Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kindergarten Begins Tomorrow!

Well, friends, the big day is here.  Maggie will officially be beginning Kindergarten tomorrow morning.  Of course, Susannah and John will be participating a lot too (well, Susannah more than John for the time being).  I've even changed my blog background to reflect the colorful, artistic, and whimsical education I'm hoping to give them this year.

I have a lot I want to share with you here as we get into our schooling.  We have a children's icon corner, a Seasonal Wall, relocated (and reorganized!) shelving, fun manipulatives, and I hope what will prove to be a doable (or at least reworkable!) loose schedule.  We are going to get good at it this week and then have a school day with Daddy on Labor Day Monday.  That's mainly because Mommy scheduled a Main Lesson that day that she doesn't want to reschedule, but I think it will also motivate us (me) to really try to stick to our plans for the week so we have something to showup  for it by next week.  (Now, I KNOW we won't be perfect or anything in one week, but I'd like to persevere enough to get some of our plans in.)

In preparation for "for real" homeschooling, I've been eating up those "veteran homeschooler" articles that seem to abound this time of year.  Here are a few favorites:
Hmmm... do you see a pattern?  I am apparently concerned about not overdoing and expecting too much.  While I know I need a plan and concrete activities planned for a given day, I want to be able to flow with my kids as I see them exploring and learning through play, especially with guided by the themes and manipulatives we will have available in our schoolroom (which is just the perimeter of the dining room doing double duty).

I still have some planning and supply-gathering to do for tomorrow, though, so I need to put these kids to bed to prepare.  Wish us luck and keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Lesson Planning Pages

Paidea Classics offers a treasure trove of free downloadable planning pages for Orthodox Homeschoolers.  They are all done in a simple and beautiful layout with accompanying quotes from the Bible or the Church Fathers.  Various different styles are available as you scroll down the page.  Lovely!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Revisiting Seven

Since having Number Three join us, along with massive amounts of diapers, quickly rotating clothing stores (and nowhere to store it), and a lack of time for toy pick-up, I've been feeling completely choked by the piles everywhere.  Last week (when I was supposed to be packing for a visit to the grandparents), I went a little nuts and scooped up several of the piles into bags and stored them in the basement.  Just because I haven't made the final decision to get rid of this stuff, doesn't mean I need to live with it all in my house sine I have the use of a basement!

Earlier this year, I read an article containing a list of seven areas to address in your house and life that would make a big difference in your feeling organized in daily life.  It's just a filler Yahoo! article and not rocket science or a magic formula, but they are all things that need (or needed) doing in my house.  (Or as my Ohio relatives would say, "things that need done.")

Looking back at my original post, it looks sort of like I planned to get all of those things done in a week (days after birthing a baby, no less).  The article suggested this, but that was by no means my intention since I'd just had a baby.  I was simply referring to the tasks by the day on which the article suggested doing them.  And I haven't thought about it twice since!

Well, I haven't thought about the list or the post or the article.  The tasks, however, have been getting chipped away at for a few weeks now on their own—including The Great Basement Banishment of 2010.  Anyway, that's what I liked about the article: Everything was something I'd been meaning to get to.

I began the Tuesday Task of addressing my kitchen cabinets a couple of weeks ago.  I learned that it is not a good idea to pull everything out of your cabinets when you A) have to get dinner on the table, and B) have no one to watch your newborn.  But the spice cabinet is a seriously different place since I started.  I'd like to attack all the cabinets in this manner.  Maybe I'll post photos when I complete this task.  (Said spice cabinet is simply serene.)

The Thursday Task is supposed to be organizing the linen closet, which we don't have.  But we do have a couple of cabinets in our dining room set that store towels, and I have been reorganizing them a bit.

The bathroom (Friday's Task) hasn't really been touched.  Or has it?  I did massively declutter the bath toys, since my girls currently prefer to bring princess toys with them into the bath and just dump the baskets of toys to make room for their highnesses.

As for drafting the family to cover Saturday's Task, I recently stumbled upon a customizable chore chart for preschoolers at SimpleMom with suggestions for how to use it with an allowance system.  Scroll down about halfway to find the chart.  And while you're there, download everything else on the page.  It's all so useful.  And so free.

So, while I will most likely spend the next few weeks at the beach, and then jump into homeschooling (for reals, yo!), I'd like to be able to finish out some of these tasks and complete the list!  Here's to accountability!

It's Still Summer Here!

Can you guess what we've been up to?

We have just discovered the beach.

You don't necessarily think "beach" when you think "Chicago," do you?  There happen to be quite a few nice ones along the lake.

 Nice little waves to make my kids giggle (and not scare them)....

 Plenty of sand to keep little ones and little princesses occupied (and covered) for hours....

A hot dog stand—well, "beach house"—that offers other things too!

All Mama has to do is sit back (or wade in), watch the big kids, and nurse the little one.  (Well, aside from putting up with all the screaming on the way there and the way back....)

We all felt like this at the end of the day.

But we're going back soon!  (First, must do some laundry and various household chores... and make sure we have some supper plans in place next time.)  But I think, partially to make up for the kids spending most of their Summer indoors this year (blame Baby John), and partially because it's just so darn gorgeous and pleasant to be a beach bum, we'll be back there as many days as we can until Labor Day!

Feel free to join us if you're in the area!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Contribution to WBW

Since I didn't manage to write any of my own thoughts during "World Breastfeeding Week," even though I have many, I wanted to share this link:


I agree wholeheartedly!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Celebrating Holy Transfiguration

We will be attempting our first evening liturgy tonight since John's birth.  I'll let you know how it goes!

For the hours leading up to our departure time (early enough to pick up Daddy and drive to our sister parish about an hour away—or more during rush hour), we are working through Matushka Emily's list of things to do to celebrate this feast with children.  I printed it off and put it in my Cycles of Grace (seasonal home management) Notebook #5.  I've got most of it checked off—what practical and doable ideas!

For an icon of Transfiguration to display on my rotating art wall, I wish I had something that matches my collection of icons generously given (once-upon-a-time) by Mary.  However, instead of just wishing, I created my own in a similar style using this icon from

Then for an icon for the kids to color (or paint, as we like to do), I downloaded a line drawing of the icon for the Transfiguration (scroll down the page to select the appropriate icon) from the OCA's Department of Christian Education website:

I grabbed a couple of matching white wire baskets (one for each girl) that used to house bath toys and gave them a good wash.  Then I threaded some blue and white ribbon through the holes around the middle of the basket and made a little off-centered bow.   I resisted the urge to add any more decoration since they looked so simple and beautiful the way they were.  We'll stop at a grocery store for grapes to fill those baskets on the way to church this afternoon.  Maybe I'll even get a photo of them at some point.

I also hunted around on the Antiochian Archdiocese website and found our collection of hymns (mostly byzantine style).   I located the Major Feasts page and scrolled down to the Transfiguration Series to download a PDF of music including the troparion for the Feast of Transfiguration.  We sang this at lunch time with our meal prayers.  We've also been playing our copy of Kh. Gigi Shadid's Celebrate the Feasts CD, paying special attention to the song about the Transfiguration.  (I love her CDs!)

Wow!  I feel like I'm back!  I in no way planned to be this proactive about finding ways to celebrate the Transfiguration with my girls today.  Matushka Emily just made it so darn easy and I just jumped in!  It's been fun, and we'll finish it up tomorrow with a special evening meal and lots of blessed grapes!

A Blessed Feast to you all!
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