{Morning Basket} Spring 2017

What do you call a Morning Basket that you do in the afternoon?

We have no idea, maybe you can give us some ideas. We’ve been doing some version of Morning Baskets for years now, but it suits us better in the afternoon in this season.  We’ve tried renaming it: Afternoon Basket doesn’t have the right ring to it, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty Basket is a mouthful, The TGB confused us with The BFG, The Enrichment basket sounds like we need puffed sleeves and accents in order to participate.

I digress…

We still call it the Morning Basket.  Whatever we call it, it will forever be a staple in our days.  I adore how it has the flexibility to be “filled” with whatever I please, while still adding structure to our day.  Those are the homeschooling beauties I am after, and one of the reasons I love Charlotte Mason’s methodology.  Give me structure, but allow me the flexibility to carry it out as I please.  Not to mention, I treasure anything that brings my 3, 7, and 12 year olds together; the years are short.

While in the past we’ve covered everything from character to math puzzles to Shakespeare during this time, adding piles upon piles of books to the existing piles of books of required reading in our day, this is a season of simplicity for our family. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it isn’t meaningful; this is my goal for our Morning Basket right now.


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Everything is better in a basket. *smile*


Here’s what we are doing for our Morning Basket this spring term!


  • Doxology
  • Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade
  • Recitation
    • Psalm 91
    • “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stategems, and spoils.  The motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus.” -The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare
    • “The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath…  It is enthroned in the hearts of kings; it is an attribute of God himself, and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.  Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this: That in the course of justice none of us should see salvation.  We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.” – The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare
    • Each child is memorizing a poem of their choice this term
  • Singing:


  • Artist Monday – James McNeill Whistler, following AO’s artist rotation
  • Poetry Tuesday – A Child’s Book of Poems and Carl Sandburg, corresponding to the kid’s AO schedules
  • Composer Wednesday – Carl Ditters Von Dittersdorf, following AO’s rotation
  • Nature Lore Thursday – currently enjoying Colorado Nature Almanac
  • Free Friday  – they choose what we learn about this day; it’s usually along the lines of something artistic {SP}, requiring we call ourselves Master Builders and sing “Everything is awesome” {JC}, or a little pretend play as we chase each other around with ‘tiger claws’ {MP}.


Simple and meaningful.

Do you have a Morning Basket?







{What We’re Reading} April

It finally happened. I have known for a while now this was coming, but I didn’t want it to end.  I was in denial.  Our littlest has quit taking naps; two and half hours of uninterrupted quiet has, quite abruptly, flown out the window.  How rude!  It has been H.A.R.D.  There is nothing quiet about our MP, or perhaps 3 year olds in general; and Momma needs quiet, or I start twitching. It’s a critical element of my survival as a human being; I don’t just wish to have a period of quiet for selfish purposes, I *need* there to be that period in our days.

I’ve spent the better portion of March training quiet time with MP, he is the resistance.  *smile*  I’m happy to report, however, as of last week he has been spending a little more than an hour in his room playing cars and reading books, semi-quietly, daily.  I will take that as a win!

After lunch, we separate for some quiet room time.  I have been playing our composer selection from Ambleside Online that I’ve collected on YouTube over the Bluetooth during quiet time and that seems to work well for us.  It keeps everyone calm, and I tell MP quiet time isn’t over until the music stops.

Now that the quiet has reinstated itself into our days, we can get back to each enjoying some reading!


What SP {12} is reading:

Torn by her passions, she is currently about half way through all 3 of these.  How can one continue to read ALL THE BOOKS while still finding time to enjoy art and culinary pursuits?  This is the extent of her troubles these days.

What JC {7} is reading:

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After finishing his Henry and Mudge books, I really struggled to find something he would pick up and enjoy that wouldn’t discourage his reading progress.  A friend suggested these Nate the Great books, so I snatched a few and have not regretted it!

 *that feeling of relief when your boy is excited about reading*

What MP {3} has in his reading basket:

What I’m reading:

There comes a time in an Ambleside Online Mom’s life, when she has to sacrifice her reading basket for the greater good.  I shelved all of my books, repurpsed my basket for decluttering, and instead have been focusing on pre-reading all of SP’s books.  It has been a good decision; my best yes.  With my maps, commonplace, and book of centuries by my side, I read, take notes, and keep as I go.  It has been fruitful, for both SP and myself!  I am trying to get ahead a bit, so I can continue to grow in my knowledge of educational philosophy.  It is something I’ve become quite passionate about, so I am making the time to study this once a week.  I am also finishing Mere Motherhood, slowly, as it was one I started back when naps existed.  And as always, my morning reading has me in Scripture, seeking His face.

A few entries from my commonplace…

“Then, for the first time, the boy had realized how good and bad can be blended together in a single man, and in the story of a nation.” -Augustus Caesar’s World, p.44

“Nature above and below tingles with the joy of mere living–a joy that bubbles over, like a spring, so that all who will, even of the race of men who have lost or forgotten their birthright, may come back and drink of its abundance and be satisfied.” -School of the Woods, p.342

“We must feed the mind as the body fitly and freely; and the less we meddle with the digestive processes in the one as in the other the more healthy the life we shall sustain.” -A Philosophy of Education, p.259

“Perhaps our roles as caretakers just give the Holy Spirit ample scope to humble us and remind us how little we know and how very little we control.” -Mere Motherhood, p.6


What are you reading this month?

{Nature Study} Cottonwoods in Spring

“We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.”

–Charlotte Mason, Home Education


Cottonwood tree buds


Cottonwood twig with bud and catkin

Here’s a peek at our nature journals:

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Interesting things we learned about cottonwoods in our Colorado Nature Almanac:

  1. Their buds and bark have medicinal properties, nature’s aspirin! Here’s a recipe for Balm of Gilead; looks like we need to go scouting for more cottonwood buds.
  2. Pioneers and Plains Indians used their buds to make yellow dye.
  3. Pioneers scraped the twigs of the cottonwood to get sweet pulp they called “cottonwood ice-cream.”
  4. An Arapaho legend tells of how the stars move up through the roots of the cottonwoods to get in the sky.
  5. If you snap off a twig that’s neither too young or too old, you will see a starburst at the node.

We’ll be keeping a sharp eye on the cottonwood in the corner of our yard, documenting as we go. May brings their “fluffy snow” flying through the air, and the broad leaves bring with them symphonies that accompany our windy desert through the summer months.







The String

The pearl necklace begins with a string; the string tells a story of the silkworm and how strength comes from its perseverance.

The string in which our pearls are strung tells a story as well. There’s no sharing our nicest and sweetest days without first sharing the story behind how the string we are graced to be able to slide the pearls upon was made.

Our homeschool and my experiences with motherhood are not elements I can separate.  It’s all woven together very delicately, messy and confusing, but from time to time I catch glimpses of the beauty.  It is those images that spur me on, the beauty that helps me to not give up, the simple little pleasures of my life that I treasure up in my heart.  My God has most certainly worked all things for my good, and I do my due diligence to remember and praise Him all my days.

My consistent prayer for years now has simply been this: Abba, give me eyes to see.  There’s so much beauty around us, glimpses of my Savior who is pursuing me as I seek His face, and I really don’t want to miss it.  Every truth, every whisper of love, goodness, and beauty; I want to see it.  I wasn’t anticipating, however, where I would see it most, where God was aiming to teach me the hard stuff – in my own home and heart.

When you start a family, you never imagine the nightmares. You never stop to think about all that can go wrong, at least I didn’t {properly representing the ENFP}. Infertility was the mountain, and I did not see it coming. We had our first daughter just fine, but then words like secondary unexplained infertility, factor five, and acronyms like MTHFR and ANA formed a hurricane that threatened to wipe us out. What was happening? Where was this coming from? And WHY? Over and over, in denial, we pushed through. There’s got to be some mistake. We’ll just try again, you know, 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and we just must keep getting that side of 50%. Keep going, this isn’t real. But, it was real. Those days for so long represented dry, bitter places in my life.

Eventually, with the right cocktail of prescriptions, we had our son. Those rainbows and lollipops were here again, I don’t think I laid him down once for his first year of life – which might explain his attachment to me even still. *smile* We figured it out, we beat this, now we knew how to have another baby and keep the pregnancy.

Several years later we decided to try again. Why not? We had THE ANSWERS. Or did we? Because we were right back to where we started; sitting in fertility clinics, lost and scared and confused. This couldn’t be happening to us again; nothing was working, unexplained secondary infertility still unexplained. I’m not someone who gives up easily, so I put my head down and plowed us forward. Only there were no answers, just that same hurricane threatening to wipe us out.

Enter adoption. This was never on our radar, but it was everywhere we turned at that point. We picked an adoption agency and started the longsuffering process. We were told babies were rare; that they usually got first taken to the homes who went through the county first, leaving babies in this particular agency a rare occurrence. That was fine, we knew we were where we should be, so we would wait for however long we needed to. Our certification wasn’t even finished when we got the phone call; a tiny, baby boy was in need of a foster home. I called my husband, and we, full of ignorance and excitement, said yes {still properly representing the ENFP *wink*}. This was the beginning of the unraveling. This is how God took all that we had been through and honed it into His purposes and allowed me to wrestle with Him through it and ultimately get my eyes to open fully. It is in this place where He opened my eyes to see the joy that is simply right in front of my face; the significance of our children and how a quiver-full has nothing to do with a number. It changed me from the inside out.

Scripture tells us, “He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children.” {Psalm 113:9}

His faithfulness, even though I know it to be true, still strikes me dumb when it touches me personally. Behold, He was doing a new thing. My infertility was being redeemed, His way, and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever done. The hardest thing, but I can see now. I am not who I once was…

Have you ever just sat back and marveled at the tiny humans in your life?  Really watched them?  The way they laugh, the way they play, the way they hold their mouths when they’re concentrating?  Their gentleness, their compassion, their funny thoughts and ways about doing things?  Their ability to overcome and see things and be joyful? It’s nothing very splendid or wonderful or exciting to the passer-by perhaps, but oh, friends, it is to me. These are the things that have captivated my heart.

My children are such gifts to me.

It’s not to say we don’t struggle and have bad days, we do.  Often.  Boys just seem to be a thousand times harder than girls.  We have sensory issues that seem never-ending, attitudes, and boy anger that is quite perplexing some days — but it’s beautiful.  It’s our life, and for so many years I fought to make this our reality. Prayed, researched, hid from it, ran after it, and wrestled with it.  Now that we are on the other side of it, the forest is clear for the trees.  I can see, and I’m in awe of what God has done in our lives together.

The many lessons we’ve learning: good, bad, ugly.

The wrestling with truth.

The beauty of what is right in front of us.

Seeking the simple things.

It has all been the making of this sturdy string that our days get strung upon. Even when I think I’ve blown it completely or can’t possibly do this just. one. more. day. The string is still there, it’s still strong because of Who made this string. God has done this, He just needed us to faithfully persevere. He would take our feeble attempts, unravel the threads, and weave them into something strong and beautiful.

In awe,