Sunday, August 30, 2020

Let's Get Real: The Story of Our Ultra-Imperfect St. Teresa of Calcutta Feast Day

Life is not always perfect.

Okay, it never is.

But, it is in its imperfections that we are often given the choice to move towards love or away from it.

We experienced a bit of this just this last year on 
St. Teresa of Calcutta's feast day.

Initially, I wanted to 
celebrate the day with friends as we had the year prior but then I remembered that my youngest son had a medical appointment in the late morning and a baseball practice in the late afternoon. So, I pivoted potential plans and decided that we would simply celebrate as a family after my son's practice.

The plan was simple: Grab some favorite frozen Indian food and enjoy a faith-focused family meal with easy Indian eats, prayer, and conversation, inspired by St. Teresa of Calcutta.

But, you know what they say: Life is what happens when you're making other plans...

After my youngest son's morning appointment - which sadly ended up going quite long - as in into the afternoon long - we popped into a store for some frozen Indian dinners to make our feast day dinner simple yet special.

Lo! The grocery store that we went to no longer sells Indian meals - only Mexican, Italian, and Thai. So, instead of quickly buying dinner at that store, we ended up doing a regular grocery run there since we were there anyway, and, then, heading to a nearby discount store for boxed Indian dishes.

Thankfully, that store had plenty of Indian meals, so I filled my youngest's cup by letting him pick out all the dishes that looked tasty to him. He was delighted! It was his first day ever of baseball practice - a much anticipated day - and we would be following his practice with a huge Indian feast that he'd picked out. In his young mind, this was perfection.

But, nothing is ever perfect, right?

Enter my oldest child.

After my children and I had put away groceries, completed some chores, and attended to a few other tasks, there was just enough time for my youngest and I to sit down for his daily 1:1 lessons. So, I directed my two older children to ready themselves to depart with me for my youngest's practice in a half hour where we'd do their 1:1's.

A simple request.

Or not.

My oldest - in all of his burgeoning teen angst - found my direction inciting. He was indignant at the thought of having to go to his little brother's practice at all, much less to do his 1:1 with me there without access to an internet-connected computer where he could edit a story he's been writing with me.

Worse, instead of expressing his feelings appropriately, my eldest usurped the half hour before departure with disrespectful and oppositional blustering. Thus, my youngest got no 1:1, my middle child got upset, and my oldest escalated in poor choices.

It was not an ideal any-day occurrence, much less an ideal feast day unfolding...

Somehow, though, I stayed relatively calm and go everyone into the minivan, attempting to redirect us toward goodness through
our habit of Gratitude and Greatness and our
 driving prayer peg . But these efforts only went so far.

We arrived at practice field in the nick of time with my youngest bowled over by the imperfections of the past moments and no longer sure he even wanted to go to practice. 

Truly wanting things to reset, I encouraged my youngest to try to forget the overwhelming awful we'd all just been experiencing and, instead, to just focus on enjoying his first practice. I gave him a hug, let him know how excited I was that he was getting to finally start the season he was so looking forward to, and brought him over to the baseball field, where I introduced myself to some kind baseball dads and was grateful when they promptly paired my youngest up with another child to play warm-up catch with.


With that child bouncing back and focused on good, I, then, sat with my daughter, who was brimming with emotion, engaged her in a calming chat, and focused on her 1:1.

Her reset began happening, too.

Meanwhile, my oldest son - not in reset mode yet - came over, quietly blustering, and handed me a scrawled note that was somewhat of an apology and somewhat of a demand.

I told him that we would need to wait to discuss it until I was done with his sister's 1:1. He could wait near to us, walk around the field, or go to the minivan.

He chose a different course of action - and not the wisest one. With one son on the field and a daughter who needed me next to me, I, then, chose to trust that God would send the Guardian angels of my eldest to look after him while I awaited the end of my youngest's practice.

Fast forward...

With thanks to my eldest's guardian angels, I found my oldest safe at home when my youngest's practice ended. That was good.

Not as good, my just-home-from-work husband and our oldest son were in the middle of a heated discussion when my younger two and I entered the scene, and, honestly, those two needed no more drama.

