Archive for June, 2006

Nature Study Carnival!


Be sure to stop by and visit Dawn from By Sun and Candlelight today!!  She is holding a blog carnival on nature study….~ Field Day: The Early Summer Edition!:~.  This is a wonderful post to sit back and linger over…  just snuggle up with your ‘puter and a warm cuppa and be prepared for some wonderful articles that satisfy your longing for nature!  Wonderful job Dawn!!  :o)

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What is the recipe for a perfect date?

Alll of the children are sound asleep….you and your dh are alone after a long hard day….

First you need one of these:
….add in one of these: 


and then add one of these:

What is your favorite way to spend quality quiet time with your dh?

I do have one more question…why is it that I get sucked in to the sweet serenity of the time that the children are all snuggled in their beds…that I lose track of time…. and go to bed waaay too late? 

And in case you are wondering…that is a cribbage board..I am learning and loving the game!  (Of course I have a GREAT teacher!)

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I have been struggling with trying to manage many persons and the kaleidoscope of emotions and struggles that abound in our path towards obtaining truth and unity…and being only one, I felt outnumbered!  >>In Enters –-Super MOM!<<  I have the title and the costume…now HOW am I to ACT??!  Aha!  God in his infinite wisdom has given us the SEEDS of all that we need to raise these children right….They came neatly packaged with every soul entrusted to our care!  What are these seeds?? and How do we make them grow??  The seeds=VIRTUE and the fertile ground is GRACE!  …most specifically a great model for both is OUR LADY!  The ultimate secret garden of virtue!

My mil once said…"When I die, I am going to ask…"Where is the manual?!"  I mean, we get a TV- we get a manual…We buy a car..-we get a manual…We get a new appliance…and THERE is the manual, a complete guide to use, care and replacement parts.  We get something as precious and complicated as a human soul….NO MANUAL?!"….

I think many of us do get frustrated with our children’s
behavior at times…I know I struggle with it on a
daily basis. I have to steel myself each day. I need to be consistent, even tempered and fair. 

I wanted to journal to keep track of things…maybe to see patterns, but I always lose it and it is hard to find the time.  I did try an experiment the other day…

First thing in the morning, I came out to
greet the kids with a smile. I went over to each one
as they emerged from their room, made eye contact with
them and told them something I loved about
them….without being too obvious and without the
others knowing….wouldn’t you know it? They were so
great for at least 2 hours! For them that is a
stretch as we are emerging with new hormonal issues 😉  aand they feel passionate about everything!

I am TRYING to be more purposeful with my attention to
the individual…I often get too overwhelmed with the
group. I am trying to see ONE thing that I can do for
them personally at any given time. Simplicty reigns true again!  I am noticing less
frustration on both our parts…even something as SIMPLE as seeing that
someone needs a refill of water at dinner and taking that moment on with a smile and eye contact as I fill it up the cup, has an
effect…I think I’ll call this idea strewing
purposeful kindnesses
…;) What do you think? 

It kind of reminds me of the book Small Acts of Kindness by James Vollbracht where the seemingly smallest act of love, a boy hugging his mother, can have such far reaching effects.

And doing little things can be great things, Little Acts of Grace that keep our minds and hearts focused on God’s will!

Little people learn by imitation…of the ones they love…every heart should strive to be Just like Mary

And then …through character building stories, we are learning what a virtue is, how to live it and how others we love (the saints and the Blessed Mother) LIVED the virtues….using resources like these:
Devotional Stories for Little Folks
The Children’s Book of Virtues

Everyday Graces
My Path to Heaven  (I copy the pics from this book and the older ones color them while I read the text.  They then enter these into their notebooks…and  I did ask permission from the publisher) It focuses on making right holy choices based on devotion and right action, not feelings.

…not to mention a great book for Mom and Dad is Father Lovasik’s The Hidden Power of Kindness  When I first read this I THOUGHT I was kind…but I found something deeper…oh read it!  You will be glad you did!!
Saintly  Solutions and  More  Saintly  Solutions (available from Sophia Institute ) are great too!

"Kindness is being concerned about the welfare of others." says The Family Virtues Guide.  This is a lovely guide to read around the table to the kids.  It takes a virtue at a time and explains more in depth what it is and how to practice it.  It has an excellent section for parents that shows in a very practical way how to use virtues, not labels, to draw out the goodness in children.  One of it’s first strategies employs the recognition of the teachable moment. 

