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January 2007

Lesson Planning: Post Three

First and foremost, thank you all so much for your kind comments and prayers. This morning I felt much better, due in no small part to the extra rest Bill has given me these past two mornings ~ letting me sleep in till 7 (yesterday) and 6 (today) and bringing me coffee in bed. (Yep, he's a keeper.)

I'm taking things slow, but I really wanted to get back on track today with our lessons. I thought for lesson planning post number three, I'd record the details of a day in our home learning life, in real time (give or take).

(As usual, this post is quite very extremely long, and I'm fading out, so I hope it reads all right - I will try to work out any bugs in the morning.)

Before the boys get up, I ready the learning room and the morning's first lessons. Once they're up (around 6:30-7), the morning gets underway ...

  • Breakfast: A bit of leftover rugelach from yesterday's Heritage Day for me, Honey Nut-O's for the boys. (Except add two slices of homemade pizza, an Envirokidz bar and 1/2 a cream cheese bagel for EB; the boy eats like nobody's business, lol.)
  • While the boys eat, we read Your Big Backyard; we remember the day after tomorrow is Groundhog Day when we read several fun articles about groundhogs, or woodchucks, as they are also known:
    • Bookworm reads aloud a short story called "When Groundhog Wakes Up."
    • We dig out our groundhog puppet; CJ keeps him close by.
    • I impress the boys with my ability to say that old tongue-twister "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood ..." I can say it really fast.
    • I run downstairs to check the laundry and bring up Groundhog's Garden from the spring book basket.
  • Bookworm continues reading Artemis Fowl; he needs to finish by tomorrow for Book Group.
    • While reading, BW asks what "quark" means; I have him look it up in the dictionary.
    • I show CJ what the dictionary is; we look up "fortress" as an example. He is now carrying it all around the house with him. :)
  • I tell the boys about our proposed candle experiment. They talk me into doing it right away:

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  • Here we have two tea lights, one burning in the open, one underneath a glass jar. Which one would burn longer? Well, since fire needs oxygen, the one on the left stayed lit, while the one on the right went out in 12 seconds. (We counted.)
  • Bookworm (yes, still in pajamas) decides to try a larger glass and compare:

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  • The larger glass on the left afforded the flame 20 seconds more life.
  • We use a fun book to create shadow shapes on the couch (butterfly, crocodile, sea anenome) ...

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  • Crackerjack (also in his pajamas) demonstrates a butterfly (Bookworm's shadow is underneath).

(I forgot to note the time of all the above activities, but suffice it to say, it was before nine a.m.)

  • 9:30 ~ In the thick of math lessons (Saxon), I'm running out of steam, so I warm up a cup of coffee and we break to read Mr. Popper's Penguins; BW continues his math.

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(The keen eyed observer will notice CJ is still wearing his pajama shirt. This is true - today he was a "real sports car driver.")

  • 9:45 ~ We launch into grammar lessons.
  • 10:00 ~ Oh my goodness! Tough Nut is here!!! We are so excited! Please see my Nature Corner for the pictures. We cannot tear ourselves away from the windows for a good 5-10 minutes. This is that female squirrel with the half-length tail, whom we have not seen in months. I was fearing the worst and now here she is! Hooray! Before we return to the table, CJ gets out the squirrel puppet to keep with him while we work. We are so glad she's home.
  • 10:10 ~ CJ's lesson incorporates the Guardian Angel prayer, which is his new one to learn. He tries it on his own and he knows it! (He's heard BW say it every night for the past so many months, I'm not surprised.)
  • 10:15 ~ We take another break. BW reads; CJ finishes penmanship, then plays with the squirrel puppet for a few minutes. EB is playing with trains.
  • 10:30 ~ BW keeps reading; CJ reads his phonics booklet and completes the accompanying exercise; EB is drawing on a doodle pad.
    • We all discuss the Book Group I am leading in April (younger group); tomorrow I have to tell them my book choice. Cricket in Times Square or Mouse on the Motorcycle? Hmmm ...
    • Suddenly EB brings our attention to several cobwebs around the beams in the family room. (I simply cannot imagine how they got there!) Mournfully, covering his eyes, he pleads, "Piders, MAMA!" CJ, BW and I use socks and a bird puppet to get rid of the offending webs (by tossing them up and over the beams to catch and disperse the webs). We congratulate each other on our clever dusting method.
    • I notice my neighbor's dryer vent going and remember I need to go back down to re-boot my own laundry. (Usually M-T are my laundry days, but many's a week it trickles over into W, and this does not include folding which is an ongoing affair.)
    • Before I head back to the learning room, I take 2 sticks of butter out for chocolate chip cookies.
  • 10:45 ~ Begin history. Read Story of the World, chapter 18, section 2: "Recapturing Jerusalem." Follow up with review questions. The boys start mapwork; I leave it to BW to explain directions to CJ and start in on kitchen ...

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  • 11:10 ~ BW and CJ sit in living room to read Mr. Popper's Penguins aloud (which, I dont think I've mentioned, is CJ's Book Group assignment this month), while I start cleaning the kitchen. EB sticking close by with several monster trucks in tow.
  • 11:30 ~ Free time - the boys all play. I'm still working in kitchen.
    • The boys are instructed to look through several of our middle ages picture books to look for examples of fire use - warmth, food, defense and attack. When we wonder if monks used candles to write their manuscripts at night, it at first seems they would. A bit of research reminds us they did not - the threat of the precious parchment catching fire was too great, and so they called it a day once it grew too dark.
  • 12:00 ~ I'm loading the last of the cutlery; the boys are watching Sesame Street Old School.
  • 12:15 ~ Dishwasher is running and the kitchen is clean; the boys have lunch:
    • PB-banana on whole wheat bread, organic cheese sticks (except BW who does not like them so he has two slices of rolled up bologna), Annie's bunny grahams, milk
    • I toss the crusts out to the birds.
    • I start thinking about supper - Italian in some form.
  • 1:00 ~ Boys back to table. BW reads MPP aloud while CJ and EB draw. I work on grocery list.

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(Yes, that's my cat. Yes, he is on the table. Cats have a thing about being wherever your work is. Please know the table gets washed regularly, particularly before any meals are served.)

  • 12:30 ~ Mid-day tidy. I go down to get mail and re-boot laundry. At this point the kitchen and learning room (dining room) are clean, the living room is neat. The bedrooms need (more than a bit of) straightening, as does the bathroom. The family room looks like ... well, like three boys live here, lol. I always tackle that room last thing before Bill comes home. It's like shoveling in a snowstorm otherwise. I take out the rest of the ingredients for cookies, and the sauce and pasta for tonight.
  • 12:45 ~ I read aloud about St. John Bosco; the boys play with toys (CJ), crayons (BW), and at the sink (EB), as I read. BW chooses his new prayer to learn (St. Francis of Assisi).
  • 12:55 ~ We see the red squirrel and his tail has been injured! It appears shorter, so we look more closely and we can see the very tip is without fur! Something has been at him! We are alarmed, but very grateful he made it out of that situation alive.
  • 1:45 ~ I am reading Days of the Blackbird aloud. CJ gets teary-eyed when La Columba takes to the chimney to keep warm. When she emerges all black, we discuss her sacrifice and CJ says it's like when Jesus loved us so much he sacrificed himself for us.
  • BW is painting his St. Thomas of Aquinas frame (his patron saint). He chose purple, his favorite color.

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  • 2:15 ~ We are done for the day except for the boys finishing their books. EB is playing with Lucky Ducks, BW is planning his garden (for a PHF badge) and CJ is playing with an odd assortment of toys - making up some sort of "sword story" - one I am trying to listen to while pretending I'm not listening. :)

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  • 2:50 ~ The cookies are in the oven. BW is looking through seed catalogs. He and CJ begin a list of what we should grow. I remember I bought a package of pea seeds to plant on President's Day and bring it out for them. You'd have thought it was gold! They use crayons to mark their selections. (You should have heard them discussing the merits of heirloom tomatoes, lol.) BW tells me he will grow green tomatoes for my picallili on Labor Day. :)

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  • It's nice today -the cold winds are blowing (28 degrees right now) and yet the sun is streaming in the windows. The kitchen is messy, oh yes, but the air is filled with the scent of chocolate chip cookies. :)
  • While first batch is in oven, I neaten the learning room one last time - tote bags and book piles - and vacuum. The table is again clear for the morning. It reminds me of how I like to do baking. Clean surfaces, items needed set out - organized and inviting - and then things get put away as you go. In the end, it takes only a bit of straightening and wiping to put things back the way they were.
    • Of course that is NOT how it always works! Our learning room is spic and span, but to be honest, the kitchen looks very much like a working kitchen.
  • 4:23 ~ The end of the day ... vacuuming's done, supper's started, the boys are crashing monster trucks in the living room (but they're playing very nicely with each other, so what's a few dings in the furniture?), the lessons are put away and Bill's on his way home ...
  • And the table is ready for a brand new day ...

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So are the books!

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And there you have it - a peek at our day. I hope yours was a good one and I wish you a blessed night! 


A Little Break

Because I usually post so often, I feel compelled to let you all know I am taking a short blogging break in order to get over this little bug. Usually I spend my evenings before bed uploading pictures and typing up a post from our day. I took lots of pictures today - I just don't have the energy to make any sense, lol!

I have lots of lovely blogs to visit, a board to read, emails to send and comments to leave. But it will all have to wait a bit longer. As much as I'd really like to dive in and catch up, I am heading to bed this minute. Please know I am thinking of you all and formulating thoughts - comments, e-mails, posts - in my head. I will be in touch soon!

Good Night and God Bless!


Lesson Planning: Post Two

(Sorry, for the long delay in posting - I meant to post this yesterday but I seem to have come down with a little bug. If you would, please say a prayer the boys don't get it!)

Here is what my plan looks like this week. *Quick disclaimer - please keep in mind, this is a "wish list" - something to shoot for. We almost never (ever) get it all done.*

Before I launch into the details, I just want to say that I write out a page like this for most weeks. (And, yes, I do write it out with pencil and paper - very archaic, I'm afraid!) I am sure there is a much spiffier, more efficient way to do this, but this way just works well with my brain. :)

I also use my month-at-a-glance calendar to keep track of when we are out of the house and when we are home, as well as what special events/feasts we are celebrating. If I have my folder, my calendar and my journal on my counter at all times, along with a well-sharpened pencil, I feel some semblance of control over our week (however imaginary it might be, lol!).

Speaking of calendars, just this past weekend I had a bit of a calendar epiphany. I realized I was trying to keep too many calendars up and running! I have now commited to just one 14-month-at-a-glance, spiral-bound, lie-flat, portable, not-at-all-fancy-but-suits-my-needs kind of calendar. I've been filling it in with colored pencils (liturgcally speaking) and I am feeling "ok" about it. It's not all that pretty, but it is practical - more on that later.

Monday, January 29th - Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Of note: Speech therapy, CCD, Heritage Day-Bake Sale with homeschool group, van going into shop, Homeschool Book Group, co-op meeting here *or* at Valentine-making workshop, feast days (St. Brigid, Candlemas, St. Blaise), spring soccer sign-ups, February begins!

  • Note: This is an unusually busy week for us. I am of the mind that to home educate you actually have to be home. But sometimes activities pile into one week, and we balance our lessons out over the following weeks.

Math: Daily (more or less) Saxon math lessons for Bookworm (7/6) and Crackerjack (2); Little Folks' Number Practice/number drawing/counting books with Earlybird

  • We try to do math first thing in the morning. BW is quite independent while CJ needs me to work with him. EB joins us at the table to draw numbers and shapes, or work in his LFNP; sometimes I have BW help CJ if I get busy with EB.

Langauge Arts: Lingua Mater (BW), Language of God A and Little Stories for Little Folks (CJ), Little Folks' Letter Practice (EB), penmanship practice, vocabulary from Catholic Mosaic and Magnifikid, lots of reading, Homeschool Book Group (older boys) 

  • We do some kind of language arts every day, but what we do varies day to day. Some days we just read a lot. :)
  • Bookworm works in LM twice a week, but CJ works in LOGA every day.
  • Bookworm is practicing cursive writing, something we kind of glossed over these past few years. This year he really likes it and it's clicking.
  • Crackerjack is improving his printing. His capital letters are great; his lower case letters need some work.
  • Bookworm is always reading at least one novel. This week it is St. Thomas Aquinas and The Preaching Beggars, as well as Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (for Book Group).
  • Crackerjack and I read all kinds of books aloud - picture and chapter variety. This week we are reading Mr. Popper's Penguins (for Book Group) and Days of the Blackbird.
    • Do you know the Tomie dePaola book mentioned above? It is an Italian folktale based on the "coldest days of the year" - January 29-30-31. We'll be reading it this week, in conjunction with our bake sale for a local oil heat fund.
  • EB is working on sitting longer for read-alouds and giving narrations as best he can. He loves to draw letters (and trains).

History: Begin Crusades unit: Read and review SOTW Chapter 18: "The Age of the Crusades," do mapwork, Begin "History of the Sword" notebook (using Coloring Book by the same name).

