What We are Reading: January

WWR

Camille

Hitler’s Art Thief is one I picked up on a whim at the library and I am really enjoying.  It blends history, art history, and intrigue in a true story that is so well researched. I like it because it is the perspective of Germans during WWII, while so many other books are written from the perspective of the allied powers.  All the Light We Cannot See blended the two well and that sparked my interest in this book as well.

I am not sure yet about Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.  I started it, but it is moving slowly.  It does have a strong recommendation so I think I’ll give it a few more chapters to make my decision.  Have you read it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

With the kids…

Do I lose some sort of credibility if I admit that I’ve never read  The Hobbit?  I am remedying that right now.  It is our nightly read aloud and we are all loving it.  Tolkien’s use of language is really remarkable, which you knew… because you’ve probably all read it…


The Long Winter – we are listening to this in the car, on cds from the library.  I just found out the series will be available on audible this February! All. seven. of. them!! I’m thrilled. These are certainly family favorites.  After moving back to a snowy climate, I thought this would be a perfect book to listen to in January, but our measly 1″ or less this month is really not holding a candle to the blizzards the Ingalls and Wilders dealt with.

Amy

I’ve been wanting to better my understanding of how Charlotte Mason approached the subject of math and how that aligns with modern research. This book has been so helpful. I have walked away inspired as a teacher! I can see how my “fixed mindset” held me back in math as a child and I want to do better with my own children. It’s also been great to see much of what Mason believed about how the brain works is continuing to be proven true.

Simplicity Parenting has been one of the most influential books I’ve read on parenting, so I was excited to read Kim John Payne’s more recent book, The Soul of Discipline, especially with a soon-to-be teenager in the house. His approach fits very nicely with Charlotte Mason’s idea of Masterly Inactivity.

 

Funny coincidence with Camille’s family…we are reading Farmer Boy at our afternoon Tea Time. One afternoon the description of their ham dinner with preserves, beans, bread, potatoes and pie had our mouth’s watering, we called Dad and asked him to bring home a ham and a pie! We’ve been having “farm dinners” on our menu rotation since!

 

Bullet Journal Webinar, Or How I Can I Organize My Life?

When we first decided to do a bullet journal webinar, it was because of a few factors:

  1.  We have more than once been asked, “How do you keep track of everything?”  It has sometimes been asked with the tone that might indicate they are politely leaving off the phrase, “and stay sane…” from the end of their question.  We do have 4-5 children each, run nature study clubs, homeschool with babies underfoot, drive our kids to lessons and activities, and regularly (though not necessarily often… but regularly!) shower.  Neither of us currently employ a housekeeper (though, we’d love to!) or nanny (ditto!).  We love to read and go out on dates with our spouses and to relax. We also decided to begin a blog and webinar series in our spare time.  Maybe we are a bit nuts.
  2. We realized that we are able to do these things because of a few small changes in our lives.  We like to talk about them here – using the Charlotte Mason method in our homeschools, making our homes easier to maintain, and keeping organized using a bullet journal.
  3. We like to share these small changes with others because they have been such a blessing in our lives.  It seems wrong to keep this great information to ourselves when some small, inexpensive changes have made such an impact on us and our families.

Well, you see we soon realized that while the bullet journal is the tool we use for organizing, it is really the act and then habit of organizing our days that was the real gem here.  You can use a spiral notebook and a bic pen if that is your preference.  The tool can vary to some degree, but the method is the key to opening up time in your day for you to find joy and contentment as you fill the roles of mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and human being.

So, won’t you join us February 21, 2017 at 8pm EST as we chat about how we use our bullet journals to be better homeschooling mothers, homemakers, wives, and women?  We can’t wait to see you there!

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Atmosphere in the Delightful Home

 

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We came across this clay heart on a recent hike!

I wanted to stop in to say thank you!  In the few months since we have begun blogging, we’ve had so many kind readers reach out to us with comments, suggestions, and encouragement.  It is a joy to share some of our stories and advice with you.  We were honored to have so many of you join us last night for our first webinar and it makes us excited to create more posts and talks to inspire you in your journey as a mother, teacher, and homemaker.

