home education

Wonderful St Joseph

It is the Feast of St Joseph, husband of Our Lady and foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a feast!!! πŸ™‚

As each year of rich liturgical feasts and celebrations role by, I get more and more enthusiastic with incorporating them into our family life! Now the children are older and therefore more able to understand and participate, I have great joy planning for each big feast. I am also dutifully reminded by Sunshine and Master Luke about what I have done in the years past… just in case I forget πŸ™‚

Last year I came across a truly beautiful Italian tradition for celebrating the Feast of St Joseph… A St Joseph Altar. Below are a few links to give you the history and also a peek at what others have done (not to mention a link to my last minute attempt last year! :))

History of St Joseph Altar

Shower of Roses 2013 St Joseph Altar

Our humble attempt at a St Joseph Altar 2013

Therefore I am REALLY buzzing with excitement about tomorrow! πŸ™‚

This is what we have planned to celebrate the wonderful, humble man who was given the precious role as head of the Holy Family.

ACTIVITIES:

– A simple family altar set up with pictures of St Joseph, Holy Family and candles

St Joseph picture

This is my latest edition to our holy pictures collection πŸ™‚ I LOVE the added gold highlights

– Family morning Rosary (Joyful Mysteries to meditate on the role of St Joseph)

– A St Joseph Mini Lapbook – I use a simple manila folder and the children cut, paste, fill out and colour to their age and stage :). I have put this together myself, so the link for the PDF is highlighted if you would like to download it. If you do, please make sure you link back here if shared. Thanks πŸ™‚ Β St Joseph Mini Lapbook

– Sort the Order colouring in activity and pinned timeline – I have quite a lot of BRILLIANT Catholic colouring in books that I photocopy on a regular basis for my kids. I have sourced a range of pictures depicting scenes from the life of St Joseph. The kids will have to order them as a timeline correctly and after colouring them in (if we have time :)) they will pin them along a string chronologicallyΒ above the family altar. Below are the three I have used for St Joseph.

Life of Mary Colouring book by Sr Karen Cavanagh

Life of Mary Colouring book by Sr Karen Cavanagh

Colouring Book about the Rosary - St Joseph Coloring Books

Colouring Book about the Rosary – St Joseph Coloring Books

Communion of Saints Coloring Book - Holy Imitation series

Communion of Saints Coloring Book – Holy Imitation series

St Joseph Altar

Our parish is having a sung Latin Mass tomorrow evening at 6pm to celebrate the Feast. St Joseph has a very special place in the hearts of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (the order who look after our Parish). It is worth reading why… CLICK HERE!

Following the Mass we are going to have a shared feast to celebrate. We will decorate a St Joseph Altar and share in some of the traditional foods that are found in Italy on this feast. The kids and I are going to be VERY busy baking, cooking and crafting our contributions tomorrow!

Here is our MENU we are creating (Catholic Cuisine by the way is a WONDERFUL site to check out for feast days!)

Pasta Milanese

– Honey Pasta

– Lentil Soup

Zeppole

St Joseph Bread

Fig biscuitsΒ – thanks Catholic Icing for this clever way of recreating the original πŸ™‚

Frittelle di San Giuseppe

Yum, yum, yum!!!! πŸ™‚ The house will smell wonderful and our hearts will be lifted up in thanksgiving…. I very much look forward to tomorrow!

One last thing πŸ™‚

I have recently painted a picture of St Joseph (below) and have limited edition prints for sale on my Etsy store. Here is the link if you would like to check it out πŸ™‚ ETSY STORE – RUTH GREEN

St Joseph - original painting by Ruth Green 2013

St Joseph – original painting by Ruth Green 2013

May your own feast of St Joseph be truly blessed!!!

Ruth xxx

 

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Finding treasures in my draft folder :)

Good morning πŸ™‚

I’m not a strong stroke swimmer (can you tell we have been learning about alliteration :)) when it comes to daily life. I am more of a doggy paddler, gulping water and getting cramp. But there are times when I have a glimmer of the Olympic medalist within me and that usually has something to do with my thankfulness.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength” – Nehemiah 8:10

Stock standard scripture memory verse.

AND… WONDERFULLY, MERCIFULLY TRUE!

No matter how deep or wide or long the current “pool” of my life is, the JOY of the Lord is my sustaining, life giving strength. All it takes, to quote St Therese, is Β ”Β A SIMPLE GLANCE DIRECTED TO HEAVEN” and the simple cry of THANK YOU.

This morning as I was tidying up some bloggish stuff, I stumbled across this post that I never published. It is simple, straight to the point and reminded me to spend today being thankful for everything I have…even a 4 year old who has multiple changes of underwear a day!

May your heart be lifted today in thanksgiving!

Blessings

Ruth xxx

Below is the old post I found πŸ™‚

I’m thankful for ugly concrete that can become the canvas for beauty!

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I’m thankful for a sink full of soapy water and a sticker earring clad happy boy!

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I’m thankful for a new dining room that is flooded with evening sunshine and provides a space for Master Luke’s creativity!

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I’m thankful for the brainwave to turn an old set of drawers into a bureau for table wear and to also become our new family altar!Image

I’m thankful for an unsettled, grumpy, Curly Sue who in the midst of a stormy morning can draw Jesus on the cross and leave it on the family altar…Image

I’m thankful for a new Pope, who has a heart like Christ for the poor!

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I’m thankful today!

What are you thankful for?

Blessings!

Ruth

Liturgical feasts at home… the simple way! :)

It is SO easy to be overwhelmed by others awesomeness!!!

Especially now that there is a whole world of awesome individuals blogging about their awesomeness! Not that these people consider themselves awesome, infact most would be too humble to read this affirmation…. but I often feel somewhat lacking when I read about the multitude of crafts and activities that some mum’s come up with on a daily basis to teach their kids about their faith.

Last year I aimed TOO high and I learnt a valuable lesson.

My children don’t see the long list of things I want to do with them, but they do see WHAT I do with them.

This year instead of trying to celebrate everything, I went through the Church’s calender and selected major feast days and some saints who we have special devotion to or would like to learn about.

Phew!!! Already I felt a load off my shoulders!! πŸ™‚

Secondly, I have started to put together a liturgical supplies box… a WHAT you say?

It’s not anything fancy, just a box with purple material, green material, white material, gold material, candles, prayer cards etc. Stuff I can whip out easily the night before, or the morning of a feast day and create a focus point! You could be elaborate and sometimes it’s fun to go all out, but I’ve noticed that my kids appreciate even the simplest of arrangements and that’s what counts! πŸ™‚

Thirdly I have invested in some GREAT saints colouring in books and story books. I have tried to make a list of all the saints that these cover so I can plan ahead… but that is still in the making :). One vital tool in my homeschooling is my multi-function printer… I like to photocopy my precious colouring books so they can be used again and again! πŸ™‚

Check out “Communion of Saints – colouring book” by Holy Imitation series. This colouring book is fat, the illustrations are beautiful and there is a GREAT range of saints!!

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And lastly I’m trying to make one meal for each feast we celebrate a themed one! There are SO many websites out there with great special food ideas! Catholic Cuisine, Keeping the FeastΒ andΒ Catholic CultureΒ are just a few. If you don’t have time to do anything fancy, which let’s face it, is most of the time, then cookies or cupcakes with the right liturgical coloured icing make any feast a FEAST! πŸ™‚

So here after all that babble is our celebration for the Feast of St Joseph…. told in the words of Master Luke and Sunshine.

OUR FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH

Sunshine: To celebrate St Joseph’s Feast day, we made our very own St Joseph altar.

Master Luke: The altar had tools on it, pictures of St Joseph and candles. There were buns and other food.

Sunshine: There were three levels, symbolising the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On the day we went to Mass at my Gran and Granddad’s work (which is a Catholic run charity called The JPII Centre for Life).

Master Luke: We made breadcrumb “sawdust” and put it on our dinner.

The kids are having an exhausted day!!! All this moving and shifting has taken it’s toll this week. You would think yesterday was a year ago asking them to remember πŸ™‚ Te he he!

So yes, we transformed our family altar into a St Joseph altar using two different sized boxes and a white sheet. I used the beautiful picture of the Holy Family that lives above Fuzz’s bed as the main focus and then we surrounded it with food, a bottle of wine, candles, books with pictures and prayers to St Joseph, some tools etc. I put this together in the morning before the kids were up quite quickly, thanks to my box :). For more info on St Joseph altars look here.

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The kids were enthralled with it when they emerged and it set the tone for the day :).

Mass was beautiful in the small chapel at my parent’s work and we were blessed to have our Emeritus Bishop say mass! As mass is at 12pm, it was a gift that my four plus my 21 month old nephew (whom I look after on Tuesdays) were VERY well behaved! Thanks St Joseph πŸ™‚

For dinner I made a very simple pasta bake.

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– 1kg mince

– 2 grated courgettes & 1 grated carrot

– garlic

– 2 x tins of Savory diced tomatoes

– salt & pepper

– 1 packet of gluten free spiral pasta

– grated cheese

– SAWDUST…. breadcrumbs!

This last ingredient, from what I can gather, is a fairly traditional element of dishes celebrating St Joseph. The kids loved they idea of having “sawdust” on their dinner πŸ™‚

For pudding we made Zepolle di San Giuseppe… because they looked SO good! πŸ™‚

This is the link for the recipe which we followed roughly and therefore ended up with something a little different (Gluten Free does that too!) but they were still good πŸ™‚

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Overall, we had a lovely day! We kept it simple, we kept the focus and I think the kids will remember it… hopefully :). The test will be if they keep me to doing the same things next year!

What counts is that we did SOMETHING! I feel so passionately about sharing our RICH faith and traditions with my munchkins… there is a reason God gave us the Church and it’s feasts so let’s share these treasure with what ever means we have πŸ™‚

Blessings!

Ruth

“I like to be in America! Ok by me in America!”

IMG_0250Who would have thought that I would be homesick for America??

I have always said, when discussing future travel options with hubby, “I don’t fancy spending time in America”.

I know… shocking really!

It wasn’t that I was anti-america or uninterested, it was merely the fact that if we ever had enough money to travel, I wanted to visit Europe! See the sites of antiquity, bask in the beauty of art and architecture…. visit Rome… sweet home of my Church!

When hubby first proposed that me and the children go with him to St Cloud, Minnesota over Christmas last year… my first thought was “TYPICAL GOD!!!”. There is a certain danger in making definite statements in my life…. God rather likes to prove me wrong πŸ™‚

So I set out prepared to FREEZE, prepared to forgo any waistline (not that I have one after 4 kiddos!), prepared to “suffer” a culture I preferred not to be in.

ARROGANT me!!! Insufferable, judgemental me!!!

First point… St Cloud is NOT big city America!

Being smaller than my hometown in New Zealand, St Cloud opened it’s Thanksgiving arms to us and welcomed us as an exotic species into it’s world in November 2012.

Secondly, being Catholic and a homeschooler meant that we connected into a warm, outgoing, family orientated, passionate… the list could go on…. group of WONDERFUL people who contradicted my badly informed opinion of the american public.

I was SO happy to be contradicted!!! Humbled… but OH so happy!

This blog post is a Thank You!!!

A thank you to the MANY extraordinary men and women, young adults, teenagers, children and grandparents who not only made contact with us, but welcomed us into their homes, families and lives!!!

As I don’t like to name names in my blog :)…. you know who you are!

The distance feels SO far now as we settle back into life here in New Zealand, but the deep sense of gratitude, the wisdom I gleaned from so many of you, and the profound impact of your generosity & hospitality will keep you close in our hearts and prayer!!

Below is just a small sampling of our favorite people :)…

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I’m pleased to say, that if God gave me the opportunity to go back, I would JUMP at the chance!!!

Blessings!

Ruth

ps. if you want to check out the other side of this story, my lovely friend Marlene has blogged about her strangers from a far away land!! πŸ˜‰ Β 

The Rhythm of Life

So here we are, one year after I started this blog and the rhythm of life continues to shift and change, ebb and flow through my busy life as wife and homeschooling mum πŸ™‚

Life has been so transient for us in the last two years, shifting house three times and spending 2 months in America over this past Christmas. Once again I’m surrounded by things to unpack Β and trying to sort through screeds of odd puzzles pieces, “precious” drawings, odd socks and miscellaneous metal objects that somehow always end up together in the bottomless box of “bits”.

But my four troopers have found their rhythm in all this upheaval.

Week One: Everyone is unsettled, grumpy, stubborn and generally behaving in a way that causes an already overwhelmed mummy to consider packing them in the empty boxes and shipping them off πŸ™‚

Week Two (which we are in now!): Smiles are more frequent, toys and precious objects can be found more readily, sleep is less interrupted, the garden has become a new territory to explore, the bookcase is unpacked so Sunshine can be found curled up on the couch and mummy is feeling her roots starting to take hold!

My hat is off to my kiddos! Change is something that most children struggle with. Throw in a couple of Highly Sensitive kids, a 3 year old and a mischievous 21 month old monkey and we could have a recipe for disaster, but save for a few understandable melt downs, Β they have shown me they know how to ride the changing tides of our life like the pro’s! No matter where we are or what we have been through they pick up where they left off eventually and away they go…

We start our mornings off slowly as I have been reluctant to rise early this week, sensing the exhaustion my body is experiencing after travel, shifting, cleaning and unpacking. I’m greeted in bed with cuddles from my two babies and hear the sound of pencil to paper as Master Luke draws furiously at the dining room table. Sunshine is my late riser, but once up, gets herself breakfast, dressed and ready (there is a fair chunk of time needed here! :)) and eventually meanders through to the dining room, school work in hand and sets herself up :). The next few hours pass “quietly” with all four munchkins usually busy at the table, drawing, writing, creating…. learning :). On days when I am up early, and feeling full of energy, the pace is usually more intense and I find Sunshine & Master Luke completing any book work that is set by 9am!! I would love to say this is all to do with my organisation, but I must give credit where it is due, and the credit lies with Master Luke. At 5 1/2 he has a drive for learning and is eager to practice his writing, maths, reading etc. first thing in the morning. His enthusiasm and pace therefore drive our daydreaming Sunshine to accelerate a fraction more πŸ™‚

What this then leaves me with is a day free to follow any whim, question or discovery that comes our way!

Today that was a mixture of things….

…. chalk blending on the concrete outside…. how orange peels are a part of Great Granddad Jacks childhood…. a beetle rescuing mission…. a centipede that joined us for lunch…. making a house out of the orange peel for the centipede….. discovering the centipedes old skin (I didn’t know they molted!!)…. digging in the dirt down the side of the house…. reading science books about biology & astronomy…. drawing, drawing and more drawing…. reading, reading and more reading…. discussions about Church and the Pope….. watching a documentary on insects….

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So that seems to be our current rhythm, and it works… but it also makes me think…

No matter what the rhythm of life is, whether it be crazy frantic or slow and monotonous, the key to riding it successfully is a solid foundation. A foundation not on physical location such as a house or material objects, but a foundation based on Faith, Hope and Love!

Faith, that God knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm.

Hope, that what ever trial we may face in the moment, we will see good if we persevere.

And LOVE… a love that is not based on feeling and emotion, but a choice to give all that we have to those God has placed in our lives! A love that helps us to embrace daily sacrifices for the good of others. A Love that lifts us up on It’s wings and helps us to see glimpses of the Divine in the smallest jobs of our day. A Love that unifies Husband and Wife, so that our children have a solid foundation to grow on.

This foundation doesn’t have an address, but a face πŸ™‚

Blessings

Ruth xxx

 

 

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where dem daffy’s is?

It has been a LONG time since my fingers blogged and I apologise for my absence πŸ™‚

The business of life with four children and homeschooling never ceases to amaze me (and on a bad day overwhelm me! :))

We are currently half way through a two week stint of swimming lessons. To be able to have lessons during the day rather than before dinner time is a blessing, but I have a big job each day getting everyone sorted, little ones looked after and a drive across town and back again to fit into my already very full schedule. There is also the daily challenge to my patience and unconditional love that is a highly sensitive Sunshine mixed with swimming…

Togs are tight, goggles are uncomfortable and claustrophobic, chlorine tastes yuck, towels are scratchy, wet skin is irritating, damp hair is stressful… and I take a DEEP breath πŸ™‚

The silver lining to my beautiful girls sensitivity though in a situation like this, is the elation of success! The bright, jubilant voice that rings out across the entire complex… “Look Mummy I did it!!!”, is a wonderful thing, Β at times an embarrassing thing, but special non the less! πŸ™‚

In my absence from blogging, there have been many triumphs in our homeschooling of Sunshine and Master Luke which I will touch on briefly, as they are such gifts…

– Sunshine’s reading has taken off to a whole new level! She sits now whenever she can curled up with a book and is happy to read to Master Luke and Curly Sue for literally hours :). It is such a bonding experience for them all and I sit and watch my babes with immense warm fuzzies in my heart. (GREAT book called “Usborne Illustrated Stories for Children” has been the best recent buy… definitely worth checking out!)

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– After 1 1/2 years of homeschooling, Sunshine is finally attempting to write again and it is with tears in my eyes that I see her focused and confident to put her ideas on paper… there will be great rejoicing when the first glorious story emerges in her own hand πŸ™‚

– Master Luke is speeding ahead with his reading program “How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons”. I had the fortune of buying this book for 50c at our curriculum fair last year, and it is proving to be just the right thing for my 5 year old πŸ™‚

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– We are building up to Sunshine’s first communion at the end of the year and the older two have been asking some truly beautiful questions about their faith! Their depth and insight brings me such joy and to be honest, if the only thing I leave them with is a faith and love of God…. I would have done enough! In this world that presents such an ugly face so often, the gift of faith is the most important and precious treasure to bestow on the next generation… Mary Queen of Heaven pray for all Mothers and Fathers, that they may embrace this call wholeheartedly!!!

So… just a few wee jewels from the past couple of months πŸ™‚

God has also been doing quite the spring clean of my head and heart, and thank God for a patient and understanding hubby who has borne the brunt of many a flood gate. I am excited about where He is leading me as a Wife, Mother and teacher.

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At Mass on Sunday when Curly Sue was performing her spectacular Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde routine, I felt the gentle nudge from Our Lord and my mind was awash in some new ideas for our daily routine. It is SO “tempting” and I use that word for a reason, not to take children to mass because of scenarios like we had yesterday…. BUT as disruptive and distracting as they can be, the presence of Christ and the power of the Sacrament are NOT diminished and can be just as active on our souls if we can turn our eyes and hearts to Him above the circus πŸ™‚

So this morning we tried something new πŸ™‚

I laid the table last night for breakfast and made hubby’s lunch for the next day.

We then got up early and I got the children up as well. Now this is an easy task with Curly Sue and Master Luke, as they are usually in our bed after 5am anyway, but for Sunshine, the wake up, get up and get dressed sequence is one of my least favorite parts of the day. This morning, as if God was proving a point, which He obviously was, I woke Sunshine up. Explaining to her that we would all eat breakfast together before Daddy left for work, I was rather pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a radiant smile and a child who not only got out of bed quickly but proceeded to get through her routine without daydreaming!!! Oh the simple joys πŸ™‚

Breakfast was lovely! We all sat together, ate together and to finish prayed a decade of the Rosary πŸ™‚

And the fruit has been a MUCH more peaceful day and very content and happy children…

Now to have the grace to continue and make more little changes πŸ™‚

Spring has sprung!

I’m looking forward to seeing more flowers πŸ™‚

Blessings!

Ruth πŸ™‚

Secret Garden…. unlocked!

Today I wanted to share a little realisation and little triumph…

Sunshine has ALWAYS loved books! We have read and read and read to her all her life.

I was so excited when she started school and came home with her little jar of words.

I was even more excited when she started to read sentences and attempt to read our books at home.

I looked forward with great anticipation to the day when she could write down all the FANTASTIC stories that were in her head… a child who is forever being someone or something has an incredible world in their head!

BUT two things happened over that following year… firstly, she would read her homework books but continued to only want to look at pictures of other books. Secondly, her handwriting progressed nicely, but her stories… well they remained at the “I went to Grandma’s house. I had a great time. It was really fun.” Her teachers where at a loss and I felt such disappointment! Where were the stories, where had the imagination gone!

Well after patiently (and not so patiently) continuing the journey of reading and writing at home over the last year, I have made several realisations.

Sunshine does have wonderful stories in her head, and can in fact write beautifully! But it is too much for her yet to write them down on her own with pencil and paper. The simple act of putting words on a page is a mountain she is not quite ready to climb. What if I spell something wrong? What do I start with and what if the starting is wrong? What if I my writing gets messy? What was that song I was singing the other day? Oh look! That tree out there is so pretty! Hello pencil, will you be my friend… oh hello Aayla Secura (from Star Wars) would you like to come play?…

πŸ™‚ It is just too tough for a child like mine πŸ™‚

BUT today I asked her to write a book review for our Home schoolers Project Fair. I had the usual panic response, even though I offered to type it on the computer for her. But once we talked about it, read some examples and I said the first magic words… “Mummy in the morning is a book…” she was off!!! Below is what she wrote, and I promise you, I didn’t add a thing πŸ™‚

Mummies in the Morning is a book about two kids called Jack and Annie who go back in time to Ancient Egypt in a magic tree house. The tree house belongs to the mysterious β€œM”.

When they get to Egypt, they find a mysterious cat who leads them to a huge pyramid. Once inside the pyramid, Jack and Annie meet a strange ghost queen called Hutepi, Queen of the Nile. Hutepi, lost her book of the dead, so Jack and Annie have to help her find it. Β She shows them some hieroglyphs that her brother had written so she could find the book of the dead. But Hutepi couldn’t read them herself, so she asks Jack to describe what they look like.

When they worked the meaning out, Hutepi led them to her burial chamber… read the book to find out what happens next!

I was really excited when I finished this book, Mummies in the Morning. It was such a great book to read. When I finished one chapter, I really wanted to read more!

This is an awesome book to read when you are learning about Ancient Egypt.

From this day on, Mummy is going to back off, chill out and get typing… with a little encouragement and room for Sunshine to dance, we will see screeds of stories I’m sure! πŸ™‚

The other triumph, which has given me so much more joy than I expected, is that Sunshine is finally reading to herself for pleasure! Now when I ask her a question while she is sitting cross legged on the couch, book in hand, all I get is a “hmmph” or a nod or shake. Her eyes don’t leave the page and I hear that gentle murmur of her voice :). I LOVE to read and I feel as if she has finally discovered the key to the secret garden, and like Mary Lennox, will bring life to her future in a whole new way!! YAY!!! πŸ™‚

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Actually… let’s say it is a BIG triumph πŸ™‚

Blessings!!

Ruth