Weekly Wrap-up: Clearing the Soul Clutter

my favorite ornamnent

my favorite ornament

Seems like forever since I sat down for some blogging therapy. Generally, half of the words that pour from my head never make it to the published page…but it is healing to clear such clutter from my mind and soul.  This tiny spot on the internet was the place I used to exorcise my daemons. A place to expose all of the raw nerves of pain that do not heal when it is kept inside. For me, the act of typing it all out was freeing. I could just let things go…or leave them on the page…making room for the peace and healing that only Jesus can sooth. Anyway, once I started writing homeschool product reviews on this page I deleted most of those posts. All of this is to say that I missed writing my wrap-up last week because of Thanksgiving. My head has felt too full and rattled this week. Even though Christmas and New Year’s falls on Thursday nights this year I’ll be on here writing my wrap-ups. This is my therapy…I need to get this clutter out of my head…otherwise I’ll have another discombobulated week like this one where my head feels too stuffed. Enough of that…on to the past two weeks.

handprints

handprints

My sweet crew was very excited about Thanksgiving this year (me too). We spent 13 months studying Early American History. This year we were ready for Thanksgiving! Not just for the food but in our hearts. The kids really wanted to participate in the holiday and to help prepare the food and meaningful decorations. Well, they really couldn’t do that with the extended family because everything is already sorted out. So we decided to have a family Thanksgiving on Friday. We made a special tablecloth with our handprints and everyone participated in preparing all of the dishes. Oldest made a hash brown casserole and helped with the special braided herb bread. Sparkles wanted to make deviled eggs. Middle Boy made some fun turkey cookies. Littlest enjoyed being underfoot!!! My husband smoked the turkey and made the cornbread dressing. I had my hand in everything but especially enjoyed the pitcher of Sangria I made just for me (I drank the entire pitcher over two days)!!! The crew’s writing assignment for the week was to tell who they wish they could have Thanksgiving dinner with and why. I loved their answers!!!!

Littlest and turkey decorations

Littlest and turkey decorations

Oldest chose Sir Isaac Newton: “…because of how he had thanksgiving almost every day in his heart. He loved God and was super smart.”

Sparkles chose Jesus: “…because he is special and I love him.”

Middle Boy chose Mrs. V (his pre-school teacher): “…because she was one of my favorite teachers and I really love her.”

I just loved their Thanksgiving papers!!! Can you tell?

Over the weekend we put up the Christmas tree and the rest of the decorations. This is the first year we put up the Christmas Village our neighbor gave us. Oldest put it up on the piano and he just loves it! We figured out the cathedral is an MP3 player!! How cool is that!!!!

snap circuit fun

snap circuit fun

Home education this week was really hard. We are all ready for a break (just two more weeks!) We are on our last Light Unit of math and will finally be at grade level in January. As we finish up our units this month we will not begin new ones until January. In science we started a book about Michael Faraday. The kids love this biography! After studying Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and now Michael Faraday they are all ready to dedicate their lived to science!!! We are loving Beautiful Feet Books science curriculum this year!!!

Speaking of science, we participated in one of the Supercharged Science online classes yesterday on electricity. My crew loved it and ended up playing with their snap-circuit set the

cuteness

cuteness

rest of the evening. I liked the webcast for the most part. I did not enjoy that half of it was a sales pitch…boo! I have not been happy with any homeschool based science so far…I wish I could find a science curriculum that I loved…I am open to suggestions.

We’ve also spent the past couple of weeks trying out art curriculums. We like ArtAtelier and SeeTheLight. I have a few more free samples to try out before we make our choice for next year. Any suggestions?

This weekend is a huge for the crew!!! They will be playing piano for the first time for an audience. I am so excited and nervous for them. Oldest is also I the Christmas play at church and I can hardly wait to see him!!! There will be lots of pictures next week!!!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss Reboot Week 2

I may not have been thinking clearly when I restarted this series so close to the feasting holiday season…I’m just not feeling the motivation right now.

My thoughts have wandered over the reasons for feasting this week as I’ve planned recipes for our special day of Thanksgiving. What is the point of feasting if you never fast? Jesus mentioned fasting a few times in the Bible but I’ve never heard a sermon about the topic. The Catholic church has seasons and rules for fasting that I faithfully followed in years past but never thought to ask, “Why?” Other than to really enjoy a feast I’m curious to learn why God teaches us to fast. Over the next few weeks I’ll study the topic and share what I discover.

This past year the kids and I have read several books about the Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving. We’ve watched Monumental and a few early American history documentaries. This year I am very aware of the meaning and history of the holiday and of my complete failure to really embrace it. I realized I’ve never sat at a table with my loved ones and told them why I am thankful. With this omission in mind I helped the kids to make  thankful pine cone turkeys to place on the table. On each colorful tail feather I had them write down someone or something they were grateful for. For them it was a fun craft but their turkeys will be on the table during the feast…a reminder to be grateful. It’s a start.

I didn’t lose any weight this week but I didn’t gain either so I’m going to claim victory. This week’s chapter in my book was about not comparing my self to others. God made us all to be unique and in his eyes we are beautiful the way he made us to be…for who he made us to be. My worth…your worth is not in the number the scale shows but in the price God willingly paid for our redemption. Ellie also points out that I can’t make these healthy changes all at one. I need to make a goal, just one. Later, when this goal is a set habit then make a new goal. Since I’ve let a few habits slip I am going to work on reestablishing them. The first one I’ve decided to tackle is drinking more water. Since the weather turned cold I do not want to drink water. I haven’t been feeling very lethargic lately and I think it is because I’ve not drank enough water or exercised much. I’ll figure out a new exercise schedule later but for this week I am going to focus on water. I told my kids I needed help remembering to drink water and twice today my oldest brought me a glass of water to drink!

One of the questions in the devotional this week asked if I believed God loves me the way he created me…tough question. Intellectually I know that God loves me for who he created me to be. In my heart I feel unworthy…not worth God’s (or anyone’s) time. But, I am a work in progress…working on becoming a New Creation.

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Snow Day

Sparkles and Daddy time

Sparkles and Daddy time

Over the weekend we mostly hung out at home. My husband took Sparkles out for some Daddy and daughter time. They ended up at a jewelry store gazing at all of the lovely sparkling adornments. The only other incident of passing interest was that I dropped about fifteen or so pounds of flour in the kitchen…all over my husband! The crew was totally stunned to see what a huge mess their mother is capable of making on occasion. I cleaned it up but every time I open a cabinet more flour falls out of the hinges. Fun!

Sister Gemma is in the front row on the right

Sister Gemma is in the front row on the right

Saturday I received a small package from Mother at the monastery. She sent a letter about the unexpected death of Sister Gemma. I was devastated and could not even read the letter at first. I knew what the letter would say as soon as I saw the last rights Mass reading and prayer cards. I loved listening to Sister Gemma’s ghost stories about England. She had a gift for telling stories…you could feel the sunrise on the mist and smell the freshness of the spring grass when she spoke. The best part of her journey is now begun. I’ve cried a few times this week. On Monday I called Mother to ask how all the sisters are coping. I also made arrangements to visit in the spring.

snow day fun

snow day fun

Monday morning we woke to snow! I promised the kids the day off from school for the first snow of the school year…I just didn’t expect it quite so early. They played outside, watched a movie, ate popcorn and drank lots of hot chocolate. Tuesday was bitterly cold!!! November is just too early in the season for thirteen degrees. The kids were very excited to see temperatures above freezing later in the week. I questioned my sanity somewhat on Tuesday morning for signing Littlest up for preschool…too cold to be out of the house. I’m seriously reconsidering preschool for next year…and I’ll change my mind a dozen times between now and then. Maybe Yoga Mom will lend me her Sonlight Kindergarten…

the flour explosion

the flour explosion

In school we finished up a few exams but I didn’t want to start any new units with Thanksgiving break right around the corner. We’ve spent the week working on art projects, the Notgrass Thanksgiving unit study, wrapping up the Beautiful Feet Books geography study, and finishing the insanely complicated Mozart lapbook from Zeezok. The previous composer lapbooks have been fine but this one about Mozart is about to do us in. Next week we will finish up a few art projects and get completely caught up with our science labs…even if we have to do science labs on Thanksgiving!!!!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

The Pilgrims with Beautiful Feet Books

Primary Early American History notebook pages and maps for our Pilgrim studies

Primary Early American History notebook pages and maps for our Pilgrim studies

We spent just over two months learning about the Pilgrims’ journey from England to America and then spent some time learning about their friend Squanto. Middle Boy and I are quite taken with Squanto and found his life story fascinating. I spent some time doing extra research and reading on this amazing man and actually wept when reading about his death and suspected poisoning at the hands of the local Native Americans. Our books mention that he became a Christian and asked for prayers as he died so that he could go to Heaven…I truly look forward to meeting him when my own pilgrimage in this world is over and I finally journey Home.

Our first book was Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey. My scholars loved this book and constantly begged for one more chapter…just one more chapter. I think they liked that the focus of the book was mostly from the children’s viewpoint. They also loved all of the history facts added by Rea Berg. Sparkles actually squealed with happiness when Mrs. Berg mentioned Pocahontas’ visit to England. Sometimes we followed the rabbit trails these added notes took us on…because…that’s just what homeschoolers do.

hodge-podge soup

hodge-podge soup

In the book we learned that the pilgrim children ate a meal of hodgepodge stew and seed cakes when they first arrived in Holland. So, naturally, we had to make the meal ourselves. Food is just a great hands on project for history. I found this recipe for Nova Scotia Hodge Podge and made it for the crew. I have no idea if this is what was actually served in Holland in the early 1600’s but it seemed to fit the description from the book. The stew is delicious and will most likely go into our regular menu rotation. I didn’t have time to make the proper seed cakes (Littlest makes kitchen work a bit challenging) so we just made poppy-seed muffins. I think the proper seed cake was something like a sponge cake with caraway seeds. Recipes are our favorite history projects!!

Middle Boy's Mayflower map

Middle Boy’s Mayflower map

The lessons with Pilgrim Stories did have a few pictures with some copy work to put in the history notebook. The older two copied the Mayflower Compact into their notebooks and I let Middle Boy just paste a copy into his book and decorate the page. This assignment was not in the guide-book but they need the extra penmanship practice and I think it is a very important document to know. I had them copy it out on parchment paper and then we smoked the edges to give it an aged look…and I did set one of them on fire! ! Next time I decide to “age” a project we’ll work at the kitchen sink…After finishing the book the crew worked on drawing and painting a map of the Mayflower’s voyage to America. We also watch a program called Mayflower Pilgrims on Amazon Prime that went nicely with the book.

working on Squanto's map

working on Squanto’s map

Our second book was Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla. This book took us on an adventure with Squanto of the Patuxet’s. We all loved this book…it wasn’t long enough!! The kids were upset that Squanto was treated so badly by some Englishmen. They were offended when he was put on display in London and angry when he was captured by the slavers. We were overjoyed when he met Capt. John Smith who helped him get back to North America. And while reading of Squanto’s sad discovery that his people and family were gone…well I cried. I had to put the book down and we all wept for Squanto.

Sparkles map of Squanto's Journey

Sparkles map of Squanto’s Journey

The guide for this book was mostly discussion. There was one or maybe two copy work assignments and a coloring page of the first Thanksgiving. While studying the life of Squanto we also looked through the DK North American Indians book and North American Indians by Marie and Douglas Gorsline (not part of Beautiful Feet Books study). The last book by the Gorsline’s was a book I had read as a child and loved. We made a couple of projects while learning about Native American’s. Our first project was a game called the “bowl game” and you can find the directions at NativeTech. We painted one side of six wooden disks for the rocks and we used a woven paper plate holder for the bowl. We also used little match like sticks with the game. I did a search on Google images to get ideas on how to make the game pieces inexpensively. The kids had a lot of fun with the game. Our second project was making Talking Sticks. I found a kit for making these and we talked about why it is important to listen when someone else is speaking. Not merely waiting for your chance to say something but really listening to what someone else has to say.

Talking Feather and books

Talking Feather and books

Our last book was The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall. This book has beautiful illustrations and is told from the view-point of the Pilgrims…like they were really talking to you. The book also has a glossary in the back to help the reader understand some of the language and terminology…words such as vergi, pottles, pipkins, etc. My scholars were absolutely stunned to learn that if children misbehaved their father was but in stocks in front of the town as punishment. I wish I had my camera ready because the looks on their faces were horrified! I think they were imagining how much trouble those children would be in when their father returned home.

Sparkles painting her bowl game disks

Sparkles painting her bowl game disks

We also did two map projects with this study. First we charted the course of the Mayflower. We did these maps exactly the same as out Christopher Columbus maps. The second map was of Squanto’s amazing journey. I needed to change-up how we made our maps this time. I used this idea from Confessions of a Homeschooler to make our second map. These maps turned out beautifully…but I need more ideas for map making. If you have any ideas please share!!!

Middle Boys narration on Squanto

Middle Boys narration on Squanto

We wrapped this study up the day before Thanksgiving so out timing worked out perfectly. Next year we may try our hand at some authentic Pilgrim and Native American recipes. The guide-book ends this section with a suggestion on researching early American Christmas celebrations. The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas but the Virginia settlers did as well as the Moravians in Pennsylvania. So we will hunt for clues on the topic this week and see what we find out.

Everyone had to write a final paper at the end of our study. I gave them several prompts from which to choose. Sparkles chose to write a letter as a passenger aboard the Mayflower. Middle Boy did a narration on the life of Squanto and Oldest came up with his own writing prompt. He chose to write about the Doctor (Who) taking him to see the first Thanksgiving. I thought that was a fun idea and even found a Tardis picture on the internet for him to put in his notebook. He wants all of you to know that he travels with the Ninth Doctor.

I ended our study of the Pilgrims with a post from Rea Berg’s blog (she is the co-author of our guide-book and founder of Beautiful Feet Books). Her post helped us to understand God’s providential guidance in the lives of the Pilgrims and the founding of this country.

Weekly Wrap-up: Well…Monthly This Time

beautiful moment

beautiful moment

Time got away from me this month and I am very late getting the weekly wrap-ups posted. Turns out my husband likes to read them and misses hearing about our school week and my silly banter. I have been a bit quiet on the blog lately…maybe too quiet. I am just upset and troubled over a few things and couldn’t get the words out of my heart. Writing is a wrestling match for me but the process helps to calm my emotions in the long run. Sometimes I have a hard time controlling my feelings…those inner emotions that should be kept under lock and key…Most of those writings do not make it to the published page, but I do write them out and feel better and spent. A little wine can be helpful too.

