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The First Day of School


A new school year began yesterday! I’m so excited to begin a new year of learning and growing alongside my kids. I thought I’d share our curriculum choices for this year, because I’ve enjoyed other people’s posts along those lines (I’m a geek like that). I usually discover something I’ve never heard of before, and through such lists I actually came upon the science curriculum we’re using this year.

But first, my new desk area. My old desk was literally falling apart, so I got this very simple white desk from IKEA, kept the old green chair that went with the former desk, and spray painted a desktop organizer a glossy black. Tada! A lovely work area that is aesthetically pleasing–because after all–that’s pretty much the most important thing for me outside of storage.

And can I draw your attention to the most adorable book bunting? You can order it custom and mine is Pride and Prejudice. I ordered and gave Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre book bunting earlier this year to both of my sisters. It’s is such a fun and unique gift for the book enthusiast!

If you’re interested in any of the resources I will link to them below:

Desk: Linnmon/Adils from Ikea
Corkboard: Vaggis Noticeboards from Ikea
Mama print: Melissa Lyon West
Jane Austen print: PrintableDesignHouse on Etsy (similar)
Book Bunting: Rosealind Ashberrys on Etsy


Now onto more homeschooler-ish things.

Duncan and Owen are entering their 3rd grade year. So hard to believe! Here’s what we’ll be using this year:

Reading: We love the All About Reading resources and it has worked great for the boys. We started out trying to use The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and after the first year it did not go well. I love how much more simply All About Reading is broken down and that it comes with its own readers! We will be finishing All About Reading Level 2.

Language Arts Loop (for more info on loop scheduling read this):

Spelling: For spelling we use the Spelling City website and I plug in words from their All About Reading lessons.

Grammar/Writing:  We will be finishing First Language Lessons Level 2  and then I think we will be switching to English Lessons Through Literature. It is very similar to First Language Lessons in approach but is more integrated, a fact I love. It uses full-length books (instead of selections from literature) and also incorporates writing and spelling into the lessons. I will also be using this rather new program with Sophia in the future as well.

Penmanship: Zaner Bloser handwriting textbook for penmanship. Nothing fancy. It’s just penmanship and it works.

Math: We use Singapore Math and it’s been great for my kids, although I will be looking for something less “teacher intensive” once they are reading more fluently. Any suggestions?

History 2x weekly: We will be daily listening to the Classical Conversation audio CD and learning the history sentences and continue learning the timeline song. We also will be reading The Story of the World Vol. 1 along with a TON of library book reading. I will be incorporating geography and art study into history.

Science 2x weekly: My friend Nicole introduced me to Biology for the Grammar Stage from Elemental Science and I’m very excited to use it this year. Last year we were part of a Science co-op and this year we are not, so I’m excited to try something new. The kids will be learning about animals, plants, and the human body.

Sketchbooking: I’m going to be using sketchbooking as a way to incorporate writing, history, science, and drawing with the kids this year. Inspired by Kirsten Rickert (and since my kids love to draw) we will be using the Strathmore Kids Drawing Story Book to capture what we learn in short sentences, diagrams, and pictures. I love that it comes with space for drawing and is pre-lined for writing!

Physical Education: Soccer (fall) and PE once a week at our homeschool co-op.

Art: We will be studying art in the context of history and be sketchbooking but they also will have an applied art class each week at co-op.

Music: Co-op music class!

Sophia will be joining us as a Kindergartener this year and she’s is super enthusiastic about it! She will be tagging along for all of our studies as she has interest but for her we will be concentrating on reading, penmanship, and beginning math. She will be using All About Reading, Zaner Bloser handwriting, and Singapore math just like her brothers but at the Kindergarten level. She also will have a geography unit study, P.E., art, and music class at co-op every week.


I also thought I’d share some of the online resources and blogs I find inspiring as it pertains to homeschooling. Some of them I’ve talked about before and have interviewed their founders. Here’s some of my favorites!

Online Resources:

Wild & Free Conference, Bundles, and other resources  (Interviewed founder Ainsley Arment here.)

Read-Aloud Revival podcast and membership site (Interviewed podcast founder and host Sarah Mackenzie here.)

Home | School | Life 
Magazine, blog, or newsletter, this is a great resource!

Simple Homeschool
A practical site by various authors full of posts from the practical to the encouraging.


