Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Calendars

Calendar by scrappystinkyinkymess

2016 is off to a slooooow start.
We had recently gone on an extended holiday and had just gotten back.
The kids' body clocks are still trying to get back to normal.
I'm just playing catch up.

So yeah, I forgot to buy a desk flip calendar. You read that right, Desk Flip.
Apparently, searching for something Desk Top will just lead you
to computer desktop images. Many thanks to MaryAnne and Kristen
for our 2016 calendar.

If you're still here, thank you :)

p.s. Check out scrappystinkyinkymess if you're into book folding.
Wow! So that's how it's done!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sensory Bin: Red

Sensory Bin: Red
Look P,
- a red helicopter,
- a red A
- a red wrench and a red bolt
- a red cog
- red "Legos"
So P, what color is this?

P enthusiastically replies (with the brightest eyes and the widest smiles):

Well, she is in a season of Pink after all!

What's wrong with me?

This is why I never really made sensory bins. M didn't like them. 
I'm guessing P is not interested in them either.

- because all red is probably not much fun 
- because she was in the mood for "developing her gross motor skills" 
(Baby R and I had to go to the bedroom. Tot P tagged along and had a 
grand time making a pillow mountain and jumping around)
- because she'd rather play with something else period. Yes, kids are 
like that.

Maybe this is what she sees?

 I'll give it a few more tries before I decide if sensory bins are a go or no go.
There are other fun ways for P to learn. We can always use other methods
to achieve the same desired learning outcome. None of them will involve a
written exam.

p.s. My apologies for the off shots. We're still in between cameras. Just
making do with what's here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Start Your Pre-K / Kindergarten Home Program

This post is here because I wanted to re-plan for P who's now 2 y.o.
I also have a few friends who're considering homeschooling their kids
who're in the Pre-K / Kindergarten years.

M has gone of to Year 1 at a regular school. He's adjusted quite well.
Of course there are still areas for improvement. But nothing out of
the ordinary for a 5y.o.

Let me start by saying you don't really need to do much. Maintain
a child-friendly home and your child will have plenty of opportunity
to learn and explore at his/her own pace.

Pam has a great post on this.

10 Things we focused on:
1) Love, being and doing good, and living our Catholic faith.
2) Learning good health habits.
3) Learning self care.
4) Reading books.
5) Doing practical math.
6) Learning other age-appropriate skills.
7) Watching educational videos.
8) Using assorted materials for learning: colouring books, paper,
print outs, blocks, puzzles, crayons, etc
9) Exploring personal interests.
10) Play play play.

It really was quite random and ordinary. In a way, I envy those who
have pinterest-worthy pictures. M didn't stay interested in something
long enough so we never had one particular curriculum / activity /
etc. Not enough for me to say that we had a theme. We really just
went along doing our thing - learning and growing as best as we could.

Game changers:
1) Keeping things consistent.
- We blocked off time in the morning just for homeschooling. We made
sure to do 30 minutes of reading plus a learning activity or two.
2) Planning.
- We referred to book lists, maintained a decent monthly "book basket",
always had interesting activities available, ensured that supplies were
adequate, reviewed what worked or not, etc.
- We did basic math in the beginning. We used Early Bird Kindergarten
Math books (Singapore Math) when M turned 4y.o.
3) Choosing a less tech lifestyle.
- We invested in toys so the kids had something to play with. Rotating
the toys was necessary because kids easily tire of a toy. Sharing toys
was always a requirement.
- We kept the t.v. off until it was late afternoon. No hours and hours
of mindless t.v. The kids had no choice but to do something.
4) Playgroup / Outdoor play.
- The children and I would go to playgroup twice a week, weather
permitting. It was a chance for us to go out. The playgroup had toys
and an outdoor playground so they were able to play in a different
- There are other children in the compound and all the kids just play
in the garden. Free weekends would include a trip to the playground.
5) Valuing happy memories.

Additional Resources for you:
- Mother Hubbards Cupboard
- ABC Jesus Loves Me
- DTLK Letter Crafts
- Twisty Noodle Printouts
- Catholic Letter Crafts
- Tot School

Is that all there is to it? Well yes and no. There's more that we'd like
to do. I'm sure we'll never get to doing it all. But as a whole, it's all
been good.

Click here for Book Lists. (future update)
Click here for Supplies List. (future update)
Click here for Organizing Tools. (future)

Are you a working mom? Check out How to Get Your Child Ready
for Kindergarten / Year 1 for a simplified home school program.

Photo Credit: Dennis S.

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Get Your Child Ready for Year 1

How to Get Ready for Year 1?

Recently, I've been asked this question by two different friends with
very different lives. I thought of posting my answers here in case
anyone else is wondering the same.

It serves as a good review for me too. We are starting over. P just
turned two. Tot School is back!


Si is a friend who works full time. Her hubby works with an early
morning shift while she works at night. This schedule allows for
at least one parent to look after the children. They have no helpers
nor family with them.

It is a busy life.

So what can a mom, with such a schedule, do to get a child ready for
Year 1?

Firstly, find out what your school expects of a child entering Year 1.
Some schools will have no expectations of the child. Other schools
have requirements for accepting students: the child already knows their
ABCs, can count 1-20, can write their name, etc.

It would be good to find out a year before your child starts school. The
earlier that you know, the more time that you have to prepare. Focus
on igniting a passion for learning. The skills will follow.

But what if the start of school is just around the corner? Or you're just
too busy managing everything that all you have is a few minutes a day
for "school work"?

My one thing would be: Read with your child.
Enjoy each other's company. Get lost in a good book together. Talk
about what's happening on the page. If time permits, create something.
These are precious years. Love love love. Focus on igniting a passion
for learning. The skills will follow.


My email to Si:

Sorry for the late email. I now reserve library books online so that
we can pick them up by next weekend. It takes around 1.5 weeks
for all books to arrive.

They say it's good to be reading 20 minutes daily with one's child.
That might be too much, you may want to start with 1-2 books
per day. To make it easy for you/your husband --- you can make
it a rule: 20-30 minute learning activity before "fun" tv :)

After a few weeks/months, your child will notice the "high
frequency words" and she can start reading those aloud. Example:
the, is, etc. She might also see phonics patterns on her own.
Example: cat, hat, mat, etc.

We started our daily reading at 2y.o. -- M started reading on his
own by 3y.o. (Other homeschoolers will tell you that it is normal
for kids to start reading at that age.) It could go faster/slower/same
with your child. Whatever the case, if you read to her daily, I'm
sure she will learn how to read. Even if she has started learning
how to read, you will still have to read to her to increase her
vocabulary. The older sibling can help by reading to her too.

Here are some books you might want to start with (all available
at the local library but most have to be ordered in advance as
they are owned by the other branches)
I. Author: Dr. Seuss / Theo LeSieg
(many good books by this author!)
- Hop on Pop
- Dr. Seuss ABC
- The Cat in the Hat
- Ten Apples Up on Top
- The Eye Book
II. Author: Eric Carle
(many good books by this author!)
- Brown Bear Brown Bear
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- From Head to Toe
- Pancakes Pancakes
III. Author: Stan Berenstain
(many good books by this author!)
- Inside Upside Outside Down
- Bears On Wheels
IV. Author: PD Eastman
- Go Dog Go
- The Best Nest
- Are You My Mother

Book Series:
(whatever's available in the library)
- I Can Read
- Step Into Reading
- etc

Youtube Videos:
(each channel has a playlist, just choose: ABCs, numbers,
time, etc)
- alphablocks (search in youtube)
- sesame street (search in youtube)

I. ABC Puzzle
(you can buy it from the dollar store) for her to play with
II. "Magnetic writing board"
III. "ABC Workbooks" / Notebook / Pencil / Crayon
IV. Books with characters / themes
Example: Dora, Disney Characters, etc
Example: Baking, Nature, etc
V. Letter crafts
- you don't need to do/complete all:
VI. On the Montessori order of teaching the alphabet
- this style makes it easier to combine letters that can form words:
How to Teach Your Child the Alphabet
VII. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book
- I've never tried this book. Some people have said it is good.
Something to consider. But personally, I find it too formal.

I rotate activities because children easily get bored. Let's say today
the ABC puzzle is out. The kids will be excited to use it for 1-2 weeks.
When they tire of it, that is kept and out comes the magnetic board, etc.
This also keeps things nice and neat.

Have fun!


Need a practical list of day to day activities that moms can easily do with
their child?

How about you, what suggestions do you have for a busy working mom
who wants to get their child ready for Year 1?

Photo Credit: Shardayy

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Traditions 2014

Christmas is just around the corner. Love love love it!

A few years ago I had one profound realization.
I was totally missing the whole point of Christmas!?!
It wasn't something I was consciously doing. 
It was just how things were.

Christmas is a time of caring and sharing.
Christmas is about family and friends.
Christmas is a time of merry making and good cheer.
Christmas is when I take a well deserved break.
Christmas is about Santa and the gifts on the sleigh.
Christmas is about the elf on the shelf.
And the list goes on and on

Don't get me wrong. Christmas is a season of celebration.
And, enjoy it we should!
Decorate your home
Cook up a feast 
Dress up for fun
Meet up with family and friends
Donate to others
But let's remember first and foremost,
Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ.

The 30th of November marks the 1st week of Advent.
Advent is a period of four weeks leading up to Christmas.
It's four weeks of preparing one's heart for the coming 
of the Lord.

I was hoping to have a nice and pretty Jesse Tree this year.
But let's not kid ourselves, I do not have time for extra prep work.
And to top it off our trusty printer seems to have conked out. Ugh!
I found a strip of craft paper and a broken toy part in the printer.
Hurray! Our printer still works!

Here are some simple Advent and Christmas activities for the family:

1. Scripture Reading
Sometime this year, the playgroup gave us a copy of the Jesus Storybook
Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible reads more like a book than a bible.
Our goal is to read one chapter a day starting on the 1st of December
and ending on Christmas day.
Jesus Storybook Bible Reading Plan
Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Calendar

2. The Christmas Novena
Sarah and Elizabeth are all excited for this Christmas novena.
I wanted to do something that will require me to pause daily.
At midnight.. In piercing cold are words that truly tug at my heart.
It chokes me up to think of any of my children being born
in such cruel and harsh conditions.
Poor baby Jesus. And heartbreaking for Mother Mary and St. Joseph.
Tug tug tug!
So yeah, maybe this will be a good novena for me to pray this year.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
* Pray 15x daily from the 30th of Nov until Christmas Day*

3. The O Antiphons
The O Antiphons are a seven day countdown to Christmas.
It celebrates seven Messianic titles of Jesus.
We pray it to remind ourselves and to invite the Lord to "Come"

4. Luke 2:1-20
Misty's home has this Advent tradition of reading Luke 2 daily.
Twice a day, the kids read Luke 2 with the intention of
memorizing the verses. In a few years, the kids will have
known the Birth of Jesus verses by heart. Sounds promising!

5. Christmas books and carols
So yeah, we've been reading Christmas themed books as
early as end October. I envy those moms who have enough
books for a proper Christmas book basket. Almost all our
Christmas books are borrowed from the library. We started
early as there is no way of knowing what will be available
in December.

Just about the same time, we started singing Christ-centered
Christmas Carols for bedtime.
M: Mama what does faithful mean?
Me: Why do you ask?
(All the while wondering why he was asking)
M: Because -- O come all ye faithful
Me: Oh, that means people who believe in God
(Whew, relieved that it did not involve anything "age appropriate")

6. Give up and Give more
Give up and Give more is an annual tradition in The Feast
that we attend. In a nutshell, sacrifice on a few simple
pleasures and donate the money to a worth cause.

At the barest level, give up some of your ME time and
pray more for/with someone who really needs it.

7. Go to Confession and Attend Mass
Attending mass is a basic thing for hubby and I. It's as basic as
eating and sleeping. It isn't something that I originally thought
of putting here. But maybe this is here for someone else???
Confession is something we try to do once a quarter.
I pray that availing of the sacraments is ingrained in the kids.
Something that is part and parcel of their lifelong relationship
with Christ. All with God's grace.

Some moms have wisely said that all you need are 1-3
Christmas traditions. Anything more is extra.

What traditions do you have in your family? What are your plans
for Christmas 2014? Til next time, stay blessed!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Novena of Surrender

The original text of the Novena of Surrender was taken from: 
Jesus, You take over! It is the prayer of Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo (servant 
of God) - written as though Jesus Himself is speaking to the reader. 

Beautiful words.

I chanced upon the Novena of Surrender by accident. Admittedly, 
there have been times when I've had need of prayers like these. 
Times when I've been tired, angry or frustrated. In such times
I try to say thank you to God for the challenges. They serve as good
reminders of who really is the Lord of my life. TRY is the word 
because it is oh so hard to do at the heat of the moment.

By His grace, life is all calm right now. I am at the moment recharging
the batteries. Our life will be very busy soon. The Novena of Surrender
is a gentle reminder that He takes care of everything.


Novena of Surrender

Day 1
Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care
of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you 
in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to me 
produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult 

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 2
Surrender to me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or 
to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to me a worried prayer 
asking me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. 
It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, 
to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences 
of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when 
they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try 
to take care of those needs for themselves so that their 
childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means 
to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts 
of tribulation and to put yourself in my care, so that only I act. 
Saying “You take care of it.”

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 3
How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and 
material need turns to me, looks at me and says to me; 
“You take care of it,” then close its eyes and rests. In pain 
you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. 
You do not turn to me, instead, you want me to adapt to your ideas. 
You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, 
but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to. 
So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the Our Father: 
“Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in my need. 
“Thy kingdom come”, that is, let all that is in us and in the world 
be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth 
as it is in Heaven”, that is, in our need, decide as you see fit 
for our temporal and eternal life.If you say to me truly: “Thy will 
be done”. Which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”. 
I will intervene with all my omnipotence, and I will resolve 
the most difficult situations.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 4
You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry, 
Close your eyes and say to me with faith: “Thy will be done, 
You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, and that 
I will intervene as does a doctor and I will accomplish miracles 
when they are needed. Do you see that the sick person is 
getting worse? Do not be upset, but close your eyes and say 
“You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, 
and that there is no medicine more powerful than my 
loving intervention. By my love, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 5
And when I must lead you on a path different from the one 
you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will 
let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep 
in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. 
What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, 
your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal 
with what afflicts you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 6
You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, 
direct everything and see to everything and you surrender 
to human strength, or worse- to men themselves, trusting in 
their intervention,- this is what hinders my words and my views. 
Oh how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you 
and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries 
to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you 
from my protection and to throw you into the jaws of 
human initiative. So, trust only in me, rest in me, 
surrender to me in everything.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 7
I perform miracles in proportion to your full surrender to me 
and to your not thinking of yourselves. I sow treasure troves 
of graces when you are in the deepest poverty. No person 
of reason, no thinker, has ever performed miracles, not even 
among the saints. He does divine works whosoever surrenders 
to God. So don’t think about it any more, because you mind 
is acute and for you it is very hard to see evil and to trust in me 
and to not think of yourself. Do this for all your needs, do this 
all of you and you will see great continual silent miracles. 
I will take care of things, I promise this to you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 8
Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing 
current of my grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, 
turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would 
from temptation. Repose in me, believing in my goodness, and 
I promise you by my love that if you say “You take care of it.” 
I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you and 
guide you.

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)

Day 9
Pray always in readiness to surrender, and you will receive 
from it great peace and great rewards, even when I confer 
on you the grace of immolation, of repentance and of love. 
Then what does suffering matter? It seems impossible to you? 
Close your eyes and say with all your soul, “Jesus, you take care 
of it.” Do not be afraid, I will take care of things and you will 
bless my name by humbling yourself. A thousand prayers 
cannot equal one single act of surrender, remember this well. 
There is no novena more effective than this:“O Jesus, I surrender 
myself to you, take care of everything!”

O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! 
(10 times)


Original text:
Jesus, You take over!
+ Vincenzo Pelvi 
Auxiliary Bishop of Naples,Italy 
July 25, 2006 

Joining the fun at: 

Image Credit:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bits and Pieces (June 2014)

Thanking God for
Coffee and Hot Chocolate. Nowadays I need a cuppa to get me 
through the cold winter mornings. And afternoons. And then some.

I sometimes miss my old career. But I know that life would be
different if I had a "proper career". Thank you Lord that we've
managed to work things out so that I can be a stay at home mom.

Pondering on
Instrumentum Laboris - The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in
the Context of Evangelization. (Click HERE)
I've challenged myself to read it in its entirety. Go go go!

Praying for
I've mostly been praying for the family. Just realized that there's
more that need my prayers.

Learning about
M and I were able to do a Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus colouring 
activityWe had a short and brief "discussion" about the feast. Just 
planting seeds which I hope will bear good fruit.

In our home
What to do with over ripe bananas? Bake banana bread!

Train Ride to Oslo
Memories to treasure
"Mom, can I go to Oslo?" - M at 4.5yo
It seems THIS boring inflight movie has a fan.

Eeeck, a month has passed. I have to return The Well Trained Mind to 
the library. I will definitely have to borrow it again.

I've been scanning Catholicism by Fr. Robert Barron. Looks like an 
interesting read!

Went through a few other books this month. Meh.

Listening to / Watching
Read Aloud Revival Podcasts by Amongst Lovely Things. Click HERE.
- Loving Episode #5 with Jim Weiss. There's a great reminder there on 
why we parents should stop trying to make things perfect.

Working on
Oh my, still trying to get past posting once a month.

Trying this out 
Yahoo, I have managed to keep folding the laundry under control!
Next on the agenda, improving our evening routine.

Planning for the days ahead
Looking forward to attending an LOJ Marriage Enrichment Retreat.
Blessed to have the opportunity to share my faith experience at a CFC 
Christian Life Program. 

Image Credits:
Cristina Alexanderson