Here's a link to last year's post on a Thanksgiving lapbook.
Our greedy gnomes got to know King Equals today and he taught them a lesson in place value. We grouped the gemstones, first by ones and then by tens and then by hundreds.
Tomorrow, we will do this lesson again, using pumpkin seeds.
Every year since she was five, Mary Beth and her friend Bailey have had a tea party in the autumn to celebrate Mary Beth's birthday. Sometimes, they've been larger affairs, with several friends. Sometimes they've been "tea for two." And twice, they included infant sisters. A few of years ago, the tradition changed ever so slightly to include Bailey's little sister, Hope, and Mary Beth's sister, Katie, and to include celebrating Katie's birthday, too. Four little girls, dressed for tea, giggling in the dining room--an autumn ritual I wouldn't miss for the world.
Mary Beth worried this year, a bit. For the first time, Bailey has gone to school. The ease of scheduling a day for tea and play is forever gone. This was her friend who played Little House with her for hours (in costumes made for both girls by Bailey's mom), her friend who loved to "craft" out of whatever they could scrounge up, her kindred spirit. Both girls worried about how school would change their friendship.
Happily, Bailey had a scheduled day off from school during the week of Mary Beth's birthday. The tradition lives! Mary Beth had the distinct privilege and pleasure of reading an advance copy of Tea and Cake with the Saints by Alice Cantrell when her party was still in planning mode. The menu was taken from the Autumn Tea suggestions (only Mary Beth substituted sprinkled butter cookies for ginger snaps because she's not so fond of ginger).
There were smoked ham sandwiches on tiny croissants, a savory parmesan bread that made the whole house smell warm and inviting while it baked, and spiced apple cider. The girls decorated the table with gourds and flowers and tiny pumpkin candles. They had a wonderful giggly time and I think we were all relieved to know that a change in schooling would not mean a change in friendship.
What's that I hear you saying? You want to know more about Tea and Cake with the Saints? Well, by all means, go brew yourself a cup of autumn comfort and come right back. I'll tell you all about it!
Tea and Cake with the Saints: A Catholic Young Lady's Introduction to Hospitality and the Home Arts is so much more than just another tea party book. It's a gentle primer on Catholic Homemaking. In this beautifully illustrated book, Alice Cantrell, author of Sewing with St. Anne, gently inspires young ladies to be charitable and hospitable at home with their own families, in groups with friends of all ages, and even out of doors!
The book begins with a note to parents. After that, it is written directly to the young ladies. Any good tea party book should include a brief history of tea time and directions for brewing a fine cup of tea. This one does that and Mrs. Cantrell is such a gifted artist that even the tea bag is darling! Some time is spent going over the basics of kitchen safety and hygiene, complete with gentle reminders to clean up well. Clearly, Mrs. Cantrell has some experience with the tendency girls this age have to overlook cleaning details.
Girls are encouraged to begin to keep a homemaking notebook. Here they will gather wisdom and inspiration for homes of their own and will begin to thoughtfully organize all those components to homemaking. Clear, inspiring directions are given for making and adding to a personal household record book. Mary Beth is looking forward to watching her household record book grow right alongside mine. This pleases me to no end since she is the reason I began to keep my own notebook.
Tea and Cake with the Saints is organized according to the seasons of the year, beginning with winter.For every season, there is a full tea time menu and recipes. Throughout the book quotes from classic children's literature are sprinkled amidst helpful kitchen tips and instruction and many, many ideas for bring grace and beauty to life through homemaking. In the Winter section, in addition to a tea featuring hot chocolate and cheddar muffins, girls will be inspired to make some simple but meaningful gifts and to consider hosting a recipe swap or cookie exchange party.
Mrs. Cantrell reminds the girls that manners are simple: a sensitivity to the feelings of others. In a few short pages, she gently encourage Christian charity at home and over time and distance. Examples of simple thank you notes and written invitations give girls a springboard for many future correspondences.
The Spring section sings with the joy of new life! Girls learn to set a pretty spring table, to make and deliver May baskets and to plan and plant a Mary garden, the perfect setting for a tea in honor of the Mother of God. All the gardening notes, of course, are to go in the gardening section of the notebook. Enthusiastic young gardeners will want to share. Ideas for a seed exchange (complete with a simple gardening apron idea) provide plenty of fodder for yet another party.
In the Summer section there are lots of ideas for summer parties and many variations on iced tea. This book is infused with southern charm and nowhere is it more apparent than on the pages where Mrs. Cantrell writes and paints about picnics. Even the ants are too cute for words. I was glad to be reminded that picnics are lovely in the autumn, too, since I doubt I could wait until next summer to put some of these ideas in motion. The Summer section also offers ideas for letter writing, an nearly lost art in this electronic age. Lazy summer days, with a thermos of lemonade, are perfect for writing long letters in the shade of a tree.
The Autumn section was the inspiration for Mary Beth's birthday tea. I'm happy to report that this new eleven-year-old was able to plan and prepare and decorate for the party all on her own, using Mrs. Cantrell's clear instructions (though I admit I was closeby, if for no other reason than I didn't want to miss out on the fun).
The book closes with a section on "beautifying your bedroom. Isn't that much nicer than saying "Clean up your room!?" Mrs. Cantrell perches on a young girl's bed and, with all her southern graciousness, inspires our daughters to clean their rooms. She doesn't shout. She doesn't threaten. She doesn't storm into the room with a big, green trash bag and start stuffing everything in sight (not that I know anyone who does that;-). She just gently inspires them to clean and organize and then to keep it that way. Personally, I was tickled pink by the results in my house. The book is worth the purchase price if only for those few pages.
Don't tell the girls on my Christmas list, but I plan to tuck a copy of this book, with supplies for making homemaking notebooks, and an apron into a basket for Christmas gifts. It could also be included with a recipe box, full of family favorites or with provisions for any one of the craft ideas. It could be tucked into a picnic basket for a very special, happy gift . However you package it, do put the books into the hands of a girl you love. Let Mrs. Cantrell come into their lives and gently inspire them to be gracious and Godly keepers at home.
I think this book is an important one. That seems like a very serious thing to say about a "tea party" book. But this book is about much more than tea. It's about home. At its core, it's about Christian love. It is a book that brings to life the importance hospitality and genuine charity. In a society of increasing unconnectedness and unbridled competition, it is necessary and urgent that we slow down and deliberately teach our daughters to offer the comfort and love of home. We take the time and care to do this not because we are eager to outdo Martha Stewart or to put on an impressive show, but because we love our families and friends. And we even love the stranger. This is a book about beautiful service, the service of young women to their families and then to the people at their gates. This book starts the conversation of true charity with our daughters. How can we begin to think of them as women of love and genuine charity? How can they begin to think of themselves that way? They can begin by doing small things with great love. And this book is a treasure trove of those small things. If every one of our daughters read it and implemented the ideas found in it, we'd be well our way to ensuring comfort and joy in the homes of the next generation.
And we have all sorts of Eggceptional plans. We're beginning with that new annual tradition, The Sun and Candlelight Eggnog Taste Test. (And the tip about Evan Almighty wasn't lost on me, either, as it fits nicely into the theme of the week. My children thank you, Dawn.) This morning, we are off down the alphabet path with Mrs. Applebee to see what's so special about the letter "E". Later, we'll be stopping to discover how the gnomes learn about place value.
We have some crafts planned for the morning and geography for the afternoon (even thought the Red Sox have left Denver, our hearts are still there--M0nday Night Football is in Colorado this week). Lots and lots and lots to do! Many Blessings to you on this excellent autumn day.
...when the sounds of "Sweet Caroline" rocked Fenway Park in the eighth inning last night?
Not only was she awake, she was dancing to "her" song!
And if you're wondering just how many pictures I have of Karoline in a Boston Red Sox hat, the answer is "more than enough to go all the way!"
Posted at 08:11 AM | Permalink
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Join us at Serendipity for the continuing adventures of Michael and Mrs. Applebee, our own phonetic fairy tale. During "E" Week, our friends meet the Eyebright Fairy, get to know the Prophet Elijah, and learn about a gentle kitchen saint. We're also adding eggs to the tea time menu and to the picture study plans. There are botany lessons and grammar lessons and a new alphabet review! Whew!
Better yet, can you smell a pre-holiday cleaning spree? We spell it G-I-N-G-E-R-B-R-E-A-D around here and I'm so happy Mrs. Meyer's is jumpstarting the fall cleaning once again. This stuff smells wonderful and a little aromatherapy while scrubbing and sweeping and swishing goes a long way for both Mama and her little helper elves. Mrs. Meyer's is safe for the wee ones, too. It's going to smell clean and spicy around here in no time! Daddy will be so pleased:-) Nothing like a Mama motivated to clean...
Posted at 09:28 AM | Permalink
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Soon, it will be upon us: the season of peace and joy! Will you embrace it with your whole heart, finding a deep and beautiful sense of genuine peace and unblemished joy in the depths of your soul? Probably not. Unblemished joy is a rare commodity in a human race that is wounded by the effects of original sin. Our peace is disturbed and our joy is robbed when we hurt one another. It sounds simplistic, but it's true. We are wounded and so we wound one another.
We hurt each in other in a myriad of ways, yet few of us have a story of pain to tell like the one Imaculee Ilibagiza relates in her book Left to Tell. Imaculee Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda. Her life was dramatically transformed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when Imaculee and seven other women huddled silently together in a cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house , in constant mortal danger, for three months. While Immaculee hid, most of her precious family was brutally murdered at the hands of those who also hunted her. Miraculously, she survived and lived to tell a compelling story of forgiveness and profound relationship with a living God. She lived to tell a story of faith overcoming fear and grace allowing complete forgiveness for even the most heinous assaults on both body and soul.