Since so many new eyes have come to our blog in the recent weeks, we also wanted to call your attention to some of the posts in the archives.  In discussing the home going forward, it might be helpful to look back a bit as you think about what you want from your home and how you can make it fulfill those goals.

We have chatted about how the atmosphere of our home is shaped by our person – the attitude and tone that we set.

We discussed our thoughts on organization and decoration, which often means cutting clutter to make room for other aspects of a full life.

We wrote about the tactile nature of your home – textures, smells, and sounds.

We pondered the fact that we NEED beauty, it isn’t just a want.

Then we talked about our outdoor spaces and the atmosphere outside of our four walls.

We hope this gives you something to ponder as you start critically looking at the rooms in your home!  We’ve been doing it too and we have lots of pictures to show you as we simplify, organize, and add beauty to our spaces.  We hope you are taking pictures too, or will as you follow along.  Don’t forget to use the hashtag #delightfulhome2017 when you post them on Facebook or Instagram!

Narration Webinar Registration Closed!

This is your last chance to sign up for The Art and Practice of Narration Two-Session Webinar.

Registration is now closed. Thank you to everyone who has signed up.We are going to have a full house and are excited to spend time with all of you!

The first session explores Mason’s principles on narration as integral to a child’s education, then moves to its practice. It will include a complete narration lesson plan from teacher preparation to the final Grand Conversation.

The second session refines your art and practice as a teacher and provides solutions for the common pitfalls and road bumps. How do you work with children who have nothing to say or forget details or are disorganized? When will these narrations start to have the sophisticated language and syntax I’ve been promised? Won’t this be monotonous? What about my artsy child who loves to draw and create?

Both sessions include a live Q & A  to cover your questions.

At $20 for two sessions, you will gain the confidence and know-how to start implementing narration right away. Say goodbye to worksheets, study guides, quizzes and other techniques that rarely lead to real learning.

narration

If you missed it, check back for ways to watch the replay!

Thriving in a Delightful Home

delightful-home

Thriving.  This is what we all want to be doing, but all too often we find ourselves feeling like we are barely surviving.  We are treading water, or worse – drowning.  There are times this is a legitimate feeling.  Illness, pregnancy, new baby, lack of sleep, moving, job loss, etc. can throw us off of our usual routine and send us down a path where we find a temporary new normal in a lower gear – survival mode. If you are in a time where you are in legitimate survival mode, get some rest and take care of what you must do as best you can.  You can come back to this series later, it will still be here.

For those who are ready to Learn How to Liveand to Thrive… read on.

thrive: 1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful. 2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

To thrive is a decision.  The greater part of this decision is mental, but we need to support this decision with changes to our physical space in order to aid our success.  For example, I can make the decision to eat well, but unless I shop for proper food and make a plan to step out of old, bad habits, I am not likely to succeed.  In order to thrive in my home, where I spend a large portion of my life, I need to make a plan.  Not a plan for a home that works for someone else on Pinterest, or a home that looks great in that catalog in the mailbox – a home that supports the people who live in it.  If I am the home-maker, then it is my job to make a home that supports my decision to thrive.

So then, what does it look like to thrive as a homeschooling mother, which is what I am? This is my vision of a delightful home- easy to maintain, pleasant to look at, many cozy spots for reading, a place for everything and everything in its place, a quiet space for prayer, designated toy spaces, organized pantry, bird feeders just out the window to look at, bookshelves (oh, the bookshelves!), neat and easily accessible storage for out of season items… Your list may be the same or radically different, but now is the time to make it.  Now is the time to sort out what you want from daily life – then adjust your home spaces to that vision.

This series isn’t about just cleaning your spaces, or just decluttering them, and certainly not about creating spaces that are picture perfect at all times – it is about creating spaces that will help you to thrive in your daily life.  Your home can’t do all the work, but it can either aid or sabotage your efforts.  Cooking is easier when you can see your ingredients, know your meal plan, and reach your tools with out other tools falling out on you.  Cleaning is easier when there is a schedule of chores and the cleaners you need are neatly stored near to the spot they get used frequently.  Laundry is easier when there is a method to the madness. Schooling is easier when you know where the books and supplies all reside and they are easily accessible for use and when they need to be put away.  When each of these tasks become easier, they take less time.  That is time you can now use for those other things in life that bring you joy – reading, writing, crafting, birdwatching, or any amount of other things.

All of this planning and change doesn’t take place over the course of a day, week, or month.  At least, we didn’t think we could!  We wanted to take our time and do this well.  Amy and I are both in the oddly similar situation of living in a home where things are unpacked, but not… ideally placed.  Maybe you are in the same boat.  Let’s go room by room and make our homes into places that serve our families well and help each member to thrive.

Each week, we’ll discuss some aspect of a room here on the blog.  We’ll talk about the room itself and what the purpose of it is.  What do we do here, and what do we wish we could do here?  What does this room do well, and what can we not stand about it?  Is a big change needed, or would a small change be enough to make a big difference?  Then we’ll declutter – remove all the things that prevent the room from doing its job well.  The rest will be organized so that it can be a room that helps us, rather than hinders us.  Lastly, let’s add in a few things that will add beauty and joy.  Every room needs to be one that we enjoy being in!

Here is the schedule for going through our homes this year.  We will post all the links to this post as we create the posts week by week.

February: The Kitchen

March: Dining Room

April: Pantry

May: Laundry

June: Bathroom

July: Outdoor Spaces

August: Schoolroom

September: Bedroom

October: Living Room

November: Entryway

December: Storage

BULLET JOURNAL “COLLECTIONS” FOR THE CHARLOTTE MASON MOM

One of the best features of the Bullet Journal is that it is a catch-all for your notes, your menus, your ideas. Rather than keeping separate notebooks for all of these things, it’s all in one place! This means that if you are working on your calendar or daily to-do list and your brain wanders to your meal plan or your child’s birthday party or your Christmas wish list, you don’t need to get your computer, an app, or another notebook, you just turn the page. This is the key to becoming better organized and being able to track so many things.

These special pages in Bullet Journal lingo are called “collections.” For the full explanation of collections, visit the official bullet journal site. Basically, anytime you have “notes and tasks that are related by a common theme or purpose” you can start a collection.

How do you do it? Simple! “To create a Collection, simply flip to your next blank spread and give it a topic. Now find and migrate all your related tasks, notes, and events into this Collection. Finally, add the topic and page number of this collection to your index. That’s it!”  *

Because these collections are right there with my calendar and menu plan and the rest of my life, I turn to them much more frequently then if I kept them in another notebook or on my computer.

So what collections do we keep as homeschooling moms?

Our School Children’s Book and Supply List. I organize by subject and I put the book on the left and the supplies needed for that subject on the right. This way I don’t forget that I need a map of Ancient Greece or I need rulers for Paper Sloyd.

Our Morning Timetable. This schedule is fixed at the beginning of the year and is only tweaked a bit. I create my time-table based on Charlotte Mason’s programs and I use the Schedule Cards created by Nicole Williams to do it.

Books Wish-List for my own personal reading. You know, Mother-Culture! The beauty of this is I have my list with me when I’m out shopping or at the library. As soon as I hear a book recommended or one I’m interested in, I jot it down as part of this collection. I think this helps me spend less money too, because I use to go immediately to amazon to add it to my wish list there but would often decide to just buy the book! Now I do less impulse shopping!

A Book Log

I like to keep a log of books I read over the  course of each year. I categorize them by Evening Read Alouds, Fiction, and Non-Fiction because at one point I found myself reading books to the kids that were fiction and reading primarily non-fiction (usually education, parenting, and home related) when I was reading alone. I wanted to add more fiction so I started tracking it, and I’m thrilled to say I read 8 great fiction titles last year.


Our Afternoon Timetable. The afternoon schedule is much more fluid and changes often, so I write out our afternoon schedule every day, rather than having one static page. The afternoons are an important part of the Charlotte Mason method and an area that needs more focus in the Mason community. We hope to blog on our afternoons soon (let us know if you are interested!)

Our Habits. Every few weeks we add a habit we are working on. With 5 children and me to track, it’s very helpful to keep a page of the current habit each person is working on.

(At this time, I don’t put our reading schedule in my bullet journal, but I could see it being helpful.)

