Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinner with the Archangels

Today was such a beautiful day. We enjoyed the day and finished up some outside chores, celebrated the Feast of the Archangels, and wrapped the night up with family and a bonfire. Now, it is time for bed, but not before I share our little dinner with the archangels. I have to say, this was a lot of fun, and oh so delicious!

In the picture above, I colored the three known archangels (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael) and cut each out, along with the corresponding prayer, before gluing them on a scroll-shaped cardstock. I then taped the cardstock together on the inside so it would stand up as decoration. I thought it turned out cute, and it can easily be broken down to store in my September folder until next year. I used the images from Happy Saints and the prayers you will find below.

During the summer, Catholic Icing hosted a contest to win one of these 8-foot coloring pages from Illuminated Ink, and I actually won!!! I never win at these things, but this time I had. I choose St. Michael the Archangel knowing the boys would like it (Critter in particular is very drawn to St. Michael). I had not pulled it out yet so today was the perfect day to do so. As suggested, I found a clear vinyl shower curtain and let the kids use dry erase crayons. The curtain was not big enough, but the kids only did a little anyway. We were so busy outside! Still, I will keep the curtain around for some free art come winter when we are itching to get out.

Now, onto dinner. We did a little relating and talking, but the table quickly grew silent as we enjoyed our food. My kids are big eaters, but even I was surprised at how much they ate today!

First up, 9-Layer Salad, or as I called it, 9 Choirs of Angels Salad (also known as your average kitchen sink salad). Put in some lettuce and whatever you have hanging out in your fridge to make up a salad. In our case: lettuce, spinach, olives (black and green, yum!), carrots, tomatoes, green onions, parsley, sweet pickles, and dressing.

Then along came some BBQ chicken angel wings. The others dipped theirs in a side of ranch dressing, but I thought the wing were perfect. I used my own sauce of ketchup, honey, and some various spices.

To symbolize St. Michael, I made up some deviled eggs for the others (you know, to "stab" the devil out of). And oh boy, these looked so tempting as I made them, but I have come a long way in feeling better that it is easy to resist. Everyone has their recipe, but I simple choose the mayo of choice (my husband's choice) and whip it well with the yolks, refill the eggs, and sprinkle with paprika.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Divine Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

To symbolize St. Raphael, I roasted some carrots in olive oil and almond flour, which gives it a little bit of an au gratin feel. I did not keep a close eye so just ignore the charred bits of carrots. Surprisingly, my boys loved the carrots and even asked for seconds! Carrots are good for eye health and in the book of Tobit, St. Raphael healed Tobias of his blindness.

St. Raphael, of the glorious seven who stand before the throne of Him who lives and reigns. Angel of health, the Lord has filled your hand with balm from heaven to soothe or cure our pains. Heal or cure the victim of disease, and guide our steps when doubtful of our ways.

Since St. Gabriel is known for his messages, I used our own "delivery" food item - pizzadillas (corn tortillas topped with pizza sauce and cheese and baked for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees). 

St. Gabriel, you angel of humanity, you trusting messenger of God, open our ears also for the quiet warnings and calls of the most loving Heart of Jesus! Always be in front of our eyes, we beg you, that we understand the Word of God correctly, that we follow, obey and fulfill that which God wants of us! And assist us in staying awake for when the Lord comes to get us so that He does not find us asleep!

To finish off this scrumptious meal, I made a devil's food cake, which the kids "knifed the devil out of" using butter knives turned swords with the help of a little tin foil. The kids absolutely loved this and we even had a mini life lesson on how to properly cut a cake. For the cake, I used this Red Velvet Cake recipe minus the red food coloring, and the Dark Chocolate Frosting from Cybele Pascal's Book, "Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook."

Here is one last peek at the little bit of coloring onto the vinyl curtain. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have the entire picture completed. It looked really neat flapping away on my clothesline.

Well, I had hoped to get this post up before tomorrow, but technically it is past midnight so I hope you had a beautiful day yesterday! Enjoy your last day of September. I will be back soon as next week is just chock full of fun feast days. October must be my absolute favorite month! (And hopefully everything reads well as I am quite tired and ready to go to bed! :))

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Take Back Halloween: a spiritual trick-or-treat

Growing up, Halloween was a hit or miss thing for my family. I remember fondly some school class activities, back when bobbing for apples was standard, with no thought to germs. During a spell of a few years, I also enjoyed trick or treating and dressing up. As I grew up, it was just another American holiday, and one that I honestly did not care too much for, though my sweet tooth certainly enjoyed the candy! And definitely, for this Protestant girl, was there never a religious parallel to Halloween. Ever.

Once I joined the Catholic Church as an adult, it really still was not until I had kids (which was soon after!) that we had to decide what we wanted to do with Halloween. I began to think about what Halloween means to me, what it means to all of us. Like most Americans, we let the kids dress up (that's fun!) and go trick-or-treating, which I think is overrated and would prefer to have a group of family and friends and do a fall harvest party. Last year we participated in some All Saints parties which were a definite hit and helped the kids understand a little bit that this day was not just candy and costumes, that there is a meaning behind it. Still, I feel the desire to bring the focus of Halloween back even more to what it should be about - death, the reality of evil, and the souls in Purgatory.

Ooh, that sounds like a fun topic, right? But it is true. During those three days - All Hallow's Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day - we especially remember the dead and pray for them. As a child I feared eternal death, and really, still grapple with it, though now it is more fear of the physical pain of death, but this topic is one that I want to explore with my children. So that they do not fear eternal death. So that they know how to pray for the dead. So that they know they can pray for the dead and even help the dead be free of purgatory. So they know that we all suffer death, but we can also rejoice in death, knowing that one day we can be with Our Lord in heaven if we do (or attempt to do) His will on earth.

So, while the kids will dress up and go trick-or-treating, I am bringing back the focus to remembering and praying for our dead. Want to join me? I received this idea through a local homeschool group last fall, but filed it away for future use. You can make it as elaborate or simple as you desire.


On the evening of the last day of September (or whenever you can fit it in!), make a list of deceased people you know for each day in October (ask friends and family for names if you need them). You can put the names in a notebook, on scraps of paper and into a pretty autumn bowl, or hang it up like a countdown. I think we will hang up a ghost "people" chain vertically and take one off each day as we pray or perhaps mark the ghost in some way so we can leave them up as decoration. This post shows how to make a paper ghost garland (I will post pictures of our garland when it is up.).

For those who can attend Holy Communion, consider striving for a partial or plenary indulgence each day to help further these souls along in Purgatory:
  • Attend confession once per week in October, avoiding even venial sin.
  • Attend daily Mass and receive Our Lord.
  • Pray for the Pope's intentions (one Our Father and one Hail Mary).
For my family, since none of my children are of communion age, I will keep the prayers at home, go to Confession once a week for myself, and those days I attend Mass, I will strive for the indulgence.

Just imagine if hundreds (thousands!) of families did this! What a wonderful All Souls Day we would make - the treat of helping souls along into Heaven.

If you have names of deceased you would like us to pray for, please let me know, and we will add the names to our chain!

Finally, I found this history on Halloween quite interesting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Prayer Request

Just a little one for my Miss Z. She seems to handling this e. coli infection well, but she is still not out of the woods for developing complications. The doctor is specifically concerned about a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a fancy phrase for the destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure. Apparently, it is a well-known complication of e. coli infection, especially of a particular strain, and especially when it comes to little ones and older folks. Miss Z's culture was shipped to the state capital for further testing to see exactly what strain we are dealing with, but we have had no word on the results as of today. Meanwhile, Miss Z just needs lots of liquids - thank God for breastfeeding - and a close eye to make sure she is urinating well and not bleeding or bruising easily.

Thank you for your prayer!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gluten Free + and a Quick Update

It was a crazy week. Somehow I felt like we were in the middle of winter suffering from cabin fever. I had hoped to do two weeks worth of school before stopping for a short fall break, but I think we may have to step that break up to next week.

I sure love fall and am looking forward to doing some fun fall activities with the kids. We may be on break but that does not mean we cannot have some fun with the season!

Last week was a round of doctor visits. Skipper at the dermatologist (nothing new). Then Miss Z who had a check-up and some tests, and even our dog had to go to the vet for a second round of vaccines and getting some medicine.

Miss Z has had a rough tummy week. Thankfully she has been her smiley, sweet self despite everything. After seeing some blood in her stool, the doctor ran some tests. It turns out she has an e. coli infection! Crazy stuff! No one else is sick and you get it from eating contaminated foods, drinking contaminated water, or being around contaminated farm animals. Any table food or water Miss Z eats or drink, we do too. So the most logical explanation is her baby food, which is scary! The doctor said it is a form that can make kids very sick but Miss Z seems to be holding her own. It is a wait and see approach as antibiotics have been found to make the infection worse. Prayers would be appreciated that it clears up quickly and without complications.

Finally, I added a gluten-free resource page to my blog. I have no desire to create a gluten-free blog. There are so many great ones out there. However, I have had many people come to me looking for gluten-free (or dairy-free) recipes, advice, questions. So far, I have written it out, time and again. Now, I have a place to point them to - it gives them the needed information and for me, it saves time. I am still adding my favorite recipes, and the page will continue to change as I find and add more. I simply wanted to share with those who may find it useful.

Take care in your week ahead and God bless!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crazy and Happy

I won't lie. Today was a tough one, a real "not sure one of the kids - or mom - is going to make it through alive." (Don't worry, I counted four sleeping children in their beds before sneaking off to put up this post.) It was just one of those days. And yet, among the madness, good moments. Happy moments. Very happy moments.

A welcome and much needed hug.

A growing baby. Miss Z is not quite 9 months but she had her checkup today. 24 lbs, 11 oz and 29 inches. Miss Z is having some solid food issues. Not exactly sure. It's been little things since we started but there was some blood in her stool the other day so she is having a few tests done. Aside from that, healthy as can be. She is quite vocal, can finally sit without support, doesn't crawl but rolls or pushes herself backward, loves to stand supported, and loves to be in the middle of things. She plays with her tongue, goes crazy over electronics, and is happily exploring her three new teeth.

A sweet smile and "I love you" from Miss Bear who is SO HAPPY to be doing "school" with me. I am using Little Saints Preschool, but loosely, changing up the games and activities to better suit my time and needs. So far, it's a hit and I love the bits of time I spend just with Miss Bear.

I think I may have to change Miss Bear's name to Miss Sparkles. You should see her new, pink, sparkly shoes!

I love Skipper's excitement over his CCD class. Tonight they had a sacrament kickoff party and so I brought in some Gluten-Free cupcakes. I am so glad he is enjoying his class.

And look, a new member joined my family today! My brother and his wife had their second baby today, another boy. So sweet!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just a Little Sunday Thanks

I am thankful that for the last month I come away from Mass not feeling ill for the rest of the day. I am actually enjoying my Sundays now with my family instead of longing for night.


I am thankful for reminders of how well my kids behave. This helps to curb my perfectionist tendencies when it comes to their behavior.


I am thankful for nourishing food to fill our bellies.


I am thankful for little babies and girls growing up too fast, and for little boys men acting so mature.


I am thankful for sweet faces singing the Alleluia.


I am thankful for God's presence in my life, for His goodness and mercy.


God bless your day!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Bouquet for Our Mother of Sorrows

Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was such a beautiful day out, a day that makes it difficult to think on sorrow and pain. Yet, because of the pain and sorrow of Our Mother, and of her sacrifice, Jesus died for us. He triumphed over sin so that we can be with Him in heaven when we die. In the pain, there is joy! And so it is for us, in our daily lives, if we have the eyes to see it and the ears to hear it.

The kids and I took advantage of the nice day and went for a nature walk (my husband was gone to a baseball game). I turned it into a scavenger hunt of sorts as we talked about the sorrows of Mary. In the past, I have seen ideas for creating a garden for Our Lady of Sorrows. Not having the time or the material at this time, I brought out a small vase and we searched for plants that reminded us of each of Mary's sorrows.

The first sorrow of Mary: the prophecy of Simeon. We found some spear-like foliage to remind us of this sorrow (in his prophecy, Simeon refers to a sword piercing Mary's heart).

The second sorrow of Mary: the flight into Egypt. Flight reminded us of flying... of birds... of feathers, which the feathery fronds of asparagus reminded us of.

The third sorrow of Mary: the loss of Jesus in the temple. We decided to use dandelions. For two reasons. One is that the dandelion has been referred to as Mary's bitter sorrow. The other is that we thought that when a dandelion turns to seed, the seeds fly about and are difficult to see/find. Plus, as you can see in the picture, the dandelion seems to be tucked away, hidden.

The fourth sorrow of Mary: Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary. For this, we found some ivy, symbolizing "where God has walked."

The fifth sorrow of Mary: Jesus dies on the cross. We thought of making a cross to add into the bouquet but then found a blue, almost tear-drop drooping weed of a flower that reminded us of Mary's tears - tears she was sure to have shed as she watched Jesus suffer.

The sixth sorrow of Mary: Mary receives the dead body of Jesus. Skipper actually found something for this - a yellowing, dead leaf with brown spots like tears. I thought it fitting.

The seventh sorrow of Mary: Jesus is laid in the tomb. We plucked a branch from our new mum plant, as mums are generally associated with death and are believed to have been laid in Christ's tomb.

I really liked this simple activity. If you would like to research more, I found these links helpful, but as you can see, we used what we had on hand as well:
Prayer to the Mother of Sorrows

Ah, my Blessed Mother, it is not one sword only which I have pierced thy heart, but I have done so with as many as are the sins which I have committed. Ah, Lady, it is not to thee, who art innocent, that sufferings are due, but to me, who am guilty of so many crimes. But since thou hast been pleased to suffer so much for me, ah, by thy merits, obtain me great sorrow for my sins, and patience under the trials of this life, which will always be light in comparison with my demerits; for I have often deserved Hell. Amen.

The Triumph of the Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and praise You,Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The kids and I did a simple, little art project that even toddlers can do. We tore up paper to make a mosaic cross sitting on top of the world (to symbolize the triumph of Jesus over the sin of the world through the cross). I love that we can do simple things like this to celebrate our faith.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prayer for Our Children

Last night Skipper had his second religious education class through our parish. All kids in first through eighth grade are supposed to enroll if they do not attend the parish school. I am sure, because of homeschool, I could have worked something out with Father, but I chose to enroll Skipper, wishing him to meet other kids of the parish, especially in our small town where "social" activities are a little farther between than where we previously lived.

The kids gathered for Mass last night as part of their class, and parents and family were invited to join. Critter and Miss Bear joined me - though Miss Bear fell asleep promptly after the opening hymn. We sat behind the eighth graders, the ones who will be confirmed come Easter. And I have to admit, I was discouraged at what I saw. Many of them had no idea how to act in church, even when to sit, stand, or kneel. But they sure were enthusiastic to open the hymnal - not to sing, just to make noise!

I could have let myself continue to think negatively - I do have that tendency and one I fight daily. Instead, I forced my thoughts to prayer - for these kids, their teachers, their parents. I encourage you to say a little prayer for our children round the world, that they may find true love in God and a burning passion for the Holy Spirit. Pray for their educators - parents and of the parish and of those adults close to them. I pray most for a love and reverence of God and a simple faith, something that far surpasses whether a child knows his catechism or not (though I sure do want them to know!).

For teachers, parents, and any who educate our young children, we pray:

*Teach us, O my Lord Jesus,
instruct us that we may learn from Thee
what we ought to teach concerning Thee.

For the children themselves, under God's care, we pray:

**Father of all mercies
We ask that you would bless
the youngest and littlest of learners,
the most helpless and powerless of persons,
with Your infinite and loving mercy,
granting them the strength to learn, concentrate,
and act in love towards
their teachers and fellow students.
We also ask that You would watch over them,
at home and at school
and give them proper direction
so that they may learn
of Your wonderful virtues.
We ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

*This prayer is a prayer for wisdom and understanding by Anglican Archbishop William Laud. I made it plural. The original prayer was for an individual.

**This is a prayer for school children by David Bennett.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hail Maria Bambina

Hail Maria Bambina
a poem in honor of the Child Mary

Hail Maria Bambina, the Father's precious little one,
God's heavenly grace beams from your face as the moon reflects the sun,
Angels 'round your cradle sing lullabies while you sleep,
Help me to call Him "Abba," His commandments to keep.

Hail Maria Bambina, the Holy Spirit's humble bride,
Your "fiat," one day to give the Angel kneeling at your side,
As I along the path of life, like a lost sheep roam,
Place your tiny hand in mine and gently lead me home.

Hail Maria Bambina, the Virgin Mother of the Son,
Now in your cradle softly sleeping, Your earthly life begun,
One day faithfully beneath His cross to stand in sorrow deep,
Help me to embrace my cross and to my station keep.

O Most Holy Triune God, I love to ponder thee,
As I sing to Baby Mary, your blessed little one,
At once Your daughter, most pure spouse
And Mother of Your Son.

words by Frederick Speckels

For more prayers and information on the history and devotion to Maria Bambina, check out this simple but informative website: Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Success of love is in the loving...

"I am not exactly sure what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?'" ~ Bl. Mother Theresa

Today we honor the memory of Blessed Mother Theresa. What a beautiful person to look to for inspiration on how to live our lives. And what a great example to share with the kids. They loved the quotes I shared (really, there are so many good ones!). We spent a little time talking about how we can serve others, right here, right now, and for some, that can start with a smile.

"Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love." ~ Bl. Mother Theresa

The kids enjoyed this little artsy craft from Family at the Foot of the Cross:

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." ~ Bl. Mother Theresa

We also enjoyed a simple lunch of our version of Indian food, which is also perfect because we are studying Ancient India at the moment. :) Chapati (flatbread) with a hummus spread, and veggies. 

Our Gluten-Free Chapati
makes 8 pieces
  • 2 c. gluten-free flour (I used a mix: 1 c. sorghum, 1/2 c. tapioca starch, 1/4 c. buckwheat, 1/4 c. quinoa flour) + more for rolling out dough
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. xathan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. warm water
Get the griddle or pan nice and hot. I used our pancake griddle at 400 degrees. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. When ready to begin, mix in the water. I used my hands but a spoon is fine. Divide into eight balls. The dough will be sticky so use a little extra flour to help with that.

Roll one ball out on the counter with some extra flour. Flatten it with your hand until it is a thin pancake or thick tortilla. Cook on griddle, one side, for a few minutes, flip, and cook another few minutes. Serve immediately. 

These can be made and stored in the fridge. I was able to reheat in the microwave - it is a little more fragile and not quite as good but still decent. A quick reheat in the pan would probably be better.

Last year, we watched the movie, Mother Theresa, and really enjoyed it. Tonight is Skipper's first CCD class so I will spread the movie over a few days or possibly save it for Friday night movie night. Still, we will watch it. It's that good.

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. 
~ Prayer of Mother Theresa

Monday, September 3, 2012

2012-13 School Plans

It's that time again. Time to gather school supplies and head into a new school year. As a homeschooling mom, I have my own particular task list to accomplish to begin a new year. Sure, I need to take stock and purchase new pencils, paper, etc. Thankfully, I can bypass the new shoes, new clothes, and new bookbag. Instead, I can put my husband's hard-earned dollar toward new curriculum - books, books, more books (ok, some non-book items too, but mostly books - and I love books!).

In truth, we are nearly two months into a new school year already. Last year I started school up in the summer because I knew having a baby would take a good chunk out of the middle of our year. At the end of the year, I realized how much I liked schooling year-round, and being able to take more time off during the year, especially during prime fall and spring days.

So, what are we up to? Skipper's now in second grade. Boy, is he growing up so fast! I must say I was more than a little nervous as this year his workload really increases. I knew I would have to be more organized, and more on top of school, than I ever have been, and that certainly left me panicking a bit, especially as I've felt far from being organized and on top of everything for quite awhile now. Not to mention I still had to work with the younger kids too! However, with some time under my belt, I feel much more confident on accomplishing our goals for the year.

Critter is in kindergarten and so far has been an eager pupil. It appears reading may be his least favorite subject, but I think that will change once he "gets it."

Miss Bear is only 3 but really, really wants to do school. I have some preschool workbooks that I let her "work" out of, as well as a few educational toys and blank paper as she loves to draw. I would like to make more individual time with her but it is proving to be difficult.

Now, to the details...

A peek into our school room / dining room. We do our seat work here as well as eat.

A close-up of our main school wall. The bulletin boards display art work, the bins hold art supplies, science paraphenalia, paper, pencils, markers, educational toys, etc. The shelves hold resources and books we use. The filing cabinet holds folders for each child as well as ideas (for the calendar month, liturgical season, and ABC themes). On top of the filing cabinet is a crate that holds the items we use every day. This makes it easy to cart to another room or outside. Here it is up close:

Our core academic work:

Reading... I have found Hooked on Phonics to work quite well. Skipper is doing the second grade bundle. Though in reality he can read at a higher level, I find that this helps him with reading aloud and smoothing out his reading. Critter is cementing in letter sounds as he is not quite ready for the jump of combining sounds, but once he is, we can continue with HOP kindergarten level.

Writing... I have tried multiple methods, but have always come back to Handwriting Without Tears. Critter works out of kindergarten and Skipper, second grade printing. I also have Skipper do extra practice in a journal (3 sentences a day) plus any extra work that crops up with science or history.

Spelling... I have yet to find a way to do this with Skipper that I like. For now, I make a list using groups of words from his reading and have him write them out, fill in the letters, spell out loud, etc. Once a week, I also have him alphabetize his words. If it is still a struggle - for me or him, I have looked at All About Spelling.

Language... Skipper is using the Language of God series from Catholic Heritage Curricula. It has been a gentle introduction for him.

Math... Skipper had been using - and eventually struggling with MCP math - and so at the advice of his assessor, I ordered Math-U-See, starting from the very beginning and doing remedial work. So far it seems to be working. There have been no tears and while most of it is easy for him, it filled in a few blanks with no problem so I am hopeful it continues to work well. For Critter, I started with MCP math level K until Skipper was out of Math-U-See primer. He will be transitioning soon. It will be interesting to see if he likes it or not. I thought this hands-on Rightstart math would be ideal for him, but I really do not want to swing two types of math. Or I am considering doing it for the bulk of the year and heading into Math-U-See Primer later, and speeding through it. I will wait and see how he enjoys Math-U-See first.

In another corner of the room, there is the perfect space for a monthly calendar. Most of the supplies I picked up at a local teacher supply store, but for the liturgical add-ons, I used a few printables from here (an awesome collection to make a saint calendar each month) as well as googling images for our own personal feast days we celebrate.

Other subjects:

Religion... Really, this is core, and done daily. Each child has a prayer "journal." I start this young. With my help, we cut and glue prayers as they learn them. So Miss Bear has the Sign of the Cross and is learning The Hail Mary now (not just the pieces, but all of it). As a prayer is learned, a new one is glued in to learn. We say the prayers collectively as a group during school with each leading their prayer to the point that they know it. They seem to like it.

The kids also do some book work in addition to living the faith. Critter uses Image of God: Who am I? and Miss Bear jumps in on that too. Skipper uses Faith and Life: grade 2 as well as various other sources (like The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism). He is also creating a First Holy Communion notebook, inspired by this one, and I hope to share it with you.

Science... We are continuing to use Apologia Science after our success with Astronomy last year. This year, the boys chose to study Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. We read each lesson in bits, doing experiments and completing notebook/workbook pages I created along the way. There is a coordinating lapbook but I had my fill of lapbooks last year!

History... This is my first official year with history, and I am still not sure how to go about it. Our goal for the year is ancient history, from creation through the birth of Christ. We are looking at a few ancient cultures that have impacted today's world, but overall, I am concentrating on ancient history from a Biblical perspective, speaking to the kids using salvation history. We are reading a bit from a textbook, reading even more from living history books, doing a project or two, creating a wall timeline, and Skipper has notebook work. He decided to create a page from each culture, talking about the people - what they did, wore, ate, etc. We are using a variety of sources, but my main go-to resources are RC History volume 1 (great book list) and the textbook, Founders of Freedom. Included in this is map work and geography. The boys are still working on finishing up Beginning Geography. It is a nice filler between history topics.

Art... This year I want to concentrate on the process of making art, not necessarily the finished product. I have not put this into practice so well yet. I have a few ideas though. One is for art appreciation using prints of great Catholic arts to go with each month (to display, talk about, feel). And, with their science study, we are creating a wall mural filled with creatures they create after we study them. Right now, I have a cute (and large) big blue whale staring at me.

Music... Skipper is starting the piano. I am teaching him for now. If he shows true interest in continuing, I will look into a teacher for him since I taught myself and am, I'm sure, full of bad habits. To include everyone, we will also learn some songs throughout the year, primarily using songs from Making Music, Praying Twice.

Karate... Skipper really wants to do this. We actually have a local place. My husband is supposed to get this going, hopefully participating as well. If able, Critter will join.

Well, that's it in a nutshell. It looks like a lot on paper, doesn't it? We fit it in around our normal day. We have plenty of life lessons around here!

Dear Lord, be with us this day, in all that we think, and do, and say. Amen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Filling the Void

A reflection of mine after reading on the "First P: Prayer" from the book A Mother's Rule of LIfe: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot.

Inside all of us there is a void, waiting to be filled, but filled by what? Or should I say by whom? Too many go their entire lives, attempting to fill this void - with hobbies, money, with food, through relationships, and even worse, through sex, drugs, and more. But what we really need is God.

Even so, even with God, I find that I am constantly filling the void, that I have to, again and again, allow God to fill the void. Each day is a choice. Do I fill it with what think I should be doing, or do I pray and allow God's will to alter my day?

"Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you." ~St. Augustine~

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Morning Reflection

As I sit down to write this post I find this past week has flown by in such a blur. Nearly every night I have fallen in bed exhausted, and that's if I had not already fallen asleep nursing Miss Z! And all because of a puppy named Lucy. She is go, go, go! I love our morning walks but not so much her love of tug o' war. Outside of her three times daily psycho moments, she is fitting in well and hopefully with time will realize that we will not abandon her.

In school news, we are trekking along. We just wrapped up our whale study and are moving along to sea cows. In history, we are heading back in time to ancient India and Africa before hitting the Egyptians and Jewish history. I am still getting used to the increase in Skipper's workload. And yes, I still want to put up our school plans - a goal for this weekend.

Speaking of Skipper, he has his very first CCD class this coming week. I am not sure he is too excited about that, but he is excited to have First Communion this year.

And speaking of communion, my first transition last Sunday went smoothly as at present I can only receive under the species of wine. There are low gluten hosts deemed safe but until my blood work is normal I have to wait. I am ok with that as it may turn out that Skipper and I receive the host at the same time.

Talking about Gluten-Free, last night I made a super easy and yummy tortilla for dinner to use with mashed sweet potatoes and black bean filling. Both boys (and I) liked them very much and Skipper even said, "And they don't even crack or break." Much better than corn tortillas. Since I don't have a tortilla press mine were more like a thin flatbread, but I liked it that way!

Lately (well, pre-pup anyway) I have been re-reading Holly Pierlot's book, A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul. I find it to be so inspirational in examining my personal life, and highly recommend it to women struggling to maintain prayer life and spiritual growth, households, families, marriages. I like to read it slowly and muse along the way, making changes slowly in each of the five P's. I will be sharing one of my reflections on the first P: Prayer shortly.

Well, that is about all on this muggy, cloudy morning. For those in the U.S., enjoy your holiday weekend! God bless.

"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." ~St. Augustine~