Sunday, September 29, 2013

Feast of the Archangels: a celebration

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Archangels (or "Michaelmas" as some call it) in the Catholic Church. Since it is a Sunday, I kept it simple and had a special Sunday dinner using foods tying in to the tradition and theme of the day.

Flowers - traditionally asters, but we have none growing around us so I had the kids fill a vase with signs of the season. This day to me feels like a transition, the end of summer and into fall officially (more so than the "official" day of fall last Sunday).

Roasted Chicken - Geese are traditionally eaten. Makes sense. Migrating geese. Fall. Why not? We used our own fowl of abundance instead.

Carrots and Potatoes - Carrots for St. Raphael who healed Tobit's eyes (see the Book of Tobit) since carrots are "good for our eyes." Potatoes, just because. They are a natural transition from summer to fall.

Raspberries - the last of the summer berries. 

Deviled Eggs - the kids used "sword" toothpicks to stab the devil out. On this feast day, you must include some sort of devil and sword for the kids. The boys especially are fond.

Wild Berry Spumante - our drink of the night (non-alcoholic). It was a mix of berries and quite yummy. Again, last of the berries, and Irish tradition tells us it is bad luck to eat blackberries after today.

Apple Crisp - seems the perfect ending for an end of summer / beginning of fall kind of meal, doesn't it? It was delicious! Except for Miss Z who loved the crisp but as soon as she tasted an apple went, "Ew" and wouldn't touch another bite.

My husband and I actually found a bottle of "angel food" wine last night, but it was nasty. I used it on the chicken and veggies today, which worked quite well.

I hope you had a beautiful day!

A Prayer to the Archangels

Heavenly King, You have given us archangels
to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth.

Saint Michael is our protector;
I ask him to come to my aid,
fight for all my loved ones,
and protect us from danger.

Saint Gabriel is a messenger of the Good News;
I ask him to help me
clearly hear Your voice,
and to teach me the truth.

Saint Raphael is the healing angel;
I ask him to take my need for healing
and that of everyone I know,
lift it up to Your throne of grace
and deliver back to us the gift of recovery.

Help us, O Lord,
to realize more fully the reality of the archangels
and their desire to serve us.

Holy angels,
pray for us.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall School Fun

Every so often, I like to take time and drop our normal school load for a mini study. It helps shake things up and gives a much needed break from the same old, same old. Plus, we're right about the point to take a little time off so it was a refreshing week.

I had a few more plans for this week, but it turned out well in the end.

I used Simple Schooling's Autumn Fun Book (only $0.99) as my base. It includes a little scientific/historical blurb about autumn as well as leaves changing color and a comparison of leaves to needles. In addition, it has fun activities like mazes, copywork, poetry, coloring pages, and phonics/ABC work.

All week, we looked for the early signs of fall: cool nights, cool breezes, changing colors, nuts and seeds, busy squirrels, migrating birds...

Discovering catkins for the first time (I loved playing with these as a kid):

And of course, plenty of play time outside (and even school outside) - the week was too beautiful to be stuck indoors!

Squirrels are a big hit around here. They are so entertaining to watch. They play, they run, they scold (each other and our cat), they jump, they scramble around, gather nuts, bury nuts, and drop nuts on our heads. 

This little squirrel is busy eating buckeyes Critter collected and piled beneath this butternut tree:

With all the squirrel love, we brought it into our school work and created a piece of artwork. Skipper took this picture so it's a little blurry but we took a piece of watercolor paper, colored with fall water based markers, and then took a damp napkin to spread the colors. Once dry, we colored and glued on a squirrel template, along with a leaf tail from leaves we collected. Some chose to do their own thing. (This came from Pinterest but the original link doesn't work or I would give credit.)

We explored why leaves change color using this simple experiment. The kids picked one tree and collected leaves. We tore the leaves into the smallest pieces we could, put them in a small jelly jar, covered with rubbing alcohol and used a spoon to mix and kind of mash it up as best we could. We then set the jar in an inch of hot water. Over the next 45 minutes we stirred the mixture every so often and replaced the water as it cooled. In the end, the alcohol turned a nice green color. 

I tore a strip of paper napkin and placed one end in the alcohol. Slowly, over the next hour or so, the colors crept up the napkin and separated out so we could see the tree's true color. 

The kids really liked this. It would have been neat to compare different trees but we ran out of time and alcohol.

Of course, what kind of fall study would this be without apples in September? We created a painting of an apple tree's life cycle, made gluten-free apple pie scented playdough**, and went on an apple orchard farm tour - apple picking included - with our local homeschool group.

**I used this gluten-free mix, and had to add a lot more cornstarch than they called for. To make it apple pie scented, I added your apple pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice. I tried to make it red but it ended up a dark pink. I already used a bunch of red food coloring (30 drops or so!). The kids are having a ball with it. Store-bought playdough contains wheat and it makes such a mess that we had to ban it from the house due to cross-contamination issues so in the rare instances I make or buy gluten-free dough, the kids are in heaven.

Other Resources We Used:
  • Outdoor Nature Journal - included a journal/drawing page, leaf rubbing, bark rubbing.
  • Fall Leaf printable chart (used with their outdoor nature journal).
  • Acorn Even/Odd math sheet
  • 5 Little Acorn poem (Miss Bear then found all the A/a's with a do-a-dot marker.)
  • Apples mad lib for the boys - note that this is not the best grammar-wise so I kind of had to fudge (says the mom who obviously ignores all grammar rules as she writes -- hey, I like to write as I talk.)
  • We also created fall tree art using a printed template and fall color do-a-dot markers.
  • Book: Johnny Appleseed by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet -- a wonderful little poem about the legend. (Since I actually did not plan this week very well - thank you Pinterest for helping - I didn't check books out from the library for the fall theme. We just read nonseasonal books like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland.)
  • God Made the Seasons! story about two brother squirrels, Scrunchy and Squeaky, and a lesson on not to worry, God will provide. I've had this story for years and even the bigger kids love to hear it every fall. I have two paper squirrels I printed, colored, and laminated that act out the story as I read it. The "puppets" definitely spice up story time.
  • Apple snacks. I sneaked in a lesson on the Blessed Trinity (three parts of an apple - skin, inside, and seeds) as well as the 5 wounds of Christ (cut the apple sidewise). Pretty neat and simple to do.
Fall activities are just so fun. I plan on having another fall study in October - this time a little spookier and full of pumpkins.

Happy fall! Busy week ahead with appointments and a week of feast days!

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Week in Review (v.2)

~~ 1 ~~

Last Sunday morning after Mass, the kids and I had a little birthday celebration for Mary. We prayed 10 Hail Mary's while blowing a candle out for each, followed by a round of "Happy Birthday!" and Udi's gluten-free blueberry muffins.

~~ 2 ~~

Afterwards, I took a day trip - a mom-vacation if you will - to visit a friend and learn how to sew a simple skirt. For perspective, I have not sewed since I was in junior high! My friend sewed Miss Z's skirt (on the right) and I sewed Miss Bear's (on the left). I had adjustments to make once home, but the girls absolutely love them, and overall, it really was not too difficult. (Miss Bear's skirt ended up less flared because we had issues with my machine not wanting to do the longer stitch for gathering, so I had to pin and gather by hand.)

~~ 3 ~~

I don't know how it can feel both extremely busy and yet so bleh at the same time. Although, with kids, a momma's job is never done. Plus, schooling, and cooking, and, and, and... I sure am glad cooler weather is on its way. While it's not been extremely hot here, the mosquitoes have kept us prisoner indoors. I still don't know if it was mosquitoes or not, but for a few days there Skipper was covered in hives (he's had them on and off all summer but this was bad). Poor kid, he's had it rough the last few weeks: salmonella poisoning, a cold, hives, and a bad migraine (yep, he's inherited the gene).

~~ 4 ~~

If we ever need a bigger vehicle, I think something like this one would work. What do you think?

~~ 5 ~~

Pure and total, overheated, exhaustion. I especially love Critter's posture.

~~ 6 ~~

Miss Z is 19 months now (really??!!), and she is a ham. She's a cuddler, an extremely picky eater, never wants to sleep and goes until she crashes, is chattering away with the few words she knows (grandpa, mama, meow, stop, unh, num-num, up) and screams for everything else. In a nutshell, she's bright and hilarious.

~~ 7 ~~

Last, but not least, we put in an offer on a house and it was accepted. Assuming all goes smoothly, by November, we will own this home: