Monday, September 30, 2013

Daybook for September 30, 2013 - Fall is Here!

Outside my window... beautiful cool fall weather this morning - the windows are all open!  The birds are singing in more complex patterns lately, so that is beautiful to hear... too bad it sounds like one of my neighbor's dogs are dying about a block away.  they sound like hound dogs, which already have an I'm-dying-please-put-me-out-of-my-misery kind of bark.  And chickens in my backyard were a problem? ;) 

I am thinking... about making some fun fall plans to go to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch.  I also want to get family portraits made outside - something we have not done before.  Lucy needs 2 year old photos, and Caroline (still) needs a formal photo in her First Communion dress.  Yes, leave it to me to have that done six months after the sacrament was made!

I am wondering... how long this nice weather will last!  This is unusually cool for Georgia - it usually reaches the 80's until mid-November around here.  We have had temps not getting above 79 in the past week, so I am enjoying it while it lasts!

I am praying...for a friend on bedrest, that her baby will continue to develop and her amniotic fluid will continue to replenish, and for thanksgiving for the life of her baby and all babies everywhere.

I am thankful... for a lovely weekend with a family hike, picnic, and bike ride!

I am hearing... pretty birds.  I think the one closest to the house is a mockingbird, from the sound of it.  The dogs have stopped dying for the moment. ;)

Learning at home... Cecilia is beginning E week.  Caroline is plugging along in her studies and has planned to build a pyramid out of foam blocks and design Egyptian clothes for her Calico Critters to wear.  She is very excited about this project, and I am hoping she will be motivated to do lots of it on her own.  So far, she designed some clothes during rest time last week.

From the kitchen...  we had a pork loin roast last night with cooked cabbage and apples - that was yummy.  Tonight is "Chick-fil-A chicken strips" with sweet potato fries and salad.  Later this week, we will have a beef stir-fry with some of our grass-fed beef, and I am excited to also cook the pastured pork spareribs I got from a local farm who was at the farmers' market a week ago!  We have several feast days this week, too, but my cooking just doesn't seem to be reflecting any of those... French food for St. Therese's feast day?  Crepes?  I am trying to avoid wheat and most grains, as well as almost all sugar, in an effort to kick my weight loss back into gear.  So far, it appears to be working... I need to lose 15-17 more pounds to be back to pre-Lucy weight!

I am reading... Home Education by Charlotte Mason (still), Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon (borrowed the most recent edition from a  friend), and Snow White and rose Red - A Modern Fairy Tale by Regina Doman - this is really good so far.  Apparently she writes lots of young adult/adult books that are modern adaptations of classic fairy tales written from a Catholic perspective.  I wanted to see what one was like and think maybe these would be fun for my girls when they are high schoolers (and beyond!).

To live the liturgical year... yesterday was the feast of the archangels, so we had angel hair pasta with our dinner, along with carrots (the archangel Rafael is the patron of eyesight, and carrots are said to promote healthy vision).  I am considering making a St. Michael-related dessert today... devils's food cake is what we have often done in the past, but I also have blackberries in the freezer and may make something with those!

The feast of St. Francis is on Friday, and our homeschool group will gather to celebrate this after Mass that day.  I am in charge, so I need to start planning!  I know we'll be reading a book and enjoying some Critter Crunch as a snack, probably with an animal-themed game as well.

The feast of the Guardian Angels is Wednesday, but I cannot find my guardian angel candle anywhere! :(  Lucy's baptism anniversary is also this week, although she is still too young to really care...

One of my favorite things... fall-scented candles.

I am creating... I need to glue our little dowel rod priest back together - his arms fell off!  I also have begun a couple of notebooks in which to write quotes: one for educational quotes and the other for faith-related quotes.

Around the house... need to clean the hall bathroom still.  I did some dusting and set out a few fall decorations last week!

A few plans for the rest of the week... dance for the girls on Thursday, noon Mass and homeschool group on Friday, and there is the annual big fall event at our local college where Chris and I attended - we may take the kids for the inflatables and whatever else they'll have there.  Otherwise, we'll do school each day, and I need to make a dental appointment somewhere in there and decide how to proceed with fixing a filling in one of my back teeth...

A picture thought I am sharing...
This is Lucy's new way of smiling for the camera... I  need to post her birthday pictures soon!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughts Here, No Organization

So I haven't been posting much lately - like since Lucy was born, probably - but it isn't because I have nothing to say.  It is just because organizing my brain to write is difficult lately.  I have time in the evenings in which to write, or to post photos (that I don't take many of lately), but my brain just isn't working well by this point in the day.  But I do want to get back into it, to keep a record of family life for my kids as well as to just write, because I have always loved to write, both fiction and journal-style.  The blog is great for journal-style writing.

So, maybe something to get me more organized would help... like doing the Daybook posts again, since they have prompts that tell me what to write about. Or the "Seven Quick Takes" or "Five Minute Fridays" or whatever posts I see that other people join in on.  Those sound about right for my brain with its lack of organization.

So, maybe a Seven Quick Takes on what we are doing lately for school would be a good place to start???  Here goes...

~ 1 ~

Caroline has begun some small written narrations this year.  She is eight and a half, in third grade, and says she would rather write than retell what she read to me most of the time.  So, for smaller passages and for fiction, she is doing that this year.  For more complex readings, like our Ancient Egypt book or an American History story that is info-heavy, she is still retelling these aloud to me.

Here is a look at one that she did earlier this year on a story about Yellowstone Park:

Not having had a third grader before, I am not sure if this is about what one would expect from a third grader's earliest summary-writing, but it looks pretty good to me.  So far I have been pleased with this method.  She is writing narrations of brief saint stories twice a week too.  Her longest ones by far are the fiction tales: fairy tales, Native American legends, and others are very easy for her to relate well, including lots of information.

~ 2 ~

Caroline says that Ancient Egypt is her favorite thing we are studying this year.  She has been perusing several library books I have as supplemental resources to our main text.  One is full of project ideas, and so today we made date candy.  And hey, it is D week for Cecilia, so that works out great with the whole killing two birds with one stone (otherwise known as creating a seamless real-life family environment That Is Homeschooling - no, I don't know why I capitalized those last three words there; it just sounded good in my head).  So here is a photo of that:

Caroline also made an Egyptian reed boat out of drinking straws and duct tape.  She tried it out in our pond, and it floats very well!

~ 3 ~
Any idea how hard it is to homeschool with a toddler who wants her big sisters to play with her all the time?  Well, we have our moments.  Despite the fact that many mornings it doesn't seem possible that we have managed to complete anything between the poopy diaper changing, the retrieving said toddler from the chair she has carried over to the bookcase, the providing with puzzles and art supplies and little setups in the play kitchen... we have.  We tend to get it all done by lunchtime each day.  Even with my sloth-like tendencies added to the toddler fun.  We have a very small amount of things planned for naptime each day - which may or may not happen smoothly depending on whether naptime lasts 30 minutes or well over an hour - and occasionally we actually move a more intense reading to naptime so we won't be interrupted.  But we get it all done, somehow.  By the grace of God.

She sure is cute, though.  And hilarious.  Her latest phrase is, "May not!"  Caroline, Cecilia, Daddy, and I are the recipients of this phrase often lately as Lucy makes her desires to control the world known to us.  And who wouldn't laugh while trying to take a two minute toilet break at the banging from the other side of the door with the tiny tyrant voice shouting, "Mommy?  Who is it?"

~ 4 ~

Kindergarten... as I thought, we are not doing as many fun projects like baking and such as I did when we did Kindergarten the first time.  But we are doing everything else we did, and we are getting plenty of reading time in.  I am trying to get in the habit again of reserving library books for the next letter 2-3 weeks in advance so they all have a chance to meander throughout the entire state and end up in my local library.  It is so cool that they can do that!  Yay for taxpayer money being useful in a very tangible way for us!

Here is some of what Cecilia has been doing:

Decopage for D week

playdough Dd

Connectagons for C week

C week work activities

clothespin color matching - good for fine motor skills

punch out the letter

~ 5 ~

We did take a field trip for D week last week... we went to see the ducks at a local lake nearby.  And I forgot to take my camera, so there are no exciting photos to share.  We did see a mama duck with eight ducklings! 

~ 6 ~

Here is a bit of unschooling... not that I choose to unschool as an educational method, but the kids do it to themselves sometimes!  I told Caroline that if she wanted to plan out a project related to anything we are studying, she could make a plan and include a list of supplies she needs.  She is making a plan to build a pyramid out of some kind of craft bricks (that I will have to look for at the craft store or online, I guess) and to dress her Calico Critters in Egyptian clothing.  

Here is Cecilia working on a menu for her backyard restaurant... can you tell what some of the offerings were?


Leaf Sandwich
Grass Salad
Grass Coleslaw

Sand Cake

Hose Marigold Water
Pond Juice
~ 7 ~

And here is what our pre-preschool fun might look like on any given day... this was also for Cecilia for D week - doing dishes.  Lucy stayed there awhile after Cecilia had finished, and she soaked both of the towels on the floor!  She has also been enjoying playdough (not eating it, surprisingly), "cooking" on the kitchen floor (dumping and stirring dry oats - and carrying them to her own little kitchen area, where I find them in the doll cradle with her baby dolls who are "eating"), and Do-a-Dots frequently.

That's a look of fun!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

St. Augustine Beach Trip 2013

We have gone to the St. Augustine Beach area to stay at the beach for a week for three of the past four summers.  My dad's parents used to get us a condo at the beach many summers when I was a kid, so my parents have continued to do the same.  The beach where we have stayed is technically Butler Beach - it is in between St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach.

First, here is how to entertain a toddler in the car: a retractable tape measure.  This was a last resort, but she seriously pulled the tape out and pressed the button, giggling, for 20 or more minutes!  Of course, it didn't amuse her nearly as long after that, but it was nice for a while when it was a novelty to her.

The face of a one year old who has only napped ten minutes all day???  Seems happy enough!  This was at dinner after we finally made it to Jacksonville.

The reason we stopped in Jacksonville, about 45 minutes away from the beach, was that we left home on Friday so that we could see my grandaddy who lives in Jacksonville.  He is almost 98 years old!!  After a couple falls over the last year, he was not up to traveling down to stay a few days with us at the beach as he typically does.  So we stayed overnight to visit him where he lives with his third wife Leila in a retirement home.

We stayed at a hotel near their home, and these photos of of the girls in the hotel lobby (above are Caroline, my niece Julianne, and Cecilia).  This is a Marriott of some type that my parents found when they have come down to stay in this area before.  I am in love with their breakfast there... it is not continental, so of course I don't love the cost of it!!  But they have really good stuff, made to order, and they serve Starbucks coffee.  Lots of choices, fresh eggs, fresh fruit (not just the token apples and bananas included in most free hotel breakfasts). 

Somebody taught Lucy to make funny faces... so she ran around the lobby making this face over and over.

Cecilia with my other niece, Chloe

There's Lucy making that face again... My brother Mike and his wife and two daughters just came for the weekend so they could visit Grandaddy and Leila and then spend one day at the beach with us.  He can only take a week of vacation per year aside from a few weeks around Christmas, so he worked a half day on Friday and they joined us at the hotel late Friday evening.

Saturday morning, we went to Grandaddy and Leila's place to visit with them for awhile.  Leila walked out with the girls (and a couple of parents - we didn't make her take five kids by herself, including two 1 year olds!) to feed the geese and ducks some bread.  So, we all chatted for awhile, and the girls did a few puzzles that they have there at their retirement home.

Then we played Try-to-get-a-photowhere-at-least-everyone-is-looking:

This was probably the best one I got - only Grandaddy wasn't ready yet, and Caroline's eyes are closed.

This one looked good, but Chloe had decided to flee the shot...

Grandaddy looks amused as Mike tries to wrestle Chloe back in place...

And there she is, safe on her daddy's knee.  I can't believe Lucy sat with Leila the whole time herself!

Then we left to get some lunch and shop at Costco - which can both be done in the same place; how's that for efficient? - and we were thinking we'd drive down to the beach house after that.  But we couldn't check in until 4:00, so we'd be just waiting around for awhile.  So instead, we went back to hang out with Grandaddy and Leila some more, and Lucy was able to get in a good nap on their bed!

The bigger girls did a puzzle with Leila - or "Henny," as her grandchildren and great grandchildren call her - while Lucy napped, and then we chatted a few more minutes before heading down to the beach house.
The outfit Lucy is wearing is one that Leila picked out and bought for Caroline when she was around a year and a half old!

On Sunday morning, we went to Mass - after finding a church that had one at the time we thought the closest church had Mass! - and then in the afternoon, Karen, my friend from high school, and her husband and their daughter came to visit for the afternoon!  They live in Jacksonville, so it is good to get a chance to visit them while we are down there.

Precious baby Sophia, who had just turned one, is my goddaughter.  And Karen is Caroline's godmother!

So happy!!!

Lucy and Grampa down by the water

I was a little concerned that she'd just wander out into the ocean alone!  The waves were strong the first couple of days... since Mike and his family were leaving this afternoon, they left Chloe's water wing style life vest so we could use it for Lucy!
Cecilia shows a shell she found

Caroline digs in the sand

In the late afternoon after Karen, Jason, and Sophia left, we went out on my brother Stephen's boat to ride up the intercoastal waterway to St. Augustine.  My mom stayed at the beach house to prepare fish and shrimp for dinner - yum!! - while we went out for an hour or two.

Here's my youngest brother Tim on the boat.  Stephen had taken Mike and his family out earlier that day before they had to leave to go home.  Apparently you have to wash salt water off a boat shortly after being out in the water, and so Stephen wanted to take us out that same day so he'd only have to wash the boat once.  
The hubby sitting at the front of the boat

Lucy, my dad, and I sat in the back most of the time.  Lucy and I stayed back here the whole time, actually.  I think it is the longest she has sat on my lap since she learned to walk, ha!

I was able to get a picture of myself while holding Lucy as we rode along!

Here's where the big girls sat for most of the ride.

I had passed the camera to Chris for him to get these photos...

Here's the St. Augustine lighthouse

For some reason, I really love the angle on these shots and how everyone is looking in different directions...

Caroline was excited that Uncle Stephen let her drive the boat for a while!

Lucy looks so dazed here, ha ha... I stood up when we were going slowly so we could see a little better.  Then I let her stand up just between my knees once I sat down again, and she liked that - she was still close to me and safe, but she could move around a bit:

Back at the beach house the next day...

Cecilia waits for others to get all sunscreened up... she entertained herself by playing "why are you hitting yourself?" with Uncle Stephen.  If you have any brothers like mine, you will have played this game before, I am sure!

Monday morning: now a bit safer in the waves with the life vest water wings thingy!

We always make fun of my dad for wearing this t-shirt at the beach every year, because the first photo we have of him wearing it was when we were at the beach near St. Petersburg, on the Gulf... when I was 16 years old.  Just for perspective, that is getting close to 20 years ago!  Hey, the shirt doesn't look bad for that age, and so I am thinking maybe he really does only wear it at the beach!

Those condos in the background of the above photo are the ones next door to where we stayed.   There is one main entrance, and the place we stayed is off to the right (north).

Caroline, Uncle Stephen, and Cecilia (and some random other people) in the ocean

Sitting and letting the waves come up to her

Here is our beach house - they are townhouse style.  Ours was the balcony 2nd from the right side of the photo.

  Chris was flying this kite that my parents brought...

Lucy takes her water wings up to where Grampa and Gramma have set up the beach chairs

Cute little baby legs running on the sand...

Lucy smiles at Gramma while digging
Lucy stole Uncle Tim's beach chair when he got up to go in the ocean - she left him with a wet, sandy place to sit when he came back!
This is her favorite towel.  I used it on her once after she was in the backyard kiddie pool, and now she thinks it is hers.  She cries if somebody else even acts like they are going to use it!

Here are Caroline and Cecilia with Uncle Stephen on his boat before he left on Monday afternoon.

In the pool that afternoon... Lucy loved to jump off while holding hands, and later in the week got brave enough to do it by herself, with only an adult standing nearby in the water - just like Cecilia did at a year and a half old at this same pool (toward the bottom of this post)!

Speaking of Cecilia - she got really confident with swim lessons a week before our trip and learned to swim underwater!

And back to the beach the next day... the waves were calmer this day and throughout the rest of the week.  This adorable swimsuit and hat were Caroline's, and I love seeing my toddlers in it at the beach.  How blessed I am to have been able to enjoy it three different years on three different babies! :)  Here is when Cecilia wore it!

(You can tell it was Caroline's, seven years ago, because of how bleached out the hat is compared to the swimsuit!  Don't know why the hat wore worse than the suit over the years... but I still think it is adorable!)

Holding up a shell

She makes this face all the time.

Digging in the sand with the "Bob CAT!"

Just priceless.

So pensive.

Visiting with Gramma for a few minutes

The girls buried Daddy in the sand!!

So red!

Lucy swimming in the pool with Gramma.  The pool was shared between all the townhouses there in our complex, but it was often just us there.

My dad, Tim, Cecilia, and Chris

About to jump in...

Tim has to have three things to bring down the the beach: cheap beer, a Kindle, and Jimmy Buffet playing on the iPod. 


Grampa refills the hole with water for Lucy

There would probably be more photos, but sand and/or moisture got into the zoom lens and the camera wouldn't even open up the lens for me any more... but we got lots of good shots at the beach!  Not really any indoor shots of the beach house, but it wasn't as interesting as the beach house next door that had all the "helpful" signs everywhere... although those people sold their place and it got completely remodeled.  Apparently the Florida Gators basketball coach was staying there, and my dad schmoozed his way in there to see it, ha!