  • We do history M-W-F for the most part. This is not a hard and fast rule by any means. For example, the History of the Sword coloring book arrived in the mail today and Crackerjack is insisting we begin our notebook tomorrow!
  • We generally try to cover one chapter of SOTW a week, doing the review questions, mapwork and some of the activities. I also try to choose some of the suggested literature from the library. Some chapters, such as this current one, take longer to cover.
  • Books on request at library:
  • On order:
  • I would like to take a look at how the custom of praying the Stations of the Cross began during pilgrimages at this time to the Holy Land.
  • We'll make our own Pilgrim's badges (quick craft from SOTW).
  • In light of Candlemas on Friday, we will talk about fire in medieval society - how was it used? What was its importance?
  • Begin Sword notebooks, as mentioned above.
    • Plan trip to armory museum; look back at castle trip photos.
    • Use tiny "party swords" for cupcakes on Friday; connect with Simeon's words to Mary.

Nature Study: Continue observations. Read chapter 5 , "Woodpeckers" in The Beginning Naturalist. Saturday walk with Daddy - look for "woodpecker trees."

  • Nature study is ongoing, but we try to do some kind of formal reading or discussing or notebooking on Mondays.
  • We are reading one chapter a week in The Beginning Naturalist; the chapters tie in to the seasons.
  • It is such a busy week, I don't expect to do so much nature study. We did spend quite a bit of time watching the windows for woodpeckers (and saw three within an hour).
  • We found a neat birdfeeder project in The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible; we will ask Daddy to oversee the planning and construction.
  • I would like to try to find snowdrops ("Candlemas Bells") at a local nursery, or order them online. At the very least, I want to find information on growing them (they may be a bulb that needs to be planted in the fall).

Science: Explore the element of fire (within reason, of course). Read about heat and light in various science books we own.

  • I try to schedule any science lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Conduct simple experiments from this book:
    • "Make a Fire Extinguisher"
    • "Candle Race"
  • Show Daddy the chapter on "Playing with Fire" in Earth, Water, Fire and Air: Playful Explorations in the Four Elements; he and the boys can decide which project to try. (There are some neat candle experiments.)
  • Read current Ranger Rick (BW), Big Backyard (CJ) and Zootles (EB).

Religion: Catholic Mosaic (Brigid's Cloak), CatholicMom.com's Mass worksheets, CCD books - go over current chapters (attend CJ's class), celebrate feasts of the week, liturgical tea on Thursday (Irish theme), one chapter from A Life of Our Lord for Children, CJ and BW choose new prayers to learn this week.

  • Today we read Love Is ... recalling Sunday's second reading (Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 13:4-13)
  • We have been setting the timer to watch EWTN's children's programming at 4; I call this Mama's Quiet Hour. :)
  • Our history lessons this week on the Crusades are offering us many opportunities to discuss our beliefs and religion.
  • Feast Days:
    • At our Thursday tea in honor of St. Brigid, we'll serve Irish cheddar, Irish decaf., and Brigid's Bread. Following CM suggestions, we'll make a page for our family faith notebook using blue paper, star stickers and a printed image of St. Brigid.
    • For Candlemas on Friday, we'll choose some of the activities I mentioned in this post.
    • For St. Blaise on Saturday, we might try making herbal candy, using a recipe in China Bayle's Book of Days. (I bought the ingredients and candy thermometer ...)
  • By Thursday we will begin preparing for Mass by reading Sunday's Gospel in Magnifikid. (Luke 5:1-11) Discuss meaning of phrase "catchers of men." The boys will do this coloring page, as I read aloud.
  • Bookworm's patron saint is St. Thomas Aquinas - his feast day was yesterday. He is reading the Vision book as previously mentioned, and making a frame for his holy card.

Music: Listen to The Kids Classical Hour on radio, Saturday morning.

Art: Put up new art print on February 1st, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt  (We use CHC's Art Masterpieces: A Liturgical Collection).

Remember - this is a wish list! It looks like a lot, but we only do what we can every day. We strive to do math, language and religion each day. History and science at least twice a week, and art and music if we can.

I was going to post about our weekly household routine (i.e. bedrooms on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday - that kind of thing) but once again, this post has gotten very long and I am running out of steam. So I will try to post more soon!

I hope you are keeping well and warm. :)


Such a Big Day!

Today was a very big day for our family - Crackerjack made his First Reconciliation!

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And you will not believe it, but I do not have even one picture from church this afternoon! The funny - well not funny, but ironic - thing is, I specifically said to Bill on the drive over: "Do not let me forget to get a picture of Crackerjack at church today, maybe even one with Father before we leave." And what did we both promptly forget to do? Right, take any pictures. Rats!

Well, here is our little man, just after we got home (already changed into his "comfortable" pants).

To tell the tale fully, I must backtrack a bit to this morning at Mass. (You know, you're just never going to get the "Cliff Notes" version from me, lol!) Just before the final blessing, Father asked that any second graders present stand and raise their hands. As we attend the earliest Mass, there was only CJ and one other little girl from his class standing up. Father talked abut how these children were making their Sacrament of First Reconciliation today, and how hard they have worked preparing for this special moment. And then everyone clapped! CJ was beaming, but quite pink-cheeked! All the folks who sit around us each week made of him on the way out, congratulating him and shaking his hand ...

Well, on with the story. :) We all (the 75 second grade families) gathered at church this afternoon where Sister organized the masses and Father introduced us to the three additional priests who were in attendance to hear confessions. As we began, Father read from the Gospel of Luke, the story of the prodigal son. He then gave a very lively and meaningful homily for the kids - talking about forgiveness, about how Our Father always forgives us when we are sorry. He explained that we sometimes get lost, but we can always come home. He even had scuba gear as part of his illustrations!

Then it was on to the sacrament. We moved like clockwork through the pews; some children went to any priest who was free, some preferred seeing our pastor (as CJ did). After each child was done, he was given a nice little cross as a gift and then, with his family, went downstairs for cookies and juice. We were back home in just over an hour, where Nana and Papa were waiting with Earlybird. So it all went very smoothy, and truth be told, I think I was more nervous than CJ, lol! (And that might explain why I completely spaced on taking any pictures!)

So fresh from confession, CJ was ready to kick back and relax! His request? Cupcakes and punch - easy enough! His favorites are orange cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and he also requested an "orange" punch. Duncan Hines makes a yummy Orange Supreme cake mix and I made up some homemade frosting. For the punch, I just winged it (I feel like I should say wung it for some reason) - blending an orange-pineapple drink with cream soda and scoops of orange sherbet. It was a bit different but pretty tasty! Here is how the table looked when set:

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It's hard to tell from the picture, but I used gold cupcake liners and a church sticker (Jolee's True Faith) on a toothpick for the top cupcake. This was such a little thing, but CJ thought it was neat. As we ate, he opened cards and received not one but two First Penance lapel pins.

So, this big day is coming to an end, and it's starting to feel like an every day kind of Sunday night. But here is a peek at our mantle just now - a little remembrance from a very big day!

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The Loveliness of Candlemas

On Candlemas, we honor the feast of The Presentation of the Lord ... Lives_of_loveliness_logo_200612_4

Hearing Simeon's Canticle ...

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation for Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." (Luke 2:29-33)

And continuing a Catholic tradition of candles ...

"Centuries later, and for generations to come, candles will be blessed and lit in abundance on this day to celebrate the Light from Light." (A Catholic Home)

There are so many lovely traditions to Candlemas, it's hard to know just where to start! We won't be celebrating till Friday, but in honor of Suzanne's Loveliness Fair this Monday, I would like to share the ideas I've come across here and there, with you now. And then, later on Friday, I will share pictures and tales from our day. :)

Certainly, I would never be able to incorporate all these activities into one feast day! But I do love to research liturgical ideas - I find it fascinating and the more ideas to choose from, the more interesting our celebration will be!

First, let me share a few links:

1. Candlemas is explained fully at:

2. And a thread from last year at 4Real is full of excellent ideas.

More things we could do:

3. Read from the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, about the Presentation of Our Lord. Reflect on it as the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, and read this story in our Children's Bible as well.

4. Follow directions in Art 1 for Young Catholics to make a shadowbox production of the Presentation, using a candle and shoe box. 

5. Roll beeswax candles - if the package gets here in time. (Why do I always leave things to the last minute?) Bundle them together and tie up with raffia to bring them to Sunday Mass ...

6. And ask Father to bless our candles for us.

7. Learn about fire (heat, light) this week for science (as an element of earth) and history (how medieval society used fire).

8. Learn about snowdrops, or Candlemas Bells, as they were called by medieval monks due to their blooming around this feast:

"In the early sixteenth century the monks at Melrose Abbey in Scotland, dedicated to Mary, believed that the snowdrop, which grew in the Mary garden there, bloomed on February 2 in memory of the Virgin Mary presenting her child Jesus to the temple ... The pure white flower became an emblem of Our Lady's purity." (Mary's Flowers)

For more information, there is a wonderful page here. How I wish I had them growing in our garden! (Next year for sure.)

9. Read The Story of the Snow Children and enjoy the beautiful illustrations ~ each page is bordered with snowdrops - use them to sketch! Read "The Song of the Snowdrop Fairy" in The Flower Fairies of Winter.

10. Maybeee make a tiny snowdrop fairy doll for the nature table (again, waiting on that package!) with white and green woolen felt.

11. As we are beginning our study of the "History of the Sword" this week, both Simeon's prophecy and the leaves of the snowdrop will be tied in:

"The leaves of the plant resemble miniature versions of iris "sword" foliage, an association with the sorrowful prophecy of Simon: "and a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Mary Gardens)

12. Learn and recite this English proverb:

"If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again."

13. Enter the above saying into our nature notebooks, along with the weather conditions of the day and the Groundhog's prediction!

14. Decorate pillar candles with dried flowers and herbs (found at craft stores) ~ apply them with melted beeswax.

15. According to longstanding tradition, it was customary for the lady of the house to check on the household candle supply today. We will do the same - the boys will help me tally what we have and we'll make up a list of what we need.

16. Discuss the saying "Candlemas - Candle-less." Note sunrise and sunset time in the nature calendar.

17. Make tiny nature candles with melted candle stubs and walnut shells, gold cardstock and birthday candles. (Along the lines of the seashell candle we made here.)

18. Sing songs about light, and particularly, Our Light ~ This Little Light of Mine, for example.

19. Make a toilet-paper tube candle with construction paper and an image of Jesus. This would be good to do with EB who is still very young for most candle crafts.

20. According to tradition, take down every last bit of Christmas greenery on this day. The blessings tree will be put away till next year.

21. Dine by candles only at night. Share with Daddy all that we did and learned.

Whew - so many ideas - a few years' worth I'd say! Obviously too many to squeeze into one day. So I must ask myself, how do I want our Candlemas Day to unfold?

Well, that is the next step in the process ... tune in on Friday to find out! And please stop by Suzanne's on Monday for the Loveliness of Candlemas Fair. I'm sure my list of ideas will be even longer after I do!


Lesson Planning Post, Part One

First, can I just say, I love lesson planning? It is my favorite time of the week, when all the ideas are fresh and seem so, well, possible! I just love our home learning lifestyle, and I love observing the turn of the year - both natural and liturgical - and planning our week involves all these things.

I like to begin lesson planning on Thursday. Thursday is the day I clean the learning room, so I am filing papers and re-organizing piles of books anyway. Also, this gives me two days to prepare my weekend to-do list. Many weeks I need a book or two from the library or a random craft item for a project I've planned. Saturdays are really the only day for me to get those errands run, so the earlier I start planning, the more focused my list is.

Actually, I first begin looking at the upcoming week on Wednesday. Wednesdays are my kitchen day, so I'm cleaning cabinets and the refrigerator, and starting a grocery list. By Friday the store flyers have come and I try to make time to look through those and organize any coupons I have. The grocery list goes on my clipboard, along with anything else I will need for the weekend.

But, I'm getting away from the lesson planning, so let me return! I took pictures of the learning room as I cleaned today (because I only scratched the surface yesterday). It's changed a bit since last summer when I last posted about it.

Here is the smaller of the two dining room tables where we eat (if we're not eating at the kitchen island) and do our seatwork.

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This table, which once belonged to my grandparents, is a real workhorse - it has the dings and faded finish to prove it! On the right you see the world map which is slowly being covered up with projects. We're forever peeking underneath bits of construction paper to find this island or that mountain range, lol. Just above the head of the table is our Beatrix Potter wall calendar, and just below that is our book display. It is made of wrought iron and I bought it soooo many years ago at a craft barn; this was before I even had children. It comes in so handy for displaying the book we are reading that day. (Current pick: Castle at War) In the middle of the windows is our Most Holy Name of Jesus craft which we made earlier this month. I will take it down next week when we turn our attention to the February devotion.

Next come the "school" bags ...

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Each of the boys has a bag of his own in his own color. They are medium-sized, regular-handled LL Bean Boat and Tote bags. Mine, on the right, is the large version. In these bags we keep our general home learning materials - the Saxon texts, the language texts and workbooks, the CCD books, flash cards, any magazines or personal reading. My bag holds teacher manuals and materials I use with all the boys - such as the Story of the World Activity Guide, The Beginning Naturalist and A Life of Our Lord for Children.

These bags stay in the dining/learning room for convenience, but can be moved to the bedrooms when company is coming.

Next comes the book area.

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These piles change each week and are sorted by subject - nature study, science (life and earth), history, religion, read-alouds. I used to keep them on the work table, but since they have a tendency to grow and spread, it is better to keep them on the second table in the room - the longer dining table, which only gets used for dining at Easter and Thanksgiving. And oh yes, whenever we host co-op.

These piles get re-booted at week's end. In other words, I pull out books we are done with (some go right in the library bag) and add in books for the next week. Do you see Brigid's Cloak there in the upper right corner. I am soooo excited for this book. It's one of our Catholic Mosaic titles and I just love it.

It bears mentioning, tucked in the far righthand corner is the small blessings tree from Christmas. I've been holding off on storing it, leaving it up as a final bit of Christmas greenery to take down on Candlemas next Friday. :)

Also, on the far left side is the "in box," or storage bin, where we put finished work and other things to store away for filing later.

Now this photo turned out very dark for some reason (surprising for such a bright room) but it is where I do the planning:

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This is my "desk" as I like to call it. It is where I sit to do "my" seatwork! Directly behind where I sit are my bookshelves ... 

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Please do not mind the mess, especially on shelf number two! Third shelf down holds my liturgical books. (I'm going to do a post on them as soon as I can!) It's very easy to refer to these books when planning, having them so close by.

Bill put up the small bulletin board on the wall a few weeks ago. I am not entirely sure how I will use it just yet, but I like having it. For now I have a photo of the boys (because, you know, I hardly ever get to see them, lol) and the CCD schedules. Hanging on the side of the bookcase is the calendar we received at church on New Year's weekend. It is so lovey - all the feast dates are marked, as well as the liturgical seasons, days of fasting etc.

I usually stand at the counter you see on the left, with my laptop stationed up there. In an effort to sit down more and stand less, I moved the computer over to the "desk" corner. When planning out a week, I pull up Catholic Culture and check their wonderful calendar for ideas.

Here is the planning underway (notice the "teacher's pet" in the background).

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OK, so I've cleaned up the work table, and straightened and sorted the book piles. Now I pull out next week's folder from my file crate. I open up the current week's folder and start weeding through it. Anything that we've done or have no further use for, goes into the storage bin. Anything that will be needed for next week goes in the new folder. Anything that will be handled over the weekend (library pick-up sheets, craft store coupon, recipes) gets clipped onto my clipboard, along with the marketing list in-progress.

Also in the folder is the weekly list from last week (notes and to-do's). I highlight the things that need to be moved to a new list for next week and then begin that new list. (The embellishments are Earlybird's handiwork.)

Lessons6

I look at my month-at-a-glance calendar to see what we have for activities, appointments and family events and add those to the list. Then I turn to my liturgical shelf to thumb through favorite books for ideas for the week. I jot down those ideas, mark the page with a sticky note, and add any needed items on the weekend list. (For example, I came across a St. Brigid's cross craft, so I added the materials to my craft store list.)

And I never forget to check out 4Real for ideas. :)

Lessons5

You see what I have to work around here? This is my Penny. :)

Once I have a grip on what's happening in the upcoming week, I go through all the general homeschooling materials to note what we will be studying. Here is Story of the World - next week we begin a two-week study of the Crusades.

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Below you see our Catholic Mosaic page. When I read Cay's suggestion to make a page with blue felt and star stickers, I added those items to my weekend errand list.

Lessons3

Below is a neat page from China Bayle's Book of Days with a recipe for herbal candy. I thought we might try to make it for St. Blase on Saturday. I noted the need for herbal tea and a candy thermometer on my marketing list.

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So, I'm going to stop there because A. this post is getting very long, and B. it is getting very late! You might be asking yourself, part two? What could she possibly have to say after all that, lol!? Well, later this weekend I will post what our actual lesson plans for the week ahead are!

For now, Good Night and God Bless!


Candlemas Fair!

Well, I'm knee-deep in lesson planning, and as I look at next week, I realize how full and festive it will be! We have St. Brigid of Ireland on Thursday, Candlemas Day on Friday, and St. Blase on Saturday ... so many feasts for which to plan and prepare!

And speaking of Candlemas, our week will kick off with a bang over at Blessed Among Men, with Suzanne's Loveliness Of Candlemas Fair on Monday!

How will you honor this beautiful feast in your family? Perhaps you will light a candle and read about the The Presentation of Our Lord? Or maybe you are planning a whole afternoon of candle-dipping? Whatever your plans, please consider sharing them with Suzanne ~ for submission details, see here.

I can hardly believe the calendar turns to February next week! How, oh how, does this happen?

Ah yes, day by blessed day ...


A Wee Tea

Except, hold the tea ~ cold milk washed down the cookies much better. :)

Shortbread

Today, or rather, tonight, is Burns Night in Scotland, when that nation celebrates the birthday of the beloved poet, Robert Burns. This was a perfect excuse to make delicous shortbread for Thursday tea! Plus, I'm part Scottish so it's my ancestral obligation.

"O, my luve is like a red, red rose,

That's newly sprung in June.

O, my luve is like a melodie,

That's sweetly play'd in tune."

I also sang a bit of Auld Lang Syne, fully expecting the boys to recognize that song. They just stared at me blankly. (Of course, it could have been my singing.)

And to be perfectly frank, the shortbread was a bit of a miss - I'm the only one who truly enjoyed it, lol! I put too much butter in the ridiculously easy recipe (three ingredients, how could I have gone wrong?) and it never really baked all the way through. It may have been too moist to be authentic, but it was delicious. Here's a link to the recipe, which I will try again sometime soon.

I set the table with our beeswax Celtic cross candle (which I never burn - it's too lovely!), our Waterford votive (which my folks brought home from Ireland) and my "homegrown" thistle (Scotland's national flower) in a vase. This was a last minute idea - just lavender tissue paper folded and snipped into a thistle shape (more or less) and wrapped with green tissue which I snipped into spear shapes (for leaves). A rubber band held the whole thing together atop a pipe cleaner stem. Very humble, but kind of fun!

We read aloud from Magnifikid while we munched on our cookies. OK, I muched on the cookies - the boys pecked at the cotton candy leftover from yet another failed experiment - edible owl pellets.

Yep, you read that right. Edible owl pellets.

Well, this warrants some explaining. It was going to be a really neat edible craft project to tie into our owl study (I couldn't wait to tell Meredith) but it was, well, not so neat. Happily, though, it was edible.

I found the idea in Small Wonders: Nature Education for Young Children (an otherwise terrific book). It sounded so clever on paper - just wrap small pretzel sticks with cotton candy and shape them to look like owl pellets. According to the instructions ...

"When you serve the "pellets" to the children, be sure to tell them to pull the "fur" apart and look for "bones" before eating the whole thing."

Now who says I don't serve boy-friendly tea? ;)

Anyhoo - it just didn't work out for us. The cotton candy just wouldn't stay wrapped around the pretzel bits, try as we might. It didn't bother the boys much - they were just tickled they were getting cotton candy at all!

Well, I spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures of our learning room and my lesson planning in action. I will try to post about all that sometime tomorrow. :)

For now, Good night and God Bless!


Color Take II: Rainbow Sherbet

After posting all about our woodsy greens and browns, I started noticing a whole different kind of palette around me - soft and sunny pastels. Not surprisingly, most of these things are Mama's. :)

For example ...

Sherbet1

A favorite magazine collection ... fanned out in soft hues ...

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My weekly planning materials ...

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My favorite homeschooling book and a notebook I made to go with it ...

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A glorious suncatcher over the computer window ...

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A sampling of note cards from my correspondence basket ...

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My favorite bookshelf - all my liturgical resources ...

Placemat

A placemat craft we made for Crackerjack ...

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Our holy card collection so far ...

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My favorite sweaters (missing is my most favorite orange!) ...

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My reading basket (February issues always sport lots of pink) ...

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A favorite nature diary, open to a soothing page ...

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My favorite craft yarn ... doesn't it look like a lollipop?

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Even my vacuum is pastel-hued! (Ooh, and very full - see I told you I use it daily!)

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The duvet is rather citrusy (and there's that woodsy theme again) ...

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But the most vibrant pink in the household is seen through the eastern windows ... just about dawn.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!   


The Little Things

Faith_notebook3

Above are today's family faith notebook pages. On the left is Crackerjack's coloring page about St. Francis de Sales, and on the right is the Our Lady Queen of Peace page. We simply glued a print-out of Our Lady's image onto a larger image of the earth ("Peace-on-Earth") and then pasted the whole thing onto a golden doily (I know, I know - there I go with the doilies again, lol!). Finally, we backed it all with a piece of cream-colored card stock.

What I like about these little activities - and I know they are very little - is that they are done so quickly and easily, for the most part. It's so easy to make time for a little project, a prayer, a candle or a story each day. Just time enough for a cup of tea to cool or a batch of cookies to come out of the oven.

Certainly there are some projects that require more detailed work and closer attention, but I really like making our faith an everyday kind of thing - does that make sense? I mean, there are definitely things we must observe and honor with much greater attention and sincerity. I don't mean to trivialize our faith by making these small efforts, which might seem superficial.

I don't mean them to be superficial. My hope is that they are filling a vessel - three precious vessels - with a small drop of faith every day.

I don't wish our faith to be something we just "do" on Sundays. I want our faith to breath its beautiful life into our daily comings and goings. I want it to feel familiar and comfortable, and still awesome and glorious ...

Oh, I don't think I'm making sense and that usually means it's time for bed. :)

Tomorrow brings another day to explore and embrace. I hope you have a restful night and will "see" you in the morning. God bless!


And Speaking of Peace ...

Our_lady_peace

Isn't this a beautiful image? Today is the optional memorial of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the patroness of the Catholic Church in Hawaii. To learn more about her, please visit here.

Today I will introduce the boys to The Litany of Loreto, and, taking a cue from my lovely friend Meredith, I will ask the boys to listen for the title, Queen of Peace as I read. We will also find Hawaii on the map, and view these images of Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu.

Today we will also pray for peace in the world. We will do this at tea, and for this, a candle will need to be lit. I think this would be a nice time to talk about the children of the world and pray that their needs be met.

We will also read about Saint Francis de Sales, whose feast day is today, and who is the patron of, among other things, Catholic journalism. We will look at the various examples we have in our home - The Pilot, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic Answers, Magnifikid, Magnificat, Family Faith, Take Out, Heart & Mind, our parish bulletin ... as well as some online Catholic news sources. What is your favorite example of Catholic journalism? We are blessed to have so many to choose from.

I have a coloring page of Saint Francis for the boys from A Year with God, and a well-known quote of his will serve as our copywork today: "You can get more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." It will be fun to think up examples of this saying!

All of these little items will be filed in our family faith notebook, as well as I hope, in our memories. I am really excited that we are keeping up with our notebooks again - they really are such a tangible and visual way to remember all the big and little moments in our liturgical year.

I hope you have a blessed day!


A Miracle Meme

At Lapaz Farm, the much-missed-and-SO-glad-she's-back, Theresa, asked if we would share our favorite miracle. So I thought about it. I tried to remember each miracle and consider which one I would choose as my "favorite." Honestly, I had never really thought about it before!

To get my brain rolling, I pulled out The Miracles of Jesus, and, flipping through its pages, I found the one I knew best. I remembered this Gospel story vividly from one Sunday Mass last summer. Father gave a wonderful homily describing how we often let worry cloud our life and our faith. It spoke to me so clearly - it just clicked. It was one of those moments when you just say - "I love my faith, I love my church - I am getting this."

I'll give you a little hint. This particular miracle reminds me of one of my favorite sayings - something I try to keep in mind:

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength."

And here's the miracle:

Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, whom even wind and sea obey?"

I love this miracle not just because I remember it so clearly, but because it spoke to me so clearly. I have a tendency to be something of a "worry-wart." I can get easily overwhelmed by things that are within my power as well as things which are not. If you have any experience with anxiety you know how debilitating it can be. It clouds your whole day - it truly saps your energy and even the simplest things can seem too much to deal with. When you worry - excessively, I mean - you lose perspective, energy and peace of mind.

In this miracle I see a glimpse of how Jesus works in my life, when I let Him. I can get all wrapped up in the "storms" around me - both big and small, real or imagined - when what I need to do is remember He is always in the boat with me. However hard my boat may be rocking, He is there. When I remember to ask for His help, my heart slows, my mind clears, and I - like the wind and the water - feel peace. I feel empowered.

Peace and power - two things I can always use more of in my life!

So there's my entry in the miracle meme! What would be yours? I'm not sure if I'm supposed to tag someone, but if you're reading this and you'd like to participate, please do! (If you don't have a blog, you are welcome to leave a comment below.)

And thank you Theresa, for giving me something beautiful to think about!


It's National Pie Day!

So what did we do? Why, we baked ...

Cookies2

Chocolate-chip cookies of course!

These were for Crackerjack's CCD class. Last week CJ asked if I would ask if we could bring a snack this week. So I did, and the teachers said "Sure!" (Who says no to cookies?) Well, today, we rolled up our sleeves and baked up a batch! I took the recipe right off the Ghirardelli package, and boy, oh boy, were they good. No nuts, no raisins, no oats - just straight up chocolate-chip. The kids loved them and CJ felt like a star.

A few other pictures and notes from today (and yesterday) ...

~ We savored the snow. (It snowed! It snowed! It finally snowed!) It was the pretty, light and easy kind of snow, too. We took a whole bunch of bird pictures - I'll be putting them up at The Nature Corner tomorrow (maybe tonight if I have time).

Snowy_day_1

~ We read about Japanese Samurai in Story of the World Volume II (chapter 17). My boys just cannot get over the fact that these mighty warriors would dance before battle. (I think it was actually just one general the book was referring to, but the image stuck.) The poetry and the gardens they could grasp, but the dancing just had them in stitches.

~ We watched Castle again, because we just love it so. Even EB enjoys it.

~ We tried to start The Trumpeter of Krakow but the tape player died.

~ We tried to start the van but the battery died. (Or something worse; we'll have to wait to hear what the car guys have to say.) Missed speech, but borrowed Nana's car to get  CJ to CCD.

~ We worked on an odd, but fun, writing assignment. It was National Answer Your Cat's Question Day (no I'm not kidding) yesterday. So what do you do on such a day? Well, if you have cats, as we do, you spend a few minutes staring them down, trying to determine what they are thinking. (Cats, if given the chance, could be the world's best poker players.) Then you spend a few more minutes coming up with a creative writing exercise in which you actually answer those questions.

~ We made a card for a seminarian we know who is making his Diaconate Ordination this weekend. Thanks to my friend Jenn, we were able to incorporate the symbol for Holy Orders into the card. Here's how it came out:

Diaconate_card

~ We read about St. Vincent, a deacon in the early Church, whose feast day it was (yesterday). We read from Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7, as was suggested in Saints and Feast Days. We reviewed the seven sacraments. We popped a photocopy of the card into our family faith notebook.

~ We talked about relics after seeing, and being blessed by, one at church on Sunday. Below is our replica of the relic of St. Agnes. (The actual sacramental was much smaller than this.) We read a bit about relics in Ann Ball's book and then made this project. We filed it in the notebook with a note about the experience.

Faith_notebook2

~ We worked on penmanship a little extra hard today after discovering it is National Handwriting Day (and that would be because it is also John Hancock's birthday today, lol).

~ And I think we did some other stuff, but that is all I can think of right now! ;)

For future reference, we will keep in mind a few wonderful posts about National Pie Day that really are all about pies!

For now, Good night and God bless!


A Homemaking Meme!

Well, you know I love to talk "shop!" I saw this at Lindsey's this morning, and had to jump in!

Aprons – Y/N?

No, but I really like the idea of one. (Kind of how I like the idea of ironing, lol!) I had some of my grandmother's at one time. I should fish them out.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake:

Quick breads, pizzas and cake.

Clothesline – Y/N?

No, but this is another one of those old-fashioned housekeeping things I'd like to do. My neighbor has a huge one and it's lovely. Of course, she also has grown daughters who do the hanging and bringing in most of the time!

Donuts – Have you ever made them?

Yes! We made maple-frosted ones for St. Joseph's Day last year. They were baked with this pan.

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day:

Two things - vacuum and dishes.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?

We did, but it died last year. We are trying to decide if we should get another one or if we should use a second refrigerator that we have stored at my parents' house.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?

Well, we have issues with our disposal. It seems we have giant tree roots underlying our branch of the sewer system so frequently it gets completely blocked. We try to compost as much as possible and are very careful what we put down it.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?

Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook, Home Comforts, the 4Real ladies, and my mum.

Ironing – Love it or hate it?

I actually like it, but that's probably because I only have to do it occasionally. :)

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?

In the kitchen there are two, actually. One has things like phone books, take-out menus, screwdrivers and rubber bands. The other is tiny and has a similarly odd assortment of items like birthday candles, coffee scoop, can opener, straws. The funny thing is, we know *exactly* what's in each, lol!

Kitchen: Design & Decorating?

I've posted about it here.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?

Pretty much what Lindsey said. I love being at home and taking care of my family. It was my greatest childhood dream to be a stay-at-home mum like my mother.

Mop - Y/N?

Just the bathroom. In the kitchen we spot clean. (Not that it couldn't use a good mopping!)

Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?

Eek, the washing machine! Once upon a time, I hand-laundered them in a dishpan along with other underpinnings, but not in a looong time.

Oven - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?

The ovens are lighted! We peek in the windows to see. :)

Pizza - What do you put on yours?

For the kids, plain shredded cheese. If it were just for me (ha!), I would do pineapple and ham or scrambled hamburger. I also like black olives - I know, weird!

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?

Read magazines. I love magazines!

Recipe card box - Y/N?

No! This is a huge project of mine! Right now magazine clippings are in, of all things, gift bags. Recipe cards are in a ziploc baggie.

Style of house -

Full-basment ranch. Which means the bedrooms are on the main floor and there is an attic. Downstairs there is a basement as well as a finished den and second bathroom. It's not big, but it is comfortable. It was built in the 1960's and is part of a quiet neighborhood of similarly styled homes.

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?

Oh, only when company is coming, or on special occasions, I'm afraid. We keep it pretty much bare - though I'd like Sunday dinners to be a bit more formal in the future.

Under the kitchen sink - Organized or toxic wasteland?

Pretty much organized, though it needs to be weeded out.

Vacuum - How many times per week?

Daily! Because A. I have 3 boys and 3 cats so it needs it and B. I love to vacuum!

Wash - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?

I have no idea, lol! A LOT!

X's - Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?

Yes, always, though I am working on HOW to do this better.

Yard - Who does what?

My husband does it all for the most part. (She says with no shame whatsoever.) I putter - garden, weed, direct, lol. I do fill the birdfeeders ...

Zzz's - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?

Lock up, front door light off, check heat.

This was fun! If you would like to participate, please consider yourself tagged! (And now I am off to finish my miracle meme for Theresa!)


Which Classic Heroine are You?

Emma WoodhouseTwoyoungwomen
The heroine of Jane Austen's "Emma", Miss Woodhouse is a lovely young heiress who delights in matchmaking. However, she soon finds her plans gone awry, and her opinions quite wrong, as dear Mr. Knightly so often warns her.
Which Classic Heroine are You?

