Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day!



 Choclo and Oob leaping from one lily pad to another, reinforcing the 6 and 7 times tables!

Other Leap Day fun:  I woke the kids up with the 80s big hair rock song "Jump," a song which, like so many from that era,  can no  longer be watched with a straight face.

And, of course, we'll watch  Pirates of Penzance!

 Hope you have a great extra day!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Poem of the Week: Bread of the World

Bread of the World, In Mercy Broken 

Bread of the world, in mercy broken,
Wine of the soul, in mercy shed,
By Whom the words of life were spoken,
And in Whose death our sins are dead.

Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
Look on the tears by sinners shed;
And be Thy feast to us the token,
That by Thy grace our souls are fed.

By: Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
HT:  Journey With Jesus

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quick Takes: Things We've Noticed

1. I've noticed that when I say, "Hey, let me get a picture of you."  My teens hear, "Quick, look like a super hero!"

2. Leena noticed that the business sides of construction equipment look like they were painted by Jackson Pollock.

I can't decide if this is a home schooling win or not.

3.I noticed that Leena's naturally wavy hair looks exactly like I tried to get my (pathologically straight) hair to look back in the 80s!

But she usually blows it out straight. Seriously.

4. Oob noticed that going to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and seeing millions of dollars was his favorite trip ever!

5. I noticed a beautiful sunrise yesterday, but when I called the Emperor out to look, he noticed that the sunrise was making a beautiful rainbow in the west!


6. Leena and I noticed that when she gets dressed up, she can pass for 23 (gulp). 

She's turning 14 in a couple of weeks! 

 7. Choclo and Oob have noticed that they can make pretty much anything they want out of paper while I'm enjoying a quiet cup of tea with a friend.

And get me to take a picture of it.

And get me to post it on the blog.

Have a great weekend!  More fun with Kelly!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oob's Custom Blog Post!

a small camp! a tour!


cool stuff to. just as a sample.............................................

          a tour...aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddddddddd...................

 guess what?




More Fun Jar!

 Oob picked: Build a House.

Which we did!

They could have chosen to build with blocks, cardboard bricks, or Legos, but they chose sheets.

I have fond memories of my mom building sheet houses with us, so this was great for me!

 Leena picked: Water Chemistry.

Our fish tanks run on biofilters.  The idea is to make it as close to a self sustaining ecosystem as possible.

The obvious living creatures are the fish, snails, and plants.

The less obvious living creatures are the bacteria that live in the filter. 

It works like this: 
We provide light, water, and fish food.
The fish eat food and make ammonia as waste (or what breaks down quickly into ammonia).
The first bacteria break ammonia into nitrites.
The second bacteria break the nitrites into nitrates.
The plants use the nitrates as food.

We have a special chemistry set for testing the water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH. An elevated level of any of these chemicals could be very harmful to the fish, although the guppies, at least, are very hardy.

Testing the water tells you if you have a problem, and which link in the chain is causing the problem.

If, for example, the nitrite level was high, you would know that you were having problems with your secondary bacteria.

As it turned out, all our levels were good, and our fish are happy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gospel Dessert Week 2: Transfiguration

Each Lent we give up sweets and desserts. Our cookie jar is transformed into a pretzel jar.

But on Sundays, we must feast! So we have a dessert somehow related to the gospel of the day. Klenda did this one on her own!

The Gospel, of course, was the Transfiguration: Jesus went up on a mountain to pray (the chocolate pudding is the mountain), and a cloud covered him (the whipped topping).

Easy (says she who didn't make the pudding) and yummy (says she who ate the pudding!).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

3rd Grade Religious Ed: Corporal Works of Mercy

 The Gospel this week was the Transfiguration, so we spent a little time talking about that as a manifestation of the Trinity (another Epiphany!), and relating it to the kerygma (Jesus showing he is God, talking about how he will save us, and giving us a peek at the life he is calling us to).

We looked at our seeds/plants and talked about the Kingdom of God (that new life from the kerygma!)growing in us.

We also talked about the kingship of Jesus and acted out the parable of the sheep and the goats. That's the one where Jesus gives us what Mother Teresa called "The Gospel on 5 Fingers." Whatever you did to the least of these, You. Did. It. To. Me.

Now, the examples Jesus gave in the parable are what we call the Corporal Works of Mercy, and this is the Year of Mercy.  The possibilities are endless!

We started with a great game that I picked up from my home  schooling friend, Judy.

The object is to perform each work of mercy.  Judy had a lot of older kids play it as a relay race, I just had them go around and do each station, and they loved it!

