Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Calendar

I have mentioned before how I am making saint magnets to place on our magnetic calendar. Here's a photo of how a month looks when it is complete. Each day, Caroline (and sometimes Cecilia) puts up the date magnet and the saint, if there is one that day. The saints are put up according to their feast days on the New Calendar of the Catholic Church. The saint stickers were for the Traditional calendar, making a bit of work for me... but it has been fun.

Here is a close-up. You can also see how we have cut out a tiny strip of paper with a priest's name on it and stuck it under the date magnet (I left a little extra strip of the paper to the right of each name and that part is under the date magnet). These names are from a list of diocesan priests which our archbishop has published so that we can pray for a priest each day during this jubilee Year of the Priest. The calendar hangs by our dining room table, so it is easy to refer to it each evening when we say our Prayer for Priests before dinner. Our dowel rod priest also sits nearby, making it easy to change the estments according to the day. For instance, today was the Memorial of St. Andrew, Apostle - since he was a martyr, the priest's vestments were red today.

Thanksgiving 2009 in Photos

Helping Gramma in the kitchen (okay, so she is making meatloaf here on Wednesday evening and not Thanksgiving food yet, but Cecilia enjoyed "helping" anyway!)

Hanging out with family... Grampa and Uncle Tim (and Gabby... is she a relative? Honorary Aunt, maybe?)

Helping Gramma set the table for the Thanksgiving feast

Caroline's pumpkin turkey centerpiece

Young musicians

The food! Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce (both canned and homemade!), stuffing (both in the bird and baked in a dish... oh, and Tim's own separate dish of onion and celery-free stuffing), cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, and pumpkin and pecan pies! We didn't even bother with baking rolls, there was so much food! Oh, and we had the traditional dish of black olives on the table, much to my girls' delight!

Caroline and Cecilia with their honorary cousins, Dutch and Tyke. Try getting two kids and two dogs to all stay still and look at the camera all at once... it can't be done. This was the closest we got. You ruined it by looking away, Dutch!

This must not really be Mason... Mason would be hissing and running away. She probably gave herself a three-hour bath after escaping.

And this was a few days after Thanksgiving, but can anyone tell what is different about Caroline???

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Daybook for November 25, 2009 - Thanksgiving Week!

Outside my window... our chickens dust-bathing. Well, that was yesterday. Now I don't know what's outside my window because we are at my parents' house for Thanksgiving.

If you look closely, you can see the hollows in the dust left by the chickens

We also added two new hens! They are barred rocks also, but they are kinda ugly - their combs are still very, very short. they will grow and redden when they get closer to laying age...

Caroline named them Molly and More. They are being hazed by the other chickens and are not allowed to get near the feeder... poor things have to eat when the others go to bed! Otherwise, they just live on the roost all day...

I am thinking...that I am surprised at how long my anniversary flowers are lasting! I have been re-cutting the stems every few days, so maybe that helps.

I am wondering... what to get Caroline for Christmas. I have ideas and really need to finalize them.

I am thankful... for yummy food being prepared in the kitchen tonight and tomorrow!

Learning at home... just the usual:

peeling squash and rearranging the seeds (sensory and fine motor activities)

pretending to be passengers on the Mayflower (social studies)

homemade balance beam (physical education)

pouring, digging, sand play... oops, left the sandbox lid off (more sensory activities)

From the kitchen... just made pumpkin and pecan pies, Knorr spinach dip (Maureen, are you jealous? ;), and I am sure there will be more cooking tomorrow, like the turkey brining in the cooler right now.

I am reading... blogs, Advent planning lists...

To live the liturgical year... gearing up for Advent. We had St. Cecilia's feast day a few days back, but we didn't celebrate it as her name day yet since she's not even 2 yet... plus it was Christ the King Sunday, so Caroline made a Christ the King craft for a centerpiece. This Sunday, we will get out the Advent wreath and other stuff. We also started a new thing last week... our Archbishop has a list of diocesan priests published on their website to remember in prayer each day in this Year of the Priest. So we have them printed out and cut a name out each day, which we attach to our magnetic calendar to remind us to pray for each day's specific priest when we say our evening prayer for Priests.

I am creating... still working on the seals.. one is finished another to go. I've also been creating Advent/Christmas lists, gift lists, shopping lists...

