Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wisemen Adventures - Day 1 & 2

This year we are participating in Wisemen Adventures. The idea is to move your Wisemen figures around the house "Elf on the Shelf" style while they follow the star, until they find baby Jesus on Epiphany.  Ours started their search the day after Christmas.

Day 1
The Wisemen decided to search the gingerbread houses to see if the Christ Child was sleeping inside. No luck, but the naughty camel found himself a little treat and started eating the snowman's walking stick!

Day 2
The Wisemen were distracted from their search by our Christmas goodies!  I hope they had a good snack because they have a long journey ahead of them!

Stay tuned for more Wisemen Adventures. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Reminder: Epiphany Countdown and Christmas Thank You Notes Printables

Don't forget that I have a couple of printable resources on this blog that are perfect for this time of year!

Simple Epiphany Countdown to countdown the time from Christmas to Epiphany.

Simple Christmas Thank You Notes perfect for young children to send thank you notes for their Christmas presents.

Thanks for reading!

12 Days of Christmas Resources

One of my absolute favorite things about being Catholic (besides the Body and Blood of Christ!) is that we get to celebrate Christmas for an extra 12 days after the rest of the world has already started packing it up into boxes for the attic.  Well technically, there are 11 days of the Christmas season this year if you are counting to Epiphany.  18 if you celebrate until the Baptism of the Lord!  Here are some fun resources to help you celebrate:

My favorite go-to resource for Christmas liturgical year info is the Catholic Culture countdown.  It has a great review of WHY we celebrate Christmas for as long as we do, and usually a neat activity and recipe for each day of Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas for Busy Families by Two 0's + More is a great post outlining simple ideas for celebrating each day as well.

Family at the Foot of the Cross has a great post that not only explains the real meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas Song, but also lists ideas for each day of Christmas as you scroll down.

And of course, Shower of Roses always has amazing resources.  Scroll to the bottom of this post for December feast days, and the beginning of this post for January feast days in the Christmas season.

Have a very merry Christmas season!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Excuse the Wacky Posts

Soon you'll be seeing a whole lot of new posts but they will all be backdated. While I often use this blog to indulge my inner show-off (such as today's Advent blog posts), that is really only it's secondary purpose. 

Primarily though, I use this blog as a scrapbook/yearbook/journal to keep track of all the fun things I do with my little family throughout the year. I seem to never find the time to get out my scrapbooking supplies. Wasting time online though?  I can totally do that!

I find my desire to blog seems to ebb and flow. Lately I keep catching myself writing blog posts in my head. This means I need to take advantage of the current flow and write down some memories from this past semester. 

So if you are a subscriber, please excuse the wonky posting. If you are a visitor to the blog, come back and scroll back! There will soon be some new content past the latest dated posts!

Thanks for reading!

Magnetic Jesse Tree Using the Read Aloud Book of Bible Stories

A few weeks ago I ran across this great looking Magnetic Jesse Tree on Pinterest. (Isn't Pinterest the best?!)

I loved the idea, because it was accessible to us in the kitchen, where it would be easiest to do our Advent devotions in the morning.

I wanted our Jesse Tree this year to have ornaments corresponding to The Read Aloud Book of Bible Stories. I found this book at a homeschool conference this year and fell in love with it. If ever there was a living bible for kids, this is it!

My version

Here is the PDF chart showing which ornaments I am using on which day, along with links to the source of each free printable ornament. 

Ornaments -
~Materials needed: clear glass beads (found in floral section at Walmart or dollar store), Modge Podge, small circular magnets (I found mine at Walmart), and small printed pictures for ornaments.

~How to: Cut your ornaments to fit the glass beads.  Paint Modge Podge on the flat side of the glass bead and place the paper ornament on.  Then cover with more Modge Podge and stick the magnet on.  That's it!

Hope that helps if you are interested making this for yourself.  Thanks for reading!

Magnetic Advent Devotions

We have been using or beautiful Advent Board for the past few years, and although I love it, I wanted a little change of pace this year. Not to mention, having the board set up out of the way on the entryway table makes it WAY too easy to ignore.

