Archive for May, 2006

Olsen__precious_in_his_sight_1I don’t know what it is exactly, but there is something so precious about the way the little children look at the world.  Their eyes are so wide-eyed in wonder and are a constant source of heartwarming amusement to those that love them!  Once any of my children start to achieve THEIR own mastery of our language, there are bound to be a few mis-interpretations.

I was listening a bit harder to my 3yo ds talk and realized that he thought the doorknob was a doorknock.  An older child asked his father one day if he was going to take the car to expection….(yes, and we expected it to fail…lol)  My sil’s water dispenser is a fish tank…(we are still looking for the fish…haven’t spotted them yet…)The snowplows come around when it snows to salt and pepper the road and my twin dds wanted a piggy bank to put their nickles and diamonds in!  But my favorite story was this one…and it was a LOT funnier when my sil told it to us, but …you will get the idea!

Once upon a time …right before Christmas, my dh and I had to go shopping for gifts for the children. We left them at my brother and sil’s apt that windy night while we hurried around tying up loose ends. While we were gone, my ds then 5yrs old, got curious about a long snake like thing that was in front of the sliding glass door…The conversation, went something like this…

Aunt Melinda? What is that for?
It is for the drafts Joe.

Oh? You have drafts?
Yes…and they are pretty strong and we have to keep them out by using that thing there.

Joe…his eyes getting bigger…well…HOW do they get in??

They get in under the door…but that thing keeps them out..we get a lot of drafts here…you can really feel them in the closet…
You can FEEL the DRAFTS in the closet?
Yep! Here, come in here with me and I will show you…
Joe…peering into the closet would not go until Aunt Melinda said…It is OK Joe…come on in…Joe shruggs his shoulders and goes in.

Then Aunt Melinda CLOSED THE DOOR>>>

Can’t you feel the drafts in here Joe?

Aaaaunt Mmmmelinda??

Yes Joe?

I can’t SEE the drafts….
Of course you can’t Joe, they are invisible!….
INVISIBLE??!! Then how do you know that they are in here?
Well Joe, you can just feel them…can’t you feel them?
Aunt Melinda, how do you know it is safe in here?

Safe? Joe, it is just a closet…of course it is safe.
So is that why the drafts come?…to be safe? How come the drafts come into this place anyway?
Do they get hungry?

Aunt Melinda laughs for like an hour and we came back to her still chuckling over this incident, because you see…Joe THOUGHT she was saying GIRAFFES!

He still thinks giants live under the ground and cracks and holes appear on the Earth’s surface from when they try to poke their heads out to take a look around…

Heart_printThese children may leave fingerprints on every immaginable surface wherever they go, and those we need to see past…. to see the fingerprints they leave on our hearts!

(Picture by Greg Olson Precious in His Sight)

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I love being a "sneaky mom"!  I just tested the kid’s knowledge of the Catechism without a formal test…we had a Scavenger Hunt today!!

The overall theme was all to honor Our Lady in the garden and give God praise!  We started and ended our hunt with the statue of Our Lady of Grace in our backyard. 
The first clue started with one of the little ones’ favorite songs to honor Our Lady which was draped at Her feet:

Roses_frise3"Hail Mary, Mother of God, Lady in Blue I love you!
Hail Mary, Mother of God, Mary is my mother too!"

What does a mother do?
A mother takes good care of you!
She will teach you all you ought to know,
And will direct you to THE WAY to go!

Across the very humid yard ran a pack of giddy children from clue to clue that challenged them to recall the Baltimore Catechism.  I used some of the lines from 24 Catholic songs for Children from Our Lady of Victory to make the clues.  (The music is a catchy way to memorize the catechism and the children love the songs.)

We ended with:

Stay close to Her and all will be well.
Hear Her say, "Come to me and learn to be wise,
if you call on me I will answer."
And with Her always is our greatest prize!"

Under a rock by the side of the statue of Mary was this note…

Garlofros"Make a garden for me here that is full of love from your heart.  Prayerfully tend the flowers and think about me…and I will think about you! 

Offer me your flowers as a prayer!  They will remind you of the virtues with which I wish to share to fill YOUR heart!!
I love when you visit me, and offer me your gifts of love and prayer!  Stay close to me and have no fear!  I will always point the way to THE WAY of Divine Love, My SON!

I love you!"

The site of this garden needs some work!  And now that work is ready to begin! (finally!! :o)
The children and I are putting our heads together for it’s design.  The children are going to use Poetry Stones Deluxe Poetry_stones_picto help them personalize their Mary garden and  label the plants we intend to place here.  We also hope to use this kit to make stepping stones for the different mysteries of the rosary…embellishing each with symbols of each mystery!  Looks like we will be sporting the look of cement this summer! There are a few hints on the cement here as well as some ideas for garden design.

The great thing is that we are working together and personalizing the yard and at the same time creating a Garden that Prays!

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It always amazes me the depth of meaning to be found in tending Mary’s garden.  I never would have guessed that the roots of the garden could plant flowers in  our spiritual lives as ~virtue~, but with MARY it certainly can!!
Here is an excerpt I stumbled upon today…..

In the Madonna House Apostolate of Combermere, Ontario, extensive
use is made of the religious meanings of herbs, as set forth in
letters from Catherine Doherty, Director General, to Mary’s Gardens
of October, 1951 and September, 1963 (excerpted):

" . . . So few people in this land understand gardening in
     God’s earth and gardening in one’s soul: the two in one in a
     manner of speaking each help the other.

" . . . All our projects (at Madonna House) are not just
     ordinary projects of interest – botanical, culinary or
     educational….They are spiritual projects.

     "There is such a need in our day and age of restoring
     humankind to God, and our Apostolate is dedicated in
     total to that restoration of Christ’s kingdom to him.


"This restoration must begin with individuals, though of
     course in time it will extend to institutions and groups
     and, in fact, nations.  But like all things of God, it must
     begin slowly, painstakingly on a small scale relating to
     the individual and then to the rest of the world.


"My firm belief is that one way of restoring humankind to
     God is by putting all in contact with nature on an intensive
     and deep scale so that we all can begin to understand the
     mystery of creation and begin to distinguish the face of
     God in the beauty and order of nature.


"Also, I believe that there is a healing quality in working
     with earth, plants, gardens and farming.  And as we restore
     the earth that God has given us to till to a healthy
     condition and grow in it our own food, we become restored
     ourselves and learn to read in the immense prayerbook of
     nature the tenderness and love of God for us.

"Herbs are part of this.  They’re also part of the
     Scriptures.  Like everything in nature, they help us to
     understand the source of our faith and appreciate the
     Scriptures better.  And they are a beautiful way of
     expressing a mutual charity. . . .  The growing, drying
     and preparing of them for storage and cooking purposes
     involves many members of our apostolate in training here,
     and herb lore and nature lore and the Scriptures become
     alive for many. . . .


Send forth flowers as the lily,
and yield a fragrance,
And bring forth leaves in grace,
and praise with canticles,
And bless the Lord in his works."

                       Sirach 39:13-14 (Ecclesiasticus 39:18-19)

Petals12"As the flower pneums of the virtues have descended from heaven,
through Mary, for implanting in our hearts, so, in return, do the
flowers of our subtle, interior Tree of Love, rise heavenward in
grateful praise of God and the desire to participate in his works.
Rising thus, they are received, embellished and conduited by Mary
on their way to God, who then fills them with actual graces for
return, again through Mary’s hands, to our hearts for our
inspiration and prompting in our works of mercy and social

The way of flowers is thus one way rooted in tradition upon which
we can draw for the faith which moves mountains and the love which
is stronger than death, as we work to overcome the evils of
exclusion, discrimination, disadvantage, poverty, ignorance, drugs
and violence, in our works of personal and social redemption.

Copyright, Mary’s Gardens, 1997"

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We love books!  We will often record our adventures through our studies by Notebooking and Lapbooking our way through….it is a way for us to not just take notes, but also make a memorable keepsake that we continually learn from and from which we often re-tell our adventures to others!  Most of which we keep in our 3 ring binders in page protectors, which not only protect our finished pages, but keep the incomplete work together!  It is a continual work in progress.  Here is an article about binderizing

This can be adapted for children of all ages.  Even the younger ones can get in on this!  At its simplest, it can even be the child coloring or drawing a page about something they studied…like a bible story….and having the child narrate the story back to you and recording that narration on the back of the picture.  If you want something more eye-catching, you can record your information on little fold out booklets that you design to hold your data…I will explain more about this later!

Just peruse these Notebooking and Lapbooking sites and come up with many great ideas and journal pages!! 
Here is another good one for ideas! Highland Heritage
and this too….Heart of Wisdom
an this is a good one about how to divide the data!! and don’t miss this sheet!

I came across many wonderful resources for these kind of projects…one of which is this site…  It SHOWS you on line, HOW to make books with children.  You can actually sew and cover your own book!  This makes a wonderful project where the kids really "own" their work!  We want to try the same project using wallpaper scraps instead of the shelf paper.  We are awaiting our "contact" from the local wallpaper store to pass on extras to us. 

There are many additions you can add to your notebooks too!  You can read more about that here:  The Notebooking Corner

My Favorite books about lapbooking/notebooking:

The Big Bookof Books and Activities

The Big Book of Projects

The Ultimate Lapbook Handbook

More info on different subjects contained in our lapbook/notebook projects and most especially our virtues project  later!!

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Despite the Utopian spring day, what I overheard from the girls bedroom amid the  sounds of squealing and shouts of "MO-OM…she won’t give it back to me!"  and "Mooooooooom!  I want to read it!"…"No, I am up to the BEST part where they…"…"No, I am at the climax of the action, I can’t stop now!!"  sounded like some battle from Narnia!  Louder and louder the din crescendoed till finally I was able to eyeball the scoundrels in the top bunk wrestling with each other and a book.

Hilda_van "WHAT is going on?!   We spring cleaned the bookshelves yesterday and they found one of their beloved treasures:

The Mitchells: Five for VictoryMitch

and both twins claimed ownership.  "For the love of that dear author…say a prayer for that dear lady and my peace of mind!"  Feeling somewhat like Solomon, I had to confiscate the book …went into my room…shut the door…just took a peek at the book and accidentally started reading…they should get tired of pounding on the door anytime now….

I think what we find in the pages of this and her other books is something rare…SOMEONE with whom we can identify…a special lady that has a cherished secret that can be found and embraced in living a famly-centered life!

We love to read our way through history…it has made it come ALIVE for us!  We use the lists at Bethlehem books  and Love 2 Learn.

Hvs All of Hilda Van Stockum  books are a hit here…most especially these family-centered books!:

These two books are the second and third book in the Mitchell’s series….all three of  which take place in America during WWII and show great spirit, family unity and old-fashioned family values in a large family even amid difficult circumstances:

Canadian Summer

Friendly Gables

This series of three books takes place in 1930’s and offer a wonderful view of family life in Ireland:

The Cottage at Bantry Bay

Francie on the Run


And these next three take place during WWII:

1940’s  Holland:
The Winged Watchman

1943 Holland:
The Borrowed House

1940’s Holland:

and just for fun…for the Christmas basket!
The Angel’s Alphabet

Many of her books are out of print and are a treasure to find!

Did you  know she was a Montessori  instructor in New York in 1934??  Here is another article about her work!  It LOOKS like it is written by her granddaughter.  It is a great article about catholic formation and Hilda Van Stockum’s books…especially wonderful is this quote:

"The argument of this paper is that Hilda van Stockum’s novels provide a welcome antidote to the anti-Catholic slant of most modern children’s literature in two ways. First, they embrace the “culture of life” and promote the virtue of sacrifice required to sustain this culture. Second, they uphold the value of the Catholic sacraments, showing them to be indispensable sources of grace as well as the ultimate celebrations of our lives. For all this, her novels are never preachy or moralistic, and thus may reach children’s hearts in ways that teaching texts or sermons may not."

HvsermWe do love you Hilda Van Stockum…thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling with us!!

Hilda Van Stockum’s wedding 1932

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Living Math.

Hands- on math is always a big hit here!  Maria Montessori once said in the Absorbent Mind:

"We give opportunities for exploration and discovery
which “open fields full of interest.”
“To explore, one needs to be filled with intellectual interests,
and these it is our business to give.”

We have been using Living math this year and loving it!  It is so helpful for the children to know where math started and what people actually DO with it!  We set the stage by having a basket of books on our shelf that always has living math books in it for the kids to explore! Armed with their exploration journal they write down what interests them wether it is something from a book or some real-life math discovery…like measuring baby sister and various family members with snap cubes and drawing a graph to record the results…not bad-eh?

Ck out the living math books and programs at Julie’s site:
Living Math

Here is something unique I wanted to share with you!
Visual Geometry Dictionary
Geometry Stories

Here is an explanation of
Montessori Math

More Montessori Math

Montessori Lessons

Montessori  Albums

and you can make your own math manipulatives here:
jmj Publishing math

practice math skills here:
Our Montessori online games
on line math activities

"This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the materials, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations." Maria Montessori – The Discovery of the Child, ch.19. Further Development in Arithmetic.


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MarykisstHappy Mother’s Day to all mothers…and most especially to the Queen of all mothers….Our Lady!!

There are some beautiful articles in honor of Motherhood that I wanted to share….

Rebecca at Babylove has quite a beautiful post about the
Gratefulness for the Vocation of Motherhood

And Elizabeth Foss’s sweet post What goes around
Last but not least….celebrate Mother’s day with Celebration of Heart and Home!

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