Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lent 2018

Last week I had another article published by Catholic Sistas.  It was a fairly extensive list of appropriate Lenten reading material for all ages.  You can read it here.

It has been the practice in our family to spend 30 minutes of each day during Lent reading from spiritual works. This year I have added a journaling or Lectio Divina aspect to our practice.


Here are our Lenten reading/journaling materials for 2018




Leo:  I still read out loud to our youngest.  Every year we work our way through the Catholic Treasure Box series as well as several other lovely picture books I've collected over the years.  This year I'm adding The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane, Saint Brendan and the Voyage Before Columbus, and The Queen of the Cross.  I also signed him up for Holy Heroes' Lenten Adventure daily emails. For his journaling I downloaded free worksheets from Education in Virtue.






Benedict: Our avid reader will read Amy Welborn's series of Prove It books, The Young People's Book of Saints by Hugh Ross Williamson, and anything else I can find to keep him reading.  Education in Virtue publishes a lovely Lenten journal entitled The Paschal Mystery of Christ which is appropriate for 6th grade through high school.

Katerina: Kat will be reading Patrick Madrid's Surprised by Truth series and The Many Faces of Virtue by Donald DeMarco.  She will also be using Education in Virtue's Lenten journal.






Angela and Olivia:  Our college girls will choose their own reading material, if they have time between school and work.  I got them each a copy of Above All from Take up and Read for their Lectio Divina.

Myself: I'll be finishing Sigrid Undset's Stages on the Road and beginning Strangers in a Strange Land.  I might even reread Cardinal Dolan's Called to Holiness.  I will also be using Above All for my Lectio Divina.


I can't believe Lent is just a few hours away.  I pray your Lent is fruitful and draws you closer to our Lord. Pax!






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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Seven Years

I'll never forget the day we surprised our 6 kids and told them we were expecting another baby.  They were all so excited, especially Nadja, who cried with joy.  Leo has been just that too, an absolute joy.  He has been such a gift to our family.  On Sunday our little gift turned 7.




He had a marvelous day beginning with chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.



I created a Sour Patch Kid cake using citric acid to give it an extra sour kick.  It was quite successful, in fact maybe too successful.  A couple of us couldn't finish an entire piece because it was almost too sour. 






This year's books I purchased before Christmas from a dear friend who recently became an Usborne Books distributor.  Leo and Ben both dream of becoming inventors and I thought The Story of Inventions would be perfect for Leo.  The Usborne Big Maze Book is a big hit with my little maze and puzzle lover.



His favorite book is the Secrets of  Winter which comes from Usborne's Shine-A-Light series.  As you read you shine a flash light through the back of the page to discover hidden objects. 


I really can't believe it's already been 7 years.  Time is so fleeting.  We are trying to cherish our last baby being little for as long as possible, but he is growing fast and becoming his own little person. What a blessing he has been.




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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is it the End for Catholic Mom Blogs?

I used to be a pretty prolific blogger but over the years I found myself blogging much less frequently. Honestly, Facebook and Instagram are so much easier and just seem to provide more immediate gratification.  I'm sure that is part of the reason this blog has gathered cobwebs for several months.  I feel another reason is just that I've outgrown of mommy blogging, or more accurately, my children have outgrown it.

I came across an article (How the Mom Internet Became a Spotless, Sponsored Void) discussing the phenomenon of the disappearance of mom blogs and there was a lot of truth in it.  It postulated that the nitty, gritty of the mom blogging world has become completely overshadowed by the perfect and the commercial.  Let's face it, I will never be a Ree Drummond and I'm ok with that.  She's awesome and interesting and has a team of folks helping her sell her Pioneer Woman persona. God Bless her.

I started this blog when Ben was just 2 and most of what I blogged about was our family, our Faith, and our homeschooling experience, with a spattering of recipes and photography mixed in. For me, I think the deeper reason blogging has died out has to do with my family having grown up to the point that they'd rather I didn't share so much.  Over the years I did try to remain sensitive to their desire for privacy but most of them are at this age now and it leaves me very little to blog and I kind of miss it.

Fortunately, an opportunity to expand my blogging scope of experience presented itself when Catholic Sistas put out the call for Ink Slingers.  I submitted a piece, was interviewed and asked to join their team of contributing writers.  My first article was published yesterday and I'm beyond excited to be starting out on this new writing venture.  I'll be blogging less frequently about our kids and more frequently about matters of Faith and in support of Catholic sisterhood.  There are so many talented writers on our team and I've enjoyed the back and forth I've had with my editor and other contributors.  I'll continue to post here occasionally, but my main focus will be on my writing for Catholic Sistas.  I hope you'll visit me there.


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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Totality

Several months ago, Chris mentioned we should drive a few hours north to witness the 2017 eclipse in totality.  We were going to experience 99.1% here in our own yard, so I honestly didn't think we needed to travel to see more of an eclipse.  Fortunately, Chris continued to talk up the eclipse and threw in the idea of spending a couple days in Sun Valley before August 21st.  I finally agreed to the idea and he began planning the trip which included two nights of pampering in Sun Valley consisting of great food and fun for everyone and then one night roughing it at a campsite.

Chris found a property in Rigby, Idaho via AirBNB which was renting out camping spots especially for the eclipse.  The price wasn't too bad and the property included portable out houses.  The boys were excited about the prospect of camping, something we've never done with the kids before.  After our luxurious getaway in Sun Valley, we drove about 3 hours to the campsite.  The property owners were wonderfully organized.  They'd sold 53 sites and had them all marked out, numbered, and with our names posted.  The boys quickly made friends with other camping families and spent the evening collecting bugs and exploring the property.  We roasted marshmallows around a campfire and met some really wonderful and smart folks who were lovers of astronomy, much like our own family.  When quiet hours hit at 10:30 that night the camp was dead silent and we got as much rest as was possible sleeping crammed in a tent on air mattresses in fairly cold temps.

In the morning we had breakfast and began setting up my camera on a tripod and using the solar filter for our telescope I took a couple preliminary images of the sun before first contact.  We geared up with our special solar eclipse glasses and sternly warned the boys to only look at the eclipse while wearing their glasses.  The campsite was electrified with excitement as families set up their telescopes, solar scopes, etc. around us.  After first contact I took one photo and then decided my equipment wasn't quite specialized enough to capture great photos and really I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the event.  It was so much fun.  As second contact approached the excitement grew.  There was cheering as folks around us counted down to totality.  To see the eclipse in totality was something I will never forget.  It was awe inspiring and I got choked up just considering the greatness of God's creation.  To have created the sun and moon in such a way that their relative diameters and distances between the earth and themselves is so amazing.  The geometry for a total eclipse is so precise one cannot just believe it's just chance. Ben was particularly impressed expressing his awe and wonder, "4 days for 2 minutes was totally worth it."

At the end a three hour drive home took more than eight painful hours but I will be forever grateful for a husband who appreciates the wonders of the universe and encouraged us all to partake in such a unique event.  It was an experience we were able to share with our three youngest children and I hope a cherished memory for them, as it is now for me.




Our humble 6 man tent






excited boys




Eye protection: check



Eclipse thumbs up





Even the teenager thought it was pretty awesome




At totality we experienced a 360 degree sunset






My sole eclipse photo which ended up not being too shabby.  I'm still glad I resisted the urge to photograph the entire event and just enjoyed it live.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photography Before and After




I've been on the hunt for a new photo editor.  For years we have avoided purchasing Adobe products because of their corporate support of Planned Parenthood.  Until now I'd been using Aperture (which Apple is phasing out) and the photo editing included in Apple's Photo App. After trying out a few trial software programs and doing a little research I settled on Aurora HDR 2017.  It's fairly simple to use and I've loved the results.  

A few of the best aspects of Aurora:
It comes with several dozen preset filters that make editing a breeze.
The fine tune controls are easy to use and intuitive.
Importing and exporting photos is very simple.
Compared to many other editing programs Aurora is fairly inexpensive.


A couple of noteworthy drawbacks regarding Aurora:  
It is an HDR photo editor and may not be the best for editing some photos such as portraits.
It cannot make a bad photo good, but it can make a good photo great.
I haven't quite figured out the blemish brush or crop features.
It does not have an archiving system and so you will need to use other applications or software to archive your photos.


The following are just a few examples of photos I edited today using Aurora.  I spent just a tad over 2 hours editing 20 photos.


Before


After






Before


After







Before


After






Before


After






Before


After









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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Value in Falling Short

Benedict has played Minor Little League Baseball for the last three years.  He loves it and has improved in both hitting and fielding each year, but this year his improvement was phenomenal.  He's always been a good little contact hitter, rarely striking out at bat.  Three games into this last season he told me he'd set a goal for himself.  He wasn't going to strike out a single time the entire season.  Game after game he managed to make contact with the ball or would carefully watch imperfect pitches go by and make it on to base on balls.  It got to the point I started to worry with each at bat, "What if he strikes out?"

Ben made it through the entire regular season without striking out a single time.  He was thrilled.  His team mates were impressed, even if they did bet on him eventually being struck out.  His team earned the second seed in the local playoffs.  His streak continued through game 1.  Amazing!  His first at bat in the quarter finals he watched a pitch go by confident it was a ball.  It was not.  He swung at the next two pitch making contact only for the balls to fly foul.  With a full count looming over him and the opposing team's pitcher, Ben watched one more low pitch go by and it was called a strike.  The poor kid went down looking. His coach and teammates patted him on the back as he slumped back to the dugout and consoled him with,  "It's alright, Ben. Everyone strikes out."

On the way home from the game I took the opportunity to let Ben know how proud I was of him.  He set a real goal for himself and he came so very close to achieving it. I told him to look at how much his skills had soared this year.  Not only did he improve his contact hitting, but he also started following through once his bat hit the ball and several times his hits made it out of the infield and had to be chased down by outfielders.  His fielding skills had developed enough for him to be trusted with third base duties on several occasions, even during the playoffs. I encouraged him by saying he had so much to be proud of, but also has more skill to continue developing.  We talked about the value of setting goals, even when we don't quite meet our ambitions we almost always succeed in doing better.

Ben learned a valuable lesson in baseball this season and it is one that can carry over into so many other aspects of his life.  It is exceedingly good to aspire toward improvement in all areas of our lives.  Achieving our aims is satisfying for certain, but I think there is more value in falling just a little short.  Missing the mark gives us something more to work toward in future, keeps us striving for eventual success, and helps us grow in humility.




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Milk Street Magazine Review

Disclaimer:  I have not been asked by Milk Street Magazine to review its product.  Nor have I received any sort of compensation for trying and/or reviewing their magazine.

Chris and I have been big fans of  Christopher Kimball and the several cooking magazines he has launched.  In the past we have enjoyed Cook's Illustrated for its nearly scientific approach to cooking; Cook's Country for its more homey and American style; and the America's Test Kitchen show on PBS.  After some in-fighting between corporate types within the Cook's Illustrated, Christopher Kimball left and has just recently launched a new company entitled Milk Street.  Of course, being fans, we decided we'd check out Kimball's newest offering.

So far we have tried nearly every recipe offered in the Charter and subsequent first issue.  The approach is very Kimballesque with scientific precision and detailed descriptions of techniques.  The difference in this magazine is that Kimball has taken an even broader sweep into international cuisine and made it completely accessible to the home cook.  Being the international foodies we are, we were very interested to dive in and get cooking. Every recipe we have attempted has been an enormous success and will go into our regular menu rotations.  The entire family has enjoyed trying some entirely new cuisines and are looking forward to what Milk Street has to offer in the future.





Thai Beef Salad May/June 2017




Caramelized Pork with Orange and Sage May/June 2017



Japanese Fried Chicken May/June 2017 



Sweet and Spicy String Beans May/June 2017



Chiang Mar Chicken May/June 2017


Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Bites) Charter Issue




Chinese Chili and Scallion Noodles May/June 2017

We've also tried Fluffy Olive Oil Scrambled Eggs,  Thai-Style Coleslaw with Mint and Cilantro from the Charter Issue and Lemon-Buttermilk Pound Cake from the May/June 2017 issue.  Thank you for the inspiration Milk Street!


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

On My Heart Today

As often as I consider deleting Facebook it's surprising how many things I come across that show me Facebook can actually be a blessing in many ways.  This morning as I scrolled through Facebook three items popped up which struck and blessed my day.

The first was an article entitled "10 Things My Mom Told Me As a Kid That Give Me Confidence as an Adult".  Amazingly this article is from a secular source but one of the things mentioned was, "I'm Praying for You."  I pray for our kids everyday, but I really don't tell them that.  You know what, they actually need to know that they are on our hearts and in our prayers.

The second item was my daily reminder to pray the Sacred Heart Novena which began yesterday.  I have a really important intention I'm praying for right now and as I scrolled through the promises associated with devotion to the Most Sacred Heart I drew comfort especially from these two: I will give peace in their families, uniting families that are divided and Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.  Such beautiful promises, no?

The final post I took to heart was posted by Doug Barry, founder of Radix and Battle Ready, and who appears regularly on EWTN. This is what he posted along with a picture of him with his daughter when she was a toddler:

This is my adorable daughter, many years ago. She will be married later this year. She is precious to me as are all of my children, including my daughter in-law and soon to be son in-law. They are one of the main reasons I wake up every morning thinking about how I can defend the Catholic Faith. I want them to see a father who is a fighter for what is noble and sacred. I want them to have the experience of a mentor who daily tries to grow, learn and pass on the truth with zeal and conviction. I have made mistakes. I am a sinner. But even and especially in those times I want them to see what it means to persevere, run to God's mercy and get back on the battlefield! I do this for the souls of generations that are to come after me, especially those that God has placed directly in my path such as my children. I am honored to be a father. I love being a father and I love these children that God has blessed me with!!

Wonderfully expressed and so true! This is exactly what I aspire to be as a mother to these children we've been given.  May God give me the graces for it to be so.

Inspired by these three posts I messaged each of our adult children.  I let them know I was praying for them. Specifically, I am offering the Novena to the Most Sacred Heart for them.  I wrote them that I love them, and now, with the help of God's grace, I hope to be the mother God made me to be to each of them.




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Thursday, June 8, 2017

What 26 Years of Marriage has Taught Me

Chris and I celebrate 26 years of marriage this week.  We have been married more than half our lives and have known each other since we were 18 years old. We have grown up together and God Willing we will grow old together.  I find that a significantly comforting thought.  Married life is certainly a challenge, especially today when the divorce rate in America hovers near 50 percent and marriage and family are under constant attack in our culture.  Marriage takes real effort on the part of both parties.



26 years of marriage has taught me:

--To put others before myself.

--To give without counting the cost or keeping score.

--To have real gratitude for having Chris as a part of my life.

--To be more patient and forbearing.

--To not always feel like I have to be right.

--To feel awe and wonder at the working of the Holy Spirit in our marriage, especially since we did not start our married life within the Church and only came to our senses about how desperately we both needed God a few years into our marriage.

--To say "I'm sorry" and to say it quickly with no brooding upon whatever wrongs, real or imagined, I've felt afflicted with.  I've found the sooner I say I'm sorry the better I feel.  It always feels like a huge burden has been lifted from me as soon as the words are spoken.

Married love is so much more than feeling in love.  It's more stable. It's more satisfying.  It's more sacrificial.  It's more awe-inspiring.

Today I give thanks for the gift of our marriage.  Living out my vocation as wife and mother has indeed been a most blessed and happy experience.  I pray for God's graces to be continually poured into our marriage and family and that through our vocation we might be invited at the end of all things to the Lamb's High Feast.













