Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Welcome Christ Child! Please bring peace and joy to our homes. Here's a video of us decorating our Christmas tree yesterday. It's pretty true to a real life snapshot. We have all sorts of fun here :-)
video


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Tonight we went to mass at 6pm (so packed it really started at 5:30 because they closed the doors and wouldn't let anyone else in because of fire codes).... it was lovely.
Our 7 year old sang in the children's choir and was so sweet. The twins were ravonously eating the raisins I brought along (mass at supper time is never an easy one to get through), and the toddler and preschooler were fighting over who gets to sit next to mommy for most of the mass.

We happened to inadvertantly sit in the seat where the offeratory family sits.
This means it was our job to bring up the bread and wine for the priest in the middle of the mass. I'm not sure why they trusted us with this, but we dutifully got up at the appointed time and waited for the priest's signal to walk down the aisle. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying very close attention, because the twin I was holding (little P), grabbed the glass flask the wine was in and knocked it over, spilling wine all over my skirt and the floor. Dad is obviously experienced in dealing with little kids and breakable things, because he caught the glass in mid air, saving it from smashing on the floor below. Luckily there was still some wine left to bring up to the priest. I wonder if he noticed that my skirt was all wet and I smelled of alcohol? Can you believe this is the same priest who came over for supper the night that Saint Joseph lost his head?

I don't think we'll be sitting in that spot again.

good night all! I have to go to bed so santa can come and fill the kid's stockings. He IS comming isn't he?? Wouldn't the biggest suprise of all be if he came and vaccummed for me while he was here? Then maybe i'd really believe.

For now, I'll go to bed and be thankful that the most important baby came into our world right in the middle of a messy stable where it was certainly NOT vaccumed and clean. I guess it doesn't all have to be perfect.

Blessings and love to you all!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

He came!! and he ate the cookies they left out

Yes, today is the feast of St. Nicholas, and the kids are thrilled with his visit last night.

Before they went to bed, they carefully put out their shoes in hopes that the saint would come in the night and leave them some treats. E left out her big winter boots, telling her brother thats how to get more candy in them :-)

When they awoke in the early morning, they found chocolate coins, chocolate st. nick's and angels, a game for the whole family to play, a CD to share (St. nick must know we're studying ancient Egypt because the cd was some stories of egypt by Jim Weiss), and a letter from the good saint himself!!

Even the babies had some chocolate, which they thoroughly enjoyed. After a choclate feast, I made a luxorious treat of cinnamon toast (toast with generous layers of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.. so nutritious).
The rest of the day will be spent making some St. Nichoals cookies, watching a movie about the saint, reading a story about him and taking a day off of 'school'. (hee hee.... but they don't know they'll be learning all day when we learn about the saint, do math while baking cookies and seeing fractions in rea life, and practicing reading when I ask E to read some of the book as well :-) I love homeschooling). I don't think I'll get dressed today. Surely mommy can have a treat on St. Nicholas day too ??

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thank you Cay!



OOohhh!! I won another contest in the blog world. How exciting!


Cay Gibson, the author of Christmas Mosaic (I wrote about this in my previous post on advent resources) is having these fun Book Walks, and amazingly enough, I won a book. I'm just tickled, and can't wait to recieve it. Just today I was at the library looking for books from my Christmas Mosaic booklist to read this advent.


Go check out her website and see for yourself. It's a treasure and one you'll use each year.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Advent ideas and links

Oh how can I not share all the treasures with you?
Advent is full of traditions to be made, prayers to be prayed and gifts to be treasured. Here is just a sprinkle of what's out there on the great wide internet for you:

Catholic Culture's Advent Workshop This is an amazing place, full of activities, recipes and devotions for each day of advent.



A Gypsy Caravan's advent traditions: Rebecca has compiled the devotions her family uses each evening during advent and they are so easy to print off and do with your own. She has made a beautiful advent log too that I want to try one day(24 candles to count down to christmas).



Advent Calendar on a beautiful wreath: Dawn always has wonderful ideas at her blog By Sun and Candlelight. She's one of my favorite bloggers. This is a craft similar to the simple advent chain we are doing this year, but much more elegant. Maybe I'll try this more sophisticated craft next year?



