn.

5. Learning truly never stops. Once begun, once engaged, the world becomes a classroom, abounding with unanswered questions and untapped stores of knowledge. Charlotte Mason famously said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” In other words, education is not confined to a physical space where it happens, but it is encompassed in the attitude with which we greet the world. Do we plod through life’s routines, not daring to learn outside the classroom? Or do we greet each moment of the day as an opportunity to develop our understanding?
first-term outside

Things I’m changing in our second term:

For the most part, I’m really pleased with how our first term went. Our days weren’t overfull or empty, and we’ve made good academic progress. Overall, I’m not happy with how much we’re getting outside. I want to be getting out for nature walks at least once a week. But it just hasn’t been happening. I feel like the time we’re not spending in school is eaten up trying to catch up on housework. Ultimately, I don’t want to lose the joy of discovery in housework, so while the weather is still decent we’re going to try to be better at getting outside this term.

So that’s our first term! If you’re interested in my planning process check out this post! Are you homeschooling? How is your year going?