Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nineveh 90: Week 2 Update

Today ends Week 2 of the Nineveh 90 challenge. The last week has been ... rocky, to say the least. Week 1 was pretty easy, to be honest; but this past week I've definitely felt the spiritual pressure. So much that can't be talked about online, and even barely able to be discussed in person. It's a very dry time right now.

1. Let go of repetitive sin
I'm focusing on the absent-minded computer time, which was off to a good start at the beginning of the week, but miserably failed at the end of the week. 

2. Wear the Brown Scapular, attend daily Mass if possible, go to Confession monthly
Check, check for Sunday Mass, and I'm intending on going to Confession at the Catholic Women's Conference in a couple weeks (or earlier if I need it, of course!).

3. Daily prayer: Morning Offering, Angelus, Rosary, Holy Hour or 20 minutes (not neccessarily before the Blessed Sacrament), bedtime prayers
Failed miserably. Prayer is incredibly hard to do, it all feels so pointless and empty. 

4. Regular and intense exercise, seven hours of sleep, no alcohol, no dessert, no sweets, no pop or sweetened drinks, no TV or movies, only music that is uplifting, no televised sports, limit recreational computer time
I've also fallen off the wagon regarding some parts - like exercise, alcohol, and pop. And limiting recreational computer time. I have managed to stay away from the Top 40 and it's easy to give up televised sports when you never watched them in the first place. ;)

Week 3 begins tomorrow, and of course Lent begins on Wednesday. I'm really not exactly looking forward to Lent, because Lent will most likely end up being Lentier than usual.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How We Use "The Story of Civilization"

The Story of Civilization is a four-volume tour of world history, written from a Catholic perspective. It is published by TAN Books, and written by Phillip Campbell. There are books, a teacher's manual, activity book, audio dramatization, a timeline, and even video lectures that go along with it - we just have the book, the teacher's manual, and the activity manual.

We aim to cover one chapter a week. We do World History twice a week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm all for Keeping It Simple, so everyone who is not napping sits in during World History time. I've done something sneaky and put it into our teatime rotation, so the kids are happily occupied with hot chocolate and popcorn. Hot chocolate is a special event here, so the kids are quiet and listening as they know that shenanigans will pull the plug on their blissful hot chocolate during teatime sessions. As the weather continues to warm up, we'll change from hot cocoa to things like freeze pops, frozen fruit, and maybe even a milkshake or two. 

Right now, the attendees for teatime are Peanut (age 8), Moose (almost 7), and Wok (age 4). We set up in the kitchen with my trusty whiteboard (a 16x24 board from Hobby Lobby) and I read while they enjoy their treats. As I'm reading, I illustrate what is going on. We also look up maps of the world at the time (for example, the reach of the Persian Empire), so the kids have a good grasp of how the world has changed through time (and military conquests). This also doubles as part of our mapwork, so they're also getting geography lessons at the same time. Additionally, we add events to our simple timeline - the timeline catches events from all subjects, as we fill it up the kids are starting to see how it all fits together.

I don't ask for narrations from The Story of Civilization because the discussions we have tell me what they are (or aren't) comprehending. My history education was .... eh, at best; so I'm learning plenty of things about the past right along with the kids. Both Peanut and Moose follow along well, and I'm not sure how much Wok is; but just hearing it will help her down the road.

I utilize both the teacher and the activity manuals for ideas on how to expand on the chapter. We don't do all the activities, but I do like having them around for some back-up ideas.

Teatime is the favorite subject of the day (probably due to the hot chocolate), and they thoroughly enjoy The Story of Civilization. I like that I can combine multiple kids into it and it's neither too easy or too advanced for each of them. What strikes them is different and they can learn from each other based on the discussion with each other and with me. It is written from a Catholic point of view, but it's not as if every other line relates to Catholicism. But I do like having that assurance that I won't have to edit out any potential anti-Catholic issues (usually doctrinal misrepresentations, not whitewashing the Church's history - she is made up of sinners, after all).

We're eagerly looking forward to Volume 2, which should be released some time this year.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nineveh 90: Week 1 Update

Everyone who is in the Nineveh 90 challenge wrapped up their first week yesterday. I thought I'd break down how I've been doing, given that penance hasn't exactly been a strong suit for me. 

Nineveh 90 – Ten Elements (source)

>> For these 90 days, resolve to let go of repetitive sin you struggle with
I've been working hard on making sure I use my time wisely and not just fritter it away doing mindless surfing of the Internet. It's been hard but I think I'm slowly working towards a balance between what I need to be online doing (paying bills, homeschool, etc) and using it as a tool.
>> Wear Brown Scapular (Scapular Medal allowed) – Akin to Sackcloth
>> Daily Mass (This is more of an encouragement, as many cannot do this)
Right now we just go to Mass on Sundays, as the dailies that are locally are not possible to attend.
>> Confession (at least once a month … immediately following grave sin)
>> Support System: Create or join a “Nineveh 90 Squad” of 3-8 people. Meet 1-3 times per week (in person or online). Join together with an “Accountability Buddy.” Meet daily or, at least, 3 times a week.
I am in two Facebook groups, one for moms and one for homeschooling moms. I tend to find myself checking into the group for homeschooling moms more than the other one. I have an accountability buddy and it's been nice knowing I'm not in it alone.
>> Daily Prayer
  • Morning Offering
  • Angelus (6,Noon,6)
  • Rosary
  • Holy Hour (or at least 20 minutes – does not need to be before the Blessed Sacrament)
  • Bedtime Prayers
Everything is entirely possible except I have been missing the 6 o'clock Angelus. Apparently 6pm is prime freakout time for the kids, and I would like to figure out why. I usually try and pray it once the storms have passed. Without doing this time of prayer and penance, I wouldn't have figured out that 6 o'clock is a very hard time in the house, for whatever reason.

I also used to think I was too busy to pray, turns out I was just filling my day with mindless distractions.
>> For 90 Days, Commit to …
  • Regular and intense exercise
I'm doing exercise every other day, as I haven't been active as much as I ought and I'd prefer not to go from zero to one-hundred and hurt myself.
  • Seven hours of sleep is essential
This has been hit or miss, depending on how Nugget is sleeping (or not).
  • No alcohol
I'm not really a big alcohol drinker, given my semi-regulat states of pregnant and/or nursing.
  • No desserts & sweets
This has been ridiculously hard because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. I've been staying strong though, for the most part. WHEW. 
  • No eating between meals
You don't know how many times I've stopped myself from doing this, which turns out I tend to do when I'm either bored or stressed. News to me!
  • No soda or sweetened drinks
We don't do soda too much around here, so I've reduced the amount of sugar that I have in my tea. My goal is to go to just straight black but it's hard y'all. I'm doing a slow taper. I did cut out my mocha latte from Costco which I looooooooove. (Greg actually went to Costco on Sunday just to get me a mocha latte as a "good job on week 1" gesture. :) )
  • No television or movies (news allowed)
I do admit to watching Cheers! each night with Greg, because that's something he likes to do with me.
  • Only music that lifts the soul to God
My times in the car are silent. I've been downloading homilies, I need to get them onto CD so I can put them in the car (or get some sort of a car adapter so I can play them off my tablet). 
  • No televised sports (one per week allowed)
Can't give up what you don't already do. ;) Good thing this isn't during the World Series! 
  • Limit recreational computer time (only use for personal needs and fulfillment. May be needed for Nineveh 90 too)
As I mentioned above, this has been a delicate point for me. I need to be online since some of the books we use in homeschooling is online, as well as things like paying bills. But do I need to check Facebook a lot? Nope, unless I'm checking in on the Nineveh groups. 

There are days of fasting and abstinence that I've modified as I'm still nursing Nugget. I don't do the fasting, but I do try to do the abstinence. If I can't for whatever reason, I add extra prayers in. I've been mainly listening to my body - eating and drinking when I'm hungry, not eating just because I'm bored, upping protein and removing mostly carby junk food, that sort of thing.

This is extremely hard for me to do but very rewarding spiritually, physically, and mentally. Only by the grace of God have I been able to fulfill most of the obligations. It really has been a stark reminder of how little I can do on my own and how much I absolutely have to rely on God to do even the most basic things.

More importantly, when I do cave in (sugar), I find myself being easier on myself. Less perfectionistic scruples, more grace and mercy. I'm only human and therefore it's just a matter of getting back up and starting over again. 

Onward to week 2!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Best Day Ever: Cast-off Day

At 8:40 this morning, we checked into the orthopaedic surgeon's office to do one thing: take off that blasted cast!! 

Thankfully, they doctor's office wasn't running behind schedule, so we were able to go back almost right after we checked in. The cast took a while to cut off, given that it was stretching from mid-thigh down to his toes - and had several layers of fiberglass wrapped around it. There wasn't any problems with removing it.

Moose had more x-rays done and they show AMAZING bone regrowth. He will continue to have x-rays to ensure that his leg is healing straight and that the bone continues to regrow. His next round is in the end of March, thank God.

Right now Moose is having a rough re-entry to the land of bipedalism, but nothing out of the ordinary. Those leg muscles are weak! But, he's a trooper and working hard to try and get less wobbly. That will come in time - we just don't want him pushing himself too hard or too far.

I'm glad that this is {mostly} behind us now. The worst of it is over and soon we can all look back at the time Moose broke his leg sledding!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: The roads outside are literally a sheet of ice. We've had warm weather, melting snow and even rain, which then all refreezes during the night. Last week the county Sheriff declared "emergency travel only" (which of course went out after Greg had gone to work, grr).

I am thankful:
:: We are nearing the end of Moose's leg journey. I'm beyond ready for that cast to be off. Tuesday we will be making some Valentines for the surgeon, his nurses and P.A.s, as well as the surgical center where his surgery took place. We can deliver them on the 15th.

I am thinking:
:: about summer travel plans...

I am working on:
:: beginning the Spring deep cleaning and decluttering spree. Greg and I have done the preliminary sweep, but I imagine we will need multiple sweeps in order to get it thoroughly decluttered and to allow for the many kid interruptions/hours in a day/etc. I'm so ready to fling the windows WIDE open and air this entire place out.

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fifth baby
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fourth baby
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:

One of my favorite things:
:: Um, cast off day? The lovely tulips I have on the table to make it seem like spring is springing? Tea? :)

Clicking around on the web:
:: Have you heard about Nineveh 90? It is a group of men and women undergoing penance and prayers, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima. It begins today (February 13) and you can find more information here. Don't be intimidated by the list of elements if you choose to do this - remember, the whole point is prayer and penance; not burn out to the max and run yourself into the ground.
This week's plans:
:: Science School
:: Parish patron celebration

Friday, February 10, 2017

Changes are a-foot

As you can see, there are some changes happening around here on ye olde blog. I pulled all the posts into draft setting, so I can check links/update pictures/polish and repost them back online. I'm also working on changing the focus of the blog from personal day-to-day events to more nuts-and-bolts about how we homeschool, how I teach subjects like Shakespeare, the nitty-gritty of running the house, things of that like. I'm envisioning something more topical and less mundane, as I finally feel like I have something to offer to the homeschool community at large (now that I've been doing this for about 4 years).

You can tell by the tagline that I also changed curriculum at some point (again). I detest changing curriculum, it's not easy to do and it's hard on the kids. So I don't take changing curriculum lightly.

I started off with Mater Amabilis, which was great. It fit well with our family. I love that it is entirely Catholic and has great books selected that are both beautiful and full of great ideas. Third grade, however; proved to be too hard to find the books and fit the budget.

We (tried to) use Kolbe for Peanut's third grade. We lasted a term. Over our Advent and Christmas break, I sat down with Greg and took a long look at what was working and what wasn't working for our house (this was before Moose's Great Leg Break of 2016). While I still love Kolbe, I need the lesson plans. Enrolling isn't financially feasible, neither is getting the lesson plans for each subjecct. I think with the lesson plans, it is a great program - maybe we will use it for highschool.

Greg asked me to make a spreadsheet of all the Catholic curricula to find one that would work. We assessed them based cost, science, math, history, accreditation, acquiring books, supportboth online and offline, and their educational philosophy. We then added in other curricula like Bookshark for extra comparison. We ended up back at Mater Amabilis, but we were both worried about finding books and staying within the homeschool budget.

We ended looking at Ambleside Online, which is not Catholic but still Christian. Greg liked AO better due to the easier accessibility of books (a bunch are in the public domain and on Librivox), the history selections, as well as the online support (website, forum, blogs, Facebook groups, etc). He wasn't impressed on the science, but thought it was a great all-around curricula and asked me to please give it a try with Peanut and Moose, supplementing in science.

Once Moose was off the heavy painkillers, we started AO. I made a modified Grade 3 for Peanut that combined the rest of Kolbe that she was working on, Year 3, and some of year 3.5. My goal was to transition her {and me} back into Charlotte Mason philosophy and prepare her for AO Year 4, if we kept going with it. Moose I put straight into Year 1, without any real modifications. I dropped some books like Trial and Triumph and added in Saint stories as well as Catechism; but overall it has been very easy to adapt to my family.

Currently we are 2/3rds of the way through the second term (which made more sense for us than starting at term 1 for the given year) and it has been wonderful. It has fit us like a glove and we really couldn't be happier. Switching to AO was part of rebooting everything and getting into a functional routine with life. Everyone is benefiting.

So that's what's going on around here. Ideally I'd like to get into some sort of a semi-regular posting schedule, at least once a week but shooting for twice a week. We'll see how life goes and what happens. But I do hope that you all will still stick around!