Sunday, January 31, 2010

Scary Stories.

We have always been fans of fairy tales. The kids love them and I never thought twice when reading out of a Grimm's fairy tale book. They're stories and not real. What caught my eye recently was an article/blog/story from somewhere on the Internet (can't find it anymore!) that was merely talking about how many of these stories present scary situations and characters.

I never really thought about fairy tales being inappropriate for my children. We always explain that they are just stories and are not real...but that they can learn a great deal from them (don't trust strangers, be careful what you wish for, be thankful for things you have, etc.). DH, who is the story teller in the family, always creates exciting and scary stories for the children to listen to as a prelude to the usual bedtime poetry readings (his latest creation is the "floor monster" story).

Scary stories are fun...but only when it's a "safe" amount of scary. I'm realizing that my children are not as sensitive as most. But I'm not worried about it. After all, my 2 year old's favorite movie as of lately is "Coraline," a movie that many say is too scary for young children. But what can you expect when the parents are huge Tim Burton fans?

Have fun reading something scary!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm Missing You...

Not too long ago, I did what many families are afraid to do. I cancelled our cable. We have nothing now...not even PBS. But my title is a bit misleading. You see we DON'T miss our cable. Not one bit, not one ounce...nothing. I was sure that the kids would start begging for Pokemon or Arthur after the first week; but I was wrong. They have adjusted wonderfully!

We didn't swear television off completely. We still have family movie night on Friday's and I might pop in a DVD for the little kids to watch once in a while, if I need the the time to teach the older kids. But overall, the television is off now all the time.

I don't want to be misleading in terms of videos or watching shows. They are a true reward around here. The kids still enjoy Arthur or Pokemon...but everything is done online which has the benefit of minimal amount of commercials (in my opinion, commercials materialize kids). But even then, it is something that has to be earned.

What's changed with all the extra time we have? The kids ask for less things (amazing!!), we have more read aloud times, the kids are more imaginative in their play, and in the evenings we sit around the living room and tell stories (as opposed to sitting around the living room watching a show). The benefits of no television seem to be greater than I expected.

So I say to you...don't be afraid to toss out the TV or shut off the cable! Believe me, your family will reap great rewards!! And you'll save a bunch of money!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blog Away!

I just read an article in which Pope Benedict encourages priests to blog. I say "Hurray!" as I do enjoy reading blogs and have a couple of favorites that are done by priests.

Interested in the article? You can find it here.

Interested in finding blogs by Clergy? You can find a list here.

Blogs I like to visit written by priests....

What Does Prayer Really Say?
Homilies and Reflections from Australia
Ignatian Spirituality

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bird Watching from the Window.

This winter has been an especially cold one. With all the freezing temperatures, I'm surprised at how many birds we've seen flying around our yard. And now that the temperatures have warmed up, our bird feeders are full of wonderful birds!!

With all the bird watching going on from our kitchen, the kids and I have learned to identify some of the "easy" birds (those are common and familiar). Not only that, but we've learned a great deal about other birds that we weren't familiar with. It's been great fun!!

On our list of materials are a pair of binoculars and our Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds Eastern Region. I recommend this book for beginning bird watchers, especially kids. It's simple enough to use and is organized by color of bird. It's also very handy and can be packed into a bag for birdwatching on the go!

We are expecting The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible soon. I figure we can move into more complex books now that we are becoming familiar with birdwatching.

Check out some of the birds we've seen around our yard!

Red Bellied Woodpecker (my favorite!)
Tufted Titmouse
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Eastern Bluebird
Blue Jay
House Sparrow
Carolina Chickadee
Red-Shouldered Hawk

Perhaps next on my list of supplies to buy is a higher powered lens for my camera. I've had very bad luck in taking pictures!! But I suppose these will do for now!

A Red Bellied Woodpecker

A Northern Cardinal feasting while the woodpecker perches on the rail and waits for his turn.

And here is my little guy smiling through it all!!! I knew you all wanted to see this picture!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Homeschool Co-op!

Today was a homeschool co-op day. A busy day for me and the kids, but also one that we look forward to every week. You have probably read my posts about our wonderful co-op group, but if you haven't...I'm here to fill you in!!

This is our 3rd semester at Holy Family Homeschool Enrichment of the Triad. It was one year ago that I decided that my church would be a perfect place to host a Catholic homeschool group. After asking friends if they would be interested, we took the plunge and it has been a wonderful success!! Being part of this group has been such a blessing to our family and we can honestly say that all our members are pretty awesome!

Today was our second week of our winter/spring semester. I currently teach a preschool class using Before Five in a Row...with my own spin, of course! Our other preschool classes include music, bible/virtues, and playtime in our awesome nursery. My older kids are having a blast in their classes too. Latin, bell choir, hagiography (study of saints), science, and art are all favorites!

It's amazing how wonderful it is to be a part of a group of homeschoolers who have the same values as you do. It has become such an important support group! And from this little Catholic homeschool co-op, many wonderful things are coming into bloom. Our members are starting book studies for moms, book clubs for kids, a running club, and the amount of field trips and activities is abundant!! All these extra-curricular activities are also not just for our members, but open to all Catholic homeschoolers. I hate to brag, but we have a wonderful group of families among us!!

If you can't find a Catholic group that hosts a co-op, I highly suggest you start your own group! A great book to give you plenty of ideas is A Haystack Full of Needles, by Alice Gunther. It's not necessary to start big...just a simple weekly get together at someone's home is all you need to get started. If you want to explore my co-op's website, check it out! Holy Family Homeschool Enrichment of the Triad.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dia de los Reyes.

Today is the celebration of the Three Kings (Balthazar, Kaspar, and Melchior). Although on our calendar it shows that Epiphany was celebrated on Sunday, the 3rd; today is the traditional day that Epiphany is celebrated in Mexico.

This morning the kids began the celebration by opening gifts left in their shoes by the three kings. Before bed last night, they all placed a shoe by their beds. Typically, this is the day that children in Mexico get their Christmas gifts (not Christmas day like we do here). So for us, the day of the Three Kings only small toys and treats are given. It's always a great day and I'm glad to be holding on to some wonderful Mexican culture!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Television.

It's been a long time coming. The day we pull the plug on TV. After months and months of threats to shut off the cable, I finally did it. Today is our first no-TV day. I know watching TV is taboo for many homeschooling parents. But in reality, for is something we do everyday. Granted, we don't watch the average 5 hours of daily television, but it's not completely turned off either.

We are still doing our Friday night movies (we can't give up television completely!) and catching our favorite shows on the Internet; but the kids will no longer have the luxury of turning the TV on for a quick show. I'll have to post how this all turns out, although I don't foresee having any problems adjusting so far!!

New School Room Tour.

It's back to school time and it seems like everywhere in the homeschool blogosphere, people are giving tours of their learning spaces.  ...