Sunday, June 20, 2021

Spirit of God, Thank You


Spirit of God,
Thank you for granting our daughter and all confirmands


The Gift of Wisdom
so that she may see the world through Your eyes, 
exercising the virtue of charity;



The Gift of Understanding
that she may understand more clearly 
the mysteries of faith;


The Gift of Counsel
that she may make difficult decisions with prudence
and avoid the deceits of the devil


The Gift of Fortitude
that she may have the strength and courage
to live in the faith despite difficulties and disappointments;


The Gift of Knowledge
that she may discover Your will in all things;


The Gift of Piety
to be able to express her special love 
and commitment to You always;



And the Gift of Fear of the Lord
- the right kind of fear - 
that fills her with dread of sin 
 and causes her pause often 
to wonder and revere your Love.

Amen.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Tomorrow Will Dawn with Hope and Joy



There are days when your heart feels broken.

Not because of a calamity, but because of the quiet sorrows of everyday life. Sorrows that, for one reason or another, cannot be shared with other people and begin to feel so burdensome. 

Sorrows that sit just under the surface of every moment, undercutting the blessing of hope that God offers us.

Sorrows that 
threaten to steal all your joy.

Luckily, there are also moments when you remember that sorrows can sanctify.

They can be offered up. They can be turned into prayers. They can be shared with God even if not with other people.

And, when we stay rooted in faith, hope always endures. Joy wins.

As Psalms 34:18 says, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed."

If today you have felt swallowed by sorrow, take heart. The Lord is near.

This day will end and another dawn new.

Trust in the Lord. He is a healer of hearts.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Why My Kids May Have Multi-Colored Hands for Corpus Christi


Want a fun - albeit messy - project for Corpus Christi?

Take a little water, add a bit of dye, and stir in some sawdust.




Mix it around with your hands to get the color good and even.


Spread it on tarps to dry in the sun.


Do it again and again.


Create a palette of different colors.


And wait to see what another can create.


A beautiful sawdust carpet!


Ready for a Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession.

The simple act of service in helping dye sawdust can turn into a beautiful temporary work of art that becomes part of a day that honors the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption. Who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.
 ~The Collect

May your Solemnity of Corpus Christi be blessed!



(The last two photos are courtesy of my friend who made the carpets)

Sunday, May 30, 2021

"Sanctity Consists in Doing Good...in Whatever Condition and Place God Has Places Us"


What's a mama to do when she has kids of different ages and stages of belief, and sadly, unbelief?

Keep on, keeping on.

Recognize that while hearts for God are strengthened while serving others, hardened hearts, can be softened by service.

There are plenty of people close to home who could use  helping hand.


Case in point for my crew: friends with littles who are trying to start a big garden project.

As the old saying goes, "Many hands make light work." So, when a friend of ours was feeling overwhelmed about building gardens in time to plant this year for her growing family, other friends were there to help.

Some talked through possibilities and plans, helping our friend imagine what could be done to make her garden plot fruitful. Others helped haul supplies. Still others - including us - came together to build the gardens...


Breaking down carboard boxes...


Measuring out where beds and stakes would go...

Driving stakes into the ground to tie off measured garden beds...


Shoveling compost onto the carboard to create deep garden beds...



Persisting shovelful by shovelful with a project to move it from dream to reality in an afternoon.

The ordinary help of laboring to create friend's gardens was a good that we could do that day, and who knows what good it may seed - both literally and figuratively.

As I think about my child who is at a place of unbelief, I am grateful that the child is still willing to offer acts of service alongside family and friends. I pray that the child's heart is extraordinarily moved back towards belief one day while we are going about the ordinary good of each day.

I ask for your prayers for this, too.

I also ask: What good is there to be attended to in whatever condition and place you and those around you are in?

Answer that and then go savor an opportunity for sanctity.

May God bless you and yours - and those around you - in whatever condition and place you are in.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Perfect Motto when Conversing



Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I recently had the pleasure of taking some teen girls on a short hike through a nature preserve.

