Thursday, December 19, 2013

Modge Podge and Brunch

Our homeschool group had a Brunch get together on the First Friday of December.  In addition to sharing a pot-luck breakfast after Mass, we had crafts for the kids to make. I brought these wooden cigar boxes that I bought for a dollar a piece at a yard sale. I had 14 of them. Fancy decorative paper, old Christmas cards and pictures of religious subjects were available for the kids to decorate their boxes, both inside and out with.
 Modge Podge is a product that I was introduced to here and is used as a glue and smoothing agent to make a decoupage effect, securing the pictures to the box with a varnish like surface.
Everyone brought something to share and there was plenty of food.
This year, our group has taken advantage of coffee to go from Dunkin Donuts. We get a couple boxes of coffee and 2 boxes of hot chocolate for the kids. It's delicious and so easy.
Our next craft was making ornaments by pinning colored buttons onto styrofoam balls with decorative straightpins.
This activity was delightfully time consuming allowing everyone to stand around the table talking and working to create something beautiful.
Five minutes before we left for the church hall, I thought to invite Meg and the kids to see if they wanted to join us. They met us there and had a great time making Christmas crafts and having breakfast with so many nice families.

Mexican Feast

Our Cooking Club celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe by preparing four dishes for a Mexican Feast.
The twelve children who attended split into four groups. At Station One, they browned the meat for the tacos.
The next Station prepared "Aztec Chocolate", that is homemade hot chocolate from scratch.
The third station was for the taco fixins' prep.Washing lettuce and using the salad spinner,
...dicing tomatoes and onions, and getting the shredded cheese ready to serve.
In the fourth station, the kids made sombreros like the one Juan Diego might have worn by cutting up mozarella sticks and putting a piece on a Pringle chip.
The dessert was made here as well- Holiday pretzels dipped into melted white chocolate and ....
covered with sprinkles. Each group of three children rotated through the stations taking a turn with all the preparations. After the cooking was completed, Allison led a discussion on eight little known facts about Our
Lady of Guadeloupe and her apparition there. Most of the children were very familiar with the story so taking things a step further made for a great discussion. As a group, we prayed The Divine Mercy to remember the Lord's Passion and his unfathomable mercy toward us
Then we ate together and had a wonderful time visiting. Allison and I really enjoy the Cooking Club and have been privileged to spend time sharing our homes, skills and faith with these great kids.

Christmas Parade

We met our friends in front of this local landmark to watch our children in the Christmas parade.
This float was spectacular recreating an Historic House in the area.
I was watching Sam so intently while he played in the band  that I forgot to take a picture but did get one of my friend's son as he marched past our group.
The school mascot came over to give John the high five.
The last float was of course, Santa. We walked up the long hill toward our car, enjoying the night air and being downtown.

The Elf on The Shelf

For an early Christmas gift,  Meg and Jon gave us "The Elf on the Shelf" Kit which contains the elf and a beautifully illustrated story to go with it. The Elf watches the family members during the day. At night he supposedly goes to the North pole to report to Santa how the children are behaving . It is during this time that he is hidden nightly somewhere in the house. In the morning, it is a lot of fun to find him and to see the creative ways he has been hidden. 
Worth pondering is the marvelous good fortune some lucky family is experiencing after ingeniously marketing their very own family tradition. They must be millionaires because this fun game has really caught on with folks across the nation. It is a simple concept and a new tradition that can be enjoyed by each member of the family. The older ones hide him, a new and different place each night and the younger ones try to find him. I am wondering if there is anything fun that we do that could be worth a million bucks if marketed well!

Boney Mallet

Playing football in the frontyard, Sam was injured when the ball hit the top of his middle finger. He complained of a lot of pain and did have some swelling just at the first knuckle. A few days later when the pain continued, we asked our neighbor who is a Sport'sTtrainer with a master's degree in that field to take a look at it. He immediately diagnosed a "Boney mallet finger" which is serious if left untreated. We were able to get him into our local "ortho clinic" and they x-rayed the finger. You can see the little broken bone!
We went right over to occupational therapy where a little splint was handcrafted for him. He must keep the tip of his middle finger level with the rest of the finger at all times. It wants to droop down, and he can't lift it up without the splint. It can't drop even once, or the tendon may come apart and he will have to start the healing process over again. As always, through this whole time of obtaining good medical help for Sam, I was extremely grateful for the terrific medical care we received from all the knowledgeable and friendly providers.

Family Viewing

We took advantage of the "Live" performance of the Sound of Music remake starring the lovely and talented Carrie Underwood, by watching it together as a family. It reminded me a lot of when I was a kid and there was no VCR, DVD, Netflix and Computer Streaming. You only had the opportunity to see The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz once per year. If you missed it, you had to wait until the following year to see it.
I had read a review that said this remake, as the original had, portrayed the Catholic Church in a very positive light. After watching it, I would totally agree. It spoke about the idea of Vocation as something that God gives to each one of us as the best way to serve him and to bring his love into the world. Maria ( Carrie Underwood) finds that she is not called to the convent at all, but instead, to Mother the captain's seven children, to be a good wife to him and to bring joy and music back into their hurting family. They are surely protected by Divine Providence as they escape in the night out of  Austria in the hands of the Nazis with the help of the Sisters that she knows so well.

 Incidentally, The Sound of Music is based on a very true story and the book about "The Trapp Family Singers" ( something like that) is excellent. This family lived their Catholicism completely. Maria and the captain were blessed with more children to add to their brood and they all worked very hard to help the family. After touring the United States performing to earn their bread, they settled in Stowe, Vermont and bought hundreds of acres. The ski lodge has a fancy restaurant where we once had dinner with my parents, Grandma F. and my cousin, Geraldine.That evening, we met  the very senior Maria von Trapp, perhaps an octogenarian by this time, as she walked around the dining room, introducing herself to each table. As a teen, we cross country skied at this resort with our neighbors and friends. The scenery was so beautiful! Larry and I have visited this rebuilt lodge ( a fire destroyed the original) when we went to Vermont a number of years ago.
Although, I think that only a small portion of this movie was actually filmed "Live", it was delightful to watch such an inspiring and heart-warming program with the kids as a special event.

Playing School

Undoubtedly, one of the best things about the homeschooling lifestyle  is the freedom that a child has to"play" and be a kid. Juby set this classroom up for her dolls with a bench for her to get her work done on.
I think that she enjoyed teaching her students and they all behaved well.

Already 5

Meg had no real plans to have a Birthday Party for the G-man but he expected one and a convenient Sunday  afternoon presented itself for an impromptu gathering to wish him a great day and year.
Jeff brought in balloons and crazy straws and everyone got right to work decorating.
That was half the fun for the little 5 year old!
His gift from  his parents will continue to foster his passion for all things Titanic. It is a model ship and they also bought the paints to finish it with.
We all had a wonderful time watching his enjoyment and excitement because we love him so much!
Dawkins posed with the Birthday Boy.
This easy-peasy party was no trouble at all and meant the world to the little guy. I am glad that my children have thrown off the yoke of birthday party scrooge that they grew up with and have learned to celebrate these yearly milestones. Bring in the clowns, the ponies and the moon bounce!

Plaid Friday

I am not a Black Friday shopper but I was intrigued with the concept of "Plaid Friday", that is, shopping downtown in small local businesses. Larry took the boys hunting, and I had the pleasure of taking these young ladies downtown to browse.
The merchants were showing hospitality by offering free refreshments to patrons and even goody bags for the kids in this toy store.
It was sooo nice to be able to take our time and really look at all the beautiful things in the shops.
There was a whole display of Fairies that were the theme for MH's Birthday party a few years back.

The decorations were so beautiful and this pumpkin amongst the red berries hit the perfect note of the day after Thanksgiving leading into the Advent season.
MH really came alive when we visited the shoe store! Apparently she loves shoes. That is something you do or you don't. I don't!
We captured a picture of the employees wearing plaid vests to emphasize the Plaid Friday theme in front of this massive Moose that has been here for over twenty-five years.
Touching the Big Apple was a treat and MH said that she could now check it off her Bucket List!
These gals posed like nutcrackers before we went into the visit this gorgeous store. We bought only one thing the whole day- a specific gift that I could only purchase downtown. As we browsed, I reflected on why I had never taken my older girls to do something like this. The answer is because I had so many other kids to take care off and this is not a large group activity. I always come back to the fact that Birth Order is God Given. There are some things that the older kids got that the younger ones never will, although I can't think of any!!! This activity is something that our small group of ladies could enjoy in peace .It is very much the kind of thing that I would have loved to do more often but couldn't due to family responsibilities which are lessening as the kids get older.
We returned home for hot chocolate and big slices of leftover pumpkin pie!

Fresh Sugar Beets

I enjoy beets but have only ever eaten them out of a can and that rarely. Our friend just told me how to cook them and I  picked some up on sale at our discount grocery store.
Donna explained that you treat them just like a potato.  Wash, peel and dice them using a sharp knife
Boil until tender! That's it. Wear an apron because beet juice is a natural dye and a real stain maker. The dark color is the latest fad in foods, claiming to have "anti-oxidant" properties that lead to good health. That reminds me of a funny magnet I saw. What we now call "Organic Food" is the same stuff  our grandparents just called "Food".
I have heard beets called "sugar beets" and thus the title. I think someone just called them that to get kids to eat them.I don't recall these being a big hit with the kids but I thoroughly enjoyed them and will buy and prepare them again!

Book Inventory

While the computer area was rearranged,  my homeschool bookshelves were emptied and the books remained in piles for a couple of weeks. It was time to put things in order and I planned to downsize a bit. Each item was inventoried in my mind and grouped according to subject area.
These flash cards, in great condition are over 50 years old according to the date on the bottom of the box. In beautiful cursive, there is a note " Given to Sr. Bernardine by Mrs.Irish" I don't know these ladies but it evoked fond memories of Catholic School in my mind.
This huge amount of flashcards were made by Greg, I would think in First Grade.  His handwriting improves as one goes through the stack. Each card has his initials on the back. I have saved them this long, it won't be too much longer until we can give them to Handsome to learn his sight words from!
 These flash cards were beautifully written by Larry's Mom, Sally. She made them when she lived with us in town and she used to help Meg to read with them. We used them with the younger kids as they came up.
For the first time, my books are arranged by subject.If I am looking for a phonics/ learning to read book, I should be able to locate it easily.

I gave away only a few things that I had extras of or knew I would never need. With older kids in school, I thought that I might consider selling or donating many of my resources but I just am not ready to do that. I Love these books. I Love Homeschooling. "Do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life." That's how I feel about Homeschooling. As I evaluate the results of homeschooling, I see young adults of fine character with excellent work ethics and a strong love for family.
I don't yet see folks who share my strong love for the Church, which was one of my goals, but I continue to pray about that and leave it all up to the Holy Spirit. The Lord's ways are far superior to our little plans and are a mystery. I don't know what the future holds, but I will continue to cherish these books which hold so many good memories for me.