Rainy Day activity list. This PR article mentions the idea of having a shelf of toys and activities for children that they just get to do on “wet-days” when they can’t be outside. This led me to create a “collection” of ideas not just for wet-days, but any day that we seemed in a funk.

Inventory Lists

I don’t have many of these, but I did make one for our family games and I love it. Now, if we want to have a game night or the kids need an indoor activity, I can suggest a specific game without leaving my spot. 

Sub Plans. This is along the lines of the rainy day list, but is for any day I’m not feeling well enough to teach. No, sadly, I don’t have a substitute teacher, but I have found it helpful to have a time-table of the types of school activities that the children can do without me. AKA, true self-education days!!

Book of Century List. We add to our Book of Centuries/Century Charts in the afternoon time-table, not immediately after each morning reading. I found that the children had a hard time remembering who they wanted to add by the time the afternoon rolled around, so now if they think of someone they want to add, we add the name to this collection.

Month in Review. At the end of each month, before I begin the new month’s calendar page, I look over the previous month we’ve just lived and jot down on a new page, the highlights. Our work, joys, suffering is entered. Just a word or two as reminder. To see all that goes on in a month, all that we hadn’t planned on at the beginning, has been such a validating thing to do. It’s also valuable before I begin to plan a new month to have a clear sense of what life has been like for us all. By writing it down, I get a sense if we’ve been out of the house too much…haven’t had enough for one child…

Check-lists for Activities. Don’t you hate running out the door for a co-op or nature club and trying to remember everything you need? I have a heading for each activity and a list of all that we need to do and all we need to bring. So helpful! This way we don’t forget our water paint brushes, tick-spray, matches, water bottles, magnifying glasses, binoculars, compass, etc. along with our Nature Journals when we go to Nature Club.

Planning Routine. I plan to plan! It’s true. I have a list of what I need to do each night for the next morning. Each weekend for the following week. Once a month for the next month.

Packing Lists

Whether it is a weekend away or an afternoon Nature Study Club, I write down the items I want to have with me and check the list before I start packing up.


Current Pursuits. Just as Mason had a course of study for mothers, I try to keep a list of topics that I am trying to study. Homeschooling with a Living Books curriculum is a rich learning experience as much for me as my children. But I also want to be sure I am learning on my own as part of my own pursuit of culture and fullness so that my teaching comes from the overflow of my own disposition, interest and love. Here are some of the subjects I try to cover in some way:

  • Religion: Spiritual Life, Catechism, Church History, Biography
  • Education/Parenting: Of course, Mason, but I also enjoy reading popular books on parenting and education, along with a classic tome, now and again.
  • Food: I cannot keep interest in cooking unless I have a good foodie book or cookbook 🙂
  • Homemaking: See our most recent post of my favorite books
  • Culture: A book on our Artist or Composer we are studying.
  • Nature: Sometimes on our Special Study topic, other times our Nature Study, sometimes books on Nature and Children.
  • Hobby/Skill: this is probably my weakest area of pursuit 🙂

Having a list like this, spurs me to keep my “Mother-Culture” going!

Would you like to learn more? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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Register for our Narration Webinar Series

Hello Learning How to Live readers!

We are pleased to announce that we are offering a series of webinars this Spring!

Over the years we have taught at The Mason Academy and the Charlotte Mason Institute and we are now ready to offer our workshops to a larger audience!  We are excited to help you grow in your practice of Mason’s philosophy and be blessed as we have been by her methods.

The first Webinar Series is coming up quickly. The class is almost full so sign-up today!

The Art and Practice of Narration with Amy Snell

Session One: Narration: The Foundation for Communication and Composition.
Tuesday, January 31st. 7-8:30pm.

Session Two: Narration Beyond the Basics. Tuesday, February 7th. 7-8:30pm.

A Two-Session Webinar Bundle for just $20.


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“I should like to leave you with a picture of a class of enthusiastic bright-eyed children, bouncing excitedly up and down in their eagerness to be the first to [narrate]. Such children will never be at a loss later on when they have to speak in a school or college debate, or open a bazaar, or even make a speech in Parliament!

(Manders. We Narrate and Then We Know.” Volume 2, no. 4, PNEU, July 1967, pgs. 170-172).

If you have read anything of Charlotte Mason than you have heard of narration.

The idea of bright-eyed children eager to narrate intrigues us. The idea of throwing out the end of chapter questions, study guides, quizzes, tests, and expensive writing programs delights us. And yet, we wonder, will it really lead to children who can make speeches for Parliament?

In the day in and day out of homeschooling life, doubts creep in…

  • Am I doing it the “right way”?
  • Is my child really making any progress?
  • Should I be doing narration differently depending on the subject?
  • Won’t this become boring?
  • Does it really work for all learners?
  • Shouldn’t I buy that curriculum guide that gets good reviews in the homeschooling catalogue?
  • Will my child really be prepared for writing in the workplace and at university?

 We are told that Narration is simple, true to every child’s development and the way truly to know. And yet, these glorious promises don’t always seem to be taking hold in our own homes and classrooms!

If you want more than a primer on narration…

To be given the tools of the practice…

                                          Tied to a philosophy of who children are…

And how they learn best…

This webinar is for you.

When I first began teaching writing 20 year ago, I tried many curriculum and approaches to help my students communicate effectively. After a few years, I “produced” students who could write “5-paragraph essays” that garnered high scores on AP exams and the grades they wanted in their college classes. But when I was finally introduced to Charlotte Mason’s cohesive philosophy and methods, I found what was always missing, an approach which helped students write naturally and to find their voice. Through the practice of narration, students learned to express themselves clearly and powerfully without the tedium and artifice of “composition” classes.

In the next season of life, it was an unexpected gift to teach the practice of narration to many different families through workshops at The Mason Academy and to mentor teachers in their practice in a wide range of classes from Artist Study to Plutarch. It has also brought me great joy to listen to my own five (different and unique) children’s narrations, watching their syntax and vocabulary grow in complexity out of a love for words and what they are learning.  All of these experiences have confirmed what I recognized about Charlotte Mason the first time I read her Philosophy of Education.

So what will be covered in this webinar?

The first session explores Mason’s principles on narration as integral to a child’s education, then moves to its practice. It will include a complete narration lesson plan from teacher preparation to the final Grand Conversation.

The second session refines your art and practice as a teacher and provides solutions for the common pitfalls and road bumps. How do you work with children who have nothing to say or forget details or are disorganized? When will these narrations start to have the sophisticated language and syntax I’ve been promised? Won’t this be monotonous? What about my artsy child who loves to draw and create?

Both sessions include a live Q & A  to cover your questions.

At $20 for two sessions, you will gain the confidence and know-how to start implementing narration right away. Say goodbye to worksheets, study guides, quizzes and other techniques that rarely lead to real learning.

Sessions are expected to fill quickly–register today!


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Bullet Journal Daily Logs and Weekly Spreads for the Homeschooling Mom

At the heart of the Bullet Journal is the daily log.  This is the page that stays open all day to keep us on track.

Camille and I have tried the many ways of keeping a daily log/weekly spread. Today we are sharing our favorites with the hopes that you will see the flexibility of this method and maybe even find one that fits your life!

There are two things we need to live a more organized and peaceful life: resolution and method.

“The real truth with most of us is that it requires a little more resolution and a good deal more method than we possess to so arrange and carry out the work of the day… (The Parent Review, “Simple Things” by S. F. S.Volume 12, no. 12, 1901, pgs. 958-960).

The Bullet Journal is such a method to arrange and carry out the work of the day! And when we have a method the resolution becomes easier and easier. The method is our way of laying down the rails and then finding freedom. So often we have the resolution but not the method to fulfill it!

But back to the weekly spread!

Amy

This is the main spread that I have used for over 2 years:

Left Side:

The left page is where I do my brain dump of all that is going on in my mind for that particular week. After doing this for a few weeks, I saw that I had a few major categories and divided this page into 5 categories:

Home: Everything that relates to our family life! Reminders to make a dentist appointment, call someone back, send an email, an idea I want to explore.

Work: Everything that relates to my Charlotte Mason initiatives: CM Reading Club, Nature Club, Truth, Beauty Goodness Symposium, the Charlotte Mason Educational Center of PA.

