Friday, September 12, 2014


I have decided to consolidate all of my blogs into one.

My new all-in-one blog is called We Live After the Manner of Happiness, and on it I will frequently write short and sweet posts about a variety of topics, including Self Education, Motherhood, Homeschooling, the Gospel, and Healthy Eating.

I may still post here on occasion, particularly if I have a longer post I wish to write, but I hope you'll follow me there, since my new format allows me to be far more consistent in my posting and more flexible in my topics.

See you there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I'm really excited to say that I have made some significant progress in my reading goals! I have finished Don Quixote, as well as Pilgrim's Progress and Gulliver's Travels. This is significant for me because I have spent the better part of three years just trying to make my way through two classic books. I feel sharper and quicker than before, and I am enthusiastic about my upcoming books.

I have begun Wuthering Heights, after which I look forward to reading Oliver Twist and Moby Dick. I want to (as always) update this blog more frequently with my thoughts and ideas from my readings. I have learned from experience that two important facets to any good education are sufficient input and near equivalent output.

This blog is my chosen type of output.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Brilliant Madman

Thirty-eight percent!  That's how far I have come in Don Quixote.  I am 334 pages into a 940 page book.  That's saying something!  Even if I were to give up now, I feel like I could be proud of what I have yet accomplished.

I just finished the chapter in which Don Quixote expounded on the idea that arms are superior to letters, meaning it is better to be a soldier than a scholar.  It flies in the face of the saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword," as well as all of my personal opinions.  But he certainly speaks well in this passage.

"In this manner, and with these rational arguments, Don Quixote continued his discourse, no one listening to him in that moment could think of him as a madman; rather, since most were gentlemen engaged in the practice of arms, they were very pleased to listen" (Chapter 37, page 329).

"Those who listened to him were overwhelmed again with pity at seeing the man who apparently was intelligent and rational in all other matters could lose those faculties completely when it was a question of his accursed and bedeviled chivalry" (Chapter 38, page 333).

Monday, October 7, 2013

I will be a finisher!

Hooray for progress!  :)  I am now 35 chapters into Don Quixote and about 35% through the book.  I have just under 100 chapters left though...  :P  I figure, if I can read at least three chapters a day I can be done in a month.  That is my new goal.  If sooner, all the better!  If longer, well...  at least I'll finish it.  I'm determined to be a finisher, especially when it comes to books.  I work very hard to try and teach my girls to be finishers too.

Today my four-year-old finished reading (by herself!) a 113 page, 23 chapter, picture-less book.  (The Tale of Jolly Robin.)  Was it a good book?  Absolutely.  Was it a mistake to have her read by herself
 it so young?  Probably.  Will we be doing it again?  Not for a while.  But it was still an awesome experience to have her learn that she can do hard things and finish them!

In that same spirit, I am beyond determined to not only eventually finish Don Quixote, but to finish it in relatively good time.  I feel encouraged by the fact that having looked at all the other books on the Well-Educated Mind list, none of them are NEARLY as long as Don Quixote, (except for maybe Anna Karenina, but I've already read that one.)  So, if I can just plow my way through this first novel, I will be golden for the rest of the books.

My current thoughts on Don Quixote:

I can tell that a main focus of the story is the close but complicated relationship between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  I have already found myself identifying echoes through time of that type of relationship, such as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  I will probably write more on this theme later.

Another train of thought that has stuck with me as I've read is that this book is all about madness in it's different forms and varieties.  There's the obvious insanity of Don Quixote, but you can't help wondering as you read, "Is he really crazy?   Or is he just acting like it?"  I've considered the possibility that he has just decided that he wants a little adventure before his life comes to a close.  And then there is the foolishness of Sancho Panza.  He is simple-minded and easily swayed.  There is the insanity of Cardenio after being wronged by his friend and supposedly by his lover.  The list I'm sure could go on.  Hopefully this idea will be easier to flesh out and elaborate upon later.

Overall, I'm finding Don Quixote to be increasingly enjoyable and there is more of a flow to the read than before.  I'm hoping I've gotten over the hardest hump, those first however-many-chapters that you have to wade through before you become truly engaged in any book.  I'm still looking forward to the downward slide that comes later on when the end is in sight and the momentum carries you through to the finish.

