Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Keeping Company :: Winter 2018

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the quarterly Keeping Company check-in! I'd like to introduce you to some exciting examples from keepers around the web as well as what has been kept in our home over the past few months.

Before I get started, I wanted to remind you: I'll be talking about keeping at the CM West retreat next month in Northern California. Will you be joining us? There are still some spots left if you'd like to come.

And whether you're going or not: I'd love to hear what you would want most to learn about keeping from a conference talk. I asked the same question on Instagram and got some wonderful answers that have helped shape my speaking plans so far. I welcome more suggestions!

From the Community

Speaking of Instagram, the new @keepingcompanycm account has been humming along. Now that it's the New Year, I'll be back to daily-ish shares there.  (Remember, even if you're not on Instagram, you can still read along. Just click over to see what we've been up to!)

A couple months ago I did a round-up of Books of Firsts. The variety of formats was fun to see.






We also had some wonderful holiday-related keeping that I have bookmarked for Lent/Easter. (Did you know Lent is on Valentine's Day this year? That's not long from now!) Any of these ideas would work for liturgical keeping no matter the season.




And I think Abby's Winter Term plans are absolutely gorgeous and so inspiring. Truth, goodness, and beauty indeed!


There were some stellar blog posts shared as well over the past few months!  Let me repost just a few:

Melissa has all kinds of notebooks going in her home, but for this time, she has collected Mason's words on teaching reading for us and shared their morning time chemistry keeping.

The ever-faithful keeper Amy gives us her weekly glimpse into commonplace book. My favorite from this link-up was Brace, Compel, and Do Right. Just the motivation you -- and your kids -- need for new habits in the coming year!

Carol shares science journals, nature notebooks, and architectural sketches as she rounds up and remembers.

Melanie offers a stunning tribute to her daughter and granddaughter and captures fall on the page.

Starting the Conversation

The kids have been enoying their Weekly Paintings. The process of considering, culling, and representing has been beneficial both as a thinking exercise and as a way to develop skills that will scaffold other kinds of keeping. That's all happening in the context of an assignment that is enjoyable and works as a form of narration. Often I am surprised at what they choose to paint for the week's work. I am getting a different view into their minds.

Xavier came and asked me for a notebook one day so that he could start a commonplace. (Melt.)

I have been thinking about keeping goals for 2018. In past years, I have made goals for nature journaling, commonplacing, and keeping things like maps and century charts. Thankfully, those are all deeply-ingrained habits now! This year I'm turning my sights toward my Book of Centuries. I bought one for myself (and my children) mid-fall but haven't done more than pencil in a few events so far. I felt like I needed some quiet space to get started. I have had that during this break! So my goal is to make my first few entries in January and continue that every month following. Anyone else just now getting started in a personal BoC? I certainly wouldn't mind an accountability partner. ;)

What goals are you making for your notebooks in 2018?  Please share! I'm going to round up some thoughts from moms on Instagram making keeping goals too.

The Link-Up

:: For BLOGGERS: Leave a link to any blog posts related to CM-style keeping in the comments section of this post all quarter.  I will be sure to click over and read so I can highlight them here in the next edition!

:: For INSTAGRAMMERS: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM.  You can also follow my new account: @keepingcompanycm. I will be re-sharing daily on that account from posts tagged!
:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book or your kids' drawing.
:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

Thanks for your participation, friends!  Happy to be in community with you. :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Tale of Two Hikes, Redux

I told you about the Tale of Two Hikes almost exactly one year ago.  We did a very similar combination again just a few weeks ago -- our Friday nature study outing with the kids, as usual, and then a hike with just moms the next morning.

First, Friday: a beautiful day at the county park!  Sunny, cold, plenty of fall finds.  The place is starting to get green again, a fuzzy layer of new growth covering all the fields.

Photo credit: my friend Sarah

Saturday: a few of us moms did a loop up into the foothills.  It was foggier than it has been since last winter.  The clouds completely filled in the valley like water.  Stunning.

Halfway up we came upon a cheery grove of toyon bushes.  Felt like Christmastime!

The fog cleared on our way back down and home.

See how green?  Just a month ago, that was ALL brown and dry.  December is lovely.

Monday, December 18, 2017

{This and That}

Hi friends!  We're in the home stretch of December, and I have a few posts I want to get up before taking a little Christmas hiatus.  This week I'll be sharing a bit about the Science of Relations inspired by my seven-year-old son, as well as some snaps from our most recent Moms' Hike following a lovely fall morning at the county park painting leaves and seeds.

We have one last (light) week of school to finish up before break, and then we'll be off for two weeks to enjoy the Twelve Days of Christmas through Epiphany. I have a list of projects I'd like to work on during my time off: facing my fear of writing in my new Book of Centuries (ha!), working on my talk for CM West, cleaning up some of our storage spaces, and prepping for Term 3. We're on Week 19, and with January busy with conference prep, I know we'll be on to our last term of the year before I expect it.


I hope you're having a fruitful Advent so far!  We are keeping our traditions simple this year, sticking with our tried and true.

I adjusted our Morning Basket to accommodate some Advent devotional practices.

We are reading a Christmas book each day, playing Advent hymns, lighting our wreath (most days ;)), praying our novena, preparing our hearts for His coming.

You can read more about how our family observes Advent here, in this post from many years ago. Every year I plan to add something new (Jesse Tree! Christkindl!), and every year I feel like doing so will disturb what little peace I have. :)  So for now, we stick with what we know and love.


Damien is five months old now and on the move: scooting around, rolling both ways.  He'll only be "worn" facing out in the carrier/wrap, and he adores attention.


There was a thread over on the AmblesideOnline forums about crafting gifts for siblings, and I took that opportunity to pull our annual Christmas crafting posts into one place in response.

I thought I'd share those here too in case you are looking for simple projects to do with your children this year: here's 20152014, and 2013!


We have about ten spots left for CM West :: Conference in Old San Juan, so if you're hoping to join us, head on over and get registered!

I'm over on Instagram asking what you'd like to hear about keeping, my conference topic for this year. Feel free to add your feedback in the comments section here too!


It has been quite chilly lately, which I am loving, but it has me thinking back to our last few warm-weather visits to the beach just last month.  Through fall, we always have an increase in shore birds here, and this year was no exception...

Whimbrels, godwits, gulls, and plovers (or are they sanderlings?). Always fun to watch!


We enjoyed a simple observance of St. Nicholas Day, with the obligatory sweets and treats and some special devotions in honor of this patron saint of children.

Each child got a book to add to our Christmas picture book shelves.  Most of these we have already read and loved...from the library. But this year I was blessed in finding used copies of some of our favorite out-of-print selections to have for our own:

The Story of the Three Kings (this one is totally new to us)
The Nutcracker, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Ilse Plume's Twelve Days of Christmas (we enjoy her The Farmer in the Dell)
Cooper Edens' Twas the Night Before Christmas
Jan Pienkowski's Christmas
B is for Bethlehem, with illustrations by Elisa Kleven (illustrator of another of my favorite books, Snowsong Whistling)
Christmas in the Barn and The Little Fir Tree, both illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Besides the oranges, candy sticks, and chocolate coins, we had a few other goodies tucked inside: some more needle threaders, a little craft kit of snowflake ornaments to make for extended family, and such. We also received a family gift of The Lord of the Rings hardcover set, beautifully illustrated by Alan Lee. And Mommy got a spill-resistant mug since she's toting a baby around whenever she's drinking her morning coffee these days.  Wasn't that awfully thoughtful of good Saint Nick? ;)

(Want more Christmas reading suggestions? Years ago, I posted my Top Ten Christmas Picture Books for Littles here. Not exhaustive, but we still love all the books on that list!)

(And I love my mug and am planning to get another -- maybe this one? Anyone have it and love it?)

(One last random note: I was looking back through my archives of prior St. Nicholas Day celebrations and oohing and aahing over the chubby faces of my much-littler kids. Where does the time go?)


And as for our St. Lucy's Day observance, which we have kept faithfully for years...that didn't happen. I woke up sick and spent the day managing school and lying down whenever possible.  That's life -- there's always next year!


I'll be back soon -- have a great last week of Advent!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What We're Reading...and Crafting, and Playing :: Last Christmas Edition

Last December I took photos of Christmas gifts to share here on the blog in case any of you were looking for inspiration for your own kids...and I never shared them!  It might have had something to do with being glued to the sofa during a challenging first trimester. ;)

I decided this would actually be the perfect time to resurrect that half-finished post from the drafts folder and give it new life this Christmas-shopping season.

This post is partly {What We're Reading} for December because my kids received mostly books last Christmas (and, um, every Christmas -- LOL).  So there's a fair amount of vintage, out-of-print goodness, and I'm sorry if any of these are hard to find!  But there's also a whole bunch of things that are Amazon-able: new-release books, craft kits, binoculars, and more.

And by the way: in each kid's photo, you'll see the nature journal kit I made for them.  I already posted the run-down on those over here.

Enjoy this post-that-never-was from last year! ;)


For Vincent, age 10

Meltzer's Ten Kings and the Worlds They Ruled
Molly and Norman Rockwell's Willie Was Different: The Tale of an Ugly Duckling
Stockton and Sendak's The Griffin and the Minor Canon
de Trevino's Nacar, The White Deer
Armstrong Sperry's Captain Cook Explores the South Seas

Schleich warrior (we have several of these -- they are somewhat fragile, so I save them for ages 7+)

For Gianna, age 10

Lois Lenski's A Book of Princess Stories
Rackham's Fairy Tales from Many Lands
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
The Family from One End Street and Some of Their Adventures
All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown

Favorite Storybook Characters Paper Dolls :: Felt Wee Folk - both the book and a kit of supplies

For Cate, age 7

Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
More Milly-Molly-Mandy
McGinley's The Most Wonderful Doll in the World
The Complete Brambly Hedge
Moore and Lobel's The Magic Spectacles

Mini Pom-Pom Pets :: Spring Fairies kit from A Child's Dream Come True
Favorite Ballets coloring book :: stationery and a wallet

For Xavier, age 6

The Big Book of Real Trains (a fun reprint)
Talbott's King Arthur and the Round Table (these illustrations have inspired much drawing)
All Around the Town (Phyllis McGinley is a longtime fave and this is fabulous!)
This Land is Your Land (hardcopy for our collection -- you know we love our folk song picture books!)
Lenski's The Little Train (her hardcovers are OOP, but they're released as board books now)

Children's Missal (we love this for our pre-FHCs at the Latin Mass) :: tape
Favorite Horses coloring book :: Grow a Frog kit

For Bridget, age 5

My Favorite Things (if you love the song, this book is wonderful)
Tasha Tudor's First Graces (a charming treasure -- apparently part of a series)
Annie Rose is My Little Sister (she loved Naughty Little Sister, so I couldn't resist adding this too)
Fujikawa's Are You My Friend Today?
The Vorland Mother Goose

Crayola Pipsqeaks :: Twist-Up Crayons (we also really like the Crayola version)
a fancy skirt for dress-up play

For Clara, age 4

Zelinsky's Rumplestiltskin
Will Moses' Mary Had a Little Lamb
Eldridge's In My Garden
Puppies are Like That
Cat Goes Fiddle-i-Fee

Mother Goose playing cards -- which I sadly can't find online anywhere to link for you

For Drew and Justin, age 2 and 1

Some Golden Books - Animal OrchestraThe Fire Fighters' Counting Book, The Animals' Christmas Eve, Guess the Animal
a set of sensory balls (these have gotten a huge amount of play)
matchbox cars

From Grandma
As you can see, my mom is wonderfully supportive of our homeschooling when she considers Christmas gifts for the kids!  I'm very thankful.

Italian board books: La Frutta and I Colori (for the baby boys)
Elsa Beskow's Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip and Alphabet Book (for Clara)
Hilda Van Stockum's The Borrowed House and King Oberon's Forest (for Gianna and Cate)
Spalding's The Sheriff of Beech Fork and The Cave By the Beech Fork (for Vincent)
A Butterfly is Patient and A Nest Is Noisy (for Bridget)
Carson Ellis' Home (for Xavier)

binoculars (these are the same brand/level as ours -- they are a fantastic little pair!)
X-Acto mechanical pencil sharpener (this is working wonderfully after a year)
Frixion erasable markers

And some of my kids' crafting: Xavier and Vincent went crazy with paper crafts for their siblings. I about died over these!

by Xavier for his sisters <3

by Vincent, one for each member of the family -- including me!

Xavier made a Connect Four board, glasses, and a boat for his brothers

note the name of the boat he made for Vincent: "Madam How Lady Why"  LOL

Gianna and Cate made these as a family gift -- Cate painted and lettered the picture in the back, and Gianna bought the statue, which was an absolute steal at only $10!  (I wish it were still available, but I can't find it for sale on Amazon any longer.)


Okay, so now I need to know: what are you gifting your kids for Christmas this year?  Any special books under the tree?  I have most of our presents bought and hidden, but there are so many good ideas popping up in my feed lately!  I save them all in Evernote so that I have inspiration for birthdays and such.  I'd love more!