Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Holy Hour, Holy Family

This evening we had the privilege of attending "Holy Hour, Holy Family" at our parish. We gathered with other families for some catechesis (in different age groups) and then went together to Adoration and Benediction. It was a beautiful experience... and one that we all needed today.

Jon had a super busy and stressful day at work, but he broke away to spend time in prayer with us. Today was not a beautiful, smooth day in our homeschool. We were tired and frustrated with one another. But we all came to Jesus together. And Jesus filled us with peace and joy.
Adam's coloring page

The theme for tonight's catechesis was "The Names of Jesus." We talked about Philippians 2:10: "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Each of us made a card showing one of our favorite names of Jesus. We processed into Church and placed those cards at the base of the altar.... offering our prayers to Jesus present in the monstrance.

Ray's coloring page
As I knelt and prayed with my family, I was thinking about the fact that I didn't experience this as a child. Adoration just wasn't happening in the immediate post-Vatican II Church. We knew God loved us. We sang a lot of songs. But we didn't have the awesome experience of adoring Jesus so present to us on the altar. I am so very happy that my boys (and Jon and I) are experiencing and appreciating this beautiful practice now.

At the end of Benediction, Adam turned to me and exclaimed, "That was so fun and so holy!" I'm embarrassed to admit that my mind immediately started wondering if he was trying to con something out of me or just make me less angry with him than I was this afternoon. But there was something so beautiful and innocent and real about his comment. In the van on the way home he told  me that Jesus told him that He wants him to grow into a really good Catholic holy man. I choose to believe that his comments and experience were real and deep. Nothing could make me happier than my boys loving Jesus.

On a lighter note.... as we were eating lunch today I surreptitiously worked in a conversation about Pope Benedict's impending retirement and the upcoming conclave. Ray chimed in that if he ever becomes Pope he will choose the name "Nicholas." Adam ---- get ready for it ---- exclaimed that he hopes one day he'll be ....... "Pope MARIO!" Then Ray began chanting some kind of Mario Brothers music and Adam jumped up and started parading around with his hands folded. Of course I laughed as I was shaking my head.  There's a pretty funny picture on Google*images* .... a drawing of a "Pope Mario." But it was just too irreverent for me to post here. Check it out if you dare! Somehow I just can't imagine a video-game-playing-Pope.... but we'll see.

Around the World With Our Book Club

This week's book club meeting had an "Around the World" theme. Each boy had to bring in three items that had tags listing where they were made. As they shared their items, we placed them on our map.

Look which country had the biggest pile of stuff ---- China of course. We had an interesting conversation about why so many things are made in China.
The book I chose for this month is a picture book that all of the boys probably read in preschool or kindergarten. It's a cute story about a little girl who wants to make an apple pie, but ends up travelling around the world in search of all the ingredients she needs.
Interestingly, although the boys at first thought the book was "babyish," we ended up finding four vocabulary words they didn't know. We looked them up in the dictionary and practiced reading them and remembering their meanings. Also, the boys were not able to locate the places the girl travelled on the world map. We had fun finding the places and labelling them with the appropriate flag stickers.

 As a pre-reading exercise, I had them tell me their versions of how to make an apple pie. Yikes! Their recipe involved pouring water over the apples and baking them at 900 degrees for a few hours.
It was fun to help them see that we use reading for lots of things, including cooking and learning about the world with maps. I think they also gained an appreciation for the fact that "story books" are not just for babies.... and that they can delve deeper into their favorite stories now that they're a bit older.
After studying the book, we decided to start our own story about how to make chocolate chip cookies. We used a simple recipe and a map that showed natural resources and where things are grown. Each boy took one ingredient, found a place on the map where they could get that ingredient, and made up a little part of the story. I'm going to compile the story and have them illustrate it at our next meeting. It was a fun extension of the story idea and a way to get them looking more closely at a map and thinking about where their food comes from.
And, finally, of course we had to make apple pies! We worked together to make mini-apple pies for everyone.

 They were yummy!

And here's a gratuitous shot of three little book club cuties looking fancy! They're just so cute and they like being on the blog! (My biggest fans!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pinewood Derby

Last Saturday Ray and Adam participated in their Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby!

 Weighing In ---

Adam's Car --- "The Super Mobile"
Ray's Car --- "Candy Corn"

 Our pack's derby is noncompetitive, which I love. That means there are no heats, brackets, trophies, or tears. The boys all get lots of chances to race their cars. They get excited when they win. They do compete among themselves, but in a healthy way. The entire event lasts about an hour. Awesome!

 Both of the boys won at least one race and they were both very proud of their cars.

Special thanks to our friend Matt who helped Jon and the boys shape their cars!

Valentine's Day

Happy belated Valentine's Day! I've been meaning to send out this post... and chuckled when Ray recently asked me how long the season of Valentine lasted. :) Indeed, we really did celebrate for more than a week.
We enjoyed counting down to Valentine's Day by reading Scripture verses about love. (See Catholic Icing for awesome free printable.)
My darling hubby got me beautiful roses and the multicolored carnations he knows I love and a box of chocolate. He laughed a lot about the facts that I told him not to get flowers until after the holiday when they were cheaper AND I gave up chocolate for Lent. He had already ordered both. I have a way of ruining things. He is so good to me.
Our homeschool group had an awesome Valentine's Day party (the Friday before) at a super fun bounce place. We had 120+ kids from 40 families and everybody had a blast.

We made this cool valentine box out of Legos ---

And we won first prize for it!
Our prize bag included some candy, a fun new game, and these fabulous straw glasses ---
In addition to the tons of valentines and candy we received at the party, we were totally spoiled by all the grandparents and other family and friends. Lots of cards, yummy cookies, paper airplane kits, and CASH... really. Crazy.
To top that all off, we had a surprise visit from Pappy and Mary, who came into town for a funeral. We were so happy to see them... and Jon and I were able to sneak out for a valentine lunch together.
The boys decided to hang out with Pappy and Mary while I drove some other kids to a party at a local nursing home. This was a service project of our Friday class. We visited the residents and handed out valentines. It was a fun, sweet afternoon.

 Jon's main valentine request was for a Jello cake I sometimes make. It was a yummy end to a fun day!

And so we enjoyed lots of celebrations and fun.... and of course read some stories about Saint Valentine and asked for his intercession as we continue to learn about love and practice loving one another as God asks us to do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lent 2013

Did you think I gave up blogging for Lent?

I didn't. Life is just busy... and so many posts swirl around in my head at night as I'm trying to sleep.

Lent really snuck up on me this year. Last week was so unusual with Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day.... such a whirlwind of feasting and fasting and celebrating and praying. And add to all that the shocking announcement of the Pope's retirement! So much to process and do, but no time to blog about it.

But here we are... almost a full week into the holy season of Lent.

For the first time, we decided to make a Lenten sacrifice together as a family. All four of us gave up chocolate.  This is the first year that the boys have really embraced the idea of this kind of sacrifice. We've had some really interesting conversations about it and they've been pretty good about it so far. Of course, Jon had already ordered a big box of valentine chocolates for us... so we did indulge on Sunday a bit.

The boys and I made these awesome Lent lapbooks (a Pinterest idea of course).

The contents (left to right): A prayer list for special intentions, a pocket to store Stations of the Cross cards, a Lenten path (from Catholic Icing) to color each day, a place to record Lenten sacrifices, and a crown of thorns they can color as they make small sacrifices throughout Lent.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read our Lenten reflection books or set up our Lenten tree branch! So, with renewed resolve I am going to go get those things pulled together and ready for tomorrow... right NOW!

May you all have a holy, fruitful Lent.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday Fun!

It's hard to believe that Lent begins tomorrow already! Time flies when you're not fasting... or something like that. I'll spare you the comments about "Fat Monday... Wednesday... Thursday...." Regardless of your body type, today is "Fat Tuesday." It's the last day before the fasting of Lent begins.... a day when kitchens are traditionally cleared of sweets, butter, etc. The parties and parades are in full swing in New Orleans... it's Mardi Gras!

We have a few Fat Tuesday family traditions. First of all, Jon has to have these ---

Paczki (pronounced "poonch keys") are a Polish traditional food for this day. Every year Jon takes them into the office. Here's Ray enjoying a Paczki before school this morning....

He and Adam found masks, necklaces, and gold coins hidden around the house this morning.
Our other Mardi Gras tradition is to have pancakes for dinner... which we did tonight. My mom joined us for a yummy dinner of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I must have been too busy or too tired... forgot to take pictures. 
In addition to all the Mardi Gras fun.... we also had a very "sweet" book club meeting today!

The boys had read The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling in preparation for today's meeting. It's the story of a boy who was very greedy and wanted to eat chocolate all the time. He eats a special piece of chocolate that cause everything that touches his lips to turn to chocolate. He quickly learns to change his selfish ways. It's a twist on the King Midas story.

For homework the boys had to make story maps about The Chocolate Touch.

We discussed the story and then watched a youtube video of the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. We compared and contrasted the two stories and then the boys completed a fill-in-the-blank activity about what kind of "touch" they would like to have. Two of the boys wished for "Lego Touch" so they could turn lots of things into Legos. Two of the boys wished for the "Anything Touch" so they could turn things into whatever they wanted them to be. And one boy wished for "Electronic Touch" so he could beef up his collection of electronic devices.

Next, we reviewed the difference between nouns and adjectives. We had fun with a few Mad Lib sentences and then played a noun/adjective matching game with "chocolates" (blocks with chocolate stickers on top and words on the bottom).

 The boys then designed their own chocolate bars. They came up with a name for their creations and designed a package. Then they listed the ingredients in their bar, drew it's shape, and wrote some adjectives to describe it. They did a great job!

We got together with the girls, moms, and babies and we all ate lunch. THEN.... we enjoyed some yummy chocolate treats! Our aspiring chef did a great job dipping lots of ingredients in chocolate! And we all enjoyed eating them.

So, we've had our fill of sweets. I just enjoyed one of my mom's delicious butterscotch cookies (which she brought over for Valentines Day) and then hid them in the cupboard until Thursday. From feasting to fasting we go.... ready or not.... it's time for Lent.