While we enjoyed spying star flowers..



...exploring old mill sites and farm walls...


...crossing streams...


...discovering frog eggs...


... spying spring blooms...


...chatting, laughing, and more, there was one thing that was not so delightful:

At times, conversation turned to those that some or all of the girls knew, and, from there, turned negative.

That was when a practical and succinct quote that I read in
 Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers came into play:

 "Speak not ill of the absent."

I recalled how the book explained that "Saint Augustine had these words posted in his refectory" and that, putting them into play, "he was not only a saint but also a man of honor." 

The book also encouraged readers to put the motto into practice
 and to see that families lives up to it, saying, "Your voice, with a sweet firmness, should remind those who are prone to forget, that with you, and before you, no evil must be spoken of the absent."

Perfect!

Each time the girls' conversation leaned toward speaking ill of others, I simply chimed in with "Speak not ill of the absent."

The girls then joked with me about how, if we could not speak ill of the absent, we might speak honestly - even if ill - of the present. (Girls!)

Even still, the point was made.

Succinct and powerful, "Speak not ill of the absent," has since become a motto that my daughter and I remind one another of when bad habits if ill speaking come over us.

I share the quote here in case it might help you or yours break a similar habit which hurts others and causes us to lose our way on the path toward perfection.

I also encourage you to read other gems in 
Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers.

If you don't have the book I shared links 
here for audio, print, an e-versions that you can access paid or for free. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Cross Seven Offers Musical Memory, Quiz Tracking, and More {A Review}


I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
Disclosure: Impressed by Cross Seven, I am now an affiliate, which means I may earn from qualifying purchases.

When I was offered an opportunity to review a subscription of Cross Seven Ventures - Homeschool Musical Memory Tool by Cross Seven Ventures LLC, curiosity caused me to jump at the opportunity.

I had long wanted to see if the power of musical memory work might help my children learn, but, sadly, when my children were at ideal ages for it, I could not take advantage of the variety of programs out there that use it.

Budgets, time, and, to be honest, a child who went through a long period of being averse to any music with lyrics, precluded me from jumping on the bandwagon of awesome musical memory work that so many others I knew were benefiting from.

Fast forward to recent days: all of my children now like music with lyrics of one kind or another, and I remained curious as to how effective music memory work might prove here.

Thus, when I heard that we could try out 
Cross Seven Ventures - Homeschool Musical Memory Tool, which pairs music and audiovisual slides to help build students' working memory of many bits of knowledge considered foundational to Classical Education and also offers online quizzes and such, I was excited.   

What A COMPREHENSIVE, YET FLEXIBLE AND EASY TOOL!

The Cross Seven program is designed to be easy to use and to take minimum time so that families can benefit from it while attending to other life and learning, too.

It includes four cycles of musical memory work that cover Scripture, Hymns, Math, History, Science, English, Latin, Geography, and Timeline.

Each cycle includes 28 weeks of material on a four-year cycle, which means that relaxed families can use it as a spine for all learning, while families that prefer to can use it as a supplement.


Further, since the musical memory work and related online quizzes can be used week by week, or accessed by subject, there is flexibility and ease of use even for families that just want to focus on specific areas.

We use are using the program here for one child at present and he does it on a laptop, but I have heard others are using it on s
treaming apps such as AppleTV, Roku, and FireTV, so everyone is able to learn together! 

WHAT'S INCLUDED?

With your subscription, you get access to a parent portal where you can access quiz scores for your children. 



These results - we discovered after reading the site - will only appear if your child remembers to log in on his or her own account. 

You also get a plethora of resources for each cycle!


 If you use the program traditionally, your family or co-op class will start by listening to the hymn, followed by prayer, and then: pledges to the American flag, the Christian flag, the Bible, and the Lord’s Prayer. From there move into Scripture and the Timeline - which has both audio and visual components That completes the opening of each day. 


Then, children can move onto other subjects - weekly History, Latin, Grammar, Science, Math, and Geography - as well as quizzes and fun links that can be accessed to expand learning taking place.

If using the program with one child, like we are, the child can simply log on, select a cycle/subject to work on, click on links to view the slides listen, take quizzes, explore, etc.

There is so much potential learning in this program!

Grammar has lessons related to the parts of a speech, the purpose of a sentence, patterns, adverbs, and so much more. It is all presented with simple songs and visuals so students can read along with each song while learning about nouns & pronouns, adjectives & articles, verbs & adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, fundamentals of sentences, prepositions, phases & clauses, helping & linking verbs and more.

Math includes skip counting 1-12, 15, 25, squares, cubes, order of operations, common fractions, decimals, prime numbers, Roman numerals, conversions, percent, commutative, associative, distributive properties, prefixes for metric, Pythagorean theorem, absolute value, place value names, averages, etc.

Latin works through numbers, poems, and scripture to read and sing along with as well as  grammar lessons—verbs, declension, Scientia potentia and more, plus the Apostles Creed.

Science covers various laws and scientists; taxonomy, types of leaves, parts of a flower and more and takes but a minute at a time each, concluding in Cycle 4 with Physics: Kepler, Newton, Newton’s Laws, forces, work, energy, simple machines, Archimedes, electricity, Laws of Thermodynamics, heat transfer, Faraday, Maxwell, electromagnetic spectrum, light, sound, Einstein and more!

History begins with Creation and the Earliest People and works through, the topics from various historical events ending on September 11th. 

Geography starts with the continents and oceans; proceeds through the Seven Wonders of the World, Ancient China, and Egypt; expands to Canadian Provinces, U.S. cities, and capitals; and essentially takes you through each continent from ancient to modern times with short, simple videos.

Hymns
include classics with rich lyrics to hide in hearts or sing aloud when you wish.

The Timeline has a pdf download to help you create your own timeline as you work through each lesson. Oh, and there are videos with hand gestures to go along with each lesson. 

Together, the program provides a gentle approach to Classical Education where young children can simply read, hear and sing their way through all nine subjects that are contained in the cycles, then use quizzes - with matching to map work - to  quickly learn and recall what is being taught. 

Quiz results, as I said before, can be accessed on a parent dashboard, and students can earn a
 variety of badges and certificates through the subjects and completing their quizzes

HOW WE USED IT

When we first got Cross Seven, I introduced it to my just-teenage daughter, hoping she might be interested in it as a way to review and fill in some of her skills and knowledge. She tends not to like online programs, however, and I have no "fancy phone" for playing the musical memory work in the car when she is a captive audience, so my hopes for using Cross Seven with her did not come to fruition.

At the same time, I introduced the program to my tween son. He has been into Math, so asked me if, for now, he can concentrate just on the math portion of it, and, then, in the future maybe do other subjects. I agreed.

When I asked him for his thoughts for this review, he said:

It's a good program, but, of course, the math, which is what I chose to start with, would not be a full math curriculum, because it does not teach you, but gives you drills and memory. 
The drills are set up as easy, quick questions and proceed to get harder as they go on. The memory work is presented as songs and is okay. I did not like them much now, but I think I would have when I was littler. 
I am interested in trying the other subjects in the fall. 
I would recommend it to people ages 7-12, with under nine's probably enjoying it most.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?

I have browsed other Classical Education musical memory programs before and never seen one delivered like this - with full memory work, quizzes, videos/skits, fun links, a parent portal for quizzes, etc. So, for that reason alone, I think it is worth looking into.

Further, as I popped around our subscription, I was impressed with how much is included in the four-year cycle of work and thought the songs could have truly benefited my daughter and younger son had we had this when 5-10 years ago. 

I can see this full program working wonderfully for many families with right-age children and am finding it useful for my older children to cherry pick from.

It is well put together, easy to access/use, and appreciated. Also, i is NOT parent intensive!

All children in your household can login under the same family account. Then children can login to their student profiles and use the product on their own, with you checking in on quizzes through the parent portal. Or, you can join in or complete studies as a group with no need to do a lot of prep or follow up.

