Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekly Report: Week Ending August 27, 2009

Well, in all honesty, we didn't have a very productive week - from the planned homeschool realm. However, it was fun as far as the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants perspective.

As you (may or may not) know, our homeschooling week begins on Friday and goes through Monday. Sometimes, because Daddy is home on Saturday and Sunday, we can get off course. So, it was one of THOSE weeks.

Friday was good... We started discussing the Moon, did all of our Language Arts and Math work, started our Chapter for Catholicism for the week, and got a lot of work done. As I've blogged before, Saxon 2 isn't wowing me this year so far, so Casey is working between 3 and 6 (yes, 6) lessons per day. It's so much review right now and she worked and reviewed all summer the things she learned from Saxon 1 last year. On Friday, I also discovered the juggling required in teaching more than one child at a time. I had Casey doing her independent work, then got Will going on a color, cut and paste activity, while I worked with Tricky on shapes, colors, and counting. Whew! I must admit, I was quite proud of myself when they were all working quietly for about 20 minutes!!! I had a few moments to organize part of the school room.

Saturday is when the "plan" started to crumble. After attending a co-worker's baby shower, Richard and the children picked me up. As we were heading home, Richard and I discussed how pleasant the weather was. First we thought of just going on a hike, but then decided we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go camping. We wound up on top of a mountain in a state park and had a blast! Grilling hot dogs, toasting marshmallows, making s'mores, air mattress not holding air, pain for the expectant mommy, so the expectant mommy read a book until 4:00 in the morning until she was able to go to sleep sitting up in camping chair. A BLAST! (Sarcasm inserted here.)

I did take the opportunity to discuss the stars and Moon, begin our SOTW2 chapter on Islam (even using my iPhone to show the kids a few videos of Muslims in prayer).

We did manage to make an edible oasis, begin our 28-day Moon observation, start Music Matters for Tricky and Will, and throw in some piano and performance classes. All in all, not a complete loss!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feast of St. Monica

St. Monica was married by arrangement to Patricius, a pagan official, who was violent tempered. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to St. Monica. She had three children; Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic faith. He died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious life. St. Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years. One priest consoled her by saying, "It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish." This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received strengthened her. St. Augustine was baptized in 387. St. Monica died later that same year.

Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tim Loves Tink

In a small town I frequently pass through, there is a bridge - the bridge is for trains to pass over the little road it covers. It's quite convenient if the train is coming through the town; one can simply go on this little road, go under the train, and not get stopped by the traffic waiting on the main road. (It's amazing to me that more people haven't figured out this trick... oh, well.)

Until recently, I have always noticed someone had painted on one side of the bridge Tim LOVES (with a heart instead of the word) Tink. When I say I have always noticed, I mean I've noticed this since I was a child... my grandparents lived in this particular town as I was growing up. My research has borne out some interesting information about Tim and Tink... seems as though this profession of love has been occurring since the 1960s. There are theories that Tim was a student at a local college and he dated a girl named Tina (nicknamed, Tink). Or something like that.

Well, from time to time, the city would paint the bridge - and paint over the love note. Always, I mean ALWAYS, within a couple of days of the bridge being repainted, guess what would reappear? You got it! Tim Loves Tink.

But something strange happened recently. The city painted the bridge... yet again... and someone spray painted (in yellow spraypaint this time) Tim Loves Tink on the overpass. It only lasted for a couple of days. The city painted over it again! Then, the city, in its infinite wisdom went a step further. Can you guess what the city did?

Instead of fighting it, the city honored their local lovebirds!

Ahh... this IS the stuff small town legends are made of!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eating History

Studying history CAN be fun! As part of our Story of the World 2 lesson on Islam, we made an oasis - the edible kind.

Yes, not only can history be fun - it can be eaten, too!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You've Asked How I Did It...

I've been asked how I made my school t-shirts, so I thought I would post my (not too detailed) instructions.


ink jet printer
iron-on labels
ironing board
articles to be decorated
software allowing images to be reversed

1. What do you want to create?
For me, it was a logo for our family's home school. Since our school is named Gratia Plena Academia (Full of Grace Academy - the "full of grace" coming from the Rosary), I wanted a picture of Mary and the infant Jesus. I searched online and after viewing hundreds of pictures, found one I liked. Fortunately, it was already round, so I didn't have to make it round - round was my personal preference.

Next, I saved the image to my computer and opened it in Adobe PhotoShop - I have version 6. I added text above and below the picture - I just sort of fumble around in PhotoShop until it looks like what I want it to look like; I don't profess to know what I'm doing. Let's just say I hit the Undo button a lot and save every time I get something I want.

Finally, there is a reverse image option in PhotoShop. This is the ESSENTIAL step to creating an iron on. If you don't reverse the image before you print it to your transfer paper, it WILL be reversed on your finished product. (Which isn't a problem if you're narcissistic and stare at yourself in a mirror while you're wearing your newly created shirt, but it will be hard for everyone else to read it.) So, reverse the image, then save. After I saved my image in PhotoShop, I then open it in Microsoft Word. I can maximize the number of iron-ons on an 8 1/2 X 11 transfer sheet in Word - again, I'm not yet prolific in PhotoShop, but Word I know.

2. What do you want to put your logo on?
I prefer white t-shirts and white tote bags. My most recent project is my third foray into the world of iron-ons and I'm still playing it safe by using what I've used in the past. White. You can purchase dark colors iron-ons, but I've never tried it. I'm keeping it simple, for now.

I made t-shirts for all three of my children, my husband, and myself, along with 2 tote bags. The logo on the tote bag is much larger than the t-shirt image. I just used Word to paste my image on a blank page, then right clicked on the image to pull up a menu and selected the option to change the image size. I was happy that the image resolution was good after the enlargement, but you should be aware that if you make the image too large, the distortion may be too great to make a good iron-on.

For my tote bags, I just used one 8 1/2 X 11 transfer sheet per logo. However, for the t-shirts, my logo size was much smaller, so I was able to print all 5 logos on one transfer sheet.

When you're ready to print, put a blank sheet into your printer and print a test page. You want to make sure that, if your image is in color, that your color ink is working. You also want to make sure that the image you print is a mirror image of what you want your finished product to look like. Once you're satisfied with the test, put in the iron-on paper (making sure you have it in the printer to print on the proper side) and print.

3. How do you iron it on?
The transfer sheets come with (very) detailed instructions. The pillowcase mentioned above in the items needed comes into play here. Just follow the directions with the iron-ons - there are before, during and aftercare instructions.

Well that's how I did it! I need to go now - and find more things to plaster with my school's logo!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Starting Off in Style

Well, I've been at it again... I made iron-ons for t-shirts and tote bags with our home school logo! Of course, I had to photograph a couple, tastefully displayed with a variety of books the kids will use this year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Homeschooling Tricky

I made letters from water bottle tops, laminated circles with letters written in to spell out words with an accompanying picture, and set Tricky to work.

This is a better look at what I've done:

This is Tricky in action:


This morning, I asked the kids to make their beds. I really only expect my 6 and 4 year olds to perform this task. So, imagine my surprise when I saw this - my little Tricky (2 years old) made her bed [by herself]!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

REVIEW: The Heavens Proclaim

The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican, edited by Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

I've been given the opportunity by The Catholic Company to review The Heavens Proclaim.

I was so excited to see this book on the reviewer list - our family has been studying Astronomy for the past couple of months and was looking forward to integrating this book into our study. This is a beautiful book loaded with color pictures and information - both about astronomy and the Vatican Observatory. It has been a useful book to refer to, especially when reconciling the Big Bang Theory with Divine Creation, which the book covers (at least on the surface) in 9 pages.

For me, there were a few disappointments with the book, however. While there is a table of contents, there is no index, which would have come in handy on several occasions. The quality of the photos is not what I would have hoped. Finally, this is a book about the Vatican Observatory, however, many of the heavenly bodies photographed were taken by other observatories or by the Hubble telescope. For such a beautiful and powerful observatory, I had hoped for more pictures from the Vatican Observatory.

I would, despite my disappointments, recommend the book for anyone (especially Catholics) looking for biblical references and the Christian perspective on space study.

St. Clare of Assisi

One of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, she founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation: that, like as we do rejoice in the festival of blessed Clare thy holy Virgin; so we may learn to follow her in all godly and devout affections. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We're half the way there! 20 weeks today. I so enjoy my pregnancies, but I have noticed that the eventual tiredness that sets in gets earlier with each subsequent baby.

According to my midwife, all seems well so far. The little one is lying sideways (which is fine at this point), the heartbeat is good (148 bpm for all of you old-wives-tale enthusiasts), and I'm well. Staying hydrated is particularly important during pregnancy and has been a bit troublesome for me, so each morning, I'm setting 4 bottles of water aside and trying to consume each by certain points during my day.

The children are excited - especially Tricky. She pokes my belly button and proudly proclaims to anyone who will listen that "Mommy has a baby in zere." And my sweet little boy is pining for a brother. A few nights ago, he was upset because he's the only one who sleeps in his room.

There are things to be done for baby before baby's arrival - but not too much. There are no clothes to buy, no cribs to set up, no registries to begin, and nothing to be borrowed. However, there are names to be found, birth kits and birthing tubs to purchase, and a ton of things to launder. We've got time, though, right? 18-20 more weeks if all goes well. Of course, in those 18-20 weeks I've got to get the kids halfway through their school year, find Halloween costumes, plan birthday parties, and buy Christmas presents. Hmmm.... 18-20 weeks doesn't sound so far away after all!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekly Report: Our Week Ending 8/10/09

Phew! We made it! Another week down and many, many more to go.

I've blogged before about Casey's loathe to do Rod & Staff English, but, bless her heart, she does it with very little complaint. Today, I gave her three choices of what to do first: English, Cursive (which she loves), and the Prince and the Pauper chapter (which she enjoys, also). She chose English "to get it over with." I just had to smile - and give her a hug while telling her how proud I am of her.

Nothing too exciting happened this week - other than Casey saying good-bye to her Camp Mega friends (the kids she went from daycare through preK with; and with whom she spent my working days this summer). She was sad that she was leaving until I reminded her that her friends are returning to their schools, too.

Will is progressing with his reading. He BEGS for his reading lesson every day!

In the coming weeks, I'll be working out our extra-curriculars. Casey has had a 3-week hiatus from piano lessons - lessons will start back on August 17. Will is starting piano the same day - so excited! I'm also looking into a P.E. for Homeschoolers class and a dancing and singing performance group for Casey. She may also be starting Brownies at the end of this month.

So, see why I said phew? This month is going to put my scheduling skills to the test, for sure!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

At Our House, We DON'T Do Organic...

Richard and I have done a bit of research on the topic and, given our research and the outrageous cost of buying organic, we decided to live with the added hormones and pesticides.

However, after reading this article (click on the link in "this") I completely believe we've made the right decision.

Friday, August 7, 2009

While Reading "Alice in Wonderland"...

I came across this passage:

"Good-bye, feet!" (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). "Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears? I'm sure I shan't be able! I shall be a great deal too far off to trouble myself about you: you must manage the best way you can -- but I must be kind to them," thought Alice, "or perhaps they wo'n't walk the way I want to go!"

I feel your pain Alice! I miss seeing my feet, too!

Curriculum Try Outs!

We've been using some of our new curriculum for several weeks now - and some sources we just started using today. I thought I would give a brief review of what we've been using so far.

Saxon Math 2
Casey just started this one today. I'm a bit disappointed with it after just one lesson. I realize it is important for her to review what she's already learned, but after doing lesson one then flipping through the book, it appears that she won't be learning much that is new. Math is already a tedious subject for both of us; I feel as though I'm looking down the barrel at 131 remaining lessons of review that may prove to be extremely boring for both of us. On the bright side, I do like the Saxon 2 Meeting Book, so there's something to look forward to, I suppose.

Rod & Staff English 2
I love it. Casey hates it. She hates it so much that she wants to do it before Phonics (which has always been the last thing we do). I think it's all of the writing she's not fond of. She didn't complain too much today, but there have been times that I've feared tears. Fortunately, she's never shed a tear about doing home school work, but I think we've come close with English. I like the layout of the book - although I (in all honesty) get tired of the repeated references that "God made the sentence to ____________." It's a very bland, colorless book - even the cover of the book is brown, but I like the detail and constant review of concepts held within. Casey will just have to suffer.

Rod & Staff Phonics 2
Casey's next least favorite subject, but I like it because she can work independently on this while I work with Will on his reading. Each lesson has two worksheets to be completed - very picture-intensive and relatively self-explanatory. While I have the teacher's manual, I rarely use it.

Rod & Staff Spelling 2
I made the switch from Seton Spelling (used last year) to R&S. I'm glad I did. The teacher's book is a fabulous reference for ideas to engage the child with the words for each lesson. There are exercises, drills and practice tests to do before the week's spelling test is administered. Seton was pretty and I do miss the full-color religious artwork, but R&S is far more practical for the purpose of teaching spelling.

Faith & Life - Jesus Our Life (for Grade 2)

Again, another switch from Seton and another switch I'm glad to have made. While a bit more costly than the Seton Religious Education series, each year of Faith & Life provides a Teacher's Manual (loaded with discussion points, prayer suggestions, answer keys, quizzes and tests, and teacher-only insight to the material), a Student Book and an Activity Book. Casey loves the Activity Book and tends to work beyond a given day's lesson. I do our religion lesson while we're eating lunch - all of the children are attentive during meal times, so Will and Tricky also participate in the discussion of the material. We're all very happy with learning more about Catholicism.

New American Cursive
I researched over a dozen cursive instruction guides and I chose the NAC method. I like the overall simplicity of most of the letters - for example, the capital cursive F looks like an F rather than being virtually identical to the capital cursive T (something that caused me great frustration as a child). Casey is exciting to be learning a new way to write - pretty, curly writing.

Story of the World 2
We're doing SOTW again this year, but I'm using this along with another history book for the same time period, that being the Middle Ages and the Reformation. Being Catholic, I wanted to be careful about the onesidedness (that being a slant toward the Protestant side) I've seen in a lot of history texts including SOTW2. So, I chose...

Story of the Middle Ages by Christine Miller
SOMA, while perhaps being a bit better suited for the Logic Stage learner, provides the information I feel is missing from SOTW2. The focus is more on the history on the British Isles (where most of the meatier happenings of the Middle Ages took place, IMHO) than on the worldwide range of SOTW2. The children have enjoyed the narrative of SOMA, especially the stories of the saints. Both sources used together are providing the history that I want to teach the kids.

Classic Worktexts

So far, Casey has read Little Women and The Prince and the Pauper. Each worktext conodenses and subdivides each classic into ten chapters. With each chapter there is a vocabulary list (with definitions and use examples), a picture, a page of reading, multiple choice questions, and a page of puzzles and exercises for the vocabulary learned.