Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I love St. Monica Even More This Year

I've always loved St. Augustine. It was on the Memorial of St. Augustine that Kevin and I got engaged, my first job out of college was at the Augustine Institute where Kevin attended graduate school, and my maiden name is a form of Augustine. But this year it is the Memorial of St. Monica that holds an extra special place in my heart. 

It all started with our trip to Rome for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. It's not very often that your husband gets to go to Rome for work, and it's even less often that you are able to come with him. When the opportunity arose we knew we had to take it.

Around the time of this trip I was finally ready to lay to rest our secondary infertility struggles and Rome seemed to be the perfect place to let go of this intention with peace and trust that God would take it from there. In Rome there is a statue of Mary at the Basilica of Sant'Agostino (St. Augustine) that many couples have taken their infertility difficulties to and in prayer have asked Mary to intercede on their behalf for a child. Surrounding the statue are hundreds of medallions and pictures offered to Mary in thanksgiving for her intercession. While I took the intention of another child with me everywhere in Rome, I was particularly interested in entrusting it to Mary at Sant'Agostino.

The Statue of Our Lady in the Basilica of Sant'Agostino
On our first full day in Rome we had some time for pilgrimaging, so we headed to Sant'Agostino. After spending some time with Mary, we went to explore the rest of the Basilica and realized that tucked in the front was the tomb of St. Monica. I was eager to share my intention with St. Monica, who as a fellow mother would surely understand my request, but unfortunately (odd as it is to say) Mass had just begun and we were not allowed to go to her tomb. We prayed outside of the side chapel and vowed to come back again.

The next day we did manage to squeeze in some time to visit Sant'Agostino and successfully made it to the tomb of St. Monica where I laid down my request again and then popped over to Mary to reminder her to talk to Jesus about getting us another baby, as if she needed a reminder. 

A few days later while Kevin was in meetings, a fellow FOCUS wife was looking for someone to go show her how to get to Sant'Agostino. Having already gone twice I thought I had the route down, but it still took a few wrong turns to get there. So, for a third time I found myself before our Lady and St. Monica with my special request. At that point I figured I had it covered and secretly hoped we'd be coming home with more news from Rome than just the standard reports on how beautiful the churches are and the health of our Holy Father.

See if you can find us in the crowd!
Well, we came home with no such news and I was ready to live life assuming we would not be having any more biological children. Three months later, we found out we were expecting and due about one year after I made my triple request to Our Lady and St. Monica!

So St. Monica, here's to you on your Memorial Day, thank you for being a model of a mother and for understanding my prayer!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ideas for Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 1

Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 1
I'm blogging my way through our four year curriculum program so I don't forget everything that worked for us! Please feel free to use what works for your family and share in the comments anything you would add. For more on Classically Catholic Memory go here.


Lesson 1
We listened to an audio recording of Thirty Five Cakes from Angel Food for Jack and Jill. The Angel Food series is a delightful collection of sermons for kids from the 1950s. Some of the lingo is old school, but the stories are very relatable and easy to understand.

Lesson 2 
familycatechism.com has some additional insights on this week's topic, so we watched Sr. John Vianney and Cardinal Arinze discuss it more in depth. Check out the cross references Family Catechism supplies as well!

We are learning the Salve Regina by watching and listening to this version on youtube. I like this one because it has both Latin and English subtitles, as well as beautiful art.


Lesson 1: Christopher Columbus
As you can imagine, there are tons of resources and ideas out there for teaching Christopher Columbus, so this is a small fraction of what you could use! Check out this Pinterest board to find your favorites.

We made a Columbus craft using this map (this is a new link, so the map is a little different than what you see below) and the cartoons on page 35 from Christopher Columbus Mini Pack Part 1 (scroll down until you see the link) from 3dinosaurs.com. Bean loved using it as a visual for her memory work as all the key players and places are on the map!

For books we used Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire as a read-aloud and perused through Christopher Columbus: First Voyage to America from the Log of the "Santa Maria". Finally Bean read Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz.

Columbus: Adventure to the Edge of the World (CCC) I hear is a great DVD, but I couldn't get my hands on one, and Drive Thru History's segment on Columbus (Focus on the Family) was thoroughly entertaining to me, but geared for kids older than mine, so it didn't make the final cut.

*Update, I recently found this movie at Gloria.tv. I still need to watch it, but it looks like it might be good! And you could check out Columbus and the New World from the Catholic series form Vision books.

Lesson 2: Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan

I grabbed several books on these two explores from the library, glanced through them, and ended up using the following for our study of da Gama and Magellan.

The Usborne Book of Explorers (pages 22-23 and 38-39)
Vasco de Gama: Quest for the Spice Trade by Katharine Bailey
Ferdinand Magellan: Circumnavigating the World by Katharine Bailey

When picking out Magellan books be careful and read how they explain his death. In a nut shell, Magellan had a fair amount of success in converting a group of natives. This got him a little excited, so he took a small army to battle against a large army, with the belief that size didn't matter because God was on his side. His attempt failed miserably and he died a gruesome death. As you can imagine, some historians have a hay day with this one. Lessons to be learned here are: 1. You can't force people to convert, 2. Watch out for pride, and 3. Prudence is good.


Lesson 1
Here is everything you will need for this introduction to matter and atoms.

We started by investigating matter with a bottle and balloon experiment.

We talked about how even although the bottle was "empty", I could not blow up the ballon inside of it because it was still filled with matter, in this case air. Then we cut a slit into the bottle and saw how the matter (air), could now escape from the bottle, which made room for the balloon to inflate when I tried to blow it up.

Next, we read What are Atoms? by Lisa Trumbauer and watched a TedEd video on atoms. The kids asked to watch the TedEd again, twice.

Finally we made a diagram of a helium atom with play-dough and bracelets from Bean's dress-up box.

Lesson 2
Here are the supplies we used for this lesson on the parts of an atom and charges.

To start, we made a booklet on the parts of an atom using a printable from Great Science Adventures. The printouts came from the book, but you could easily create this booklet on your own. I'm thinking of using several of the printouts from Great Science Adventures to make a chemistry lap book over the next few weeks, we'll see if it actually happens :).

On the front cover we colored each of the components of the atom and then on each tab we colored only one specific component and listed what type of charge it has.

After discussing charges we rubbed balloons on each others heads and watched the charges in action by picking up paper hole punches with balloons. This experiment is laid out in the CCM teacher's edition.

Finally, we watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Atoms. My kids think he is hilarious... and they are correct.


Lesson 1
To kick off math in general we read 2, 4, Skip Count Some More. It was a fun way to introduce the concept of skip counting.

Lesson 2
For reinforcing the multiples of two we built each multiple with legos. And then we played with legos, for no real reason other than legos are fun.


Lesson 1
We are creating a picture timeline this year with CCM's new blank timeline book. I am participating in an exchange with a co-op group, so I don't have to find pictures for all 144 entries, which is a huge blessing. Each week we will be gluing eight new pictures to our timeline.

The top of the timeline is for specific events in history and the bottom is for time periods in history. FYI: If you use the CCM book, you don't need pictures for the first three cards, they are already in the book.

Lesson 2
To make memorizing the timeline a little more entertaining I hid the cards around the backyard. Once the kids found them all they put them in order. Kids love it when you hid things... it's like Easter.


For geography we read The Seven Continents as a basic overview of the continents. Then we pulled out our big floor map and labeled each of the continents.

Then I had the kids jump to the continents as I named them.

Which led to them jumping over the continents.

Great Words I
The first memory work poem can be found in A Child's Garden of Verses and you can also listen to it on youtube, which are two resources we used this week.

Great Words II
The first Great Words II poem is about Christopher Columbus, which you studied plenty of in history! I couldn't find the work in any book or on youtube, let me know if you can.

I'll be back with our week two plans in two weeks. Please add any ideas or resources you used in the comments!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How to do a Wooden Saint Doll Exchange

Every six months one of my favorite events takes place...

St. Thomas Aquinas and Bl. Chiara Badano
I participate in a wooden saint doll exchange!

St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (also know as Edith Stein) and St. James the Greater
My crafty, and even not-so-crafty, friends and I each paint the same saint multiple times and then swap them. For some reason, even a not-so-crafty person (like most of my friends claim to be) can paint saint dolls.

Mary, the Mother of God and St. Joseph the Worker
Seriously, you should just try it.

St. Clare and St. Nicholas
It all started a few Easters ago when I painted the patron saints of my kid's for their Easter baskets. We had a girls' night at my house the night I finished them, so I showed them off to my friends.

St. Francis of Assisi and Bl. Mother Teresa
One of my friend's sister-in-law has a large collection of dolls from exchanges she does with her friends and in our excitement we decided to start an exchange of our own.

St. Gerard and John the Baptist
Between the exchanges and painting some dolls on my own, I now have over 60 saints in my collection!

St. Zita and St. Josemaria Escriva (painted by a husband!)
For pictures of all 50+ of my saint dolls, check out the Wooden Saint Dolls tab.

Doing an exchange is definitely the way to go if you want to beef up your collection quickly, and you know you want your own collection, so here is your step by step guide on how to plan a saint doll exchange.

Step 1: Find crafty or not-so-crafty friends who would like to have a saint doll collection for their kids. Maybe they are ladies from your moms' group at church, friends in your homeschool co-op, religious ed class or catholic school, book club buddies, or Little Flowers/Blue Knights/American Heritage families... just find a community!

Step 2: Decide how many dolls you will paint. In our first exchange there were only four of us, so we each painted four dolls four times, for a total of 12 dolls. For the second exchange another friend jumped in and we painted three dolls five times, for a total of 15 dolls. This last exchange there were seven of us so we only had to paint two dolls seven times, for a total of 14 dolls. Decide what your crew can manage, but I'd definitely shoot for getting at least 10 dolls each.

Step 3: Decide what size of doll you will use, as well as if you will use only the male dolls or both the male and female dolls. We use all small, male dolls. This keeps things nice and simple for us.

Step 4: Take orders for unfinished dolls and then have one person order them in bulk. This saves money! We each ordered enough dolls for two exchanges, so we wouldn't have to reorder again each time. Once they arrive, distribute the dolls.

Step 5: Decide who will paint which saint. This is a fun part. For our group, it hasn't really mattered which saint each individual picks, you just want to make sure you don't have any duplicates, including from past exchanges. You could also go with a theme, like making a set of the apostles, a nativity scene, or a resurrection scene. In this case you'll have to decide who is assigned to which saints/characters for the set.

Step 6: Get painting. I'll put together a tutorial on that soon. For now, just buy acrylic paint (not the kid kind) and paint them.

Step 7: Meet for the exchange! We have a lot of fun with this night and make the revelation of each saint a bit dramatic. We go around the room bringing out each doll one at a time and the painter of the saint gives a short bio on their life. They also share the story of how they designed the saint and anything they learned in the process of painting it. It's very girly, oooh and aaah-y, and so much fun.

That's it! Gather your friends and let me know how it goes!!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Journey Across America - New Jersey

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post. I wasn't planning on documenting this project until we were six states in, so the first five states are a bit lacking in original photos, but the next 45 will be full of them!

The Books:
We began by reading G is for Garden State and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

Only two picture books made the list this week, so if you know of more, pass them my way. For some New Jersey bedtime reading, check out Abigail Takes the Wheel and The Legend of the Cape May Diamond.

Finally, Kevin taught the kids about New Jersey using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food:
The boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ is quite famous. So famous that it is THE Boardwalk in Monopoly. Fries, hotdogs, and ice cream are some of the traditional fare you can purchase from stands along the boardwalk, so the aforementioned trifecta made up our perfect New Jersey dinner.

For the fries I use red bud potatoes coated in olive oil and seasoning salt. Bake them at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring them every 15 minutes, and I promise perfection. These spuds are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, sooo good.

The Activities:
New Jersey is the Garden State, so we made a rosary stone for our new Marian garden. I bought a garden stone kit for the base of the stone and a bag of glass stones for the beads at Michael's. I think my portion of the bill for our smart phone plan is made up for in the amount I save each month with digital 40% off coupons... just wanted to throw that out there.

We were all fascinated by this project. I did the rosary, the kids did the boarder. Make sure you really get the stones pushed into the concrete, we've had a couple of ours pop out. 

As I mentioned above, the streets of Monopoly are named after Atlantic City, NJ, so if your kids are old enough, patient (or maybe it's you who'd need to be patient), and can sit through a whole game of Monopoly, this is the week to play it. You can even check out this sweet interactive map of the actual streets from GraphGraph.com.

For the impatient folks, there was a rumor going around that the newest version of Monopoly would not have a jail, so as to shorten the game. Bottom line, the rumor was bunk. Sorry about that.

Next week, we are heading south to Georgia!

Be saints, it's worth it! Lisa

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Solemnity of the Assumption

"Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." CCC 966

Today is a great Solemnity in the year of our Church... The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

The Assumption is traditionally the time for blessing your fruit and herb harvest, so we try to incorporate fruit and herbs into our celebration. Of note, we have no home grown fruits or herbs to bless, but that would be really cool if we did. And herb(s) is a really awkward word to say.

A few years ago we made a strawberry mint punch for the Assumption, but to be honest, it was too thick and sweet. So this year I simplified things and used store bought raspberry lemonade and threw some sprigs of mint into it. Less money, less time... I win.

We also made blueberry muffins, which are white for Mary's purity and blue for her mantle. This little combo made of a delightful afternoon snack.

The kids made an Assumption craft from Paper Dali. We threw some cotton ball clouds on them, because who doesn't like cotton ball clouds?

Finally, on our way to mass, we prayed a decade of the rosary meditating on the mystery of the Assumption. Try not to celebrate Solemnities and Feast Days and leave out the prayer part. That is the point of the day, to thank God for a particular Saint or event in our Church's history and to contemplate how it effects our lives today. I'm done preaching.

Be saints, it's worth it! Lisa

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Journey Across America - Pennsylvania

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post. I wasn't planning on documenting this project until we were six states in, so the first five states are a bit lacking in original photos, but the next 45 will be full of them!

Pennsylvania week recap, check it out!

The Books:
We began by reading K is for Keystone and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

We also read Yonie Wondernose, a picture book about a curious, little Amish boy, and The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz, one of our favorite historical fiction authors. Don't let the 3.5 stars deter you. It looks like a teacher made her kids read the book and write a review for Amazon, then she posted them. Check out the one star reviews, most of them are clearly written by kids and were all posted on the same day. If your children like to read/listen to stories and like history, they will enjoy this book.

Another great Pennsylvania book by Jean Fritz is What's the Big Idea Ben Franklin, it fits in here because Franklin represented Pennsylvania at the Continental Congress. You can also learn about Groundhog Day by reading Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons (Punxsutawney Phil hails from Pennsylvania). And American Girl's Addy escapes to Pennsylvania in their six book series.

Finally, Kevin taught the kids about St. John Neumann (not to be confused with John Henry Newman) using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook. He was the 4th bishop of Philadelphia, founder of the first diocesan school system, and the first American male to be canonized... pretty amazing guy!

The Food:
I could not resist following the lead of Shower of Roses in making a Hershey's Chocolate Breakfast Cake. Not only does this tie in Hershey chocolate, which was founded in Pennsylvania, but it also ties in Bill Cosby, who is from Pennsylvania. If you aren't familiar with what Bill Cosby has to do with chocolate breakfast cake, give this comedy sketch a watch.

P.S. You could also make ice cream soda, as it was invented by Robert M. Green in Philadelphia!

The Activity:
Because there is still a strong Amish presence in Pennsylvania, we made paper quilt squares. Yes, the Amish are known for making well crafted real quilts, but we aren't ready for a sewing machine. Artistshelpingchildren.org has lots of ideas for similar crafts. It was quick and easy, which always piques my interest.

Image from artistshelpingchildren.org

Up next is New Jersey!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Feast of St. Clare

Today, the Feast of St. Clare, is Bean's Feast Day!

We started the day with Kevin's famous St. Clare pancakes.

There are a few chocolate chips smeared on the pancakes. Chocolate chips are essential to pancakes. And Kevin is truly handy with the pancake pen. Here we have a monstrance, San Damiano, and St. Clare holding a monstrance.

It was a free day at our local science museum, so we took full advantage of it and used it as our special event for our special day!

For dinner I made Bean's favorite meal, chicken pot pie. This one was easy to St. Clare-ify by turning the crust into a monstrance.

St. Clare is pictured with a monstrance because when her convent was being attacked she held up a monstrance and the light shining from it was so bright the army dropped their weapons and fled.

We didn't pull off a craft this year, but Catholic Icing has tons of monstrance ideas if you are looking for one. Oh, and I can't forget, we listened to our St. Clare Glory Story. The older the kids get, the more they like these. They are well worth the investment!! We also love our Clare and Francis picture book if you want to go the non-audio route.

Be saints, it's worth it! Lisa

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Feast of the Transfiguration

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord! We were able to take a family hike up a mountain today, which is very fitting since the transfiguration took place atop a mountain.

We spent plenty of time exploring the creek, waterfalls, and surrounding woods.

While I didn't get a picture (too stunned), we did see our first black bear. The good news is we were in the car. Still, wow was he close! Once he saw us coming he turned and shimmied up a tree. I was glad to see he ran from us because if we were out of the car we'd want to run from him too!

Be saints, it's worth it! Lisa

Journey Across America - Delaware

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post. I wasn't planning on documenting this project until we were six states in, so the first five states are a bit lacking in original photos, but the next 45 will be full of them!

