Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back from Christmas Break!

Merry Christmas!!!

I decided to take some time off from blogging since it was really important for me to spend time with my family during this season. It was a wonderful time! Now I feel ready to get back to our routines and I'll be posting little by little.

For now, I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gaudete Sunday.

The kids were so excited to see the pink candle being lit today. They didn't really understand at first why one candle was different, but when we talked about the joyous coming of our Lord they got so happy!! "It's almost Christmas!"

As our Advent traditions continue, on Saturday we all went to pick out our fresh tree. The kids were practically jumping out of their seats as we pulled into the parking lot. Unlike other years when we have actually cut down our own tree, this year we visited a local place and purchased a pre-cut tree. Mostly because our regular tree farm didn't have trees ready to cut this year and because DH was on-call so we couldn't travel far. We still went back and forth between what tree to get and we finally made a family decision on the perfect tree!!

Christian was happy running among the trees.

The kids playing Hide and Seek together.


Christian was mesmerized by the lights making up this Mickey Mouse.



The family posing by Frosty.

After we got home, we put our tree up in the living room and the kids were a little bummed that we didn't get to decorate it right away. We had so many plans for Sunday, that the kids thought that we would never get to put the lights on the Christmas tree. Of course, the next day the kids were excited to go to Mass. Marco wanted to see what vestments our priest was going to be wearing (he has become increasingly interested in this lately), and Anthony and Isabella just wanted to go to their class. We also had plans to decorate cookies at a friend's house after Mass, so there was plenty to do.

We finally got home and the most exciting part was unwrapping all the ornaments from their boxes. It was fun to tell stories that went along with the ornaments. "That ornament was given to me at the hospital when your sister was born." "That ornament is from when Mommy and Daddy first got married." "You made this ornament when you were only 2 years old." It was like a little history of our family!! We actually were so wrapped up in telling stories that we forgot to take pictures of us decorating the tree! But here is the final product!!

Our tree!!!

Sometime this week we will be putting up our second tree upstairs. This is one that belongs to the kids and they get to make the decorations and put it how they like! It's great fun and the artificial tree has been with us for almost 10 years!



Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Great Day!

Yay for today! Well, maybe I shouldn't be so excited as we still haven't done all that I want to accomplish. But I am feeling so good about getting stuff done! I even did an extra load of laundry! The weather has been dreary and rainy...so much that the whole house woke up today at around 9am!! This meant a late start to our schedule; but it all worked out well and we were able to enjoy doing our morning lessons in our pajamas.

Of course, my day also went well because DH had the morning off again today. It was fun to have the whole family together for breakfast. It was also a great opportunity to catch a little Christmas family tradition on camera. As you all may remember from a previous post, we usually do something special for each Sunday of Advent. Last Sunday, we all worked on a gingerbread house. Since then, my DH has been encouraging the kids to take a piece of candy from the house every morning. This is hilarious to them because they think that their dad is letting them do something naughty and they try and hide it from me! What they don't know is that I take a little piece of candy every now and then too!!

Well, today started the gingerbread house demolition. So now every morning until Christmas, they get to take a bite from the actual gingerbread house. My DH thinks this is the neatest way to start the day, and I can't help but to love him even more for being such a fun guy. So if you think that these little gingerbread creations have to go into the trash after being on display, you can always let your kids munch away. Of course, I can't promise that the actual taste of it will be good...but from these pictures, it's obvious that kids might eat just about anything!!!


Isabella taking a big bite.



Anthony munching on the roof.


Marco getting in on the action.


Our gingerbread house looking a bit bitten!!!


As for our school lessons today, they went well!!! We started the day with BFIAR. I can't say enough how much Anthony is loving this program. The books are all becoming fast favorites with him. We continued working on some lapbook activities from Homeschool Share and I found some other cute add-ins as well. Since Ask Mr. Bear's characters are all found in a farm, it has been easy to tie it in with farm related crafts.

The kids loved the "Walk Like the Animals" activity from the lapbook. They were all galloping, trotting, skipping, and hopping all over the place! But the real favorite was making paper bag puppets. I found some cute print-outs from ABCTeach.com and I printed one out for each animal in the book. The kids colored, cut, and glued them together. Tomorrow they will be putting on a puppet theatre production of the book. It was really fun to see them going through the book together and getting the lines straight for each animal!

The kids showing off some of their puppets.


Anthony with his goat puppet.

Among some of the other preschool activities we did were singing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" using our puppets, as well as completing a couple of farm animal worksheets also from ABCTeach.com. Most of the materials that I get from ABCTeach.com are for members only, but they still have so much available for free. It's worth a look!

As for Marco and Isabella, they had lots of fun working with Anthony during his own school time. They are a great help and they always encourage him to color in the lines, to cut straight, etc. Many times if Anthony gets frustrated with something, they are the first to offer help. They both are really a blessing to me!!! I can't even complain about their own school work today, as they both got their work done without any complaints. It really was a great day!

Friday's are usually a slow school day, since I have our babysitter come out in the morning to watch the kids while I do errands. But I still have a full afternoon planned out for the kids. I'm hoping is goes as well as today.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Track for Today!

Today was the most productive day I have had in the last couple of weeks in terms of school. Marco is finally feeling better and his throat isn't sore or scratchy anymore, which means that he was in such a better mood. I also decided to ditch much of the housework today and concentrate on doing more one on one, since DH had the morning off and was able to help with the kids.

Marco is finally back to reading out loud. Phonics and reading has been the hardest subject for me teach to him because he doesn't enjoy it. He is constantly telling me that he doesn't like reading. I know this is a problem because he expects results quickly, and learning to read just doesn't work that way. But I am seeing improvements and I have to pray daily about finding ways to motivate him. As for math, it seems to be clicking for him nicely. It really seems like Marco falls into whole "boys good at math and science" thing.

Isabella is loving tagging along with Anthony's Before Five in a Row curriculum. She is still preschool, so it appeals to her little girl side. In math and reading, she is doing well and never complains about work. I think having her do some kindergarten work appeals to her big girl side. It's fun to be able to do different levels with her.

Anthony has become such a fan of BFIAR!!! We are reading Ask Mr. Bear and it has quickly become a favorite with him. He is constantly asking me to read the book and he likes carrying it around and "reading" it himself. Yesterday we worked on a really cute farm animal book and some worksheets focusing on identifying animals. Today, we started on the lapbook and he is loving all the little activities that go along with it. It is so fun, cute, and inspiring to hear him say "Mami, I'm ready to do school work!!"


Isabella and Anthony show off their work from yesterday.



Marco getting in on the picture.

I'm glad to finally feel somewhat back on schedule. Today will be a late night, however, as I don't want to worry about having to laundry during the day. Our work is never done!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Weekly Planning.

I have been working on lesson plans for the week. My first order of business was getting activities for Anthony's preschool. We are working on Ask Mr. Bear this week and we'll be doing animal classification along with a neat little lapbook from Homeschool Share. Below you can see the Animal Classification board I made for Anthony. I got this idea from someone on the FIAR Forums.

Anthony's Animal Classification Board.

On top of the above activities, I printed out some great worksheets with an animal theme from Evan Moor. They include identifying mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. I thought this was a great add-in as it goes along with our animal classification. Homeschool Share also has a great link to an Animal Farm Book from KizClub.

With all those activities for the week, you'd think I'd be set! But I have to be ready for the days when Anthony finishes early and starts asking to do more school work. So I included activities from his preschool box into my planning. Here is what I have scheduled for additional activities for the week:

*Make a cereal necklace
*Animal Lacing Cards
*Plastic farm animals
*Writing on a cookie sheet with whipped cream
*Playing with wood shapes (from Handwriting Without Tears)

Of course, it is usually a given that Isabella will join in on the manual activities...maybe even Marco! If you want more ideas, I have a whole list of them here. I usually keep this list handy.

As for Marco, he is still suffering with a bad sore throat. This means that reading out loud is going to be kept to a minimum. We will continue with our Saxon Math lessons and will be working on the handwriting portion of SSRW. I'm trying to get more science in, so I'm excited about moving it up from our evening schedule. As for everything else, I'll just be jumping back in where we left off.

Isabella is also moving along with Saxon 1. She is currently working on her doubles and it's fun to see her and Marco quiz each other with math facts. I am taking math very slowly since she is still preschool age. Finishing by May is not as big of a concern for me in this subject. As for SSRW; Isabella will be moving into the 1st grade section of the workbooks soon. I'm thinking of taking a break in between the kindergarten and 1st grade, however, and just have her focus on fluency and sight word recognition.

And that's that for the week! I'll post our progress....hopefully!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Working Through It!

I'm still in catch-up mode for not only school, but housework as well. I am very proud to say, however, that the bedroom level of our home is completely picked up and organized thanks to a very helpful husband (and by helpful I mean that he kept the kids out of my way!)! My friend recently told me that she feels like she has 40 hours worth of work and only 10 hours to do it all. I feel exactly the same way! But I think that prayer and patience is getting me through this time. Prayer because I need His help and the patience to know that eventually things will be 100% normal soon.

But I still haven't slacked off completely. The kids and I are celebrating Advent daily with our Jesse Tree and the lighting of our Advent wreath. I'm also trying to do one Christmas craft daily, whether it be making an ornament or coloring a Christmas scene. It keeps the kids busy and they have fun all at the same time.


Marco and Anthony working hard.



The kids working on their stained glass creations.



Celebrating the second week of Advent by making a gingerbread house.

Another factor throwing me off a bit, is that Marco has some serious laryngitis (although you can't tell from the pictures!). His voice is out and he has been having a really hard time swallowing and talking. Poor little guy! Christian also gave me a sleepless night last night with a fever. Fortunately, he woke up feeling better and has been acting normal all day. I'm praying that the rest of the kids stay healthy!

Tonight I have to work on my lesson plans for the rest of the week. I didn't get around to it this weekend and by the productivity level of today, it is obvious that I can't start a day all willy-nilly and without a plan! I'm actually going to do 2 weeks worth of lesson plans for Anthony, whose preschool work is easier, but seems to take longer for me to prepare and plan for.

So there. Homeschoolers have bad days and even bad weeks. The important thing is not to be paralyzed by our situations...we must keep on moving! The only thing that makes me feel like I'm keeping my head above water is the fact that we are completing our basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic. I hope I have a better entry next time I write! I really hate it when my plans fall through and become obvious inefficiencies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm a Slacker!

If it seems that I'm slacking...it might only be partly true. I've been so busy catching up this week that my blogging has taken the back burner. It was tough getting lessons done while we had relatives visiting. It's always so hard to keep on schedule with what you want to accomplish when you have people over.

But now that our schedules are back to normal, we have had to try to jump right back into things. This first week back to normal is proving difficult mostly because of all the housework I have to accomplish on top of finishing lessons. It's amazing how much work piles up if you even miss a day! Luckily, I'll have help in keeping the kids busy today while I run errands and try to minimize the laundry load. I'll also have some help with the housework next week, so I'm starting to feel a little less stressed about the whole housekeeping thing.

In the mean time, here is a recap of what we accomplished this week. I really went for the independent activities this week to help give me extra time with laundry.

Marco
*Phonics readers
*Spelling list using Unifix Letter Cubes
*Math centers to practice math facts
*Handwriting
*SOTW CD

Isabella
*Phonics readers
*Handwriting
*Literacy centers
*Math centers
*SOTW CD

Anthony
*LeapFrog videos
*Reading with Marco
*Art with Do-A-Dot-Art
*Helping me clean
*Lauri puzzles
*Lacing beads

Of course, we really need to get our house in order by Monday so that we can get back to normal lessons. This means that grocery shopping has to be done, school room needs to be clean, laundry needs to be put away, and errands need to be taken care of. This way I'll have minimal distractions and I can focus once again on lessons.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Preparing for Advent.

Today I spent the day preparing for Advent. But so different from previous years, where I was always rushing to have the house decorated, this year I began getting ready by preparing our favorite Advent traditions. It's exciting that every year we are able to participate more and more as a family. The kids get older and their understanding is deeper than what I anticipate...and it's a glorious thing!

Since our first year of marriage, DH and I have celebrated Advent with the Jesse Tree. I had never heard of it before and a good friend of mine introduced me to this beautiful tradition. Ever since then, it has become one of my favorite things to do this time of year. It's not only a way to bring your family together every day in Holy Scripture, but it makes waiting for our Savior's birth something to celebrate every day. In all, I really like that there is a biblical basis to this tradition and that it focuses on God's story from the beginning of time.

Every year we have made paper ornaments for our Jesse tree. Sometimes using a Jesse Tree kit, other times printing out the symbols and coloring them in. The one thing that has stayed the same is our tree. A miniature Christmas tree that I purchased 10 years ago at our local Hobby Lobby. Some day, maybe we'll graduate to making real ornaments that can be reused again and again. We might even go so far as to purchase a bigger tree. But for now, I'm happy with our miniature, table-top tree. Looking at that tree sitting on our table always reminds me about the real meaning of Advent. It's not the presents under the tree, it's not the decorations...it's the patient waiting for the birth of Jesus. It's the celebration that begins on December 25th and lasts until the Epiphany.

There are many great resources to help anyone get the tradition of the Jesse Tree started in their own home. I love being able to print out the symbols and having the kids color them and place them on the tree each evening after dinner. If you have young kids, this is perfect! If you kids are older, you can create your own ornaments or purchase kits that they can put together. Either way, here are some sites that you might find helpful in getting you started.

Jesse Tree from the Domestic Church
Jesse Tree Kit from Illuminated Ink
The Glorious Coming E-book: A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration (This is what we are using this year!)
Jesse Tree, with printable ornaments
Jesse Tree coloring pages

Another more common tradition is that of the Advent Wreath. This year, I'm planning on changing things up a bit and having the whole family work on making an Advent wreath together. This will probably take place tomorrow on the first Sunday of Advent. I'm sure the kids will be happy about it and it will be a perfect way to introduce the season.

In all, I'm glad that I've decided to concentrate more on the traditions that make our Advent special and bring us together as a family. This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I'll keep you updated with our family crafts!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we celebrate with family and friends. I pray that everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving Day!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Making a List. Centers.

Today I've been thinking on expanding on our independent learning centers. We currently have centers hanging on a wall and they are much like file folder games. Today I began researching different centers I can create for not only Marco and Isabella, but for Anthony and Christian too. Homeschooling with littles is always a challenge and I'm always trying to come up with inventive ways to keep the little ones busy while I do one on one with the older kids.

A very neat blog I came across has some great ideas for creating Toddler Activity Bags. Melissa at Chasing Cheerios has some simple, yet inventive ideas for keeping little ones entertained. Be sure to check out her blog! I plan on recreating some of her toddler bags as well as using the ideas as a starting point for creating some of my own.

Claire over at Kiddley also has some great ideas for activity bags. She breaks down ideas by age group, starting as young as infants!! A wonderful resource! And if you haven't checked out the book "Preschool Activities in a Bag," you really should. I purchased the e-book version of this last year and just took it out this past weekend. Once you make the activity bags, you can file them away in a cabinet, box, or crate. I'll be changing it up a bit and probably start using shoe boxes. Which leads me to shoe box centers.

I want to change my centers up a bit from the current file folders and bags. I think adding shoe boxes will allow me to create centers with manipulatives, art supplies, etc. I have some great ideas so far, but I also found these great looking books at Amazon.com. Shoe Box Learning Centers from Scholastic looks promising and fun. I'll also be hunting the Teacherfilebox.com website for more shoe box center ideas.

So my mission for the next week will be to create a list of materials for my new shoe box centers and activity bags. I'm not sure how many, if any, of the centers I'll be able to get done; but I completely plan on trying to add 5-10 new activities by January.

Until then, I'll probably be visiting our local Kaplan warehouse in order to scope out any deals on items I can make an activity bag or shoe box out of. Once I finish any centers, I'll post about them!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Winter/Spring Art Lessons.

This upcoming January will be the start of our new co-op. I am excited to have begun this new group and the women forming our group are awesome! We are in the process of ironing out the details, but most of the planning is set.

I will be teaching Catholic arts & crafts and as well as rotating with the preschool class. I am especially excited to be doing my arts and crafts class with the K-2 class. It is a perfect size class with not too many kids, so I won't feel so overwhelmed trying to help kids in their work. Although I am not very artsy on my own, I did get to do some research and gather some projects through books of my own and the Internet.

Following is my weekly schedule. I have put links to projects if they are available. Many of my projects will all be altered to go along with our Catholic faith and perhaps the Liturgical Calendar. But you can use the links as a starting point for your own ideas.

WeekActivity
January 5
Holy Water Fonts to celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord

January 12

Prayer Pockets

January 19

Stitchery using saintly images

January 26

Shoebox Altar

February 2

Beeswax Candles in celebration of the Presentation of Our Lord and Candlemas

February 9
Heart Stitched Cards and Card Making for Saint Valentines Day

February 16

Woven Felt Wall Hanging

February 23

Carnival Scratch Masks and Lenten Alms Jar for Mardi Gras and Preparation for Ash Wednesday and Lent

March 2

Scapular and Sacrifice Beads

March 9
Watercolor and Wax Resist

March 16
Retablos. Stations of the Cross

March 23
Activity TBD

March 30
Rainsticks

April 6
No Class

April 13
Tissue Paper Collage Cross

April 20
Acrylic Mosaics

April 27
Painting with Tempera

May 4
Rosary Box with Rosary

May 11
Marian Lanterns to celebrate May Crowning



I hope that this list inspires someone to go out and get crafty! I'll be sure to post pictures once my class begins and once the kids start crafting. One thing is for sure...my kids are so excited to begin!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back on Track.

We did get to finish our Harvest lapbook this week. Although the kids did not decorate the front or back of the lapbook, they had a great time doing the activities and helping with the pasting and taping of the lapbook. Here is a picture.

The Harvest lapbooks look plain, but the activities were fun!!

We also have started reading our Thanksgiving books and they are all a big hit around here. Anthony is loving his BFIAR selection of The Little Rabbit. Color matching is always fun for him and he is getting faster at naming colors. This week we did color matching using Lauri's Sorting Set. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take him to the pet store today to look at the rabbits, but maybe over the weekend we can take a quick trip. As for tomorrow, Anthony will be finishing the week with animal classification.

Anthony loves Lauri's Sorting Set.

Since I did have some catching up to do with Marco, Isabella enjoyed some extra time with our centers today. She worked on two reading centers: word families and matching words. Sometimes I forget that I have these really cool centers to use for crunch time. I'm glad that I didn't forget today!


Matching letters and words.


Working with word families.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not Even the Best Plans.

This week has been a whirlwind of activities and appointments. Even my lovely made out weekly lesson plans could not withstand this week. Doctor appointments, picture appointments, co-op, swimming, faith formation, dentist visits, and a mom with an allergic reaction...all the things that threw my plans for a loop! The bad side of all these things is that we have fallen behind on history, math, religion, and our Thanksgiving lapbook unit. The good side is that we homeschool and we don't have to worry about meeting anyone else's deadlines but our own!

So tomorrow we are starting our Thanksgiving lapbook...a few days later than I wanted, but still well ahead of Thanksgiving. We also get to double up on history and just stick to the reading, maps, and coloring. History projects can always get down over weekends and holidays...they are just that fun! As for math and religion? No problem! Adding a couple lessons to the week will not make a huge difference. A little adjusting here and there and we are back on track! The down side is that we won't be able to do such light work on Thanksgiving week. The up side is that I will have family babysitters on hand to watch the little kids while I get some good one on one with the older kids!

So it all works out!! As for my kids...they had a great week nonetheless. We finally had their holiday pictures taken, as well as the individuals that I had been meaning to get done these past months. With that, I leave you with my awesome bunch of kids!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Planning for the Week.

We are still working on putting together our Harvest Festival lapbook. The components are all done, it's just a matter of gluing and taping them into the actual folder. We'll probably tackle the project first thing in the morning, take a snap shot, and post the finish product here!

This week we'll continue as scheduled with our Turkey Time lapbook. We'll also be hopping back on with BFIAR with Anthony (scroll down to see activities we have planned). Since we have family coming in next week for Thanksgiving, we are going to try to do as much of our lessons as possible. Even with the best intentions, we always slack off when we have visitors.

Turkey Time can be purchased through Hands of a Child. We will be using the following books to accompany the Thanksgiving theme activities, as well as taking us into next week with fun reading.


Thanksgiving Is...by Louise Borden. This is a Hello Reader Level 3 book and a simple way to introduce what Thanksgiving is. It's a great book to get your child to practice new words, but it isn't complicated so that they get frustrated.


Thanksgiving is Here, by Diane Goode.

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell. I love that this book is about an immigrant family and how they celebrate Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving Day at Our House, by Nancy White Carlstrom. This is a book with Thanksgiving poems and cute illustrations. Isabella loves poetry and this book was perfect for her! Although Marco and Anthony aren't the best at reciting, they enjoy the illustrations and making up stories to go along with them.



Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks, by Margaret Sutherland. Such a simple way to introduce the concept of being thankful and for all the things we can be thankful for. Great for little kids.

Round the Turkey, A Grateful Thanksgiving, by Leslie Kimmelman. This is a really sweet book set in rhyme, which the kids love. As a family gathers, they all take turns saying what they are grateful for.


Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation, by Diane Stanley. This is like a children's history book for Thanksgiving. It can be a little long for the younger crowd, but Marco really enjoyed it.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie. We'll be revisiting this funny book. It's been a favorite read aloud around here this past week.


Praise and Thanksgiving Coloring Book. This Saint Joseph coloring book is a perfect reminder that in the center of all gatherings and holidays, is our Lord.


Anthony will be joining us for some of the Turkey Time lapbook activities, but he'll also keep busy with his own BFIAR work. We'll be reading The Little Rabbit this week. Our activities will include our animal classification, color matching, and visiting the pet shop down the road to look at the rabbits. Although it doesn't seem like much, I don't want to overwhelm him with things to do since there will be plenty of activities to do with the older kids. If anything, I might print out some rabbit coloring pages for him.





Friday, November 14, 2008

Planning for a New Semester!

Starting in January, we'll be starting our new co-op! It has been a journey for me in creating something new and I am excited to have on board a group of wonderful moms and their families. I have learned so much from our current Catholic co-op and am so thankful that they were there for me when I started my kindergarten homeschool year. Lucky for me, they are a supportive group of women and they are rooting for us as we start a whole new group!

The new semester will include some really great classes including Catholic arts & crafts, Latin, science, and geography. If you want to check out the classes and such, just go to www.holyfamilyhomeschoolenrichment.com.

My mission for the next week or so, is to plan my class (Catholic arts & crafts) and come up with a supply list. I have many ideas and I'm brimming with excitement! I will make sure to post my finished schedule here once I am done with it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Struggling with Holiness.

I was baking bread and having the kids sit at the kitchen table doing some school work when I couldn't help myself any longer. The thoughts racing through my head are so many and I have been thinking lately about what God wants me to do. I have begun opening my eyes lately to Him and the more open they become, the harder things seem to get. It's like being blind is so much easier. I wonder if many have this same struggle.

I don't think that what I do on a daily basis is any holier than what any other mom does. But at the same time I keep thinking that God calls all of us to be saints. We may fall short, but it we try we can make it closer than we ever thought. As the day to day of my life unfolds, I keep finding opportunities to become closer to Him. But I also find more and more obstacles, temptations, and ways to get farther away from Him. Is this common? I don't think I noticed this as much before.

Perhaps it is noticing the wrong that we do and how hard it is to change it. Or how much of a fight we actually have to put in order win the most simple battles taking place in our secular society. Prayer is so simple, but sometimes I find myself "squeezing it in" at the end of the day. And as I grapple with these thoughts, I feel like I keep getting more and more signs that my spiritual life should be the most important thing. I should emulate God in every way that I can, even through the most simple acts. Having children and being part of this family should only motivate me more as I am constantly setting examples for them. But being close to God, as easy as it is...can seem so hard to do. Maybe I'm thinking too hard.

The struggle with holiness is something I never in a million dreams would think I would encounter in my life. I am so far from holiness and have so far to travel to even touch the brink of it. But the thought that I can one day be what God wants me to be, is exciting and far better than anything else!

Busy Times!

This week has been a blur so far! With swimming, co-op, faith formation, and co-op planning...I've been too busy to even let myself rest. But I suppose that's just how life is for most moms.

We are currently finishing up our Harvest Festival lapbook. It has been a fun unit and I think the kids enjoyed all the activities. As for Anthony, we kind of took a week off of BFIAR mostly because he was also doing the lapbook activities along with the other kids. But I'm starting to plan for next week.

In the pipeline for next week is Turkey Time lapbook for the older kids and The Little Rabbit for Anthony. I'm even starting to plan what I'll be doing next year for him. I'm deciding between re-doing BFIAR, moving onto FIAR, or switching over to Catholic Mosaic. It's the kind of thing I like to prepare for since I like to have all the books ready and they can take a little bit of time to find!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today I decided to take a little break from the usual routine and take the kids to the library. They absolutely love going and I enjoy it too. After hunting for books, playing on the computer, and visiting all through the children's section, we always get a snack in the vending area. It's like a huge treat for the kids and we do it every time we go.

Once we got home and had lunch, we got started on our Harvest Time lapbook activities. We took a little walk outside to catch falling leaves, made leaf people, and read lots of books. It was a good afternoon. Here are some books that I think go really well if you are doing an autumn or harvest unit.Exploring Nature Around the Year: Fall, by David Webster. This book has activities, projects, and science facts all having to do with the Autumn season. Offers great ideas if you are running low on stuff to do.

Our Seasons, by Grace Lin and Ranida T. McKneally. A great book that explores all the seasons and explains simple questions like "why do the leaves change color?" The explanations can get a little complicated for young readers, so you might need to simplify it a bit. We only read the autumn section.


I Know and Old lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson. My kids thought this book was hilarious! It follows the same format as There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, but with a Thanksgiving theme.


Let's Look at Fall, by Sarah L. Schuette. Super simple book with great pictures. Perfect for little kids. This was a great opening book for our Autumn unit and although it is simple and short, we spent a lot of time looking and commenting on the pictures.


We Gather Together, by Wendy Pfeffer. A great book that's all about fall. Great illustrations and shows the fall season around the world and through different points in time. Marco really enjoyed it, but it was a little too complicated for Anthony and Isabella.


Creating leaf people was a big hit today. After the kids finished their creations, I laminated their leaf people. I'm hoping the leaves will maintain their color.


Marco and Isabella have fun making leaf people.

Anthony refused to be in the picture, but you can see his work on the left side on the orange paper.

Library days always lead to hours of looking through books and reading together. So much fun!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Finishing the Week.

It is Saturday and the end of our week. I'm glad that we were able to accomplish most of what I had planned. For today, we'll be tying up some loose ends and I'll start planning for the new week.

Marco: We didn't get to fully review all the history chapters that I wanted to cover. I'm planning on continuing our review informally through today and Monday. As for everything else, we were right on task.

Isabella: Although doing phonics lessons are usually a snap, this week Isabella was struggling with her work. Mostly due to the fact that Anthony was busy with activities she wanted to join in on, but we muddled through the lessons and I'm beginning to think that I'll have to switch the time in which we do phonics with her.

Anthony: Although he loves doing all our BFIAR activities, he isn't enjoying My Blue Boat as much as I hoped he would; he continually asks to read Yellow Ball instead. He has learned quite a bit this week, however. Learning about whales and dolphins has been fun and he even got to enjoy making this cute motion ocean craft. I'll have to take a picture and post it. One thing we plan on doing today, is our animal classification. I created a fun board for Anthony to put his animal classification cards into. By the way, you can print out your own cards through Homeschool Share. I decided to make my own, however, and they are pretty much the same as the ones from Homeschool Share.



One thing we did get to start a little early, was our lapbook unit Harvest Festival. I introduced the unit with talking about Thanksgiving and the autumn season. Discovery Streaming has some wonderful video segments and we watched one explaining the characteristics of autumn and another telling a story about Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. The kids really enjoyed it.

There is still so much left to do today! We usually don't school too much on Saturdays, but since we had a very laid back Friday, I think we'll be ok if we tackle some projects today!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Award!

Juli from "Brooks Academy Catholic Homeschool" gave me this lovely I Love Your Blog award. Wow!! Thanks for reading my blog! I am absolutely flattered!!

1. Where is your cell phone? In my van.

2. Where is dh? Busy working at the hospital.

3. What is your hair color? Dark brown with caramel highlights.

4. Your mother? In Dallas.

5. Your father? In Dallas.

6. Your favorite thing? Spending time with the kids and dh.

7. Your dream last night? That I woke up with a 101 temperature. But I'm not sick.

8. Your dream/goal? Happiness and being closer to God.

9. The room you are in? School room.

10. Your hobby? Homemaking, reading, anything nature.

11. Your fear? Losing a loved one.

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Living in a forever house with lots of trees and with lots of babies!

13. Where were you last night? Teaching 2nd grade Faith Formation.

14. What you're not? I'm not good at sewing, although I would love to be.

15. One of your wish list items? A Canon SLR camera.

16. Where you grew up? Texas and Illinois.

17. The last thing you did? Change a diaper.

18. What are you wearing? V-neck shirt, blue pants.

19. Your TV? Plays Heroes on Mondays and PBS.

20. Your pet? Mr. Patches, our rescue cat. And I'm not a cat person!

21. Your computer? HP.

22. Your mood? Optimistic, energetic.

23. Missing someone? My family in Dallas...mom, dad, sisters, niece, nephew.

24. Your car? Mini-van.

25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes.

26. Favorite store? Costco for stuff, Gap for boys, Hanna Anderson for girls, Belk for dh, and Macy's for me.

27. Your summer? Wonderful!

28. Love someone? Yes!! So many people!

29. Your favorite color? Blues.

30. When is the last time you laughed? Last night with dh.

31. Last time you cried? I don't remember. Maybe a month ago? I try to stay happy.

Now for my three favorite blogs:
Ten Kids and a Dog
My Homeschool 101
Starry Sky Ranch

And in turn,
For the recipients of this award...here's the deal:
*Display your award
*Link back to the person who gave you the award
*Nominate at least 3 other blogs
*Put links to those blogs on yours
*Leave a message on the blogs you nominated
*Enjoy your award!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Planning November.

November is like a stepping stone to Christmas. It's the time of year that everyone starts to rev their engines and get ready for Advent. There are a million things to do before, during, and after the Christmas season. For now, I decided to focus on this month. The beautiful autumn leaves, the changes in weather, and Thanksgiving. November really is a wonderful month and one of my favorites!

I took out some fun activities that I wasn't able to do last year. Turkey Time by Hands of a Child is a fun lapbooking activity that I've been waiting to do for the past couple of months. It is meant to be finished over the course of a week and provides some fun activities and crafts for not only Isabella and Marco, but for Anthony as well. Another lapbook project I have by Hands of a Child is Harvest Festival. It is along the same lines as Turkey Time, but has more of an autumn theme to it. I'll be starting on Harvest Festival next week and doing Turkey Time the week after that (which is the week before Thanksgiving).

Not only that, but I have taken out all our Thanksgiving and autumn books for the kids to read and look through. I also have printed out some fun November-themed crafts and activities for the kids to do on their down time. It seems like we have very little down time lately, but doing crafty projects is something that is always welcome around here. I really want to make use of some of my fun educational memberships. Here are my favorites that have turned out to be well worth the small fee.

ABC Teach : This website has loads of free worksheets. With a paid subscription, however, you get so much more!
Teacher File Box: If you have ever used any Evan-Moor books or materials, you will love this website!! Absolutely my favorite and has paid for itself time and time again!
Discovery Education Streaming : This is on the pricier side, but so worth it! Great videos to go with everything and every grade!! You can even sign up for a 30 day free trial!

I'm planning on posting pictures of what we accomplish as we go.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today has been another busy day. Besides heading out the door with four kids to go vote, we also had school to do, swimming lessons to go to, and work to do around the house. But at least everything got done! The kids were especially excited about our trip to the voting booth. They weren't sure who they would vote for if they could. I tried to explain the voting process, what the president does, and why it's important to vote.

School lessons were short and quick. Since the kids are in swimming at different times, we have to be especially efficient on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means we usually start earlier in the morning and finish later in the day. It actually has been working out quite well and the kids know that there is something to look forward to.

Today, we continued with our planned lessons. Marco and Isabella are on schedule and Anthony is also doing well with My Blue Boat. He misses reading Yellow Ball and is constantly asking for me to take it out for him. I do think that the transition from one book to the other is going well, as both books deal with something going out into the ocean.

For our BFIAR activities, we managed to squeeze in a couple of crafts today. Anthony worked on color matching and some whale activities. I printed out a whale worksheet from Evan-Moor and then the kids all did a collage of a whale and a sailboat. It was funny to see Marco try to zoom through his math worksheets so that he could join in on the coloring, cutting, and pasting.


Marco trying to finish math so that he can do a craft.


Anthony working on a visual discrimintation worksheet.


Isabella working on a whale craft.


Marco and Anthony show off their whale and sailboat art.

Monday, November 3, 2008

All Souls Day.

The Feast of All Souls is celebrated on the 2nd day of November. I write this today mainly because of my failure to celebrate the day yesterday (2 sick kids with fevers means we stay home!). Growing up, Dia de los Muertos was something that I remember many families celebrating. There were phone calls with "feliz dia de los muertos," special foods, and trips to the cemetary to visit departed loved ones. In the past, I have celebrated merely by praying for all the deceased.

This year is no different, although I would have liked to make Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead) and sugar skulls with the kids. I'm posting a link to recipes that you can make in commemoration of the deceased. If the day passed you by, much like it did in our family; perhaps next year will be a perfect time to try it out! In the mean time, I'll be taking the kids to the Museum of Anthropology later this week in order to check out their "Dia de los Muertos (Days of the Dead)" exhibit.

Check out these informational links. All have links to recipes.
*Catholic Culture
*Catholic Cuisine
*Fish Eaters (includes recipes)



Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekly Plans.

I decided to blog about our plans for the week with each child's school lessons. Since I'm planning more and more preschool activities into our days, I thought it was a good idea for everyone to have a look at what we'll be doing here at Holy Family Classical Academy!

Marco
Math: Continue with Saxon 2, with two lessons on Friday. We are still in the review phase of the book and many of the lessons are fairly easy with no new concepts.

Phonics: Continue with SSRW lesson 16. We are reviewing letter clusters and working on fluency. We will also be including week 3 & 4 words into our Word Wall.

History: SOTW. We took this week off with history and will be starting up again. I plan on doing a review of Chapters 8-11 and finishing off some projects.

Religion: Continue with Faith & Life, Chapter 8. We have been taking it easy with the lessons, mostly because I want them to correlate to the liturgical year and we were a little ahead. But this has been a great thing because we've been able to concentrate on the lives of the saints.

Cartography: This is, by far, one of the shortest and easiest lesson I give every week. This is done one a week and takes about 15 minutes. We will be working on Activity 8, using a map key and following directions.

Literature: Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

Handwriting: 2 pages in the Zaner Bloser workbook, plus writing out new sight words.

Isabella
Math: Continue with Saxon 1 lessons, with two lessons on Friday.

Phonics: SSRW Kindergarten Steps 12 & 13. This will include a new reader, comprehension worksheets, matching, and vocabulary.

Religion: Sit in with Marco's lesson. Read Catholic Treasure Box stories and any other requests from our Lovasik book collection.

Handwriting: Begin Zaner Bloser Kindergarten workbook. We just got this on Thursday and are excited to switch from Seton. Seton was a little dry and Isabella needs a little more color. We'll be doing 2 pages daily.

Literature: Sit in with Marco's reading. *Isabella will also be doing BFIAR activities with Anthony.

Anthony
BFIAR: My Blue Boat. We will be doing color matching, making a boat craft, working on our animal classification, as well as possibly creating another lapbook.

Preschool Activities
Wooden beads have been extremely popular lately and I'll be taking them out again. I basically set out a mini muffin tin, wooden beads, and pipe cleaners. Anthony sorts the beads into the muffin tin and then laces the beads. This keeps him busy for about 30 minutes, sometimes more.

Anthony working with beads.

Leaf crafts. We have been collecting fall leaves and I plan on using them this week for our preschool activities. Anthony and Isabella will be doing leaf rubbings, creating a leaf collage, and a leaf wreath.

Felt Fun. I have a big felt board with felt story pieces, numbers, shapes, etc. This is a great activity to get the imagination going! I just set out the materials and the kids create their own story scenes, work on number sequence, etc.


I might take out some other of our preschool activities, depending on how our week goes. I always have our file folder games and centers handy, however, and those seem to keep the kids busy.