Monday, February 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 3)

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been making my own list of everyday gifts. God gifts. Starting at one and continuing to 1,000 here is my journey of gratitude:

11. Kids making snow angels. Little arms and legs pumping, cheeks pink, faces aglow with joy

12. Great conversations with sister and good friends-getting filled up with love and encouragement

13. Daughter's singing and dancing. Swaying in time to the sweet melody of innocence and unselfconscious joy

14. Cardinal in the shrubs. Shock of red against dead Winter brush

15. Child conversations spoken in the secret language just for brothers. Navigating the world and their understandings together.

16. Looking through a kaleidoscope with the boys--patterns and color working in partnership to create beauty.

...more to come

Friday, February 25, 2011

Five Years Ago

I'm trying something new today. I recently stumbled on this great Friday blog idea: Five Minute Friday over at The Gypsy Mama. For five minutes you write whatever comes to you on a particular topic without editing or revising. Fun! Feel free to join in! The topic this week is: Five Years Ago. Here I Go...

Me & Luke Spring 2006


Five years ago there were just three of us: Kevin, baby Lukey and me. New mom, insecure, bouncing baby boy to raise. A little lonely, unsure of where tomorrow would take me, I tried my best to enjoy today. A flurry of museum trips, breakfast playdates in pjs, fingerpainting, blowing bubbles. The world was simple and full of giggles. And I, feeling like a teenager just entering high school, navigating the social circles of fellow new moms, wanted desperately to connect. Unsure of what to say or how to be, I yearned for that fellow mom friend, kindred spirit to open my heart with and gain acceptance. Connection. Friendship. Love and support. In the meantime sweet Kevin was the best substitute. Believing in me and lifting up all of my lonely insecure places as best he knew how.


There it is! That was fun. :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Psycho Zone!!!

We all have our days when things start out fine and dandy...everything's running smoothly enough, kids seem pretty happy. But then, IT happens. Suddenly before your eyes your sweet and precious little cherubim sprout horns and flail pitchforks (and where did that goatee come from?!). The orderly house you fastidiously maintain appears, without warning, as if a Tsunami has swept through. The faint sweet peals of joyous giggles like music to your ears turn into cacophonous whines and thunderous thumps. Bumps. Screams. CRASHES. IT. HAS. HAPPENED. That inexplicable little phenomenon we moms don't often acknowledge or dwell upon...

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the...

PSYCHO ZONE!!!!!!!!!

That's right, you've officially broken outside of the boundaries of reality and entered a strange new land. Though moms don't often speak of their journeys to this land, the road is well-trodden and deeply familiar. The trip is never voluntary, yet we walk. Alone, we walk. The path is a veritable wasteland of littered toys, dirty dishes and spilled milk (And, yes in the Psycho Zone moms actually DO in fact, cry over spilled milk).

The destination? A warm bath, an early bedtime and a nice massage. But will you ever get there? Mwahahahahahahahahahaha...perhaps. But only after painful hours of child-induced peril. Be brave, oh fellow sojourner. And take ear plugs. :)

Below is the transformation from a regular happy enough normal (ok, well, I don't know if I can go so far as to say normal!!:p) mom, into a mom who has entered the Psycho Zone.

Step 1 : A regular happy enough day

Step 2: Hmmmm...something isn't sounding too spiffy up there but it sounds mostly under control....

Step 3: Ok, what was that sound?! It sounded oddly like something breaking....

Step 4: Alright, alright, alright, that is definitely NOT what "quiet time" is supposed to sound like! Enough is enough!!!!!!!!

Step 5: You are now entering the PSYCHO ZONE!!!!!!!!!!! (You do not pass go, you do not collect $200)

There's room for one more!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mwahahahahahahahaha!

So by now you might be wondering WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH I would voluntarily post these truly awful pictures of myself for all the world to see. And to that I would answer because there's this really fun contest going on at a blog I follow: We Are THAT Family. The author, Kristen Welch just wrote this book:

The contest is to make your best "Don't Make Me come up There" face. And I knew I had to set aside every last shred of dignity and publicly post my truly awful mad face!! I just HAD to! And, after having a TERRIBLE evening with my kiddos, I felt inspired to write about the PSYCHO ZONE!!!! Hope you enjoyed it. :)

By-the-way, this is my "classic" reeeeeeaaaallly realllllllllllly mad face that my sister and I make whenever we're telling stories to each other. It always cracks us up. It makes me look like I'm 80 years old and someone needs to throw me from a proverbial train. But hey, I'm not above a little public humliation for entertainment purposes. ;) (OBVIOUSLY.) And while we're discussing bad photos these are ALL really awful. (Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I took them myself at 11:00pm by the dim blue light of a computer screen could it?! Nah.)

Monday, February 21, 2011


The *perfect* side dish for a hot cozy bowl of soup!

Ok, so as I, um might've mentioned before, I'm not Old Man Winter's #1 fan. We're not Facebook friends, not BFFs nor Besties. He gets no card from me at Christmas time. BUT there is one thing I love about Winter and that is SOUP!!! And at my house soup usually comes with one of my absolute *favorite* soup accompaniments: POPOVERS. They're warm. They're cozy. They're all cute and puffy. (And could the name get any more fun?!) So let's make 'em! (Oh wait, but first I forgot to add that they're also super easy, require only 5 ingredients and look fancy shmancy to boot!) Ok, now we can get on with it:

You will need:

*flour 3/4 cup
*milk 1 cup, room temperature
*butter-- 3T (salted)
*eggs--2 of 'em, also room temperature
*salt--1/4 tsp

Preheat oven to 450. Divide butter into 12 even slices and place one slice in each well of a 12 cup muffin pan.
Like so:

Whisk together remaining ingredients just until they're mostly mixed. Small lumps are ok.

Place buttered muffin tin into preheated oven (DO NOT add batter yet!!) and bake until butter is a light golden brown and bubbly (approx. 2 mins.)

Remove pan from oven (careful, it's hot!!) and NOW it's time to use the batter. Fill each of the 12 wells about 1/2 way with batter, using all of it.

Back into the oven they go for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. **Important: NO PEEKING until the baking time is almost up!!

aaaaaaannnnnnd, here they are! Don't they just look so inviting? :)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Serve immediately with your favorite soup. (At my house you have to be quick before the boys gobble them all up!) Some people like to use them as "soup scoops" but I prefer mine on the side with a nice big ol' pile of raspberry jam slathered on top.




flour-- 3/4 cup
milk-- 1 cup, room temperature
butter-- 3T (salted)
eggs--2, room temperature
salt--1/4 tsp


Preheat oven to 450. Divide butter into 12 even slices, placing one slice in each well of a 12 cup muffin pan. Whisk together remaining ingredients just until they're mostly mixed. Small lumps are ok. Place buttered muffin tin into preheated oven (DO NOT add batter yet!) and bake until butter is a light golden brown and bubbly (approx. 2 mins.)Remove pan from oven. Fill each of the 12 wells about 1/2 way with batter, using all of it. Place back in oven for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Do not open oven until the baking time is almost up. Serve immediately.

Just an FYI: I got this recipe from an old issue of one of my favorite magazines Wondertime several years ago. It's been love ever since!

Oh, and I also have to add that the flour pictured above is in one of my new fave cooking gadgets: matryoshka measuring cups (thanks for the Christmas prezzie, Sis!)! Order yours today! Don't worry, this is not a paid advertisement. I just think they're so darn cute that everyone should own them! :)

Linked at: Works for Me Wednesday , Raising Homemakers

One Thousand Gifts...part 2

more from my list of 1,000 gifts of everyday grace...

5. pens that flow smoothly and make thoughts permanent

6. spontaneous acts of love

7. popovers fresh out of the oven

8. chubby fingers reaching out with lingering fruit smell

9. peace and quiet of a still house at day's end

10. moments of unplanned joy and laughter be continued

linked at:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chinese New Year Fun (part two!)!

To celebrate the 15th (and final) day of the Chinese New Year, we had some fun with origami! Did you know that although origami is associated with Japan it actually originated in China in the 1st or 2nd century? True story. (I like to insert random nerd factoids into conversation whenever possible. It's a habit that can't be helped.) Who knew that paper folding could be so fun?! (Ok, so actually I knew because I happen to *heart* paper crafts, but just sayin'.) Anyway, onto the origami fun:

We started with a variety of papers and designs to choose from (Thank you God for duplicate sheets because Luke and Adam both fell in love with the yellow starburst paper! Crisis averted! Phew.) Luke chose a boat --bright and cheery just like he is-- while Adam chose a crow--dark and melancholic just like him. :)

a fold here and a fold there...

...and viola!

My goofballs stuck their heads in this shot! :)

Time to decorate! Adam was digging the fact that he was allowed to use (cue horror music) permanent marker!!!!!

Luke's bird

Adam's bird (he probably would've chosen black if it had been an option.)

My bird. She's looking rather sultry, isn't she? I was really just going for cute & girly, but instead I got "come hither." Go figure.

