Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

I have to preface this post by saying that it pains me greatly to not have any photos from yesterday. I took a bunch, too, but lost them all last night! I kept getting a "file error" message while trying to transfer them to my computer, and finally the only thing I could do was just reformat my memory card, losing, in the process, all the photos I had taken during the day! Sniff! I'm sure I don't have to tell you how sad that made me. :(

However, despite my lack of pictures to prove it, we really did enjoy a lovely feast day yesterday! It's one of our favorites! This beautiful image of St. Michael is one I printed, trimmed, and laminated to use as a cake topper for the delicious devil's food cake we made for dessert last night. Get it? Because Michael battled the devil? Okay, that's probably pretty obvious. ;)

For breakfast we had St. Michael's Waffles, and, because "it is a tradition that blackberries are no good to eat after September 29th because 'the Devil spat on them when he was cast out of Heaven into Hell on Michaelmas'!" we topped ours with warm blackberry jelly! They were so yummy!

We read the stories of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael from our books of saints, and Dylan did a wonderful job of copying the St. Michael's prayer onto this gorgeous image of St. Michael battling Satan! He and the girls also did a splendid job of coloring the images shared by Charlotte for this special feast day!

Hope you all had a lovely feast day, as well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Embarking upon the Alphabet Path!

We've really been enjoying our state-by-state scrapbook, adding a new state, in alphabetical order, twice a week since we started school this fall. Last week, we learned that the apple blossom is the state flower of Arkansas, so I thought it would be nice to study apples for our next day's science lesson. Of course, then I got to thinking that it would be fun to do a little apple craft, and figured I could probably even find a yummy apple recipe to extend the theme, and after a while, I remembered the lovely Alphabet Path down which so many of my fellow homeschool bloggers have been traveling this year!

While I thought they were quite lovely, I never intended to incorporate these lessons into our own school year, because, quite honestly, I was a little bit intimidated by so much creativity! But Blair, Charlotte, and Jessica have had such sweet recent posts that I decided to sample the first lesson, "A is for Apple Blossom", to see how well it would be received by my children. They loved it! And, I have to admit that although I have virtually none of the recommended resources, we still managed to make do very well with many of the books we already own!

I printed the cover page and first few chapters of the Alphabet Path Storybook, and found a collection of beautiful flower fairy coloring pages online to get us started along our own Alphabet Path. We read about St. Anne from A Catholic Child's Illustrated Lives of the Saints, but soon, I'd like to actually purchase the core "texts" of the Alphabet Path: An Alphabet of Catholic Saints, A Flower Fairy Alphabet, and, ideally, the Flower Fairies Alphabet Coloring Book and Museum ABC. (Sorry, Darren. My wishlist just keeps growing!) :)

So, here is a small sampling of what we managed to accomplish for our experimental "A" week! (Maybe I should also mention that this was really just "A" day, because I didn't decide to try this until Wednesday night and we don't do school on Fridays!)

We started by reading the first installment of the Alphabet Path story, followed by a short story about St. Anne, and we worked on some really beautiful coloring pages of the Apple Blossom Fairy (from the site mentioned above) and St. Anne (generously provided by dear, talented Charlotte!).

Meghan, meanwhile, was busy with some Letter A coloring pages that I printed just for her!

(Oh, and I should mention that breakfast was also a huge waffles with syrup and powdered sugar! YUM!

We read many lovely books that day, including How do Apples Grow?, Apples, Johnny Appleseed, The Giving Tree, and Ten Apples up on Top. There might have been more, but these are the ones I can remember off the top of my head! We finished the day by stamping cut apples onto some apple quotes that I printed for each of the three older kids. They had so much fun with these! I would say it turned out to be a very successful day!

Up this week is the letter B, for which I've got a few more fun things planned, and I'm off now to go make some Breakfast Burritos to get us started! Hope you all have a great Monday and a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Meggie

Oh, my Meggie. This girl has had more haircuts in the past week than she's ever had in her whole life! And most of them have been her own doing! I've had to hide all our scissors! She cut her own hair once before, but since it had been so long since that isolated incident, I never imagined she'd do it again. Wrong! Lately, though, she hasn't just taken little snips around the sides of her face....oh, no. Actually, it did begin that way, which I managed to even out well enough. But then it got a little shorter right in front, and I had to try and fix that, too. The only thing I could do was give her bangs, which she hasn't had in a long, long time (not since she was a baby) and, apparently, she didn't like them--she decided to cut them off! Yesterday I was too upset and overwhelmed to even attempt another repair, but this morning I figured I had better try again. I started by trying to even out what bangs she had left, and then she and Caitlyn decided that while we were at it, her hair should be shorter all the way around, so I figured, What the heck? Why not?! After a while, she was sitting in a heap of hair, and under the circumstances, I do think she looks pretty cute! I just hope her bangs grow out a little more before it's time for Christmas pictures! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome, Fall!

