Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Absolutely Advent!

I wanted to let you all know about a resource we're going to be using this Advent for our children. It's called Absolutely Advent and is published by Pflaum Publishing. We use a very short devotions booklet for each day of the year called Living Faith for Kids(which we also love!), but this is a little different. It is a chance for the children to make their own personal journey through the Advent season. In addition to focusing specifically on the gospel reading for the day, there is an age appropriate activity for children to complete on their own. We used their Totally Lent! books last year and were very satisfied with it. If anyone is interested in ordering these for their children (homeschooled or not), let me know. I don't profit from the sale of these books personally, but we all profit (through a group discount rate) the more people who order. You can check out Absolutely Advent here.
My goal would be to place an order by the end of October, so let me know by then if you are interested.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Media Play

Everyone knows the media has a bag of tricks that distorts reality and changes the images that we see. As a part of our All Things Girl group, which just started on Sunday (and I LOVE!), we'll be delving into the media and its effect on self-image in young girls.

Nothing to talk about there. Ahem.

While doing some of my research, I stumbled upon a site that is absolutely age-appropriate for our 8-13 year old audience (and would certainly be of value to any older kids), created by PBS Kids called "Don't Buy It! Get Media Smart!". Check it out, it's worth it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Sunday's Sermon

"True discipleship requires following the true leader."

Lost and Found

Lost:

One small, speckled bullfrog froglet. (Yes, one of these bullfrogs.)

Found?

One very unhappy Captain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homecoming

It's homecoming weekend around here.

As if I were old enough to have a child old enough to be going to homecoming.

But apparently I am...because I do.

So, I've been spending this week trying not to have acid-flash-backs of my own high school homecomings tying up the loose ends of a teenage boy preparing for his first semi-formal dance. You know little things--like making sure he has pants for the occasion--which he does. Now.

Then there was the little matter of the purchasing of dance tickets, the reservations for dinner and not-to-be-forgotten wristlet corsage to be tracked down to match a dress that required top secret clearance to find out its color.

Check. Check. Check.

If you're in the area and you're planning to attend the game, be sure to come dressed in blue. There is a "blue out" planned to clash with the visiting "green wave".

Unfortunately, Beulah will miss the festivities, as she has her first rehearsal. But fortunately for the Boy, we'll all be around on Saturday before the dance. ;-)

Stay tuned for more homecoming news later this weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

From Sunday's Sermon

"So many Christians want to help God out---but only with advice."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Hollywood...

Our children deserve better. We know it and they know it. And now YOU, dear Hollywood, KNOW we know it, too.

From the Project Chase website: "The media today would have us believe that it’s impossible to be abstinent, that we have no control over our passions and desires. It’s “unnatural” to wait for marriage to have sex. We’re nothing but slaves to our hormones. "


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gone Pickin'

Today is our homeschool group's first nature club outing. We're heading off to a local apple orchard for apple-cider donuts a fact-filled tour. The weather is supposed to be unseasonably warm and hopefully the rain will hold off until our tour is finished.

Since we just completed our unit on Amphibians--frogs, toads and tadpoles--last week (and, no, they have not outgrown their frog bog yet!) and we aren't starting our next unit on early America until next week (Witch of Blackbird Pond, anyone?); we'll be spending this one week on a mini-apple unit.

Fun and delicious. Have I mentioned the apple cider donuts?

One of these days, I'll have to gather together all of our units and post them here. In the meanwhile, however, I've got to dig out a few favorite apple recipes for later this week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Prediction--Who is this guy?

Cast List

After sitting on pins and needles the better part of Saturday, late last night the cast list was posted! We are simply thrilled to announce that Beulah will be (much to the delight of The Boy) one of the Oompah-loompahs! in the fall CYT production of Willy Wonka Jr!

Let us know if you want tickets. I'm quite certain part of the glory of the stage involves hawking show tickets to friends and family. ;-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Callbacks!

I guess Beulah's tryouts went well. She got called back! Parts should be listed by tomorrow morning. Not too shabby for a first-time audition.

I'll have to think back to my days as one of the postulants (or was I a novice?) in my high school production of the Sound of Music.

Maybe I can offer her some pointers? Then again, maybe not.

Food For Thought on a Saturday Morning

Not only are we on the sidelines. This year, we're the ones blowing the whistles and holding the clipboards. Today, I think, this article will be clipped right on top.

H/T Real Learning

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mom! Can I have a snack?

Check out these great after-school snacks courtesy of Martha Stewart.

When she's not busy brokering deals with the Home Depot for designer prison tools, man can she still cook!

H/T Mom via email

Five In A Row

Do you use the Five in A Row series in your homeschool?

We haven't actually used this series ourselves, but the books present a novel (no pun intended) literature-based curriculum that can be used with children who are simply pre-3Rs. I do, however, love their book list and refer to it regularly when planning my studies--even for a story time which includes my older children.

No one--and I mean no one--is ever too old for a good book.

But I digress.

There are a few families in our midst who are anxious to begin homeschooling their little ones. Many of them want advice. As it just so happens, the authors of the Five in A Row series have summed up nicely my thoughts on educating preschool children (and this absolutely applies whether your preschooler will be educated at home or in a traditional classroom setting.) Head on over and read this or one of their other interesting articles. Trust me, your preschooler will thank you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do Your Homework!

This is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" parenting/homeschooling/teachable moments. No one will be any more disturbed than I (okay, maybe The Captain) when they find out about our lovely little educational science project gone awry.

It appears that the breed of tadpole contained in the kit we purchased is that of the African Bullfrog persuasion.

And it also appears that some of these little fellers can grow pretty big.

Don't any one of you remind me that I ordered said kit of my own free will.

Please.

I will have enough explaining to do (not to mention worms to dig) should our frog grow to its maximum size.

Tryouts

Beulah's Beginning Musical Theater class with CYT started with a bang! She has decided (at the 11th hour, mind you) that she wants to audition for the show the group is performing this Fall. Tryouts are Friday night! Wish her (and her nail-biting stage mom) good luck! Now I'm off to buy the karaoke (no vocals) version of this song.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

From Sunday's Sermon

"Going to church doesn't make you any more a Christian than standing in your garage makes you a car."
James 2: 14-18

Oh how we will miss you, Father George! Your new parish can't even begin to know what a blessing you will be to them!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Full Fall

There's a full range of activity going on here on the ark this fall.

From our busy Friday nights to our school days--deliciously full of faith, learning and fun. It seems the ark has got its groove back.

As a part of our homeschool curriculum, we have several children active in the performing art. Some take piano, while others belong to a choir and still another is beginning with the Christian Youth Theater (CYT).

We also want to develop healthy, strong physical bodies as well. So, there are gymnastics and soccer lessons (which yours truly is helping to coach--but that is post for another day!)

Spiritually, we've selected a few targeted activities which will be aimed at specific children. Naomi and Candace will be part of a budding Little Flowers group and Beulah and Hannah will be part of a brand-new mother-daughter bible study group created around the delightful All Things Girl study series. Both of these will be hosted here on the ark, so we also have a tremendous opportunity to practice hospitality. We've also arranged to join another homeschool family for some monthly volunteer work at the local nursing home.

All in all, a season full of excitement and challenge for all of us!

Not to mention, our school plans--which have involved the addition of two amphibious creatures to our classroom. If you know me as a teacher--you know that I'm obsessed with partial to creating thematic lesson plans. Homeschooling has only fueled that fire. With something akin to gasoline, as I have free rein to design curriculum totally around my themes. But as you might imagine, when you fuel that type of fire, it can burn out of control. And so today, I am heading out to the bait shop to purchase some feeder fish. Despite my lesson planning moxie, I can't quite yet bring myself to walk into a store (even a bait shop) and request "pinhead crickets".

Oh, and I can't let pass by an opportunity to share two wonderful resources that the Captain and I are using for our own faith journeys. Once a month, I enjoy the company of a lovely group of ladies at my home for "Mother's Circle". The circle represents our friendship as well as the prayer circle we support one another with. The devotional book we are using is called All Earth Is Crammed with Heaven by Mary van Balen Holt and is a perfect length--ie-brief!--for a group of mothers meeting while children play at their feet. Finally, the Captain has spent nearly the last six months waking before dawn to attend planning sessions for a new men's prayer group that our parish has started. If you've never heard of the That Man is You! (TMIY) program, it is worth a look--especially to share with the men in your life!

And now, Saturday begins. See you next week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Void The Abortion Mandate Virtual Rally

From Eric Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League...

Last night, President Obama spoke to the nation about his plan for
a national, government-run healthcare system. But he STILL hasn't
come clean about whether his plan will fund abortion.

Make no mistake about it: Abortion WILL be funded by the government
through the new healthcare plan.

For years, Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby have been
working towards the day when abortion would be included in
comprehensive healthcare reform -- the day when abortion coverage
would become mandatory and paid for with your tax dollars.

That day is here.

If the healthcare legislation President Obama wants passes,
abortion providers will get their wish.

The federal government will
fund abortions across the country with our tax dollars.

We must redouble our efforts to stop this plan. That's why I'm
inviting you to join me and pro-lifers across the country in the
VOID THE ABORTION MANDATE virtual rally and grassroots campaign.

President Obama and your representatives in Congress need to hear
from you NOW that "Abortion is not health care!"

Our pro-life voices ARE getting through! The media have covered
town hall meetings all across the country and reporters are finally
asking about abortion funding in Obama's health care plan.

Now it's time for a new wave of activism to stop President Obama
and the abortion industry from mandating taxpayer funded abortions.
That's what the VOID THE ABORTION MANDATE "virtual rally" is all
about.

Here's what you can do:

* SOCIAL NETWORKING ACTIVISM:
Download the new "Void the Abortion Mandate" logo and sample
status messages
and post them on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace
and other social networking websites.

* CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND CONGRESSMAN:
Visit StopTheAbortionMandate.com and click on the "voided check"
logo
to send a message to your elected representatives that you
don't want the government funding abortion:

* LEARN HOW OBAMA'S PLAN FUNDS ABORTION:
Having a hard time explaining how the healthcare plan cover
abortion? Get the new chart that shows how it happens:

* GET ALL THE FACTS:
Learn about the Hyde Amendment, government funding of
abortion, and other important topics surrounding the healthcare
reform abortion mandate
.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Strong Pro-Life Catholic Candidate for Governor in Illinois

Do you live in Illinois?

Are you planning to vote in 2010 for our new governor?

Are you a practicing Catholic Christian?

Have you been looking for a candidate who brings true "change" to the party?

Please take a look at Adam Andrzejewski, brother to one of our very own moms in our local Catholic Mother's Group.

You may find just what you've been looking for! And feel free to spread the word!

3 Years Old and then some...

Happy Birthday!

To my little blog.

I can't believe how old you've gotten. Where has the time gone? I can't remember a time when you weren't a part of life here on the Ark. Thank you for three great years!

And to my dad.

(I'd repeat, "I can't believe how old you've gotten" but I'm confident it would be met with a reminder of just how old that makes me...)

Happy Birthday! We love you!

And dear Mary.

(The same Mary who when I announced her birthday yesterday, two of my older children scrunched up their brows and said, "Mary who?")

Today we're hosting a birthday party for you with a few of our friends. We will celebrate your perfect example of motherhood and discipleship.

(I also told The Boy that Jesus kept Mary's birthday in his Outlook so He wouldn't forget to buy her a gift. The same-scholarship-having-Boy again looked at me and asked, "Are you being serious?" Remind me to sign him up for a computer class.)

Today is a great day for a celebration! Be sure to join the fun!

Monday, September 07, 2009

From the Press Box

The JV football team won--AGAIN--on Saturday! There's no article up yet, but I'll link to it when there is. Unfortunately the Varsity didn't fare so well. But our Freshman...many of whom play on the JV team, captured their first win last week. Not only that--it was the first shutout win in 8 seasons!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pests

This is our first year with a vegetable garden in Illinois. The garden has been abundant.

Unfortunately, so too are the weeds and the garden pests.

The weeds are at least manageable. The pests? Not so much.

Sadly, everything growing on a vine is being consumed by voracious Japanese beetles and (here's a new one for my science collection) the striped cucumber beetle.

Since we eat out of this garden, I am apprehensive to try chemical insecticides; but I am at an impasse for what to do to be rid of them.

Perhaps some notes left in the garden explaining my position will encourage them to move along.

Friday, September 04, 2009

First Homeschool Mass

We usually begin our school day at 8am.

So, naturally, I usually begin waking up my children/students around 7am.

Why then was this morning's wake-up call so very rough?

No kidding it was...rough.

Every body had a bed (or two) strewn across it. Rumpled sheets across cherubic looking faces. Warm and cozy bodies snuggled tightly into their beds. When I arrived a mere 15 minutes early to gently rouse my troops for our parish's first-ever homeschool Mass (isn't that cool?) where Beulah and Hannah would do both the reading and responsorial psalm, did eager faces meet my "Good Morning"!

In a word, no. Although, in their defense, I will say that Beulah and Hannah were already awake when I peeked in their room this morning. Candace and Naomi, however, were not. It took all sorts of cajoling and lofty promises of food and drink from a wonderful place that rhymes with Danera to elicit even a slight rapid-eye movement.

I knew I would need to bring out the big guns.

"Girls," I whispered as I gently rubbed their heads, "do you want to go down and watch a kid's show before we go? You can bring your blankets with you?"

A grin appeared on Candace's face and without opening her eyes she mumbled back, "Can we bring the bed?"

Suffice to say, we made it to Mass on time. And my girls, both of my girls, did a marvelous job with their readings.