Christmas Mosaic: I love it! It's a Christmas booklist with lots of activities to do for each book including copywork, crafts, discussion questions and recipes. This will provide fruit for many a tea time this advent. There are also articles and reflections by homeschooling moms sprinkled throughout the book. I have been enjoying this one, as there are so many fluffy-santa books out there to wade through. I want to know what really good treasures there are for our christmas
reading.

Serendipity: Two homeschooling moms are providing us with so much fruit for advent lessons this year. They have written a wonderful free online 'curriculum' to follow that is loosley based on waldorf ideas. It's just so lovely, and full of wonder and food for the senses. Check out their Jesse Tree posts, and the St. Nicholas Flip book.

O Night Divine: Another wonderful blog devoted to advent and christmas. You can't miss this one. The mom who started it has twins like me. Where does she find the time?

Fall artwork

Artwork artwork artwork... we have artwork spilling out of the windows in this house. E is still drawing up a storm, and her brother Z is falling in right behind her with his own creations. Here are some of their latest creations. If you are reading this and you can't see the slideshow below, click through to my blog at www.catholicmom.blogspot.com


Here is some more artwork that E did at her artclass this term. Her teacher was fabulous and E learned a lot. The puppet's dress was all hand sewn, and the ornament is made out of glass. Both sets of grandparents went to the final artshow, where we were greeted at the door, our jackets whisked away by our artist, and shown around. It was lovely.

Oh, and Here is a picture of our advent chain that I spoke about earlier:

almost advent

My days have been so full with the twins now walking (and climbing! more on that later), that I haven't had a spare moment to blog, read other blogs, do laundry or dust (ok who really dusts anyways??).



I've felt inspired by the imminence of advent which starts tomorrow to come back to my blog. There are so many wonderful resources on the web for celebrating advent. So many ideas, inspirations, templates, files and pictures. All you have to do is spend some time with google looking through all the wonderful pages.



Here is what we are going to be doing this advent. I was drawn to the simplicity of this idea from Jordan at Cheerios and Fingerpaints to make a simple paper chain. One link for each day of advent, with a simple sentence detailing an activity we are going to do to get ready for christmas.



Here's our list:



1. Turn on Christmas lights, set up outdoor nativity
2. Light First Advent candle, sing an advent song
3. Set up nativity scene inside, with mary and Joseph on the other side of the house
4. Make a crib for baby Jesus and set aside straw for good deeds.
5. Read story of St. Nicholas, make st. nick cookies, set out shoes at bedtime.
6. Watch the St. Nicholas movie, Color a picture of St. Nick to hang up for decoration.
7. Make beeswax candles in honor of St. Ambrose feast day.
8. Make Christmas ornament of Mary for Feast of Immaculate Conception
9. Light Second candle on Advent wreath, sing advent song
10. Get out Playmobil Nativity scene to play with
11. Go to mass and pray for someone special, send them a christmas card
12. Read Our Lady of Guadalupe book, make OLG xmas ornaments with shrink plastic
13. Bake St. Lucy buns, and make a crown of candles. Read about St. Lucy
14. Make Playdough xmas ornaments
15. Set up Christmas Tree!
16. Light third candle on Advent wreath. Light Christmas Tree!
17. Bake Christmas Cookies
18. Decorate Christmas Cookies, have Tea Time
19. Wrap cookies up for parish priests, make cards for them.
20. Bring cookies to neighbour's house.
21. Color baby Jesus picture to use as a cake topper on his birthday
22. Make pinecone bird feeders, decorate spruce tree with popcorn chains.
23. Light fourth candle on Advent wreath, eat cookies, Decorate tree
24. Make a cake for Baby Jesus, go to Mass, sing Happy birthday and eat cake, read the christmas story.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

haven't felt much like bloggin

I've been tired, and the babies have started walking, so I've been more tired. And they are still teething so I don't get much sleep at night.
Haven't felt much like bloggin, but we're all ok here. just tired.

Here's what we've been up to:

math: on to Beta. We've done the first three lessons including inequalities, sequence and review of last year.

spelling: finished lesson 9, 15/15.

