Copywork Feed

Links for Lincoln ~ Take Two!

(Note: This is actually a post from last year, but I wanted to put it up again in case anything is useful to you. And while I'm at it, here's our "Tea and Craft" post from Abe's Day last year.)

I just love the month of February ~ it brings with it cold grey skies and warm red hearts and we mustn't forget those February presidents! How fun and meaningful it is to celebrate our national holidays all through the year. For, according to Mrs. Sharp:Abe_lincoln

"Unfortunately, with the exception of Independence Day, little attention is paid to the observance of patriotic holidays. As the origins and meanings of these very special days have slipped through the cracks, we have lost one of the most important legacies we can pass on to our children. There is no better place to begin restoration than with a homegrown observance of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays."

Well, tomorrow is Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, and in honor of this very special American holiday, here are a few fun ideas for you and the children ...

You could ...

Make a yummy pretzel cabin.

Paint a log cabin birdhouse.

Play with your Lincoln Logs.

Read Abraham Lincoln by Ingri d'Aulaire.

Or Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters.

Make penny rubbings. (Make designs from the rubbings, too.)

Make a penny pendant.

Make a lucky penny pin.

Polish your pennies.

Make a top hat. (Another version here.)

Print a coloring page.

Do a word search.

Check out lots of Lincoln websites.

View the Lincoln home.

Read a poem about him.

Read his speeches here. (Specifically the Gettysburg Address.)

Go on a virtual field trip.

Outline a report.

And then test your knowledge about Honest Abe.

How about a little copywork in praise of our February presidents?

George Washington was brave, we know, he loved this land we hold so dear; and when his birthday comes around, his noble name we cheer.

And Lincoln who was strong and true, his birthday too we celebrate; so raise the flag and sing the praise of heroes good and great.

(from We Sing and Listen, Seton Books)

And don't forget the Jelly Roll (aka Lincoln Log) for dessert ...

Have fun! Next week is Washington's turn! :)

Poetry (and Flowers) Friday



As we watch the summer days depart

And the painted leaves in silence fall,

And the vines are dead upon the wall;

A dreamy sadness fills each heart,

Our garden seems a dreary place,

No brilliant flowers its borders grace,

Save in a sheltered nook apart,

Where gay beneath the autumn sun

Blooms our own Chrysanthemum.


Ah! She is not a “Summer Friend,”

She stays when all the rest have flown,

And left us flowerless and alone;

No singing birds, or blooms to lend

Their brightness to the autumn haze,

‘Tis she who cheers the dreary days;

‘Tis joy to know so sweet a friend;

No fairer flower blooms ‘neath the sun

Then autumn’s queen Chrysanthemum.

(Chrysanthemum by Hattie Knapp can be found in its entirety here.)

For any number of reasons, nature study can be harder to fit into the November schedule ~ we're too busy or it's too wet, cold and dark. All these challenges can stretch right on through the winter season as well. So, how about some indoor nature study for such times? One idea is to look at the birth month flowers of the year. Such a study would make a nice nature notebook all on its own, a project to work on when the inside is better than the out.

As you might have guessed then, November's flower is the chrysanthemum. Here's a look at the rest ...

  • December - paperwhite narcissus
    • a whole study on Christmas plants could be done as well
  • January - carnation or snowdrop
  • February - violet
  • March - daffodil
    • Easter plants, too
  • April - sweet pea
  • May - lilly of the valley
  • June - rose
  • July - larkspur or water lily
  • August - poppy
  • September  - aster
  • October - marigold

Can't you just see all the possibilities in that list? What a fun nature study this could be!

Now, chrysanthemums might still be blooming in sheltered parts of your garden, but old Jack Frost has seen to the last of the flora up here. I was pleasantly surprised to find beautiful dinnerplate mums at my supermarket this weekend, however. I eagerly grabbed a few because I thought they would make nice centerpieces for the Thanksgiving table. They look very pretty in tea cups or small jugs, just one gorgeous blossom to a vessel ...


(Important note ~ Chrysanthemums are toxic to felines, so if you have cats in your home, use caution. Ours - the flowers, not the cats - are kept on top of the refrigerator well out of reach. And on Thanksgiving, they - the cats, not the flowers - will be locked in my bedroom for the day.)

Now for my boys I'm going to keep this pretty simple. I'll just place the flowers in a vase on the table and let them draw what they see. Then we might label the parts of the flower. We'll also visit the withered remains of our garden mums and sketch what they look like, too.

I'll explain why these mums are called football mums (quite larger and showier than the garden variety) and we might learn about fight songs, which are traditional at this "homecoming" time of year. There are even varieties of mums named along these lines - homecoming, cheerleader, and quarterback (which I think looks a bit like the blossom in my banner above!). And it goes without saying we'll catch a football game or two over the weekend. ;)

With my youngest I'll read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henke, and we'll work on this coloring page. With my older boys I will read this beautiful German legend, which would make a perfect start to a Christmas Plants unit.

That's probably as far as we'll get, but here are some other ideas for studying chrysanthemums ...

  • look up the meaning and origin of the word (Greek for "golden flower")
  • for picture study: Monet's "Chrysanthemums"
  • research the many varieties of mums
  • copy the poem above
  • write a letter requesting a garden catalog for the spring
  • sip a cup of chrysanthemum tea, a popular herbal drink
  • make these cupcakes just for fun
  • prepare a small pot of mums for your Thanksgiving hostess
  • make clever paper mum corsages for your guests 
  • stop in at the local nursery and ask for mum-growing tips

For more flower notebook ideas, stop by again sometime soon. I'll be dreaming up some December ideas before long. :) Also, for the whole Poetry Friday Roundup, stop by Big A Little A later today.

And oh yes - Happy Weekend!

Tea, Crafts (and Pj's!) for Martinmas


A milky sky, a weak sun, a chilly wind ... November has us in its grip at last! Honestly, I love this time of year and I don't mind for an instant the dark early evenings ~ to me they're quite cozy and homey. Tonight we have the fireplace crackling, the oven roasting and there are pretty little lanterns in the window. It must be Martinmas! Now, the Feast of St. Martin technically falls on November 11th, but as the 11th is a Sunday this year, we'll have our Martinmas fun a few days early. :)

Since all three of my boys are struggling with a nasty cold this week, I scaled back on some of our plans. Instead of a lantern walk tonight, we placed our lights in the front window. And instead of sorting through closets and changing beds today, we'll start in on those tasks tomorrow.

Some nice things to do for Martinmas:

  • Start a family collection for charity.
  • Begin knitting something warm for someone who needs it.
  • Bag up clothing to give to the needy.
  • Change your beds from cotton to flannel.
  • Surprise your children with new winter pajamas.
  • Read aloud or re-tell the story of Saint Martin of Tours.
  • Invite friends on a lantern walk at dusk.

If I may, here are some pictures from our Martinmas teatime today ...


I baked a batch of St. Martin's horseshoe cookies, just like last year. Well, almost like last year. Lol, Bookworm tugged on my sleeves as I stood at the Kitchenaid and said, "No offense, but I didn't like those last year." Well, this year I remembered to use unsalted butter instead of salted, and I'm happy to say the cookies were downright delicious - buttery, oaty and tender. I also served the boys hot and honeyed pomegranate tea (excellent for their colds).

These packages piled at the head of the table caught the boys attention right away:


But I made them wait for Earlybird to wake from his nap before opening them.

I did however set them about a small copywork assignment: the words to "St. Martin" from We Sing and Dance.


Now it was time for the lanterns!


Last year we made our lanterns from watercolor paintings; this year I decided to try glass jars with tissue paper ...


The boys found it easy, if perhaps a bit sticky:


We set our finished jars in the window to dry just as Earlybird came down the hall:


NOW it was time to rip into the packages, and inside the boys found ...


Brand new slippers!


And fleecey pajamas to keep them warm all winter long!

Well, speaking of pajamas, bedtime is here, and it's time for me to be off for the weekend. As always, thank you for stopping by my little corner of the web. I wish you a warm and cozy night wherever you are. :)

We're Back from the Beach ...


And I have 148 pictures to share!

No, no, just kidding. Although I did take that many photos during my family's excursion to the beach, I kept it under 30 for this post. :)

We traveled south of Boston yesterday to spend the day at the beach where my husband grew up. Literally - he spent almost every day of his childhood summers here! It was so nice for him to watch his three boys clamber over the same rocks, splash in the same water and dig in the same sand that he did once upon a time.

The weather was great - almost a bit cool - and the beach was hardly crowded at all. The boys had a ball playing with Grandma and Grandpa, but we got some serious nature study done here, too!

OK, on to the pictures ...


Upon arriving, hats and glasses were fully intact.


The tide was out (though coming back in at a good clip) and the soggy sand stretched out for quite a distance. Good conditions for clamming.


Bookworm, his heart set on a dinner of steamers, checked it out.


Grandma and Grandpa showed the boys just how to dig, and then the work began. It was quite a mucky hit-or-miss business.


Meanwhile, I busied myself taking random nature pictures. Here is a rock covered in what I suspect are tiny barnacles along with a few sea snails:


A shot looking down the beach to the right (southward) ...


... and to the left (northward):


Bookworm found this first of many (dead) horseshoe crabs.


Just in case you were wondering what a horseshoe crab looked like close up:


Did you know these have been around for millions of years, and that they've barely changed at all? They are truly living fossils!

Now, this next photo shows something swimming in the upper left hand corner of this pail of water. It's very hard to see, but I promise you, it's there!


Can you see it?


It was a tiny and almost invisible jellyfish! Bookworm scooped it up while playing with some kids on the beach who were looking for minnows. After we watched it for a bit, we let it back into the sea.

And here I was thinking this moth was a cool find, lol:


After an hour or so, it was time for a break, to stretch out and have a snack. As you can see the hats-and-glasses rule was unraveling somewhat:


After our snack, Bill took Earlybird for a bike ride around town.


Bookworm shows off a steamer clam he just happened to find floating in the water:


And next he found a fiddler crab:


While I snapped a monarch taking a rest.


The boys had fun amongst the sea grass and muddy inlets. This one had many crabs and types of seaweed to explore:


Fun, just so much fun ...


Earlybird is always at home with his crayons and paper.


Back at Grandma and Grandpa's the clam harvest was steamed and served up:


And believe, me, Bookworm dug right in: pick, swish, swirl, slurp!


Now we're home once again, and the learning corner is laid out with our field guides. Also shown is last month's issue of Your Big Backyard magazine which had a whole page devoted to horeshoe crabs.


Here are the "treasures" from our day at the beach, drying out on the front walk:


We brought them in overnight lest they attract any raccoons! Bookworm pointed out that the crabs, once green and now red, had "baked" in the sun. (FYI we only brought home dead things - anything living was left in its proper home.)

So now we're all fired up about marine nature study and here it's the very last weekend of summer! But that's ok. First of all, seaside visits are possible year-round when you live in New England, you just have to dress for the weather (i.e. windbreakers replace swimsuits).

For instance, just this morning the boys and I ran over to a local teacher supply store, which happens to be located across the street from a marina. We arrived a few minutes before the store opened, so we parked and walked out along the landing. We saw minnows, seaweed and even a couple of hermit crabs under there!

Secondly, the boys are signed up for a series of homeschool science classes hosted by the New England Aquarium. They will run September through June, and I am sure they will keep those maritime wheels turning!

And later this week, our first week back to "school," we will start new nature notebooks for the year. The first entry will be narrations and drawings from our September 1st day at the beach. The boys will bring their notebooks with them later this month when we attend our very first Nature Study Club meeting! (More on that new adventure later!)

For now though, let me leave you with the words from a poem we'll use as copywork with those first notebook entries.

From "Summer Goes," by Russell Hoban:

Summer goes, summer goes

Like the sand between my toes

When the waves go out.

That’s how summer pulls away,

Leaves me standing here today

Waiting for the school bus …


Or not. ;)

Poetry Friday: Dinosaurs!


I'm Glad I'm Living Now, Not Then!

When earth was yet a little child
Dinosaurs lived free and wild.

Some as big as spacious homes,
Some as small as tiny gnomes.
A few had wings to fly the skies
With giant beaks and searching eyes.
Harboring murder in their breasts
They stole the fledglings from their nests.
One giant breed lived deep within
Dark waters with its kindly kin.
Still others wandered mean and bold
And ate each other, I've been told.
I know what might or must have been-
I'm glad I'm living now, not then!

(Lillian M. Fisher)

I think the boys will get a kick out of this one; it goes along nicely with our current dinosaur study. It will make a nice copywork page for their notebooks, perhaps accompanied by a coloring page or sketch.

It's been a long time since we've studied the prehistoric age, so I'm still pulling things out of the book boxes downstairs. A few resources we've started with:


The picture of the crane fly fossil in Comstock's book is a virtual match to our specimen!

I brought up the dinosaur toys and as you can see above we have them set up with our book display (they migrate quite often and end up all over the house). We'll plan a trip to the Harvard Musuem of Natural History sometime this summer, but in the meantime I'm going to pick up a copy of Night in the Museum, a movie we saw (and reviewed) last New Year's and enjoyed very much. If you like Ben Stiller you'll find it quite funny. It's set in New York's Natural History Museum, and a T-Rex is a central character. ;)

So there's our poem for this week. For the whole Poetry Friday Round-up, stop in at HipWriterMama's today.

Happy Friday!

Everyday Nature: Pussy Willows

I thought I might post a little nature activity every day (or so) leading up to The Early Spring Field Day. Just to keep spring nature fresh in my mind and yours. ;)

So for this weekend, I'd like to suggest that it's a perfect time to look around for pussy willows. For one, they are in bloom (or almost, depending on where you live), and for two, they are interwoven with Palm Sunday tradition!

When I was a little girl, there was a small brook running through my parents' backyard, by which a small pussy willow grew. I don't think it's there anymore (the brook has long since dried up), but every year at this time I think of that lovely tree. How I loved to play with those soft pretty catkins ...

"The species most beloved by children is the pussy willow, which is often a shrub, rarely reaching twenty feet in height ... These are favorite objects for a nature-study lesson, and yet how little have the teachers or pupils known about these flowers!" (Handbook of Nature Study)

So, to begin with, we must go on a bit of an adventure to find some pussy willows growing nearby. Bill is taking the boys on their Saturday woods-walk and he thinks he knows where he might find some.