Around the house... when we get back home, setting up Advent stuff. Around "The House," we are cooking!

I am hearing... my husband, my "baby" brother, and my Dad watching Jay Leno... well, I think my dad is actually sleeping.

One of my favorite things... spending time with family and helping cook big meals!

A few plans for the rest of the week... lots of eating! My brother and his wife are coming tomorrow too. Then on Friday evening, Chris and I will go out to eat for a late anniversary celebration. Since we are in Atlanta now, we can go to a restaurant here after the girls are in bed while my parents are home to be with them if they wake up. Otherwise, I need to get to Target and/or Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy diapers (for Cecilia) and a wedding gift. Doing that on Black Friday should be lots of fun, huh?

A picture (video, actually) thought I am sharing...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rough Plans for Advent

~Ongoing Activities throughout Advent (Nov.29-Dec.23)~

Advent Wreath
Lighting a candle each night at dinner, reading a different weekly prayer, referencing our Advent wreath poster and adding a new flame each week, adding a white candle to the center of the wreath Christmas Eve

Advent Songs
O Come, O Come Emmanuel and others found here

Circle Time
Songs, daily saints, Mary echo pantomime (actual plans and songs TBA!)

Look Around the Stable
A new-to-us idea this year, I will be using a list that I found somewhere a year ago... it has a different item in the stable each day, for instance, straw is on one day, a cow on another day, grain on another, etc. It has a brief prayer relating to each one. My plan is to make a drawing of an outline of a stable and then make cut-outs of each item (or in some cases use the real item, like the straw) and have the girls glue one into the stable outline each day. In future years, I would love to have each child draw her own stable and then illustrate the daily item inside it, and by Christmas we will have beautifully illustrated, full stables! I am thinking of adding this to the end of circle time each day.

The girls have a cheapy wooden set to play with. We will also slowly add figures to our nativity throughout Advent. Last year, Caroline liked making Mary and Joseph travel to the stable after the angel announced Jesus's impending arrival to them. I have been eyeing play nativity stables like this one and hope to one day - probably not this year - make our own little figures for it from wood and felt...


So, so many... I just cleaned out our local public library! They have NO Tomie de Paola Christmas/Advent/Epiphany books left at all, unless they find the one that was missing when I was there this weekend! We have some old favorites here, like The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and we have gathered several more from the library that have come highly recommended by other Catholic homeschooling families. I am excited to start reading them all!

Straw in the Manger
A couple years ago, I made a little manger from craft sticks. For every good deed done the girls (mostly Caroline this year, I am thinking) do, they get to place a straw in the manger, making a soft place for the baby Jesus on Christmas morning. I also came across the idea of the Jesus Stocking, in which everyone can write down good deeds done and place in the stocking as a gift for Jesus, and then you read them as a family on Christmas. I am filing this idea away for future years, when I have some children old enough to write!

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena
This prayer is beautiful. It is said 15 times a day beginning on the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, until Christmas Eve. I love the idea of making prayer beads to keep track of the number of times the prayer is said each day. We will begin this year with just saying the prayer daily and one year, we will make the beads and use them!

~St. Nicholas Day - Dec. 6~

This actually falls on a Sunday, so I suppose it would be appropriate to move the feast to the Saturday before or the Monday after... our fun surrounding this saint day will include:

* Reading our St. Nicholas books
* Putting out shoes on the evening before... in the morning, the children will find them filled with chocolate coins, holy cards, and a new St. Nicholas book (obviously this will be next to the shoes and not in them!)
* Baking St. Nicholas cookies using our new cookie cutter!! It is in a package that came last week, which has a St. Nicholas sticker on the outside... Caroline thinks St. Nicholas sent us the box! We will give them to others in "secret" like St. Nicholas did.
* Special dinner meal: pork, either this or this, both of which we have had in the past

~Feast of St. Ambrose - December 7th~
Some ideas:
* make bumblebee cookies (he is the patron of bees and beekeepers)
* eat honey (in hot tea or in a recipe)
* make or decorate a Christ candle (he is also the patron of candlemakers - beeswax) to use in the center of our Advent wreath on Christmas

~Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary - December 8~

We will:
* have blueberry muffins for breakfast (blue being the color often associated with Mary)
* attend Mass (it is a holy day of obligation!)
* have a white dinner (chicken? cauliflower? pasta with alfredo sauce? lots of possibilities!) to symbolize Mary's purity, placing our Mary statue on the table as a centerpiece
* cover our white Christ candle with white tulle, symbolizing Mary's purity as the place where Jesus, the Light of the World (represented by the white candle) dwelled within her before his birth into the world on Christmas. Idea here.

~Our Lady of Guadalupe/Juan Diego - ~

Juan Diego's feast day falls on December 9, and Our Lady's on the 12th. Since they really go hand-in-hand, I like to combine them somewhere around these dates. We plan to, as time allows:
* make Mexican wedding cookies
* make Mexican hot chocolate
* have something Mexican for dinner (catching the drift here?), probably enchiladas
* make this Juan Diego paper doll
* read The Lady of Guadalupe

~St. Lucy - December 13~

The name Lucia means "light," so we have begun the tradition to first turn on our Christmas lights on this day. We usually put our tree up around this day as well.
Also on this day, we will do some of the following:
* make St. Lucy crowns
* make St. Lucy's bread... traditionally the oldest daughter wears the crown of candles and carries the warm breakfast rolls into everyone's bedrooms that morning, which might be fun for future years. We will have our bread either for breakfast (if I make it the night before), or for lunch with cheese and fruit like we did last year. Both crown and bread can be seen here from last year.
* possibly make this paper doll of St. Lucy
* take a drive to look at Christmas lights, in keeping with the "light" theme

~'O' Antiphons~

hope to start slowly with this... some people have made ornaments and activities to go along with these, but we will just pray them this year each evening, beginning on December 17 and going through December 23.

~Gift Making and Giving~

We have chosen two children from our church's Angel Tree... these are one and four year old girls for whom we will purchase some gifts since their families may not be able to afford much for Christmas. Caroline and I already picked out toy baby dolls for each of these girls, since that is something listed as a wanted item. We will shop for some clothes, pajamas, diapers, and a jacket for them once Advent has begun, and all gifts are due back at our church on December 11.

Gifts for family and friends... we have been making homemade gifts for the past several years, and that always involves baked goods. Since some of our home-baked treat recipients might read this, I won't share what we are making this year... but we have a few new treats to try out!

Well, this has gotten long... but it really helps me to gather all my plans in one place. I will do another post soon on Christmas plans, beginning with Christmas Eve!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Definitions by Caroline

"Mama, those silver beads on your bracelet are borgeous... that's another word for beautiful."

"Do the radar screens (in a story about an airport) show them when it's going to rain?"
Clearly, I check the weather radar on the computer far too often... even Cecilia points to the green on the radar when it is displayed on the monitor and says, "Rain, rain!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Three Eggs a Day!

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

With cold and flu season here, I decided to make some elderberry syrup... much cheaper than buying the bottled stuff in the health food store! H/T to my friend Jessi for telling me how she made it.

First, you need dried elderberries and honey. That's it! Oh, and water, a pot, and a stove :)

Put 1/2 cup dried elderberries into a pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer until reduced, about 20 minutes. I removed any stray stems from the berries before I put them in the pot. I got my elderberries online for $7.50 for a pound plus shipping... believe it or not, Whole Foods doesn't carry them!

Pour elderberries and liquid through a fine mesh strainer.

I found it helpful to use a wooden spoon to press as much liquid as possible out of the berries.

Discard dried berry skins (or... eat them? make them into something else?) and add one cup of honey to the elderberry liquid. Stir to combine.

Pour syrup into a clean jar. Keep in the refrigerator and take a teaspoon or so a day as a flu preventative.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A very good, easy to read blog post here for Catholics... or for non-Catholics who want to understand more about the reasoning behind the Church's teachings on human sexuality, marriage and sexuality, opposition to birth control, etc.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why do I...

...nurse in public? Why don't I avoid nursing my children in public by waiting until I am in a private place, or by trying to schedule nursings so they don't happen when I am away from home? Or why can't I just use a bottle while out?

This has been a much-debated subject. I am not sure why it evokes such controversial debates among people... I can think of much more controversial subjects myself! The arguments typically go like this: One person speaks about the right to nurse in public, and the other starts talking about women "whipping it out" to feed their children. Then we get into the "I don't want my kids to see that!"and the "why can't you just go into another room/the bathroom/your car/somewhere isolated?" Then it gets really ugly when people begin comparing nursing to other bodily functions such as urinating.

So... I nurse my babies in public because that is how I feed them, comfort them, and mother them. I do in public the same as I do in private (although I tend to be less discrete when in the privacy of my home). Nursing is how I feed my babies. If I happen to be grocery shopping or dining out or at a park where my older child is playing when the baby gets hungry, then I nurse. Babies get hungry fairly often... and breastmilk is designed to digest quickly, so a breastfed baby may get hungry every two hours whereas infant formula is designed to fill a baby up for longer - it is made of cow's milk, which contains different proteins that are not as rapidly digested. So, especially with babies who are not eating much solid food (ie, babies under a year old in many cases), they will often need to nurse if mom has more than one or two errands to run or needs to be out for a few hours or more.

Mothers who bottle-feed their children in public are never questioned about this... nor are mothers who give their babies pacifiers in public in order to comfort them. Breastfeeding mothers are actually protected by law in most states so they will not be able to be charged with indecent exposure for breastfeeding. Frankly, I think that is sad that we have to have laws to protect a mother's right to feed her baby in a restaurant! Bottle-fed babies don't need such a law... nor do people who are fed through feeding tubes. It is recognized that they must eat, and so it is obvious that it must be legal for them to eat in "alternative" ways - by this I mean rather thn eating solid foods with a fork and spoon. But a breastfeeding baby is seen as different - why? Because breasts are seen as purely sexual body parts. Their functional main purpose is overlooked and all some people can see is, "Oh my goodness, I see some skin!!"

Most mothers who nurse in public are so discreet that you'd not even notice them unless you knew what to look for. A lifted shirt covers the top of the breast, the baby's head covers most of the rest of the breast, and the baby's body covers the rest. I have had people come up and say, "Oh, how sweet, she's sleeping!" when my baby was actually breastfeeding - and they didn't even notice I was nursing, or they only noticed once they leaned over closely and were two feet away from my baby's head. Often these people will say, "Oh, I didn't even know you were nursing her!!" They will sometimes apologize, thinking they have invaded my personal space - it doesn't bother me, though, because all they saw was a sliver of skin. Contrary to some belief (media-induced in many cases), one does not see nipples when women breastfeed in public... unless one happens to be looking very, very closely or happens to glance over at a mom who is having a brief fumbling moment, perhaps with a new baby and she is still learning the ins and outs of nursing.

So, the baby is just eating. Therefore, this should be allowed in all places a bottle-fed baby is permitted to eat. This should especially be permitted in a restaurant, where everyone is eating! This tends to be a place where women are often confronted with complaints about their babies nursing. I find this very strange, especially when it is suggested that they go to the bathroom to nurse... who would want to eat in a stinky bathroom? Who would think it's a good idea to bottle-feed a baby while sitting on a public restroom toilet? So then why should a breastfed baby have to eat in that way?

So, here's where we get into the part about bodily functions... often people who oppose nursing in public (NIP) will say something along the lines of, "Sure, it is the natural way to feed a baby, but there are lots of natural things that we don't do in public. I wouldn't urinate or defecate or have sex in public!" To compare breastfeeding to any of these things shows some ignorance on the subject. First off, on the bathroom functions - the reason those are done in private is because of sanitation. It would be unsanitary to urinate or defecate in the middle of a shopping mall, would it not be?? It would also smell awful! Breastfeeding a baby does not smell bad (although formula-feeding one does!), nor does it present a health issue... it is perfectly sanitary to nurse a baby in public as no milk comes in contact with other people... it is directly transferred to the baby's mouth! Even if some breastmilk were to spill somehow (perhaps likely if expressed and in a bottle but much more unlikely for it to spill onto the floor out of the breast!), it is not along the sames lines as urine or feces... it is not unsanitary. It doesn't carry diseases like blood could, it is not unclean like it would be if somebody defecated on the floor... human milk has actually been used to kill cancer cells! It has many, many properties, but being unsanitary is certainly not one of them!

So, what about the people whose sensibilities are offended by the possibility of seeing a little bit of cleavage or something while a mother nurses her baby in public? Or people who "don't want their children to see that"? Well, what if I don't want my kids to see bottle feeding? Or public displys of affection? Or people cussing at their children in Wal-Mart? Or people smacking their kids in the grocery store? Or people whose underwear is showing because their pants are down almost to their knees? Or girls whose shirts reveal a lot of cleavage (for no purpose other than to show it, I might add, and not to perform some function such as nourishing a baby)? My point is, people do lots of things in public, and maybe some of them are things we'd rather not see. I would rather my children don't see parents cussing at their children in Wal-Mart (And so I avoid taking my children to Wal-Mart!), but it is not something within my control. If people who are uncomfortable with nursing in public (because they have been taught indirectly to view breasts as merely sexual and therefore inappropriate to show at all in public - or even to use in public, as the case may be, since they are rarely showing while a mother nurses; it's just the knowledge that they are uncovered and being used nearby!) could understand that a mother is just innocently feeding and comforting her baby, and she is not intending to be gawked at or make a scene, then perhaps this would not be an issue. It would also not be an issue if breastfeeding were more common in general in this country. If people grew up around breastfeeding, with it just being a normal part of life that is seen regularly, then they would expect it rather than be shocked by it.

So another reason I NIP - rather than trying to go hide in another room - is because I want it to become seen as the norm. I want people to see breastfeeding more often so it doesn't seem so foreign to them when they have their own children! I have seen two people ever nursing in public in my town since I became a mother... only two. I cannot count how many babies I have seen how were given bottles in public, because that number would literally be in the thousands. So people think bottle-feeding is normal, and the proper way to feed a baby, because that is what they see so often. Believe it or not, this can be part of what influences them to breastfeed their own babies or not.

This also causes people to be much less understanding of a breastfeeding mother - why she can't just leave her baby at home, why she can't just bring a bottle either of expressed breastmilk or formula for when she is out, why she can't just make the baby wait a bit or go to a secluded spot... I will try to cover these one by one below:

Why can't a mom just leave her baby at home while she goes out for awhile? Mostly, this is due to supply and demand. A mother has to nurse her baby frequently - especially in the early weeks - in order to produce and maintain an adequate supply of milk to meet her baby's nutritional needs. If a mother skips feeding her baby and somebody at home is giving the baby a bottle instead, then her milk supply can suffer, particularly if this happens more often than just occasionally. Also, mothers who are breastfeeding do have hormonal factors at play... the hormones present can cause strong emotions about being with the baby. It is not easy for a breastfeeding mother to leave her baby - physically or emotionally!!

Why can't a mother just bring a bottle to feed her baby when she is in public? Well, part of this can be answered with the above paragraph. If she gives the baby a bottle in place of nursing him, then a mother may compromise her milk supply, especially if the baby needs to eat several times while they are out and the mother gives him bottles each time. The mother can also become painfully engorged due to not removing milk frequently, and this can lead to health problems in the woman - namely, breast infections. I actually read one person's thoughts that a mother should bring bottles for the baby and a breast pump for herself when out in public - that she should feed the baby a bottle first and then find someplace private to pump while out in order to maintain her milk supply and not become engorged. How over-complicated is that??? It is just one of the sacrifices of choosing to be a parent, this woman wrote. Sure, there are many sacrifices involved with becoming a parent, but I think this is one that is societally-imposed. People from other cultures in which breastfeeding is a common sight would probably not even be able to understand the rationale behind doing something like this!

Another thing about mothers just bringing a bottle... this may just not be what they want to or are able to do. Mothers have the right to feed their babies only with bottles, so how about it going the otherway, where mothers have the right o only feed their babies at the breast? There are many reasons a mother may want to do this... we hear a lot about possible toxins in plastics, so a mother may want to avoid using bottles for this concern. She may want to avoid them because the bottle nipple has been shown to cause tooth alignment problems in some cases, particularly in older babies and young toddlers. Perhaps a mother cannot afford bottles and a breast pump. Perhaps the mother has had problems maintaining her milk supply in the past and would not want to risk anything else that might lessen her supply? Perhaps the baby wouldn't take a bottle at all and the only way he will eat is at the breast? There are babies out there who completely reject bottles!

