Tuesday, September 28, 2010
As with Marco, we'll be doing so much more extra "stuff" this year to make sure she is ready! Besides our regular religion curriculum (Faith and Life 2), we are doing the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, reading King of the Golden City (for the 2nd time!), making Catholic lapbooks (we purchased all of these), and of course participating in our parish's faith formation and sacramental prep classes. I suppose we'll also throw in even more extras into the mix, but only because we love it!!!
A fun project we did, which didn't really start as a project, was the making of a Mass Journal. During the first sacramental prep class, students were handed a Mass Journal to keep track of all the Masses attended. It contains fill in the blank questions for the kids to fill out...who was the celebrant, what color vestments were worn, what were the first and second readings, etc. It's actually a great way to get kids to pay attention during Mass.
Of course, the journal they passed out was just a bunch of pages stapled together. So Isabella and I decided to make an actual book out of it. We followed the directions on this video. Really simple. No music, no talking...just shows how to make a book!
After making our own book, I made copies of the Mass journal onto pretty paper that Isabella picked out. Each little form was then cut out and then glued to the Mass Journal book we made. Isabella is even working on illustrating the book. It's super cute and I know she will love taking it to Mass more than a bunch of stapled papers. Of course, none of this is necessary. But it was fun!!
As for celebrating feast days....we worked on some super cute bookmarks this week. An archangel on the front and the prayer to St. Michael on the back! I'm planning on doing this little craft with my 5th grade faith formation class as well.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
American Girl Club
We are still going strong with American Girl Club. Isabella loves it and I love getting to do fun crafts with the girls. This time we hosted. Kaya was the inspiration for our corn husk dolls...a fun craft!
With 5 kids in the house, it's only a matter of time before it's birthday time for someone. This time we celebrated Anthony's 5th birthday!!! It was a blast and my little guy had a great time. He is a blessing to our family! And we all loved the cake too! Happy Birthday big guy!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
- Raking the front yard, 30 minutes, $2.50
- Cleaning the kitchen (floors, counters, sink), 30 minutes, $2.50
- Cleaning extra bathrooms, 15 minutes each, $1.25
- Washing/cleaning van, 1 hour, $5
- Pulling weeds, 20 minutes, $1
- Babysitting little brother (I never keep the kids alone with the baby. This would include keeping him entertained while I'm preparing for company, showering, etc.), 20 minutes, $1
- Laundry helper, 15-30 minutes, $1.25-$2.50
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In the past, I was a 2nd grade catechist, which I really loved! Teaching kids during a sacramental year puts a little pressure on you, but the rewards are great. I've been spending the last week preparing and going over our lessons and we'll see how it goes!
For the time being, here is the parent's letter I'm sending home with the kids. I post it mostly because I'm always looking for a good letter and I can never find one. So hopefully, this will be able to help someone who is teaching faith formation (or CCD) at their church.
Letter to 5th Grade Parents of Faith Formation or CCD Students.
It was a pleasure to meet your child at our first day of Faith Formation. I am excited to work alongside your family in teaching your child our Catholic faith. My goal this year is for your child to further cement the teachings of the Catholic Church, as well as developing a deeper love and understanding for Jesus Christ. We will be reviewing prayers learned in years past, as well as introducing and learning new prayers, including the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Our faith formation class is the only hour a week that I have with your child. It is a time when your child gathers with other children to concentrate on what it means to be a Catholic, a follower of Christ, and to learn what the church and gospels teach. It is my pleasure to be able to participate in the education of your child and I will be using the issued Catholic guide each week for our lessons, as well as involving them in prayer and faith-building activities.
As a parent, you are the primary educator of your child, and the best teacher. Your example at home speaks volumes and teaches your child far more than I ever could. I ask that you review each week’s lesson at home and share in any activity that your child may bring. Attending Mass and praying together (especially in the morning, before meals, and at bedtime) will solidify your child’s experiences as being part of a worshipping parish community and Catholic family.
Once again, thank you for participating in the Holy Family Faith Formation program this year. Please feel free to stop by and ask any questions you might have or call me. I also ask that if your child is unable to attend a class to please contact me or the Faith Formation office in advance whenever possible so that your child’s absence may be excused.
I look forward to working with you, and I appreciate your prayerful support.
I would love feedback!
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Recently, I've been pondering and praying over extra-curricular activities for the kids. With 5 kids to tow around, it's not as easy for me as I would like it to be. Should all the kids be enrolled in an activity? How do I handle different times for different kids? Is keeping the kids from participating hindering them in any way? Should I aim to keep the kids together? These are the main questions I've been asking for the past month.
If you've been following along, you'll know that last year was SUPER busy. Dance classes (2 separate ones), swimming, piano, and a quick stint with soccer was keeping me busy. That was on top of school lessons, co-op, and faith formation. Add all that to having a newborn, hospital visits/stays, and moving....you see where I'm going with this. I was drowning.
It was too much and I was stretched out so thin, that it affected my life in many ways. I was constantly cranky, my house was a mess, I started being late for important functions, my drive for many things was gone, and the worst thing of all is that I feel I failed the kids in their education. So soon after we decided to put our house up for sale and move, I gave up. I took the kids out of swimming and dance. No more team sports and no more unnecessary activities.
And just like that...a GIANT weight was lifted off my shoulders. We could finally enjoy a family dinner again, not just 2 nights out of the week...but every night! No more rushing, no more juggling schedules. It was great! And it's been great since I kept this simple way of life all through summer.
But now, fall is knocking at our door. The kids are asking about swimming and dancing and karate and everything else. What do I do? Do I try it out again? Well this is what I did. I prayed. For wisdom to make the right decisions for my kids and for our family. But I was stuck without an answer. Until now.
Our time is like GOLD. Actually, it's more valuable than gold. How to spend it? We know that our main goal as parents is to educate our children. So at least we know that most of our time will go to that. But what about all the leftover time? That was my dilemma, and thank you Father Michael for making it click for me!!!
In everything we do, God has to be our center. For school, work, and play. He has to come before anything else. As educators of our children, we know that our school days are centered around Our Lord. That is our goal. Having a family that is centered around Christ is also our goal. Growing together, learning from each other, creating bonds, and loving our family are also all goals that are Christ-centered. But that doesn't mean that we can't take the kids to swimming class or to dance class. What it means is that when those extra-curricular activities begin hindering, clouding, or getting in the way of achieving those most important goals...then they should be taken away.
So here is my answer. My time is precious. My family life is precious. I am going to treat every minute with my children and family like a God-given gift (which it is). I know what an overworked schedule looks and feels like. I'm not going back to that. I'm going to enjoy my children and have fun with them. For now, maybe enjoying them and having fun will include swimming or some other sport. Maybe it'll be a year full of fun field trips instead. I haven't made up my mind yet. But I'll never lose focus of my goals again.
And even if the answer is plain at daylight, things were never as clear as they are now. There were countless thoughts and doubts in my mind that were miraculously answered this Sunday. All of which I can't go into; but this one being the main one.
I'd love to know how you other moms and dads out there handle extra-curricular activities with your children. How you make time, how you keep sane!!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
But here I am veering off course as to what I really wanted to write about. The excitement of a first day back at co-op! We usually just leave the "first day of school" celebrations for our actual first day of homeschool. But this year my good friend, Tina, gave me an excellent idea. Why not make the first day of co-op just as special? After all, it's the closest thing the kids have to going back to "school."
Tina mentioned buying a back to school outfit for her girls (who are absolutely adorable!). It got me thinking...what a great thing to do! Why not expand on this and make a little more of it? Seeing old friends, teachers, and new classes is certainly something to celebrate and be excited about! So here is what we are doing!
Back to School Outfit.
I fell in love with the Gap's American in Paris and True Colors collection! Perfect for a back to school outfit! I remember getting excited about putting on new clothes and shoes for back to school...now my kids will get to do the same!
Yea...they've been in the same backpacks for a couple of years now. This year why not get a new one? And their "old" ones (they're not even really used!!) can go to some needy kids. And no backpack would be complete if it wasn't stuffed with all their new books, binders, and supplies! **Just a quick note about supplies....we usually separate our homeschool supplies from our own school supplies. This means that their backpacks and supplies for co-op really only get used at co-op.
Back to Co-op Picture.
Every kids needs a picture to look back on!
Great for clipping on your backpack or on a field trip. Yea...homeschoolers don't really need them, but I have actually found them to come in handy! From getting student discounts to using as a basic ID; our school ID's are fun! I've been printing them out for the kids since they began their homeschool journey.
A Walk to the "Bus Stop."
I thought this was hilarious. Marco recently asked me, "Will we ever ride in a school bus?" as we drove next to a yellow bus full of kids. I told him we already do...it's called our van! So I told them that on the first day of co-op they could go to the "bus stop" (aka, the end of our long driveway), and wait to be picked up. They loved the idea!!! We do drive a 12 passenger van after all and that seems to be good enough!
It's funny how as a homeschool mom, I keep trying to recreate a "real school" feeling for my kids. I think it's not because I think they are missing out on anything; but because I feel like I am. And it's only the little snippets that I miss. Having always gone to public school, I still clearly recall getting those butterflies in my stomach as I walked into a new classroom. Or how I would be so excited the night before the first day of school, that I couldn't sleep. When I was young, I always imagined those feelings would come back once I had my own kids go off to school.
But I am so thankful that I do get to teach my kids at home. They are getting the kind of education and lifestyle that I would have loved as a kid. The best education and the best family life. I wouldn't trade this for the world! So if I can just recreate the fun parts of a "real" school, then I'm all good! It's all about making lasting memories for both them and me.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For updates and news at Angelicum, you can also check out their blog! Now you might wonder why I'm going on and on about Angelicum. It's just that when I get excited about something that's working well, I want to tell everyone!! So check them out!
And also as a side note, if you are not enrolled with Angelicum, or even if you are not doing classical education...I strongly recommend looking over their "Good Books" list. They are fabulous selections that every child should read! Don't get discouraged if they seem too difficult. You will reap the benefits once you get to reading!!
Our good book readings are always done out loud, as they are too advanced for my young readers. The language has been a challenge for some books, but we keep going (at a snails pace if we have too!); and by the middle of the book, my kids are asking less and less about definitions (what does that mean?) and asking more and more why's and how's. It turns into a great discussion!!
So tonight we continue with The Princess and the Goblin, Aesop's Fables, and Perrault's Fairy Tales. Happy Reading Everyone!!