"The best place to look for pussy willows is along the banks of a stream, near wet ditches, around the edges of a pond or marsh, or anywhere the ground stays wet." (From The Beginning Naturalist by Gale Lawrence)

Hopefully they'll find some, and if they do and they're not yet blooming, we'll set the branches in warm water and keep a close watch throughout Holy Week. If the branches are already in bloom, and I am so inspired (i.e. I find the time) I might make them into a simple spring wreath for our front door.

Either way, sketches can be made for the nature notebooks. :)

If you find pussy willows growing somewhere nearby, make a note in your calendar where and when, and then make plans to return through the seasons. The Handbook of Nature Study has wonderful lesson plans for studying willows all through the year.

(Now, I'll give you a little tip. I've seen branches of pussy willows for sale in my grocer's florist department. A walk in the countryside sounds lovely, but if all else fails, commercially grown pussy willow is a fine substitute.)

Here's a charming old poem for the children to learn (or perhaps to use as copywork in their nature notebooks):

"Pussy Willow wakened from her cozy winter nap.
For the frolicking spring breeze, on her door would tap.
" It is chilly weather, though the sun feels good;
I will wrap up warmly and wear my furry hood."
Mistress Pussy Willow opened wide her door;
Never had the sunshine seemed so bright before.
Never had the brooklet seemed so full of cheer;
"Good morning, Pussy Willow, Welcome to you, dear!"
Never guest was quainter, than when Pussy came to town,
In her hood of silver gray, and tiny coat of brown.
Happy little children cried with laugh and shout,
"Spring is coming, coming, Mistress Pussy Willow's out!"

(Kate L. Brown)

And a sweet book to request from the library, orPussy_willow - if you're weak like me - order from Amazon is: Pussy Willow

Now here I'm just planting a seed of an idea, but I know many of us are spending the next several days preparing for our family's Easter holiday. Might I mention that it would be a lucky child indeed who found the materials for a new nature notebook in their Easter basket next Sunday? A set of new colored pencils, and a spiral bound sketchbook ... perhaps even a small sized field guide or two?

However you spend your weekend, at home or afield, I hope you enjoy it and many blessings to you this Palm Sunday!

Donuts and Crafts for St. Joseph

March 19th is a glorious day on the Catholic calendar ~ the Feast of St. Joseph, a most beloved saint, spouse of Our Blessed Mother, and most importantly, the foster-father of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

We've had much fun celebrating Good St. Joseph in little ways throughout the day. To begin with, we made donuts, a traditional feast food, for breakfast. They were oh-so-easy to make - no hot oil, no deep fryer - we just baked them in a special donut pan, which by the way, is currently on sale at The Baker's Catalogue. (Have I mentioned before how much I love this company?). This morning we made plain cake donuts; they were not too sweet, but soft and spongy and rather biscuit-like in taste - with just a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon for kick.


While the donuts were still warm from the oven, I made a simple icing from confectioner's sugar and milk. These would be nice with a maple or chocolate glaze, and quite festive at Easter with white chocolate and pastel sprinkles. Next time (probably Sunday after Mass) I will finish them with a light cinnamon-sugar dusting. Yum!

We shared some with Nana, too, when she came over to watch Crackerjack and Bookworm while I took Earlybird to speech. Normally I take all the kids with me, but CJ was sick overnight, so Mum popped over to babysit. Just before she arrived, I pulled the pan from the oven and pressed "grind" on the Cuisinart. The coffee was just right with the donuts!

(Btw, CJ, still feeling poorly, passed on the donuts, but was well enough by lunch to eat not one, but two pb&j sandwiches, lol!)

After noontime, the boys got to work on their crafts ...


Thanks to some terrific liturgical resources, we had plenty of fun easy crafts to choose from today. We decided to make St. Joseph's stained glass windows (Seton Art 1 for Young Catholics), do a coloring page (St. Joseph Virtual Altar) along with the words to "Dear St. Joseph" (a song from We Sing and Listen), and turn a shoebox into a rather humble St. Joseph altar (a variation on a theme discussed at 4Real).

As you can see our "classroom" windows were well-adorned by the end of the day. :)   


CJ decorated his coloring page with carpentry stickers, in honor of St. Joseph's trade. Bookworm wrote out the words to "Dear St. Joseph" in his newly acquired cursive penmanship. EB's coloring page is on the lower left. He got overly busy with peeling the crayons, so his picture is only half-finished. The stained glass - to be perfectly honest - was mostly me. Cutting those tiny holes in the black paper (and first the template) proved a bit too fussy for the boys. CJ did the picture of St. Joseph in the middle, though.

At the bottom you see a few of the books we are reading this week. I am very upset with myself because I waited way too long to order The Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi, and I had so wanted to read it to the boys today. This lovely old book is this week's Catholic Mosaic selection, and a perfect read aloud for St. Joseph's Day (more on the legend here). I did place an order, and it should be here by the end of the week, so we will just have to content ourselves with a new and similarly lovely book about swallows ~ The Easter Swallows (pictured above). I picked this up at our local Catholic gift shop, after a quick read through told me it was a beautiful story for this special time of year - especially for Holy Week. Have you seen this book yet? I believe it is new this year. Pretty illustrations, and a sweet, meaningful story.

(And would you know, I found the dearest little swallow bird at Amazon ... yes, he found his way into my cart ... I can't wait to hear what he sounds like!)

Finally, we made up our St. Joseph's Altar, a very simple take on a beautiful tradition. We started with a shoebox, some stickers and a photocopied prayer from A Year with God. I covered the box in white construction paper and let the boys decorate it. The fruit stickers symbolize the foods that would adorn a traditional altar, the lily stickers represent one of the familiar symbols of St. Joseph. (Do you know the legend of the lilies?) Finally, we pasted the prayer on the front of the box, and I placed our Holy Family set at the top.


This is the song we used for copywork today:

"Dear St. Joseph, kind and true, I have lessons I must do.

They are for your Foster Son. Help me till the work is done.

You who taught our Lord a trade, Showed Him how a chair is made,

Do not fail to answer me, Dearest Saint, my helper-be."

A lovely prayer for my home-learning boys! :)

And speaking of lovely, stay tuned for The Loveliness of St. Joseph Altars, hosted by my friend Jenn this Thursday, March 22nd. In the meantime, I wish you a good week and a blessed good night!

The Loveliness of Saint Patrick's Day


What a wonderful holiday to celebrate, for as the saying goes, everyone's a little bit Irish on March 17th! This Monday, my dear friend Mary Ellen is hosting the Loveliness of Saint Patrick's Day at her Bonny Blue House, and I am so thrilled because, A. I'm Irish and, B. I love Saint Patrick's Day!

The feast day itself is next Saturday, so there is plenty of time left to plan a few fun activities for your family. I'd like to share some ideas with you now, and then later on show you the pictures of our actual celebrations. :)

Good Books

What's a feast day without a bushel of good books to read?


Please see my righthand sidebar (Early Spring Basket) for the whole list.

Every year I like to add a few new titles to our Saint Patrick's Day collection. This year we've added The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh, and Bookworm will begin Beyond the Western Sea Book 1: Escape from Home for book group next month. I'm hoping Barnes & Noble has a copy of Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara as it's a fairly new book (if not I will order it). All three books share a theme of the devastating potato famine of the 1800s. A good start to a rabbit trail, don't you think? This will be a perfect week to focus our geography studies on the heart of the Emerald Isle.

Food & Drink

Many supermarkets now have an aisle devoted to imported and/or ethnic foods. I was happily surprised to see Ireland represented at my local Shaws! What a fun field trip it would be to take the kids to the market and let them choose an item or two to try - Irish tea, biscuits, pudding, jelly, etc.

Naturally, I've been busily tearing ideas out of magazines, recipes among them - pasting some in my journal and leaving others to file:


Some of these ideas will show up in our celebrations this week:

  • Thursday teatime (Irish theme).
  • Friday co-op party!
  • Saturday visit Damee (bring muffins and little gifts).
  • Sunday family dinner (Irish dinner).

(Details to follow through the week!)


  • We'll all be wearing green, of course.Darbyogill
  • I've ordered (ahem) three videos for next week:
  • Irish music is a must. I'm sure there will be plenty of PBS shows featuring Irish music. I think our local classical radio station has something planned, too.
  • Oh! One more thing - I read somewhere that Chutes and Ladders can be played with a St. Patrick's theme, Snakes and Ladders. (St. Patrick having famously driven the snakes out of Ireland.) Here's the idea and here's more background.

Crafts & Faith

I have a few crafts in mind, the first being something we make with these materials:


We will also make a spiritual bouquet to bring to my grandmother on Saturday - only instead of a flower of prayers, we will make a four-leaf clover of prayers! These would make nice St. Patrick's Day cards for friends and family.

More craft ideas for your consideration:


It needs more stickers, and we are completely out of tea lights!

  • Make up a BreastPlate Booklet with the children. On each page, write one line of the prayer; the children then may illustrate it on the opposite side. (Not my original idea; I found it in this book.)
    • Christ with me, Christ before me,
      Christ behind me, Christ within me,
      Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
      Christ at my right, Christ at my left . . .
      Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
      Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
      Christ in every eye that sees me . . .

In Boston, on Saturday, Mass will be said at noon at The Holy Cross Cathedral - along with harp music and Gaelic! How cool! (Maybe next year!)


Next week looks to be very mild around here, (for us, lol), in the high 50s and 60s. Not much rain, but some clouds - perfect Saint Patrick's Day weather if you ask me! We will get out at least one day this week for a nature walk, to see what's blooming. (Who knows we might even spy a leprechaun home ...)

