Sunday, December 27, 2009

Second Day of Christmas

We spent today at home and enjoyed a visit from my husband's grandparents, uncle (and the boys' Godfather), and his fiancee. We haven't seen Uncle D and Aunt L in two years since they live in Hawaii! It was a lovely visit and so nice to catch up!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Candle

We decorated our Christmas Candle yesterday. We kept it simple this year and went with holly and stars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Flash Mob

At the mall in our area last night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Antiphon House

Today marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, prayers said during the Octave before Christmas.

From the Catholic Education Resource Center: "The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah."

The really cool thing about the Anitphons is that when the initial for each is read backward they form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come."

This is our first year adding the O Antiphons to our Advent traditions and I borrowed an idea to create an O Antiphon House:

Each block has a symbol representing the title...

As well as the Latin translation and the date the Antiphon is said:

Because of my limited talent with such artsy things, I printed everything then hand colored the symbols and used Mod Podge to attach everything to the blocks. I also added the text for each Antiphon in the various "rooms" of the house. Each day we'll pray the Antiphon then add the block.

I don't love how it turned out. With more time, I would change a few things. Next year I think I'll re-letter "Ero Cras" and stars at the top. I also need to decide if I want to add anything to the spaces where the blocks rest until needed. I've seen houses with images of the Nativity or stars. I might try and hand draw and letter the blocks too, but we'll see.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Midway Through Advent

Advent Spiral...

Jesse Tree...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

We had a lovely St. Nicholas Day last week!

We watched the snow...

Tried to take our Christmas picture...

Opened our stockings to find (along with the always popular chocolate coins) a new doll friend...

A pair of binoculars and a balance rocker for active play on cold days...

We enjoyed the St. Nicholas Day punch, baked cookies-- and ate more than our fair share! It was a wonderful feast day in the midst of this season of preparation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Preparing for St. Nicholas Day

December 6 we celebrate St. Nicholas Day in our home. It is a fun day in the midst of prayer, penance, and preparation for the Nativity. The past several years we've hosted family and friends for a small party featuring traditional St. Nicholas treats from around the world, crafts, "gold" coins in shoes or stockings in a wonderful afternoon of visiting.

Big Brother is old enough this year to remember a little bit about previous years' celebrations and also to understand the story of St. Nicholas a little better. He has been very excited to read our St. Nicholas books this year and cannot wait for Sunday as he knows his stocking (according to Czech tradition) will be filled with a treat or two-- especially those chocolate coins!

Our book choices were gathered from Catholic Mosaic and the St. Nicholas Center.
We also typically make a few treats: St. Nicholas cookies and a variation on St. Nicholas Day Punch (last recipe in the list) were favorites last year.

Last year we made several St. Nicholas crafts. Last year we made this mobile and this Czech St. Nicholas window decoration. This year we're doing some coloring, puzzles, and learning this echo story.

Also check out Seasons of Joy for St. Nicholas circle time ideas and some links to St. Nicholas songs!

I'll be sure to post pictures of this year's feast!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Suzy Snowflake

It's here!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Reading List

Within our larger "farm" unit, here are some of the themes we've loosely followed:
  • Apples
  • Leaves
  • Wind
  • Pumpkins
  • Corn
  • Turning Cold
  • Getting Ready for Winter
The last few themes on the list will be our focus during November. I'm still collecting those titles, but here are most of the books we've read thus far, from our own collection and the library.
  • It’s Fall- Linda Glaser
  • Story of the Wind Children- Sibylle Von Olfers
  • Flower Fairies of the Autumn- Cicely Mary Barker
  • Autumn- Gerda Muller
  • Apple Pie That Papa Baked- Lauren Thompson
  • Fall is Not Easy- Marty Kelley
  • Ten Red Apples- Pat Hutchins
  • Johnny Appleseed- Reeve Lindbergh
  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf- Lois Ehlert
  • Leaf Man- Lois Ehlert
  • The Busy Little Squirrel- Nancy Tafuri
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin- Beatrix Potter
  • Animals in the Fall- Gail Saunders-Smith
  • Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree- Gail Gibbons
  • Apple Farmer Annie- Monica Wellington
  • An Apple Pie for Dinner- Susan VanHecke
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World- Marjorie Priceman
  • Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden- George Levenson
  • Pumpkin- Barrie Watts
  • Pumpkins- Ken Robbins
  • Cranberries: Fruit of the Bogs- Diane L. Burns
  • Apples- Jacqueline Farmer
  • Corn- Gail Gibbons
  • Apples- Gail Gibbons
  • The Apple Pie Tree- Zoe Hall
  • Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family's Farm- Michael J. Rosen
  • Mousekin's Golden House- Edna Miller
  • Apple Cider Making Days- Ann Purmell
  • The Scarecrow's Dance- Jane Yolen
  • Old Bear- Kevin Henkes
  • A Bunny for All Seasons- Janet Schulman
  • Time to Sleep- Denise Fleming
  • Has Winter Come?- Wendy Watson
  • Three Pebbles and a Song- Eileen Spinelli
  • When Winter Comes- Nancy Van Laan
  • Too Many Pumpkins- Linda White
  • The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything- Linda Williams
  • The Pumpkin Patch Parable- Liz Curtis Higgs
  • The Biggest Pumpkin Ever- Steven Kroll
  • Pumpkin, Pumpkin- Jeanne Titherington
  • A Tree for All Seasons- Robin Bernard
  • Fresh Fall Leaves- Betsy Franco
  • Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie- Jill Esbaum
  • Apples for Everyone- Jill Esbaum

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Black Walnut Season

We have five Black Walnut trees in our yard (and more young ones in the fields!) and every year we enjoy searching the walnuts as they fall from the trees. We have a very saucy red squirrel that also loves these trees and throughout the year leaves walnut shells all around the yard, deck, and porches. He scolds us very vehemently when we dare to come close to "his" trees (or even when we play in the fenced yard!), but last weekend we did some searching through the piles of leaves anyway! We found quite a few, but replaced them all for the little guy.

Freshly fallen from the tree.

One that's a little older and a shell.

The trees. It was a breathtaking day!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

On the Farm

We've spent the past month or so down on the farm! We started using Winterpromise's I'm Ready to Learn preschool program this fall. The first unit is all about the farm and one of our activities is creating this farm mural piece by piece.

Here are some of the books we read during our unit:

The milk makers- Gail Gibbons
Farm Tales- Little Golden Book Collection
Farming- Gail Gibbons
Wake Up, Farm!- Alvin R. Tresselt
Farm Morning- David M. McPhail
Farmer Brown Goes Round and Round- Teri. Sloat
Market Day- Carol Foskett Cordsen
Horses- Elsa Posell
Farm Animals- Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Find It on the Farm- Dee Phillips
Chicks & Chickens- Gail Gibbons
Our Farm : Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family's Farm- Michael J. Rosen
The Scarecrow's Dance- Jane Yolen
Corn- Gail Gibbons
Wake Up, Big Barn- Suzanne Chitwood
Big Red Barn- Margaret Wise Brown

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Corn Maze

The boys and I spent last weekend at my parents' and on Saturday afternoon, Sidekick and I went to our area's largest corn maze with my sister, my niece, and some of her college cronies. It was an adventure!

Optimistic and cheerful starting out...

Nothing' but corn...

Went in circles for a long time...

The maze from above. In celebration of the the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz (movie), the design featured several of the characters. We spent the entire time somewhere between Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, I believe (the right hand side). We may have hit part of the Tin Man, but not for long. We only made it out when my sister took an unauthorized shortcut and we burst back into the daylight. Whew.

A New Look

As I posted a month or so ago, I've been having trouble with scratched corneas. After a recent eye exam (where the doctor saw three scars!), I decided to go "glasses-only" for the foreseeable future. My old glasses were ten years old since I've wearing contacts full time. I ordered some spiffy new ones and decided to get my hair cut too. My hair was nearing waist-length (can't find a recent picture where it's not tied back), and I wanted it just past my shoulders so I could still pull it back easily. My stylist got a little carried away, and it's much shorter than I wanted. I don't love it by any means, but I guess I'm used to it by now. Nothing to do by wait until it grows out!

Last November...

Last week...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September Recap!

We have an an unusually busy September! We've been on the go almost every day, and have found ourselves double-booked a few times! Here's a quick look at what we've been up to the last few weeks:

Nature walk at Rice Creek...

M. had the camera for most of the morning taking pictures for his nature journal...

Making playdough...

Visiting the orchard on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. We had some apple fritters, took a wagon ride, did the maze, and of course came home with apples...

Experimented with making green smoothies (our new favorite snack)...

Reading about chimpanzees...

The "baby" turned 14 months old!

We celebrated Michaelmas this week with a co-op field trip to another farm for a tour and to play (no pictures!). Later that same day we attended the Upshernish of a friend. This family has three sons very close in age to ours and it was very touching to be included.

The next day our namesday celebration continued with a playgroup featuring apples...

A namesday gift for the boys...

We played outside in our new hazmat rain suits...

There you go! Our month in a nutshell. October does not look nearly as busy and I hope we can get back on track with our school schedule. We've been working on a mural on our at-home days I'm eager to share!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ordinary Time

Choosing Thomas

Katherine posted this video a few weeks ago. It is a must see, but very difficult to watch.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Mom, I made a rectangle and a triangle!"

A few weeks while cleaning in the bedroom and talking on the phone, M. kept running in and out telling me he was making a rectangle and a triangle. I'm ashamed to say I didn't pay him much attention just telling him, "That's good!" and just assumed he was playing with blocks.


When I walked into his room a bit later, I found he'd made a makeshift Geoboard out of his dresser! Guess it's time to pull out the real thing!

Quilt Square for a Grieving Mom

A local mother recently lost her toddler in a tragic accident, and the homeschooling moms on one of my boards (the members are scattered worldwide!) are working together to make a quilt for her. After many challenges (sick baby and faulty machine!) I mailed my square off today. I created the design myself and free-handed the lettering. I'm not 100% pleased, but it was created with love and many, many prayers for this grieving family.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day, "Lite" School

Our first day adding our next "layer" of school plans went awry yesterday. Real life reared its ugly side when I scratched my cornea over the weekend. I've been flying half blind since Sunday (typing with one closed now!) and I ditched our literature heavy plans yesterday. No reading for me, sadly!

M. still wanted to do "projects," however, so I pulled a few things out!

Cutting and pasting is an all-time favorite and this Kumon-like workbook from BJ's is darling!

We worked on patterns with these apple pattern cards from Spell Out Loud. We haven't worked on this all summer, but we got back in the groove quickly! I did discover that ABABAB is still best for M. He couldn't quite get the hang of ABCABCABC patterning yet.

Then, of course, drawing! We brought out our favorite crayons and went to town!

We had a great time, and today were able to do more of our normal routine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School and Morning Basket

Yesterday we started our new school year! I decided to ease us into our new routine over several weeks so we wouldn't feel overwhelmed and more likely to throw in the towel.

This week is part one of our day: the Morning Basket. Our Morning Basket is a combination of a Waldorf Circle Time and also inspired by this post at Wildflowers and Marbles. I really like this idea and think it will probably become a habit we continue throughout our childrearing and homeschooling years.

We have our morning basket time right after breakfast before starting on chores and other activities. This way, if we have appointments, playgroup, or another commitment we will still have covered what (at this point) is the most crucial part of our homeschool.

Here are the parts to our morning basket right now:
  • Light a Candle: We didn't do this yesterday since we were outside!
  • Morning Offering/Prayer to Your Guardian Angel: Our goal is to memorize these. We're working on the Guardian Angel Prayer first.
  • Calendar/Weather: We use this calendar from Learning Resources. This is already part of our morning. M. loves to check the weather each day and find the appropriate picture. He often changes it throughout the day as our weather evolves!
  • Joyful Heart Character Study: We are starting with Obedience. Yesterday we talked about Noah since the boys are so familiar with the story, then sang a song, and started a memory verse. I know he won't learn it through drills, but I expect it to become my mantra as we work on this habit and I know he'll pick it up quickly.
  • Seasonal/Liturgical/Character Book: This week we're rereading The Sunflower Parable. Our giant sunflowers have had a bumper year!
  • Fingerplay/Movement Game: To go along with our habit of obedience, we're playing Simon Says.
  • Devotion/Bible Story: We're using My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions and/or a story from Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories or the New Catholic Picture Bible.
  • Hymn: This week it's Jesus Loves Me which will be easy for M. to memorize.
  • Blow Out Candle

From there, our morning will continue with our daily housework (Monday is upstairs bathrooms and bedrooms), some free play then the rest of our activities! I'll post more on those when we start next week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laptop Lunches

Part of my plan to streamline our life this fall as we dive into (slightly) more formal homeschooling is to prepare and pack our lunches and snacks every evening as if we were going out to work/school.

Enter the Laptop Lunch. I fell in love with Bento boxes and specifically these adorable lunchboxes while reading the current issue of Mothering. So far I have two full sets and several "Bento buddy" sets. I would like to buy one more full system soon. They have been a dream come true to quickly pack snacks and lunches for both on the go (playgroups, errands, appointments) and at home. Here are our first attempts:

Snack for an appointment. Big brother had cheese slices, Cheddar Bunnies, and carrot sticks. Little brother had chunks of cantaloupe (in silicone muffin cup), chunks of cheese, and apple cinnamon Teddy Puffs.

Lunches for a picnic in the park. Big brother had ham (finally found some nitrate and nitrite-free for a reasonable price!), Kashi crackers, cheddar cheese, organic carrot sticks with yogurt dip, and organic grapes. (Oops, forgot his napkin in this picture! It should be in the flatware space.)

Mine...same as above.

Little brother had SunButter on brown rice bread, cheese, and grapes. We all had water too, of course!

Check out this Flickr group for some truly awesome Laptop lunch creations!

Just in case anyone is interested in buying a set, I heartily recommend the new 2.0 sets as they offer more inner containers with lids and the extra "buddies" for more configurations.