Lent? What resources / practices do you use in your family?

2/9/08 – Not too late to do this lovely Lenten Calendar – thanks Nissa – be sure to check out all the posts on the blog!

One more idea -thanks to Michelle H – she does not take credit for it, but did allow me to pass it on:

Stations of the Cross Box to help keep toddlers and small children’s interest while praying the Stations. This is a simple shoe box with small objects that symbolize each station in the box. The children pull out the appropriate object to hold during that station.

Station 1 Jesus is Condemned to Death — a string to represent the rope used to tie Jesus’ hands

Station 2 Jesus Carries His Cross — a small cross

Station 3 Jesus Falls the First Time — a band-aid

Station 4 Jesus Meets His Mother Mary — a plastic rosary

Station 5 Simon Helps Jesus — small plastic figure

Station 6 Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus — small piece of white
fabric with the face of Jesus sketched on it

Station 7 Jesus Falls the Second Time — a band-aid

Station 8 Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem — a tissue

Station 9 Jesus Falls the Third Time — a band-aid

Station 10 Jesus is Stripped of His Garments — a small square of purple felt

Station 11 Jesus is Nailed to the Cross — a large nail

Station 12 Jesus Dies on the Cross — a crucifix

Station 13 Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross — a laminated holy card depicting Michelangelo’s Pieta

Station 14 Jesus is Buried — a stone
02/02/08 –

  • Another lovely Lenten activity – a Lenten Cross – with lots of great pictures.
  • I have been looking for the link to this calendar!
  • Create a Jesus Tree modeled after the Jesse Tree – you can order a kit here.
  • Activities that can be order from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis including a Lent Calendar with windows to open for each day of Lent

Thanks to the posters on all the wonderful yahoo email lists I belong to – I would not have been able to find all these resources.
01/29/2008 – Catholic Culture sent a wonderful set of links including one to their site. Please check out the Lenten Activities they list.
Let’s build a nice list of Lenten Resources. Leave your suggestions in the comment section. Thanks!

I am beginning the list right now:

  • I am getting ready to order this poster right now to assemble in my hall way for the weeks when we are unable to attend our church’s Stations of the Cross
  • http://www.love2learn.net/calendar/lent.htm – a small but I am sure growing lists of books and resources with direct links to buy
  • Lenten Calendar – fantastic printable online calendar beginning with the first Sunday of Lent and finishing with Holy Saturday with a suggestion for each day of Lent including things to give up, acts of Mercy and spiritual reading.
  • Ash Wednesday from CatholicCulture.org – explanation, devotions
  • Lenten Activities from CatholicCulture.org – another small list of activities
  • Lenten Activities from Domestic-Church.org – activities are organized by family and age of children, so you are sure to find something appropriate
  • Stations of the Cross Kit from IlluminatedInk – I know it is expensive, but the review I read about it stated that it was a beautiful project. The only thing to note is that you probably will not be able to complete all the stations in one sitting
  • Site Reviews offered by “Resources for Catholic Educators” – many of the links at the top of the page are dated, but scroll to the bottom to find coloring sheets with related Lenten themes
  • Stations of the Cross Reflections from Mother Angelica and EWTN – the pictures are beautiful and the reflections are worth the trip to the site
  • Create a Paschal Candle – directions from CatholicCulture.org
  • Stations of the Cross Coloring Book (pdf) from CatholicMom.com – a lovely printable coloring book so each of your children can have their own Stations of the Cross book to bring to church or to use at home
  • Online Stations of the Cross (English and Spanish text) – the pictures were drawn by the students of St. Patrick’s Catholic School in WI.
  • A Christian Seder Meal for Holy Thursday
  • One More Seder Meal plan from Domestic-Church.com

Burnout!! Post your suggestions

It’s that time of year – post-Christmas – pre-Lent – burnout. What do you do to deal with it? Leave your suggestions in the comment section.

I did a quick “google” search for Catholic homeschool blogs that had articles on burnout and am compiling a list of suggestions. I hope that you might find some inspiration and hope for dealing with this season.

Articles about Burnout

Suggestions for Dealing with Burnout

  • Make plans to attend a Catholic Homeschool Conference – be surrounded by like-minded families, receive encouragement and see all the wonderful resources available (even just planning to attend can give you a shot in the arm).
  • Add a new resource to your homeschool program – you can plan to do a lapbook, or add a Trip around the World geography unit study
  • Plan a fieldtrip with your family or with a few other homeschoolers
  • Go to adoration and bring it to the Lord
  • Remind yourself that this is just a “feeling” – it may be a strong “feeling” but we don’t have to act on everything we feel.
  •  and the corollary – “this too shall pass” – feelings are generally transient and as the weather improves and we near the goal of the end of our school years or as we approach a nice break, many times our attitudes will improve as will our children’s attitudes
  • Plan a Mother’s Night Out with some like-minded moms
  • Take up a new hobby – learn a new skill like pottery or beading or knitting
  • Sew baby clothes for a local NICU
  • Read an inspiring book either about homeschooling like: to see how other families approach homeschooling.

The magic of a clean kitchen sink

I stumbled on to flylady.net when I was pregnant with my fourth child. My house was in a shambles – I had 3 babies 3 and under and expecting my 4th. I really wasn’t homeschooling as the kids were still very young, but I knew we were going to homeschool.

One morning, things came to head – I had been nursing a baby, my oldest son was playing with a friend outside and the doorbell rang. Rushing to the door, I threw it open expecting to find my son. Well, it wasn’t my son, but a neighbor who stopped by – and I was not in a state of dress appropriate for answering the door – and it was nearly noon. I was mortified.

I knew things had to change. A friend had mentioned FlyLady and that led me to an internet quest and six years later, I have a house that while not picture perfect is acceptable for company that might want to drop in. And, I am always dressed as soon as I get up – well except for the week I give myself after having a baby. I have permission to laze around in a nightgown and robe and focus on establishing the newborn nursing relationship.

So, what did FlyLady do for me? Well, she broke up household management into tiny steps – one of the first being to get dressed and put on shoes in the morning. Another important step is to go to bed leaving the kitchen sink clean and sparkling.

I have to say, that there seems to be something magical that happened when I started clearing the kitchen sink. The clean seemed to expand in a circle from the kitchen. The reality is that I simply started to develop house cleaning routines. I was able to face my problem head on. Prior to FlyLady, I did not clean until I realized something was dirty. And, when I started to clean, I didn’t want to stop until the entire house / job was complete – hours and hours later generally. Then the vicious circle kicked in. The next time I finally realized that the bathroom was dirty – I was nearly paralyzed with the fact that it was going to take hours to finish and therefore did not want to even begin.

FlyLady helped me to break up housekeeping into “zones” and small steps – generally 5 – 15 minutes at a time. And, I had permission to stop at the end of the time period. And, since we worked on a zone a week and there was a weekly “houseblessing” there was never a huge crisis cleaning awaiting me.

Last year, I took FlyLady to the next step – I assigned my older children their own zone in the downstairs. The zones rotate each week – the living room being the least favorite since it is the area that the babies drag out all their toys. They are responsible for dusting and windows and floor cleaning and the daily toy / trash pickup for that zone. In the kitchen, the zone person will unload the dishes and ensure that the table is cleaned off after each meal. I have no arguments over who is responsible for cleaning up or having heated discussions over whose turn it is to do the dishes or clear the table. And, the zone only lasts a week!

Finally, one of the most important lessons FlyLady taught me was to tackle my clutter. Clutter is a killer to my home. Clutter and the need to hold on to “things” with the idea that I might use them at a later date interferes with my peace. I have pared down clothing and towels and books and papers. I have places in my house were there are not “things” on the walls and on the floor so that my eyes my find a place to “rest” … to not be stimulated.

My system isn’t perfect and I know so many other lovely mothers whose house are in much better shape. But, I finally have peace … and the ability to have company drop in unexpectedly!

Start the Day off Right – Prayer!

     Mother’s Rule of Life author, Holly Pierlot suggestions that our first priority (first P) is prayer and God seems to bless me when I give Him this time. I kind of think it’s like offering God my first fruits of the day. You can order the book through my Amazon link, A Mother’s Rule of Life.

Our day now starts with the daily Bible readings from the USCCB. Then we proceed on to our daily prayers – I have a first grader who is working on the prayers needed for First Holy Communion. Older children are working on memorizing the “Anima Christi” and of course we recite the “Act of Contrition” and “Morning Offering”.

When I offer God the first part of my day, it seems as though He blesses me with the ability to get all the rest of our work accomplished. But on the days when I am running behind and we skip this part, we seem to experience more strife, fussing and in general we just have very long school days.

We also may read a short selection on the saint of the day if I receive an email in time as well as a meditation on the mass readings. Finally, on Friday’s, I try to make a point of visiting “Open Wednesday” to preview the readings for the upcoming Sunday mass.

My next goal is to find a family catechism / religious education program that I can add right after the daily Bible readings, but I’m still searching for one that works.

Memorizing Key Facts of the Faith

     I stumbled on the niftiest book, “Memorize the Faith“. I have to admit, I am a poorly catechized Catholic. I grew up in era that followed Vatican II. My religious education experience can be basically summed up in three words … ok, I know you can guess them … “God is love”.

I suppose I did learn the seven sacraments – not because I was instructed to memorize them, but simply through exposure growing up in a Catholic family. But, I couldn’t tell you the Ten Commandments, nor the Seven Deadly Sins let alone the Seven Cardinal Virtues.

Methodically, “Memorize the Faith” moves through the essential facts that we should have memorized. The technique is easy to master (Method Loci) and seriously works – at least with my overtaxed brain. Unfortunately, it’s not useful for memorizing things like catechism question and answers, but he does give you the concrete imagery to work on other key Catholic facts.

We are currently using it during our Family School Time, to memorize pertinent facts. I was able to memorize about 7 sets of facts in one sitting because his imagery was so effective for me, but … you still have to revisit the facts. Sadly, they didn’t get permanently “stuck in my brain”. Oh well, it was a great start. Just need to add in the periodic review.

Family School Time

On one of the lovely Catholic homeschool lists I belong to, I was lamenting on the fact that somehow I never managed to get to our memory work – things like poetry recitation, Latin drills, state cards and the rest. Providentially, a mom suggested “Family School Time”. Unfortunately, I cannot recall her name in order to credit this to her, but it has been a life saver.

We first move through our family prayer time. The details of which can be found in the next post.
Then, we move on to our scholastic memory work. Our schedule has us review the days of the week on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and the months of the year on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s – can you see my cheeks red from embarrassment that my 7th grader couldn’t remember the months? We follow this with the state and capital reviews (5 new ones per week and reviewing the rest). Remember, that I have all my school age children attending Family School, so even if my first grader isn’t working on the states, he is being exposed to it.

We work on addition facts on Monday, Multiplication facts on Tuesday, Subtraction Facts on Wednesday, and Division Facts on Thursdays. This ensures that even if children have moved past the “learning facts” stage, they still have a refresher. Finally, we work on our family poem. This year, I am attempting some Shakespeare with everyone.

After the poetry work, I dismiss the little ones. The have a short break while I work on the Latina Christiana I vocabulary words and chants with my three oldest children. I go through 5 lessons a day, so that by the end of the week, they have another chance to be exposed to all the those words.

My fifth grader is then dismissed and I work on the Latina Christiana II vocabulary with my oldest two who are in seventh grade. I have let the vocabulary slip with my oldest, so our goal is to review two lessons a day and then the current lesson’s words.

So, now I’m sure you’re gasping thinking of how behind I must be on our schedule. But, in reality, I have finally fit in all the drill work that I find necessary and with relief, we can move on to individual subjects. I find this system works for me because this type of memory work is a bit tedious and I do best just getting it finished (I hate having it hang over my head) and by requiring everyone to attend, the little ones are getting a head start.

Oh, and one other point to note, we do have additional memory work that is required in the syllabi we use. But, since I’m being honest, it doesn’t happen with as great regularity as the Family School memory work does.