From the learning room: Beautiful fall artwork, inspired by these layered fall leaves at Art Projects for Kids. (We didn't have oil pastels, but achieved an equally pleasing look with soft pastels.) Artists, from top to bottom: Caitlyn, Dylan, and Mommy!

From the kitchen: Warm Tasha Tudor Toffee Bars, served on a lovely platter from my Nana, with our charming tea time read aloud. (I saw these posted on Jennifer's blog a few days ago, and knew I'd have to make some! Super easy, I whipped up a batch during lunch prep today! Recipe can be found here.) Delicious!

Around the house: Brand new Apple Cinnamon Glade PlugIns, plugged into just about every available outlet! I love the smell of fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

20 weeks!

Well, after posting that I didn't have a 20 week belly shot earlier today, I decided that I really did need (or want!) some pictures of this milestone! So when Darren got home from work this afternoon, we had an impromptu photo shoot in the backyard! Photo credits go to Darren, Dylan, and Meghan, who all took turns with my camera! My favorites are the ones with Caitlyn, as she is such a little mama, going with me to my appointments, reading all my pregnancy books, asking all the time about our baby's current development, and always wanting to see or touch my growing belly. So sweet!

Family happenings

So, instead of studying today as I should be for the ACLS recertification course I have this weekend, I went ahead and made a new template, anyway! I just have to change with the seasons! I figure this one should last me until Christmas. :)

In other news: today marks 20 weeks of pregnancy! Sorry I don't have a cute belly shot to share, but even if I had one of the kids take a picture of me right now, it most assuredly would not be cute. I feel huge! I have an appointment for my 20 week ultrasound on Monday and I am SO EXCITED!!! Monday also happens to be Dylan's eighth birthday, so it's going to be a big day for our family!

I have these photos from the first day of catechism that I promised my mom I'd post. Note the three fresh scratches on Dylan's cheek! One of our kitties got a little too playful just as we were about to leave that day; it looked awful! Still, he managed to look mighty handsome! And Caity looked so pretty. I am absolutely loving these school uniforms! :)

Caitlyn really enjoyed her first day. She's been looking forward to going with Dylan ever since he started back in Kindergarten! She really liked her teacher, and Dylan's is one of the sweet volunteers who remembered him from this past summer's VBS. Cheers to another fun year!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Out and about

I'd love to fashion a nice new fall face lift for my blog, but have absolutely no desire to sit in front of the computer for hours on end as is always the case when I get drawn into a project. I took a look at a few free pre-made backgrounds, but eh. They just didn't seem quite right. So, yeah. Guess I'll be sticking with the irritatingly springy template I've got now, much as it's begun to grate on my nerves. I am ready for fall!

Our days are developing again a pleasant, although more activity packed, rhythm now that school has started and it's quite a nice change from the directionless days we endured throughout the summer. Laziness does have it's fine points, but only in minute doses and for a very limited time. Months on end is just too much! Next year, for sure, I'll have to be more careful about keeping us active over the summer, even if we are officially on a break from schoolwork.

Seemingly overnight, we've become quite involved in various out of home activities and I'm just thrilled with how happily my children are responding to their new pursuits! Dylan and Caitlyn have actually been enrolled in a gymnastics class for homeschoolers for a few months now, and we plan to keep them there for a while! It meets for an hour once a week and is run by a husband and wife who are just wonderful. Meghan can hardly wait to turn four in December so she can join, too! Dylan and Caitlyn just love it there and look forward to it all week long!

After seeing an announcement in our church bulletin, we recently signed Caitlyn up for the American Heritage Girls program sponsored by our church. She LOVES it and there are so many sweet little girls involved with whom I just know she will make fast friends! And so many of the moms are women I've admired from our parish, so I, too, am so glad for the opportunity to make new friends! Caitlyn and I are really looking forward to a great year enjoying this special interest together!

I think I've mentioned before that my younger brother is such a talented musician. I've always dreamed of him teaching my children, and today that dream became a reality with Dylan's first private piano lesson! I can't believe I forgot to take my camera, but Dylan was just beaming. He was so happy, and so enjoyed his lesson! He came home and started practicing right away, and is already asking when he can have his next lesson. (Which should have been next Monday, his birthday, but I had just scheduled an OB Ultrasound earlier this morning for the same time! Oops! Looks like we'll have to work that out.) I am so proud of him, and how well he did today, and so proud of my brother for being such a great teacher!

Finally, Dylan and Caitlyn will begin their CCD lessons at our church this Wednesday afternoon. Dylan's been going for two years now and really likes it, and I think Caitlyn will really enjoy the classroom setting. I'm looking forward to having that hour each week to run some errands with my two littlest girls! :)

I'll be decreasing my hours at work beginning in October, and I'm really looking forward to having more weekends home with my growing little family! These days have just been so exhausting, but it is so worth it. I was afraid that today I would just be a mess and was actually near tears last night as I fretted on the phone to my mom. I had worked all night Saturday and didn't sleep for as long as I would have liked on Sunday, and then had to go back to work until 1 a.m. Of course, I didn't actually get home until a little after 2 this morning (I would have done better had it not been for that admission I got just before reporting off!) and my alarm was set for five. Darren actually took Dylan to work with him for a few hours this morning, though, and surprisingly, I couldn't even fall asleep again after they left! I got up and instead greeted my girls as they woke, then made chocolate pancakes and gave them all a nice warm bath together. I took Caitlyn with me to the appointment I had with my midwife this morning, and we were so happy to hear that strong heartbeat! We all ate lunch together when we got home, then Darren went back to work for a while and the rest of us worked on school. Dylan's piano lesson was late this afternoon, and, while the rest of my family is in the next room watching Monday night football, I'm still wide awake at nearly 9:30! I can't believe it! All that worrying for nothing! I thought there would be no way I'd be able to make it through today. I don't usually fare so well after so little sleep. ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009


We've had a great first week back to school, but still, I have to say--it was awfully hard returning home from this:

As we were driving home, I asked the children what they liked best about camping. Caitlyn was quick to respond, "No TV and no computers."

I couldn't have agreed more.

Life is nice in the mountains.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Book About Me

Megan asked in the comments of my previous post, "Would you be willing to share the questions you use for the "Book About Me"? I would love to start these with my kiddos!"

I'd be happy to, Megan! Thanks for asking! These are really just simple questionnaires that I created at the last minute for our first day of school last year, but I really liked them and wanted to continue the tradition! To respect my children's privacy, I'm only showing the blank templates I made, and really, there is so much more that could be added to these! In the future I might add more, but I think for now these few simple questions are enough. I loved their responses to some of the questions, and I know that one day they will enjoy seeing them, too! Here's how Caitlyn's "Book About Me" looked:

I almost forgot to mention that the final page of their books is titled Here is a picture of my family, with ample room for their illustrations. Also, I'm not clever enough to come up with sweet little poems on my own, so the verses that accompany their handprints were found by googling "children's hands poems". I can't remember at which specific site I found the poem for Caitlyn's book!

These really are fun to make, and I know we will treasure them for a long, long time!

Back to School!

We started back to school yesterday and it was wonderful! Our morning began with a yummy breakfast of monkey bread, fresh strawberries, and some delicious hot cocoa. We had hoped to make it to Mass at 8:15 (the children at our parish school have Mass every Wednesday morning), but unfortunately, Darren's truck had a flat tire so he ended up taking the van to work. To be honest, though, some of my children overslept and we actually weren't even sitting down to eat until after 8:15! So, obviously that plan never would have worked even if we HAD the van, but Wednesday morning Mass is definitely a goal I want to strive for in the future!

I couldn't wait to get them all dressed and ready for school! We're trying something a little different this year with the implementation of school uniforms. They are something Darren and I had been considering for a while, thinking that they might help put us in more of a mind set to "do school", and I had even browsed around online at a few retailers. I found one site that had some darling little jumpers, but decided to wait for just a bit more while we thought about if for just a little longer. The very next day, though, I had to make a quick stop in Goodwill and happened to find two of the exact jumpers--in Caitlyn's size!--that I had been looking at online! And a shirt to match, too! I tend to view finds like these as a sign, and snatched them right up for $3.75 a piece. :) I had been thinking of any combination of navy and dark green, so these work perfectly! Dylan already had a brand new pair of khaki pants that were still a little too big last year but which fit him perfectly this year, as well as polo shirts in both navy blue and forest green, so he was set. And Caitlyn's new jumpers, combined with two navy/green plaid skirts and white tops she already had, complete her school wardrobe! I'm not really worrying too much about the two littlest girls, although I have to say that I was just giddy to find the most darling little dress for Meghan during that same trip to, navy, and white plaid, with little apples adorning the collar and smocked top! Too, too cute!

Dylan, a big second grader!

Caitlyn, our sweet Kindergartner!

Meggie, ready for preschool!

Kristen, our merry mischief maker :)

Everybody was excited to start lessons after morning prayers! I had them start with another "Book About Me" with the same questions as last year so we could compare how their answers change from year to year. They really loved these! They also loved their boxes of brand new school supplies. :) Meghan was so happy to be doing school with us this year, and we all really loved working on the state-by-state scrapbook we'll be making this year.

We're looking forward to another fun day today, with homeschool gymnastics this afternoon and Caitlyn's second meeting of American Heritage Girls this evening! Another exciting school year is off to a great start!