Wordless Wednesday – books we’re reading

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St. Lucy Day

This was our first year celebrating St. Lucy Day, and I sort of threw it together at the last minute – but the kids enjoyed it, and I will definitely put a little more planning into it next year!

We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and traditionally they are supposed to be served to the family by the oldest daughter wearing a crown of greenery with candles in it on her head, a white robe, and a red sash.  There is no way we were putting anything with candles in it on Little T’s head, so we made a crown of green construction paper with four construction paper candles instead.  Next year I’ll work on the robe and sash part.

According to my Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions, boys can wear a blue hat with yellow stars on St. Lucy Day – so I made one of those for Mr. S.

The hats lasted past breakfast, much to my amazement!  I don’t think they’ll make it through the day, though – but I’m glad the kids enjoyed this new tradition, and I hope to make it more meaningful in the years to come.

Planning ahead

We’re going to be out of town from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2 – we’ll be spending Christmas and New Year’s with my family in Florida, I’m hoping for warm weather!  This week I’m trying to get a head start on planning what kinds of units we’ll be doing the first few months of 2011.  Here are my ideas so far:

  • Winter – I found enough picture books and craft ideas to keep us busy for the entire month of January.
  • African American History Month – I’m not sure I can fill an entire month, but I’m going to give it a shot.  The challenge will be finding picture books on notable African Americans that aren’t over my kids’ heads!  But if I can’t fill the whole month, February is also Children’s Dental Health Month and Library Lovers’ Month.
  • Spring – the first day of Spring is March 20, but hopefully the weather will be getting a bit nicer in March so we can start taking some hikes and talking about the changes that Spring brings.
  • Easter – this year it’s April 24, so we’ll focus on Lent and preparing for Easter during the month of April.

At some point in the early months of 2011, I’ll have to start thinking about what kind of curriculum we’ll need for the 2011-2012 school year.  I’m still leaning towards Classical Conversations; I plan to arrange for us to visit a class meeting in January, because I think the local group starts registration for Fall 2011 in February.

We’re also going to be busy with extracurricular activities. In addition to the co-op enrichment classes every Tuesday, little T will be starting ballet in January, and Mr. S is going to play t-ball beginning the first week of February.  There is much to look forward to in the coming year!

Wordless Wednesday

Preparing for Christmas

Yesterday we started baking.  I put Little T and Mr. S to work peeling the wrappers off Hershey’s kisses so I could put them on peanut butter cookies (my mom calls these Peanut Blossoms, and it’s our family’s go-to Christmas cookie).  They did a great job, even if they did eat quite a few of the kisses!  You can also see our Advent wreath here – we light it every morning, and they color their Jesse tree ornaments here while I read them the corresponding verses from the Bible.

And here is our Jesse tree.  I bought it on eBay specifically because it has enough space to hang all the ornaments the kids will be creating between now and Christmas.  I wish I could remember where I downloaded the ornaments – I know it was one of the blogs that I read faithfully, but unfortunately there are so many of them that at this moment I can’t recall which it is!  When I figure it out, I’ll come back here and link to it. Edit:  I found it!  Here is the link.

This is our Advent calendar.  My sister gave it to us last year, and it’s perfect – each little door opens to a cubby that’s big enough for two Hershey’s kisses and a folded piece of paper with our Bible verses for the day and a short prayer.  Since Little T is 3 and Mr. S is 4, she gets to open the door on the odd-numbered days and he does it on even-numbered days.

Our stockings are literally hung by the chimney – after growing up in Miami, I truly relish having a fireplace this time of year!  On top of the mantle is our Nativity set.  My mother took a ceramics class the first year that she and my father were married (1959), and she made two of these sets – one for her and one for my grandmother.  Now I have one set and my sister has the other one, and even though it’s got a few chips and the donkey is missing an ear, it’s my most beloved Christmas decoration!  The only thing I don’t particularly like is that the baby Jesus and the manger are all one piece, so I can’t leave the Christ-child out until Christmas – unless I hold the manger back too.  Oh well!

And finally, here is our tree.  Growing up, we always had a fake tree because I was allergic to real trees (and a variety of other things, most of which I have fortunately outgrown); and so I have always felt more at home with fake trees than real ones.  We bought this particular tree about five years ago, and I love that it’s pre-lit – so the only lights I have to untangle are the ones that go outside!

Nutcracker

(Yes, I got my laptop back!  Apparently they overestimated the time it would take to get the parts, and my husband was able to pick it up yesterday.)

I’m taking the kids to see an abbreviated performance of The Nutcracker ballet tomorrow with our homeschool group – it’s put on by a local ballet school, and should be great fun.  I wanted to make sure they had at least a cursory understanding of the story before we got there, so I looked for a picture book that tells the tale. I found this gem, by Susan Jeffers:

The illustrations are beautiful and ballet-themed, and the story is concise enough for my little ones’ attention span.  It’s a fabulous telling of the tale, if you are looking to introduce your kids to The Nutcracker I highly recommend it!

Laptop woes

When my husband took my laptop to get repaired, I hoped it would take at most a week – and it would have been a quick repair, except that they had to order the parts.  The store called him yesterday and told him it will take 3-4 weeks to get the parts!  Although I must admit I’m getting a lot more done without a laptop to distract me, I hate that I’m falling woefully behind in both blogging and reading other blogs that I enjoy.

For posterity, I did want to note that our theme this week was gardening.  I know it seems strange to be talking about gardens in this remarkably cold weather, but I wanted to take a trip to the Botanical Gardens and used gardening books and crafts to get the kids excited about it.  The three books we read this week were The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart; From Seed to Pumpkin, by Wendy Pfeffer; and Jack’s Garden, by Henry Cole.  We also did garden-themed crafts – on Monday, the kids made a garden using construction paper cut-outs of grass, clouds, and sun; on Tuesday, we did apple prints (we’ve done this before, but this time I cut the apple in different shapes); and on Wednesday, we did leaf rubbings.  On Thursday, we took a field trip to the Botanical Gardens, which was fun except that Mr. S kept asking where the playground was!

Homeschooling two preschoolers is going well.  I really only need Little T to do busywork while I work with Mr. S on his reading and math, and I have a few workbooks which have been keeping her busy so far.  I’m still a little sad about the whole preschool situation, but really I think this is for the best.  I had anticipated that next year I might have some challenges integrating her into our home schooling, but what I didn’t anticipate was that Mr. S would be a bit territorial – apparently he’d decided that being taught at home by mommy was a privilege that he wasn’t sure he wanted to share with his sister, but he’s warmed up to the idea considerably after just one week.

Next week we’re jumping into Christmas stories and crafts.  The kids will love it, they’re already so excited to do our Jesse Tree activity every morning!  I think they’re most excited about the Hershey’s kisses in the Advent calendar, but at least they’re excited, right?!