Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Early Reader Series

Supporting our new reader in her search for engaging books suitable for her reading level has been been a challenge. Like all our children Jelly Bean loves to find series or authors and then binges:) When I asked her to share her five favourite series the following were her choices in preferential order.  Of course our previously shared Mercy Watson still comes in as top choice!

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series was a huge hit!  Simple, humorous stories about two friends, humour is always a winner with Jelly Bean.  Print is large, pictures too, non-intimidating.  Four books; Frog and Toad TogetherFrog & Toad Are Friends, Frog and Toad All Year, Days with Frog & Toad comprise the series. JB also loved Owl At Home by the same author.

A new find, the Kid Cowboy series by Catherine Coe also receives a high five from JB. Thus far she has enjoyed Rocky Rodeo and School Scare and eagerly awaits more from our town library. Large print with bright pictures, lessons to learn.

Whilst the following two series are aimed more at the girl market, Sally Rippin has also written a series to capture boy's interest too, Hey Jack!

Jelly Bean has devoured nearly all of Sally Rippin's Billie B Brown books. Initially The Soccer Star caught her interest, being a player herself, then she went on to read all of them! (there are a lot) Large print with smaller pictures, aimed at the 7 year old age group, whilst these books are dubbed by our teens as complete twaddle, they do fill a need.

Ella & Olivia - Yvette Poshoglian
A new series recently discovered, JB really enjoyed these.  Whilst not great literature (dubbed twaddle again) they have helped in encouraging our new reader to continue enjoying the world of print.  Large print but a 'step up' with more lines on each page compared to the above books.

By JB's favourite author Kate De Camillo of the Mercy Watson fame, Bink & Gollie and it's sequel Bink & Gollie: Two for One were humorous and entertaining.  Whilst the print wasn't large, there were only a few lines on each page accompanied by bright pictures.

HT: When discerning whether the print will intimidate an early reader or not, I find it useful to use Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature.

Advent Roundup

This Sunday we begin Advent, I'm longing for the commencement of Advent this year.  Looking forward to that feeling of Expectation as we travel towards Celebrating the Birthday of the Christ Child.

Collating our various Advent posts into an Advent Roundup for your perusal.  

Journeying along with Our Blessed Mother
Advent Reflections Whilst Awaiting the Birth of Our Babe 2013

Open Letter: 
Letter to a young mum assuring her "you don't have to do it all"
Creating Advent Traditions 2009

Advent/Christmas Book Lists: 
Lots and lots of book suggestions
Jesse Tree in Picture Books
Aussie Christmas Titles
Books for St Nicholas
Christmas with Golden Books & Joan Gale Thomas
Christmas Library Selection
Christmas Selections From Our Town Library
Destination Bethlehem
Family Christmas Favourites
Focus on the Nativity
More Nativity Peeks
Tomie de Paola's Christmas Titles

Planning overview and weekly checklists, I use this every year, saves me lots of stress
Advent Checklist 2009
Planning- 1st Week of Advent 2009
Planning - 2nd Week of Advent 2009
Planning - 3rd Week of Advent 2009
Planning - 4th Week of Advent 2009
Checklist for Advent Preparations - Week One 2007

Guest posting elsewhere
Christmas Guest Post Series - 2011

Sharing a few celebrations, mostly though I seem to record planning
Celebrating Advent 2010
It's Definitely Not Snowing Here 2009 (Humorous Story of an Advent Wreath)
'Twas Nearly the Night Before Christmas 2008

Feast Days in Advent/Christmas Season:
St Barbara - 4th December
A family tradition, celebrating the Feast of St Barbara is a must for us now
Celebrating the Feast of St Barbara 2012
St Barbara's Tower 2011
Feast of St Barbara 2008
Feast of St Barbara 2007

St Nicholas - 6th December
Celebrating the Feast of St Nick only became part of our family tradition about ten years ago, but a loved part now
The Feast of St Nicholas 2012
Celebrating the Feast of St Nicholas 2011
Blessings on the Feast of the Epiphany 2008

Monday, 24 November 2014

This Week in Learning: November 21st, 2014

Whilst learning has been happening during the three weeks since I last shared, when you don't write learning notes weekly, despite your best intentions to remember all you don't.  Fortunately I did jot down some notes so I have a general idea of some of what we learnt.

The previous weeks have been disrupted thanks to medical dramas and Carpenter's homecoming for his College holidays. Also it's nearing the end of the academic and calendar year and the heat has been intense, 40C (100F) days without air conditioning so the children are flagging, most days I'm pushing and prodding them along.  Not my favourite way for them to learn and not entirely effective.

Michelangelo(15) is currently the most diligent, achieving a majority of his studies despite the distractions.  He's still reading his Didache studies, focusing on the Sacraments at present including Baptism and Marriage and most keen on Beginning Apologetics, having just studied the Eucharist and Sola Scriptora. He and I have managed to complete a few lessons of All About Spelling and he also achieved a couple of dictation lessons courtesy of Spelling Wisdom, his spelling ability is improving:) Michelangelo has put a massive effort into his maths lessons, studying for an hour a day, as he is determined to complete his current grade by the end of the year.

Science Matters continues to be a positive choice for him, says it is most interesting and he is learning alot.  Our history choice is a bit too much of a stretch, I was worried it would be, so we'll find a different fit next year.  Geography studies have reached the 'boring parts,' mostly focusing on Earth Science, nothing really new for him there.  Michelangelo has expressed an interest to focus more on the universe and new space discoveries next year.  As usual Michelangelo has avidly read plenty of books including the latest Brotherband book and a re-read of some of the previous ones as well as a couple of Sebastian Darke's books (really good) and The Princess and the Captain(very sad ending), he also spent hours listening to Deltora Quest on his MP3 player.

Princess(13) is lagging, the year end can't come fast enough for her.  She is just 'going through the motions' in completing some of her studies, though she likes studying the Catechism, next year I'll introduce her to the Beginning Apologetics, she may enjoy them. She did complete some of her dictation lessons the fact she didn't manage more is partly my fault, I need be certain to be more available. Princess has kept up with reading her poetry studies and her nature readings.  Maths is a challenge for her as she has completed the 'easy' lessons and now has the more difficult ones to complete.

Photo Credit: Michelangelo
Motivation is a struggle at this time of the year, how much should you push, when connections aren't happening? Sometimes though we need to 'go through the motions' to form habits for connections to have a chance to occur.  Though I suspect in this heat connections aren't going to be many.  Probably need to change focus for the last three weeks of the school year.  Any ideas?

Like the older children, the younger ones are also flagging. Jelly Bean expressed a dislike of our tick boxes, the children's 'to do' lists, they made her feel pressured to tick, a 'tick box mentality' (my summation of her conversation).  This is always my concern with sheets, whilst they are a useful tool for direction and recording, they can also produce that mentality.  Anyhow currently trialing for the younger three a 4Rs list, in which I keep the notes.

Jelly Bean has hit a hard spot in her maths which is producing tears, we had a little break from maths but trying again, frustratingly she has a tendency to give up.  The boys continue to fly through their lessons, though all three children have a horror of answering any questions incorrectly, if they do they log out immediately and try again later, a bit of an odd and unhelpful approach.

Jelly Bean and Jack Jack have been enjoying writing stories, it's been lovely to see their enthusiasm to creative writing.  They have a couple of 'on going' pieces they are working on.

We're reading The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald and should finish it this week in time for Advent.  We're also wrapping up Amy Steedman's A Little Child's Life of Jesus, it's a lovely, reflective book. Jelly Bean has concentrated diligently on her reading, her massive (and incomplete) list below shows just what a marvelous effort she has been doing.  At this stage she is focusing on easy books and we're happy for her to master them first before we encourage her to try the more advanced chapter books. Jack Jack has been reading too, though not as many hours as JB.  He's re-reading all the Ladybird readers, which is good for his confidence.

Most exciting, I have begun Jem on Level 1 in AAR and love it!!! It really is an excellent program, which I plan on reviewing when we finish this book, for now I'll share the letter tiles, the revision each lesson of the previous lesson, the mastery of the cards (which I've laminated for durability) all adds to the brilliancy of this program.

We abandoned Leaping into Literature sometime during the previous weeks, though sharing a remnant of books read prior to our desertion.

Leaping into Literature
Meet Captain Cook - Rae Murdie 3 Star
Meet the Anzacs - Claire Saxby 3 Star
On a Beam of Light - A Story of Albert Einstein - Jennifer Berne 4 Star 
Jandamarra - Mark Greenwood 3 Star
Bats at Library- Brian Lies 2 Star
Diary of a Worm - Doreen Cronin 1.5 Star
All Through the Year - Jane Goodwin 1.5 Star

Jelly Bean's Pile (Incomplete)
Billie B Brown: The Little Lie - Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown: The Birthday Mix-Up - Sally Rippin
Ark Adventures: Crazy Chameleons! - Sally Grindley
Ark Adventures: Giant Giraffes! - Sally Grindley
Ark Adventures: Pesky Sharks! - Sally Grindley
Little House Books: Christmas in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House Books: A Little House Birthday - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House Books: County Fair - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Favourite Bedtime Tales: Little Gingerbread Man, Little Red Hen, Three Little Pigs
Billie B Brown: The Bully Buster - Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown: The Best Project - Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown: The Big Sister - Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown: The Secret Message - Sally Rippin
Billie B Brown: The Extra-special Helper - Sally Rippin
Frog and Toad Are friends - Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad All Year - Arnold Lobel
Days with Frog and Toad - Arnold Lobel
Owl At Home - Arnold Lobel
Big, Bad Bear - Zila Todd
The Giving Tree- Shel Silverstein
I Will Surprise My Friend!: An elephant and Piggie Bk- Mo Willems
Happy Pig Day!: An elephant and Piggie Bk- Mo Willems
Listen to my Trumpet!: An elephant and Piggie Bk- Mo Willems
The Long House in Danger: Olaf the Viking - Elizabeth Laird
The Dark Forest: Olaf the Viking - Elizabeth Laird
Berenstain Bear and the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery
The Princess and the Kiss - Jennie Bishop

Sharing at The Wine Dark Sea's Guilt Free Learning Notes

Jesse Tree in Picture Books

With Advent fast approaching my thoughts are turning toward preparations and celebrations.  It's been several years since we've celebrated with a Jesse Tree, but after reading Ellie's Jesse Tree in Picture Books I've felt re-inspired. Can't promise we'll manage making and hanging symbols but readings I can easily manage. Pulling our books off the shelves I realised we have a serious lack of Bible picture books, a situation which I immediately addressed by purchasing a couple of new books for St Nicholas presents;) (included in this list).

By no means is this a 'definitive' list, Sara's list and Ellie's retain that honour, as I know Jenn's will too (list coming). This list is really for me to keep myself accountable to my reading plans. There are various Jesse Tree lists and I was confused and unsure of which Bible figure to read on what day, in the end I decided to just 'run with' Ellie's patriarch's for now. The books pictured above and marked with an * are really the 'cream of the crop', the Lion's Story Bible books and My Bible Friends are 'gap filler's' from my childhood. The My Bible Friends is a ten book set published by the Seventh Day Adventists, the pictures and text are rather 'nice', I'm fond of them as they are part of my childhood memories. The Lion's Bible Stories aren't particularly exciting but they are solid. I have plans to build our library in this area, 'one day'.

There may well be other Jesse Tree picture book lists I'm unaware of please do tell me about them or any must have books you feel I should have.  I also have no idea of what to read over the O Antiphon days, would love suggestions.

Day 1: The Story of Creation
*The Story of the Creation - Jane Ray (are a few pages of frontal nudity)
In the Beginning - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 2: Adam and Eve and the Fall
Adam and Eve - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 3: Noah 
*Noah's Ark - Jerry Pinkney
*Noah's Ark - Jane Ray
*Noah's Ark - Peter Spier (wordless)
Noah and the Great Flood - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 4: The Tower of Babel
*The Tower of Babel - William Wiesner

Day 5: The Promise to Abraham
Abraham, Friend of God - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 6: Isaac and Abraham
Isaac Finds a Wife - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 7: Jacob and Esau
Jacob & Esau - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 8: Joseph
*Joseph - Brian Wildsmith
Joseph the Dream Teller - Catherine Storr (People of the Bible series)
Joseph's New Coat - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Joseph and His Brothers - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Joseph the Dreamer - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)
Joseph and the King of Egypt - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 9 & 10: Moses
*Exodus - Brian Wildsmith
*Moses: The Long Road to Freedom - Anne Keay Beneduce, Illust- Gennady Spirin
Baby Moses - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
The Princess and the Baby - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 11: Ruth
Ruth's New Family - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 12: Samuel
Samuel the Little Priest - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
God Speaks to Samuel - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 13: David and Goliath
David and Goliath - Barbara Shook Hazen (Golden Book)
David, The Youngest Boy - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
A King for Israel - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)
A King for Israel - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)
David and Goliath - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)
King David - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 14: Esther
Esther the Brave Queen - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Queen Esther Saves Her People - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 15: Solomon
Solomon's Golden Temple - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 16: Elijah
Elijah and the Time of No Rain - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
A Room and A Boy - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Elijah asks for Bread - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 17: Jonah
**The Book of Jonah - Peter Spier
*The Hard to Swallow Tale of Jonah and the Whale - Joyce Denham
Jonah Runs Away - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 18: King Belshazzar and the Writing on the Wall
Catholic Children's Bible in Colour

Day 19: Daniel in the Lion's Den
The Trials of Daniel - Catherine Storr (People of the Bible series)
Daniel and His Friends - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Daniel and the Lions - Etta B Degering (My Bible Friends Series)
Daniel in the Lion's Den - Penny Frank (The Lion Story Bible)

Day 20: The Annunciation and the Visitation
*Mary the Mother of Jesus - Tomie dePaola

Days 21-27: The O Antiphons
Day 21: O Wisdom
Day 22:O Lord
Day 23: O Flower
Day 24: O Key
Day 25: O Radiant Dawn
Day 26: O King
Day 27: O Emmanuel

Day 28: The Nativity (Christmas Eve)
*The Story of Christmas - Jane Ray
*The Nativity - Francesca Crespi
More Nativity books

Friday, 21 November 2014

Fabric Boxes: Our Storage Solution

Successfully completing an organisation project always makes me happy. Last week I decided our dress up storage wasn't working and I wanted a solution that involved minimising visual 'clutter'.

Therefore it was time to make more fabric boxes, purchasing a few doona cases at garage sales I was began cutting.  Dividing the task over several days, I cut out sufficient material for 16 boxes, yep 16! 

This actually translates to 32 fabric 'crosses', as sewing includes a liner as well as the outer box. 

Then there were also the 32 handles to cut and sew.  Handles are fiddly, always a relief to finish them.  Sewing madly on and off over a week I finally complete my storage solution!:)

Dress ups and toys, looking neat and tidy:) Next task is to create picture labels so the children can easily locate the items they want.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

My Daybook: November 19th, 2014

Outside my window...
the sky is overcast, finally a break in the intense heat, over 40C (104F) days we have been experiencing.

I am thankful...
that our College boy is coming home today on the train!!!!!:):):)
So thankful that he received quality care during his surgery and follow up visits, that he has his new wrist cast on and that he is coming home:):)  He will be home for a couple of months!!!! Yep I'm dancing with delight!

I am thinking...
about preparations for Carpenter's homecoming. When family members are coming home the house receives a deep clean, a clean house is pleasant way to be greeted and a way to honour them.

Learning all the time...
achieving all on our lesson plans becomes a challenge by November, as the year draws to a close we're tired and the heat is incredible some days. Last week's heat with no air conditioner wilted us, though fortunately we have fans this summer.
We are learning though, certainly the older ones with more success.

Celebrating the liturgical year......
was rather pleased to complete my Mega List of Catholic Picture Books, some 'cream of the crop' books there.  Currently working on a list of Bible picture books to deepen our understanding of our 'roots' by studying/reading the Jesse Tree.

From the kitchen...
whenever I've baked this week I've substituted gluten free flour for wheat, I prefer the taste aside from the health benefits. Today though it will be salads, too hot for anything else.

I am creating...
just finished sewing 16 more fabric boxes! Mammoth task and now the toy and dress up area is looking very tidy... I wonder how long it will stay that way..

I am working on...
Christmas present lists and preparations.  I realised with shock this week that it's nearly Advent! Hoping we can do much of our present shopping online this year, but first need to finish the lists. Oh yes and Bella turns one, three days before Christmas, so need to plan for her celebration too.

I am going...
to the train station to meet our boy tonight or maybe PC gets the honour, we'll be 'flipping a coin' later to see who is the 'winner':)

I am hoping...
Einstein receives positive news in regards to his plans for next year

I am praying...
  • in thanksgiving for the safe arrival of our new niece
  • for another special babe
  • for Einstein as he discerns direction
Photo Credit: Goanna by Michelangelo

I am pondering....
personalities and traits, accepting who I am thanks to Dressing Your Truth

I am reading and listening to......
Dressing Your Truth.  Oh wow, one of those 'life changing' books.  I've realised that all these years I've been trying to dress as someone I'm not.  Processing the information and listening to the episodes, sure hope they can 'steer me right'.

I am hearing...
Bella 'talking' on the floor as she plays next to me, she sure has plenty to say and younger children playing on their computers as I type.

I am struggling...
not struggling this week, that was last fortnight with all its medical crisis, I was beginning to unravel by the end. Thankfully drama free now

Clicking around...
researching commenting systems; comment luv, disqus, livefyre, google+s, intense debate notifications.  Should I install one of these systems and which one would be the best system for my readers? I'd like to foster a community but want to make the experience friendly to all. What do you know about any of these? Experiences, thoughts please.

Around the house...
lots of building projects coming to fruition: four cupboards built, bathroom and laundry completed, the ensuite awaits my painting brush. We should be ready for the plumber by December, if only I can get the warehouse to deliver the bathtub and basins.

One of my favorite things...

  • having all our children home together, can't wait!! 
  • family games time too, lots of that happening lately

A few plans for this week...

  • Visited with a local blogging family this week:)
  • Meeting another blogging family later in the week as they travel through, very excited.  The internet can be a positive experience, a community.

A little peek at my day...

  • Cleaning house in preparation for our boy!
  • X-ray visit for Jelly Bean in preparation for her orthodontic visit
  • Ballet run for Princess, during which time I'll run errands including collecting library books
  • Green grocer purchasing due but Einstein has kindly offered to do it:) Independent teen drivers make life much easier

Yet More Cupboards

PC has been enjoying the satisfaction of building cupboards, and recently created a couple more, completing all built ins for the children's rooms:) Einstein's rather happy to have plenty of space.

PC has added a new feature, a long shelf across the top, allowing for even more belongings to be stored, which is most helpful when you have two girls sharing space.  He is planning to build a second shelf above the first, which will be most appreciated.

Very pleased that PC has built these cupboards out of solid materials as I've caught a couple of the younger boys climbing the shelves! Our walk in robe is indeed next, the sheeting is purchased and sits waiting:)

Friday, 14 November 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 211)

Remember last week's dramas? I was hoping we were all done with dramas, but not quite so, there was one more left and I'm still traumatised. Bella (10 months) pulled a chair onto herself, with it landing on her face, she has pushed her cute little eye tooth back up the gum, the gum is a horrible bruised colour, she may have damaged the tooth and it may be discoloured only time will tell.  Chairs now line the walls of the dining room, they no longer tuck under the table, they are added to my list of 'watch out for's' along with water buckets, pool gates, reversing cars, lego pieces, marbles and.... all the many 'possibles' to be alert for with small children.

I used to have the ability of coping with living in a messy house for up to three days, which was fortunate as when we only had small children this was necessary for sanity. My time limit for coping is now less, unfortunately the children and my limits are not meshing, the majority of them don't notice or don't care about mess, though they are very good about cleaning when asked. PC cares though, he is awesome:)
I'm becoming aware that my previous method of 'focus on lessons now and then clean later' is making me agitated, I'm hurrying the children through lessons so we can clean up, with no winners all round. I'm not certain why I now need a visually clean environment for my brain to focus, why I'm mentally distracted by mess, when I used to be able to cope with mess but now no longer can. Solution anyhow is to be diligent in cleaning up daily, no 'skipping' clean up time, which comes down to my self -discipline, which is still my weak area.


Our gorgeous new niece, my brother's first little girl, I'm just smiling to think of such a big guy with a tiny girl to dote on.They live in far away, interstate, in Tasmania, wishing we lived closer, I'd so love to sit and nurse this little one. There's just something about babies:):)

Off to a book sale tomorrow with my girls and we're pretty excited, looking forward to a girls morning out. True we already have thousands of books but you never know we might find some real treasures.  If need be we can cull our library to fit more in, promise, maybe;) We're not expecting 'great things' though as last time they had no children's books, can you believe it! They were told that no one was interested in children's books! Be assured that many locals told them otherwise.

Talking books I spent literately hours today researching and selecting books for the children's St Nicholas presents.  Most excited to discover Fr Coulter's list of excellent Catholic fiction for older teens and adults. I'm really excited about this list and all books for my teens were selected from Father's recommendations:) Ten books selected, just thinking I might buy PC a gift too, just cause:) After St Nick's day I'll come back and share, talking books be sure to catch my Mega List of Catholic Picture Books:)

Sometimes you hear information, file it away and revisit later.  Over a year ago Anna Maria(21) was most enthused and shared with me about discovering her dress style via Dressing Your Truth, she gave me the book to read, I intended to read but hadn't yet done so. Our Anna Maria always dresses so elegantly and her dress style certainly became more so after she did her profiling, which is why I've always intended to find my style. Anyhow Arianne's post on Dressing my Truth has prompted me to finally read the book.  I easily could pick Anna Maria's type but I'm having trouble picking mine, I need to go back and read each type with more care to discover me, if you've read the book that probably gives you a clue as to who I really am;) I suspect I know what type I am but... I don't wanna be....sounds like I probably haven't been dressing my truth all these years, just having a little adjustment here.  Rather humbling though that my daughter discovered herself at 19 and here I am in my 40s still searching.

Talking about knowing yourself, I think I might be an extrovert after all, I'm imagine my PC laughing when he reads this, he says I am. Though I'm certainly not on the extreme end, more in the middle. I don't seem to fit the descriptions for either though, take extroverts - I don't recharge by crowds, well I used to but I now live with crowds, kwim?;) I crave solitude these days.  Once I used to love going out, nowadays I'm happy in my hermit cave.  But I don't fit introverts, certainly not this description though it is my daughter to a T. Yet like introverts I am recharged by deep conversations and always have done, so I'm still confused. Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Visit this week's host This Ain't The Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes