Friday, August 19, 2016

August 15th::Feast of the Assumption of Mary::Videos and Fun Crafts!


This past Monday on August 15, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  What's this beautiful feast day all about you may ask?   EWTN has this brief history of this oldest feast day of Our Lady.

In this video, Scott Hahn tells how he explained this feast day to a non-Catholic Christian friend in a quick 8 minutes or so.  Well worth your time to watch and listen to what Hahn has to say about Our Blessed Mother and it just may give you more insight into the Church's teaching on the feast of the Assumption of Mary!  I know it did for me!

In 1950, the Assumption dogma was announced by Pope Pius XII, which means that this teaching has always been believed and taught through the centuries since the time of Jesus on earth, but it was in 1950 that the dogma was "officially" declared in the Church.  The video below shows the Assumption proclamation in Rome, Italy.  700,000 people came to fill St. Peter's Square to witness this sacred, historic day!



Several years ago, I made this flower arrangement and placed it on our dining room table on the Feast of the Assumption.  I got the lovely free printables from Jennifer's blog at Catholic Inspired.  I am always inspired by Jennifer's Catholic creativity!

To celebrate the feast of the Assumption this year, we went to a beautiful morning Mass at our parish where our priest wore white vestments (to symbolize our Blessed Mother's purity) and we sang heavenly Marian hymns.

Here is a photo I took of my children after Mass standing in front of the new Sacred Heart of Jesus statue in our parish' side garden that is a welcomed site as you enter the front of our church.  Since our homeschool is named Sacred Heart Academy, this statue and what it symbolizes holds a special place in our family's heart.


When we got home from Mass, three of my children did a simple craft to help explain the Assumption of Mary.  I got the idea and free printable from Real Life at Home.  My younger children enjoyed making the craft and I think they did a beautiful job! 


Our family loves celebrating the liturgical year and I have documented our feast day and Saint celebrations through the years on my A Slice of Liturgical Life page.  I hope that if you visit the page you will also see that Catholicism is filled with beautiful treasures of truth, goodness and beauty.  For me, Catholicism is a bottomless treasure chest because the more I learn about the Catholic faith the more I realize I don't know and want to learn more!
 
It is my hope and prayer that by doing fun and simple crafts like this Assumption one, that seeds will be planted in my children's hearts so that as they grow older they will continue to embrace our beautiful Catholic faith and always strive to know, love and serve God more intimately and joyfully! 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another (Home) School Year Begins with Traditions: 2016-2017


Last week, on Aug. 8, we started our 2016-2017 homeschool year.  We are slowly getting into a routine and gradually implementing the curriculum that I prayerfully and patiently chose for this year.

We started our first day last week with some of the simple and easy new school year traditions we have been doing for several years now. I'm thankful the traditions are easy enough to prepare since it's the last thing I get ready before the school year starts.

Each year on the first day of our homeschool year we bake and eat our traditional cross cake.  Since our homeschool is called Sacred Heart Academy we add a Sacred Heart to the center with the current school year. 


In the morning on the first day I have to be honest...I was in tears from frustration!  Let's just say some of my children (who I will not name) woke up in bad moods and there was alot of fighting, yelling, and disagreements over who knows what!?!?!  So before 8 AM I was in tears as I tried to get all of us out the door by 8:15 AM to start our first day at morning Mass at our parish.   I was so frustrated and discouraged that I remember asking myself, "Why am I doing this!!!???!?!?"

As we came to Mass, I was happily surprised to see the priest who said our wedding over 19 years ago visiting our parish that morning and con celebrating Mass with our parish priest.  We have seen this great priest several times through the years and it was so nice to see him on our first official day of our homeschool year.  I asked if he could say a blessing over my children and me and it gave me the peace I needed to face the rest of our day!  I'm so grateful for the gift of prayer and a blessing from this priest and it helped me focus on "why I am doing this!"  I homeschool because for our family raising souls for Heaven (even when the going gets tough) is best done in a homeschool setting.

When we got home we took photos holding up grade level signs: First Day of Grades 11, 9, 7, 3 and Preschool.  A few years ago I stumbled upon 13 Free Printable First Day of School Signs that I have been using.  I don't think I have taken first day of school photos every year since I started homeschooling in 2005, but when I remember to do so, I think it's a great way to start the year.   

I have the kids draw on their "We've had a Tee-rific Summer" paper t-shirts.  I got the pattern from a teacher resource book, but HERE is a link to a similar t-shirt pattern you can use if you would like.  As they use their creativity and draw pictures and write words about their summer fun, it's always interesting to hear some of the memories they have had over the summer.  Even my big kids do this simple activity! 
I hang the finished shirts up on a clothes line in our hallway leading into our homeschool room and after doing this for several years, they like to look back and see their memories from previous summers.

Another tradition that we do (even the older kids) is write on and color the All About Me sheets.
It's neat to see how their interests have stayed the same or have changed from last year.  I then taped these sheets on their lesson plan notebooks that I am using this year for lesson planning.  More on how I do our lesson plans in a post later...


Each year at about this time, we measure the kids heights and record it on a door frame in our classroom.  My children like to compare their heights year to year.  Here is an image from last year because I didn't take a photo from this year :)


Our first week of school was filled with craziness, traditions, fun and meaningful memories too.  Here's some highlights of our first week...

After morning Mass on our first day, my son spotted a tree frog on our parish's school building and then placed the frog on a tree trunk to show how it camouflaged itself.  Can you spot the frog on the tree trunk?

During our "Couch Conversations"  in the morning after our Couch Catechism time, all my children worked together on a US puzzle as a way to refresh their memories on some geography. (Blog post coming soon on details of our "Couch Conversations" time.) Throughout the week I timed them to see if they could put it together faster than the previous days. 


On Tuesday, August 9, some guy running for President visited our town and my 3 older children went with my in-laws to see the Trump rally! I'm so glad they got to experience history in the making and it made for a great homeschool "field trip", but don't even get me started on this election. Uggh!

On Thursday, August 11, our family took another field trip to Myrtle Waves water park mostly because I had won 4 tickets through a Family Fit Challenge our family was involved in.  We had a fun time!

We've been going to Friday morning Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament regularly for the past couple years and on Friday, August 12 we had our annual "back to school" sweet treat after Mass....Dunkin' Donuts! 

First week of our 2016-2017 homeschool year in the books! *Only* 35 more weeks to go! :)

Do you have any special new school year traditions whether you homeschool or not?  I'd love to hear about them! 

Have a blessed school year!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Our 2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum


This post contains affiliate links.

It's that time of year again where I have spent most of my summer discussing, contemplating,  discerning, feeling sometimes a bit overwhelmed about curriculum decisions and praying about our upcoming homeschool year.  I don't buy a "box curriculum", but rather I pick and choose from several different companies of what I think will work best for each of my children's learning styles and needs.  (That's one of the beauties of homeschooling..being able to meet each child's needs with curriculum choices that I hope will help them thrive, become successful, but most importantly will help them grow closer to our Lord and His Church.)

If interested, here are posts from previous years of what I selected for each child:

2010-2011 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 5th, 3rd, 1st grade and a 3 year old) 

2011-2012 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 6th, 4th, 2nd grade and a 3 1/2 year old)

2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 7th, 5th, 3rd grade and a 4 year old) 

2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 8th, 6th, 4th, and Kindergarten grade and I just had Baby #5)

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 9th, 7th, 5th, 1st grade and a 1 year old)

2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum (my kids were 10th, 8th, 6th, 2nd grade and a 2 year old)


In this post I will just list the curriculum for each of my children with their ages and in a future post I will try to post our homeschool classroom (which pretty much looks the same from year to year) and our daily homeschool routine based on this year's curriculum. (I'm still working out all the scheduling details...)

*I use baskets and foam board dividers with subject headings to organize each child's books as explained HERE.

*I use one basket for all the Teacher Manuals for the various subjects and the foam boards are used to divide each child's Teacher Manuals so that I can quickly grab them when checking over work.

 * Family Learning Time
After breakfast, we will continue to do things as a family and try some new things this year.  Here is an outline of our morning Family Learning Time with more detail in a later post:

- Couch Catechism
- CNN Student News (free, daily, online 10 min. news briefs that my children look forward to watching each day, Mon.-Fri.  I know CNN is not a favorite news source for many families (including mine), but I really do like how CNN Student News shows are geared toward middle school/high school aged kids.  Note: you can always preview the shows before showing your children.)  
- Couch Conversations (if you have heard of "Morning Baskets" this is what "Couch Conversations" time is just with a different name that I made up.) :)   More details to come, but here are some of the books I plan to use with our Couch Conversations.
Grammar Land
The Harp & Laurel Wreath (learn poetry together)
The Story of the Orchestra
Daily Geography Practice
Memoria Press US States & Capitals Review


Once a week in the afternoon, I hope to do Meet the Masters Track A art program with all the kids that I started several years ago and didn't finish.  (Story of my life!) 

