Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Snapshots of Summer

We're still in summering mode over here for about another week or so.  Here, schools don't start until after Labor Day and we begin a little bit later than that.  This summer has gone really slowly, I feel. June feels like forever ago.  I'm ready for cooler weather and maaaybe some routine but I'm not really ready for summer to be over.  It's been a good one.  There were many times I thought we were supposed to be doing More.  Of what, I didn't know just...More.  But looking back, there were lots of little summer moments, lots of down time, lots of things that their memories will be made of.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Notes from the Garden {8/16}

I haven't posted many pictures but the garden has been really really great this year.  The husband has been keeping up with it and the early summer drought actually helped us little gardeners out.  We had to water lots but the lack of rain kept all the nasty bugs away until the last few weeks so things were left alone!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hail, Holy Queen of Our Home {our little Coronation tradition}

Yesterday we had our little traditional home celebrations to observe the feast of the Coronation of Mary.  Every year we have our crowning and some sort of treat to mark the special day.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Feelin' the Seabreeze, Squelching the Angst, and Vindicating Fun Mom Status

This past Monday we had the chance to celebrate the Assumption and summer in an extra special way!  Thanks to the folks at Seabreeze, we had an absolutely lovely day and the boys got to experience their first legit amusement park.  For years, we've gone to Olcott and while that is PERFECT for little kids, my oldest two have now outgrown most of the rides.  I was looking at the beginning of summer for something to level up a bit for their sakes.  ::Irrational mom fear alert::  I had visions of them going off to college or something  never having gone to a real amusement park and having conversations with their friends and feeling angst-ridden and rebelling against everything I've ever taught them and resenting everything about their childhood.  Irrational maybe.  But just to be on the safe side, I figured we should get to one and make sure to document it for their future angst appeasement.  Plus, when I was younger I really loved them.  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Very Real Way You Can Help Our Country

(I was waffling over whether I would post this or not.  Then the above quote was the first thing I read in my book this morning.  So there's that.)

There are so many people of good will really worried for our country right now.  For years, there have been people predicting these things and praying and trying to move people's hearts and the laws of the land toward what is good.  It's not like we as a nation have been anything near a holy nation for, well...a long time.  But it seems things are coming to a head.  People on all sides of the aisle are dangerously unhappy.  The corruption is blatant, the candidates vile, legislation immoral, and followers are being manipulated into dangerous frenzy.  I won't go on here except to say that so many good people want to DO something but we feel powerless.  We're not.  I'd humbly ask that you please take fifteen or twenty minutes to listen to this and consider truly doing something that can change everything. 

He has a follow up worth listening to here:

And a little bit here:

There is also a 54 day Novena for our Nation being organized.  You can find more information here.  

Do one.  Do both.  Do something.  We have power, guys.  We have a God Who can do anything and who has promised to listen to our prayers and fasting.  We're not praying for a specific candidate to win.  We're not praying for the demise of the other side.  We're praying for His mercy on us and for His will.  It may not feel like much but at the end when I'm called to an accounting for my role here, I'd at least like to say that I didn't just throw up my hands.  I'd like to say that I fought.  And whether we can see the effects immediately or not, this is the best weapon we have.  Please give it a listen and consider sharing.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Power of a Rite of Passage {an unexpected journey to Arcatheos}

Years ago my husband was recommended a book from a priest that really changed our perspective on raising boys.  It had a powerful impact and spoke to his heart deeply.  I read it after he did and it helped me better understand both my husband's psyche and the needs of the boys that God keeps entrusting to us.  One of the tenets of Wild at Heart is that it is written in the souls of males a need to know they have what it takes to be a man.  Especially in the western world, there is a lack of training and entryway specifically into manhood - a rite or rites of passage supported by fathers and the rest of the men of the community - as there were and are in other cultures.  The result of that lack of formation and fatherly involvement is not only deep personal wounds but a cultural crisis of manhood, one which most of us can see quite clearly.  

That rite of acceptance from their fathers and other men in the community is something that marks the change from boy into man.  Boys need a way to prove both to themselves and the community that they have what it takes and in that proving, they find the confidence and strength to be the men they are called by God to be.  It's not about machismo.  It's about building virtue and integrity and true strength of character.  

Anyway, I'm getting wordy and not all that eloquent but suffice it to say that it's been in our hearts since then that we would do what we could to provide that for our boys the best we could, though we had no specific plans how.  But the Holy Spirit, guys.  He always provides.  Always.  When we give our families and our children to Him, He is faithful and gives each of them what they need when they need it.  

--->Enter Arcatheos.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What We're Using This Year {Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2016-2017}

I've been hunkering down the last few days getting a bit of a curriculum plan put together seeing that it's, oh, August and I haven't thought yet at all about lessons for the new year.  Our plan is due to the district in a few days so I'm forced to not put it off any longer.  We normally start the day or two after the Nativity of Mary (September 8). We were doing a little bit of daily math, piano, and reading in June and July but that's since petered out a bit.  It helps me to lay my plans all out here (though I skipped last year!) and people have asked what we use so here's what I'm planning on for this year for each child.  (This is subject to change, of course, should it not be working for them or me.  But THIS will be the year when everything goes perfectly and smoothly according to my original plans, I'm sure of it.


All the boys will continue on with Classically Catholic Memory probably during breakfast.  We're halfway through Gamma Year.  I only use the book and CD and really only do the history, religion, science, and some of the great works.  I appreciate the framework it gives for those subjects as to what is good for memorization.

7th Grade


We only use the CDs, not the book or answer keys.  (Be sure to get version 2.0 if you want it self-correcting.)  I bought our copy used off of Ebay.

Writing/Language Arts:

This is a new program for us.  I needed a writing program that was simple and self-directed and this was recommended.  I'm hoping this will fit and take a little bit of the angst away from writing.  I'm not sure if this will be an easier level than he needs but I figured to err on the side of easier and go through it quickly than too advanced and get frustrated.

For spelling we simply use the spelling lists provided by our local homeschool group for the local spelling bee that feeds into the Scripp's spelling bee.  He's supposed to write ten or so words, look them up, and then quiz himself.


He's still working on finishing the first volume but once that is done, he'll be reading the next.  This is a dense book but he's a good reader and can handle it.  This particular child loves reading history and I really only have him read an 'official' book so I can easily record something for the district as our "textbook."


He's about a third of the way through this and we'll be continuing on.

I don't do science formally at all.  They are doing it all day long.  I do hope to at some point get or borrow Physics 101.  We loved their Chemistry 101 series and I've heard good reviews about the Physics.


He started this one last year as well.  I'm not certain what we'll do once he's finished.  Probably some sort of deeper Biblical history course?  I've been thinking about the Great Adventure series for years now.

Suzuki piano lessons (book 4) from the teacher who comes to our house.

I'm hoping to use some good online geography game/programs (like Seterra) for them all.  

4th Grade


For the younger grades, I really like Singapore Math.  Straightforward and builds upon itself.  I buy direct from the company because it seems to be cheaper and I can buy ahead and get a bunch in one shipment


We were using First Language Lessons the past few years and while it was okay for my oldest, I could tell that the younger two were really just giving me the right answers without it sinking in well.  Plus, they needed me right there next to them to do it.  I already had a couple of these Language of God books from previous years so we're going back to these again.  I think this child especially will do better with an easy to follow workbook approach to learning the grammar basics.


Again, this program is new to us this year and my fourth grader will be the guinea pig who tries it from the beginning.  We'll see how it goes!

Handwriting:  Cursive
He hasn't mastered cursive yet so this is a goal for the year.  My super fancy way of teaching cursive has been to grab handwriting paper and write a letter and they fill the rest of the line with the letter.  We do a few letters a day repeating if necessary until they learn it.

Same as above


My younger son got this new CD set and workbook from Grandma as a birthday gift.  They've already listened to the whole thing once through and will be listening lots more I'm sure.  It's very similar to Story of the World but from a Catholic publisher and with some different information and stories.  We'll also supplement with the biographies and history books from our shelves for normal reading time.



We just read through each chapter, answer questions, and talk about it.

Suzuki piano lessons (book 1)

I'd like to somehow fit in a little English from the Roots Up with this one and we need to focus on lots of reading this year as well.

2nd Grade



Copywork from spelling list and memory work

Like I mentioned, he's been listening and will relisten to The Story of Civilization Volume 1 - Ancient World with his brothers.
He's also doing the Activity Book.


He went through the lessons and DVDs with his older brother so I got him the workbook for him to go through this year.  I have no idea how much, if anything, he retained.


St. Joseph First Communion Catechism
This boy should be making his First Communion soon.  We haven't formally planned it yet but I hope he'll be ready sometime this year.  (He tells us he'd like to go to the Holy Land and receive it in the Upper Room.  Ha!)

I may or may not have the older boys start teaching him some beginning piano.  Or I may possibly work it out to have him start lessons, too.  I try to have very laid back appreciation of all sorts of genres just through listening with a special emphasis on classical. (I especially love the Music Masters set...though I can't seem to find the whole 18 CD set anywhere anymore.)


For all the kids, I really like these geography puzzles.  We don't have them all but we've gotten a few as gifts and they're good for learning basic continent and country geography.



Very informally learning addition, subtraction, skip counting, etc. through play.  If he seems ready, I may break out the Singapore Math 1A.  He's wanted to try a few times but isn't quite there yet.

Similar to my style of cursive, I just use plain handwriting paper and teach them how to make each letter.  More often than not, they've already learned the basics of the letter just from trying to write and learning their abc's through different toys and play.  It's just a matter of building the skill to write it well.

Science, history, Latin, grammar, et. al. are all learned but unintentionally so at this point.

So that's the plan and I have no doubt I forgot something.  There's a ton not listed that qualifies as learning, of course, but this is the official curriculum that we're going to start in a few weeks.  It looks so fancy and organized all listed out like to actually, you know, do it.

Hope you're all having a great summer!  We've got a few weeks left here that I hope to savor!

(The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.  When you buy anything through that link, you help me earn a few cents at no cost to you.  Thank you!)

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