Saturday, July 26, 2014

Outside my window... Dark.  Hot.

I am thinking... about our upcoming trip to the beach!  I love to just relax there for a week, and let the kids have a chance to just get out in the sand and sun and water and wind every day!  I think we also need to find some more sand shovels... why are beach toys so flimsy nowadays?  Our sand shovels break so easily; we have probably gone through a dozen of them since Caroline was a toddler!

I am wondering... how it will feel to be 35 years old.  Not exactly looking forward to this birthday... I will be considered "advanced maternal age" by OB/GYNs for any pregnancies from this point on... just one good reason to plan for a homebirth, I suppose!
I am praying... about how to keep our school days focused and smooth and relatively pleasant once we begin the year in August... 4th grade, 1st grade, and an almost-three year old!  Also praying for peaceful relationships between husbands and wives as NFP Awareness week comes to a close. 

I am thankful... for a dinner date with my husband last night!

I am hearing... not much... it sounds like Lucy finished singing herself to sleep.  She is up late on days when she takes a nap!

Learning at home... lots of free play time right now!  Outside time as much as they can stand the heat.

From the kitchen... lots of meals from the deep freeze this week... I have a couple soups in there as well as bacon liver meatballs.  Tomorrow night we will grill our grass-fed flank steak for fajitas - yum!!  And I am considering making cinnamon rolls to go along with a late breakfast... brunch, really.  I'm also making lasagna to take to the beach for our first night after arriving there, and I will make more for us to eat early this week as well as to take to a friend who just had a new baby boy recently!

I am reading... How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig.  It is entertaining and looks like a good way to approach Shakespeare with young children!  I need to preview several books for Caroline for school... not read thoroughly, but flip through to get an idea of how difficult they are.  I've also been reading the La Leche League book The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls, about the history of LLL... World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, after all!  I want to read something fun and easy at the beach... Pope Awesome and Other Stories is one I have waiting to be read.  I also will probably bring some of Charlotte Mason's homeschooling series along with me.

I read a good children's book, The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden, last week.  A short read, the length of a thin chapter book.

To live the liturgical year... we celebrated the feast of St. Anne, mother of Mary, today by having an ice cream pie that looks like a watermelon... strawberry and lime flavors, red and green since they are St. Anne's traditional colors.  Caroline got a new St. Anne holy card since it is her "name day."  We might also make watermelon smoothies tomorrow (which means lemon juice and pureed watermelon with a sprig of mint)... every time I make these, I puree them in my food processor and then watermelon juice sloshes out.  Sticky, lemony juice.  Maybe I should either try smaller batches or do it in my blender this year!!

One of my favorite things... being lazy.  There, I said it.  I like to sit around and relax.  Another favorite thing, though, would be my LLL Group.  We had a "breastfeeding cafe" style meeting this morning at a local coffee shop, and it is so nice to be able to see other moms enjoying their nursing babies and toddlers!  After we get back from the beach, we are having a family LLL cookout in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week - yay!
I am creating... final lesson schedule layouts for the upcoming school year.  I like for us to a few pages from various books once or twice a week... for instance, Caroline will be reading a few pages from a British history book twice a week, we will be doing Shakespeare once a week, the Burgess Bird Book for Children once a week... lots of variety, lots of rich literature, but brief periods for each... 20-30 minute sessions for each book.  Many books will last all school year done this way.

I created this a couple nights ago... the last painting for Caroline's bird-themed bedroom.  I think I had waaaay too much fun flinging the silver paint around.  But acrylics wipe off vinyl kitchen flooring very easily! ;)

Around the house... trying to straighten and clean out so we will be able to have a fresh start this school year.  I want to purge some more toys and junk... little things seem to accumulate, to reproduce somehow, especially little things like paper and such.  I want to have things organized so that I can pull out a few new things for Lucy at the beginning of each week and have everything else out of her reach - give her variety to keep her entertained but also to give her a rhythm of the days, that I am not going to be fetching random stuff from top closet shelves - what is out is what you get for the week!  I was trying to clean all the windows and blinds... I got the bathrooms and bedrooms done, so that is pretty good progress.  And I am still trying to find an IKEA Kura bed for Cecilia and Lucy... I got a Craigslist app that is supposed to alert me when one is listed, but it is not working right... waa.  Once we find one, I can get their room better organized.  I want it toddler-proofed so Lucy can have rest time in there on days she doesn't fall asleep for a nap... so she's not in my room rummaging through my bathroom cabinets, bedside table drawers, etc. when she is supposed to be resting.  I want to make Cecilia's bedroom to be hers too, meaning the only things she can get into in there will be the shelves of books, clothes in the dresser, shoes in the closet, and a few non-breakable knick-knacks on the dresser.  Although the breakable Winnie the Pooh music box will probably stay, since it is already broken... poor Tigger and Piglet have no ears. :(  They got broken off one time many years ago when we had a bunch of people over and apparently all the kids got too wild in the bedroom!  Once I get that bed in there, my fanciful plan is to cut a tree out of a big thin board (I am good at making big trees; ask my husband - it is part of the story of how we fell in love), paint it, and attach it to the bed - it will be Pooh's house, complete with an M. R. Sanders sign... or it might be Piglet's house with a Tresspassers Will sign.  I will ask Cecilia which she prefers!

Pondering these words... "No book is really worth reading at age ten which is not equally worth reading at age 50." -C. S. Lewis

A few plans for the rest of the week... We went to Mass this evening but Chris will go again in the morning to make an announcement about RCIA classes and man the table after Mass for anyone who wants to sign up.  Then the girls have swim lessons every evening from 6:00-7:00, hence all the dinners from the deep freeze.  They take lessons from a lady who teaches small groups in her backyard pool, one week a year.  I am considering taking them to Atlanta for the day one day to swim at my parents' neighborhood pool and so I can do a Trader Joe's run.  And Chris's sister and her two boys are going to come visit one day so the cousins can play together somewhere hopefully outdoors and water-related.  Then, it's time to pack for the beach!  I will start doing that on Thursday.  A busy week!  But it is full of summer activities before we start back to school in mid-August.

A picture thought I am sharing...

Some leftover Independence Day photos:

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Daybook for July 2, 2014

Outside my window... sunny and hot.  I took the kids to the fountains downtown this morning so they could get some outside time in the sun but also stay cool  After nap/rest time, I predict a mostly inside kind of afternoon.

I am thinking... about plans for the upcoming school year.  I am making lists, stacks of books I have so far, and thinking of scheduling in my mind... I need to inventory the art supplies and things like pencils, glue, etc. to see what needs replacing.  I am also considering a history curriculum (I use that word loosely; it is a booklist and suggestions) that would be useful across many years, as well as an art program and some composer CDs.  I want to do better this year about an art lesson once a week, listening to specific pieces from a composer regularly, and making those be things we can all do together.  If anyone has any of those three items linked, let me know what you think of them!

Our book stacks so far...

I'm also thinking about what things I can combine and have Caroline and Cecilia do together next year... we do a "Circle Time/Morning Basket" each day which has shared items, such as reading about the saint for the day, learning a new prayer and hymn, calendar, reading/memorizing poetry... I am thinking I will add to that this year.  Caroline wants to be included when Cecilia studies birds this year using the Burgess Bird Book - she really liked this when she did it in first grade, so I am thinking of adding the reading of that to our Morning Basket.  Caroline will be beginning some Shakespeare this year, so I am wondering whether I should have Cecilia listen in at this time.  I need to make a list of everything and see what we can do together and what needs its own time carved out for me to work individually with each of them. I need to take a couple of planning days... last year, I went to the coffee shop for much of the day one day while Gran stayed with the girls while she was visiting... I need to get stuff together so I can do that again one day when she visits this summer!  I am not sure what date we will officially begin school... Cecilia is doing some study of rivers, lakes, and oceans this year, so the beach trip will be a good start to that.

I am wondering... about evaluating my responses on Facebook... when to comment on something and when not to comment.  I'm not talking about friendly comments on people's cute kid photos or anything, but about when somebody shares an article and it makes you think... On the one hand, I see a shared article as an invitation to others' thoughts on it, for a conversation.  Something else I wonder about is the whole vaccine debate.  I can see both sides of it, and as such, my children have gotten a few vaccines while skipping most of them, and I am always reevaluating whether they will get more or not as they get older.  I think I made a friend mad the other day on Facebook for saying that I can see both sides and that parents who consider the question of vaccines at all are doing so out of love for their kids and ultimately make the decisions they think are in the best interest of their families.  The title of the article that had been shared was "Parents who refuse vaccines are ethically negligent."  I thought that it used unnecessarily strong "fighting words" kind of language.  So, if I was adamantly opposed to vaccines and thought that parents who get their children every vaccine on the schedule were somehow negligent, I could see that saying so would cause tension.  However, that wasn't my position... even as somebody who leans towards less vaccines and therefore may be more in agreement overall with the total non-vaxxers, I wasn't even trying to debate that.  I was only trying to say that perhaps most parents who make the decision to forego all vaccines are making an informed decision that just happens to be different than that of people who think every vacccine is necessary for nearly every child, for the public good.  Both are trying to make good decisions, and neither is opposed to public health.  But somehow this was still not taken well at all, and I felt like I somehow pushed buttons and made somebody upset even when I was trying so hard to find a middle ground and wasn't even arguing for/against vaccines.  It makes me wonder whether it is even worth it to ever say anything.  It is hard to sit by and watch people get called "negligent" who you know are trying to do their best (or when you feel like you're being called 'negligent' because you've skipped most vaccines for your own kids)... but yeah, I sometimes just stop reading people's articles on Facebook because even asking some innocent questions or offering the benefit of the doubt to a group of people will set off somebody.  So, even though I had two people tell me privately that I didn't say anything wrong and that it was weird I received such a strong response... I still find myself wondering about reevaluating what I say.  I am long-winded and so maybe it looks like I am trying to be a know-it-all; really, it's just that I have issues with getting my thoughts into concise words!
I am praying... still praying for my grandfather's soul, of course.  Also for discernment for how to organize and set things up for the upcoming school year, how to best keep Lucy out of trouble and enjoying her own things to do.

I am thankful... that it looks like my parents are planning a family beach trip this summer after all!  They rent a big house or condo on the beach and then we spend a week there with them and my brothers.  And the week we would go is my birthday week, which has been typical since I was little.  That first week of August was almost always the beach trip for the years we would do it.  Now it seems that so many schools begin by August 3rd though, but that actually makes it nice because there are less people at the beach when we go in August.  A week at the beach is the best birthday gift I could think of!  This may be the last year my brother Tim can easily come with us for the whole week... next year "real life" starts for him once he is ordained a priest!

I am hearing...  Cecilia humming.  And the window AC unit in the sunroom running full blast!  Lately in the car I have been listening to Emerson Hart's new album, Beauty in Disrepair.  Beautiful lyrics, great album, highly recommended! :)

Learning at home... still reading a lot.  Cecilia has been hearing some fairy tales from The Blue Fairy Book, and we just finished reading Winnie the Pooh to her and will get House at Pooh Corner next.  This is what we need, really, because the two of these we do have are falling apart.  Caroline has been plowing through whatever books I check out for her from the library.  I have what seems to be a never-ending booklist, but... she is awfully fast.  And I do think it is doubtful that one could run out of good literature because thankfully, a lot of it has been written over the last many, many years!

From the kitchen... lots of good stuff!  I have had beef stock simmering on the stove since Monday and will use it tonight in a Scottish steak pie.  I made Triple Chocolate Brownie Squares yesterday... those aren't going to last long!  Don't know what we will do for July 4th yet, better get thinking on that.  We had grilled fish and avocado leek soup on Sunday - served cold.  It tastes better than it sounds; everyone except Lucy likes it.  Although Lucy has been on an eating tear lately... she will ask for more food an hour after eating something.  Then she will eat an entire banana at once, so she is truly hungry.  Must be a growth spurt!  Oh, and I am so, so excited, because I bought an old Vitamix on eBay!!  My cheapy blender finally bit the dust (it had a good run, 12 years for a cheap blender is not too shabby!), so I bought an old powerhouse of a blender which I hope lasts me the rest of my life, ha ha.  I will be oh so glad to not be sloshing soup and smoothies out of my food processor now.  Have you ever tried to puree boiled leeks (in their cooking water) in a food processor?  Very messy.  Probably because I wanted to make it all fit in one batch.  A blender will hold a lot more for pureeing soups.  So I am excited to try some things in it as soon as it arrives in the mail!

Beef stock... a 48 hour process.  It tasted slightly burnt because I used some bones that got burned at the edges, whoops.  But it is very faint and won't be noticed when the stock is cooked into things.  Still can't get it to gel; maybe I don't have enough gelatinous cow parts in the pot...

A favorite quote from Winnie-the-Pooh regarding food:

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

I love to cook (and eat!), so I couldn't agree more! 

Looks pretty un-appetizing, huh?  Served in my Scooby-Doo bowl that I bought on an impulse at Wal-Mart my first year in college... we thought it was awesome to go to Wal-Mart and buy random things... turn me lose in the world and I go nuts, huh? 

I am reading...  A Picture Perfect Childhood by Cay Gibson... it is about the importance of reading good picture books to children of all ages and has many titles suggested in it.  Yay for good children's literature!! 

Lucy is starting to really like reading a lot more lately, too... she typically couldn't sit still for a book for more than five minutes, and it had to be one in which the pages could be turned pretty quickly.  She was sick a week ago, though, and while the older girls were at our church's Vacation Bible School one morning, she sat pitifully on my lap for some very long picture books: One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey, and Mouse House by Rumer Godden.  I thought it was a fluke because of her illness, but now that she has recovered she has wanted to hear both the McCloskey books again (and didn't try to rush me by turning pages prematurely, ha!), and her current favorites are A Birthday for Frances and Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever.  We haven't even made it through all of that one yet - each page has so many things to look at and name that she is quite enthralled with it.  It's so funny to hear what she thinks some of the pictures are - a round, pink bar of soap (can a bar be round???) in the bathroom picture is "salami."

she also thinks that is a pillow he's holding to his face...
To live the liturgical year... well, still not doing well on this one.  But we did have that fish for the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul because they were fishermen before they became followers of Jesus, who told them he would make them "fishers of men."  That avocado soup is supposedly for their feast day too, although I really don't get how... but it sounded like it would be good with the grilled fish.

Later this month we have the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel... maybe I can do something for that.  And then Caroline's patron saint, St. Anne, is toward the end of July, so we usually do something on that day.  St. Anne is her "name saint" since Caroline's middle name is RhiANNon. Yes, like the Fleetwood Mac song.

One of my favorite things... flirting with my husband on Facebook!  And in person, of course, but it is fun when he's at work and we can make a few playful comments back and forth to each other that way.     
I am creating... booklists and lesson plans and schedules, oh my! 

Around the house... Lucy is learning to use the potty, yay!  So she is in underwear and her little plastic potty from IKEA is found around the house all the time now.  Today she has only had one accident, and she caught it halfway through.  Same with yesterday.  She is suddenly very proud of her "big girl panties" and is excited to pick out a pair each day.

Pondering these words... how about some Emerson Hart lyrics?  "It was worth it, These are the lines that you're made of, We were certain time that was lost could be made up, When life hits you fast, There's no takebacks, But there's a grace in that, It was worth it, These are the lines that you're made of..." from The Lines by Emerson Hart

A few plans for the rest of the week... Tomorrow I am picking up eggs, stopping at the grocery store, getting the tires rotated, and helping the girls find the library's summer reading program scavenger hunt clues that are hidden around town.  We have three more to find and then will stop at the library on our way home and turn them in.  One of the clues is at my favorite place, our local coffee shop, so I think I will be using the gift card that one of my sweet LLL moms gave to me while we stop there!  Then we are having friends over in the afternoon, and Friday is July 4th... I am thinking I'll call my parents and brother to see if they have any plans.  Maybe a cookout, fireworks, etc., the typical July 4th stuff.

A picture thought I am sharing...

Blueberries are ripe in our backyard, yay!!