The stations went like this:
Shelter the Homeless: build a house from blocks
Clothe the naked: dress the doll,
Comfort the sick: stick a bandage on the sheep
Visit the Imprisoned: visit poor locked up Klenda
Feed the Hungry: stack  cans (for a soup kitchen)
Give Drink to the Thirsty: pour a cup of water
Bury the Dead: bury a Lego minifigure

At the end I explained to them that doing the works of mercy changes our hearts to be more like Jesus', and I gave them little candy hearts. I also gave them a handout with practical ideas for kids and families to do the Works of Mercy.

 We went on to talk about the Holy Doors and the Year of Mercy.

We looked at this picture of the Holy Door of St. Peter's,and then we did this amazing Holy Door craft from Look to Him and Be Radiant.

She has a whole page of awesome ideas for the Year of Mercy with a slew of excellent (free!) printables. Seriously, she's like my favorite Pinterest page all by herself!

 We printed off he Holy Door printables (all found with instructions here). We looked at how her pictures and the bronzes on the actual door lined up,and I quickly went overall the stories (many of which we had covered this year).

They colored the inside page with multicolored streaks of chalk pastel and the door page with bronzy colored pastels. 

They blended them with their fingers (don't forget the wet wipes!), then Klenda and I snipped open the doors and stapled the door page to the inside page.

They looked fantastic!  I also let the kids write Holy Door across the top, and Year of Mercy across the bottom with silver and gold markers.

I had just enough time  to finish up with the story of pretzels and have a quick snack!

We mostly think of pretzels upside down.  That's the "pretzel shape." right?

Nope.  Pretzels are shaped like arms folded in prayer.

Back in the day, the Church's Lenten fast was quite strict: no meat for 40 days, no eggs, no cheese, no butter... wait, what did they eat then? Bread!  You could have bread. And Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth.

That's what pretzels are: bread and salt,  shaped like prayer!  The first Lenten super food, straight from medieval German monks to you! Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Awesome History II: the Middle Ages, Rome to Revolution

Happy Awesome History Students
For our first Awesome History we used Story of the World, but I didn't much like the second book in the series (heavy handed Protestant treatment of the Reformation). 

That left me with a quandary.  I needed a book that gave a good neutral overview of the historical time period, suitable for a wide age range, and a fun read aloud.

The winner is: A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer!

Its even more of an "overview" than Story of the World (the entire story fits in one book), but it hits all my requirements, right down to being fun to read! The idea is that you can give your older kids extra information as you go, while still maintaining the flow which shows how the eras and events are interconnected.

In our case, we are reading three short chapters a week and going from Constantine and the fall of Rome, all the way to the events which started the American Revolution. That gives me the option of doing a  third Awesome History series as either American History or World History.

This week we did chapters 39-41, Constantine through Attila the Hun.

 Our active activity was an epic Nerf battle
between Romans and Barbarians.

It's a good thing we've been practicing!

Our art activity was these "In Hoc Signo Vinces" crosses. 

Constantine, when he was fighting to become emperor, the night before a crucial battle dreamed that he saw a cross in the sky with the words "In This Sign You Will Conquer."

When he awoke, he had all his soldiers paint a cross on their shields,and he won the battle and his crown.  He then legalized Christianity!

Our back grounds are very wet water color sprinkled with coarse salt which gives a starry effect as it dries.  We actually dried them in the oven so that we could finish the project.  Watercolor paper gives the best effect but it works even on copy paper.

The cross is just strips of construction paper, pasted in position.  I had contemplated writing "In Hoc Signo Vinces" in gold marker, but I liked it as is, and I figured leaving it plain allowed this double as a Lenten decoration!

Our snack activity was making these cross hot pretzels- yummy and fun!

We often have hot pretzels, so this was super easy for us.

If you ever want to make hot pretzels, it's just bread dough, dipped in a basic solution (baking soda in our case, industrial pretzels are dipped in lye), and sprinkled with salt.

And baked.  We definitely bake ours!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fun Jar: DNA Extraction!

Zorg pulled: DNA Extraction!  That's always fun, and easier to do than most people think.

Here's how to extract DNA from fruit.

You'll need:
  • alcohol (rubbing is fine, ethyl works too) Put it in the freezer right away, it takes a while to chill.
  • fruit: banana, kiwi, strawberry, or onion. (Yeah, I know onion isn't a fruit... but it's got such huge cells you can see them with a good magnifying glass!)
  • laundry detergent
  • hot and cold water
  • ice cubes
  • thermometer
  • plastic measuring cup
  • funnel/ cups
  • coffee filter
  • 2 large bowls (that the measuring cup will fit it)
  • knife/cutting board/plate
  • fork and spoon or coffee stirrer
  • measuring tablespoon

    1.Cut half of your fruit (maybe use a whole strawberry) into small pieces and then mash them with a fork. The idea is break it up as much as possible. With an onion you could use a blender. Put this into the measuring cup.
    2. Add 1/2 cup of warm water and a tablespoon of laundry detergent to the mix and stir it.

    3. Put the measuring cup into one of the bowls and fill the outer bowl with very warm (125 degree F) water. You can use a mix of boiling water and tap water to get the right temperature. This is called a water bath. Keep it here for 12 minutes, adding hot water and stirring every now and then to keep it warm.

    4. While you wait, put ice cubes and cold water in the other bowl so that when 12 minutes are up you can put the measuring cup in the cold bowl. Let it chill maybe 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    5. Drain this goop through your coffee filter (placed in a funnel set in a cup is the easiest).

    6. When you get about a tablespoon of filtered liquid, that's enough (but you can collect more and do this several times). Take one tablespoon of the liquid and add one tablespoon of ice cold alcohol (this won't work if it's not ice cold) and a pinch of salt.

    7. Swirl to mix. It will suddenly turn goopy and clumpy as the DNA comes out of solution or "precipitates". Put the cup on ice for 10 minutes or so to get as much DNA out as you can (you can even stick it into the freezer overnight).

    8. Pull the DNA out with a spoon or fork, or just dump it onto a plate and mess with it.

    9. Eat the other half of the fruit! Did you ever think of how much DNA you eat?

    For added fun, we looked at the DNA under the microscope: stringy!

    Oh, yes, Cholo and Oob wandered in and out of this experiment, but on their Fun Jar time, Choclo pulled Legos, so the three of us built all sorts of Lego things.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016


    Series!  For the Win!
    Following up on my New Years Resolution, I pulled together some of my science classes and my home school philosophy series (Chart and Compass), and sorted them into convenient links in the side bar (right under the globe).

    The science classes I have so far are the younger classes of Chemistry, Astronomy, and Rocket Science.

    I'm also thinking of putting together an Earth Science series, and then maybe some of the History: I could do a Middle Ages series, US History, or maybe the Awesome History series.  I guess I could also do some of the high school classes, the Religious Ed, or even some favorite art projects if people find them helpful.

    What do you think?  Are there any series that you would find helpful?

    Monday, February 15, 2016

    3rd Grade Religious Ed: Kerygma

     Class 15 was supposed to be "Jesus Suffered and Died for Us," and Class 16 was supposed to be "Jesus Rises From the Dead."

    Well, Class 15 got snowed out, and Class 16 was right before Lent, so I combined the two and went with "Kerygma!"

    I put the word in a little treasure chest and told them I had a real treasure inside.  This was the treasure from the Treasure in a Field parable!

    They made some guesses, and then I showed them the word.

    The kerygma is the basic proclamation of the faith (which we acted out with our Easter cave):

    1. The world is messed up because of sin- our turning away from God.
    2. God sent his Son, Jesus to save us.
    3. Jesus suffered and died to make a way for us to come back to God.
    4. Jesus rose from the dead and calls us into His new life!

    Really, everything else in the Faith is an unfolding of this basic nugget of truth.  Look at the Eucharist: it's a condensed version of the kerygma! It's Jesus coming to us in our sinfulness, offering his Body and Blood, making a way for us to be with Him, and for Him to give us His new life.

    We also talked about Lent and Easter, the Church's annual 90 day kerygma fest.

    Lent is a time to make space in our lives to pay more attention to our walk with Jesus.  We are walking with him during His time in the desert, praying, fasting, and giving.

    I gave them a mini poster to color (we have a giant version at home).

    The main idea is to color in a footprint each day, starting at the lower left cross, but they can also draw flowers around the footprints to represent the acts of love they've done that day. It's like a Lent calendar.

    The cross itself is the symbol for Ash Wednesday (the first footprint is Thursday), and each Sunday is a picture relating to that Gospel (no footprints on Sundays).

    Lent means spring: time to grow! So we checked the seeds we had planted to represent the Kingdom of God with the Mustard Seed parable. 

    I think they might be blooming and ready to go home at Easter!

    I had planned to do Follow the Leader as the game, but I ran out of time. 

    We got a late start because I had car issues. My husband took the class while waiting for me, and he did the Gospel and a visit to the church to pray and see the new statues- which took the half hour I needed to get there!

    Sunday, February 14, 2016

    Poem of the Week: How Do I Love Thee?

    Sonnets from the Portuguese 43
    Balloons and Valentine Holders

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of being and ideal grace.
    I love thee to the level of every day’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.