Monday, August 22, 2016

{This and That}

I know lots of you are started school last week -- I hope you had a lovely start to your new year.  Our local schools started back last week also.  Naturally we spent that day at the beach! ;)  We'll be enjoying fall's calmer crowds from here on out!


Even better than Charlotte Mason at the beach: Charlotte Mason with sixty other moms, in a beautiful location, with a full day of John Muir Laws instruction and a trip to the Getty!

I got home from the CMI Western Conference a couple weeks ago.  It was wonderful and provided me with much food for thought.  Eventually I'll get some of the main points I took away from the trip up, but for now I'm remaining in (and enjoying!) processing mode.

The best part, though, was chatting with so many other enthusiastic ladies, including some I'd known for years online but hadn't yet met in person (like Jenny!).  It was also a treat to meet some readers and share ideas face-to-face rather than via email or in the comment box.

On top of that, I stopped on my drive down for a little lunch with Brandy, so even the 5-hour drive was fun!  It was an all-around great time, and if I don't have a newborn due or in arms next summer I'll be trying to attend again.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to our February conference here in the Bay Area even more!


If you're following along on Instagram, you'll already know that a few weeks ago, Justin took off walking!

very pleased to call himself our earliest walker, at just eight months!

He also is attempting to go from two naps to one, poor guy.  It has led to snoozes in all sorts of unwelcome places...

It has gotten to the point that as soon as I sit him in his high chair -- for whatever meal, at whatever time of day -- he starts nodding off!  LOL


I caught up on sorting photos this past weekend and noticed that my recent snaps of Monterey (one of our favorite coastal towns) contrasted neatly: either moody gray-blue or...bright!  (No filters here, and no, that top one isn't b+w!)  I think that pretty well sums up the Northern California coast this time of year.  Mornings are gray, but once the sun comes out...


A little reading around the web...

Unwelcoming Gluttony from the Table of Sophia
Writing Your Own Charter
Have Kids, Become Divine


We are more than halfway through our first term, so soon I'll be ready to share a bit about what we're doing this year: Year 5, our Form I rotation, our daily schedule and weekly checklist, and our first term of Morning Basket plans.  Whew, that's a lot! :)  I hope to be back with at least one of those posts before the weekend.

In the meantime, check out Keeping Company and have a great week!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Nature Study Outing :: The Pond in Summer

We take advantage of any cooler days to head to our favorite pond.  As beautiful as it is, there is no shade there on the trail side of the banks, which makes for really warm mornings.  Last week was one such day, so we headed over to make some seasonal comparisons.

To give you a visual: here's the pond in spring (top) and in summer (bottom)...

These were taken from almost the same spot.  If you look closely, you can see the fallen tree on the far banks as a comparison.  Pretty crazy, right?  Here in California, that's about as much "change of seasons" that we get, so it's neat to be able to make observations at such a spot.

As you can see, the marsh grasses -- sedge, smartweed, cattails, and rushes -- take over almost all of the pond and leaving just a wet, mucky bit in the center:

In spring, the banks are covered in a beautiful, colorful range of wildflowers.  But in summer, yellow star thistle and bull thistle run the show, with some tarweed and bindweed here and there.  (There's a reason these varieties are considered invasive!)  But the bees love them, even if we don't! ;)

We also found a new-to-us variety of sedge this week:

At least I think it's a sedge -- it looks so very different from the flatleaf variety we're used to.  But I remembered "sedges have edges" from Botany in a Day and then did some Googling. ;)  (If you know what kind it is, please give me details in the comments!)

Happy weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nature Study at the Beach :: Negative Tide and Other Neat Sights

Last month we made an early morning trip the coast to hit negative tide.  It was a gray day, but low tide always makes up for that.  (Besides, I actually like gray days!)

see the shore crab?

crustacean fossils

the cliffs -- often the water is right up to the cliff line

strata of fossils -- SO neat

these curious furrows in nearly solid rock -- we were thinking of Madam How and Lady Why!

And just to tack on some other interesting beach finds from this summer:

Vincent found this sand dollar split open lengthwise and still in tact.  I've never seen one so neatly parted like this!  The inside is so delicate.

On our last beach trip, the lifeguard alerted us to this dead stingray right next to us on the beach.  It was only about seven inches across, but it was so neat to get a peek at his spine (the underside of him was a bit more mangled and bone was exposed).

This one was fun: we found what the kids called "the most gigantic (dead) mole crab we've ever seen!!"  It did look like a mole crab, but apparently it's called a spiny sand crab, and it eats the usual mole crabs we see.  It was as large as my palm!

drew was enamored with his "cwab"

Another day we found purple waves hitting the shore.

see the purple tinge?
As we got closer, we noticed it was tiny purple dots within the waves casting the tint.

Apparently those tiny dots are zillions of purple salp.  Weird, right?

Okay, that's all my unusual sightings from the past couple months. :) Have you seen anything particularly remarkable lately?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Keeping Company :: August

gianna nature journaling (her first time using my waterbrush -- i think she's ready for her own ;))

mama nature journaling

Hi, friends.  I know most of you are knee-deep in summer planning -- I hope you'll find some inspiration here as we all work together to think through the Keeping in our homes for the upcoming school year!

Now that our school year is well underway, I have switched gears and am thinking about conferences -- specifically the CMI Western conference starting tomorrow!  (Will you be there?  Let me know!)

Starting the Discussion

In getting ready for CMI, I've been doing some very deep thinking...about notebooks and pens. Ha!  I know you ladies understand, though.  Do I want to use the same notebook for the nature journaling workshops that I do for the plenaries?  What kind of paper is best: lined, unlined, mixed media, something a bit thicker? Do I need to bring along watercolor paper too? Do I pack just my regular nature journal, or do I also want a smaller one that I can carry around in my bag?  Which commonplace books should I take along -- all four, or just my education book?  And what about writing instruments: ballpoint pen, gel pen, mechanical pencil, sketching pencil, illustration marker?  I'm guessing I'll need at least one of each, in addition to my painting supplies and a bunch of other odds and ends.  You can see how this has been occupying my brain this past week!

I actually had a chance to consider my note-taking materials before I went to the John Muir Laws workshop a couple weeks ago because for the first time in a long while, I was going to be at a lecture.  I take my reading notes in regular spiral notebooks, and I go through them like crazy.  But a conference setting needs something a bit different -- something durable enough that I can write with it on my lap yet light enough to cart around in my shoulder bag.  Also, I much prefer bright white, unlined paper for my less-linear note-taking style.  I had a tough time finding a notebook that met all those criteria.

I found a cheap sketchpad at the store in my preferred size (8.5x11) with smooth unlined pages and even a little pocket at the front -- perfect!  But the cover wasn't perfect: it was very flimsy and sure to rip off the spiral in short order.  I bought it anyway, and when I got home, googled and came up with a super easy fix!

If you flip the notebook over, you see how the spirals connect with one another:

If you gently pry each one open all the way down the line, you can easily remove the flimsy cover.  I then took the back of an old sketchpad, cut it to size, used the old cover to mark where the holes should be, and hole punched down the edge.  Then I slid in the new cover and squeezed the spirals back in place.  Ta-da!

In just a couple minutes, I had a super-durable notebook with just the paper and size I wanted.  It's the quality of a nice hardcover sketchbook for only $3.  I can even embellish the cover at a later date (though I'm rather a neutral kind of gal).  We'll see how well it serves me at the conference!

Anyway, that's enough notebook chat from me. :)  Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts or preferences when it comes to Keeping supplies!

This Month's Round-Up

A few favorites from Instagram from the past few weeks:

brc_mackenzie - cmnewby - littledrops5 - sarahjonna - sarahjokim
mariasugiyopranoto - sarahjonna - obispo98 - theycallmemommy618 - athena_amidstthereeds

And from the July collection here on the blog...

