Friday, August 21, 2015

Seven Quick Takes:Friday, August 21

1. This has been a great month for meeting up with internet peoples. A couple weeks ago, Nell (who lives a few miles from us) hosted Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas and some other awesome friends Jacqui, Laura, Anna, Nancy, and more at her house for a ladies evening. I haven't had that much fun hanging out with ladies in a long time. T and I stayed out past my bedtime, and even then I did not really want to leave. But responsibility and limited time to sleep at night finally called me home.

2. Tomorrow, sweet Nell is hosting people again. (She is very generous with her awesome house.) The Blessed is She Minnesota brunch is tomorrow morning! There are supposed to be over 50 ladies coming! We are going to be doing small group discussion, and apparently I get to be a, hopefully I can pull that one off. I have not had to be a small group leader since college, but I was just telling M that one of these days someone is going to discover that I used to lead all sorts of things (like in college) and make me do it again...I am very excited for the brunch, especially since I am bringing watermelon, which I don't eat very much since G is allergic.

3. It would not be a summer quick takes without a discussion of the garden. I made my first roasted tomato sauce. Turning these: 
Into this:

It was delicious. And in case you were wondering. Three pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes makes about a three and a half cups of sauce.

4. I was so excited about this sauce that I impulse bought a 25 lb box of Roma tomatoes at the farmer's market last Friday and turned it all into roasted tomato sauce. We have 27 cups of sauce for the winter in our freezer. And my advice to you is, make sure you have some ventilation besides the A/C running if you are going to run both gas ovens for 2.5 hours on a hot summer morning. Otherwise you might set off your carbon monoxide detectors...

5. Speaking of freezer, we finally got around to buying that deep freeze. You may remember my photo of the packed freezer from before T was born. This was our normal upper freezer above our refrigerator. And it was packed full of freezer meals.
As we ate the meals, I started adding fresh summer fruit, and with the decision to buy a 1/4 cow this Fall, we knew it was time to get a deep freeze. Plus, we just had a boy and one day he will be a teenager and eat lots and lots.
 Lots of frozen fruit, and still room for the cow! Hooray!

6. There is a legend on my father's side about two of my aunts. First, I have to provide a bit of background. On my father's side there is Lebanese ancestry and Irish and Scots ancestry (and a number of others), so of him and his 6 siblings, 3 of them ended up looking more Lebanese and the other 4 had a more Irish/Scots look. Well legend has it on one day when one of his sisters was sick another one went to get her work for her, and the teacher was in complete disbelief that they were actually sisters because their complexions and hair color were so radically different. Well, I think the same thing might happen to these two:
She has all the Greek and Lebanese, and he has all the Scots/Irish/English. Those eyes of his are so light, but I am not sure they will stay blue.
7. We are doing a three day school week starting Monday, but are also in the midst of three weekends in a row of visiting family. This weekend is my father's sister and her husband. Next weekend is my sister, her husband, and her three girls plus one boy. Labor day weekend brings in my in-laws. This will make up for the lack of road trip this summer! And then it will be school full time until Christmas (school full time means 2 hours a day...)...

That's it for this week! Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Awesome School 2015: What We Plan to Do (K and 1st grade)

Once upon a time, M and I decided to home school our children. Well, we did not have any children, yet. And I have been slowly dreading it to some extent. I mean, it is a lot of responsibility to educate your children, and we have this vision of a classical-traditional-sacramental education we want our children to have so that they can be awesome people.

Last year we went to the curriculum fair at the homeschool conference, and I cried got overwhelmed about homeschooling. I was trying to decide if I should do some first grade things with G (who was five at the time) or not. I finally settled on giving her a year of casual kindergarten. And we did this, and I am going to do the same thing with L (5 in November) for kindergarten this year:

I finished this book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) with G last school year, and it was a struggle. We may have fought and cried our way through the lessons. I wish I had become a more patient person through it, though I am not sure that I did. Well this summer (five months after finishing the book and reading really simple library books together), she came up to me out of the blue and said: "Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to read." I really did cry then. Now she reads everything she is able to read. She loves it. She reads to her sisters, she reads to herself. She gets better everyday.

(NOTE: I know this sounds like the book 100 Easy Lessons was awful, but really it was just personality and my dynamic with G. L and I have done 20 lessons so far and it is much different. We think G does better as a self-learner.)

We have been working through the Handwriting Without Tears (Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me) curriculum, so we just did that everyday. She wrote to her penpal, wrote cards for family birthdays, etc.

I did not buy a kindergarten math book, we just got more comfortable with numbers doing Montessori activities from this book: Teach Me to Do it Myself And it all went well.

And we did random science activities from that book as well. We also joined a twice a month co-op which had art, gym, and a science class for her.

So, I am going to do what I did with G last year for L this year, and if it goes well I will decide if she is ready for first grade next year or just do another casual year.

First Grade:
When M and I were discussing first grade, I really felt like I wanted to get a set curriculum. I am a slight perfectionist, and I can't do something as major as homeschooling without something like, "You will do this exact thing today in this subject, and this in this other subject, etc." That seemed the only way.

But my dear husband, reminded me of our plan to give our kids the education we preferred for them and none of the set curricula do what we want. So, he agreed to plan meticulously with me, with our textbooks and other books, what we are going to do this year.

We decided to start the Awesome School next week. Summer weather will hopefully continue, but I think we are all ready for some structure after the baby.

We are going to do two half weeks, and then after Labor Day jump in full swing. But this also means that I have to get my act together. This week is home organization, and school supply purchasing.

Here are the books we are using (minus the St. Joseph Catechism, because a certain six year old wanted to read it during quiet time):
For reading and spelling we are using the Catholic National Reader Primer and Book One.
I love this. It is an old fashioned reader with reading practice, phonics, plus comprehension, plus spelling words. I am slightly geeked out to use it. We are also supplementing with Explode the Code  because G really likes the activities in it.

For English I am finally going to learn grammar, I mean G is going to learn grammar with Shurley English Level 1. The teachers manual is very scripted, fortunately for her. This must be my post about crying, because I cried for about a week trying to learn the parts of speech and how to diagram a sentence Freshman year of high school because I was not taught how these things in elementary school.

Once G gets the hang of grammar and reading a bit more, we are going to start Latin with Prima Latina . She is already memorizing the Latin prayers with M in his memorization hour he does with her twice a week.

For Math we are going with Singapore 1A & 1B, largely because we have heard it is the only curriculum that prepares students for advanced math. There are already algebraic concepts in 1st grade!

For science we are going all Charlotte Mason/unit study:
M is currently planning units including birds, trees, dinosaurs, astronomy, simple machines, and rocks. We might throw in the human body as well. For this we are using library books, the above pictured books, going outside, and are getting a science museum membership.

In Theology we are possibly doing First Communion prep since G will be 7 in March. We are giving her a couple months before we decide. But we will be working through two books: Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and Our Heavenly Father (scripture based). We will also be discussion saint days and the liturgical year.

We will also be doing Fine Arts for everybody. We have selected a famous painting and a musical composition for each week to learn about. And we will work on some basic drawing with Draw Write Now.

I think we will probably be doing school 4 days a week for 2 hours (8:30-10:30 depending on baby naptime), and 1 hour on Fridays or our twice a month co-op (the same one we did last year). Science and the Fine Arts will be only twice a week.

In addition to what I am doing with the girls, M is going to be working on poem recitations, Latin prayer memorization, geography, and some history with the girls a couple hours a week. He did this last year with G, and she did really well.

F (3 in November) is going to just tag along, color, listen, and be little. :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, August 7--Summer, never leave me!

These all came from the garden. Yum!
1. I am really soaking up summer right now. I don't really want it ever to end: sunshine, warm days, garden fresh veggies, flowers everywhere, barefoot children, and squishy bare baby legs. It does not really get better than this... please summer, don't go away, ever...

2. This guy is smiling and cooing, and as F (2) says, "He is talking at you!" That is probably the most apt way to describe it: "talking at." And we are getting some sleep at night, at least six hours most night of interrupted sleep is all I need as long as I can have my cold press coffee mid-morning after I have had my hot coffee with breakfast.

3. We checked out a beach at a local county park last Sunday. (The Twin Cities has amazing parks). It was perfect. The water was not too deep, there were umbrellas for shade for the baby, and the bathrooms were about 30 feet from where we laid our blanket. This was our plan for teaching the girls to swim this summer, but we might just have to give in and do lessons at some point. Anyway, the beach was nice and I did some coverless public breastfeeding to kick off World Breastfeeding Week (because everything needs a week I guess) and showed less skin than most of the other women on the beach, so there...

Not a nursing picture.
4. We have had the following conversation at dinner about 5 times in the last week:
G (6): "I still am going to be a nun when I grow up."
L (4.5, and who previously expressed a desire to be a nun): "I think I might get married instead."
F (2.5): "I am going to be a PRINCESS!"
Of course you are, F; dream big. Be who you want to be. You can keep the Disney Princesses out of you home, but your can't take the dream out of their hearts. Actually, we do a lot of princess stories here, just sans Disney.

5. G came out of her room dressed like this the other morning.
Me (wondering if she is going emo): "You know, G, you are wearing all black."
Her response?
"Some nuns wear all black everyday!"
Me: "True. Good point."
6. Back in June, M and my mother took the girls strawberry picking. They came home with 30 lbs of strawberries, most of which we cleaned, crushed and froze. Well, last Sunday (the one before we went to the beach), we made a whole bunch of strawberry jam. So much so that we canned it in quarts and pints. With four kids we have moved up to club size canning!

7. And in case you don't follow me on Instagram, check out these morning glories:

I love them!

That's all folks... I guess this was a photo dump post...

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Trying Not to Lose Hope and the Planned Parenthood Videos

That baby is my two month old T when he was 9 weeks gestation.
I have a confession to make: I have not watched any of the Planned Parenthood sting operation videos. I read the contents in detail of the first video and I went cold all over. I did not want to watch that. And each video gets worse. They say there are 8 more, and I wonder, can it get worse than it has?

But I also have another confession. I am guilty of losing hope that peoples' hearts will change, that our country will stop the slaughtering of its unborn.

We made it to the early daily Mass yesterday morning, and the first reading from Numbers struck me. God told the Israelites that He was giving them a land flowing with milk and honey. So, they go and scout it out. The scouts come back and are completely without hope. There are giants living in this promised land. There is no way that they can ever live there. They will probably die before defeating those giants.

The abortion industry and Planned Parenthood have been giants in my life, big bad, unbeatable giants. Sure, we can get a mother to change her mind on occasion, but it is always going to be on the sly, outside the yellow painted line on the sidewalk. Since I was a child I have been praying for the end of abortion, outside clinics and everyday in my list of intentions.

 When the Israelites gave up hope in God's promises, they were given 40 years exile.

We have been wandering in the legal desert for over 40 years, and babies are still dying and it is easy to give up hope. (And to clarify, I do not think that we legal abortion is punishment for our lack of hope; I think that it is easy to lose hope when evil is going on for so long.)

So, when these videos first started coming out, I have not been at all surprised by their content. But I have not been able to watch them. Merely the images of the murdered babies that accompany them have been horrific to view, making me feel sick and sorrowful. The written out descriptions of the content have been enough for me to know of the evil that I have known about since I was a little girl.

But I realized when I heard the doubts and hopelessness of the Israelites that by giving up on things ever changing, by losing hope, I am being just like them. So, I decided to try hoping again. It is okay to hope for good, even when the odds of things changing are slim. And I have never stopped praying for change. But maybe it is time to become more active again. Maybe it is time to take my family to pray outside the place where they slaughter babies again.

And when I decided this, I read my friend Rachel Lu's article about how she believes that the Planned Parenthood videos are making a real change in the culture. And her reasons gave me even more hope. (Thanks, Rachel!)

Maybe these videos really will make a difference. Maybe I should watch them. But I am not sure I want to; it is never nice to watch evil. But I do hope that curiosity will get the best of others, and they will watch and their hearts will change.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

9 Inspiring Married Couples in Literature Worth Emulating

I am over at Church POP today, writing about married couples in literature. This was a hard list to compile as most of my favorite novels are full of unmarried, widowed, or onesided marriages (one person good and the other not so good).

I tried to stick with classic novels or widely known novels for the list, but if you have a great example, please comment on the article.

Click on over to see the list!

9 Inspiring Married Couples in Literature Worth Emulating

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