Mt. Hope Chronicles 
I’ve been following this blog by Heidi Scovel for years, maybe even before I had children? I love her blog, especially her booklists! And she has three boys so I find her perspective valuable when it comes to resources for boys.

Ed Snapshots
A very practical blog which also has a podcast attached to it.

Cloistered Away
I love Bethany’s blog. I heard her speak about Intention at last year’s Wild + Free conference. She’s a writer, photographer, blogger, and homeschooler so I am inspired by her and our interests are similar.

Kirsten Rickert
Another inspirational mama who is a photographer and writer with heavy emphasis on the environment, I love subscribing to her blog and reading her thoughtful posts.

If you homeschool (or even if you don’t) what educational resources or sites do you love for your kids? That inspire you?

» The First Day of School - September 1, 2015 - 6:44 pm

[…] The First Day of School […]


This girl.


I can’t believe five years are behind us. It’s cliche to say it, but time is flying by. I remember when she burst into the world so quickly and full of life. (Her birth story can be found here: Part 1 and Part 2). It has been fun to look back at the old blog posts of when she turned two, as well as her first birthday party.

She is so exuberant in personality. She admires her brothers and mothers her little sister. I adore her one dimple and her smattering of freckles across the nose. She is excited about Kindergarten and has an amazing memory. Currently, she can complete narrate Strega Nona and Tikki Tikki Tembo by memory! She loves stories, drawing, practicing writing, imaginary play, baby dolls, and dressing up.

This year was her first birthday party where little friends were invited over for a lemonade tea. We had so much fun!


She also loves playing chef so this year she got an apron and chef hat for her birthday and my mom got her a play mixer.

I think a lot of imaginary baked goods are in her future!


Mom - August 24, 2015 - 9:45 pm

lovely post! Beautiful pictures of little Sophia and excellent words…together they help capture the essence of our special little girl so full of life and creativity. Enjoying watching her grow. Thank you, love mom and nonna

Inspire: Women Who Create | Sarah Mackenzie Interview


You’re in for a treat today! I’ve mentioned many times that the Read-Aloud Revival is one of my very favorite podcasts.

Sarah Mackenzie is the founder and delightful host of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast and community, where the tagline is: Build your family culture around books. She is also the author of the newly released book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace.

You can find Sarah on the web at her main website, Amongst Lovely Things, where you can find links to her blog and all forms of social media. You can also sign up for her e-magazine there. Or you can check out the Read-Aloud Revival site, which is full of past podcasts, printable show notes, and video workshops.

But for now, let’s welcome Sarah here today!



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and introduce us to your family?

Of course! I’m a homeschooling mama of six—my oldest is 13, my youngest are 2-year-old identical twin boys. My husband Andy and I (and the whole pack of kids, of course) live in the Pacific Northwest.

I do a lot of writing, a lot of coffee-drinking, a lot of talking (too much probably).

Your book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, was just published right when a new school year is getting ready to kick into high gear! It can be a time when homeschool moms can feel overwhelmed. Why did you write this book and why do you think it will benefit other homeschoolers?

The very unglamorous truth is that I wrote this book because I needed to read it. I was at a particularly stressful point in life—homeschooling my three older kids, taking care of a 1 year old, pregnant with twins—and I found myself hitting my knees hard that year in desperate prayer.

I had first been introduced to the idea of “teaching from a state of rest” by Andrew Kern from the CiRCE Institute, and I’ll honestly be grateful to him forever for it. The first time I heard him talk about it, I thought the idea was laughable, but maybe that’s because my soul recognized something I so deeply needed.

The next year I spent a considerable amount of time seeking out what “teaching from rest” might look like for an overwhelmed overspent homeschooling mama and processing it all the way I do best—by writing. That’s where the book came from–out of my own need to live it.

If my book encourages one other homeschooler to remember that her success is not tied to the results she gets—to how well her kids come out at the end, how many of them get fabulous SAT scores or even get into adulthood with a lifelong love of learning… If I can perhaps remind a homeschooling mama that her one true success comes from being faithful to her work each day, then the book will do what it’s meant to do.


I must admit the Read-Aloud Revival podcast is one of the most encouraging and inspiring resources for me as a literature-loving parent who wants to pass that love onto her children. How did the idea of starting a podcast come about?

Goodness, I don’t really know where my ideas come from- they kind of spring upon me uninvited and then I have to do something with them or they won’t leave me alone.

