Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29 - The Feast of St. Thomas Becket


Intercessory Prayer to St. Thomas Beckett
O God, for the sake of whose Church
the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men:
grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid,
may obtain the good fruit of his petition.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who livest and reignest with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.
Amen.



Friday, December 25, 2009

I got a baby for Christmas!


Despite my fears of going into labor over Christmas Eve...

Richard and I were wrapping Christmas presents, when the mild contractions I'd been having off and on all day suddenly became more intense. It was about 1 a.m.

At 2 a.m., I decided to go to bed, but couldn't sleep through the contractions, so I started timing them. I called my midwife at 3:30 and told her THIS TIME I was 100% I was in labor (I'd called her with 3 bouts of false labor in the two weeks prior).

Richard and I woke the kids at 4:00 so they could see Santa had paid them a visit and play with their toys before being shuttled off to Nonnie's house. My midwives showed up around 4:30.

I had the birth experience I had hoped for, but not exactly according to plan. I didn't have a water birth - I utilized my tub for pain management (getting in and out a few times), but at one point I fell asleep during contractions. Because I felt the tub was slowing my progress, I got out.

After roughly 11 hours of labor and 45 minutes of pushing, I gave birth in my bed to our son, Thomas Becket. He weighs 8 lbs. 2 oz. (a big baby for me considering my others only weighed around 6 1/2 lbs) and 20 1/2 inches long. He has brown-black hair and looks a lot like my youngest daughter when she was born.

Speaking of the kids - we waited until they came home to tell them that they had a new baby brother! I wanted them to see him for themselves!!

By the way, I feel absolutely FABULOUS! Sore and tired, but fabulous!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EVICTION NOTICE

This was posted on one of my pregnancy message boards I frequent. It's cute, funny - and hitting close to home at this point! :)



Dear Baby Boy/Girl:

I love you dearly, but it's time to go. I no longer want to be your mobile home. I understand that the lease agreement covered 40 weeks, but there have been some issues that have not been resolved.

First, there has been structural damage done to the exterior siding of your home, and I'm sure there will be some inside as well once you vacate and we are able to inspect the property.

Second, since you moved in, there have been constant plumbing problems, to include frequent leaks and sewage back ups.

The neighbors tell me that your midnight parties keep them up, and sometimes they notice strange sounds and foul odors around your home. I also understand that you have been kicking and hitting some of the furniture that was provided to you at no extra cost.

There is a hearing scheduled with the judge on Tuesday to determine when the enforcement of this eviction will occur. I strongly urge you to vacate the property voluntarily BEFORE the official eviction date, otherwise the authorities WILL come in and remove you by force.

Thank you for understanding!

Love,

Mommy

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

iPhone, Baby

Well, I'm 37 weeks today... that means FULL TERM!!! Woo-hoo!

With the thought in mind that I might go into labor sometime in the near future, I decided to check out iPhone apps I might be able to use now, during labor, and once the baby comes.

Counting Baby Kicks
Not that this has really been an issue for me (since this baby is the most active one I've experienced during pregnancy), I did find a baby kick counter app. The Pregnancy Kick Counter by Ethan Productions is a FREE app and very easy to use. Essentially, once loaded to your phone, you touch the screen (on the touch button provided) and for one hour, timer provided, you count the number of kicks. Each time you feel a kick, you touch the screen and a number appears in the silhouette pregnant belly of the pink woman on your phone's screen. If you reach 11 kicks in an hour, a message stating "Your baby has reached the amount of movements required within an hour."

What to Expect
Another FREE app, What to Expect (based on the widely known pregnancy book by the same name) provides countdown, gestational age, and baby size (compared to various fruits - my baby is the size of a watermelon this week) based on your estimated due date. By clicking on the Week by Week option, you can get information about your body and your baby for the week of your pregnancy. The Photo Booth option allows for storage of your pregnant body progression in pictures.

Contraction Timers
I downloaded three contraction timing apps. The first two, Labor and Contraction Timer by Michael Kale and Stage 1 by Arboretum Software, are both FREE. Both help time the duration of and period between labor contractions and both are easy to use. However, for $0.99 I purchased Contraction Master. Not only can you easily start the timer (by simply pressing the "Start" on your screen) and stop the timer (again, a simple touch of your phone screen), but the program will tell you the duration and the frequency of your contractions. The program also keeps a History of your contractions which you can then email from your phone. I'm DEFINITELY looking forward to utilizing this app (sooner rather than later, I hope).

Breastfeeding
Breastfeed
is another FREE app I put on my phone. This app provides breastfeeding information including Early Breastfeeding Management from birth to 48 hours and 48 hours to 2 weeks. There is also a menu for Breastfeeding Information including Medications and Frequently Asked Questions (topics include pumping, latch difficulty, supplements, weight loss, and more). Many of the topics provide internet links instead of information within the program, but it's a handy iPhone reference tool, nonetheless.

My FAVORITE App
Total Baby by Andesigns
is the best app I've found for baby management - and I haven't even had the chance to use all of the fabulous features... yet. Total Baby will keep up with information for up to 6 (I believe) children. I've already added info for Casey, Will, and Tricky - as much information as I could remember/find. For each child entered, you will get their age (including years, months, and days) and time until their next birthday. You can also enter milestones - milestones you select and once selected, along with the date the milestone occurred, it will give you a list and how old the child was when the milestone was reached. Doctor visits, growth, vaccines, and allergy information can also be input for each child. And from the main screen of the program, you can easily scroll through to select a child. Oh! Adding a picture of each child is also a feature!

The features I haven't yet explored are the Diapers, Feedings, Baths, and Sleeping timers. In the first few weeks, I am very meticulous to track diapers and feedings. I want to make sure my baby is eating often enough and is creating enough output to let me know that the feedings are going well. [One minor drawback to breastfeeding is that you don't know exactly how many ounces baby is getting each feeding, but tracking wet and dirty diapers helps to know if baby is getting enough to eat.]

The Diapers feature allows you to track wet and "BM" diapers. For wet diapers, it will record the date and time; you can also input a description and note whether the diaper leaked. For dirty or (as the program calls them) BM diapers, not only can you note the same information as wet diapers, but you can also tell what kind of dirty was made - whether it be firm, meconium, seedy, soft, etc. and you can also choose a color (gross, but sometimes necessary). The main screen of the Diapers feature will hold a history of diapers changed.

The Feedings feature allows you to time the length of the feeding, detail whether you used the left or right breast, choose the type of hold used (clutch, cradle, cross, lying down, or saddle holds), and type notes for the particular feeding. From the main screen of the Feedings feature, a history will be kept of the feedings.

Sleeping and Bathing can also be tracked in similar fashion.

For $4.99, I purchased Total Baby - A LOT cheaper than the Itzbeen timer I've been eyeing (retail $20-$25) and Total Baby provides so many more features, with information I can store for much longer!


I hope this list and review has been helpful! And, one day, I hope to review Sympto, a FREE iPhone app to track sympto-thermal or Natural Family Planning methods of birth control.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Most Exclusive School

I was just commenting on another blog about a home school being exclusive. Really, just think about it... there are private schools out there that are in such demand that the second the parents get a positive pregnancy test result, they're signing up on the waiting list!

Well, I guess Gratia Plena Academia is pretty exclusive, too - as are most home schools. Although, mine isn't as exclusive as it was a few years ago. As of right now, I have 3 students and one on the waiting list!

[Guess I'd better go ahead and make a onesie sporting our homeschool's logo.]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nesting in Overdrive!

I've almost accomplished everything on my pre-baby TO DO LIST. One of those things was wrapping Christmas presents (I actually have a pile of birthday presents I'll wrap tonight, with any luck). Although, we won't put our tree up for a while, the presents are done.

I also had my husband keep the kids occupied over the weekend while I cleared out several bags full of old, broken, not used toys.

I've cleaned out closets, vacuumed every nook and cranny in the house, dusted things I haven't dusted in a while (like ceiling fan blades). I've rearranged the china cabinet, the cleaning supplies cabinet, and the under sink cabinets.

I spent two hours over the weekend cleaning up in the basement.

I still need to go through the pantry and the medicine cabinet and throw out the expired goods.

Why? Baby won't need food, china, or the basement for a while... I'm cleaning up my nest for the newest hatchling. We're getting close!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekly Report for Our Week Ending 11/23/09

Wow! I've really neglecting my blog lately... it's been 3 weeks since I last posted! Between work, homeschooling, cleaning at home (read: MAJOR NESTING going on), parties, and other activities, blogging hasn't been a priority. (I'm sorry little blog.) At least I'm here right now!

We have been schooling as much as possible, given the upcoming holidays and the time we'll take off from school once the baby is here. Casey is FLYING through Saxon Math 2 - it seems as though the lessons are dotted with a lot of review, so some days we double up on lessons. Today, we'll be baking a pound cake - part math, part home economics, and part stocking up on food to freeze so we can eat (and I don't have to cook) once the baby comes.

For science, the kids are learning about dinosaurs. I thought it would be a nice, short unit to cover - and we'll get to go on a field trip or two to Fernbank! I love Fernbank! Today, we discussed meat-eating versus plant-eating dinosaurs. Even Tricky can spot a plant eater in a crowd of ravenous carnivorous dinos!

Will's reading is coming along nicely. Instead of going straight through 100 Easy Lessons, I've also tried to interject some Bob Books. He doesn't get as frustrated with this process as Casey did, thank goodness! However, Will doesn't enjoy writing or coloring or drawing. On occasion he'll draw a picture - recently, he drew one of my with the baby in my tummy. I cried - his artistic expression, at least as far as drawing pictures goes, is so rare, it usually brings tears; this picture was especially sweet.

So, that's a bit about school... On other fronts...

The baby has been trying to push its way out - via my left side. OUCH! Everything is coming along - including my stockpiling of home birth supplies. Tomorrow marks 5 weeks until my due date. Just think.... we'll be a family of 6 in a month!

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving will be this Thursday! I decided to keep it easy this year and order our food from Honey Baked Ham. Did you know they have sides and desserts - things other than just turkeys and hams? I'm so excited! And given what I'll spend at HBH, I probably would have spent the same amount of money on food and ingredients for cooking at home PLUS a lot more time and energy (and this girl is getting tired early and often these days)!

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh! And don't forget Black Friday - one of my favorite days of the year! [And, yes, I'll be out there with the rest of the deal-seekers before dawn on Friday!!!]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our (Homemade) Countdown...

When homeschooling, anything can present itself as an opportunity for teaching... including the expected arrival of a baby.

The children have learned quite a bit - about fetal development, the birth process, baby care, etc. They are also eagerly awaiting the birth of their sibling (although they won't be at home when it happens). I've been getting a number of questions as to exactly when the baby will make his or her grand appearance. So, to help fan the fires of anticipation, the children and I made a paper chain to count down the days until the due date... complete with holidays and birthdays of our family included.


Just before bed each night, we'll rip off the day's date until the baby comes or (oh, please, no) we run out!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two months from today...

Our newest family member is due. I've always gone early with the other kids, so I'm hoping for an early arrival this time as well. So, just think... in (possibly) less than 2 months, I'll have a family of 6! (Does that mean we will be automatically charged an 18% gratuity on the rare occasions we go out to eat? Hmmm.)

We're all VERY excited! Especially Tricky! She's constantly talking about "her baby," asking if she can kiss the baby (via my tummy), wanting to know if she can put the pants on the baby once baby is here. She loves to tell people that the baby will be named Princess Leia if a girl and Luke Skywalker of a boy (yes, my almost 3 year old is a HUGE Star Wars fan).

Dates and plans are falling into place... for the children's birthday parties, for holiday celebrations, and even baby showers. This woman who has NEVER had a baby shower will have 2 this time - and I'm so excited!

I've even compiled, ordered, and received most of my home birth supplies. My midwife has a kit which I purchased from In His Hands. I purchased my birthing tub from Your Water Birth (I've linked directly to the tub I purchased). [Note to self: Richard and I need to inflate the tub within the next couple of days to make sure it isn't defective!]

"What other supplies might I need?" you may ask. Cookie sheet, heating pad, flashlight, crock pot, olive oil, birthing ball, tennis balls, pool noodle, 2 sets of sheets, zip lock bags, chapstick, snacks, paper towels, Gatorade, etc. Quite an interesting assortment of things, in my opinion.

So...two more months and, fortunately, my planning and organizing skills are starting to kick into auto-pilot. Good thing since I've forgotten more than my fair share of things in the past few weeks.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baby Names...

So, can you guess what names we're considering for our baby? (If you know, you'd better not post! And I know who knows!)

Hint: They are saints!

The boy name (both first and middle) Saint who lived 12th century England. Here's another hint:


Edited to add one more hint on the boy name: Think...Canterbury Tales!

The girl name (first name) is from a Saint who lived in 5th and 6th century France.
Edited to add one more hint: Her prayers spared Paris an attack by Attila and the Huns.
Here's another hint:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We've made it to the last trimester - the slow, sleepless trimester filled with so many things to accomplish! I'm getting there.

Before baby arrives, I've got to:
* Host 3 kids' birthday parties - yes, all of my children were born in November or December
* Launder the gender-neutral baby clothes, blankets, car seat covers - along with a few select items which are gender-specific
* Finish ordering and gathering my birth supplies - I've placed one order, but I need my birthing tub and must add some household items such as olive oil, crock pot, and cookie sheet (I'm I baking or birthing?)
* Tag clothes for an upcoming consignment sale - a task I loathe, but will be happy I did if I have a good payout!

