we joined a new church a few months ago, all saints old catholic church. we have left the roman catholic church and have become orthodox or old catholics, in the hope that one day in nashville there will be an reformed catholic church congregation.
on easter sunday, ella made her first holy communion. my parents were able to be here for the occasion. while a first communion is actually a roman practice, ella wanted to make a more formal occasion of it, to have important family members present, since her whole experience in life thus far has been roman. fr. kevin was very understanding and went out of his way to make this day special for her.
the altar before mass started:
flowering the cross—everybody brought flowers from home and covered
the empty cross with them—we had never seen this before, but we all loved it
and it gives me a new insight when i see a cross covered in flowers
on the side of the road:
communion at this church is normally taken kneeling at the rail, but fr. kevin had ella come up last, standing at the front of the aisle, so that the whole church could witness and pray with her as she made her first communion.
joyfully prayerful afterward:
there was some discussion in our family as to whether or not she would wear a veil. in the end, she told me that she had prayed on it and her heart had told her not to wear one. so she wore one of her favorite headbands instead.
fr. kevin filled ella’s holy water bottle with the water he had blessed at mass. those are my adorable mama and daddy on the left. after this day was all over, i told rudi that i had finally discovered the value of paying a professional photographer for big events: they are not involved, so they have the presence of mind to get the family all together for pictures. i am not a professional photographer and thus did not have that presence of mind. :(
the mass was followed by a potluck lunch and an easter egg hunt!
according to ella, she is now fully qualified and authorized to take communion everywhere in the world, so now she wants to go to mass every day.
wow, i did not mean to be away from the blog so long.
so—while i was gone--we had advent and then christmas, which i’ll tell you about sometime. then we had new year’s day and a road trip to visit family in january, which i’ll tell you about sometime. then we had groundhog day and st. valentine’s day, which i’ll tell you about sometime. that brings us up to lent.
because of various conflicts, we are not currently members of any parish or faith community. thus, we do our liturgical observances at home. for ash wednesday, ella and i had a small, private distribution of ashes in our dining room, to which we invited friends on short notice (as usual).
table prepared with service handouts for participants, a new candle, the cast iron skillet (for burning) with the palm leaf and the lighter, and sheets of paper for participants to write down the spiritual burdens they wished to offer up during lent. i realized too late that i don’t have any lenten table linens—i've just never had a need, i guess—so we used the only purple table runnerish thing we have, which is a yoga mat. :)
the service i used was one i found at a site called ashes to go. had i found it a week or so sooner, i’d have actually taken the ash service to the street as they do. but i didn’t find them in time to plan anything meaningful for this year, so i’m putting it in the file for next lent.
at the beginning of the service we cut the palm into pieces (everybody got to cut a piece to add to the pile), i lit the pieces and then we added our sheets of burdens to the flames. i had intended to do this outside but it was very windy and that didn’t seem safe, so we did it on the table inside (that’s why there are hot mats under the pan), and i had a pot lid on hand to cover it with if it got out of hand.
pieces of palm--it smelled wonderfully church-like as it burned.
ella writing the spiritual burdens she wanted to offer to god during lent.
ella included her dollies, who she is instructing in the faith.
zoe and wren in the back, dora in the front getting her ashes.
following the service we had a home retreat consisting of a lenten lunch (cranberry beans and rice), reading of the story of jesus in the wilderness from several different bibles, and a viewing of the first episode of bill moyers' “genesis: a living conversation” on netflix streaming.
we closed the retreat with a reflection on the ways in which we hope to respond to lent spiritually, physically, and communally, and committed those reflections to paper so we could encourage each other along the way.
*originally i had planned to use a child-friendly ash wednesday service i found at fresh worship, but decided to go simple, simple this year, since it was my first go at it. i’m glad i did—the service we used was plenty, and it was just right for us.
advent 2011 is well under way and that means goblins.
we made our traditional envelope pocket advent calendar, which was way more fun this year and also way more involved because now ella can cut and paste very well, she can read very well, she is well versed in the symbols of christmas, and she has developed a sense of design that is all her own. thus, the making of the advent pockets was a complex undertaking, but she loves it, we had a fantastic time (we did it while watching "scrooged"), and most importantly, it serves its purpose.
this year, the goblins are having us learn christmas carols and songs, and they are giving us longer bible passages to reflect on. but the activities they are having us do are simpler. the goblins' main goal is to see to it that unlike last year, mama is not scrambling every day to come up with materials and mama really appreciates that. ;) thus, the goblins have instituted the following craft/activity policies: one project each week has to be something to give. one project each week can make a huge mess. one project a week is something we'd already do anyway. all projects must use items that are already in the house or yard.
i'd like to take this opportunity right now to thank heaven above for the creation of pinterest, which has made advent calendar sanity possible this year.
