Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Making summer plans?

Summer is coming.  I am seeing in increasing number, ideas for fun summer activities to do with children.  The blogs I read and the Pinterest boards I follow are filling up with great suggestions.  Since our thoughts seem to naturally turn to summer plans at this time of year, I thought I’d chime in with a great idea of my own….

So you can find here an amazing resource for summer- or anytime- fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A little of this and a little of that....

So much to write about...so little time.....

My Little Flowers group and I finished up our fourth wreath and our fourth year of meeting together this week.  I have been so privileged to watch 6 very beautiful little girls grow in their faith and in their understanding of virtue.  They have each touched me and taught me over the years and I can't help but be a little sad that we are all finished with the program now.  The girls still seem very interested in continuing to meet together and learn together, so hopefully we will find a new direction to go in next year.  Maybe the Little Women Hospitality group or the Catholic Daughters of America Junior Court.....

It was "take your sons and daughters to work" day yesterday.  I have mixed feelings about this relatively new tradition in America because I suspect it has its roots in the feminist movement, but Tim's office was participating.  Our three oldest children were old enough to go and be part of the well planned programs the company had put together, so off they went to work with Daddy.  They had a great time learning about what Tim does all day and the little ones and I enjoyed  a quiet day of visiting the park and reading stories together (as well as getting some things done around the house).

My birthday was this past week.  Another year is gone.  I am another year older.  I'm not sure how I feel about the mounting number attached to this milestone but I do so enjoy being spoiled by my family and friends.  I am very, very blessed to have so much love in my life and my birthday is always a beautiful reminder of that.

Tomorrow my youngest son makes his First Holy Communion.  He is SO excited.  I am too.  I love the enthusiasm of his youthful yet devout faith.  His is definitely a great example of the faith of little children and the idea of allowing the little ones to lead us.  My son is full of joy and faith and innocence.  There is something indescribably special about experiencing the Sacraments of Initiation through our children's eyes and watching them grow closer to Christ.....  how can we not be led closer ourselves?

We are busy, busy, busy but God is SO, SO, SO good working in it all......  

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Season of Easter

On Easter, at my parish, the statue of the crucified Christ is removed from the huge cross that hangs behind the altar. In place of Jesus’ broken, bleeding body, a large wreath of yellow and white flowers and a sash of clean white fabric hang from the rough wood of the cross.

“Where is Jesus?” a little boy asked me last night as he waited outside the Confessional for his First Sacrament of Reconciliation.

to continue reading please go here

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A well timed time-out, I hope....

            When I started following more writing blogs I hoped it would lead to greater inspiration in my own writing.  Instead, I find myself reading about writing a WHOLE LOT MORE than I am actually doing any writing….. about anything at all.  

All the fascinating posts other people write about the process of writing- both fiction and non-fiction- have totally captivated me.  Now, all the time I have for writing is spent reading what others write.  And my own projects have totally been placed on the back burner.  

And yet somehow, I am less inspired than ever.  How did that happen?!?!??!  

I am afraid one can spend too much time studying one’s art and not enough time actually practicing it.  I'm afraid I have fallen into this trap and now I am over analyzing every word that comes into my mind.  Writing has felt like just one more tedious duty on the long list of things I must do. 

This weekend, Tim and I are attending our Teams of Our Lady couples retreat.  I pray the time away will benefit our marriage, of course, since that is what it is all about, but I hope it will give me time to reflect on other things as well.  

 I hope there will be an opportunity to just sit with my thoughts for a while.  I really think I need to take a time-out from the busyness of life and sort out my priorities.  I need to find a way to fit in all that I have going on in life—the really important things like prayer, parenting, home schooling, and home making, and then all the other things I juggle too- like blogging, fiction writing, marketing my completed novel, editing my 2nd novel, etc…...  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Roll out the red carpet

Weekends are supposed to be about relaxation and re-grouping between Friday and Monday.  This past weekend provided anything but time to relax and re-group....

We had the premiere for the homemade movies we’ve been working on all year.  Our movies may be very amateur.  The acting may be sub-standard.  The screenplays may be lacking a bit- with trite dialogue and mediocre special effects.  And the final products may be a more silly than riveting.   (I say may because our movies are VERY homemade and VERY far from professional but really, we love it all- the original stories, the acting, the special effects, and especially the final product- it is all just so much fun to make and to watch)

The movies are amateur but the premiere- there was nothing amateur about that!  I am not exaggerating when I say- we planned our attire for weeks ahead of time.  We were dressed to the nines in ball gowns and jewels.  As we arrived, we walked up the red carpet- just like they do in Hollywood.  There were cameras flashing and fans cheering.  Once inside the “private screening room,” we had enough fancy gourmet food to feed a cast of thousands and plenty of time to mingle with actors and fans alike.  Then, we settled in to watch the movies- four of them in all.  There was a comedy, a drama, an action adventure film, and a sci-fi film.  

The movies turned out great.  All our hard work paid off and everything came together beautifully.  

The opportunity to make these movies with our friends and to be a part of such a worthwhile family-friendly endeavor has been such a huge blessing in our life this past year.  (All 7 of us played parts in the movies- from Tim and I all the way down to our three year old who turned out to be quite the acting prodigy.)  So, even though the movies took a lot of work and the premiere took even more hard work to pull off, it was all well worth it.  

Then, after our whirlwind weekend- we spent Monday at Legoland on our 2nd annual field trip with our home school group.

The kids are already working on screen plays for next year’s movies.  They are full of ideas and great enthusiasm but even though I am excited about the prospect of more movie making fun too-- I could use just a little time to recover from it all......

And now, I will leave you with a few photos from the red carpet!  (They are purposely a little grainy to protect the innocent)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chocolate and home schooling posts never get old, do they?

I have read lots of home schooling books.  One of my very, very favorites is Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax.  By most standards, it is an old home schooling book- practically ancient really- and it’s been a few years since I've read it (though it was quite old even then).  But, I loved it because it was all about finding balance in our home schools- between rigorous, structured learning and hand’s on, interest-led projects.  I'm not always very good at that (especially the rigorous part)What I liked about the book most though, was that it was also about supporting our children in pursuing their passions and about helping them to excel in whatever areas they feel most called to.
For the Colfax children, I believe that included pig farming and raising goats.  I can only imagine the mess and the stink that came with supporting those interests!  I do all that I can to follow the model of Mr. and Mrs. Colfax in supporting and encouraging my own children’s interests.  Thankfully, there are no pigs or goats involved. But there is mess!

Here is our version of "homeschooling for excellence"..... 

My mornings are spent helping the kids with their school work.  We work on academics until all the subjects are finished for the day.   Spelling, math, science, religion, geography, the list goes on…..  The piles of finished work add up.  Hopefully, their little minds fill up as well.  We usually finish all our work just a little after lunchtime.  

Our afternoons are filled with the things we love.  We all have our hobbies and our interests.  And the afternoon hours seem to fill themselves up quite easily.  

The younger children just like to play, play, play.  They have great imaginations and elaborate pretending games they enjoy together.  Their favorites are anything sensory- play doh, the sand box, painting or coloring projects.  I provide the play doh, the sand for the sand box, the art supplies, etc….  There is crusty play doh cemented on all my kitchen utensils, gritty sand that was once stuck to sweaty little piggy toes scattered all over my floors, and paint stains on my tables and chairs.  I also provide the soap and the elbow grease to try to keep up with it all.
My oldest daughter has discovered a deep and abiding love for chocolate.  Her afternoons lately are spent slaving away in the kitchen trying to perfect her chocolate recipes.  She dreams one day of becoming a successful chocolatier.  Being a supportive, encouraging mother, I do all that I can to provide her what she needs to follow her dream.  So for my budding chocolatier, I buy the supplies and ingredients, I assist with stirring or rolling or measuring when needed, I taste test the final products…. and then, I help scrub every inch of the chocolate drenched kitchen and wash out the chocolate ensconced dish towels and dishrags.  

Creativity can be a demanding and messy thing…. Thankfully, at my house it's sometimes a very tasty thing too……

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What my purse reveals....

            My three year old daughter went rummaging through my purse the other day when we had time to just sit and wait for a while.  She knew that mommy’s purse was a virtual treasure trove of exciting finds….. and she was not disappointed.

When I was a kid, my mother’s purse was a fascinating treasure trove as well.  The thing I remember most clearly about it was that it always held matchbox cars.  Those were my little brother’s constant companions and mom knew we did not want to be ever stuck somewhere without at least one or two of them.  She also seemed to always have Tic Tacs and those made for great snacks when there wasn’t anything else to eat.

I think you can tell a lot about a woman just by her purse (or her "handbag" for my Australian friends ).   You can tell if she is rich or poor (is her purse a cheap Wal-mart buy or a fancy designer bag with a brand name that alone is worth a bundle?).  You can tell if she lives a life of leisure or a life of work (does she carry a fashionable little clutch with a dainty clasp or a sturdy leather bag with a long strap to wrap around her on the go?).  You can tell if she is high maintenance or more easy-going (does she carry a bag big enough to bring the kitchen sink along with her or is her purse just big enough for her keys and wallet?).  

            What does my purse say about me?  It speaks volumes……

My purse was handmade as a Christmas gift for me by my 14 year old daughter.  She lovingly and painstakingly quilted the entire bag by hand.  She made it in bright colors and attached a strap long enough for me to sling over my shoulder.  My purse is not too big but it is big enough to hold everything I need when I am away from the house.  It is easy to get into so I can quickly find what I need.  My daughter knows me well, and designed my purse perfectly.  It suits my life and serves me well.

My one-of-a-kind handmade purse shows that I value my family and creativity and uniqueness.  It is a testament to my busy life and my need for convenience and efficiency.  Its bright colors and simple design show that I am fun but not too fussy about appearances. 

And then there are the contents…..  What items must I have on hand at all times?   

My essentials include all the normal things- my wallet, my cell phone, my keys.  I have a purse pack of Kleenex for runny little noses or days of bad allergies, I have a tiny plastic bottle of Tylenol in case a migraine headache hits, I ALWAYS have a bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel along with me (midnight pomegranate scented this month).  

There seem to be those other things that make their way into my purse too- a few old receipts, a grocery list from earlier in the week, a coupon that is probably expired, a breath mint that may be chewy now because it’s been there for a while…..

And then—then, there are the really important things- I currently have 4 rosaries in my purse, four pens (and a thick blue crayon), one Lego mini-figure, a few hairbands and barrettes for my hair or the girls’, a list of books we want to check out from the library, and a few paper fish (we made them at co-op).  These things show who I really am and what I really value- a Catholic, a mommy, an avid reader, a writer, and a home schooler.

What makes does your purse say about you?  What essential items make it into your handbag?!?!?!


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