Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wonderful World of Legos!

In the last couple of months, Andrew has really been enjoying his Lego toys.  I am very excited by this, because it is really fun to watch him play with them, and I would MUCH rather him spend hours building all kinds of Lego creations (complete with sound effects!), than playing video games or sitting in front of the TV.  Legos are great for the imagination, and I'm sure they help with all kinds of other developmental things in children, as well.  He builds cars, trains, airplanes, tractors, insects, pirate ships, dump trucks, jails, and even.....

mobile homes:

I love that kid =)

(oh, and just as a side-note, those Fisher-Price Trio Bricks, Sticks, and Panels are really great, too)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Preparing for Lent

Last Sunday was Septuagesima Sunday, which means Lent will be here in about 2 weeks or so, and that we should start preparing for Lent.  I'm actually glad that this past Sunday reminded me that I should be getting my spiritual life ready for whatever Lenten devotions I decide upon, because things like Lent and Advent always seem to creep up on me, and I usually find myself scrounging around the day after the season begins to find proper devotions and special acts of love for Christ!  So, this year, I am going to try and *GASP*....get ready ahead of time!!!  Amazing, I know, since I tend to be the queen of procrastination.  Now, the Church asks us to prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord through extraordinary acts of prayer, fasting, and alms giving.  Normally, I do ok with the acts of prayer and fasting, because we have such great Lenten practices given to us, such as fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the Stations of the Cross....and, of course, I usually try and do some extra self-denial in the way of sweets/soda/coffee, or any other luxury that I am blessed with.  The alms giving part is where I always fall short.  Not that I am perfect at the prayer and fasting aspects, it's just that I don't think I have ever made much of an effort at doing extra acts of alms giving.  I don't really know why I never have, but as embarrassing as that is, I just haven't.  Anyway, I have often found myself praying to Christ and asking him to help me find ways to be more generous with my abundance, and to show me ways I can aide the poor in a real, concrete way.  I mean, we tithe and all that, and I teach the kids that we should always help those in need, but it's pretty rare that they get to see that kind of thing in action.  Let's face it...putting an envelope in a basket every week at Mass doesn't exactly scream "corporal work of mercy" from a practical, hands-on example kind of way.  I just feel like it's too abstract for them to really get that there are people out there who are really suffering from poverty, and those people need our help, support, and prayer.  Our children will only learn generosity through giving.  They have no idea what real hunger is, despite the fact that they come to me a hundred times a day and saying "Mooommmmm, I'm huuuungrrrrry!"  Well, yesterday, I think I finally got an answer to my prayers.  A friend of mine told me that instead of giving money to homeless people when they encounter them, she has a box of pre-packaged bags with essential items in it that she keeps in her car, and she gives them that.  I've always struggled with how to handle the beggar on the street corner, because I don't feel comfortable giving them money, but I want to do something, and when my friend told me about what she does, I thought, "that is so perfect!"  So, this year, that is what our family alms giving will be.  The great part about it is that it can be a project that the whole family can participate and benefit from, and the kids will be able to see first hand how to serve those who are not as blessed as we are.  Especially since I'm not really at that stage where the kids and I can serve at soup kitchens, or attend rallies, or spend time with lots of hands-on giving.  One day, when they are older, I hope I engage them in that form of charity, but for now, I am kind of limited as to what I can do with 4 very young children.  But, this they can do!  They can come with me to the store to pick out the items, help us put the items in the bag, and when we come across a beggar on the street corner, which is often when we go to Mass in New Orleans, they can actually see us giving things to help those in need.  We can teach them along the way about why we are doing it, and how it will help the poor.  I think some of the things I want to put in our bags are:  travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, a bottle of water, non-perishable food items (canned items that have a pop top would probably be best), hand sanitizing wipes, etc...  Also, serving the poor should go deeper than just the material aspect, so to tie that in with prayer and fasting, for each person we give a bag to, we can offer up sacrifices for them, offer up our family Rosary and Stations of the Cross that we say during Lent, and I would also like to put either a prayer card or Rosary in the bag with their other items.  Our homily at Mass this past Sunday dealt with serving the poor, and Father told us that we can give as much as we want to help the less fortunate, but unless we show them Christ as well, then it's useless.  The whole point of this life is allowing Christ into our hearts, so that we can all get to Heaven.  And who knows...that one little Rosary could change a person's life forever.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

I've been meaning to do this post for a couple of weeks now, but we've been caught up with the busyness that is life, so I'm only just getting around to it now.  Andrew made 4 years old on February 9th this year!  And as always, I just can't believe how fast they grow!  

They say that the bond between Mother and son is something very special. I don't think I ever realized just how true that was until I had this little guy...
Andrew's first day of life
I just love this kid!  And, it's not just because he's always telling me I'm pretty ;)  He is one of the funniest and most lovable little boys ever!  I mean, how could you not love a face like this:

Andrew's 1st birthday
Andrew's 2nd birthday
Andrew at 3 (couldn't find his 3rd birthday pic)
This year for his birthday, he asked for a bonfire and hamburgers.  So, we had a nice family dinner with grilled hamburgers...we didn't get around to the bonfire, because he was just getting over being sick, poor thing =(  But, I think he enjoyed his birthday celebration anyway!

Happy 4th Birthday, Andrew!!

So, my cake making/decorating skills are mediocre at best, but I'm pretty sure the gifts made up for it ;)


 Although, I'm not sure who enjoyed his present more....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Sancte Valentinus, Ora Pro Nobis!
Every year, our homeschool group has a Valentine's party at the park where the kids all bring decorated bags/boxes, and share Valentine's cards and candy with each other.  Now, normally I don't do the whole 'decorate a bag or box' thing, because I just can't seem to get everything together for that kind of craft project, so I usually just bring a Target bag, or a pink or red gift bag...I know, my kids are so deprived O_o.  But, this year, things just fell into place!  First of all, our neighbor brought over a box of those foam sticker things for the kids, and they were all Valentine themed.  Second of all, we have all been sick lately and using LOTS of tissue, so I happen to have a bunch of empty tissue boxes laying around. (speaking of tissues...I have to give a shout out to Puff's Plus Lotion with Vicks!!  best stuff ever...they are like a little piece of heaven for a sick nose)  And third, Luke was taking a nap =).  So, this year, we will have cutesie Valentine boxes for the homeschool party!  Poor Andrew...all that pink and purple!!

Rachel spent more time putting all the little foam stickers IN her box instead of ON...

but, I at least convinced her to keep her name on her box ;)

The aftermath...another reason I tend to gravitate away from these types of crafts...all those little pieces of paper to sweep up O_o  So much for catching up on laundry today...


Monday, February 14, 2011

Do Pirates Watch Movies?

Andrew just came to me dressed as a pirate (as if he'd be dressed as anything else!)
Andrew:  "Mom, do pirates watch movies?"
Me: "Sure, I guess so."
Andrew: "They do?!?!"
Me:  "Yeah, but we aren't watching a movie right now"
Andrew:  "Awww"  then he walks sadly away 

that kid is getting pretty clever ;)  Maybe I should try the "pirates eat veggies" thing with him!

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 2

 The Homeschool Mother's Journal 

Here's my journal for this week!  Enjoy, and click on over to The Homeschool Chick's blog to see what other Mother's are doing in their homeschool journey =)

In my life this week...
Let's see....this week we have Valentine's Day, and so we'll be having a homeschool Valentine's party at PE.  The weather has been so cold that the homeschool group has postponed the party twice now, but we should be able to have it this week.  The weather has been much nicer lately.  Phil and I will probably have an at home date night tonight, which will be really nice!  And, Luke and Andrew both have doctor's appointments this week. 
In our homeschool this week...
This week, we are starting week 3 of our 3rd quarter.  Natalie is learning how to read a clock, and her reading assignments are really starting to pick up.  I think she is finally starting to enjoy reading class, because it's not just spelling and word repetition anymore.  She's finally getting to apply all those words she's been learning in her readers, and she really likes it.  We've also been studying the miracles of Jesus this quarter, which we all have been enjoying.  The lessons are basically like reading a story book, so all the kids enjoy sitting and listening to them. 
Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We may go to story time tomorrow, but I'll probably just play that one by ear.  The kids are getting over being sick, so it may be wiser to just stay home.  They were sick 2 weekends ago, got better, and then picked up some other nastiness  when we got out for a dentist appointment.  We'll also be seeing our pediatrician this week...Luke for his 2 month visit, and Andrew for his 4 year visit.  I love seeing how much they grow, and comparing it to how big their siblings were at their age =)
My favorite thing this week was...
celebrating Andrew's birthday!  Last night, we had cake and presents, and ate hamburgers, which were his special Birthday dinner request =)  Can't believe my little guy is 4 already!!
What's working/not working for us...
I have GOT to get back on a more regular schedule.  I realize with a new baby I need to be flexible, but I could definitely exercise a little more self-control and self-discipline with my time.  Luke is starting to fall into his own natural rhythm, so I just need to work my day around that, and then adjust as necessary...
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
This week, I really need to get on the ball with Natalie's grading.  I have almost 2 weeks worth of work that needs grading, but I'm not even sure how important it is to keep daily grades at this stage.  I mean, she's only in first grade, and she's still learning the basic skills, so is it really necessary to keep daily grades, or are the quarter tests sufficient??  I don't want to burn out before get to far into homeschooling, but I want to have good grading habits, as well....
A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
The kids with my Aunt Leona...she practically helped raise me when I was a kid.  She's really my great aunt, so this would be a 4 generation span, right??  This picture is very special to me...I just love her!

Happy 4th Birthday, Andrew!!

She put herself to sleep last night ;)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Seamstress

Yesterday Natalie had her very first sewing lesson.  I was cutting out material for an apron I've been wanting to make for myself, so she used the scraps to make an apron for one of her dolls.  She did most of the cutting out and designing herself, but I did have to give her a brief lesson about making the components match, so they could be sewn together.  She cut the apron pieces so that they came to a point at the top of the skirt and the bottom of the bib part O_o.  So, we just cut the triangle parts off, and then we had a nice straight line to sew to the apron's wait band =).  Obviously, this was a VERY basic sewing lesson, and we didn't turn any hems, so all the edges are raw, but I figure it's a great start, and I'm sure I she probably didn't have the patience to turn the hems, anyway.  Honestly, I'm not sure who was more excited about this first lesson - her or me!  I think teaching a little girl how to sew is just so sweet =)  I love having a daughter... 

showing off her creation
Sew cute!!  (see what I did there ;)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 1

A new link up I discovered at The Homeschool Chick's blog via Be Not Afraid's blog...I may try to stick with this one!

 The Homeschool Chick  
***not sure if the questions are supposed to be for the previous week, or the upcoming one, so I did a mix of both =)

In my life this week...
The beginning of our week was nice and quiet for a change!  We had no doctor's appointments, no errands, and we just stayed home and enjoyed playing outside in the sunshine.  I got the garden bug, and started thinking about what to plant for our spring garden.  The second half of our week picked up in pace quite a bit.  Phil volunteered to chaperone for a boys' retreat this weekend, and when he does that, I usually drive to my Mom's house to spend the weekend.  So, we are just getting home from spending some time with my Mom, siblings, and nieces and nephews.  Always hectic, but always fun!  My sister and I did lots of knitting, some cooking, and the kids had fun playing together at Granny's. 

In our homeschool this week...

This week, we started our 3rd quarter!  It went really great, actually.  The week before, we were on quarter break, so I spent that time doing my quarter lesson plans, and we hit the ground running on Monday morning.  That quarter break did wonders for Natalie's focus and my patience!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
Let's see...this coming week, we've got quite a full calendar.  Our homeschool Valentine's party is this week, and the kids all have dentists appointments.  It's also Andrew's 4th birthday this week, so we'll be going out for pizza, and my neighbor is tagging along.  His birthday is the same day as our dentist appointments, so she is going to help me with that, and we'll treat her and Andrew for lunch in return =)

My favorite thing this week was...

getting to spend a few days with my family!  We are 2 1/2 hours away, so I only get to see them every couple of months or so.  

What's working/not working for us...

Well, my school filing system is definitely working for us!  I am especially appreciative of that right now, since I just re-filled my file box for the new quarter, and I'm able to really enjoy the time-saver that this system is for me.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

Right now, I'm just kind of struggling with dividing my time between all four children.  I worry about not giving each one enough attention they need/deserve to feel loved.  I'm worried about being able to homeschool more than one kid at a time!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
Luke's first smile on camera =)
Our new chalkboard for school!!
late afternoon art project =)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Latin 101

I once read a book on exorcisms, and the priest mentioned that the prayers for doing the exorcism were more powerful and effective when prayed in Latin.  Our priest, who baptized Luke, said the same thing.  Ever since then, I've felt a desire to learn the basic Catholic prayers in Latin.  One night, after praying our family Rosary, Phil and I both agreed that we should try out saying the Rosary in Latin.  So, there it entry into actually acting on my desire to learn the prayers.  Now, if you've ever read my post about how our family Rosaries usually work, you are probably thinking that we are crazy for adding a whole new level of complication to our're probably quite right!  But, nonetheless, I feel compelled to do this =)  I have a couple of prayer books that have various prayers in Latin, but none that really have all the prayers specific for the Rosary in one place.  So, in the 3 or 4 times we have done the Rosary in Latin thus far, I am constantly flipping from page to page, or book to book.  It makes it very difficult to concentrate on the actual praying part, and forget keeping track of which bead we're on!  There are websites out there with Latin/English Rosary instructions, but I really don't want to be at the computer while praying the Rosary.  And, unlike my husband and daughter, who just magically remember the prayers after saying the Latin Rosary one time, I just don't have that gift.  So, I put together a kind of comprehensive Latin Rosary cheat sheet.  I thought I'd post it here in case anyone else would like to learn how to pray the Rosary in Latin with me.  I used a handful of different websites/books to reference the Latin translations of the prayers, so I am not going to link all my sources...I hope that I'm not breaking some kind of rule or something!

Latin Rosary                                                                   

Just print both pages as a double-sided sheet of could even laminate it.  Also, I'm sure not everyone uses the same ending prayers as we do, but when I first started saying a family Rosary - which wasn't until I was engaged, by the way - these are the prayers my in-laws always said at the end of the Rosary, so that is how we do it in our family now.  We never said family Rosary growing up at my house.  While I learned the Rosary in school, we just never said it at home, but I love the idea of praying the Rosary at home.  Oh, and here's a really embarrassing funny story to end this post with...the first time I met my in-laws (or one of the first times I met them), we said a family Rosary after dinner.  They asked if I wanted to lead one of the decades.  Wanting to impress them, I said yes...this was my first mistake!  Now, I had left the Church for several years when I was younger, and had only just started going again...Phil invited me to come back to Church after we had been dating for a few months.  So, it had been a LONG time since I had prayed traditional Catholic prayers, much less an entire Rosary!  And, I was SO nervous about meeting Phil's parents for the first time, and was worried they wouldn't like me.  Anyway, it was my turn to lead the decade.  I got through the Our Father just fine, but when I got to the Hail Mary, I went completely blank!!  All I could get out were the words "Hail" and "Mary"...Phil had to bail me out.  I.was.mortified!  I am pretty sure I cried myself to sleep that night =/  But, no in-laws are really great, and they have never, to this day, made fun of me or said anything about it.  And, I do now know the compete Hail Mary Latin even ;)
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