Since the time I heard my very first podcast, I’ve thought hosting a podcast would be incredibly delightful. There’s a big part of my extroverted personality that struggles as a homeschooling mama, at home with my kids all the time. I just knew I’d love podcasting as a way to reach outside of my walls.

At the time I was trying to decide what to do with a blog series I had been running on my site that was losing a bit of steam. It was called Read-Aloud Revival, and though there were several of us there chatting in the comments and encouraging each other, I had this vision for making it bigger and better, but I wasn’t sure how.

I followed an impulse and shot an email out to Andrew Pudewa at the Institute for Excellence in Writing to see if he’d be up to being on my (non-existent) show, and he said yes! So then I had to figure out how to podcast!

And then the Read-Aloud Revival podcast was born! The Read-Aloud Revivalers are my favorite people on the planet. I just love the community that has risen up out of the movement.

As a writer and podcaster you are constantly producing. How do you nurture the creative process?

If I’m not reading or living my real life, then the ideas literally dry up. The one thing I have to do when I’m feeling short on creativity is step away from my work and dive deep into my real life. I need lots of time for reading and for doing the ordinary things like washing dishes, weeding the yard, playing blocks with the babies…otherwise the more authentic part of my creative side just wilts and I can’t move forward.

I read a lot. I keep a commonplace book to collect quotes and thoughts and ideas that spin around in my head. And I set aside time every single day to write.

For other women who may be interested in writing, blogging, and podcasting, do you have any resources—either inspirational or practical—that have helped you?

I’ve been really inspired by the work of Todd Henry (, Jeni Elliot (, and then watching other people who are doing work that I admire, like Tsh Oxenreider ( I love watching what other inspiring people are doing and thinking about whether I could translate it and make it fly in my own world.

The big two things I would suggest to a woman who is interested in writing/blogging/podcasting is:

-Make the effort to find or create a mastermind group, a group of like-minded women who are about at the same stage of writing/blogging/podcasting you are, and support each other. I depend on my mastermind peeps so much- they have been a big encouragement to me. I make almost no decisions without consulting at least one of them. 

– Set aside time for your work, your art. When I try to be mama and writer at the same time, bad things happen. Bad parenting AND bad writing. It’s just a lose-lose. For a long while, I woke at the crack of dawn to get in some time before everyone woke up. Now I actually do a trade-off with my husband, but before that was possible, I relied on naptimes and bedtimes to get in some work. For me, a clear delineation is really necessary for me to feel like I’m doing my best work and like I’m a whole, sane person. 

I know you’re the first to say you don’t “do it all,” but with six kids, homeschooling, speaking, writing, and podcasting, your plate is full! So in order to get all these things done, why don’t you tell us some of the things you DON’T do.

  • Anything, absolutely anything, that you see on Pinterest. 
  • Hands on history projects or involved schoolish projects of any sort.
  • Homestead-ish kinds of things: gardening or canning or the like.
  • TV. Except Downton Abbey (of course).
  • DIY types of home decor or crafts or whatever—I just can’t get excited about those.

How are you feeding your soul these days?

Reading! I’ve got some good ones on my nightstand in my to-be-read-very-soon pile:

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalie Sanmartin Fenollera

I have Bittersweet loaded onto my Kindle and The Awakening of Miss Prim is on my Amazon wishlist! Sounds like we enjoy the same sort of books. On that note, like you always ask your guests at the end of your podcast, if you were stranded on an island, what three books would you take with you?

Oh gosh, I hate answering this question—it’s so hard! It gives me so much sympathy for my podcast guests to be on the other side of this question.

It probably changes every day. Today it’s:


Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Sarah! Appreciate your work!

Thank YOU. It was fun to answer them! 


For other posts in the Inspire: Women Who Create series check out:

Christie Purifoy Interview | Author
Ainsley Arment Interview
 | Founder of the Wild + Free homeschool community
Ruth Simons Interview | Artist, Shoppe owner, Blogger
Ashleigh Slater Guest Post | Author

Amy L. Sullivan - August 21, 2015 - 8:00 am

So, I have only recently started enjoying podcasts (always late to the game!), but I have been on a hunt for those to add to my ever-growing list. Read-Aloud Revival sounds like something I’d enjoy, and I can’t wait to check it out!

Thanks for the interview, ladies. Interviews and lists are always my favorite kinds of posts!

[…] Read-Aloud Revival podcast and membership site (Interviewed podcast founder and host Sarah Mackenzie here.) […]

The Supermom Myth

I keep coming back to the theme of comparison and viewing it from various angles in my articles. That’s because I see and hear it everywhere I go these days: in conversations with my friends and on social media. I touched on the topic from the creative mom viewpoint and as well in my article Guilt-Free Motherhood. And I love how my friend Amy Kannel got to the real root of comparison in her article Chasing a Standard We Can Meet.

Today I’m writing about The Supermom Myth. If you are striving after supermom status or instead view a friend as a supermom and think you could never compete, this article is for you.

Because the fact is Supermom doesn’t exist. And never has.

Check out The Supermom Myth over at For the Family.

What I’m Into Right Now

Listening: I recently discovered The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and I’m really loving it. I went back through the archives and am catching up on her various interviews with Shannan Martin, Tasha Morrison, Shauna Niequist, Trillia Newbell, Jessica Turner, Gloria Furman, Jen Wilkin, and Jen Hatmaker to just name a few.

Also, just finished listening to The Orphan Train on audiobook. It was okay but not amazing. I’m moving on to The Light Between Oceans as my audiobook pick. Should I get my tissues out now? I’ve heard it’s a gut wrencher.

Watching: Broadchurch: Series I. If you like British mystery and crime, this is for you. Even if you don’t, try it anyway. This is one of the best series I’ve ever seen. It’s gut-wrenching, humorous at times, raw, riveting, and smart. The story, acting, and cinematography (ah, I geeked out the the cinematography) is superb. When it ended it felt as satisfying as a good novel. It follows a family, a town, and two detectives as they seek to discover the murderer of a 11-year-old boy. The premise is sad but it has wonderful redemption moments too. I won’t say if we watched the last three episodes all in one night. Ahem.

Reading: I got Green Dolphin Country for Christmas. I’d wanted to read it for years, being an Elizabeth Goudge fan but it was out of print for a while, I believe. But the size put me off for a while (it’s 767 pages). I decided summer was the perfect time to delve into it. As always, the writing is exquisite, that old-fashioned quality of character development and description I love so much.

Eating: We are loving Spaghetti alla Carbonara (so easy) and now that it’s zucchini season, we are eating it in many forms like Zucchini Cakes and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

Drinking: Lots of cold brew iced coffee. Like, everyday.

Exercising: I’m getting back into my exercise routine with the help of Tracy Anderson’s Precision Toning. With 15 minute segments I can easily fit it into my day and get a real good workout too, either doing one segment or combining them for longer sessions.

What are you into right now?

Briana - July 21, 2015 - 10:22 am

I love reading what you’re into right now. I always get great suggestions on what to read and watch from you. We tried a new British murder mystery series, Bletchley Circle—a really bad move on my part. We will not be continuing with it. Way too assaulting to my sensitive conscious and mind that gives up no images ever. Ugh. So, with that said, do you think I could handle the British murder mystery you mentioned?

amy - July 26, 2015 - 7:03 pm

The Light Between Oceans: I seem to recall being frustrated with the characters’ choices being unbelievable. Not that I didn’t believe that people *could* think and act like they did…but that the author didn’t set me up adequately TO believe that THESE characters operated out of the motives and made the choices that they did. Compelling story, though, for sure, and hard to think through. I didn’t really even know how I *wanted* it to end.

Listening: Not much of anything podcast- or book-wise, strangely. I really like Christy Nockels’ new worship album.

Watching: All ten seasons of Friends…I was hooked on that show in junior high/high school, but never saw the last couple of seasons and got all nostalgic for it a few months ago. So I’ve been blowing through scores of episodes while I work out, do dishes, etc.

Reading: Haven’t been doing as much of this OR listening because of the above. EEK. Almost done though! Sara Hagerty’s memoir Every Bitter Thing is Sweet is really resonating deeply with me. (Do you follow her on IG?)

Eating: Tomatoes in/on everything since they’re finally in season :) And some caramel macchiato cookies I made yesterday. Plus peach muffins–did I mention those when you talked about muffins a couple of weeks ago? They are fabulous.

Drinking: Recently discovered I like strawberry in my water along with a splash of lime juice. A little iced coffee, but not as much as in the spring. I’m mad that Dunkin Donuts discontinued their butter pecan syrup after giving me a 99-cent refill cup! 😛