Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day Five: St. Brendan the Navigator

Our final day we joined St. Brendan as he crossed the icy waters of the Atlantic, just missing that iceberg to port!
....... but probably NOT possible in our cardboard one!
We painted our vision of Brendan's journey in watercolors.....
......enjoyed cocoa crispy treat boats.....

....and went on a scavenger hunt to locate all the things Brendan saw on his voyage, feathers from the Paradise of Birds, "ice" crystals from the Pillar of Crystal, wool from the Isle of Sheep, and lava rocks from the Island of the Smiths.

I don't know about you all, but it has been a long exhausting trip for us, and we are glad to arrive safely in "Tirnanog" (and unlike Brendan, we get to stay :), and we are so glad you came along! 
Hopefully plans will be posted in the next week or so, for any of you who wish to share our journey with your children.  Until then, we say farewell to our Celtic saints who have taught us so much.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day Four: St. Columba/Columcille

St. Columcille was the perfect saint to be discussing on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  After a homily on repentance at liturgy last evening, this morning the kids read about Columcille's fight over an illuminated manuscript which resulted in the death of 3000 men, followed by his great repentance
and work in winning souls for Christ.
The kids received a wonderful lesson in illuminated manuscripts and the Book of Kells.  Then they tried their hand at recreating an image from the Book of Kells.

For snacks, just as St. Columcille ate a cake full of letters as a young boy, our kids ate sugary alphabet letters today!

And the clouds were out today, which made for some enjoyable free time on the playground......
.... and Father was kept busy with calls for "push me next!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day three was full of interesting stories.  We read about St. Kevin and his lesson in long suffering, and we heard all about St. Ciaran's gentle spirit and love for animals.
Father gave the kids a lesson in the priest's vestments.......
.....with help from a few volunteers :)

Projects included creating a bird's nest with blackbird eggs, and a silver bell.
For a bit of outdoor excitement, egg relay races were the day's event - amazingly these kids transferred a total of 48 eggs with only 3 broken ones! 
.... and after fun in the heat, everyone enjoyed bird's nest cookies!
The completed bird's nest project - could you hold it in your hand for 40 days?

We interrupt this program ...

A brief departure from our Irish travels, but I wanted to share a few images from last evening. I don't consider myself a fan of modern art, as most modern art reflects a rejection of order and beauty and therefore God,  but this exhibit took my breathe away.  Some of it was whimsical, some of it was crazy, but all of it was beautiful, and rather than acting as a dissonant ring against God's creation, these works melded into a beautiful complement to and reflection of the nature we were walking through.

Marbles, anyone?  I have visions of Narnian giants attempting a game as Reepicheep looks on, shouting instructions from the sidelines :)

The most spectacular views were as the sun set, and as the last rays of the sun died in the sky, so did my camera battery!  So, unfortunately the photo above is the only one I got which captured some of the beauty of these glass sculptures up against the dark night. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Two: St. Brigid

Back after another day of high Celtic spirit!  Today was full of fun for St. Brigid
Jane Meyer's book is not to be missed for those wanting to read about St. Brigid.
Here is St. Brigid, sharing her pantry with all.  The kids especially loved the part where she gave away her father's sword!   After learning all about St. Brigid, the kids took turns shaking jars full of whipping cream to make butter...

......then they all put their hands to making yummy Irish soda bread.
Don't they look tasty?  I promise, they are!
And finally, for a bit of outdoor fun - they played with parachutes, kindly loaned from the local school and gymnastics facilities.  They all had fun watching the parachutes stretch out across the ground, just like St. Brigid's cloak!

Next stop..... Sts. Kevin & Ciaran!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation Church School 2010 - Going Green (Irish, that is :)

Want to follow along with us this week?  We (46 kids and a dozen adults :) are travelling to Ireland, to explore the Fruits of the Spirit found within the lives of the Celtic saints.  We plan to battle pagan kings with St. Patrick, bake bread and churn butter with St. Brigid, create a bird's nest with St. Kevin, write beautiful illuminated manuscripts with St. Columba, and of course, sail the icy Atlantic seas to North America with St. Brendan!  Along the way we hope to learn about bravery, trusting in God, patience, kindness, generosity and many other ways we can become more like these great men and women of God.
The children are making the waves as a young St. Patrick is carried off by a Celtic warship, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland.

A. proudly shows off her wee felt St. Patrick.

Foam stamps were painted, then used to decorate bandannas in red or green, according to teams designated for the week.
And to cool everyone down on the hottest day of the year so far (97 degrees today), a bit of edible green!
Stop back by tomorrow, when we enjoy the hospitality and kindness of St. Brigid.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Off she goes!

Our little princess is taking off for a 5 day trip to visit a skete with her godmother.  Meanwhile, mommy has been busy finishing up a few sewing projects, some skirts to work and play in at the skete, and a new dress.  I found Pink Fig patterns just last week, and had to make this sweet peasant dress and kerchief for her.  I have never tried shirring before, and I love it!  I admit I have been a sewing snob in the past, using mostly heirloom techniques, but I have learned that if I am going to keep up with sewing for 3 girls, I need to learn some shortcuts!  Not to mention, as the little princess gets older, I have even more desire to continue sewing for her as the selection of reasonably priced premade clothing does not encourage a young girl to grow into a young lady :)  So, I am always excited to locate a fun pattern for an older girl that she likes and I still consider sweet.   I don't recommend this pattern for a beginner seamstress though, as there are a few gaps in the instructions, and some corrections I had to make, but if you are comfortable with sewing, these patterns look like a lot of fun.

Another favorite around here is the twirly skirt.  What little girl (or big girl for that matter!) doesn't love a twirly skirt.  Here are a few I made for work and play.  So, she is ready to head out, bursting with excitement, next time I think I might have to go too!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dumbing Us Down

I have been following the news on the Abby Sunderland story, and have been fascinated with the overall reaction from media.  First, I will say, I can make no judgements on her parents.  I do not know their motives, I cannot know their hearts, and there are many things none of us will ever know about the situation.  I don't know how well prepared she was, or if there are things they should have done differently.  That said, what I find fascinating is that the media reaction is one of complete judgement on the parents.  How could they do this?  How could they endanger their child this way?   I admit, I have no idea what I would do in their shoes.  I know when I first heard she was lost, I felt the pain of a mother's heart, fearing she was gone, and praying for her safe return.  It is hard for me to imagine sending my daughter off alone to sail around the world.  On the other hand, it brings to mind just how far we have come in extending childhood well beyond its proper time.  For thousands of years, teenagers have been considered adults.  Church tradition teaches us that the Theotokos was as young as 13 or 14 when she gave birth to Christ.  At the age of 15 Benjamin Franklin founded the first independent newspaper of the New England Colonies. At age 17, George Washington became the first land surveyor in Virginia.  Sacajawea was a young girl of 16 or 17 when she crossed America with Lewis and Clark, while giving birth along the way.  Jessica Watson (also 16) successfully completed her solo sail around the world just weeks ago.  Columbus may have gone to sea as early as the age of 10.   St. Nicholas was "just a child" when he became bishop of Myra.  What is the difference?  Why have we become a culture that thinks it is a good idea to allow 25 year old "children" to remain on their parent's health insurance?  How can anyone say with a straight face the phrase "25 year old child"!  We say it, because that is what our culture has created.  Schools do not encourage children to become independent thinkers.  They do not teach children how to be adults.  How can a child learn to be an adult, when he spends most of his time in a room with a group of other children?  There they learn the habits of other children, rather than the habits of adults.  They learn the behaviours of other children, not how to become individuals who think and act as adults. 
My reaction is congratulations Abby!  Congratulations to a young woman who spent her early teen years studying the sea, gaining nautical skills most of us will never acquire.  Just imagine the education she has received!  She didn't spend her time partying, or being a petulant adolescent.  She spent it learning to think. She learned how to learn, she learned how to handle dangerous situations.  She learned how to survive on her own.  She learned to make decisions under pressure.  She learned self discipline.  She gained an amazing work ethic.  She learned just how strong she really is.  She will have the confidence to succeed at anything in the future.  She has braved things most of us never will.  So I congratulate Abby, and her parents for having the courage to allow their "child" to learn so much, and I thank God for protecting her.  If you want a better understanding of why there are so few Abby Sunderland's these days, I suggest picking up a copy of Dumbing Us Down, or Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto.