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Showing posts from December, 2014


Last year I took a huge step back from our church.  We still went, but we were not involved.  Change was in the air.  The DRE was making decisions that I felt were not in keeping with our traditions and did not suit the children or the parents.  The Priest was becoming more and more distant, retired Priests were taking on more and more masses.  I did not leave, but I took that huge step back.  

This year we have a new dynamic Priest, no DRE, and a philosophy of teaching children that mirrors my own perfectly.  It has been like a dance.  Step back, step in, lead.  Of course, these changes have caused other people, friends, who were active during the time I was not, to step back, and sit this dance out.  I get it, but it makes me sad because they were the heart and soul of our church for so long.  

For now I lead my own dance to this new beat.  The group of catechists are mostly new, this year being their first year teaching and they have undergone huge changes in a short period of time. …

Art Journaling: Snowflakes and Sheet Music

I love love love that we are back to art journaling.  We have been able to squeeze in some time that we previously carved out for pottery class.  It is a simple journaling session.  Two of our friends come over and we work on a page.  This week we combined our love of Christmas music with our love of Doodle Draw Art tutorials on YouTube.  
This is a very simple page. Create a boarder with Sharpie Markers.

Rip the edges of the sheet music and glue to the sketchbook page.
Draw the snowflake and outline in black Sharpie.

Mod Podge over the page. Color in the snowflake using Sharpie.  

We used the oil based Sharpies which are very opaque.  Regular Sharpies over Mod Podge will allow the background to show through. Write a favorite quote using Sharpie. Done!

When we pick back up in January, we will take a trip to our favorite art supply store to stock up on some supplies.  It has been so long since we have had friends over for journaling that we need to replenish some of our key journaling supplies.

Completed! 6 week Puppy Obedience Class

Years ago I was a long term substitute teacher for Kindergarten.  Over the years of teaching there have been many students who have stayed in my memory for a variety of reasons, but there is one that I talk about the most, even now, 6 years later.  
This child was a very young kindergartener, a boy of just 4 years old who would not turn 5 until late in December.  Our town had December 31st as the age requirement to be 5 to enroll.  Due to this, most boys start kindergarten a whole year later, when they are much closer to turning 6.  This little boy could not sit still.  He climbed the bookshelves rather than take out a book to read.  He turned somersaults during circle time.  He was also a runner.  Given the chance, he was out the door like a shot.  And guess where he was headed?  To the playground.  We would walk down the hall in a single file line and he would fly like an airplane.  His smile was infectious and numerous times teachers and older students would walk by and say “Oh he i…

Completed! 6 week ASL course.

Since we are using American Sign Language as our foreign language credit, it is important that we make it the equivalent of a high school or middle school class even though this is a content based course, and not based on credit hours.
From September to November the girls worked in a class setting every Thursday evening for 2 hours and completed American Sign Language I.  Last year was also ASL I but this year was a challenge, being immersed in a language and into a class with adult learners.  For the purpose of simplicity, I am calling this ASL I rather than II.
They completed the textbook The American Sign Language Phrase Book with DVD by Barbara Bernstein Fant and Lou Fant.

The class went on hiatus until the first week of January which is pretty typical for us.  Take December off, remember?  But I did not want a six week gap even though it will not show on their transcript.  Their teacher, who is also the mother of one of Grace’s best friends, agreed to teach the girls in a fun, inform…

Natural Science Illustration Class

My last post talked about how this is the first year that our classes have extended far into December.  Despite being busy, traveling to New Haven and Hamden and Seymour, dinners on the go, early mornings, and traffic stress, there is a payoff that I was not expecting -- the joy of completion!  
Natural Science Illustration  at The Peabody Museum at Yale University 5 weeks - 7.5 hours.  Does not count travel time (some homeschoolers do, but we do not because this is when we listen to audiobooks and file that time under language arts)
Imagine having an entire museum at your fingertips.Imagine having a fantastic instructor who is head of art at this fine museum.

The focus of this class is natural science illustration: line, shape, shading, perspective, form.    Each week the kids gather in the auditorium for a lecture.  One week it was on how to draw an eye.  Another is was how to capture space.  The instructor obviously loves what he does because he is able to connect with each child on his…

I need to Slow Down

Somewhere along the way I forgot to slow down for December.  This is the first year that we have had scheduled lessons that do not take break for the holidays.  It is a cardinal rule that homeschooling classes take December off.  However, we are marching along with ASL private lessons (they end this week until the second week of January), horseback riding (you pay for your spot every week), piano (I was going to cancel it, but we have a new piano that the girls are dying to show their teacher), art class (it ended this week), and dog training (it too ends this week).  
The problem with classes running so late into the month is that while we got art, language arts (we finished The Best Christmas Carol), sign language, music, and life skills taken care of, there is virtually no time for the other subjects that we do at home like history, science and math.  The time we have at home is spent preparing for Christmas, shopping for gifts that can’t be ordered online, finishing up Christmas Ca…

Art Journaling:

We have carved out a little time each week to open our sketchbooks and resume art journaling.  Unfortunately I don’t have the time between preparing things for the girls’ lessons, home projects we have going on right now and a large religious ed project I am coordinating, to be super artistic.  With I don’t have to create a whole concept for a journal page.  

Last week we used the adorable Santa tutorial and each girl put her own unique spin on it.  Grace likes hers to look as close to the model as possible.  Lilah always changes hers to make it unique.  We used the white space around Santa’s head to write anything that came to mind.  With Santa, the possibilities are endless.  Grace wrote about Christmas Eve.  Lilah ripped up scrap book paper and make a simple mosaic on the white space.  On the larger pieces she wrote Christmas memories and traditions.  We had two friends join us this week which made the experience even more fun!

While squeezing this time in between d…

Weekly Wrap Up: A Christmas Carol

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. Charles Dickens
When I reflect back on the past few months, I am in awe of how reading has become a shared experience in my family.  Last night our family gathered together with Aunt Kris and a cousin and through the laughter and the barks of a puppy and the chaos of Christmas preparations, there were references to books we have read this fall.  
For example, the kids were watching an Episode of The Big Bang Theory and from the dining room I heard Sheldon mutter the words,  “Curiouser and curiouser”.  Immediately I piped in, “Name the book!” and Lilah immediately quipped back, “Alice in Wonderland!” 
Then later, as I was going up to bed, leaving the children and Greg at the dining room table playing and intense game of Clue, he mentioned to be not to be alarmed if I hear him in the attic, getting the sleep over mattress down.  I told him I would never be alarmed, for it is not as if the ghost of Jacob Marley would be app…


I feel connected to our church in a way that I have not felt in years.  It is amazing what a dynamic, energetic, confident, capable Priest can do to bring life and energy and exuberance to a group of people who gather together in shared faith.

With any change, it is impossible to make everyone happy.  My commitment to our church was tested two years ago when the Sister who was the Director of Religious Education was let go and a new DRE was brought on whose every decision brought me frustration.  Each email I received from her was like rubbing sandpaper on an open wound.  I pulled back from my involvement with our church but I did not let go.  Eventually the tide turned and we were given a new Priest this summer and with him came sweeping changes to religious education, now called Faith Formation, and he took it upon himself to be the sole “director” of the program.
It has been a breath of fresh air (for me).  I have returned to teaching, stepping in for the 6th grade teacher who left …