Liturgical Year: I take the time to note any important feast days for us to celebrate that week. This particular week I reminded myself to prep for our All Saints Day celebration and then created a separate page for planning.

Grocery: This isn’t my grocery list, but where I jot down if I notice we are out of one our pantry staples. You know, the things that nag at you but you always forget when you actually sit down to make your grocery list. This week I noted we were running low on tea.

Errands: This is a list of the out-of-the ordinary things I might need to pick up or drop off during the week. This week it was a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend.

Right Side:

Then on the right is my weekly list. First, I write in all of normal weekly events, like basketball practice, choir, violin lessons. Yes, these are on my Google Calendar that I share with my husband and yes, they repeat every week, but I still write them out each Sunday night. When I do so, I feel like I really get a hold of the week and feel so much more at peace. My next step is to then migrate things from the left page over to the right on the day that actually makes sense for me to do them. Its only after doing the brain dump on the left and then filling in our normal weekly events that I can accurately plan when I can do what needs to be done!

Just recently I switched to a new spread and I really like it. I love that my menu, my events, and my to-do are all on one big spread and then I have a column on the far left for my brain dump. It’s small but I found I don’t need a ton of space for the brain dump and that I usually want to create a whole page for many of the items anyway.


Camille

My main spread that I could not get through a week without is relatively simple.  I always set this up on Sunday afternoon or evening in preparation for the week ahead.  I happened to take a photo during a school break week, so I’ve also included one for a school week, though I don’t make a lot of school notes on my main spread.

First, I make a mini brain dump of things I want  to remember, do, or accomplish that week.  In the first example, my daughter had a feast day that I wanted to remember because for two years in a row we have either forgotten or been travelling so it could not be properly celebrated. I wanted to make sure we had time to let her choose dinner and dessert, as well as time to buy the ingredients needed, if any.  It was also epiphany week and I wanted to remember our king cake.  We had also been gifted a membership to the art museum and I wanted to go before school started up again.

I then start up a list of what I can reasonably accomplish the following day.  Not grand hopes of things to accomplish, but realistic plans.  These smaller lists for each day also include smaller tasks that need doing, such as errands, a reminder to put away that basket of laundry (so I can’t claim I forgot it…), or phone calls and emails that need to be made.

This particular week, being a week of no schooling, I also had a list of projects I wanted to complete, which is an unusual addition.

In the following spread, you’ll see that while the format is the same, the usefulness changes because I was beginning to prepare for Thanksgiving guests, planning my Advent Term as well as Term 2 for school, and I had a lot of small tasks that needed to be taken care of such as phone calls and errands.

While this is my home base spread for the week, it expands as these tasks get carried out.  For example, I created new spreads for school planning, as well as my Thanksgiving menu, and gifts that needed ordering for birthdays, hostess gifts, and Christmas.

Now, the other part of my Sunday afternoon routine is menu planning, but it doesn’t fit on my main spread and gets one of its own.  That is a post for another day!

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into our lives and found it helpful! Please share below any questions you have below!

Next week we will be sharing with you all the Collections we keep as Charlotte Mason moms. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

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Would you like to learn more about keeping a Bullet Journal? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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Resources for a Delightful Home

delightful-home

When we set out to begin this delightful home series, Amy and I really thought long and hard about why we would do it.  We discussed that we really wanted to share was a series of posts that would help you love your home, right where you are.  We have both recently moved (sadly, farther away from each other, rather than closer), and we’ve fully unpacked, but we needed to live there a while to really let it feel like home – to see how we use each room, what feels out of place, or what we’d like to adjust.  We’re sure you have similar adjustments you’d like to make and maybe you’re on the search for new ideas and to see how other homeschooling moms use their spaces.

We began to discuss the resources that we had used in the past to really bring order and joy to our spaces.  First and foremost, Amy and I both really liked The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Sure, Kondo thanks her socks for their usefulness before puts them in the hamper and there are some other strange notions to avoid, but the overall message is a good one: Keep only the things that bring you joy through their beauty or usefulness.  It is amazing how much your home will change for the better when you implement that rule alone.  Add in a few other ideas for storage and space saving folding and suddenly you’ve freed up hours of your week because you don’t have to maintain and contain messes.

When you’ve decided on what to keep, there are best practices in organization.  The Complete Book of Home Organization really helps here.  (Her blog also has lots of inspiration and ideas!) Many times, we may have dishes stored across the kitchen from the dishwasher meaning tons of extra steps and wasted time when unloading or other similar inefficiencies.  We may store pans where they are buried under pots and being scratched and dented, and so disorder means having to spend more on replacements.  This book has many tips to keep things orderly, and before you know it, using and cleaning your rooms is so much quicker and easier.  We can also put into practice ideas to make chores easier for younger folks by keeping certain items in lower cabinets or drawers.

The book that taught Amy everything she knows about homemaking and, even more importantly, convinced her it was a worthwhile endeavor was Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. I still remember hearing the NPR story our first year of marriage (yes, 1999) and then heading to the bookstore (there were still lots of those around back then!) to buy it.

When I was in the midst of having a whole gaggle of babies (3, 3 and under!), I would reread  A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul every couple months. Pierlot applies lessons from monastic living to motherhood and homemaking for a higher sense of vocation.

We also love Like Mother, Like Daughter, for her very practical approach to homekeeping. It is inspiring to read the wisdom of a woman who has raised seven children and has really reasonable advice for how clean a home should be and great advice to keep it so.

The Madame Chic books are refreshing and elevating. At Home with Madame Chic offers practical advice on “having a happy, fulfilling, and passionate life at home.” Jennifer Scott shares how a little planning and the little details go a long way in refining the tone of your home.

I also loved this 31 post series about having a Heart of Hospitality.  It reminded me that my home is not to be made beautiful in order to puff up my own pride, or to impress those who may see it, but rather I should have a home that is beautiful in order to offer beauty and hospitality to others.  To make them feel comfortable, welcomed, and loved. That goes for people who visit as well as those who live here.  I now think of my rooms as servants and ponder how they serve those who use each spot.

Along those lines is also the book, A Life Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson.  It is lovely and was the book we used last year to guide our monthly chats.  There is a lot to enjoy about their story as well as the home life the Clarksons aim for.

Lastly, while not a book or a blog, may I recommend, before starting on a path toward order to take a good hard look at your cleaning supplies?  A few months back, I realized that I disliked cleaning in part because my supply closet was disordered and full of ugly things. A neon broom that was frayed and cracked, a mop that was just not that good at the job it was supposed to do, etc.  Now might be a good time to check the tools of your trade. It may be time to freshen them up. If your mop and broom are in good working order, consider a fresh new caddy for your cleaning supplies and maybe some non-toxic cleaners. Something that is a joy to use and leaves your home cleaner will make the job so much easier.  As Mary Poppins says, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.”  Then organize them in an attractive way.  A few tools neatly arranged on hooks can be pleasant to use and easy to put away.

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We kick off our month of the Kitchen in February.  I hope you’ll join us in decluttering, organizing, and beautifying one of the hardest working rooms in the house.  If you want to share your photos with us on Instagram or Facebook, we’re using the hashtag #delightfulhome2017

THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL FOR THE CHARLOTTE MASON MOM

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We here at Learning How to Live love the method of the Bullet Journal for planning, collecting, and organizing.

The longer we use it, the more we use it.

The more we use it, the better at “life” we get.

Over the next few weeks, we’d like to provide you with

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL!

We’ll show you how the Bullet Journal works for managing our homes, our personal goals, our money, our menus, our life.

We’ll blog on how the  Bullet Journal fits so naturally for homeschool planning–book lists, future goals, evaluating our children. It especially works well for a Charlotte Mason approach!

We’ll write about how the Bullet Journal has simplified our routines, organized our lives, and helped us find peace.

But first, we want to talk about why the philosophy behind the Bullet Journal fits with the way we see the world. Like so many of our readers, as we’ve read Charlotte Mason’s life-giving philosophy of education, we’ve learned principles that haven’t just made us better teachers and parents, we’ve become better humans!

So principles first, then practices for a cohesive, integrated whole!

Why is the Bullet Journal such a useful and revolutionary, yet simple way to get a hold of your life?

We believe that its success is because it’s a method, not a system.

The Bullet Journal is a method, not a system!

Charlotte Mason writes on the importance of method vs. system in education and her ideas are all of the same reasons the Bullet Journal works.

So what’s the difference between a method and a system?

A SYSTEM is a machine, like a bodies, like a factory conveyor belt, that breaks down when it comes into contact with our very real, very human life. We are not cogs in a system; we are persons!

A METHOD, like a system, is way to achieve a desired end, yet it provides for “the vital growth and movement of a living being” (Volume 1 page 11).

Method implies two things––a way to an end, and a step by step progress in that way. Further, the following of a method implies an idea, a mental image, of the end of object to be arrived at. What do you propose that education shall effect in and for your child? Again, method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling. Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end…Charlotte Mason.Volume 1 page 8.

  1. We all need a way, a path, a step-by-step guide to achieve the end, the idea, the object we have in mind.

This is true in education, but it also true for menu planning, party planning, homeschool planning, list-making, tracking appointments, wish lists, recording memories, collecting ideas, brainstorming for the future.

If we don’t stay on the path, we will get lost in the details or lose a detail. We miss  appointments, stack up library fines or forget to pick-up more vanilla and toilet paper at the grocery store. Without a method, we feel stressed and anxious.

The Bullet Journal allows you to create a way, a path that is flexible, meeting your individual families needs and the way you think.

2. We all need a way, as Mason says, that is “natural, easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple.”

The Bullet Journal is just that. A simple Pinterest search will show you the thousands of different ways people set-up all the things you might ever need to track, all in one place.You can doodle, add art and stickers, or you can be plain Janes, like Camille and me! If you need to change your weekly spread, you can!

The blank page of the Bullet Journal is key.

The problem with other planners, apps, or systems is that they operate on creator’s ideas but may not work with your world.

Take the example of Meal Planning. You want to meal plan and make your grocery list on the same page. You only want to plan dinners but your planner has a 3 row by 7 column grid. Or you like to have your menu list in your calendar on that day of the week, you don’t want a whole separate table, but the cells aren’t big enough to hold your to-do list, your appointments, and your menu. So you have different notebooks, papers all over the house, sticky notes, apps. You end up needing a system to keep track of all your systems! Or you just give up!

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3. The Bullet Journal, as a Method, is “watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling.”

We use it for everything–work, family, creativity, home-making, holidays, journalling. And it helps us to be more “watchful [and] careful”!

A great example is planning for one of my children’s birthdays. When I create the monthly calendar and fill in my child’s birthday on the 9th, I immediately turn to the next open page and create a new page titled, “Birthday.” Perhaps, I also had that nagging thought that she wanted new shoes and I had an idea for a great theme so I jot them down and then head back to the calendar. The “Birthday” page is there for me to come back to and create menu plans, wish list, shopping list, RSVPs, etc, etc!

4. As an analog method, the Bullet Journal also helps us be more “careful.”

With technology we can move at such a fast-pace that we often let details slip. As we are forced to slow-down and write out our plans and ideas, we ruminate on them. This plants our plans in our minds, new ideas grow, and we feel at peace.

5. The beauty of the Bullet Journal is that once you figure out your method, you can turn it into a system.

But if that system stops working, you can try a different method, but you don’t need a new notebook or a different approach. The Bullet Journal allows for you to change as you need.

Mason tells us that “There is always the danger that a method, a bona fide method, should degenerate into a mere system.” Volume 1 p 8.

Since the Bullet Journal is just a blank book, we can always turn to the page and start again as we need. After trying different weekly spreads, for example, I have one I mainly stick to week after week, but if it’s a very different week, Christmas or illness, I can change it up easily.

Method…aid[s] the many sided evolution of the living, growing, most complex human being; but what a miserable wooden system does it become in the hands of ignorant practitioners!

We are living, growing, complex human beings. In the Snell home, there are 7 of us, living growing, complex human beings! No wonder wooden systems have failed before.

If a human being were a machine, education could do more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems.

But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being… (Volume 1 page 10).

Thus, a bullet journal is needed.

So how do we Bullet Journal? What do we recommend? Would you like to see how we keep track of our curriculum as Charlotte Mason mamas? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out future posts!

Would you like to learn more? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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