Reading: almost done the last reader in the series. She's reading really well now.

grammar: memorized the months of the year, our address, phone number and 2 new poems. Learned about action verbs and pronouns. Label nouns and verbs in sentences.

science: finishing up our unit on the forest.. almost done a lapbook.

History: haven't done much this month... been focusing on science instead.

religion: making a handmade prayer book for her morning prayers from CHC.

art: finishing up projects from her weekly art class. art show coming up soon.

Music: fall concert was a success, practicing for the Christmas concert and the downtown concert hall. Church choir ongoing each weekend.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Trying to put five kids to bed by yourself...

... is very scary.

baby #1 is acting tired and fussy, so I take him to his bedroom, turn out the lights and try to nurse him to sleep. Baby number 2 is happily playing in my bedroom with my battery-operated flashlight-alarm clock (probably changing the timezone on me again so I become very confused the next morning). Toddler, preschooler and 7 year old are supposed to be cleaning their room and getting into PJs.

Baby #1 is almost asleep, when a crack of light seeps into the room, and grows brighter, carrying with it the noise of the other four kids. In walks the 7 year old looking for me. I hastily wave her away, trying not to talk so my noise won't wake up the sweet angel who is almost asleep in my lap. She leaves without saying anything, (smart girl) and the door doesn't latch behind her. Now back to baby #1... oh no! What is that pit pat pit pat I hear coming down the hall way?

The crack of light seeps into the room again, followed by a smiling talkative baby #2. I quickly pick up the almost asleep baby #1, put him in the crib, grab the crawling noisemaker and exit the room. Phew! That was a close one... Baby number one is quiet. He must be going to sleep.

Down the hall, into the kids room, "Why did you come into the baby's room E?"

"oh, I just wanted to tell you I was done cleaning my room".

"What?" I'm surprised, since the room doesn't look any cleaner than when I left except for 3 pieces of clothing that were picked off the floor. "Don't come find me for silly reasons when I"m putting the babies to bed!!".

Not really listening to me, she replies "mom, did you put that other baby in JPs room?"

I'm too focused on my baby-sleep mission to think about what she just said, so I give her 'the look' and take baby #2, settle in the rocking chair and start nursing him to sleep.

"Funny," I think to myself, "I think that baby was just sucking his thumb... that's odd, JP sucks his thumb, not P...."

Then, it dawns on me that I have just put P in JPs crib, and was about to do the opposite in this room. Now how did that happen, I wonder... I take a moment to wonder how far back it was that I had them mixed up, trying to remember who was wearing what PJs and which one was crying through mass that night. Classic sleep-deprived mother of twins moment. Or maybe I'm the only one who does this?

Anyways, I had two options:

A) Leave the status quo, put JP in Ps bed as he was almost asleep anyway, and hope that I didn't get all confused in the middle of the night, like getting a sleeping baby in the middle of the night instead of a crying one, thus waking up both at the same time. That could result in a very sleepless night... or

B) Somehow switch P into his real crib without waking him up, and keeping JP sleepy enough to go to bed in HIS real crib when I could get back to putting him to sleep. The danger in this option is that they both wake up ready to go , refusing to go to sleep because the 3 min 'nap' they had just had was good enough for another 3 hours of playtime.

I opted for option B because a late bedtime is always better than being woken up for hours on end in the middle of the night. I gently picked up JP from my lap, carried him into the bright light of the hall, left him with the kids who were still supposed to be cleaning their room and getting into PJs,

"Why didn't you TELL me I was putting P in JPs bed??" I say to E.

She gives me 'the look'.

I quietly walk into JPs room and pick up the sweet P who is half asleep and carry him into the bright hall (why didn't I shut out the light??), and into his own room. Placing him in his own bed causes him to start crying sorrowfully, so I sit back in the rocking chair and nurse him back to sleep again. Phew!!

Back to JP who is wide awake and having fun in the messy room... I take him into his right room this time, and try to settle in the dark to nurse him, taking time to quietly pray for the grace to make it through the night and the following day.

Bang!

What was that? Those noisy kids.

"MOMMY!!" the preschooler yells...

