Monday, July 6, 2015

Now She Is Six

On June 24th, my sweet Elizabeth turned 6 years old. James was out of town at a conference but she got the day off from any school work or chores and got to play some video games before Daddy flew home and we all met for dinner at Red Robin, her choice.

On Saturday, as she requested, we had a birthday party. We invited over a few families for fruit, hotdogs, chips, baked beans and cupcakes. She asked for a piñata and a minion theme.

The kids had fun with the piñata and everyone did get at least one turn before it caved (pun intended).
She requested chocolate cupcakes and since one of the families who came are gluten-free, James tried his hand at GF chocolate cupcakes and homemade icing - they came out quite good!
Their goody bags included Minion Googles, hence her fancy head gear. :)
 The kids played "Pin the Gru Patch on the Minion" and in the backyard and playroom before we opened presents.
She got some board games, lego sets, a couple of shirts, and several craft projects, all of which have kept her quite busy.
One of her gifts was the game Mouse Trap. When the girls first played it and finally got to the part of catching the mice, they used my phone to film it in slow motion. Too fun!



Happy 6th Birthday, Elizabeth!!!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

School year 2015-2016 Plan

Okay, so I'm mostly writing this post just to sort through my own thoughts and get everything down in one place but if you've an interest and the time to read through it all, enjoy. :)

I schedule our school year to begin the first full week in August and end at the end of June. It is always lighter as the year gets closer to Summer but I like to start in August. I'm not a fan of the heat and working in August gives us more time off we can space around the Liturgical year.

So, this year will be my first year with more kids "in" school than not. Cecilia will be in 5th grade, Felicity in 3rd, Elizabeth in 2nd and Teresa in pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten.

Math
Cecilia will be working through Saxon 6/5. She did really well with Saxon 5/4 this past year so I am hopeful for another good year for her. Felicity and Elizabeth will be working through A Beka's Arithmetic 3 and 2 respectively. Teresa I am going to start on Golden Books I Know Numbers and Count from 10 to 100. If she gets through both of those I have A Beka's Number Skills K we can begin on but we will see how she does.

Phonics/Vocabulary
I do Phonics through 2nd grade and then pick up Vocabulary instead at 3rd. So Elizabeth will be doing A Beka's Phonics 2. Felicity will be doing Wordly Wise A, B, and C. And Cecilia will be doing Seton's Vocabulary 5. I expect, after taking off from these subjects in the Spring, Elizabeth might struggle getting back into Phonics but I think with it will be worth the effort to push back into it.

Poetry
I'm looking forward to getting the girls back into poetry. I've picked a selection that includes the Anima Christi prayer, Psalm 23 for the younger two (Cecilia memorized it a couple of years ago), some wonderful short poems, including my favorite Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Frost, and the National Anthem for the younger two as well and Casey at the Bat for Cecilia.

Handwriting/Typing
Cecilia's handwriting has come a long way and I really don't think she needs the drill work so much as to use her writing in her work. So while I want her to keep writing letters, which she loves to do anyway, I'm not assigning her any copy work. She will however practice typing for 30 minutes every week. Felicity and Elizabeth will both be using Memoria Press Copy Books to work on their manuscript and Felicity will also use Seton's Handwriting for Young Catholics to begin working on her script. I don't care how many schools don't teach it anymore, I think you are at a distinct disadvantage both when taking dictation as well as when trying to read it if you don't know script. In addition, Felicity will also begin learning how to type. It might be a bit much at first but she has a tendency to do her manuscript work quickly and I don't think it will be overwhelming. Teresa will be beginning to learn how to write her letters properly using a Memoria Press Copy Book.

Geography
Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth will be using the Maps, Graphs and Charts books F, C and B, respectively. We will also be going over geography as it pertains to our history studies.

English/Spelling
Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth will be using Seton's English 5, 3 and 2 and Seton's Spelling 5, 3 and 2.

I think of our school work in two groups. All of the above I consider book work or table work and, for the most part, they are able to do independently or semi-independently. They also do it best in the morning. I have even set up schedules for each of the older three so they can work on their own and mark off the assignments as they do them. It gives them structure, independence and goals and makes things easier for me. The remaining subjects I think of more as group subjects because we do them together and generally not at a table, or if at the table, not with workbooks.

Spanish/Latin
For Spanish we will be using the Rosetta Stone Spanish computer program and while Elizabeth and Felicity are more than welcome to give it a try, I am only going to ask Cecilia to do Spanish every week for 30 minutes. That way she can go over a lesson she might need more work on or need to review or she can go on to a new one. Either way she can take her time with it but still make a habit of doing some each week.
For Latin I'm changing things up this year. We've used Prima Latina and Latina Christiana and I think the programs are okay but they just aren't working well for us. Cecilia can recite almost the entire Our Father in Latin but she only remembers a handful of words from the entire 3? 4? years she has been doing the programs. So this year we are going to try using the Little Latin Readers, which I am excited about. I'm very hopeful this program will work better for us. I am also going to do the lessons with all three girls together. In addition we are going to supplement by reading Maximus, a graphic book about a mouse in Rome. For us, the other programs became monotonous droll and I'm really hoping these will be more fun.

Religion
I will be using Ignatius' Faith and Life Series again. I always use the oldest grade book, so we will be using their 5th grade book. I use my Ignatius copy of the Bible to read from various Scripture passages as they relate to each lesson. I am also going to try 2 new things this year. First, we are going to read from the Liturgical Yearbook I created 7 or so years ago each morning for the Saint of that day. Second, we are going to supplement with the Dominican's Virtues in Practice program. I'm not completely sure how that is going to work out yet since there is one program for grades 1-2 and a different program for grades 3-5. Do I do Cecilia and Felicity together and Elizabeth separately? Just do the older program and have Elizabeth tag along? I'm not sure yet but we will see how it goes. I just like the idea of incorporating Saints and virtues into a regular discussion and reflection. I am also going to try to help my oldest three earn their Bible Basics and 7 C's of History (which focuses on creation, the flood, etc.) AHG badges.

History
We are starting back at the beginning of civilization and I've divided up the year. In August we are going to focus on the Mesopotamian Cultures - the Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites and Phoenicians. I have gathered several books on the subject including DK Eyewitness books on Ancient Civilizations and Mesopotamia and The Epic of Gilgamesh. September, October and November will be spent focusing on Ancient Egypt. We will use many books including Macauley's Pyramid, The 5000 Year Old Puzzle: Solving A Mystery of Ancient Egypt, DK Eyewitness Ancient Egypt, Usborne Time Traveler, Founders of Freedom, Tutankhamun, Exodus, etc. We will also watch the DVD Ancient Egypt Unearthed, visit the Chicago Field Museum, and, just for fun, dance to "Walk Like An Egyptian" and watch Steve Martin's "King Tut" SNL skit. In December we will spend 2 weeks focusing on the Ancient Hebrews. While the Hebrews will have come up both in Religion and History prior to December, I wanted to take a couple of weeks to focus only on them and right before Christmas and after Egypt made sense to me. We are going to focus on The Story of Queen Esther, God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah, The Ancient World of the Bible, and Ancient Israelites and Their Neighbors. We will also watch the DVD The 10 Commandments. (They have seen The Prince of Egypt a few times but never The 10 Commandments.)
After Christmas, we will devote January, February, March and the first half of April to Ancient Greece. We are going to use books including DK Eyewitness Ancient Greece, Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome, D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, Cupid and Psyche, Aesop's Fables, Archimedes and the Door of Science, Lysis Goes to the Play, What's Your Angle, Pythagoras?, Herodotus and the Road to History, The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War, Alexander the Great, etc. We will be taking trips to the Milwaukee Public Museum for its exhibit Crossroads of Civilization and the Field Museum in Chicago for its exhibit The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. We are also going to watch Jason and the Argonauts. I'd love to find a way to include The Odyssey, The Aenead, and/or Antigone in some way but I haven't sorted that out yet. I'm open to suggestions though! If anyone has a good way to incorporate Socrates as well I'm all ears! The end of April through June will revolve around Ancient Rome. We will be using DK Eyewitness Ancient Rome, Roman Numerals I to MM, ROME in Spectacular Cross-section, Pompeii: Lost and Found, Julius Caesar and the Story of Rome, Detectives in Togas, et al. We are going to watch Ben Hur and possibly Quo Vadis. I admit I haven't thought out all of our Rome unit yet, but I have time. I am open to suggestions though! I am only really looking to cover up until around the year zero though. Frankly, it is an incredible amount to try to cover in one year, so maybe we will need to take some of the following year to finish, but I really want to spend the time being immersed in the ancient civilization and culture.

Science
Science is going to somewhat interact with History. August through December we are going to focus on Archeology. We will use books like The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells: A Book about Archeology, One Small Blue Bead, Archaeologists Dig for Clues, Old Testament Days, DK Eyewitness Dinosaur, and DK Eyewitness Archeology. We are going to go to the Milwaukee Public Museum for their exhibits: the Crossroads of Civilization, The Hebior Mammoth, the Wisconsin Woodlands and the Pre-Columbian America. We are also going to go to the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. We are going to watch The Viking Sword documentary on Netflix and, because we can, we are going to watch Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and possibly The Last Crusade. We are also going to do our own little archeological dig with a Geoworld Dino Excavation Kit.
From January through June we are going to focus on Astronomy. Last Fall my parents gifted Felicity with a telescope and we are going to put it to use. In January and February will focus on our Solar System. We will use There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System, Memoria Press' Book of Astronomy Teacher's Guide, and Exploring Creation with Astronomy to learn about the order, size, distance and colors of the planets. We are also going to listen to Holst's The Planets and make our own model of the solar system. March and part of April will focus on the moon: it's cycles, seas, the landing on it, etc. This will also include how we get into space and what it is like living in space. The rest of April and all of May will focus on stars: the sun, kinds/stages of stars and the constellations. In June we will go over comets, meteors, asteroids, galaxies, black holes and anything else that comes up. We will also take a trip to the Milwaukee Astronomy Observatory and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. And, throughout our Astronomy unit I intend to help my oldest three earn their Space Exploration and Living and Working in Space AHG badges.

Art/Music
I am hoping to at least partially incorporate art and music with our science and history. So in August we are going to study a bit about cave paintings and make our own on brown paper. We will make our own primitive instruments from bottles, string, sticks, tubes, etc. and listen to music as it might have sounded in ancient Mesopotamia. We are going to look at basketmaking and make our own as well as make our own mosaics. We will look at how the Ancient Egyptians made papyrus and how paper is made now and make our own. I am also hoping to make it to at least one if not two local folk craft shows, one in September and one in November. So, by Christmas, we should be able to get Cecilia and Elizabeth (Felicity already has it) their Creative Crafts AHG badge.
We are also going to take advantage of some local productions. I'm hoping to get tickets to take the kids to the Milwaukee Symphony performance of Beethoven: The Hero's Composer, as well as a local production of James and the Giant Peach and the Milwaukee Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker in December. After Christmas, I hope to attend a Milwaukee Symphony performance in January and a local performance of Antigone in April.
In the winter, when we wouldn't be outside much anyway and when we will be studying Ancient Greece, I plan to sign the older three girls up for a local pottery class. Of course, in March and April our trips to the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Field Museum for History will double as Art field trips. Ideally we will also get to the Art Institute of Chicago next Spring as well. In addition, James will begin giving our older girls piano lessons at home.

Sewing/Cooking
I went hunting online for sewing ideas and bookmarked some websites with some fun sewing projects for kids. From sewing a tissue holder to making a button tree and a needle case, I have about a dozen projects lined up over the course of the year for the oldest three (and myself) to learn and practice how to sew on a button and how to sew various stitches by hand. For Christmas I am planning on giving each of them their own sewing basket complete with needles, pins, a handmade cupcake pin cushion made by a friend of mine, threads and thimble. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they will have amassed a lovely assortment of handmade sewn items to keep and treasure and, just maybe see their own improvement. I have introduced all three of them to the basics of threading a needle and doing a basic whipstitch but they all need practice (from which I would benefit as well) and I'd like them also to learn a running stitch, basting stitch, backstitch, blanket stitch and slip stitch as well as how to sew on a button. I plan to help the oldest 3 earn their Sewing AHG badges (although Cecilia will have to try her hand at the sewing machine to complete hers). If the sewing goes well and takes off and the girls are feeling up to it we might try to start learning how to crochet and trying to earn the AHG Needle Arts badge, but that will depend on how things go.)
While the girls have always loved helping and "helping" in the kitchen, I really wanted to try to do some more formal teaching of cooking this year. So I bought the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and it has a wonderful reference section in the beginning with full color photographs. Now, it does have many recipes that are not from scratch and use things like condensed soups, seasoning packets, etc. but I think it will help as a beginning. I've put together a general schedule with items for us to cook together over the course of the school year. It includes the basics like pasta, eggs, bacon, pancakes and french toast but also adds some more complex items like chocolate soufflé, quiche lorraine, candy apples, cinnamon rolls, homemade tortillas, a casserole or two and some staples like hamburgers and some basic breads and rices. We might not get to everything, but better to have the goals and not quite do it all than not have any goals at all and just hope something happens. I also hope to help all three girls earn their AHG Cooking badge.

Reading
I will be using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again for Teresa. It worked well for her sisters and so we will use it again. However, I have a hard time "scheduling" it since some lessons a child can work through quickly and easily while others might need to be done more than once. So my schedule is for 4 lessons per week for the first few weeks and then 3 per week and I will readjust around Christmas as needed depending on how she is doing. They have tended to run through the first dozen or so lessons, do one per day until the 40s and then slow down until the 70s and then take off again.
My kids enjoy reading so on the one hand I don't feel like I need to dictate that they have to read this book and this book and then this book. On the other hand, they can start one book and read a few dozen pages and then set it down and forget where they put it and then pick up another book and... well, I do want a simple record to remind them to progress through their books and so they can see what they read over the course of the year, so I'm including a column in my plan which I will record what they read.


If we have any extra time, I have a few other projects we could do as well. There are a few other AHG badges we could work on, such as Kid Care (I have the kids to do that! :) ), Social Skills & Etiquette (Tea Party!), Outdoor Skills and Ancestor Detector. And Cecilia has a Crystal Growing Kit we still haven't gotten to though I have the distilled water for it. We will have no shortage of things to do, learn or explore in the coming year. I expect I will do my mid-year reassessment somewhere between October and December but at least I have my plan laid out. Frankly, with 6 young kids, if I didn't have a plan, I wouldn't remember what I was doing much less what I intended to do. :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Learning Notes XXX

Week of June 14th - June 20th

Monday through Thursday mornings the four oldest girls had swimming lessons. The first day was a bit hectic making sure each was with the right instructor at the right place at the right time and we were down 2 pairs of goggles. By Wednesday though we had picked up plenty of goggles and even a swim cap for Cecilia. I was really impressed with the progress the girls made. Cecilia and Felicity can now swim backstroke the full length of the pool. They are working on their front crawl. Cecilia can do the side stroke now too. Elizabeth moved up from the pre-school age groups to the school-age groups since she will be turning 6 before the session is over. Teresa was given a time out once for not keeping a hand on the wall but she is improving by leaps and bounds. A year ago she didn't even want to get in the water, now she is totally confident where she can stand and even her instructor was, quite literally, jumping for joy when she used both arms to scoop in her front crawl rather than only one, which she had been doing for 2 months now. She had been using only one because she refuses to let go of you with the other! But my biggest surprise has been Brigid. I have no pictures from the week because I went swimming during their lessons all week and took Brigid with me. She loves the water and is a bit of a little dare devil. She likes to float on her back and absolutely loves to jump in from the side and doesn't care if she goes under when she jumps in. She absolutely loves the bubble jets on the wall too.


On Monday we did a religion chapter together, this one focusing on Mary. Honestly, most of it was not new to Cecilia or Felicity. We have celebrated many Marian feasts, each of the oldest 3 girls know their patron Saints and each one has a Saint who has a special connection to Mary: Bernadette and Lourdes, Catherine of Laboure and the Miraculous Medal, and Elizabeth and the Visitation. We did go completely through the chapter and color a few Marian pictures, but it didn't take very long. I think the concepts of the new Adam and the new Eve and the Immaculate Conception were the ones we went over the most. I also noticed it has been too long since we said a family Rosary, but I'll deal with that later. Cecilia and Elizabeth also finished their last Spelling lessons for the year. Elizabeth did one page of math, Felicity 3 pages of math and Cecilia 1 lesson of math which focused on adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers.

Tuesday all three girls did some math but otherwise we took it pretty easy.

Wednesday Felicity and Elizabeth finished their math for the week and Cecilia did her 3rd math lesson for the week. Cecilia's been getting the hang of creating common denominators for fractions this week and it has been new. Then we did our final religion lesson for the year on the Second Coming, the Particular Judgement and the General Judgement and what our glorified bodies will be like and what indulgences are.
My new rose bush seems to be liking its new home.
Thursday Cecilia did her final math lesson and we gave the main floor of the house and the upstairs bathroom a decent cleaning. And I spent a fair amount of time Thursday and Friday sewing on all of the AHG badges for all three girls' vests. The only thing I haven't sewn are the numbers on Elizabeth's vest. A local mom is trying to get a troop started closer to us than our current troop and, if it does take off, we would probably join that troop due to the convenience of distance, closer contact with local girls and in case we can help get the troop going. But I've no idea what their number would be yet assuming they can get up and running, so that is on hold.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Learning Notes XXIX

Colonial Brigid. She has loved wearing that hat lately. 
I'm afraid I didn't take notes during the week. So this is more of an end of the week recap.

We really didn't do any school work on Monday. My parents were still here from our busy weekend so the kids played card games and visited with them in the morning.
In the afternoon, a box arrived for Brigid:


Teresa has tried to claim the "girl" bear for her own with the defense that she is her friend, but Brigid will not surrender her new "teddy bear". She has become part of the entourage of stuffed animals Brigid brings down and upstairs with her every day.

 Tuesday morning the sun was weird. It was hard to capture in a picture, but it was orange, bright orange, and I don't mean at sunrise, I mean from 7:30-9am.
 Even though everyone was eating breakfast, the sunlight looked like it should be almost time for bed.

 Turns out it was the smoke in the atmosphere from numerous and extensive wildfires in Canada.

 I did not get much sleep all week and most of the house was hit with some sort of digestive bug and a cold at the same time, so while I mowed and weed-whacked the front, back and side yards, we took it easy most of the week. It was so nice to mow the yard I worked so hard on though - Love it!

So taking it easy included some computer games. Teresa practiced counting and her numbers.
 Felicity helped me clean out the van on Wednesday, which was my self-appointed task for the week. It had not been vacuumed or cleaned out since before we moved last August! Honestly, the lawn and the car were the only really active parts of my week, apart from keeping up with 6 kids of course. :) We did go for their last afternoon swimming lesson on Tuesday and I went swimming with them for some free swim and this time I even got Brigid to come. She had refused previously over wearing a swimming diaper but I tricked her into one and she had a blast. She loved the pool and jumped in more times than I could count.
Thomas pulls himself up standing on anything and everything and has even begun cruising on the furniture. 
Thursday and Friday we had thunderstorms pass through, which was fantastic for our grass, both the new that I am trying to keep alive and the old that has begun going a bit yellow in the front. I love thunderstorms too, so it was a bit of a treat.
Thomas has finally learned how to get down from standing to sitting without hurting himself. And while all of his naps, and they are usually quite good lasting from 2 to 3 hours, have been in his crib, I began working with him to get him sleeping in his crib at night. At night, he has mainly been sleeping a stretch in the swing and then in bed with me but this week he basically refused to sleep in his swing. Honestly I think the problem is that he is so active he wants to be able to move, reposition and get comfy and he can't do that in a 5 point harness in a swing and I can't blame him. That said though, he is a really sensitive sleeper and I think he and I would sleep better if he spent more of the night in his crib, so for two nights now he has begun the night in his crib. The first night I stayed 4 hours before wanting me, although I think last night was only 3 hours. It will take a bit of time to transition but hopefully as he gets used to it he will sleep more and longer in his crib at night and I won't be so tired either.

All the girls did their math for the week and Cecilia finished her Geography book. Elizabeth and Cecilia each did a spelling lesson and we did one religion lesson, this one focusing on grace and the sacraments. I have to admit, after Felicity's First Holy Communion, it feels like we should be "done" religion for the year.

I spotted Brigid taking pictures of Cecilia with my phone...

 So I photo-bombed. :)

Another reason I have trouble getting things done. Look at this face... how am I supposed to get stuff done with that smile?!? 
I came back to my office after doing religion with the older girls to find Brigid asleep on the floor.  She's so cute and I'm so jealous. lol. 
During the thunderstorms, I noticed this in the front flower bed. The downspout drops the rain right next to the concrete into the mud. That flower bed is going to have to become a project itself but I might leave it for the fall when I can plant some bulbs for next spring. So many projects, so little time. :)
I'm sorry this post is seemingly so random, but that isn't an inaccurate representation of the week either.

When Brigid says "Ew" it is so cute it slays me. I finally managed to get a video of her saying it:


And just for fun... Brigid was singing to herself but I only caught a little bit of it at the beginning but she was so cute I just kept filming. You get a glimpse of her squishy duck face though she doesn't do it all the way.



Felicity's First Holy Communion


 On Sunday, May 7th, Felicity received her First Holy Communion. It was a wonderful day and she looked beautiful.
 She picked out the dress herself. She wanted a "princess" dress, so hence the puffy sleeves and waist (contrasting Cecilia's which was an A Line). I loved the belt of roses though and thought it fit Felicity perfectly.
 The first half of Mass wasn't too difficult but it was tiring. My dad held Teresa, who he admitted was a handful. Shortly thereafter though, Teresa came to me. And then nothing I did was keeping Thomas happy. He was so overtired the only way I can get him asleep when he is that overtired is to nurse him to sleep, but his sisters wouldn't let him sleep. So I thought a fresh pair of arms might help him, so I passed him to my dad. And then it was time for Felicity to receive her First Holy Communion. And Teresa saw her. "Want Icity! Want Daddy! Want Icity! She's my friend! I want to go!" I could see from a distance Felicity receiving but I couldn't get a picture I was so busy juggling the little ones. When we went to receive communion, she saw daddy, she saw Felicity and then she saw others receiving communion. "I big! I want some!" I carried her back to the pew and then she said she had to go potty. After the potty run she insisted she wanted daddy and I was worn out, so I took her up to James and then went back with Brigid to my parents, Thomas, Cecilia and Elizabeth.




 As the Corpus Christi procession went by, Thomas fell asleep in my lap, which was why I was able to get a picture of Felicity as she went by.


  Teresa marched with Daddy around the block in the procession, during which the wind blew off Felicity's veil, so James held onto it. But he said Teresa was great during the procession, though she wanted to walk up with Felicity. She even held her hands in a praying position. So cute!
With her transition lenses, she looks like she is just hanging out, with Jesus passing by. :)
 Teicity's veil, so James held onto it. But he said Teresa was great during the procession, though she wanted to walk up with Felicity.


 Afterwards we went to her favorite restaurant for lunch, Red Robin, and them home for cookie cake and presents.
She was so beautiful and so happy and we are so proud of her and happy for her. God Bless my Sweet Felicity





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Learning Notes XXVIII


Saturday, May 30th, St. Joan of Arc
James took Felicity to Church and she received her First Reconciliation. She came out of the confessional with a big smile, improved only by a chocolate ice cream cone afterwards.

Sunday, May 31st, Trinity Sunday
After Mass, we had a walk through rehearsal for Felicity's First Holy Communion next Sunday. We were told Father had changed the plans and the communicants were no longer to sit with their families. Rather, all 14 homeschooled First Communicants would sit in the front row, each would have 1 parent sit directly behind them in case they were nervous, and their families would each be assigned a pew behind. While I realize my parents will be with us, this does leave one of us to tend 5 children without the other parent. My quibbles aside, Felicity didn't like it either. These kids are not a class. They are homeschooled; they want to sit with their families. During the rehearsal, Felicity turned to me and said, "I like Confession better than Communion." While I'm glad she likes Confession, think about that for a minute. Just for whom are we separating the children from their families? It isn't easier for the kids. It isn't easier for their families. Who is it for?

As always, I will submit in humble obedience, but I think it is a shame that what should be occasions of unprecedented mirth and joy are locked behind convenience, rules, and neat little boxes. Of course, I believe it will still be a grace-filled day, but I find the attitude behind such decisions disappointing. God's grace is the greatest weapon the church militant has and she would do well to open the floodgates.
I can never get enough of his bath hair.

Monday, June 1st, St. Justin Martyr
I don't note which books the girls read each day because they pick up different ones all the time and I never would be able to keep up. It is a bit easier to note the longer ones that they really get into though and spend more time on. Felicity and Elizabeth love to sleep together in Elizabeth's bed and, while they don't do so every night, they do most nights and when they do they read a chapter from a children's bible together. Last I heart they were up to the story of Joseph. Elizabeth has also just finished reading James and the Giant Peach. Felicity is 40 or so pages into Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (we have the British copies). And Cecilia, having finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Hobbit has begun reading The Fellowship of the Ring from The Lord of the Rings.
Well, all the girls have finished their handwriting work for the school year. And Cecilia finished her English for the school year. Felicity knocked down 1 of her 3 remaining Spelling lessons and Cecilia did 1 of her remaining Geography lessons. Elizabeth did 3 pages of math. And then we all broke for some outside time with bubbles and watercolor painting.
After lunch, we did a chapter on religion. We talked about the New Covenant vs. the Old, the Church Triumphant, Church Militant and Church Suffering, the kingly, priestly and prophetic roles of Christ and how we share in them and a brief overview of the history of the church including the Great Schism and the Reformation. It was a bit much to cover in one lesson, especially with Teresa interrupting every 5 minutes to ask to go swimming, Brigid stabbing paper with pencils all over my floor, and Thomas refusing to nap and crying screaming from his crib. Still, it was good to go over it. A lot of it was review for Cecilia but even then going over things like infallibility again is good. Elizabeth and Felicity especially loved their part in the kingly role and how they really are princesses. Not surprising considering Felicity was painting and said, "I'm making the barn walls red because most barns are red except the rainbow ones but those are really really rare because they have unicorns and pegasuses and unicorn pegasuses in them!"
Later we all went out together for dinner and then to our AHG troop's Court of Awards. Cecilia got her Archery, Aviation, and Daughter of the King badges. Felicity got her Physical Fitness, Cake Decorating, Swimming and Artastic badges. And Elizabeth earned her Joining Award and her Fanny Crosby Level Award. Cecilia also earned a religious medal, the I Life My Faith medal, and Felicity earned the religious Family of God medal. Teresa and Brigid both had fun eating M&Ms the troop gave me in recognition for my birthday that was in October but they hadn't known about before. Then there was cake. I was humbled to receive 2 potted plants, a car magnet, a custom made card and a bouquet of flowers in appreciation. I was dreading having to speak in front of everyone but it turned into a better evening than I had anticipated.

Tuesday, June 2nd, St. Erasmus

I was very tired Tuesday morning. While Felicity did 3 pages of math, Cecilia did a math lesson and her spelling, and Elizabeth finished her math for the week, I made tea and had a tendency to talk to myself. Teresa and Brigid went outside to play with bubbles or swing on the playground.
In the afternoon we had swimming lessons. Teresa begs me to take her swimming all the time. Some days I can hear this for hours:


Sometimes she even tries to rope others into begging with her.

I've offered to take Brigid with me but she refuses to wear a swimming diaper so she can't come until she is willing to wear one.
I did manage one video of Teresa in her lesson with her best friend though:

All the girls love going to swimming lessons but Teresa especially loves getting to see her best friend.
Teresa and her best friend.
All the girls are doing well in swimming though Teresa doesn't pay attention very well. She has always been a girl to march to the beat of her own drummer but I think that added to the fact she is still getting comfortable in the water means she enjoys her lessons but she only does so much of what her instructor asks her. They can't get her to put her head under water yet and she has trouble kicking her feet behind her without holding onto someone or something in front of her. So if you are holding her form the side, she moves her feet under or even in front of her to kick. Which can hurt. But these are her first ever swimming lessons, so I expect it might take her a bit to get used to it.
After all the kids were in bed, I cleaned all my kitchen counters. Oh it was so nice to see a clean kitchen going to bed!

Wednesday, June 3rd

And to wake up to one! Felicity got all excited that there were only 2 Spelling lessons left so she decided to finish them and did so. Then she wanted to finish her English book, which only had 4 pages left anyway, so she did that too. Elizabeth did her Spelling lesson for the week and then finished her English book. Cecilia did 3 math lessons to finish her school work for the week. Really all the work that is left scheduled for this week is 7 pages of math for Felicity. Generally she wouldn't have so much math left so late in the week, but she did do double English and triple Spelling to finish those books and I'm not about to stop a child from doing work if she is so motivated.
After lunch I taught myself how to use the electric bush trimmer the previous owners sold us and trimmed 3 bushes - one along the drive way I had begun hitting with the van when I'd pull in, one by our front door that thought it should grow over the front walk, and one along our house that even the house inspection report said was too close and could cause insect or mold problems. Then I finished cleaning up our garage.

It isn't done done in the sense that there are shelves still to be organized and those drawers need to be de-cluttered, but at least everything is off the floor and the floor is swept.

Thursday, June 4th

Felicity did 4 pages in math and Elizabeth, even though she was done for the week, decided to join her and did a few pages of next week's math herself. Then we went into cleaning mode. From picking up toys to vacuuming, sweeping, laundry, etc. it was a busy cleaning day.

Friday, June 5th, St. Boniface

Friday was busy. In the morning we had a playdate with another Catholic homeschooling family.
Then, around midday, another family came to give our Little Tikes play set a new home.
We had it for 6 or 7 years and it served us well but it is really best for the littles and even Brigid prefers to be with her big sisters on the big playground. And I LOVE how much more space is on the patio now!
So much more room for sidewalk chalk, riding the little train, whatever!
In the afternoon my parents flew in and we all went out to dinner at Cheesecake Factory and picked up some slices of cheesecake for Saturday.

Saturday, June 6th
Saturday was busy too. We hit the road around 9am for the Shedd Aquarium. It might not have been the best day for it as there seemed to be a graduation, wedding and concert there all there that day so parking was a bit crazy but we'd never been before. We first went to the noon aquatic show but it was really disappointing. They spent more time watching video footage and talking and even had a whole section on rescuing a dog (um, this is the AQUATIC show right?) than they did showing the whales or dolphins. I understand one of the dolphins was MIA with her new calf, but you'd think they would showcase the whales more. Anyway, after that we went down to the polar play place where Teresa got to play in the touch and feel tanks.
 Cecilia and Elizabeth tried to touch the starfish but they were ALL along the back wall and only Cecilia could even reach one. Elizabeth was very disappointing. The tank was clearly not built with kids in mind.
 The highlight though had to be the Beluga Whales, which were beautiful and very playful. They kept swimming in circles by us while the kids munched popcorn.


 Then we visited the penguins, which were very cute.
 We somehow failed to even notice the entire amphibian exhibit on our way back upstairs (apparently it wasn't very big or noticeable?!?) and went to the Touch and Feel Sting Ray tank where Cecilia, Felicity, Elizabeth and Teresa! got to pet sting rays. Teresa loved it especially!
 From there we went to the Wild Reef area. The kids had fun using the touch screens to learn about the reef fish and coral.
 Most of my pictures were dark and the sharks don't exactly hold still so they were blurry, so I don't have many pictures from it, but they did enjoy it.

 From there we went up to the oceans room and saw the octopus, gobi, moray eels and spider crabs.

While there were still a few tanks left to see, Thomas had not napped the whole time and was at his limit, Teresa was getting tired and cranky and Brigid and Teresa were claiming they were hungry. So we hit the gift shop and the exit.
It was a nice aquarium and a fun outing but I do think the Baltimore aquarium is better.

We had dinner at one of James' favorite restaurants, and one my parents and I really like as well - J. Alexander's. Since our nearest one is in Illinois, it was on the way back anyway and was so good! After we got home, we had our cheesecake and celebrated an early Father's Day since my dad was visiting and James has to be at a conference on Father's Day anyway.
 Only half of James' gifts had arrived, all books, but two more have arrived since then. I was just only so prepared since I was also focused on Sunday.
 We got my dad a gift card to Barnes and Noble because.... Books! And my mom got him a new iPad to replace his struggling Netbook.
The cheesecake was really good and while James helped my dad set up his iPad (isn't it nice when your husband IS your IT guy?!?) I got the kids bathed and ready for bed. Sunday was going to be a busy, big day. :)