Monday, March 31, 2008

Out Like A Lamb

Today was not only the last day of March--which did indeed go "out like a lamb" after a week of totally crazy weather including snow!--but also the Solemnity Feast of the Annunciation! The Annunciation is usually celebrated on March 25th, but since it fell during Holy Week this year, it was transferred to today.

We had our afternoon snack & craft time this afternoon in honor of the Annunciation.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

  • The Annunciation from Mary: The Mother of Jesus
  • March 25th ~ Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Saints for Young People Vol 1 (our book is out of print, here is the new edition)

Throw in the kids actual schoolwork, chores, meals, and a trip to town all together it made for quite the busy Monday. However, it was a great day none the less... Hope yours was lovely as well!

On the Feast of the Annunciation

The Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, For the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is His name, and His mercy stretches from age to age for those who fear Him. He has shown the power of His arm, He has routed the proud of heart. He has pulled princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

The hungry He has filled with good things, the rich he has sent empty away. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy according to the promise He made to our ancestor of His mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.

To read about the Annunciation click here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Divine Mercy Sunday ~ A Lovely Day!

Divine Mercy ~ Captain (age 7)

The Second Sunday of Easter is honored as Divine Mercy Sunday. You can read more about this wonderful feast here, here and here.

Just like every Sunday, we started our day with Mass. Since I inevitably forgot to bring our rice bowls to church on Good Friday, we brought them today. Filling the Rice bowls with money for the poor is a Corporal Works of Mercy, and what better time to deliver them than on Divine Mercy Sunday!Our Lord said, "The first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be acts of mercy...I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me." (Diary, 742) I guess my forgetfulness worked out after all!

Once home again, the kids were so excited to find that my brother Brian was coming by for a visit! Immediately they surrounded him on the couch and pulled out some old photo albums to look through and laugh at! My how time flies. Brian will be 22 in May, and he was only 11 when hubby and I met!

The kids all worked on some coloring while I got busy making dinner. If I haven't convinced you yet to order Fenestrae Fidei yet, let me say again how much we love this coloring book! (The coloring page at the top was taken from it!) Also, as a reminder, tomorrow is the last day to mail your entries for Illuminated Inks Easter Contest. Captain was busy trying to finish his entry... It looks like I will be making a trip to the Post Office tomorrow.

In the meantime, Snuggles fought sleep hard, as hubby was feeding him some rice cereal. He didn't sleep well last night, and he was very tired today. Poor baby!

O.K...Back to dinner. I had planned to attend the Celebration our parish at 3pm, but it ended up not being possible to make another trip into town. So, without much time to plan our own celebration, I decided to try to tie in the colors of the two rays (white and red) into our meal. Dinner ended up being pasta with red sauce, white grape/cranberry juice, and rolls, with Strawberry Shortcake for dessert! (Thank you Nancy for the Strawberry's!! They ended up being my inspiration!)

"The two rays, according to what Jesus Himself told her [St. Faustina], denote blood and water. The blood recalls the sacrifice of Golgotha and the mystery of the Eucharist: the water makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit." Pope John Paul II Divine Mercy Sunday 2001

Before I sign off, here are a few more plans that I hope to use in the next couple days:
  • Print Coloring Pages & Word Search from Divine Mercy Kids
  • Review the words to the "Works of Mercy" song. (I can now rattle off all the works of mercy, just from listening to this CD with my kids... I could never remember them all before.) We have both the CD and the DVD, and LOVE them both!
  • Let kids each choose a page to color from the Works of Mercy Coloring Book.
Well... It has been a busy day, and it is getting late. I must get some rest if I am to be ready for the busy week we have ahead of us. Tomorrow is the Solemnity Feast of the Annunciation, as well as Captain's first lesson with his tutor. So, Good Night and God Bless!

Divine Mercy Sunday

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For more information about Divine Mercy Sunday, visit Catholic Culture.

I hope you all have a very blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Easter Candy + Cookies

= One of the reasons I am not looking forward to Wednesday.

Yes... I was inspired by Eileen's post when I saw it on Friday. It just sounded like so much fun! So, since we had plenty of Easter candy left, and the boys were gone for the day, the girls and I decided to do some baking! They ran to grab their aprons and hats as I pulled out a Costco sized box of cookie mix that had been sitting in the cupboard since Christmas. (Most of my Christmas baking plans fell through since we were so sick at Christmas, and I am still trying to figure out what to do with all those baking supplies including 5 bags of powdered sugar!)

You could really use whatever cookie recipe that you like, and Eileen posted a very simple one, but this one worked for us. The girls had fun mixing the batter.

Instead of making normal cookies, we decided to try out my mini muffin pan instead. The girls took turns using both hands to squeeze the dough out of a small scoop and into the greased pan.

The cookie's then headed into the oven, pre-heated to 350 degrees for about 6-8 minutes.

While the cookies were in the oven, we unwrapped the candy, one for each cookie. Twinkle Toes went with Miniature Snickers and Chiquita choose the Lemon Creme Hershey Kisses. As soon as the cookies came into the oven they got busy pressing the candies into the center of each. The heat from the cookies did the rest!

On the next batch, I decided to go with one of my favorite Easter candies, the Cadbury Mini-Easter Eggs.

!!!! Don't they look delicious?

We finished up by making a few random ones as well... My favorite was the one made with a Reese's Peanut Butter cup... It was too good! Unfortunately, or rather, It was a GOOD THING that there were only 2 left from Easter. I have a weakness for both Cadbury Egg's and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!

So, what have you been doing with all that Easter candy?

Chocolate, OF COURSE!

You Are a Cadbury Creme Egg

You're the type that stole little brother's easter basket so that you could have MORE CANDY!

Ummm.... And just what is wrong with that?? ;)

On Lap Books

I recently posted about the Butterfly Lapbook Twinkle Toes made. In addition to leaving a great Butterfly finger play/song in the comments, Jamie asked, "Do you buy the folder like that, or do you cut paper and fold it?" So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little about Lapbooking with you all. I know some of you are old pros at this, and Lapbooking is new to us, but I thought I would share a little bit of what I have found helpful.

When we made our first lap book, I too wasn't sure if I had to go and purchase a special folder. The frugal momma in me was very excited to find that all I needed was a file folder, and I had a whole CASE of those from Costco!! Yeah!!

Here is a basic tutorial on how to make/fold a file folder to become a Lapbook:

For our Butterfly Lapbook, we used the basic layout with a yellow file folder--yes, I couldn't help buying a pack of various color folders!--and added an extension.

We now have a great book called The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook that illustrates all the various types of Layouts, Extensions and Assembly, in addition to directions on how to make a number of various mini-books and ideas for Lapbook themes. (We are hoping to make the "Ten Commandment" lap book soon!) However, if you scroll to the bottom of this pdf file you can see an illustration of how to add on the small extension that we used. It says to use cardstock, but since I didn't have any yellow cardstock, we trimmed a piece of yellow construction paper and attached it with clear packing tape, and this worked just fine.

Now, if you need to make your Lapbook really roomy, you can use two file folders and make a Double Lapbook:

We used a Double Lapbook when the boys made their Grinch Lapbooks. OH! There is quite a few more quick lessons on youtube too!

In addition, here are a few of the resources that I have found helpful:
  • Lapbooking on Squidoo -This site is packed with info and pictures!
  • Notebooking Pages - Lots of free resources including notebooking pages and lapbooking templates.
  • CurrClick - Each week they offer a free product for download--This is where we got our Grinch Lapbook.
  • Hands Of A Child - This site offers a free download each quarter-- This is where we got Turkey Time.
  • The Home School Mom: Lap books - This has pictures of student lap books.
  • Homeschool Share - Lots of Free Lapbooks -- including quite a few based on FIAR books.
  • Homeschool Share - TONS of printable mini book templates for inside your lapbook.
  • Homeschool Helper - This has even more lapbook designs--I got some of the ideas for the Butterfly lapbook here-- as well as lots of printable lapbook templates!
  • And, I must mention Meredith! She is full of ideas, and I just love Matthias's 1st Communion Notebook (slightly different than a lapbook). Captain has begun one like it in preparation for his First Communion.
Anyhow, what it comes down to is that there is just SO many links, and SO little time!!

If anyone has any favorite resources they like to share, go ahead and leave them! I'm always on the lookout for more ideas!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Speaking of Peace...

... I wanted to share this prayer by Mother Teresa with you all.

“May today be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be... May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you... May you be content knowing you are a child of God... Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of you.”

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mittenstrings: Chapter 3

" In stillness, we find our peace. Knowing peace at home, we bring peace into the world. "

The third chapter of Mitten Strings For God is titled Peace. What a perfect topic for this peaceful morning! It is currently snowing outside--please note, we never have snow in March!--the boys have gone to Mass & work with daddy, the girls are sitting here coloring nicely while Snuggles plays with a few toys. Dinner is in the crock pot, and playing softly in the background is Triumph of the Cross, Music for Easter, a CD from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I wish all mornings were as peaceful as this! :)

Peace is something I struggle constantly to find and create in our home. Like the author of Mitten Strings said, "I am forever seeking a balance in our family life between activity and stillness, sound and silence, society and solitude. For now, I still have a measure of control over the tenor of my children's days, but as the actual amount of time we spend alone together inevitably shrinks, maintaining this balance becomes more important--and more challenging. "

I use to thrive on being overly busy, constantly on the run, and having "something to do"... Lately, it seems, through our current circumstances (gas prices, the distance to town, and five young home educated children), that God is telling me to slow down, cut back on our activities outside the home, and enjoy the stillness and this Ordinary Time!

As I was reflecting upon the combination of peace and home schooling, I remembered a line I highlighted in an article by Father Hardon, "Catholic home schooling is the planned and organized teaching and training of children at home, for their peaceful and effective life in this world, and for their eternal salvation in the world to come."

Peace and Home schooling... Can those two words work together???

I am so blessed to be able to home school my children. However, there has been many times, especially the past four months, in which I have considered putting my children into school. I don't think that I have mentioned it here, but I have been discussing it with hubby and friends.

Growing up I was home-schooled from grade 5 on. Being the social girl that I am, I resented home-schooling, and would beg and beg my parents to let me go back to school. I was determined that when I was a parent, "I would NEVER home school my kids." However, looking back, I am so grateful to my parents for persevering, and making the sacrifice to home educate us children.

Moving on, to when I was newly married, a friend of my mothers (who was considering home schooling her children) asked me, "What would be your reason for NOT home schooling?" I thought about it for 2 seconds and answered, "Laziness."

It would be easy to send my children to school... and hard to teach them at home.

Now, don't get me wrong... I love home schooling! I love being able to pick out all the books we use! I love knowing that my children are receiving an authentically Catholic education! I love being able to have the time to do crafts with my children and read lots and lots of books to them! I love not having to worry about whether someone is hurting them or bullying them. And most of all, I get to have the reassurance that I am fulfilling God's will for my children's lives and upbringing.

What I don't love, is not knowing what to do when one of my children is struggling with learning, having a messy unorganized home, and having very little quite time for myself.

Now, if I am honest with myself, I don't think I would actually put my children into school. A friend of mine recently said, "You'll home school at least another year, since you are still planning on going to that conference." She is right. This was just my cry for help. And help is coming! In addition to setting out on a major decluttering of our home, since I am finding that an organized home is key to my sanity, I had Captain tested. It turns out that he has a couple learning challenges. They appear to be mild, but it explains my frustration (as well as his!) with teaching him to read. With therapy, they can easily be corrected, and the tutor begins on Monday. I am so relieved to find out that I am not a total failure at home schooling!

Anyhow, I have totally digressed on this post! I am sorry... but these are the thoughts that this chapter brought about! :)

Well, I have spent too much time online this morning. Time for me to get back to enjoying this rare peaceful morning! I think I am going to go and cuddle on the couch with my girls and read a few more books about Butterflies!

So, YES, it seems that I can have Peace and still Home School!

Before I go, don't miss Dawn's post about this chapter. Like usual, she has given a wonderful list of questions to think about! Thank you Dawn! I am going to print it out to re-read and think about while the kids are napping this afternoon!

"Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labors." ~ St. Thérèse


in MARCH???

This is such a change from the other day!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Butterfly Lap Book

Twinkle Toes has been talking about Butterflies since our Caterpillar/Cocoon/Butterfly Holy Week Project.

I decided to take her interest a step further and have her make a lap book on Butterflies! She was very excited!

We began by reading a couple of our books:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne

Today we picked up the following additional books about butterfly's from the library--OH! It is SO NICE to have our library's open again!-- to read during the next couple weeks:

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
Butterfly House

She began her lap book by coloring a picture for the cover... Like usual, Chiquita wanted to color one too!

Next she practiced writing the letters C for Caterpillar, and B for Butterfly, and then made alphabet mini books for those 2 letters.

After that she recited her numbers and then worked on practicing number placement for numbers 1-9 in addition to reviewing her colors using a Caterpillar Circles and Colors Activity. She then colored a beautiful Letter B for Butterfly. These were both added to the lap book next to the corresponding mini-books.

Next we discussed, and put together a mini-book, on the life cycle of the butterfly that I found over at Enchanted Learning. Note: This printout requires membership. If you don't happen to have a member ship at Enchanted Learning, there are still lots of free printables available from them. I just love this site! I reduced the book to 70% before printing.

I also printed out the Painted Lady Butterfly Life Cycle Sequencing Cards which she colored and put in order. We then made an envelope for them inside the lap book.

For copy work, she copied--currently I create a word document, with the letters in light gray, for her to trace--the following poem from one of our favorite books, Favorite Poems Old and New:
by Christina Rossetti

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

We had some extra room on one side, so we added a Caterpillar that she colored, and then she learned about symmetry through the use of finger paint!
Painted Symmetrical Butterfly

Fold a piece of construction paper in half and cut out a butterfly shape. Open it up and allow the student to dab different colors of paint on one side. Fold the butterfly back up and smooth it down with the palm of the hand. Open it up and you have a symmetrical butterfly.
For the Back of the lap book, and to tie in our Easter butterfly, I printed out a Butterfly Dot-to-dot followed by, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

I made a list of possible activities for the girls to do:
We have only done a few of these so far... I hope to do a few more of them the rest of the week.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures of her completed lap book:

Before I go, has anyone ever had a Butterfly Garden or made your own? It sounds so neat! I'd also love to hear any suggestions you have on any other Butterfly themed picture books!

This is seriously getting ridiculous...

Any suggestions?

In case you were wondering...

...just what my children were doing last week while I crazily spring cleaned our home for Easter, they did get a little school work done, as well as watch some educational and religious videos since cartoon/movies were off limits for Lent.

The rest of the time, they spent many hours outside staying out of my way and burning off energy enjoying the beginning of Spring!

At one point, while the girls were napping, I thought it was just way too quite out there, so I looked out to see what they were up to. This is what I found:

When hubby got home that night, they asked him, "Daddy, can you get out your chainsaw and cut some more branches for us... We can't find any more!"

And here I was wondering just HOW I picked up Poison Oak!