WEEK 1 REVIEW
christmas carols: oh little town of bethlehem, away in a manger, o come all ye faithful, we wish you a merry christmas
bible passages: Isaiah 40: 3-5; Isaiah 52: 7-9; Isaiah 40: 9-11; Jeremiah 31: 31-34
activity/craft: make paper chain with names of people to pray for on each link; paint a jar to use as a star of bethlehem lantern; string popcorn and pieces of fruit to hang outside for the birds; make gourmet hot cocoa mix
each day includes a prayer written specifically for our family.
WEEK 2 PREVIEW
christmas carols: white christmas, do you hear what i hear, the first noel, angels we have heard on high, the little drummer boy, winter wonderland, over the river and thru the woods
bible passages: deuteronomy 18: 15-19; psalm 89: 1-4; isaiah 11: 1-10; Zechariah 6: 12, 13; Micah 5: 2-5; Malachi 3: 1-3; John 1: 1-8
activity/craft: draw on the windows with a sliver of soap; make caramels; make peppermint playdough; make and deliver a batch of cookies for the neighbors; make ribbon candy ornaments out of found paper; decorate and put up outdoor wreaths; make handprint craft
each day includes a prayer written specifically for our family.
the stuff on top of the mantel is an advent gift from me to ella, they are 24 individually-wrapped christmas books. she gets to choose one book each day and i will read it as many times as she asks, as often as she asks, all day long. half of them are books that she already owned, and the rest are books that i "bought" using credits i saved from trading old books at mckay used book store this past year. so far all the books she's opened are ones from her own library LOL but she doesn't mind, she is happy to have free license to snuggle any time she asks. i’ll make a separate page with a list of the books and post it later this week.
*a little self-promotion: i have written an advent book for mothers and wives, called “an everyday advent: meditations from the heart of a homemaker”, that is now available for purchase as a PDF, or for the kindle or the nook! it might not be your cup of tea but if you know someone who would enjoy it, i’d appreciate your help in sharing the links. thank you!
my friend andy behrens recently said on his facebook feed: “I am thankful for humility, and this reflection I share with everyone, and I want it displayed next to my picture where you can all read it.” (as you can plainly see, andy is a sage).
sometimes that's how it feels when i try to write about my blessings--like i'm doing it so everybody can witness my thankfulness. for that reason, i don't generally post my "thankfuls". i don't know how to do it gracefully.
about 20 years ago i started writing letters to friends and loved ones to tell them why i was thankful for their presence in my life. i started with my family, and from there expanded to include colleagues, teachers, etc. in this way, i could offer each person my true, heartfelt sentiments of gratitude and appreciation, without fanfare and with no expectations.
my letter writing campaign continues to this day, but this year i have decided to share some of my thanks "in public", where the lessons i learned from various people i've known can be recognized for their contribution to a better me.
i thank my father for teaching me that i am smart. when i was younger than ella, he trusted that i could understand big ideas and big realities, and he taught them to me the way he has always done things--by example, and with the pithiest, most concise explanation possible. this is partly due to his limited command of the english language but it is also a function of who he is--a man of few words, deep thoughts, and practical wisdom.
i thank my mother for teaching me to never ruin someone else's fun on purpose. she has taught me over and over, by her gracious example and occasionally by her firm but loving words that when someone has expressed a fondness for romance novels or polka music or sequined holiday sweaters, making wisecracks about it just drives a wedge between us and makes me look like an ass. sometimes the wedge is ok with me :) but looking like an ass never is.
i thank my sister "tallulah" for teaching me that loyalty doesn't mean dishonesty, and that to tell someone the truth might hurt them today but tomorrow it will ultimately set them free.
i thank my sister bina for teaching me that to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others does not in any way diminish my own, and that in fact there is great joy and satisfaction in being the one who gets to cheer.
i thank my brother andrew for teaching me to work hard at whatever comes along, and to not be too proud to start over when necessary.
and finally, i thank my sister lala, for helping me learn that i can walk thru anger, grief, and loss, into a deeper empathy for another's pain, and that in the end, i still choose love and forgiveness.
with best wishes and many thanks to all my readers,
and you might reach the stars.
ella had a vision:
which we turned into a reality:
to the makers of the fabulously glitterful stretchy velvet fabric that little girls the world over no doubt adore: you owe me. also, thank you for making the night sky fabric of ella’s dreams. :)
*for details on how we created this costume, please visit rostitchery.
each year is a circle that turns round upon itself.
when i became a mother
i had no idea
how close together
birthdays were going to be.
place it on its side and it's a symbol meaning infinity....
every fall we host an open house to celebrate the beginning of another year of homeschool. normally we hold the open house on the last weekend of august but this year, we did a little switcheroo and held it a few weeks later, which allowed us to treat our guests to a little surprise.
when they arrived for the open house, this is what they saw:
but when they came inside, this is what they saw:
that's right, we surprised our guests by holding a birthday party!
the reason for making it a surprise was simple: we didn't want our guests to feel obligated to bring gifts, and we didn't want to discourage friends we knew would stay away if they couldn't afford to bring a gift--we just wanted friends to come and celebrate with us.
as you can see, the theme was angry birds, our new family obsession. we made angry birds bean bags and paper mache’ pigs and set up our blocks on a table for the kids to play:
and we had a cool bird craft that i neglected to get pictures of before dark (tomorrow, i promise).
this was one of the funnest parties we've ever had, it was so wonderful to get to yell “SURPRISE!” over and over all afternoon! i wish we could do it every year.
*i always enjoy hosting parties but getting them ready wears me out! i did one thing that made it go a little more smoothly—i put single scoops of ice cream in paper cupcake liners and had them in the freezer ready to serve. how do you make kids parties easier?
this was the first study unit we did under the new "plan" i put together for ella this year. it was an unconditional HIT.
the story she was most interested in when we were choosing was the myth of daedalus and icarus, which is actually from the 2nd grade core knowledge book, but we had not covered it yet. as always, there were more possibilities than we could fit into a single week! editing is always my weak point :) so i made a list of everything we COULD do, then each day i chose what we WOULD do based on what appealed to her most or what seemed appropriate given the weather, our existing schedule, our energy level that day, etc.--trusting that that the story and the activities themselves were rich enough to provide plenty of learning without any additional "enrichment".
the story of daedalus and icarus from bulfinch's mythology (a little past the middle of the page, beginning at the part titled "Daedalus", and ending "and hung up his wings, an offering to the god."). i read the story to her once a day, and sometimes more upon request, for five days.
also available in downloadable format for various reading devices at the gutenburg project.
social studies: ella wanted to know about the land that was named for icarus--ikaria (sometimes spelled "icaria"). after quite a search we finally located the island of ikaria on the map, learned some history, and made a small flag to start our flag bunting.
ella's embellishment is on the back--a prayer for the people of ikaria. this has become a tradition for her with each flag we've made.
vocabulary: on a printout of the story from bulfinch i let ella mark each word that she was not familiar with.
next i let her choose a word to look up in the dictionary, i showed her how to look things up alphabetically, and had her make a file card for that word. she figured out how to look up words with just one demonstration, and enjoyed this project so much that she worked for almost THREE HOURS the first time, just writing out vocabulary cards.
then i showed her how to file them in the card box, so now she has her own custom vocabulary list. on the back of each card i made note of where she first encountered that word, and my hope is that as she finds each one in other stories she will remember and be able to add to the list of stories and books on the back.
math: i think this is where this belongs. :) we learned to make a labyrinth! mystery labyrinth has a brilliant explanation of how to make a simple classical labyrinth, which we practiced on paper several times.
and most fun of all, we made our own labyrinth in the yard! (hint: one, 5-lb. bag of flour is not enough). ella and i are considering how we can make this a permanent feature of our home landscape.
sprinkling flour to make the path:
walking the labyrinth:
visual art: bruegal's painting "landscape with the fall of icarus" (seen at the top of this post). an excellent printable image of this painting is available by clicking the image at the wikipedia site.
another good printable is available at the artchive website (click the image viewer).
question ella came away with after studying the picture: " how come icarus' wings melted and he fell into the sea but the sun was so low in the sky?"
music: we listened to reconstructions of ancient greek music using reconstructed instruments, and to examples of homeric singing, both available online from the commission for ancient literature and latin tradition.
we don't "study" music, we listen to it and think about it and spend some deliberate time with it but we don't "do" a lot with it. appreciating it seems worthy enough a goal to me.
science: we have a small collection of bird feathers that i had ella sort according to whatever made sense to her, then had her explain the various arrangements she had chosen (the purpose here is to observe, sort, categorize, describe, reexamine, and reinterpret). her categories were:
size and shape:
and animal--they all come from birds!:
ella's principle science question: "how come if you go high up on mountains it is cold enough to snow, but if you fly high up in the sky it is hot enough to melt wax?".
thus offering us a chance to investigate issues of temperature at different altitudes.
science stuff we looked at but didn’t “study”:
serendipity: there is always serendipity. :)
all in all, this was a fun, easy unit and i am thrilled to have found something so simple that so readily meets her needs and desires!
*how is school (home or other place) going for your children? what particularly is working for them or for you?