So, I quickly assessed things, closed my eyes, and prayed for the right actions and reactions to get back on better ground as a family unit.

I noted that my eldest had made a few good choices - putting in laundry, trying to heat up portions dinner, etc. - atop his bad ones. Still, he just wasn't ready to let some persistent vice go.

So, a weird, and very real period of rollercoaster parenting, feast day dinner preparations, and Lord-please-give-us-grace followed.

Before too, too long, however, we had the messes of the day under figurative wraps for a moment and also covered messes on the table that were just going to be too much to remove with a cloth. Then, we set out our feast day dinner - however imperfectly - and everyone gathered at the table.

A chat about St. Teresa of Calcutta, grace, and digging in happened.

Between delicious bites...

...I encouraged each person to reflect upon the day and the idea that, as St. Teresa has said, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”"  I asked us each to recall a moment in the day when we could have demonstrated greater love.

The idea that "
Peace begins with a smile," (another quote attributed to St. Teresa) seemed appropriate, too.

For, despite all the hoopla earlier in the day - and even some that followed once dinner ended- we were somehow bathed in grace and - praise God! - at times some genuine smiles broke through.

(And maybe some not so genuine ones...)

St. Teresa took care of the poorest of the poor. Sometimes, even when we want to best for our families, we experience the poorest of attitudes, actions, reactions, etc. It is easy to swept up in the drama of it all, to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, foiled, you-name-the-negative emotion... But, it is also important to just keep loving.

St. Teresa once said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." Imperfect feast days - and imperfect anydays - remind us that no matter what kind of time we are having as a family, there is always an opportunity - and a need - to love.

When one person in the family begins a downward spiral, we have a choice: get sucked in and move away from love or move back towards love.

The right choice is obvious - but not always easy.

Still, I pray we can each make that right choice. I pray that on ideal days and imperfect ones, we may find time to love those around us.

I also pray that by sharing this snippet of real life as we tried to live the liturgical year last year, you find some encouragement.

If your home and family are glaringly important, you are not alone. Mine is, too.

No judgement here. Just solidarity and prayer.

You've got this! And, if you don't, God does.

Praise God for that!

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Get a FREE Saint Augustine Prayer Copywork Set


August 28 is the feast day of St. Augustine. It is also close to when school begins for many people. So, I decided to create another FREE PRINTABLE copywork set with a prayer from St. Augustine that I find equally good for students as for homeschool parents.

The set has an option in cursive...

... and in printing.

It is designed with clear spaces between each word to help children remember to leave spaces between words as they copy. It also has a double thick line at the bottom of each blank line to help children remember to ground their letters.

I pray this simple FREE Printable St. Augustine Prayer
 CopyworkSet encourages your children to write beautifully and pray frequently.

You can find 
more free, printable copywork here. Also, feel free to make requests for any copywork or journaling sets you'd like me to share or any saint day you'd like ideas for.   

Renew in your Church, we pray, O Lord, that spirit with which you endowed your Bishop Saint Augustine that, filled with the same spirit, we may thirst for you, the sole fount of true wisdom, and seek you, the author of heavenly love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
~The Collect 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Enjoy Celebrating the Queenship of Mary

The Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary is August 22

This year, we won't be celebrating with a party with friends as we did last year, but I have been enjoying looking back at snapshots from that celebration and thought I would share some of them as inspiration for you to celebrate the Queenshp of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the children in your life.

If you like celebrating with easy eats any blue, red, and white foods can be symbolic of Mary.

Blue is a traditional color of royalty and also symbolic of heaven and the sky Red symbolizes Mary's love passion, devotion, and sacrifice. And, white symbolizes Mama Mary's purity. With these colors and the summer season in mins 
strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and/or raspberries with whipped cream, yogurt, nice cream, or ice cream, are a wonderful idea!

Cherry tomatoes - also in season - can be an easy addition to your feast table, too.

Watermelon crowns can also be easy and succulent for this summertime feast day celebration.

If you have littles, you might enjoy a fun little Marian Queenship song and game to the tune of Ring Around the Rosary from a cute little book called Joyful Noises.