Many of us on the Homeschool Review Crew appreciated the ease of this program. Click through to find links to over 20 social media, video, and blog reviews which provide honest opinions and ideas for using Cross Seven.

A NOTE FOR FELLOW CATHOLIC READERS

Since we've been focusing mostly on Math, my son and I have not run into anything that would take further discussion for Catholic families. 

It is a Christian, not Catholic, resource though, so, like with all such resources, I suggest that if theological questions come up, you simply address them, and also, add whatever additional expressly Catholic teaching/memory work/hymns you wish.

CONNECT


You can get a FREE 1-day trial to Cross Seven online, then, sign up with a lmonthy or yearly subscription. You can also connect with Cross Seven:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

 

What a Delightful Book to Inspire Concrete Way for Kids to Love One Another {A Tommy Nelson Publishing Book Review}


I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Loving others is often easier said than actively done. Thus Tommy Nelson Publishing has put out Everybody, Always for Kids by Bob Gott and his daughter Lindsey Goff Viducich in order to encourage children to find creative and practical ways to love to others.


Filled with 40 witty, entertaining, real-life stories, the book is aimed at ages 6-10, but can be inspiring and profound for any age!

Recently, my daughter and I have been using this book during our 1:1 study times as an enjoyable and fairly easy resource with which to build reading fluency while highlighting virtues. It works perfectly for this.

My younger son also got interested in the book and has been picking it up to read on his  own at times. 

Both of my younger children and I recommend the book at one that can delight and inspire through its stories of the authors' childhood memories, trips taken, places visited, and, of course, relationships experienced which clearly tie into practical examples of how we can love one another.


As you read the book, you cannot help be be reminded that the perfect example of loving others is Jesus and when we genuinely love others ourselves, we are living God's will.

Whether encouraging others, curbing our bad habits, thinking of others before ourselves, celebrating others' successes, or modeling after one of the other concrete example that Everybody, Always for Kids details, we are all called to love one another, and this book offers plenty of food for thought and practical ideas for doing so.


I asked my daughter to write her own review of the book to share here, and this is what she said:

Everybody Always for Kids is a nearly 200-page hardcover book with 40 little, illustrated stories inside. Each story tells a real life experience from author Bob Goff's and his family's lives and uses the experiences to talk about virtues, Bible verses, etc. that teach kids about loving everybody always. The book has an attached blue ribbon bookmark and large print. 

We got the book to read and discuss together during our 1:1's.

 


I enjoy how the book teaches with relatable stories. The author has had a normal life. For example, his kids once had a hallway they really liked and made a game with it. (When I was little, I did similar things.) He had a story about holes in his pockets. Who hasn't had holes in their pockets? He has children that liked to try to make things when they were little. (My brothers and I did, too.)


 

The author also had an interesting life. For example, he went sky diving with his son, a helicopter landed in his front yard, etc. 

With each story - normal or unique - the author connects it to loving everybody always.

The only negative thing I have to say about the book is that the glossy pages are good quality, but, because they are glossy, if the light hits the book a certain way, it can cause a glare that makes reading harder.

 


I would recommend this book to families with children. It is easy and quick to read the stories. It would be a good family read aloud for little kids and makes for quick reading practice for older kids.


We also received a pdf copy of the Everyday. Always for Kids Five Day Lesson Plan with our review. This 16-page resource is filled with hands-on ideas and discussion prompts suitable for younger children. Since my daughter is older and our conversations and narrations tend to flow best without prompts, we chose not to use this extra free resource, but I did look it over. 

With crafts, questions, planting ideas, and more, I think the ideas in it would be helpful to homeschoolers and religious education teachers with younger children or co-ops to extend ideas from the book.




If you'd like to read a sample of the book, head on over to the webpage. You can also connect with Thomas Nelson Publishing:




You can also Plus, you can click through to find 25 video, social media, and blog reviews from other Homeschool Review Crew families!

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