Thursday, January 30, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken
My dear hubby was gone over the Christmas break and so to keep myself from focusing on my loneliness I did quite a bit of crafting.  I saw an idea for something like this hair clip holder at a friends house (except hers was more thought out and better executed) and then got a few ideas off Pinterest.  In the end though, it was mostly me and my sewing machine, some fabric and bits of ribbon that figured out how to pull off what my brain was conceiving.  This is the final result:
 It's not perfect, but it works.  And it brings some much needed color to an otherwise drab bathroom.

A friends mother came up with a wonderful idea.  She invited a few younger moms over to have what she calls "Mommy's and Mentors" (M&Ms).  Dinner, dessert, crafts, games, chatting, and offered advice on motherhood.  And it's all free!  Last night was the first night, and it was so much fun.  I won two of the bingo games, and of course the prize was chocolate.  For the craft we used her Cricut to make Valentine's cards for our husbands (and now I am ahead of the game!).  Dinner was awesome, but the best part was being able to just chat with friends and have a lovely evening sans kids.  This is planned to happen once a month.  Let me tell you, the knowledge that I got to go do this last night was what helped me get through an otherwise crummy day.

My little Froggy is a funny guy.  I am often surprised by how a little baby can have such a large sense of humor.  He is (mostly) always smiling, and it does not take much to get him laughing.  Which of course makes me laugh, and that's saying something!

Baby cookie and banana chunks.  What more could a baby ask for?
This is my planner from this morning.  (If you can't read it, click on the picture to make it bigger).  Besides the obvious slacking in the to do department (the post it list was written two weeks ago and is still not finished), notice the numbers 1, 2, and 3.  This is where I write down the three things I am thankful for everyday. 

Some mornings it's really hard to be thankful, when you would just rather be in bed.  :)

Go see other contentment and get inspired at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Growing Pains

Guess who's growing up? 

My little Miss Sunflower gave up her pacifier yesterday.  Granted it was with a lot of coaxing from yours truly, but in the end it was her that did it.  We loaded up an envelope with all of her paci's (There were 12.  She was very much attached to them.) put a To: Baby Francis (her newest cousin) on it and loaded it in the mailbox.

I'm not going to lie and say it was easy.  She cried a little at naptime, but bedtime last night was really no different from any other night.  (That means the girls giggled and chatted and played until I disciplined them by closing their door.)  And she is very proud that now she is a big girl and doesn't need to sleep with a pacifier. 

This morning she looked out the window and saw the flag was down on the mailbox.  "Hey!  They took my paci!" No.  It was me.  But I'll let the mail lady take the heat on this one.  :)

Next step.  Potty training.  Ah-hem.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

We do not start Co-op again until February which means we have actually had a few free Fridays.  Since the weather this time of year is so nice here (my apologizes to all of you up north who are FREEZING) we decided to go to the nature preserve.  That's where we saw these Canadian Geese.  There were many, many more behind these ones. So pretty.
Happy is the baby who learns to crawl and no longer has to wait for mom to bring him approved toys.  This picture was taken a month ago, when he still didn't crawl and the books on the table behind him were safe.  No longer.  But still.  It's a happy day when the baby starts to crawl.  Or something like that.
Do you know what else is happy?  My floors.  I finally took the advice of Leila (and also from this book which I highly recommend) and bought good matting for our doors.  I ordered them extra large and only slightly cringed at the price.  They came in yesterday and I immediately set about sweeping and mopping the floors so I could put these babies down.  

I ordered the 3 foot by 5 foot size and got two for inside (back and front door) and one for the back porch (which is where most of the offending dirt and grass from little feet comes from).  Not only will my floors be happy, but also my tired broom (not to mention the tired sweeper).
On our visit to the nature preserve, we stopped by to feed the ducks.  I'm not sure who was more excited, my children or the ducks.  They were so happy to have food (the ducks, not the kids) that they began to fly up onto the little dock and got very close to us.  The girls didn't seem to notice the duck eating spilled bird food right behind them.  They were to busy dropping food in the water.

From Instagram the other day:

One of these cold cups of coffee is from today. The other is from yesterday. I can't tell...which one do I warm up?
In all honesty and forthrightness, I picked the fuller of the two.  And then after microwaving it and taking a couple of (much needed) sips, I forgot all about it.  I'm learning it is a luxury to drink a full cup of coffee in one sitting.  For this I much get up much earlier than I am, I think.

Go visit more contented people at Like Mother, Like Daughter.  And have you seen their new blog?  Don't forget to update  your feeds!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Human Life

God has put all his love into creating that human life.  That is why we have no right to destroy it; especially we who understand that Christ has died for and has given everything for the child.
-Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Because most media refuses to cover the thousands and thousands of people marching on Washington today you can go to EWTN to see the coverage.  My niece is there and I'm so proud of her!  I know I'll be watching and praying.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moving Forward OR First Semester Recap - Part 2

In my last post I talked to you a little about how burned out we had gotten in this past semester.  (And do read the comments, there are some great suggestions!)  I also mentioned that I did indeed have a plan for this new semester.

When I looked at the reasons why I was burned out, why I felt things were being neglected, and why I had so much guilt I noticed three things: 1) my original plan was really a pretty good one, 2) I need to learn to be flexible and understand what are "extras" so I can cut back on those when I need too, and 3) I need to take more breaks.

Quickly addressing the first.  I put a lot of thought and time into making our plans for this school year.  The resources I brought into our homeschool have the potential to enrich our learning. Plus, I like what I'm teaching, and Fritter likes what we're learning.  That's important!  The lesson learned here for me is that there will always be seemingly better programs out there, but I do us a disservice when I am constantly allowing myself to be bounced around from program to program.  I actually end up making more gaps in my children's education then if I just left things alone.

Secondly, in these early years what really matters is that we have a strong core.  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  Anything outside of that is really just extra.  A good extra, to be sure, but still just extra.  If my children are good readers, anything they want to learn is literally at their fingertips.  Over our Christmas break I saw this played out repeatedly.  Because we have so many little ones, we have an enforced quiet time in our home between the hours of 1 and 3 pm.  This means that the three youngest lay down to take naps (and lately Ladybug spends most of that time either reading or standing on her head in bed, a few times a week she will actually nap) and Fritter has a rest time where he is free to read anything he wants and after around 2 or so he can do something quiet.

Lately during rest time, Fritter will pull out our atlases (we have an addiction to maps around here) and scour through them, or any of his science readers, or whatever else strikes his fancy.  Then when his reading time is over he will usually get out his bin of markers and construction paper and make "books".  He brought a map of Arizona to me that he had drawn (not traced!) that I thought was incredible!  And we haven't even begun to study geography this year!

The lesson here is that when things are smooth sailing and we feel we can do more, then those extras can be freely added in.  But when we are struggling, then it's time to pull back a little and just focus on doing what the curriculum calls for.  And I can trust that we are getting enough without worrying about whether or not we are finishing our books by a certain time.

Lastly, I need to take more breaks.  And so I have officially decided that we are switching to a year round school effective immediately.  The summers here are so hot and awful anyway that those three months become wasted time.  Except for early mornings we can't really play much outside and so we end up watching three months of tv.  Personally I would rather have those three months scattered around the year than in one big lump.  So in practice what that means for us currently is that we will get a one week break at the end of February, I'm taking three weeks off for Holy Week and Easter, we will take all of June off and start in with our new school year in July.  After that every six weeks (give or take a week) we will take a week break, and finish with our first semester right before Thanksgiving.  And then we get to take all of December off so we can just enjoy our Advent and Christmas and do all the things we want to do during that time.

These decisions have helped me get excited for school again.  Speaking of which, it's time for school and the three year old is screaming!  :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First Semester Recap - Part 1

Yesterday was the first day of our second semester.  If you want a reminder of what our original plans were you can go here.

When we finished our first semester in December my only thought was, "Thank goodness."  I, we actually, were very burned out.  And Christmas and Advent were a total blur, thanks to general busyness plus a trip for my dear hubby and Fritter to Wyoming the day after Christmas.  So really I didn't have much of a chance to even think about why we were so burned out and what I could do to help fix that for the next semester.  When there is no time to even sit and think for this introvert, a crash is coming quickly.

I tried to do quite a bit, filling in our lesson plans with things I thought we should do, and things I thought would be fun to do.  Obviously this is fine, except it's very hard for me to know when to step away and say this is too much.  I keep plowing ahead.  On a high level, looking down, I can admit the reason for this is because I don't fully trust the process.  I am very much stuck in the public school education mentality, which is what I (like most people) received.  So for first grade our curriculum doesn't call for a regimented science or history, and we are told to read good books.  I truly believe that that is the best way.  I get it philosophically.  But practically?  I don't trust that what I'm giving can possibly be enough.  And so I add more, and we don't manage to get to it, and then I feel guilty, because we are however many chapters behind in various books, and it all adds to a mentally exhausted mama.

And? My house was not being cared for, which heaped on more mommy guilt, and I have an almost three year old who is into everything and is very needy, and an eight month old (who is by comparison a breeze) who also needs me.

So.  What am I going to do about all this?  Because something has got to give and if I don't come up with something it will be me.


And unfortunately that's all I have time for right now.  It's time for school.  But I do have a plan so if you can be patient with me, I will try to post it a little later.  In the meantime, tell me.  Have you run into these same issues in your homeschool?  What have you done to mitigate some of this?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What We've Been Up To

 Want to know why I haven't been posting much?  Because we've been so busy living!  Here's a bit of what we've been up to.

We (Ladybug, Froggy, and I) took a trip out to Wyoming to visit grandparents in November.

My grandpa who is 94 years old.  He is one of the main reasons why we made the trip. 
My grandmother on my mom's side is another very good reason why we went home. 
And we got to visit my grandmother on my father's side as well.  It's been so long since I've gotten to see her so this was a very nice treat.
This is my beautiful mother.  It was nice to spend time with her, and I can't wait until she gets a chance to come out here and visit everyone.
We also celebrated birthdays.  Fritter turned 7 if you can believe it.  I can't.  We had a little party for him at the park.  
Fritter loves airplanes and rockets and space and so I made these little snack rockets for the party.
The boys that came to the party all received airplanes, and the girls got bubbles.
The only picture of Fritter's rocket cake.
My Ladybug turned 5 at the end of November and so we decided to have a little "girl only" tea party for her.
Complete with pottery painting.
Her cupcake cake.
We spent time watching Fritter play soccer.  It was quite a lot of fun this year, since he's really grown to understand and enjoy the game.
 Fritter and Ladybug participated in our parishes Christmas play.

At practice.  Fritter was a shepherd (he's in the blue shirt on the left) and Ladybug was an angel (in the white shirt on the right).
 We tried to enjoy our Advent which was anything but quiet.  But we did what we could.


The kids did most of the tree decorating themselves.  We didn't have the energy to tell them to put one ornament per branch.

We made salt dough hand prints for Daddy's Christmas present (and ornaments with the left over dough).

We played with nativity sets.

St. Nicholas paid us a visit on his feast day and brought books, slippers, and chocolate.

We participated in a Jesse Tree Swap which was a lot of fun.  There were so many great ornaments it's hard to pick a favorite.

My contribution to the swap (Adam and Eve).  I call this picture "The Snow Ball".

We managed to get a decent family picture taken and Christmas cards mailed out to arrive after Christmas Day.  I'm very thankful Christmas lasts longer than one day!

Froggy celebrated his first Christmas!

Sunflower got a new quilt made by Mommy. (So did Froggy, but of course no pictures.  Maybe in a future post.)

Sunflower also got her first haircut!
We went to Zoo Lights on New Years Day.
And we visited dangerous places with signs that told us to KEEP OUT!
Froggy explored his inner Daniel Boone.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Can You Hear The Crickets?

Goodness but it's been a long time since I've posted anywhere close to regularly.  Not that I had many readers anyway, but I'm sure those I did have since quit checking in here.  Note to self: Make New Year's Resolution about posting on the ol' blog at least twice a week. (ha. haha. ha.)

Since we are on the subject of New Year's Resolutions I thought I'd talk about that today.  I just checked and saw I didn't actually post anything about resolutions last year, and since I don't remember what they were...well I guess I didn't fail anything.  I've done the words of the year thing before, which was actually pretty helpful, mostly because it's hard to forget something so simple.  One year my word was JOY.  Another year it was PEACE.

This year I'm doing something a bit different.  During morning prayers the other day I had the inspiration to look up the verse where us women are told something about keeping a quiet, gentle spirit.  Here's the actual verse:

Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. - 1 Peter 3:3-4

This is what I plan to ponder in this new year.  How can I become a little gentler?  A little calmer?  What is the hidden character of my heart like?  Lots to think about here.  I suppose I could use the word GENTLE for this year. 

As a family, we are focusing on the basics.  Helping each other become healthy.  Not so much in the physical sense (although that is a consideration) but more so in the mental and spiritual sense.  Sort of going back to the basics.  Are we getting enough sleep?  Enough (quantity AND quality) food?  How are our family relationships?  That sort of thing.

To help implement these thoughts into more of a concrete action, I am going to start making a new resolution each month.  Michelle used to post her new months resolution on her old blog and I love the idea of focusing on something each month in order to stay focused and stay current with whatever happens with our lives this year (I hope you don't mind me borrowing it Michelle!) . 

January's new month resolution is simply focusing on sleep.  How much am I getting?  Am I waking up on time (which around here means by 5:45 so I can have time to myself for prayer and getting dressed and making my husband's lunch before the house explodes at 7)?  What is our sleeping environments like?  Are our rooms comfortable and relaxing and mostly clean?  Are those who need them getting naps?  Are those who don't need them still getting rest during the day?

And I will hopefully be back to post a little more regularly soon!  Happy New Year!