Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Birthday Weekend Daybook~ Recipes,Books, Fragrant Laundry, Once Upon a Time, Confirmation Stuff, Liturgical Year Crafts


Welcome!
It's been quite some time since I wrote a daybook.  The wraps/journals 
always help  me organize thoughts and  streamline plans. 
 Because burnout's been my best friend of late and I'm muddling 
through the last few months of the school year, attempting
 to keep  things moving along...well, here we go~~

Outside my window...  It's grey, dull out there. Chirping,
 squawking birds are blessedly  flocking back after the
 long hard winter. Those vast strips of blackish snow in areas of the
 yard that don't see the sun are all  melted now.

I am thinking...  About what still has to be covered curriculum-wise
 this school year. 
*About reorganizing the "schoolroom" so I can rotate books and  
reacquaint myself with all those great resources we have. 
*About my older son's confirmation and the celebration ...it will be very 
small but special dinner here in May. Here's the lovely medal which 
we purchased for him just this week with a sketch of   John Paul the Great.
 What do you think? He's taking the name KAROL! Isn't that wonderful?
*About attacking the laundry piles. And there will be So. Much. More. of it
 this time next week as baseball season is under way....... Can I share
 with you what I've found to be a fantastic product? The folks at Purex  
graciously afforded me  the opportunity to use and review a new
 detergent, Purex Crystals, if I could spare just a tad of space on my
 blog to mention them. Are 
you kidding? Here's a shot of it "in use" ~~
 Here's the thing~ When you have 
preteen and teen boys who comment on the "awesome"  scent of the
 laundry/mudroom  after just one washing with this new product, and
 later in the week, you overhear them comment to each other about how
 "fresh" and "springlike" their sweatshirts are....well....this is laundry I'm 
happy to talk about! Thank you Purex! Your brand is already my fave, 
but you can bet I'll be buying the new Crystals!
*About getting back in the blogging groove! For quite some time, I felt 
my blogging was becoming review and sponsored post central, While I
 am so enriched on so many levels by the friendships and connections
 made within the blogging review communities, such as The
 Old Schoolhouse Review Crew...amazing ladies....simply the most
 selfless and kind people....  I just could not keep devoting time to the
 details of all that even one review entailed. Great new products? Yup
.And for a curriculum junkie such as myself, that aspect  was heaven.  
I was able to use and review a bunch of awesome products...
Glow Eggs, Algebra DVD
Mango Foreign Language.  But I had to regain my time and 
perspective. 
I look forward to blogging simply to record our life, share some projects 
and pictures.



I am thankful... for my family. Yeah, they're driving me nuts this week. 
And probably, I ~ them! The demands and minutiae  of engineering all the 
details of everyone's lives, schedules, schoolwork and general stuff are 
overwhelming. You know the drill......  But what on Earth would I do 
without them? And I realize..... they're my purpose.
...for my older son and his stand on life, his work for the pro life movement
He gets the math, the science, the history right away...he keeps me 
challenged to provide even more enrichment.
...for my younger son, who holds the same value for life, who is the 
most gentle and kind person I know. Really. Eleven years old. Heart bigger
 than Texas. Selfless to a fault.

Learning all the time... Well, quite honestly.  juggling the academics
 of grades 5 and 8 are killing me this week and since one of the many 
reasons I blog is evasion of the stresses of the homeschooling life ...........  
as well as connecting with all of you wonderful readers......  I think
 I'll be brief here in this space around this topic. We're really moving  
through the curriculum, living Lent, studying music, art, 
linear equations, plate tectonics, states of matter,  a whole huge
 bucketful of fractions ...what we're reading of late is all listed a bit further down.....


Celebrating the liturgical year... Resources we rely upon to
 "live Lent" are all right here.
In addition, I'm sharing this wood craft around St Joseph's Day, 
 written by the lovely Jennifer of Catholic Inspired, a bit late......
but file it away or pin it for next March 19, because it's a winner!
  Here are snapshots of my kids' creations based on the activity,
 along with supplies and pictures of our patron saint of 
fathers/workers printed from Jennifer's blog..... 
But click over for the full scoop on the project ~


Lovely finished product, no?


From the kitchen... Easy, easy dishes: pasta, 
broiled meats with light seasonings and/or breadcrumbs, 
sauteed veggies. Since tomorrow's  my birthday and I
 looooove  my hubby's lasagna, we are graced with that 
tasty dish, plus my sister's company today....On my 
actual birthday, I get my little man's friend chicken 
which is to-die-for. Plus we get to break our Lenten 
sacrifice of goodies on my special day with brownies....
you have no idea how happy my kids are ( so are we!)
 that my birthday falls during Lent! 
What else...let's see, my younger son created his own
 potato chip recipe this week!
YUMMY. Here are a few pictures of his super easy 
concoction: 
Left~ the chips are just potato slices baked with a touch
 of salt, that's it
Right~ the finished product:

    


I am working on... well, re-learning all things high
 level algebra. It's truly not that insanely hard. But you
 math people out there know that! (I am not "mathematically inclined!" )
 Given time, quiet and a resolve to really get it so I can pass
 it along to my boy, the concepts are not too elusive, you know?

I am creating... order, harmony, a peaceful, contemplative Lent in our home. 
Or so I hope.


I am praying... the Padre Pio novena with the kids every 
morning! Sign up here for daily novena emails.

We are reading...
Read aloud with my 13 year old ~ Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves
Read aloud with my 11 year old ~ Red Pyrmaid: Kane Chronicles #1
My 13 year old's independent reading~ The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe
 and Divergent #1. He is heavy into Poe. Heavy. And as for Divergent...loves it.
My 11 year old's independent reading ~  Ramona the Brave 
and Arthur's Mystery Envelope.
Drawn into both titles. Loving them both.  We're not talking 
high quality lit here folks....but can I tell you what a huge 
accomplishment this is? My sweetie is dyslexic, as you know,
 and this time last year, even six months ago, he was not capable of 
reading either of these titles. So, yeah...this is a really big deal...
My own reading... What Alice Forgot. Whoa. Only three chapters in 
and I cannot put it down! I'll be scooping up everything out there by Liane Moriarity!
Looking for amazing book rec and a fantastic blog? Of course you are!
 If you're not already following  Modern Mrs Darcy, you should be. 
Go,  enjoy and say hi to Anne for me! But make sure you click over 
when you have tons of time to visit and read read read!
One more goodread: A sweet Catholic blogger friend of mine, Karee,
 and her husband Manny,  are creating what is sure to be an awesome new book on marriage....So head on over to
 Karee's  blog and  read up on  what is to be included in her new title 
inspired by our amazing John Paul the Great.

I am listening...  To the rhythmic pulse of the dryer. To one kid
 tuning violin, the other doing science with my hubby.

Around the house...I have a  confession to make...Can you 
believe we Just. Took. Our. Tree. Down. This. Week? And that I just 
this morning put away the crates or ornaments as well as the gifts that 
were under the tree since Christmas morning?
I told you homeschooling was doing me in! So yeah, now we 
have our spring flowers up ( silk, from Michael's, of course!) and 
lotsa Easter decor. 
Plus a basket of Lenten reading and this barren looking
 reminder of the season over the fireplace:

One of my favorite things...  Do you watch Once Upon a Time? 
We don't get cable....too expensive. But we do  stream a few shows. 
This fairy tale/reality show is fun, has many redeeming qualities around 
perseverance, good prevailing over evil and so forth. But mainly my kids 
love it because, as budding actors who do community theater here and there,
 Robert Carlyle is their new actor hero...Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold.... 
unbelievable, fantastic acting, I tell ya.
So, my current fave thing? ~~This is it.  The clip is a bit long, but it's
 got the best scenes with Rumple. So enjoy!

.

And that's it, my wonderful friends!
And tomorrow, on my special day, I will be thankful for you, for adding
 richness to my life through this online medium! THANK YOU!! 
That is a thoughtful gift, indeed, that you have given me!

Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time here at my home on the web!

Don't forget to subscribe to Campfires and Cleats
 by scrolling to the subscribe button at the  top left sidebar.
I'd love to stay in touch regularly.

Until next time,

~Chris

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday "Joy" 3/21/14

    
  I am 4. I am 7. I am 10, 13, 18. There is Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s Day. There are birthdays, graduations, retirements, housewarmings, christenings.

     And there is the everyday. Not occasions. But very special indeed.

     Backyard barbeques on crystal summer days. Charbroil and hickory wafting to seemingly endless summer sky, creating forever an imprint of happiness, bliss.  Of togetherness. Of safety.

      Emerald grass, lemon yellow marigolds and neon pink petunia, trimmed. Lawn chairs, neatly arranged earlier, now haphazardly strewn. Yanked by eager friends joining burgeoning, lively conversations. A day, lingeringly, gratefully, spent with friends sans daily rigor. Heightened by comfort, familiarity, ease. Love.

     There are Sunday afternoons slogging through wintry woods to a frozen pond deep within. Ice skates flung over shoulders and bumping with each step. Bright sun, radiant at eye level. Yet hiding behind full beauty of firs and leafless beauty of maple, oak. There is the anticipation, the newness of the adventure. But more so, the reveling in now.

     The walk. The talk. The silence in between. The being together.  
Joy in the everyday.





And since this is all about savoring the everyday,
 here's some Chesterton awesomeness to ponder 
around this very thing:

I'm thrilled  join in with Lisa Jo
 and Five Minute Friday 

I can't believe it's been a week since I 
hit "publish" here!
My space was fast becoming a place for the churning out of
 reviews and sponsored posts of late and boy, 
was I on burnout.
From that as well as general life.
I look forward to writing what I'd like to savor and  think through 
as I continue my blogging journey as a writer and as a  Mom.
And mainly, continuing to be graced by
 the blessings that abound
in the blogging community from all of you
who stop by, read, comment, or not,
and have made this road a surprising blessing.
~Thank you~

Please click to Lisa Jo's for more snippets of joy.



 Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!

Have you signed up to receive my posts in your email inbox?
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so we can be in touch regularly!

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You might wish to follow on Facebook as well.....

Until next time,

~Chris


Post dividers can be found here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parlez-Vous Francais? TOS Review of Mango Homeschool Foreign Language Program~French


Mango Languages Review
Bonjour!~
Welcome and thanks for stopping by!

You've most likely heard of Mango Languages.....
As a curriculum junkie, I certainly had!
And all good things, too.....
As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
I was privileged recently to use and  review
their latest endeavor,  a foreign language program,
 intended for ages 6 through to adulthood.
and geared toward  homeschoolers,
  Mango Homeschool

Here's a  peak at a language 
(that we did not study) through Mango: Latin:
A  couple of screenshots  so you can  see how attractive
 and friendly the translations and forums are.~~
Mango Languages Review
Mango Languages Review
Intriguing, no?
User friendly.
Kid friendly.
Colorful.
Clear.
~How we introduced the program in our homeschool~
Initially, the plan was for each of my kids to study a language using Mango.
However, only my younger son was able, due to our schedule constraints,
to utilize the program.
He's been quite interested in learning French;
so, voila!
We were able to accommodate his interest level
and boy, was he excited!
Incidentally, Mango provides study of
 Canadian French as well as European French.
 He knew the version  he wanted (European!) 
But given that we vacation in the Adirondacks 
for a week each summer
and cross paths with many tourists from Ontario,
our curiosity was piqued  to check out 
the Canadian  component as well... 
but we did stick with his first choice.
~A Study of the Country and its Culture~
Before the French language was actually introduced, I wished to 
provide a bit of background on the country, culture and people of France.
My son auditioned for and was  granted a couple of 
call backs for a role in Les Mis, at a local community theater last summer.
Resources we used to prepare for his
audition, musically and historically, are here.
So the groundwork and fascination with the country,
as he researched the part of Gavroche and 
pre French Revolution France was already established.
Alas, he did not get the role. 
But learning about Victor Hugo and
the transference  of his masterpiece to the stage was, of course,
not time wasted!

Here are other resources we utilized to learn more about
La Belle France before embarking on the study of la langue:
National Geographic France for Kids
France Facts for Kids
Time for Kids: France

~Geography resources~
Political map of France
Political map of Europe
Physical map of France
Physical map of  Europe
Printable flag of France
~ Getting Started with Mango ~ 
Mango offers several extremely helpful videos  through Vimeo ,
which guide new users through creating and linking accounts and 
navigating the system.
Josh Hoover, Community Director, 
exhibited an infectious excitement toward the program through these videos.
How we used the program in our homeschool~
My son, an 11 year old 5th grader,
 used Mango Homeschool France several times per week.
The program was enticing in terms of the novelty and excitement around the
language study. 
Because my son is dyslexic, 
we found  the auditory nature and repetition
of the lessons to be quite  beneficial.
However, while the repetitive drill and 
translations in each "chapter"  and slide are
 vital for language acquisition
and proper usage, the program lost its appeal for both my son and me.
This truly is not a fault of the program; 
it simply did not work well with 
my style of teaching and his style of learning...
though he did internalize certain elements of basic French conversation.
I plan to  revisit  Mango Homeschool French
in the foreseeable future with a renewed perspective.
I reviewed a beta version of Mango, however,
here is what's currently available on the site:
*Over 60 different languages
*Progress Assessments

*Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
*Collaborative learning spaces
*eNote messaging
/chat rooms

*Access to embedded/downloadable content
*
Support from other community members

*Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

Benefits of the Mango program~
There are so many, but I found these to be notable:
Because Mango Homeschool is set up as a forum,
 wherein users who are studying the same language
 are able to interact with one another,
practical conversational use as well as questions regarding the language
may be discussed.

Additionally, Mango works on any operating 
system and is not dependent on any one specific system
or any special equipment.
(Though users do not the updated version of Adobe.)

Should you need to exit the program in the middle of a lesson,
 your progress is saved.
You will resume at that point in the lesson,
upon  logging in the next time.

Users can switch between numerous languages, tackling  as many
at one time as they'd like.

The support is positively phenomenal.
I emailed  a question about navigating the forum
to Josh, who replied
helpfully and thoroughly,  in a blink.

~Mango Homeschool's Future Offerings~
Mango is still developing certain components of their program
and will be introducing other exciting features  over 
the next several months such as ~~
*Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring 
 including seat time (for students and parents)
*Goals and Personal Lesson Plans
 (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)

*Resume and Portfolio Builder
* "Conversations,"  a section which will include quizzes and
additional foreign languages.
~Mango on Social Media~
For your further research and perusal,
I encourage you to connect with Mango.
Mango Languages can be easily found on social media:
~Pricing~
Mango's  introductory pricing.:
1 subscription ~  
$18/month or $125/year total  

2 subscriptions ~ 
 $28/month or $175 /year total                      

3 subscriptions ~ 
 $38/month or $225/year total                     

4 subscriptions ~ 
$48/month or $275/year total                 

5 subscriptions ~  
$58/month or $325/year total

6 + subscriptions~  group rate, dependent on number in the group.

It was a privilege to benefit from Mango's
Homeschool Program and I do hope if 
you're contemplating  foreign language
study in your homeschool, 
that you consider Mango.

Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time here at my home on the web!

Don't forget to subscribe to Campfires and Cleats
 by scrolling to the subscribe button at the  top left sidebar.
I'd love to stay in touch regularly.

Until next time,

~Chris
For Crew members' reviews, thoughts and 
 creative uses of Mango Homeschool, please visit
 The Schoolhouse Review Crew web page~
Click to read Crew Reviews





Thanks to Plumrose Lane for the lovely post dividers!