Thursday, April 29, 2010

Loving the Saints

You know that feeling when everything just suddenly and miraculously falls into place in homeschooling-- when the kids are truly impassioned and learning and excited, and it just seems so easy?

It doesn't happen all the time. I mean, we regularly have a lot of fun and we learn things and we get excited, but once in awhile we experience these truly golden moments where everything clicks and feels perfect. And in those golden moments every fiber of my being knows without a doubt that we're meant to be doing exactly this. There's no self-doubt or worry or any of those creeping voices that gnaw away at the back of my brain. In those moments there is only pure delight.

We experienced one of those moments last week.

Moonshine started on her Saints block and she couldn't be more delighted about it. I remember Sunburst enjoying her Saints block a few years ago, but Moonshine is just over the moon about it. We're using a few different materials this time around-- starting with Tomie dePaola's book Francis: Poor Man of Assisi. I love Tomie dePaola. I love this book, and now, after reading it, I love St. Francis even more.

Moonshine was so moved by his stories that she started drawing them on her own. For fun. With block crayons. One morning last week she delightedly presented me with this picture:

When your child is so moved by a story that they wander off and draw a picture without you, you know you have something special. What's a mom to do? I brought out her new main lesson book and asked her to paste it in. Then we forged ahead. I took a few days to tell the stories from dePaola's book, and it also carried us through St. Clare and Brother Jacopa. Though Jacopa de Settesoli is not a saint, she's my absolute favorite so far! I don't think a tale of St. Francis is complete without her.

We even made up a batch of her famous "cakes" that St. Francis loved so much. They were so simple and delicious that we've made them three times since last week! I omitted the drying time from what is believed to be the original recipe and used unblanched almonds, just to make them easier. We cut ours into squares and put crosses on them. Here's the recipe that Moonshine pasted into her book:

Brother Jacopa's Cakes / Mostaccioli

1/4 c honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c ground almonds
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 egg white (or egg replacer)

Mix and knead well. Roll out dough between baking paper, and cut into shapes. Bake at 250 F for 20-30 minutes. Makes 18 small cookies.

Moonshine also announced last week that she "loves drawing with block crayons" and she's "addicted" to drawing with them. Admittedly, they are difficult at times, but her sudden and overflowing love for them just blew me away.

We've moved on from St. Francis to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. I wish I could say that I loved my resource for that story, but I don't. The more I research her online, the more I realize that the story I told Sunburst, though lovely, wasn't exactly accurate. Nor was the version of St. Francis and St. Clare that I told her using the same resource. It really bothers me, but I'm wondering, should I care? If it moves a child's heart, does it matter if the details are messed up?

What do you guys think? Please leave a comment, as I would really love to know.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy 4th Blogaversary!

I missed my own Blog Anniversary earlier this month. That's so like me! Four years though, wow! I'm not sure if I can count the lean blogging years during the move, but I'm still here. That's a sure sign of something. A strengthened will, maybe. Or insanity. Or both.

Anyway, happy four years! And if you've been reading along all this time-- wow! And thanks. If you're a new friend, thanks to you, too! I appreciate each and every one of you, and your sweet comments mean so much!

Here's to another great blogging year! Hopefully I'll say something useful. ;-)

(Celebratory pose brought to you by the lovely, late Freddie Mercury from our recent trip to Montreux, Switzerland. We are the champions, my friends.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Way down here...

It was a quiet week here. A blah week. My Spring allergies are in full force, and I've had all the get-up and go of a large stone. So it seems kind of fitting that we spent most of it not soaring with the birds, but cruising the forest floor. What delights we discovered there!

Growing up in the desert, I was mesmerized by the magical beauty of the mosses. My enthusiasm for each little leaf paled in comparison to the kids delight when they discovered this moss-covered stump. They were sure this was the exact place where the fairies get married-- services down below and the dance hall reception on top. I can almost picture it.

While we were at it, we explored the lichens, too. They were hard to miss.

This little guy was hard to miss, too. He politely waited for me to snap a picture before he hopped out of sight.

Since we're in the midst of our botany studies, I asked Sunburst to collect a few specimens and put together a moss garden. It's just an old baking dish we've re-purposed with soil, moss, and other items--- bark, rocks, etc. I think it turned out pretty nice...

Sunburst has been poring over it with a magnifying glass. There's so much more to see when you have adequate lighting... there's a whole 'nother world in there! Such fun!!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A bit of Spring cheer!

Just a little brightness inside to help us truly feel Spring. Despite the chilly air outside, the daffodils are gloriously blooming! They really are fearless in the face of the icy wind and rain we've been getting this past week.

We received our new European nature table stand a few days ago, and I'm completely smitten with it. After so many years creating our nature table on a flat surface, this was just what we needed to change things up. On a whim, I took one of our white playsilks and dyed it pink with food coloring and vinegar. It worked very nicely. I heated up a pot of water with about a cup of vinegar and several (maybe 10-12) drops of red food coloring. I just submerged the damp silk into this and let it simmer in the color for about 15-20 minutes. Then I rinsed it out until the water ran clear. -- The cheery color makes me happy!

Knitted eggs, from last year's egg pattern, also made it onto the table to help celebrate Easter. The root children are waiting just a day or two longer to change over though... these little guys are several years old. I have no idea what happened to our flower children, so I'm making new ones this year... fun!! Hopefully they will show their shining little faces in the next few days.

I'm hoping the same for Mr. Sun, the big tease.

Wishing you an Easter morning that's clear and bright!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010


It snowed last night.

Not like this though. But it snowed. I'm realizing just how ambiguous the whole "goes out like a lamb" saying really is. The interpretive door is blown wide open...

Compared to lions, lambs are assumed to be these quiet, calm, fluffy little things. The lambs on the hill behind my house are pretty loud, actually. Not quite as loud as the wind yesterday, but loud enough that I can hear their bleats and clanking bells when the kids are quiet. It's not so much noise that it would shake the shutters throughout the night and keep us awake, like the wind did, but I think you know what I'm saying.

It's supposed to snow again this weekend. Not like this.

But white, I suppose, like the lambs behind our house.

We walked up the hill and visited with them a few days ago when the weather was lovely. Some of the lambs aren't white at all, and some are a bit mottled. They look more like my garden soil after it had been pelted with hail. The sun was actually shining when I uncovered the garden yesterday. As soon as I went inside the house it started hailing. I went back outside, it stopped. One last trick of the weather... I finally gave up and encouraged the sky to destroy my garden. It's early yet, after all.

And then this morning we woke up to snow. Though not like this.

The snow is just on the hillsides that surround our house. It's dusting the trees and settled in tight between them. The birds don't seem to notice it. Right now they are singing outside my window. Their song sounds something like "Come out and play! What a glorious day! It's Spring!" If anyone should know, it's them, right? But it's not... it's barely above freezing!

Is it possible that they have a sense of humor? After all, it is April Fools.

So, I welcome the snow this weekend. Do you hear that sky? Get it over with, so we can get on with things. Shake out your last wintery white pillow and let it snow.

Just please, not like this...

It really did snow like this in February.
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