Monday, April 28, 2008

History Planning/Link to Reading List.

I finally decided to sit down and really plan our history for first grade. This is the subject I am most excited about and for that reason, has been the one I have been saving for last in my list of planning. I don't want to miss a thing, but I have to keep in mind that this is going to be merely an introduction of history for Marco.

We are, of course, using Story of the World I. I have done some thinking and talking to friends and family about the absence of a nice Catholic history program; my reservations being that SOTW does not tell history from a Catholic point of view. But after searching and researching, I have settled on incorporating RC History into the mix. I'll only be using this program as a simple supplement when needed.

For this week, I'll be working out a schedule that incorporates SOTW, RC History, and perhaps some history of the saints. I have a chronological list of all three, so all I have to do is plug in dates (this is in theory only!). Knowing me, I'll make this into some complicated venture.

In the mean time, I did manage to make a list of all the supplementary reading suggestions made in the SOTW activity guide (I organized them by chapter). I'll be adding this to my planner so as to make it easier for me when planning our reading materials. I plan on using the library for the bulk of our books and having a list comes in handy when putting books on hold.

I'll make sure to post my schedule as soon as I finish it! In the mean time, feel free to use my SOTW Reading List. You might have to skip an ad to get to the download!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thoughts.

Right now I'm laughing at myself. I am looking back to how many times I've changed in our curriculum choices, our books, our schedules, and everything else! I'm glad that I had the opportunity to explore, however. How else would I learn to differentiate between the good and the bad? It is in this that I really don't envy families who begin homeschooling when their kids are older. With kindergarten, you can try a million things and not ever really fall behind!

So I have officially enrolled in Angelicum Academy. Now all I have to do is wait for my lesson plans and other materials. My books are nearly all purchased, with the exception of a few that I'm planning on getting during convention (can't beat those prices!). I'm excited about FINALLY being settled on something!

For the time being, we are moving along with lots of "1st grade" stuff, even if our year hasn't officially begun. We are overlapping kindergarten math with first grade science and phonics. In June I'm planning on starting our official year. The house has lately been buzzing with excitement as the kids anticipate being officially in a new "grade." I'm not sure whether to throw an end of year party or a happy new school year party. Maybe both?!

In all, I think that we are starting to feel more at ease and comfortable with homeschooling. I'm starting to trust myself more in knowing that I can make a good decision for our family in terms of curriculum. One thing that has helped me is having DH back me up in everything I do. It makes this whole journey truly a family affair and has united us in ways that I never imagined.

Monday, April 21, 2008

8 Months Old!!


My little man turned 8 months old today!! I feel wonderfully blessed by having him and I fall in love with him every day. He is a truly wonderful baby and even when there are middle of the night cries from him, I always smile when I pick him up. He greets me every morning with a hug and a smile (he actually puts his arms around my neck and squeezes!).

I'm blessed that Marco, Isabella, and Anthony love him so much as well. We are just giddy with love around here today!

Pope Benedict XVI.

Today was a very confusing day for me. It was near 12noon that I realized that it was Sunday, that I had missed Mass, and that I had forgotten about a dozen other important details of my weekend (including a baptism and piano lesson). Not only that but I spent the rest of the afternoon "catching up" that I forgot all about the Papal Mass to be aired on TV. Luckily, my DH called me to tell me all about it and I was able to catch the re-run on EWTN.

I don't usually speak much about my faith on this blog. I keep it to homeschooling and daily activities. My mentions of being Catholic are brief. I suppose because of my failure to put my feelings and thoughts about being Catholic into words. I was a late bloomer in my faith, even though I grew up Catholic. It was because of Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa that I found myself plunging into my faith like never before. I now have such a deep love for all the things that used to be just part of the background of my life. To talk of my faith, my love for God, my love for Jesus and Mary, my love for my Church....always brings me to tears.

I never feel like I could possibly say the right thing about being Catholic. I have often found myself praying to God about evangelizing to others, but have found that for now the answer is in how I choose to live and the examples I set in my day to day life. Although I feel that I have failed miserably in so many ways, I find solace in prayer. Lately, it has been St. Thomas More's prayer that has helped me in so many ways..."Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for."

