Buddy Reading Loop

Learning to read has been a slow and painful process for both Pumpkin and myself. Finally we are getting into a groove and while we are still slowly working on our language arts, our buddy reading and his free reading time is blossoming.

Because slow looping has been so good for all our other learning we are working it into our buddy reading as well and covering so much more!

I was really inspired to add buddy reading to our day after reading Giggle Poetry. We could have finished that book by now but taking it slow and allowing him time to really develop fluency.  It also happens to be one of his favorite books to break out at poetry tea time. I think we will have to get this Giggle Poetry book after we finish the first one.

In the mean time I want to make sure I’m providing a variety of reading styles and subjects for our buddy reading time. I like keeping that Charlotte Mason “feast of ideas” available to him throughout the day and I like being able to work in “subjects” outside of that scheduled time. So I searched our small bookshelf and found some options we happened to have on hand.

By the way, buddy reading is such a hit in our house that Macaroon suggested we do it the other day. Aw kiddo, you’re not reading yet.



Review: Discovering Nature Come and See

Come and See was one of the first Charlotte Mason inspired science books I can across and I really do love it! It was also one of the first homeschooling texts I purchased and…it fell flat for us! Pumpkin was 6 years old, Cupcake 3 and Macaroon still in diapers. I was overwhelmed and had way too much going on..oh how I wish I could have visited with older me back then so I could have set me straight.

Well, I managed the first 3 chapters of the book and then I shelved it for 3 years! However I didn’t give up on it and gave it precious storage space in the RV. You see, I really liked this Discovering Nature book. I think the story is delightful, I like the activities that go along and I would have loved this and all the others for my science when I was a kid.So when trying to make some Buddy Reading choices to do with Pumpkin I decided to pull this book out and give it a try.

Now all but the first 2 are designed for the child to do on their own, reading and all. But since we are still building up his reading skills buddy reading this book has turned into a complete win.

This book lives in our Nature Study Basket so Pumpkin can work on the independent activities during the week. I also like keeping it in a spot where it will be noticed often by not just him but little sister and brother in hopes that they will ask big brother to read it to them too. Or give Pumpkin time to play nature expert to them.

Little brother even likes to ease drop on our buddy reading time and then pulls out his notebook to draw like big brother. That tells me that one day I will be purchasing these texts for the other kids as well and I’m looking forward to that…actually by the time we get to that point I just might have to let big brother take point on some of the lessons as a bonding with the siblings and building in some easy review for him. But that is in the future and I don’t need to be thinking too much on that yet.


Hands On Teaching for the Introverted Mama

I am a hands on learner. My husband is a hands on learner. My kids are a hands on learner. This Hands On thing should be easy then right? NOPE! Because it turns out I’m not a Hands On teacher. I’m a book reading, big juicy conversation teacher and all the Hands On stuff tuckers me out!

I do work in little hands on things most days. Coloring pictures or drawing to go along with reading. Building with blocks something that goes along with what we are learning. There is also lots of independent play and projects. All very simple things that don’t require a whole lot of planning or preparing from the mom side of things. But I’ve had a harder time working in those more involved hands on things.

So what is this Introverted Mama to do? I know the benefit of hands on learning. I want to do the hands on learning with the kids. I even enjoy them when I’m doing them (most of the time), but oh my gosh! How does one take care of all the daily needs of her family, teach the kids and do all those hands on things? Well shoot, I just don’t…well I don’t daily.

When it comes to the big hands on activities I dole them out slow, and since starting the slow loop, in steady streams. This slow loop  thing is totally helping me be that fun hands on mama. Knowing that at least every other day we will be doing something hands on really takes the stress of my trying to plan something for every day. And removes the guilt of not doing something hands on every day. It also helps me to physically and mentally prepare for the hands on time. (That is critical for me being successful.)

What is really surprising is now that I’ve removed the pressure to do something hands on every day….I find that I am doing more hands on things with the kids. My stress level is lowered and it’s been easier to invite one of the kids to cook with me in the kitchen, to pull out a board game or take part in a game of tag. Even on non-hands on days.

I like to look for practical hands on activities. As much as I love all the amazing crafts I see on Pinterest and Instagram, I’ve become much of a minimalist in our roadschooling and those things don’t fit our lifestyle. Currently our top two favorite ways to add hands on into our days is with cooking and games.

  • Cooking. You don’t have to do something formal for this. We are with Kids Cook Real Food and even mama is learning some new skills. (By the way, summer is a great time to take this class when most of us have a lighter academic load and enrollment happens to be open right now too.) But we also get in the kitchen with our math, poetry tea time, science and helping hands.
  • Games. There is a whole community of folks who gameschool out there. With so many games for math, language arts, science, history, geography and more it easy to see why. And I’m not talking about dry boring games that the kids can tell they are doing lessons but they are actually fun!

One of these days we will add more science experiments to our week as well. One of Pumpkin’s buddy reads is a science book and includes some experiments that the little ones are sure to get in on and I have my eyes on a new Minecraft Science Fun-Schooling Journal soon to hit the shelf as well. We also have this Thinking Tree Science Journal that I will print out sooner then later that is pretty amazing for the science loving kids.

And then there is hands off – hands on learning. While traveling we have been able to take advantage of some of the craft or game time at our resorts. I love those days, they are like bonus Hands on Time! And while others may not have the resort activities like we do local libraries, communities centers and even home improvement stores often have activities for our kids from I will admit sometimes all three of them at once is a bit overwhelming and I often retreat into a cup of tea and some quiet time for mama after. Okay, even if our hands on time was smooth sailing I still plan on some quiet time for after to recharge.

For me, knowing what recharges me as a mom, especially as an introverted mom is important to having hands on fun with my kids. If you are a member over at Read Aloud Revival she has a class Find Your Personalities Superpower, this class was a game changer for me! Because of this class I have found options other than just a lot of quiet alone time to help me be the fun happy me that I am. Some of those recharging thing even let me extrovert to recharge. Everyone in my family is enjoying the befit of that, especially all my extroverts.


Morning Musings: The Bondage of Fear part 2

Read part 1 here.


The can opened and I froze.

Just thinking about that moment my heart starts to race a little bit and I have to fight back tears.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I calmly pretended to keep reading till he came into the room and glanced to see if my fear was confirmed. It was!

I turn the page in my book, pretend to be reading. I underline the words so I wouldn’t rush. Turned the page again, and continued the charade. Then calmly close the book and walked to the my bedroom and used the phone.

“Mommy! Daddy is drinking!”

Can you imagine just having gotten out of ICU and receiving a call like that from your child?

“Ask daddy if he will bring you to the hospital to visit me.”

“Dad, mom wants you to being me to visit her.”


Their was no point to argue, it would have made things worse. So my mom told me to pretend to go swimming and she would find someone to come get me.

I changed into my suit and hid my undergarments and toothbrush in my towl. I prayed he would let me go.

Walking to the door, I looked over at my dad and said to him. “Dad, I’m going to go swimming.” I don’t remember what or if he even said anything to me but I was allowed to go.

The pool at our apartments was right next to our home. We had a large window in our living room that overlooked it. It wouldn’t take him long to know that I wasn’t really there.

The office was closed. The pool was empty. I was all alone.

I locked myself in the bathroom until whomever my ride was arrived and I imagined.

I imagined every horrible thing that could go wrong. Every fear that could play out in my mind built up bigger and bigger. I sobbed and worried about me, about whomever my ride would be. I was embarrassed that someone would know that this was something we had to deal with as a family. I was angry.

My ride arrived without incident and I was taken to my Noni’s. Or he brought me to my mom’s first and then someone else brought me to her home. I cannot remember that part, but I remember that night.

Laying in bed praying. Begging God to not let my mom die. Explaining to him that I would never be safe with just my dad and that if I had to lose one of my parents that night could it be him. I prayed and cried for hours.

The next day was spent with cousins and my aunt received a call. All us kids were sent outside…but one of them snuck back up the stairs to listen to what was going on. His face was telling but he didn’t tell. (I’m so glad he didn’t tell.)

We went to visit my mama after that, I expected some bad news but couldn’t imagine what it was. Maybe something was wrong with my mom again.

When we arrived at her room (all the aunts and Noni and cousins too I think), there was even more family in the room. So many of them that I cannot even recall or nor could I recognize who was there at the time. But my mom wasn’t in her bed. She was sitting in a chair and she called me over to her. She was so upset, she had been crying I could tell.

“Krystal, your daddy killed himself last night.”

I was crying and in her arms and in denial. My daddy wouldn’t have done that, it’s a mistake. I understood and believed he was dead but I could not understand that he killed himself.

I needed to be alone but I don’t think anyone left me. I think someone traveled with me every place I went keeping an eye on me.

I remember sitting next to a window, eight stories up wondering what it would feel like if the glass was not there and I let myself fall.

You see, the fear that had entertained me all night now had something else to feed on. Guilt.

But God was is stronger!

I was allowed to be alone in the Chaplin room. I found myself on my knees crying out to God and opening the Bible on the table. And He spoke to me with His word and while I still hurt it was the first time I remember feeling His peace so fully surround me.

I wish I could remember what it is that I had read. I wish that I could say in that moment I was free from the bondage of fear. But the truth is it had just gotten a really good grip on me and I had a long battle ahead of me.

…for the Lord God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Psalm 55:4 

Praise God, I was not alone. He was with me! He would not leave me! But I didn’t let fear leave me either, I didn’t know that was carrying him around with me like the tumor he is. And while I was kept safe in the arms of God I still entertained that fear. The bondage was real.

Part 3



Fun -Schooling Pirates part 2

I wasn’t expecting to come up with more ideas for my fun-schooling pirate but he has been asking about “writing like a pirate”. And I want sure how that actually worked, then I stumbled across this calligraphy book I had in storage. It was like I found the buried treasure!

Pumpkin needs the extra penmanship practice so I let him know that he needs not do any other copy work until he had mastered his calligraphy alphabet. I showed him the book, gave him a “cheater” calligraphy pen and told him that once he masters his lower and upper case letters without looking that I would get him this real calligraphy pens. He is beyond excited!

Then while I was looking for the pen I found a bunch of our dice and whipped up a few Pirate Dice games for him to play.

Pirates vs Landlubber is a 1 person game. You need 3 dice, 2 of one color and 1 of another and a blank piece of paper for keeping score.

How to play.

  1. Roll all three dice.
  2. Add up the matching colored dice.
  3. If the single colored dice is even, the points go to the Landlubber. If the single colored dice is odd the points go to the Pirates.
  4. First on to 100 wins.

Its amazing what names things will do to inspire interest. He plays it all the time!

Pirates vs Buccaneer is a 2 person game. You need 5 dice: 2 red, 2 green and 1 blue. And a blank piece of paper for keeping score.

How to play.

  1. Pirate & Buccaneer both have a set of colored dice.
  2. Both Pirate & Buccaneer roll and cast their dice at the same time.
  3. Each player decides what order to place their dice. (We are not adding them at this point, we are creating double digit numbers.) These are the players possible points.
  4. The player with the highest number rolls the single colored dice, which is also known as the battle dice.
  5. If the battle dice rolls even the Buccaneer takes the points. If the battle dice rolls odd the Pirate takes the points.
  6. First one to 100 wins.
  7. However, if you go over 100 you have to roll the battle dice and subtract what you roll times 10 from your total.

Pumpkin also wrote a Pirate Lullaby to the tune of  Are You Sleeping.

My little Pirate.

My little Pirate.



Sailing all the seas.

Conquering  your dreams.



We also discovered that Muppet Treasure Island is on Hulu right now. So the kids very much enjoyed that and now Pumpkin is enjoying his audiobook of Treasure Island even more because he has a bit of a visual reference to go along with the story.


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What is our Symposium “morning time”

There are so many inspiring parents out there whom have Morning Time or Symposium or Morning Basket and golly, it’s so lovely and feels SO unattainable to me. But I’m not one to give up on lovely, instead I’m all about finding what works best for my family.

Guess what? Sometimes our day starts with Pumpkins lessons. Sometimes it starts with a show. Sometimes our family “morning time” doesn’t happen till well after lunch, so in our home we call it Symposium. During this family time we cover Bible & Nature Study  or History or Social Studies as a family.

However our Symposium slow loop always starts with Bible. Each kid takes a turn choosing a book from our Bible Basket, however I’ve been letting Pumpkin choose even on days that are not his if he wants to read. He generally wants to and I love that. I share something from my Bible and then we do our Good Confessions and Stretches.

I can still hear my mom calling to me as I walked out the door for school “to have friends you must be friendly” “great is He that is in you then he that is in the world” “you can do all things who strengthen you”. And I would repeat them all back to her. Gosh, I’m so glad she did that!

There is life and death in your confession! And man, I’m 38 years old and my confession can still do with some good schooling.

We have not done much in the way of Bible memory yet, but I do want my kids to know what God says about them and have that hidden in their heart. So I picked out a few of my favorite confessions from God’s Creative Power, wrote them in my Bible and each morning we do some yoga type stretches while we make a good confession.

Putting physical movement to this time really helps keep the attention of my little group of Pastries and helps in the transition to our Nature, History or Social Studies reading after.

Overall this time we have, it is a simple simple simple time! It’s about building healthy habits, strong relationships and warm memories. I’m not trying to create somebody else beautiful morning time in my home, I’m creating our own beautiful morning time.

What is the Deal with the Baskets?

I first heard about Fun-Schooling baskets shortly before I received my Mom’s Fun-Schooling Journal and while I loved the idea of them, I just couldn’t imagine how to make them work in the motor-home. Well my desire to try them won out and while they take up precious floor space and can be a pain in the tush to move them all the time, they are wonderful!

Our current Fun-Schooling Baskets

So, how do we use these? In our Slow Row there is a “scheduled” spot to use at least one every other day. But they are used more than that. For example, the other night I was finishing up dinner and the kids were in this in between place. They had just cleaned up and we’re mostly ready for bed and I didn’t want them to be jumping around while I was getting ready to plate the food. So I grabbed our Nature Study in a Basket, set it on the table and invited them to spend some time with it.

And that is exactly what they all did! Each of them picking a book or two to read or look at and when it was time to eat I had to give promises that they could visit with the basket some more before bed time. How is that for some awesome unscheduled learning?!

I like to keep the baskets full of more than just books and have added small games or manipulative to our basket. Because I’m watching our budget as well as weight (RV’s have limits after all), everything currently in our basket is stuff I happened to have everything on hand. Oh, and I like to have items that are appropriate for each age of my children and a few that might be something I would read with pictures to incites them.

Much like Books & Blankets, having these baskets out allows us to spend more time with a particular subject. It’s also given them more opportunities for the spark  that causes an interest to happen. It really is splendid watching them dig into a basket when I let them know “its basket time” even outside of our scheduled school day.