Learning Notes – Week of September 29


Back to school for us, after two very full weeks off.  I thought it would be a rough day, expected everyone to be extra lazy and whiny, but it actually wasn’t bad.  I guess they were ready to learn again, despite what they would tell you if asked!  I think we finally got caught up on literature after being a day or two behind all of September.  I was thankful we didn’t have our usual violin lessons – it gave us a little more time to get our work done.  We did go back to homeschool orchestra (I use that term loosely…it’s a small strings group).  When we visited last time, I sat behind the girls and whispered finger numbers to Emma, but this time I determined to kick the birds out of the nest and force them to fly, as it were. I sat in the parking lot and read.  Wayne took Ben to soccer so I got to be alone, alone, gloriously alone!  Had to rush straight from orchestra to swim practice.  Our evenings have gotten so busy; I’m so glad we get to be home together during the day.

Since I’m now officially signed up for my first half marathon in March, I’m following a training plan. (I’m using the one in this book: Train Like a Mother, which I bought with the gift card my anonymous blog friend gave me for my birthday. Thanks again, friend!)  While the girls were swimming, I went for a run along the sea wall.

The view was beautiful…and then it started to rain.  I was no where near my car.  Light sprinkles turned into a regular downpour and inspired me to increase my speed!  Only got about half the mileage in, but oh well.  Of course I had a “just in case” book with me (something I learned from Rory Gilmore), so all was not lost.

Also on Monday, my new greens powder came in.

Some settling may occur.

I’m struggling with some skin issues, and although my dermatologists have always insisted that diet does not affect autoimmune stuff, it just seems so obvious that poor nutrition must affect your skin negatively.  So I decided to take a daily dose of greens, as well as work hard to increase my veggie intake.  It can’t hurt, right?  I also quit using the steroid cream – it can’t be good for prolonged use.

Missed family devotions.  Got out of our routine on vacation.  Didn’t read Norse Myths to Emma like I was supposed to, either.


Another day where I kept re-checking the lists and wondering what we were missing.  School went so smoothly.  Happily, this turned out to be a review week in a couple of subjects, so that helped. (I didn’t even plan that!)  I noticed that Abby had checked off “Read lesson and discuss example paragraphs”, though we’d done no such thing. Asked her if she’d had a good discussion with herself.  Without missing a beat she replied, “Yes, I did. It got really deep.”  Read some good books to Ben – we still love everything Memoria Press recommends.  He can do a full Saxon Math 1 lesson and both worksheets no problem, but one page of handwriting is enough and he doesn’t like to work on phonics for very long, either.  I’m discovering that he has a hard time with consonant blends. He can’t say them.  So “snack” sounds like “sack.”  I don’t know if his ear is not as attuned to the sounds because of his later exposure to English (he was almost 4) or if it’s a speech thing?  Keep wondering if I should have him evaluated by a speech therapist, but I have such a minimalist approach to interventions (especially from the state) that I keep choosing the “wait and see” approach.

Took another dose of greens.  It’s not bad.  Sort of pepperminty.  I mean, I don’t want to sip it for enjoyment of an afternoon, but I can get it down without trouble.  My skin seemed extra angry and inflamed, but I’m not changing my plan yet.

Runkeeper tells me I ran 4.2 miles, and I must have done that during the girls’ swim practice, but honest to goodness I don’t remember it at all.  I must have run outside again, around the base and along the sea wall.  The humidity is finally going away and it’s actually pleasant to be outside again.

Forgot family devotions. Forgot Norse Myths. Oy.


Regular school day.  I really enjoy all the review that is built into our curriculum.  I feel like the girls are really learning when they can recite things and answer questions relating to stuff they learned in previous weeks.  They’ve learned all the passages from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in our Shakespeare book, but I decided a review week would be a good thing.  A few minutes of review each morning is all it takes.

Wayne had softball games, so I had to do extra duty — take girls to church and then run Ben back to soccer (across the street from our house) and then back to get the girls.  It really cut into my reading time, but soccer practice was hilarious enough to make up for it.  One kid, tired of fighting to kick the ball, simply picked it up and ran for the goal.  Another kid, after kicking a goal, started hopping around shouting, “I won! I won!” whereupon his mother started hollering at him from the sidelines about sportsmanship.  Watching little kids play sports is solid entertainment.  When I picked up the girls at church, they reported that the choir teacher is mean and they just did “weird instrument things.”  I was really hoping for a good choir experience, since church is their only opportunity for that.  Told them they have to stick it out awhile longer.

Took my greens.  Suspect my skin is less inflamed and maybe just looking drier.  I will choose to call it progress.

No family devotions. No reading to Emma.  Caught her, in fact, playing on her tablet when she was supposed to be reading to herself and so turned out her light early.  Read or sleep, baby. Those are the rules for 8-8:30 at my house.


What I really want to say about Thursday morning will make me sound like a small child, but I’m going to say it anyway.  They were mean to me.  My children.  They were mean. Do you ever feel like your kids gang up on you?  I was sitting at the table trying to go over recitations with them, and they just kept giving me a hard time and Abby kept giving me that “I’m so cool and you’re so lame” face despite my repeated corrections.  I looked out the window and saw a mom jogging by.  All alone, carefree, since her kids are in school all day.  Suddenly couldn’t stop myself from crying.  Ran to the bathroom and took a few minutes to feel sorry for myself, followed by a few minutes to recover.  Went back out and gave them extra writing assignments and sent them to their desks.    Ben cried about 34509 times during the day.  If you looked at him sideways, he cried.  I don’t know what was wrong with us.  I texted my sister to vent, and she promised to pray for us.  The Lord had mercy on us, and the day got better.  Abby did eventually come apologize.  I decided we should go to Pizza Hut for lunch, which cheered everyone considerably.  Finished our work and went back to orchestra and right on to swim team.  (The girls only play violin and swim, but with 2 orchestra rehearsals and 4 swim team practices each week, it’s plenty.)

My training schedule called for sprints, which I did on the track behind the pool building.  It was actually nice to do something other than a set number of miles.  30 seconds all out run, 1 minute recovery walk, repeat.  While running, I listened to a Circe podcast about World War I novels.  Two more books to add to the TBR pile.

Wish I could say we jumped back into family devotions, or prayed, or even opened Norse Myths, but alas.  We do morning prayers every school day, but I want to work through Training Hearts, Teaching Minds as a family, and with Wayne.  At the rate we’re going, we’ll be lucky to finish the catechism by the time Ben graduates. (He’s 6.)

Took my greens.  My skin is definitely looking better.  I guess there’s no way to know if the greens and my salad-eating are responsible or not.  I shall carry on and hope.


Got a late start since I went for my run early (just over 3 miles).  Wayne was off work, so I could do a morning run in daylight.  It suddenly got super humid again, yuck.  I don’t mind it in the summer, but by October, even I’m over it.

After morning prayer, I read the Nesbit version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream story to the girls.  They seemed to enjoy it; how about that?!  Now I need to find a movie version we can watch.

Fridays are mostly tests.  It seemed to take forever, though, as the kids kept running out to the garage to check on the progress on Abby’s bike.  The girls are doing a triathlon this weekend, and Wayne had taken Abby’s bike apart awhile ago…and then let it sit until today.  (The less I say about that, the better.  Ahem.)  He spent hours working on it, but couldn’t get it fixed. She has to borrow a bike for the race.  She has to borrow a bike for the race the day before the race.  I pray it meets the specifications and is the right size for her.  I don’t know what else to do.

Ran out to get Ben’s hair cut, triathlon packet pickup, commissary.  Snacks and on to swim team.  Home for bacon and eggs for dinner.  Dinners have been so thrown together this week.  Swim team forces us to eat really early or really late.  I love doing one sport year round, because the kids can actually improve steadily, but I’m sort of hoping they’ll want to take a break during the spring season.

Took my greens.  Face is less inflamed, but dry and itchy. I’m still refusing to put anything on it.

Hymn for the week: Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above.

My reading this week: Working slowly through Desiring the Kingdom and loving it.  I originally got it from the library on ILL, but knew I couldn’t finish it in the allotted time so I just bought it.  (And got the next one in the series while I was at it.)  I’m fascinated by his suggestion that we all have a picture of “the good life” that is shaping us…what we do ultimately stems from what we love.  As a parent, I find this an urgent thought.  What do we as a family do every day that is shaping our kids’ picture of the good life?  What practices, what liturgies do we live out day after day? Because those are the things that are forming a picture in their minds of the good life.  What are we teaching them to value?  And not teaching by words but teaching by habits, by regular normal actions of every day life? I’m not saying it well, but the book is good.

