Monday, January 30, 2006
Today Z played his little heart out (like he does every day). He played outside with his sister for an hour, played with his trains (let's build a BIIIIIIIIG train track mommy!), read some stories, made a big mess downstairs in the basement, listened to Winnie the Pooh stories on the CD player, gave mommy and H lots of kisses, bugged all three of the girls in the house, played on the piano, ate 2 pepperoni sticks, a glass of hot chocolate, some cheerios, 2 peanut butter cookies, 2 pieces of broccoli and 6 chicken nuggets. (with requests every few minutes for more cookies and more pepperoni sticks).
E spent the morning avoiding mommy so she didn't have to do any schoolwork (it starts already!), and then after I caught her, she did a great job of reading, writing and religion. After that her friend came over and they had a blast playing barbies, princesses, dolls, and running around outside riding bikes down our little hill in the back yard. She ate 1 1/2 cookies, 1 pepperoni stick, a bowl of cereal and 6 chicken nuggets... oh and some apple sauce.
I think H will outgrow both of my older kids within the month. :-)
Today Mommy got up early with Daddy looking for some nice quiet time to have breakfast with her sweetie, and then say her morning prayers. Looks like she should've gotten up at 5am instead of 6 though, because the kids beat her. darn! She did get a treat when she went to the mailbox and found a nice big cheque for $1600 waiting for her. THANK YOU RALPH! She spent the rest of the day planning on her big escape to somewhere warm and quiet for 3 weeks. (dreaming...)
And the school year goes on...
Read your way through Canadian history
an extensive book list of 'living' books you can find at the library or bookstore.
Modern History Through Canadian Eyes:
A Canadian History Guide for All Ages
This is a guide that allows you to see what was going on in Canada during all the periods of world history... looks like a good tool to use with TWTM style history where you go chronologically through world history.
The CanHist Yahoo! group where you can discuss and ask questions about teaching canadian history to your homeschooled kids.
Our Canadian Girl a historical fiction series about girls from different time periods in Canadian history... the website has some good resources to go with the books, as well as sample chapters.
CBCs Canadian history movie series
Historica! Canadian history and heritage
This weekend, E had a delightful time being the flower girl in her grandparents 'wedding'. How many little grandkids get that opportunity?? What a lucky little girl.
Grandma and Grandpa had their marriage 'blessed' by the Catholic church on saturday and it was a lovely ceremony at the church with food and cake back at their house afterwards. E wore her dress from my sister's wedding, and she was so excited the whole time. She floated around in the clouds of tulle, and danced for everyone at the reception with a truly regal look on her face. In a word, she was adorable.
H and Z were pretty cute too, and everyone enjoyed the wedding cake (which was the highlight for the kids).
The night before the wedding E did a great job of writing her own card to them. She told me what she wanted to write, I wrote it for her on a scrap, and then she copied her own words onto her card. She's getting so good at her handwriting- although we have to work on getting the words in the right order. At one point, when I was off doing dishes, she had started copying words at random onto her card and was quite upset with me when I tried to explain that it wouldn't make any sense to them if she didn't do them in order. Sometimes the logic of children astounds me !
Congratulations grandma and grandpa! We love you.
Friday, January 27, 2006
We talked about string instruments and what a violin was... then the kids practiced playing their 'math block' violins (I knew those were a good investment LOL).
Then we spent a little time on the internet looking at some good sites on Mozart and classical music:
we read Mozart's Magical Musical Life: an online story book
we listened to some programs from Classics for Kids.
and last, we played around on the New York Philharmonic Kids website.
The kids liked that:
-he was homeschooled as a kid just like them
-he wrote his first piece of music at age 5
-he had long hair like a girl :-)
Thursday, January 26, 2006
This has lots of great stuff in it: I am often amazed at the quality of some things you can find on the internet. Check out Cells R Us for an online book on cells for elementary kids... or The Natural History Museum in London's page for kids where I found out What Kind of Dinosaur I am, or something I'm sure you all will want to try at home (ask your mommy first): Strawberry Pop-Tart Blowtorches.
The Exploratorium: the museum on science, art and human perception.
Fun links like a Visit to an organic Egg Farm or something Z will appreciate soon yucky.com
Hope your day is going good :-)
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I am by nature a control freak -- just ask my husband -- and so I have this innate need to control everything, plan things and always know what is happening next. I can see this same trait in my little kindergartener who always wants to know what we're doing, where we're going, and what's for lunch, breakfast dinner and desert (all before 9am). Anyways, it's stressful and can be a great source of anxiety for me when things stop going according to my plans... when I can't see what will happen in the future (like if a kid gets sick, or I don't know how to do a task I am supposed to do, or if 3 people need me at the same time as I'm trying to make dinner etc...).
Ever since I got married, I've been trying to make myself into this gentle, kind, loving wife and mother who always puts others above herself, is never selfish and is, in a word, holy. It seems the harder I try, the harder it gets, and the more I try, the more I fight against the good that I want to become. On the outside I might look like a perfect mom/wife (right?? LOL), but all you'd have to do is spend an hour here during dinner preparations, or in the morning when we're late for church to see that I haven't quite got there yet!! (why is it always the ones we love the most that are the most difficult to be kind to?)
This morning, while taking some quiet time alone in my room, I read a beautiful passage from a book that gave me great peace. It's from Reflections on Faith (known in the USA as The Gift of Faith) by Father Tadeusz Dajczer.
If you feel strong in your natural abilities, your faith cannot develop and deepen. That is why you have to experience your weakness; you have to realize that you cannot do some things. This will be the call to faith. Your weakness, inability, and helplessness will become like a crack through which the grace of faith will squeeze into your heart. Through our injuries, God gives us the grace of deepening our faith...
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.. for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5:3). Only when we acknowledge, in the spirit of faith, our own helplessness, do we become poor in spirit and allow the power of God to act within us.
Children come so naturally to this don't they? They know they can't do everything... they know that they can't beat the bad guys, stop the thunder storms, and fix the broken toys. That's why they reach out to us.. and ultimately why they have such an easier time believing in God.
Today I realized something very profound... I've been going in the wrong direction all along. Instead of trying to grow up and make myself into this perfect person, I should have been trying to become more like a child and fall back into that trust I once had in the things above. Yet another thing my children are teaching me in our home school.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
To a mother of small children, silence is a precious treasure . It can only be found in those rare, golden moments in the afternoon when all three are napping at the same time, or in the dark, middle of the night (if no one is wanting milk, a reassuring kiss, a night light, or a trip to the bathroom). Unfortunately, both are times when a mother is often asleep, herself.
This weekend I was given a beautiful gift: two and half whole days where I could finish my thoughts uninterrupted, eat my meals without wiping up spills, say my prayers in peace, and even go to the bathroom with the door closed :-). My darling husband stayed home with all three kids, including our little nursling and took such good care of them so I could enjoy my retreat.
The silence left such a void in my head that for the first little while I didn't know what to do! No "Mommy, I have to go pee"... "mommy where is my teddy bear?"... "I want a snack!!". No dishes to put away, no dinners to plan, no diapers to change, no reading lessons to do. Just the quiet peace of a small chapel, the snow falling in the trees, the deer walking in the meadow outside the window, the inspiring meditations from our retreat director, and the quiet small voice of God that is so often drowned out back home.
Everyone should have the opportunity to go on a silent retreat!! The silence and the time apart can raise us above the daily fog that we live in, so we can see the sun and the bigger picture of what's important in life. I'm so blessed.
Monday, January 23, 2006
"What are you doing mommy?" (as we are going to the polling station to vote today)
"When we vote, we are picking who is going to be the leader of our country"
“Hey, Mom, maybe you will win! You can be the leader of the country!”
“(laughing) No, sweetie, only the people who wanted to be the leader are on the list.. There was only 5 people to choose from and I wasn’t on the list…But maybe one day you can do that if you want to.”
“Yeah! Maybe I can be the leader of the country and I can make sure everyone does the right thing and I can take care of people… I can be a housekeeper!! "
Don’t you just love the simplicity of children? It’s so obvious in her eyes that the leader should take care of people… just like how a house keeper does. In her eyes, a housekeeper is in the same category as the Prime Minister. What value children place on the work that moms do day in and day out: taking care of their basic needs and making sure bad guys, cars, dogs, thunder storms, fevers, colds, and little brothers don’t get them.
