Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pope John Paul II Rose

We are planningour garden adventures already. We've got seeds for our "Bunny Garden" and we searched for a few plants at the garden center yesterday. We were excited to see that Jackson and Perkins has a new Hybrid Tea Rose named after Pope John Paull II.

A percentage of the purchase price goes to benefit a cuase close to John Paul II's heart. The link below will bring you to a picture of the rose. It was cheaper at the garden center than it is to purchase on-line.

John Paul II Rose Every Catholic family needs this in their garden! The J&P site says that this rose is growing in the Vatican's private garden.

Another favorite of mine is Our Lady of Guadalupe-- the purchase of this rose alos raises money for a cause. I had one at my last house and loved the pink roses so much that we planted one here. You can also see OLOG rose on their website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Catholic Education: Homeward Bound

Several people have asked me for book recommendations -- I do have a few on homeschooling. Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson wrote a book titled: Catholic Education: Homeward Bound that was first published in 1996. I read it before we ever started homeschooling. Mary Kay Clark (founder of Seton Home Study School) also wrote a book titled Catholic Homeschooling that I also found useful. If you are considering homeschooling, these are great resources.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holy Thursday Art

On Thursday, the boys went to art class and listened to the passion (the Last Supper music) as they touch painted the Holy Grail and the table from Holy Thursday. They also drew with charcoal and crayon on the yellowish paper.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making Eggs with Natural Dyes

The pictures were loaded out of order. We're still letting the eggs soak in the lemon peel and orange peel dye in the fridge. Actually, we've got quite a few colors in the fridge tonight. J proclaimed this to be the coolest thing in the world.

Joseph trying to make lemon zest for boiling.

Sean making orange zest to boil.

Our first batch of finished eggs. From the top left to the right the egg colors come from: The Repub;ic of Tea Rasperry and quince tea-- makes a dark gray/black, purple cabbage (sitting overnight), purple cabbage sitting a shorter time, spinach, purple cabbage, red onion skin. The next row: coffee?, beet juice, red onion skin (overnight), tea, red onion skin, spinach. Last row: Rasp. Quince tea, beet juice, tea, blueberry, raspberry, spinach. The second carton has the cumin eggs and paprika eggs with various others. The colors vary-- even when using the same dye. Very interesting.
These eggs are blueberry eggs, red cabbage, red bush tea, raspberry quince tea (came out green in a second batch)

Joseph checking out the beet juice egg.

Sean with a coffee egg (after a short time)-- front egg in tea.
An egg that just came out of the red cabbage dye.
more eggs........ the red onion skin egg is the red looking egg in the middle.
Joseph with the lemon peel before boiling.

Sean mashing blueberries

Matthew taking a turn mashing.

Joseph mashing raspberries

Sean with the cabbage before we boil it.

Sean with a blueberry egg....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Seder Eggs

The Jewish Book of Why says this:

Q: Why is a tray of symbolic foods placed at the head of the Seder table?

A: A Passover tray (Seder tray), which usually has six circular indentations, is placed on the Seder table so that the various symbolic foods can be displayed individually and prominently. They are pointed to during the reading of the Seder service and the symbolism of each is explained. The symbolic foods are:

Maror (bitter herbs)
Karpas (a vegetable)
Chazeret (a second more bitter vegetable)
Charoset (a nut and apple mixture)
Zeroa (the shankbone or neck of poultry, roasted)
Baytza (a hard-boiled egg, browned in its shell)

Q: Why is a roasted hard-boiled egg (baytza) placed on the Seder tray?

A: The egg is symbolic of the regular festival sacrifice brought in days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. On Passover, in addition to this regular sacrifice (Korban Chagiga in Hebrew), the paschal lamb was offered as a second sacrifice. Some authorities have interpreted the roasted egg as being a symbol of mourning for the loss of two Temples that once stood in Jerusalem. (The first was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., the second by Romans in 70 C.E.) With the Temples destroyed, sacrifices could no longer be offered. The egg symbolized this loss and traditionally became the food of mourners. In some Middle Eastern communities, eggs are very popular on Passover. Kurdish Jews and Libyan Jews, in particular, eat large quantities of eggs at the Seder.

The Origin of the Easter Egg

The boys and I had fun discovering the traditions associated with the Easter Egg. This year we are going to write "He is risen" on our eggs and try to follow some of the traditions we learned about. The Origin of the Easter Egg

Today we are trying to get a few eggs colored using natural dyes. I am sure that by the time all is said and done, my kitchen will be colored as well!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Today is St. Patrick's day....the patron Saint of my middle son. St. Patrick taught the people of Ireland about the Blessed Trinity - Three persons in One God by using a shamrock. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This year we have shamrocks growing in a container (how they survived until St. Patrick's day is beyond me!).

St. Patrick explained how God is three beings unified in one. We do not believe in three Gods, but that like the shamrock, God is one with three parts. As you can see in the pictures below, the boys had fun with Henry and the shamrocks. Henry loves eating the shamrocks!

Summer Art Camp Pictures

Last year, the boys went to art Camp at Gray Wing These are the paintings they painted:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lamb Cakes

Back in the Spring of 2001, I was blessed to attend a conference on Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome that was being held in Verona, Italy. I flew into Milan and had to stay the night there before taking a train to Rome and then on to Verona (no trains leaving until morning). I found a hotel near the train station and walked around a bit. Wonderful grocery stores and bakeries. In the bakery there were these gorgeous lamb shaped cakes. I fell in love with them. I just happened to be in Italy the week before Holy Week, so Easter items were all over the place. Walking around Rome, I saw the same lamb cakes in the bakeries and again I saw them in Verona. One afternoon, I left the conference a bit early and decided to walk back to the hotel instead of taking the bus that had been chartered to bring us back and forth. I found myself wandering through the neighborhoods and streets of Verona. I was soaking up all the sights, sounds and smells. I walked into this tiny grocery store and bought a few items. I was excited to be there!

When I returned home, I decided to find a lamb cake pan and the rest is history. Each Easter, we make a lamb shaped cake using a pan similar to this: Lamb shaped cake pan

Spring is coming.....and we're stuck inside.

All homeschoolers have off days. Like the article I wrote the other day basically says-- we don't live in Perfect. While we do have the added medical challenges that creep into our school days (today we are doing SCIG as I type), they are not always the most frustrating part of homeschooling.

Sometimes I wonder about the children! They know what is expected of them and they know what they have to do.....yet they still whine, complain and drag their feet. (Sounds a bit like many of us when following the Truths of the Catholic Church, huh?) We don't want to do what Jesus calls us to do and when we finally do what He asks, we sometimes whine and complain....and even drag our feet when following His commands.

We're still stuck inside today because we had a lot of whining and complaining this morning. Everyone seems to be working hard now, and hopefully we'll make it outside to enjoy the nice weather before the sun goes down.

I found some interesting books at a garage sale a few weeks ago. Last year, Joseph was really into seashells. Grandma and Grandpa gave us a neat book because we did not have any on seashells (imagine that!). Now we have two. This one I picked up at the garage sale is a Science Nature Guide titled Seashells. It includes more than 12 easy to do science projects and has a few crafts that can be made. It is fairly easy to use-- it is divided by the beaches around the US coast. I can't seem to find it on-line to give you a link. The ISBN number is 1-85028-264-1

We're also getting ready for Holy Week. My oldest has to present the live Stations of the Cross again tonight at church. He has also volunterred to be in the live Passion play at church next week, too. I hope to plan a few family activities for Holy Week to help prepare us for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The boys are excited about coloring the eggs this year using color found in nature. We've done it before, but the two youngest don't really remember doing it. Of course, we have our Resurrection Eggs tradition that I have posted on before.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Having a Sense of Humor

My sense of humor gets me through each and every day! I wrote a humorous article on homeschooling. Homeschooling: A Humorous Real Life Perspective

I thank God for my sense of humor--not only on bad homeschooling days, but each and every day. My sense of humor also gets me through the medical obstacles we face. I hope you enjoy the article and feel like a super homeschooler after you read it. I'm definitely not a supermom!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Garden Fun

Spring is almost here! Break out the seeds, dust off your garden tools and get out in the yard! Kids love to play in the dirt and watch things grow. We've done some wonderfully fun activities over the years. I recently published an article on finding and using color in nature. Kids love to crush plant matter and color Easter eggs and paint art masterpieces! The article describes a bit about doing just that. We also love to garden and compost.

Two of my favorite books on gardening with children are:

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Garedening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy

Learn and Play in the Garden: Games, Crafts and Activities for Children by Meg Herd

Last year we grew tomatoes, mint, cayenne peppers, chives, cilantro and our flowers. I have a particular love for roses! We made a simple salsa from the peppers and tomatoes. My youngest just loves tomatoes! Emeril has two cookbooks for children and in one of them there is a recipe for mint peas. My children love to cook the peas using mint from our garden. I wasn't so sure how it would turn out, but they ended up being quite tasty. We spent most of the late summer and fall figuring out the best way to dry the peppers and now have an abundance of crushed red pepper. My youngest son is on a quest to make hot sauce. We may attempt that this year. I tried to find easy instructions for preparing pepper mash, but was unsucessful! maybe this year......

Our tulips are starting to come up, our daffodils have bloomed and froze, our star magnolia tree has also bloomed and frozen! We've for crocus in bloom along with a few grape hyacinths blooming. I love spring. Not only do we celebrate Jesus' rising from the dead, we get to experience earth's renewal and we are able to experience God's love through His creation! There is no end to what you can do with the beauty around you-- we've made rose potpourri, handmade paper (I hope to post about this in the future) and all sorts of wonderful things from our garden.