Friday, September 28, 2007

Can we get much crazier?

If last nights adventure to see the harvest moon was crazy, then this morning was over the edge! I was going to get up early again anyway. I knew Brian had an early meeting. But I had forgotten he had wanted to get Jacob up early to see.....

the International Space Station flying directly overhead.

Nicole happened to get up at the same time we were waking Jacob.

So there we were, in our front yard, in our pajamas, watching a zooming "star" cross through the dawn sky. What a wonderful thing to see. It is an awe-inspiring thing to realize that we are looking at a massive structure in space that actually has people on it. Here we are. We can see it. How cool!

I am not sure how much more crazy we can handle.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wild and crazy

If only I could always be this crazy......

This evening Brian had just left to go to a book study with a great Catholic group of guys and I was working to get the kids in bed early. I heard the phone ring and heard Brian on the machine. He had called to tell us he could see the great big beautiful orange harvest moon while driving. We were finishing up story and getting ready to settle in bed, but after a brief hesitation I found myself ushering the kids downstairs "to see something cool." We were quite disappointed that we couldn't see it. The moon was too low in the sky and we were surrounded by all the big trees on our street. How sad!

Well, then I got even crazier!!!!! (Yes, this really is wild and crazy and so out of character for me, especially when I know the kids need to be in bed early.) We really were about to turn out the lights when I found myself herding the kids downstairs once more - this time to the car. We piled in and drove around the neighborhood until we could see the harvest moon. It probably was not quite as big and orange as when Brian had seen it, but the kids were excited. We got home and the children couldn't stop talking about how much fun it was to go see the harvest moon in our pajamas, "so late." How precious.

Are these the things they will remember most? The time Mama let us pile in the car at bedtime to go see the harvest moon? Yes, I believe they will. I am thankful I did it. I didn't even know the Holy Spirit could inspire us to be so crazy.

Happy Autumn!

5 a.m. is early

But I am thankful.

I actually got up early today. I have been setting my alarm for 6:15 a.m. for weeks now. I have not responded to its persistent call one single time. I am always so tired. We get to bed late and Mikey still wakes at night.

So this morning he woke up at 5 a.m. to eat. He was bright and chipper, rolling and talking in bed next to me for a good hour. He did fall back asleep and I put him back in his bed. Lately, I would look at the time, hop back in bed and then get up frustrated at 7:30 a.m. But this morning, Brian was up early and I decided to bite the bullet. I rested till 6:30 a.m. then got up! No small miracle for me.

It is nice. It is quiet.

I am sure I will feel tired later, but that is nothing new lately. At least I had a bit of quiet before the bustle of the day. That is why I have always loved rising before everyone else. Just me and God and a cup o' coffee.

We are off to the museum today. Brian's parents are coming along with me. It should be a fun morning.

Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's nice to be nice


Thank you Sweet Suzanne for thinking I'm "soooooo nice." It is a precious honor. Some days I don't feel very nice, but with God's grace I try. And with His help I can be more than nice. I can be a model of His love and forgiveness. I can be cheerful and thoughtful, kind and full of generosity.

I am not sure if they've already won these awards, but I tag...

1. Most Amiable Melissa

2. Magnificent Michele

3. Radiating Robin

4 Kind Kris

5. Nicest Nicole

They are more than nice. They are my closest friends and my daily encouragement!

Our Autumn Reading Basket


I always love looking in other's baskets, so here is a little look into ours. The book choices are nothing new and original, but they are a source of wonder and joy.

We might add more as we come across them and soon we will add a new read aloud, but this is the list for now. I will add it to my sidebar and update as I can.

Enjoy!

Leaf Man
Nuts to You!
Columbus Day
The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed
Apples and Pumpkins
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
Autumn Across America
Autumn Leaves
Apples
The Pumpkin Book
Autumn
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving Story
Thanksgiving Is...
Pumpkin Moonshine
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
Every Autumn Comes the Bear
In November
Crawdad Creek
Pie in the Sky
Scarecrow
Pumpkin Town!
Pumpkins
Christopher's Harvest Time

P.S. If you have not yet read Leaf Man, it is a treat!!!! We got it from the library last week and read it yesterday. It is a neat book! I am in love. I think I've said that before, but oh well. Get it. Read it. Then do your own Leaf Man. You'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Way to go Scout!


Last night Jacob attended his first Tiger Cub Scout den meeting at our church. He has been looking forward to it for so long now. I think he really enjoyed it.

As he ran ahead of his Daddy to jump in the car, I blinked. All I saw was a great big tall boy with great big new tennis shoes growing up way too big way too fast!

Sometimes it is hard to remember every little detail, but I do recall Jacob when he was seven months like Michael. And now seven months has turned into seven years this December.

I love you, Scout!

Monday, September 24, 2007

He found it!

Brian and the kids bought me a squirrel feeder for my birthday and this weekend we finally got it hung on the playset near the kitchen window. We have two squirrels that have been coming for years. I think I said this before: if you see one squirrel that squirrel is Nut Burier and if you see two squirrels the first one is Nut Burier and the second one is Acornetta. Got it? Good. Anyway, we love our squirrels. They love our yard. Brian wasn't too convinced that they'd visit the feeder there, but I've seen them on the playset before not too far from the spot. And, this morning after breakfast, Nut Burier was spotted. What joy! The kids are so enjoying standing at the kitchen sink watching him. It is so much fun to see those big black eyes staring back at you! I love it!!!


How can it be?

How can it be...


that my brand new baby is now closer to being 1 year old than a newborn?

that my littlest baby can already army crawl like a little speed demon anywhere and everywhere?

that Mikey is getting his first tooth TODAY??????

that he is eating all sorts of yummy mushy baby food like a little champ?

that seven months have flown by in the blink. of. an. eye.???


Little Michael, happy 7 months! While I am slightly saddened that your babyhood is flying by and hoping that I haven't missed anything, I am overjoyed and terribly excited to think that you are growing and changing and that with each passing day I will learn more and more about who God made you to be.

God bless you little one!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What does Diet Coke have to do with contraception?

Everything!

I had been meaning to read this article at Catholic Exchange all day and I finally got around to it. This article really makes a clever little analogy to drive a very difficult point home. I enjoyed it and thought it was an easy, good read. It is a meaningful, memorable way to present the idea of NFP and contraception to young engaged couples - anyone, really.

But I still don't think I'll be giving up Diet Coke anytime soon. :))

And on a side note: He is right! Everything here in Texas is a "coke."

St. Therese


If you are interested in praying the St. Therese novena, it is time to start. I printed off the prayer from Elizabeth's blog. Thanks! I thought this would be a good way to help the children prepare for her feast day celebrations!

A P.S. to a P.S.

Earlier this afternoon, around 3:45pm, I believe, I said the following:

"As I reread this post, it seems like we were busy, busy, busy all day long, but actually it was quite a relaxing family day!"

And this was true at 3:45. I just didn't know that the busy, busy, busy would come between 4:30 and 6:30.

After feeding Michael I took him with me to my bedroom to finish up a little quilting project. In honor of the beginning of fall (well, maybe I just really wanted to do some quilting and this was a good excuse) I began yesterday sewing up this fun little table runner. Robin gave me a charm pack of Moda fabrics (Harvest Bouquet) for my birthday and, if I'm not mistaken, she suggested the table runner idea. Good idea, Robin! So I used most of the squares and came up with this table runner.


Aren't these fabrics just delicious??? Thank you, dear friend.

It is not done. This is just the top. I have to run up to the quilt shop this week with my gift certificate in hand to buy some material for both the backing and binding. Here is the line of fabrics (partial). Any suggestions or preferences?

Then things continued to pick up. I didn't realize that all the things I had planned for dinner were going to end up being so labor intensive. The chicken was perking away in the oven, but the potatoes had to be peeled, cut, boiled, and mashed. The apples had to be washed, cored, stuffed and baked. The cauliflower need washing, chopping, seasoning, "cheesing," and baking. The table needed setting. Everything needed to be cleaned up. And all this after an afternoon of crafts and baking! Whew! I think I may have worked off the cookies I ate. I hope.

But dinner was tasty. The baked apples were a hit! We didn't manage the scavenger hunt, but we are taking the week off of school (year round this year - a post on this later), so maybe there will be time during the week.

Busy two hours? Yes! Still, it was a lovely day. Praise God for the autumn and the excitement it brings.

Happy First Day of Fall!

Yeah! It is the official first day of the fall season!

I do love fall, even though we will have to wait another month or so for it to really feel like fall. Here in Houston, the first day of fall rarely brings with it cool temperatures and breezes. It will be weeks before we see colored leaves dropping from the trees. Sweaters will remain packed away a good while longer. But that's OK. It is the spirit of fall we capture and enjoy and revel in today.

So.....let fall begin!

Today we ushered in the season with a whole host of activities and fun. Before Mass, I was a real creative genius and I used a leaf shaped cookie cutter to cut a leaf out of their microwave pancakes. Now if that doesn't win me "Mom of the Year", I'm not sure what will. Seriously, frozen pancakes or toast is about all we have time for on Sundays before Mass. After lunch we made a fall leaf craft (I think Melissa did this one last year!) which was fun and turned out really nicely. Daddy even made one too! That was a fun treat for all of us since Daddy isn't usually here when we do crafts during the week.

Then we read the Gail Gibbon's Apples book and the worksheet to go with it. We cut open an apple crosswise so we could see the apple's seed chambers and the star shape they make. Of course, we had to eat the apple too!!!


Once Michael and Andrew were down for naps Jacob and Nicole and I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.


This recipe was so generously shared with me by Melissa. They are tasty!!!!! (Maybe she will post it over at Mixing Bowls and Measuring Spoons.) We doubled the recipe and it made so many cookies!!!!! I remember doing this last year and we had plenty to freeze. They froze really well.

This evening we will end this lovely Sunday with a nice Sunday dinner (as we call it here in Texas). Roast chicken, homemade mashed potatoes, cheesy cauliflower, baked apples and, of course pumpkin cookies for dessert!

Hopefully
, time permitting, we will have time for our own little Autumn Nature Scavenger Hunt. I love this idea. What great way to get the kids looking closely at the details of creation around them!

Until then, the littlest ones are still napping, Brian is reading to Nicole and Jacob and I am waiting for the last batch of cookies to come out of the oven. And there are still fall books to be read!


I pray this autumn will be a time of abundance and blessing for all of you, my dear friends and family.

P.S. As I reread this post, it seems like we were busy, busy, busy all day long, but actually it was quite a relaxing family day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blessed Busy Mess

I think I may have stated the other day that "my days are blessedly full and happy." They are. Today has been another of that sort of day. We do not spend our days running from place to place, doing errands and such. We are home most days, for the large part of the day. Yet, still the pace keeps me hoppin'.

I am not as early to rise these days as I used to before Michael was born. And I get myself in bed much later these days, often times only to be awakened by Mikey's call for nourishment (or comfort, I'm not sure which) a mere thirty minutes after my head hits the pillow. One night last week I ran up the stairs to bed at 10:30, telling Brian as I nimbly leaped, skipping steps along the way, "I just want to close my eyes before I have to wake up!!!!"

Many weekday afternoons, at a point when both Michael and Andrew are asleep and Jacob and Nicole are quietly occupied and the chores are somewhat done and the house is tidied and my sad old 32 year old body gives out, I will finally settle for a quiet moment....only to hear a little one wake up. In a bewildered, bitter tone I utter, "Gee, someone didn't sleep very long at all!" That is, until I look at my watch and realize the nap was nice and long, but I was going the entire time. That's not a bad thing, just the way things go these days.

Today would have been a perfect day to roll out of bed and be a mean old Mommy. Michael was wakeful most of the night. Then after sleeping from 2am to 4am in his bed, he woke crying after wetting his entire bed and himself. After changing him he spent the next hours next to me again, during which my allergies decided to make an all out attack and I developed a horrible crick in my neck. If I sniffed too loud, Michael moved. If I turned over to rest my neck, I found I was hanging on to edge of the mattress. All of this and then we didn't even start eating breakfast until 8:45! The scandal! Yes, I tell you, I was primed and ready to be a grouchy Mommy.

But I wasn't. Could it be possible that I didn't even have the energy to be a crab?!?

As the morning progressed, like many mornings, we needed to clean up from breakfast, Jacob needed to begin school, Nicole wanted "to do school," and Andrew wanted to color and cut and glue. And, of course, Mikey was tired from his wakeful night and only wanted to be held, except for a short play spell with the bucket of plastic vegetables. All this. All at once. All this while my hot pot of coffee smirked at me from the counter - poised so smartly next to my empty mug. I was ready to be a crazy screamin' Mommy.

But I wasn't. Was it that I was so delirious from lack of coffee that I couldn't even muster up one little barked command at my little ones?!?

Lunch was approaching. We needed to do more work. But we also needed to eat lunch and clean up so we could make it to the library after Michael woke up from his nap. Then I stopped and looked around me. Disaster and chaos! That's all I saw. Toys littered every bit of available space on the floor. Glue sticks, scissors and paper were found on most table tops. Dishes were still in the sink and the dishwasher (a pet peeve). Laundry lay wrinkling in the dryer and mildewing in the washer. Spilled Raisin Bran still needed vacuuming. I was stepping in sticky puddles of juice. Jacob was working on his family tree. Andrew was still in the process of dumping out most available buckets of toys and flipping out puzzles. Nicole was begging to eat lunch and "do more school." This is usually when boiling point creeps near and Mommy threatens to become a bona-fide Jekyll and Hyde.

But I didn't. Was I in a trance, not able to morph into "that other Mommy?"

Nope. I was calm. My choice? All in my power and control to do so? I think not.

By the grace of God, surely.

As we drove to the library after lunch, I fought off a yawn and that car-induced sleepiness. I had a few quiet enough moments to think and reflect on the reality of things. The reality, I discovered, is NOT that my life is spinning out of control, as I would be so inclined to think in my silly little head. No. The reality is that my life is in so many, many ways SO out of my control. Somehow, in this morning, jam packed with obstacles threatening to steal my joy, my Guardian Angel was able to save me from cratering, from becoming that Mommy I do not want to be. And under the safety of his wings, I was able to step back, look and see that amidst the calm and the mess, my children were happy and occupied and learning and loving (minus a few squabbles here and there). I can honestly say that I do not want to abandon diligence in caring for and teaching my children and maintaining our home. It is good for me. It is good for the children. But I did observe that the mess is pick-up-able. The dishes will be done. The laundry will be folded and hung. The glue will be wiped up. And Mommy will get to sit and rest, albeit just for a moment and not hours. And if I can let go, if but for a short while, and let the mess be mess (and maybe even allow myself to enjoy it a bit), then that short moment of rest will be sweeter. That joy will not be stolen.

How do I know this?

Well, I sit here now. The glue is gone. The papers are put away. The dishes are done. Some of the laundry is folded. My children are happy reading and playing. And I am having a moment of peace to write. And it is sweet.

Poetry Performance

Last year, in Kindergarten Jacob began memorizing poetry. We used the poetry suggested in the Laura Berquist Kindergarten syllabus. This year I have chosen my own from this book to fit the season or something we are studying.

Jacob is a real champ at memorizing. When he has learned the poem, he illustrates it and adds it to his poetry binder that we began last year. Today we also took video of his recitation for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

video

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shallow Water

That is where my thoughts dwell these days. I have so little depth to offer you all these days. My days are blessedly full and happy. But I have no time to really think. Therefore I have no time to really write anything of great substance.

So until I can muster up the energy to go deeper enjoy your wade down in the shallow end.

Fall is in the Air

Well, Melissa gave me the bug once again. She changed her blog template and colors and header and now I must do the same. With the impending approach of fall (officially this weekend, weatherwise in Houston, more like November), I thought it appropriate to add a little fall flavor to The Great Adventure. I think I like it. Let me know what you think. Anything too hard to read? Colors not pleasing? And so on and so forth.

The pumpkin patch photo is from last year. No Mikey. When I have a new one, I will change it. Until then enjoy the other kids.

While I was searching for the perfect pumpkin patch pic, I came across this All Saints Day photo from 3 years ago. I just wanted to cry. Where has time gone? Who are those children? They are mine. They are firmly engraved in my mind and heart. What a sweet precious life I lead!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Snipets from Jacob's Water Fact File

As we study rivers, oceans and other water habitats, Jacob is compiling a notebook, the Water Fact File. Weekly he includes information from books or places we have been. It has been fun to work on and I think he will enjoy his binder full of information when it is complete.

Here are the pages he created today. We finally printed some beach photos and he wrote a little description to go with them. Today we also printed some of the photos from our nature exploration at lunchtime. We had learned about captions recently, Jacob glued his photos on the pages and wrote his captions to the sides.



A Blog of Note

A sweet friend of mine told me about a lovely blog: Sweetness and Light

If you have never read her blog, Meredith is sure to delight you! Her writings are filled with joy and exuberance. Her blog is full to overflowing with amazing ideas, beautiful resources, top-notch materials, and a plethora of links. I could spend days here! I am in awe and wonder at the beauty of her home life and all she offers her sweeties. I can't wait to peruse this blog to my heart's content.

Go now and enjoy!

Nature Notes

As part of Jacob's studies with the First Grade curriculum from Mater Amabilis, he will study Geography. This study includes:

*Map studies
*Family Geography - making a family tree and then researching several places where relatives were born
*Earth Studies - Rivers, Oceans and other water habitats.

We needed to choose a local water habitat to visit throughout the year. We will observe its characteristics and note how things change with seasons and weather. I had lofty hopes of choosing a the coolest water habitat around. I am not sure where that would be, but my common sense got the best of me and we opted to make our visits to a nearby park that sits on a creek. I am hopeful that in choosing this nearby location, we will go more often and that it will not require great superhuman feats to get there! I hope. I want it to be something we enjoy doing - not stressful.

And enjoy it we did. Today we spent our lunch time doing a little nature exploration. The weather was so pleasant yesterday and we were hopeful that the slight coolness and breeze in the air might linger a bit today. (Just a note: We get a bit silly here in Houston when the temperatures dip below 90 degrees. Really! The humidity was even down to 48 percent - glorious.) It was a bit warmer at midday when we headed out with our lunch bag, picnic blanket, bags for collecting treasures and our camera (got a new one over the weekend- you know to replace the recently busted one). We drove a short 3 or 4 minutes to our local park that sits on Clear Creek. We chose a spot to picnic in the shade. It was nice and pleasant and breezy. After eating, we made our way down to the water. We couldn't get as close to the water as we would have liked at this location in the park, but we were still able to observe. Maybe next time we can find a spot to get a little closer. The kids had fun looking closely at their surroundings and collecting items to add to our nature collection. We took a short walk through a little herb garden and then we spent some time playing on the playground equipment. It was a thoroughly enjoyable outing.

Here are a few photos of some of our observations. Now, mind you, these do not rival the gorgeous nature photos Melissa takes, but I offer them just the same. Enjoy!

Anybody know what these flowers are?


Clear Creek - yeah, I know, it's not really clear.


Weeds along the creek! WOW!


We really like these pretty lavender flowers growing amongst the weeds.


Can you see the blue damselfly? We had fun following him around and trying to snap his portrait.


Golden Silk Spider - it is a giant. We have seen these a couple of places lately.


Pine tree sap oozing from the trunk of this tree - nifty.


These berries were the prettiest purple. I looked them up and found out the plant is called Purple Beautyberry. How appropriate.


A little brown froggy we saw hopping along. He was very well camouflaged and no bigger than a quarter.


We marveled at these lumpy things growing on this dead log. We guess they are some sort of fungus. It made us want to pull out this Magic School Bus book.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yelled to me from the other room just a second ago....

Nicole: Mom, how old are you???

Me: 32!

Nicole: (with whispered wonder) 32?

I smile to myself.

Nicole: (yelling again) 32?????

Me: Yep.

Nicole: (much louder amazement this time) WOW!


I'm glad this conversation ended right about now. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I have figured it all out

I was reading Danielle Bean a little while ago and then, while nursing Michael to sleep, I had what I would definitely call a divine revelation.

I have figured out how it is possible to make and have dessert every night of the week while still following Weight Watchers and never gain a pound!

Have more children!

You see, Danielle has seven, almost eight, eating children and a husband to devour most desserts in one sitting.

I think I get it now!

Beachtime Birthday

It was a wonderful birthday!

Last year I had wanted to go to the beach in nearby Galveston on my birthday, but it didn't work out. The shuttle launch had been delayed and so Brian had to spend the majority of my birthday helping to get it off the ground. In addition to the shuttle, Mother Nature decided it would be a great day for an all day downpour. This year I was so hoping that the weather would cooperate so that we could have my birthday at the beach. And it did!


We had gone to Mass Saturday night so that we could get going on Sunday morning. We were up bright and early (the norm with little ones, even if it is your birthday) and opened presents first. The kids are always so excited for me to see their treasures they have chosen. We had a yummy breakfast and started packing our food and the rest of our gear. We managed to make it out of the house by 10:30. It seemed we took most of the house with us, but in hindsight we were glad - we didn't want for anything. We arrived at the pocket park a little later than we should have. We passed it up the first time. These pocket parks are nice. You pay $8 a car to get in, but that small fee gets you a parking lot, fully functioning showers and toilets, a nice pavilion area and easy access to the beach. In truth, I would pay a lot more just for the toilets!


The weather was great! Not too hot! The rain held off. While we were there, the winds whipped up as some rain clouds came near, but all the rain seemed to skirt around us the whole time. We played and played and played. I spent some relaxing time with Mikey in my new beach chair under the umbrella and walking in the waves.


We ate some PB&J (why does it taste so good when you are hungry?) and played some more. We spent a fantastic four hours enjoying our lovely beach. Some might complain that Galveston is not the most lovely beach. I know there are far more beautiful beaches in the world. But I am thankful that we even HAVE a beach nearby (30 minutes) that my children can visit more frequently and enjoy.


It was a perfect beach birthday.


That evening, after we showered off the beach we brought home, the gang made me a cake and we grilled steaks for dinner.


The whole day was so much fun! And all this was in addition to all the other fun I'd had. On Friday night we had birthday New Mexico enchiladas at Brian's parents house. His mom made me the cutest set of kitchen towels as a gift!


And THEN...On Saturday, Robin and I attended a used book sale and went out to lunch - nothing better! We even went out to eat on Saturday night after Mass!

Thanks to all my friends and family that made my day so special. And thank you to my parents for giving me life and loving me.