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Monday, June 5, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

My brother, sister, and I grew up watching Wonder Woman on Network Television.  It was such a great, campy show and for us Linda Carter was the perfect actress to portray the title heroine.

Chris and I had read some mixed reviews of the new movie, but thought we'd go ahead and see it for ourselves. For a comic book-brainless fun-popcorn flick, we really enjoyed it.

This is an origin story and which begins with Diana as a young girl among the Amazons.  Diana's adoptive mother Hippolyta, played by Connie Nielsen, attempts to prevent young Diana from training as a warrior with Hippolyta's sister Antiope, played by Robin Wright.  Antiope, hinting at a dark secret which Diana must not learn, trains the girl on the sly.  Fast forward several years and Diana's training comes to light and is finally approved by Hippolyta.  As her training progresses, Diana begins to realize she has hidden strengths and powers her Amazon sisters do not.

Soon after Diana discovers her new talents she rescues a pilot from drowning after his plane is shot down just off the coast of the mysterious island the Amazons occupy.  After questioning the pilot Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, it is revealed he is a spy fighting against the Germans during WWI.  The Amazons, having isolated themselves from the world, are reluctant to let Steve return to the war and are set against interfering in the war, much to Diana's disappointment. Diana refuses to back down from her desire to help bring an end to the war and helps Steve escape and travels with him to London. In London they are joined by several side characters and embark on a quest to stop an evil German general, a mad scientist, and the war.

Visually, this movie was stunning and I loved the decision to place the origin story during WWI instead of the traditional WWII of the comic book series.  The costumes were amazing and Gal Gadot was absolutely, gorgeously, perfect as the new Wonder Woman.  I enjoyed the plot, but like so many other comic book movies, it did get a tad outrageous toward the end.  Many of the fight sequences were enhanced digitally in post production and I found the use of CGI to be overdone and distracting.  Wonder Woman/Diana Prince was a wonderfully done character.  She was strong, beautiful, heroic, and idealistic. Unfortunately, there is a fairly lengthy scene in which Chris Pine is apparently completely nude (important anatomy is basically covered), some sexual innuendo in the dialogue, and a scene in which the viewer is left with the perception that the two main characters have slept together.  For these reasons, I will not be allowing our teenage daughters or little guys to see this movie, which is a real shame because it was truly fun to see such a strong and virtuous heroine in a contemporary film.


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Feeling Nostalgic

Isn't it a shame so many of the bishops in the United States have moved the observance of the Solemnity of the Ascension to Sunday?  We are truly blessed to belong to a parish in which our priest is willing to do a calendar work around by celebrating Ascension on the liturgically proper day by saying Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Chris and I tried to recall when the change was implemented on the car ride home from Mass this morning.  I recalled attending Mass on Ascension Thursday, at least for a few years.  He thought it was never a Holy Day of Obligation.  I looked it up and found the change had been made in 1999.  It is true, he may not recalling going to Mass on actual Ascension Thursday, but he did grow up in Spokane, a notoriously bad diocese at that time.

We lose so much when we move things around liturgically.  This change really makes no sense to me at all.  Let's pray for a return to the traditional practice of celebrating the Ascension as it is meant to be celebrated, 40 days after Easter exactly.

In honor of today, I decided I'd make a special dessert.  I came across this recipe for a rhubarb pudding cake a few days ago and as our rhubarb is ready to harvest, I thought today would be a good day to try it out.  It smelled delicious as it came out of the oven.  I thought I should take a little taste out of the corner to make sure it was good.  As I did, I remembered my grandmother used to do the same thing.  Almost every dessert she made for one of our visits to her home had a little corner missing.  She always told us it was a little gnome who'd taken his share.  That memory really brought her close to me today.  It's been 1 1/2 years and I still miss her. It's funny how such little things can make one feel so nostalgic.




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Friday, May 19, 2017

Home School Year 2016-2017: What Worked and What was Scrubbed

This year marked our 19th year of home schooling.  I spent a lot of time driving Olivia back and forth to school this year, and so I wasn't nearly as available as I wanted to be, but all in all we had a pretty good year.

Angela was a senior and just recently finished the bulk of her assigned material.  After finding out she was going to miss the cut off age for NET Ministries this year, she applied and was accepted to Weber State University.  She has decided to pursue studies in psychology and criminology. She is planning to reapply to NET for next year and if accepted will take a break from her studies.

Angela's Senior Year Curriculum

Religion--Religion and Apologetics using Mother of Divine Grace's syllabus

Math--Having completed Saxon Advanced Mathematics Angela opted to forgo Calculus. She really had an easy year of it ;)

Science--Using Hewitt's Conceptual Physics I wrote a year long basic conceptual physics syllabus that incorporated week long hands on labs at the end of each unit.

History--US Government and Economics using Mother of Divine Grace's syllabus; Geography using Trail Guide to World Geography

Literature--Christian Writers-- This was a co-op class with discussions, papers, and projects taught by my very talented homeschool buddy.  Works included: The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton; Warrior Scarlet and Bonnie Dundee byRosemary Sutcliff;  The Story of Roland by James Baldwin;  The King of Ireland's Son by Padraic Colum; Message to Hadrian by Geoffrey Trease; Between the Forest and the Hills by Ann Lawerence; The Silmarillion,  The Children of Hurin, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Life Prep--Using Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers, Angela worked on several projects.  This book has really become outdated since first purchasing for my oldest children!  We ended up scraping most of it.  If I ever offer this course again to my kids, I may have to write my own syllabus.

Art--Drawing for Older Children by Mona Brookes


Katerina has really come into her own the last couple years.  We've discovered she is definitely an artist.  She took up the violin last June and surprised us, her teacher, and her orchestra instructor.  She practiced for hours a day, and even began devoting more time to practicing the piano.  She learned amazing pieces on both instruments by ear.  Her violin teacher is working on getting her to read music more fluently.  Drawing is probably her second great love and her abilities there have also shone through and improved.  Her bedroom is strewn with drawings, paintings, and sheet music.

Katerina's Freshman Year Curriculum

Religion--K began the year reading A Biblical Defense of Catholicism by Dave Armstrong. She managed to finish it, but around Christmas we decided to table formal religion study at home for the time being. She is a very slow reader and struggles with comprehension. She was completely overwhelmed with the amount of reading material she had for history and literature and I felt she was getting enough religious instruction in the awesome high school apologetics class taught in our parish.

Math--K started out the year using Saxon Algebra I, but by Christmas was failing miserably.  We switched to Mathhelp.com which has instructors, shorter lessons, and fewer problems to complete.  She still struggles, but has improved greatly.  Unfortunately for her, she needs to continue algebra through the summer.  I'm not sure where we'll go from there.

Science--Apologia's Physical Science

History--RC History's Connecting with History: A Guide to Salvation History Old Testament and Ancient Cultures--I love this curriculum.  It is reading intensive but I love how it integrates the study of cultures side by side as they co-existed in history.  It is also one that can be used for the whole family.  The syllabus contains tracks for each classical level of education.  We also love the "real" books vs. text book approach to history.  There is so much more flexibility studying history in this format and it can be matched to the strengths and interests of each individual student. The end of each unit includes ideas for all sorts of enrichment projects, including research papers, creative writing, and art projects, which can also be matched to each student.

Literature--See under Angela's Senior Year Curriculum (this is why K struggled so much.  We pushed her to join the Christian Lit class in co-op.  She surprised us all with her depth of understanding and ability to hang in there for the most part)

Language Arts--Vocabulary from Classical Roots B, All In One Straightforward English Series Master Book

Music--Piano lessons, violin lessons, and orchestra

Art--Drawing For Older Children by Mona Brookes

Benedict's 5th Grade Year

Ben is such a great student.  He's enthusiastic and seems to genuinely enjoy learning.  Every free moment he has a book in his hand.

Religion--Seton Religion 5

Math--Saxon 7/6

Science--I taught a simple machines and large structure engineering class in co-op using: The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun! by Kelly Doudna; Bridges and Tunnels by Donna Latham; Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test by Carol A. Johmann and Elizabeth J. Rich; and Building Big by David Macaulay

Literature--This was a co-op class taught by my talented homeschooling buddy.  Works included the entire Amazons and Swallows series by Arthur Ransome; Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle;  The Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite de Angeli; The Red Keep by Allen French; The Treasure of Glaston by Elenor M. Jewett; and Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

History--See Katerina's Freshman Year Curriculum above

Language Arts--Vocabulary from Classical Roots 5; Language Lessons for the Elementary Child Vol. 1 from Queen Homeschooling (I've been using this series since finishing all four volumes of Elementary Grammar from A Well-Trained Mind.  I haven't found anything I love as much as Elementary Grammar and unfortunately, I don't believe A Well-Trained Mind has any plans to expand the series. Boo-hoo!); Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordan, Classically Cursive Book 2: The Ten Commandments by B. J. Jordan (I won't be using this resource again as the next in the series is entitled The Shorter Catechism and I fear likely contradicts Catholic teaching)

Music--piano lessons


Mr. Leo spent the first half of the year complaining about how much he hated the 30 minutes of school he had 4 days a week.  After Christmas break, we started reading lessons and when he realized he could finally read a short little reader all by himself he started to love school.  We also discovered he has a real head for math.  He knows all his addition facts through 20, many of his subtraction facts, and demonstrated an uncanny understanding of negative numbers.


Mr. Leo's Kindergarten Year

Religion--Bible stories using our children's picture bible

Math--Leo worked diligently through 4 math workbooks this year in this order: Essential Math A by Singapore Math; Star Wars Workbook: Preschool Number Fun by Workman Publishing; Star Wars Workbook: Kindergarten Math by Workman Publishing; and Essential Math B by Singapore Math

Handwriting--Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten: Letters and Numbers for Me

Reading--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann; BOB Books  Set 1 Beginning Readers by Bobby Lynn Maslen

Literature-Children's Traditional Literature Unit Study (I wrote this syllabus for our co-op)


Next school year we'll be down to three students at home. Yikes! I'm deep in the trenches putting together our plan for next year.  There is no rest for the homeschool mom!




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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Garden Plans 2017

A couple years ago, I read an article about deep mulch gardening.  The idea is that with several inches of mulching material one does not need to weed as often or till every year.  Our garden plot is rife with weeds and I spend endless hours every summer culling.  It is positively back-breaking.  Why not give deep mulching a try?  We purchased 8 bales of hay from one of Chris' co-workers and I've been planting and mulching between each row for several days.  So far I've planted 20 more strawberry plants, 2 boysenberry bushes, 2 blackberry bushes, 2 rows of green beans, 2 rows of cucumbers, a row of kale, a row of swiss chard, and a row of lettuces.  I still have zucchini, crook necked squash, and butternut squash left to plant.  I'm considering jalapeños and tomatoes as well.  We'll either have a bountiful harvest of veggies or a field of alfalfa when the summer is out.  Fingers crossed!





Grow little garden! Grow!










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Monday, May 8, 2017

Under the Wings of Their Spiritual Care

Olivia and Angela just returned home from a 9 day trip back to Maryland.  They had a wonderful time visiting several family friends, our old parish, and spent the last few days in the convent with the postulants of the Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará.

The sisters have been so good to our family for the last 10 years.  As little girls, Olivia, Angela, and Katerina all participated in the weekly Saturday Oratory run by the SSVM.  The sisters taught CCD to Katerina in our parish, a sister served as Olivia's sponsor when she was confirmed, and Olivia spent nearly 5 years in formation with the sisters before discerning out a year ago.  Even though we've moved far away and Olivia has ended her formation with the SSVM, they have faithfully stayed in contact with us and continue to pray for us.

I was touched when Angela showed me the books and lovely note the sisters gave to her as a graduation gift.  We have been so blessed by our contact with the SSVM.  Our family has been constantly under the wings of their spiritual care.  God bless the SSVM and the entire Institute of the Incarnate Word family.






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