"In Chinese the written characters for the word crisis mean "opportunity".

   It is our teach-ability, our humility  to keep learning, that allows life to be lived with joyful acceptance, even during the tough times."  It goes on further to say that such teachable moments are ones that give a parent cause to acknowledge or reinforce a virtue that the child is already practicing and in that way "the parent is tapping into the child’s innate qualities of character rather than trying to manage behavior.  Calling a child to a virtue–naming a virtue which is called for in a given situation–shows her that she is capable of practicing it."  It explains the language of virtue and how to employ that language to transform what is before you….

We are addressing particular virtues (here at the home for the well meaning and often mis-directed) and accompanying the study with stories and learning a bit more about the virtues of Mary.  At the center of this is the Program for Achieving Character Education or PACE  (Which recommends using The Moral Compass
as well as The Family Virtues GuidePACE has been updated!!….here is more info from  Emmanuel books :

"In addition to the materials covered in the original PACE [quote memorization or copywork, virtue definition (including synonyms and antonyms), Classic Stories, Bible stories, recommended booklists (listed by grade level), discussion questions, writing ideas, and enrichment activities such as music, art, nature and family projects], there are supplements to this restructured curriculum.  For example, a segment on how to practice the virtues in everyday life has been included.  There is now a section containing specific references to Catholic saints (and lessons to be learned from studying them) as well as a Marian section aimed at incorporating our Blessed Mother and her actions into our study of character concepts.  Who better than Our Lord, the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary to demonstrate fitting examples of moral conduct in our lives?"

And right there is where we begin with our new Virtues Project all recorded in our Marian Virtue-Building Notebooks which is PURELY A WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OUR LADY!  I felt the need to research all of this recently and I had NO IDEA that it would marry together so well….a special "God-Incidence" is the fact that PACE was recently updated to reflect the Virtues of Our Lady.  We have been spending weeks study her virtues in the Mary Garden.  God is painting a beautiful picture for me to follow…I am so very visual and I need a clear image to emulate as a Mother….how wonderful…how perfect!!  Can you tell I am excited??!…stay tuned for updates! ;o)




"We can not do great things. We can only do little things with great love."
Mother Teresa

"Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."
Bell, Lawrence D.


"Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves."
Carnegie, Dale


"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimal of pleasurable and genial feeling."
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor


"A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark."

Dante (Alighieri)


"If you add a little to a little and do this often, soon the little will become great."



"There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible."
Johnson, Samuel


"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."
Keller, Helen


"Small kindnesses, small courtesies, small considerations, habitually practiced in our social intercourse, give a greater charm to the character than the display of great talents and accomplishments."
Kelty, Mary Ann


"Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes. The big ones come too infrequently. And if you don’t collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don’t really mean anything."
Lear, Norman


"Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities. You are special. Act it. Never neglect the little things."
Mandino, Og


"The thing that goes the farthest towards making life worth while, That costs the least, and does the most, is just a pleasant smile."
Nesbit, Wilbur D


"The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progress is made one step at a time. A house is built one brick at a time. Football games are won a play at a time. A department store grows bigger one customer at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments."
Schwartz, David J


"It isn’t the big pleasures that count the most; it’s making a great deal out of the little ones."
Webster, Jean


"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
Wilder, Laura Ingalls


"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
   Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC), The Lion and the Mouse


"Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness."
Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), The Confucian Analects


"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
Ettiene De Grellet


"Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness."
George Sand (1804 – 1876)


"That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love."
William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)


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Nature Study


I am learning to discover an appreciation of nature as God’s fine art.  I struggle with it because I never really learned it as a child.  I remember being very young and looking at leaves and bugs in my own yard and wanting to know what they were and I had no way of finding out.  I would gaze at the trees and want to know what they were called and what they did, and even asking adults, but they were too busy to seek out the answer and tell me or even providing me with a way to know. 

I find that learning something new is somewhat like brushing your teeth.  At first you have to pay very close attention.  Later it becomes much easier and you can brush without thinking about it…it just fits naturally into the day’s events.   I hadn’t gotten to that stage with Nature study and it always ended up on the back burner.

When I read this wonderful post at Lapaz Farm Home Learning !  I found such inspiration to keep at it until nature study becomes as incorporated into our lives as well…brushing our teeth.  But of course it is MUCH more than that…it is taking a pause to APPRECIATE and understand God more in His creation.  I think that at times we need a deliberate pause to discover and learn what God has to teach in His creation, but not just with our heads, but with our hearts.

Image:Greg Olson I Feel My Savior’s Love

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20greatreasonsClick on this image to read this cartoon by Jim Erskine from Living books for the ears.  He has given permission for this image to be copied and distributed.

What are Living Books for the Ears?  This is from his site:

"Do you want your kids to develop a "taste" for great literature?
Do you want to make history come "alive" for your kids?

Do you want to bring some truly wholesome entertainment into your home
that the whole family can enjoy?

Then look no further….

Our weekly "Living Books for the Ears" newsletter brings you  outstanding "old time radio" adaptations of  great books and historic stories absolutely free. These fully dramatized half hour audio programs are a terrific way to introduce your kids to these classic tales. But everyone, young OR old, will enjoy listening to these excellent, wholesome radio adaptations (in great sound quality).

Join our FREE weekly newsletter
and receive a FREE
"Living Books for the Ears"
audio program each and every week
(It’s really, really free – no strings attached!)"

Tomsawyerbythefence_2We have signed up for this wonderful link for quite a few years and we have oodles of MP3 files ready to play on our computer.  This week it is the Adventures of Tom Sawyer!  Our dear children love this Tuesday treat!   Nothing like a little ADVENTURE for a summery afternoon!  Often times there are great little "extras"…links for more background information about the show of the week.   

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My younger set (3,5,7 yo) are reading their way through their studies of the world now with the older ones (10,12,12) looking over their shoulders.  We want to discover the people and places that are on this great big world that God made.  As we go through different books, we are adding in Montessori presentations and projects to make our work 2 and 3 dimensional. 

I have limited time and energy so I like to make my movements count by being as organized as I can.   We are taking some of these projects and pictures of projects and placing them in a 3 ring binder with page protectors so we can have a record of our journey.  We are NOT doing all of this at once and much of it is very simple.

Organizational Ideas:

One of the first things I learned (the hard way 😉 was
~simplify and stay organized!
~have only a few items out at time for exploration
~keep supplies in closed clear containers for storage.

Organization for any  papers or supplies for lessons:

~place in a prep Mommy binder or file folder…pre-printed and hole punched immediately from the printer

~print out topics to be covered and presentation notes

~place the sheets into my 3 ring Mommy Binder for storage
(divided by little colored post-it notes)

~jot notes on these little post-its if there are other items that need to be added to a lesson (i.e. a book,  Montessori 3 part cards,  a prepackaged experiment  or  any art supplies needed.

~from Dinah Zikes book the Big Bookof Projects , pre-print small continent maps and store in file folders until ready for use

~copy a thumbnail picture of the books that we will be reading and  paste them on one page of a Word document,  print,  cut and  place in little zip loc bags
(as we read the book,  we paste the image right from the bag onto a page in our notebooks)

~in zippered 3 hole binder pencil case place colored pencils to match Montessori continent colors

~police the cards and puzzles and books nightly to make sure no pieces are missing and making sure that the area is clean and ready to go the next day.

Activities for my Visual/Kinesthetic Learners:

We also have a labeled colored file folder in the Montessori colors of each continent.  As we read and discover new people and places, we will be adding pictures to our continent files.  We have a huge tub of National Geographic that we have put aside for just this purpose.  (You can get this magazine free from your local library at the end of the year when they thin out their stock.  Just tell your local librarian that you are interested in any of their discards and you can get great nature, geographic and kids magazines.)

If we had enough wall space I would be mounting  a large map of the world on the wall that is mounted over cork to pin things to…but!  Instead we have smaller maps (continent and world) in our binders (ala Zike)that we will  color to reference a particular place  and a large map under a heavy plastic table cloth on our dining room table.  I think we will be taking small sticker flags and mounting them to toothpicks and with a bit of putty, they will be able to adhere the flag to the correct country.  Note to self…DO NOT LEAVE 3yo ALONE WITH PUTTY!!  haha

For some of the continents and places they visit through books or DVDs we will be coloring a post card or making a mock stamp to put into a pretend passport.  I also have a collection of saint pictures, google images and trading cards of the saints.  Throughout our journey, we will be placing  saints on the map too!

Another thing that I will do is pre-print 3 part Montessori cards (scroll down) about the concept we are studying and cut and laminate and put into a clear container for the kids to experiment on at will…sort of like a learning center. Many of these cards can be found in the files section of a few Montessori Yahoo groups (as seen in the links below).  You can also get a very reasonably priced download from Montessori for Everyone which is located on ebay. Some of which include:

Landform Cards
Cards of the World or from Montessori Share Geography files
The Earth
Earth layer Cards
Parts of a Flag
Historical US Flags  (this is here as a companion activity for our history lessons as well!)

Topics to be covered:

* Sandpaper Globe  (home made)
* Continent Globe
  (home made)

*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Hemispheres
Owl and Mouse free geography download 
The Global Puzzle

* Animals of the World   Atlas (My Sticker Books)
*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Child’s Own Continent

*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Child’s Own Continent

* Jigsaw Puzzle Map of Child’s Own Country

* Introduction of the Three Elements

* Land and Water Forms
(in the sandbox! including a little boat to float on the water parts and people and creatures for the land masses)

*  Land and Water Form Cards

(in clear container by Geography area) (also hand out 1/4 size pre-cut green and brown construction paper to make land and water forms into booklet showing that the opposite image of some landforms is a water form)

* Outline Maps
(in folder in Geography area to punch out with large knobbed pins and felt pad  underneath)

* Land and Water Definitions 
    (also the A to Z Geography Book)

* Flags
   (Flag Sticker book)

Our Montessori Flags of the World

* Classified Cards of Flags and Parts of a Flag
(In clear container on Geography Area)

*  List of Countries and Corresponding Continent Outline Map
(laminated and kept with Continent folders)

Presentation notes here: Geography Culture Album

Other ideas:

Last night I went on over to my friend  Map Quest and printed out a map of my neighborhood.  Later today we will be using this map to take a walk(if it is cool enough outside 😉 With baby in stroller and water bottles in hand we will let the map tell us where to go!

Download Google Earth for free and watch the satellite zoom into the continent, state, city or address of your choice!  We visited the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of china and grandma’s house today !

We will be getting travel DVD’s from Netflix …I hope that we can find some good ones! The places we visit I we will place small stamps in their passports!

The table will be set at night with painless learning placemats and we will be trying dishes from Whole Foods from the Whole World

Geography Book Basket:

In the Geography Basket for the next few weeks are books that not only cover places on a map, but make things more personal to the children as they learn more about people in other places on the globe including how they eat, dress and what they do with their free time!:
Me On The Map 
Where Do I Live
Maps and Globes

Mapping Penny’s World
As the Crow Flies : A First Book of Maps

Geography from A to Z
Children Just Like Me
Children Just Like Me Sticker Book

Atlas (My Sticker Books)

Considering God’s Creation Student Book (we use a few of these pages in our Geography notebooks the rest are used in our science notebooks)

Homes Around the World

Bread Around the World

Flags of the World stickers

Atlas books on Geography Shelf: (from what we already have on hand)

Readers Digest Atlas of the World

Atlas in the Round

Ultimate Atlas of the World (my ds (10yo) wants me to tell you that he recommends this one as it has a little thumbnail of the continent you are in and it’s place on the globe)

National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers

Fun Projects:

This week and next, the dc  will be making a paper mache globe of the world using a round balloon as a base and painting the continents in the Montessori colors…..Other activities that we will be doing  include making a similar globe by painting a garage sale globe following the instructions here in the geography section (making a Montessori Continents Globe) Montessori_globe_1 and paining another globe and coloring the water blue and the land brown and sprinkling fine sand on the land parts to make a Montessori Land/Water globe (so the child can see and FEEL how much of the earth is water and land).   To marry this into our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd work, I will be adding a little red star to the place where Jesus lived!

Sandpaper_globeI do finally have a digital camera and I will TRY to learn how it works and post pictures! 

I hope this is clear enough.  We will be sharing parts of our journey as we go!  Wish us a safe trip!

This just in….visit Kim at Starry Sky Ranch and see what she is doing with Geography.!  Great ideas Kim!!

Beiing so new at blogging, I have NO IDEA why some of my text is completely underlined in the middle of the post.  If I can figure out how that code works, I will clean that up a bit!
Photo: Greg Olson Children of the World

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Be sure and catch Lissa’s post at The Lilting House about picking the best homeschool curricula…she gives a link to a great quiz (What type of homeschooler are you?)….and a few more in the sidebar here.   What did you get?  Here is mine!