Since we have gotten in the routine of doing our morning Religion time during and after breakfast in the morning, I wanted our new Advent devotions to be accessible to us in the kitchen. 

At the top is our Advent Fun calendar. Every day I will write something fun for us to do that day, such as baking cookies or setting up the Christmas tree.  It also has a numbered countdown to Christmas.  Source.

In the middle is our Jesse Tree. We are using homemade ornaments that correspond to the Read Aloud Book of Bible Stories

At the bottom is a magnetic Advent Wreath. Every Sunday we will "light" a new candle.

Here are detailed instructions for the Jesse Tree.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Saints Day Party

Yesterday my co-op celebrated All Saints Day with a party after morning Mass.  All the kiddos dressed as their saints to attend Mass - it was so cute!  We gathered afterwards in the parish hall to eat some yummy potluck food and play some games.  I didn't get permissions to post photos of the children, but it was a great turnout and so much fun!

All Saints Day Banner from Shower of Roses

Crown Mary Ringtoss
Try to throw the crown of roses around Mary's head.

St. Therese Shower of Roses Tossing Game
Throw the roses into the hula hoop.

Pin the Halo on the Archangel

St. Peter's Fishing Game

St. Francis Church Building
(Block area for the littles)

A few bowling games

St. Cecilia's Musical Chairs

Coloring Pages

Some of the older kids helped out with the games, which was just so wonderful.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of my St. Kateri, St. Michael, and St. George to share!  Oh well, I'll have to remember next year.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1st Semester Schedule 2014

We are in the middle of our 4th week of school, and our schedule seems to be settling into place. It took me a few weeks to work out the kinks of our originally planned schedule, but we've finally figured out what works for us. For now, of course. :)

 Here is what our current schedule looks like:

Basically what it boils down to is about 1-1.5 hours of Morning School which covers all our core work. Then we have 1-1.5 hours of Afternoon School that basically covers all of our family subjects and anything that would be difficult to do with our toddler running around and getting into things. (Yay for naps!)

All of our family subjects are divided up by a specialty (Social Studies, Science, Fine Arts, and Religion) per day.  This was a change from our original schedule where we tried to do a bit of everything every day and it seems to be flowing much more smoothly.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Curriculum - 1st Semester

This year the children are working on separate levels for their core subjects and together for everything else.  So far it is working out well and saves me quite a bit of time over what we would have spent had they been working separately!  Below are our subjects for the semester and which books we are using for each.

2014 Curriculum
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back to School!

We started school again last week.  I've always liked the idea of a year round schedule and it allows me to spread our curriculum a bit so that our actual schooldays are much shorter.  We've been in school for a total of 9 days and I've revamped our schedule at least that many times as we figure out what seems to work for us this year now that I am officially schooling two!

My adorable students
I'll be posting our current schedule and pictures of our new schoolroom soon!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

2 Months in 1 Post

Several bouts of illness, traveling, homeschool conference planning, and general life craziness have all conspired to keep me out of the blogging world the past couple of months.  We enjoyed our homeschooling time when we could, and the children learned several life skills in independence while I was laid up for various sicknesses.  Part of my reason for having this blog is to create a scrapbook of sorts for our homeschooling journey together.  So forgive my huge photo dump of the last couple of months; I know the children and I will enjoy having this record to look back on in a few years!

Nature Time
We have enjoyed quite a bit of nature time this spring.  The kids were given a bird feeder, which has proven to be the single best gift they have ever received.  I can't even begin to count the many hours spent staring at the various birds attracted to our little window feeder.  Lots of other fun nature exploration has happened from playing with caterpillars and ladybugs in our backyard to nature hikes with our Charlotte Mason group.

Family Time
The three children have really gotten close these past few months.  Gabrielle is finally old enough to join in imaginative play which has really opened up the play possibilities for the older kiddos.  They all started sharing a room and are as thick as thieves.

Catholic Stuff
We've had lots of opportunity to delve deep into our faith during the rich liturgical seasons of Easter and Lent.  We have tried hard to incorporate major feast days into our life as well.

Homeschool Co-ops
We have continued enjoying the group activities through our various co-ops.  We have been attending wonderful geography playgroups the last several months.  I teach a science class through the same co-op and have truly enjoyed watching my little group of 5 and 6 year olds develop their scientific understanding.  We've also enjoyed P.E., nature walks, and lots more.  Who said homeschoolers are anti-social?!

Our city offers wonderful, affordable sports classes through our Parks and Rec. department that we try to take advantage of when possible.  Michaela and Rafael took archery earlier this spring together and then Rafael took soccer while Michaela took track.

It's been a fun semester!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Holy Week Printables & Links

I have been busy finding ideas for our family to celebrate Holy Week together.  Here is the plan for our family.

Holy Week Calendar

Here is a blank version if you want to use the template and write in your own plans.
Holy Week Calendar - Blank

I also created a minibook printable version of the Holy Week Calendar Craft from The Domestic Notebook.  I printed these out, folded them according to these directions, and we will draw a related picture in the empty space each day.  I used the readings from Luke as I feel it is the most succinct and small child friendly of the Gospels.

Holy Week Mini Book

Here are a couple of my favorite posts that really did a great job in giving ideas for Holy Week activities!
Two O's + More - Observing Holy Week as a Family
Catholic All Year - The "You Can Still Do This" Guide to All Things Holy Week

Hope you have a prayerful Holy Week!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Week in Review March 9th - Spring Semester Week #8

Hard at work in their uniforms.
In My Life
I am feeling a bit overwhelmed lately.  I recently took on the task of helping set up a Catholic homeschool conference in our town and am not sure that was one of my smartest ideas.  Darn helium hand!  In any case, with singing at two evening Masses this weekend, and a late night meeting for the conference, I am ready to be a hermit this week.  I did get to see some friends Friday evening though, thank goodness.  It is amazing what a little girl time can do for your sanity!
In Our Homeschool
WAY too many crazy weeks in a row, but thankfully we have been able to stay on track with our homeschool schedule thanks to my new dirty little secret.  Uniforms!  I bought a few basic uniforms at our local consignment store a couple of weeks ago - nothing special just khaki bottoms and navy tops (or a few navy dresses in Michaela's case).  We were having some issues with getting distracted and off task, so now the children put on their uniforms as soon as they wake up and wear them until they are done with their schoolwork for the day.  They know that even if I let them have a break, when I say it is time to get back on task, no arguing is allowed.  The uniform says so.  They are thrilled to change into play clothes afterwards, and I love how well it is working so far!

Phonics - Rx For Reading - Initial and Final Consonant Blends
Math - MEP Year 1 - Lessons 47-50
Grammar - 1st Language Lessons - 34-38
Literature - Betsy Tacy and Tib
Rafael Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones - Lessons 60-66
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lessons 24-27
Rafael Literature - Wanda Gag books - Millions of Cats, The Funny Thing, The ABC Bunny
Geography - Italy - Count Your Way Through Italy, C is for Ciao
History - Slavery/Beginning of Civil War - Priscilla and the Hollyhocks, Follow the Drinking Gourd
Science - BFSU - A-4 Science Co-op Class - the particulate matter of nature

Around Town
Tuesday - Science Co-op Class
Wednesday - PBS Station Tour
Thursday - Archery Class
Friday - Catholic Co-op

I'm Grateful For
My amazing husband.  After being gone several nights this week, he encouraged me to "linger" during my Sunday afternoon errands so that I could enjoy some child-free time.  What a Saint!  It is our 8 year anniversary today!

What I'm Working On
I am focusing on getting rid of junk as per my 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge.  It is amazing how much stuff I have  - and I have done this challenge the past several years too!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent Check-in - Week 1

Bag 1: Old magazines and fabric
Bag 2: Paperwork and trash from my car!
Prayer - HelloMornings Challenge & Daily Family Prayer
Going well.  There are mornings where it is difficult, but it is do nice to be able to wake up and go to sleep every day with God in my heart.

1.  No added sugar - hmmm...going ok.  It is extremely difficult at times and it's only been a few days!  I am struggling with using this fasting as a method to bring me closer to God rather than just another diet.  I felt so awful yesterday at my sister's house.  My dad had made breakfast for us and instead of gratefully eating it, I kept fussing over whether the ingredients had added sugar.  Our deacon really hit the nail on the head yesterday in his homily when he reminded us that our fasting shouldn't be so severe that it becomes a penance for others.

2.  40 Bags in 40 Days - It was a bit if a crazy week so I only managed to fill 2 out of 5 trash bags. That is still 2 trash bags of junk gone!

3.  Sacrificing Social Media - struggling with this one too.  Hopefully I can do better this week, because I definitely slipped up quite a bit.

1.  Patience - Serving my family with patience is not very easy while giving up added sugar!  I perhaps did not think that out very well.  Starting the morning with prayer is very helpful, but this ties in to being able to handle my fasting internally and transform it into a form of prayer through giving to my family.

2.  Tithe - I will finally be setting up EFT this week!

How did your first week of Lent go?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Red Beans & Rice

We enjoyed our Mardi Gras on Tuesday, feasting on lots of yummy treats including some not so beautiful looking beignets and king cake.

For dinner we ate Red Beans & Rice, one of our favorite yearly traditions.  This recipe makes a LOT so I was able to freeze quite a bit.

Red Beans and Rice
1lb red beans
7 cups water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped and minced
21oz chicken broth
1 1/2lb sausage, chopped
2 T creole seasoning ( I used cajun)

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 9 hours.  Serve on top of hot cooked rice.

Source: Green with Love

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Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Lent Plans

Who's ready to Lent it up with me!
Image from Catholic All Year
I think I feel this way every Lent and I always have to take a step back and look at what I have committed myself to!  It is important to strike a balance between true sacrifice for yourself, and doing something that negatively affects the rest of your family and causes a "forced sacrifice" to them as well.

For instance, when I first started planning for Lent this year I thought about joining a weekly bible study, attending Eucharistic Adoration once a week, and offering my time to the pro-life movement.  Um.  Yeah.  I think I temporarily forgot that I have kids and a husband, and oh yeah, homeschool too.  While I MIGHT be able to do all that, my family time would suffer and it is just not realistic.  My vocation as a wife, mother, and teacher means that right now, serving my family takes precedence over serving the rest of the community.  And that is ok!  It is a good thing!

I began thinking of the three themes of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.  After a lot of prayer and discernment, I've come up with a list of ways to prepare my heart and soul for Jesus during this Lenten season (that won't negatively impact my family!).

1.  Hello Mornings Challenge - I began this challenge last week.  The goal is to wake up early and to use the time to grow closer to God.  Along with personal prayer, I have been using my Laudate App to read the daily Mass readings, about the Saint of the day, and to pray Lauds.  I will continue this through the Lenten season.  It helps me start the day in the right frame of mind, and ensures that Jesus if foremost in my thoughts and words throughout the day.

2.  Praying with the Children - As a family we will pray a Decade of the Rosary every evening, and the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.

1.  No Added Sugar - I am cutting refined and added sugar from my diet.  I have a true addiction and am truly commiting the sin of gluttony.  I am looking to Jesus' fasting in the desert as my model for abstinence.

2.  40 Bags in 40 Days - I hope to get rid of the material junk cluttering up my house and mind by trashing or donating a bag of excess from my home each day of Lent.  I hope that simplifying my surroundings will give me the clarity and peace to grow closer to God.

3.  Sacrificing Social Media - I am restricting my Facebook and Pinterest time so that I can focus more on my family.

1.  Patience - In serving my family I hope to increase my patience and serve with love instead of anger or irritability.

2.  Tithe - This is so awful, I am ashamed to admit it.  We stopped tithing about two years ago when our church gave the option of Automatic EFT.  We cancelled our envelopes, filled out the EFT paperwork....and forgot to turn it in.  And forgot.  And forgot.  And forgot.  And here it is two years later and we still have not turned it in.  I can't believe we have let it lapse so long, but we are more than ready to start giving our first fruits to God again!

Thanks for reading!  What are your plans for Lent?

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Visit the hosts too!
Monica at Equipping Catholic Families (on Facebook
Chris at Campfires and Cleats (on Facebook)
Tina at Truly Rich Mom (on Facebook
Tracy at A Slice of Smith Life   (on Facebook)

Week in Review March 2nd - Spring Semester Week #7

What a crazy week!  Part of the reason I keep this blog is to track our lessons so that I have a guidepost when planning future lessons for younger kids.  Today I have no time to do all the usual fluff - I just need to get this post written and recorded for my own personal future use!

In Our Homeschool
Phonics - Rx for Reading - Initial Consonant Blends
Math - MEP Year 1 - Lessons 42-46
Grammar - First Language Lessons - Lessons 29-33
Handwriting - cursive t, l, joining letters to form words (it)
Literature - Finished Betsy Tacy
Rafael Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones - Lessons 52-59
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lesson 19-23
Rafael Literature - Angus and the Ducks, Ask Mr. BearThe Magic Porridge PotThe Little Red Hen
Geography - Italy co-op class
History - Slavery/Beginning of Civil War - Henry's Freedom Box, Hope's Gift
Art & Music - Fantasia (don't laugh)
Handicrafts - Michaela got several Lego sets for her birthday and has been happily occupied by them.

Around Town
Monday - Gabrielle 2yo Doctor Appointment

Tuesday - Italy Geography Class

Wednesday - Weekly Homeschool Mass, MOMS Club playgroup, Field Trip to Racing museum

Thursday - Archery Class

Friday - Catholic Co-op

Fasting From Social Media for Lent

Hi, my name is Andrea and I am a Social Media addict. I Facebook the second I wake up and spend my free moments Pinning in between lessons with the kids.

It is not a good habit to have.  I don't want to be the kind of mom constantly looking down at my phone instead of enjoying the precious moments with my children.  At the same time, there are benefits to both Facebook and Pinterest for me.

I know there are a lot of circles that look at Facebook as a bad thing.  They claim it fosters artificial relationships, and in some cases, I'm sure this is true.  In my case, my best friends and I talk on an almost daily basis through Facebook messaging; often lifting my mood and giving me the pep to get through a difficult day.  I also get to keep up with long distance family members who I don't get to see regularly otherwise.  Through the many homeschool groups I participate in on Facebook I receive support, encouragement, and advice.  All this is my way of saying, I feel it would be more of a hindrance than a help to my vocation as a homeschooling mom to stay off of Facebook entirely for Lent.  Pinterest as well, is extremely helpful at times.  I pin items for the parents of the science co-op class I teach as well as items for my own children.  I also store all my most used recipes on Pinterest for easy access.  Pinterest is a useful tool in many ways.

I do beleive, however, that limiting my time on both WOULD be helpful.  It would DEFINITELY be a sacrifice for me to stay off of Facebook for the majority of the day.  When I ran across Sacrificing Social Media on Catholic Mom, I knew I had to participate.

Sacrificing Social Media” is a multimedia campaign that specifically excludes some or all use of social media during Lent and instead encourages the enrichment of personal relationships – the knowledge of self, the gift of charity to neighbors and strangers, and the increased love of our families and God. - Catholic

So my goal for this campaign is to keep myself off Facebook and Pinterest (I am thankfully not on Twitter anymore!!!) for the majority of the day/evening.  My only "allowed" time is:

1) In the morning only AFTER my personal prayer time and BEFORE the kids wake up.

2) In the evening only AFTER the kids have gone to bed and BEFORE 9:30pm.  (I don't want to sabotage my morning prayer time!)  And also only if my husband is otherwise occupied - I don't want to sacrifice our relationship time either!

3) Pinterest for reference only during the day if there is a TRUE need to find something for a lesson or recipe.

As you can see, that is NOT a lot of time.  I am hoping to truly focus on my children and my faith during this time of preparation.  Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lent Lapbook

Yesterday in my daughters K/1st Catholic co-op class I had the kids make lap books for Lent.  I didn't have time to run to the store for tri-fold folders, but the regular file folders worked just fine.
On the front we glued the Lent Countdown calendar from Catholic Icing.

I wanted to teach them about the three tenents of Lent - Praying, Fasting, and Almsgiving.

Prayer & Fasting
Prayer - On the left panel we focused on prayer.  The children glued scaled down versions of the Stations of the Cross and Sorrowful Mysteries (both included in ebooks I purchased from Happy Saints).  The reflections are included in the printouts so they are completely ready to be used.  I also glued a panel (found here) that they could write a special prayer intention on.

Fasting - On the right panel we focused on fasting.  The children colored and glued THIS coloring page illustrating fasting.  We had a discussion about what would be appropriate to fast from.  (i.e. something that you loved or used on a daily basis - broccoli would not be appropriate unless you really really love it!).  Again there is another panel to write what they were planning on fasting from.

Almsgiving - On the back panel we focused on almsgiving.  The children pasted THIS sign from Catholic Icing describing what Giving Alms is.  We talked about the different ways that children could give alms, other than saving money for the poor.  I related it more to stewardship in that they could also give of their time and talent to others (ie helping Mom with chores, using kind words more, etc.).  Again, another panel for them to write what they were planning on doing.

Lent Countdown Calendar
Happy Saints Way of the Cross and Rosary Ebooks
Praying, Fasting, Almsgiving Tags
Fasting Coloring Page
Almsgiving Sign

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Small Success Thursday: Punctuality, Prayer, and Posts

What, me tantrum?
1.  I've been mostly on time to everything this week!  Mostly. There was a small incident in getting to Gabrielle's 2yr checkup on Monday but I'm going to blame that on a massive terrible-two tantrum because she DID.  NOT.  WANT SHOES!  Oh my, I forgot how fun this stage is!

2.  I have started making prayer a priority and have managed to pray a rosary, the liturgy of the hours, and read the daily Mass readings every morning this week. It REALLY makes a difference in my attitude and in how I approach my day. 

3.  I have managed to get a post out every day for 7 Posts in 7 Days. I almost forgot yesterday!

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lego Challenges #4 and #5

We are continuing to enjoy the Lego Challenges from All Things Beautiful.

Design a Creature
Michaela (6) made a giraffe, Rafael (4) made a two-headed monster car robot, and I made a dragon.

Something that Moves
Rafael (4) the two on the left, Michaela (6) the two on the right.
This was an easy one. My kids naturally gravitate towards making cars whenever they get around legos, so of course that is what they thought of for this challenge!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Desert Nature Walk

We have been trying to get out and enjoy the good weather we have had lately. Last week we took a lovely nature walk in the Sandia foothills with our Charlotte Mason group.

Taking a break from the sun in the little bit of shade we could find!

Our path was surrounded by several types of cacti so we took a couple pictures for us to further study at home.

Top I think is Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata).
The bottom is Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia Polyacantha).

Of course, the kids sketched the cacti in their journals. 

I am looking forward to spending more time outside now that the weather is warmer!

Thanks for reading!

What's in My Purse

How's that for a mom bag?
Kendra over at Catholic All Year has a cute little link up running today for those of us participating in 7 Posts in 7 Days.  Check it out if, like me, you want to be nosy and see the insides of other people's purses!

1.  Martha Stewart Planner -  (I did not pay that much!  Yay for sales!). I love this thing.  Seriously love.  It's weekly pages are divided into Morning/Afternoon/Evening and there are two blank blocks which I use for "To-do" and "Meals".  I still maintain an online calendar on my phone that is shared between my husband and I, but I really prefer solid paper to plan and schedule things.

2.  Crayons & Blank Notebook - You never know when you will need to distract an energetic toddler!

3.  Phone Wallet - I bought this at Target a couple of months ago and love it.  It holds my phone and cards and has a little wristlet.  If I need to run into the store quickly I just grab this out of my bag so that I don't have to drag my whole purse in!

4.  Water Bottle - Ever since I had kidney stones last September, I am never without a water bottle in my bag and in my cup holder in my car.  Plus a gallon jug in my car just in case!

5.  Diapers - Realistically I should have wipes in here too, but I ran out last week and have had to bum wipes off my fellow moms since that.  Adding that to my to-do list...

6.  Cough drops - I sing every other week at Mass and since my voice is often affected by seasonal allergies I keep these in my bag for emergencies.

7.  Gum - Nasty breath from quick cups of coffee or snack when I am out and about are treated quickly with a bit of gum.  I sometimes keep those little one time toothbrush pick thingies (sorry, not enough coffee yet today!), but seem to be out of them right now.

8.  Electronic stuff - I usually have my phone charger and earphones with me.  Phone charger because I chronically forget to charge at home (my other charger is near my bed), and earphones for no other reason than so that I know where they are when I am looking for them!

9.  Keys - Storing them immediately IN my purse when I get home has cut down majorly on the frantic - "Where are my keys?!?!?!  We are 10 minutes late, please, please, please, help me find my keys!" episodes.

10.  Chapstick - 2 words.  Desert air.

Missing conspicuously - Pile o' Junk that takes up about 40% of my purses space - misc. receipts and papers that I need to go through and file.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week in Review Feb. 23rd - Spring Semester Week #6

Enjoying the warm weather!

In My Life This Week
For some reason our weather is acting like it is Spring already!  We had a couple of windy days, but for the most part it has been beautiful outside - meaning WE have been outside quite a bit!  I need to go stock up on sunscreen!  We also had a joint birthday party for Michaela and Gabrielle that was so much fun!  I'll post photos soon.

In Our Homeschool
Phonics - Reading Practice  We finished the last of Section 1 last week and will just be reading for the next couple of weeks to practice the rules we learned!
Math - MEP Year 1 - Lessons 38-41
Grammar - First Language Lessons - Lessons 25-28
Handwriting - continuing to learn how to write vowels in cursive
Literature Betsy Tacy
Rafael Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones - Lessons 42-51
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lesson 15-18
Rafael Literature - Katy and the Big Snow, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
Geography - Australia - Are We There Yet?, Over in the Australia
History - Slavery/Beginning of Civil War - Jumping the Broom
Nature Study - Desert Nature Walk
Handicrafts - Lego Challenge # 5

Around Town
Monday - MOMS Club playgroup

Tuesday - Co-op Science Class

Wednesday - Weekly Homeschool Mass, Charlotte Mason Co-op Nature Walk

Thursday - Archery Class

Friday - Catholic Co-op

My Kitchen
This was not the best cooking week for me.  We ended up eating out a few times, so I hope to get back on track this week!

I'm Grateful For
Choir.  I am so blessed that I still get to participate in this ministry with 3 small children.  Which leads to being thankful for my husband who watched all 3 children during Mass while I am singing!

I'm Praying For
A dear friend's mother - who has suffered several strokes over the last couple of years and is barely hanging on.  Praying that the entire family feels peace over these last days, however long they last.

Things I'm Working On
Our back yard.  Still moving dirt.  Blech.

I'm Linking Up
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Judging "That" Family at Church

You know the family.  The one whose kids are being loud, dropping books, and eating noisily.  The ones who you look at and think "I would NEVER let my children behave like that!"  This particular family at my church was a woman with 3 or 4 small children and a baby.

I remember one day after Mass she asked me "How do you do it?  How are your children so well behaved?"

I bit back a harsh "Because I discipline them" and simply shrugged, "oh, just lots and lots of practice!"

In the car I was smugly ranting about her children's misbehavior when my husband interrupted me.  He reminded me of the time I had to leave Mass in tears because Rafael's two-year old tantrums were more than I could handle.  I had forgotten about that.  The guilt in distracting others from Mass and the embarrassment of being unable to control a completely irrational toddler who was acting out with kicks and screams.

After my husbands gentle reminder I started seeing this mother in a new light.  I noticed the way she tried to engage them in Mass by explaining what was going on.  Before I had been so annoyed by the urgent quiet whispers.  Now I was inspired by her patience and obvious devotion.

I started to realize that just teaching my kids to behave during Mass wasn't enough.  Bribery with donuts and threats of punishment, while effective, weren't teaching my children to truly LOVE Jesus and to LOVE the celebration of the Eucharist.  I slowly started to incorporate her methods - quietly explaining certain parts of Mass when the children were getting fidgety or antsy.  Before I would bribe them with donuts or threaten them with punishments.  While effective for a time, blind obedience does not necessarily equate to them building their own spirituality and faith lives.

