Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Notes: JB and I went to Adoration yesterday. Math is getting beefed up. Our reading in science and history is going well. JB did an experiment and recorded her observations. J is feeling bad and is in slow gear. My learning goal for the year is to retain what we study. We are a family of talkers so talking things through is often our method of review and synthesis. The new three-ring binders I bought for JB and J are helping us get more of our work in the notebooks. One of the joys of winter is that it is fun to get out the glue sticks and the construction paper and add color and design to any activity. Tomorrow, when we drive up to Cumming for Maggie's club meeting, I want to take JB and J's Faith and Life books and do the cover for J's new notebook. JB thought up the title, "Family Fun with Faith". Maggie is keeping her K-12 and Dr. Jay Wile company. She is on a math sabbatical. We are all jazzed up to create some bear books. With three family birthdays in Jan and Feb, as well as George W. and Abe L.,and a family interest in all the migrating birds we have seen this winter, we like B things: birthdays, birds and bears. We are helping to host a baby shower in February -- the love of babies is perennial...which makes me think of the movie that J and I downloaded for free off Netflix last nite: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.
Just got back from music lessons and am off to try that healthy version of "country-fried" steak. Some southerners refer to it as "chicken-fried" steak, which is funny. Much more has gone on here in the last few days. It helps me so much to take a few minutes and count a few of the blessings we experience. I hope J gets well soon as we have various teas and parties we are getting together in the next few weeks. I did not mention the work the girls are putting in to the two plays our family is involved in: Alice in Wonderland and Tom Sawyer.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
*shoot for reading the upcoming Sunday Gospel with the children every Wed. morning (Thurs or Fri would work)
*do more acrostic poetry and poetry copywork for our notebooks
*make Jay's family fun with Faith notebook
*beef up Joy-Beth's math
*talk to Maggie about tidal learning and encourage her to "swim" with us more in the high tide
*plan an American History tea party for some friends: red, white and blue plus President's Day
*don't forget Classical Music for Kids that I bought through Adoremus
*look in "A Continual Feast" and "A Year with God" for some Lenten inspiration
*do not overshedule our weeks (today's blessed quiet time -- and, all the learning that went on -- was the fruit of having less to do this past three days, not more)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The whole of our day encompasses this first "R" as well as the traditional "Three Rs": "reading, writing and 'rithmetic." We love science, history and geography and often study these subjects as they relate to the feasts and seasons of our liturgical year. Here is some of what each child does:
Maggie is my math and science student. She also knows her faith as I wish I did at her age. At 11, she is, and has been for some time, a "tidal learner". She whizzed through Saxon Math up to Algebra and now is working with Teaching Textbooks, the book and DVD. She likes Dr. Jay Wile for science, taking nature walks and going to TORCH coop classes. She is doing K-12 for 7th grade language arts, along with lots of "extracurricular" reading. She has read extensively from the lives of the saints and about Catholic scientists. She read Catherine and Bernard Scherrer's The Joyful Mysteries of Life. She has gained a good understanding of what it means to be human and a practicing Catholic. She plays the clarinet and the guitar and is frequently in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. She is a blessing to her family.
Joy-Beth is 10 and loves to read and write and we begin with My Catholic Speller and various approaches to math and science, including coop classes, some worksheets and homemade flashcards and games. Joy-Beth has collected almost all of the Pauline series on the saints. She writes creatively and shares the family passion for history. She listens to music, watches some t.v. on her computer, and sings and plays the guitar. She has fun collecting Webkinz. She can be found blogging here. She is a blessing to her family. She works hard in the house and the garden. This fall she attended a babysitting seminar at our regional hospital.
Jay is 6 and loves to draw and notebook. He plays with his Legos, is not at all interested in reading alone, but loves to listen to mom read (Grimm's fairy tales is a favorite.) His favorite subjects are art and history ("studying war is fun," he says...) He and Joy-Beth play Webkinz. He works hard in the house and garden. He is a blessing to his family.
We love to discuss life and learning and often use the Internet, the local library and our library and computers here at home to research various topics, from hermit crabs to Alexander the Great. The girls kept journals over Christmas, and I hope to spend more time this winter fine-tuning age-appropriate writing skills. Dad is very involved with faith formation, caregiving and education. He also mows the lawn and takes all the animals (5: Tanner, Tyler, Trouble, Kittie and Tabby) to the vet! Did I mention that he makes all the money and then turns around and pays all the bills! Without his encouragement, Mom would not be able to juggle all the balls that make up an environment rich in prayer, learning, work and fun! Without Him who is Love, none of this would be possible.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I went to bed thinking about a question another homeschooling mom posed at her blog, "Heaven, not Harvard" (click: here for the link); she asked, "Why do you read blogs?" Indeed, why? Why write them? How is blogging better than publishing your life or work or business on a webpage? The first blog I read somewhat regularly was Amy Welborn's "Open Book," which I have not looked at in some time. I was, at the time, feeling called to home educate our children. So, I started reading some blogs by Catholic home educating moms. I have always been an avid reader.
On the writing end, I think blogging a form of journalism. Clearly, it is more personal and few of us get paid for it! We who take the time to keep this online journal called a blog are very often motivated to touch the lives of others. I think our "payment" is often in the form of enrichment, edification, and entertainment -- laughter is good, good medicine! Erma Bombeck would have blogged; I'm sure of it!
I do not have a funny style and don't tell stories like I'd like to....I do care passionately about what I do. I love my family and cannot properly express what a gift it is that the good Lord would give us this time to grow, worship and learn together. As usual, I have more thoughts swarming in my head, but I gotta sign off for now. Here is a very "unschooly" quote from the quirky and capable "Mrs. Todd". This reflects my own concern regarding too much rigor in our planning/scheduling.
In Chapter 8, she says, "I must say I like variety myself; some folks washes Monday an' irons Tuesday the whole year round, even if the circus is goin' by!"
P.S. I think blogs are more engaging than webpages, but, then again, each serves different purposes. I have seen them work nicely together, as is the case with love2learn.net.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
We ate some cheese and crackers, and it kept coming down. Beautiful! The children piled on hats and gloves, had a snowball fight and built two snowmen (we even had carrots for the noses!).
Then, joy upon joy, it snowed again yesterday on Joy-Beth's 10th birthday. Thank you, Lord. I had seen Jay making snow angels and building snowmen for the first time in his life. Since Joy-Beth entered the "land of the double digits" on the 19th, her father and I allowed her to invite 9 girls (including her sister) for a not-so-much-slumber party. We marvelled at the fact that it had never snowed on her birthday. Snow is so rare in Georgia. We go years in a row only seeing an occasional flurry; and, here in the course of a week, we had two snows with enough snow cover for sledding and snowmen.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I stole a moment, before I began writing, to look at some old photographs taken of Sarah Orne Jewett's Maine of the late 1800's. I bought a beautiful hardback edition of The Country of the Pointed Firs off the Internet (Half.com) for $1 plus shipping; and, it arrived a couple of hours ago! Joy-Beth, Jay and I are working our way through Seton's two clear and compelling history books on American history for children: How America Began and How America Grew.
Last night, I attended a most inspiring talk by one of our TORCH (go here for a link to this wonderful group) mothers, who has educated her eight children at home for the past 14 years. She and her husband draw on the sacramental grace of marriage to create the "domestic church" that all Catholic families are called to be. Since I was not raised in a Catholic home, it inspires awe in me to see what is possible when we participate in all seven sacraments. We can truly shoot the moon! We should always strive to be who God has created us to be, to be the best version of ourselves. We have no excuses to settle for less than the best, as our Lord has given us all of Himself. He has given us His Most Blessed Mother. He has given us the Vicar of Christ. He has given us our Guide and our Rule, the Church, which is Him alive in the world this minute.
I was particularly touched by some of Patty's exhortations as I have, on many occasions, received the grace necessary to be what I could never be "on my own steam." The gift of home education has only come to our family through God's steady and merciful grace. I have always been intrigued by philosophy, but it was not until I became a Catholic, at the ripe old age of 33, that I realized that a true love of learning can only be possessed when all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are present. What happens when the Holy Spirit is missing? Secular culture for one. People can be very intelligent, but we are a ship with neither rudder nor captain, without God as our Guide. We are adrift, ready (and often willing!) to be blown around by myriad temptations. It is my experience that the more intelligent the person, the more temptations abound. An intelligent person ought to be aware of his need for guidance and grace. So often, this is not the case.
My point is that learning is not just a gift we possess, but it must be accompanied by the grace that we receive from our Creator. Creatures these days are all too ready to worship themselves. Humans want to invent their own religions; they want God to belong to them. The opposite reality -- that we belong to God and His Divine Will -- involves humility. Last night, I saw and heard from a very beautiful, humble child of God. My heart is so full of gratitude and love for all that God has done for me and my family. He has brought the most amazing people into our lives.
Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace. Amen
Friday, January 11, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Christmas Eve 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for taking a few minutes to help us count our blessings. Our beautiful Advent season flew by all too fast this year.
Welcome Christmas! Here is a “Sullivan family update,” from the youngest to the oldest:
Jay is 6 and self-described as “fun and nice”. He draws often and well and spends hours building with Legos. He is outgoing, loves people and animals, and has been asking nonstop if he can open his Christmas presents.
Joy-Beth is 9 and true to her name; she is a joy. She loves to read. She writes creatively, writes in cursive, helps Mom re-arrange furniture, composes songs on her guitar, and plays with her siblings and friends.
Maggie is 11 and is blossoming into a lovely young lady. She is a terrific cook, good to her friends and an intellectual powerhouse. She plays the guitar and the clarinet. She advises Mom on the latest home education curricula and trends.
Sara is 41 and can be found blogging on the Internet at “Those That Wonder,” an online journal. http://thosethatwonder.blogspot.com/ Home education is a fit for now for her and her family. She does her best to be active in her neighborhood and parish. She loves to read, write, be outside; and, most of all, watch her children grow and learn.
Jerry is 44 and our hero. After three years of hard work and sacrifice, his work on an Internet security software product is truly making waves in the computer industry. He loves music and plays guitar. How he finds time to care for us, two big dogs, three cats, two cars and a big house is a testament to his faith and love! He is his wife’s greatest blessing on earth.
We survived a few bumps in the road -- more blood and stitches with Jaybird, for one. As those of you who know about some of our past “adventures,” this year has been so very peaceful and uneventful. We had a lovely week at the beach in September, and we love our friends here in Georgia. We miss those of you who live far away, but keep you close in thought and prayer.
May Christ’s Peace and Love be with you today and through Eternity. Have a blessed and happy Christmas season and 2008!
The Sullivan Family