Bella got a letter from a pen pal and sat down immediately to write a response. She dictated to me, I transcribed what she wanted to write, and then she copied it out.
We spent the second half of dinner preparing Sophie for her first confession. We walked through what she has to do and say several times. Then Dom read an examination of conscience for children to her. She practiced her act of contrition.
Bella read Dom three pages out of Little House in the Big Woods.
Bella and I chanted part of evening prayer while I shampooed her hair.
Sophie made her first confession. It was really very simple and beautiful. Snow had been falling since late last night so Dom had to shovel the car out before we could go to Mass. Then we came home and had some donuts and I wrote out the act of contrition for Sophie on a paper in case she got stuck. Dom wanted to clear the driveway with the snowblower while we were out, so we took Lucy with us to church. Father Matt, who Sophie had chosen to hear her confession, met us outside the church and walked us in, unlocking the door for us. It was a little strange to know we were the only ones there. He and Sophie went to the confessional and Lucy and I knelt to pray for a minute and then wandered around looking at the stations of the cross. Then Sophie came out and I chatted with Father, until Sophie panicked because she couldn’t remember the Our Father. So I went to help her say it and Father joined in and so did Lucy. We all adore Father Matt, he’s so full of joy, joyful at being a priest and on fire with love of God and love of the sacraments. The whole experience was just perfect. He chatted and joked with the girls a little bit and walked us out, saying how much he misses seeing us at the family Mass.
We came home and made cupcakes to celebrate. Sophie helped measure and mix. And so did Ben, a little bit.
Bella and I spent a long time watching all the birds come to the feeder: male and female cardinals, juncos, house sparrows, a stripy sparrow we thought might be a song sparrow, a wren, tufted titmice, a downy woodpecker. Also I saw a nuthatch on the tree.
Bella decided she wanted to make a word list and so copied a bunch of words from cookbooks and other sources.
We watched a video about the dies irae and ut-re-mi and then as we made and ate dinner Dom played a bunch of different versions of the Dies Irae and then Mozart’s Requiem.
Bedtime stories, Charlotte in Paris and the book about Vivaldi. Maybe we need a book about Mozart.
Another snow day! I’m noticing that when Dom stays home from work, even if he’s working from home, it throws us all off, perhaps me most of all. I have a hard time getting into my groove when he’s around. Sophie did sit down and do her math and copy work and then did she read me a book? I know she got one and then said she’d already read it and went to get another one and then I think she was derailed and went out to play in the snow instead. Or if she did read to me, I’ve forgotten. Wait, she did bring something and read it to me, but I was distracted. What was it? Oh yeah! Big Red Barn. So then she did do her basic work and went out to play.
Bella complained she was tired and simply would not focus. I finally wrote down math answers for her so all she had to do was think of the answers. Then she decided to copy out a poem from the Brambly Hedge book. I wrote it out for her on lined paper, skipping lines so she could copy underneath, but she wandered out into the snow with Sophie before actually doing the copy work. She did eventually copy out the first line, having to be called back twice to finish the six words. She read Dom a couple of sentences from The Long Winter and we called that her reading for the day.
Lucy took a micro nap, waking up as soon as I tried to slip out the door. So all the read aloud I accomplished today was the final chapter of Little House in Brookfield and Johnny Townmouse.
Not terrible, I suppose, in that both girls did manage to get through our bare minimum requirements. I think it’s time to start expanding what the bare minimum requirement is. I’d like to add something else, but I’m not really sure what the next step is. Daily poetry recitation? Spelling? Phonics? Latin? Science?
Bedtime story: Dom read more of the Vivaldi book. I think he might have finished it.
Another snow day! Dom worked from home.
Sophie did a page of math and a page of copy work, the second half of the list of 12 apostles. I suppose I should have her memorize them. Heck, I should memorize them. I always forget someone. She read me all of Thunder Cake and only needed help on maybe half a dozen words. She’s getting amazingly fluent in her reading. I also heard her reading to Ben and Anthony and Lucy this afternoon.
Bella copied the next line from her Brambly Hedge poem and did a page of math. She did not read to me.
The three big kids went out to play in the snow. We watched more birds at the feeder.
I got Bella set up on Khan Academy on the iPad and she did a bunch of math, probably more math than she has in the past couple of weeks. It was also really good for making her practice her reading for the directions and the word problems. She continued a bit while I put Lucy down for a nap, Sophie tried her help her when she got stuck reading the directions and she took it to Dom twice. Once because Sophie also didn’t know what P.E. stood for. Bella said she watched two videos when she got stuck as well. I think she liked it and I hope she’ll continue to use it. It would be nice for her to do more independent work. I think not having to write answers is huge for her.
Afternoon stories. First chapter of Little Town at the Crossroads. Everyone liked the 4th of July scene and Bella recognized the Declaration of Independence. A chapter of The Mitchells. A weird Indian version of Aladdin from an Indian Fairy Tales book that really seemed poorly written, weird textual incontinuities. Like where did the poor boy get a fancy signet ring? Then I read the second half of a book about the Huron Indians to Bella. She really likes reading that sort of stuff. Our library has a whole series of books about different tribes and I bet she’d be happy having me read her the whole series. She is so curious and eager.
Bella was pondering aloud, “Man is a giddy thing…. that’s from Much Ado about Nothing!” I recognized what she was doing: making a connection between the Mumford and Sons song and the Shakespeare play. So I played the song and let her see that the opening lines, “Sigh no more,” is also from the song in the play. So we listened to the whole album and she again delighted in the references to Odysseus in The Cave.
Bedtime stories: I fell asleep reading Emily by Michael Bedard, which is a gorgeous book. Oh well.
Ben woke up several times in the night with nightmares. I had stayed up too late to begin with so got very little sleep. With more snow storms predicted on their way, I felt an urgent need to get to the grocery store today. (Of course it turned out that the snow was here a day early, it fell all day today.) So we skipped morning school time altogether in favor of getting the shopping done.
When we came home Bella decided to make her own craft project, folding paper roses to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Afternoon stories: Mitchells, Little Town at the Crossroads, Plum Creek, St Thomas More. The end of Emily.
I let the kids play on the ipads for a while. There is a mix of educational and just for fun games. I saw math games and phonics games and spelling games and art games come out. Sophie reported that she played a math game, “because I didn’t do any math this morning.” It’s nice to see her so conscientious about her learning.
Bella discovered the music section of the Khan Academy app and watched all the videos about notes and rhythm and began to watch the videos about Beethoven’s 5th. She was very excited to learn more about music, she told me. She even watched some of the videos more than once so she could understand the concepts better. She is such a self-started when she gets it in mind that she wants to learn about a topic, I can see her really thriving with that kind of self-directed, self-paced learning.
Sophie began with copywork, her piece today was the beginning of Psalm 100. Then a page of Saxon math. And then read me a book about ducklings.
Bella began by reading me various verses from my Bible. Then she copied out a couple of lines from one of the verses she’d found, John 17:5, that I copied out for her. Then after quite a few distractions, she finally did a page of Miquon math.
We read today’s lectionary readings. Somehow we also got talking about how we know that Jesus really died and rose. I talked about the textual evidence, not only the evangelists but other early witnesses and Josephus. Talked about whether the apostles and other early Christians would have been willing to die for what they knew was a lie.
Sophie examined my Shakespeare mug and we wondered where the quotation came from “To me, fair friend, you never can be old,” and for the first time looked it up. I’ve owned that mug for almost twenty years and never looked it up before. Well, at least not that I can remember. Perhaps I did ages ago and have forgotten. Anyway, we read and discussed the poem briefly.
We did a short phonics lesson out of The Ordinary Parents Guide.
The kids spent some time playing on the iPads while I put Lucy down. Bella did more Khan academy classical music videos and Sophie, Ben and Anthony did some Hooked on Phonics.
Afternoon stories: the Mitchells, Little Town at the Crossroads, the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible story book, Plum Creek, St Thomas More, and the Faith and Life chapter on penance, about which we had a very good discussion.
After stories, the children wanted to watch a video. Poor Lucy was the single vote for Merry Wives of Windsor. Everyone else wanted Blue Planet. It was a little odd to be consoling a sobbing two year old who was heartbroken at not getting to watch Shakespeare.
Evening Prayer had two Psalms that are confession psalms to me, they lined up nicely with our very good discussion on penance.
Bedtime story: Three Little Pilgrims.
First thing after breakfast Bella decided to make all the beds. She straightened the covers on my bed, did Lucy’s, both boys’ and hers and Sophie’s too. Where this mania for bed making came from, I’m not sure. Alas, it seemed to supplement her mania for school work. I finally got her to finish a page of copy work and she did the three or four remaining math problems on a page she got stuck on the other day.
Sophie sat down and did two pages of copywork and most of a page of her Saxon.
Then while I was changing Lucy’s diaper I discerned what seemed clear signs of a yeast infection. So I called the pediatrician, who said they could see her right away. Which meant a whirlwind of getting five kids into coats and boots as well as rounding up the library books because I’d originally planned to return them today and I figured we could swing by after the doctor visit.
At the doctor’s Bella read a book to herself. I suppose that counts as reading, right?
I was right about the yeast infection so then we stopped by the pharmacy. Then tried to stop by the library, but it was closed because of the weather, the notice said. I was hesitant to even drop my books in the book return because it was swathed in yellow caution tape. I decided to not drop the book and we came on home.
After lunch I set the kids up on the iPads while I put Lucy down. Bella did a bit of Khan Academy math and then watched a couple of the classical videos, Dvorak, I think. Sophie and Ben and Anthony did some math and phonics games.
Then we had story time. Little Town at the Crossroads, The final chapter of The Mitchells, Plum Creek— two chapters because the first one was so short. Then St Thomas More, which led to me looking up the Holbein portrait of the More family and then more Holbein portraits. So that was a nice impromptu art history lesson. I couldn’t find Story of the World, so we read a chapter from People in History, about Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire.
Bedtime story: Mother Goose, lots of Mother Goose while I brushed and braided the girls’ hair, which hadn’t been done in a couple of days and badly needed to be accomplished.
Bella and Sophie pretended to be playing a game in their room, coming out occasionally to wander about the house and noisily banter in character. Turns out it was all an elaborate cover because they were making us Valentines.
Lucy amazed me by emptying the dryer. I knew previously that she could correctly identify all the clothes. Now she’s ready to put them away without me.
We went to evening Mass and then out for dinner because the snow is supposed to be bad in the morning with blizzard conditions.