Monday, March 31, 2008

Birding

Beginning this month (April begins tomorrow), I was hoping to focus on birds. Bird books. Bird art (both famous and ours). Bird watching. Birds.

I have several book buckets going at any one time, in addition to the volumes on our shelves. Right now we have the general library bucket, the Easter bucket, and the bird bucket.

Today from our bird bucket, we read the following two.




Both books were delightful and just full of wonderful information! The artwork in the flamingo book was lovely - watercolor and gouache. I showed the children how to look amongst the copyright information of a picture book to discover what art medium the illustrator used.

I think tomorrow we must do some sort of flamingo drawing/painting!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pounds and pounds

Life has been a bit busy lately as I am sure you could most likely agree. But I so did not want to neglect blogging about the fun adventure we had on Good Friday morning. How fun? Well, so much that Jacob exclaimed, "I think this is about the BEST Friday I have ever had." All right. All right. So what was so much fun?

We went strawberry picking!


There's a family farm in a neighboring town. It has been there since the 1930's and even though I have lived in the area all my life, I had never been before. Brian had heard from his manager at work that he had taken the family strawberry picking at the farm and really enjoyed it. Since Brian was home, we packed everyone up and headed out.

There were fields full of rows and rows and rows of berry plants.


They gave us our buckets and we filled up four to the brim! It was addictive - you just couldn't stop picking. Every time I thought I had enough and had told myself I was going to stop, I saw about 20 more beautifully perfect strawberries. Finally, we headed back to the weighing station. I think the lady told Brian, "Wow. You got a lot of strawberries." But they were only a $1.25 a pound! What a steal!!!!!! And they were perfect!!!! This was no half decent one pound carton for $3!



Well, it was a lot of strawberries. 17 pounds to be exact. But not one was wasted.



So what did we do with all them strawberries?

-we ate a bunch
-I froze 2 freezer bags full after I washed them and cut the tops off
-we made fruit salad for Easter Sunday
-we used some in smoothies
-and......the best of all......I made one absolutely delectable fresh strawberry pie - YUM!


And now I have told every friend I have about the fun time they too can have. I better get back out there before they pick all my strawberries!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brand Loyalty

I am amazed by how brand loyal my family is! It is downright embarrassing.

Would you believe that we could be so snobbish as to snub Wal-Mart store brand products in favor of Kroger store brand products? I tell you. The horror!

Really.

I am a Kroger shopper. After years of comparison shopping, I have decided that you just don't get better prices, selection and savings anywhere else. Some may disagree. That's OK. (Of course, I secretly wish we had Trader Joe's - is that it?)

Kroger brand "Diet Coke" has a much better aftertaste than the Wal-Mart brand.

Kroger economy sandwich bread - way better!

Kroger brand OJ in the jumbo jug? Nicole won't have it any other way.

And the kicker. I had bought pizza sauce and cheese at Wal-Mart last Saturday to do that night's pizza and tonight's. I used our same super homemade crust, but Wal-Mart ingredients. Who would notice - right? Well, it didn't pass on our little Kroger loyalists. None of the kids would eat their pizza. They usually devour it! So I guess I will have to donate that pizza sauce and use the cheese elsewhere. This morning I bought the good ole Kroger brand.

Thank you Kroger! We love you.

Aren't we just plain weird?

(P.S. It's OK Wal-Mart. I still like you for many reasons.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

The many Easter faces of the resident two year old

And lest you think I forgot to add some photos of our precious Andrew in my Easter post, I offer you this post. He required a whole post all his own!

Absolutely precious and adorable!








Easter 2008


We had a lovely weekend. The weather was perfect. And even though some of us were still a wee bit sick, everything was lots of fun. We are blessed. We are most blessed to be able to celebrate the glory of the Resurrection. We are blessed with a family nearby and a multitude of friends with whom to celebrate and rejoice. We are blessed to have small children who giggle with delight at the thought of what the Easter Bunny might bring. We are blessed!

On Saturday we cooked and cooked and cooked, well I did. Fruit salad, strawberry pie, chocolate pie, pizza dough and pizza! We dyed eggs. We decorated the mantel before bed.


On Sunday we got up and had a little Easter Egg hunt downstairs. We ate way too much candy as well as homemade donuts, smoothies and hard-boiled eggs. Mass was beautiful. We were in the hall (they had simultaneous Masses at 9:30 and 11:30 in the church and the hall) right next to the LIFE TEEN musicians. It was wonderfully joyful and uplifting. I love traditional music, but have a special place in my heart for contemporary Christian praise and worship, especially the Catholic stuff from those like Matt Maher, etc.

We saw friends at church and spent the rest of the day with Brian's parents! The children had so much fun. The day couldn't have been more wonderful!

I give you the rest in photos!


Jacob looking handsome


Nicole in a dress handmade by my aunt


Mikey and his hair

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The sick puzzle

The chronicle is as follows:

Beginning last week...

Wednesday: I have sort throat, cold symptoms
Thursday: I have low grade fever, still cold symptoms
Friday: Michael has low grade fever, my fever is gone, but still have cold symptoms
Saturday: Michael's fever is gone, Nicole begins a fever in the late afternoon, Jacob complains of legs aching (maybe fever)
Sunday: Nicole has a higher fever, Jacob is coughing up a storm, Brian sounds congested and a bit of a cough
Monday: Nicole's fever is gone, Jacob is still hacking, Andrew begins to have a fever midday
Tuesday (today): Andrew still has a fever, Jacob's cough is better, I still have congestion AND now Nicole and I have a fever again!!!!

What is with this???? Crazy! I am not sure how this happened, but here we go again. Hopefully not again and again and again and again. Maybe we'll be well by May.

I just finished reading Melissa Wiley's post on patience and I think I am going to have to reread it about 30 more times!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

And now

Now you can go and read about who the flowers were for!

Sweets on Sunday

What delicious morsels these are to digest.

Palm Sunday

What I woke up to this beautiful morning!

video

If only you could virtually feel the cool breeze on your cheek and smell the strong fragrance of the Wild Plum trees in bloom (lovingly called the "bee trees").

May your day be blessed with such beauty of mind and soul as we embark on this most holy of weeks, Holy Week. God bless your day!

Flowers for a dear friend

Please offer prayers for a sweet friend of mine. Even though you do not know her name, I know I can count on your prayers.





Friday, March 14, 2008

Michael the Bear

video

Determination

video

Lazy Friday

Normally we don't do schoolwork on Fridays, but we almost always have co-op. We enjoy it, but it is so nice to have a Friday free every once in a while with nothing planned. No urgent errands to run, nothing to go see, no holiday celebration. Just a Friday to just be.

I have been sick for a couple of days with a cold - mild fever, congestion, you know the sort - and today Michael has a fever. Maybe that is making it a little extra relaxing. Because of illness we are, in a way, "forced" to be at home and not running.

While Michael took a shorter than normal (I had hoped for more) nap this morning, Jacob occupied himself with reading, Andrew and Nicole were making a tent and I was finishing a little hand craft I started last night.


I thought up this little design last night while I was feeding Michael to sleep (so much of my thought happens in the glider). I had the supplies necessary and after a little browsing on the Internet I was ready to work a bit on some wool felt crafts that I had been wanting to do for a while. I had bought a kit at a quilt show a couple of years back from this lady and have yet to get around to it. I think I have been a bit afraid to mess it up - it is so lovely. I had also bought a little pin cushion pattern to practice on. I thought I had finished it and given it away, but much to my surprise I found it, unfinished, in my box of embroidery floss. Now I realized why it didn't get finished - no stuffing. Around 9:30 I began the little heart craft above. By 11:15 or so I had finished the heart and all the leaves (Not the entire time was sewing - it also included, chores, shower, etc.). While Michael slept this morning, I stitched the two blue circles together and ta-da, I was done! It really goes very quickly.

I made this heart design with some ordinary craft store felt that I had on hand, but I much prefer the wool felt. It is such a beautiful quality and just a hair softer. But this was great for practice and fun.

I really love the forgiving way of the blanket stitch. It is not meant to look perfect and uniform, at least not for this type of project. I am sure there are instances where it would be better to have it as perfect as possible. I found this lovely site that had wonderful embroidery stitch tutorials. I needed to brush up on my starting and stopping, as well as a couple of other stitches. Her "Stitch School" is in the right had sidebar. So very helpful!

I really enjoyed making this little piece. I think I see more in my future.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Even longer

I really loved seeing Blair's current reading list this morning. It made me laugh. Mostly because it reminds me so much of ME! But I think I have her beat. :)



Here is my current list. Some have been going a good while. Some I peruse more than I read. Some I own. Some are borrowed. But they are all so yummy! Who can resist?

Mitten Strings for God

The Essential Montessori
For the Love of Literature
Edith Stein: Essential Writings
Modern Montessori at Home by Spietz
Basic Montessori
The Complete Children's Liturgy Book
Homeschooling at the Speed of Life
Literature Alive by Gibson
Cherished and Chosen
Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace
Full of Grace

Anyone care to "one up me"? I hope so. There have got to be more crazy mommies out there!

Tuesday Tidbits on Wednesday

Here is a super cool link I used today. Jacob is enjoying word search puzzles. So I used trusty old Google and found this (and several other) site where I could create a custom word search for free. I used Jacob's spelling words for the week to create one for him to work! Way cool!

And here is our science lesson from yesterday. I am amazed how much Nicole has soaked up about the blood. Please ignore the icky ugly school glue. That was Target brand that I bought when we began the school year. It is awful - dries weird, all brown and goopy and discolored. I threw it out yesterday and got some new at Wal-Mart.

I love how Nicole's blood is quite well-organized.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Donut Heaven

There just aren't too many people out there who adore donuts like Brian and I do. Don't try and argue this point. I know it's true. Trust me. It is such a strong gene he and I both carry that it has been passed on to Jacob, for sure.

So, recently Dawn had a lovely post about our favorite, donuts. She passed on the recipe for baked donuts and linked to the pans she uses. I drooled and then immediately ordered two pans from Amazon.com (so I could make a complete dozen at once, of course.)

Well, they came about a week and a half ago and we haven't had time to try them out. I didn't want to make them in an unceremonious sort of way. These donuts needed a proper event! So I had planned to come home from Mass yesterday and make a lovely Sunday donut brunch. Oh, my goodness. Not only were the donuts delicious, but the whole brunch outside with our little family was a treasured time.

The recipe was super easy to make. The donuts baked up just like they should. The pans cleaned off like a dream. AND THEY WERE SO GOOD!!! Now, mind you they are not fried yeast donuts, but cake donuts. I was thrilled with how they turned out. I made a powdered sugar/milk/vanilla glaze for some and dyed it yellow since it was such a gorgeous sunny day. The others I dipped in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. They were both super. There was not one left. The kids ate them all - REALLY!

Thanks Dawn for blogging about these. We are forever grateful!

We will certainly be doing these again soon and very often.

P.S. For those of you who count Weight Watchers points: these turn out to be 4 points a piece, unlike most other donuts that are 6 or 7 points each. Yahoo!!!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ah yes!

Even though it is 47 degrees here and WINDY (OK, I know it's not snowing), this makes it all feel much more like spring!

Hope you like!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Rice Box

I had seen the idea of the "rice box" over at Meredith's blog and loved it! She has gotten me very interested in the idea of Montessori. I would love to incorporate some Montessori into our daily learning. To this end I am perusing the lovely websites that Meredith recommends and I have checked out some basic books from the library. How exciting! How rich!

Andrew loved the rice box! He spent an hour and a half playing with it yesterday! As I type, he is outside on the play set with it. What a delight to watch him explore and learn. Yes, I vacuumed a good bit of rice yesterday, but it was worth it. And, hey, it's much better cleaning up dry rice than cooked!


Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Christmas Box

My dear friend, Michele, hosted the Bloggy Book Club for February. Her book choice was The Christmas Box by Evans. It was a wonderful little read. Easy and delightful. Heartwarming and thought-provoking. I do not have lots of profound things to say concerning the book's effect on my heart and mind. I simply offer the following.

At the end of my days here on this earth, I am sure I will not wish that....

...I had spent more time on the computer.
...I had model home inspired decor left unmarred by little fingers.
...I had mopped a little more each week and rescued those dust bunnies from under the bed.
...I had had more me time for personal interests.
...I had spent more hours planning out elaborate lessons and projects for the children.
...I had checked every item off my to-do list.

And, I do not want to find myself wishing I had only....

...colored one more picture or played one more game.
...read more books to eager listeners.
...made more mess in the kitchen baking yummy treats.
...gotten dirty in the yard digging and picking wildflowers.
...spent a few more minutes listening to the bedtime thoughts of little minds.
...given more hugs and kisses.
...worried less about the little things.

Oh, God, help me to focus this Lent, to order my priorities, to bring me back around as I stray. Give me grace to see, like the blind man in the Gospel, the reality right in front of me. Change me, dear God.

Still in love

Twelve years ago today, Brian took me on our first date. How can that be? So long ago? And yet there are so many, many details as fresh in my memory as they were the day after they occurred.

I knew he was a special guy - no, more than that - an incredible guy!

I am so glad he asked me out (and still does). I am so glad he chose me (and still does). I am so thankful he loved me (and still does).

As we enjoyed our lunch out alone today, we talked of the past. I asked him, "What was it that made you want to choose me?" At that point in my short 20 year life, I had not had many suitors knocking down my door. Any? His answers I had heard before, but it is so much fun to remember. Today I told him something I hadn't really thought in a long time. I told Brian, "I always did wonder why no other guy could see those qualities in me. Why could you see them?" I decided that it was because he was meant to see those wonderful things about me and I was meant to see all the good in him. It was no accident. And maybe, just maybe, God kept everyone else from seeing those things so I wouldn't waste too much of my time and energy on "the wrong guy".

However it all came to be, I am thankful. I love you so very much, Brian. Thank you for loving me.