"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm."
"Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey."
~ Papa Benedict XVI

Saturday, January 29

PaperBack Swap

Trying something new here - Today we are in Greensboro participating in the NC FLL State Tournament so i thought i would try to pre-write and schedule this post to be posted today even though i'm not here! ...i am guessing it will work....

Now, on to the post!

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Are you at all familiar with this?  Its quite interesting actually....

You sign up and then post books you are willing to give away.  You pay for shipping, which seems to run at most about $3.00 per book (and that includes any fees if you decide to print with the postage on the address label.)  Anyway, once you start giving away books and they are marked sent (or received depending on how you do the postage) you earn credits.  One for each book sent (starting with your first one.)

You then use those credits to request books you want from other members.  And they send you the book - no charge to you!  Gosh, this has been great.  While there are many books i would love that people don't seem to want to let go of (and you'll find them on my wish list,) there are times when i will be pleasantly surprised.

Now don't go laughing when you see my list of books to send out - its called "i need to get away, even if only in my mind!" : )  Ok so you caught me - i read Christian, Historical Romance Novels .... Maybe one day i will write one.....

But my point is - from time to time i find some great books... whether for me, for Cory, for the kids, or school. And i can turn around and send back out the ones i am done with, but we are welcome to keep any we want as well.

We just recently received a Pop-up book about Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Now i am fairly well on top of the catholic children's book scene and this was one we have never seen before by Francisco Serrano and Antonio Valeriano

And it was free.  Now I must say, sometimes it seems like you are paying a lot in mailing out books to other people but when you look at the numbers its really not that bad.  I pay about $3 per book to send it, the books i read for fun run between $7 and $15.  If i had bought it new i am saving anywhere from $4 - $11 per book....they gauge your savings by an across the board used book price but most books i get have only had one owner.

I have placed a button on the right side here on my blog - it shows books on my wish list.  If you click through that or the button here on this post and then you sign up i will get credit for the referral so please take the time to go that route if you want to be nice to me today. :  )

Either way, i hope you can use this site as its like heading into a gigantic bookstore - and who wouldn't enjoy that? 
Just keep in mind there are all kinds of books; oh so many i personally would never read... So just a quick warning concerning parental 'control' of the whole situation... I do not let the kids go to the site, i do any posting and requesting for them as needed.  I also have adjusted my home page preferences to not show many types of books....but they still show up in all the other lists on the site. 

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 27


First I would like to welcome Kaylie and blessingsofmany to our blog!  Its so good to meet you!  I hope we can occassionally add a little to your day whether a smile or helpful fact.  Thank you for joining us! ...And - i never did welcome my dear friends Jen, Angela, Judy and Katie (who i met online through Jude's site), welcome to you too - its so nice to come here and see your lovely faces (some i just have to picture in my mind but still - lovely all the same. : ) )

This morning i have been thinking a lot about practicing.  With the older kids working everyday this week on their FIRST Lego League stuff to prepare for the State tournament it is at the forefront of my mind.  We have always taught our kids that not everything is easy in life and that you have to practice to get better, practice to get where you want to be in whatever your endeavour is.  And it does my heart good to see them do that, many times on their own.  But there are those moments too, when they drive me crazy, cause they completely forget.

Its really interesting to see which kind of things have them remembering to keep trying and which things do not.  Outdoor activities like riding a bike and climbing a tree keep them continually striving to do better, do fancier tricks (yikes!,) etc.  But activities like video games (argh!) can be one or the other.  I wonder if it is the competitiveness of the activity?  Though that may not even be right as those who get extremely frustrated about not doing well are just frustrated at themselves more than anything else. Its an interesting phenomenon in this house really.  Then, maybe, its that we limit their computer/video game time so much and not their other activities (as it should be) that they are not getting the same amount of time to keep practicing until you get it right.  I really don't think adding more game time is the answer.  Maybe taking more away? :  )

Our perfectionist is the worst, and he of course gets upset with almost anything he does not do well the first time (kinda like his mom - huh, who would have guessed!) Its hard to watch your child get so upset when you know its just a need to practice.  What i love about our kids though (well, there are many things but...) is that all of them (even the perfectionists in the crowd) do continue to try.  It saddens my heart to see so many kids these days just give up.  To hear them say, "i can't do it"  and then they walk away.  I have been known to stop a child and tell them " you know, you can do it, you just have to practice.  We tell our kids this same thing.  They were once where you are (or they are now) and we tell them keep trying.  It may not be easy but its worth working at if you want to do it well."  Ok, so some kids look at m,e say ok, and walk away, but some say ok, and i find out later they have tried again, and accomplished what they thought they could not do.  That is what we need to strive for with our children...all children really.  Teaching the need to try, to practice, to look at something and say, "i can do this if i really want to."

Monday, January 24

Guest Writer!

I am B, today's guest writer. I am part of a FIRST Lego League team. FLL is an worldwide challenge for kids ages 9-14 created by FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FLL is very fun. I love building with Legos and designing robots, so the main challenge part is perfect for me. We also do a themed Find-a-problem-and-solve project. This year the theme is Biomedical engineering, and my team designed a portable oxygen concentrator for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a disease that weakens the lungs. My team had to do a qualifying regional tournament, and we placed 2nd in robot design, a qualifying position. Our state tournament is this Saturday, and I hope we do well.

Taking a break - State Qualifier for North Carolina

Ready to go! - State Qualifier for North Carolina

Settin' up - Lansdale Tune-up, Lansdale, PA

Mallow Man

We had fun!

Friday, January 21

The Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia

Our Lady of Altagracia is the Patroness of the Dominican Republic.  Today is a national holiday for them. 

The Dominicans see the image as exemplifying Our Lady watching over the island and the growth of Christianity there. The feast day is marked by services, all-night vigils, singing, dancing, and festivals in many of the towns.

The painting here is a primitive work of the Spanish school, painted c.1500. The Spanish brothers Alfonso and Antonio Trejo, two of the first European settlers on Santo Domingo, brought the portrait to the island some time prior to 1502, and eventually donated it to the parish church at Higuey.

Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked him to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend's house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner. An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bindle, gave it to the merchant, and said, "This is what you are looking for." It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside. They finally returned it to the church. (from Patron Saint Index)

It seems the feast day is associated with oranges.  I have been unable to find any information on that other than the children's book A Gift of Gracias.  The author grew up in the Dominican Republic hearing stories about Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Altagracia, and from those stories and traditions she wrote this beautiful story.  It is well worth having on hand.

You can find several ideas online to help plan your feast day celebration - one excellent place to start is Catholic Icing.

Also, here is a Novena to Honor Our Lady of Altagracia.  It was translated from Spanish by a mom on the 4Real Forum. It's a beautiful prayer for families.

Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Altagracia

Preparatory Prayer

O Dear Mother, Most Sweet Virgin of Altagracia our Patroness! Look at us here, prostrated in your presence wishing to offer you this novena in testimony of our love, and in thanksgiving for the innumerable favors we have received from your hands. You are our Advocate and, like beggars, we come to present our needs to you. You are our Teacher, and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all the love of our hearts. Receive Dearest Mother, our praise and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.


1. - O Sweetest Mother of Altagracia, pure and immaculate since your conception! We beg you to bless our children, preserving their innocence and increasing their love for purity.

(Hail Mary…)

2.- O Sweetest Mother of Altagracia, Admirable Mother, who in your little house of Nazareth, served as a model for Christian mothers and wives. We ask you to bless our homes so that the sanctity and holiness of marriage will flourish in them.

(Hail Mary…)

3. O Sweetest Mother of Altagracia, you who had the joy of receiving in your arms the body of your Most Holy Son who died on the cross for us, we beg you to come to our aid at the hour of our death, so that by dying with the name of Jesus on our lips and hearts, we can fly to the glory of your maternal arms.

Final Prayer

Most Holy Virgin of Altagracia, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for the continuous blessings your pour down on us. From your hands and from your maternal heart we receive, each day, the sustenance given to us by our Heavenly Father. You are our defender when we are in danger, our aid when we are in need and our hope in the sacrifices proper of our Christian life. Through your Immaculate Heart we want to sing a song of thanksgiving to God for all the blessings he has given us. We promise you, O Mother, gratitude and fidelity. You will reign forever in our homes and our town (our forum?) where we will venerate you as our Lady and Mother by growing in all your virtues. Make us worthy of being called your daughters so that serving God and you on this world, we will obtain the highest grace you bring to us: a holy death that will open to us the gates of heaven. Amen.

Enjoy the day! 
Our Lady of Altagracia, Pray for us!

Monday, January 17

Give Away!

I am so excited about this!! Well, yes, i always love giving things away, but this is a doozy!

Karen Tylerowner of Worldwide Montessori Online, is generously allowing me to give not one, but TWO of my readers a free course and training manuals!

You'll receive 12 Montessori-based Albums/Manuals filled with student presentations/lessons for the 2-6 year old child. They include:

Practical Life
Physical Science

The course starts March 1st and i'll be there with you!  You can find more information about her class here.

"Upon graduation, you will receive a certificate stating that you have completed a pre-primary training course (2-6 years old) by World Wide Montessori On-line and signed by Karen Tyler, AMS.

This course will give you the knowledge you need as well as the albums for curriculum needed to teach the Montessori Method. This course does not take the place of a course taught at a certified Montessori teacher training school." Oh, but it is well worth it!  And you can't get any better then free now can you?  :  )

I took a quarter (3 months) of Karen's course a long while ago and Karen's class is great.  I love the albums (manuals) as they are very detailed and easy to use. Even if you do nothing other than use the albums (though i would hope you'd participate in class as well!!!!) you will be well equipped to bring Montessori home.

So how do you enter??? Gosh, i am so excited!!! Can you tell? : )

OK - there are 5 ways you can enter:

1. Leave a comment here about what your looking forward to the most about the class, if you win.

2. Blog about my give away, including a link to my site, and leave a comment here with a link to your post.

3. Place my blog button on your blog and comment here, with a link, that you did.

4. Sign up to follow my blog and then leave me a comment here that you did so. (if you already do just leave me a comment stating so!)

5. Email your loops, friends, whomever! and let them know about my give away!  Leave me a comment here that you did so. - i'm trusting you on this one! ; )

You can enter starting today ... we'll end things Monday, February 14th.  That will give me time to get  your information to Karen and for you to contact her as well.

Oh, and i'll move this post to a tab at the top so its easy to find ....i think i'll put all my give aways there so check it at least once a month!

Good Luck!!!

Sunday, January 16

Rosary Novena for the Protection of the Unborn

Please join us today in starting a Rosary Novena for the Protection of the Unborn.

Another way to continue your prayers for these little ones is to Spiritually Adopt one of these sweet wee ones....

Your children can make a bookmark with a picture and the following prayer:

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to save the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted, and who is in danger of abortion.
Mary, our Mother in Heaven, pray for us, and especially for your little ones in danger of abortion! Amen.

A separate card could be made for each member of your family. 
Be sure to include the following information on your cards:
I spiritually adopted baby ______________________ today. 
He/She will be born ____________________.

While we will never know these children personally, they will forever benefit from our prayers.

Friday, January 14

Nine Babies....

are only the beginning.

I was over at Catholic Icing as Lacy just put up a new post.  Its about Pro-life activities for children.  She has some great signs her family made last year and a couple other beautiful activities.  The one that i liked the most you can find here at Paper Dali.

Isn't it beautiful! 

You print out the Blessed Mother and the nine babies.  Then you pray a novena for the protection of the unborn - each day you say a rosary for all unborn babies.  After you say the rosary you color a baby and tape/glue him into Mary's arms.

Start now just in time for the March for Life on January 24th!

What a great activity for families to participate in if they cannot attend the March for Life in D.C.

Please join us starting this Sunday, January 16th, as we say a 9 day Rosary Novena for the Protection of the Unborn.

Thursday, January 13

What do you do with the little ones when the older ones are doing school?

This is a question i have gotten a lot over the years.  Now, after homeschooling for almost 12 years, i can honestly say i finally figured it out! : ) 

Early on the little ones would ask for their own school.  We tried left over workbooks, coloring books, paper and stickers ...the list goes on and on.  But what i have found with all those things is that they are done quickly and/or they need or want your help with them constantly.  Now, there is plenty of time for each child, but if you are teaching one to read, preparing one for a sacrament, and trying to figure out why another is not doing well in one of their subjects, sitting down for 2 hours with the toddler/preschooler is  not a doable option.  So you want to know the answer?

One word - Montessori...

Ok, before you start shaking your head, and telling me its too much work, too much stuff, blah, blah, blah, let me explain.  Really, Montessori at home is the absolute ideal solution to this question.  Your toddlers and preschoolers deserve just as much prep time from you as the others do (all relevant to age and grade of course.)  And many things can be done very simply and inexpensively....The most important thing here though is that they LOVE doing the work, they can do things on their own after you present it to them, and they will do the activities for a good long while.

The other night i finished making color cards for Cat.  She was still up with us so we did them for about 15 minutes before i told her we needed to stop.  It was just matching colors.  Nothing elaborate. 
I did find that she has a hard time separating and setting out the 1st set of card so I am going to make a single sheet that she just puts out and then matches the individual cards to.

This morning i made sequence color cards but they are so small that it was hard for her to go back and forth and not lose her spot.  So i am making larger cards (with less colors to start with) later today.  But either way - she loves them!  And she was very excited to show her Daddy and her brothers and sister.  And she can do it all by herself  (well, she can once i get things redone - my fault, not hers or the materials.) 

When we were in our own place i had 2 shelves just for Bear that held several activities and books to read that he could do alone.  Stringing large beads and sorting frogs and numbers to name a couple.  Cat also has a spooning tray where she moves pompoms from one bowl to another.  Sometimes she sorts them by color (black and red). 
My hope is that i can set out and present something new each week, at the least, that will inspire her to work alone, along side her older siblings. 

But also, i should mention, i am working to incorporate more Montessori style learning for all the kids into the school day.  For the older ones  we will have a theme each week (probably based on Bear's science) that i will set a shelf up for.  Then they can work on things as they finish up or take a break from their other work.  The first week is  the Universe - Stars and Constellations.  We have a wonderful telescope i would like for them to use more (especially since its still gets dark early.) Knowing how it works and the different parts of it are an important part of using it! This along with learning a few constellations and more will be a fun endeavor for us all.

We are going to learn together a few things we have all missed but would like to know more about.

I encourage you to take some time and look into making a few baskets or trays of activities for your little ones.  There is a large wealth of information concerning using Montessori at home so please do not get too overwhelmed.  Start very simply with one or two activities and work your way in.

I plan to write more about this as our journey begins again with this wonderful learning method.  Its one of those things that i keep going back to and continue, every time, to see benefits abound from.  Its well worth your time as a parent and teacher. 

Wednesday, January 12

Eclectic Homeschooling

I gave myself a good laugh yesterday while looking back at what all we have done for school.  People always ask "what curriculum do you use?" and i have always replied "well, we're a bit eclectic." ....."OOOOOh....."
But now, what does that mean really?  I think this year is really an eclectic year which is what caused me to laugh.  We usually use a jumping off curriculum of sorts (at least we have many of our homeschooling years) and then i change things and adjust things and voila! Eclectic.  But these past two years have been very different in that my husband was laid off in Dec of 2008 and we just had no money for the 2009-2010 school year.  That year i basically scoured my parents bookshelves (they homeschool too) and was rewarded with all that my mom has kept on hand.  Even though the youngest is now 15 she still has something from just about every grade.  Most was religion and art but there were other gems in there as well. Then i started borrowing...from her friends and from my friends, it was quite a year.  Very eclectic.  But then we hit this year.

2010 found us with some savings to purchase books and actually enroll our 9th grader in OLV (Our Lady of Victory homeschool) - which by the way, for high school, we love!  We started off using a lot of their curriculum for the younger ones  but as the year has progressed things have changed. 

The 6th grader is using some OLV, some Kolbe, some other. 

The 4th grader is using some OLV, some Kolbe, some CHC, some other. 

The Kindergartner is now using what i have found works best for that grade and age - it just never changes does it?   Why do we continually wonder if there is something better?  He is using - in a workbox style - Little Angel Readers, Math -U-See (which is our newest "everyone in our house uses it" program,) Montessori, and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, plus some small science and history books. 

And then there is the 2 year old....my "Why?" girl.  She has (due to space and limited budget) a few Montessori trays. 
This year everyone is doing something different.  There is no real base curriculum - you might say OLV but really its not, then there is no 'the same' in how things are taught.... We are eclectic within our eclecticness - kinda goofy.

But that is one of the great things about homeschooling.  You can cater to the child ...and yes, each child is different.  There are some things that one kids can use and another cannot.  But there are exceptions... Little Angel Readers has taught all three older kids to read - we love this program.  Bear is using it now and he is the first one i have thought to add some outside influence to (the Montessori movable alphabet)

Little Angel Readers and workbooks by themselves are great, but if you need more hands on activities the teacher's manual is full of activities and ideas.  Some people feel you have to do it all, i am here to tell you no you don't! It can be very overwhelming if you think you need to do all that is in the teacher's manual, use just what you need! 

Our other 'everyone uses' program is Math -U-See.  We have tried numerous math programs (as we had with reading programs!) and we have finally found a winner.  Bear uses the number blocks, but the older kids do not.  They just watch the lesson video (a minute or so) and then do a lesson a week which includes practice pages, systematic reviews, and test. The kids all love it!  We range from the Primer (which Bear has basically finished!) to Geometry.  They all now love doing math!

I'm sure you have heard these things before from me but i felt like saying it again!  : )

Tuesday, January 11

A 5 year old Hobbit?

Who else calls meals first eating, second eating, etc?   : )

Sunday, January 9


Good morning! (or afternoon?...or evening!) 

I just wanted to take a few moments to let you know i am adding to our blog!  If you look above this post you will notice that we now have what should be tabs but with this particular design are just words -  Home and Family Service Projects.  Well, home is obvious - you'll end up back here of course, but the other tab will take you to a seperate, permanent page here on our blog.

My hope is to periodically update and just generally add to this and a few other (in the works) pages.  Please check them occassionally but, at the very least, once.

Also, i know my time on here is hit or miss as some days i may think of multiple things to write about but then in the end i get too tired, or forget, or just end up enjoying my family and so there can be nothing for days.  If there is ever anything you'd like to know about, anything you'd like me to write about, please feel free to ask! Either leave a comment here on the blog or email me.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, January 7

"Shhhhhh CurrClick has a secret..."

Here is a great starting point for some free school stuff.


But even better, if you take the time you can find more free stuff for your student-kiddos if you look under free stuff (go figure!)  Lapbooks, notebook pages, copy work ...take a look!

CurrClick's Winter Whisper Sale ends January 19th...pass it on!

Wednesday, January 5

Quiet Time

"Mom, when do we get off our beds?"
"no, 2:00"
"What does that look like?"
"Two, Oh, Oh"
"oh....can i take that clock in so i can watch every minute?"
: )
If he's watching every minute he won't be strolling out here asking the time, right?! 
One can only hope! ; )

Tuesday, January 4

Catching up ....

I know... i really need to get on here more often and post.  Trust me, i think of things all the time to write about.  There is so much to tell you!  But alas, for now, we will again just share some pictures and a little commentary ...unless i decide to elaborate.

This first picture is of the kids with the Jared boxes they assembled for the ER at Western Wake Medical Center.  They are currently waiting for crayons before they can be delivered.
The Jared Box Project  began in State College at the catholic elementary school a few of my siblings attended.  Please check out the website, this is a great project for children of any age to participate in.

These next few photos are from Christmas Eve.  Every year the Grahams host a Christmas Eve dinner...for the past 37 years or so.....The Dunphys have attended for almost that long.

This is Uncle Kevin and our cousin, Brandon.
Miss Beth (sitting on the top step with her back to the camera) has taken over the handing out of Christmas gifts for the kids. When Ben was little we lived in the area and attended dinner one year, back then Santa Claus had been know to stop in and hand out gifts.  Beth is the youngest of the Graham children and has a 9 year old son, Chase (you can see him there on the right in the green shirt.)  Its amazing to see so many families still attending, now three generations worth of family.  But now too, there are the newer set of neighbors and friends to round out the group.
Here is Memaw and Grandpa's tree after St. Nicholas arrived but before the kids started opening things!
Our stockings....all 11 of them!  We had not only us and Memaw and Grandpa, but also Uncle Brian and his friend Samantha here to celebrate.  Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kara, and Brandon arrived around 10am to join the fun!
Ah, keeping Memaw busy while Grandpa wrapped a few more things for her!  That's Uncle Brian and Samantha with her.
We ended up with 7 inches of snow the Sunday after Christmas.  The kids headed out with various adults to sled across the street in the neighbor's yard and build snowmen.  Oh!  And to make a few snow angels!  Our snow angels are pictured here!  : )

The snowmen!
I learned to crochet!  Well, i can do a double crochet stitch, a slip stitch, and a chain.... i must confess.  i do not even know how to do a single crochet stitch yet! :  )
But, despite my lacking abilities i tried my hand at an easy hat pattern.  Memaw makes (both knitted and crocheted) hats for preemie babies.  This picture shows me about half way through.  It turned out great! ...unfortunately there are a few new baby dolls in the house who have requested apparel (yes, they really do need some clothing!!!) and one now owns a pretty pink and white crocheted cap and scarf ...yes, i am a fool.  But i can get one hat and one scarf out of a the yarn i used so hat and scarf set #2 is in the works now. THEN i will be working on hats to send to the dear little ones. 
Here are a couple of cuties!
And ...well.... i have no clue as to what they are all looking at!  Maybe one of Memaw's new computer games? Who knows!
These next pictures are here to prove miracles do happen....Holy Smokes! 
While there is some extra bedding on a few of the beds they all do have covers pulled and neatly smoothed and well...you can actually see the floor!!!!!

Yesterday was Daddy's first day at his new, full-time, career job...after being laid-off 2 years ago.  He is still working his Sam's Club job, only now its not overnight but after work and on the weekend for about 20 hours or so.   Anyway....
Cat made cookie (with help from mom) to celebrate Daddy's first day. Here she is passing out her treats....Dad had to wait until today to get his!