Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Looking Back :: Our 2015-2016 Curriculum

The Catholic Daily Planner and 2016 Saints Calendar
(You can order the 2017 Saints Calendar & 16-Month Planner now, ready to use beginning in September!)

I had every intention of sharing our 2015-2016 Curriculum Plans last fall. However, once our school year got underway, shortly after our month long summer road trip, I needed to focus on actually completing the plans with our children, rather than blogging about them... ;)  We successfully finished the year and I'm working on plans for 2016-2017 now, but first I wanted to pull this post out of my draft folder and finish it up for my own records at least. 

This past school year our children were in 9th, 9th, 6th, 5th, 3rd, Kindergarten, and Pre-K.  

Ranger actually started the year as an 8th grader, even though he has been studying at the same level as his older brother for a few years now, but by the end of September we made it official and he was moved up to 9th grade!  

Our children have been enrolled in a home-based charter school for a number of years now. We've jumped through the required hoops (testing, weekly samples, etc) in the past in order to be able to use the "allotment" our children receive to pay for extra-curricular activities, sports, and tutoring. 

Originally I thought Ranger would be able to earn high school credit in 8th grade for his high school level courses, but that wasn't the case. If he wanted to earn the credit he had to be enrolled as a high schooler by the end of the year. We had three options that we considered:

1. Leave him in 8th grade and basically have him complete 5 years of high school, filling in the graduation requirements with advance classes or dual-credit classes at the community college. (He wasn't thrilled about this option.) 

2. Move him up to 9th grade at the end of the school year depending on how he did in the high school classes. (This is what the charter school director was suggesting, but we didn't like that it would mean that he would miss out on a year of high school sports, if he ended up being moved up from 8th to 10th at the end of the school year.)  

3. Move him up to 9th grade at the beginning of the year, with approval from the school depending on his beginning-of-the-year test scores. (My youngest two brothers did the same thing: Kevin was held back a year due to his Auditory Processing Challenges, just like our oldest son, and David skipped 8th grade, just like our second son. They are 22 and 20 now and will both be seniors in college this fall with full golf scholarships! I had quite a few conversations with my mom on whether it was the right thing to do or not. We also had conversations with Ranger about whether or not he wanted to be a little older his senior year - mainly due to the competitive sports - and if he wanted to have a year in those sports without his older brother. Not to mention that going this route meant we would have our oldest two leaving for college at the SAME time!) 

We ended up going with the 3rd option and Ranger had a great school year! He was at the top of his Science class, had the best test scores in the school (he scored in the 96 percentile of all 9th graders statewide at the end of the year on the state math test), and finished the year with a 4.0. We also had the added benefit of having a built in tutor as well. Late at night I'd often find Ranger explaining math concepts to his older brother. Such a blessing! The Regional Varsity golf tournament was hard for him. I had to remind him that not only were he and his brother some of the only freshman out on the course that day, he was by far the youngest, and he didn't come in last - far from it! We were so proud of them for their hard work and just qualifying to complete with all the older Varsity players from all the other schools with so little experience! (Other than week long summer golf camps, this was their first year playing golf.)  In addition to earning the Varsity Award for hockey and golf, the boys both received Athlete-of-the-Week during golf season and Kiwanis Student-of-the-Month Awards! 

The charter did have quite a few challenges though... I'm not going to go into them all right now, but I will say that we have decided to withdraw at least our boys. We have already enrolled our high-schoolers in Kolbe Academy for this upcoming fall! I think it will be a perfect fit for our family and they will be working towards the Magna Cum Laude Diploma. 

We continued using Saxon Math with all the children, as well as courses from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and All About Learning (AAL) for Language Arts, Focus on Science Geology from Real Science for Kids, Latin from Memoria Press (making changes for next year), portions of Connecting with History from RC History, and Meet the Masters for Art.  

I'm not going to list all the supplemental resources we used this past year, but here is an overview of all the core texts for each of our children:

Captain and Ranger :: 9th Grade 

Our Quest for Happiness: Our Goals and Our Guides (with Dad)
The History of the Church (supplemental reading)
Christ 101 (partially completed, plan to continue)

Additional resources:
Beginning Apologetics
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Ignatius Catholic Bible (Compact)
Imitation of Christ

The Elegant Essay: Building Blocks for Analytical Writing (1st Semester)
Speech Boot Camp (2nd Semester)
Fix It! Grammar: Frog Prince, or Just Deserts (all year)
Phonetic Zoo, Level C (all year)

History & Literature - World History I:
A Light to the Nations, Part I: Development of Christian Civilization
Tests from A Light to the Nations Student Workbook and Teachers Manual
Additional Literature chosen from Connecting with History Volume 2 (starting at Unit 5) and Volume 3 for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds - I will try and share the booklists and checklists I created for them for the year. 

Saxon Algebra 1 with Art Reed DVDs and 1-2 hours of weekly tutoring

We had been using the Saxon Teacher CDs (which were working fine) but switched the older boys to the Art Reed DVDs for 2015-2016. They are excellent! I've already ordered the Art Reed DVDs for the girls for next year. 

Physical Science: Concepts in Action with Earth & Space Science
with weekly science labs at our local charter school

Latin I: 
First Form Latin with DVDs and Quizzes & Test Booklet
(We will be making changes for 2016-2017. I'll share the details when I post our curriculum plans.) 

High School Robotics
Drivers Education (summer - Captain only)

Fine Arts:
Meet the Masters: Tracks B & C (8 artists, 4 per semester)

Physical Education:
High School Hockey - Varsity Team (winter)
In-House Hockey League (Oct-Mar)
High School Golf - Varsity Team (spring)


Twinkle Toes :: 6th Grade

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (continue with Dad)

Saxon Math 7/6 with Teacher CDs

Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course Level B
Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood
Phonetic Zoo, Level B
Pictures in Cursive and Copybook Cursive (Latin Hymns and Prayers)
Additional Literature

First Form Latin with DVDs

History & Geography:
Maps Charts and Graphs Level F: Eastern Hemisphere
The World's Story
Additional Literature chosen from Connecting with History Volume 2 (starting at Unit 5) and Volume 3 for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds

Chiquita :: 5th Grade

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (with Dad)


Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive, Continuation Course A
Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood
Phonetic Zoo, Level A
Pictures in Cursive and Copybook Cursive (Latin Hymns and Prayers)
Additional Literature

History & Geography:
Maps Charts and Graphs Level E: United States and It's Neighbors
Founders of Freedom
Additional Literature chosen from Connecting with History Volume 2 (starting at Unit 5) and Volume 3 for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds
Snuggles :: 3rd Grade 

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 1 (with Dad)

Saxon Math 3

Logic Safari Book 1

Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive, Level A (begin at a slow pace with lots of reinforcement, will continue next year in 4th grade)
Phonetic Zoo, Level A
Handwriting Worksheets
Lots of Readers - Faith and Freedom Readers, Saint Books, All About Reading ReadersGospel Trekkers, Tales of the RAF, Farmer Boy, The Hobbit and much more (His reading really took off this year. He was reading all the time and to anyone who would listen!) 

History & Geography:
Maps Charts and Graphs Level C: Communities
Founders of Freedom
Additional Literature chosen from Connecting with History Volume 2 (starting at Unit 5) and Volume 3 for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds

Life Is Precious: A Culture of Life Unit Study for Elementary Students
Focus on Elementary Geology with Laboratory Workbook and Teacher's Manual

Meet the Masters: Tracks B & C

Physical Education:
In-House Hockey League (Oct-Mar)


Rose :: Kindergarten

St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (with Dad)

Saxon Math 1 (begin this year, will continue next year)

Language Arts:
Primary Arts of Language: Writing and Reading
All About Spelling Level 1

History & Geography:
Founders of Freedom
Additional Literature chosen from Connecting with History Volume 2 (starting at Unit 5) and Volume 3 for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds
    Life Is Precious: A Culture of Life Unit Study for Elementary Students
    Focus on Elementary Geology with Laboratory Workbook and Teacher's Manual


    Bud :: Pre-Kindergarten 

    In addition to the Life Is Precious: A Culture of Life Unit Study for Elementary Students we incorporate lots of picture books, family field trips, educational games, and religion lessons with Daddy each week. Our pre-schooler also loves celebrating the saints and participating in our family art classes.  He still has one more year before he will officially begin Kindergarten in 2017-2018.

    Looks like one of my teens had some fun with the handwriting manipulatives.
    #handwritingwithouttears #highschooledition

    I have come to realize that just because I haven't been able to keep up with my own hopes and expectations for our younger children, it doesn't mean that the education they are receiving is lacking.

    Our younger children's "curriculum" may not include all of the same fun activities that our older children enjoyed while learning with "Little Saints" and "The Alphabet Path" but that doesn't mean that it isn't just as enriching, especially with so many fun and amazing older siblings to help teach them and include them in their own enrichment activities!

    But we'll see... Maybe this next school year will be the year that I'll be able to add more of that back in to our plans.

    Searching for "Hidden Treasure" courtesy of their older sisters whose geology experiment this week included burying a treasure, creating a map, and giving that map to a friend. #homeschoolingrocks #focusongeology

    I will be making a few small changes for this upcoming year, which I'll do best to share soon! 

    I also have a WHOLE SET (Text Book, Test BookActivity BookTeacher's Manual, Timeline, Dramatized Audio Book, and video lecture series - a $154.70 value!) of The Story of Civilization: Volume 1 - The Ancient World from TAN to review and giveaway (I'm looking forward to using this when we get back to Ancient History in a couple years) so be sure to watch for that in the next couple weeks.

    Also, don't forget Sacred Heart Books and Gifts when ordering your curriculum! I have a shopping cart going right now as I finalize our plans for this upcoming year. Not only does Linda offer great prices, you can also get free shipping on orders of $40+ with coupon code JMJFS OR free shipping and $5 off on orders of $60+ with coupon code JMJFS5 good through August 3, 2016.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    Saint Anne's Colors

    According to Catholic Tradition, "Saint Anne has two colors, red and green, one for love, the other for rebirth, as she bore the New Eve, Mary. No artist is bound to paint the mother of Mary wearing these two colors, and a number of holy cards do not do so, but it is more often the case that Saint Anne is seen with one or both of these colors in her robes. Like the Virgin Mary she usually has a white lily for purity in the scene and often roses, too, again a parallel with the Virgin. The other symbol is an open book because it is she who steeped the Mother of God in the holy mysteries."

    St. Anne is one of the saints I choose when I was confirmed. We had a full day today, starting with Driver's Ed this morning for our 16 year old, lunch at the park, and then I spent the afternoon at the office working. One of my brothers happened to show up at the office with all sorts of freshly-picked goodies to share from one of the job sites. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... Fresh figs taste SO amazing! Especially on a hot summer day. They made a perfect {AIP approved} treat for today's feast!  

    .: From the Archives :. 

    Celebrating St. Anne's Day (St. Anne's Day Dessert Fruit Pizza) 
    On the Feast of St. Anne (Watermelon Pie & more...) 

    ... and here's the link to my favorite St. Anne statue

    O models of pious and virtuous married persons, St. Joachim and St. Anne! Through the wondrous blessing with which God rejoiced you when He chose you as the parents of the ever blessed Virgin, the mother of our Savior, obtain for us, we beseech you, the grace to desire nothing but virtue and piety; that, in fidelity and love, we may share each other's joys and sorrows, and together with our children lead such a life as to insure our entrance into the kingdom of heaven! Amen.

    Happy Feast of Sts. Joachim & Anne! 

    Monday, July 25, 2016

    Feast of St. James the Greater

    A certain someone baked Madeleines again today... This time she made "Bacon and Chocolate" to celebrate her bacon-loving older brother's nameday! Happy Feast of St. James!

    {Recipe can be found in We Love Madeleines. I shared it over at Catholic Cuisine here.}  

    O glorious Apostle, Saint James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart was chosen by Jesus to be witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane; thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life, that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus, we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven. Amen.

    St. James the Greater, Ora Pro Nobis!

    Saturday, July 23, 2016

    The Summer Book of Days

    I haven't had a chance to share much about The 2016 Rocky Mountain Catholic Home Educators Conference yet (hopefully soon!) but thanks to some of my wonderful and always generous sponsors (Catholic Child, Prayer Pillowcases, De Montfort Music, Culture of Life Studies, and author Cay Gibson) I had all sorts of awesome prizes to give away during my workshops!

    In addition to the copies of Catholic Mosaic and Christmas Mosaic that Cay sent for the giveaways, she also sent me a copy of her new seasonal planner, The Summer Book of Days.

    "More than a planner, A Seasonal Book of Days helps you record the moments that truly matter so you learn to look for those moments every day of your life."

    Even though this planner is made specifically for mothers, I gave my copy on to our oldest daughter. She is really enjoying coloring the lovely illustrations throughout the book, recording her exercise and water intake each day, writing down all the special moments she wants to remember, and all the fun writing and planning prompts sprinkled throughout the book! She is even making some plans for "Homemade Ice Cream" and an "Ice Cream Sundae Bar!" Thank you for all the inspiration, Cay! 

    The Autoimmune Protocol :: Homemade Guacamole

    I never did get around to sharing my guacamole recipe last year, after posting the Seven Snacks That Helped Me Survive the AIP Diet. I  have had a few more requests for it lately so I dug the post out of my draft folder to finish up and share with you all! I don't have exact measurements for you - it ends up a little different every time I make it depending on what I have on hand - but here's what I use:

    3-4 avocados, peeled and diced
    1 large cucumber (or 4 small cucumbers), diced
    1/2 cup red onion, chopped
    1 lime, juiced
    2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    olive oil (I just drizzle some over)
    apple cider vinegar (same thing, just drizzle some over)
    1/4-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
    1 tsp sea salt

    Mix avocado, cucumber, onion and garlic in bowl. Stir in lime juice. Drizzle olive oil and apple cider vinegar over, sprinkle sea salt and stir together. Taste to make sure it has enough salt. Garnish with cilantro. Use as a dip or a condiment. Enjoy!

    I enjoy this guacamole with plantain chips, with baby carrots, on my lettuce wrapped hamburgers, on my salads, on my fish taco lettuce wraps, or even by the spoonful! ;) Mmmmmmm!

    From the Archives:

    The Autoimmune Protocol :: My Journey Towards Better Health & Weight Loss with the AIP Diet

    Additional AIP + Paleo Recipes

    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

    Happy Feast of St. Mary Magdalene! The Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments recently raised the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22nd to a feast. You can read more about this over at Catholic Culture

    "Mary Magdalen was well known as a sinner when she first saw Our Lord. She was very beautiful and very proud, but after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at His feet. Then with her long beautiful hair, she wiped his feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch Him, but Our Lord could see into Mary's heart, and He said: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much." Then to Mary He said kindly, "Your faith has made you safe. Go in peace."

    From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and His Apostles. And when Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the food of His cross, unafraid for herself, and thinking only of His sufferings. No wonder Jesus said of her: "She has loved much."

    After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. Not finding the sacred body, she began to weep, and seeing someone whom she thought was a gardener, she asked him if he knew where the Body of her beloved Master had been taken. But then the Person spoke in a voice she knew well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, risen from the dead! And He had chosen to show Himself first to Mary Magdalen, the repentant sinner."

    Today I will often say the invocation, "Jesus, make me love You more and more." When the love of God fills our hearts, it purifies them from every stain of sin.  

    Our 4 year old discovered the Risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene in his Easter Basket earlier this year, along with the He Is Risen! set from Naturally Catholic. Our little ones pulled it out of the basket to play with as we read the story of St. Mary Magdalene today.

    I had to go to the office and work for a few hours this afternoon. When I got back home the little kids were "playing Mass," our oldest son had started preparing dinner, and our oldest daughter was finishing up a batch of Madeleines (her very first time making them!) to celebrate today's FEAST of Saint Mary Magdalene!

    Saint Mary Magdalen form Saints: A Year in Faith and Art
    Photo Credit: Twinkle Toes

    You can find the recipe for these Madeleines over at Catholic Cuisine(Madeleine is a variation of Magdalene.) This recipe is also perfect for the feast of St. James coming up on July 25h! 

    "Playing Mass!" - Photo Credit: Twinkle Toes

    Mary Magdalene from Lives and Legends of the Saints

    St. Mary Magdalene, Ora Pro Nobis!

    Marvel's Avengers :: Captain America Birthday Party

    Captain turned SIXTEEN this week!!! We started celebrating the night before with a Captain America Movie Night with a few friends and continued the party with extended family on his actual birthday. Captain America theme of course!

    .: Party Food :. 

    So are you two…? Do you…? Fondue? ~ Steve Rogers
    Fondue is just cheese and bread, my friend. ~ Howard Stark

    Or, in our case, melted chocolate with berries and marshmallows!

    You could have the power of the gods! Yet you wear a flag on your chest and think you fight a battle of nations! I have seen the future, Captain! There are no flags!  ~ Red Skull

    Not my future! ~ Captain America

    American Flag Bean Dip
    Refried Beans, Sour Cream mixed with Taco Seasoning, Shredded Lettuce, Shredded cheese, Quartered Cherry Tomatoes, and Chopped Olives

    ... served with Salsa and "Star" shaped Scoops!

    Geez! Somebody get THAT kid a SANDWICH. ~ Senator Brandt

    We had sandwiches for lunch before heading to the golf course... and then pizza for dinner!

    Originally I thought I'd do another "Avengers Assemble Pizza Party" but I had to keep it as quick and simple as possible so I just picked up (the day before to take advantage of $10 Tuesday!) take-n-bakes at Papa Murphy's: Pepperoni, Murphy's Combo, Papa's All Meat, and the seasonal BBQ Chicken Pizza which is Captain's favorite! 

    I also pulled out the movie reel birthday banner from a past birthday. 

    .: Party Time :. 

    You ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?
    ~ Captain America 

    ... aka: a water balloon fight with the uncles... 

    It's so nice to have over half of my siblings back home and/or in the area this summer.
    We had everyone else jump into the picture for a quick group photo... 

    ... then my dad has us all stay right where we were for a quick game of Simon (or Captain!) says... 

    Mom/Grandma beat us all and won the game! 

    .: Birthday Gifts :. 

    Spending time with friends and family was at the top of his "wish list" so we picked up some of his close friends for a movie night and took him golfing.  The rest of his gifts from Sean and I were mostly on the practical side this year. We had picked up a pair of golf shorts, slip-on shoes and some polarized sunglasses at Costco...

    ... the last time we went shopping at Trader Joe's we filled a big bag of some of his favorite foods... 

    ... and we also surprised him with a book which he didn't know had been published yet! 

    I pre-ordered the newest Brotherband book last February and it was released last month! 

    Grandpa & Grandma, Aunt Mary, Uncle Kevin and Uncle David all surprised him with an awesome hammock and hammock suspension system

    He also received such thoughtful and generous gifts from Grandpa & Grandma G, Uncle Paul & Ramona (Paul's sweet girlfriend who is visiting from Germany), and Uncle Brian & Aunt Meagan. 

    .: Captain America's Shield Birthday Cake :. 

    What do you think?
    ~ Steve Rogers, showing his shield to Peggy

    Yes. I think it works.
    ~ Peggy Carter, sweetly, after unloading her gun into the shield

    I posted more about the cake here:

    Happy 16th Birthday, Captain!