Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

Old news by now, of course, but I still wanted to post.  We were all surprised when the first tepid flurries of dark smoke suddenly turned bright white.  I was thinking we wouldn't have a Pope until tomorrow, especially since the smoke seemed a little late in going up. This was my first time waiting for the smoke, then waiting eagerly to see who would be the new Holy Father.  And I am so glad to be able to share the experience with my children too.  

Waiting...  Hooray!  Waiting...  Hooray!
My daughter is lobbying to watch the inauguration in real time, but I'm not sure that being up for several hours in the middle of the night then trying to get through a busy Tuesday is the right thing to do.  Memorable, yes.  A good idea?  Doubtful.

We are all so excited about Pope Francis, and we're looking forward to getting to know him better.  The kids and I are looking forward to learning more about him and about Argentina.  This evening we celebrated his election with grilled steak with chimchurri sauce, a classic Argentinian recipe (see below).  I have a few other recipes that I want to try next week too.  I think we'll have Milanesa Napolitana (Argentinian Fried Steak, Italian-Style) on Tuesday.  It seems quite appropriate to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and Pope Francis' Inauguration!

I looked at several recipes for chimchurri sauce, and of course none of them were exactly the same.  I wanted something that wasn't too spicy, but still had cilantro so I opted to come up with my own variation, using ingredients found in various chimchurri recipes.  It was absolutely delicious, and the kids really liked it too.

Chimchurri Sauce
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch cilantro
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 t salt
1/2 t or so fresh ground pepper
1 t onion powder
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

After plucking all the leaves off the herbs, I placed them in the food processor with the garlic and processed until coarsely chopped.  I then added the salt, pepper, and onion powder, processing a little more.  Then I combined the olive oil and red wine vinegar, and added that to the food processor while it was running.  The result was a lovely green sauce that smelled (and tasted!) wonderful!  

To use the sauce, you could either marinate the steaks in half of the sauce overnight, or spoon some on before grilling.  I used a large top sirloin steak from our quarter of grass fed beef (appropriate for an Argentinian meal, don't you think?) and it was very tasty.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As we begin the second week of our Papacy Lapbook, we are focusing on the Conclave.  Timely, don't you think?
Only an hour and a half until
 breakfast, Cardinals!

A friend mentioned she set one of their clocks in their kitchen to Rome time, which I thought was a great idea.  I also posted the Cardinals' daily schedule next to that clock, so we could see what the Cardinals were doing right at that moment.  This, along with our frequent prayers, gives a wonderful sense of connection to the events in the Vatican City.  I think it is the best and most reasonable way to wait for the white smoke.

Our Papacy Lapbook schedule for the week is as follows:

Finish the last three chapters of Lost in St. Peter's Tomb (A somewhat simple but fun book - we all appreciated the illustrations and I think the author did a good job weaving a story into all the information about St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican)
Where does the Pope live?  mini-book

Read Focus' Illustrated Guide to the Conclave - narrate and discuss
Smoke investigation (this was a lot of fun!)
Selecting a New Pope mini-book
Conclave voting activity at Religious Ed (more below)

Sistine Chapel Investigation (virtual tour, Khan Academy video, and this one too)
Where does the Conclave take place? mini-book
Vocabulary mini-book

Finish up mini-books
Picture study of a section from the Sistine Chapel ceiling

More about the Conclave activity I led this afternoon:

Set up:
  • Squares of paper, approximately as many as the number of children in the group - number one side sequentially, on the other put ages for the Cardinals, making sure to have at least a couple 80 or over.  (I used numbers instead of names to make it easier for the children to vote)  put all of these in a dish or bag.
  • A platter
  • A basket or container
  • A tally sheet with the sequential numbers from the first step on it for the count
  • The prayer used by the Cardinals when the vote, typed up and taped to the platter
  • Several copies of the Veni Creator prayer
  • Ballots
  • A needle threaded with colored thread and knotted securely
  • Pencils/crayons/markers
  • The room should have a table with three chairs at it, three chairs set to the side, and at least one chair set aside in another part of the room.  

I started by briefly going over what the Conclave is, what it is for, and where it takes place.

Then we talked about who participates, and I had each person draw a number, explaining that this number represented their "name" as a Cardinal.  I also had them check their age (on the back of their number card) to see if they were eligible to participate in the Conclave.

I then assigned people to various roles (you could do this by lot or by assigning, lot would be more accurate, but I had a range of ages and I wanted to make sure I had older kids doing the counting!) - the table was for the Scrutineers, the Infimrarii sat at the three chairs set to the side, and the sick sat in the chair set off by itself.  The Revisers stood behind each of the Scrutineers.

I then ran the children through voting on their ballots, placing them on the platter (and reciting the prayer - although I didn't have each one say it because I was a little pressed for time), putting them in the basket, getting the votes from the sick, counting the ballots and tallying the ballots.

Then we discussed the results and what sort of smoke we would be sending up given our vote.  After this we talked about what would have happened if we did have the 2/3 majority.

It was a great activity and fun and engaging way to present a topic with a lot of details.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Daybook for March 6th

March 6, 2013

(The pictures are from our papacy lapbook, which is going very well.  I'm so glad we're doing it! )

Outside My Window
We had two and a quarter inches of rain last night and another quarter inch during the day.  We also had hail, sleet and a little bit of snow.  Sometimes we’d look at the window and say, “wow, look at that...  precipitation!” because it was hard to tell what was falling from the sky.

I am Listening to
The crackling of the wood burning stove as the metal cools.  I like having fires in the evening.

I am so Grateful for
Oh, many things!  The chance to visit with a friend and pray the Stations of the Cross with them on Friday, the kids’ opportunity to spend some time with their grandmother up in the snow over the weekend, being able to watch Pope Emeritus Benedict’s last day as Pope over the internet, getting together with family for dinner on Saturday, celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday tonight...  really, there is so much I am grateful for in my life!

I am Pondering
“I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the Good of the Church and of humanity. “  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from the balcony of Castel Gandolfo on February 28th.  

I am Reading
Still reading lots of books, but I thought I would mention one in particular.  Yesterday evening I read Habemus Papam!  A graphic novel written in the Manga style about the life of Joseph Ratzinger.  I’ve never read a graphic novel before, and I’m not particularly attracted to that format, but this one was wonderful. The book is engaging, gently humorous, and makes good use of the format to tell the story.  I was so impressed.  

I am Thinking
There has got to be at least on other family in this county who doesn’t think it is crazy/unnecessary/downright strange to read Shakespeare with their children.  Right?  Maybe?  And if there is, how do I go about finding them?  How would someone find me? 

I am Creating
Hmm...  not much progress on anything.  I have worked on my knitted headband, but the pace is rather glacial.  I think I managed to knot one decade on my Rosary...   

Towards a Real Education
The kids are really enjoying Much Ado About Nothing.  The boys have (affectionately, I assure you) nicknamed it, “Nothin’ to do about Mutton”.  We have been listening to the two scenes where Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into thinking each is in love with the other, then we watched that scene in Kenneth Branagh’s version of the play.  The whole thing isn’t appropriate for children, but some scenes are perfectly acceptable.  I love the joyous exultation the actors show as they decide to love one another.  The two older kids understood the language, laughed at the jokes,  and greatly enjoyed the experience.  Emma acted out the scene with Beatrice, Ursula and Hero in Lego this evening - quite amusing.  Children can love the language of Shakespeare and they can “get it”!  And why would I want to save this for high school, when they can enjoy and savor it now?  And in high school they can take their familiarity with the stories and run with it, diving deeper into the language and all the allusions and poetry Shakespeare has to offer.

Towards Rhythm and Beauty
Ah, starting at 8 am is a challenge.  Some days are better than others.  But all in all, we’re doing well and making good adjustments when we need to start a little later.  I’m skipping singing too often though.  That’s always the first thing that goes in my schedule.

To Live the Liturgical Year
Ah, Lent.  We’re still moving right along in our various observances.  

I am Hoping and Praying
For the Cardinals, as they gather in Rome.

From the Kitchen
I was thinking about Sarah’s comment about oatmeal on my last post, and it made me thing about  why we eat oatmeal so often during Lent.  We don’t pick oatmeal for breakfast as a sort of “ok, lets make ourselves suffer by having to eat something we don’t like much more frequently”.  Instead we eat oatmeal because it is cheap, filling, and easy.  It gives me more time in the morning for prayer, and gives us some money that we save to donate at Easter to the charity of our choice.  Every oatmeal day sees another dollar in the box, and every simple supper puts in two more dollars.  We had seventy some-odd dollars last year, and I think we’ll have more this year.  There is a discipline in eating something more frequently though, even if it is something I like.  I think it is excellent training for my will, to help me to as I ought and not just as I feel in all manner of things.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week
Yesterday was our marathon out of the house day - science lab class, dentist appointments, and religious education.  I taught a class too, and the sum total of that day made me want to hide in a cave for the rest of the evening.  Instead I made it through dinner and prayer and read-alouds and bedtime then immersed myself in Habemus Papam.  Today was a little birthday celebration for my father-in-law, and on Friday we’ll be heading to my parents’ so they can take care of the kids while Matt and I celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary.  This will be the first night I’ve spent away from Justin, and only the second time I’ve been away overnight from the other kids (excluding births!)  We’re looking forward to it, but I’m also wondering how Justin will do overnight.  At least I  won’t be too far away if it really isn’t working!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Tail End of Winter

I recently stopped by my old college town to show the kids the toad tunnel and I was amused to see all the apartment complexes sporting their "Reserve for next year!" signs.  I remember how there was something about February that made all of us college students start restlessly searching for new roommates and new places to live, hoping that maybe this time we'd find the magic combination of cheap, close to campus, and a roommate that would always clean the bathroom and the kitchen.  Alas, I was never successful in my search, but I remember that anxious and trying time well.

Funny how I still have that restless late winter angst...  just now it is heralded by homeschooling catalogs and blogs.  Now is the time to try this new curriculum!  Use this plan and your days will go smoothly and beautifully!  Look!  Shiny and New, New, New!  I must admit the siren call sounds but dully in my (five and a half year) veteran ears, but none the less there's still a few things that get me.  I recently came across the Schola Rosa site and spent some time in investigation and thought before being able to come to a resolution.  Thankfully I'm experienced enough to realize the futility of trying to start anything remotely coop-ish around here, but nonetheless, the Schola Rosa program at home has a definite appeal to my orderly mind.  However, a good conversation with my husband and some journalling about the balance between memory training, useful knowledge, and trivia helped me to  realize that while there is a strong place for memory work in our homeschool, it does not encompass lists of mountain types and prose paragraphs about historical happenings.  I will be buying the Classical Catholic Memory timeline cards as they look like a nice addition to our Book of Centuries.  I also think  they will be a fun way to get the younger ones to start thinking about time and the sequence of history.  I'm betting they will be more engaging and dynamic than my woefully underused timeline in the schoolroom.  (Really, should I just take the thing down and stop getting frustrated about it?  But every homeschool schoolroom has to have a timeline, right?!?)

I also wonder every year how on earth I'm going to have time to plan for the next year (especially since I'm going to - gack! - be adding another student).  Last spring I had the opportunity to ask Laura Berquist how she found time to plan when she had little kids.  She responded that her husband would take the kids camping for a long weekend then she would fit in a little more time here and there with the help of her husband and older kids.  But then she added something to the effect of, but you don't need to do that, you can use use my lesson plans and you'll be all set.  I wish I had asked, "but what if I don't want to use your lesson plans?"

I wonder too, "why oh why oh why can I not just submit to someone else's booklist and plans"?  After all, it isn't like I'm just winging it, doing a little of this and a little of that - I am an educator who follows the methods of Charlotte Mason closely, and there are a number of good plans and possibilities out there that take her writings very seriously.  So why do I have to create my own booklists, my own plans?  Flexibility is part - I like to combine my kids and do a lot of reading aloud, something most plans do not accommodate.  I also like to keep moving along our current historical path, which makes it hard to adopt someone else's plan wholesale.  But I think that the biggest reason why is summarized in this wonderful post from Jenn at Wildflowers and Marbles about building a considered booklist, because a considered booklist is one where "I am able to consider our year, consider the children, consider the topics and points of interest along this year's educational journey."  And so I will soon begin the booklist odyssey, selecting our books with care and consideration, reviewing all my various sources, thinking and praying and writing.  And really?  I'm looking forward to it.

If you are in the thralls of the late winter homeschool catalog dance, may I suggest you read Cindy Rollin's post?  And please read about the Mad Mothers' Tea Party.  And be sure to turn down your invitation, before it is too late!