Saturday, January 24, 2009

enjoying GOD's providence happy we are to be thus constrained
and held short by our heavenly Guardian!
And what we are to do is quite certainly nothing
more than we are already doing,
which is to adore the lovable providence of GOD
and to throw ourselves into His arms and into His keeping.
~St. Francis de Sales

it came

and it is beautiful, barb.
i am speechless
that you would do
something so
wonderful for me.
the color is perfect
and i just love it.
thank you and
GOD bless you
for blessing me
on this cloudy day.
i swear i saw rainbows of
color as i
~sorrowful mother, pray for us all.

pretzels, puddles and a little catechism

this rainy saturday
we'll be reading these three great books,
making pretzels
and going on a puddle walk.
i'll post the recipe
if you'd like.
i'm off to get my boots on.
so what are your plans?
well, whatever they may be,
i hope you find
your saturday
is as nourishing
as mine promises
to be so far!

Friday, January 23, 2009

happy things

Jenn has tagged me for this meme.
i wasn't sure that i could compare
with her list of happy things.
but here goes.
here is a peek at my happy things.

this vase, which was a gift from my mama.
she knows how i love roses, especially vintage-y roses.
and then of course the flowers, which were brought in from the yard from
my very favorite brown-eyed girl.

this cotton-y good yarn.
i had it tucked away in a drawer and after making a few red hearts
i realized the pink would be a good companion color.
i am starting to think of yarn as clay. i so enjoy sculpting, twisting and turning the yarn, excited to see if what is in my mind will appear in its' proper form. sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. but i am ever so grateful for the peace i feel when crocheting.

don't these look like candy hearts?
i am hoping to make a garland for the big window in the schoolroom.
these will replace the snowflakes.

and if you've been reading me lately, you know that we are bird crazy right now.
and so last night the darling little love birds were born.
i see a sparrow, a chick and a dove. what do you see?

lid love.
this little heart actually has a purpose.
you see, my lids are always hot, but not hot enough for a pot holder.
so i came up with this crafty little idea.

this shocking pink thrifted tablecloth and this table are at my new favorite spot.
i could sit here forever looking at "clover patches" filled with lady bugs,
tiny flowers peeking out from underneath.............

and then last but not least are
these BIRDS. i cannot get enough of them.
yes, that is a real hummingbird, perched on a branch.
i had to zoom in really well because they are so tiny.
so these are my happy things.
and to continue the happiness
of this meme i tag:


i know it's tiny,
i couldn't get it any bigger for
some reason,
but some friends went
to the walk, all the way

and they sent me
a whole slew
of great pictures
but since i am a great respecter
of people and privacy
this is the only one i'll post!
however, i must say,
that is a great tree.

truly, LOST

first of all, i'm still trying to catch up on season 4, so no spoilers, please.
but i am really frustrated that this show gets inside your head.
we've been watching the last 7 episodes in the"enhanced" version, just
because we wanted a "refresher" course on things we might've not
understood from last spring-remember we went thru a very grueling move
so we got a little behind on this one.
but we're very simple people you see and sometimes we even
fall asleep during an episode (we watch 2 or 3 in a row). and then we have
to go back. but then episode 8 has to go and tell us that Jin is dead. and
episode 7 had so many flashes forward, backwards and sideways, i was
upset about poor desmond, not wanting him to end up like eloise,
mad at sayid and confused about the aaron/kate thing.
i don't know about anyone else who watches this, but i
am truly LOST!

ps. hubby did tell me last night, as we sat snuggled, watching, even though
it gives him bad dreams where he wakes up thinking that the whole world is
in a conspiracy against us, that this is the life and GOD is good. so a show that
makes him think that isn't ALL bad!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


i know there has been some controversy down in blogsville
about the concept of awards, but nevertheless,
because we are all trying to raise soldiers for Christ,
living and loving our faith, being the women who love truth that we are........
we are all lovely and so i am going to pass this lovliness around,
just the same way it was passed on to me by shelly who btw,
has a very lovely blog!
so, in honor of the march for life:
if you were a teen mom,
like i was, and you kept your baby, like i did,
or you did all the right things
and then you welcomed your babies into the middle of it all,
or for some reason, our LORD has given you the cross of not
being able to be a mama, but you're still faithful
well then i think YOU are ALL lovely,
so grab this award for you blog and leave me
a comment letting me know you did and why.
hope you all have a lovely day.
and i am sorry if i've used the word lovely too much.

ps. don't forget to pass the lovliness around!!!
pss. shelly, i hope i didn't break any rules. i just don't want to hurt any feelings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

fresh from the yarn garden

i was photographing these for their new owner.
these are for the yoda craft swap, remember?
and my littlest son comes into the room,
jumps on the bed
and says to me,
"mama, i think you won the yoda,
these are such pretty flowers.
and he's going to be mine."

go figure!

what kind of homeschooler am i? aka a very "word-filled" wednesday post

juli asked me this question the other day and i figured i'd share the answer here, just in case anyone else is wondering what my style is.

well, i am probably not very stylish because first and foremost, the liturgical year is always at the center of our learning. and because we love our faith dearly, so much of what we learn is faith based. therefore, the church year, the saints and even the seasons are taken into consideration whenever i do any planning. and i only plan 1 month at at time.

i guess you could say i am a bit eclectic because i don't use a packaged curriculum or lesson plans. i usually write my own and/or we go wherever the wind takes us.

now this free-spirited attitude does not apply to math or language arts, but only with regards to social studies, history, science and art.

because i NEED some kind of accountability,the older three are and have been enrolled in charter schools for about seven years.
(yes, i know i am accountable to God for what i do, but HE doesn't often show up in an email or at my house saying, "so, what have the kids been learning?")

i realize that charter is not for everyone, but in my case i appreciate the SAT testing, the scoring helps me to make sure we are at least staying on track in the event that any of my kids want to go to college and i also like for someone else to keep attendance.

my kids have always gotten great SAT scores-not in all subjects, except for my oldest, who does quite well in all his subjects, but they are usually phenomenal in language arts and reading. the middle two struggle with their math a little, but are at grade level, so i don't worry too much about it. they learn when they are ready and some things come with maturity.

i only use textbooks for math and right now i am using saxon 4/5 with my daughter and teaching textbooks for middle son, as oldest son is now going to classes 3 days a week and littlest son is 4.

i like both saxon and teaching textbooks because of the teaching CDs, which supplement the curriculum, giving the lecture for the lesson just as they would receive in a classroom setting. this has given me loads more free time to think about other things and i don't take the whole day just to explain math. this became especially invaluable when i had three students doing three different levels of math and a brand new nursing baby.

i started out using lesson plans from our lady of victory when my oldest son was in kindergarten and i have always purchased certain things from them. i love the old-fashioned look to their readers and some of the other books they carry, everything they have is very solidly catholic and is from the 1950's so i don't worry about any "iffy" stuff in their content

unit studies work best for us. i have learned that slow, steady bits of consistent information over a period of a few weeks or even a few days work best. they retain so much more of what they are learning if they are steeped in a subject, doing things that appeal to all of the five senses.

i have and still do purchase curriculum/books from chc, sonlight, beautiful feet, rainbow resource, to name just a few.

i did read the well-trained mind about two years ago and spent a whole summer getting ready to completely follow their method, i bought most, if not all the books listed for each grade and after doing school until 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening most days, because that's how long it took for us to train our minds, i realized that it just wasn't going to work. i don't know what i was doing wrong, but i found it very overwhelming and we were all getting burnt out. now, i don't want to be overly negative about TWTM, because my kids learned ALOT from story of the world when we did units on egypt and rome using said method and i LOVE many of the books recommended in TWTM, but it just wasn't for me. i am not a super-structured person and i can't live that way.

after all, i'd kept my kids out of school just so we could be more flexible and so i took what i could from TWTM and the rest i just had to let go for the sake of my own sanity. that's where the balance comes in.

i don't think we should ever expect to find any method perfect. instead we should just take what we can from a given program or curriculum, sifting through the ideas proposed and then move on, otherwise it is just a big waste of time for you and your children. that is what i always liked about the mother's rule of life written by holly pierlot. she is very specific about encouraging you to find your OWN rule, prayerfully, your own way. not every family situation is the same and we should not expect to fit into another family's mold.

i have been very fortunate to have a best friend, who is my mentor, godmother to my youngest son, who was also a teacher once, degrees and all. and she has always helped steer me towards real learning. i met her my first year of homeschooling and her experience has been like gold to me. but since she is human (and has 6 kids of her own), whenever she goes to far the other way, usually i help bring her back, being her protoge and all. and if i am leaning too far in the wrong direction i know i can call her and have her remind me why it is that we are doing what we are doing, which is EDUCATING FOR ETERNITY (this is chc's slogan, and i love it!) and all the good books and science projects we may or may not experience along the way and the times that our kids really impress someone by how smart and polite they are-are just a few of the little blessings that the Lord gives to us for being fatithful stewards.

so i definitely recommend TONS of real books, encyclopedias (i like kingfisher)and any and all usborne books are great for notebook pages, we do a lot of notebook pages, take trips to the library, outside digging in the dirt/bird watching/sky gazing/rock collecting time, snuggling and reading on the couch, nature journals, art projects, listening to classical music and stories on cd-jim weiss and the classical kids series, feast day and history related cooking.

i recommend and reiterate that CHORES are school. home management, pet care and yardwork does count because these things do help to make decent human beings, so don't ever discount any of those activities.

and you know your kids are learning when in their free time they start to ask for johnny cakes for breakfast even when it's not george washington's birthday and while building a log cabin fort they remember snippets from that biography you read on lincoln. they read highlights magazine for fun and build rocket launchers from cardboard boxes and plastic water bottles.
some of our best days were days like this.

if you are reading this s, you'll remember our peach and blue day where i brought the story and the art supplies, we picked peaches from your trees and made peach cobbler, we painted trees and read that great story about friendship.

i have been so blessed with many wonderful women in my life, women who love teaching and learning and i can't stress enough how important it is to cultivate and maintain these relationships even when life gets busy.

unfortunately our homeschool group does a lot of things which requires at least a 45min. drive for me and this can be hard, especially when mass is an hour and 10 minute drive almost every sunday. but luckily i do have a few friends who are local and we do what we can, when we can.

i have recently implemented a no t.v. while there is daylight rule. we don't have actual t.v. service, we haven't for about 4 years now. i know for some of you mamas with multiple little kids that might be impossible, this rule has not always been in place, but i noticed little son was getting a bit addicted to movies, any movie he could watch, sometimes putting them on secretly. and so now, if the sky is not "black-with-stars" he may not ask me to watch anything.
even if the schoolroom is messier, now that he has joined us ALL DAY, it is a sacrifice i am willing to make.

our learning does tend to spread throughout every room in the house, it cannot and should not be confined to "the learning room", but at least we finally have somewhere to put everything!
i homeschooled for years using our kitchen as my schoolroom, so i've been there..........but it is nice to have a place for all the books, papers and projects which pile up quickly when multiplied by 4.

and then of course there is the praying every day. i don't want to make anyone feel bad, because there are certainly times when we don't, but saying the rosary EVERY day is really the ONLY way to get anything accomplished. the blessed mother is so faithful, she will not let you down. her help is vital to being a good homeschooling mama. i know that without her i am a miserable wretch and it is just better for everyone when we pray as we ought. even though with a certain teenager lately, it can be like pulling teeth!

so in conclusion, my kids probably remember the food and books the most. the intimate moments where learning was on the couch or outside. the times when it just so happened that we abandoned whatever book work we were doing because someone heard a hummingbird at the feeder or we went off in the direction of the art of making a good paper airplane because we were learning about birds and flight. sometimes one thing leads to another and we deviate from the "plans" i've made, but many times, the "plans" are just there so that i have an idea in my head about where we are planning to go. it's kind of like our life is a road-trip, we are taking the scenic route and so you never know when we might stop to smell the daisies or take off on some undiscovered path. i know i've said before that we have had a lot of tragedy in our lives thru the years and that has really affected how seriously i take life and homeschooling. i take them very seriously, but just not in the way that you might think.

i know i am kind of rambling, so i'll stop. but i hope this helps if, maybe you're stuck in a rut and you need to be a little more flexible or if you're too flexible and you need some inspiration to make a few plans. but wherever you're at, just know that i've been there. sometimes my homeschooling journey feels more like a roller coaster ride, but as in every other area of my life, God always provides what i need to keep going.

and so that, my friends, in a nutshell is the kind of homeschooler i am!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the best BIRD ever

using this as inspiration
my middle kids
drew these pictures

of the best BIRD ever
as we learned about
primary and secondary
flight feathers.

the great noun search

is for nouns
the great noun search is on.
i read about this idea in a book my dad
bought me and brought me yesterday.
the kids are searching for ten nouns in the yard,
they are putting them in a pile,
we are going to assign adjectives to each noun
and they are going to write about the things they've
found. i've never seen so much enthusiasm to
do english/grammar!
we're expecting rain tomorrow
so this gives them time outside
and we're getting school
done as well!
oh, and the book, in case you're wondering,
here it is:

i just started it yesterday, but the very first chapter
talks about how
and we've been throwing some ideas about just
that around these parts lately,
so i think i could be on to something here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

our sky

this was our sky today.
how was your sky?
the employees at the starbucks in my front yard called me out to look at our sky whilst they worked away making wheatgrass tea and smoothies.
i love this starbucks because they don't care about things like "no shoes, no service",
they appear to be faithful Catholics, after all, they have a statue of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus right in their store, they use all natural ingredients, they care enough about the environment to share a moment such as this with me, their most loyal customer and best of all, their drinks are free!

p.s. juli, maybe tomorrow i'll try to answer your question,

"what kind of homeschooler am i?"........

(i think she is trying to interview me in a roundabout way=)

for today

outside my's actually cold, there is supposed to be rain on wednesday

i am thinking..........about all of the amazing women i am meeting from this here blog

i am thankful for..........real-life friends, too

in the schoolroom.........i am hoping to finish up the bird unit this week and start

in the kitchen............probably just cold cereal, although littlest son is already eating apple cinnamon rice cakes (in my bed)

i am cotton jammies with painted pink tulips at the bottom and a white, long-sleeve cotton shirt

i am for a craft swap, two more aprons, a new pincushion and a few embroidered dishtowels

i am stay home today and clean, clean, clean

i am reading..........leonardo da vinci for kids

i am hoping.............i don't know what i am hoping, maybe that i'll get rid of some things this week that are cluttering my world

i am husband's truck, he came back home to bring me a cup of coffee and is giving fat cat some milk, a boy munching on rice cakes and a little girl turning the pages of the book she is reading

around the house...........messes in every room

one of my favorite things......this cup of coffee on my desk

a few plans for the rest of the week.........pine needle basket making with a friend, a park day, finishing up a few works-in-progress that are almost done, another digital photography lesson with the middle kids, there is nothing really "on the books" for this week and it's kind of nice
(so far anyway!)

here is a picture thought i am sharing............

a whirly bird

visit peggy for more daybook entries.

maybe even do your own....

i'd love to see it!=)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

this and that

well, the house is a mess so there will be no peace on monday. i am always striving for a peaceful monday, but i can't ever seem to achieve it. but it's ok. this weekend was filled with yummy carne asada, fresh salsa and lots of family. the tub got scrubbed, actually the whole bathroom is quite sparkling-yes, we only have one functioning bathroom right now-the other one needs a makeover. and while it is more shabby than chic, the pedestal sink and chrome furnishings add that country farmhouse look which brings me so much joy.

now, i've probably mentioned here and there that i have a problem with structure, routines and such. but there is a small part of me that is fussy about certain things and spontaneity is one of them. i guess it comes from having so many kids to think about, that is hard for me to do something when i haven't had it in my mind for at least a day, mulling over this and that, thinking about what needs to be done to achieve a certain desired affect.

my husband, however, likes to live dangerously. so dangerously that he'll invite 2 of his 4 sisters (+6 kids and two husbands) over right in the middle of my planned house cleaning day, expect me to entertain and have a good time, even though every inch of the floor in the living room is covered in little bits of paper from various projects this week, i can't really vacuum properly because one of the kids stepped on the vacuum and broke the part that does the floor and the kitchen is teeming with post-friday night pizza making dishes.

call me crazy, but when people being to arrive and i am still in my morning workout clothes and no make-up and then the house is, well, i told you about the state of the house, i get a little panicky. i was borderline rude and ready to not be a good hostess, that's how bad it was.

but then my boisterous brother-in-law says, "we're family, who cares what the house looks like..." and he really means it and my sister-in-law starts washing dishes so that i can "go take a shower", i asked God to just help me to let go of all of my preconceived ideas about my day. because these are the times that life just happens.

and then as the evening progresses, the stars come out and the stories begin. there are plenty of stories of how we all "met" and "when we fell in love" and then there are nieces and nephews, here there and everywhere, mingling with my own children. and i start to think again about balance and how with patience and humility i can learn to find happiness in all of the situations that happen right smack in the middle of all of my own plans about how i think my life should be. i am certainly not condoning a disordered life, there has to be order to a certain extent because our God is a God of order. but there are going to be times when a little chaos and those interruptions happen, but with grace and ease we can handle them.

so at the end of the evening, all the adults are gone, two nieces and my little godson spend the night. i am sitting on the couch, sewing, Christmas lights still twinkling, little boys jump back-and-forth from the coffee table to the couch, making my stitches uneven. my husband, who is sleeping, receives a call that a co-worker is dying and he probably won't make it through the night. i take the call, but he gets up after. so we talk about life and death, living and dying. he remembers my grandfather and the last words he said to him. we ponder what it means to die a good death and live a good life. and i am reminded, once again, how precious life is. things are not all bad. the dishes can wait. life can't and often doesn't. and who cares about monday anyway. with it will come a whole new set of problems i am sure. and, hey, at least i got to sit and finish this lovely new apron i've been working on...........modeled by my niece by the way, because her waist is much smaller than mine. so off i go to get ready for sunday evening mass, to look for my Lord. after all He's really all i need to face tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that................