Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Bits

Does anybody else thin the new Ford Flex cars look like hearses? No offense if you own one; they look spacious and comfy, and I have a thing for station wagon-style cars... but they look like space-age hearses to me.

I was shopping for a maternity sundress a few weeks ago and found a great one for a great deal using a Groupon from Old Navy... I wanted something to just wear casually in this heat as I go through the final trimester of pregnancy! So once I bought it, I realized I needed a bra that would work with it - strapless or thinner straps or something along those lines. Luckily, I was right next to a Kohl's. Actually, I thought I was around the corner from a Kohl's so I drove around the building in the same large parking lot to go in... but when I left, I somehow came out right next to Old Navy. Apparently they have two entrances, and I chose the less convenient one, ha ha! Anyway, if you have ever shopped in the underwear/bra department in Kohl's, you may have noticed its square footage is larger than my whole house. Endless rows of bras. If you are male and still reading this, please feel free to skip past if you have little interest in bra-shopping. ;) What I noticed as I walked up and down the aisles is that 90some% of the bras were padded... not just a little bit, but the padding that makes the cups stick way out, perfectly rounded, so as you have to be careful when walking down the aisles lest you get too close and knock them off the racks as they protrude into your path. Apparently I am in the minority here on not liking these kinds of bras... I guess I don't like that they are too thick, too bulky-feeling, too much fabric (meaning too hot). I typically want a bra that I don't notice I am wearing a few minutes after I put it on. And, thankfully, I finally came across something new: bandini bras. They were made by a brand called Barely There. Yes, that sounded right up my alley - I want a bra that is barely there. If I could go without all the time, I probably would, so this is the next best thing in my opinion. They are also made in easy sizes: small, medium, large. And they came in a set of two! The straps can be up over the shoulders or pulled down to make it a strapless bra. You can even have one strap up and one strap down, although I can't see much practicality in that. So, I just thought I would review this product here in case there are any other people out there who like this kind of bra!

Cecilia went swimming and talked about rinsing off the "cholrine." Hee hee. She doesn't say "scrunscreen" any more... I think that was last summer.

We were given a huge load of girls' clothes by a neighbor who has two nieces who have outgrown the clothing... and wow, is it a lot of stuff! After sorting through and putting aside the almost half of it that is too small or otherwise not usable, there is still enough to fill almost three large loads in the washing machine! I am washing it and then will need to sort through and put it into boxes by this winter, next summer, next winter, and next summer! Looks like I won't need to do any big consignment sale shopping this fall, which is good, seeing as I might not really feel up to it in the last weeks of pregnancy or with a newborn!

School is off to a good start here, and we'll do our second day tomorrow. Next week we will do three days between dentist appointments and La Leche League, and then the girls and I head to Atlanta for a Leader Development Seminar for LLL. They can hang out with my parents while I go to all the technical classes and learn what I can. So, another busy week next week, and then maybe - hopefully - things will start to slow down into a better routine... for a little while, anyway.

We are doing some of the Holy Heroes summer adventure stuff... it is like an at-home Vacation Bible School program. Caroline really enjoyed VBS with our parish a couple weeks ago.

I was noticing that there are tons of old photos on my phone that I hadn't moved to my computer... so, I finally moved some of them and thought I'd share some in an edition of Random Bits - Random Sightings:

First we have a photo from our downtown fountains, which I have mentioned before as being extremely cool for a relatively small town. I need to take my real camera there to get some actual good photos sometime... but this one gives an idea of how the three "rivers" work: there is a shallow pool at the top of the photo, and the water flows out of it (between Cecilia's legs in this photo!) and down toward the bottom of the picture into a shallower pool... and then there are fountains beyond that, which lead down to a huge fountain in the middle.

Here is what Cecilia does while Caroline is at her occupational therapy sessions... she really enjoys the time to just sit and draw, or read, or play with whatever else we bring in to the waiting room. I have found that the front room is almost always less crowded and more pleasant, with more appropriate conversations going on! I love to watch her draw, though... she likes to color in all the space. In fact, I was coloring something in to use for school, and she pointed out to me the pinprick-sized spots where I hadn't filled it in all the way! ;-P

So, I think this was at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis... maybe? Like I said, some of these photos were taken months ago. Anyway, I guess this means that children under age 9 can go in alone?

One of our chickens caught this in the backyard... it is the third snake they have caught this spring/summer. Yuck! They go crazy when one catches a snake, all chasing each other and trying to be the one who gets it! Anyone know what kind it is?

Okay, so I saw this in the cake decorating area in a store... multicultural fondant. Why would somebody decorate a cake like this???? As a side note, I think fondant tastes gross. I know you don't have to eat it, but why ruin a perfectly good opportunity for lots of yummy frosting by putting this stuff on instead?

Hmm, maybe it's cinnamon rolls, or it could be something totally different... say, human waste smells, seeing as this sign was posted inside the bathroom! What were they thinking?????

As another side note, every time I walk into the locker room and bathroom in the gym where I go to swim laps, I think, "Mmm, it smells like Big Red gum!" Then I immediately think, "It should not smell like something edible in a public bathroom..." I think it is the air freshener that has that cinnamon smell.

And speaking of bathrooms, last photo... don't remember which bathroom this was; I visit them all often these days. ;) Maybe it was Wal-Mart... but I just wondered, if soap is in the left side, what is that in the right side?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Caroline's First Day of First Grade!

Yes, we have started school again! Caroline told me, "Mommy, I'm glad we're doing school again!" :)

We have begun school this early so we can get a head start before Baby 3 is born in September. It will be a slow start, as we have several things happening here and there, especially things like OB appointments for me, every two weeks now! So, we began our day with Circle Time - new and improved since Kindergarten. We will learn new monthly hymns and do various money counting/comparing/exchanging, review and learn more counting patterns, and do a bit of language arts work on the easel each day. We'll continue doing calendar and saints of the day, along with some songs and rhymes for Cecilia.

Here is the official first day of school photo... we were all wearing white shirts today, and you will soon find out why if you keep reading this post!

New colored pencils for the first day of school... I debated ordering some really nice ones online... it is easy to want to do that when you see or hear about really nice art materials online... but practicality needs to win out more often. I think I'd rather have babies than expensive school supplies. :) So I got a pack of 50 Crayola colored pencils at Wal-Mart... they all just barely fit in this jar (which formerly held Trader Joe's almond butter).

Here is something else I have added to Circle Time this year: the pledge. I found this poster in my old school stuff - who knows where I got it; I used to teach 3rd and 4th graders and would have insulted their intelligence by posting this in my classroom!

For Cecilia, I am also doing this activity to teach about Jesus as the Good Shepherd and how we are like His sheep. I got this here from Catholic Icing and printed it off and assembled it... we will go through the Bible story once a week and Cecilia can re-enact it herself as well.

I gave Caroline an elementary spelling inventory since I have never assessed her spelling before. I thought it would be helpful to have and do one maybe each year for comparison. It is really interesting to see how the spelling patterns evolve...

Here is our schedule for this year... still somewhat tentative, but I think I like it mostly the way it is. We will try it out this way for awhile and see how it goes! You can see it larger by clicking on it.

Here's an ongoing project... we will add to it over the years. It is a liturgical year binder with several tabs... we can put projects, copywork, coloring sheets, narrations of saint stories, etc. in here. I got the idea from Catholic Mosaic - we will be reading several of the books on their booklist this year, I hope.

Here are the shelves in the schoolroom... the top shelf holds some of the books we will be using. The shelves below are the "work activity" shelves. Last year, I put an assortment of activities for the girls to choose from as a transition between breakfast and beginning the school day. That didn't seem to work out so well over the long haul, so I am trying something new this time: work trays. There will be just one or two items on each tray, changed each day. This way, there is no confusion over what is to be done! Caroline will also have her journal on her work tray twice a week along with a monthly list of topics from which to write about. Cecilia's tray is still optional at this point... she can use it if she is feeling like being included in "school," or she can do her own thing... either way, this is how I get the dishes done after breakfast each morning! I am also going to get her doing more water play and "helping" wash the dishes with me this year, I think.

Here's our new file crate, with a hanging file for each week. I have filed the Old Testament copywork verses for each week in here, along with the First Timeline images for each week. I also have a file for each month, and there are liturgical year coloring sheets, projects, and copywork from saint books filed there. Looking back, I think it might be overkill this year to have a file for each week... I had a file for each letter last year, which worked well. As more work is added (and more kids are "enrolled" in Hycliff Academy!), this will probably be a good system... not sure yet if I will be keeping each year's crate and then pulling them out in future years or combining all the kids' stuff into one crate for each year...

Here are most of our books for frequent use: my planning binder and the liturgical year binder, Caroline's math workbook, The Earth, our children's Bible, the First Timeline book, the First Communion Catechism, and Angel Food for Boys and Girls Volume 1, to be used alongside the catechism using this handy chart from Wildflowers and Marbles.

I found this Old Testament timeline to go along with our Old Testament studies... we will read a story from the children's Bible each week, and then Caroline will retell it and illustrate it. I also found this laminated map in my old school posters... we will use it for our family geography studies in which we will learn about the places where Caroline's grandparents and great-grandparents were born and grew up... this will be part of our social studies curriculum, along with the timeline.

Here's Caroline writing in her journal... her first entry ever was on the topic of the first day of school.

Here's Caroline illustrating the cover of her Old Testament book... she chose to draw Noah's ark on the front since she is already familiar with that Old Testament story.

Here's the finished cover. I love these books... they are blank with about 20 pages in each, and you can get them lined or unlined and in various sizes. I got them from Emmanuel Books.

And the first day of school happily coincided with Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A! For those who might be unfamiliar, I like to call this "Dress like a cow, get free food day." If you go in a complete cow costume, you get your whole meal free... chicken, fries, drink, and if you are lucky enough to have a Dwarf House Chick-fil-A, then you can sit down on the wait side and get a free salad, too! So the girls and I had made headbands with ears and a bunch of spots the day before, and I made each of us a tail by braiding yarn together. We also made "Eat Mor Chikin" signs like the cows wear.

Cecilia the cow

Caroline the cow, with a small cow... I think that one is "Cowie"

And they got to say hi to the big cow!! He came by our table a couple times and batted at the girls' balloons, shook their "hooves," and cradled their stuffed cows like babies. Cecilia used to be unsure of the big cow... when she first met him, she was about one and was a little disturbed... the thing is BIG! Today, she decided on the way home that she wanted to pretend to be the big cow... so I told her, "The big cow doesn't ever talk, does he? All he does is wave." So Cecilia then acknowledged everything anyone said to her by simply waving, which Caroline thought was hilarious. It was a fun way to end our first day of school!

I guess this post covered a lot of our curriculum for the year as well... any other families want to share what you are using for homeschooling this year? I got a lot of our ideas here from Mater Amabilis - they have each year's curriculum listed on their website.

Independence Day 2011

Hope everyone had a happy Independence Day!! We had a cookout with family... fun and low-key. The fireworks got rained out... well, they did get set off, but late, after Chris and Caroline had given up because it was after 9:30. Maybe next year...

Cecilia helped make some red, white, and blue fruit kabobs using strawberries, blueberries, and mini marshmallows.





Caroline helped make a few of them as well!

We had appetizers first, around 1:00, and then had our big meal mid-afternoon: burgers and hotdogs, potato salad, and the fruit kabobs. I made the cheese ball appetizer above... first time ever making one from scratch, and I don't think I will ever buy one again! It was so easy: 2 packages of cream cheese, a half cup of diced black olives (mixed together and formed into a ball), and then rolled in 1/3 cup diced walnuts mixed with a tablespoon of dried parsley. So easy and tastes great with Trader Joe's multigrain entertainment crackers (even better than with Triscuit-sttyle crackers, the traditional cheese ball cracker)!

My mom brought salsa and Trader Joe's red, white, and blue corn chips!

We mostly hung out in the sunroom... too hot outside! And Uncle Tim didn't set off any fireworks this year... well, maybe that is a good thing because it means we didn't lose any bowls this year. ;)

I finally used the red, white, and blue ribbon that I'd had in a drawer for a couple years! Both the girls got pigtails to go with their red-white, and blue shirts!

Cecilia was being goofy with Grampa...

Caroline wanted to pose for pictures with Gramma...

...and Grampa. They wore red and blue, and Tim wore white - how patriotic, and probably unplanned! ;) Chris wore his Old Navy American flag shirt (from the year 2000, it says on the front!), and I wore... a green sundress. Hey, I'm pregnant and it is hot! ;)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Liturgical Year Summer Desserts!

We have enjoyed making some cool summer treats in celebration of the liturgical year! We celebrated Trinity Sunday with these trinity sundaes... neapolitan ice cream (three flavors in one ice cream!) along with three topping choices (shredded coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips).

We served them in these fun cone-shaped dishes that I have had for years.

This one isn't a dessert... honey cornmeal muffins for St. John the Baptist's feast day. John was described as eating honey and locusts, so we had these honey muffins with our dinner (which did not consist of locusts!). In the original recipe, sesame oil is called for, but I subbed coconut oil. I also used more whole wheat flour than was called for... and even Cecilia, who is not a big bread-eater, loved them! We had them alongside a vegetarian Friday evening dinner.

But speaking of the locusts, we did have grasshopper parfaits for dessert! Apparently, the term "grasshopper" when used in desserts means something that is green and minty. They used to sell grasshopper cookies, I seem to recall, although I cannot remember what they looked like now and haven't seen them in ages! These are made with mint-flavored chocolate pudding, Andes mint baking bits, and whipped cream that has been tinted green.

Caroline colored a John the Baptist coloring page.

See, it's green... see??? ;) It actually has some green tint to it, but it was very light and didn't show up in the photos...

Next up we had a key lime pie on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. We also had beer-battered fish for dinner, since the early apostles were referred to as "fishers of men." The key lime pie was specifically for Peter, the first Pope, to whom Jesus told he would give the keys of Heaven in the Gospel of Matthew.

It was the first time I have ever made key lime pie... and technically, they weren't even key limes, because I couldn't find any at the two grocery stores where we shop... but the idea is still there. I topped it with fresh whipped cream - mmmmm!

For the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we had Sacred Heart Sundaes: strawberry ice cream (scooped out in a heart shape), with peach slices to represent the flames, and chocolate chips and sunflower seeds to make the crown of thorns which encircles the heart. Here is an image of the Sacred Heart for those who may not be familiar.

...and you can see how hot it is during June in Georgia as the ice cream begins to melt instantly...

One quick photo before it all melts away!!!

Hope everyone is having a fun-filled summer! We are about to begin our school year again, but we will still have to take some time to enjoy more summer treats and water-related activities over the next couple months... still haven't made it to the lake once yet!