Friday, January 20, 2006
I just found this picture today: it's yours truly in 1993 at TEC (Teens Encounter Christ... a retreat weekend for teens in the Anglican church). (WOW!! A whole 13 years ago)
This is the group where my dear husband and I met in 1994. I was a candidate (participant) for TEC 17, and I met him the following year when I went back to the retreat to work and help out. I remember thinking he was really CUTE, but a little too zealous for me. Somewhat of a bible-thumper.
Fast-forward to the year 2006:
-They are now preparing to host TEC 43... my, I feel OLD!
-Me and the bible thumper have both converted to the Catholic church (which incidentally is the original group to have started TEC) ... so now he's not a bible thumper anymore, he's a crazy catholic convert :-)
-I married the bible thumper, had three kids, and now homeschool them
- Today, as I type this very post, I am getting ready to leave for my Ignatian-style silent retreat, that actually takes place at the exact same retreat centre!! oooooooooooooohhhhh.... what a neat coincidence.
-oh, and that bible-thumper is really more like a saint.. because he is staying home with all three kids (including the baby!!) so I can have a quiet, prayerful retreat. You all need to pray for him because H doesn't quite sleep through the night yet, and is still nursing. I sure hope she does ok!!
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Here are some that I found:
A miniature version of Bag End... from Lord of the Rings
Mr. Piccasso head
I Know That.com Lots of fun games to play... I spent all night designing widgits and painting fun pictures
We were in the van waiting for daddy to get the rental one we need while our oddessy is in the shop, and her and Z were busy pushing every button they could find to see what it would do. Z's favorite was when he turned on the headlights and the "ding... dong... ding... dong..." would play to let me know that I left my lights on. :-) They spent a good five minutes alternating between dancing to the 'pretty song' as they called it, and flashing the high beams into the office we were parked in front of.
Anyways, while she was trying to show Z how to turn on the 'music' again, she read the words on the lever: o...f...f "Off!" O...n... "on!". She was so proud!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Today the kids got up nice and early and got all of our morning chores done cheerfully before they went downstairs. What a nice treat! E now has a list of chores she does each morning to help add routine and responsibility to her life. Z helps out too, with mommy's assistance.
After chores, we had breakfast, did a reading lesson, watched a math video and did a math lesson (she's learning 2+2 and 3+3). Then we drove my grandma to the dentist, went out for lunch and visited the toystore.
The baby is teething again and is very grumpy and clingy this week... all I can say is thank the dear Lord for naps. I'm sure they were invented for mommies. This weekend I'm hoping to get away for a silent retreat (more on this later)... I hope the baby will be feeling ok by then.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Western Canadian Catholic Home School Conference
March 9, 10, 11
"Rebuild My Church"
Providence Renewal Centre3005-119 Street Edmonton, Alberta
INDIVIDUAL Early Bird $45.00 - After Feb 10 $55.00
MARRIED COUPLE Early Bird $75.00 - After Feb 10 $95.00
Conference runs Thursday thru Sat.
Thursday is Registration, Mass, Benediction
Friday talks, Mass etc..
Saturday talks etc... and closes with Mass at 4:30pm
Meals (optional but must be pre-booked)
Thursday - Supper $10.00, Friday - Breakfast $6.00, Lunch $10.00, Supper $10.00
Saturday - Breakfast $6.00, Lunch $10.00
The Place of Reason - Archbishop Thomas Collins
Mother, Father, Husband, Wife by Fr. Andrew Bogandowicz
#1 Q&A for beginners,
#2 Natural Family Planning(Billings method)
#3 Music, Gift of the Church
Bill C-30 The Film by Eric Spoeth - home school grad and film maker
Keeping our Children Catholic - Mariette Ulrich
God's Respect for His Creation - Fr. Paul Moret
Faith and Reason - Archbishop Collins
Home Schooling Comes of Age - Michael & Bernadette Coren
Saturday Couples Event Banquet - Shop, Visit, Pray, Eat, Laugh
Returning by request Michael Coren (brillant speaker last year)
2:00pm arrival - shop at the curriculum fair, visit etc...
4:30pm Holy Mass with conference attendees followed by Banquet & Social hosted by Home School Grads (very nice last year)
Limited Numbers - Pre-Registration only
Cost for Sat Couples Event
-for conference attendees - $50.00 couple or $30.00 individual
-for non-attendees - $60.00 couple of $35.00 individual
Cheque payable to:
Western Canadian Catholic Home School Conference
Fort Saskatchewan, AB
You can stay at Providence Centre - rooms must be booked separately byphone:
Call Paul or Wendy 780-998-3163
Used curriculum Sale - Pre-registered materials will be set out for salefirst - Others will be sold as space permits.$5.00 registration fee10% of sales will be retained to cover the costs of this service.Materials are to be brought in and removed by conference attendees only
On Saturday afternoon, while the kids were upstairs bugging their dad and making a mess in their room, Mommy took out the watercolor paints, brushes and paper and started having fun without the kids!!
Of course, as soon as they came down and saw the fun, they wanted to join in! We had lots of fun painting and coloring.
E got a really neat book for Christmas called
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet, by Laurence Anholt. We had fun looking at the way Monet painted, and then tried doing our own impressionist paintings.
After she finished, we framed some of them and hung them on our wall. She is so proud!
Monday, January 16, 2006
E to her brother: "Do you want to play princess? You be the prince and I'll be the princess"
Z: "No! I don't want to be the prince, I want to be Tigger!!" (and he bounces her).
Mommy: dancing to Great Big Sea (and looking quite cool, if I don't say so myself)
Z: "no!!! THAT'S not how you do it!"
Mommy (quite indignant): "Then how do you do it?"
Z: Jumps off his chair and proceeds to do a very good impression
of the dancing Santa Claus that his great Grandma has at her house
Z: "I'm hungry! I want a snack!"
Mommy: handing him an apple "here you go sweetie"
Z: "NO!!!!!! THAT'S NOT A SNACK!! I WANT A SNACK!!!!"
Mommy: "This IS a snack!! EAT IT!"
Z: "NO!!!!! THAT'S NOT A SNACK!! I WANT A SNACK!!!!"
Mommy: "What's a snack then?"
Z: "A SNACK IS A SNACK"
Mommy: trying to make dinner before daddy comes home
Z: "I WANT A SNACK!!!"
E: " What's for dinner? Can we have chicken nuggetts? what's for dessert?"
E: Looking on the stove, "AAAAAWWWWW! But I don't LIKE stirfry! "
H: " babababababa...." drops bowl of food on floor " WAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!"
Mommy: "SHHHHH!!! Will you all be QUIET?? We are having STIRFRY and NO SNACKS! and if you ask me again I'll..... I'll...."
E: as Z hits her on the head " WAHHHHHHH!!!!!! MOMMY!!!! HE HIT ME!!"
Mommy: "Z, go sit on the stairs!"
Z: " I'm not Z, I'm tigger!"
Mommy: "GO SIT ON THE STAIRS!!!!"
Mommy: trying to rescue the dinner that's burning, "When is that Dad of yours coming home??"
Smoke Alarm: "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!"
Friday, January 13, 2006
The key to getting homeschooling off to a good start is to nab the kids while they are still happily sitting at the table eating their breakfast :-) This morning we started off with Language Arts, and did a whole round of spelling, reading, writing and even some coloring.
I had to laugh during 'reading' time when I looked up at Elizabeth though. She was reading to me a bunch of words in a list. I guess it's to practice building up her 'fluency', or speed, in reading. Anyways... she looked so proud of herself'... because she told me that she could read with her eyes closed! She figures that if you can do something with your eyes closed, you must be REALLY smart!! She always practices walking with her eyes closed, and has been known to try eating and dancing too... so I guess she thought she would add reading to her list of accomplishments.
How do you argue with that logic?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
She was so proud of herself because she read a whole story by herself today and was reading so much faster than before:
... I know, it's not too exciting of a plot line, but what do you expect when you're limited to three letter words with one vowel?
from the Little Angle Reader book 'A'
Ann has a cat.
Ann's cat is Nat.
Ann can pat Nat.
Ann has a pan.
Nat ran to Ann.
Nat had ham.
Nat has a rat.
Nat can nab a rat.