As we walk we will also look for shades of green. There may be some after the portended mild weather (and if not, I will do as Mrs. Sharp suggests, and plant a few bunches of shamrocks here and there!). Next year I hope to have some Lenten Rose in the garden, perhaps in this startling but lovely shade!

Happily, my grocery store is selling small pot of shamrocks this week. I'll pick up a few and hope to keep them alive until Saturday. They would make a perfect still-life for the March nature notebook, possibly accompanied by this charming poem by Ella Higginson, in whole or part:

I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blossoms burst with snow,
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
And one is for love, you know,
And God put another in for luck, -
If you search, you will find where they grow.

But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
You must love and be strong - and so,
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

And may I leave you with this picture of two of my young Irish laddies? I made this card back when Crackerjack (now seven) was just a wee babe of seven months. Bookworm was four and Earlybird was but a sparkle in his Daddy's eye. :)

(The blanket they are sitting on was brought home from Ireland by my cousin, and the sweaters were knit by another cousin's wife!)


Many blessings to you and yours this upcoming feast of Saint Patrick! And remember that old Irish proverb - There is no fireside like your own fireside.

God bless!

Links for Lincoln

I just love the month of February ~ it brings with it cold grey skies and warm red hearts and we mustn't forget those February presidents! How fun and meaningful it is to celebrate our national holidays all through the year. For, according to Mrs. Sharp:Abe_lincoln

"Unfortunately, with the exception of Independence Day, little attention is paid to the observance of patriotic holidays. As the origins and meanings of these very special days have slipped through the cracks, we have lost one of the most important legacies we can pass on to our children. There is no better place to begin restoration than with a homegrown observance of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays."

Well, tomorrow is Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, and in honor of this very special American holiday, here are a few fun ideas for you and the children ...

You could ...

Make a yummy pretzel cabin.

Paint a log cabin birdhouse.

Play with your Lincoln Logs.

Read Abraham Lincoln by Ingri d'Aulaire.

Or Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters.

Make penny rubbings. (Make designs from the rubbings, too.)

Make a Lincoln puppet.

Make a penny pendant.

Make a lucky penny pin.

Polish up your pennies.

Make a top hat. (Another version here.)

Print a coloring page.

Do a word search.

Check out lots of Lincoln websites.

View the Lincoln home.

Read a poem about him.

Read his speeches here. (Specifically the Gettysburg Address.)

Go on a virtual field trip.

Outline a report.

And then test your knowledge about Honest Abe.

How about a little copywork in praise of our February presidents?

George Washington was brave, we know, he loved this land we hold so dear; and when his birthday comes around, his noble name we cheer.

And Lincoln who was strong and true, his birthday too we celebrate; so raise the flag and sing the praise of heroes good and great.

(from We Sing and Listen, Seton Books)

And don't forget the Jelly Roll (aka Lincoln Log) for dessert ...

Have fun! Next week is Washington's turn! :)

And Speaking of 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!

The Plan for Today - Evening Update

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007 (St. Anthony, Benjamin Franklin's birthday):

(Please see blue notes beneath each section for the updates. I have some pictures from today but I just lost my memory stick inside the hard drive (long story!). I'll try to post them soon.)

Housekeeping: Kitchen and Meals

  • Clean kitchen. (Neaten, sweep, wipe down surfaces.)
  • Look through fridge and cabinets; take note of what is needed.
  • Begin meal plan for next week.
  • Start grocery list for Saturday.

Ok, I'm going to be completely honest with you. As of 6:30 this evening, my kitchen was no cleaner than it was this morning! Well, I did sweep the floor and clear the island. Nothing got wiped down as I had hoped and no menu plan or grocery list was begun - not on paper anyway.

My plan was (and always is) to start in on the kitchen before we begin our lessons, as really, it's the only hope. After 8 a.m. I'm just putting out too many fires to spend any quality cleaning time in any room, let alone the kitchen. Fires such as the one that broke out in Earlybird's bedroom when an entire bag of potato chips somehow got dumped out all over the floor. All over construction paper that had also somehow found its way to the floor and acted as a perfect catch basin for the chip grease. Mind you, this was all before 10 a.m.

So after cleaning up that mess, I turned my wary eye toward the older boys' room and decided it too was in need of a good "pruning." (Thankfully nothing so dire as chip crumbs, however.) So I set Crackerjack to picking up cars and Legos, while Bookworm took action figures and trading cards. I stuck to books, bedding and clothes and within 1/2 an hour we had all the bedrooms put to rights. I also got two loads of laundry done - but please don't ask if they're folded.

So the kitchen work gets bumped to tomorrow - Thursday - the day usually reserved for the living room and family room. That's okay - we're home all day - and tomorrow is a brand new day! Right? :)


Pledge of Allegiance and Prayers ...

  • Math
    • Saxon lessons
    • Make graph-paper chart for bird counting

O.K., so the math didn't get done either, lol. But wait! Before you think I completely slipped gears today, let me assure you we did do math. We did really fun math, in fact! Bookworm became engrossed in Math for Smarty Pants and I let him run with it. He read aloud and worked on problems for a good long while. And Crackerjack just loves the Sir Cumference books so we read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi which led to circle discussion and some measuring.

But it's back to Saxon tomorrow, I'm afraid. ;)

  • Language arts:
    • Lingua Mater: Nouns (1 pg.)
    • Language of God A: Capital Letters (2 pgs.)
    • Copywork; choose favorite Franklin quote.
    • Handwriting Can Help practice.

All done! We even read Eats, Shoots and Leaves as a bonus, a Christmas gift from Uncle Greg. What a funny book!

  • Religion:
    • Read Sunday's Gospel in Magnifikid.
    • Look at church bulletin for BW's CCD assignment.
    • Read A Life of Our Lord for Children: Introduction.
    • Read about St. Anthony. Spend 15 minutes "hermit time" in reflection.
    • St. Anthony is patron saint of domestic animals; groom cats.

We did all these things except the 15 minutes "hermit time." You know, I was really looking forward to those 15 minutes of quiet ... maybe we'll try again tomorrow.

History/geography: American

We did all these things, too, except we didn't finish the d'Aulaire book. We'll read it over the next few days. Both boys voted for the turkey over the eagle. (We're partial to them as they live in our woods.) CJ even insisted on making a turkey flag. Here it is hanging above the boys' colorings and copywork:


No popcorn (not after the chip fiasco) and no coloring page about red-winged blackbirds. Everything else we did.

I couldn't find the Olivia Owl book so EB did some math in a workbook and made a page of numbers. I wrote them out and he named and copied each one. He did this right up at the table with us. We didn't do puppet stories (though somehow they ended up strewn all over the family room, anyway). We did spend 10 minutes working diligently together on a solar system floor puzzle. I was very happy with EB's patience and turn-taking.

We named each planet as we went. And our "X the Owl" came out great! EB colored the picture while I cut out the pieces to make a tree base. Here is X peeking out of his nest:


(Notice the chip grease near the bottom, lol!)

To do:

  • Make vet and dentist appointments.
  • Pull next week's folder. Jot down events/feasts/activities.

As it is just 7:30 a.m., this all seems very do-able. I will report back later today on how it all went! :)

No phone calls were made. I dug out next week's folder and started looking at the calendar, but no notes were made. All the more for tomorrow!

And now it is 12 hours later - 7:30 p.m. - and it hardly seems all that time went by. 7:30 a.m. will be here again before it seems I've even shut my eyes. And I'm off to do just that! Good night! :)

The Week Ahead - or the Week That Is!

(Note: I had planned to post this on Sunday, but time got away from me, so even though it is now Wednesday, I thought you might like a peek into the plans I projected for this week. I've made notes here and there about changed plans and crossed out things we've accomplished so far.)

Following is a sketch of our plans for this week. (Now I said sketch very purposefully as nothing here, with the exception of EB's birthday, is written in stone. Still, it's a place to begin!)

It will be a busy week for us with a few feast days to honor, a birthday to celebrate and Advent activities to continue. Oh, and Christmas is just two weeks away! Many of our activities follow Elizabeth's Advent unit, Cay's Catholic Mosaic, with a bit of Mary's O Night Divine post added in for good measure. If we start the day off with a little math, we're all set.


  • Complete one Saxon lesson each morning. (Er ... more or less.)

Language Arts:

Social Studies:

Faith Formation:

  • Review Moses story in A Catholic Book of Bible Stories as preparation for Crackerjack's CCD class (they're seeing a video). (No time to read the story. Review occured in the van, en route to class and consisted of brief recall of the Disney movie Prince of Egypt.)
  • Read new board books to EB: Our Father and Hail Mary. (Have you seen these new books? They're wonderful.)
  • Read Magnifikid in advance of Sunday Mass; discuss readings and Gospel.
  • Practice a Child's Act of Contrition with CJ , who's making his First Penance next month. (Ongoing)

Video of the Week: The Polar Express


  • Make "stained glass" letters.
  • Prepare O Antiphons for next Sunday evening.
  • Weave a God's Eye, as Alice did, if time allows.
  • Paint a sand dollar ornament.
  • Make a poinsettia fairy ornament.
  • Make star hats for the boys on St. Lucy's Day.
  • Fashion a miniature shrine for O.L. Guadalupe.
  • Make construction paper poinsettias like my friend Kim showed me last night.


  • Serve Mexican hot chocolate and poinsettia brownies.
  • Serve orange buns on St. Lucy's. (No time for Karen's awesome recipe; we'll do Pilsbury after lunch!)

Nature study:

  • Visit a local nursery to look at holiday plants, especially poinsettias. (I brought home two small plants from the grocery store. I'd still like to make it to a greenhouse.)
  • Clip holly and boxwood from front yard; add sketches to nature notebook.
  • Take a starlight walk; watch the sunrise.


  • Celebrate our Christmas/Birthday party!


  • Put out mailman and newspaper tips.
  • Mail Christmas cards by end of the week.
  • Finish shopping (online).
  • Catch up on emails.
  • Bake cookies for homeschool cookie swap. (Mexican Wedding Cookies - Nope, didn't realize the recipe called for nuts; I made Lemon Snowballs instead. Really yummy.)
  • Order snow pants and boots for the boys.
  • Prepare Earlybird's wooden birthday gifts.
  • Read reviews of Eragon to see if it's OK for Bookworm, who's read the book, but the trailer looks a bit dark. I see they haven't rated it yet, probably not a good sign.
  • Wear pink to Mass on Gaudete Sunday. :)
  • Take pictures of my craft bins for a future post. ;)


All together now, one big PHEW! :) Expect updates all week, of course! I wish you a great one!

Our Week-at-a-Glance

Here is our bulletin board this week:


I realize this looks very haphazard and more than just a bit cluttered - messy even! But I love it! I like all the colors, text and the very fullness of it all. I love the very hodgepodginess of it. What does that say about me, lol? 

Anyway, I will break down the details a bit later today. We have much to get through this morning over here - and a birthday party later this afternoon! Fun!

Have a blessed day with your loved ones!

ETA (Friday night update):

Here's the board rundown (.i.e what we're studying right now), beginning in our upper lefthand corner:

Saxon Math (natch) along with a tape measure. Crackerjack and Bookworm are keeping record of random measurements around the house.

Geography from A to Z: A picture Glossary ~ We're taking 1-2 terms a week, and writing them down in small booklets. So for instance, we read the definition of archipelago, the boys copied it into their booklets and from there we looked for examples, in this case Rudolph's Shiny New Year. Remember the Archipelago of Last Year? Hey, it worked!

New favorite Christmas book alert! The Little Drummer Mouse. When I have more time, I will write a proper review, but trust me, its a keeper.

We continue with our medieval study - and the boys are thrilled we are finally talking knights and castles - you know, the good stuff! (Barbarians and Vikings were OK, but knights are, well knights!) Currently we are looking at how the peasants and noble families lived - feudalism and the farming life in general. A Farm through Time is an excellent highly visual resource (as is its companion A Street through Time). Since we are also beginning Advent and will be talking about the Nativity story, I thought we would be well-served by a trip to a stable this December to remind us how cold and uncomfortable a place it would have been for the Holy Family. (This idea was from Elizabeth's excellent Tomie dePaola/Advent unit study.)

Earlybird will learn the farm animal names and noises (though he knows them all for the most part, we'll work on pronunciation). We'll play a farm game and look at preschool farm books. Of course, we'll bring out the large wooden barn and carved animals, too. Animal Planet has an interesting site on the Animals of the Nativity. I haven't looked at it too closely but it looks promising.

We'll all read The Hat - a wonderful story about the antics of several farm animals - and we'll tip our hats to its illustrator, one of our favorites - whose birthday it is today! Jan Brett books figure prominently in our homeschool library, in particular her many Christmas and wintery ones.

In the center of the board you see a lovely poem I found in A Year Full of Poems, called Christmas Daybreak. I will post the text soon when I have a bit more time.

Top of the board and cornering right - Knights Castle will be our family read aloud just after the holidays. We have many castle resources to peruse these next couple of months. (Yes, we'll stretch this part of our study out over the winter. I figure we'll hit Robin Hood round abouts February.)

Down the righthand side of the board you see a few plans for honoring St. Andrew's feast day, which just passed this week. Since he is the patron of Scotland we'll look at the country's flag (and find out why this particular cross is used) and we'll also look at the country's flower, the thistle. I happen to have a delicous tea (Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride) which lists milk thistle as its first ingredient, and Mary's Flowers talks at great lengths about the Marian legend of this flower. We will also make shortbread, a Scottish treat - using the mold I purchased earlier this year - the beautifully carved symbols of the British Isles (Scotland's thistle, a rose for England, shamrocks for Ireland, leeks for Wales). And of course we'll take a few minutes to read what Ms. Comstock has to say about this prickly but lovely hued plant.

Finally you see our angel from The Giving Tree at church, reminding us of our promise to return designated gifts by this Sunday. And lastly a prayer for Dorothy Day whose birthday was this past week.

Well, there are the details in a nutshell! As I said, I'll do some tweaking for next week and post again soon!

A Child's Poem for November


"November smells of turkey, grapes, and pumpkin pie,

And leaf-smoke curling gently into the sky.

Some animals have burrowed into the earth

To sleep until the spring.

Is a cricket sharing your house for the winter?

Can you hear him sing?

Nature's garden is resting.

The trees are stark and bare.

Now you can see the lovely nests

You didn't know were there."

~ From "Merry Months of the Year" by Patricia Scarry, as found in Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever.