Behind the Scenes of One Mama's Life

Notebooking Pages Extension

I had to write up a quick post and let you know that the Notebooking Pages sale that I mentioned here has been extended through Monday. Yay! I am actually going to renew my Treasury Membership this weekend even though it does not expire until December. Why? I attended a fecebook party where Debra showed us a video of how the Notebooking Publisher is going to work. I can not wait to have access to this incredible new tool. Even my son is excited. He is actually looking forward to making his own notebooking pages next year – that’s saying a lot!

I have the video here for you too check out as well. Please note that there is no sound at first, but Debra will come on and explain how to use the Notebooking Publisher – Enjoy!



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Harmony Art Mom – Sketch Tuesday

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday… I have been watching Harmony Art Mom’s Sketch Tuesday program for a while now. I kept telling the kids we were going to start participating, but we never did. Until recently.

The idea is that each week Barb will post a simple idea for people to sketch. She collects the sketches and puts together a slideshow for everyone. It’s a great idea and a lot of fun. We dedicated a couple of sketch pads to Sketch Tuesday and began sketching. We’ve participated twice now and both Diva and LegoFan have enjoyed seeing their work in the slideshows.

The first time the topic was ‘something associated with the word athlete.’ Here’s what they did:

Diva drew four girls playing tennis.

LegoFan sketched Gold’s Gym.

This most recent week, we were to sketch ‘something that bends.’

LegoFan got creative and chose several things that bend.

Diva chose to sketch an arm.

Here’s a link to this week’s slide show. Check it out and join us – adults are welcome to sketch along with their children. Perhaps this summer I will pick up a sketch pad of my own and try a few.

Notebooking Pages

I know I haven’t been here in a while; and I am sorry. My life has undergone some major changes over the past few months; it’s been a very difficult time for my family. But God is good – all the time – and we will come out of this better off than when it all started. Perhaps I will blog more about it after all the dust settles…

But for right now, I just had to post this because I am truly excited about it! I love homeschooling my children – I get to spend time with them, watch them grow, see them learn, etc. It’s really quite a blessing! I am one of those homeschool parents who pieces together a curriculum rather than buying a pre-packaged one. One of the things I like to do is create notebooks for their various subjects. These notebooks give Diva and LegoFan a chance to express themselves in their own creative way.

One of the problems I have had with LegoFan’s notebooks is that he hates to write; one of the things his doctors have suggested was that he use the computer more. However, this didn’t always look good on pre-printed notebooking pages, and it was tedious to format. But that’s about to change – and I’m really excited about it. Even LegoFan likes the idea (and that’s saying a lot!).

Debra, over at Notebooking Pages, has developed a web-app called The Notebooking Publisher that will be available in June. This will be included in all active Treasury Member’s memberships!!! At no additional charge!!! The Notebooking Publisher will allow me to customize both Diva and LegoFan’s notebook pages. AND… it will allow LegoFan to type his pages and then print them out! This will truly enhance next year’s notebooks.

You can get in on this whether you’re a current Treasury Member or not. Notebooking Pages is coordinating the launch of The Notebooking Publisher with their Six Birthday Celebration. You can check out all the details below, and I can’t recommend Notebooking Pages enough.

Happy Birthday Debra and Notebooking Pages!

(This post contains affiliate links, but I am a paying Treasury Member of Notebooking Pages and use their products myself)

Feast Days

Growing up we didn’t celebrate a lot of feast days, so I never really thought about it. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when we really started homeschooling, that I thought about celebrating feast days with the children. However, they always seemed to creep up on me and I was never prepared. I would find a great idea here or there, but it would be too late to do, or I wouldn’t have the right supplies/ingredients to make it happen.

But I decided to change that this year. Since Advent is the beginning of the Church year, I thought it was a good time to start and we actually began celebrating some feast days. Keep in mind that we are new at this, so our celebrations are not huge or elaborate in any way. However, I’ve also realized that they don’t have to be – the children enjoy the celebrations and they learn something about someone who loved Jesus. Just stopping the ordinary, changing the routine, is a way to signify that this is something to remember.

So far, we’ve celebrated St. Nicholas (December 6th), The Immaculate Conception (December 8th), St. Juan Diego (December 9th), Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12th), and St. Lucy (December 13th). We’ve also made our very first Jesse Tree.

For St. Nicholas (sorry I didn’t take pictures, but it’s pretty explanatory) tradition has it that he helped a poor man with dowries for his three daughters and that perhaps one of those ended up in a hanging stocking. For this reason, the children put their shoes out overnight and received a small amount of chocolate (wrapped, of course). Throughout this feast day, we read several books about the life of this generous, Christ-loving man.

For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we attended Mass at a local church. Our church is a little farther away, so when we have a Holy Day during the week, we usually attend a more local Mass. We remember at this Mass that Mary had to be without sin in order to carry Jesus as fully God and fully human within her womb.

The feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe are intertwined and tell a beautiful story that resulted in the conversion of Mexico. Mary appears to a humble widower and asks for a chapel to be built. The local bishop asks Juan Diego to ask for a sign. Mary shows Juan Diego where God has allowed roses to bloom in the winter, and he gathers them in his tilma. When Juan Diego shows the roses to the bishop, that’s not the only amazing thing: a beautiful image of Blessed Mary is imprinted on the tilma. That image still exists and scientists have not been able to figure out how it got there. We enjoyed some Mexican tostadas and recalled the story as told on Glory Stories at Holy Heroes. Diva even colored some coloring pages.

For St. Lucy, it is a tradition (Scandinavian, I think) that the youngest daughter wakes the household dressed in white with a wreath of candles on her head (if you have Kirsten’s Surprise by American Girl, this is the image on the cover). She brings with her sweet buns and coffee/cocoa. While this is a great thought, Diva is not quite old enough to accomplish this on her own. Nor do I want lit candles on my daughter’s head! So, we compromised. She woke us up in an almost white dress with a paper wreath on her head. {This is where I know I’m not a professional blogger yet – I didn’t have my camera on my bedside table to get a photo!} Then we made some biscuits, cocoa and coffee and we all had a nice breakfast together.

Lastly, we have begun making our very first Jesse Tree. This tradition follows the lineage of Jesus from Creation through His birth. Each day there are Bible stories and a new ornament to make. We kept it simple this year and are making everything out of paper. I went to get a piece of poster board and the only green they had was neon, so our tree is neon. As we discuss each day’s readings, either LegoFan or Diva draws the day’s symbol and attaches it to the tree. I love how they can look at the ornaments they have made and can tell the Bible stories in order. This auditory, visual, and tactile project has enabled them to internalize Biblical history even more! We are getting our ideas and explanations from the Advent Adventure Series by Holy Heroes. Now, please don’t laugh at my crude tree drawing or the neon color…

I really think these traditions have helped my children to learn more about people who have loved Jesus before them, as well as more about Jesus Himself. They are doing much more this advent then just making lists and succumbing to the commercialism and greed we see so much of nowadays. I pray that with Advent seasons like this, my children will grow up with the true “Reason for the Season” in their hearts.

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Medieval Feast

We recently finished a history unit on the Medieval times, and I think Diva and LegoFan really enjoyed it. We had a lot of fun making things from the period, and finished off with a mock medieval feast. They started out by making their own Coat of Arms. They each selected an image or two that they felt represented their interests. They put their names at the tops, but for privacy reasons, I have cut that part of the photos out.

Diva chose tornadoes as she’s becoming quite the weather buff!

LegoFan was true to his name and chose Lego bricks, as well as some weapons.

Next, they tried their hands at illuminations in the style of the monks who painstakingly preserved so much of the ancient writings. I even joined in the fun with this one! They were allowed to choose any one of their three initials for this project.

Diva loves her flowers and pink!

LegoFan enjoyed the use of bright colors!

And here’s my contribution…

We discussed the castles of the time and the ways they were protected. One of those ways was through a portcullis – an iron gate that could be opened or closed as was needed. So they drew a scene of the castle yard and then added a portcullis on top of the scene. The gate made it a little difficult to see what was taking place within the walls of the castle…

Another form of protection was a thick, heavy wooden door. This door often showcased some elaborate metal work. So here’s their take on some castle doors:

Next, we discussed guilds. They learned that people of the same profession banded together and formed a guild to protect its members, ensure safety and quality, and keep prices reasonable. They would meet together and wear aprons with symbols of their profession. In keeping with their Coats of Arms, Diva and LegoFan formed guilds of Storm Chasers and Lego Builders:

The last project before our feast was our interpretation of brass portraits. The children took cardboard, wrapped in foil, and ‘engraved’ a knight with a toothpick. They added details like shields and swords. Then they used watercolors to paint their knights. LegoFan wanted his to remain mostly silver like the color of armor, so many of his details can’t be seen in the photo. Diva wanted hers to look like St. Joan of Arc.

Now, on to the feast! We made a very simple beef stew in the slow cooker (because we all know they were very popular back then!) that consisted of beef, gravy, veggies, and herbs.

We know they didn’t really use bowls like this, but it just seemed to be a less messy way to eat it! Instead of bowls, the people would use trenchers – bread plates – to hold their food. At the end of the meal, they were either eaten, fed to the dogs, or given to the poor. The children made a simple dough and flattened it out into trenchers for our feast. They were good with a little butter (I know, not authentic) or dipped into the stew.

The rest of the meal consisted of fresh fruit and vanilla pudding. We all ate our meal with goblets, but also added the modern convenience of silverware. We just couldn’t bear to eat stew and pudding with our hands…

All in all it was a fun end to our history unit. I think the kids really learned a lot and had fun doing it! Diva says her favorite part of the unit was that, “knights fought for their ladies and that there was cool jousting!” LegoFan’s favorite part was that “gargoyles spat out water to protect the roof and that the battering ram actually had a ram’s head.”

First Day of Homeschool

Let’s try this again. I’m a little less stressed than I was last night (or early this morning) when I apparently deleted my entire post about our day. I still have no idea how I did it, but life goes on.

Our first day this year went very well. They enjoyed their new school supplies – personal dry erase board, notebooks, long floppy erasers, and a little gift. LegoFan got a box of erasers shaped like puzzle pieces (He loves the Autism Speaks logo!); and Diva got a mini notebook and pen, decorated with butterflies.

Then we had one of their favorite dishes for breakfast: French Toast! While I”m sure it has a bit too much sugar on it, I didn’t hear any complaints!

Then, before the academics began, we started both our year and the day with a little scripture. We decided that we would read one Psalm a day, in order, and the Proverb chapter that coordinated with the date. (We actually skipped #5 as I did not feel it was appropriate for young kids getting ready to start school!)

On to academics! For history we do <a href="Click here to visit RC History.” target=”_blank”>RC History and love it! I cannot say enough good things about this program. We have completed Volumes One and Two; and are currently working on Volume Three.  It’s great to know that all the living books suggested in the program have been pre-screened; so I’m not afraid to give either child any book on the list. We are working at the Grammar Stage now, but it’s set up so that we can spiral back through and delve deeper into history as the children get older.

This week, so far, they have done two map exercises. I don’t expect them to know how to fill everything in at this point so we talk about it and they fill in the important boundaries, names, rivers, etc. Then they get to color! We use Knowledge Quest’s Blackline Maps for the ancient world and the Americas.

We also learned a little bit about a couple of saints from the same time period. One was St. Anthony who is said to have been blessed by a visit from the Infant Jesus.

The second one was St. Hyacinth who was saving the Holy Eucharist from and invasion when he heard the Blessed Mother call out for him to save her statue as well. Apparently, this statue was much too heavy for him to carry, but it became miraculously weightless as he carried it out of the church. All were safe from the attack.

Science is Exploring Creation Through Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day. We’ve been through their Astronomy, Botany, Zoology 1, and Zoology 2 courses as well. The kids enjoy the short lessons and activities; and I enjoy the fact that God and His creation are at the center of the program.

For Language Arts, Diva is finishing up with First Language Lessons of the Well-Trained Mind, Level 4; but since there is no Level 5, we had to find something else for LegoFan. What we found was Lingua Mater. We haven’t started it yet, so I’ll have to report on that a bit later.

Our spelling program is also amazing: All About Spelling. This program works great for LegoFan who had Asperger’s and ADHD; as it is a multi-sensory program. He gets to learn to spell words through magnetic tiles, color-coded cards, speaking, and writing. Diva likes all the different activities too. In fact, this program has eliminated many of the, “Mama, how do you spell…?” questions.

Math is Singapore Math. The spiral format, again, is great for LegoFan as he gets just the right amount of one topic and then moves on to another one. With each book, they delve deeper into the various skills.

We are also doing Art (Artistic Pursuits), Music (Classics For Kids – Free online course), Religion (Faith and Life), French (a free program from the BBC), Geography (using Holling C Holling’s books), and an introduction to Shakespeare. It’s a full year, but the kids and I are looking forward to it!

We found, and are following, a curriculum put together by Michele Quigley and Kathryn Faulkner called Mater Amabilis. I wish I would have found this curriculum earlier.

But back to our day… after the academics were complete, we had a dinner of the children’s choosing – pizza!

All in all, it was a very good beginning to our school year. After their prayers, they each told me that that they enjoyed their day; and that they were looking forward to more. That sounds like a first day of school success!

This post is being linked to Building Our Homes Together and Women Living Well – hop on over to see what these other ladies are doing this week! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links; and they are all for books we have actually used and enjoyed.

First Day

I have no idea what just happened. I was almost finished with a post on our first day of our homeschool – around 1000 words – when I added a picture that wouldn’t display. I thought to hit save draft, but somehow all I saved was was an empty post! What happens to those drafts it says it’s saving as I type?!

Unfortunately it’s late and I’m just too tired to try to reconstruct it right now. I will try again tomorrow before I send my laptop in for repairs. I’m not looking forward to being computer-less for a week to ten days. But I should have those books read for those reviews I promised in the last post; so something good will come of it!

Lessons in the Kitchen

We homeschool. That doesn’t mean that we have just moved a classroom into our home. It means we learn at home. And there are many additional important lessons that can be learned while at home. Don’t get me wrong, we still learn the required subjects, it’s just that we can also learn by living our daily lives.

Today we have new neighbors moving in across the yard. They are moving into a house that is owned by the same landlord who owns ours, so we had a little notice about the move. I wanted to take the opportunity to teach my daughter a few things about hospitality and generosity.

Yesterday we got out our paper and rubber stamps and made welcome cards. We had fun creating together, learning that bringing a smile to someone else is fun.

Today, I decided that we should make some brownies to take over with our cards. but then I remembered something else. I have been couponing for about a year now, and one of the things I learned when I first got started was to always give back (thanks, Claire!). I also remembered what it was like for the first week or so when we moved in – difficult to find everything necessary to put a meal together. So, I combined the two ideas and decided to create a ‘meal basket.’

Diva and I got together and made some brownies. We doubled the recipe so the kids could have some later too, so I took the opportunity to reinforce some math as well. Since she is working on fractions, I asked her how much flour I would need if one recipe called for 2/3 c, then I told her that I had already added 1 c of flour and asked how much more I needed. It was fun, and I let her lick the spatula at the end!

While the brownies were baking, we made some biscuits – I forgot to take a picture of that – oops! Then we took the bottom of a cardboard box and covered it with tissue paper. We inserted two square paper plates for the bottom and began to fill it. We added spaghetti sauce, pasta, biscuits, some peach jam I made last summer, the brownies, and the cards.

While it certainly isn’t everything they’ll need, it is a good start to a home-cooked meal. I am so grateful to God for these little opportunities to model true Christian behavior to my daughter. I hope and pray that these lessons don’t get lost over time. I pray that she will fondly remember spending time in the kitchen with Mama, practicing fractions, learning baking skills, and loving thy neighbor.

Now if I can just contain her excitement as she continues to look out the window eagerly anticipating her new friend’s arrival – you see we found out they have a little girl just about her age…

This post is being linked to Titus 2sday over at Time-Warp Wife

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