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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nursing cover and baby nighties

I loved this fabric!

I need something for nursing Sophia while at Church and other public places.  My dear sister-in-law had a really cool cover that she uses and I have seen other ladies at church with them.  I found this great tutorial at Sew-Much-Ado to make my own nursing cover.  This way I could pick the fabric and add conveniences - - like a pocket for items that I may need - - prayer cards, a rosary, a burp rag, whatever.   I have enough fabric left over that I may make Sophia a pair of soft shoes, using Michelle's pattern and tutorial found here.

I have also found that nothing quite beats those newborn gowns for nighttime diaper changes.  Unfortunately, they only come in newborn, 0-3 month sizes (as far as I can tell!).  I found some suggestions on line for making these or similar ones.  I decided that I would use a onesie as the base for the nightie.  I cut off the bottom portion (who wants to deal with snaps in the middle of the night?) and serged the bottom edge.

I cut a piece of baby jersey material (about 32 inches x 18 inches - - you may need more for larger babies) and serged what would be the top edge and down the side seam (matching the two short edges together). 
I put in a basting stitch along the serged edge so that I could gather the material to make it match the onesie. 

Matching the side seam with one of the side seams on the onesie, I pinned the sides and then gathered, evening the gathers out on front and back and pinning as I went. 

Then I sewed around , flipped the garment right side out and stitched along the bottom of the onesie part, catching both fabrics.  Then I stitched a casing for elastic at the bottom.  Lastly, I threaded the elastic through the casing, stitched the elastic, and casing closed.  Done! 

It's not perfect, but okay enough for sleepwear and my first one.  I want to find long-sleeved onesies and do some more for colder weather.  I will also make the jersey skirt longer, as Sophia has only a few inches until her feet stick out.
Sophia in the new nightie!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

I, too, can do all things in Christ . . .

In the Glory Story CD of St. Joan, she often repeats, "I can do all things in Christ who stregnthens me."  Today, I was meditating on the passage of storing up treasures in Heaven, rather than here on earth.  Often, as with probably most home schooling families, I am asked by moms, "How do you manage all that you do and still have energy?"  In my meditation, I thanked God - - because the truth is that alone, I cannot do it.  There are days when I lean heavily on God, asking Him for the graces to persevere in this vocation He has called me to.  And, there are other days, when we are smoothly sailing along that I again thank Him for that grace as well - - reminding me of why we do what we do.  You see, that is the thing, without God, I am sure that I would not be equipped to handle six children, home schooling and home management all at the same time.  But with Him, I am able to see what is important.  And, I know that the sacrifices I make today will store up great treasures in Heaven.  I also know that there are things that I would love to be doing that are not part of His plan for me right now.  I would love to spend my day sewing or crocheting or visiting a museum.  This, of course, does not happen often!  I asked my mother-in-law what kind of garden she had when the kids were younger and whether she had time for it.  She didn't have the roses and flowers she has today, but she said that came later, after the kids where raised.  It reminded me that sure I don't have time for all of the things I'd like to do, but that may come later, after I've completed the work God has given me to do right now - - rearing and home schooling six children.  Which brings me back to St. Joan - - "I, too, can do all things in Christ who stregnthens me!"  And with the help of Christ, I can see God's will, rather than my own, and set myself for the task He has given me.  Storing up treasures in Heaven rather than lamenting on what I cannot have at this time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blessing Abound!!!

I awoke this morning and sat nursing Sophia in the glider.  As I was nursing her, I heard what sounded like canonshot off in the distance.  You see, we live near Antietam Battlefield and this weekend was the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest day of the Civil War (that is bloodshed in a single day, not the bloodiest battle of the war.)  In hearing the canonshot, I wondered at the people who lived in the nearby homes that day many, many years ago.  How they must have wondered if their homes would be overrun that day or the next.  If they would lose all they had.  I could not imagine what that would be like having never had to experience war first hand on American soil.  I thank God for that blessing.  Today, there are many around the world who are not so fortunate.  I offer my prayers for them and for the soldiers who fought bravely so long ago on both sides of the battle, that they may rest in peace and know that we have not forgotten the sacrifices made by them and their families.

Father James with Dave, myself, Judy and Tom, the godparents.
While the anniversary of Antietam was being celebrated in town, on Saturday, we celebrated Sophia's baptism into the Church.  The day promised to be gorgeous:  one of sunshine and good weather.  After morning Mass, Father James celebrated the baptism, which was absolutely perfect.  Sophia, while not entirely quiet, did very well.  When the baptism was over, we held a little "brunch" with family and friends in the parish center. I have included some pictures below:

Sophia in her dress!
Father James with the kids.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Sophia Regina & Updates

Sophia in a side snap tee that her sisters had tie-dyed.
 We are blessed to welcome Sophia Regina to our family.  She was born on August 2, 2012, weighing in at 6 lbs 14 oz and was 19-1/2 inches long.  We spent three days at Fair Oaks Medical Center before coming home on Sunday, August 5th.  She has been with us for almost 6 weeks now, and what a blessing.  Again, it is interesting and fun to see how the older kids are around her.  They all claim her as "theirs" and love her to pieces - - from the 17 year old down to Daniel, who turned three this past Saturday.   (Can you believe it???  Where did the time go???) 

We are into our third week of school and it is going well so far.  The younger kids are adjusting to Seton Home Study pretty well and it has helped me to be more prepared without having to do it all by myself.  (Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed picking curriculum and getting it all ready, but with Daniel and now another little one, and college looming in the near future for my high schoolers, this was the best decision for our family at this time.  I am enjoying working a little here and there with Daniel and still get to pick the materials for him.)  The writing is probably the hardest, as I didn't require as much as Seton does, but it will be good for them.

Dave has been back to work after a few weeks off with Sophia's birth.  He got a lot accomplished around here while he was off - - like those pesky car and house things that get passed by until you have time.  It is fun having him off for a good bit of time! 

We are looking forward to Sophia's baptism this weekend.  I am in the process of finishing up a dress that I have sewed for it.  I have done several projects, mostly crafty type or costumes for the kids.  Very seldom do I actually sew things for people to wear!  Sewing the baptismal dress has been educational as I take time to sew buttons and buttonholes and make sure my seams are right.  I am not quite done, but promise to post pictures after the baptism.  It is a rather simple dress, but I think it will work out well. 

Hope you all have an amazing rest of the week and sorry for the deluge of posts - - I was a bit behind!

God Bless,


(*Note:  This post was started July, 2012. I've edited it and tweeked it a bit and added the photo of the Creation Story set to the posting.  I also added an epilogue.)

We are now into our third week of school.  The older kids are enrolled in Seton this year in an effort to keep things rolling and simple as we welcome our newest addition in the next few weeks.  I've been trying to gather items for Daniel for preschool. 

I will be using Moira Farrell's Home Catechisis Manual (Ages 3-6) for religion.  Rather than start at the very beginning, I will be starting with the lesson on creation (which is at the back of the manual).  I am making the felt pieces for presenting the lesson and will get a box (I was thinking a scrapbooking box) for storage at JoAnn's.  I also need to get a couple pieces of felt to finish it up.  I found these creation sequencing cards and timeline cards.

For early literacy, I will be mixing a bit of Montessori with some add-ons - - primarily Seton's Early Literacy for Young Catholics.  This will introduce colors, letters and more.  I am also piggybacking Lacy's (from Catholic Icing) Catholic A,B,C's preschool curriculum, as well as adding in some BFIAR and the Catholic Little Saints programs.  It will be fun to see what we get done!

Epilogue:  I have introduced this wonderful to Daniel and he absolutely loves to play with it.  He will get it out and while he doesn't tell the story, he will recreate it in sequence and then play with the little animals.  How cool is that!  Soon, I will be introducing the Mini Mass Set we have along with the Liturgical Year - - showing him how to change the alb on Father Oak to match the color on the calendar.

I am also impressed with the Montessori Pink Tower I had gotten him.  He knows how to put the blocks in order from smallest to largest and he will match the blocks to the Pink Tower cards.  I will have to look for extension activities for the Pink Tower.  It is one of his favorite learning toys.

The neatest thing about all of it is that he actually knows that these items are special and get treated in a special way - - not like his other toys that get strewn throughout the house!

Easy Blankets

(*I had started this post back in April, when I started making the blankets.  It has taken me this long to edit and add pictures - - sorry for the delay!)

I was trolling the web looking for an easy baby quilt to do with some fabric I had picked up from the remnant bin at JoAnn's a while back and found this Super Fast Nine Patch pattern (note: this opens as a .pdf).  It was really easy to complete and worked up in no time.  I added cute little bunny cut outs (pattern from an Easter project that I have been working on).  To finish off, I found a piece of flannel for the backing and simply stitched the top and bottom (right sides together), left a hole for turning, flipped the quilt and then sewed around the larger middle block.  I did not add batting to this quilt, so it is more like blanket weight, rather than quilted.  (Lucky me - - I was able to make blankets from the remnant fabric!! )

Also, when I gave birth to Daniel almost 3 years ago (YIKES! Has it been that long), Dave's company sent a welcome gift box - - which included a Bumkins bib - love these! - and a larger sized flannel blanket made by Nanny and Webster.  I could never afford to buy one of these blankets, but the large size is great for swaddling, covering and playing on the floor.  They are actually fairly simple blankets and I found these directions at The Crafty Patch for sewing a large flannel blanket.  The good news:  the week that I was making these, JoAnn's has cuddleup flannel prints for $2.99/yard, making these not only warm and snuggly, but not terribly expensive to make.  Rather than make my first blanket square, I left it pretty much the size of the fabric - - almost 36 X 45.  Also, you don't have to, but I serged three sides and then sewed the bottom, leaving  a hole for turning.  The blanket ended up being a similar size as  the Nine Patch Quilt.  I have fabric to make two more - - gotta love these large blankets.  They are big enough to cover when I am nursing and make great blankets for laying on the floor for tummy time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Weekend Work!

Were we ever busy this weekend!  It started Saturday morning with some weed pulling.  Yuck!  I hate weeds!  So does everyone else in my family, but I figured if we worked together, it would go rather quickly, and it did!

Dave and I then headed to the dump and then over to Home Depot to get the materials needed to upgrade our playset in the backyard.  We had already replaced the swings, but wanted to add a larger sandbox (that wasn't under the playset), add a floor to the bottom, a climbing wall, and new canvas for the roof.  What an undertaking, but well worth it! 

Almost ten years ago we moved into our house, and wanted to get a playset for the kids, but it was September, so we waited figuring there wasn't much time left to enjoy the outdoors.  The following spring, I was driving home and came across a playset on the side of the road.  It needed some new swings and a canvas cover for the roof, but looked otherwise sturdy.  Dave stopped later and paid the man who was selling it $200.  We invested about $100 for swings and another $30 for the canvas.   In the time we've had it, we replaced a toddler swing and the canvas cover.  With Daniel and now the new little one coming along, we figured it was time to upgrade the playset again, and hence, our work began. 
This gives you a good view of the sandbox.  Nice and large!

We started with the sandbox -- it measures about 5' x 6' - - which is large enough for kids to sit in and play.  It took 15 bags of sand to fill it.  It is inviting and the kids love it (even some of the bigger kids couldn't resist getting in!).  The boys helped with lifting the heavy bags of sand and adding them to the box.

Here is the climbing wall and disc swing.
Next, we added the floor to the bottom of the playhouse.  That took the remainder of our Saturday.  The floor covers up some weeds and makes the bottom look better.  It also gives the kids a place to pretend.  Perhaps I will add some canvas "walls" that can be removed to make it more "tent-like." 

On Sunday, after Mass, Dave started on the climbing wall.  Jenna helped him measure.  (We had removed a sliding pole and ladder to make room for the wall.)  Then he worked on getting a new support beam ready for the canvas roof, which he and I did together.  (I had to sew the sides up, but that was easy!  I lucked out and found 54" outdoor canvas on the sale table for $8/yd -- normally $20!)  Afterwards, we removed the bolts for the toddler swing (we are moving it to the swing set, next to the three swings), so that we could add the disc swing.  I think that is Jenna's favorite part! 
Finishing touch was to bring up the cement bench so that
Mommy can sit and observe.
Daniel has been outside these past couple of mornings, playing in the sand and on the playset.  Now he never wants to come inside!   The roadside find has continued and will continue to be a family favorite for the foreseeable future!  Thanks to God!

God Blesb

 PS - - Did I mention that our "to-do" list is yards long?  I hope to tackle the gardens next - - both the flower kind and the vegetable kind.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates this weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Story Wreath, Stations of Light cards and box - OH MY!

I love the Easter season!  It's as if the Church is dressed in her very best - - all white and gold!  I also love the celebrations and feasts during Easter -- and how lucky are we that the Easter Season is 50 days! 

