Archive for September, 2006

090_madonnafraangelico_1 The Birthday of Our Queen (September 8)

All hail, O new world! Come and see
Here in a cradle lies our Queen,

Mother of God, one day to be,

O come and see this heavenly scene.

A beauteous, fragrant rose-bud,

Immaculate! God’s own flower,

His masterpiece of royal blood

Who came to earth this midnight hour!

Thousands of angels stand to guard

This mystical counterpart of God

And Seraphs play sweet lullabies

Upon their harps, as Cherubs laud.

Hail holy babe! Hail full of grace!

With wee hands clasped, with eyelids closed

She talks with God – face to face!

HT to Castle of the Immaculate for the beautiful poem!
Sr. Francis Marie
Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God’s Mother and Mine. Poughkeepsie, NY: Marist Press, 1946
Art, the Virgin Mary being glorified by the Angels,  by Fra Angelico

Our Lady’s Birthday Flower :  Italian Aster

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As I mentioned before here and here 
The Book Party is over as of 11:59 pm tonight!

Please feel free to order books from my site following this link and take a chance in our free book drawing.  Remember the top purchaser will receive FREE SHIPPING…Thank you so much for all your kind words and support!  I love to hear from you all! Enjoy perusing the site and feel free to ask any questions!!

If you are interested in hosting your own on-line book party…please contact me!  They are very easy and fun and you can get DOUBLE free books during my first 12 weeks!  What a great way of adding painless learning to your school year!  Yippee for that!

ooh yes!  one more thing…Usborne has a great special for those of you who would like to sign on and sell Usborne.  For this month, Usborne has a special kit for 25.OO and if you sign on, I will give you a bonus of 25.00 worth of free books!  More information is here.  Even if you just want to sell to yourself at great savings, here is a good opportunity for doing just that!  (I still have one of the half priced base kits available for around 100.  if you are interesed in that too!  That particular kit is the one I have and has a alot more books!)  Contact me for details!!


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Kissingfacegod_1In our home, every corner of it is a learning space…  A place for us to know, love, and serve God in our daily duties.  This house has children in it and we are not afraid to show that in our decor.  This house is full of holy reminders and I have been told (rather jokingly) that it looks like a convent.  It has framed holy pictures on its walls and strewn rosaries all about.

We live in a 1923 bungalow style home, typical of that era.  There is a living room/dining room combination in the center of the house.  It is in the center of our home that we typically gather for school.  There is something in here for everyone…from the 19mo toddler to the eldest children….it is user-friendly for its purposes no matter if you are young or old…you BELONG here!!   There is a smaller version of our dining room table in front of the bookcases for the littler children to bring their treasures to when they want to explore them.  We have 3 floor to ceiling bookshelves against our only solid wall.  Other pieces of furniture include the  dining room table as well as a 1/2 high bookcase(where most of our individual schoolbooks are kept…), china cabinet and a secretary desk.  The room has the look of an elegant early colonial oak/maple  library to it.  We keep it simple and hide our "office/classroom" as a dining room while we have company.  Have you ever seen those interior design shows where they do this type of thing hiding the office behind the dining room facade?  Well, this is my inspired decorating scheme!

In the secretary desk I have the pocket charts folded up with a few folders of pocket chart centers for the 3,6 and 7yo dc.  There are three drawers below the fold down part of the desk that serves as our notebooking/ scrapbooking/lapbooking assembly area with large drawers for papers and a basket on the top of the secretary for additional supplies in containers and baskets…next to that basket is the science supply basket.  I pull items down from these baskets to the fold down desk part as items are needed.  If they are not needed, they are up high…out of the toddlers reach, labeled and ready to go for the time they need to be in use…it is easy…pull down the desk part and get to work!  Everything needed is right there!..it is by a window that has the most beautifully colored leaves in the spring and fall and is a favorite place to sit and write!

Gift_of_the_shepherd_2In the china cabinet… it LOOKS like a china cabinet, but hidden under this guise is Math/Language centers and supplies.  There are 3 large baskets atop the cabinet and one is for Math, one for art supplies…(art games and whatever didn’t fit in the art cabinet in the kitchen)… and the other for language.  Here I keep the extra Montessori supplies and center items that I pull down only a few at a time for use.  I spent much of the summer getting them ready.  Behind one of the china cabinet doors are some decorative jars, boxes and small baskets that hide some of the more needed manipulative items….handy, but hidden and once again out of the toddlers reach….want to know where I ‘hid’ the dishes??  Most of them are in the other two sections and half of the area below the china cabinet.  Right next to it is a door leading to a walk-up attic…I have several shelves of dishes ready to be used at the top of the stairs in that attic…I just have to give them a quick wash before company and we have it made!  It makes it so much easy to care for my special treasures with children around if I handle it this way.  Besides I feel kind of elegant opening and closing the doors on the china cabinet when gathering the things for school.  It somehow gives even something as tedious as math a special air.

Across the 3 large bookcases are 4 more large baskets….laundry like wood-stained  wicker baskets with fabric liners….  History (movable time line items) More Science items(3 part Montessori cards and interesting manipulatives) Games, and Sewing Stuff can be found there.

Still_the_favorite_weistlingThe shelves are divided by sections by subject …full of books!!….and the highest shelves hold items that we want away from the baby…a display shelf for our latest project….like a miniature medieval  village made of Model Magic on a painted cardboard base and landscape…precious books….and handiwork shelf…sewing baskets with projects inside…klutz books..potholder loom…whatever we are working on NOW for fun or to flesh out one subject or another.  The bottom most shelves hold a basket of baby toys and younger books for easy perusal.

There is one long decorative window higher up on the wall near the dining room table and under the molding around this window we have cup hooks that hold our maps and pocket charts when in use…we use every surface we can find and use it in a way that is uncluttered…easy to clean and deliberate.  Even the baby knows where it goes and that has some great effect on all of us.

I also run cup hooks under the fireplace mantle in the Living Room….it is for hanging Montessori bead chains and maps and charts …at least most of the time, and for stockings at Christmas! ;o)

SharingabookOn either side of the fireplace are 1/2 high built-in bookcases and on these shelves we have pull out drawers for papers and manipulatives in hardware drawers on the top shelves and Montessori tackle boxes on the middle shelves and puzzles on the bottom shelves.  (I loooove these…the baby cannot open them!!  woo hoo!!)  I also have my computer/TV set up in the living room on a large oak table.  The TV sits up higher on 2 large drawers that house the video tapes/DVDs and clip boards for our TV schooling!  Under the table almost out of sight are two filing cabinets full of interesting project parts.  On the side of this table is an unusual  piece of furniture that houses some of the Montessori manipulatives and trays. ( I found some very sturdy decorative wooden cherry trays at a garage sale for 1.00 that suit this purpose well!)  The pink tower, the brown stair and the red rods are here as well as the metal insets and one set of the knobbed cylinders.  I keep any other manipulatives like the three part cards on one of the top shelves (encased in a tackle box or hardware drawer)  of the mantle bookcases…the kids know to go there to find the work…I will only put out a few things at a time to keep the pokiest fingers from spreading all we have in every possible direction.

Most of my art supplies are kept in a locked Black and Decker cabinet that I haven’t decided where the final resting place should be.  Right now it is in the mud room, but I need to find it a newer home.   It is great for storing paints and messy things!  I loooove having all I need there, including small pieces parts for all sorts of art discoveries without worrying that the little ones will make waste of the whole thing in one sitting.  I hated the idea of locking it, but it has worked very well and the children all know that it is a great place to keep the fun things they get as gifts.  "Quick Mom!  Lock this up so the baby can’t eat it!!"…Yes, it works well!  It is full of collage things ..wood shapes, mosaic paper squares, glue and even paperboard treasure chests awaiting creative hands!!

I do NOT have much wall space in this house.  But I do have a nice frame hanging on one wall and we change the art work in it frequently.  I have different sized mats to go in it to accomodate a post card sizd pic all the way up to an 11X …(.oh whatever is the standard for that sized picture!)  We used this idea for CHC’s Art Masterpieces last year!  I want to get a framed pic of The Gleaners and The Angelus in matching frames to hang in my kitchen.  I saw this idea in someone’s home once and LOVED it!…Ora Et Labora!…in addition we have many other art books strewn around for gleaning more inspiration and great conversations…all within easy reach of the children…like the DK book A Child’s Book of Art.…and Discovering Great Paintings. …not to mention The Child Sized Masterpieces  series…encased in color coded folders in a lovely basket…a favorite too!!   I could do another whole thread on this subject alone!!

We play classical and sacred music frequently here…I usually burn the cd’s to the computer to save them being eaten by little teeth.  In addition, the sound system on the computer is a pretty good one for this.  We are looking forward to using the CD’s that Elizabeth mentioned at her blog.  We listened to one of them so far and I loved how it soothed the savage daddy home from a hard day of work!

SecretadmirerMy house is NOT perfect…it and we are always works in progress.  But it has some assemblance of order and when it gets messed up, it doesn’t take long to clean up because it doesn’t house sooo much that we cannot clean it in a reasonable amount of time….besides that WHO WANTS TO CLEAN ALL OF THE TIME?? We want to explore and invent and be creative and learn good things!!  We intersperse quick clean up times here and there and the reward is more time for creativity!!  Being consistent with this was hard to start with…it is FINALLY coming together!! 

Most of the toys are stored in the attic and they can bring one container down at a time and can trade for other things when they are done with that first container…works great…especially for entertaining the younger set.  it took me a long time to figure this out…but where there is a will….I HAD to find a way!  God created order out of the chaos of the universe…He helped me (with me pleading quite a bit) with my little dilemma.  I wanted my house to be uncluttered and user friendly.  It had to be a school house and a home and a bazillion other things too….and I didn’t want to cry at the end of the day seeing my hard work undone to such a degree that it would take weeks to put it back together!    They layout is open and it is easy to see everyone.  The learning  spaces we have are structured for creativity and for having fun…no matter how big or little you are…you have a place here where you feel comfortable working.  Even all of the hardware type drawers and things alongside the fireplace aren’t too out of place-looking.  We know where to put things and we NEVER knew that before. 

The local Home Goods store has many wonderful things that will inspire anyone to make an elegant looking home-office!  Garage sales are goldmines for found objects that can be recycled in unusual creative ways….like my trays for example.  "They are sooo beautiful" …so my 6yo dd says…that she feels like a lady using them and wants to use them quite frequently….so I feel like I really found something special there…I thought of her and how I could make her space as special as my space.  It really is a home for ALL of us!  …and….All of us LEARNING all the time!!

L_innocenceThe most important area is  over the fireplace on the looong mantle.  Here is our prayer area that we decorate frequently with whatever special things move the hearts of the children…including a home-made paschal candle and some of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd items.  In the center of this mantle is a liturgical cloth under a statue of Our Lady of Fatima….she is wearing a necklace of heart shaped beads as a gift of love from a little girl’s heart….and she is wearing a halo of white beads around her crown from a little boy who felt that he needed to show in some small way his love for his heavenly Mother. 

Behind the statue is this picture that my dh and I fell in love with right before we celebrated our first Christmas together. Almosthomelg816154119_4 It is funny that it seems to still speak to our hearts as one of familial love and togetherness…a place for the whole family to live and work together amongst each other.  The church is in the center of it and a warm glowing home is awaiting  its occupants promising shelter and love. 

On either side of this statue and picture are two divided light windows.  One is our St Joseph window with a statue of St. Joseph holding the sleeping Child Jesus and the other has a statue of the Good Shepherd with His sheep.  The children were once given lambs for one of the 12 days of Christmas one year.  They immediately placed these lambs around the Good Shepherd.  "Look Mom!  This is me and I want to be near Jesus!"  …and so I want it to be in our learning space as well.  A place where the Divine Guest can move in and amongst us as we come to know, love and serve Him in our daily struggles and duties. …to grow closer to His presence as we grow ourselves…both physically and spiritually till we really do find our way home.

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Sk01bmothersgenA cool rainy day here is making us feel like winter will be long.  It doesn’t help that we all suffer from the general plague….I mean…er… bad cold, and Mother must exercise the Corporal works of mercy to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and not to mention the various Spiritual works of Mercy that must be exercised in order to just get dinner on the table!! 

Finally, realizing that I could not wish dinner to suddenly appear I thought…."nothing is more comforting that a huge bowl of fragrant chicken soup"….and so I set out with a definite purpose to serve valiantly….um …yeah!…(gee, I guess that means I can’t whine like my children?)   I must be of good cheer!  That is what I am going to do!!…summoning all my courage and stiffling the urge to curl up into the fetal position in the darkest corner of my room  and all the tissues I could muster, I set out to work! 

Being impatient for the outcome, I used the pressure cooker.  Being the sized family that we are, I had to cook this in stages….and to think I thought this pot was huge when we got it when we were first married…
BTW…(you have to love the way I measure things….)

Comforting Real Life
Chicken Soup:

  • Blindly grab at freshly washed random chicken pieces and plunk them in the cooker.
  • Fill to liquid line with water.
  • Place fresh herbs…(quantity unknown)on chicken…aim for the "looks good" measurement and  avoid overdoing it…use one precious tearing eye for this step.
  • Promise yourself that it is ok to start cooking this without some of the other ingredients now because it takes 25 minutes after it starts rocking to take the pot off the heat.
  • oh yeah…make sure seals and ring are in good shape and praise yourself for remembering to put the rocker in a good findable place after last use.
  • Bribe  Request children to take up residence around table armed with peelers, knives and assorted dangerous kitchen paraphernalia….(dangerous to the blind that is…)
  • Cut up loads of onions and garlic …loads of garlic…at least 2 bulbs to scare out the general ick and any unwanted company…for medicinal purposes, and saute till mush…add a little celery if desired.
  • Wash, slice, and reserve any veggies out of the fridge that are considered usable   fresh
  • after rocker rocks for 25 minutes, cool pot and take out chicken …add mushed onions and garlic, carrots, cabbage and assorted other veggies…return to pot …adding extra water if needed and cook till it rocks for about 2 minutes
  • make cheese tortellini ahead of time and leave in colander when you need to be somewhere else in the house
  • when you return and notice the lighter look of the colander and the stuffed cheeks of several children who are attempting to look busy…take remaining tortellini and add to soup mixture with cooled chicken pieces
  • serve with crusty bread so that you have lots of crumbs to clean up later  to make this a genuine comfort food
  • Appear to look gracious and well composed when approaching the table and do not give in to the GREAT urge to sneeze yourself into the next county….yes!  a FEAST for the afflicted masses!
  • ACHOO!!  God Bless your day!!

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