Category Archives: Familia

Archery Practice

The Scene:
Isaac is playing with a (purple) bow. Of the bow-and-arrow, not hair decoration, variety. The arrows (mercifully) are missing.
Samantha: “No, Isaac! You can’t shoot people.” Pause. “UNLESS they’re sleep darts. I’m OK with sleep darts.”
Anyone know where I could get some of those?

It’s OK, he’s two.

While playing with Legos:

Me: Wow, my hands feel so big and clumsy.

Isaac: Yeah.

I was looking for sympathy, son, not agreement.

Homeschool Highlights

Lucy and her friend were practicing multiplication tables this morning (not my idea – I love having extra kids around sometimes!) and they decided it would be fun to make it into a Go Fish! game.  So they did.  And spent half an hour or so playing 6 Times Table Go Fish.

Just caught Clare explaining to another friend about how difficult it was for Michelangelo to carve David (“and if he made a tiny mistake, just this big, the whole thing would be ruined!”) and retelling the story of The Library Mouse.  Narration?  Done.

And as I type, Isaac is trying to put an apple slice in my pocket.  Earlier he was working on building train tracks.

In other news, I should be putting my first children’s book manuscript in the mail in the next couple of days.  Pray hard!  Asking St. Therese of Lisieux for special help, since it is about her, after all.  (And if you want a preview, let me know and I’ll send the text along.)

Quotes of the Week

Thomas: “Penguins aren’t poisonous!”

Lucy: (not in the same conversation) “I think college just slows you down.”
In her defense: they were playing The Game of Life. Not sure they’ve ever made it far enough to see the difference between the pay scale for the lawyer vs. the mechanic. Anyway.

Of spiders and schoolgirls

I just have to say, I am so glad we are homeschooling.  Lucy informed me last week that the picture books I had been getting from the library were “getting boring”, so I thought, “fair enough- we’ll move up to the 3rd-5th grade reading list.  I started her with Charlotte’s Web.  She is reading it herself (and she doesn’t know every word, but has no trouble at all discussing the story with me) so I am reading it myself, too.  And I had forgotten, if I ever really appreciated, what a wonderful book it is.  Which I most likely would have missed out on if she were in school, and it wasn’t my job to pay attention to what she was reading and what she is getting out of it.
In other news, Lucy is about to loose her third tooth in less than a month, and all three girls are loving their ballet classes.  Lucy is very excited about her first communion this spring, and has taken possession of my old Precious Moments Bible (from my first communion) earlier than I had planned, because she wants to read it, too.
And tonight we make pumpkin pie.  It’s a good life.

Today’s two-year-old vocabulary lesson

Clare informed me this morning that I am very HUG-ly.  Ha!

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.


Bread is never just bread

So I’ve been doing most of my own baking for a few months now (hard to justify the expense of inferior store-bread, when I’m just at home all day doing, well, you know…at-home things).  And as I was clearing up lunch yesterday, including Lucy’s half-eaten sandwich, it occurred to me that I was somewhat offended that she would blithely toss out a whole slice of the bread I had kneaded by hand the day before.  How dare she be so wasteful of my hard work!
Which got me thinking, of course, about how much food we throw away in our family, and in this country in general, and how little it concerns us.  And how much the great distance (both physical and psychological – do you think about the provenance of that beef?) between us and the source and manufacture of our food has to do with this lack of interest in the end that meets so much of our food.  (Today’s Latin lesson – manufacture = “made by hand”- how often is that true of anything anymore?)
What real connection do I have to that fast food hamburger, or even to the canned soup I merely heat up for dinner?  I rarely think twice about clearing those leftovers from the fridge to the trash can.  But it seems that the more involved I am in where my food comes from, the closer I am to the “ground” of the process, the more meaningful eating, really being nourished by my food is.  And the more I care how it is used.  Or not, as the case may be.
Another argument for slow food and the simple life, I guess.  Add it to the pile.  Maybe we’ll actually get close to those ideals some day!
And, all moralizing aside, at least I’m starting to make some really good bread.

For all you Ben Stiller fans out there….

Me, trying to distract Clare while Sam feeds the cat :  So when we have animals, what animal do you want to feed?
Lucy: I want to milk the cat!
Me: Milk the cat!?!

(Raucous laughter)

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