Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This is the book we are scheduled to study this week ---

These are the books in our read-aloud basket ---

But look!!!!

I think it actually hit 60 degrees here today!
In Columbus, Ohio!
On the last day of January!

And the sun was actually shining as well!
Some very happy boys spent a long, long time this afternoon playing in the backyard.

Our bulbs have already sprouted and are poking their heads up to say hello.

It will be really interesting to see what the groundhog says in just a few days!

I have a feeling we're going to be seeing a white Easter around here!

I'm choosing to just enjoy this beautiful weather while it lasts.
I think God just gave us a big hug....
telling us that even though we're about to enter February
(typically the most grueling, depressing month around here),
everything's going to be ok.

So, big fat February --- with your extra day added on for fun this year ---

Happy Feast of Saint John Bosco!

Saint John Bosco
1815 - 1888

Today we are celebrating the life of Saint John Bosco, a saint who had a special love and ministry for children. He is often called "The Young People's Saint."

Our boys love participating in their monthly Bosco Boys Club meetings, named for this great saint. John Bosco was fun. He juggled, performed magic tricks, and told great stories. In these ways he drew the attention of the children and then he turned their minds and hearts toward God. That is what we try to do with the boys in Bosco Boys Club. We have fun. We direct our fun toward lessons in virtue and holiness. We make friends and we imitate the saints in following God.

See this website for a short summary of Saint John Bosco's life and ministry. Here's an excerpt:

"He asked the young boys to imitate Jesus in everything they did - whether it was work, study or play and told them that God wanted everyone to be saints as He had a great reward waiting for them. His advice to them was, 'Pray when it's time to pray. Study when it's time to study. Play when it's time to play. Show kindness to everyone you meet. But do it all for the love of Jesus.'"

Yes, the kids love Saint John Bosco. But this great saint has much to teach parents as well. His deep love for the children, his tireless work for their welfare, and his creative and brilliant educational strategies can enlighten and inspire us in many ways. I highly recommend this great article by Bert Ghezzi entitled, "Raising Kids for God - 'Don Bosco Style.'" It's a quick read and a good reminder of the heart of our vocation as parents --- loving, disciplining, and forming our children to be the best followers of Jesus that they can be.

We're going to be celebrating Saint John Bosco's feast day by reading  and writing about him. And we've invited some friends to join us for an Italian dinner!

Saint John Bosco, pray for us.

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Here we go.....

We have officially entered into our most least favorite time of the year.... TAX SEASON!

Between now and April 15th Jon will work approximately 8,792,433 hours. (Hey, I said "approximately!") It's a "taxing" time (ha ha) for Jon and for our family. However, we are entering into it with very, very grateful hearts. Jon's job is truly one of God's greatest blessings for our family. We are thankful that he has a job that he loves and that he is really good at doing. We are thankful that he makes enough money to allow me to stay home and school our boys. We are thankful for the company for whom Jon works. They have been abundantly generous to us in some pretty extraordinary ways.

The owner of Jon's small firm (and his phenomenal office manager) go out of their way to affirm, encourage, and compensate their staff in meaningful and fun ways. In addition to frequent lunches, sports tickets, and office parties, Jon often receives little holiday suprises, treats, and gift cards on his desk. Several times during the year the office sponsors fun family gatherings. Our children look forward to and enjoy these gatherings tremendously. They have gotten to know Jon's co-workers like an extended family.

I think it is truly kind for a business to take care of their employees in such special ways. They are not spendthrift about it. They don't gouge prices so they can enjoy elaborate perks. The owner truly cares about his employees and their families and he generously dedicates a portion of his profits to encourage and celebrate the people who work really, really hard for him.

On Saturday we had a pre-tax season bowling party. We had a great time bowling, playing glow putt, and playing in the arcade. And we came home with lots of goodies and prizes as well!

When Adam got to this mini-golf hole, he announced, "Oh, yes, the Cauliflower!" So much for all of our studies this Fall and our field trip to the SANTA MARIA! (The whole course is "Columbus-themed.")

My three video-game-loving boys doing their thing!

Adam hit a big-ticket jackpot. He was so excited!

Even though Deb (Jon's office manager) turned her head and ended up looking majorly deformed, I HAD to post this picture! The boys were THRILLED (as you can see) with the cash they won for their strikes and spares!

Jon got this great t-shirt!
So, in a few months.... when I am moaning and groaning about the monster hours Jon is working.... remind me of this post. :) We are so blessed. I think it will be easier this year as the boys are older and more independent. We are busy with our own schooling and activity schedule. We'll miss Daddy and we'll try our best to take care of him as he works so hard for us.

And no, the firm is not hiring. We have so many friends and family members who are struggling to find work or to make enough money or to find satisfaction in their jobs. Please know of our love and support. We continue to pray for you and want to help you in any way we can.

A Prayer to St. Joseph for the Unemployed

O Saint Joseph, we pray to you for those who are out of work,
for those who want to earn their living or support their families.

You who are the patron of workers;
grant that unemployment may vanish from our ranks;
that all those who are ready to work
may put their strength and abilities
into serving their fellowmen and earn a just salary.

You are the patron of families;
do not let those who have children to support and raise lack the necessary means.
Have pity on our brothers and sisters held down in unemployment and poverty
because of sickness or social disorders.
Help our political leaders and captains of industry find new and just solutions.
May each and every one have the joy of contributing,
according to his abilities, to the common prosperity by an honorable livelihood.
Grant that we may all share together
 in the abundant goods God has given us
and that we may help underprivileged countries.

A Prayer for Accountants

Dear Levi, now known as Matthew, you were first a publican, a tax collector, and then a gatherer of souls for Christ after immediately following His call. Later you wrote wonderful accounts of your Jewish brethren of what Jesus, descendant of David, said and did as Teacher and Savior.

Make all accountants imitate your example in giving careful and honest accounts. Amen

"Phonics Phun"

Ray was so proud to show me the Phonics page that he completed all by himself!
He did a great job!
Check out #16....
That really makes this homeschool mom proud!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things - 2012 Edition

One year ago this week I posted about a few of my favorite things. I think I'll make it an annual tradition here. Repeating last year's caveat... These are THINGS that make life easier or that I just enjoy. It's God, my family, my friends who matter most.

I still love all of the things on last year's list.... but I've lived without one of them for almost an entire year now. Diet Coke. I must confess that I still miss it. But I'm happy and proud to have kicked that habit. (Now I need to face several others.... sigh.....that's an entirely different topic.)



Pinterest has got to be my absolute favorite new discovery in the past year. It's such an awesome resource. I love finding new ideas and organizing and storing them here.


I'm still in love with the saint dolls my friends and I painted this year! And with the saints themselves as well.

Smart Phone

This is my newest awesome toy! A smart phone.... WAY smarter than me. I'm just figuring out all it does and I'm blown away by it!


Can't help it. Just love 'em. I've got an entire Pinterest board called "For the Love of Sparkle." I wish I could get away with wearing sequins everyday and painting our walls with glitter.

Jigsaw Puzzles


My grandparents on my mom's side ALWAYS had a puzzle set up. I loved visiting them and working on the puzzle. I still really enjoy them, even though I don't get to work them very often. When I find that I have a few days of down time (ha ha), I love setting up a puzzle. It helps me relax. I guess it's that whole "bringing order to chaos" thing. I recently found this four seasons puzzle on the clearance shelf at Target. It was fun and easy. Let me know if you want to borrow it.


 So fun to make. So yummy to eat! I think I now have molds/recipes for just about every holiday.

Tablecloths and Placemats

This is not just one pretty placemat... it's actually four placemats in one!

My mom made these for us for Christmas and I think they are awesome! It feels like an old lady thing to say that I love pretty table linens. Oh well.

"Our Lady of Innocence"

I continue to love this beautiful painting, "Our Lady of Innocence" by Bougeureau. Such a soft, gently, beautiful picture of our Mother. This little copy is in our bedroom.

This Bathmat

This soft, cooshy microfiber bathmat was another Christmas gift from my mom. All I can say is I want to carpet my entire house with these. Wow!


What is it about this food? I have been craving it for months and months. I'll eat it for any meal.... love it at breakfast.

Well, that's it for this year's list. It seems to have been "sponsored by" the letter P!  (Pizza, puzzles, Pinterest, placemats) ;)

What are some of your favorite things? Share them in a comment!

Continuing Our American Studies

We are moving right along on our American studies with our Monday co-op. Adam's class is already up to the letter O. Today they learned about President Barack Obama and our home State of Ohio. Ray's class is "moving West" as they continue to learn about two States each week. Here's a look at the States they've covered so far. (This is a map done by one of my students in the older class. The colored States are the ones we've covered.)

The States for today were Wisconsin and Minnesota. After our initial classwork, we combined the classes (grades1/2 and 3/4). We celebrated Wisconsin's dairy industry with a cheese snack. Then we read excerpts from two of the Little House on the Prairie books which took place in WI and MN. Next, we separated the girls and boys for craft time.

The girls made these cute yarn dolls ---

The boys made covered wagons!

For this craft we started with a block of craft foam from the dollar store. I painted the blocks brown ahead of time.

The boys designed wheels for the wagon (pre-cut from a shoebox), poked holes in them with thumbtacks, and inserted them into the foam with toothpicks. We put dabs of glue on the toothpicks to keep the wheels from coming off.

Next they pushed four pipe cleaners into the foam, forming arches on top of the wagons.

Finally, we taped white tissue paper over the arches to form the top of the covered wagon.

As the boys worked on this project, they had fun brainstorming how to make horses to pull the wagons. We'll see what they come up with at home. They also have great plans of adding their Lego mini-figures and other toys to the wagons. ;)

Here's Ray with his wagon.

This project was a big hit! Several of the girls told me they're going to make their own at home. And Adam made me sit down and make one with him right after class.

Last year we read the first few books in the Little House series. I think we're going to pick up with those again. They are such great classic stories. All American kids should read them!

Landforms Project

Ray really enjoyed this landform activity! The idea for painting on paper plates and then stringing them together for hanging came from Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bosco Boys Club - "Orderliness"

Today's Bosco Boys Club meeting was our best yet! It may be partly due to the fact that we had a smaller group -- 16 boys as opposed to 25 --- or to the fact that as planners we are getting "smarter." As we played and prayed and talked together I just kept thinking that this is how I envisioned this club to be. It was a fun afternoon with some really great boys.

Our virtue for this month is orderliness. We talked about the reasons why we need to have some sense of order in our surroundings and our routines.... how that helps us live good and holy lives. We learned about Saint Benedict and how his Rule continues to guide religious orders and how it can guide our family lives as well.

It was awesome to hear the comments of some of the boys as they are beginning to make connections among the virtues we've been discussing. They were pointing out how the virtues are related and how they build on one another. They are really getting good at brainstorming ways to practice the virtues each month.

The first half of the meeting actually looked like this ---

The boys had a good time playing games and building marble runs. It was fun to see them interacting more and becoming familiar with one another. It was a peaceful playtime considering there were 16 boys in the room!

After we gathered for discussion about the virtue and saint, it was snack time. The boys got to build their own snacks with toothpicks, cheese cubes, grapes, marshmallows, and gumdrops. They really enjoyed this! We pointed out that this "snacktivity" involved putting the snacks into some kind of shape or "order" (to go with our virtue). We also discussed how all of the games we had been playing were related in some way to orderliness.

 After snacktime we had some fun building SNOWMEN!

We ended the meeting by giving each boy a Saint Benedict holy card and a colorful "dust rag." We gave them the challenge of using the dust rag to play "Dust Detective" ... bringing some extra orderliness to their homes.

The boys seem to really enjoy these monthly gatherings and I'm so glad we can bring them together in this way.