Thursday, August 30, 2012

Charlotte's Curriculum

Well, we are almost done with our first two weeks of school, and I finally have all of Charlotte's curriculum from our virtual charter school.  Today is a day off for us, because it is Eva's 8th birthday.  The girls are happily playing Wii, so I thought I'd take a minute to post the materials I have and the first impressions of the program.

For Art, I have:
Come Look With Me: Enjoying Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard
Come Look With Me: Animals in Art by Gladys S. Bizzard
Art K Student Pages
Art Prints, Kindergarten
Modeling Clay (Red, Yellow, Blue and Green)
Oil Pastels (12 colors)
Set of 5 paint brushes (fine to 1 inch)
Set of 9 tempera paints (black, white, yellow, blue, red, orange, green, purple, brown)

I don't have much of an impression of the Art stuff yet, since it just came in the mail today.  The student pages pretty much made me roll my eyes on first impression.  I'll reserve judgement until I see how it all fits together on the online school.

For Math, I have:
Math + Blue Lesson Guide
Math + Blue Activity Book
2D Shapes
3D Shapes
Linking cubes (can't remember their "official" name)

This program is way easy for Charlotte right now - we've spent two weeks on shapes, colors and sizes.  We are ahead of where we need to be already, and I don't really see anything in the book that will trip her up.  Mostly review for her, but she enjoys the games on the online school, and she likes the colorful workpages, so no real complaints here.  We've only used the 2D shapes so far, but the number of them is a little bit on the ridiculous side.  I needed an entire tool organizer for just the 2D shapes.

For Language Arts, I have:
All About Me (workbook)
Language Arts Activity Book
Tomie dePaola's Rhyme Time
Read Aloud Treasury
The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles by Maud and Miska Petersham
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina
The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
A Story A Story by Gail E. Haley
World: Taking Care of Ourselves and the Earth (magazine)
World: Animals Around the World (magazine)
World: Amazing Places (magazine)
World: Our Busy Bodies (magazine)
Language Arts Lesson Guide Book 1 and Book 2
PhonicsWorks Basic Activity Book
PhonicsWorks Basic Assessments
PhonicsWorks Basic Lesson Guide Book 1 and Book 2
PhonicsWorks Basic Tile Kit with flashcards and readers

Language Arts is a bit of a mixed bag.  I like a lot of the literature selections (other than the magazines, which so far have been indoctrination that rubs me the wrong way...) but the literature portion of the lesson guide has you read and/or talk about the same story for three days.  Charlotte started rolling her eyes on day 2.  By day 3, I was finding alternate versions to read, but that still annoyed her.  So, after going through that twice, I decided to go through three days of lesson plans in one sitting.  That went so much better that I think I will continue that way.  So, I'll only do Literature and Comprehension with her about every three days, but since I read aloud literature to both girls everyday (we are currently on The Long Winter), I'll still count that time towards her attendance.

Phonics is going okay - it is a little difficult with Charlotte's speech articulation problems, so we probably take longer than suggested on each lesson.  She did pretty well on her first assessment, but not perfectly.  We may have to slow down, because she seems to have trouble identifying ending sounds in particular.

Language Skills she just coasts on - everything has been very simple for her in that department.  A lot of it is vocabulary, and she has a very large vocabulary for her age - probably from having to restate herself so often to be understood.

Still waiting on speech therapy to start, but I did have a conference call with her special education teacher, so I have a better idea of how things are going to work.  Basically, they hired an outside company to provide e-therapy, speech therapy over the computer.  I was expecting to have to try speech on the computer, and I guess I am sort of happy that it will be with a provider that specializes  in it, rather than a speech therapist doing Internet based therapy for the first time.  They supposedly started calling families this week, but I still haven't gotten a call.

I'm very thankful that Eva is such a good reader and able to do so much of her school independently.  The balancing act of traditional, literature based homeschooling AND virtual charter is pretty complicated, but we are starting to get into a groove.  Hopefully in about a month, I have it pretty well figured out!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homeschool Organization

Getting organized for this school year has been more complicated than any other year so far.  Probably mostly because Charlotte is in a virtual charter, and Eva is still traditionally homeschooled. Our "school room" is our...well, I can't really call it a dining room, and can't really call it an eat in kitchen.  It is an old bedroom converted into an eating area off the kitchen.  It still has the bedroom cabinetry and closet.  So, along one wall we have a tall cabinet, which I use for Girl Scout stuff, then we have a shorter cabinet with drawers underneath.  This is used for office supplies, books Eva used that I'm saving for Charlotte, books I've picked up off Paperbackswap for future school years, hubby's work stuff for feed sheets (how he figures out what to feed the cows) and my Bible Study and CCD stuff.  Finally, we have the closet, which I use for homeschooling stuff, kids crafts and games.  I have a disaster of a craft room in the basement for myself.  So, onto the pictures!  At the top is a new crate I picked up a Target.  I used two crates last year - one for each girl, but I had NO IDEA that you could use hanging file folders in the crates until I saw it on a homeschooling blog.  It blew my mind, but I really can't remember what blog it was.  We recently got a new printer, and we had to change our setup, because our old (smaller) printer could fit on the top shelf of a bookcase.  The new one can't, so it is on the girl's sharing table - which was mine and my brother's when we were kids.  Eva and Charlotte are getting a little big for the kid's table, so for now it is a printer stand.  This blue crate slides underneath and has books that we don't need right away in it.  At the front, we have 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter science books, then units 2-8 in our history program, and finally, the COVA language arts and phonics books for second semester.

Here's the new printer set up - we even hung our college diplomas on the wall (they had been on the shelf with the old printer since we moved in this house!)  Keeping it real, I left the old printer and gift bag we found underneath the bookshelf in the picture.  I did clear the papers off the printer.  You can see my pile of "what do I do with this?" stuff in front of the desk...So, that's the computer station, on the far end of the kitchen.  On the opposite end I have the day to day homeschooling stuff.  Two more crates - this year NOT separated by girl. 
The white crate is full of our electives.  First we have history, with our unit 1 and core books and our history timeline books.  Then we have science quarter 1 books and Eva's science notebook (Charlotte mostly joins in for experiments and some read alouds, I don't make her do notebook pages yet!).  After that we have Charlotte and Eva's catechism books, then workbooks for Eva (map skills, etc.)  Next I have our Spanish materials, and finally Eva's art.  We still haven't gotten Charlotte's art sorted out!
The pink crate is Language Arts and Math.  At the front I have handwriting materials for the girls, followed by handwriting teacher's guides, then Fix-It and IEW writing for Eva.  Next language skills, literature, phonics and math for Charlotte. Eva's doing Teaching Textbooks again, so no book for her!
Here are the crates in the closet.  In the corner next to them is our PAL reading materials, which I am not sure if we will use this year or not.  The next shelf up holds crayons and pencil cases, mom's plan book and notebooks, and in the corner, dry erase and chalkboard materials.  Above that, stamps, roll of paper, markers (missing - in the girl's bedroom, I think) and magnetic letters and numbers, etc. in the corner.  Above that, drawing materials, craft materials and craft kits.  The top shelf shown has the cookie sheet we use for All About Spelling, math manipulatives and handwriting without tears manipulatives, and needlework in the corner.  There are two more shelves above that - one holds trays for each girl's work plus some extra supplies, and the final holds some of our family games.
Other side of the closet - hard to get a picture of with the table there - so sorry it's a little crooked and weird.  Floor holds big can of play dough, Charlotte's phonics tile kit, several over sized coloring books, some craft project materials for history, and usually both girls backpacks (one spent the night at her Aunt's house, the other at grandma's. I had them pack in their backpacks!)  First shelf has more coloring and sticker books, our collection of Draw Write Now books, our Read and Learn with Classic Stories collection, and several drawing books, plus the girl's "Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting."  Next shelf up has card games, flashcards and bananagrams in the basket.  Then a Discovery Toys set (I think it's called Match It) and finally our collection of Child Size Masterpieces.  Above that, kids games that I don't mind the girls getting out on their own.  Top shelf shown has our Young Scientist Club Kits and other science materials.  There are two shelves above: the next one up has two large plastic shoebox storage things.  One has painting supplies, the other has art supplies for the year.  And the very top continues with the family games.

So, I am feeling as though I might be able to start school on Monday morning!  Still don't have a teacher for Charlotte's virtual school, but I figure I'll just pretend I don't have to deal with one until we get  assigned one!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

My Annual Curriculum Problem Report

So, it is that time of year again, when I have finished shopping for curricula (if I ever really finish the process!) and post it here on the blog so that I can point out to hubby next year that I did indeed spend that much on school last year...So here it goes!

This year Eva is entering 3rd grade as a traditional homeschooled student, and Charlotte is entering Kindergarten in a virtual charter so that she can get speech therapy services.  Thus, my purchases lean more towards Eva's school - Charlotte is taking Language Arts, Math, and Art (if we ever get it straightened out - they put her in P.E. instead...) through the virtual charter, and will be participating some in Eva's History and Science classes.  I did get some Religion books for her as well.

Teaching Textbooks 4 $60 Cathswap

Cost: $60
Savings: $39.95

Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Handwriting Workbook $9.95 Rainbow Resource
Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Handwriting Teacher's Guide (3rd/4th) $3 Cathswap

Cost: $12.95
Savings: $2.55 (not including shipping)

Speech Therapy (Charlotte):
Toobaloo - a plastic tube to help her hear her own speech more clearly $4.50 RR

Cost: $4.50

Language Arts:
Teaching Writing Structure and Style DVD and Workbook $169 IEW (teacher training)
All Things Fun and Fascinating $5.40 clearance
Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales $5.40 clearance
Fix-It (should last 5 years) $20 Cathswap
All About Spelling Level 3 $39.95 Rainbow Resource (RR)
Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation $9 Amazon

Cost: $248.75
Savings: $63.25

Who Am I? Teachers Guide and Kindergarten Workbook $15 Cathswap
Our Life With Jesus Student Book and Workbook $15 Cathswap

Cost: $30
Savings: $38.80

ARTistic Pursuits Book 1 (K-3)   $23 Cathswap
Child-Size Masterpieces Step 4   $10 Cathswap
Child-Size Masterpieces Step 5   $12 Cathswap
Draw Write Now Books 3, 6, 7 & 8   $28.75 Cathswap

Cost: $73.75
Savings: $67.20

NOEO Biology 1 Instructor's Guide $10 Cathswap
Usborne Pocket Nature PBS
One Small Square: Cactus Desert $6 Cathswap
One Small Square: Woods $5 Cathswap
One Small Square: Seashore $5 Cathswap
Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes PBS
Usborne Science with Plants PBS
DK Eye Wonder: Weather - Library
Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body $7.50 Cathswap
The Boy Who Drew Birds $6.40 Amazon
Audubon Birds of America Coloring Book $3.50 RR
Ein-O's Smart Box Weather Science $12.09 Amazon
Young Scientists Club #10, #17, #18, #19, #20 (have kit #10 from last year)
Set 6 - #16, #17, #18 $17.68 Amazon
Set 7 - #19, #20, #21 $18.15 Amazon

Cost: $91.32
Savings: $58.70

Connecting With History Volume 3 Syllabus $40 RC History
How Our Nation Began $15 Cathswap
A Grain of Rice $4.25 RR
A Medieval Feast $4.95 RR
A Story of Saint Germaine $6.95 Adoremus
A Story of Saint Hyacinth $5 Cathswap
A Story of Saint Louise de Marillac $6.95 Adoremus
A Story of Saint Rita $5 Cathswap
A Story of Saint Sanislaus Kostka $6.95 Adoremus
A Story of the Infant Jesus of Prague $5 Cathswap
A Story of Saint Joan of Arc $5 Cathswap
A Story of Saint Isaac Jogues $6.95 Adoremus
A Story of Saint Charles Borromeo $6.95 RC History
A Story of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary $6.95 RC History
Blessed Kateri Tekakawitha - Library
Our Lady of Guadalupe $1.39 Sacred Heart Books and Gifts (SH)
Saint Francis of Paola $1.39 SH
World's Greatest Artists: Bruegel $6.95 Amazon
Da Vinci PBS
El Greco $6.95 Amazon
Giotto $6.95 Amazon
Michelangelo PBS
Rembrandt PBS
Velazquez free (4 for 3) Amazon
Chanticleer and the Fox PBS
Columbus (D'Aulaire) $11 Cathswap
Leonardo and the Flying Boy $8.99 Amazon
Marco Polo Overland to China $8.95 Amazon
My Path to Heaven PBS
Peter Claver: Patron Saint of Slaves $8.95 Amazon
Rumpelstiltskin PBS
Saint Francis of Assisi $6 Cathswap
Saint Thomas Aquinas for Children $12.95 some vendor at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference :)
The Boy Who Held Back the Sea $6.38 SH
Castle - Library
Castle Diary - Library
The Adventures of Robin Hood - Classic Starts PBS
Adventures of Don Quixote $1.75 RR
The Apple and the Arrow $6 Cathswap
The Empty Pot - Library
The Great Wall of China PBS
The Making of a Knight - Library
Medieval Projects You Can Do! free (4 for 3) Amazon
Minstrel in the Tower $3.25 RR
How to be a Samurai Warrior - Library
Turn of the Century PBS
Who Was Ferdinand Magellan? $3.75 RR
William Shakespeare and the Globe - Library
The Stars - Library
Francis Xavier and the Samurai's Lost Treasure DVD $13.68 SH
Juan Diego Messenger of Guadalupe DVD $13.68 SH
Shakespeare for Children CD - Weiss $11.50 RR
Three Musketeers/Robin Hood CD - Weiss $11.50 RR
Cathedral Stained Glass Coloring Book - found in house (no idea where it came from!)
Knights in Armor Coloring Book free (4 for 3) Amazon
Life in a Medieval Castle and Village Coloring Book $4.99 Amazon
Life in Old Japan Coloring Book $4.99 Amazon
The Story of Christopher Columbus Coloring Book $4.99 Amazon

Cost: $292.83
Savings: $134.89

Misc. Books and Supplies:
Maps, Charts and Graphs Level C $5 Cathswap
Reading-Thinking Skills Level C Free off Cathswap (with an Easter present purchase)
Spectrum Test Prep 3 $6.95 RR
Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum $13.98 Amazon

Cost: $25.93
Savings: $21.46

Total Cost: $840.03 (well under $1000 budget!)
Total Savings: $426.80

So far, the only thing that I meant to purchase that I didn't was Reading for Comprehension C from Continental Press.  I may end up buying it from Seton midway through the year when I order Eva's CAT test.  Usually, I buy the Spectrum Test Prep when I buy the test, but I had the foresight to order it ahead of time this year.  I may just skip the Reading for Comprehension book, anyway.  Of course, there are always some craft supplies, tests, etc. throughout the year, but I think I did pretty well this year, all things considered.  As for Spanish, Music and Homemaking, those items are getting carried over from last year.  My highest priority subjects are Math, Language Arts, and Religion.  Next come History and Science, and at the bottom of the priority list are Art, Spanish, Music and Homemaking.  Hopefully we will have a little more time for those lower priorities since it looks like we will be trying speech therapy via webcam (I think!)  Once I get Charlotte's classes straightened out (and get the Art supplies in the mail) I will do a post about what we got through her charter school this year.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quick Takes Friday

I am kid-free for NINE days!  It is really strange for the house to be so quiet...I think I'll be able to keep myself occupied enough, but it is sad not to have my girls home.  They are visiting my parents in the mountains.  They were supposed to be up there for a week, but hubby had to bow out of the Knights of Columbus meeting he was supposed to be at because of FIL.  About a month ago, he had an appendetomy, then they were going to biopsy a mass on his liver a week later (and one of the doctors who had no bedside manner told him he had cancer before the biopsy.)  THEN, after we found out the mass was just a cluster of blood vessels, he got an infection from his surgery, and had to have another more major surgery to deal with that - which basically means that hubby and BIL have to run the farm mostly on their own for about 5 more weeks.  MIL had a doctor's appointment in the front range yesterday, so my mom met us and took the girls a few days early.

The girls will be going to day camp at the YMCA next week every day.  So, I sent up stuff that they could work on to keep the girls busy.  I sent up their at home summer reading program charts, their PINs for, and girl scout badges that Eva could work on.  Well, my mom and the girls left at about 4pm, and had a 30 min drive to mom's house.  MIL did quite a bit of shopping and had a 3 hour drive home.  By the time I got home (9:30 PM or so) my mom had posted on facebook that Eva had planned a hike, packed food for the hike, went on the hike and identified 12 animals (and even more plants) with field guides.  Now, to earn the badge there are 5 steps, and it looks like they finished 4 of the 5 before I got mom is going to be EXHAUSTED by the time I pick them up if that's what she does immediately after getting them to her house.  I would have let them play with toys and outside for the evening - maybe taken a walk - but not planned and exectured a whole hike!

Summer reading program - the girls always love doing the summer reading program at the library in the summer.  I liked the program in our old town better (it won tons of awards for the summer reading programs over the years), but it worked out that the girls were going to miss 3 out of 4 of the events, plus our library will only allow you to count books checked out from their library for the program.  Plus, they have a limit on how many books you can check out and have a drawing based on how often you check out books during the program, which is way better for kids in town who can go to the library every day.  We are lucky to get there once a week!  So, I decided that I could do a summer reading program for my girls.  I set rules, set incentives, and MIL agreed to do snacks and crafts (the girls' favorite part).  So, they get a sticker on their chart for every 30 minutes of reading alone, reading out loud, or listening to someone read (so, if Eva reads for 30 minutes to Charlotte, they both get a sticker) and they get a sticker for every hour or so of an audiobook (I basically let them have a sticker per CD or part).  Eva can get a bonus sticker for each chapter book she finishes, and Charlotte can get an extra sticker for each 30 minutes of speech work.  At 10 stickers, they get ice cream at our local subway.  15 additional stickers will get them a ticket to our local movie theater.  20 more stickers after that, they get a trip to the outdoor pool with waterslides that is an hour away.  25 more stickers after that, and they get to pick out a book at our local bookstore.  I'll run the program until we start school.  So far, the girls have mostly listened to Black Beauty - but we only started on Monday, and we finished the book on the drive yesterday.

The first two weeks of June the girls had swimming lessons.  In my scheduling this summer, it worked out that they couldn't do either session at our local pool, so I ended up taking them across the state line to the next town over for swim lessons.  Eva, who took at least 3 years to pass level 1 swimming passed level 2 in one week, and started on level 3 for one week.  Charlotte passed level 1 in one week.  Charlotte has done swimming lessons for a couple years with a friend's son - and she was going to take him to our town for lessons, but I talked her into brining him to the same lessons we were doing - and both of us were really impressed with the lessons, and think we will probably do them again next year.  Since we both live in the boonies, it doesn't make a lot of mileage difference - either way we both have long drives every day.

Things I am going to do while having no kids around: hubby is going to take down the flourescent light boxes in our living room and replace them, so I will be painting the ceiling.  I bought some yarn and got out my crochet hooks...I haven't crocheted anything since Eva was a toddler...and I picked up a free pattern for a scarf that I am going to try to make for my secret sister in my Bible study group.  I plan to go through the bookshelves and get rid of some twaddle books.  Our bathroom closet needs a cleanout, so I'll do that and use my label maker to show where things are supposed to go.  I got suckered into working on the family cookbook, and I am doing most of the editing - so I'll spend quite a bit of time at MILs house working on that.  I have a couple of doctor's appointments to go to.  Hubby thought maybe we'd have a date night.  We will have our EPIC church history study at our house this weekend, and I'll have bible study next week (not at our house, thankfully!).  Plus, I always have a big stack of books that I want to read if I have spare time.  I also expect that hubby and I will watch several of the movies recorded on our DVR from the last free movie channel preview, since we won't have to wait until girls are in bed.

Midway though my last take, the girls called to say hi.  I haven't talked to them since they left with my mom, since I wasn't home til after bedtime.  Besides the hike, they have gone to the YMCA to make sure everything was okay for next week's day camp, went to the thrift store my mom volunteers at and bought Eva a bike without training wheels, so my dad is going to try to teach her to ride without training wheels (she is fairly convinced that she can't do it - and since we have no pavement to speak of for a good 5 miles -and that's a highway, I'll admit I've been a slacker about it.  They are making pizzas for lunch, then plan to go to the park, the library, and to play mini-golf tonight.  I'm tired just hearing about what they have planned today.

Can't think of anything more right now, so I guess I stop there.

More quick takes at Conversion Diary!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

WOW! Wonders of Water - A Brownie Journey Review

Well, it has been a long time since I posted anything, and a number of months since I reviewed the Daisy  Flower Garden Journey, but since I have a little time this morning (before heading to a Girl Scout camp fundraiser!) I'll take a stab at what I did like and didn't like about the Wonders of Water Journey.

Things I liked:
-The girls were challenged to use less water - a good goal.
-Incorporating science into the journey - making rainbows.
-Using tea to teach about the phases of water - solid, liquid and gas.
-Girls learned about the scarcity of clean water and how that affects girls worldwide.

Things I didn't like:
-The journey takes so long, and so little is actually accomplished.
-Most of the games and activities were pretty lame.
-The girl's book was pretty much impossible to use in meetings - the girls had enough school before meetings and didn't want to sit around and read.  Plus, one of my brownies was just learning to speak English, so it was doubly hard to do reading as a group.
-All of the suggested projects are exceedingly lame

Things I did:
The journeys seem like okay jumping off points, but are just full of politically correct garbage and just aren't that much fun.  My brownies chose Wonders of Water out of the three journeys, which I will admit, surprised me!

To ramp up the science in the journey, I added in the following experiments
-Diffusion experiment: we put in food coloring to still water to see how it moved through the water, then we put the food coloring into stirred water to see the difference.
-Homemade hydrogen experiment: we used 9-volt batteries, salt water, and copper wire, which I had on hand because this is an experiment that Eva did for Chemistry this year.  Before this experiment, I had the girls build water molecules with a molecular model set I had at home, so that they got the idea that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen.
-Ooblek experiment: This was the favorite (and the most messy) of the experiments.  We only made a small amount because I was working with the amount of cornstarch we had on hand.

For our project, we raised money for a water project.  In several months we should get a picture and GPS coordinates of the project we helped to fund.  We did this by putting out change collection jars around our small town.  To do this, the girls had to write letters to local business owners asking to put jars in their businesses.  I also wrote up a quick letter to the editor, and set up this website through charity:water, the organization I found to work with.  I did suggest this project when it came time to choose, but I had all the girls make suggestions as well - they voted and chose the fundraising.  I just don't think it occurred to them, since all the journey ideas in the book are so...well, stupid is the word I'd use for them!  The book suggests the following: Shut off that faucet!; Stop that leak!; Choose a broom, not a hose!; Ban bottles!; Grow water smart plants! - all basically have the girls making educational posters, doing skits or writing to local government.  So, we set a goal of raising $200, but it took longer than I expected to get permission to put up jars (particularly in the school!) so, we raised just over $100.  Still not bad for our small troop in our small town.

The BEST thing that we did came about unexpectedly.  I was trying to get the last of our troop's cookies sold at a community event, and our boss (not sure what her title is, but works for Girl Scouts and keeps track of the area leaders) was there trying to recruit more volunteers (which is always an uphill battle!)  A woman I know pretty well from church came by and was talking to us, and we mentioned the journeys, and that the brownies were doing the Wonders of Water journey this year.  Well, she works for the government dealing with water, and she offered to come in and do an educational talk about aquifers, because we live over and get all our water from the Ogallala Aquifer.  So, for our final (and possibly most memorable) meeting, she came in, talked about aquifers and water in general, and then led the girls in making Ice Cream Aquifers

Overall, I am not sure that I would do another Brownie Journey.  The Daisy ones are nice because they give the Daisies something else to do once they have earned their petals, but with the new Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting for Brownies, I think the journeys are too much to deal with when you can actually be earning badges.  It took us the majority of the year to earn the four patches for the WOW! Journey, and it took us 2-3 sessions to earn two patches out of the new Girl's Guide - painting and first aid.

For painting, it took 1 1/2 meetings - the first meeting, I took in our Child Size Masterpiece cards for the get inspired step - the girls went through the cards and found four paintings that they liked, then we discussed why they liked them.  Next,  I put down a disposable table cloth and put out both watercolors and tempura paints and brushes.  I brought in a couple of objects to serve as still life inspiration, and gave the girls the option of painting them, or painting an outdoor landscape.  I didn't offer the portrait option, because I could see how badly that could get us off track if they decided to paint each other.  Finally, I had them paint a mood - this was hard for some of them, since it could be abstract, but in the end, all the girls came up with something - some were far less abstract than others.  Most of the girls chose happy (their other options were calm or angry).  The next  session, I put down another disposable table cloth (I know, it's terrible - but it was what I could handle cleanup-wise!) and had the girls paint without brushes - they used sponges, fabric, beads, ping pong balls, fake flowers and leaves and their hands.  They did not want to stop painting with objects, but I eventually got them to move to painting a mural together.  They painted based on the theme "Girl Scout Fun", and after the mural dried, we displayed it at our bridging ceremony.

For first aid, I had a good friend who is in nursing school come in, and she brought a classmate to help her out.  Best speakers ever!  They researched what the girls were supposed to know, brought supplies for each of them to make a first aid kit, and got through pretty much all the info in one meeting (we reviewed the next meeting and worked on putting together a camp first aid kit.)  They covered what an emergency is, calling 911, what to do if someone is having trouble breathing, how to deal with cuts, burns, the importance of hand washing, and just a ton of other information.  They made it fun and informative, and each girl made a first aid kit with gauze pads and tape, bandages, hand sanitizer, a pad and pencil filled with emergency contact information, a bandanna (for dealing with burns or applying pressure to wounds), and a pack of tissues (I may be forgetting some things in the kit!)  Best deal ever for me, I just kept the girls on track as much as I could, and gave them both boxes of cookies for helping us out.  They even travelled an hour each way to talk to the girls.  It was awesome.

In closing (because I'm supposed to be in town shortly), the WOW! Journey was okay, not terrible, not great - but I am WAY happier with the Girl's Guide instead.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Quick Takes Friday

1 -
I don't know how long it has been this way, but blogger is all different now.  It's a little distracting, actually.  I guess I just don't like change that much!

Tonight is Charlotte's preschool program.  Every year our local preschool has a spaghetti supper, auction and program as a fundraiser.  Since I pretty much have "sucker" written across my forehead, I was called and asked to chair one of the committees - I (smartly) said no, as I have been overscheduled all year.  Of course, I assumed that we were all being asked to donate something to the dinner and help out at the dinner, so I brought in my 20 lbs of hamburger yesterday, and have an hour shift of serving tonight.  Go figure that some people who donated items AREN'T helping out at the dinner.  Oh well.  Charlotte is so excited and nervous because she is going to be on stage (In her own words "EEEKKK!!!)

Sunday is Eva's First Communion!  I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that she is so grown up already, but First Communion seems like a very grown up thing.  I think she is ready (and maybe a little nervous!)  MIL came over this week to help me with Eva's dress.  I bought the size I usually buy for her, but we ended up having to tack in two inches on both sides of the dress, and tack the sleeves up about a half an inch.  I think it looks fine, but MIL doesn't like that you can tell we made some last minute alterations, and thought about deconstructing the dress and altering it correctly - but that sounded like way too much work - plus, the only places you could see (if you looked closely) are under Eva's arms, and along her back (and she has a long veil that will make it even harder to see the back.  Since Eva will probably get to wear her dress again this summer at the Midwest Catholic Family Conference (First Communicants are invited to lead the Eucharistic procession, with the girls in their first communion dresses) I'm glad to have something we can take out a little if need be.

My parents are coming out for the weekend.  My dad found someone to cover his last class of the day, so they will actually make it in time for the dinner (originally, I thought they'd be getting here around the time Charlotte's program and auction starts) and they will head home sometime on Sunday.  Both girls are very excited, but Eva has written them a welcome message on the chalkboard side of the easel in our basement, and she has also made them a doorhanger welcome sign.

Catechism classes are almost over for the year (YEAH!!!! It's been a long year...)  Next week is our final class/party.  So, to try to be slightly sneaky and educational, I told my kids that we would play "Stump the Teacher" where they can ask me any question from the material in their books (which we have used for two years, and covers all of salvation history!) and I have to answer without my teacher's guide.  One of my boys wanted to stump me this week and asked "Who is the mother of Jesus?" - if that's the level of questions I'm going to get, this should be a breeze...but we will see how ambitious they get.

Girl Scouts is also almost over for the year.  I have one more week of Brownies (we have a speaker coming in to talk to the girls about aquifers, since that's where all of our water comes from, and we will be making ice cream aquifers) and then we have bridging...then I am done until August - when we will be taking some of the girls camping...on the weekend of my birthday.  Nothing says happy birthday quite like spending time with up to 20 hyper girl scouts and up to three other parents.

While many things are coming to a close, We still have around 30 school days to go...Eva should be close to finishing her Teaching Textbooks 3, so I may make her finish that out even when we are done with our 180 days.  We are on our last unit of Connecting with History volume 2, which has a lot of Viking books and crafts, so that is pretty fun.  We are currently caught up on NOEO Science Chemistry 1 (I usually end up a couple weeks behind and having to spend most of a Friday catching up on experiments).  Eva is close to being finished with her test prep book, so she will probably be taking her CAT test next week.  I wish I knew at this point what we will be doing for school with Charlotte next year, but I am still waiting to hear back from a virtual school AND from an organization that offers grants for speech therapy.  I've been planning away for next year for Eva, though...because nothing says "this year is almost over" like spending all my free time thinking about the great curriculum we'll use NEXT year! (Okay, it's not that bad...I'm still enjoying school at the moment...I just am ready for preschool/CCD/Girl Scouts to be done so that we can stay home and do school for a change!)

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Story of A Soul

I had started another book, that I just couldn't get into - but then it got to be halfway through March, and I needed to find a book that I could handle before the month was over, or risk falling behind schedule in month three of my plan.
For the unfamiliar, The Story of a Soul is the Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux, known as "The Little Flower".  She was a Carmelite nun, entering the convent at 15 and dying at 24.  I've known the basic story of St. Therese for a number of years, but one thing I had never considered is how she became declared a Saint, when she had a short life of a cloistered nun.  Few people probably knew of her existence during her life, and it is this autobiography that introduced the world to St. Therese.

I'm pretty sure I could read this book a dozen more times and get more out of it every time.  I will admit that the flowery language was difficult for me - I'm just not the biggest fan of the style.  She also bounces around a lot (and apologizes a lot for her bouncing around!)  It is easy to see that she just wrote - she didn't think of writing a book, she just wrote about what she was told to write, and let the Holy Spirit be her guide.

I was surprised to learn that St. Therese had a lack of consolations in prayer, as I often think of Saints as having intense God experiences regularly (as some Saints did, of course!)  I loved this particular line:

"Don't imagine that I'm overwhelmed with consolations.  I'm not.  My consolation is not to have any in this life.  Jesus never manifests Himself nor lets me hear His voice.  He teaches me in secret.  I never learn anything from books, for I don't understand what I read.  Yet from time to time a sentence comforts me."

Also, when she talks about her "little way" - the little sacrifices she makes, it is clear that she does so humbly and with humility:

"You see, Mother, that I am a very little soul who can only offer very little things to God; it often happens that I let slip the chance of making these little sacrifices which give such peace, but I'm not discouraged.  I put up with having a bit less peace and try to be more careful next time.  Ah! How happy God makes me!  It is so pleasant and easy to serve Him during this life."

I wish I had some great and profound thoughts about this book, but I guess all I need to have a very little thoughts - and perhaps to work harder towards making little sacrifices in life for God.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quick Takes Friday

I don't know if I have 7 things to say this week, so we'll just have to see how far I get!

I'm having a bang-my-head-against-the-wall kind of day today. Enrollment for the virtual charter we are hoping to get Charlotte in for next year opened this week, and I faxed in all the documentation asked for. The complication is in proving that we are Colorado residents, because we don't have the preferred documentation (mortgage or rental agreement) or the secondary documentation because everything is either in FILs name, or sent to FILs address. I even added a notarized and signed document as suggested by one of my contacts at the school. At this point, I am just waiting for a call back to see if it is a simple fix, or if it will be more complicated. The most irritating part of all is that all four of us were born in Colorado and have never lived in any other state...and I just can't seem to prove that we are residents!!

My CCD class was WAY hyper this week - all of them had excessive amounts of sugar before class, and were wound up from taking their state tests (which they informed me are no longer CSAPs, but TCAPs - still, crappy state level standardized tests by whatever name...) and the only way we made it through my lesson was by bribing them with 5 minutes to run around at the end of class if we got through my lesson. I don't know how, but we made it through - and they got to run around until their parents picked them up!

Cookie drama should be over for the year. One mom returned 39 packages after the last day for sales - but on the same day she returned them, I got a call from a GS state employee, and she gave us permission to sell our remaining cookies at our local community night. In the end, we have 9 leftover packages that the troop will pay for and use for snacks. Not too bad!

It is getting to that part in the school year when I would rather be planning school for next year than doing what we are supposed to be doing this year. I guess the good news is that we are taking Holy Week off from school, so I get a little break - maybe even enough time to clean the house better.

I have started reading aloud novels to the girls during school. I've done it in previous years, but for the first half of this year, so much of our time was spent on PAL Reading program from IEW that I didn't have much time for extended read alouds. So far we have done "Little House in the Big Woods" (Charlotte's pick) and today we finished "The Wind in the Willows" (Eva's pick). Charlotte has picked what we will start next week, keeping with the little house books, we will do "Little House on the Prairie" followed by something Eva chooses.

Hubby came home today with some random tickets to an Eagle's cover band fundraiser and dinner in a local town for tomorrow night. I guess a neighbor offered the tickets to hubby, his brother or his dad - and no one was interested, except hubby who said that we could use them if he got off work earlier tomorrow so that we could go to church in said town before the concert. I guess he should be getting off work a little sooner than normal tomorrow!(I don't know if I really want to go to an Eagle's cover band concert, and I am hoping that they will sell tickets at the door, since the girls will be with us...we'll see how it is!)

I'm kinda liking the fact that St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday. Our local parish is St. Patricks - and they have an annual card party to celebrate (not a particularly well attended event, either, as you may have guessed!) I have a little bit of a grudge against the event, as I was forced to cancel CCD classes when I was DRE and St. Patrick's Day fell on a Wednesday. At that same card party (while I was expecting Eva) I was berated for eating half a sandwich midway through the card party, because we were supposed to eat until the end. Church ladies can be so catty about things...anyway, I will admit a little bit of schadenfreude every time something goes wrong with one of the card parties...and I am extremely glad to have an excuse not to go (because I know MIL would try to convince me to come) with Saturday night Mass - and I bonus excuse with the weird concert tickets.

More quick takes at Conversion Dairy!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Quick Takes Friday


Well, over a month and no blog posts.  I'll simply blame that on cookie season, which has been keeping my already busy self even more busy recently.  Both girls overshot their goals by about 100 packages, mostly because so many of the girls in the troop were not selling at all or not selling as many as last year.  We had to get those troop cookies sold!  My final paperwork is due on Sunday, so after that I am COOKIE FREE for several months (although I'm sure we'll start getting harassed about next cookie season before I know it.)

Bret and I love "The Office", and while watching it off our DVR last night I had to pause right after this scene to try and share it on facebook, but sadly I couldn't find it last night.  Today, however, is a different story.  So, here's Kevin's cookie season rap:

Monday is the day that enrollment begins for the virtual charter we are looking at for Charlotte.  So, I printed off last year's info packet to start pulling together documentation (birth certificate, immunization records, proof of residency, IEP, etc.) and the hardest thing for me is proving that we live in the state of Colorado.  What's particularly funny about this is that Bret, myself, Eva and Charlotte were all born here, and have never lived in any other state.  BUT we don't have a rental agreement or mortgage or housing bills in our name, since we live in one of the farm's houses.  So, hubby and his dad are hopefully going to sign a notarized letter stating that we live where we live.  The hoops one must jump through to get speech therapy services...

I really need to get moving on my "Catholic book a month" plan if I am going to get through 12 books this year.  I was doing really well in January, reading two of my selections.  I started a third in February, but haven't been able to get motivated to read it at all - I was hopeful, since it was another historical fiction, that I'd get right into it, but no such luck.  I may have to give it up and start something else on my list instead.  February was my homeschool/everything else burnout month, so I'm hoping as the weather warms up, I'll get a little bit more ambitious.

Hubby and I went to the Living the Catholic Faith conference last weekend in Denver.  We had a great time -left home Friday at lunch time, pricelined a nice hotel, and spent Saturday at the conference followed by Mass at the Cathedral.  I really enjoyed all of the talks I went to, and hubby liked most of his, but in the end thought that maybe he should have come with me for Jen Fulwiler's talk instead of to the talk "Engaging in the Public Square" which he thought was too basic and too much of an introduction to activism. (go figure!)  We ran into quite a few people from our rural region, and had an interesting conversation on the way home because of them.  I noticed that none of them showed any interest and in fact, were surprised when I said that I was attending/had attended Jen's talk titled "When Your Loved One is an Atheist."  I mentioned that I had a hard time believing it wasn't a talk that everyone at the conference should have heard - I just can't even envision having a life where you don't have anyone that you care about that is an atheist.  Hubby's point was that definitions like being an atheist or agnostic are a white collar thing.  Since we do live in a farming community, he mentioned that people out here are either Christians or not church attenders, but no one uses the definition of atheism or agnosticism because more blue collar workers don't have the leisure time to contemplate the existence of God or not - it is just not a question they think about, since they are busy working at a physical and physically exhausting level - not to mention that farmers tend to work way more than a typical 40 hour work week.  I had never really thought about it that way, but I guess I'll have to take his word for it, since I still don't really understand rural mentalities.

This week the local public school had Thursday and Friday off (mostly because of state basketball, even though neither the boys or girls made it in this year, but I guess also because the teachers had parent/teacher conferences this week.)  So, we didn't have Catechism classes on Wednesday evening, or Girl Scouts on Thursday - I had a really nice and relaxing week!  Just preschool Monday and Wednesday, Bible Study last night, and a Girl Scout manicure and ice cream party tonight (as our end of cookie season celebration!)

This year for history, we are doing Connecting with History Volume 2.  I haven't been as good this year about keeping up with history.  Last year we did history every day, but with our travel schedule/doing so much school in town, this year hasn't been as good.  However, in all my slacking on history it happened that we read a book and did the Hillside discussion guide on St. Valentine on St. Valentine's Day.  I noticed this week that we are about to start the unit during which we read a book about St. Patrick and do another Hillside discussion guide...and we are very close to St. Patrick's Day!  It's almost as if I planned it!  How serendipitous!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Europe and the Faith "Sine auctoritate nulla vita"

Continuing with my reading plan for the year, I decided to read Hilaire Belloc's "short" essay Europe and the Faith (available free for Kindle) - being a modern American, my version of a short essay is much shorter than this one, which I guess is close to 200 pages.  One downside of reading on a Kindle is that you don't know how many pages you have read - but I will admit that I like the percentage of the way through feature.

This essay was one of the suggested readings for the first time period of EPIC - Mustard Seed (along with Quo Vadis, and several other books that I don't have and weren't available free on Kindle.)  Belloc makes some very good points throughout the essay about the history of Europe being taught in a false way in order to fit a Protestant narrative. 

Belloc begins with the question: What was the Roman Empire?   It was united, a civilization with one mode of life for all in its boundaries.  Outside of the Empire were barbarians, but they were not a threat to the Empire, and many wanted to become part of the Empire - traded with the Empire, accepted its coins, took bits of its language into their own.  Even when there were civil wars, with multiple emperors ruling - or no emperor at all, the power, office and system of the Empire were all one.

Next, he asks: What was the Church in the Roman Empire?  The Catholic Church was "a clearly delineated body corporate based on  numerous exact doctrines, extremely jealous of its unity and of its precise definitions, and filled, as was no other body of men at that time, with passionate conviction."  It was not an opinion, fashion, philosophy, theory or habit.  The Church caught and preserved the Empire as it declined.  The Empire declined because of the increasing numbers of "barbarians" hired as soldiers, weakened central power giving way to local power by rich landowners, and the rise of the Catholic Church in the whole society.

Further, he asks: What was the "fall" of the Roman Empire?  The changes in the Empire came from within, rather than from outside forces.  It failed to keep the local government subordinate to the Imperial government.  Taxation and central bureaucracy weakened, and localities  had more independence. Much of this came from the changes in the Roman army - once an army of citizens, then it became an army comprised of slaves willing to take on military service for the benefits it would provide them and poorer freed men, then the army was made up in large parts of tribes who entered into the empire under the condition that they serve as soldiers.  Eventually, the local government would fall into the command of the local forces of the Roman Army, which were often "barbarian" because of the recruitment strategy of the Army.  The Church remained an important force throughout the Empire, even as the power became more localized.

Belloc also discusses the history of Britain (in particular), and the dark and middle ages, which I am having a hard time simplifying into a blog post!  I'll just say that there is a lot of interesting information presented in this essay about those topics.

He also asks, What was the Reformation?   The true causes were spiritual, and thus hidden, so a historian can only answer the question "what was it?" not "why was it?" Because of the faster rate of change, the Church was not able to absorb and regulate new things quickly enough.  One very important note is this: "No one in the Reformation dreamt a divided Christendom to be possible."  Those people challenging the way things were done desired to affect the universal Church and change it - they sprang up from everywhere due to a universal uneasiness of a universal society.

Finally, he discusses why Britain's split from the Church happened, and how it affected the Reformation - In Britain in particular, the economic power of a small group of wealthy men had grown "greater than was healthy for the community."  Britain had many markets and ports, so new messages were frequent.  Finally, England had the most exaggerated awe and devotion to the monarch in all of Europe.  Henry VIII wanted to put pressure on the Church in order to get what he desired - the dissolution of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon - but he did not  mean to break permanently from the unity of Christendom.  When he suppressed the monasteries, it was not to destroy (which did happen) but to enrich the crown.  Belloc argues that "England did not lose the Faith in 1550-1620 because she was Protestant then.  Rather, she is Protestant now because she then lost the Faith." 

Of course, Belloc gives many great historical details to support his points, and there is no way for me to get across all of his ideas.  This was a challenging read for me - it took a lot longer than I anticipated because I could only read it when I was able to concentrate on it fully - not something I get to do all that often around here.  I would recommend this if you are really into Church history, but it is not light reading.