No better place to start than with our 1st state to enter to union, Delaware! Delaware, what's in Delaware? (Wayne's World, yes it was a part of my childhood experience... probably won't be a part of my kids' however.)

The Books:
We began by reading F is for First State and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for the first entry in her United States scrapbook. Some of the answers we did have to look up online, but most of them were in there, along with other fascinating facts and history.

We also read two picture books: When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots and When the Shadbush Blooms. And Kevin taught the kids about Delaware using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food:

Photo from myrecipes.com
We tried out The United State's Cookbook's gingerbread squares, a dessert that the Germans brought with them to Delaware, but they were not a hit. Molasses is such a strong flavor, and I even cut it down in this recipe! If you go for the gingerbread squares, serve them with Delaware's official state drink, milk!

If we could do it over again I think I would opt for a broiler chicken, whose industry was established in Delaware by Cecil Steel. According to some, Cecil ordered 50 chickens for her family and accidentally received 500. Not begin able to keep them all, she butchered and sold them while they were young and, jackpot, the broiler chicken was born!

The Activity:
Per the idea of Confessions of a Homeschooler, we made a Delaware Memorial Bridge using grooved craft sticks. Making the bridge was fun, but it didn't take long for the kids to tear it apart for new and different creations. I consider the addition of grooved craft sticks to our craft/building repertoire a worthy investment.

Check back soon for the Pennsylvania wrap up!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

30 at 30: What I've Discovered so Far

Today is my 30th birthday! In an effort to process this milestone I came up with a list of 30 things I've learned in the last 30 years.

1. Pray every day for 20-30 minutes. Don't just recite some prayers and petitions, but actually talk to God. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. Tell Him your joys and struggles. Be real with Him. Be vulnerable with Him. It's harder than you think.

2. Consistent exercise makes you feel better.

3. I don't like gardening. I want to like it, but the pay off isn't worth the effort, at least not in my backyard.

4. Children are a gift, not a right.

5. Don't compare yourself to others. Seriously, just don't do it.

6. Be generous. It's all God's money anyway.

7. I'm American. I don't like sports. That's okay.

8. Gossiping isn't worth it. I learned this one in high school and lost a lot of friends and made a lot of enemies along the way.

9. I have regrets. A life without regrets is a life that doesn't want to improve and doesn't think it needs forgiveness. I've made mistakes, said things I wish I hadn't, made decisions I'm not proud of. There are things I would do differently if I could do it again.

10. The secret to life is Jesus Christ and his Church. Despite popular belief, you can't separate the two.

11. Yelling at or belittling kids never works. And, you both feel worse after.

12.  Death is not the worst thing in this world. Yes, we mourn when someone dies and we miss them, but losing someone close to you doesn't have to consume you. The point of life is to get to heaven, when someone reaches that goal, even if the circumstances are tragic, eventually our sorrow can turn to joy.

My dad's last Birthday.

13. Dark chocolate really is better than milk chocolate.

14. I like to write. I didn't know this about myself until a few years ago, which makes me wonder what more I'll learn about myself in the next 30 years.

15. There is life after high school.

16. I'm weaker than I think I am. For some people it's important that they know they are stronger than they think they are. But for a person like me who tends to think they are super-human, knowing I'm weak is actually more beneficial.

17. Saying I'm sorry, and actually meaning it, is hard.

18. I married the right man.

Celebrating my birthday with a dinner date.

19. True freedom comes from being able to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, not from being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want to do it.

20. No matter how evil an act someone commits, they do it because they think eventually it will lead to happiness.

21. When I turned 20 I thought 30 was old. Now that I'm 30 I've changed my mind, 40 is old.

22. The only reason people don't pray is because they really don't think they need God.

23. 99% of what is on TV is a waste of time.

24. It's easier to maintain several surface friendships than it is to maintain a few deep friendships, but a few deep friendships are more fulfilling that several surface friendships.

BFFs from college.

25. Most everybody thinks their life is really busy. Busyness is all relative.

26. Love isn't a feeling, it's a conscious choice to want the best for another person and to have the courage to act according to that desire.

27. After spending three months in rural Argentina volunteering in a home for abandoned children, I learned that Mother Teresa is right, spiritual poverty is a greater poverty than physical poverty.

28. Not everybody is going to like you, no matter how nice you are. Sometimes it's how nice you are that makes them not like you.

29. Even the happiest people have bad days.

30. Have personal goals and work to obtain them. Without goals you will let life pass you by and not really experience it.

Checking off "get published" in year 29.