If you prefer celebrating through play, you might play 
a version of Queenie, Queenie, Whose Got the Ball in a pool or in the yard. We adapted the rhyme to this:

Queenie, Queenie, who has the ball?
Someone big or someone small?
We know Jesus loves us all.

For more detailed ideas and links, see
the post I shared last year when planning our party as well as an older post about an impromptu liturgical teatime.

Enjoy your feast day!

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

O God, who made the Mother of your Son
to be our Mother and our Queen,
graciously grant that, sustained by her intercession,
we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom
the glory promised to your children.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
~The Collect

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Simple Celebrations: The Assumption

This year, we will not be home on the Solemnity of the Assumption, so I won't be able to lay out a table to greet my children with an Assumption Day meal.  Still, I have been enjoying looking back at some of the fun Assumption group gatherings and lovely eats and activities that my children, our friends, and I have shared through the years. I am also appreciating our simpler celebration, like last year's when we picked some flowers from the yard - including some blue ones for Mary...

... laid them out with simple eats (blueberries for Our Lady, white banana for he purity, red raspberries for her love, waffles for the earth, and ice cream, yogurt, and whip cream for the heavens)...

... placed a candle and prayer book along with them...

... and with bleary eyed kids...

...enjoyed top-your-own Assumption day waffles.

Some smiling...

Some more serious...

All coming together to slip some prayer and celebration into a busy summer day.

Pausing to pray. Living the liturgical year. Making memories. It can be simple.

May you have a beautiful Solemnity of the Assumption.

 Almighty ever-living God, who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant we pray, that, always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. ~the Collect

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Dive into World War II with Time Travelers U.S. History Studies {A Home School in the Woods Review} + a FREE PRODUCT CODE!

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Even though my oldest child at 14 is no-longer a huge fan of hands-on learning, he does enjoy history and, as a family, we have appreciated resources from Home School in the Woods in the past. Thus, we decided to have him use their Time Travelers U.S. History Studies on WWII this summer as a part of his overall U.S. History studies.

This study is meant to be a hands-on, 5-10 week study with 25 lessons for grades 3-8, but we opted to make it less hands-on for my son (with intentions of going through it in a more hands-on way with my younger children later.) That way, my son could have some worthwhile and acceptable-to-both-him-and-me offscreen learning and my younger children - who still like hands-on learning - can dive into the greater array of goodies that the study has to offer later on.

As always with products by Home School in the Woods, I was impressed with how easy and flexible the WWII study has been to use.

To use the resource, I clicked on a link, unzipped a file, saved it on my computer, then went to handy, easy-to-navigate page.

From there, since I am already familiar with how Homechool in the Woods products work, I was able to quickly get to what I knew would work for my son in order to print out select pages.

If you are not familiar with the vendor and products though, do not worry. There first in the menu are an introduction, tips, teacher helps, etc. Home School in the Woods truly designs its products for ease and adaptability of use!

What is Included and Covered?

This World War II study includes plenty to read, do, and learn about the history and people of WWII, including:

  • the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime
  • German, Italian and Japanese occupations
  • conflicts and battles between the Aix and the Allies
  • what the American homefront was like
  • the Holocaust
  • VF and VJ Days
  • events immediately following the war.

As you work your way through the study, you will learn about such things as how dictators have risen to power and leaders have led, how people can be led down a path towards destruction before they even realize what is happening (quite apropos to the times we are living in now), and how people react during times of stress, war and uncertainty. (Again, history informs the present, right?)

To use this study, you will need an internet-connected device, a printer, paper, and pencils/pens/highlighters if you are going a less hand-on route like my son has.

If you are going more hands-on, as we have done with past studies, you will also want to have the following supplies on hand:

  • white printer paper 
  • transparency film or acetate
  • colored printer paper 
  • colored file folders 
  • white card stock 
  • lamination sheets (optional—for protection of projects/game boards) 
  • colored card stock 
  • a 1- 1/2“ or 2”, 3-ring binder (per child) 
  • glue sticks and liquid glue 
  • a larger binder for the teacher  
  • double-sided sticky tape 
  • colored pencils 
  • corrugated cardboard (a discarded shipping box will do)
With such supplies you can take full advantage of all the the study has to offer, which includes creative writing, factfile cards, penmanship pages, ration cooking recipes, file folder games, notebooking activities, a notebooking timeline, authentic documents, 3-D project, lapbook projects, and a Victory Day Celebration at the end of the unit.

Or, blend some of the fabulous activities and projects with the more low-key route my son went, just enjoying well-written text pages, thought-provoking quotes, helpful illustration, timelining, etc.

The beauty of the resource is that it is flexible. You can choose what works for each of your children, picking the projects and activities that best suit their needs and yours.

Oo. Speaking of your needs, Home School in the Woods makes things easy for you with teacher helps, resource, lists, teacher keys, and helpful images that let you see what finished products may look like.

It really is a wonderfully well-thought-out, flexible, and timely study.

How We Approached the Study

As I already made clear, my oldest child is no longer a hands-on lover. In fact, he typically prefers online learning. However, since I still want him to utilize some offline resources, we compromise at times with excellent resources for topics of interest to him , such as this history study.

This time, our compromise was a win. My son was satisfied enough to spend time working independently on a subject of interest to him in a clear and easy-to-use format with extra plusses like engaging illustrations and design,well-written text, and thought-provoking quotes, while I was pleased to have something offline for him to work with and to spur some interesting discussions between us.

When my son and I chatted about this the resource preparation for me writing this review, he shared these thoughts:

The printable text information is well written and explains history well and succinctly. 
There is also copywork. I find copywork annoying, but my mother required me to do some because she wants me to improve my handwriting. So, I looked at lists of quotes and chose one to copy.
My mom also had me read some other quotes and write a paragraph about what I thought. 
One quote that struck me was by Hitler. Hitler is known as a maniacal, tyrannical dictator who had many innocents slaughtered. We don't typically think of him as brilliant in any way. However both of the quotes I read showed his genius. It is true that a person who controls and influences the youth can change the future in dramatic ways. It is also true that if you "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." I can see how some people and politicians are utilizing this theory today, and it is terrifying. 
I also worked on timelines. Because I don't like to cut, color, and paste, my mother printed out the keys and had me simply write notes on them. I like the style of the barbed wire and chains on the timelines. They are well-designed to help me picture time and take notes. 
This resource is an effective one that can teach World War II history to students in multiple ways. I chose to use it in a non-hands on way, mostly just reading, writing, thinking,and discussing. Others could use it much more creatively. I would recommend it to families who like adaptable resources.

I whole-heartedly agree that the study is a wonderful one for families that like flexibility. It has something for every type of learner and is truly well-written and designed.

The study has been a worthwhile supplement to my eldest's existing studies - and one he can use offline! I also foresee it being a great hands-on resource for my younger ones when I have time to work on it with them. It also is a timely study: with current events moving the way they are, this particular time period is an excellent one to dive into and the study opens doors for quality conversations.

Learn More

The WWII study is part of a series. Several years ago,  we used another title from this Home School in the Woods series - the Civil War Time Traveler American study. You can check out our prior review to see how that experience was with younger children and some more hands-on things.

We also reviewed the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak some years ago, enjoyed it, and may revisit soon since we are in an important time of our election cycle. I'd encourage you to check that Elections Lap-Pak out, too.

Beyond that, we've appreciated timeline figures...

... Ancient Greece studies...

...Art, History, and More A La Carte from Home School in the Woods {A Review}...

...and Flexible, Fun, Hands-On History for Every Learner { A Project Passport: Renaissance & Reformation Review}...

All these and more are quality products offered by Home School in the Woods and some have recently been reviewed by fellow Review Crew families. In fact, you can click through to find links to 60 recent Homeschool Review Crew blog and social media reviews!

Also, wonderful news: For the time being, Home School in the Woods is giving away a free copy of their Greek Life! File Folder Game when you use the code TOSGameNight at checkout. No purchase necessary! Gotta love a freebie! And got to love a curriculum provider that hits the mark time and time again.

Through the years, we have been impressed with the quality of Home School in the Woods timelines, printable games, lapbooks, studies, and more. We think you will be, too!

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