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Real Food

I'm not finished yet, but I just have to share: I have my body back! It is amazing what a difference a mindset makes. Before Paleo, I was borderline depression, my self-esteem was shot, and I resented my body. The day I started Paleo, there was a major attitude adjustment: My body responded to the way I treated it. I fed it crap, it looked and felt like crap. I was determined to treat it better. It responded well.  I want to feel good, so I have to eat well. Sometimes, the cheesecake will be worth it. Sometimes. Rarely.

Several times, my children have started to offer me something and then said, "Oh, wait. You can't have wheat."  And I have firmly corrected them: I am not on a diet. I can have whatever I want. But no thank you. I don't want it."

I've lost 7 lbs in 25 days. I fit into my pants. Pre-paleo, I was struggling with accepting my body size and buying a new wardrobe or being hard on my body and fitting into the clothes in my closet. Hard on my body?? I have to laugh at the idea now. All the time it was actually the option of being GOOD to my body. Eating peppers and onions fried in bacon grease is not hard. Fresh fruits and salads...real tough, huh? Grilled meats, fried meats, roasted meats...or the other option: Wheat followed by sluggish mind, body, and emotions.

I've had several people comment that I look good. One friend called me to find out what I was doing. She said, "Yeah, you're smaller, but that's not what I mean. You look HEALTHY. You feel good and it shows.  I want that. Tell me what to do."  

I said at the beginning of this that if I never lost a pound, it was still worth it for the way I felt. I meant it. But fitting these clothes again is a very nice bonus.


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Living Books Curriculum, Grade 1

"The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum." These words, penned by Charlotte Mason over 100 years ago, capture the heart of Living Books Curriculum. Charlotte Mason held revolutionary ideas about the educating of children in early twentieth-century England. For many years, these ideas seemed to have been lost. However, they have been experiencing a revival of sorts over the last 20 years, and many homeschooling families are recognizing the brilliance behind her philosophies--namely, that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life! A Charlotte Mason education exposes children to noble ideas and interesting concepts. Living Books Curriculum provides this rich and varied education without being overwhelming to parent or child.

I incorporated Living Books Curriculum for Grade One with my two daughters, ages 6 and 4. This is the first year of formal schooling for both girls, and I was prepared for my 4-year-old to be left out of many things. I was delighted to discover how wrong I was. Both girls stay enthralled for the duration of our studies each day. The excellent books that are included in this curriculum are irresistible; how could they not be enthralled? Charlotte Mason insisted that children are people and that their minds feed on living ideas found in living books. I am continually impressed with the fantastic book choices which can't help but spark a love of learning. The book list, which can be viewed at, has a nice balance of modern books and the more classic books of yesterday. The age-appropriate selections hold children's interest and kindle many interesting conversations.

For 36 weeks, students explore a plethora of subjects using beautiful material. The year is divided into four 8-week terms, each followed by a flex/exam week. The program provides all of the ingredients of a rigorous education yet manages to retain the gentleness for which a Charlotte Mason education is known.

Bible Study is done with a devotional that begins with Genesis and progresses through the entire Bible. Two to three stories are studied per week, using both the devotional stories and Scripture readings.

Language Arts is taught through poetry, read-alouds, lessons in storytelling, and Aesop's Fables. All of these are accompanied by narration exercises. Penmanship lessons use the Italics method in a book aptly entitled Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children. The lessons are so simple yet so effective. Italics is an inexpensive book and is intended to be used for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. The poetry selections come from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. My only regret with this subject is that there are not enough poems in the book to cover the entire 36-week school year. By the time the book's poems have all been read, nearly half of the year is still left. The Teacher's Guide encourages readers to continue to read from the same book, and I daresay my girls and I will probably enjoy revisiting old favorites.

A guide to teaching reading is built into the weekly lessons in the Teacher's Guide. These lessons begin with pre-reading activities and alphabet recognition. Unfortunately, I find they are much more appropriate for my four-year-old than my six-year-old. However, children learn to read at different ages and stages and this is a gentle introduction for those at the beginning stages of learning. I have my daughters do different lessons, incorporating the second half of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading for my older daughter. I am not a big proponent of pushing children to read early, but some students desire it and can benefit from more challenging material.

Living Books Curriculum uses several different books to explore earth science, physical science, biology, and health. A complete health curriculum is available on the Resource CD accompanying the Teacher's Guide. Some sections of the Teacher's Guide might appear to be overly simple for a first grade child. For example, the assessment at the end of the first term has students classify what is "plant" and what is "animal" using flash cards. Certainly, most first graders can do this easily. However, this should not be considered an indicator of the depth of material studied throughout Living Books First Grade Science. By the ninth week, when this assessment occurs, students have already read many interesting books, participated in experiments, and made many observations about plants and animals that far exceed being able to tell them apart.

Nature study is a key ingredient in a Charlotte Mason education. For those not accustomed to it, it can be a daunting endeavor. The Living Books Resource CD contains many helpful articles that guide parents and students into this new practice. Nature Journal forms are also provided on the CD.

Art, one of the most easily forgotten subjects in the average homeschool week, is scheduled weekly, using lessons from The Little Hands Art Book. This enchanting book does not require complicated resources and does not leave piles of useless clutter in its wake. Delightful art is created as little hands improve in hand-eye coordination and little hearts are inspired. Art appreciation is also developed using "Come Look with Me" books. These books, written by Gladys Blizzard, open students' eyes to the world of art and help them discover the world through the eyes of many different artists.

Music is studied through the lives of composers. Stories of the Great Composers covers the lives of 12 great composers. An accompanying CD allows students to listen to a composition by each composer. These are never quite enough to satisfy my girls, so we usually spend some extra time listening to more of their music through while the girls alternate between coloring and dancing to the music.

World history in Grade 1 begins with the Ancients. On many days, this directly coincides with the matching Bible stories. In fact, the history readings for Grade 1 are more specifically a history of the Israelites. Some children will love hearing these exciting stories multiple times; some might prefer to skip some history readings. Grade 2 history begins again with ancient Egypt. Grade 3 covers Greeks and Romans up to the fall of Rome. This is not ideal for those wanting to study a chronological history in a four-year cycle. However, many families appreciate this multi-stream approach to history, which combines a slower examination of world history studied at the same time as American history from a different era. Grade 1 American history begins with the Colonial Period; Grade 2 covers the American Revolution, and so forth.

Geography is the section that has impressed me with its simplicity. Most of the lessons need only a map or globe and time for a discussion. Students examine a map to identify first what a continent is, then a country, then states, and so forth. Students trace the route of the Israelites during the Exodus. Oceans, continents, and countries are learned through map work and Geography songs.

Mathematics is not included, although there is a section in each week's guide for parents to write in lesson plans for the program best suited to the child.

What I especially appreciate about the Living Books Curriculum is that it helps keep me on task for all the lovely "extras" that I have a tendency to brush aside, such as Art, Music Appreciation, and Nature Studies. The truth is that they are not "extras." They are, in fact, integral to an education that is alive and inspired, that relates to the world around us.

I had a hard time adjusting to the weekly layout rather than a daily line-up. All lessons are written out for the week, not broken down into days. I tend to need more direction on a day-to-day basis, so I spend some extra time each week compiling a daily list for myself using forms provided on the Resource CD. My list is flexible, but it helps keep me more accountable for implementing books as outlined in the weekly layout. For parents wanting something to tell them exactly what they need to do for each step, this could be a deterring factor. For others, this flexibility is a wonderful characteristic.

The price for the entire kit is $525.00. The company does offer a payment option of four equal payments. If you wish to pursue this option you need to notify them. Living Books is eager to offer advice and help you choose the perfect package for your family. The Teacher's Guide makes up $75.00 of the total price. Several of the books in the kit will be used again and again in continuing grades. The prices for individual books in the kit match or beat the most inexpensive prices I can find elsewhere. The high price tag stems from the sheer quantity of books. If this price is too high, and you do not mind not owning your books, you could obtain many of them through the library system instead. For me, $525.00 is a lot of money to invest in curriculum, but I can honestly say that I think it is a fair price for the quality of the materials. Living Books Curriculum stands behind its materials so well that it offers a 12-month, 100% refund policy on all books and materials, less shipping costs. Living Books Curriculum also has a reputation for excellent customer service. Their staff is happy to advise on best-suited grade levels and choices for teaching multiple children. Their website also provides a forum which is very active and can be a great source of encouragement and wisdom for parents using this method.

If you are curious about the Charlotte Mason method and Living Books Curriculum, be sure to sign up for the free Get-Acquainted Sample Pack at It contains lots of free goodies. Also, Charlotte Mason's original writings are available to read online at

What are you? A greedy pirate?

No. Honest. But I thought I'd try the AdSense thing. I've blogged for years without it and can happily continue to do so with this blog, but I thought I'd try something new. Who knows, maybe it will eventually pay enough to cover the cost of my own domain name.

However, google insists on a disclaimer, which I'm happy to do, I'm just not sure how to make one that doesn't sound like pure cheese or total boredom. And google says they don't feel right about spelling it out for users, so here we go:

The internet is mostly free. There is an amazing amount of beautiful information and entertainment available to us via the internets. This is made possible through advertisements. Advertisements aren't evil. Malware is evil. Viruses are evil.

Your privacy policy should include the following information:
  • Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to your website.
  • Google's use of the DART cookie enables it and its partners to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and/or other sites on the Internet.
  • Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the advertising opt-out page. (Alternatively, you can direct users to opt out of a third-party vendor's use of cookies by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out page.)
If you have not opted out of third-party ad serving, the cookies of other third-party vendors or ad networks may also be used to serve ads on your site, and should be disclosed in your privacy policy as well in the following manner.
  • Notify your site visitors of the third-party vendors and ad networks serving ads on your site.
  • Provide links to the appropriate vendor and ad network websites.
  • Inform your users that they may visit those websites to opt out of cookies (if the vendor or ad network offers this capability). Users can opt out of some, but not all, of these cookies in one location at the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out website at

About Me

it occurred to me that entering the latter half of my 30's actually qualifies as being one of those "older women" Titus 2 was talking about and maybe I could actually be of some help to someone. I mean, really, I'm opinionated enough. And I have no qualms about telling you that your shoes don't match your outfit any more than your parenting methods match your parenting goals. I know I would have appreciated it if someone had "told it to me straight" during those early parenting years.

In my "short version" bio in the corner, I mentioned farming, but the truth is, you're getting in on the ground-floor of this endeavor. The house exists, the land is there. But I'm not in said house yet. It's a farmhouse. An old farmhouse. The kind that needs completely rewired, etc., etc. I've always dreamed of raising my kids in the country, gathering eggs in the morning, admiring my studly husband out in the fields. Now that it is actually about to happen, I'm scared to pieces. Did you know there are snakes in the country? And bears? And cougars? Seriously. I'm a Nervous Nellie when it comes to the safety of my children and this is not an easy transition for me.

I also mentioned knitting, but don't think there will be grand and unique knitting designs shared here. I can make scarves, hats, mittens, and socks. And none exceptionally well.

The homeschooling is done via a make-shift classical method. My children have always been homeschooled and I currently have children in all three learning stages at the same time (grammar, logic, and rhetoric.) We attempt every year to pursue a Charlotte Mason education. This strongly resembles classical in many ways, but is more fun and nature-focused. We always get behind and fall back to standard, classical assignments until we catch up again, which is never.

The product reviews are mostly homeschool curriculum reviews, though there are some other opinion pieces thrown in.  Most of the time, I am given the product as a gift to review, but sometimes I just feel like sharing my opinion, so I do. I write for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which I highly recommend if you are a homeschooling mama in need of support or encouragement. They run frequent sales and even carry an online edition.

The low-carb comment referred to what works best for my family, not to what I religiously stick to. At the moment, I'm so far off the wagon, you wouldn't know there was a wagon. But we only backslide occasionally and I will very soon be back to feeding us the staples of a paleo, primitive, prism-style diet. They're mostly alike and I honestly balk at the term diet because it implies we're out to lose weight. No, we're out to eat healthy. It's a way of eating. Not just for a couple months until you reach your goal, but to love it for the rest of your life....unless you go on vacation and then that's different. Unfortunately, I really believe that last line and I extended that vacation we took in June and forgot to start feeding us the right way ever since.

Something that didn't make the short "About Me" list is my efforts towards emergency preparations, stockpiling, or sustainable living...whatever you want to call it. I'm not Mormon, and neither am I an End-times Doomsday-er. I just want to be responsible with our finances and resources, with some emergency preparations on-hand...just in case. Just in case scenarios include loss-of-job, weather-related emergencies, etc. The scenarios I foresee do not include Zombie Apocalypse, though I can't help but joke about it being our real goal. 

All of these topics are pursued with the goal of living more simply, thus the title. We make things so complicated. I've been a pack-rat all of my life, both with things and activities. As a family, we've reached that epiphany moment and are tired of the stuff. We've spent the last month decluttering and will make this move to the country with less than half of our current house contents. I'm very excited about that. It's so freeing to let go of the stuff!

And that's as much about me as I can stand to type.

About Me

The Short Version

The Long Version

The Short Version

I'm a Misfit Homeschooling Mama attempting farming, simplifying, knitting, writing reviews, and healthy eating in spite of the fact that I'm a geek, not a gardner; a pack-rat, not a minimalist; and every time I go to look up a pattern or a recipe, I lose hours of my life on the interwebs.