Friday, January 19, 2018

How the Homeschool Year is Going So Far! #SQT

It's Friday, a cold day with snow everywhere. My two oldest are on their way down to DC for the March for Life. They left at 5AM from Cowgirl's godmother's home (a hour south of us where they spent the night to be there first thing in the morning) and will arrive back there after midnight.  My two littles are still asleep.

So, I thought I would offer a little update on how the school year is going. I'll try for 7 Quick Takes, it might only be 4, but here we go...

#1 Free Video Classes are Amazing! If Virtual Homeschool Group offered affilitate programs, I could be their biggest endorser.  I tell everyone about it.  I am here to tell you, after using it for half our school year it really is wonderful. I highly recommend using their classes and if you have the time, why not teach one, too!

#2 Geography Coloring Book is Working! I really, really like geography. I would spend hours just looking through my atlas and spinning my globe, then returning to my atlas to learn more about my globe discovery.  I have had a hard time getting my kids that excited about it, though.

I was determined that this would be the year we made significant strides in geography.  Now, they all have very good map skills and can name a few dozen animals that live on every continent. However, putting those two together was fuzzy at best.

I spent months researching THE BEST geography curriculum. I didn't like what I found or was overwhelmed by the price. Then my friend, Emily, suggested we just draw and color maps.  Why didn't I think of that?  Since she was schooled in Europe for a number of years, I went with her advice. 

I purchased a second hand book of blank geo-political maps.  We have been very slowly working through first coloring each of the continents, labeling them, and discussing boundaries. Now we are getting down to color coding individual countries on the continents.  I hope to do a map for each country, too, but don't think we will make it there this year at this pace. I am just so happy they are learning and have gotten very interested in maps and globes!! 

#3 We Have Not Tamed the Pen and Pencil Eating Monster!  I don't know about your house, but our writing implements are ALWAYS missing!!  We switched to only pen, as suggested by Andrew Pudewa. I thought that might solve it, nope, I am still asked at least 54,863,925 times a week, "Do you know where my pen is?"

If you have advice, please share it! I have tried every system known to man, short of tying them down like in the bank! 

#4 Latin is So Much Fun!!  Who knew!  My boys long to do Latin and are enjoying it so much. They walk through the house chanting conjugations and quotes by famous philosophers.  

#5 I Should Have Been Using Saxon All Along!  I fought the tide of every recommendation to use Saxon Math. We tried all the rest.  I wanted color and depth. I wanted fancy with drills and fancy workbooks. Then I wanted simple and easy. Then I wanted manipulatives upon manipulatives. Then I switched back to easy.  In the end, all I really wanted was for them to learn math.

Math always my least favorite subject. I thought I needed to make it something spectacular for my kids to overcome that. As it happens, they just need a solid textbook and a bit of guidance. We are now a Saxon family! 

#6 Having a School Calendar Makes Me Happy!  Our old way of running the school was start after Labor Day and finish at Memorial Day. We took no breaks other than minimal time for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  Typically we logged over 200 days even though we finished "a month early."

I am getting older and I realized that this amount of work load was not doing anyone good.  So we are now on a trimester plan. We have 11 weeks on and then a "reading week."  We also took off a week for Thanksgiving (kind of a reading week--I think), one for Christmas, and we will have off time for Easter.  In February is our next reading week.  Then we will finish by June 1st.

Having a plan, makes everything run smoother. I divided our workload by three semesters and now we can see exactly what needs to get done when. No more realizing in April we have miles to go before we sleep!

#7 School Doesn't Need a Room!  I was bound and determined to make our school more efficient and official by having it in the "school room" every day with everyone working around our big table and a clock to govern our time. It worked for the first 6 weeks, mostly.

However, Cowgirl needs her peace and solitude to work well. Even with everyone else working/playing and engaged, she was too distracted.  In the end having her work in her room worked for everyone.

Having the boys downstairs and out of the kitchen, though, has led to far fewer snack breaks.  I get much more accomplished for my job, life, etc. when I take whatever I need to get done and bring it down as well. 

The little ones play instead of climbing on me and whining for my attention every 30 seconds and Buddy works on his school work.  We have fallen a bit off this wagon with the allure of the living room fire on the cold winter days.  I need to just push Buddy to light a fire downstairs and that would solve it.  I just haven't wanted to have to keep two fires burning while I work.

Perhaps, February will change my mind. February is the hardest homeschool month. We need a little prodding to keep going. Fire and tea just might be it!

I made it through all seven!!  

How is your homeschool year going? Have any tips or tricks to share?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In Celebration of Perfection and Lovie Lu's Birthday

Time is flying, isn't it?  September quickly becomes February. October melts into April. Blink and a whole year has passed!

I have been wanting to post about Advent and Christmas preparations, but the time has just slipped through my fingers.  Speaking of time--can you believe my new baby girl turned 1???  I can't either. How could a whole year have passed?

Party Planning
Although I tried so hard to make this day not show up, to keep her little and let the months stretch out forever, time has a way of marching on and babies have a way of growing.  Even though I didn't want to think about her birthday, I couldn't help planning her party.

Before she was born, I had picked up a child sized tea cup for Lovie Lu.  It is a precious little thing of white china with pink roses and a gold rim.  From that little trinket, I planned a whole party--a very first, very frilly tea party!

There were nights that I lay awake planning which tea cups would go on which table, how the tables would be arranged, which linens and laces I could use.  I rifled through my draws of tableclothes and runners. Gently leafed through the linens that I had taken from my grandmother's home and the doilies my great grandmother made.  I searched through my china cabinet and the cedar chest that hold my mother and grandmother's china set for my girls.

With all these little treasures, I planned a party fit for a very special princess.   I didn't have much to spend in the way of money, but I made up for that with hard work and creativity--and a little crystal, too!

Lovie Lu had a tea party shower complete with china and silver, why not do the same for her birthday?  In my humble opinion, it was magical, it was beautiful, it was perfect!

Except that perfection doesn't exist this side of heaven.  A sweet little baby all wrapped in hope and heavenly scents is about as close as we come, but even there, perfection aludes us.

In my desire to have the perfect party, I could not wait to share the beauty of the day. I longed to pour over the photos as my little girl poured over her cards, examining each one and squealing with delight. I dreamt of my magazine worthy prints, my fabulous post, my awe inspiring Facebook share.

I could see in my mind how all would look. How everyone would ooh and aah over my special celebration. My baby girl is priceless, her party and photos would show the world just that!

I lost the forest for the trees!

More Than That and So Much More  
Just as each of my children are more than a number, more than just moments or victories or social media likes--the true celebration of my daughter's birth was more than a collection of photos to rival the pages of Martha Stewart's magazine.

The celebration was a treasury of memories. An opportunity to thank God for all we had been blessed to have, all those prayers and wishes come true...all those moments that linger in my heart! 

You see...those perfect pictures, the ones I saw in my mind as drool worthy...that was all pride! And God made sure I didn't get puffed up!

Every photo came blurry. Vignettes that I worked hard to create were missed by my resident, family photographer.  I felt such disappointment...such melancoly.  

I gave up on the custom outfit.  I gave up on the perfect cake and the Pinterest decorations.  We used e-vites instead of engraved invitations.  There were so many little touches and treats that I sacrificed for the good of the family, for our meager budget's sake---now even the photos were offered up!

Sharing the Good News, Not the Perfect
How could I share these?  How could I scrapbook them and have my grandchildren enjoy this little fruit of my labor from long ago? Why could something just not be perfect after so much planning?

Because, my child, this world is broken!
Only I AM perfect, only with Me are things whole!

You see I was chasing an allusion!  I wanted the support of man to cover the multitude of sins that are my life. Facebook likes and blog shares don't equal perfection.  This blog is not about making people think I am better--or at least that was never it's intent--it is my little apostolate to spread His good news, not mine!

The photos weren't out of focus--I was!

JOY, JOY, JOY....and St Philip Neri
When I became pregnant with Lovie Lu, I had a strong pull to St Philip Neri. In prayer, his name was laid on my heart several times. Little coincidences--or God-incences--put his story before me, when I had never even thought of this good saint before.

I began to believe that we must be having a boy who was meant to be named Philip....but baby was a girl!  I dug into St Philip's story, wondering why he was the one God kept pointing out to me.  You know what one of St Philip Neri's patronages is?  JOY!  Yes, joy!

Those of you who know me in real life, know how joy filled Lovie Lu is. She is the most lighted filled child I have ever known. Everywhere we go, people comment on how happy she is, how her smiles lights up the room. Everyone she meets is touched by her love.

These photos would never capture who she really is or the wonder of her year with us.  They could never really show how her face beamed and lip quivered when everyone sang to her.  How she was overcome with emotion at seeing all her loved ones gathered just for her. A photograph would never tell the story of how she took each card and "read" it, sliding her finger under the words, pointing out each design and print or how she hugged those cards to her heart and smiled at each family member who had given it to her.  That, my dear readers, is pure joy!

And She Pondered All These in Her Heart
I don't have the words for how amazing of an experience this little party was, and it isn't because of anything that I could have captured in a perfect photoshoot. My Lovie Lu has lived up to her nickname, and patron, she was love and joy!

The heirloom china, the perfectly pink tablecloth, the miniature cakes and artfully set tables...those were nice, but it would have been just a grim gathering had it not been for the gift of my sweet child.

I don't know what God has planned for her, but I believe it is something great!  In my heart there are memories that will warm me all my matter how imperfect the party and pictures were.

We aren't called to be perfect, we are called to love. That I learned from a little child...the Christ child, Our Savior whose birthday is just days away, who came not into a picture perfect palace but a humble, lowly stable. That Christ child is my LORD and I will never be able to thank Him enough for that precious gift, but it took another child, my precious girl, to remind me just what life and Christmas are all about!

Thanks for stopping by!  


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Saint Nicholas Sparkly Party, Fundraiser, and Giveaway!

It's Saint Nicholas Day! Did you leave out your shoes?  The good saint came to the Veils and Vocations homestead and left a pile of fruit, candies, and a small treat for each child. The kids are contentedly enjoying the treasures...sugar will be kicking in soon.

I jumped on here to share an amazing opportunity to give, shop, and maybe even receive! My beautiful friend, Anita, is a Premier Designs Consultant. My children are Mary's Meals Ambassadors. Wat do those two have in common??  A St Nicholas party of giving with lots of bling.

Anita and I are teaming up to help spread the word of Mary's Meals, help you wrap up that Christmas shopping, and feed children most in need around the world.

 Mary's Meals is a charity near and dear to my heart.  For this fundraiser, every dollar raised will go directly to feeding the neediest children. Every dollar will feed 20 children--20 children!!! Not only will their bellies be filled but they will get to go to school.

Food + School = Hope

Hope is what it is all about. There is no greater gift that hope, after all that is what the Christ Child brought. Hope for redemption. Hope for peace. Hope for a future. Hope for all people--Hope!!

What are you giving this Christmas? how about a stunning necklace, all wrapped up in hope?

To join our event visit our page here, it is open to everyone on Facebook or not! Please hop over and share away!!  This event wraps up on December 11th and all orders will be delivered in time for Christmas.

Excited yet??? Well, there is more, much more. One blessed reader is going to be chosen as the mystery hostess at the end of the event. That means, one of you will walk away with sleigh full of jewelry for FREE!!!  Yes, FREE!  Oh, don't you love Christmas time giveaways. 

So share and shop!  Every dollar earned will help provide hope through Mary's Meals and a little more bling for our lovely hostess. Will it be you??

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