Thanksgiving day

Thanksgiving day

I should have sat down at the keyboard before Thanksgiving. I was a bit pathetic and I am kinda cross at myself for losing control. OK…that sounds like I was horribly rude! I just had to get out of the house. While we were praying and thanking God for the food my skin just crawled, my heart went crazy, I had this panicky feeling come over me and I had to get out. So I did. The road was a nice place to hang out for a while. I then went inside and got Littlest and took him so my husband could get something to eat. Littlest and I went outside and I rocked him until he was sleepy. We went back in and I held him while he slept. After a while my husband suggested I get a bit to eat so I tried but couldn’t eat much. One of my brother-in-laws tried to talk to me about my departure but I told him to find something else to talk about. That went over well…I then returned to my husband to rescue him from being Littlest’s nap pad but he suggested I go see my friend at the end of the block.

playing in yard

playing in yard

So I did and had a wonderful time. I visited with her at her in-law’s. Most of the people were strangers to me but I puttered in the kitchen with the ladies and left feeling like I had spent a couple of hours with life long friends. I then returned to the family gathering. I was asked again about my “episode” and since I wasn’t exactly sure what to say I just said that the crowd made me feel anxious. Which was followed up with a statement about me staying home all the time and these things wouldn’t happen if my husband let me out more to socialize. I took that for what it was…criticism for being a homeschooler. That’s fine but the stab at my husband wasn’t nice…not at all and I felt angry and let down. I then found my husband, we rounded up the kids and left.

I’ll remember this as the awkward Thanksgiving but it is not my worst Thanksgiving.

horrible meal...for a review

horrible meal…for a review

The other struggle I’ve had the past few weeks is determining to stay with the review team. I like reviewing things but not being used for free advertisement. I’ve had to do a couple of things that made me uncomfortable and…well…I just need to pray over this concern. I’ve two more reviews due the early part of December and then I’ll need to make a decision.

Middle Boy working on his Squanto narration

Middle Boy working on his Squanto narration

We’ve been very busy this month at school. We finished up a two month study on the Pilgrims and Squanto from our favorite history curriculum…Beautiful Feet Books. We enjoyed the study and finished up the day before Thanksgiving. I had each of my scholars write-up a final paper and gave them several prompts from which to choose. Oldest wrote about Dr. Who taking him to the first Thanksgiving which I thought was fun and creative. Sparkles wrote a letter from the Mayflower and Middle Boy narrated the life of Squanto. I was very impressed with Middle Boy’s report since he wrote most of it without my help and his paper needed the least editing and input from me. I am working on another post about our Pilgrim studies and hopefully will get it up soon…

art project

art project

We also enjoyed Literature Club this month with one of the local homeschool groups. Oldest read A Christmas Carol and really enjoyed the book…he didn’t get it finished in time for the meeting but that happens sometimes. Littlest slept through his class…he is a tired boy these days. I’m constantly finding him asleep! We also enjoyed another art co-op with our friends this month and did a collage. The art class was at Mrs. Cuddle-me’s house again. My crew loves to go to her home and her boys are wonderful young men. My kids also like to chase her turkeys…and get chased by her turkeys. I’m going to have to get a picture of it sometime because it is absolutely hilarious!

International Fair

International Fair

Last week we went to the International Fair at Murray State. The kids enjoyed getting out for the day and we learned a few things from the international students at the university. The kids have papers with their names written in Chinese and we sampled a few goodies from the different countries. I liked the Chinese rice crackers and the kids liked the German gummy bears. I think they were most impressed that Angry Birds was created by the descendants of the Vikings! That is a funny statement but I am just glad they made the connection when they looked at the map!!

Last weekend I immersed myself in all things Dr. Who and totally loved the Day of the Doctor! I am looking forward to the next episode on Christmas Day and meeting the new Doctor!! I also learned that I am the only Whovian in my Sunday School class…so sad but true.

Thursday night I went Black Friday shopping with my friend and had a blast. I enjoyed hanging out with her and chatting with strangers in various lines. The only hard part was finding a place open to eat around midnight. Yesterday we put up the Christmas tree and had fun remembering all the places we got our ornaments for the tree.

Seems like there were a few other things that happened the past three weeks but I have misplaced my memories. For my praying friends out there please keep a friend of mine in your prayers. She went into the hospital to have a C-section on Wednesday. The baby boy is just fine but mama is still in critical care and her situation was life threatening at one point. Hold your family and friends tight.