Wednesday, January 19, 2011

LA Block: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

by Grace Lin

Carrie from The Parenting Passageway tipped me off to this great book this summer. As usual, she was right. It's a wonderful mix of fairy tales wrapped into a lovely cultural story about a young poor girl in China who wants to change her family's fortune. After hearing inspiring stories told by her Ba (father), she follows her heart on a magical journey complete with talking goldfish and a lovable dragon on her way to find The Old Man of the Moon who will hopefully tell her how to help save her family from their difficult reality.

The chapters are short, but don't kid yourself, your children will not want you to put this book down - lol! We are more than half way through it and I ended up changing gears and have been planning our whole Jan block around this book.

I am drawing a picture from the book twice a week that the girls will then copy into their MLB's. They have been helping me write sentences/summaries that they are placing in their book, on the page next to their drawing. Above the drawing, is also a very short sentence in which the nouns are identified in blue (and the verbs will be identified in red starting this week as we are covering a part of speech each week). Here is an example:

We are writing down words to keep on a large piece of paper that pertain to the book that they are learning. These words are helping them to form sentences of their summaries and are helping reading, writing, and spelling. They are also learning the beginnings of punctuation.

Along with beeswax modeling, a traditional Chinese meal, and a little lesson on the Chinese New Year (Feb 3rd this year), we are enjoying painting.

Elena is the type of child who is more comfortable following a model. When she feels satisfied, she then takes little steps to branch out to make something her own.

Charley, on the other hand, has always marched to the beat of her own drum. Even though we've discussed why we lay down the background first and then remove paint to add an element, she was very insistent on trying it this way - putting the dragon down and then painting around it. It was a good way for her to see that it does not layer the picture well, though I admit, it does have a pretty neat effect. It is also more challenging if the paint runs a bit, as wet on wet tends to do. Her picture took a lot longer than the others.

Elena's is listed below...

Setting them out to dry...

The girls are happily preparing to make their First Reconciliation at the end of this month, so we've been heavy into religious education, which fits beautifully in with the studies of the Saints this year. Here Charley is with our long term foster pup, Stanley (10 years old). He's helping her prepare :) Stanley had a dental whereby he lost most of his teeth, so his little tongue hangs out to the side permanently. Once in a while he pulls it all the way in his mouth, but we think it just adds to his charm! He doesn't see well, but he is a total sweetheart. I have fallen really hard for this little senior. We've had him a month now, but he's been in the rescue since August and no interest in him yet (good for me, right?!?! :D)

Another part of the 2nd grade curriculum is learning the basic parts of speech. We have started learning about nouns and verbs. The first week, we tackled nouns. I found some fun books to enhance our understanding. Brian P. Cleary has written some simple books which rhyme and add to the fun. The other selection of books are more advanced, so I cover the first few pages, but then when it goes off on specifics that we are not yet ready for (branching off into more detail than we are ready for at this moment "Imperative", "tenses", "helping verbs") then I am just stopping there. These books (by Ruth Heller) will be great as we progress, but I am finding the Cleary books to be more on our current level.

We always allow lots of time for freeplay and the Ostheimers are still favorites!

This week's saint was St. Antony of Egypt. His feast day was on January 17th, the day after the girls daddy (who is also an Anthony) had a very special b-day!

For this St. Antony, I gleaned inspiration from "Stories of the Saints", as well as the Catholic teachings found online. EWTN has more extensive explanations, like St. Antony of Egypt's found here. Not sure how much I like this book yet, but we'll see over time. We are doing St. Agnes tomorrow for her feast day and a lot of liberties have been taken in the "Stories of the Saints" book. My question is - how true do we need to make them to be historically accurate, especially as a Roman Catholic who wants to respect that history of the church - versus making the story speak to the child with fantastical liberties, ya know? I am trying my very best to do both so I'm finding that pulling some elements from the prewritten stories, coupled with the accounts from the church is probably the best way to tailor it to our little ones.

It was Daddy's birthday on Sunday...

Charley is holding little Ralph - our one week foster
as we help out the head of our rescue.

And finally - some delicious homemade granola!

Charley loves her granola so I decided it's about time I make my own organic granola. I asked the awesome mamas at the Green Tara Mama Yahoo Group and got several great recipes to try. This one came in first and so we gave it a whirl - very good (and easy)!

This recipe came from Leslie K. from the Green Tara Mama Yahoo Group:

Slow Cooker granola (A friend sent this recipe to me, she said it came from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" by Robin Robertson).

5 cups oats
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients in a crockpot. Do NOT cover with the lid. Cook for 1.5 hours on high, then turn to low and cook for 2 more hours. Stir occasionally. Spread on cookie sheets to cool and dry until crispy. Yields about 8 cups.


  1. The paintings and drawings are really lovely.......

    Don't know if this helps but I really like "The Giant at the Ford and Other Legends of the Saints" by Ursula Synge. I was put off the "Stories of the Saints" book by it's Amazon review! I don't know how accurate Synge is, but I really enjoyed reading the book.

  2. The paintings/drawings are so vibrant and bold. Great work. xo m.

  3. I am loving my little morning stroll through your world! Such good things happening at your home.

  4. We really loved the Saints, each year we seem to take something with us and add it to our lives. Thanks for sharing the granola recipe and the cook book it came from. I have been looking for a vegetarian crock cook book.

  5. There is a good granola recipe in Feeding the Whole Family.

    Another book about the saints I'm using is Amy Steedman's In God's Garden. She also wrote "Our Island Saints." Do you know The Catholic Mosaic? It has some wonderful picture books about the saints.

  6. The Neumann Press also has a "Saints and Friendly Beast" series. They are available separately or as a set.

  7. Eva - this is fantastic! Thank you so much. I am going to look into these at once :)

    And Cathy - I wish I could find the Synge book for a decent price - lol! I've heard it's fantastic, but not sure I can drop the cash on it.

    Thank you to everyone else for the comments! hugs to all!

  8. I had one more thought, "The Catholic Mosaic" book list is also available for free online here.

  9. I love the paintings! Stanley is adorable in his little sweater. He looks very content. How wonderful that Charley and Stanley are in a loving home.