Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks Giving

"Thanksgiving Day"
by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Link a hunting-hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow,--
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood--
Now grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Well, we'll be going over several rivers on our way to Mimi and Granddad's house for Thanksgiving. But as we're traveling Tuesday night, the children should not find it "so hard to wait".

While much of this poem is obviously dated (the dapple gray and sleigh are now a minivan), much still speaks to us about the Thanksgiving experience. We are SO looking forward to "first-rate play" with many cousins. And just being with family and friends, and enjoying all that delicious food makes for a memorable holiday.

I know we have much to be thankful for here. I won't list it all now, but wish you a blessed holiday. Thanks be to God!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Prayer for the Day

Adapted from this morning's Magnificat:

Let me put into God's hands my heart, my soul, and the deep recesses of my being wherein dwell those beliefs and thoughts that govern my actions, so that He may guide me in the ways of the Gospel.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Meals

One of our homeschool traditions is "making a meal" once a month. The student and Mom pick a date, develop a menu, and prepare it together. This is great for bonding time, practical life skills, and nutrition education (I still remember one menu suggestion that included ham, very sweet potato casserole, fruit salad, sweet drink, and dessert. How about...NO!)

That said, we actually didn't start our meals this school year until November. Marianna was first, cooking with me on Sunday. (One problem is finding a good day--cooking together is pretty time intensive.)

Her menu was eclectic: baked spareribs and light biscuits (actually yeasted rolls) from The Little House Cookbook, veggies and dip, and homemade peanut butter ice cream with chopped Reeses cups. I turned the oven higher than suggested in the cookbook, so the ribs were a little crusty, but we actually ate every bite of everything offered, probably a first and last accomplishment here!

Here are some photos of our afternoon. The rolls started with a "sponge". Yeast, water, and flour are beaten together and set aside to grow.

And grow it did:
Next come more ingredients, kneading, and rising. Finally more eggs, fat, and sugar are added, and the dough is rolled and cut:
These were very popular!
Here is Marianna scraping ice cream out of the machine and enjoying quality control. Yum!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Preschool is in the Bag

Preschool in a homeschooling family is full of tagalong experiences: "writing" like the big kids, playing with the math manipulatives, or watching science videos. But sometimes it's nice to have something that's just for the little one.

Rebecca keeps herself busy; she's not "in the way" of the work of the higher grades. She has an hour of "Sesame Street", and enjoys looking at books, working puzzles, and coloring/painting (It amazes me how she fills the WHOLE PAGE with color!). Although she's fairly independent, Becca will happily play games or work with anyone who makes time for her.

I've read over the years about preschool activity bags, and finally made a few. The idea is to fill a large (easy) zipper bag with one specific activity. Train your toddler, and the bag becomes a fun, independent, and educational project. There are ideas all over the internet, but here is a link to one idea-filled page. It includes links to more ideas.

Here are some samples of lacing bags that I've made.
I had some traditional sewing cards, but the holes were too small for Rebecca, so I made simpler ones with thin cardboard and a hole punch.

She decorated them herself, and caught on pretty quickly to the lacing technique.

This plastic needle is so thick that Becca can't really pull it through the plastic canvas herself. Maybe next year...

Here's what a single project bag looks like: easy zipper, see-through bag, all the supplies ready to go.

I'll try to get some pictures soon of other preschool ideas. Enjoy your toddler if you have one!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Welcome, Baby!

Angel Shae was born at 2:55 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6. She came out purple (like our Joseph) and was quiet and calm, with only a few cries. She pinked up quickly and got off to a good nursing start, too.

Watching and participating in this birth was a beautiful experience. Seeing all that hard work, and the joy and tears that follow, brings back the flood of feelings of new motherhood. And it's new every time, you know?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Caroline's Labor!

Tomorrow morning Lauren and I will be out the door as dawn is breaking. We're driving to Arlington to support Caroline as her labor is induced. Please pray for this sweet young woman and her baby (Angel Shae is her name).


Friday, November 2, 2007

All Souls Day

November 1 is All Saints' Day, when we celebrate all the faithful who are with God in Heaven, whether they've been officially canonized or not. Everyone in Heaven is a saint!

Today, November 2, is All Souls' Day. We remember those who have died but are still being purified before joining God in Heaven. This is a great day to pray for the souls in purgatory. In fact, the Church has dedicated the month of November to the Holy Souls. We can offer prayers and sacrifices to help them make the final step of their journey to Heaven, since they can no longer help themselves.

Saint Gertrude the Great received a special prayer in a vision of Our Lord. He told her that reciting it with love and devotion will release 1,000 souls from purgatory. Here it is:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family. Amen."

Some Questions Answered

  1. The algebra answer is in the comment section of the Math Wizzes post. Good work, Porter and Dad.
  2. The beak on the penguin cake was made with an orange Starburst! Lauren microwaved it for ten seconds, then rolled and cut it. Didn't she do a great job? (Although I'm taking credit for the idea, thank you very much.)
  3. No, Len has still not read my blog! A few days after the driveway post, he saw it on the screen ("Oh, I was wondering about that big track..."), but I'm not counting that. Would you? ;-)

We Did It!

We did manage to say a full rosary every day during October! Rarely did the whole family recite together, but we really did work as a team to "get it done". It might have been different groups in separate cars, or homeschoolers starting during the day with the the rest joining for a few decades in the evening. In any case, everyone really pulled together to accomplish something logistically difficult.

I'm not sure what the future holds, but some are relieved that the month is over. For now we're going back to the more meditative daily decade using our scriptural rosary book. Some of us will keep saying our own individual rosaries. Maybe we'll get back to the whole thing someday.

Incidentally, that's how meatless Fridays started for our family. Years ago, I'd keep the tradition during Lent and then continue for a while after. Eventually the practice stretched to year-round. I don't think any of the children remember any other way.