7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 107)

December 3, 2010 | 93 comments

— 1 —

Well, we’re homeschooling. Starting…uhh…yesterday. My son had been going to a part-time public charter school that we found at the last minute in August. Though homeschooling was our long-term plan, we thought that this would help us get through the next couple of years until we have a little more sanity in the house (right now our kids are ages 1, 3, 4 and 6). Anyway, it didn’t end up working out, and we decided, along with our son, that now was the time to make the leap. I’m scrambling to get everything in order since it came about so quickly, but we’re excited about it.

— 2 —

Anyone watch the Texas v. Texas A&M game on Thanksgiving? Despite the fact that Texas started strong, and A&M’s record in this big rivalry game isn’t great, I knew the Aggies would win when I saw this shot of the crowd:

Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist

I know they say that God doesn’t meddle in the outcome of football games, but I have to think that he just might make an exception when the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are rooting for a team.

— 3 —

I keep laughing about this article that says that good-looking people are more likely to have girls. Obviously, I don’t think this is true (Rachel Balducci of Testosterhome single-handedly shatters this theory), but as the mom of three daughters I’ve been giggling at the article’s reference to parents of boys as the “homelier counterparts” of parents of girls. This has provided me with endless fodder for ribbing my friends with boys. Though any outside observer would undoubtedly say that they’re all better looking than I am, I now have scientific evidence that they’re really just my “homelier counterparts.”

— 4 —

An email from my dad, recounting the tale of his friend Bruce tasting the “hottest burger in the world”:

Bruce told a tale of going to a burger place in San Antonio that advertised the hottest burger in the world. He rounded up the family and they went. The people at the place didn’t want to serve it to him. He kept insisting and finally they made him sign a waiver that wasn’t a joke. This burger was covered in a sauce that was made of habaneros, pequins,  jalapeños and naga jolokia known as the ghost chili. The ghost chili is 3.5 to 5 times hotter than the hottest habanero. (Look at the Scoville Scale.)

Bruce cut out a little piece and put it in his mouth and he said his body literally froze up. He could not move. It took a while to get it out of his mouth and overcome the paralysis. He ate salt and drank beer as fast as he could. His son just tasted the sauce with the end of his fork and he came out of his chair. When I told him I thought he just wimped out, he said he’d come pick me up and take me to the restaurant any time I wanted to go.

— 5 —

If you’re looking for a Christmas present for a friend or family member who isn’t online (e.g. elderly relatives) I cannot recommend the Presto highly enough. We got one for my grandfather last year, and he loves it. We’re able to keep him up-to-date with our daily lives like we’ve never been able to before. It automatically prints pictures contained in email attachments, so we’re able to let him see photos from events just hours after they take place. Great, great product. (Note: I was not asked to endorse this product; I just like it.)

UPDATE: Amazon has them 67% off right now!

— 6 —

Speaking of products I like, I just discovered this Etsy shop with the most beautiful headcoverings (via a comment at the invaluable Mrs. Parunak‘s site). I’ve been drawn to the idea of covering my head at Mass for a couple of years now, though I’ve never done anything about it. Maybe one of these elegant yet understated pieces will help me finally take the plunge.

— 7 —

Our Advent is off to a great start, mainly thanks to your suggestions! I decided to implement ideas #2 and #5 from the list you all came up with. I was going to do #9 and #12 also, until I realized that, inexplicably, we don’t have a manger set. Not sure how that happened. Maybe I can get a nice one at an after-Christmas sale, and we can do that next year. Thanks again for all the great ideas!


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  1. Tania @ Larger Family Life

    Good luck with the homeschooling. You’re going to love it!

    I guess with seven boys to two girls I’ll sign this off as

    “Your homelier counterpart”


  2. Sue

    Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling! I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    About #3 – hogwash!!! :o)

    Those head coverings are adorable, but I was left wondering if it “counts” as a covering if one’s cute bangs and attractive up-do is sticking out both ends. I suppose that’s up to the individual’s conscience?

    I have to say that those look a lot more appealing than the ol’ lace hankie alternative, but isn’t the point of the head covering modesty and humility before God, rather than cuteness factor? I don’t mean that in a snarky way at all. I’m seriously wondering! What say you?

  3. Erin


    Congratulations:) Welcome to a wonderful, challenging journey. My oldest finishes next year, I can’t believe the years have flown and wish I had treasured the years even more. Not sure if you know about 4Real http://4real.thenetsmith.com/ but it is a wonderful community of support for Catholic homeschool mums.
    Enjoy and treasure those years:)

  4. Natasha

    Glad your Advent is going well and simply (well, other than that homeschooling thing…) Thanks again for the feature you did. We have an advent candle, Jesse tree, nativity set and advent calendar which may sound a lot but they seem to be capturing the kids’ imaginations in a way like never before. I am appreciating my purple table linen (even if it cannot go in the drier) and having wrapped up the story books in tissue paper so it is not a free-for-all. My 4 year old is not happy that we don’t have anything in the stable yet so maybe it is a good thing you are still waiting for a nativity set!

  5. Jennie C.

    Many, many years ago, we picked out a nativity set that we loved but that was also way, way, way beyond our budget. What we did was just buy the Holy Family that first year, and each year since, we have added just one more piece. There’s no need to buy a whole set the first year, and the children love choosing the next piece.

  6. Anne B.

    Four sons, only one daughter-sigh…

  7. That Married Couple

    Great takes this week! Good luck and have fun homeschooling!

  8. Lisa

    I have about 10 nativity sets… want to borrow one this Christmas? I can mail it or drop it off whenever I visit Matt at work next. Seriously… you need one, Jen!

  9. Pam

    Hottest salsa or hottest chili I can understand… why would anyone advertise the hottest burger? (And the fact that I originally thought that take was about temperature is probably testament to my living away from the southwest for 16 years…)

  10. Paul Forgette

    There is a restaurant here in Richmond, VA; Caliente; (http://www.calienterichmond.com/) that serves hot wings called “stupid wings.” They offer a challenge where you have to eat 8 of them within 30 minutes. You are given one drink, non-dairy, and one napkin. Four of our IT team took the challenge. Please note that I was not one of them. One stopped after the first three wings. The other three made it but were “knocked” out for the rest of the day. This was on a Thursday and it took the weekend for the three to fully recover. When you have finished with Bruce, come to Richmond and try these.

  11. Margaret in Minnesota

    I think that of all the Advent suggestions, you have chosen wisely.

    (Don’t worry, I won’t start calling you “Grasshopper” or anything.)

    Not only do my kids love lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, they also love licking their fingers and putting them out with a hiss.

    (This is my husband’s corrupting influence.)

    (As with all corrupting influences, the children love it.)

  12. Judy

    We are HUGE jalapeno fans in this house and I’ve been hearing-tell about this “ghost pepper” for months now…still have yet to actually see one in person…but your Dad’s tale has me a little n-e-r-v-o-u-s!

    God bless you in your homeschooling journey ahead! I sure hope you’ll visit often our website for encouragement and support! You can visit my profile or email me for a link as I don’t want to “spam” up your comments section! And don’t worry…things will be fine! Our last 6 out of 10 kids came in a 7 year time span…so for the first 7 years of our homeschooling,
    we always had either a baby in the womb, a newborn in arms, or toddlers climbing up on older siblings heads while they tried to do Biology!!!
    It all works out in the end, Jennifer! LOL I MUST admit, I am already giggling and anticipating the stories that will inevitably come out of “Ya-ya” and “Homeschooling”….ROTFALOL

    Also…anyone shopping Amazon online…we’d surely appreciate you going through our affiliate links! We have one on my benmakesten blog and one on our website! THANKS!

  13. Katie

    Oh, please do start covering! It’s so sad that Catholic headcovering is becoming lost. When I started contemplating covering at Mass, it took seeing someone else to push me to do it. You never know who you could inspire 🙂

  14. sara m

    Gingerbread house!

  15. Convert too

    Good luck with homeschooling. I’d put my MA back to work if age (mine) were not against it. Am guardian for a youth who had problems adjusting to junior high. The county stuck him into a program for juvenile delinquents, even though his only “crime” was getting Fs.
    I am sometimes put off by the attitude of some homeschooling families, “We’re too good for the rabble in the public schools”. And worse, I question how good homeschooling is where the parent/teacher dropped out of third grade.

    • Lisa

      We have one of these and I LOVE it… oh, and my kids love it, too. 🙂

  16. Julie

    I love, love, love the pictures of the MME sisters at the Aggie game! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. Charlotte (Matilda)

    Love that shot of the sisters! I did 7 Quick Takes about my SIL on her birthday today!

  18. Gina

    Okay, silly question, but something I always wonder about in these cases: Why would any restaurant make, much less advertise, a dish that is so hot that they don’t want to make it for you, they make you sign a waiver, and they know it could actually physically hurt you??

  19. Susan

    Jen, Playmobil has come out with the cutest nativity set. It is only $20 and is designed for kids to be able to play with. If I still had little ones in the house, I’d defiantly get this. Just a thought.

  20. Someone Being Me

    I have to say as an Aggie that picture of the nuns will have me smiling all day. I also love the thing about moms of boys since I have 2 boys.

  21. The Sojourner

    My mom was trying to decide if she wanted to send my 4-year-old sister back to preschool. Then she spent all the preschool tuition money on Catholic homeschooling stuff. Decision made.

    Also, my parents are obviously insanely attractive, since they only have girls. 🙂

  22. Wendy from Zoom

    Happy Advent! Have fun home schooling! 4 boys, 2 girls..only moderately homely!! 😉

  23. Kristina

    Homeschooling: YAY for you!! Can’t wait to follow in those footsteps someday!! 🙂

    Head Coverings: I’ve always gone back and forth and it seems like someone also got this idea too…I think in some regard, anyone who didn’t begin this tradition when it was still popular, we’ve lost something. Before, every woman did this, modesty and reverence were key in going to Church. I think that now, while if you do it with the right intention, it can still just be more of a distraction to those around you. It could lead others to sit through Mass saying “Oh that holier than thou woman with her head covered” or if it is a stylish thing then it becomes even more a vanity issue than your hair is to begin with.

    I am not trashing anyone or saying there is a problem with head coverings…IN ANY WAY…I actually still really have a desire to wear them..I just have never decided to becuase I can’t get past what I mentioned here. I wonder what habit vs non habit wearing nuns would have to say on that! 😉

  24. Tiffany

    Hi Jen,

    I just started subtle head covering at Mass this past Lent, and I love Happy Homestead on etsy. 🙂 There’s another shop called Garlands of Grace that I think you’d also like. I’ve blogged about both of them:

    as well as my foray into headcovering. I do like it, and now I feel naked if I forget my covering prior to Mass!

    Happy weekend,

  25. priest's wife

    Personally- things so hot you can’t taste the actual food are silly. Give me about 3 dots of tabasco and I’m a happy woman.

  26. carrien (she laughs at the days)

    I find it easier to have the older ones at home because of homeschooling. They are a big help during the day. Check out amblesideonline.org if you haven’t already. Great resource for homeschooling.

    What does it say about me if I have an even ratio of boys to girls. Only slightly homely? 🙂

  27. Barbara C.

    Welcome to homeschooling!! Just K.I.S.S. for now. No single parent, teacher, or even school can teach a person everything there is in the world. Just stick to the basics, and you’ll do fine.

    4 girls…my beaky nose, weak chin, and shifting teeth never looked so attractive.

  28. Tami

    Yay! I’m excited to read about your homeschool journey. We’re homeschooling with a 6(b), 4(b), 3(g), 1(b) and one more due in March 2011. I love the stuff over at amblesideonline.org, but I really love doing as much as I can multi-level and I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work for multi-level. We do Five in a Row right now and I’m planning on switching to Tapestry of Grace next year. FIAR is wonderful when you have a bunch of little ones, but TOG is multi-level (family learning the same things, but on different levels) all the way through high school. I’d love to hear your thoughts on curriculum.

    By the way, my two cents is to take this month off at least, maybe Jan too. We just moved to the United Arab Emirates from Georgia and we ended up taking off two months from really scheduled schooling and it all worked out great. My kids even learned stuff and improved in some skills without me formally teaching them. 🙂 Take the time you need to figure out where you are going with this homeschool stuff and what your goals and priorities are. Simplicity is the key at this age.

    • Dorian Speed

      I agree, Tami – great suggestion. The most valuable piece of advice I received when I started homeschooling was to spend as little money as possible. Our homeschool year has been way too chaotic and unstructured this year, for unrelated reasons, but I still like the fact that our main source of “textbooks” is a trip to the library every couple of weeks. The only curriculum we purchased this year was mathematics.

  29. Susan

    Congratulations on homeschooling! I’m excited to read more about your journey.

  30. melissa

    If you want to get a beautiful nativity set and do an act of great charity at the same time, check out Little Bethlehem at http://www.little-bethlehem.org. This couple (originally from Bethlehem) has a business/ministry that helps Catholic olive wood carvers in Bethlehem to make a living so that they can afford to remain in Bethlehem. There is so much pressure for Palestinian Christians to emigrate, both religious and financial, and without help, there may soon be few if any Christians left there. I have an olive wood nativity set that I got 30 years ago in Bethlehem and it is truly a family heirloom now.

  31. Katrina

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now, and sharing it with others. I’ve never commented before, but I had to come out of the woodwork to say, “WHOOP! GIG ‘EM AGGIES!!”

    I’m a class of 2008 Aggie, and the St. Mary’s Catholic student center at Texas A&M is truly amazing. 150+ college students can be seen at daily mass on any given day- how incredible!

  32. Katie

    Welcome to homeschooling! I just started with my oldest too. Can’t wait to hear more about your journey!

  33. PMLJ

    Congrats on beginning your adventure of home education! We’ve been homeschooling for 11 years now (our children are 15, 13, 10, 8, 5, & 2) & it has been a tremendous blessing for our entire family! I am receiving the Catholic education that I did not get growing up in the public school system in the 70s-80s! :o) God bless! ICXC+NIKA

  34. Diane

    #5–I guess I’m confused. If they aren’t online, how can they get emails to print pictures? I am asking sincerely, since my dad doesn’t have a computer, has no computer knowledge, and really needs to learn some skills (he is 55, unemployed and having a terrible time with his lack of computer savvy). We’d like to start things off simply for him, but haven’t figured out how, yet. We were thinking a netbook.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Well, it’s a one-way thing: the machine receives emails and they’re printing out on paper. It’s like a high-end fax machine, sort of. The nice thing is that they just need to sit back and wait for the printouts — there’s nothing they need to do to receive the emails.

    • Paul H

      The Presto printer is a really cool idea; I considered getting one for my grandfather after reading about it here. But make sure that you check out the entire cost, including the subscription fee. The printer costs only $50, but Presto’s web site indicates that the subscription fee is about $150 per year (or a bit more if you pay monthly instead of yearly). Plus you would have to buy a new ink cartridge from time to time, which is about $33.

      If not for the high subscription cost, I would almost certainly get one of these for my grandfather. But after factoring in the subscription cost, we are leaning towards not getting it.

  35. Aubrey

    Ooh, those head covers are CUTE!

  36. Anne Marie

    We are scrambling around with an on the fly mid year curriculum change too. Kinda harry, but keeps life interesting!!

  37. eko

    @Diane — it states at amazon: Presto can send email to those without computer
    Downloads email and photos via phone line
    Uses plain paper and standard HP print cartridges
    Presto Service has no ads, spam, or junk mail

    I have wanted to get one of these for years for my mil who lives in Eruope…but there is the issue of electrical outlet/wattage differences… 🙁

  38. angie

    love the advent season and there are so many great lessons at this time have fun on your adventure

  39. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    This fall we started our home schooling journey this year with my five year old, and my three year old learning along when she can. I highly recommend reading the Well-Training Mind. I actually started with a different curriculum, but switched to the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.

    • Germaine

      I second The Well Trained Mind. I especially LOVE their forums @ http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/ It is a great time-suck!! And there are so many different HSing approaches represented there. It is fast moving and very informational.

  40. Denise

    Good luck with homeschooling! It can be overwhelming at first, but just keep reminding yourself to breathe, breathe, breathe. 🙂 The good news is that Kindergarten and first grade are not a big deal. Those 8 hours a day that so many Kindergartners live through? The essentials can be boiled down to about 1-1/2 hours or less of one-on-one time. So much of a teacher’s time is spent in classroom management.

    There are so many fantastic homeschooling resources on the web, too. It’s easy to get lost in it and not make time for actually teaching any of it. 🙂

    You will do a great job!

  41. Dorian Speed

    My husband had a similar experience in San Antonio, but it was at a burrito restaurant. Pride goeth before an attack of flaming fire in one’s mouth, or something.

  42. Petroni

    Regarding covering one’s head during Mass: This is something I’ve thought about sometimes, but I don’t know whether I could do it. I often end up wearing slacks and a sweater to Mass in the colder months, and it seems somehow odd to have a veil and pants. I don’t think pants are immodest, obviously, or I wouldn’t wear them, but I think every time I’ve seen a veiled woman in Mass, she was always in a dress or a skirt. Maybe this is just at my parish? Thoughts?

  43. Jennifer

    I highly, highly recommend the Fisher Price Nativity set – we bought ours when our youngest was a year old – one of his “first Christmas” presents – and every year since we’ve set it up on a shelf low enough for him to reach and play with. He’s four now, and this year he was quite proud to set it up all by himself. The angel atop the manger plays “Away in a Manger” when you push on it, and he’s learned that song in preschool and belts it out at the top of his lungs. Love it! (Playmobil makes a kid-friendly one, too.)

  44. Jennifer

    Oh – one more thing – we just saw that burger on the Man Versus Food show – and the host DID actually eat it. Didn’t enjoy it, though – not one bit!

  45. Monica

    Congrats on the homeschooling plunge! My kids (four of the five) were in our parish school until this past June and we just started homeschooling this year. I was hesitant to start earlier, when the kids were all so little like you have now, but now that I’m in it, I wish we had started sooner. Best of luck!

  46. JoAnna

    those head coverings are gorgeous!

  47. Rhonda

    I love seeing the sisters! Catholics are so cool.

  48. Tom

    I’ve listed 7 of my favorite carols–I hope you enjoy them!

  49. Lauren

    LOVE that picture!!!! GIG ‘EM AGGIES, WHOOP!

    Can’t wait to hear about your home schooling experiences! Blessings on your journey! Let the adventure begin!

  50. Jules

    Thanks for the link to the head coverings. I’ve been looking for something in that area that’s a bit more trendy for awhile!

  51. Kimberlie

    Congratulations on starting homeschooling! I am leaping into it in January after we bring our new son home from China later this month. Since he’s nearly 7, he’s school-aged, but there is no way I am sending him to school virtually minutes after joining our family. If it works out well, we are going to homeschool some of our other children next year too. Yeah!

  52. Margaret in Minnesota

    I took one look at that email machine and ordered it for my 86-year-old parents. The perfect gift! Thank you!

  53. Rachael

    I happen to know for a fact that #3 is indeed, true.

    In lurve with the head coverings. Just my style. I used to wear a mantilla and the kids just kept poking at it and pulling it off. It became a nuisance and was distracting to everyone around me. I’ve been feeling the call to wear it again… this might be my answer. Thanks!

  54. Jill

    I admire you homeschooling. Not only for the fact that homeschool must be anything but easy, even for ONE child, but when you have lots of little ones, I can imagine it is a real challenge! I would love to homeschool my crew (5 kids ages 2-10) but I let the fear of my own disorganization and the elevated noise levels (especially when the kids KNOW I’m trying to concentrate on something else!) get in my way. I’m lucky to have a good educational system to send the kids to, but there’s nothing like teaching your own child and perhaps keeping their innocence at home a little longer. We all know the world we live in is anything but “Christ-like”. Good for you!!!

  55. Rebecca

    Good luck with the homeschooling!

    I’ve wondered about the Presto, thanks for sharing about it. I think I finally know what I will get my Nan for Christmas!

  56. Jay

    I am there with you. We started K in September with our son and also have a 4, 2.5, and 11 month old:)

  57. Stephanie

    Thanks for the link to the Presto! That sounds like the Christmas present we need to get for my husband’s grandma!!

    • Paul H

      Make sure to check Presto’s web site and find out about the monthly subscription fee before you decide to buy, just to be sure that you are fully informed about the ongoing cost.

  58. Gail

    Those headcoverings are a great way to start. Even major serious full time headcoverers whom I’ve heard from say that wide headbands are a good way to ease into the tradition. I’ve been covering for Mass for a year and a half and I’m very comfortable with that style. I haven’t “graduated” to any other type yet. I do feel like this “counts” as covering, despite the fact that it’s also kind of cute and not all that unfashionable.

  59. Not A Minx

    Yay for the Sisters!

  60. Shirley

    I’ve been covering my head at mass for a year and a half, but just lately have started to question my choice. I wonder if I’m a distraction to others, but I really do feel drawn to continue wearing one. When I first started covering, I was self-conscious because I was the only young person wearing a veil. But now I find myself self-conscious in a different way. I don’t want others to assume that I think myself “holier than thou.” Sometimes I wish it were appropriate to wear a sign that explains my choice to wear a headcovering! As a side note, I have been known to wear pants and a veil;)

  61. Elizabeth Mahlou

    Good luck with the home schooling. I homeschooled child #3 back in the days when NO ONE homeschooled and there were no resources. Nonetheless, he is the best educated of my 4-7 children.

  62. Jennifer H

    Prayers for your homeschooling! You can do it! 🙂

    As a mom of 2 boys (so far) I hope I’m not TOO homely ;).

    Thanks for hosting this! It’s one thing I KNOW I can blog about!

  63. Bridget Adams

    God bless you and your family on your journey as homeschoolers.
    We are so blessed to have been homeschooling for 11 years. My son (16) drove himself to his first day of school this fall (running start at the local community college).
    Enjoy the adventure!

  64. Maria

    So happy for you that you are homeschooling! We are on our third year and still loving it. It’s not always easy so that where are a lot of prayers come in. Also a lot of support from other homeschooling veterans helped me in my journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

    God bless you and we’ll be praying for you.

  65. Dawn Farias

    Welcome to homeschooling!

  66. Jen

    Welcome to homeschooling!

    May I suggest (before you get overwhelmed with the CRAZY amount of curriculum and choices out there) that you read about the gentle art of learning by reading the writings of Charlotte Mason (available in modern english at amblesideonline.com). Simply Charlotte Mason (simplycharlottemason.com) has some REALLY great DVD seminars that are TOTALLY worth watching – Laying Down the Rails, Books and Things, and the Charlotte Mason Seminar. . . I wish I would have had these concepts in hand from the beginning. They are freeing and SO helpful.

    Another great homeschooling philosophy book is from Marilyn Howshall – Wisdom’s Way of learning, book 1: The Science, Art, and Tools of Learning. Well worth your time to read.

    All of these resources will challenge your assumptions about “learning” and “teaching” – good to think through before choosing an actual curriculum.

    • Magda

      She and her husband graduated from A&M.

  67. Magda

    Sent the A&M pic to a friend, who has a veterinarian degree, who home schooled five children with roaring success.

    About Advent – with put Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the middle of the Advent wreath with an star over it. We say the Angelus as we light the candles
    Christmas. On Christmas day – we did this Christmas morning after Mass when the children were young, now right after midnight Mass when they are home older – we say the Angelus, then read John 1: 1-14, after which each of our four children carries a figure to the stable (the star is carried in the middle of the still lit Advent wreath). Then say the Gloria, turn on the lights and blow out the candles. It makes a holy and reverent family procession, after which we open gifts and eat. It is easy to add roles for each child and sometimes, if a child is not there, a family guest can substitute. Our children are all over 24 now and they still take part in this tradition when they are home.
    The last time we were all together Christmas Eve was in Hanceville, Al. near the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. We had our wreath with us.

  68. Linda

    Congratulations on your decision to homeschool! I retired from the school board to hs our youngest and have never been sorry.

    May I offer a bit of advice? Please remember that school boards get 12 or more years to teach the child what s/he must know for life. Don’t try to do it all in one or two years!

    You needn’t teach every subject every year. Start with your child’s passion and his weakest. If you can combine the two, you will find more success. (For instance, my daughter had/has a terrible time with fine motor because of a disability; printing was NOT something she wanted to learn, but anything to do with animals was on her ‘to do’ list. She learned her letters by printing animal names.) And READ ALOUD saint stories to teach religion & history, but get exciting stories, not the blah versions.

    Whatever you teach should be fun for both of you.

    God bless.

  69. Teresa

    Jen – Don’t worry, homeschooling at your son’s age should be pure fun.

    Your son was in kindergarten or 1st, right? Keep it light and fun, just a few minutes per day. (Really, I mean that literally – like 10 or 15 minutes a day.)

    I’d focus on reading skills, until he’s reading – everything else is gravy. Highly recommend Catholic Heritage Curriculum if you want to get him a handwriting book … they have nice stuff that doesn’t overwhelm. That’s as far as you should go for tabletime until he’s reading well.

    For math, just count and add and subtract in your everyday life. Read him Magic School Bus books for fun – he’ll love them and soak up some science. Limit TV drastically and you’re set! Your kids will charge around learning.

  70. Ouiz

    Oh, I’m so excited that you’ve started homeschooling! Congratulations! May it be a huge blessing to your whole family! I’m sure you’ll have a blast with your little ones… the first time you do the cornstarch and water mixture with them, they’ll be completely hooked! They’ll think you are the most AMAZING mom on the planet (well, I’m sure they already DO, but you clinch the deal with that one).

    LOVE the headcoverings, but I couldn’t wear something like that. Maybe my head is all wrong, but headbands and such just slip off… very frustrating. I guess I’ll just stick with my hat.

  71. Ann

    Try to enjoy the homeschooling. I ‘unschooled’ my four, and tehy are all educated working young adults now. You may not want to be as relaxed about it as I was, but keep in mind that they don’t really need to DO much to be learning. And that they are learning things even if it isn’t what you are wanting them to learn that day.
    I miss it soooo…. much. Enjoy!

  72. Erica

    Thanks to your list and the fact that I was already keeping the Christmas children’s books in a box and only bringing them out for the season, I implemented idea #20 off your advent list this year. It has been BRILLIANT with my 2 and 4 year old at bed time, and has inspired some great conversations. Thank you so much for both asking the question and organizing the answers for me. I never would have had the time to sift through all the comments, but there sure were some gems in there. Thank you!

  73. Magda

    This is a bit controversial – but I noticed when my children were young that their friends who had video games were more apt at math. After watching my now 31 year old son play Mario Bros. with a friend, I saw why – he was constantly having to add, subtract, multiply and divide AND remember and predict events. Our youngest child began playing Sesame Street at three and while on championship chess, soccer and track teams, he continues to play international video games – which means he played team games with gamers all over the world. He received college scholarships, and is about to graduate with a degree in French International Commerce – which means he is fluent in French and has enough business and economic credits (five hours away from majors in both) to receive a degree in economics.
    I could go on and on about the benefits of monitored video game play – all of my children spent a lot of time outside and reading – on all four my children – but don’t count it out. They still complain about the most difficult game of all – Bible Stories. Evidently catching the ostrich in Noah’s Ark was IMPOSSIBLE.

    • Magda

      I never bought their video equipment – they had to save and buy it themselves. That is why the youngest one started playing at a young age. He used his older siblings equipment.

  74. Erin Ward

    Oh boy, there is no way I would ever come close to that burger! Sometimes I even think McDonald’s McChicken Sandwich is too spicy.

  75. Koala Bear Writer

    Good luck with the homeschooling. I’m a homeschool graduate and I loved it, but my mom only had to teach two grades—my brother and I are twins and then my younger brother did the same thing as us two years later. 🙂

    Hey, I was looking for your other website, about being a Domestic CEO or something like that. Is it still up?

  76. Camille

    How exciting! I am guessing you have already read The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, but I found it so enlightening. Loved it. Other than that, good luck and enjoy!

  77. Jessica

    Jen, I have been veiling for two years – the result of a promise I made to the Blessed Mother. I highly encourage you and all ladies, young and old, to give it a try – I can’t tell you how happy I am to have started wearing a headcovering. Not only is it part of our Catholic tradition, but just feeling it over my hair keeps me focused during Mass when distractions threaten!

    And if anyone thinks I imagine myself to be “holier than thou” . . . well, that’s their assumption, but I can’t let it affect something which I do out of love and respect for our Lord. 😀

  78. EdgyK

    I love #5 for my Grandma. Thanks!

  79. Rachel

    Those headcovering are BEAUTIFUL – thanks for sharing! I think I will be buying a few! 🙂

  80. starrball

    On the manger scene,

    Little people makes a great kid friendly/kid durable one. It’s really cute and I love that they can really get hands on and not risk breaking anything.

    You can see it here:


    They say sold out for now, but if you try in a few months they would probably have more in. I got mine form the sears catalog last year.

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