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Back to School (Weeks 16 and 17)

A 'balanced diet' of holiday food: an espresso shortbread cookie on a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball on fruitcake on chips--and the top three are gluten free!

A ‘balanced diet’ of holiday food: an espresso shortbread cookie on a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball on fruitcake on chips–and the top three are gluten free!


From running around in shorts and bare feet on Christmas Eve (in Ontario!) to blankets of snow and ice, we have enjoyed the last month.  Holidays, decorations, special food…and then back to schoolwork.  But, schoolwork or not, the fire still glows warmly, and there are still large cups of tea, good books, conversations on the couch, games, and laughter.


The past two weeks of learning have been very basic, with the bare minimum in math, writing, history, logic, Dutch, science, and Bible.  Although we have been faithful in our daily work, except the past two days when one of the girls was throwing up and both of them had a cold, it seems as though very little has gotten done.  We did start something new, Career Exploration from 7 Sisters, which seems interesting and helpful.  And the girls did read a lot, mostly adult nonfiction, so they learned from that.

But it has been hard to get back into the special things like King Alfred’s English, Drawing Textbook, and music history.  We haven’t even been able to find a novel to read aloud, so we’re reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? instead.  Now, that’s a good book but, really, not being able to find a worthwhile novel to read aloud is unheard of in our family.

Somehow, I feel we are like a raveling cloth instead of an organized homeschool.  I suppose the issue is simple:  Who said homeschooling had to be organized?  As long as the children are learning, the main goal is being accomplished, and as long as I’m recording what is going on, the secondary goal, preparing records for university applications, is being accomplished.  Really, what more could one ask for?


Enough of such thoughts.  Let’s move on to something exciting, books.  Because I had a significant health set back, I had a few couch days and used them to read:

Jane Eyre, which I discussed here.  I like it much better now that I’ve lived a bit.

Flowers in the Rain, a collection of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher.  Each time I read something by Pilcher, my favorite modern fiction author, I realize that if I ever write fiction, I want to write like Pilcher.  If you’ve never read these short stories, you will love them.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield.  The author said that becoming an astronaut is about changing the way you think, and that reminded me of Romans 12:2 which tells us to be transformed through the renewing of our minds.  Reading the book through that lens made it even more profound and worthwhile.

Smart but Scattered Teens.  I hope to post a review of this book soon. If you have a smart teen who often astounds you by his or her complete ditziness in some area, your family will benefit from this book.  Or you may like it for yourself; I found it very illuminating.

Susanna, Don’t You Cry, a novel by yet another member of the talented McIntire family, will come out in February and I’ll publish my review then.

With the girls, I finished Sun on the Stubble, an Australian children’s classic that had us laughing uproariously at times.  In the midst of its vigorous writing it also contained some of the best metaphors I have ever read aloud.

Individually we all dreamt through The Private World of Tasha Tudor and The No-Churn Ice Cream Book, and sometime this year we are going to eat Baked Alaska.

As for Bible reading, I’m still working on Jeremiah with the girls after meals, and after another reading through Job I have begun Psalms for myself.  When my husband is home, we read 2 Corinthians at meals.

The girls have been reading books like Don’t Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow, Animals Make Us Human, Brain Maker, Smart but Scattered Teens, and Around the World in 80 Days.  Reading that list makes me feel so much better about our slow progress in traditional school subjects!

Recommended Links

Reading Job several times in a row really makes me think about what it means to weep with those who weep (Romans 12).  Here is one article about The Number One Thing Your Suffering Friends Needs and another about Six Habits of Highly Empathic People.

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up and Finishing Strong.


  1. Jennifer H. says:

    The picture of the “balanced” diet made me giggle. Sometimes after I finish a book, I need a little time before I jump into the next one. It still sounds like a whole lot of reading is going on. I am tempted to listen to my next book. I have to find the right one. That way I can clean or do a mindless task, like ride on my trainer. I hope you are back to feeling well. I am trying to kick my cold before it turns into a sinus infection that will require a doctor visit. Unfortunately, I cannot find my Thieves essential oil.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      I hope you soon feel better, Jenn! Lots of sleep, lots of liquids, lots of vitamins, lots of fresh air….

      Yes, we laughed about the balanced diet too, and that’s why I couldn’t resist taking that picture.

      Have fun choosing your next book! I’m reading so many for school that I feel I’m on a merry go round. I finished Around the World in 80 Days today, discussing with Miss 13, but she didn’t get much out of it. Pity. Oh well, we’ll keep her reading regularly, and hopefully reading will work for her eventually.

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