I also love having a little one in the house to keep alive traditions that might otherwise fall to the wayside with big brothers and sisters.  How many teens want to hunt for Easter Eggs?  Perhaps if the eggs were more well-hidden?  Having a little one also means we can keep up with the crafts of the Easter season.  I follow Lacy's blog - - Catholic Icing -- and have found this free printable Easter Story Wreath -- much nicer than the one from Oriental Trading!  Her site also led me to this one that has printable cards for the Stations of Light with suggestions for making a Stations of Light box (similar to the one for Stations of the Cross, which I had made for the kids several years ago).  The cards are lovely and you can use them to make three part Montessori cards, too!  I have just the box - an extra blank pencil box that I can store the cards and items in - - I just have to come up with some creative ways to obtain or make the suggested symbols.

I also enjoyed making this Ascension scene for our home prayer table - just beautiful!

Now, I have to find some activities and crafts for Daniel to do!  Soon, he will be helping me more, but until then, I get to have fun coloring, cutting and gluing!

God Bless!

Happy Easter!

About a week before Easter, I found this lamb mold cake pan for 50% off at JoAnn's.  I've never worked with cake molds before and was unsure of how it would work out.  I chose to use a pound cake mix to make the cake and made a double batch, just in case one wasn't enough.  I am not sure if one was enough - - I baked the extra batter.  You have to make sure you fill it to the rim of the pan.  Then, make sure you tie the pan (alternately, you can probably use those silicon rubber bands).  Once the lamb was done, I removed the top side and let it cool for about 15 minutes.  Then I placed the top side back on and turned it over and removed the bottom side and let it cool until completely cooled.  Then I lined the bottom mold with plastic wrap replaced the bottom mold, turned the cake and lined the other side, wrapped the cake with plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer until Good Friday.  (Sometimes it is easier to ice a frozen cake.) 

On Good Friday, I iced the platter that I was going to set the cake one (recipe for icing here).  Removing the cake from the pan, I centered it on the platter.  I started with icing on the face and then put the remaining icing into an icing bag with the right tip and swirled on the icing to look like fleece.  I colored some icing black for the eyes and mouth.  I also colored some coconut to look like the lamb was laying in the grass.  Finally, I used a skewer and piece of paper to make the flag and sprinkled some robin eggs around the base.  Transporting the cake to Grandma's was a little tough - - but it survived unscathed and was enjoyed with a topping of strawberries on Easter Sunday!

We also brought some filled plastic eggs for an egg hunt.  I am sure that if we didn't have Daniel, this tradition would probably be put aside, but having a little one, keeps these traditions alive.

For table decorations, I made this Easter Candy boquet.  I was inspired by this project that was posted at Skip to My Lou.  I used a mason jar instead of a can, allowing the contents to peak through.  The cross pops were made from Jolly Ranchers following instructions found here at Catholic Icing.  Be sure to check out her Easter countdown to Pentecost calendar and all the other fun stuff!

God Bless and hope you have a Blessed Easter Season!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Geography Day!

Geography Day was a huge success, thanks to the families that participated.  Our family was able to experience and learn about Australia, Ecuador, France, and Germany, as well as what we learned about Japan! 

Here is a picture of our finished project board.  It included the carp that Alex made for Children's Day (a national holiday celebrated in May).  We had a lot of fun learning about Japan.  I asked the kids to please choose a country that had "normal" food next time!  We will see where that will lead us - - Andrea commented that we should just do a tour of Asia, since we've done China (quite a few years ago) and India already!  Hmmmm!  We just have to see where our interests take us.

Thanks for traveling with us!

God Bless,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Field Trip: Highlights from Cooking Day!

Yesterday, we had a fun time.  We finished reading about Japan.  The kids worked on their beckoning cats - - how wonderful they look - - now they just need to add the details, which they will with markers.  Gotta love Model Magic! 

The rice for the sushi came out great and we were able to make those as well.  You can see from the pictures below how we did.  There is a great You-Tube tutorial from Kikkoman about how to make sushi rolls and California rolls (rice is on the outside).  The sushi rolls we made included cucumber and carrots. I will be making them for Geography Day on Sunday and will probably include some of the daikon, a Japanese radish, too.  I will need to use it up some way!
Our Ingredients - - Sushi Rice, Carrots, Cukes, and Nori
Spreading the rice - - water helps keep the rice from sticking
to your hands.

All the ingredients are assembled!
Our assembled rolls
Here are our cut sushi rolls complete with soy sauce, some sushi ginger, and wasabi for dipping.  While I cannot say this will make a regular appearance on our menu, it was fun to make and worth trying.  I don't think the kids cared all that much for the seaweed taste, but the sweetened rice was pretty good with the ginger, carrots and cucumber.  I will have to try some other combinations.  We also refrigerated them so that we could eat them with our dinner.  Not sure if they should be eaten immediately, or if that would affect the flavor.

We also made Yakitori, which is chicken on a skewer and then broiled or grilled.   The recipe is from Recipe and Craft Guide to Japan by Juliet Haines Mofford.  This is a series of books for several countries.  Extremely helpful for us!


2 boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup Japanese soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger 
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 teaspoon grated daikon (white radish)
2 bunches of scallion, with tops and roots removed
1/4 cup of sesame oil

1.  Mix soy sauce through daikon to make marinade.  Add chicken and allow to marinate overnight.  (We used a ziplock baggie for this.)

2. Thread chicken onto skewer, alternating with scallion.

3.  Boil marinade and allow to cool.  Mix in sesame oil and brush onto chicken.  Broil or grill skewers.  Pour on remaining sauce.

This was a good recipe.  You can substitute chicken thighs for the chicken breast if you prefer.  I used a microplane to finely grate the ginger, garlic and daikon.  You do not need a lot of daikon.  I suggest using the leftovers for sushi rolls.

Because the Yakitori really wasn't enough to go around, I also made this beef dish that came out pretty good.  It is called Guydon, or Simmered Beef.  It is a rice bowl dish, which is more soup-like.  It kind of reminded me of Mongolian Beef in taste, though the sauce was thinner.  This was pretty well enjoyed all around.  While we were at the Asian store picking up the daikon, we found some really inexpensive disposable chopsticks.  They came in a pack of 50!   The kids had fun trying to eat with them. 

All in all, dinner was a success, and we plan to share the chicken Yakitori and the sushi rolls with our friends on Geography Day!

Happy Eating & God Bless,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Field Trip: Day Three

Yesterday afternoon, we went shopping for craft materials and food supplies.  The kids want to make paper lanterns and Beckoning Cats (we are going to use Model Magic for them).  We are also going to make a Carp windsock, which are flown on Children's Day, a national holiday in Japan. 

I could not find all of the food items at the regular grocery store, so I found the Asian Market here in Hagerstown.  They had most of the remaining ingredients and will get in the daikon (a white radish) either today or tomorrow.  While at the Asian Market, I saw two beckoning cats on a shelf behind the counter - - how neat was that! 

For our menu items, we are going to try to make some Yakimori, which is marinated chicken on a skewer.  We are also going to attempt cucumber sushi rolls! Hopefully, they go well.  I don't generally cook rice well, but the box assures me it is possible if I follow their instructions! 

I will be sure to post pictures of our work later today or tomorrow.

God Bless!

Field Trip: Destination Japan!

The DVD's we found at the library. 
Two were for kids from Schlessinger Media.
It’s that time of year again for Geography Day!  We were not going to spend a week on it; however, we just didn’t get around to working on our project, so I decided that the younger children and I would go ahead and spend a week working on our Geography Day project.  This year, we are taking a virtual field trip to Japan!  What an interesting country it is! 
Yesterday, we paid a visit to our library to obtain resource materials.  I found a travel DVD in the adult section on Tokyo and two DVD’s in the children’s section.  I also found a travel guide for Japan in the adult section and a couple of research books in the children’s section.  To top off our study, I found a picture book called The Beckoning Cat, which is an old folktale from Japan.

We spent some time looking over the books we got from the library and then watched the two videos from the children’s section.  We looked over some of the recipes and crafts that were in one of the books and chose some that we thought we could do.  Then, we worked on some of the lapbook minibooks that we will paste to our presentation board.  Mostly, basic facts and mapwork.

Today, we read through part of the other reference book we had gotten.  We learned more about the geography of Japan and how because Japan is very mountainous, most people live in the cities.  We also learned that the climate of Japan is varied since the islands stretch from off the coast of Siberia, all the way down to near the equator.  Winters in the north can be harsh and skiing and winter sports are popular.  The further south you go, sandy beaches are the norm, but they also deal with monsoons!  Earthquakes are also very frequent in Japan, which also has 60 active volcanoes!
The girls also decided to paint kokeshi dolls using the wooden peg doll forms.  (We use these for our painted saints.  The kids also worked on researching their saints from Japan.  Each child gets to choose one (or two) and write up a paragraph about that saint.  Alex chose St. Paul Miki.  

We also watched the travel film on Tokyo that I found in the adult section of the library.  It was very informative and quite interesting.  For
Here are the girls' finished Kokeshi Dolls along with a
Beckoning Cat that I needle felted.
example, they showed the fish market where the people come to buy fish.  At 6:00 in the morning, they hold an auction for the tuna.  I remember the tuna my brother-in-law caught at the beach.  It was nowhere the size of these jumbo tuna!  The narrator said that these tuna can go for up to $10,000!  That's some tuna!  They toured many of sites in and around Tokyo.  Did you know that they have a replica of the Eifel Tower in Tokyo? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Joseph's Altar

Our St. Joseph's Altar at our parish church included:
Lilies, a votive candle, oranges, strawberries, grapes, sparkling grape juice
cream puffs, raspberry tarts, apple muffins, biscotti, and cookies.
Last year, it was so much fun to celebrate St. Joseph’s Feast Day by making our first Altar.  This year, our family and friends decided to share our altar with those who labor for our parish:  the priests, secretary, business manager, custodians, and even the women who work in the school kitchen.  My friend and I baked goodies to share, while trying to keep with some of the traditional offerings.  We included Holy Cards for visitors to take with them.  It was fun to share the offerings and the staff was very thankful.  Mary made
After we tore down the altar at the church, we came home and set up our altar at home.  I allowed the kids to snack from it while we worked on our geography day projects.  All in all, it was a great celebration for St. Joseph and allowed us to share something with our parish.

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Joseph’s Feast Day!

God Bless!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Transportation Sensory Bin

Daniel enjoyed the new transportation bin.  I included some felt "roads"  and some pipe cleaners to make railroad tracks.  I colored the rice brown to resemble dirt.  I found the instructions for coloring rice here.  I will suggest coloring the rice with rubbing alcohol requires an open area and allow the smell to dissapate for a day or two for larger quantities of rice.  It did help the coloring to evenly color the rice and it looks really cool. 

We have a rather busy day today -  it's Jeremy's birthday - - 17th!!  The kids want to go roller skating (the local rink has a homeschool skate) and Jenna has volunteered to help with story time at the library.  She is very excited!  Did I mention she also has dance tonight?  So, we are running for much of the afternoon. 

Have a blessed day!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our Trays Came Today!

Our trays came today!  I ordered them from Discount School Supply, along with some play dough tools.  I am so excited about them.  The only drawback is that they do not fit a standard sheet of paper, but other than that, they fit the shelves well.  Perhaps I will cut some down to the right size so that they fit on the tray nicely.

I also repurposed some plastic drawer thingies for storing supplies and materials.  I am sure it won't be enough, but hopefully I will be able to keep it to a minimum!  I am trying to use a lot of what I already have - - lacing beads, latch board, stamps, craft items, small toys, etc.  To find "a" items for the sensory tub, I just searched through the house - - little toys and things that I had on hand that could go in. 

I am working on a "transportation" theme for Daniel's Tot Trays and Sensory Bins.  He loves trains and cars.  Inspired by Counting Coconuts, who used black beans and river rocks in the tub, I am not sure.  I was thinking that I could probably color the rice brown or something.  I could use some dry pinto beans for the rocks.  I will probably put in some little cars, tires (Lego), helicopters, etc.)  I was thinking of also **gulp** of providing a water tub to explore floating boats.  Of course, this would have to be under supervision, and will probably teach clean up, as well.  I found a vehicles stamp set (Melissa and Doug), some transportation 3 part cards (Montessori for Everyone) and a Vehicles matching set (Montessori Printshop).  I also have the Do-A-Dot Art book for Trucks. 

I think I am the one having too much fun!

God Bless,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Montessori inspired - - tubs and trays

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on learning activities for Daniel.  In the past, with the other kids, I've just let them play and watch TV, and do some learning activities with them.  I believe with Jenna, I did do some preschool activities here and there, but I get so busy with the older kids (especially now that they are in 11th, 8th (twins) and 6th grade) that I am sure it was very sporadic.  I started her a little early in kindergarten just so that she would have more to do. 

I became interested in Montessori-influenced education due to the nature of the learning environment.  Of course, I cannot seriously contemplate having a true Montessori environment here!  But, I thought that I could take some of Montessori and give Daniel some activities to do that would be education, yet fun at the same time. 

I was intrigued by the learning trays and sensory bins at 1+1+1=1.  The trays are set up and the children are allowed to play with them, taking one at a time, until their interest wanes, and then they put it away and pick up a new tray or bin.  The trays focus on a skill or something you want the to learn.

Here are some of my ideas and completed "trays" and bins.

#1 - - Rice tub - scooping and pouring rice from one container to another using various tools.

#2 - - .Letter A Sensory Bin - - I filled this with paper "grass" and things that begin with the letter A.  I plan to print out photos of the contents so that Daniel will know what to look for. 

#3 - - Play doh Tub - - Right now, I have cookie cutters (apple and trains)  along with a rolling pin and different colors.  I have ordered a different rolling pin (I have actually used a brayer here) ane cd some cookie cutters.  I plan to keep to a theme here (I hope).

#4 - - Color sorting tray - - I have some counting bears with cups and a pair of plastic tweezers for transferring the bears to their cups. 

#5 - - Let's Learn the Letter "A" Tray - - Various activities to help us learn the letter A.  I've included the phonetic card, Alphabet Laundry, a sandpaper A and a, dot art markers and a Letter A dot art page.  I will trade this out with other "A" crafts and activities that I have found on-line and as part of the Catholic ABC's curriculum from Lacy over at Catholic Icing.  The dot art pages are free here.

#6 - - A is for Apple - - I made this puzzle a while ago with a scroll saw and some paint. Danieil has already built this many times, but never seems to tire of it.


#7 - Read alouds - - We are currently workign through BFAIR, and have done Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear and Ask Mr. Bear.  We've worked on the lapbooks found at Homeschool Share.  I also found a felt bear that I did some time ago with a coop class, so he should have some fun dressing the bear! 

Daniel loves the Play Doh bin - - Yes, Mary, we did use the train cookie cutters! 
He likes making them blue and green for Thomas and Percy!

For teaching the faith, we are going to work on the Sign of the Cross.  For practical life, we are working on brushing teeth and getting dressed in the morning.  We will see how this goes!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Websites of interest

I have started doing Before Five in a Row with Daniel.  It's been quite a treat getting him to settle down for stories since I haven't really sat down with him every day to read to him.  He was a little reluctant at first, but I just kept going and he now is seeming to enjoy it.  I think I have mentioned as  a great resource already.  I was able to find lapbooks that correspond to each of the books introduced in BFIAR.  All Free!  He wants to learn how to use the scissors - - go figure! 

I also happened upon this website/blog that has ideas for bringing a Montessori education into your home.  It's called Montessori At Home.  I haven't perused the whole site, but I did purchase e-book and think it has some great practical ideas for bringing Montessori into a home/school environment.  It's also great because he highlights what he feels is the necessary Montessori materials, which is great, since they do get pretty expensive.  I haven't started completely with him yet, but hope to add some Montessori type activities as he gets older.

The above site also referred me to this blog.  While the author isn't strictly Montessori, she does use some Montessoi ideas and lots of preschool ideas for littles!  It looks like a potential goldmine.  She also has some stuff for older kids, too.


Monday, February 27, 2012

More on Lent and some movie reviews . . .

The kids are outside playing today - - what great weather!  It was windy and colder yesterday, so this is a nice treat!  Even Daniel is out running around, which gives me a few moments to post here.

I was playing around yesterday on Picasa 3 making collages.  I was encouraged by this posting on Skip to My Lou, one of my favorite crafting sites.  The pictures on the blog header are from our beach trip back in May.  Love the one of Daniel smiling. 
Our family typically comes up with a family sacrifice during Lent, in addition to personal sacrifices.  In the past, it has been giving up television (which we cannot really do now since we don't subscribe to satellite anymore) or computer.  I am not sure about your family, but in our house, name calling and bad feelings have been problems from time to time.  So, we decided to chuck a bad habit this year (working on the virtue of charity in speech) rather than give up something.  To give us more incentive to work on the virtue of charity, I purchased some purple bingo markers (hey, have to keep with the season) and put them in a jar.  Each marker is worth five cents.  A momentary lack of charity costs the offender two markers - or ten cents.  To make up for the lapse, a good deed may be performed, which will add one marker, or five cents, back to the jar.  (This reminds us how hurtful our words are and how much harder it is to apologize and make up for our lack of charity.)  The amount of markers in the jar at the end of Lent is going to be our Rice Bowl donation this year.  I know, we really should not be subtracting from the Rice Bowl, but we set a goal to donate $20 this year and hopefully, if we are careful in speech, we can do just that! 

My dear friend, Judy, over at Ben Makes Ten, assured me that it wasn't too late to "bury our Alleluia."  She said that she knows someone who doesn't actually bury it, but instead turns it around, and then on Easter, the banner gets turned back around so you can see the Alleluia.  I loved this idea.  The only problem is:  I didn't have an Alleluia banner.  The solution here is to make one, right?  Catholic Icing has a link to letters that she had used for their banner.  Since I was simply turning it around, I decided that it would be fun to have a message for Lent on the other side.  So, I added the word Penance to the other side to remind us of the season. 

Movie Alerts:
As part of our Lenten Journey, I have also added a few movies to our collection. 

The Reluctant Saint - This is an old black and white movie about St. Joseph of Cupertino.  You feel sorry for him, but realize how child-like, simple and faith-filled he was. Everyone, including my  oldest son, enjoyed this one!

Perpetua:  Early Church Martyr - To be fair, this is not the video I thought I ordered (that one is here).  This one is an hour long, rather than the half-hour animated one, and it sounded as if it was more like a documentary.  However, I will say that Jenna had no complaints and Andrea said some of the pictures were absolutely beautiful.  I will be sitting down to watch it as her and St. Felicity's Feast Day (March 7th) approaches.  

The Adventures of the Apostle Paul for Children - I wish I would have seen this here, rather than buying it at the Catholic shop near by OB's office.  It is on sale for $7.99.  I haven't watched this yet, but am looking forward to it.  It runs about a half hour.

I have also added the CCC DVD's for St. Patrick and The Day the Sun Danced.   These have been treasured on VHS for years in our family, and while I cannot quite afford to replace the VHS tapes all now, I am hoping to replace them a little at a time.  Daniel has watched The Day the Sun Danced (Bl. Francisco and Bl. Jacinta's feast day was last week - Feb 20).  I am  hoping to save the Saint Patrick one for closer to St. Patrick's Day! 

Hope you all are having a blessed Lenten season!

God Bless,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alex's craft

For art this week, I told the kids to pick a craft or art project to do.  It was funny to see what the girls chose.  They are always after me for something to do!  Alex couldn't decide and asked for some help.  I had seen the crown of thorns over at Waltzing Matilda, and had picked up what I needed to complete this project for our Lenten table.  Thinking Alex wouldn't have much problem with this project, I gave it to him to do.  What a wonderful job he did, too!

Presentation Play Set

Presentation Play Set
The first reading for our Jesus Tree was about the Presentation of Our Lord.  I've been wanting to make this since the Feast of the Presentation (Feb 2nd) but never got around to it.  I was finally able to get some time over the past couple of days.  I used the wooden peg dolls for the people.  For the box, I found a "Ready to Decorate" pencil/cigar type box at AC Moore.  This was exactly what I was looking for, so that the box could be turned and opened into the "scene".  I painted Mary holding baby Jesus.  St. Joseph is  holding a cage containing the two birds.  I left the outside of the box plain for now. 

The nice thing about using the box is that it will keep the dolls together.  I was thinking of adding a piece of felt to act as a play mat and to help keep the dolls from hitting against one another.   I think this will come in handy, not only for celebrating the Feast Day, but also for teaching about Christ.  We can also bring it out when contemplating that particular mystery of the Rosary! 

Today's reading is the Baptism of our Lord.  Hmmmm?
The box is available on-line at AC Moore, but I am sure you may be able to find it for less elsewhere on line.  They are $1.99 at the store.  The larger sized peg dolls are hard to find at the craft stores.  I have only seen them occassionally.  I buy them from here.  I like the larger sizes for little hands and less of a choking hazard.  I do use the smaller dolls when I paint children saints.  I use regular craft acryllic paints and then spray them with an acryllic sealer.  They are simple, and not quite as beautiful as the ones available from St. Luke's Brush, but they work for us.  Daniel lines ours up along the perimeter of Alex's castle.