Luke's boat (which upon completion became a pirate ship and immediately started attacking all other boats)

My boat. Yes, that's Mickey on my boat. It's supposed to be a Disney cruise Liner. Hahahahahaha, I'd better enjoy it because it's the closest I'm getting to going on a cruise any time soon! :p

So that was our origami fun! Tonight will be our lantern-lit Chinese food feast!

"...I spied 3 ships a-sailing by, a-sailing by, a-sailing by..." (There goes my Disney cruise liner sailing off into the sunset...enjoy it, lucky passengers! *sigh*)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Or more accurately:

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

(See, that nerd thing happened again. But at least I warned you!)

Linked at: Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Friday, February 18, 2011

Top 10 reasons why I love homeschooling

1. (After this past January I decided this one must make the top of the list!) No snow days!

2. Can stay in bed until whenever I want to. Ok, so not really seeing as 11:00 might be a tad too late for the kids liking lol! But, there is at least some wiggle room in this area.

3. We get to go on field trips whenever we want! No lines, no fuss, no waiting during weekdays!

4. My boys are truly the best of friends. They play together so beautifully and I'm convinced that this is in part because they are with each other just so darn much.

5. Things like baking cookies and holiday decorating are actually learning activities! What's not completely awesome about that?!

6. We can stay in our pajamas all day and no one minds or even knows the difference. (Ok so this list makes me sound like the biggest in-bed-all-day-slob on the planet, but hey, that's cool with me.)

7. We get to explore to far away lands, become pirates, fight space aliens, rescue damsels in distress, slay dragons and travel through time-- all without leaving our doorstep. Everyday.

8. Days off and vacation time is completely up to us!

9. We get to pick whatever we want to learn about-no deadlines, no tests, no stress and no boring lectures.

10. Each and every day I get to hug and squeeze and smother my kids with kisses allllllllll daaaaaaay loooonnnnng (even if it drives all of us crazy lol!).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homeschooling: A Day in the Life

As I mentioned in previous posts, I homeschool my children. Since my oldest is 5, this has been my first more formal year of homeschooling. Our schedule is always different, and the amount we accomplish varies from day to day, but I thought I'd share a little bit of how we structure a typical day at home.

Being the night owl that I am our mornings are pretty laid back and slow to start! I usually wake up around 7:30 or so (as does Megan) and have coffee! :) Luke wakes up around 8:00 and Adam around 8:30. Luke usually plays (educational) computer games in the morning until Adam is awake, while Megan has breakfast. Around 9:00 the boys and I have breakfast. Sometimes I read to the boys while they eat. After breakfast the boys have time for free play until Megan goes down for a nap, usually around 11:00. There is no TV during this time, but they are free to do whatever they wish. After I clear away the table and get dressed I play with Megan one-on-one until her nap.

Once she goes down for her nap I do focused table time with the boys. This varies greatly from day to day, but I try to make sure we hit all of the core subjects (reading, writing, math, religion phonics, spelling). We open up with prayer, move onto the cores and then delve into other activities. We often do art projects, read books, play educational games, do science experiments and occasionally watch movies related to whatever we're studying. The boys do a lot of worksheets and other hands-on activities while I read/teach them the secondary subjects. (This works well to avoid a bad case of the squirmies lol!)

What and how much we accomplish completely depends on the day. Sometimes we'll read a story that has a yummy-sounding recipe in it and we'll scrap the rest of our plans and bake instead! Or sometimes a story we read will give us an inspiration to delve into an art project or other activity. It doesn't take long to get through the core subjects so that leaves plenty of time for other fun. During table time the material sometimes gets a little too detailed for Adam (he's only 3!) and he loses interest. Since he's still so little he's free to leave the table and play whenever he seems "done." :)

Once we're finished with table time the boys are free to play again (Megan wakes up). If it's nice out the boys will usually play out in the yard. (They have LOTS of energy to burn after all of that focused table time!!) Lunch is around 1:30 and after that the boys have a rest (i.e. quietly watching TV on the couch.) We have a variety of DVDs and recorded shows they can choose from such as Disney and PBS cartoons. This is the time that I can get in my chores, emails, bible time etc. (LOVE this time of day!!) I also manage to squeeze in some exercise when I can (usually a DVD of some sort). When rest time is over the boys have more free play time unless there's schoolwork we didn't get to in the morning. (Megan is always an "x" factor in our productivity LOL!)

After that it's just a typical evening: dinner, playtime chores, story time, prayers and bed.

That's how we do things over here! Our schedule is ever-changing but it makes me feel better about myself to think that we at least strive have some semblance of order. :p I'd love to hear about your typical day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum--what we use

Once one makes the decision to leap into wide world of homeschooling there are soooooooooo many decisions to make, not the least of which is (insert dramatic suspenseful music) what curriculum to choose????

While I can't say with any authority what will universally work for everyone (sorry!), I'm happy to share what has worked well for us so far. :) As I explained in a previous post we are what I call "Classically Eclectic and Catholic with a bit of Charlotte Mason thrown in." (Phew, say that 3 times fast!) My curriculum choices generally reflect this philosophy. I am still somewhat of a homeschooling novice, since my oldest is only 5. This has been my first more formal year of homeschooling (although, as all of you fellow homeschoolers know the teaching really begins at birth!). So far it has been a wonderful year! I put together my own curriculum pulling from a variety of resources including both Christian and secular. Without further ado, I'll just go ahead and list some of the materials and sources that we've been using this year:

1) Religion: Seton So far we've been really happy with Seton's religious education materials. Very Catholic, very clear and straightforward with lots of beautifully colored pictures throughout the books.

2) Reading: When Luke was 3 I started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I really love and would recommend to anyone starting with a younger child. About halfway through the lessons we branched out to using other sources including easy readers (thank you library!), A Beka readers and Funnix.

3) Spelling: We've been using both Explode the Code and Spelling Workout. Both are wonderful. We also use a variety of other phonics and spelling workbooks I've picked up along the way.

4) Writing: Handwriting Without Tears. I love love love this program. Luke has done amazingly well with this, and Adam has been working through the preschool workbook. Can't say enough good things about HWT!

5) English: Writing with Ease and First Language Lessons. We haven't used these much yet since we've been more focused on teaching Luke how to read, write and spell.

6) Math: Saxon. So far we're very happy with Saxon. It progresses at an easy pace with lots of review worked into new lessons. It's a great solid Math curriculum.

7) Science: This is a subject I've been putting together on my own. The boys are both naturally curious about science and ask such great questions that we never run out of topics to explore. We've been using the library and the internet as our primary resources. The science section is one of their absolute favorite areas of the library! We come home with bags and bags full of science books. (Good for learning, not so good for mom to have to lug home. Ha!) We also have quite a few general resources at home including several Usborne Internet Linked books as well as books of experiments. I have to also give a shout out to the *wonderful* science series: Let's Read and Find Out.

8) History/Social Studies: This is another subject that I put together myself. We use a variety of online and library resources, but we also use Story of the World on occasion. I don't consider myself a strict classical educator with respect to history (so far, anyway!). We tend to skip around quite a bit based on the kid's interests, but I do really like the idea of the chronological 4 year cycle. I'll probably transition to that model in the future, but for now we're enjoying this more varied method.

9) Memorization: While this isn't generally considered a "subject," I wanted to mention that I'm a big fan of memorization. The kids memorize a variety of biblical passages as well as various poems from The Harp and Laurel Wreath regularly.

10) Art: Since the boys are still very young, art at this point has mostly consisted of a variety of hands-on projects. The boys both ADORE art. It is a huge part of our week! I like to come up with projects that overlap with our other studies, but we also do a lot of holiday, seasonal and general projects as well. I also use the library as a resource to pick up various books such as the Come Look with Me series. We also use Artistic Pursuits on occasion.

11) Music: We haven't done much yet in the way of formal music lessons, but Luke has expressed interest in playing piano so I plan to teach him. (I happen to be a musician, which comes in handy! I sing and play piano.) We do lots and lots of singing throughout or days, finger plays, listen to a wide variety of music as well as playing instrument identification games. We also pull out this book on occasion: Kids Make Music! Music is certainly a huge part of our lives!

12) Foreign Language: We haven't started this formally yet. We still need to figure out what will be the best direction for us. The boys have expressed some interest in learning Spanish, so we might move forward with that. We've also toyed with the idea of Latin. I'd love to hear your feedback if you have some to offer in this area!

That about sums up the nuts and bolts of our curriculum choices for this year. I thought I'd also list some other general resources that I love:

The big book of Catholic Customs and Traditions a wonderful book of ways to celebrate liturgical seasons and feast days throughout the year

--The Well-Trained Mind Such a useful resource for any classical homeschooler

--Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home A great book for Catholic homeschoolers interested in the Charlotte Mason method

--Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from preschool through high school A wonderful resource for anyone looking to design their own curriculum

--Kidssoup A great online resource for worksheets, craft ideas and other ecucational materials for the preschool-kindergarten crowd. (membership is about $20 per year)

... there are so many more that I love but there's just too many to list!