Now onto the curriculum for each child...

Daughter, Grade 11

Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
The History of the Church with workbook


Math:
* Teaching Textbooks, Algebra 2


Literature
* British Literature courses with Homeschool Connections recorded courses with Unlimited Access

Writing/Cursive
* Fiction Writing course with Homeschool Connections recorded courses with Unlimited Access
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Seton's Better Handwriting for Young Catholics 2011 workbook edition

History: 
  * Exploring Government  (since this is an election year the focus for history for all my children will be on government/civics/elections)
  * Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about American history and government.
Science:
* Apologia Chemistry (with a homeschool co-op group)

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
* Cross-Country with homeschool league
* volunteer at local library
* sing in girls' choir at church
* member of church youth group and youth board 

* baby-sitter for a mom at our parish

Son, Grade 9

Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* Understanding Scriptures with My Catholic Faith Delivered

* Confirmation prep at home using The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children and Called to Knighthood: The Sacrament of Confirmation in the Kingdom Family of God
* Confirmation prep classes through our parish (as required by our Diocese)

Math:
* Teaching Textbooks, Algebra 1


Literature:
* Poetry and Short Stories American Literature
* PACES Publishing Literature Study Guides: Johnny Tremain (we will be choosing other literature selections throughout year) 

Writing/Cursive 
* IEW US History-Based Writing Lessons (with 12 year old sister)
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Seton's Better Handwriting for Young Catholics 2011 workbook edition

 History: 
* Uncle Sam and You text and workbook with 12 year old sister (since this is an election year the focus for history for all my children will be on government/civics/elections)
* Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about American history and government.

Science: 
* Apologia Biology (with a homeschool co-op group) 

Foreign Language:

Map Skills:

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Piano
* Soccer team with homeschool league
* altar server at our parish
* member of church youth group 


 Daughter, Grade 7

Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* The Life of Grace (Faith & Life 7)

Math:
* Rod & Staff 7


Literature:
* Uncle Sam & You Literature Package

Writing/Cursive 
* IEW US History-Based Writing Lessons (with older brother)
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Seton's Better Handwriting for Young Catholics 2011 workbook edition

History: 
* Uncle Sam and You text and workbook with older brother (since this is an election year the focus for history for all my children will be on government/civics/elections.)
* Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about American history and government.

Science: 

Foreign Language:
* American Sign Language (ASL) course with Homeschool Connections recorded courses with Unlimited Access

Map Skills:
Maps, Charts, Graphs

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Travel Soccer team with local league
*
sing in girls' choir at church
* member of church youth g
roup 

Daughter, Grade 3
Religion:
* Couch Catechism with Mom and siblings
* Various service projects throughout the year with our homeschool group/church youth group
*  Mass and Adoration on Fridays with Mom and siblings
*  Once a month Confession
*  Tea Times where we spend time as a family reading over the Gospel readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass and have a fun snack

* Celebrate the liturgical year with faith, food and fun
* Our Life with Jesus (Faith & Life 3)

Math:
* Rod & Staff 3


Reading:
* Pathway Readers

Writing/Cursive  
* Draw Then Write

 
* Continue with daily cursive practice using Pictures in Cursive Book A

History:
* Our American Heritage 3 Abeka
* Continue putting in dates and timeline figures in their "Record of Time": Timeline Notebook Binder (from Homeschool in the Woods) as they read about American history and government.
* supplement by reading through this huge stack of American government/history books from my personal library

Titles in photo from top to bottom:

Stories of Great Americans For Little Americans
Election Day (older book)
The President's Cabinet and How It Grew
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution
The First Book of the Constitution
How the U.S. Government Works
If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution
The Story of Presidential Elections
The Story of the Statue of Liberty
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Norman Richards
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Conrad Stein
The Story of the Liberty Bell
The Story of Old Glory
The Story of Mount Vernon
America Votes How Our President is Elected
The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner
So You Want to Be President?
Woodrow For President
Marshall the Courthouse Mouse
House Mouse, Senate Mouse
Woodrow, the White House Mouse

Science: 
* a friend of mine who used to teach school gave me a whole bag full of The Magic School Bus Science Club science kits on various topics so we are going to try to do these kits throughout the year .

Foreign Language:

Map Skills:
Maps, Charts, Graphs

Extra-Curricular Activities:
* Gymnastics classes
*
sing in girls' choir at church

Daughter, Age 3 

* She will be going to the Good Shepherd montessori program at our church one day a week for a few hours.
* I'm in the process of planning activities for her to do independently and with her older siblings as I work with my children on a rotating schedule. I've been looking through these books for ideas:
Catholic ABC's from Catholic Icing
The Preschooler's Busy Book
A Year of Fun Just for Three's 
Seasonal Activities for 3 Year Olds    

I am currently sketching out our schedule with the curriculum I have chosen.  I've been busy jotting down notes and schedules as rough drafts trying to figure out what will work best for our family.  But, even when the best plans are made and laid out, it doesn't always go as "planned."  So we will see how it all goes. I hope to do a post on our daily routine soon using our curriculum.
 
 
I'm not sure which day exactly I will be starting our school year, but it will be soon!  

May you have a blessed 2016-2017 school year whether you are called to the homeschooling lifestyle or not!

 



Saturday, July 30, 2016

A 3rd Birthday Tribute to our Sweet Cupcake #5



Dear Sweet Little Cupcake #5,

As I spent some time gathering photos for this post, it brought back memories of your eventful, long, and exciting birth and I can't believe another year has gone by since I wrote your 2nd birthday tribute post!

You have grown and changed so much since your 2nd birthday celebration and now we are so joyful and happy to celebrate your 3rd birthday! One thing that you have grown to love this past year is that you really like to change clothes all.day.long and you like dressing up like a princess!  So your  Princess Party for your 3rd birthday complete with a princess cupcake cake was a perfect way to celebrate special you!

This past year you continued to LOVE gymnastics and do all sorts of crazy moves.  You are super flexible and just about everyday you practice hand stands, rolls, back bends, splits and your dance moves!  You really have no fear!


You love to read with Daddy and Mommy.


You love the beach and swimming at Nana and Grandpa's pool and you are getting really good at swimming.  So much so that you have taken off your floaties to swim!  And you love to spin around and I get so dizzy too easily! :)


You love hanging out with your big brother!  He is so good to you and all his sisters!


I love when you wake up in the morning and come and snuggle with me. 


And at Halloween last year in 2015 you thought the yucky pumpkin guts were quite funny and it made you very silly. :)

You still love to wear all types of shoes including my black boots!


I love this photo of you from our trip to Charleston, SC at one of your sibling's soccer tournament in Nov. 2015 because it shows just how your hair gets curlier and curlier!


You loved the new kitchen and accessories you got for Christmas 2015...


You love playing dress-up and with your sisters and being silly with them!




Your big brother loves to snuggle with you, but you don't always want to sit still enough for his hugs.  You happened to fall asleep on his shoulder so I quickly took a photo of this rare moment where your brother got some snuggle time with you!

This past year you found out you love to roller skate with and without help!


You love going to the park and swinging, climbing and sliding!


You love to help out in the kitchen and you are always pulling up a bar stool to get close to the counter as you exclaim often, "I wanna see! I wanna do it!"   Here you are helping out with our traditional Easter resurrection cookies. 


This past year you pretty much taught yourself how to pee on the potty! No more diapers! Though you are still wearing pull-ups at night.  

You've been talking up a storm, learning your ABCs, counting and doing school work like the big kids.  You love to sing your ABCs and you always ask us to write out the alphabet by saying "Do an A."  This past year you do really well writing the letter "e" over and over again. :) 

Recently you loved going on kiddie rides for the first time at Knoebels Amusement Park


And you went down your first water slide!


You are growing so fast and tall this past year that you can already touch the ceiling!  Well, you can at least touch this ceiling with help from Daddy.


You have grown so much and have gone through so many changes this past year!  You don't take regular naps anymore, but occasionally you'll find Mommy and Daddy's bed to sleep in during the day or you will walk downstairs at night and come and snuggle with us! For a little person you sure do take up a lot of space!

This past year you loved to say the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" prayers even more and during family prayer time you tell us who is next to recite the prayers.  We love that you love Jesus and kneel during Mass and sing the "Alleluia" at just the right time.  All of us are also amazed that you walk up to communion at daily Mass with your little praying hands folded and bow before the Eucharist, though it is still some time before you can actually receive our Lord at your First Communion.  Here you are kneeling at The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in front of her final resting place.


We pray and hope that you will always love our Lord and grow deeper in love with your faith and look up to Him and our Blessed Mother as your best role models and friends.


We had so much fun celebrating your 3rd birthday with you at your recent Princess Party!  You loved your princess cake and looked so adorable in your princess outfit!



Happy 3rd birthday sweet Cupcake #5!

We love you!

Love,
Mommy, Daddy, and your 4 adoring siblings



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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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