Today as I watched our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, I realized how so much of my life has been spent in judging others and making assumptions. It has been 3 years since my beloved Pope John Paul II has passed away. I spent 3 years fighting against the current Pope in my heart. Why? I didn't LISTEN. Today as I heard him speak for the first time, my heart opened. He drifted away from being the stern fatherly figure I made him out to be and he became MY Pope!! The Pope I had prayed for but so blindly turned away. I feel like I came out of mourning for the first time only to realize that there was never a reason to mourn.

How foolish of me to not understand that God has placed the right person to be the Vicar of Christ. How blind of me not to see that with the passing of Pope John Paul II, as much as it affected me, there was a new hope and a new beginning. I have learned that as deep as my love for Christ is, I need to learn to trust Him more.

I urge everyone who wasn't able to keep up with the Pope's visit to the U.S., to take some time to catch up on all the wonderful events. EWTN has coverage from day 1 at their website. Open your hearts to the Vicar of Christ!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stains and Household Cleaners.

Oh how I have spent countless hours trying to get rid of stains on laundry and around the house in general. Since today I spent my day tackling many stain problems, I decided to write a little about them. This will probably work for future reference for myself, since my kids are always coming up with new things to get dirty!

Anthony decided to take his diaper off last night (again!) and unfortunately didn't make it to the potty in time! A new mattress and a confident mom equals no mattress liner!! What was I thinking?? So I found a solution that worked wonders and got rid of the stain and the smell. Here is the recipe:


Urine Stain/Smell Remover
8 oz. hydrogen peroxide
2 tbsp. baking soda
Drop of hand/dish soap

**Put all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Spray onto area, press with towel, and let dry (or you can use a hair dryer to speed it up). You have to use solution within 20 minutes or it will get all yucky and stuck in the bottle.

Christian is such a happy baby...but he did not make me a happy mom when he stained 2 outfits in one day with baby poop! Those stains are difficult to remove and I have lost many cute little outfits due to these types of scenarios. I've tried Oxy, Clorox for colors, Spray n Wash, and many others. After almost calling it quits on a new, WHITE baby outfit I got an idea. My carpet stain remover works well...why not try it on clothes? So I sprayed on some Spot Shot and rubbed it with my laundry brush under cold water. Guess what? The stain was gone! The only thing left was a strong odor of cleaner, but after throwing the outfit in the wash it was as good as new and smelling great!

How about those walls? I have fingerprints everywhere! I spend so much time cleaning doors and walls that I think I should get some kind of degree in it! My choice for all the crayon marks, fingerprints, and smudges? Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Is your carpet dirty? Try coming over to my house! My light, beige color carpet isn't cutting it anymore, but new carpeting isn't in my near future. I suffered the first year as a homeowner with small kids. How does anyone keep their carpet nice and fresh? You buy a carpet steamer! This is definitely worth every penny! I have the Bissell ProHeat steam cleaner. It works great, but it is heavy. What's in my future? A Bissell Little Green Machine.

Lastly, I want to recommend the Ionic Breeze by Sharper Image. At $400 (there are other models) they don't come cheap. But they work wonderfully!! My only advice? Keep away from curious toddlers and little kids. This is the mathematical equation of what happened at my home.

Liz's Ionic Breeze + Curious Isabella + Curious Anthony= Broken Ionic Breeze

If you do decide to get one, I recommend the one with germicidal protection. And if you are willing to come over and fix mine, I'll pay you for your trouble!

That's it for my cleaning recommendations! I have to get back to washing another load of stained laundry, followed by cleaning up a dirty wall, then steaming a stain off the carpet....it never ends!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Good Books" Literature Schedule.

It seems like I have 16 "Good Books" to go through for both kindergarten and first grade. How do I accomplish this without overkill? I DON'T KNOW!! But what I'm planning is to split up the reading time throughout the day. I'll do 1 hour total for both grades with 30 minutes in the morning for first grade and 30 minutes in the afternoon for kindergarten. I actually don't think that 16 books is too much to do in the course of one year. This is especially true since some of the books on our list are only compilations of stories.

For these compilations, such as the fairy books by Andrew Lang, I'll just be picking a few stories from each book. We are pretty familiar with so many fairy tales and nursery rhymes that I don't think the kids will be missing out on anything.

I created the following table as a simple way to keep track of what books we are reading when. It will serve as a very basic schedule. Since I don't know how long it will take us to get through any particular book, I decided against setting deadlines. I want to make sure that we take our time, especially since we'll be doing book reports on each book (simple narrations on what the book is about) as part of the Angelicum lesson plans.


KindergartenFirst Grade
Perrault's Complete Fairy TalesCrimson Fairy book
Favorite Uncle RemusJust So Stories
Orange Fairy BookWater Babies
Wind in the WillowsGrey Fairy Book
Household StoriesJungle Book
Brown Fairy BookAesop
Green Fairy BookAlice's Adventure in Wonderland
PinocchioFree Reading
Treasury of Mother GooseFree Reading

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Science Lessons Begin!

Today, DH finally started science lessons with Marco! We are starting with the study of whales (using Living Learning Books) and it was lots of fun for both of them. Leave it to my overachieving hubby to turn a 20-30 minute lesson, into a 1 hour lesson! I think they both got carried away reading books and coloring the whale pages.

DH's next science class will take place on Thursday and will not only have reading, but a craft as well. I'm kind of excited to see what happens with that, since DH is NOT a crafty guy! I'm sure they'll be fine, however. If Isabella decides to join them, she'll probably teach them a thing or two...without a doubt!

As for our other subjects, I'm debating whether or not I should just go ahead and start our first grade materials. At the moment, we are finishing up Saxon 1 for math. Since we started SSRW Level 1 and are doing our 1st grade science, I'm feeling like I need to beef up the rest of our day. I think I'll be closer to starting once I get all our lessons from Angelicum. That means I only have a limited amount of time to start scheduling and planning our materials! Fun!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Planning.

One thing I really enjoy is my planner. After searching for one that included all seven days over a 2 page spread and not finding one to my liking, I went ahead and made my own using Word. I had browsed through enough planners to know what I wanted. After making it, I headed to Kinkos to have it printed and bound. This is what you will find in my planner.

Weekly planning pages
Toddler/Preschool Activities (for my bins)
Schedules for all subjects (these are mainly my goals for how long and in what order I want to do things)
Blank pages for notes

Since I have a separate 3-ring binder for homeschooling stuff, it keeps my planner easy to use and uncluttered. Here is a link to my planning pages. Feel free to download and use for yourself. I will try to have it available on this link as long as possible.

Liz's Planner.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Updating.

This past year has been one filled with success and failure in choosing curriculum. Since I am finally settled and feel like I have a little experience under my belt, I decided to update many of the links on my page dealing with curriculum.

I'll be posting my updated kindergarten and first grade curriculum and schedules. I'll also be adding preschool to the mix as well. My reading list will include books that we'll be following with the recommended Angelicum Academy list. Overall, I hope to make my links more useful, informative, and up to date on what we are actually using.

Added to the sidebar will also be links to reviews of curriculum I have either used or had the opportunity to seriously look through. I won't be deleting any of the old curricula or schedules, just know that many of that has changed.

It's been amazing to have gotten through my first official year homeschooling! I have learned so much along the way about myself and my kids. I've tried more things than anyone else I know and I hope my experience will help enlighten others on this journey.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green Friday and Friday Lessons.

Today I decided to get GREEN! We followed the NWF Green Hour activity. Check it out! NWF Green Hour.

Since we weren't able to make it out to our favorite local park, I decided to let the kids explore our little patch of forest. The kids got to take pictures of a few green things and then we sat outside and did a little coloring. Isabella went with nature sketching and Marco decided to collect dry sticks for a fabulous sculpture.

As you can see, Isabella drew a tree, a shrub, a flower, the ground, and a wonderful sky!

Since it is National Poetry Month, I also made Marco write a nature poem as suggested by the Green Hour. This is our first attempt at poetry, so I made him tell me all the words he could think of that made him think of the outdoors. After putting them together, here is what the poem turned out to be.


Outside
Flowers and bees,
Picnics and trees.
Swinging, running, hanging.

Sun and bikes,
Shade and hikes.
Swimming, exploring, playing.
-Marco (conjunctions by Mom)


Our "indoor" work completed today was as follows.
Math: we finished up a couple of lessons. Doubles plus one facts and an assessment for Marco; and Isabella tackled 4 lessons on her Saxon Math (I'm doing K for her to get her ready for Saxon 1 in a couple of months).

Phonics: I decided to double up on the SSRW workbooks with Isabella and Marco. They'll be working on the first book (mostly review of alphabet) during the morning and doing the second book in the afternoon (this one holds the actual reading work).

Science: I counted our Green Hour activity as our science today.

Reading: We did some reading out of our 2 week book bin today (I alternate the books every 2 weeks). It was probably around 45 minutes or so.

On top of our little nature activities and school work; we also got to fly a kite, build a "fort," and take a quick shopping trip for a new cooler. Tomorrow we'll continue with some lessons and hopefully get some good wind to get that kite really high up!

*****BTW...if you are a Veggie Tales fan, you know about the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. Here is a homeschool version of that song...lyrics only! The Homeschool Kids Who Can't Do Anything.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Day in the Life of Liz. A Great Day!

I have been so happy today! I went to bed last night around 9:30pm and woke up feeling refreshed and ready! The kids were up by 7:30am and we ate a quick breakfast while DH sipped coffee before heading out to work. It was funny to see Isabella working on her Sing, Spell, Read, and Write while the boys played with swords. But as soon as Marco saw that she had completed 2 pages, he decided to get to work himself!

By 8:30am, we had finished our SSRW lessons. We then did 30 minutes of reading, followed by math. At 9:45am I noticed that our library books were due, so I got the kids in the van and headed out to the library. The kids LOVE going to the library. I have been taking them since they were babies and I always get them involved in their summer reading programs as well. Once at the library, all three kids signed up to play on the computers. They even have a toddler program that Anthony can use all by himself! He feels like such a big boy when we go!

Since Marco recently turned 6, he has been on a "I'm such a big kid" streak. He decided that he wanted to get his own library card, so he marched up to the librarian (books in hand) and asked to check them out. Not wanting to feel left out, Isabella did the same. Lucky for me, you only have to be 4 to get a library card...otherwise, she would have been very upset. It was funny to me, since they never were interested in having their own library card until now.

After checking out our books and eating a snack...we headed home for a quick lunch. We all went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather for a bit and by 1:15pm, Anthony was napping. I let Marco and Isabella have some quiet play time before starting up school again. When they saw me take out their work, they begged for some reading time instead. I gave in and read them our new books for another 30 minutes.

We are trying to get ahead (or is it more like catch up?) with math, so Marco did a bit more math while Isabella worked on some phonics and her own math problems. I was so happy to have Christian being so good sitting next to us with his toys. That baby is such a wonderful blessing! He is so quiet and good!! I put him down at 3:00pm for a nap and then enjoyed some more quiet school-time with the big kids.

At 3:30pm exactly, Anthony came marching down the stairs and declared "I'm hungry!" We all enjoyed some fruit and then went to check the mail. We received our first issue of Your Big Back Yard from NWF and the kids loved it!! I let the kids play outside while I caught up on some reading, then at 4:15pm we came in. Christian seemed to sense us and woke up right then. I sat him in his high chair for a bit with some toys to keep him entertained while I started dinner.

I made a picnic dinner tonight, since DH is working late (grilled burgers, salad, cut up fruit, & lemonade). We usually take dinner to him on late work days, if the weather is nice, and we all eat together outside at a picnic table. After eating, DH played with the kids before we left. Once we got home, we ate some ice cream for dessert and then it was time for PJ's and books. I read a couple of stories and time for bed!

I always wait for DH on late nights. That means we go to bed around 11:30pm. Tonight I got to write this blog post, pray a rosary, get our school ready for tomorrow and clean up a little. This has been a GREAT day!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We're Back!!

We are finally back from Disney. All I can say is "WOW"!!!!!!!!! We had such a great time and it was really hard to say goodbye! We loved every minute and now I understand why people want to keep going back again and again.

We enjoyed all the parks, but especially loved Magic Kingdom. I recommend Cinderella's Royal Table for meals. It was the highlight of my visit and Isabella's as well. I hope you enjoy the slide show! I tried not to put too many pictures!