In math, we learned about 2+2 and 3+3, and in art we learned about warm and cool colors, and how to draw things that are overlapping.... we just started with balloons, but I think I can extend this to drawing her princesses: the clothes overlap their bodies, so you only draw the dress, not the whole body. We'll see if she can get this concept. I've learned this year that so much of this stuff is developmental and if you just leave it alone for a few months, she 'gets it' so much easier without any work from a frustrated teacher. (this lesson I learned first when I was an overambitious wanna-be homeschooler trying to teach a two year old how to count and read numbers on paper).
p.s. Z is finally learning how to hold a pencil the right way. HWT really helped me teach that. (pretend your hand is an alligator and the alligator eats the pen). He loved that, and then proceeded to draw me a picture of an alligator. so cute!
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Now, half-way through the year, I am starting to see the wisdom of letting kids be kids, and easing off on my expectations of both myself and my child. Kindergarten is fun! Lots of playing with toys, reading stories, making crafts, listening to music, and playing outside. I don't need lesson plans and schedules for that! That is real life for us.. it's what we do everyday because the 2 year old and the baby naturally facilitate it for us. She still has the luxury of a nice nap in the afternoon... lots of time to play with her siblings, lots of time to watch mommy do work around the house and learn how to help her, lots of time to make up elaborate stories that she acts out with her dolls or princesses.
If she doesn't learn to subtract, tell time, tie her shoe laces, recite poetry, count by fives, etc... she's not going to be behind. The funny thing is, it's when we spend a few weeks doing NO school at all that she makes the most progress when we get back to it.
I guess she's teaching me so much more that I could ever teach her: relax. giggle. enjoy playing with your family. take naps.
Monday, January 09, 2006
I was also treated to the wonderful imagination of little girls left alone too long in the basement. When I went down to check on them, I discovered a vast and intricate spider web blanketing the room. They had gotten into my yarn, and had a wonderful time weaving their web through bikes and chairs and daddy's drum kit. Later, they came upstairs and decorated cupcakes in honor of the Feast of Epiphany, and then built a wonderful castle out of blocks. With her other friends a few days before, E had fun making bracelets with her beads, playing house, and again running away from her silly brother.
I am always delighted to see the wonderfully fun things children can come up with when they are running around without a television tying them to the couch. What a treat it is to watch their curiosity and creativity.
We also spent time this weekend reading a children's atlas that I picked up at a thrift store. I taught Elizabeth how to use the index to find places by their coordinates on the edges of the page. She thought that was great fun and we spent some time looking up cities and towns that she knew.
Later on, she wanted to practice her cursive writing (she's decided she wants to learn to write 'pretty' like mommy and has begun to teach herself), so I showed her how to write her first name in cursive and she caught on right away! Here's her attempt at doing her name (with princesses added for a bonus!)
Thursday, January 05, 2006
This morning we are back to reading in the Old Testament, and we came to E's favorite story. Here is her picture and her narration she gave to me after reading the first half of the story:
(the picture is of baby Moses in the basket with his mom and brother on the left side of the shore drawn very small because they are far away, and with pharoh's daughter and her servants on the right side of the shore. Moses's sister is also on the right side and she is far away too so she is drawn small.)
Moses and the Israelites
By Elizabeth Blair
There was a new pharaoh who ruled over Egypt and so God sent a new man to come and take care of the Israelites. A girl named Jochebed wanted to save her baby and so she made a basket of straw and then put the baby into the basket and then put him in the river. The baby started to cry, but it kept on floating. Pharaoh's daughter found the basket. She opened up the lid and she gently picked up the baby. She took him out of the water and then she hugged him and she named him Moses because she pulled him out of the water.
Moses grew up in the palace. Moses tried to take care of the Israelites and Pharaoh tried to kill Moses so he went to another country and then he became a shepherd. And something strange happened: he saw a bush on fire, but it wasn't burning up. From inside the bush, God spoke to Moses. He said "Moses, take my people somewhere else. A place called Canaan".
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
-We watched the March of the Penguins together as a family, and the kids loved it! We skipped the two scary parts, but other than that it was a great movie, and the kids learned lots from it.
-We read all about Monet and his paintings in a new book that E got for Christmas from Nadine and Stephen
-We went for a nice long walk down the ravine in our community and saw what winter does to the trees (no leaves), the stream (turns to ice and you can walk on it), the plants (lots of neat looking seed pods)... And we had lots of fun with walking sticks and the odd patch of snow.
-We listened to Handel's Messiah many times, as well as the Nutcracker suite and danced and danced.
-We watched the nutcracker ballet on DVD and learned the whole story (with commentary from Elizabeth to help us along).
-We played many family games: guess who (teaches logic), dominos (teaches math and matching) etc..
-What a fun time!! I love vacations.
Today, we got up nice and early and cleaned our rooms and then did some schoolwork:
-It's the feast day of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton so we read a long story about her and talked about Italy where she lives (Elizabeth decided she wants our WHOLE family to move to Italy... Including grandmas, grandpa's, cousins, aunties and uncles). After we read the story Elizabeth told it back to me in her own words. She did a great job!
-For math, we practiced counting and writing the numbers from 0-20, and then she did some addition problems.
-We also picked out a book about animals off the shelf, and looked up penguins, where we found pictures and tidbits about the Emperor penguins. Elizabeth drew a nice picture for me of some penguins: A daddy penguin sitting on the egg (they do it for the moms, so the mommies can go back to the sea and eat), with a little boy penguin who came back to visit his daddy. She added detail to them that showed she really paid attention to the movie: black clawed feet, the egg tucked under the daddy, the baby penguin with the grey/black tummy (turns white as he gets older), and the bits of yellow on the daddy's neck and head.
-after lunch we read Ping (a great book about a duck on the yangzte river, and now all three are napping, so i'm off to relax.
Yesterday morning, while I was still half-asleep in bed trying not to wake up yet, they began to play princess and knight - acting out those roles which, deep inside, all of us want to play. (I just love watching how boys and girls are so different... And so predictable in how they play. Just a few days ago they were playing on my bed while I was trying to sleep (do I detect a pattern here??) when Zach, wearing his new Superman PJs comes with a toy hammer, starts banging on the wall above my head, and tells me he's going to 'knock down the wall!". Then, sweetly from the bed Elizabeth smiled and beamed with pride as she showed Zach his Superman cape that she had lovingly folded up for him in a neat pile like mommy folds the laundry.)
Anyways, back to yesterday morning. They began to play princesses and knights, and I listened to their game, expecting the usual: bad guy comes, prince kills the bad guy, princess says 'oh! Thank you!' and they get married. Of course, being a princess myself, I know how the game is supposed to end... But this prince had other ideas. I guess that's what happens when you play with a very silly 2 year old boy because this is how it went:
princess Elizabeth: ok, you be the prince, and I'll be the princess!
Z: (in a very growly voice) I'm NOT the prince!! I'm one of the bad guys
(hey! That's not supposed to happen!!)
Z: ... And I have to go pee! (then he runs to the bathroom and pretends to go pee, while Elizabeth has dissolved into laughter that threatens to wake up the neighbor's)
I guess preschoolers really can bring potty humour to any situation!
Monday, January 02, 2006
Elizabeth thinks that they should now have a baby because they will be married and in her mind marriage equals babies... Because they are so wonderful!
I agree :-) Congrats you sweetie pies! We are so happy for you.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
We spent a lovely evening together. We had an early dinner with some friends, went home and put the kids to bed, and then played cards and drank sparkling apple juice together in the quiet stillness of bedtime that only a parent of 3 small children knows (or their grandparents after they have babysat and then sent them home), We fell asleep to the sounds of firecrackers going off somewhere in the neighborhood, praying they wouldn't wake up the baby.
This morning we got up early and went to mass to celebrate the Feast of the Mother of God, and now we are home all together as a little family in our cozy house thinking about what sort of nice dinner we will have tonight to celebrate Mary's special feast day.
When I was a kid, I never thought that it would actually be fun to go to bed before midnight on new years, and relish the quiet of the house and the streets while everyone else is out partying.... Church was also very quiet this morning (well except for Heather's singing through mass).
Now as we get closer to the end of the Christmas season my thoughts turn to getting back to our routine of chores, school, work. It's been such a joy to have my husband home for these last two weeks. We have enjoyed having this family time so much...
What more could I ask from God than what I have? It turns out that growing up is fun after all. Being with my own family is the best place to be in the world. I cherish my vocation as wife and mother more than any gift I have ever received. All I could ask for is the grace to be able to be all that I am called to be: a gift to those around me.