Monday, September 16, 2013

17th Century Humor

My kindle tells me that I am twenty percent through Don Quixote.  ...It's slow going.  I don't know why though.  It's very entertaining, and truly surprisingly funny!  I don't know what caused me to imagine the 1600's as such a serious time period.  I think it can be easy to forget that these people were still people just like us.  Yes, they lived in a very different world, and spoke in a very different way, had customs that are sometimes beyond our comprehension...  But there is a universality in the human soul and experience that crosses all borders and times.

One of those commonalities apparently is humor.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm back!

Well, I've had a nice little break from blogging this summer.  I relaxed, I focused on my family, and I planned for the coming year.  And now I feel SO ready to put those plans into action!

I have already begun homeschooling my daughters in earnest, and I absolutely love it.  It makes my life feel full and complete.  But today my thoughts turned to my own education again.  I have always longed to educate myself solely for the purpose of self-improvement.  But recently I remembered the nearly inevitable fact of being a homeschooling mom: eventually these kids are going to grow up and pass me up in their skills!  I don't want that to happen if I can help it, (at least not before I send them off to college!)

Thus, my self-education has taken on a new level of importance.  I want to educate myself to be a better homeschool mom, both now and in the future.  I want my literature repertoire to be extensive.  I want to hone my critical thinking skills.  I want to be an example to my children of how not only important but exciting and even fun learning can be.  In sum, if I intend to ask my kids to do it in the future, I need to be willing to do it myself now.

My plans, then, are to read, read, read.  I want to read both quantity and quality.  I'm going to move forward with my intent to read through the Well-Educated Mind list, starting with Don Quixote.  (Confession: I started it before the summer, but I have been far less than consistent or diligent in my reading up to this point.)  I'm going to attempt to read more quickly.  In the back of Thomas Jefferson Education, DeMille implies that homeschool parents ought to be able to read a classic every week or two!  Ba-humbug!  ;)  So, I personally don't think I'm capable of quite so amazing a feat, but I will do my best and try to at least finish Don Quixote in the next month.  (After all, it is a particularly lengthy novel, right...?)  Even more importantly, I'm going to begin again to apply my mind to deeper and higher thinking.  I will ask questions, ponder my reading, and hopefully write often.

There's a good chance these coming posts won't be particularly helpful or interesting.  I hope you'll forgive me for that.  This blog always was more for me than for anyone reading it anyway.  BUT, if by chance anyone out there reading this is considering beginning or continuing their personal journey of self-education, I absolutely invite you to join me and let me know!  Add your thoughts and comments, or contact me personally and we'll chat!  ;)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thoughts of a tired mom...

Proceeding to write to think...

I'm pursuing my own self-education. I have been doing so for quite some time, having graduated from college four years ago. I don't intend to ever stop. My education will never be complete. That being said, I desperately long to pursue my education with more vigilance than I have previously done. Because of the time frame I have just described, I find myself without a sense of urgency and therefore dabbling, not finishing things, and becoming easily distracted from the task at hand. Add on top of all of that the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom with two beautiful, energetic daughters, and it's no wonder I don't feel like I'm ever really accomplishing anything.

I have a deep hunger for knowledge. I long to cultivate my mind. I want to devour books, whip through them, think deeply about them, then proceed to the next one. I wish I could read lots of different books concurrently; I would always have one going from each of the major subjects as well as anything else that caught my fancy. Additionally, I want to write eloquently, think rationally, speak confidently and all around develop the skill of great rhetoric. I want to pursue ever higher levels of math and science. I want to have a deeper understanding of history and greater appreciation for the arts. Also, I would love to cultivate my own musical talents and explore new skills.

The problem is, where am I to find the time? And even if I carve out the time, can I really sustain the pace that I desire? Perhaps the better question is, would that pace allow me to achieve optimal results? Is my clock ticking? Should I just give up now? No, I don't think so. But it certainly is discouraging.

My biggest battle, even beyond making time for my education, is finding the motivation to do what I've committed to, starting what I've finished, or having the grit to keep going even when the motivation is gone. I feel passionate about these things, but it's not that hard to forget that passion when you're tired, distracted, and overworked

What's the answer?

Goals. Plans. Consistency. Routines. Habits. Variety. Flexibility. Clarity. Prayer. Diligence. Grit.

I guess I'll let you know how it goes.