Ooh, now I want to read Emma again! It's like comfort food for my brain. A big baked potato with butter and sour cream ... No, no, no. Must. Read. Something. New. Expand my horizons and all that.

Maybe I'll just watch the movie tonight. :)

(Hat tip to Rebecca who got it from Kathryn who got it from Nissa ...)


Woodsy Hues

Kim started a carnival of color over at Starry Sky Ranch, and I just couldn't resist joining in! I looked all over our home to determine what color is more present than others, and honestly, I kept arriving at more of a theme, than an actual color: wood. Woodsy, piney, warm.

If I had to pin down colors, I'd say brown, evergreen and deep red. Those shades, and this theme, pops up all over the place, inside and out! Here is a little tour of images from our home ...

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The large pinecone wreath that hangs in our dining room.

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Our birch logs and owl friends ...

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Woodsy toys set up by the fire ...

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Our family room ceiling - we left the beams exposed to lend a rustic feel to the room.

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Our comfortable sitting chairs in the living room.

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An even more comfortable corner in the family room ...

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Made even cozier with a plaid fleece throw ...

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Our pinecone lights stay up all year long ...

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My hope chest (once belonged to my grandmother) ...

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We love natural wood as well as the deeper hues of cherry and mahogany. This rosary was a gift from my parents - it is carved from olive wood and was hand-crafted in Bethlehem.

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The boys' winter bedding ...

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Our special "boy-friendly" tea set ...

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The view from the family room ...

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Our family patron is, naturally, St. Francis ...

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The woods just behind our fence ...

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Our backyard play area ...

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Spuce (rather than pine) cones, just outside the dining room windows ...

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An earthenware jug filled with winter greenery ...

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A wooden wall rosary in the living room ...

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Rich in wood, rich in tradition ...

And there you have a tour of our "little house in, and of, the woods!" Thanks Kim for starting such a fun mini-carnival!


Little Flowers for Grammie

Today, we enjoyed our tea for St. Agnes, and remembered our beloved Grammie, who passed away last year. We could not be at her anniversary Mass this weekend, so we planned to remember Grammie in our own way at home. This morning we got to church early so we could light a candle of prayer in her name, and yesterday, we prepared a spiritual bouquet in her honor. You can see it there below, tucked into the real bouquet of "little flowers." (The tiny pale pink carnations, January's flower, smelled so spicy and sweet.) Grammie was greatly devoted to St. Therese, The Little Flower, so today we celebrated three beautiful, saintly women.

Grammies_tea

Over tea we talked about Grammie, and delighted in old memories. She was 101 when she died and lived a long, interesting and joyful life. I'm so glad my boys got to know her and that they remember her still. I am certain they always will.

I thought I might share with you how we made the spiritual bouquet - although I am sure many of my readers are familiar with the concept. Each one of us made a promise of prayers - prayers we would gather together in a bouquet of love and remembrance of Grammie. We chose to assemble these prayers in a tangible and memorable way - as a simple flower craft. This is something you could do for anyone in need of prayers or perhaps just cheering up. It would also make a thoughtful Valentine or Mother's Day gift.

At first I thought of using a straw as the base, but I found a wooden heart stick from last Valentines Day and repainted it to suit the flower project: 

Bouquet1

Bouquet2

Each one of us chose an identifying color and cut out little construction paper petals, one each for our promised prayers. Even Earlybird will say those little prayers he is learning - "Amen," "Jesus," and "Mary."

Here is the flower all arranged:

Bouquet3

The last step was to write our prayers on the petals and glue them all around. We pasted a picture of Grammie to the center of the flower as well.

Bouquet4

If your children were making this as a gift for a grandmother or aunt, you could paste a picture of him or her there instead.

I hope you all had a nice weekend, and until tomorrow, Good Night and God Bless!


Tea & a Craft for St. Agnes

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Agnes of Rome, who died a martyr at 13 in the early fourth century. She is the patron of purity and is usually pictured holding a lamb. We spent some time this afternoon reading about her and preparing a little craft in her honor ... but the tea will have to wait for tomorrow. :)

Thanks to Kathryn and Gwen at 4Real, I learned these flowers are called St. Agnes's Snowflakes, and that they are closely related to the Snowdrop, one of my favorite garden flowers. (Not that I have any growing in my garden at present - though I hope to very soon.) And thanks to this book, I learned that snowflakes (as in frozen water!) were once called St. Agnes's flowers! Well, this was too lovely a connection to pass up, even though - or maybe especially since - we've had so little snow this year. I wanted to plan a craft around snowflakes for this feast, and found just the right one in, of all places, my grocery store flyer!

It was just what I was looking for - easy, quick, and, happily for me, very glittery. :)

Here are the materials, all things I had on hand:

Agnes1

A white paper plate, white glue, glitter, red ribbon, a paint brush and a photocopy of her holy card. (You can find an image of St. Agnes online here.) Also shown is the page I tore from the flyer - who knew there would be crafts tucked in amongst the coupons?

Following the instructions, we cut out the snowflake template and placed it on the center of the paper plate. With a paintbrush (the sponge brush shown above was not firm enough, we found) we spread glue all over the template and plate, brushing the glue out towards the edges from the center.

Once the glue was spread all over, we peeled off the template and threw it away (it came off in pieces) and then came the glitter! We chose blue because it is so wintery.

Agnes2

After the glue and glitter had dried, we cut the picture of St. Agnes down to a small oval and applied it (with more glue) to the center of the plate. Finally we punched a hole at the top and threaded a red ribbon through it.

Here it is hanging up in our windows, at a distance ...

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And close up, so you can see the sparkles. :)

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Tomorrow for tea we will enjoy vanilla pizzelle cookies ~ dusted with confectioner's sugar they will look just like real snowflakes, I think! We will also serve vanilla "tea" - yet another treasure of an idea I am gleaning from Alice. (The tea is actually warmed milk with vanilla and sugar.) I buried a vanilla bean in a tub of sugar over a week ago, so I hope it's ready!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend ... and speaking of snow, a storm is predicted for us later this week!

Oh, how I long to see St. Agnes's flowers floating by our windows ...


I Think I Knew This ...

... because I think I actually did this quiz sometime in my blogging past. But I saw it just now over at Ladybug Maria's and couldn't resist. I'm off to market, and you can just bet I'll be bringing home some of this ~ a little taste of June in January ...

You Are Strawberry Ice Cream
A bit shy and sensitive, you are sweet to the core.
You often find yourself on the outside looking in.
Insightful and pensive, you really understand how the world works.

You are most compatible with chocolate chip ice cream.
So who got chocolate chip? ;)