Homeschooling has been such an amazing journey for us and I look forward to seeing the ways in which our family changes and grows in years to come. I'd *love* to hear your comments on what you use, recommendations or other feedback! I am quite the curriculum nerd and always find it fascinating to hear what works for others. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a little frozen comfort

My poor guy Adam came down with a stomach bug last night. Suffice it to say it was one looooooong, sleepless and messy night of sheet and pajama changes. :( Stomach bugs are just plain no fun. But the worst part for me is the feeling that there's so little I can do to alleviate his pain and discomfort! Well, in a stroke of mommy-genius (rare occurrence) I came up with something to bring just the teensiest bit of joy to him while he rested on the couch: Water Popsicles. This way Adam stays hydrated while not drinking so fast as to induce more vomiting, and there's added bonus of homemade popsicle fun. It's a win-win (or more accurately a "win-win-win," right? Sorry, nerd moment.). Since this one needs no recipe (Ingredient: water. Directions: freeze water) I'll provide a picture of this smashing success instead:

Ok and just one more:

While this might seem like completely obvious knowledge to some of you, this water popsicle thing actually felt pretty inventive to me. (Maybe that's because I got about as much sleep last night as I did when Adam was one day old.) But put your worries to rest, I'm not about to go seeking a patent or anything...I'm not that far gone (yet). Just wanted to share the tiny bright spot of our long cartoon and snuggle-filled day.

My poor little man. Those eyes. I mean, honestly. *Sigh* But anyway...

Here's hoping you don't ever need to use these, but if you do, they worked for me! :)

shared at: Works for Me Wednesday

Can't Help Lovin' That of Mine

One of the really wonderful things about living with someone is that you get to know all of their quirks. Okay, I know, I know-- this is also one of the really um, challenging things about living with someone! Well, this post is actually the marriage of the endearing with the er... less-than-endearing aspects of Kevin and me respectively. (Lucky Kevin comes out shining and I just end up looking like a big ol' slob! But that's ok!)

I have a confession to make: I'm...what one might call a bit um, "dish challenged." Sure, I do the dishes what feels like ALL-THE-TIME, but I admit that I do have an ever-so-slight tendency to let them pile up just a bit first. (I choose to blame homeschooling for this, but feel free to draw your own conclusions.) I'm gonna go out on a limb with this one, but I'm guessing my dish-challenged ways are not at the top of Kevin's love list. But, like a good husband most days he just goes about his own business, refraining from mentioning the mounting clutter emanating from the general direction of the kitchen. However, every once in awhile he breaks down and washes them himself (reason #1 why I love him!). But here's the funny quirky part (reason #2 why I love him!):
before he does the dishes he TAKES A PICTURE OF THEM FIRST.

That's right. No joke.

Without a single word or mention, while no one is in the room Kevin finds the camera, points it at the sink and *click.* Dirty dishes forever preserved. A slovenly still-life for my eyes only. (Occasionally there's even a few different angles and zoom shots to choose from!)

Fast forward about three days later. I turn my camera on to see what little cherubimic pictures I've captured of the kids and--what before my eyes do appear--but a Michelangelo of Mayhem! A Picasso of Putridness! A Degas of Disorder! A Renoir get the picture. With this single act Kevin speaks without volumes saying a word. The message is loud and clear: "I was here. I did the dishes. You're welcome. You're a dish slob but I love you anyway." It's not a hostile message, no silent subdued rage (reason #3 why I love him!). Just a silent little reminder from him to me, that he was there and he helped. And every time it makes me grin ear to ear. Not only because of the help he provided which I so desperately needed (although this is a very valid reason!) but also because he is just so wonderfully weird. And he's all mine. :) Aaaah, that's love folks. I mean, who needs roses when I've got dirty dish pictures, anyway?

Monday, February 14, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 1)

One of my favorite recent reads was Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. It's such a beautiful book of praise-filled prose. I love the way she encourages others to relish the beauty of the everyday gifts from God. I immediately felt inspired to create my own list of 1,000 gifts. I thought I'd share my list with you in bits and pieces.

1) the excitement of cracking open a brand-new book, the inky paper smell wafting around promising new insights

2) frothy, steamy, dreamy over-sized mugs of cappuccino that bring alertness

3) the faintest hint of Spring thaw in the air this afternoon and the pinkish hue of the tree tops from a distance (buds in infancy)

4) the sight of my sweet little girl "feeding" her baby doll and cooing "be-be, be-be" as she did it

5) warm and cozy winter nights beneath fluffy down blankets

...more to come.

I'd love to hear some of yours!

Linked up at:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...