Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Prayer for Fidelity in a Mother's Vocation

Dear God, give me the grace to appreciate the dignity of motherhood, which Thou hast been pleased to bestow upon me, and to fulfill its duties according to Thy Will. By my prayers and good example, may I lead my husband and my children closer to Thy Sacred Heart. Make me a devoted wife to my husband and a good mother to my children after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Almighty God, I thank Thee for the blessed care and protection with which Thou hast embraced my family. I humbly submit to Thy decrees and resign myself to Thy Pivine Providence. I grasp Thy guiding hand, and I shall never follow my own ways lest they lead me astray. Thy good pleasure shall be my happiness; Thy commandments shall be my only rule of conduct. Thy Will shall be my will, and Thy service shall be the object of all my desires.

Lord, grant me peace of mind because of my trust in Thy Providence, an unwavering and cheerful courage founded on my faith in Thy tremendous love, faithfulness to duty resulting from a constant awareness of Thy presence, and a firm hope of eternal reward.

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I implore Thy blessing upon my family that we all may serve Thee faithfully in this life and deserve to be reunited in the eternal happiness of Thy heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Mission Statement

We, at Cor Iesu Academy, vow before the Lord our God to guide our children in a traditional liberal arts education imbued with our Catholic Faith. The Lord entrusts us with their intellectual and spiritual formation that they might grow in mind, body and spirit to find and fulfill the vocation He has in His mind for them. This will be accomplished through a traditionally well-rounded, organized and disciplined yet accommodating curriculum. Homeschooling allows us to focus on each of our children individually, on a day-to-day basis, so that each will develop a rigorous intellect and goodness of soul based on the teachings, morals, values and deep love of God present in our Holy Catholic Faith. It also allows us the time and flexibility to avail ourselves of the Sacraments, the Rosary and other prayer devotions for their Guardian Angels, their Patron Saints, and the full Communion of Saints, because we cannot do this alone. God suffices in all things, and supplies all we need.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our Sixth Grade Curriculum Choices


Since I NEVER just followed the textbook when I taught Language Arts, it is only normal for me not to have been 100% satisfied with ONE curriculum choice, therefore, I have decided to pick and choose the best textbooks for my son. He will not be formally enrolled in one curriculum but instead, I have selected what I considered, in my most humble opinion, the best of the best in each subject for the sixth grade. I was also happy to select some books that would actually take him from 6th to 7th in the same text (less money to spend next year). So here's my choice for the BEST curriculum for 6th Grade:

Religion: Baltimore Catechism I, also we will study The Four Gospels (2 year cycle)

Science: Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition - Apologia (2 year cycle)

Social Studies: From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America - Catholic Schools Textbook Project/Ignatius Press (2 year cycle)

Latin: Latina Christiana I - Memoria Press (2 year cycle)

Spanish: Spanish I - Cliff's

Math: Mathematics 7/6 - Saxon (aiming for 1/2 year and then transitioning into Algebra 1/2)

Reading: The Reading and Writing Sourcebook - Great Source

Writing: Strategies for Writers - Zaner/Bloser

Handwriting: Handwriting 5/6 - Zaner/Bloser

Word Study/Spelling: Word Study & Phonics - Spectrum

P.E./Health: Theology of the Body for Teens & continue Tennis Lessons with Coach Moore

So that's it, I'm so excited. Our books are in and I've began planning. Guillermo is super excited (maybe even more than I)...he keeps saying, "Mami, I'm gonna be homeschooled!" I love it! :) I'll post on my choices for the little guys in another post as I have to keep following our schedule some (trying to get the kids adjusted to a school-like schedule before starting the actual teaching). Gotta run...

Friday, July 31, 2009

I've Totally Abandoned this Blog!

No, I'm not missing! LOL, between planning, ordering books, organizing the classroom, and getting my act together...oh yes, also getting Catholic Blogging Homeschooling Mamas up and running, I've totally neglected posting on this blog! My opologies....and I cannot forget the fact that I have four children and my DH who constantly need me...I love it, can't complain. As I tell people, "if I had less kids, I would definitely be bored!"

