Creating a Candlelight Christmas

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

One of the most important locations in our home at Christmastime is the dining room. This is where our real Christmas celebration occurs throughout the month. I make sure that even if I don’t hang an ornament in any other room, the dining room gets special treatment.

Back when my oldest children were babies, I read about a family who eats by candlelight every night in December. It made the whole month feel special, even if they were just scarfing down pizza. Candlelight makes everything more elegant, right?

We began that tradition in our own home with just big thick candles in the middle of the table. I’ve added a few candlesticks and hurricane lamps over the years. I’m always on the hunt for the “perfect” Christmas candelabras, although my crew is content with pillar candles and votives for now.

I’ve found that, in the hustle of the season, this was a great time to slow down, look our loved ones in the eye, and let them know we think they’re worthy of a candlelight supper. Turning off the lights also seemed to quiet the noise, allowing us to focus on the people in front of us, the magic of the moment.
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Lora Lynn’s Biggest Homeschooling Mistake: 2-for-1 Homeschooling

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

My two eldest sons are pretty close in age. And by “close” I mean sixty seconds apart. Since I was pregnant with them, I’ve heard “Two for the price of one!” And later I heard, “Homeschooling must be easy for you. You can teach the twins together!”

First of all, I do have other children to teach. My twins were quickly followed by four (soon to be five) siblings. And I think we all know that homeschooling even one child isn’t really “easy.” But second, and perhaps more importantly, having twins or siblings close in age does not exempt me from teaching them as individuals.
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Confessions of a Reformed Preschool Drop-Out

Written by Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

I always believed that preschool was for over-achieving mamas. I tend to agree with my fellow Simple Homeschool writer that “preschoolers can learn everything they need to know from the school of life.”

I did “preschool” with my eldest children because we needed a routine of some sort to break up our days. But it was very laid-back. I chose a curriculum I could manipulate, pick and choose from, or not do at all.

And I usually went for option 3.

My third child learned by osmosis and jumped into first grade without any formal preschool. I have simply assumed that this tactic would work for the several other Littles I have coming up in the ranks.

And then came my fourth child… My highly opinionated daughter, who is driven by forces I do not understand. She pushed, cajoled, wheedled, and nagged until I gave in and agreed to “do school” with her. Because while she certainly doesn’t NEED it, who am I to argue with a child when she WANTS education?
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Cataloging the Homeschool Library

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Everybody knows homeschoolers have a lot of books. We collect them like dust. Our kids are drawn to them. And, usually, they become a part of our home decor in almost every room.

If your local library has an electronic catalog of their books, and you have almost as many books as the library, then shouldn’t you be able to keep up with your books electronically, too? With new library software like Delicious Library and ReaderWare, being the school librarian has never been easier or more fun.

Here are some of the things you can do with a library software.
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Low-Maintenance Curriculum for a High-Maintenance Family (2011 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Ages of my children: 7, 7, 5, 4, 2, 1
Educational Philosophy Influences: Classical, Literature-based

With six kids ages seven and under, it was important to me that the curriculum I chose did the heavy-lifting, and not the other way around. We’re mostly Classical style homeschoolers with a dash of Charlotte Mason, just for spice.

Here is what works for our gang (currently schooling twins going into 2nd grade and a rising 1st grader, plus doing preschool as the mood strikes).

Core Curriculum

Tapestry of Grace (TOG) – Despite the density of the curriculum, once you get the hang of it, planning is a breeze. I plan by the week, so that if one day goes awry (as they tend to do with my crew), it doesn’t put us behind. We just fit it in somewhere else.

I like that as we add in more school-age children, we can all stay on the same subject and adapt it for everyone’s learning level. TOG mixes the classical concepts with learning through literature, which is especially helpful at this young stage.  No dry history textbooks for us! (My review)
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