We developed a friendship of sorts.  We were always both so busy herding children that we never had time for anything other than a few short pleasantries after Mass.  But the exchanges were always genuine.  I didn't know her situation or why she came to Mass on her own.  One day she commented on my kids not having any toys or books and I shared that we had done it in the past and it always ended in the kids dropping books loudly or fighting over toys, or a million other tiny distractions.  The next week she came without her usual bag of distractions and her children behaved beautifully.

Today she came to Mass with her husband.  After Mass she gave me a huge hug and when she pulled away there were tears in her eyes.  Her husband had been deployed and was back for a short furlough to move them all to England that week.  We didn't even know each other, not really.  But God put us in each others lives, however briefly, for a reason.  I inspired her to expect more from her children and she inspired me to take the needle from my eye and instill a love for Jesus in my children.

I know I am not perfect; nobody is.  But we ALL get caught up in thinking we are doing one particular part of life "right" and that others are doing it "wrong".  This kind of thinking keeps us bogged down in inconsequential details when we really should be imitating Jesus and acting with kindness and compassion.  I pray I continue to keep this lesson close to my heart!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Small Success Thursday - Rocks, Books, and Yelling

1.  We are clearing out weeds and rocks to put grass in our back yard.  I managed to convince the children that it would be FUN! to pick up small rocks that our sifter missed.  (Ok, maybe I bribed them with 10 cents a grocery bag full of rocks, but whatevs, cheap manual labor)!

2.  I ordered some books for Lent from Amazon!  2 whole weeks early!  This is big.  My picture is listed when you look up procrastinator in the dictionary.  Seriously, so proud of myself.

3.  I haven't yelled  much all week.  Being angry and impatient are two vices I have ALWAYS struggled to get under control and I am finally starting to see results.  The entire family is so much happier when I can calmly respond to minor frustrations and irritations than when I hold it in, or much worse, snap in anger.  St. Anne pray for me!

What are your small successes this week?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week in Review Feb. 16th - Spring Semester Week #5

In My Life This Week
This was a really fun week, but also VERY busy!  I am clutching a big 'ol cup of coffee as I write this, so glad that last week is over, and still slightly traumatized by it's craziness!  I am hoping this week is a bit calmer!

In Our Homeschool
Phonics - Consonant Clusters (nd), Consonant-Vowel Combos (er, or)
Math - MEP Year 1 - Lessons 35-37
Grammar - First Language Lessons - Lessons 21-24
Handwriting - continuing to learn how to write vowels in cursive
Literature Betsy Tacy
Rafael Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones - Lessons 38-41
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lesson 12-14
Rafael Literature - The Little House (this may be my new favorite children's book!), Maybelle the Cable Car
Geography - Australia - Rainbow Bird
History - Slavery/Beginning of Civil War - The story of Moses from children's bible (to help explain slavery), Light in the Darkness
Nature Study - Weather tracking
Handicrafts - Lego Challenge # 4

Around Town
Monday - MOMS Club playgroup

Tuesday - Dentist appointment!  All 3 kids were cavity free, but we definitely need to start saving for braces.  :(

Wednesday - Weekly Homeschool Mass, Co-op Class on Food (chocolate!)

Thursday - 1st archery class!  They loved it!

Friday - MOMS Club Valentine's Day party, at my house, Catholic Co-op St. Valentine party

My Kitchen
I stuck to simple and easy this week and it worked out well!  Tacos, pork chops, chicken spaghetti al fredo, all easy family favorites that come together quickly!

I'm Grateful For
My sweet precious Gabrielle who turned 2 yesterday.  (2!  When did that happen?)

I'm Praying For
My dear friend who suffered a loss this week, and for all women dealing with the pain of infertility.

Things I'm Working On
Our back yard.  We are putting in grass soon and every night this week will be devoted to moving dirt and sifting rocks out of it.

I'm Linking Up
Thanks for reading!