When we live in pain and in fear, God can seem very far away. For Immaculee, living in a hell of imprisonment in that cramped bathroom, God was near, indeed. He dwelt in her soul and He comforted her, even as she heard brutal murderers just outside the door of her hiding place. Jesus said, "Mountains are moved with faith, Immaculee, but if faith were easy, all the mountains would be gone. Trust in me. I will never leave you. Trust in me, and have no more fear. Trust in me, and I will save you. I shall put my cross upon this door, and they will not reach you. Trust in me and you shall live."
So dramatic and chilling is Immaculee's story that it reads like a parable, an exaggeration to make a point, a story like Christ's own stories. Yet her story is real. And her point is that we will not achieve a peace of heart or a joy of soul unless we can forgive even the unforgivable. A friend gave me the book a few weeks ago and asked me to read it and to let people know that Immaculee would be speaking November 3, 2007 at the Phases of Womanhood Conference. The very next day, a different friend, halfway across the country, recommended the book for an entirely different reason. It had to be a "God thing." I was supposed to read this book.
Even still, I admit that it took me a while to pick up the book. Who wants to read a firsthand account of the Rwandan holocaust? It sounded grim and dark and dirty. But this is a remarkable story of light and hope and grace. It really defies description.
After being a victim of the holocaust, losing her home and almost all of her family, Immaculee was at risk of becoming a victim again. Only this time, she was at risk of becoming the victim that many people of all walks of life become in the wake of all sorts of injury. She was at risk of becoming the victim of her own pain and bitterness. She was at risk of having all the energy of her life be negative energy. She was at risk of living a life that wasn't worthy of her survival in the hell of Rwanda. Instead she lives a triumphant life and she tells a triumphant story.
What is most remarkable to me is that Immaculee knows that she cannot forgive under her own power and she describes a specific incident of grace that allows her to forgive and to go on living after burying the dead. She sees clearly that her pain was inflicted by the devil who had entered the heart of her tormenter and who had "ruined his life like a cancer in his soul." God allows her to see evil for what it was and then God does something even more extraordinary. He allows her to forgive and so to be released from the hold that evil can have on the victims of cruelty-- the evil of bitterness and fear.Her faith--a very childlike faith--brings her to this point of grace and it is God alone who allows her to forgive. In her forgiveness, she is completed. She experiences and she lives in peace and joy.
Immaculee's ministry is clear and obvious--she was left to tell. Left to tell a story of a woman's simple faith and her Lord's abundant grace. I really think this is a story God wants women to hear. He has obviously moved mountains to allow this remarkable woman to tell it.
Nutmeg is hosting a Blogging Book Club and the first meeting is today! We're talking about Left to Tell.
Moms who are following the adventures of our mischievous math gnomes might want to buy a simple wooden tray(mine is 10 1/2 X 14 inside the frame) and some felt in rainbow colors and make a rainbow tray this weekend. I used stiffened peel-and-stick felt and stuck it right to the tray in two inch increments. The tray and the felt were at my local Michael's craft store.
Posted at 10:53 AM | Permalink
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You are from lots of brothers and--finally--two little sisters.
You are from from the Bradford pear, roses bushes, and Mary gardens.
You are from why-I-love-you birthday graces at dinnertime and backyard soccer summers, Mary Sunshine, Beetle Bee and Mini-Mom.
You are from the very intense and the very creative.
From "stand up straight" and "go far post."
You are from big, Catholic families--the quiet little girl at the huge, noisy, Italian party, reminding everyone (even me) of your Mama. You are a devotion to the Little Flower. You are named for the Blessed Mother and her cousin--you are the charity and hospitality of The Visitation.
You are from Virginia; the sweet song of southern charm is second nature to you. And you are from Chik-Fil-A-on-the-way-to-ballet and half lemonade-half sweet tea.
From the quiet afternoon when you were the first to welcome Karoline into the world, both of you wide-eyed at the wonder of each other-- a bond born that day and blossoming beautifully over time.
From Katiebean-the-family-queen, who adores you more than life itself, from tireless tender moments when you share with her all the beauty and goodness in your world--stories read, baby games played, tea parties shared, pictures drawn, dances danced, memories made.
You are from your own blog carefully kept and a memory book for your baby sister. You are from Mama's book dedicated to you. You are from a hope chest full of my memories, carefully saved so many years ago for my "someday daughter."
You are from a kindred spirit, a fervent prayer, a blazing love. You are the child of my heart.
Happy, happy birthday, dear one.
I'll admit that you got me when you said you were writing while sitting on the Rotunda. Good girl, Courtney. I told you there is no more beautiful place than the Rotunda in October. But, oh my, it's the poem that sucked me in.
Posted at 09:19 AM | Permalink
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The Tree Man reveals his name and a new character is introduced in the next story lesson of Gnomes and Gnumbers: A Mathematical Tale. It's up at Serendipity along with main lesson book samples, lots of free downloads and a week of lesson plans. Come see how EVEN gnomes make an ODD discovery.