October Update

Hey Nourishing Tween friends!

I thought it would be nice to start doing a monthly blog in which I tell you all about what I’m doing/enjoying/reading/eating each month, and also let you in on any deals I find. If you’re looking for some pleasant things to do this season, or you are just curious to learn more about me, read on!

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

My newest articles

I just finished up my list of Books for Tweens Who Love Science Fiction! If your tween needs some new book ideas, check it out! They also would make for great Christmas gifts. If you’re looking for other kinds of books, click here to see all my book lists.

I’ve also got an article up about Tween Style in 2021. If you’ve got a tween or teen girl, that’s another great list of Christmas ideas!

Nourishing Tweens is a participant in several affiliate programs, advertising programs that provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and other websites. I only recommend things that I truly like and would use myself. If you click through my links and make a purchase, there is no additional charge to you.

What we’re learning in our homeschool

As you probably know, I’m homeschooling my high school son. We are having the best time learning together! And being a homeschool teacher is definitely what takes up most of my time. Before I had my son I was a first grade teacher in public school, and I’ve always loved learning.

Our big focus is history since it’s my son’s favorite subject. I’ve created a curriculum for him based on what I did in college. I’m combining world history – with a western civilization focus – with literature and philosophy. We are doing it all concurrently so that all of our studies blend together.

So far this school year we’ve been delving into ancient history. We are using Notgrass World History as the spine of our curriculum (our main textbook), and in August and September, we were learning about ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, as well as the history of the Old Testament that was happening at the same time. We also are using Foundations of Western Civilization by The Great Courses, which is a college-level video lecture series.

In October we were focused on ancient Rome. We’ve read several excellent books, which I’ll tell you about in the next section.

My son is learning lots of other things too, of course….precalculus, honors physics, German, animation, and more. If you’d like me to do a post about how we do homeschool high school, leave me a comment below!

Books I’ve been reading

To go with our Rome unit, we read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. We are currently in the middle of I, Claudius by Robert Graves, which I loved so much in college at the University of San Francisco that I had to share it with my son! It’s written as an “autobiography” of Rome’s emperor Claudius. It’s detailed, funny, and insightful. I highly recommend it if you or your high schooler are interested in Ancient Roman times.

And I also super-duper recommend The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome! I found this gem at a thrift book store and what a find! It’s hilarious and would be perfect for tweens (or me)! It’s written as a time-travel guide from the future and is so funny and clever. It tricks kids into learning history….shhh, don’t tell! I would recommend it for ages 10 and up. Middle schoolers would love it. I was very excited to realize there is also a Thrifty Guide to Medieval Times and a Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution. I’ll be reading those eventually!

We also did deviate from our ancient history focus in our literature to read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. We loved it! I got the Ignatius Critical Edition, which was great because it had essays included that explained a lot of what makes Frankenstein interesting/important/relevant. We also watched the 1931 movie after we read the book, and my son wrote a paper comparing the two. The movie bugged him to NO END…he couldn’t believe how different it is from the book.

I’m also in a book club (you know, like for grown-ups) and in October we read The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. It’s a mysterious page-turner in which a man suddenly disappears, leaving his new wife with his grumpy teenage daughter, a bag of cash, and a note that says, “Protect her.” I enjoyed it. It was a quick, fun read. A good choice if you are into books like Big Little Lies (which is better, in my opinion) or Everything I Never Told You. Not life-changing, but good.

What I’ve been cooking

Our apple tree was bountiful this year, so I’ve been doing some experimenting with apple recipes. I made some delicious apple cookies and high-protein apple muffins. I haven’t had a chance to get the recipes up on my website yet, so instead I’ll give you a link here to my Grain-free Pumpkin Spice Muffins which are a yummy, healthy treat and always a hit and are especially welcome in the fall.

I also have perfected my Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake. It’s a grain-free veggie-packed delight with all the flavors of pizza. I haven’t put it on the website yet either – sorry! If you like this sort of thing, try my Spaghetti Squash Lazy Lasagna or my Cheeseburger Casserole.

Please comment below to let me know which of those free recipes I should get up on the website first – Apple Cookies (a treat), Apple Muffins (healthy), or Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake.

Where I’ve been

Happily, our family was finally able to take a short vacation in October! It’s the first one we’ve done since our weekend at Bass Lake back in March. We went to Cambria, an adorable town on California’s central coast. I hadn’t ever been there before. We rented a fantastic house with a view of the ocean. It had 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms – awesome for traveling with teenagers. As I’ve said before, the best way to travel with tweens and teens is to rent a home! If you need some advice about how to do that, check out this article.

Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria, California
Beautiful Cambria, California

Cambria has wonderful walking trails on a cliff above the ocean. The picture above is one I took while walking there with my husband. Cambria also has a cute downtown. We went to the beach and tidal pools and tried several tasty restaurants. If you are in California, I’d highly recommend a weekend trip to Cambria!

Deals I’ve found

If you need to do some shopping for tween or teen style, Hurley is one of the best places to go! They’ve got a surf/snowboard laidback vibe. Do some Christmas shopping for your tween or teen, or if you are headed somewhere tropical this winter, they are currently having a 30% off sale on all their swimsuits.

If you’ve got younger tween girls, then Justice is the place to shop for fashion! My daughter loved Justice so much when she was younger! They have tons of great deals right now getting ready for Christmas. Their super-cute mini backpacks are marked down this week! Plus they are offering deals on jackets and 30% off sitewide! They also have cute stocking stuffers.

My favorite pans – which are now on Oprah’s favorite things list for 2021 – are on sale for 40-60% off November 4th-8th! I love GreenPan. They’re non-toxic and nonstick, and they are really nice looking, too. I own three of them. Not only are there discounts on the GreenPan website this week, but all month they are offering free shipping for orders over $99 and a free gift for orders over $150. Use the code THANKS.

If you’re looking to teach your kids more about American government and the Constitution, The Good and the Beautiful has a new US Government and Constitution course book that is available as a FREE download for a limited time. It is intended for grades 4-8, but I have heard reviewers online say that even high schoolers and adults can learn from it. I plan to do an article about it in the future, but for now, get it for free! Many public schools are not teaching this information very well, so I’d highly recommend checking it out whether or not you homeschool.

More personal notes

Last month I had emergency eye surgery due to a detached retina. I had symptoms in my left eye which alarmed me. Once tests were done the doctor realized I had issues in both eyes, so I had to have two surgeries. It was a scary situation and I would have gone blind rapidly if we hadn’t caught it. Recovery was very challenging as I had to lay at a 45 degree angle on my left side for a week, 24 hours a day with short breaks, followed by laying flat on my right side for a week.

I want to share what I learned in the hopes that it could help you or someone you love.

  • If you ever develop lots of floaters in your eyes rather suddenly, go to the doctor immediately. I had no idea that was serious. I’ve had little floaters in my eyes here and there all my life. I didn’t know it meant anything.
  • If you ever start to see shadows or flashes that shouldn’t be there, go to your doctor immediately.
  • Don’t wait for symptoms like that to get better on their own. You could go blind.
  • If you call your doctor’s office and they don’t make time for you in the next day or two, be insistent. My doctors didn’t see me for weeks. The problem spread from the edges to the center of my vision in that time. It’s an emergency.
  • I don’t have any of the characteristics of someone who would develop this problem. I’m not over 50, I’m not diabetic, I don’t meet any of the other criteria. But it happened anyway. So in general, if you develop any issue that you think couldn’t be you…have it checked anyway.
  • On a happier note, I learned something else that I wish I’d known before. Eye surgery is fine. I was always terrified of the prospect. But after being numbed, I couldn’t feel anything. Just as importantly, I couldn’t SEE anything. The lights used are so bright that all I could see was bright light. When the doctor did the part with lasers, I just saw green flashes. I couldn’t see the doctor or his instruments. It was not nearly as scary as I’d built it up to be. Don’t be afraid. I wonder how many people don’t deal with eye problems because they are scared of the idea of eye surgery. Don’t be scared – it’s really not bad. And I’m a very squeamish person.

That’s all for October (and okay, early November)! Hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts and gotten something helpful out of it. Have an excellent November, and I’ll be back soon with more!

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  1. Just wanted to say I always enjoy reading your posts – I’d love to hear more about your homeschool experience. I am not excited about sending my youngest to our too-big public high school next year, but I wouldn’t even know where to start to even consider home schooling! But I could see her thriving in an environment like that. My vote for recipes is the spaghetti squash pizza bake – I love spaghetti squash but I haven’t gotten more creative than just putting spaghetti sauce on it. And… so happy to hear your eyes are all better. I know you are relieved too!

    1. Thanks so much, Tammy! If you are interested in homeschooling, HSDLA.org is the best place to go to learn about how to get started and to learn what the laws are in your state. If you are curious about learning some of the ins and outs, you can check out my article about the best homeschool moms on YouTube. That’s the main place I’ve learned about it! And I will work on that recipe!

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