Beautiful commonplace entries by Amber and Carol.  They are doing some wonderful summer reading and sharing it with us on their blogs.  (And Amber picked a quote from Elizabeth Goudge that I shared {From My Commonplace} last year -- great minds and all that! :))

from Melanie -- what a collection!

Melanie put together a truly delightful combination of nature and history finds that places her local habitat in the context of local history.  Both exciting and inspiring -- and I'm sure her nature swap partner was thrilled!

Ann and her family bought new nature journals and have launched into nature study this summer -- go take a peek at what they're working on!

And Carol provides a peek at her Australian wintertime colors and how they made their way into her nature journal.

And now it's your turn!

The Link-Up

:: For bloggers: Click on the "Add my link" button below, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.
:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM to join the link-up.

:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to your blog's homepage. 
:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book.
:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.
:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

I look forward to seeing your late-summer shares!

Friday, July 29, 2016

What We're Reading :: July

my nightstand from a few weeks ago - lots of Year 5 pre-reading in there!
Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter (slowly)
Huxley's Brave New World (just finished for my local book club)
Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky (fiction about Robert Louis Stevenson -- it's so-so so far)
Cholmondeley's The Story of Charlotte Mason (slowly)
Doerr's The Shell Collector (short stories -- a couple slightly unsavory but I'd still recommend because the others are just so good)
One Wild Bird at a Time (just popped this back to the library and will get it out again soon)

And the pre-reading I just finished up but is pictured up there...
The Body in Action and Blood and Guts (references to pair with the Year 5 Nature Reader)
Helen Keller's The Story of My Life (a Year 5 free read I'm thinking of scheduling in Term 2)
Cheryl Harness' Theodore Roosevelt (a Term 3 or free read possibility)

Not pictured:
Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit (for comparison's sake)
When Children Love to Learn and CM's Parents and Children (for various CM discussion groups)
The Sketchnote Handbook (so fun!)

Vincent, age newly-10!
He celebrated his birthday a couple weeks ago and has been loving his birthday books...

Captain Knight's The Sea Chest
Rounds' Swamp Life: An Almanac
The Story of the Naval Academy
Landmark book - William the Conqueror

And this one from Grandma, which is perfect for a fact-loving, analytical, non-fiction-lover:

Munroe's The Thing Explainer (full of diagrams, schematics, and snippets)
Side note: I just heard good things about Munroe's What If? and am adding it to my list!

Gianna, age 9
Alcott's Flower Fables (a re-read)
Lois Lenski's Indian Captive (after Year 4's Calico Captive)
The Apple and the Arrow and Red Sails to Capri (from last month's mail)
Stevenson's David Balfour (the sequel to Kidnapped)

By my Learning-to-Readers
the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka books over and over again (Cate, age 7)
Bob books from various sets (Xavier and Bridget, ages 6 and 4)

To the Littles
Mem Fox's The Magic Hat and lots of Beatrix Potter (for 3yo Clara)
Degen's Jamberry and the Ahlbergs' Each Peach Pear Plum (for 2yo Drew)

As a Family
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (a Year 5 free read I'm spreading through the term during Morning Basket)
Ransome's Swallowdale (on audio in the car)
Nesbit's The Enchanted Castle (on audio in the house)
and listening to The Silver Chair as we trek through the whole Narnia series on audio yet again :)

In the Mail
I now have these on our history supplement shelf for the Big Kids to use when making sketches for their century charts or narrations.

The Golden Book of the Civil War
Pratt's The Civil War
The Revolutionary Soldier

Alice Jones' Bible Stories of the Old Testament (oversized and sweet -- but not for serious reading)
This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon (we're reading this in Term 1)
Bailey's Miss Hickory
DeJong's The Wheel on the School (a hardcover to replace our sad softcover)
...and a stack of vintage I Can Read science books:
The Bug That Laid the Golden Egg
The Toad Hunt
An Animal for Alan
Plenty of Fish
Hidden Animals
Let's Get Turtles

What are you reading this month?

(Links above are affiliate links. I left un-linked the books that are recommended by AmblesideOnline because I'd prefer if you clicked over to their site and bought through their affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support!)