Week Three: The Letter C

Well.  We’ve made it through another week, somehow.  It was actually pretty laid back until today.  Took the girls to run errands, then the nurse called back and said it might be a good idea to bring Lucy in for the swollen bump on her arm (just a little infection, nearly healed, so no need to worry), and so we spent two hours at the urgent care clinic.  At lunch time.  And I still have to go pick up the medicine, since it wasn’t ready when we went and I wasn’t up to entertaining the girls any longer.  But we made it through lunch, and I’ve got the cranberry cookies in the oven.
Next we drop the girls with “Aunt B” so Craig and I can go to the first True Fasting meeting, which will be our Friday afternoons pretty much until Thanksgiving.  Then it’s to the Verrett’s for a back to school party.  If I’m still awake.  But like I said, the rest of the week was calmer.
We made C’s and clouds out of cotton balls (Sam made a bird nest instead.  You know Sam!)  Lucy worked on writing out number words and cursive, which was her favorite thing to do this week.

This week’s reading included:

illustrated by Barbara Cooney-

Emma by Wendy Kesselman

Week two: bees, birds, and blueberries

So it took us a full week to get the last week’s post functional. But there it is. (And then it took almost a full week to get this one functional…we’re actually almost done with C now…but more on that later.)  So these are would have been kind of back-to-back, but hopefully the kinks are worked out and things will be smoother from now on.
This week we focused on the letter B, with Saints Bernadette and Bernard, and the bugle flower fairy, and lots of bees and birds, and a few bears and blueberries.
We made letter B’s out of modeling wax, which Lucy promptly turned into a butterfly, a la Fancy Nancy.

Lucy's Amazing Butterfly
Lucy’s Amazing Butterfly

(Sadly, butterflies did not get the attention they deserved this week – keeping them in mind for the next trip down the path.) Lucy has mastered half-whole relations (1st grade math GLE-6 for those of you following along). We also went through the bird guide to discuss how different birds have differently adapted bodies, and how they use them. Not full-on natural selection so much as the beauty of variety and the complexity of creation. More important than natural selection, in my opinion, now that I think about it.

Fr. Thomas reading to the girls (in a british accent)
Fr. Thomas reading to the girls (in a british accent)

Fr. Thomas Schafgin joined us for tea and dinner on Friday. Well, dinner, then tea, since we forgot to warn him about the New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge Friday traffic. We had blueberry tea and blueberry scones with a lemon glaze for tea time/dessert. Lucy is really learning her way around the kitchen. Mixing the dough was followed by all three girls getting a turn to experiment with the measuring cups and a bowl of water. Those were happy children.  They were also happy being read to by Fr. Thomas…

Lucy & Clare with Butterfiies
Lucy & Clare with Butterfiies
Clare's Clay
Clare’s Clay


Here are this week’s books, in no particular order:

Comet’s Nine Lives
The Mitten
The Umbrella
Honey, Honey, Lion!
Town Mouse, Country Mouse
By Jan Brett
Jan Brett’s art is gorgeous. The girls like the stories, too.

Wild Birds by Joanne Ryder
I like it. Beautiful pictures of all kinds of (mostly) song birds. I think my mom would like this one. 🙂

Saint Francis Preaches to the Birds by Peter Schumann
Simple story with simple, striking illustrations. Not convinced St. Francis drank coffee, though. Haven’t investigated that yet.

Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan
I didn’t know this story before. Really, really beautiful.

The Bird House by Cynthia Rylant
A sweet story about an orphan girl finding a home. And, of course, birds.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Classic. Beautiful. I like it because it points out how even a child can put aside discomfort, when necessary, for something important.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Cute baby-mommy story.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
One of Clare’s favorites. She asks me to tell her this one after the lights are out at bed time. And I do, because it’s well-written, and a really fun story.

The Life of the Honeybee by Heiderose and Andreas Fischer-Nagel
Informative bee book.

Busy Buzzy Bee by Karen Wallace
Easy-reader about bees.

So. And today (Saturday, 8/17, when I started this post!), Lucy went to a tennis open house at city park, which she wants to do every week from now on. And she and Craig took apart the broken CD player to see how it works. And she made the meatballs for the spaghetti, which is on the stove right now. So…art lessons resume next week. And I did a basket switch, because the basket for the “school” books was only about half big enough. The library ladies are going to be tired of me soon. 🙂

Week 1 on the Alphabet Path: The Letter A

Well, we are “officially” starting “homeschooling” here at St. Catherine’s Academy. (Our non-public school is officially registered with the state now.  That was the easiest thing Craig has ever done!)  I’m borrowing the “curriculum” from Elizabeth Foss.  Heavy on literature and saints, and everything else follows behind.  So the idea is that we follow a little boy, Michael, as he explores the world of the Flower Fairies, one flower and letter at a time.  One letter each week, you get the idea.  So we do letter-themed science, art, baked goods (especially baked goods), etc.  Here are the highlights of week 1: Letter A and the Apple Blossom Fairies.

We met the apple blossom fairies and Mrs. Applebee, our tour guide along the alphabet path.  Our poem for the week was Apple Song by Frances Frost.  Lucy did that as copy work (a.k.a. handwriting and spelling and reading).  It was supposed to be memorized, too…but we’ll work harder on that next week.

Our saint of the week was Saint Ann.  We made a clothespin doll of her, and read her story.  Lucy actually made her clothes and pajamas, and a house, and carried her around for half of the week.  We also talked about St. Anthony.  And Johnny Appleseed.  Not that he’s a saint, but there isn’t another “famous person” category this week.

We practiced making letter A’s by walking on a chalk “A” outside and a masking tape “A” inside.  We made an apple pie with an A crust:

A-Week Desert

…which we shared with several of Craig’s co-workers who came over for tea, and to celebrate the end of the first week of school.  Everyone helped!


I wish I had some pictures of the process, but Lucy helped slice the apples, and Samantha mixed the sugar and spices together, and everyone cut out the letter A’s from the pie crust.

And the best part, of course, was the books.  Here are the ones we got to, and a few thoughts:

Sister Anne’s Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki

A poignant look at overcoming racism.  Just beautiful, and doesn’t pull punches, but not too difficult for the girls.

The Art Lesson by Tommie DePaola

Nice story, but I beg to differ – of course artists copy!  This is a philosophical discussion for another day…

Grandfather’s Journey and Emma’s Rug by Allen Say.

Say is one of my favorite children’s authors.

Life and Times of the Apple by Charles Micucci  Amazing artwork, and beautiful, powerful stories.

A little out of date (1992), which matters in that I don’t think the USSR is still one of the top apple-producing nations (!), but thankfully the science of how apples grow hasn’t changed.  Lucy thought grafting and apple anatomy was really cool.

Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love by Julie Paschkis

I love the artwork in this book.  It is a simple story, beautifully told, and the recipe is in the back!  Can’t wait to try it!  Worth finding, I think.

Applesauce by Klaas Verplanke

 This might have been the girls’ favorite this week.  Definitely Clare’s favorite.  I think we can all relate to “thunder-daddy”.

(A note to grandmas – we got all these books from the library, and we have added the books we loved to the “Lucy and Samantha” wishlist on Amazon.  Just in case you need ideas for birthdays and such…you know.  🙂  And anybody who follows one of the links to Amazon on these pages, and buys the book, means we get a small credit to our account…so we can buy more of those books!)

I feel like I’m missing something…I guess I can add it later

if so.  I also changed the belt on my sewing machine by myself this week, so that I could machine-quilt for the first time, so that was my learning adventure.  Which I am pretty darn proud of.

But now we’re prepping for “B” week – birds and Bugle flowers and Jan Brett and blueberries!  Should be a fun week.  Lucy has already broken into the week’s reading.  She disapproves of taking Saturday off.  She also wrote her two pen pals today, which was long overdue.

Need to do better with math, writing, memory, and art next week.  But a good start, I think.


The Big Disconnect

Diane Rhem had a fascinating and timely show on yesterday, discussing the book The Big Disconnect with its author, Catherine Steiner-Adair.  She proposes, rather simply, I thought, that screen time affects our neurology and our interactions with others, and that therefore we should consider carefully the effects of screen use, especially for younger children.  Based on my own experiences, both raising children and teaching, not to mention in my own social life, I thought she was right on track.  What really amazed me was the backlash she received in the comments. It really brought home to me how desperately we are attached to our “devices”. I suggest listening, it will be an hour well spent.
And I do realize the irony of my blogging from a tablet to point out the dangers of technology and children. When we start our Catholic Worker paper, maybe it will be different. In the meantime, I guess I’m using what’s available. And I would like to note that I stopped this post in the middle to make breakfast for Samantha. Which was a struggle, because I wanted to finish. And now Clare is up, so I’ll be signing off. Check out the show, though. I will be hunting down a copy of the book.

And a post script – After grocery shopping and lunch, it took three more interruptions to check that what I wrote earlier actually made sense. Which is why the title of this blog is what it is. And the link is below, in case the one at the top of the post has issues. Still not trusting this tablet completely.