Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Short and Sweet Article on Infant Sleep

Now that we will have a new baby joining us on the outside in September, I am sure I will get to hear that typical question beginning pretty soon after the baby is born: "Is he/she a good sleeper?" Or the other most common question of, "Is he/she sleeping through the night yet?" Ah, if only it was common knowledge that babies are not supposed to sleep through the night, and "good" sleep for a baby does not mean that he sleeps in long stretches, uninterrupted, like an adult or a much older child sleeps.

So, if you have a baby or toddler or preschooler who does not "sleep through the night," then don't let the question get you down! Remind yourself, "My baby is NORMAL! And that is a good thing!"

Here's the article. Of course, it's by James McKenna - who else? ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Caroline's 6th Birthday!

I can't believe she is already six!

We had a family party to celebrate Caroline's birthday this past weekend. Her Gran, Grandad, Gramma, uncle, aunt, and cousin were able to come. We had lunch first: chicken salad from Chick-fil-A on croissants, fruit salad, taco dip with tortilla chips, crab pasta salad that my mom made, and tea and Coke. After everyone had eaten their fill (and I was going back for more... yeah, finally gaining weight, and in a sudden large quantity!), it was on to presents!

From Mommy and Daddy, Caroline got an optic explorer (a telescope/microscope tool she has been asking for), Tree Connectagons, and Little House of the Prairie paper dolls.

From Gramma and Grampa, she got a pet cat for her 18 inch doll (intended for American Girl dolls, which are the same size as the girls' Madame Alexander dolls) and a castle floor puzzle.

Uncle Mike, Aunt Crystal, and Julianne gave her some new books to read.

Gran and Grandad gave Caroline a magnetic mosaic picture maker. Here is a photo of what the girls created with it the next day:

And here Daddy shows Caroline how to use the telescope feature of the optic explorer.

Caroline requested a fairy castle cake. It was lots of fun to make it! Here are several different angles:

We used these fairy figurines that Caroline had gotten for Christmas to decorate it.

Everybody sang "Happy Birthday..."

...and Caroline blew out all the candles!

The girls had already made pre-arrangements as to who got to lick which fairy figurine.

The castle towers and turrets were made from ice cream cones, which everyone enjoyed after cake - even the adults!

This one was too cute to leave out... Cecilia works on her ice cream cone.

Happy Birthday, Caroline! You are growing up so quickly and are becoming more and more helpful and independent - reading books fluently and tying your own shoes - I can hardly believe it!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Late in posting this, but here are the girls on St. Patrick's Day wearing their shamrock stickers that came in the mail from Gran. It was a beautiful day, so we spent lots of time outside!

Dinner: Irish Brown Bread and Irish Guinness Beef Stew - yum!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Very Special Solemnity of the Annunciation

Today, the Church celebrates the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her of God's plan for her, and when she said "Yes" to God's will. It is celebrated exactly nine months before we celebrate Jesus's birth at Christmas, because it pinpoints the moment of conception, when "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." What a powerful testament to being pro-life!

The Annunciation also happens to occur in early spring, when new life is bursting forth everywhere. I took these photos a few days before the first day of spring, but we seem to be having an early arrival of the season here (although it is not unheard of to have a random freeze in late March or early April in these parts!). These shots are some of the new life in our own backyard.

Then we have a new little life here within me, and I thought it would be special to tie in the miracle of new life on this day in particular. So we told the girls about the baby, that they are now both big sisters and would be able to see their new little brother or sister in September! We went to our parish's Friday evening dinner and Stations of the Cross today as usual, and we arrived a few minutes early so we could tell them there and then all go into the church, where Jesus is present in Eucharistic Adoration, and light a prayer candle for the baby.

Chris told the girls that we were going to light a candle for a new baby that has not been born yet but is with us right now. Both girls looked baffled, and he continued, "If it hasn't been born and it is with us, then where must it be?" Cecilia immediately responded, "In our tummies!" [We had been talking a lot about how this is the day that Jesus became human inside Mary's tummy, as a baby so tiny we wouldn't even be able to see him until he grew bigger.] Chris said, "Whose tummy would the baby be in?" I said, "Hmm, it couldn't be in Daddy's tummy..." and Cecilia immediately pointed at me and said, "In Mommy's tummy!" Caroline, meanwhile, was deep in thought, and several seconds after Cecilia went through this verbal realization, a huge smile spread across Caroline's face as she "got it." It was funny to see her stunned into silence! So both girls were excited and said a prayer for the new baby in the church before we had dinner and Stations.

Later, Cecilia told me, "The baby is in your skin, not on your skin, because I can't see it!" Ha ha!

Here's a photo of baby - er, my skin, that is, covered with clothing, and a baby under the layers. ;) This was about a week ago... now I am in the 15th week. I am wearing maternity clothes now, which I love. Call me strange, but I love being able to fit into them all of a sudden and appear to others to perhaps be pregnant! Plus, you can't beat an elastic waist for comfort once the regular jeans start tightening and digging in when you sit down! ;)

Here the girls enjoy their sugar cookies that we made for this solemnity. They are white, symbolizing the purity of Mary in the miracle of Jesus's conception within her womb. We also had Swedish waffles, since waffles were traditionally eaten in Sweden on this day as a celebration of the Annunciation. I read that even after Sweden became mostly Protestant, they still held this day in high esteem and continued to observe and celebrate it. Interesting tidbit. The waffles are sweet and full of whipped cream, so they make for a real treat, which is fitting for solemnities. Now, we fudged it a bit and had the waffles Thursday, the eve of the Annunciation, since we were planning to go to dinner at the church tonight.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Annunciation Day, full of new life!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent Begins

We are using as lot of ideas we have done in the past to mark the season of Lent this year. We will bake pretzels on a few Fridays, will make Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, will attend Stations of the Cross at our parish each Friday... and we also have some birthdays and solemnities to celebrate in there!

The girls helped me to put together this year's crown of thorns. It will be reusable, unlike the clay one we've done in years past. I think this one also looks more realistic, and it is simpler to boot! I first saw the idea here at Waltzing Matilda, and while I wanted to find a larger wreath for our crown, these small ones were all that was available at the craft store. But, this size fits so much better on our dining room table!

It was easy for Caroline to stick toothpicks into it. Each time the girls perform a good deed or sacrifice, they can pull a thorn out of the crown, so that hopefully all the thorns will be gone by Easter!

Looks pretty realistic, huh? And much less, er, ugly, than last year's crown!

We placed it on a square of purple felt that I had laying around in the craft closet. Perfect!

We made a Lent calendar on a posterboard again, and the girls helped to color parts of it.

We worked on this after Ash Wednesday Mass. Unfortunately, we had to hear "I Can Only Imagine" sung at Mass that day... doesn't that song come on the radio, and don't most hymns not? ;) Tim, if you are reading this, you'll be sad to know that we also recently heard "Companions on the Journey" - blah!

Here's a close-up of our calendar... the girls take turns crossing off each day. We also count the item listed each day.

The girls decorated these bags to collect food for the poor. We have a stash of non-perishable foods needed by a local food pantry:

...and the girls take turns each day at calendar time selecting one item and placing it in a bag. We will drop them off at the box at our church toward the end of Lent.

Here are our Sorrowful Mystery pictures, which we have hanging as visuals for our evening decade of the rosary. We are just doing the Sorrowful Mysteries throughout Lent.

These pennies are used along with the counting of items I mentioned above. An item is listed each day on the calendar, and the girls count it and then put the corresponding number of pennies into a jar. For instance, today they counted dolls. Yesterday, they counted pairs of socks. They will get to put all the money into the collection for the poor at the beginning of the Easter season.

And of course, the Stations of the Cross Box came out! I made a Stations board game this year too, to be played along with using the box. The Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure is also focusing on the stations this year!

What are others doing so far for Lent this year?

Q is for Queen of All Saints, Quilts, and Quiet!

Q week... apparently I didn't take photos of everything this week, so this will be short for an Alphabet Path post! ;) I feel like I am getting my energy back now that I have hit the second trimester, so maybe I will be better able to keep up, and to have more motivation to do so as well!

Here are our themes for the week, all of which went into the Word Box, as usual.

Our Q poems for the week from An Alphabet of Catholic Saints and God's Alphabet

~Circle Time~

The Mystery Sound Pouch item was a quarter. Caroline shared a quail from a Memory game as well as a quilt, and Cecilia brought a queen fairy.

Songs and Rhymes
The Queen of Hearts
Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
Little Girl and the Queen
Five Little Ducks (quack, quack, quack)

~Foods for Q Week~



We also had quinoa one evening with dinner... not many Q foods out there! We didn't try quail. ;)

~Letter Formation~

writing P's in cornmeal
Apparently there are no photos of the play-doh letters, punch out the letter, or the cut and paste Q collage!

~Saint for Letter Q: Mary, Queen of Saints~

painted saint

Finished copywork from An Alphabet of Catholic Saints and illustration

~Picture Study: Q is for Queen~

Caroline illustrated this painting of Queen Victoria.

~ABC Virtue of the Week: Quiet~

Again, this is one I drew myself... the kids are supposed to be listening quietly while their mother tells them something. Still reading Caroline a relevant story from this sweet little book full of stories with morals to them to correspond with the virtue coloring pages.

~Activities for Q Week~

Q-tip Dandelions

The project idea came from here. The initial idea was to glue a green pipe cleaner to the paper as a stem. Let me warn you, this is extremely frustrating, with both Elmer's School Glue and Elmer's Clear (the latter of which I think I hate, by the way! ;)... they just would not stick, and the paper was a damp mess. So, I quickly cut some construction paper stems and leaves instead.

Getting the Q-tips to stick to the paper was okay as long as we had glue on the cotton swab tips.

Q-tip Painting

These just ended up as designs... process, not product!

~Cooking Project: Q is for Queen of Hearts Tarts~

We used my favorite pumpkin rollout cookie recipe and then cut the dough into hearts using a cookie cutter. On half of the heart shapes, I cut out the center so that a heart-shaped frame remained.

The girls spooned jam onto the hearts and then we placed a frame on top of each one so that the jam filled up the empty heart-shaped space.


We have finished R and S weeks as well, so hopefully I will get those photos posted sometime in the near future!