Also working on finishing The Two Towers.  I say “working” because I’ve never been a big fantasy fan, but after finishing the Narnia series earlier this year, I’ve promised myself to try and overcome that preference.  Sometimes I feel like Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who hadn’t read any of the right books.  So this book is okay, it’s still not my favorite, but I’m willing to admit that that might be a shortcoming of mine instead of faulting the genre. 🙂 I still don’t understand why Tolkien gives everyone and everything 3 or 4 different names.  Isn’t one sufficient?  And way less confusing?

If you’re so inclined, go check out the other Learning Notes!

About waymel

Navy wife. Homeschooling mom. Adoptive parent. Pianist. Introvert. One who loves quiet and beauty.
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9 Responses to Learning Notes – Week of September 29

  1. jenhamrick says:

    I like reading your learning notes. 🙂
    C.S. Lewis rules. Tolkien drools.

  2. shirley wilmoth says:

    your blogs make me smile, even laugh, almost cry and can I use an old-fashioned word and say that they are “delightful”. One time very long ago my children laughed at me for using such a word. Keep posting. You are one of my very favorite writers. You let me peek into your days and home and I enjoy it so much even though it is a look back several days.

  3. redkeeney says:

    I liked Abby’s deep comment. Sorry about your rough morning but I do think pizza was a solid choice for making the day better. Enjoyed these notes!

  4. Catherine says:

    I have so had those kinds of mornings! And I feel the same way about Tolkien literature. Can I appreciate its wonderfulness without having to read it? 🙂

  5. Melanie says:

    About why each person, place and thing has 3 or 4 names.

    Because Tolkien was a philologist. The whole reason he began the Lord of the Rings project was because he wanted to make up his own languages and believed that language can only properly develop in the context of myth and story. So he needed to write stories. So much of those stories have to do with his love for language itself. The names, everything having several, is precisely because it’s a world with all these layers of history, of language, and each of the names reflects one of those layers. It’s linguistically rich, with so many different languages. There’s not just one language for elves and another for men. The elves have several languages and so do men. And languages change over time too, which you see reflected in some of the Hobbit names. The whole series is a delightful playground for the lover of words, and rich in myth and legend. Also, often place names reflect the different peoples who have lived there. The dwarves have one name for it, elves another, men yet another.
    It also reflects Toliken’s understanding of God as Logos, as Word, and the one who gives names to things. It’s as much about theology as language. When God chooses someone for a special mission, he gives them a new name. The name, the identity, changes when we take up a new role. And so for a complex character like Aragorn, for example, each of his names reflects a different part of his history, of his inheritance, but also his mission and purpose and his relationships with various peoples. It’s also a reflection of the truth that you are a different person with each of the people you are in a relationship with. Why your kids call you mom and your husband calls you his favorite term of endearment and why your parents have pet names for you even when you’re an adult (or is that just in my family?)
    But then, I’m like Tolkien, a namer. Each of my kids has had perhaps a dozen nicknames. Even my husband goes by Dom, Domenic, or Domenico depending on context.

    I do think that Tolkien is great on audiobooks. As much as I love him, I tend to skim at times, hearing a good reader read all the poetry and master all the names, can make it much easier to follow. His pattern is the old epic poems and Norse sagas: an oral literature that is meant to be read aloud.

    • waymel says:

      Thank you – that’s helpful. I will try to think of all those names in the beautiful way you’ve described instead of the annoyance it has always seemed to me!

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      I’ll admit I’m not much of a “philosophy”-type guy (though I do have my own way of looking at several things).

      Frankly, I just thought everything in those books (never read them or saw a movie) had 3/4 names because Tolkien himself (apparently) did, & didn’t want to be in such a far-away minority. (Then again, just reading “Life After Death”, & author says they gave his son 3 names besides surname, so maybe that’s catching-on.)

  6. Melanie says:

    Sorry, that was a bit of a book. The English professor in me.

    I really like what you say here: “I’m fascinated by his suggestion that we all have a picture of “the good life” that is shaping us…what we do ultimately stems from what we love. As a parent, I find this an urgent thought. What do we as a family do every day that is shaping our kids’ picture of the good life? What practices, what liturgies do we live out day after day? Because those are the things that are forming a picture in their minds of the good life. What are we teaching them to value? And not teaching by words but teaching by habits, by regular normal actions of every day life?”

    Good stuff to ponder. It’s easy to get sidetracked and forget that big picture.

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