Friday, July 12, 2019

{SQT} School Planning Done!


1. School Planning


This was the last week I could fully devote to planning our school curriculum for next year, so I completed that task and wrote my blog post series about it.


I came across a useful and encouraging article as homeschoolers are planning next year in earnest: "How to be More Consistent in Homeschooling" by Misty at Joy in the Journey.
  • Treat homeschooling like a job
  • Get organized
  • Learn to say no

My favorite line was this:
"Treat your homeschool as the priority that it is. I ask myself 'would my husband call off to do this?' [take time off work] and nine times out of ten the answer is no. If we don’t treat school as a priority how will our kids treat it like one?"


2. Mothers' Night Out and Play Date

I enjoyed not zero, not one, but two social outings this week! (Thanks, Chris, for keeping the kids!) I was refreshed attending a Mothers' Night Out at a mother's home. We simply ate apps and chatted till ten at night, which was so lovely.

Then I hosted a play date one morning, during which the children variously played outdoors, explored the woods, played numerous board games, and played with dolls. My ten-year-old baked molasses cookies and my 12-year-old baked beer bread for the event. I think all had a great time!

3. Margaret Cooking


Our eight-year-old is really blossoming in the kitchen lately, both in ability and in eagerness to take over. Last Friday night, she made the pizzas all by herself (dough balls from the store--we don't make our own dough!) except for me putting them in and out of the hot oven.


Sometimes she also makes breakfast entirely for us, including two types of eggs to appease picky tastes.



4. Margaret's Music

I used to film the children learning music much more than I remember to do so now, so this week I filmed Margaret playing Gavotte on violin.



5. Wholesome Fun

The children have been having a lot of good, wholesome fun lately. With me burying my nose in a computer planning school, they have been running free!

They've been on a streak of playing board games, even though that makes messes and even though we have had to prohibit some particular pairs from playing together or from certain people playing specific games. Still, the overall effect is great!


Lots of nature exploration . . . John found an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar, which he put in one of our trees in hopes it will become a butterfly.


John also finished his experiment of a few weeks: he asked to bring home a dead snake he found and set it out to desiccate, leaving behind only the snake skeleton to be studied. Voila!


I don't have photos to share, but some of the children have developed a renewed passion for dolls. The tiny dolls all have complex names, there are books written about them, and someone keeps sewing them entire wardrobes. This week, the dolls enjoyed a Christmas dinner made out of various materials and all set out on a long table with the dolls gathered around. (Note that the girls' room becomes absolutely festooned by clippings with all this creativity. Snippets of fabric and yarn in thousands of tiny bits become spread everywhere up there . . . but I'm embracing that the clean-up from that creativity is well worth my not "cleaning up" their bad behavior and bad moral development from their sitting for daily hours in front of a TV or Internet screen.)

Everyone is happily in the midst of several books, including John (who is almost done with Lord of the Rings!) reading "Holy Goals for Body and Soul: Eight Steps to Connect Sports with God and Faith." I skimmed every page of the book and there was nothing wrong, much wonderful, and the bishop-author connects well with the typical young male reader by quoting Church fathers, Biblical figures, and saints, as well as Star Wars and modern sports stars (but nothing is said that conflicts with the Catholic faith). This is a bishop who has played hockey his whole life and has run something like more than 20 marathons (and is still running them), so someone that young adult males can really aspire to: holy and manly!


6. Field Trip to Discovery Place Science

In a comedy of errors, Chris took four of the kids to the very expensive Discovery Place when Mary, David, and I were in Nebraska. When he texted me photos, I texted back that I had just paid $80 in advance for a tour with our homeschooling group to be attended two weeks later! I couldn't get our money back, so the children got the very fun outing twice in rapid succession.


Tarantula

It is neat to watch the video about the Towers of Tomorrow Lego display, as can be seen on YouTube.







Bed of nails

Tug of war

Tug of war
We really enjoyed watching the IMAX movie "Superpower Dogs." Even my 2- and 4-year-olds (both about to turn those ages!) loved the movie. We noted that they included all kinds of rescue dogs, but not police or military dogs, probably because there is no way to showcase those kind of dogs without including scary/violent topics. Showing a dog re-enacting rescuing people from drowning or avalanche can be done in a much more calm way for little tykes.


 
An event like this is great once in a while, but the visual, sensory, and auditory stimulus made all of our wires go "fritz." My voice was hoarse from having to shout to be heard while in the science floor of the museum, and every one of us wanted alone time when we got home! The kids will sleep well tonight.

7. Bonus Reading


"Parents Are Hiring ‘Screen Consultants’ to Help Them Raise Phone-Free Kids" by Ariel Scotti--I have found a possible future career after my children are grown and gone: earning $80 per hour teaching parents how to allow activities that don't involve a screen! Seriously, though, the article teases the parents somewhat, but I'm so proud of those parents who are seeking something different, have the courage to admit they don't know how to fix it, and are seeking advice. That's so great!


For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Step 4. Writing Procedure Binders

After completing seven years of formal homeschooling and having six children, I knew more than nothing (still far less than everything), but I still took Pam Barnhill's course "Put Your Homeschool on Auto-Pilot" for $69. This course was worth every penny and my time watching the self-paced videos. Unless you feel like a superstar homeschooling mama who knows what she is doing (does she exist?) I highly, highly recommend it.

I am beginning my annual blog series on planning one's homeschool year! This year, I am publishing 4-6 weeks early because we are going to be moving homes, so my homeschool year has to be done being planned this very week. (Then it's on to two weeks of packing up boxes, Moving Day, three weeks of unpacking the house, and school begins with my Orientation Week!)

How Do I Write a Procedure Binder?

Step 4 is to write a Procedure Binder for each child.

This teaching comes straight from Pam Barnhill's course and it was a game-changer for me in 2018-19. Even though I'm showing you the basics, I still recommend anyone interested to take her course because you would get so much more out of her detailed teaching than mine.

I need to minimize how often the children come to me asking what to do next, how to do that thing, and what is expected of them. I want to reduce my feeling that I'm in a space ship hurtling through an asteroid field--each asteroid of which is yet another question from my children that might be the final question that kills me straight dead--to feeling like I've really set them up for success and modeled for them planning. During our first year using Procedure Binders, I saw children coming to rely heavily on them, just as I'd hoped.

Each child has his or her own binder.


At the front of the binder is the child's Daily Schedule. How else will he know what he is supposed to be doing in each half hour slot?

Each binder has a tab for every single subject, no matter how minor.


Behind the tab will be a Procedure page. It will give instructions for that subject.

Examples:

"Practice piano for 45 minutes on the grand piano. Set a timer. Warm up with scales and technique. Review repertoir. Work on new learning."

It might list all the Grammar lessons for the year with check boxes next to each one.

It might give instructions for exactly how to log in to one's math software and to do one lesson per day.


For some subjects, I include the materials needed as well. For example, I will include loose leaf paper on which to write spelling dictation sentences. I will cut off the binding from the penmanship workbook and three-hole punch the pages to keep in the binder.

During Orientation Week (our first week of school), I spend a lot of time, maybe a full hour or more, sitting with each child one-on-one going through every page of his binder. I also sit with each child one-on-one and teach them how to log in to anything they need on the computer, how to navigate each text book's index, and so forth. Lastly (firstly?), we also work on routines and behavior (obedience) during Orientation Week: getting up on time, eating promptly and finishing, cleaning up after oneself, and knowing what one's chores are.

Let's give ourselves forgiveness, fellow homeschooling parents! We will have many stumbles and many moments and days that do not seem to go as planned: don't be a melancholic like me who condemns herself as a failure, but try, try again with God's grace fueling you!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Step 3. Designing a Daily Schedule

After completing seven years of formal homeschooling and having six children, I knew more than nothing (still far less than everything), but I still took Pam Barnhill's course "Put Your Homeschool on Auto-Pilot" for $69. This course was worth every penny and my time watching the self-paced videos. Unless you feel like a superstar homeschooling mama who knows what she is doing (does she exist?) I highly, highly recommend it.

I am beginning my annual blog series on planning one's homeschool year! This year, I am publishing 4-6 weeks early because we are going to be moving homes, so my homeschool year has to be done being planned this very week. (Then it's on to two weeks of packing up boxes, Moving Day, three weeks of unpacking the house, and school begins with my Orientation Week!)

How Do I Design a Daily Schedule for my Homeschool?

Step 3 is to design the Daily Schedule for all five days of the week. Click here to read a thorough explanation of my process that I wrote last year. Sometimes during Step 3, I realize I have planned more than can possibly fit in the schedule, so that is my reality check to return to Step 2 and cut some subjects or change curriculum to something that can fit.

My post from last year explains extensively the why and how of a Daily Schedule. Below is an example of our planned schedule for 2019-20.

Joseph (First Grade)

For a child this young, I want as much routine as possible: the more he can know exactly what to expect next, the more the routine reduces need for discipline. My first grader's schedule will look virtually identical on all five days.
  • Anytime after 6:00 Joseph may wake up and get himself cold cereal.
  • 7:00-9:00 Play time in view of Mama while I exercise and get ready for my day.
  • 9:00 Hot breakfast cooked by Mama
  • 9:30  Fifteen minutes of piano practice with his big sister tutoring him
  • 10:00 Penmanship and spelling with Mama and siblings
  • 10:30-11:30 One-on-one teaching with Mama: Phonics, math, religion, science (what I call my "Golden Hour," and what I try to make sure occurs for my Kindergarteners and First Graders, even if everything else falls apart)
  • 11:30 Free time before lunch
  • 12:00 Lunch (and recess--outdoors, if possible)
  • 1:00-2:30 Quiet time for 1.5 hours (Listen to educational CD--Bible, literature, history--play Legos, draw)

Margaret (3rd grade)

My third grader also has a lot of routine, with few changes. She grew much in independence last school year and I hope to encourage more of that this year.
  • Anytime after 6:00 Margaret may wake up and get herself cold cereal. This is also a good time to wake with morning prayers and holy reading.
  • 7:00 Violin practice for 30 minutes
  • 8:00 Math online
  • 8:30 Piano practice for 30 minutes
  • 9:00 Hot breakfast cooked by Mama
  • Half an hour of independent school work
  • 10:00 Penmanship and spelling with Mama and siblings
  • 10:30-11:30 Babysit 2- and 4-year-old brothers while Mama teaches
  • 11:30 Grammar with Mama or independent History reading
  • 12:00 Lunch (and recess--outdoors, if possible)
  • Afternoon subjects rotate among history, music lessons, geography, and art. She should be done by 1:30 or 2:00 each day.

Mary (5th grade)

Has some variance because of enrollment in one live online class and sharing resources with siblings for online software and DVD courses.

General goal schedule:
  • Anytime after 6:00 Mary may wake up and get herself cold cereal. This is also a good time to wake with morning prayers and holy reading.
  • 7:30 Practice violin for 45 minutes
  • 8:15 Practice piano for 45 minutes
  • 9:00 Hot breakfast cooked by Mama
  • 9:30 Tutor little brother in piano for 15 minutes
  • 10:00 Penmanship and spelling with Mama and siblings
  • 10:30 Math
  • 11:00 Latin
  • 11:30 Grammar
  • 12:00 Lunch (and recess--outdoors, if possible)
  • Afternoon subjects rotate among Socratic Discussion, history, music lessons, composition, geography, and art. She should be done by 3:00 each day.

John (7th grade)

General goal schedule:
  • Anytime after 6:00 John may wake up and get himself cold cereal. He really likes to exercise in the mornings. This is also a good time to wake with morning prayers and holy reading.
  • 7:00 Practice piano for 45 minutes
  • 8:00 Math
  • 9:00 Hot breakfast cooked by Mama
  • 9:30 Grammar
  • 10:00 History on most days
  • 11:00 Lunch (and recess--outdoors, if possible)
  • 12:00 Latin (live class 2 days/week, study 3 days/week)
  • Afternoon subjects rotate among Socratic Discussion, history, music lessons, composition, geography, and art. He should be done by 3:00 each day.


Obviously, life will throw me curve balls! 

We will get sick for two weeks straight, or experience a crisis, or the toddler will clog the toilet with toys, or someone will fall out of a tree and be rushed to the ER . . . but I, personally, find that when I need to step out of the routine, I feel much calmer when I know how to simply step back into the routine whenever I am able to resume.

It works for me.


The last installment will be about writing procedure binders.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Step 2. Choosing Curriculum for 2019-20

After completing seven years of formal homeschooling and having six children, I knew more than nothing (still far less than everything), but I still took Pam Barnhill's course "Put Your Homeschool on Auto-Pilot" for $69. This course was worth every penny and my time watching the self-paced videos. Unless you feel like a superstar homeschooling mama who knows what she is doing (does she exist?) I highly, highly recommend it.

I am beginning my annual blog series on planning one's homeschool year! This year, I am publishing 4-6 weeks early because we are going to be moving homes, so my homeschool year has to be done being planned this very week. (Then it's on to two weeks of packing up boxes, Moving Day, three weeks of unpacking the house, and school begins with my Orientation Week!)

How Do I Choose Curriculum for my Homeschool?

Step 2 is to plan my curriculum.

I'm starting my eighth year of homeschooling full-time (ninth year if you count that I did formal, daily preschool for one year) and I know a smidgen more with each year that goes by, so maybe there will be some readers who will learn something from what I can offer . . . for whatever it's worth!

As I like to say, I don't know nothin' anymore.

Take what works and leave the rest behind.

I'm not an unschooler, or even very relaxed. I'm a DIY homeschooler who likes to create my own curriculum based on our family's needs. I am Catholic and prefer choosing religious materials that teach the traditional Latin Mass. I appreciate the rigor of Classical education and the "living" books and literature encouraged by Charlotte Mason. I like books that are old (anything newer than around 1950 has to earn its way past my suspicions) and free of twaddle. And, of course, all of these ideals are being balanced by the fact that I have six children and cannot manage teacher-intensive curriculum or even reading aloud anymore, and am instead moving them all toward educational independence.

I will be homeschooling first, third, fifth, and seventh grades in 2019-20. Our Mater Dei Catholic School "mascots" will be two- and four-year-old boys!

(One can read all of my past years' curriculum choices by clicking on my Homeschooling Page.)

First Grade

The first grade plan for my fourth child, when I have olders with a heavy workload, plus two wee ones in the mix, looks different than what I planned for my firstborn. Whatever I pick, my first grader will get about one solid hour per day from me. He will also learn alongside older siblings and have siblings read aloud to him.
  • RELIGION
  • LANGUAGE ARTS
  • MATH
    • Right Start Math (I tried Horizon Math last year and disliked it, so mid-way through the year switched back to the Right Start I have used for years.)
    • Supplement with CTC Math online subscription
    • Skip counting and drilling math facts with various resources
  • HISTORY and GEOGRAPHY: American History Cycle
    • Listen along to TAN Story of Civilization with his big sister.
    • Work on memorizing the U.S. states and capitals using puzzles and songs.
  • SCIENCE
    • Various simple science resources existing on my bookshelf on no schedule
    • Children's videos on safety subjects on YouTube
  • MUSIC
    • Piano, folk music (banjo, guitar), and music theory classes
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    • Draw Write Now
    • Typesy (after a few years of Keyboarding Without Tears, our family has been using Typesy for three months now)
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION (various over the course of the whole year)
    • Ice skating lessons
    • Tennis lessons
    • Swimming
    • Once monthly boys' homeschool sports program (basketball and football)

Grade 3

  • RELIGION
    • Scripture
      • Still choosing which Bible to use among our many versions. I might have the third grader read aloud the entirety of The Golden Children's Bible to the first grader, which kills two birds with one stone.
    • Catechism
    • Saints
  • LANGUAGE ARTS
  • MATH
  • HISTORY and GEOGRAPHY: American History Cycle
  • SCIENCE
    • Apologia: Zoology paired with the MP3 files online (read and listen simultaneously)
  • LATIN
    • Prima Latina (DVD)--The various curriculum providers recommend starting Latin at widely varying ages so as to make a parent's head spin. They say to start anywhere from second grade to middle school or even high-school! We are going to try our third grader on Prima Latina but only because her seventh grade brother is going to tutor and grade it, as I do not have time at this stage.
  • MUSIC
    • Violin, piano, folk music, and music theory classes
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    • Draw Write Now
    • Typesy (after a few years of Keyboarding Without Tears, our family has been using Typesy for three months now)
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION (various over the course of the whole year)
    • Tennis lessons
    • Swimming
    • Scottish Country Dance weekly


Grade 5



Grade 7


The next installments will be about planning one's daily schedule and writing procedure binders.


Monday, July 8, 2019

Step 1. Creating a Mission Statement for One's Homeschool

After completing seven years of formal homeschooling and having six children, I knew more than nothing (still far less than everything), but I still took Pam Barnhill's course "Put Your Homeschool on Auto-Pilot" for $69. This course was worth every penny and my time watching the self-paced videos. Unless you feel like a superstar homeschooling mama who knows what she is doing (does she exist?) I highly, highly recommend it.

I am beginning my annual blog series on planning one's homeschool year! This year, I am publishing 4-6 weeks early because we are going to be moving homes, so my homeschool year has to be done being planned this very week. (Then it's on to two weeks of packing up boxes, Moving Day, three weeks of unpacking the house, and school begins with my Orientation Week!)

How Do I Create My Homeschool Mission Statement?


Step 1 is to develop a Mission Statement for my homeschool. Click here for my blog post about this step from last year.

For 2019-20, I don't feel a need to change our Mission Statement except that we are making adjustments toward achieving our goal of life balance.

For example, we have made curriculum changes that are not as rigorous or time-consuming and to allow us follow more of (but certainly not completely) our own schedule than an outside schedule. Reading the history textbook plus reading 24 living history books plus writing a book report for each one of them plus writing various essays and worksheets throughout the year made for an excellent sixth grade history course. It would have made for an excellent high-school history course! But the tradeoff was eating away at much of our life. So, we've made some changes and will see how they go!

Personally, I think our family's homeschool curriculum will still be pretty rigorous for 2019-20, but it also allows for:
  • sports, including our seventh grader trying to be on a hockey team
  • music, lots of music!
  • entrepreneurship--our seventh grader's lawn-mowing business, our fifth grader's piano teaching
  • going to Mass a couple of times during the week as well as Confession on a third day
  • children doing their regular chores, including taking on cooking responsibilities (something we lost much of last year)
  • perhaps, just maybe, being done with school by around three o'clock each day so the children can actually play before dinner (something we lost last year)
  • not having to do weekend school unless we are working ahead in order to travel

Each homeschooling family has to ask itself: What are our priorities?  Do we run a farm? Participate in travel athletics? Travel often as a family? Run a business together? Stay home but husband works tremendously long hours or travels weekly for work? Have special medical needs for Mom, Dad, or one of the children? What are the needs unique to us?

The next installments will be about choosing curriculum, planning one's daily schedule, and writing procedure binders.

Friday, July 5, 2019

{SQT} Big News for Our Family


1. Nebraska

I flew with my ten-year-old and toddler to Nebraska for four days to attend a Memorial and to visit my ailing grandfather. Click here to read about our wonderful time.



2. Meanwhile

Meanwhile, back at home, Chris took the children to the Lego exhibit at the science museum.







The gang highly recommends the IMAX movie "Backyard Wilderness" if you can still see it anywhere near you. We seek to get it via streaming or DVD if it becomes available. From my 12-year-old to my 3-year-old, they were all raving about it.





Josey and Thomas finished another two months of ice skating lessons and graduated up to the next levels.


John (12) alone made fried chicken and garlic knots for dinner on Saturday night.


The gang managed without me, even though for the first time in 13-1/2 years of marriage, the Magic Toilet Roll Fairy did not do her job. Somehow, they soldiered on through adversity.


3. Big News: We Are Moving!


A lot of our rooms are looking like this lately  . . .



. . . because we are under contract to buy a new home! There has been much going on "behind the scenes" (off the blog) for a couple of months.

We thought our couple of years of discussions about whether or not to move were concluded and we had even engaged contractors to make some renovations to our current home when we learned that our neighbors would be selling their home of 35 years and that it had virtually all of the features we were desiring, including getting to stay in our own neighborhood and even still adjacent to the beloved "woods" behind the house.

We are moving three doors down! The move is a bit poignant because we do love our home and it could be a forever home. However, with six children homeschooling and a husband who works from home, we are in the home virtually 24/7, so more space and certain layout changes would bring more peace to how we function. The new home should be a great blessing and we are excited.

God willing, all appears to be going smoothly with the sellers and we are scheduled to close three weeks from now and the movers are booked for a date in early August!

4. Folk Music Jam

On Tuesday night, 24 hours after our plane had landed from Nebraska, we drove to a friends' home for dinner and a folk music jam based on the CD all our kids are currently loving so much: Singsong Penny Whistle (you can obtain lyrics here). The group had a really fun time! They also played in the acres of woods, shot Airsoft guns, caught fireflies, and watched Chris set off fireworks.



5. Independence Day 2019

In the sultry morning, we participated in our neighborhood's annual parade behind the fire truck: always a festive time!


This was the first year that Thomas (3-3/4) got to ride his own two-wheeler bike instead of being confined to a stroller.







Kids spent the day . . .
  • watching "Sands of Iwo Jima" (1949)
  • playing water guns in the back yard
  • playing "Memoir 44" and "Monopoly" board games
  • baking bread pudding with Daddy
  • baking chocolate chip cookies with Mama

Mom spent the day . . .
  • cleaning the WRECK of a play room for three hours because sometimes the mess gets so bad that a Mama has to roll up her sleeves and do it herself instead of having the children do it because, NO!, the Legos, Magformers, play kitchen toys, wooden blocks, and science kit do NOT all go mixed up in the same bin . . . and
  • planning my History lesson plans for next year (enjoyable for me to do)


And all was fun and games until Josey tripped running up the brick steps and sliced the underside of his big toe pretty badly. When Margaret (8) encounters an injury, a whole, beautiful side of her emerges immediately. She is very calm and thoughtful when someone else is hurt. This time, she rushed immediately to get bandages without being asked, and then she ran off to retrieve our Scripture Memorization cards. While I was trying to rinse the wound of the hysterical, screaming six-year-old, Margaret cheerfully read him Scripture to try to distract him, which actually began working.

We decided he might need stitches, so took him to Urgent Care. I took along Margaret as his comforter and she certainly was, playing 20 Questions and Rock, Paper, Scissors with him. In the end, they used Hibiclens to clean it, a blunt syringe to flush it, and Dermabond to seal it, so I came home and ordered a generic cyanoactylate (like Dermabond) with which to stock my home medicine cabinet.


If only each of us would behave always as we do in our best moments! I suppose that is why we are forever working out our salvation.

We missed family dinner but were home in time for our grocery store legal fireworks in the back yard.




Certain overtired tots would not stop crying, so I took them inside to watch the fireworks from their upstairs bedroom window.



6. Sources of Modest Clothing

I was updating my blog post about Sources of Modest Clothing with this Nee See's Dresses (so great for teenagers! and more inexpensive than many I see!) when I realized I should publish the whole blog page anew.

See my page here: https://luke2-14.blogspot.com/2019/07/sources-of-modest-clothing-updated.html

Also, I added an oldy but a goodie: "Why Must Catholic Women Be Modest When Swimming?"


7. Bonus Reading


"Against my Will, How I Became a Homeschool Mom" by Hifalutin Homeschooer.


For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Nebraska: Summer 2019

Nebraska: Day 1

On Friday last, I flew to Nebraska with Mary (10) and David (22 months) to attend the Celebration of Life of my grandmother L---- who passed away in April.




The 7:30 a.m. flight went very smoothly, with David napping in my arms the first two of three hours.

Girls' Movie on the plane: "Pollyanna"


When we arrived in Nebraska, we stopped by to visit my grandfather and his wife and to stretch our legs, running around with their dog Olie in their back yard. While in town, we got to visit the other local family and much family who had flown in for the event.

We then went to my aunt and uncle's home to help ready the house for the Celebration of Life and enjoy a delicious pizza dinner together.

We were tucked into our hotel and David was asleep with not one tear in his hotel-provided Pak N Play by 6:00 p.m. local time.

Girls' movie on Night 1: "Annie" with Kathy Bates

Nebraska Day 2

Being early risers and on East Coast time no less, David was up around 4:00 a.m. for the day. Hotel breakfast wouldn't start for three-and-a-half hours, so on both Saturday and Sunday morning, mary and I went to the Hi-Way Diner, open 24/7, for breakfast.



"Hi, Daddy!"

We still had time to pass before it was civilized to call on people, so we drove over to Pioneers Park and play at its playground. Unfortunately, we could not get in to see the herd of bison because the gates to that portion do not open until the 'late' hour of 8:30 a.m.







We went with family to visit Grandpa and C----, where Mary played them her current violin concerto.



After a nap at the hotel, it was time to head to my aunt and uncle's home for the Celebration of Life.




Aunt A----, Aunt E----, Katherine, David, Mary







Cousin E---- and David




Mary was asked to prepare music to play at the event: She played "Beautiful Dreamer" on piano and "Danny Boy" on violin, both received well.


The Celebration of Life was beautiful and helpful for those in attendance to experience our emotions together. Afterward, we were quite spent and fatigued, so tucked into the hotel, got baby to bed, and ate leftover desserts in lieu of dinner.

Girls' movie on Night 2: "Jo's Boys"

Nebraska Day 3

After our diner breakfast on Sunday morning, we headed to Mass at the FSSP parish in town.


I always appreciate in any FSSP parish I attend, the directions for using clear, pragmatic language to define just what is appropriate clothing in a Catholic Mass. How is someone new to know otherwise?



We enjoyed another visit to Grandpa's again . . .

Cousins L--- and David

. . . before nap time at the hotel!


Then I met up with one aunt and three kids as well as an aunt and uncle at Morrill Hall--a wonderful, old natural history museum.









A display of parasites! Ew!

Mary and I then walked around the Historic Haymarket District and bought souvenirs for the kids at home before calling it a night.

Girls' Movie on Night 3: "National Velvet"

Nebraska: Day 4

On our last morning, we enjoyed an early 7:30 a.m. visit with the grandparents before we had to drive to the airport.


Grandpa with me and two great-grandchildren
I was so glad to be able to get away for four days to see family and to honor L----. It's no small thing to arrange for a mother of six and I am thankful to Chris for holding down the fort and letting me come home to a house cleaned and laundry completed!