## Tuesday, November 29, 2005

### paper snowflakes....virtually

This looks like fun! I could spend a whole lot of time playing here and making beautiful creations....without the mess of the little pieces of paper all over my floor :-)

Still, there's no real substitute for making your own real ones that you can tape to the window. I think we'll give it a try later on today.

### Counting to Two-ty and a busy morning

Today we took a trip back to decimal street... Remember the Unit's House, the Ten's House and the Hundred's Castle from earlier this year in math ?

Today's lesson was learning about those pesky numbers 10-20 that don't fit the pattern. Why is 11 called eleven and not onety-one? And why isn't 19 said as onety-nine? For those linguists out there, I once read an article (or see this one too) that hypothesized that Asian students are so good at math and science because how their language of math makes more sense and leads to a greater undrestanding of base-ten and place value. Something akin to how the metric system makes SO MUCH more sense than the English system.

That's what I love about this math program... It explains math in a way that makes sense. The underlying basis of everything is place value... Even as early as kindergarten. I am learning things myself that I never knew before. I guess I managed to get all the way through university math without really understanding basic concepts: I still count on my fingers and I never did learn my addition and subtraction facts. Good thing I have this great program to help me teach it to the kids or I would be in big trouble :-)

Today we also did some more ornaments for our Jesse Tree. We read the story of how Adam and Eve were created and how they disobeyed God by taking the apple. Elizabeth drew a great picture on her ornament with Eve and the tree. The snake is in the tree, and Eve's hand is reaching out to the apple. The sun and the clouds in the sky are worried, she said, because they don't want Eve to take the apple. Zachariah colored his apple tree and glued on sparkly apples. Mommy had fun making an apple with a snake wrapped around it.

Earlier today we built a really long train track that snaked through the table and under the couch for a new battery-powered Thomas to go on, and the kids had fun building towers with their math blocks (they really play together so nicely most days). Oh! Elizabeth also played for a long time with her nativity scene again. This pretend play that she sets up is always so elaborate and creative. I'm convinced that this is one of the biggest benefits of not having a TV in the house, because she has developed such a creative spirit. I encourage this creative free play as much as possible, because it is the earliest stages of creative writing and being able to express herself through words on paper.

Now it's lunch time. Heather is napping, Zach is pretending he's driving his pillow train, and Elizabeth is sprawled on the floor reading a silly book about spiders. This is the life of a homeschooling family. It's freezing outside and snowing and we are warm and cuddly inside enjoying every minute of it. :-)

## Monday, November 28, 2005

I am officially feeling better this week. Yay!! School is back in session.
TODAY we...

learned the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, learned about when God created the world, learned about what a Jessie Tree is, and we made a bunch of ornaments to hang on it to remind us of the creation.

We also learned about what advent is and blessed our advent wreath (sorry dad, we had to take a picture of it for our blog), had tea time (apple slices with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on them), played for a long time with the children's nativity set, danced to motzart, and made a pillow train that snakes all through the house (I think I just saw my pillows from my bed added to the end LOL).

Now it is nap time and I'm going to do my best to convince everyone that a nap is a good and FUN thing :-)

## Sunday, November 27, 2005

### Our Family Tree

We are going to be doing a Jesse Tree this advent, which is sort of like Jesus' family tree, so before we started it, I thought we would do our own family tree first to introduce the concept. This is what we came up with. Elizabeth had a wonderful time drawing everyone's picture and finding out all the names. When she was done she looked over it and said happily, "I have a BIG family!!". Looking over our family tree, I was so happy to see that it was relatively simple to draw and explain to her. I know so many kids in her generation come from broken homes, sometimes on both sides of their family.

I am proud to pass on our beautiful family to her. This tree is full of wonderful, strong and interesting people :-)

## Friday, November 25, 2005

### The Generosity of Children

With Christmas (and mountains of new toys, books, clothes and other 'stuff') around the corner, I decided that today might be a good day to go through some of the kids old toys and see what we could donate to charity. So, laying out an assortment of toys in her room, I called Elizabeth upstairs to think about which ones she might like to give to a little girl who doesn't have any toys.

I was fully expecting her to pick some of the old ratty toys, and reluctantly give them up, with a sad longing expression on her face.

I guess I must have been projecting my own attachment to material goods onto her, because as soon as I mentioned the idea, her eyes lit up, she jumped off the couch and ran upstairs. The first toy she wanted to give me to put in our donation bag was her most favorite and special bear, Cathy. She thought since she loved her so much, then it would be the perfect present to give a little girl who didn't have any toys at all.

I was speechless, and didn't know how to react. I was in total awe at her overwhelming generosity and love for making others happy. In that moment, I understood what John Paul II was talking about when he said that we can only really FIND ourselves, by GIVING ourselves as a gift to others. (a gift meaning expecting nothing in return)

Unfortunately, I still have a lingering attachment to material things and couldn't bear the thought of her being sad later on without Cathy, so I told her she should keep her because she was her favoritest bear and Isabell her mommy would be sad to see her go... and I love Cathy too, because she's become almost a part of our family over the last few years LOL.

Anyways, in the end she had filled the bag (which turned out to be too small for the great, big, generous heart of my little elizabeth), and a big box with toys to donate to little girls who have none.

So all of you gift givers out there: please don't be offended if she happens to donate something that you once gave her, because the amount of joy it brings to her to give them away is like the joy she gives to us when she opens her presents and squeals with delight like only she can do.

Now I wonder what sort of things I can come up with of my own to put in that donation box? She really is a gift to us isn't she?

p.s. Zachariah is quickly following in her footsteps, because last month when we went to a birthday party for elizabeth's little friend, he really wanted to give her one of his favorite trains for a present :-)

## Thursday, November 24, 2005

### The Little Mermaid

This picture was just too cute not to share... I love the seashell bikini she's wearing.

I love watching the progression of her drawing:

At the begining of the year she was only drawing stick figures... Then she started drawing clothes on top of the stick figures. Now she's starting to see that you can just draw the outline shape: look at the arm on the right, and look at the hands.

She's just learning to do this all by herself through her own powers of observation. I haven't given her any instruction in drawing.

### the new math

My cutie pie was working so diligently on her math this morning while I was busy in the kitchen... When I came to check how she was doing, this is what I saw.

The rectangle on the far left is her brother, and she is the pretty girl above the 8. I'm not sure who I am LOL.... and of course she had to take the time to draw the sun.

I know in a classroom, this wouldn't look as cute to a teacher than it does to me.... good thing we are homeschooling. I just love her creative spirit.
It reminded me off all of my doodles as I went through school somewhat bored of the work we were doing because I always seemed to understand it faster than most of the class.

By the way, she is doing so good at getting the concept of addition. I just love watching her learn things. Today we also did some playing with playdough. She wanted to make an elephant, and then she made a nest, a daddy bird, and a mommy bird with some eggs. Zachariah made a pancake and then a blob, and then he licked it (yuck!)... then Heather crawled under the table and ate it LOL. What a zany shchool we have going here!

At nap time (yes, they all still nap!! my greatest joy as a mother )... we read more of Mr. Popper's Penguins and Elizabeth laughed and laughed at their silly antics. Earlier in the day she wanted to look at the globe, and examine all the countries...then she informed me that the north pole is at the top and the south pole is at the bottom.

Well, I'm off for a nap too, while all of my kids are sleeping.

This is my favorite time of the day.

## Tuesday, November 22, 2005

### This blog will make me holy yet...

I was laying in bed last night, very tired, wondering why I didn't have anything to write in my blog. I wondered why I didn't have any delightful family moments to post... no wisdom... no heartfelt thoughts... and especially no silly or quaint family moments. I didn't even have any silly photos to post.

I realized that by being sick for so long, I have lost some of the joy of being a mother of 3 kids under 6. My mother always taught me to laugh at myslef and not to take things so seriously all the time.... and normally I am very good at that. This week, I guess I've been grumping instead of laughing.... (my husband thinks I'm funny when i'm grumpy, but I fail to see the humor in it LOL)

So this blog, along with my dear family is going to make me holy yet... because it is a daily reminder to myself to find the silly, joyful, endearing things about each day and to write them down. (It's also a reminder that I need to get off my chair and start doing some schoolwork again LOL since I AM supposed to be writing about that too ).

## Thursday, November 17, 2005

### Frappr

This is really fun!!! Come and add your 'pushpin' to our map on Frappr so we can see where you live. What a fun way to learn geography with the kids :-)

### The little artist

Well since we've been sick for so long, it seems like Elizabeth hasnt' had any time to draw.... today she made up for it!! Look at all these wonderful pictures. I love watching her draw. She's drawing out of her book Draw Write Now. It's such a great book for kids.

### Peek-a-boo!!

Where is Heather?? oh Where can she be?

Oh! look, she's hiding in the closet :-)

How is she growing up so fast? my mom and I were laughing last week, as Heather was trying to eat the fern leaves off the floor at her house... seems like just yesterday Zachariah had the same mission. We were forever moving him away from her plant.

Can it be true that I am really going to be 30 years old this spring and have three children? Am I really old enough for this? LOL

### Feeling Old... And please pray for my uncle

I'm feeling old. One of my best friends just turned 30 yesterday. I guess that means I'm next LOL... Actually, no, my husband is next :-)

Urgh, I'm still sick, but my husband had to go back to work this morning, so I ventured downstairs to see what sort of condition the house is in, after being stuck in bed for a day and a half. (don't ask! But at least the kids are happy... poor dh had to work from home while taking care of three kids all day. I guess I have the flu. Apparently there was a school in the city that had 150 kids stay home yesterday morning... they all had the flu. They think they have it bad? Our school had all the teachers stay home sick LOL. I sure hope the kids don't take over the school and terrorize everything. Say a prayer for us!
Speaking of prayer, please send up a real prayer for my dear uncle. My mom called last night to tell me that my wonderfully kind, hilarious and charming uncle has been diagnosed with cancer. How scary!! He is a great doctor- a surgeon actually- and to me, he has always seemed bigger than life. The kind of guy who never grows old. As a child I adored him.. he was so much fun, and now it's fun to see my own kids enjoy him (see the silly picture above). We love you Uncle Rob!! and we are praying for you. What could be more powerful than the prayers of little children?

## Tuesday, November 15, 2005

### yawn

well we are still on sick days again here.. sniffles and head aches and coughs.... I guess it's that time of the year. I need to get these kids some sort of vitamin supplements I guess.

Oh well, at least I got a nice warm bath in this afternoon while the kids were all sleeping. Now don't tell Flylady I haven't done my laundry yet LOL... (don't tell my husband either).

Oh, I'm having a Norwex party for anyone around me who might be interested in coming on Tuesday, December 6th after dinner. A friend of mine is a new consultant, and being the natural type people me and my dh are, I thought i'd have a party :-)

Hope you all are feeling healthy and non-sick out there.

## Monday, November 14, 2005

### Family Games

I can't believe that my kids are sick again... sigh. Elizabeth threw up last night twice and had a fever... and all three kids have a runny nose now.

Anyways, last night we decided to get in our PJs and play some family games. Since E likes drawing so much, we played our own version of pictionary. Here are some of the pictures that she drew.. you can play along with us and guess what she drew. Look in the comments section for the answer later on today :-)

Clue: famous person

clue: person

??

## Friday, November 11, 2005

### Study: Preschool harms children's development

What an interesting article...

Click on the title of this post to link back to the whole article.

I'd love to read the actual paper and see the different variables in the study, like the ages of the children, the type of preschool they went to (morning, afternoon? all day?) etc... Anyways, I'll file this away for those days when I start to worry about whether or not I'm screwing up my kids by not sending them to preschool etc... Because, if the study found this about preschoolers, I don't see why it would change much for elementary school kids (although it would be hard to do a study like that without bias because almost everyone sends their kids to grade 1). Anyone have any thoughts on this?