And the BIG task - getting the house spotless for baby! The need to clean has been coming and going (depending on how tired and/or motivated I am), but I know the burst of energy to thrust me into major cleaning mode is on its way.

I've also decided that I might actually try to (do what those fabulous expectant super-moms do and) cook and freeze several meals for my family before baby's arrival. It's a thought, a dream, a goal... I hope it will become a reality.

Yes, things to do and only 12 (or so) weeks to go!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seeing Baby #4


We drove a little over an hour away from our home to catch a glimpse of our newest family member! Richard, the kids and I met my parents at the 3D ultrasound facility.

After filling out some paperwork, then having my belly squirted with gel, we caught our first glimpses of our little one. Baby had its hand (and later, its feet) close to its face most of the time, but we were able to get some good shots. We're a bit disappointed with the video - it's not as clear as the pictures - but the pictures are great!

Best of all, we told the tech we didn't want to know the gender and... the tech didn't let us down. Baby's secret is still SAFE!

I can't stop staring at the pictures!!! What a thrilling experience!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Awakenings...

It's 3:45 a.m. and I'm awake. I'm happy I'm awake, in a sense. If I weren't blessed with this pregnancy, in all likelihood, I would be asleep; so, please don't take this post as a complaint, but merely a chronicle of an experience I want to share.

I'm not sleeping because...
...of the pain in my side,
...the frequent during-the-night restroom treks,
...the cramp in my leg,
...the three-point turn around I go through to shift from one side to the other when I'm uncomfortable,
...the baby shifting around - I suppose baby gets uncomfortable, too,
...I can't get the pillows "just right"

But I also think of the good things about being awake...
...blogging and Facebook when few I know are also online (actually, it's kind of lonely)
...knowing that in a few months I'll be awake during the night feeding my little one and this is just the warm up,
...hearing the voice of my little boy talking in his sleep (sweet),
...peeking in on my children and giving them little kisses and watching them wiggle around when I do so,
...balancing my checkbook - wait - maybe not so good!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tricky Sings Her Favorite Song

The Chain by Ingrid Michaelson

video

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Website: Rosary.com

A new website was launched a couple of weeks ago. Rosary.com. From a HUGE selection of rosaries, books and chaplets, to rosary resources - how to pray the rosary, mysteries of the rosary, and the history of the rosary - this website is a wonderful resource for all things... well, rosary!

Check out the new site!
Powered by the Catholic Company.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weekly Report: Week Ending August 27, 2009

Well, in all honesty, we didn't have a very productive week - from the planned homeschool realm. However, it was fun as far as the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants perspective.

As you (may or may not) know, our homeschooling week begins on Friday and goes through Monday. Sometimes, because Daddy is home on Saturday and Sunday, we can get off course. So, it was one of THOSE weeks.

Friday was good... We started discussing the Moon, did all of our Language Arts and Math work, started our Chapter for Catholicism for the week, and got a lot of work done. As I've blogged before, Saxon 2 isn't wowing me this year so far, so Casey is working between 3 and 6 (yes, 6) lessons per day. It's so much review right now and she worked and reviewed all summer the things she learned from Saxon 1 last year. On Friday, I also discovered the juggling required in teaching more than one child at a time. I had Casey doing her independent work, then got Will going on a color, cut and paste activity, while I worked with Tricky on shapes, colors, and counting. Whew! I must admit, I was quite proud of myself when they were all working quietly for about 20 minutes!!! I had a few moments to organize part of the school room.

Saturday is when the "plan" started to crumble. After attending a co-worker's baby shower, Richard and the children picked me up. As we were heading home, Richard and I discussed how pleasant the weather was. First we thought of just going on a hike, but then decided we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go camping. We wound up on top of a mountain in a state park and had a blast! Grilling hot dogs, toasting marshmallows, making s'mores, air mattress not holding air, pain for the expectant mommy, so the expectant mommy read a book until 4:00 in the morning until she was able to go to sleep sitting up in camping chair. A BLAST! (Sarcasm inserted here.)

I did take the opportunity to discuss the stars and Moon, begin our SOTW2 chapter on Islam (even using my iPhone to show the kids a few videos of Muslims in prayer).

We did manage to make an edible oasis, begin our 28-day Moon observation, start Music Matters for Tricky and Will, and throw in some piano and performance classes. All in all, not a complete loss!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feast of St. Monica


St. Monica was married by arrangement to Patricius, a pagan official, who was violent tempered. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to St. Monica. She had three children; Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic faith. He died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious life. St. Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years. One priest consoled her by saying, "It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish." This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received strengthened her. St. Augustine was baptized in 387. St. Monica died later that same year.

Exemplary Mother of the great Augustine, you perseveringly pursued your wayward son not with wild threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day so that they may learn to draw their children to God. Teach them how to remain close to their children, even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray. Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tim Loves Tink

In a small town I frequently pass through, there is a bridge - the bridge is for trains to pass over the little road it covers. It's quite convenient if the train is coming through the town; one can simply go on this little road, go under the train, and not get stopped by the traffic waiting on the main road. (It's amazing to me that more people haven't figured out this trick... oh, well.)

Until recently, I have always noticed someone had painted on one side of the bridge Tim LOVES (with a heart instead of the word) Tink. When I say I have always noticed, I mean I've noticed this since I was a child... my grandparents lived in this particular town as I was growing up. My research has borne out some interesting information about Tim and Tink... seems as though this profession of love has been occurring since the 1960s. There are theories that Tim was a student at a local college and he dated a girl named Tina (nicknamed, Tink). Or something like that.

Well, from time to time, the city would paint the bridge - and paint over the love note. Always, I mean ALWAYS, within a couple of days of the bridge being repainted, guess what would reappear? You got it! Tim Loves Tink.

But something strange happened recently. The city painted the bridge... yet again... and someone spray painted (in yellow spraypaint this time) Tim Loves Tink on the overpass. It only lasted for a couple of days. The city painted over it again! Then, the city, in its infinite wisdom went a step further. Can you guess what the city did?


Instead of fighting it, the city honored their local lovebirds!

Ahh... this IS the stuff small town legends are made of!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eating History

Studying history CAN be fun! As part of our Story of the World 2 lesson on Islam, we made an oasis - the edible kind.


Yes, not only can history be fun - it can be eaten, too!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You've Asked How I Did It...

I've been asked how I made my school t-shirts, so I thought I would post my (not too detailed) instructions.

ITEMS NEEDED:

computer
ink jet printer
iron-on labels
iron
pillowcase
ironing board
articles to be decorated
software allowing images to be reversed


1. What do you want to create?
For me, it was a logo for our family's home school. Since our school is named Gratia Plena Academia (Full of Grace Academy - the "full of grace" coming from the Rosary), I wanted a picture of Mary and the infant Jesus. I searched online and after viewing hundreds of pictures, found one I liked. Fortunately, it was already round, so I didn't have to make it round - round was my personal preference.

Next, I saved the image to my computer and opened it in Adobe PhotoShop - I have version 6. I added text above and below the picture - I just sort of fumble around in PhotoShop until it looks like what I want it to look like; I don't profess to know what I'm doing. Let's just say I hit the Undo button a lot and save every time I get something I want.

Finally, there is a reverse image option in PhotoShop. This is the ESSENTIAL step to creating an iron on. If you don't reverse the image before you print it to your transfer paper, it WILL be reversed on your finished product. (Which isn't a problem if you're narcissistic and stare at yourself in a mirror while you're wearing your newly created shirt, but it will be hard for everyone else to read it.) So, reverse the image, then save. After I saved my image in PhotoShop, I then open it in Microsoft Word. I can maximize the number of iron-ons on an 8 1/2 X 11 transfer sheet in Word - again, I'm not yet prolific in PhotoShop, but Word I know.


2. What do you want to put your logo on?
I prefer white t-shirts and white tote bags. My most recent project is my third foray into the world of iron-ons and I'm still playing it safe by using what I've used in the past. White. You can purchase dark colors iron-ons, but I've never tried it. I'm keeping it simple, for now.

I made t-shirts for all three of my children, my husband, and myself, along with 2 tote bags. The logo on the tote bag is much larger than the t-shirt image. I just used Word to paste my image on a blank page, then right clicked on the image to pull up a menu and selected the option to change the image size. I was happy that the image resolution was good after the enlargement, but you should be aware that if you make the image too large, the distortion may be too great to make a good iron-on.

For my tote bags, I just used one 8 1/2 X 11 transfer sheet per logo. However, for the t-shirts, my logo size was much smaller, so I was able to print all 5 logos on one transfer sheet.

When you're ready to print, put a blank sheet into your printer and print a test page. You want to make sure that, if your image is in color, that your color ink is working. You also want to make sure that the image you print is a mirror image of what you want your finished product to look like. Once you're satisfied with the test, put in the iron-on paper (making sure you have it in the printer to print on the proper side) and print.


3. How do you iron it on?
The transfer sheets come with (very) detailed instructions. The pillowcase mentioned above in the items needed comes into play here. Just follow the directions with the iron-ons - there are before, during and aftercare instructions.

Well that's how I did it! I need to go now - and find more things to plaster with my school's logo!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Starting Off in Style


Well, I've been at it again... I made iron-ons for t-shirts and tote bags with our home school logo! Of course, I had to photograph a couple, tastefully displayed with a variety of books the kids will use this year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Homeschooling Tricky

I made letters from water bottle tops, laminated circles with letters written in to spell out words with an accompanying picture, and set Tricky to work.

This is a better look at what I've done:

video


This is Tricky in action:

video

Housekeeping

This morning, I asked the kids to make their beds. I really only expect my 6 and 4 year olds to perform this task. So, imagine my surprise when I saw this - my little Tricky (2 years old) made her bed [by herself]!!!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

REVIEW: The Heavens Proclaim

The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican, edited by Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

I've been given the opportunity by The Catholic Company to review The Heavens Proclaim.

I was so excited to see this book on the reviewer list - our family has been studying Astronomy for the past couple of months and was looking forward to integrating this book into our study. This is a beautiful book loaded with color pictures and information - both about astronomy and the Vatican Observatory. It has been a useful book to refer to, especially when reconciling the Big Bang Theory with Divine Creation, which the book covers (at least on the surface) in 9 pages.

For me, there were a few disappointments with the book, however. While there is a table of contents, there is no index, which would have come in handy on several occasions. The quality of the photos is not what I would have hoped. Finally, this is a book about the Vatican Observatory, however, many of the heavenly bodies photographed were taken by other observatories or by the Hubble telescope. For such a beautiful and powerful observatory, I had hoped for more pictures from the Vatican Observatory.

I would, despite my disappointments, recommend the book for anyone (especially Catholics) looking for biblical references and the Christian perspective on space study.



St. Clare of Assisi


One of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, she founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation: that, like as we do rejoice in the festival of blessed Clare thy holy Virgin; so we may learn to follow her in all godly and devout affections. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Half-way!

We're half the way there! 20 weeks today. I so enjoy my pregnancies, but I have noticed that the eventual tiredness that sets in gets earlier with each subsequent baby.

According to my midwife, all seems well so far. The little one is lying sideways (which is fine at this point), the heartbeat is good (148 bpm for all of you old-wives-tale enthusiasts), and I'm well. Staying hydrated is particularly important during pregnancy and has been a bit troublesome for me, so each morning, I'm setting 4 bottles of water aside and trying to consume each by certain points during my day.

The children are excited - especially Tricky. She pokes my belly button and proudly proclaims to anyone who will listen that "Mommy has a baby in zere." And my sweet little boy is pining for a brother. A few nights ago, he was upset because he's the only one who sleeps in his room.

There are things to be done for baby before baby's arrival - but not too much. There are no clothes to buy, no cribs to set up, no registries to begin, and nothing to be borrowed. However, there are names to be found, birth kits and birthing tubs to purchase, and a ton of things to launder. We've got time, though, right? 18-20 more weeks if all goes well. Of course, in those 18-20 weeks I've got to get the kids halfway through their school year, find Halloween costumes, plan birthday parties, and buy Christmas presents. Hmmm.... 18-20 weeks doesn't sound so far away after all!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekly Report: Our Week Ending 8/10/09

Phew! We made it! Another week down and many, many more to go.

I've blogged before about Casey's loathe to do Rod & Staff English, but, bless her heart, she does it with very little complaint. Today, I gave her three choices of what to do first: English, Cursive (which she loves), and the Prince and the Pauper chapter (which she enjoys, also). She chose English "to get it over with." I just had to smile - and give her a hug while telling her how proud I am of her.

Nothing too exciting happened this week - other than Casey saying good-bye to her Camp Mega friends (the kids she went from daycare through preK with; and with whom she spent my working days this summer). She was sad that she was leaving until I reminded her that her friends are returning to their schools, too.

Will is progressing with his reading. He BEGS for his reading lesson every day!

In the coming weeks, I'll be working out our extra-curriculars. Casey has had a 3-week hiatus from piano lessons - lessons will start back on August 17. Will is starting piano the same day - so excited! I'm also looking into a P.E. for Homeschoolers class and a dancing and singing performance group for Casey. She may also be starting Brownies at the end of this month.

So, see why I said phew? This month is going to put my scheduling skills to the test, for sure!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

At Our House, We DON'T Do Organic...

Richard and I have done a bit of research on the topic and, given our research and the outrageous cost of buying organic, we decided to live with the added hormones and pesticides.

However, after reading this article (click on the link in "this") I completely believe we've made the right decision.

Friday, August 7, 2009

While Reading "Alice in Wonderland"...

I came across this passage:

"Good-bye, feet!" (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). "Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears? I'm sure I shan't be able! I shall be a great deal too far off to trouble myself about you: you must manage the best way you can -- but I must be kind to them," thought Alice, "or perhaps they wo'n't walk the way I want to go!"

I feel your pain Alice! I miss seeing my feet, too!

Curriculum Try Outs!

We've been using some of our new curriculum for several weeks now - and some sources we just started using today. I thought I would give a brief review of what we've been using so far.

Saxon Math 2
Casey just started this one today. I'm a bit disappointed with it after just one lesson. I realize it is important for her to review what she's already learned, but after doing lesson one then flipping through the book, it appears that she won't be learning much that is new. Math is already a tedious subject for both of us; I feel as though I'm looking down the barrel at 131 remaining lessons of review that may prove to be extremely boring for both of us. On the bright side, I do like the Saxon 2 Meeting Book, so there's something to look forward to, I suppose.

Rod & Staff English 2
I love it. Casey hates it. She hates it so much that she wants to do it before Phonics (which has always been the last thing we do). I think it's all of the writing she's not fond of. She didn't complain too much today, but there have been times that I've feared tears. Fortunately, she's never shed a tear about doing home school work, but I think we've come close with English. I like the layout of the book - although I (in all honesty) get tired of the repeated references that "God made the sentence to ____________." It's a very bland, colorless book - even the cover of the book is brown, but I like the detail and constant review of concepts held within. Casey will just have to suffer.

Rod & Staff Phonics 2
Casey's next least favorite subject, but I like it because she can work independently on this while I work with Will on his reading. Each lesson has two worksheets to be completed - very picture-intensive and relatively self-explanatory. While I have the teacher's manual, I rarely use it.

Rod & Staff Spelling 2
I made the switch from Seton Spelling (used last year) to R&S. I'm glad I did. The teacher's book is a fabulous reference for ideas to engage the child with the words for each lesson. There are exercises, drills and practice tests to do before the week's spelling test is administered. Seton was pretty and I do miss the full-color religious artwork, but R&S is far more practical for the purpose of teaching spelling.

Faith & Life - Jesus Our Life (for Grade 2)

Again, another switch from Seton and another switch I'm glad to have made. While a bit more costly than the Seton Religious Education series, each year of Faith & Life provides a Teacher's Manual (loaded with discussion points, prayer suggestions, answer keys, quizzes and tests, and teacher-only insight to the material), a Student Book and an Activity Book. Casey loves the Activity Book and tends to work beyond a given day's lesson. I do our religion lesson while we're eating lunch - all of the children are attentive during meal times, so Will and Tricky also participate in the discussion of the material. We're all very happy with learning more about Catholicism.

New American Cursive
I researched over a dozen cursive instruction guides and I chose the NAC method. I like the overall simplicity of most of the letters - for example, the capital cursive F looks like an F rather than being virtually identical to the capital cursive T (something that caused me great frustration as a child). Casey is exciting to be learning a new way to write - pretty, curly writing.

Story of the World 2
We're doing SOTW again this year, but I'm using this along with another history book for the same time period, that being the Middle Ages and the Reformation. Being Catholic, I wanted to be careful about the onesidedness (that being a slant toward the Protestant side) I've seen in a lot of history texts including SOTW2. So, I chose...

Story of the Middle Ages by Christine Miller
SOMA, while perhaps being a bit better suited for the Logic Stage learner, provides the information I feel is missing from SOTW2. The focus is more on the history on the British Isles (where most of the meatier happenings of the Middle Ages took place, IMHO) than on the worldwide range of SOTW2. The children have enjoyed the narrative of SOMA, especially the stories of the saints. Both sources used together are providing the history that I want to teach the kids.

Classic Worktexts

So far, Casey has read Little Women and The Prince and the Pauper. Each worktext conodenses and subdivides each classic into ten chapters. With each chapter there is a vocabulary list (with definitions and use examples), a picture, a page of reading, multiple choice questions, and a page of puzzles and exercises for the vocabulary learned.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicken Mummy

A picture of Pharaoh Gamehen I. I just realized I never posted a picture of her. Here she is in all of her mummified glory:

Just prior to wrapping-

Wrapped-

By the way, her resting place, for now, is atop a bookshelf in our school room.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Travel - Snacks

We are going on a road trip soon. I'm excited about it! As an only child, I never got to play games with, watch movies with, or constantly harass and irritate another small person sitting next to me. My children, however, have that opportunity - and I love it!

I've decided to be a bit more organized about our travel time. I'm always quite prepared for our eventual arrival wherever we are vacationing, but this time I've taken planning to the next level: the road trip portion. And since I'm doing so much prep, I thought I would share!

I have prepacked snacks this time. Instead of constantly reaching behind me and groping in a snack bag for water, chips, dried fruit, milk every time one of the kids whimpers for something, I made snack boxes for them. Two separate snacks, three of each - a drink, something big, and something small. I picked up the boxes on clearance at the local WM and decorated them with stickers. I also wrote on the outside what is contained within, just for my own sanity.

By the way, my dear husband walked in the kitchen as I was taking pictures of the snacks. He wanted to laugh at me - instead, he took a couple of pictures of his own and posted them on Facebook. I had to remind him that "Love is patient, love is kind..." Love doesn't ridicule its wife publicly on Facebook!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Great week!

I was on the lite side of homeschooling this weekend, so Richard filled in.

At first, Casey wasn't happy about her "substitute" teacher and made it known. I reminded her that Daddy is just as much her teacher as I am. She and Will both enjoyed what Richard taught them: computers - input and output, how calculators work, and (best of all) he taught them how to add and subtract using an abacus! [Casey mentioned that now she doesn't have to know her addition and subtraction facts as she can just use an abacus. I quickly squelched that notion!]

Richard also invited us outside to play a game of croquet! (Not to gloat, but I won!)

Casey and I worked on math flashcards, studied St. Augustine of Canterbury, and worked on memorizing At the Sea Side by Robert Louis Stevenson. Will and I are still working our way through 100 Easy Lessons. Tricky is... well, Tricky.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Standardized Tests

I recently began researching standardized tests as Casey will be taking one during the 2010-2011 school year. Georgia requires homeschoolers to take a standardized test every three years beginning at the end of third grade, although the State does not require that those results be submitted to public school authorities. “Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities.” O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690 (c)(7).

Georgia third graders in public school take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Knowing what I’ve heard and read about the CRCT, I know that I do not want my children to take that particular standardized test, nor do they have to. I just don’t feel as though my third-grader needs to be tested on, and thus forcing me to teach outside of my planned course of study, Frederick Douglass-civil rights, Susan B. Anthony-women's rights, Mary McLeod Bethune-education, Franklin D. Roosevelt- New Deal and World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt-United Nations and human rights, Thurgood Marshall-civil rights, Lyndon B. Johnson-Great Society and voting rights, and Cesar Chavez-workers' rights. [Topics on the Social Studies portion of a recent CRCT.] Fortunately, Georgia does not dictate which standardized test a homeschooler must take, just that it must be a national standardized test.

I was, however, a bit stunned at the volume of standardized tests available to a homeschooling parent of a third grader. So, to do my part to possibly help another parent make an informed decision about which test to give, I have compiled the following information, listed alphabetically, from various online resources. A list of testing suppliers can be found here. NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely a list of the tests I’ve considered.


California Achievement Test, 5th edition (CAT/5)
Grades: K-12
Administration: Parents administer the test at home and send it back to be scored. You have two weeks after receiving the test to administer and return it for scoring. Scoring takes 3 to 8 weeks.
Subjects tested: Reading, spelling, language mechanics and expression, mathematics, study skills, science and social studies.
Format: A timed test with five test formats available, descriptions of which can be found here.
Results: Results are printed to include national percentiles, scale scores, grade equivalents, stanine results, and other data. You must request percentile scoring and /or stanine results or you will only receive raw scores and grade equivalents.
Other: One comment I read while researching the CAT is that it is popular among Christian schools and home schools because it contains more traditional values than other standardized tests. Also available are the CAT (original) and the CAT/6 (the 6th edition) - I have not researched the differences between these and the CAT/5.


Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
Grades: 1-12
Subjects tested: reading, language arts, spelling, math, science, social studies and reference skills.
Results: You receive a professional critique with the scores.


Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
Grades: K-12 (grades 2 and below are tested orally)
Administration: 4-year baccalaureate degree in any field required for administrator. From the ITBS official website: “Test materials for use with home-schooled students can be obtained through the public school district where the student resides or through the AEA that encompasses the student's residence. Arrangements might be made for such students to test at the local school when students of that district take their tests. If the district has a home-school assistance center, arrangements for testing might be made with that center.”
Subjects tested: K-2: Vocabulary, Word Analysis, Reading Comprehension, Listening, Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Sources of Information. Grades 3-8: Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, Usage and Expression, Math Concepts and Estimation, Math Problem Solving and Data Interpretation, Math Computation, Social Studies, Maps and Diagrams, Reference Materials, Word Analysis, Listening.
Results: Raw Scores, Percent Correct, Grade Equivalent, Developmental Standard Score, and Percentile Rank.
Other: For more information about the ITBS, go to the official website here.


Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS)
Grades: 3-8
Administration: Parents administer the test at home and return the test for scoring and analysis. Test should be given twice per year, with at least 6 months between testing recommended. You have four weeks after receiving the test to administer and return it for scoring.
Subjects tested: Reading, language, and mathematics.
Format: Untimed test.
Other: This test was developed specifically for homeschoolers. Additional information can be found here.


Stanford Achievement Test (SAT)
[Not to be confused with the Scholastic Aptitude Test - SAT - for college]
Grades: K-12
Administration: Administrator must have a baccalaureate degree in any field plus other requirements, and the test publisher has strict guidelines which must be followed when testing a relative.
Subjects tested: Reading, math, language, spelling, listening, science and social studies. The exact subjects covered in a test will depend on the child’s grade level.
Format: A timed test with multiple choice, short answer, and extended answer questions.
Results: Scores given are in relation to other students. There is also an explain of how your child did in each area and suggestions for improvement.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Limitations

It's time I set some boundaries for myself. Life is taking over, but I've been ignoring parts of it. Unfortunately, I haven't been as diligent with my housekeeping as I would like. I've also been spending far too much time online. I have goals that I set for myself months ago, that I haven't met yet. I feel as though everything is whirling by and I'm standing on the edge watching it happen.

I think if I write about it here, it will force me to be more diligent. I'm very sentimental and read my old blog posts on occasion. Not to mention, this entry will be visible for a few days, at least. So here is what I hope to accomplish:

BASEMENT
Our basement is in desperate need of attention. I'm going to spend 5 minutes per day cleaning up and reorganizing. By the end of August, I want to take donations to the local thrift stores. By the end of September, I would like Richard to take all the junk that I can't donate to the dump. (I refuse to have a yard sale - too much work for too little return.)

VACUUMING
I just got a new vacuum. I had been using a shop vac or hand held vacuums throughout the house. I need to use my vacuum weekly - or at least in accordance with my Motivated Moms calendar.

MOTIVATED MOMS CALENDAR
Ah, the next logical step... I need to abide by the chores on my MMC. When I do, our house looks fantastic, but I've been slacking quite a bit lately.

PICTURES
I am almost a year behind in getting pictures printed. For the past several days I've been uploading them to a site to get prints, but it's very slow going. Nonetheless, it's getting done. I hope to be finished with that portion of my pictures project by tomorrow. But that's not the only pictures project I have. I also need to assemble and order a photo book online - to be used for Casey's first grade yearbook. Finally, I need to make a photo collage (in a multi-picture frame) of Tricky. She's almost 3 and there is but one photo of her in the hallway - and that will not do! I hope to have the last two picture projects finished by the first week in August.

WII FIT
I got a Wii Fit for my birthday last week. It's so fun! Now, I actually need to use it. Goal: 20 minutes per day.

ONLINE TIME
Richard and I discussed this about two weeks ago - we need to get off of our computers some! We've decided that every evening from 6:00 to 9:00 and every Saturday are blackout times: no going online. The exceptions being if either of us has some work-related emergency we must tend to, if we are looking for a family activity/outing, or if the online activity is directly related to something we are doing for home school - otherwise, nothing. This one is going to be difficult, but necessary.

So, those are some of the many goals I need to accomplish. I have others, but I'm not to the point where I want to share every facet of my life online. Some are things I need to work on daily, others are merely tasks I need to just do and get over with. Sometimes it's hard not to procrastinate, but it's time to stop!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I want to call this a Weekly Report...

I want to call this a Weekly Report, but since it's early July, I may wait until August to start doing official Weekly Reports. (The other idea I'm debating is whether or not to post my Weekly Reports on Fridays like everyone else, or do them at the true end of our school week - Monday.)

We had a great weekend! We're still a bit light on the curriculum as I haven't started Math (other than some review work), Catholicism, or Art as of yet. Those will pop in in August. Even with those subjects absent, we had a busy school week. I think the highlight of this weekend, besides a brief hike we took on Saturday, including a brief jaunt on the AT (Appalachian Trail), was our study of King Arthur (both the legend and the myth) and our read-aloud companion The Story of King Arthur and His Knights.

For science, we discussed stars - types and life cycles. It was cloudy every night this weekend so we weren't able to break out our telescope.

Will is doing well with 100 Easy Lessons. I'd been somewhat sporadic up to this point, but he's with it and excited! I gave him four Bob Books to take to bed tonight. I'm so happy! I have yet another child who is embracing reading! Will is also learning some basics about the piano because he'll be starting lessons next month - another exciting development for my little guy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our First Field Trip of the New School Year


We went to Fernbank Natural History Museum last weekend.

We saw the usual displays of sea shells, dinosaurs, and the interactive science exhibit.


There was a temporary exhibit showing dinosaur movement. It think it was meant to prove how everything you see in a Hollywood depiction of dinosaurs is completely inaccurate (i.e., there is no way a Tyrannosaurus could run as fast as shown in the Jurassic Park movies).


Fernbank has also recently started small nature trail walks on the Natural History grounds. While there have always been public trails open at the Fernbank Science Museum, the Natural History Museum has only been conducting guided walks for two weeks. After coating ourselves with Off, my family and another family of four set off with two guides as we explored the woods behind the NHM. We learned about poison ivy (I had no idea that every part of poison ivy contains the oils that can cause the familiar itchy rash - the leaves, the stems, and even the roots) and tulip poplars, where Fernbank got its name, and how the museum staff are working to make the trails accessible to the public at large. Despite a couple of mosquito bites, the mini-hike was my favorite part of our excursion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Why are you doing THAT?"

Throughout my few years of parenting, I've been asked a question several times about a variety of different things regarding my parenting/pregnancy/mothering decisions. "Why are you doing THAT?" So, here are some of my answers...

Breastfeeding
I have nursed all of my children and plan on doing so with the next. I breastfed because of the many benefits: bonding, best for baby, immunity transfer, cuts down on likelihood of ear infections (3 kids, 1 short ear infection - not bad), facial and oral structure development, intelligence, some weight loss after having baby... But, in all honesty, my biggest reason is that I'm lazy (don't laugh). I value my sleep and what little time I have after homeschooling, child-rearing, housekeeping, and working. I don't want to spend what precious time I have left sterilizing bottles, boiling water for formula, etc. So I breastfeed - easier for me, good for baby. I'll keep doing it.

Cosleeping
For the same BIG reason I breastfeed, I cosleep - I don't have to wake up during the night to prep a bottle, thus I get sleep. We start from the time a baby is born until about 12 months old. When there is a baby in my bed, I instantly wake up at the slightest noise from the baby - I instinctively, subconsciously know when my baby is hungry, sick, or just needs me. And, please, don't lecture me about my decision. I've heard about the studies, the reports, the criticism - but it has worked for three of my children (all three of whom I can proudly exclaim now sleep in their own beds every night, all night - can you say the same thing?).

Three children and one more on the way (and who knows what the future holds)
Yes, I have three children. Yes, I'm expecting a fourth. No, by God's grace, this won't be the last. Yes, I'm Catholic. Yes, I know what causes "it." No, it's none of your business so stop asking me. And don't look so shocked!

Finding out
We're waiting until the baby is born. When I've said I want to be surprised, I've been told that it's a surprise when you find out at 20 weeks, too. Well, sort of - but not the same kind of surprise; you still have 20 weeks to get ready, to think of names, to decorate rooms, to alter your idea of what your future would have been with a baby of the opposite gender. A father of 12 children once told me that he and his wife never "peeked at their presents." I like that idea - this baby is my Christmas present, a baby I've prayed and waited patiently for. I can wait until late-December when my baby arrives for Richard to tell me if it's a boy or girl while holding our sweet newborn in his arms. Besides, since we cosleep, there will be no room to decorate - only the time it takes to go down to the basement and bring up all the tubs of newborn girl or boy clothes.

Homebirth
We have decided to have this baby at home. It wasn't a difficult decision to come to. After three childbirth experiences, I decided the time was right to abandon the hospital and opt for the comfort of my own home. With all three of my hospital birth experiences, I felt as though I had to fight with either my doctor or the hospital staff about something. I don't want that again. I want the calm, comfort, and peace that my home can afford me. I want to be able to play my piano, sing along with my music, go to my refrigerator for some juice, and roam in my own hallway until the time comes for me to slip into my birthing tub (hopefully) set up in my living room. I am not planning on having my children present - I want grandchildren one day - but they will be welcome to meet their new sibling as soon as my husband, my midwife, and I feel as though the baby is ready.
People I know have expressed concerns such as, "What if something goes wrong?" Well, for one, I'm not freebirthing (i.e., having an unassisted childbirth). My midwife with years of experience will be on hand with an assistant. She is armed with an arsenal of weapons to counteract anything that could go wrong and if something goes beyond her control, I'll be rushed to a hospital. That was my initial response when I heard that question. Now, my response is... I'm pregnant. I'm not sick. Hospitals are for sick people. However, should something happen that is outside the realm of the usual things that can happen to one while having a baby, the hospital is close. I'm not worried - as a matter of fact, I'm more worried about what the baby and/or I could pick up at a hospital than anything potentially going wrong at home.

That said, I still vaccinate, I don't buy much that is organic [a lot of organic foods just don't appeal to me to the extent I feel as though I have to pay double for them - besides, I like a little bovine growth hormone now and then] and my children do consume refined sugars, but that's me. By posting the above, I don't mean to belittle anyone or their parenting choices (with the possible exception of any comment to me about the size of my family - so don't go there), but just to state this is what we do and why we do it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

REVIEW: Fascinating Creatures by Frances England

Casey and I walked over to her art teacher's home last week to pick up her spring artwork portfolio. During our visit, Ms. Jan gave Casey a CD. The CD is a compilation of children's songs written and performed by Frances England. It seems as though Ms. England is a former student of Ms. Jan's. Ms. Jan enjoyed the CD, but since she doesn't have children, she thought she would give the CD to a child who would listen to it often.

In my usual fashion, Casey had to remind me we had the CD a few days later. I popped it in the CD player and was amazed at what I heard. Catchy, child-friendly music, that I was genuinely enjoying as well. Even better, Richard listened to it tonight - I turned it on for "cleaning music" for the kids - and he liked the music as well!

Fun and upbeat, refreshing without being too perky, England's lovely voice and acoustic guitar combine to perform original children's songs that kid will love and parents won't mind (and will probably wind up singing along to like I did) playing in the car or the house.

Check out Frances England's website here.
For a great video sample of one of the songs, Tricycle, from the Fascinating Creatures album, go here.

I'm excited to hear Family Tree by Frances England, released two years after Fascinating Creatures.

By the way, I hope Ms. Jan is proud of Frances England - the album art on Fascinating Creatures was created by her former student!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ramping Up Our Schedule

Each week I'm adding a little bit more to our workload knowing we'll be taking time off at the beginning of 2010.

This week I added our corresponding Read Alouds to history. I started reading Beowulf a few days ago. The kids are enjoying it. While, much to my husband's chagrin, it is not the Seamus Heaney translation - a truly fabulous translation, I might add - it is a condensed, more child-friendly version with beautiful illustrations. I've been reading at mealtime - now, there's a way to experience the destructive powers of Grendel, his mother, and Beowulf... while eating!

We're also adding memorization back into our plans. This week (and maybe next week, too - it takes my four year old a bit longer to memorize than my six year old and Tricky's trying to learn it, too) we are commiting Christina Rossetti's How Many Seconds to memory.

Also, since we're studying astronomy, our new telescope (Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian reflecting telescope) is coming in quite handy. We've seen Saturn, its rings, and its moon, Titan; a globular cluster (M13), and the two stars at the curve of the handle in the Big Dipper (with my naked eye, I can only make out one star). Hopefully we can go out tonight, if we get a break in the clouds, to stargaze some more!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Living a Beautiful Life

When I was about 15 years old, I discovered a lovely magazine called Victoria. It was everything I wanted my adult life to look like - beautiful dresses, lace everywhere, rose bushes in flower gardens, white furniture.

Alas, that is far from what my adult life is like. For one, I'm a practicing attorney. That, in and of itself, somehow seems to brush some of the soft focus from my form. I don't litigate, but I work for a litigator and I'm married to a litigator; and being in the midst of that world, I fear, makes me a bit more harsh than I would otherwise be.

My home is not covered in lace. Well, actually, my dresser is, but that lace is covered because my dresser is my clutter spot - the area that cleaning gurus such as FlyLady warn me I need to spend 5 minutes decluttering each day, or something to that effect.

I also don't have white furniture in every room. I have cherry - I love cherry now that I've grown up. White furniture is still something of an object of beauty for me. It's so clean, if it's kept that way. My daughters' furniture is white - and, for now, barely nicked. As a matter of fact, their room is probably the closest thing to my teenage-version of the ideal adult setting for me than anything else in my home.

I don't have time for gardening - and I'm also coming to realize that I may not even have the desire. I would LOVE to have beautiful gardens and clip blossoms to place around my cherry furniture laden home, but it takes time and patience - two things on which I'm quite short.

But there are beautiful things in my life. I have beautiful children and another on the way. I'm so thankful for them and I am making a conscious effort to thank God for them each day. I have a wonderful, supportive, hard-working, loving husband - someone who loves me and respects me and who has real conversations with me, beyond the normal "what did you do to day" banter some married couples share.

I have a home filled with things that, as an adult, I find beautiful. My cherry furniture and large mirrors with touches of floral patterns throughout my home. And I have a piano - the piano that my grandparents purchased and my mother learned to play - I have it tuned every year, and should have it tuned every 6 months, but it's mine and it brings me much joy.

Earlier, I mentioned my job. I'm actually quite happy at my job. While I do miss being with my children full-time, I am fortunate in the fact that I can work part-time as a lawyer - with very little stress. Being an attorney is not what I ever imagined myself doing (until I was about 25), but here I am! I'm not career-driven by any stretch of the imagination. I just do my work to the best of my ability, I enjoy the company of my coworkers, and then I come home...

To the beautiful life I have been blessed with!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Letter to My Wardrobe

Dear Beloved Clothes:

I put you away last night. It will be a while before I see your beautiful colors and fabrics again. You will have a long, lonely summer, fall, and winter (and maybe spring) down in the basement, but I'll pull you out as soon as I possibly can - believe me.

That said, I must tell you my fear. Please don't worry, but there is a chance I may not be able to wear some of you again. It's happened before (three times before), so I feel it's only fair to warn you. I'm sure many of you will come back, but some of you may not. Either your waist line (and mine) just won't give as much as before or you may become a victim of the Fashion Police. Either way, if you don't make it back to the closet, know that you were once loved and I'll try to find you a good home.

Until then, I'll be basking in the comfort of below-the-belly waist bands, somewhat tent-like blouses, and flowing dresses.

Hopefully, I'll see you next year, regular clothes!

Love,
~Angela.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Mommy, Don't I Look Silly?"

Those were Tricky's words when I was reaching to get her out of the car once we were at church this morning. Yes, she looked very silly. Why? During our drive, she had managed to get into my diaper bag, into my lipstick pouch, and smear 5 various pink and brown shades on her face (and dress, incidentally).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Well, kid, we made it this far!

Second trimester, baby! We've come this far... just 28 (or maybe one or two less if you're kind to your little mommy) more weeks to go. I've already started feeling you twist, shake and spin. You must be having a blast in there!

Your brother and sisters are very excited about meeting you - wanting to know if you're a boy or a girl - but I keep reminding them that you're our Christmas present and we're not having a peek! I don't want to ruin this surprise.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Puppet Workshop


Our local library had a Puppet Workshop this morning. [Finally, an activity I could take the kids to on one of my days off - usually, they're scheduled on the days I work.] We had SO MUCH FUN!

A man from the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta brought all kinds of puppets (shadow, hand, string, rod) from around the world - including a couple he'd made himself. After his hilarious puppet presentation, we then made our own puppets. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye First Grade!

Casey (finally) finished first grade last weekend. Math was our hold up, but we finished. I think we're both relieved.

Now we're moving on to second grade. I was hoping to take it easy this summer, but because I'll be taking off some time in January once the baby arrives, we're going to do a full curriculum. So much for Summer Break, eh?

Not only will Casey be starting her second grade year this summer, but Will is beginning Kindergarten at home. Each will be doing their own language arts and math work, but together, we'll be continuing with our religious studies and studying the Middle Ages, astronomy, weather, and various other earth science subjects, and P.E. I'm sure I've left out something.

For now, we're off to the park! It's only 69 degrees at the moment and I think I'll take advantage of the relatively cool temp to let the kids play outside.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Email

I used to like email, but now I dread it.

* I get too many emails every day - well, I only get around 20, which is probably nothing to some of you, but it's a lot for me. Actually, let me rephrase that... I get 20 on my main email address. My email address linked to Facebook gets about 90 a day - due to my FB activity. My inner-office email gets 40 or so a day, but that's because our IT guy took off the filters and now I get advertisements for certain products I don't want, need or otherwise require. I also have a couple of email addresses I never even bother to check any longer.

* Many of the emails I receive at my main email address I don't want. I get emails from various Bar Associations, which in turn causes me to get email from other law-related outlets (attorneys running for office, continuing legal education courses, law book publishers). I get emails from online companies I've ordered from or have requested catalogs from.

* I have developed the terrible habit of reading emails I need to respond to, but then forgetting to respond. Oh the guilt I feel when I realize that I haven't responded!

*I don't delete enough emails. I'm afraid I'll need it later on. Stupid, I know.

* I have too many email addresses. I can't/don't check them all. Well, actually, I only have 5, but that's about 4 too many. But, I need one for junk, one for FB notices, one for work, one for homeschool stuff (which is actually one I don't really check any longer), and my main email address.

So, I've started unsubscribing to things. Unsubscribing to newsfeeds I no longer care about. Unsubscribing to the sales advertisements and legal publications. Unsubscribing to groups. Unsubscribing to Facebook notifications. I'm trying to simplify. No, it's nothing huge, but every little bit helps!