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!

I'm Linking Up!

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!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Small Success Thursday: Meals, Valentines, and Basic Household Upkeep that Shouldn't be so Difficult

With a full schedule and busy life - every small success adds up!

1.  I made three meals that my ENTIRE family loved this week. This is big. My kids always eat their food but they are vocal about whether it is a favorite or not (as is my husband). Every single person devoured these meals quickly and asked for seconds or thirds. That is a win in my book!  (They were Tacos, Pork Chops w/ Potatoes Au Gratin and Sauteed Apples/Onions, and Chicken Spaghetti Alfredo w/ salad.)
Give me more yummy food!!!!

2.  I remembered to print out some Valentines for the kids to sign yesterday. My goodness it is painful to watch a 4 and 6 year old sign their name so many times. I'm glad we didn't wait until today or there is no way they'd be done in time for our two parties tomorrow!
Sigh.  Yes I know Rafael is writing the "wrong" way.  It is a work in progress folks.

3.  I swept. Don't laugh, this is a big deal. It is my least favorite chore and hasn't happened in an embarrassingly long time. 

What are your small successes for the week?

I'm Linking Up!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Co-op Science: Air is a Substance

After our last lesson on Solids, Liquids, and Gasses, we went a bit more in depth into Gas - specifically air.  It is such an abstract concept for young kids so it is important to explore it a bit more before moving on.  Again, these lessons are for kids K-2nd grade.

Air is a Substance Co-op Class

Air is All Around You by Franklyn Branley

Air Takes Up Space
Stuff a paper towel in the bottom of a class and submerge in water.  Bring back up and the paper towel is dry!  Why?  Because the air in the glass is already taking up space and there is no room for water!  If you repeat the experiment and tilt the glass - the air is able to escape in the form of bubbles, and there is room for water to enter the glass.  Then of course the paper towel is wet!  They all enjoyed repeating this experiment themselves!

Insert balloon into "empty" water bottle.  Try to blow it up and it won't!  Why?  The water bottle is already full of air!  There is no room to add more air to the balloon inside the water bottle!  We then poked a hole in the bottom of the bottle; allowing air to escape.  Then of course there was room to inflate the balloon since as it filled up with air, the air already in the bottle could escape out the hole in the bottom.

Air Has Weight
1 deflated and 1 inflated balloon on my homemade scale proves that the air inside the balloon has weight.  The kids were shocked to see this as they had insisted that the air around them doesn't feel heavy like a solid or liquid does!

Of course, the kids journaled what they observed during the demonstrations.

Thanks for reading!

I'm Linking Up!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week in Review Feb. 8 - Spring Semester Week #4

Enjoying the Snowy Weather!
In My Life This Week
It was a nice lazy week around here.  It snowed a couple of days so we hibernated in our cozy little house and enjoyed relaxing, learning, and playing together.

In Our Homeschool
Phonics - Digraphs (th, wh) and Consonant Clusters (ng, st, nt)
Math - MEP Year 1 - Lessons 31-34
Grammar - First Language Lessons - Lessons 16-20
Handwriting - continuing to learn how to write vowels in cursive
Literature - Betsy Tacy
Rafael Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones - Lessons 26-37
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lesson 11
Rafael Literature - Harry the Dirty Dog, Harry and the Lady Next Door, No Roses for Harry, Harry by the Sea
Geography - Australia - Colors of Australia
History - Expansion - Apples to Oregon, Going West
Science - BFSU A-3: Air is a Substance
Nature Study - January Nature Study Grid from Handbook of Nature Study Blog

Around Town
Monday - We went to our local theater to see a play of Stuart Little.  The kids loved the book so they were pretty excited to see this!

Tuesday - Co-op Science class - BFSU A-3 - Air is a Substance

Wednesday - Weekly Homeschool Mass

Friday - Catholic Co-op Classes

My Kitchen
We made lots of comfort food this cold chilly week!  Try this Baked Potato Soup.  I promise you won't be sorry!

I'm Grateful For
Having a cozy and warm home to keep us out of the cold.

I'm Praying For
The homeless and very poor who have to deal with the harsh weather.

Things I'm Working On
Still working on my Saint Directory from last week.  It is starting to come together!

I'm Linking Up
Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Favorite Food Fridays: Baked Potato Soup

This is one of our absolute favorite recipes (and so so perfect for a cold day!). The recipe is adapted a bit from my good friend Tina's and comes together in 30 minutes if you cook the bacon while baking the potatoes in the microwave.

Baked Potato Soup
2/3c butter
2/3c flour
7c milk
4 large potatoes - baked, peeled, and mashed
4 green onions, sliced
10-12 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1c shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and stir in flour to make a roux. Cook until smooth and bubbly!  Gradually add milk while stirring until incorporated. Add potatoes and onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Add bacon and cheese and stir until heated through and cheese is melted.

Thanks for reading!

I'm linking up!

Favorite Food Fridays

I had a food blog several years ago which I used as a platform to try out all the cool recipes I came across online - back when I had time to experiment!

Ever since I started homeschooling I have learned that simple and easy is better when it comes to cooking!  I'm working on putting together a personal cookbook for myself full of all our family favorites (which tend to be the quick and easy ones anyway). I'll be sharing them here on Fridays as I cook through them to double check the recipes!

I try to use real food as much as possible so you won't find a lot of "cream of" style recipes. That also means I don't shy away from real butter, bacon, etc. in my recipes!  Hope some of these are helpful for other busy homeschool moms!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

January Nature Study

We finally pulled it together these past couple of weeks to fit in some nature study time.  It has been so cold and windy (and snowy!) that it was the last thing on my to-do list.  Although I've been following the Handbook of Nature Study blog for a while now, I just recently discovered their free printable nature study grids in their monthly subscriber newsletters.  I am awful at scheduling actual structured nature study times, so this is the perfect tool for a lazy busy Charlotte Mason mom!  We just glued the grid to the kids' notebooks and used the boxes to guide our outdoor time.

January Nature Study Grid

Winter Tree Silhouette Study
Directions: Look for a tree with no leaves.  Draw the shape of the tree in your nature journal.

Bark Rubbing
Directions: Smell the bark of a tree.  Make a rubbing for your nature journal.

Evergreen Comparison
Directions: Find two evergreen trees.  Observe how they are similar.
(Neither lose their leaves in winter.  One is wider and lighter green with poky branches and needles.  The other is taller and darker green with "bark-y" branches and smooth needles.)

Pine Cone Study
Directions: Can you find a cone?  Describe it with words.
(Pointy, bendy, light brown)

Pine Needle Study
Directions: Observe tree needles.  Measure the length, count the number of needles in a bundle.
(1. Length: 10 1/2cm, Texture: Poky, # of needles: 182
2. Length: 8 1/2cm, Texture: Smooth, # of needles: 85)

Cold Weather Study
Directions: Take a friend on a nature walk.  Can you go out on a cold day and see your breath?

Thanks for reading!

I'm Linking Up!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Sweets

We don't get a lot of snow here in the desert southwest, so when we do, the kids get pretty excited. Not me. Snow beat me up once when I was a teenager in the form of a tobogganing accident and I have never been able to forgive it. Plus it keeps me from wearing flip flops. So yeah, not a fan.

On Tuesday, however, when I woke up to a wintry wonderland, I was uncharacteristically excited!  We have been listening to the Little House on the Prairie series in the car and one thing I have wanted to do since I was a little girl was make snow candy like at the Sugaring Off Dance in Little House in the Big Woods. 

I immediately searched Pinterest for a recipe and set out to make some. A little too much sugar for 7:30 in the morning? Perhaps. But the snow around here can't compete with the desert sun and is usually melted by noon so I wasn't taking any chances. Plus, the kids didn't seem to mind. (Shhh, don't tell anyone but we made Snow Cream too!  Both recipes below).

Snow Candy
1/4c maple syrup
1/8c sugar
Pinch of salt
Flat container of fresh snow

Heat mixed ingredients in a saucepan for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly and pour in a thin layer over the snow.  Let set and enjoy!

Snow Cream
2c Fresh snow
1/4c sugar
1/4c milk
1tsp vanilla

Mix all and enjoy!  Adjust amounts according to your desired taste and/or consistency.

Thanks for reading!

I'm Linking Up!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week in Review Feb. 1 - Spring Semester Week #3

Photos from the super fun Geography group we went to!

In My Life This Week
It was a bit of a busy week around here so our housework slipped a bit.  I am an extreme extrovert and have a natural tendency to want to be always on the go.  I have to be really careful to strike a balance between home and extracurriculars.  We got all our schoolwork finished, but we all tend to do better mentally when we have long periods of unstructured time to relax, play, and learn spontaneously.  And that only happens when we stay home most of the week!

In Our Homeschool
Phonics - Digraphs - sh & ch (and tch)
Math - MEP Yr 1 - Lessons 26-30
Grammar - First Language Lessons # 11-15
Handwriting - moving along in her cursive
Literature - started Betsy Tacy
Rafael Language Arts - LLFLO 1 # 18-25
Rafael Math - MEP Reception - Lessons 9-12
Rafael Literature - Katy No-Pocket, Curious George, Curious George Flies a Kite
Geography - China - Mei Mei Loves the Morning, One Year in Beijing
History - Expansion - Aurora Means Dawn
Science - BFSU - A-2 - Solids, Liquid, and Gases Extension Activities
Nature Study - Winter Tree Silhouette Study
Handiworks - Lego Challenge # 2 & 3

Around Town
Monday - Playdate w/ our MOMS Club

Tuesday - Australia Geography Group - so fun!  We learned about Australian animals, history (and the British using it as jail!), art (we did aboriginal dot painting), snacks (we tried fairy toast and vegemite), and so much more!  This is a new offering through one of our co-ops focusing on a different country each month.  I can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday - monthly MOMS Club Meeting

Thursday - field trip to a local indoor play area

Friday - Catholic Co-op 

My Kitchen
My hubby's birthday was this week so I made his two absolute favorites - Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas and Red Velvet Cake Balls!  Yum!

I'm Grateful For
Healthy kids!  We are finally all healthy and have had our allergy meds kick in a little bit so we aren't sneezing and tearing up all the time!

I'm Praying For
All my friend with sick kiddos right now and another friend who is having surgery this week.

Things I'm Working On
I'm trying to make a master document with liturgical feast days and ideas for celebrating them (pulled from Pinterest mostly!), as well as noting if we have their story in any of our various saint books.  I'm hoping this will help me have things ready ahead of time so I'm not trying to scramble at the last minute to do something for a particular Saint.

I'm Linking Up

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Catholic Co-op: St. Brigid & The Presentation of The Lord

We attend co-op classes once a week for 2 hours at a local Catholic Church. While Rafael's Preschool Class has a dedicated teacher, the teacher in the combined Kinder/1st grade class relies on rotating parent volunteers to help teach.  Each parent does their own thing - usually something having to do with the Liturgical Year, but not always.

This week was my turn to teach and I chose to have the kids learn about St. Brigid, The Presentation of The Lord, and some basic science. 

St. Brigid
An Irish Saint whose family was converted by St. Patrick.  Lots of legend and lore surround her but we know that she established several convents around Ireland.

I skipped about 5 pages since I didn't have the time to deal with questions about the Druids or sorcerers!  The story was still a great read even cutting that part out!

Craft - St. Brigid's Cross
Instructions found at Catholic Icing!

The Presentation of The Lord
The Feast celebrating Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus at the Temple 40 days after his birth, according to Jewish law.  A holy man, Simeon, and prophetess, Anna, proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.  This Feast is also known as Candlemas and many churches bless the candles as a way of honoring Jesus as the Light of the World.


Craft - Personalized Candles
Instructions at Come Together Kids

Science of Light
Since Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus will be the Light of nations, I segued into a simple science lesson about light. We talked about the terms Opaque, Transparent, and Transluscent. The kids did an item sort and worksheet. 
Printables found at TPT

I also sent the students home with the awesome printable found at Many Little Blessings for Catholic family Fun in February. She puts one out every month and they are so awesome!

Of course I have a Pinterest board full of more ideas to celebrate these two special days, plus more February feasts!

Follow Andrea Lucero-Watje's board Liturgical Year: February on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading!