Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beauty is to Virtue . . .

. . . as ugliness is to sin, was the general lesson from a wonderful homily given several Sundays ago. I've contemplated that message and mulled it over ever since.  It is so true, isn't it and one can find countless examples of both sin and virtue in humanity. 

Is there a more lovely and delightful scene than the Nativity?  In its simplicity, humbleness, and innocence,  I can think of nothing more beautiful or virtuous.  On the other hand, I can fathom nothing more monstrous than abortion.  The destruction of a pure, innocent life and the damage done to the lives of all those involved, from the child's parents, grandparents, siblings, potential siblings, doctors, nurses, etc. is the absolute epitome of ugliness.

Our children are beautiful, especially when they are asleep.  They are so peaceful and guiltless. I love to listen to the sound of their soft, regular breathing and hold their sweet little hands. They are such a perfect example of heavenliness when in that state.  Then there is the hideousness during a temper tantrum, or display of selfishness.  Their little faces contort and twist into ugliness. They wail and gnash their teeth, screaming "NO!"  Even as young as two, they are capable of sin in their disobedience and defiance.

We have a group of lovely, young nuns that often come to Mass in our parish.  They are young, innocent, modest and pure.  Their love, obedience, and devotion exude a pious kind of beauty. Compare their faithful example to those of the idols of the modern world.  Compare them to the hard-living, decadent, and yes, sinful lives of the likes of Brittany Spears, Madonna or Lindsay Lohan.  They may all clean up nicely for the Red Carpet, but have you ever seen more candid paparazzo shots?  They appear incredibly hard and downright ugly.

I'd have to say, the more I think about it, the more I believe Monsignor was on the mark in his homily.  My fervent prayer, after each Mass, it that God may continue to protect the innocence of our children.  I desire for their precious little souls to always be beautiful and pure before God. May you all have a beautiful, Holy and virtuous New Year!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sometimes You Should Just Read the Book


On Christmas Eve we took the children to see The Tale of Despereaux.  We had read several reviews advising folks to skip it, but we very often do not trust reviewers.  Usually we read reviews just to ferret out objectionable material in films.  While the animation and visuals were fantastic, the moral of the story was true and good, and there was absolutely nothing objectionable in the film, we cannot recommend seeing it.  The plot is plodding, disjointed, and never does come to a crescendo nor does it ever quite come together. There were too many sub-plots that did not add to the film and never gelled the way they do in the book. Our older girls have read the book and are fans of Kate DiCamillo.  They were looking forward to seeing this tale come to the big screen. They were sorely disappointed.

As we exited the theater, our eleven year old commented to one of her siblings, "I almost fell asleep!"  Not what one wants to hear after laying down $60 to see a movie with one's family! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas


We usually send out an annual Christmas letter packed with updates about all the kids, Wingnut's extensive travels, and information on how Mau keeps it all together.  We ran out of time this year and so I'm directing folks here.  I did mail out 40 Christmas cards without pictures but with a cryptic message to check out the blog and find more information about our family over the past year.  If you happen to be a friend or family member checking out the blog for the first time, welcome and Christmas Blessings to you and yours!  To find photos, stories and info on each of the kids read the labels for this post at the bottom of this message. You'll see a couple different labels to choose from.  If you click on family, every post I've written about our family will come up from most recent post to oldest post.  As a small protective device, I have changed the names of the children to common nicknames we use at home: Karate Kid is our oldest daughter, Stat Boy or JP is our oldest son, OJ is our eleven year old daughter, Skoshi A is our nine year old daughter, Special K is our six year old daughter and Baby Wingnut or Ben, is the baby. If you click on Nutcracker, you'll be able to read all about the reason we ran out of time to write a letter and print pictures for our Christmas letter this year.

For regular readers of our blog, I'm going to keep this post at the top of the page for several days, but I will be posting regularly beneath. Just scroll down a little ;-)

We hope everyone has a happy and Holy Christmas and we pray God will Bless each and every one of you in the coming New Year.

In JMJ,
Mau


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How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #9

Idea #9: Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is not just one day.  Christmas is a Season.  Officially it begins on the night of Christmas Eve and continues on through Epiphany and up until The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Many of our friends will even extend their celebration of Christmas to the full Christmastide which ends on February 2nd, The Feast of the Presentation or Candlemas. Special K was lamenting on Christmas night that Christmas was over.  When I explained to her once again that Christmas was a full 18 days this year, her eyes lit up.  We've had a party here and gone to a party at a family friends' home.  We plan on continuing to make Christmas cookies, sing Christmas carols, watch Christmas movies, and to have friends over to continue our celebration.  On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise Kings will have traveled around our home and will come to rest at the Nativity.  We worked very hard to avoid the secularization and commercialization of Christmas during our Advent observances, now we'll continue a full celebration of the Christmas Octave and Christmastide, giving thanks for the wonder and beauty of Christ's humble birth.  Merry Christmas!
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Family




Prayer to the Holy Family



O most loving Jesus, Who by Thy sublime and beautiful virtues of humility, obedience, poverty, modesty, charity, patience and gentleness, and by the example of Thy domestic life, didst bless with peace and happiness the family Thou didst choose on earth, in Thy clemency look down upon this household, humbly prostrate before Thee and imploring Thy mercy. Remember that this family belongs to Thee; for to Thee we have in a special way dedicated and devoted ourselves. Look upon us in Thy loving kindness; preserve us from danger; give us help in time of need, and grant us the grace to persevere to the end in the imitation of Thy Holy Family; that having revered Thee and loved Thee faithfully on earth, we may bless and praise Thee eternally in heaven.

O Mary, most sweet Mother, to thy intercession we have recourse, knowing that thy Divine Son will hear thy prayers.

And do thou, O glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, assist us by thy powerful mediation, and offer, by the hands of Mary, our prayers to Jesus. Amen. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Preparations


In my zeal to observe Advent to the fullest extent possible, I forgot the rest of the world does not stop and wait during Advent.  This was brought glaringly to my attention today when the children and I ended up on a quest to find a Christmas tree, any Christmas tree.  Who knew nurseries and tree lots would actually sell out of Christmas trees? Mercifully we were able to find a very nice Douglas Fir, for a very nice price.  I think I had at least two panicked children in the back of the van, worrying that we would never find a tree.  So we have our Christmas centerpiece all ready to go.  I think I'll let the children decorate it tomorrow and we'll even break out the Christmas carols, at long last.


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How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #8

Idea #8:  Keep it Simple

Many people fall victim to the piles and piles of gifts under the tree and the mad rush to unwrap them all, we were no exception.  A couple years back, I got this very empty and unsatisfied feeling after watching the kids dive into unwrapping gift after gift without stopping to reflect on what had just been opened.  It was so overwhelming for me and I believe for them as well.  It was then that I decided we needed to really pare down, refocus, and spread things out a bit more.  

Saint Nicholas now makes his appearance on December 6th, leaving little trinkets and treats in the children's stockings.  On Christmas there are usually only two gifts per child under the Christmas tree; one from Wingnut and I and one from their "roommate". Gifts have to wait until we've gone to Mass and have had a sit down family breakfast.  On Epiphany the children will receive one more gift, usually a family game, video, or books.  The children are allowed to open packages from distant family as they come in over the days before and following Christmas. It has been so much easier to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate the other wonderful liturgical feasts leading up to Christmas this way.  We have ended up becoming more thankful for what we already have and for the gift of Christ himself.

*Family Service Project:  Scrub down and polish all wood chairs in kitchen and dining room.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

All She Wants for Christmas. . .


is her two front teeth.  This could not have happened to a funnier kid.  She is playing it up for all it's worth, too.  She already has a little lisp, but now it has reached a new level of hilarity. She would like to "Whith you a Merry Chrithmath!"

*Family Service Project: Dust all wood furniture.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Thumbs Up

Having a larger family tends to be pretty conspicuous.  Most everyone notices a woman marching into a store or restaurant with 6 (sometimes 7) children in tow.  Occasionally we get rude stares and even ruder comments, but very often we get noticed in more positive ways.  The most common question I get is, "Are they all yours?"  While I am tempted at times to give a more caustic reply, I always try to smile and answer with a simple affirmative.

This afternoon I marched 7 children into our favorite pizza joint for cheese pizza.  The children quickly found two tables and sat down to wait as I ordered their lunch.  A lone diner asked the inevitable question, "Are they all yours?" To which I replied with my usual smile, "All but one." Our questioner then gave me the thumbs up sign along with a huge grin.  Later he approached our table and volunteered he had 6 children of his own and 7 grandchildren.  He then proudly said, "They give you gray hair, but they keep you young."  Thumbs up!

*Family Service Project: Today we helped our co-op with collecting and stuffing 55 pairs of thermal socks for homeless men sponsored by a local parish for the Winter Relief program.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Decomposition


This is what happens to carrots left in a ballet bag for a week during the Nutcracker. This covers our science lesson for the week!

*Family Service Project: Clean out and reorganize kitchen cupboards.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back to the Grind

I was surprised at how much the Nutcracker took out of all of us.  I had hoped to only eliminate school, extracurricular activities, housework, blogging and cooking during performance week, but we had to almost completely abandon all of our Advent activities as well.  We've taken the last two days to recover and I've been letting the kids sleep in, but now we are back to work.  We have alot of catching up to do on our service project and the Jesse Tree.  Since we have only 2 days of school left this week and then our two week Christmas break, we are doing bare bones school work, just to make sure we don't fall too far behind. Print Friendly and PDF

A Motley Crew


I had the depressing task of driving my kid sister and my dad to the airport yesterday.  It was wonderful to have them here and to be able to share our Nutcracker experience with them.  I could not have made it through the week without them, especially with Wingnut out on a trip. Before the drive out to the airport we snapped a few last photos.  Of course, my dad decided the kids needed to have their giant candy canes before he left.  The kids were a sticky, hyped up crew! Pop and Sis flew home to balmy Spokane, Washington.  It's only 11 degrees there today and is supposed to drop below zero this weekend. Serves them right for deserting me!

*Family Service Project: Scrub down and shine kitchen appliances
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #7

Idea #7: Advent Movies

I grew up watching the classic Rankin Bass stop animation specials like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and the Little Drummer Boy.  Didn't you just love those?  When Wingnut and I began having children, sixteen years ago, we collected these movies for our kids on VHS.  We used to watch them beginning just after Thanksgiving, but when I converted to Catholicism and discovered the beauty of celebrating Advent, I decided to save the more secular, Christmassy ones for after Christmas.

While there aren't any Advent movies, per se, there are several beautiful movies on DVD or VHS that are more than appropriate to watch during our season of waiting.  My childrens' favorites include The Little Drummer Boy, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the first hour of Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (we watch through the arrival of the three wise kings and save the rest of the movie for Lent and Easter). While we have not seen it, I have heard that the more recent film, The Nativity, was beautifully and faithfully done.

Does your family have favorite movies that would fit into our Advent theme focusing on the elements of faith in Christmas and Advent?  Post them here.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Aftermath

My sister was able to attend the final performance with Karate Kid.  I'm not sure how Karate Kid got out of being in the picture.  I'll try to find one of her later today.

This is what the girls did while waiting between performances.  The Kennedy Center didn't mind one bit that 81 children and their moms all camped out in the hallways all weekend.
OJ gearing up for her final performance.  She has been bitten by the performance bug and is already talking about what she might do next.
You'd have thought these two spent their entire week at the Kennedy Center.  Do you see a future Clara and Fritz?
This is what your hair looks like after spending 5 days in the same hair do.  You read that right. I did not redo her hair each day.  I just added more hair spray.  There was no way I was going to repeat four french braids all week!  Her hair turned a completely dingy gray color and I won't even describe to you how it felt.  Ewwwwww!


It is finally over.  I am relieved and yet it was bittersweet to leave the Kennedy Center and the whole Nutcracker experience.  No tears were shed, unless you count the proud tears of my sister who was so overwhelmed by the whole production: being at the Kennedy Center, the live orchestra, a professionally produced Nutcracker, and seeing her nieces in a dream-come-true spectacle.  It truly was amazing.  I can't promise this will be the last Nutcracker post.  We made some incredible new friends and there are promises of more photos in the near future.  I've heard there are photos of my girls in costume and I will definitely post those here when I get them.  In the meantime you can read about and see a video of a special little girl that was involved in this year's Nutcracker at this webpage from the Washington Post.  If you look carefully you will see OJ in the background several times.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh, The Drama!

You might think the excitement of performing in the Nutcracker would wear off.  You'd be wrong. The girls were as excited last night, as they've been each previous day.  They had several stories last night fraught with drama.

First of all they got their long awaited Joffrey Ballet cast t-shirts.  These are photos of my two dancers modeling their prized possessions.



One of the little soldiers fell and badly sprained her ankle just prior to the performance in the afternoon.  She is out for the remainder and had to be wheeled out to her parents.  My girls are devastated for her.

Friday night the girls unknowingly performed for the President of the United States.  They weren't told about his attendance until after the fact.  My dad and I were wondering why the Kennedy Center was using bomb sniffing dogs.  I guess we failed to put 2 and 2 together :-)

During the performance Saturday evening, Clara inhaled a snowflake and began coughing during the performance.  She and Herr Drosselmeyer held an extended and loud conversation about the need for a cough drop directly behind my little tree angel.  She found the whole situation and conversation hysterical and had a difficult time keeping from giggling.

Today they have their two final performances.  I am so proud of them.  They are already talking about when they'll have a chance for participating in something this grand again.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nutcracker Performance

As promised, here are some photos from our day at the Nutcracker Performance.


Special K and our homeschool friend were so excited to finally see the girls perform.  They were so beautiful and radiant in their fine attire.
One of the ushers kindly snapped this photo of us making sure to get the Opera House banner behind us into the shot.
The girls' very proud ballet instructors made it to yesterday afternoon's performance.  They had a lovely time and enjoyed seeing their students perform in such an upscale production.

Special K and our homeschool friend were giddy with excitement.  They truly enjoyed the performance and I was so glad we had such wonderful seats.  We were easily able to identify the girls and I made it through their time on stage without tearing up too badly.  I am so proud of my girls.  They were completely poised and professional.

They have two performances today and two tomorrow and then our saga of auditions, rehearsals, and performances will be through.  Another, more experienced stage mom, prepared me to have a couple of very emotional girls on my hands tomorrow evening.  Little does she know how emotional I'm prepared to become.  They have both worked so hard, have made wonderful new friends, and have been so thankful for this opportunity.  All in all, this has been a fantastic experience for all of us.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Nutcracker

I'm just popping in for a very quick post.

The girls had their first performance yesterday.  They were practically walking on air all afternoon in excitement and anticipation.  My dad and Wingnut went to the performance and were able to pick OJ out by her costume description, but could not figure out where Skoshi A was despite her being on stage for a full 10 minutes.  The angels all look exactly alike and are wearing white wigs (Angela loves the wig and calls herself an old woman).  The Kennedy Center folk and the Joffrey Ballet are all extremely professional and are taking wonderful care of the children. This is really an experience of a lifetime for my little ballerinas.

I'm taking Special K and our little homeschool friend to the matinee today.  I hope I'm able to watch the girls without tearing up too much!

I'll try to get some after performance pictures to post here tomorrow.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas: Idea #6

Idea #6: Get Your Soul in the Box

Go to confession.  If you do nothing else to prepare for the coming of  the Christ Child, at least take your family to confession.  Jesus loves a pure heart and soul!  Enough said.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feast of Saint Juan Diego


As I've mentioned before, our family has a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Today marks the feast of Saint Juan Diego, the humble native Mexican, Our Lady appeared to in 1531. Special K drew this sweet picture of Saint Juan Diego for me today. Print Friendly and PDF

Something's Got to Give


This is it.  The week they have been waiting for, for the last 10 weeks.  Nutcracker performance week is finally here.  We'll be spending the better part of our time at the Kennedy Center with costume fittings, rehearsals, and then the performances on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Wingnut will be in and out this week, so thankfully he bought airline tickets for my sister to come out and help me with Baby Wingnut and Special K.  She also scored tickets to see the girls perform.  As an added bonus, my dad decided to tag along.  I can't wait for them to get here!

Life is going to be crazy around here.  Something has got to give, not just one something, but a lot of somethings.  There is only so much time in a day, right?  I don't want to desert our Advent projects or liturgical traditions, so those we will try very hard to keep up with those. School is definitely out the window.  Most of our extra curricular activities will be abandoned. This blog will probably suffer some neglect, unless I have something absolutely amazing to post.  The last something I will have to let go of . . . gulp. . . is the housework.  I know, the sacrifices I have to make!  I am so thankful my visitors are my sister and my dad.  I couldn't ask for guests less concerned with how clean my house is.  Whew!

Please say a prayer for NO SNOW this week.  Rehearsals and performances go on with or without snow.  I don't do snow.  I just can't have snow this week.  Also, say a quick prayer for me, that I make it through this week intact and sane.   Hopefully I'll have amazing pictures and stories to post next week about our complete Nutcracker experience.  Blessings!

*Family Service Project:  wash doors around the house, inside and out and especially door knobs.
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Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #5


Idea #5: Advent Buddies

This works very much like "Secret Santa".  We all draw a name from a hat and that person is our Advent Buddy. The mission is to serve our Advent Buddy secretly all throughout Advent.  We might say extra prayers, make little gifts for them, make little sacrifices for them, or do their chores when they least expect it. It's wonderful to see the children looking for ways to serve one another.


*Family Service Project: Wash kitchen cupboards, inside and out.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Someone Has Been Listening

Special K was at the kitchen table painting and singing to her little heart's content.  As I walked past the table she looked up at me and reassured me, "This is not for Christmas.  I just really like candy canes."

Do you think she has gotten the message around here about Advent?

Have a Blessed Feast of Saint Nicholas!
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Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #4

Idea #4

Celebrating Advent Saints

Some of our family's favorite Saints' feast days fall during Advent.  I am not always on top of celebrating Saint's feast days during the rest of the year but I'm pretty good about it during Advent.


December 6

Our children hang their stockings the night before December 6th, in anticipation of a visit from Saint Nicholas who will leave trinkets and treats in their stockings if they've been good little children all year.  Santa does not visit our house on Christmas Eve, but Saint Nicholas visits on his Feast day instead. Celebrating this feast has helped take much of the focus off gifts on Christmas.

December 8

Catholics take a break from the stress and press of the commercial Christmas season and head to Mass on this Holy Day of obligation.  This is a beautiful Church feast celebrating the conception of the Blessed Virgin.  

December 12

Our family has a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  We have a lovely "pilgrim" image given to us by our friends from our time in Oklahoma.  This is another beautiful Marian feast. In the Southwest there are often elaborate celebrations with plays, Southwest American Indian costume and dance; all culminating in a special celebration of the Mass in honor of Our Lady. One website I came across suggested serving Mexican food in honor of this feast.  Hopefully we'll be able to do that one year.  This year we will be at a Nutcracker performance and I won't be able to make Mexican food, but I'm sure we'll celebrate this wonderful feast in other ways.

December 13

My family is of Scandinavian descent and my girls are fascinated with this feast day. They have all dreamed of getting up early, dressing in a white dress with red ribbons and a wreath candelabrum, while serving the rest of the family breakfast in bed.  Somehow this plan falls flat with the getting up early part.  I think I recall Karate Kid helping her younger sisters do this one year, but none of us really likes to get up that early.  Instead, this is the night we have breakfast for dinner to celebrate Saint Lucy.  Nothing is better than pancakes, sausage, bacon and orange juice for dinner.


Does your family have favorite Advent Saints? What traditions do you use to celebrate? We are always looking for more ways to celebrate the Saints in our home.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Independence





Boo-hoo!  I guess he doesn't need me anymore. He is able to forage and problem solve.  My job here is done.  Now if I could just get him to wean!

*Family service project: Today we will take screens off the front windows.  Wash the windows and then hang wreaths in them.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dreaming

This is a post for posterity's sake.  Not everything is wine and roses around here.  I know that may be earth shattering for some of you, but it is the hard truth.  I am not perfect, my husband is not perfect, although he does come pretty close ;-), and our children are not perfect.  I don't keep a perfect house, I'm not a perfect cook, and I am not a perfect homeschooler.  Enough said.

Most of the time I love homeschooling.  I can't wait for May, when I  start researching and planning for the next year. I love having the kids around and I love being the one that teaches them to read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide.  I love molding their minds and encouraging them to think for themselves.  I hope I do it justice in the end.  We have up days, weeks, months and years.  We have down days, weeks, months and years.  But all in all I know in my heart we have made the right decision to homeschool.

For one of my children everything is a challenge.  I don't mean ability wise.  This child is very intelligent and capable, but this child chooses to be a challenge. Motivation is a challenge, neatness is a challenge, chores are a challenge, relationships are a challenge.  I know I need to lift this child up more in prayer.  This leads me to a confession.  I was online this weekend looking at Catholic high schools in our area.  We are blessed to live in the DC area where there are so many great Catholic high schools.  I even looked at the Opus Dei school.  Holy cow!  I knew private education was expensive, but does it really need to cost as much as college?  We could do this. We could afford to send our child to Catholic school, but it would definitely mean our family would sacrifice more than we already do and more than I am prepared to ask.  Ok, I know to pray more and to put on that grim determined face that says, "I can do this.  I can get this child through high school and not lose my mind." I know sending our children to Catholic school is not what we were called to do, but a homeschooling mom can still dream, can't she?

Anyhow, I know you are reading this, my challenging child.  I want you to know we love you more than you can imagine and we really do have your best interests at heart.  Remember everything we ask of you is meant to draw you closer to God, but in the end, you have to be a willing participant. 

Love, 
Mom

*Family service project update: Today we will be washing all the lintels and door frames in the house.  You can probably imagine how marred with sweet, sticky, finger prints they can get.

**Update**
Ok, no joke.  My kids just asked me which one was the "challenging child".  Either I'm good at hiding my frustration (not!) or they are completely oblivious!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Make Advent More Like Advent and Less Like Christmas Idea #3




Idea #3

The Family Service Project

Last fall, Special K expressed a desire to "feed the poor" and that is why we began our family service tradition during Advent.  I made a list of 40 nitty gritty chores that needed to be done around the house and assigned a monetary value to each chore.  The children chose a chore each day of Advent and worked together to accomplish the job.  We then took our Christmas crib and placed it in plain view.  For each chore the children were each given one piece of straw to place in the crib, making a soft bed welcoming the Christ Child on Christmas. Each piece of straw represented one dollar that had been earned.  During Christmas week we counted up the pieces of straw and that was the dollar amount the children had to spend on gifts for Food for the Poor.  One of the rules we implemented was they had to do the chore together without complaining or arguing.  If they argued or complained they would lose the straw for that chore.  I only had to resort to this one time.  The offending children were so ashamed of losing their straw they made up their minds to work extra hard the rest of Advent. Last year the children earned enough money to buy a goat, some chickens, and a bag of rice. They were so proud of what they had accomplished and their hard work went to a very worthy cause.

*Update:  I thought I'd post the jobs the children are doing for the service project to serve as ideas for you all.  Yesterday they cleaned, vacuumed, and washed the inside of our 12 passenger van.  Today they are going to clean the yard.  They need to gather the rest of the cobwebs from All Hallows Eve, clear toys and tools off the deck, sweep the porch, and gather trash and toys from the yard.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Nutcracker, Homeschool, Homemade Wipes, ETC.

Today's post is just on update on subjects I've posted on before.

We are winding up the rehearsals for the Nutcracker this week and weekend.  The Ballet Mistress from Joffery will be here this weekend to observe and make final cuts, if needed. OJ and Skoshi A will be performing in all 7 performances and are extremely excited to finally get on stage with the Joffery Ballet.  My sister and my dad are coming out from Spokane to help me out at the house and to see a performance and I'm almost as excited about their visit as seeing the girls finally perform.

We have finished 14 weeks of school.  We've had good days and bad days.  I did use a tip I learned from one of my favorite homeschool resources and bloggers.  I have discarded texts and curricula that were just not working for particular kids.  I've never done this before.  We usually agonize our way through work, encountering groans and tears as we go.  This year I have tossed two reading programs for Special K that were not working for her.  Believe it or not, the Seton readers have been the program that has finally clicked.  She is reading and not sounding out every last syllable or word.  Skoshi A and I have set aside Saxon 54 for the time being after learning she did not have her times tables memorized.  For now she is using this great game I discovered online called Timez Attack.  The base game is absolutely free and downloadable from the internet. So far it is working very well.

I recently began using these homemade wipes and I promised to give a review after using them for a few weeks.  So far I love using them.  They really do work as well as the major brands and I do always have the supplies on hand to make a new batch.  What I can't bear, and may keep me from using them, is the sound that is made by the knife as I cut through the roll of paper towels. It gives me the creeps.  I have this thing about cotton balls, kleenex, and paper towels.  I know it's completely bizarre, but what can I say?

We are two days into Advent and we've begun getting emails from Holy Heroes with daily activities. We watched our first video today and I printed out the activity sheets for my younger children. I'm thinking I may need to find something more age appropriate for my older children to get them deeper into celebrating Advent, but for the younger ones this project is perfect.

Baby Wingnut is cracking me up.  He is so brilliant and loves doing school with us.  Usually he sits at the table and draws on a dry erase board.  He's beginning to draw faces that are actually recognizable.  He is into his numbers now and is always asking me to draw them on the board so that he can tell me what number it is.  We were doing this the other day and every once in a while I'd throw in a two digit number.  When I would do this he would become furious and grab a napkin to erase one digit saying, "No, not twelve! It one."  Of course he would get the two digit number correct but he didn't want me to work with him on two digit numbers.  He really thinks he's running this show.
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