"...The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families," said UC Berkeley sociologist and study co-author Bruce Fuller.
On average, the report finds that the earlier a child enters a preschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development, while cognitive skills in pre-reading and math are stronger when children first enter a preschool program between the ages of 2 and 3. "

### Schedules and Routines

An old friend of mine wrote me this morning wanting to know about how our schedule for the day goes, and I thought I'd share my response to her:

You ask about schedules... well we started out with a schedule on paper LOL, and never got around to following it. I would like to get to a schedule one of these days, because I think it will become important for Elizabeth and the kids to develop that virtue of perseverence... you know, doing something even when you don't feel like it... but for kindergarten, what we have is good enough for now.

There's a great book I read called A mother's rule of Life' by Holly Peirlot (sp?)... she describes how she looked at a bunch of the monastic and religious orders (nuns and monks) to see how they scheduled their days and how they seemed so balanced with recreation and work and rest and study... and she tried to develop her own 'rule' or schedule that replicated the spirit of that, but for a homeschooling mom. It was quite interesting and inspiring, but difficult to put into practice in real life. I"m still working on my flylady routines 5 years later LOL, so i'm not sure if i'll ever get
there.

The closest we come to a routine is this (on a good day):

6:00am mommy gets dragged out of a not-deep sleep by assorted children, depending on the day
6:10am mommy tries to go back to sleep, to no avail, and thopes daddy will get up and take the kids to work with him
7:00am breakfast and get dressed etc...
8:00am morning mass at a nearby church
9:00am home and start school for school we tend to do it in this order:
Religion
Math
Writing
and sometimes phonics if we aren't too distracted by then.
11:00 or so, we have lunch, play, read stories etc...
12:30 or so, all three kids still have a NAP!!! this is mommy's brief moment of reprise for the day.

Elizabeth naps for about an hour or so and then she gets up and sometimes we do reading (phonics) or she just plays for a bit with her toys and sets up these elaborate stories they act out (I think of this as part of her 'school' because she is being so creative when she plays with them... it's like creative writing time in her head). Other times, she'll draw some pictures or play with playdough or clay etc... The whole time we are listening to some type of music: either the classical kids series, movie soundtracks (currently, we are listening to Sound of Music and little Elizabeth has memorized the entire cd LOL, raffi, CatChat etc...
With no TV in the house, I find that we are always immersed in an atmosphere of learning because the kids have to find ways to entertain themselves, instead of passively sitting in front of the tv.
3:00 or 4 is when Z gets up and then the kids like to either run around and make a mess either playing with their toys, or helping me in the kitchen making dinner.
One afternoon a week she has a clay class that she takes, and on sundays she goes to children's liturgy at mass.
8:00pm or so: the kids get shuffled off to bath time and bed. They always get two
stories read to them at both nap time and bed time.. right now we are reading a novel: Mr. Popper's Penguins. A very amusing book that they enjoy listening too... and Zach usualy chooses some sort of train book to read (his major obsession in life)... then they read books to themselves until they fall asleep.

So our days are filled with music and reading and creative play... and she loves math and religion too. Our only difficult spot of the day is phonics, but only because mommy needs to work on her patience in listening to the painstakingly slow sounding out of words. LOL.

I started out the year thinking that we would have lots and lots of schedules and organized learning opportunities with Five in a Row, art history, etc... but realized quickly that in Kindergarten, and likely I'll find this for the other grades as well, so much learning happens while you're not officially doing 'school'. I just love homeschooling for that reason. While I still want to follow a classical curiculum, I am not as rigid in my thinking as I was before about how 'school' needs to happen. I'm sure this will change from year to year, especially as I add more children to the mix. (yes, we still want more kids )

## Wednesday, November 09, 2005

### How not to make chocolate pudding

It seems I have a hard time making things with chocolate.... Maybe it's the anticipation of the finished product nestling itself in my tummy, or maybe it's the baby crawling on the floor trying to eat my toes... or now that I think about it, maybe it's the two very well-meaning helpers sitting at my elbow trying to help with every step... Whatever it is, I'm so distractable when I'm trying to cook these days.

Yesterday, while trying to make my little munchkins happy, I agreed to make some home made chocolate pudding for dessert. Of course, they had to help me.. and it was a good lesson in math - especially since Elizabeth is learning how to do addition. Unfortunately we didn't think of the idea until 5pm shortly before daddy was to come home, and right after I decided to try a new recipe I've never made before for meatloaf. (why didn't I like it as a child?? it was so yummy.. but I digress)

Fast forward to mommy stirring and stirring and stirring the pudding which refuses to boil.. the kids crying because they are hungry, the potatoes boiling over, the broccoli turning that ugly shade of yellow when they are cooked too long, and daddy just walking in the door. Chocolate everywhere, hungry cranky kids, and a very cranky mom.

Poor dad! I couldn't even go give him a kiss or set the table or nurse the baby because I was still stirring the darn pudding!! Silly to make a very time sensitive recipe in the middle of all this... it seemed like a good idea at the start, but it's amazing how quickly the house can deteriorate once the clock strikes 5 pm and the kids haven't been fed yet. They can be angels one moment and crazy terrors the next (of course this all might be exaggerated in my mind because I was growing hungrier by the minute as well)

Anyways, I added the egg yolks in a hurry and stirred and stirred, wondering why my chocolate pudding was starting to look more like that egg soup you get at a Chinese restaurant with strands of cooked egg floating in it. hmmm... this wasn't my idea of a good dessert: chocolate soup with egg yolk dumplings.

Luckily I was able to salvage it by straining out the egg yolk and actually read the recipe (must run in the family).

So what did we learn in school today children?
- how not to cook chocolate pudding
- what brown sugar tastes like, liked off a spoon
- don't bug mom when she's hungry
- mommy looks funny when she screams and jumps up and down from frustration (" you're funny mommy")
-all right, we did do religion in the morning, practice writing Dd and Gg and more math, but the home economics class was the most exciting.

## Tuesday, November 08, 2005

### Feeding Heather

Elizabeth had a great time being the BIG sister and helping to feed Heather...
Heather is really enjoying eating solid foods. I can't believe how fast she is growing up!!!! Just this morning I looked over at her on the floor and she was starting to pull herself up on my chair (kneeling with both hands holding onto the chair)

### Natural Family Planning

I know we don't already have enough things we are involved in LOL, but we are now officially certified as Natural Family Planning instructors!!

I am so excited about this, because I just love this method of family planning.. Ready for me to stand on my soap box LOL?

All of the religion part of it aside, I love NFP because it is:

• free (except for the course to learn it)
• natural (don't even get me started about all the side effects of the pill and other chemical birth controls)
• as effective as the pill
• totally reversible
• no side effects
• helps a woman be more aware of her own cycles and helps her know if something might be wrong with her.
• can be used to avoid a pregnancy or to achieve a pregnancy
• brings the husband and wife closer together
• not messy!!

Anyways, we are going to be offering classes to teach this beautiful method, so if you are interested in taking one, email me!! (and no, you don't have to be catholic to learn it... It's becoming quite trendy these days because of the trend towards more natural things)

Well we are back at school again, all of us healthy and happy for now :-)

Yesterday Elizabeth started on learning about addition in math. I was rather nervous of getting to this lesson because I wasn't sure how to explain it to her so she would 'get' it. Another one of those 'should I REALLY be homeschooling her?' moments.

Anyways, we started the lesson out, and she got the concept immediately, and did 3 pages really fast in her book (she was only supposed to do 1). So I was happy. She's showing me once again, that it's not about me being a fabulous teacher and explaining things in just the right way... it's about HER learning and having someone to believe in her and encourage her. So today she wanted to do math first thing and again did her work so quickly and cheerfully.

This week I can see how the short 10 min lessons are starting to pay off with helping to develop the habit of attention. Even Flylady uses this principle! LOL.. she says you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes, so set the timer and do it!.

Speaking of Flylady, I'm trying to get back into some real routines for my own life. I figure if I'm trying to teach Elizabeth virtue, I should be demonstrating it myself, so yesterday being Monday, I made sure all of my laundry was done and on track before I gave myself time on the computer. .. hence the lack of blogging yesterday. It sure does feel good today to know that my work is all done though, and I don't have to think about laundry until next monday again.

## Friday, November 04, 2005

### sick day

Good thing you can't catch the tummy flu from reading someone's blog :-)

The teacher is taking a day off because she is sick. So is the baby and the daddy.
For more exciting blog posts please tune in on monday.

Here's a picture to keep you happy until then.

## Wednesday, November 02, 2005

### Penguins and family and spelling

Today, I have another sick kid.. This time it's Elizabeth who has a tummy ache, so I'm using the great distraction box (daddy's laptop with some kid movies) to keep her from throwing up every 10 minutes. (she has such a weak tummy when she gets sick). She's still happy though, because we had such a fun week. First Aunt Val and Jenny, mommy's cousin, were here and she had so much fun playing with them, then she went to an opera, then she went to an all saints day party. Oh, and don't forget her birthday too! She's a lucky girl :-)

I'm also making some really yummy apple squash soup. It smells delicious and fits in nicely with the white snowy scene out my kitchen window. There is always something about snowy days that make me want to go bake and cook all day in the kitchen. Can you believe how close it is to Christmas? Seven and a half weeks left. I should mosey on over to Flylady and see about following her plans for getting ready for the holidays.

Yesterday, when everyone was feeling healthy, we did more schooling in the morning. We reviewed all of the capital letters and practiced writing them on our big chalkboard/easel. The kids love this... Zach was the official eraser. After we practiced all the letters, we played a game where I would say a word and Elizabeth would write the first letter of the word on the chalkboard. Boy, did she ever surprise me when I said 'Cat', and she wrote:

"C.....a.......t"

She then went on to spell a whole bunch more words that I said: cap, pop, mat, cup, hop...

Wow!! How did she learn to spell? What a neat revelation for me that she could learn something like spelling (which is really the reverse of reading) all by herself! I know I've said this before, but it really is a privilege to watch her grow and learn each day.

Oh, and about the Penguins: We just started to read a new novel called Mr. Poppers Penguins. This is a great book for kids... I bought it at a garage sale for 10 cents, but it is worth much more. It's so much fun to read out loud to the kids, because I can watch them delight in the story unfolding in their minds (another benefit to not having TV because they are so much more able to imagine stories in the heads and keep their attention on the spoken words).

The chapter we read last night was telling the story of how a penguin came in the mail to this family, and how the penguin was waddling around the house, trying to bite the mom's ankles, sliding in the bathtub, and eventually curling up to sleep inside the refrigerator. The whole time I was reading the story, Elizabeth was smiling and then laughing with her beautiful joyous laughter at each of the especially silly parts. Zachariah soon caught on that something funny must be happening, so he started giggling too and soon we were all laughing and laughing at the story.

Then, this morning we pulled out the atlas and started looking at the page on antacrtica, and learned about how penguins only live at the south pole, and polar bears only live at the north pole. And we talked about how it's so cold there, and we remembered the stories we read last week about anna the sled dog who pulled the sled across the arctic. I love homeschooling!

## Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What happens when you mix up

-1 boy 2 1/2 years old with lots of energy
- an empty tummy from not eating lunch OR dinner
- a whole lot of halloween candy
- running around and around like crazy for a good hour from the extra sugar
- still being awake at 10pm
- daylight savings making it feel like 11 pm
- a whole lot of water REALLY fast into his tummy because he's so thirsty
- a car trip

???

hmmm... well since it's still early and you might be eating your breakfast, I won't tell you. You can use your imagination. :-) Ah, the joys of parenthood. The messy times, the sick times, the silly times, the goofy times, the oh-so-tired times.

btw, WHO invented Daylight Savings anyways?? don't they realize children don't KNOW they are supposed to sleep in an extra hour??