Why can't the mother just wait a bit to feed the baby? This is hard for a mother who is feeding on-demand or on-cue. When a mother does this, she is reading her baby's hunger cues and feeds him when he first gets a little hungry so he doesn't get so very hungry that he is inconsolable. Crying is a late hunger cue. Often a baby who has only begun to fuss a little can be consoled by being fed right away, whereas waiting another five minutes could result in a full-scale meltdown. Nobody likes to hear a wailing baby in the store or a restaurant, although the sound is quite common. A baby who is given the breast is typically consoled... his appetite is satisfied, he is comforted and "pacified" by the breast... so he is quieter, draws less attention to himself and that his mother is nursing... and other people can enjoy their shopping or dining with minimal disturbance from crying. Of course breastfed babies may cry at times too, but most are quickly silenced when given the breast... often they will nurse to sleep! So, most patrons of a restaurant would be inclined to support a mother breastfeeding her baby, right? And when the bottle is empty, that is that... but a baby can continue to suckle at the breast for comfort after he is full, and he can remain content.

And why can't the mother go to a secluded place to nurse? There are times when a mother may choose to do this... when it is more convenient to nurse in her car, when the baby is less distracted if she goes to nurse in a dressing room in the mall, if the mother is unsure of herself in those early months of nursing and desires a little more privacy while she is figuring out how to nurse - these are some reasons mothers may choose to leave busier public areas. But what about mothers who have more than one child? This argument often comes from people with few or no children. They do not understand that if you are eating in the mall food court with your baby and two older children that you cannot just pack up the kids and all their food and hike off to the bathrooms to nurse because your baby is about to have a screaming meltdown. Likewise, if your older children are on a playground, you have to stay nearby while nursing so you can supervise them. If an older child is in some sort of performance or sporting event, then a nursing mother may have to feed her baby while she cheers on her older child.

Personally, I would find it difficult to bear if the people I was around asked me to go into another room to nurse. We are social creatures and are designed to be in the company of other people. When we get together for social events with family and friends and then are made to spend half of our time alone in a back bedroom rather than out socializing and enjoying the merriment, then that can be very difficult. I don't want to miss out on the Thanksgiving meal, the opening of Christmas gifts, the story-telling and reminiscing of family members, the quality family and friend time. I can nurse while I talk, play a board game, open Christmas gifts... I can remain a part of the family. Many women quit nursing because they feel isolated... not only do they not know many other nursing moms, but they are isolated in that they feel like they have to go hide every time they nurse, even in front of their own parents or children - or even in front of their husbands, which I have heard of happening (rarely, fortunately!).

Disapproval of NIP is just another hindrance to mothers' success in nursing their babies. When they are made to feel guilty or dirty about it, when they are inconvenienced and isolated, then they are less likely to stick with it. Babies deserve to eat and be comforted no matter where they are and what other people think! And babies usually can't "just wait!" They have no idea of the societal views - they just want to be fed and held close!

I am not sure I covered all the aspects of this much-debated topic, so feel free to leave a comment if I missed something!

Update: More comments on being discreet and covering with a blanket in the comments...

Fall Fun and Playing with Chickens!

With the beautiful weather, we have been making an effort to spend lots of time outside - especially after all that rain we got the whole month of October! I took a few pictures with the colorful fall leaves behind Cecilia...

She was beside the sandbox, digging, in these photos. She really enjoys those good ol' sensory activities like playing in sand and dirt!

Here's Caroline holding Chicken, the tamest of the flock. We let her out every afternoon because we know we can easily catch her again - even Cecilia can catch her (except she can't quite pick her up herself). The others are more jumpy and run away from me if I try to touch them, although since they have been laying, I have actually been able to pet them - they hold still and squat down insyead of running. Maybe it is an instinctual defense, like they are squatting to protect their eggs? Chris let all three of them out this afternoon though- he's braver than me - and Sally and 'Lorpie were not too hard to catch. Chris had to kick "lorpie out of the tractor though - she wouldn't just walk out the open door like the rocks. She's the most aloof of the three birds. I am sure she was quite happy to be out in the yard once she got there, though. They love to be out of their tractor!

Caroline carries Chicken around like this a lot. She even gets on the swing while holding her, and Chicken will just go limp in her arms and fall asleep! Crazy bird.

By letting them run around the yard when we are out there, they are able to catch more bugs and graze over a larger space. They are somewhat "free range" this way, and then moving the tractor daily makes them somewhat free range as well. Caroline has just gotten so comfortable with them, which is great because she is somewhat skittish with dogs and even a bit with cats. Even when the chickens flap their wings to escape from her arms, she is unfazed by it now. I am glad we have animals around for the experience it gives the children - and they are useful too, since they lay eggs for us now! This morning, we had three eggs in the nesting box! I assume that means they are all laying now. We have five or six eggs in the fridge right now, and we ate four fresh eggs yesterday... who knows, maybe they will lay enough for us to sell some.

This video shows how Caroline just plays with Chicken, carrying her all around like she is a pet puppy or something!

And here is Sally, acting agitated and pacing back and forth because her sister is out and she is trapped inside! She doesn't like that I block her from escaping from the tractor while letting Chicken out!

Circle Time Plans for November

Circle Time Plans ~ November

Gathering Song(s): Mr. Sun

Finger Plays:

  • Ten Little Indians
  • I Have a Turkey
  • Little Pilgrim
  • Hello, Mr. Turkey
  • I’m an Acorn


  • Saint of the Day magnet
  • Vestments on priest
  • Days of the Week/Months of the Year song

Seasonal Hymn:

Now Thank We All Our God

I Have a Turkey

I have a turkey, big and fat. (Make a fist with one hand-thumb out for turkey's head)
He spreads his tail and walks like that. (Attach "tail" by spreading Out fingers of other hand and join together)
His daily corn he would not miss. (Poke with thumb at floor)
And when he talks, it sounds like this: Gobble Gobble Gobble

Little Pilgrim

Sung to: "Twinkle Twinkle "

Little Pilgrim dressed in gray
on that first Thanksgiving Day.
Little Indian dressed in brown,
Came to visit Plymouth Town,
They both came to eat and pray
on that first Thanksgiving Day.

Hello Mr. Turkey

Sung to: "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Hello, Mr. Turkey how are you?
Hello, Mr. Turkey, how are you?
His feet go wobble, wobble
And his head goes Gobble, Gobble.
Hello, Mr. Turkey, how are you?

I’m an Acorn

I'm an acorn, small and round. (Kids make a little "o" with hands)
Lying on the cold, cold ground. (Fold hands and put beside head as if sleeping)
Everybody steps on me. (stomp foot)
That is why I'm cracked you see. (shrug)
I'm a nut. cluck, cluck (the "cluck cluck is actually a clicking with your mouth and you "knock" on your head)
I'm a nut. cluck, cluck
I'm an acorn nut. cluck, cluck

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cecilia at 21 months

Some of the things Cecilia has been saying and doing lately...

For a couple months now, Cecilia has been answering some "who" questions with, "People!" Examples: "Who's ready for dinner?" "People!" "Who likes oatmeal?" "People!" "Who loves you?" "People!"

She also points out the obvious... "People standing," when we walked past a few people on the curb at the mall.

She calls toothpaste "brushpaste."

When she holds the tube of diaper rash ointment she says, "Hold rashy cream... Daddy no squeeze!" Apparently he told her not to squeeze the tube!

Also starting a couple months ago, we asked her, "Can Daddy give you nuh-nuh milk?" She said, "No - Daddy nuh-nuhs juice!" which she still thinks is extremely funny.

Cecilia was drawing a picture, and she brought it and showed it to me, saying, Draw - CC!" I asked, "Where is CC's hair in the picture? Are you going to draw your pigtails and hair bows?" She said, "No!" in a laughing voice and went back to her work. When Daddy came into the room, she showed him her drawing, saying, "CC! Head... neck... bum..."

Cecilia says "nonsum" for "want some," as in, "Nonsum pear." If she wants ice in her cup, she will say, "Ice! Ice - in it!" She says "elelator" instead of "elevator." Pomegranate is "pologranate."

Cecilia's most commonly used word: also. "CC snack also!" "CC draw also!"

If I say, "Oh, you are a moody baby today!" in a playful voice, she responds very clearly, "NOT moody baby!!!!!!"

Her favorite game is "Run 'Round Daddy."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Martinmas - The Memorial of St. Martin of Tours

The girls and I have been learning about St. Martin of Tours yesterday and today. Martinmas, as it is known in many countries, falls on November 11th. The most famous story of St. Martin, who was a Roman soldier turned Christian, is that of his meeting with a beggar on a cold day. We sang this song about St. Martin during our Circle Time yesterday, and then Caroline acted it out with Cecilia's cooperation!

Caroline, playing the part of St. Martin, cuts her cloak in two using her sword

She gives half of the cloak to Cecilia, playing the part of the beggar

The beggar is happy to be warmer now, and Martin rides away on his horse with his remaining half of a cloak

We also sorted through the coat closet yesterday and pulled out old coats and jackets that nobody uses. How we accumulate so many jackets and sweaters, I do not know! We filled a bag to donate, in the example of St. Martin. Then Caroline put on her own winter hat, and put one on Cecilia as well, because St. Martin must hgave been dressed warmly, she thought! They acted out the St. Martin story - complete with the part where he sees Jesus in a dream telling him that when he clothed the beggar, he was actually clothing Jesus himself - over and over all morning!

For a craft activity, we made lanterns, which is done traditionally in parts of Europe for Martinmas - not sure exactly why, except that winter is right around the corner with its short daylight hours. I made a simple one for Cecilia with some star punches around the edges, and then for Caroline, I traced this image of Martin and the beggar on white tissue paper and put it in as a window in her lantern. She and I colored it gently using crayons. Then I attached the edges, taped on a circle base, and hot glued tealight candles in the bottom. I found the basic idea at Under Her Starry Mantle, along with the song lyrics to the St. Martin song - Anne's blog is a wonderful resource!

Here's Caroline's completed lantern - she did a pretty good job coloring the image considering she doesn't color lined drawings very often!

And she drew her own picture of St. Martin on his horse on the other side

Cecilia liked holding her lantern and carrying it around (unlit, of course!). She had colored the other side of it which isn't visible in this picture.

For a snack and dessert, we had St. Martin's Horseshoe Cookies. I had found this recipe last year and saved it for the future... it was very easy and is relatively healthy - well, aside from the pound of butter, that is!

St. Martin's Horseshoes

1 cup butter
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup ground unblanched almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter and sugar (Sucanat works fine!). Add other ingredients and mix. Using fingers, form into horseshoe shapes, about three-four inches long before bending them into shape. Bake at 300 degrees for about a half-hour. Roll in powdered sugar.

Yummy!! So good with hot tea!

Caroline didn't like them... but Cecilia did. I gave the girls cookies that hadn't been dipped in the powdered sugar (Caroline had already had a cupcake at MMO and a piece of Halloween candy, so I was tryingto limit the sugar!)... but she can try one with powdered sugar tomorrow and will maybe like that better.

When they are a bit older, it would be fun to do an evening lantern walk around the yard. For now, the lanterns make a nice centerpiece. It will be neat to add to our homemade lantern collection in coming years - if I can find a place to store them, that is! ;)

A blessed memorial of St. Martin to everyone!
(just for you, Tim, I didn't refer to it as a "feast day!")

We got our first egg!!!

I noticed this morning, while looking out the window as I was getting myself ready, that one of the chickens was still in the enclosed area of the chicken tractor. I mentioned this to Chris, that one of the rocks was not outside yet. I had noticed on Monday that Sally was squatting in this awkward-looking position a few times while we were outside and had thought maybe she was about to lay... Well, Chris found her in the nesting box, squatting again. He nudged her aside to see if she was sitting on an egg... no, nothing underneath her. But - then, she hopped up onto the edge of the nesting box, and this egg just kind of fell out of her! Chris was watching it all happen, and I had opened the window after noticing he'd gone out to check on them... I had a feeling that we'd be seeing an egg soon!

It amazes me that they know to lay in the nesting box! How do they figure that out??

Caroline was excited to go out and get the egg a little later today. We left it out there awhile, hoping it might encourage the others to follow suit!

A closer view of the egg... tan in color, and a bit smaller than a normal egg, which is typical of the early eggs from any hen. So it looks like the waiting has paid off!

Caroline is getting to be so good with the chickens... she can pick up Chicken (the tamest of the three birds) by herself and then lovingly holds her close and carries her around the yard... today, Chicken even seemed to go to sleep in her arms!