So as soon as I have all my ducks in a row, I will be back to blog about my curriculum choices and all the wonderful things that have to do with starting a new school year. See you soon! Meanwhile, visit my other site! :) GBY,

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Year of the Priest Coloring Fun Contest!

If you visit this site (click on the title of this post, you can download a high quality poster (like the one in this post) which your children ages zero (yes, your babies) and up can enter. There are several levels for age entries in the contest (see their site). What is really neat about this coloring page is that parents can also download an explanation of all the pictures within it and its symbolism. The deadline isn't until next year but you can do it as a summer activity or incorporate it to your Religion Class in the Fall. Have fun coloring! Join me in praying for our priests!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

From my family to yours, happy birthday America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Year of the Priest Faith Folder Giveaway!

Ever heard of lapbooks? If you have been homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling, I'm certain you've come across lapbooks. I had never heard of them until my quest for everything homeschooling began. I wish I'd known of this when I was teaching Middle School Language Arts and Literature. So, the other day I was thinking gosh I've never seen a Catholic themed lapbook, I bet those would be neat and bang! I found someone who creates them! This Catholic mom of six calls them "Faith Folders" - I love it! I also found that this blog, Tales from Bonny Blue House is giving away a lapbook based on The year of the Priest! How cool is that? If you post a comment on her blog and then create a post on your own blog (with a link back to her's), you will be entered in the contest. Comments on her site close this Sunday! Good luck!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Simpler the Better: Teaching Languages

As with anything and everything in life, the simpler the better. Especially when it comes to children. I've heard and experienced it with my children when it comes to toys, they LOVE those cheaper Dollar Store toys and will play with them endlessly, the more expensive ones can be too complex at times and they loose interest easier. What does this have to do with Homeschooling you may ask? Everything! I've been searching for texts and programs to use with my kids; my most recent journey has been in search for a Spanish Curriculum. Thankfully, I follow SpanglishBaby.com, co-started by a friend from high school, Roxana. Through that site I was able to visit other sites which talk about raising children bilingual. I believe that it is my duty to teach my children my native language, Spanish. It would be a shame if they would not learn this from me! So with that said, I found a program I really like for my smaller kids (my oldest knows Spanish already, he is ready for grammar and literature-how exciting!). I've seen this advertised on TV and their ad truly does not show you just how wonderful this program is. It is called Muzzy, which is a fuzzy green "monstro" (monter) which has landed on Gonzoland and they teach the language as he goes learning about this new land.

Interesting that I went trolling for Spanish programs, found Muzzy but not in Spanish! LOL, I found someone has posted the English version of the program (it comes in various languages). I'd love to buy this, eventually, but for now I will be using the ones posted on www.youtube.com. I will be using it both in English and in Spanish because the English one is geared to teach children how to speak, read, and write in English and hey that's where my 4 and 3 year olds are at. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt if the baby (11 months old) would also catch a glimpse of it (and since most of the episodes are about 7-10 minutes long, it's a perfect match for my very active little ones). I'm so excited that this person has taken the time to post these. I'm not sure how legal this is? They are in Argentina and Muzzy is produced in England, aren't there international laws against this? I will be trolling for a used version of the program. I'm very into buying used things lately as I have sold things that my kids no longer use which are almost in new condition. Anyways, if you get a chance take a peek at this video which is the Vocabulary portion of the program; as a former Language Arts teacher I am very impressed with this video program. I can see me implementing this and using the videos to begin the lesson and creating my own flash cards and worksheets to go with the short videos. How exciting!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teaching Spanish/Ensenando Espanol


I religiously follow this blog/webpage: www.spanglishbaby.com, because they have such great ideas and suggestions, and of course research, on how to teach and the benefits of teaching Spanish (or any other language) to your children. I think it's a shame that I haven't been more pro-active about this with my last three kids. It was so much easier with my oldest son. He was the only child for seven years so I was able to keep him speaking Spanish only up until his fourth birthday. Then I started teaching him English and kept speaking in Spanish as well. He is 11 now and well versed in Spanish as he can read it well. I would like to teach him how to be a better writer, so I'v ebeen looking for programs on how to do just that!

My other children are a different story. My husband doesn't speak, or I should say isn't fluent in Spanish. We speak English, mainly at home so that's what they hear. They have picked up a couple of words watching Dora/Diego so at least they have heard it some. With my baby, I'm speaking to him in Spanish only and Daddy will do the English. I've been looking for a program to teach my 3 and 4 year olds, thinking something like a workbook and flash cards. Well, while trolling through the site I mentioned above, I found they were giving things away this summer. Here's the info on that if you are interested: http://www.spanglishbaby.com/2009/06/bilingual-fun-spanish-for-children-dvd-series . I also found a link with information on ideas to teach Spanish in a fun way. Never did it cross my mind to do it hands on! Playing songs, games, and twisting popular American games into Spanish lessons sounds like so much fun! I think I'd enjoy doing that and flashcards for review, and books of course. Instead of the workbook idea. Thank you SpanglishBaby!

Solemn High Mass at Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro, NC

These are pictures taken by







Monday, June 29, 2009

How the Lord sent me my Husband


Here's the first testimony we wrote when we were in the courtship stage of our relationship. Todd was in Syracuse, NY and I, in Miami, FL. (1,500 miles apart!) We reminisce of times when we thought the days of being married with lots of kids couldn't come any sooner, and here we are!

Catholicmatch.com has since asked us to send them an update. As we approach our fifth year of Marriage, this might be a nice little project to go back and document our story for us and, our beautiful blessings, our children!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Printable Liturgical Calendars

Printable Liturgical Calendars

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Traditional Latin Mass: Feast of the Sacred Heart

Tomorrow I have the privilege and honor of hanging out with my three smallest ages 4, 2.9, and 10 months during Mass all by myself! Won't have my DH's help but sitting with some friends for help instead. It is a privilege and honor because my DH and eldest DS will be serving the Altar with Father Ferguson. I can't wait to see them up there! What a beautiful thing it will be.

Lord willing, one day one of our boys will be offering Mass...what an honor!




Catching Worms, Bright and Early!












From Nigh Owl to Early Bird: My Transformation

I'm a research-based kinda person, maybe because of my Reading Intervention background? I'm not sure but I like to find research or conduct research as to why things are the way they are. Sometimes I thought that I like being a teacher mainly because I get to be a learner all day all the time, this might prove to be true. So, as I analyzed my new life as a homeschooling mother of four and wife, I realized something: I am no longer the Night Owl I used to be. My WHOLE life I have been a night owl. My mom shares stories of me fighting my sleep as an infant. This has all come to an end at the ripe age of 35!!

I have noticed a couple of things: 1. I'm tired at around 10PM, 2. I like waking up before the kids to start my day, 3. I can't function as well as I use to with lack of sleep, so 4. I need my sleep! So strange to me! If you are anything like me (and so unlike my DH), I could function without sleep and not be grumpy or grouchy. I remember when Number 2, Josef Nicolas-Pablo had colic at six weeks old (for six weeks). He would wake up at 11PM and cry until around 2-3AM, I had to be up by 6AM and at work teaching by 7AM. I was fine...so I think, maybe I wasn't my 100%??? I thought I was.

Here's something I found regarding this topic. This new study shows that how we sleep often reflects how we function intellectually and socially. Researchers claim that early risers tend to “reach conclusions through logic and analysis. Night owls are more imaginative and open to unconventional ideas, preferring the unknown and favoring intuitive leaps on their way to reaching conclusions.

Morning people are more likely to be self-controlled and exhibit “upstanding” conduct; they respect authority, are more formal, and take greater pains to make a good impression. (Earlier research also suggests that they are less likely to hold radical political opinions.) Evening people, by contrast, are “independent” and “nonconforming,” and more reluctant to listen to authority—which suggests that teachers may have several reasons to prefer those students who wake

up in time for class.

So I guess that the Lord is forcing me to change my sleeping habits as well as many other aspects of my life. Unlike other Catholics, I need a metal hammer to the head to realize this, lol! Seriously, a couple of weeks ago I did my usual nightime web surfing in quest for the perfect homeschool curriculum, texts, etc.. By day five of staying up late and getting only about 5-6 hours a night, I got the migrane from hell! I never even get headaches so you could imagine how horrible this must have felt to me. If you have ever had a migrane, you know how bad I felt that night. I could not function, my DH had to take over from around 6:30PM until around 2AM when I woke up and showered. That was horrible, never again! This is when I realized, I can't do this anymore. Little did I know that it was the hammer to the head that I needed.

I've been on a quest to get curriculum planned and my entire life organized (and put on paper). During this process, many things have changed. Much to my surprise, I love it! The kids are happier as they are getting more sleep and better sleep patterns. I know this process will be slow and I need to pray for patience but I'm happy with the positive results thus far! So I am off to catch some worms...oh and in reference to my quest in planning and getting organized, I FINALLY found the right combination and I'm so excited! I've gotten my DH involved and he is happy (the pack rat that he is, lol). I can't talk I'm so much like him it drives me nuts because he does the things that I dislike about myself, it's a weird combination but we can laught together about it because we understand each other so much. I will post my organizational findings another day....gotta run and stay on schedule, lol!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books!!!!

Did I mention how much I love books? I have so many children's books and now that my son is of age, my collection has been growing. In search of good Catholic novels, I came across a couple of books that are a total must have in our library at home. The first is, The Weight of the Mass by Josephine Nobisso and it's companion, Take It to the Queen. Both by the same author and geared for elementary age children.



It's Planning Time (again!)


So it's been almost a month since I was last on here...not that I haven't been thinking school (on the contrary). A couple of weeks ago, we got a chance to go back to Florida. I got a chance to dig through some of my teaching things, which was great because I found tons of things I can use with the kids at home as well as the Co-op!

I am also looking into ways to get more organized at home. With four children ages 11 months to 11 years, I need to be in full control of all the components of house keeping to maintain a happy home life. I have a close friend who is a teacher and fellow home schoolers who once told me, "when you get to number four, you'll get super organized, it will be second nature." Bless her heart, she was right! Well, atleast I have the desire to get more organized. So I'm planning, organizing, planning, restructuring, and planning some more...because with a plan, I firmly believe that you avoid many pitfalls! So a planning I shall go!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Quest for Catholic Novels

Although I've taught at a Catholic school for four years, never did we use an official Catholic author for the novels we selected in the Middle School.  Now that I get to choose novels for my son, as well as the ones we will read in the Co-Op, I've been searching for good books.  I've seen lists here and there but not until now did I find something that I think the kids would like.  Of course, I am basing my decision entirely on my prior knowledge of what kids this age usually like in secular teen/pre-teen literature.  So here is my list of recommendations so far:

  • Tom Playfair Or Making a Start By: Fr. Francis J. Finn S.J. (The story opens with 10-year-old Tom Playfair being quite a handful for his well-meaning but soft-hearted aunt. (Tom's mother has died.) Mr. Playfair decides to ship his son off to St. Maure's boarding school--an all-boys academy run by Jesuits--to shape him up, as well as to help him make a good preparation for his upcoming First Communion. Tom is less than enthusiastic, but his adventures are just about to begin. Life at St. Maure's will not be dull!)

  • Percy Wynn By: Fr. Francis J. Finn S.J. (Percy Wynn. In this volume, Tom Playfair meets a new boy just arriving at St. Maure's. Percy Wynn has grown up in a family of 10 girls and only 1 boy--himself! His manners are formal, he talks like a book, and he has never played baseball or gone skating, boating, fishing, or even swimming! Yet he has brains, courage and high Catholic ideals. Tom and his buddies at St. Maure's befriend Percy and have a great time as they all work at turning Percy into an all-American Catholic boy.

  • Harry Dee Or Working it Out By: Fr. Francis J. Finn (Harry Dee. Young Harry Dee arrives at St. Maure's thin and pale from his painful experiences involving the murder of his rich uncle. In this last book of the three, Tom and Percy help Harry recover from his early trauma--which involves solving "the mystery of Tower Hill Mansion." After many wild experiences, the three boys graduate from St. Maure's and head toward the life work to which God is calling each of them as young men.)

  • Claude Lightfoot Or How the Problem Was Solved By: Fr. Francis J. Finn S.J. (Claude Lightfoot. The story opens upon Claude Lightfoot, a reckless 12 year old boy who constantly acts first and thinks later. After being in clash with some bullies, Claude is obliged to miss his First Communion. In the course of the story, Fr. Finn manages to cover a host of topics, including smoking, drinking, the devil, Confession, Holy Communion, retaining one s Baptismal innocence, the 9 First Fridays, the priesthood, mothers and sisters, truthfulness, lying, courage, effeminacy, atheism, sacrilege, baseball, Americanism (true and false), Latin, virtue, honor, leadership, etc.)

  •  That Football Game And What Came of It By: Fr. Francis J. Finn S.J. (That Football Game. This book features Claude and many other characters from Claude Lightfoot. Again, Fr. Finn covers a host of Catholic topics, giving a ringing defense of the game of football and presenting a great picture of the All-American boy. See the Catholic Faith woven into everyday life, the way it should be. Puts the right kind of role models before the eyes of our boys! Interesting to read, enthralling, hard to put down -- not only for young people, but for adults as well! )

  • Crusader King A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades By: Susan Peek (Crusader King. A new historical novel about the unusual life of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper crusader king who - despite ascending to the throne at only 13, his early death at 24 and his debilitating disease - performed great and heroic deeds in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Teenagers and avid readers of all ages will be amazed at this story and be inspired by a faith that accomplished the impossible!)

  • Ethelred Preston Or the Adventures of a Newcomer By: Fr. Francis J. Finn S.J. (Ethelred Preston. In this book, the new kid certainly livens things up at Henryton boarding academy! Again, Fr. Finn covers a host of Catholic topics and presents a great picture of the All-American boy!)

     
     

I stand Corrected

Todd, my DH, was looking at some of the texts I like for the kids (mainly the two eldest) and mentioned that the Baltimore Catechism that I was referring to was the wrong one.  The NEW St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism was apparently written in the 70's and not the one we would like for our children to use.  BACK STORY:  My DH is a convert, celebrated his 15th year in the Church this Easter.  He was baptized in the Weslayan Church and converted at 24 years old (LOL, do the math).  I've noticed a pattern in people who convert, they tend to be very traditional in their faith; otherwise, it would look like the same old thing.

Anyway, back to the correct book.  The one we would like to use is the Baltimore Catechism No. 1 By: Third Plenary Council of Baltimore.  It is the original 1885 edition.  We are going ahead and getting No. 2 & 3 (the companion books) since the grade range is 4-7.  The set is relatively inexpensive and I found it here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting a teen (or pre-teen) to Love Reading

This is a topic I see frequently and recently took the time to make these recommendations to a friend, so I thought I'd post it here too. The key thing to get a teenager (or pre-teen) turned on to reading is to selects books interest him/her. When I taught Reading to middle schoolers I would always start the school year telling my kids that if all they learned this year was to love to read, I did my job (I also taught them other classes: grammar, composition, & vocabulary to the same group). I loved it when, mid-year, kids that NEVER picked up a book were reading ahead in the class novel we were reading together.

One day, a student came up to me (the principal's son, lol) and said one morning before school started, "I hope you aren't mad at me because I read the next chapter! I had to know what happened next!!" I pretended to be mad at him and took him to the principal's office (his dad). When I told his dad what he had done his dad picked up on what I was doing and "scolded" him for reading ahead and then lost it laughing and said, "this is the happiest day of my life!" His son was so adamant about reading that he couldn't believe what had happened.

In one school year each student had read 11 novels (2 in the summer before school started, 6 with me-I read or the kids read aloud, and 3 individual books the kids had to select for their independent reading). Both parents and kids couldn't believe that they had read so many novels in one school year when they were accustomed to maybe two books in the past.

The key? Two things:
1. I read the six novels to them (out loud) and did a couple of things to get them to participate. At the beginning I only selected good readers to read and towards the middle they all were fighting to get a chance to read, by the end of the school year some kids were reading during my grammar class (another class-hiding their books in their desks-normally it would be a note or doing homework for another class but instead they were READING their independent novels)!!! Now there were a handful of advid readers in the group (maybe 5 out of 33-35 kids). These were NOT the ones doing this, it was the ones who were "on the fence" about reading and some who were totally in the outfield, not interested in reading at all! At the beginning the kids were shocked that I was reading to them in middle school! But they loved it! Also, I did a lot of think alouds while reading. This is when you pause while reading and make a connection to your life (something you remember or connect to another character or person). They loved that, it is quick (maybe a 20 second pause) think aloud and then you just keep going. This taught the kids to do this naturally when they read their own novels. Sometimes the kids would add to my think aloud, saying things like, "that actually reminds me of this..." or "oh, I thought of the same thing".

2. I taught them how to select a novel they liked and to learn that they had to make a good choice.
  • First, it had to interest them.
  • Second, the style of writing the author uses is important because the topic could interest you but if the author's writing is weird or difficult to follow??? it wouldn't work.
  • Third, the reading level is important. Make sure the novel is at or above their independent reading level. You can go here and get an idea of what level your child is on.
  • Make a follow up activity for the novel, like a reading log where they keep track of how much they read and to summarize the chapters or even sections of the chapter. Don't make this rigorous because this is an independent novel. But the log would let me know (especially at the beginning) if they were reading or at what pace.
Now for comprehension, you can do something simple such as a GIST Summary. You start with 50 words (50 Word GIST) and when he masters that number of words with a great paragraph, you decrease the number of words by five 45, 40, 35, until you get to 30. This is a way to help students be VERY selective with what will be in their summaries will look like. This is harder than it sounds but once they get the hang of it, it is fun and easy. I even tested them on this with a prompt. "Such and such characters developed a conflict through out this chapter. Describe the conflict in 40 words or less." It's a great writing and comprehension activity!

You need to start by finding your child's independent reading level, then take him to the library and help him select books he will like at his level or a year above. Don't go any higher than this. This is how I taught my kids to select an independent novel:
1. find a book
2. read the title, sound interesting? then,
3. flip through the pages, then
4. read the back summary, still interesting? then,
5. open to Chapter One and read the first paragraph, still interesting? THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

I also encouraged kids to read chapters one, two and three before deciding if that book wasn't the right one. AND this rarely happened because steps one through five above really work, but encourage them to put the book down and find a new one if they are just dragging themselves through the book. This is for independent books, if it's for a read aloud (YOU HAVE TO LIKE THEM TOO)!!!

What does your child like to do? Maybe I can recommend some books I've used in the past. Mind you, they are not Catholic but I did use them in a Catholic school and I was very selective (I did extensive research and read the books first before reading them to my students). Here are some of the books I've used: Tangerine, Things Not Seen, Behind My Bedroom Wall (about the Holocaust), Walk Two Moons, A Wrinkle in Time...these are the ones that I recall that the class as a whole loved! Hope this helps.