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Abraham Lincoln  You have a Bible and a library card what more could you possibly need?  You prefer the Charlotte Mason Method of reading living books for everything:  historical fiction, biographies, real histories, nature guides, etc.  No soon-to-be-outdated textbooks for you.  Visit my blog: http://www.GuiltFreeHomeschooling.blogspot.com
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

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Today is the kind of day where you don’t have the time or energy for deep thoughts… I think it was just a "being"  day….being slower and simple.  I loved being alone painting the trim around the outside of the back door listening to the birds and watching my 3yo dart around the yard looking for the "owl"…(Mourning Dove)  This little boy then donned eye protection and found an old hammer and was busy finding buried treasure hidden in the middle of rocks…he kept busy with that for a long time!

We have an older home that needs a lot of fix-up work.  I always feel like I am finding buried treasure when we discover the colors that were there before.  We wonder what the people were like that lived here and if they too had a lot of love in their home.  THAT is my idea of romance.  Another romantic notion wafting about comes from the active imaginations of my 7yo and 10 yo dss.  They dream that  somewhere there MUST be a secret fortune hidden in the walls or under the floor or buried in the backyard someplace…we are still looking…no luck so far!  I think I have a better chance of that money tree sprouting somewhere in my backyard …spontaneously of course…that way I could have plenty of money to fix up this old house!  Fixing up an older home is a labor of love…It can take quite a bit of time and attention,  but it reminds me of the constant vigilance that we all must have tending not only our souls, but the souls of the of our dear little ones.

As I painted, I found that my mind was drifting everywhere and it was strangely satisfying!  The most challenging thing I had to do was keep myself from sticking my hair in the paint!  Home Depot was the best helper on this job.   The former homeowner put new shutters on the house and we loved the color.  The great people at Home Depot took one of the shutters and let their computer select the paint color for us…and it looks AWESOME.  We are stripping every window and door this summer and sloooowly working our way around the house. 

Painting is good for the soul.  It makes me feel like I OWN my house …instead of it being the other way around!   As an added bonus, I loved being a passive observer of my children’s free play today.  The nice summer weather is upon us and I think I will be spending more days outside doing work that doesn’t amount to too much, really.  Maybe God meant slower summer days to be days of reveling in grateful appreciation of our vocations in order to fill us with a kind of contemplative satisfaction…God is kinda sneaky that way ;o)

Morning Glory Cottage by Thomas Kincade

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"Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
     World without End.  Amen."

Fltrinitylily"In undertaking our acts and works we bless ourselves, making the
Sign of the Cross, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit", to quicken our awareness and love of the one
God, the Blessed Trinity, as the beginning, ground and end of our
being for all eternity; and to offer our acts and works, and
also our sufferings, for the spiritual intentions of the Trinity –
for Creation, Redemption and Kingdom.

We do this rejoicing that, in the state of grace of our baptism,
the undertaking of our acts, works and sufferings for spiritual
intentions meritoriously generates further grace, light, wisdom
and power rising to the heavenly reservoirs and storehouses, from
which, together with those from the acts and sufferings of Christ
and the saints, and from all Masses throughout the world, they are
distributed through Mary’s mediation and the sacramental blessings
and indulgences of Holy Church to where most needed in the divine
economy for love, sustenance, protection, forgiveness, healing,
justice and peace.  It is our faith that in this way all our daily
acts, works and sufferings, undertaken for spiritual intentions,
contribute to the conversion of souls, the healing of bodies, the
renewal of the world and the building of God’s Kingdom.

In the Mary Garden, sacramentally blest flower and plant symbols of
the Trinity quicken the offering of our acts, works and sufferings
to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for spiritual intentions, and
recall us to these intentions if we become distracted.


An interesting aspect of bred pansy strains of a dominant color is
that the other two colors are always preserved at the centers of
the blooms.  Thus, pansies of yellow dominance may be seen to
symbolize the glory of the heavenly Father; purple the sorrows of
the incarnate Son; and white the light of the processing Holy
Spirit – with the other colors in each instance always retained at
the center, serving to remind us that whenever one of the Persons
of the Trinity is present the others are present also, in the
unity of the Godhead of love.

Pansies also bear the old name of Our Lady’s Delight, whereby,
mindful of their Trinity symbolism, we refer to Mary’s words,
"My spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior.""

The Mary Gardens site has the above quoted information and many more wonderful devotions seen in the garden which are such a beautiful collection of praises to the Most Holy Trinity.  This article is beautiful and worth the time spent reading it!

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Quotes of the Day


Our care of the children should be governed not by a desire to ‘make
them learn things’, but to keep burning in them the light of

The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.

Maria Montessori

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