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Planning a New School Year

This year, we're planning on things looking a bit different than all of our other years. Fewer things on our plates, with deeper and richer days. So what does planning look for that look like?

First, I'm remembering the wise advice from Christopher Perrin and Sarah Mackenzie regarding planning for Schole. Instead of taking all of the things you want to do and fitting them into your schedule, begin with your schedule and find out what priorities can fit into it.

The Tools

My wall calendar

This is for everyone in the house to glance at and know what's going on and when. This calendar gets comments from nearly everyone who comes in the house. It's pretty and it's incredibly handy.

My bullet journal

This is my brain. This keeps all of my junk in one accessible place. It also allows me an excuse for a little creative outlet.

Homeschool Manager
I can't say enough good stuff about this online planner. Easy Peasy. We're actually getting stuff FINISHED with this.

Menu Plan
{free printable in the link}

I don't have time to worry about this stuff. They insist on eating at least 3 times per day. With several evening activities, I really can't wait until we're hungry to start thinking about things or we'll end up eating at McDonalds every night. Eww.

Motivated Moms
(affiliate link)
Again, no time to worry about this stuff. Check off little boxes in my phone and get the house clean. Done.

The Plan

You don't mind if I just think out loud here, do you? I need to work through this and I think better in print than in my brain.

I have Monday through Friday, though Fridays often get eaten up with outside activities. We begin early, since they seem to do so much better at math if they work on it before 9:00 a.m. We take an hour for lunch, eating together and cleaning up. We want to be finished by 3:00. That gives us 7 hours, 4 1/2 days per week.

A lot hinges on a morning routine. By the time they sit down for a Circle Up at 8:00, they will have already finished their Morning Five:
  • Feeding animals
  • Feeding themselves breakfast
  • Bible Study
  • Beds Made
  • Dressed and Ready
If they only take 10 minutes per chore, they've already taken nearly an hour. I'll have to wake them up at 7:00 at the latest. They're going to ask me to wake them up earlier. I just know it. That will cut into my alone time in the mornings. My mornings are sacred. This is hard. Sigh. Okay, fine; I'll wake them up at 6:45, but no earlier!

Now, that Circle Time. I have a tendency to chat and get way off topic. It's supposed to be a time run through our memory work. If I feel the need to chat about something, I'd probably better do so over breakfast. They need to start math.

8:15 - 9:30 MATH

It's really the only thing we put on a schedule. Everything else is flexible. But if we don't hit this math schedule, nothing gets done. Nothing.

Must Do's:

Reading good books (history & lit)
Writing (& grammar & spelling)

If we do an hour per class, we've already gone over our time. It doesn't work. In theory, 3 of those classes will only take half an hour. But we get chatty. I think perhaps I should do Economics one semester and Theology the next, for safety's sake.

We can do this. It's going to work. It will!

Be sure to check out my article at Year Round Homeschooling, sharing how we managed to get our kids excited about a new school year.

The Paleo Chef

The Paleo Chef

Quick, Flavorful Paleo Meals for Eating Well

Pete Evans, foreword by Seamus Mullen

Having no television, I really don't know much about the who's who world of chefs. The name Pete Evans meant nothing to me, but the idea of quick Paleo meals was very appealing! I happily volunteered to review this one.  

We don't have any food allergies, just some mild sensitivities that do better with a primal approach to eating. After a vacation of eating whatever we wanted, we were all needing a fresh start and a good eating plan. This was perfect timing for my family.

The book contains over 100 recipes, including paleo recipes for breakfast, dessert, and beverages as well as great main dishes. While some of the ingredients required more than the basics, the instructions were easy to follow and not too complicated.

Some of the ingredients were a bit intimidating. Our tiny town doesn't carry much in the exciting foods department. Figs, saffron, fennel bulbs, licorice root...these are not options for us. When I read "kaffir lime leaves", I laughed out loud. Pancetta? Frisee? No. But the book comes with great instruction and direction. We were able to substitute ingredients and still enjoy fabulous meals.

The cookbook also inspires attractive presentation. Having a family often means just being happy we get to sit down and eat together, not even caring overly much what's on our plates, let alone how it looks. But it is a nice touch to consider color and texture and work towards making it look as appetizing as it tastes.

Desserts include Churros, Key Lime Tart, Chocolate Beet Mudcakes and more. Main dishes include fish and chips, Jerk chicken, Seared Beef Liver, and much more. There are sides and snacks and beautiful, inspiring recipes in here.

The Paleo Chef can be purchased for $24.99. You can read more info and the author's bio for even more information. 

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I think I might have something in my eye

My boys spent the week at a mission trip and my sweet Mother-in-Law hosted my girls at a week of Camp Grandma, so I was able to spend an entire week alone at home. I cleaned all of the dark corners and listened to inspiring podcasts and seminars from Circe Institute.

There were too many good things to begin share it all, but I have a new perspective for our school year that I must share. One speech that strongly challenged me was The Seventh Day and Its Implications on Our Teaching by Christopher Perrin.

So many good things there, but something in particular stood out to me. Regarding the verse that speaks of removing the splinter from your brothers eye only after you've removed the log from your own: Remember that children are persons...before removing that speck from your 6 year old or your 16 year old, remove the log from your own.


Another excellent session was The Classical Paradigm by Martin Cothran. He gives a beautiful definition of Classical Education, as being the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It fit in so nicely with the teachings of Christopher Perrin and the need for Schole. Restful, purposeful learning.

Multum, Non Multa.

Much not Many.

I've always opted for many rather than much. There are so many fabulous things out there, I just want to squeeze as much of it in as I possibly can! But so little is retained when you try cram in learning. It is so much better to soak in good things, discuss and chew on topics until you own them. Much will be changing in our new school year.

Finally, a session you just have to hear is Further Up and Futher In: An Exploration of the Classical Quadrivium by Andrew Kern. Kern rambles like a madman, but there are so many good insights, it truly is worth holding on tight and listening to again and again. Something in particular that stood out to me is the reminder of Man's Primary Purpose. We've been going through the Catechism with the kids (very slowly) and we've certainly learned that Man's Primary Purpose is to Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever.

And then Kern asks: Are you sure? Are you sure your son's purpose isn't to go to college? Of course not! It might be part of the process God wants to use with your son in the specific way God intends to be glorified through him, but even then, it is but a means to an end. It is NOT the end.

I've been terrified of this upcoming senior year and all of the applications and tests and transcripts and credits and and and..... This was a good reminder for me.

And finally, in that same talk, this beautiful game changer:
[Socrates:] I am amused, I said, at your fear of the world, which makes you guard against the appearance of insisting upon useless studies; and I quite admit the difficulty of believing that in every man there is an eye of the soul which, when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined; and is more precious by far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone is truth seen. Republic VII
Do you see that?? The eye of the soul is purified and re-illumined by the pursuit of "useless studies". Are your children's eyes dulled to learning? To life? Are your eyes dull? Are you gazing upon Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? There just isn't time, right? So much to do! So little time! It feels silly to pause to read a good book, listen to Mozart, or gaze upon a painting. Do it anyway. Go watch a sunset. Walk and hold hands. Read a poem, learn a new Latin phrase, sketch a picture. Wake up your mind and remember how good it feels to think on these things.

I cannot wait to begin school with my family. My final year of school for oldest baby. Man. Whatever.