"Have you seen mommy?" he asks his 2 year old sister. "Where's mommy?"

"MOOOOOMMMMMMYYYYY!!!!" She yells for him.
"MOOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYY!!!" again, louder this time.

"MOOOMMMMYYYYYY!!!" She is very good at yelling.. I wonder how she learned that?

At this point I cover the baby's ear, and bite my lips stopping myself from yelling at them to be QUIET ALREADY!! because of course that would defeat the purpose of telling them.
Finally, I give up, put the baby in his crib hoping he'll just go to sleep and open the door (letting the bright light stream into the crib again... why didn't I shut that off?) to deal with the kids.

Turns out, it was very important that I come into his -dark- room and see his glow-in-the-dark batman PJs. urgh!

Amazingly both babies are now asleep, the bedroom is almost clean and everyone is in PJs except the two year old who is almost always naked anyways. I'm about ready to go up and read them some stories, brush some teeth, say prayers and put them to bed (about 6 times in the 2 year old's case).

Say a prayer for me tonight -- goodness knows I don't have time to.

How are those twins anyways?

For all you twin-curious folks: here's how the boys are doing lately: (they are 13 months old, 11 1/2 months adjusted, around 18 pounds)

P took his first steps last month. big boy!! He will walk two steps at a time, but preferrs to crawl everywhere as he has perfected the 100 metre dash with crawling. JP is a little more cautious, and will only walk while holding someone's hand.

Both of the boys have gotten their top two teeth and bottom two teeth and are now working on a molar in the back. Strange, I know, but just another clue to me that they are indeed identical and not fraternal. They get the same teeth in the same wierd order. This has made for some very sleepless nights for mommy.


JP has joined his brother in the mischieviousness contest. He has the grin to go with it, and they both get into loads of trouble now. They spend their days pulling books off my shelves, unrolling toilet paper, unloading the dishwasher, climbing stairs, chasing each other around, sneaking into bathrooms and eating anything they can find on the floor, and not much of what they find on their highchair trays. "you little TURKEY!" is a common phrase heard throughout the day at our house.
video


Thier favorite foods are frozen blueberries, frozen peas, raisins, corn, almond butter and jelly on toast, and french fries... oh, and don't forget mommy's milk. You can imagine that with a diet of frozen peas and almond butter, they get pretty messy. Especially since I don't have time to feed them carefully with a little spoon. The ammount of laundry I do in this house is crazy. But that's a whole other story... (in fact anyone want to come over and help me out? Just think of the nice blog post I could write about your thoughtful service)

At church, they are becoming quite the handfuls. They can be distracted for a few minutes with a board book or two, but then it's back to talking loudly to the priest or the reader, singing with the choir, or singing their own solos after the choir is done, trying to escape onto the floor and under the pew behind us, or just making cute faces at their adoring fans all around us. We are well known I am sure, as we sit in the second row. Good thing there are two grownups in this family!!



There are so cute movies of the babies (you might have to click through to my website http://www.catholicmom.blogspot.com/ to see them, if you are reading this somewhere else).

video

Thursday, November 01, 2007

PIctures from halloween


This is a slide show of the fun night. You might have to click through to my blog if you are reading this in a reader.

The kids had a great time, it was just mommy who was tired and overwhelmed :-)

We had a little St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Adelaide (a princess), and St. Michael the Archangel. Funny thing, there were many princess saints and knight saints at the party. All the boys were sporting swords. It would be fun to make a book of knights and princesses for Jesus. I"ll get right on that LOL.

All Saints Day

As Catholics, we celebrate All Soul's eve, better known as halloween, on october 31st. The whole idea of the holiday is great, especially when you combine it with All Saints day that follows the next day. We learn about the saints, have a party with our friends, get dressed up, and eat candy, stay up late...

However, having experienced this whole 'halloween' thing for seven years and counting with my own little kids, I have realized that this holiday could never have been created by a mom... or if it was, she was certainly sorry the day after. Let me tell you, for those of you without kids, that little children, lots and lots of candy, dark, and a late bedtime are not the best ingredients for happy well adjusted children.

Sure, the tv shows and commercials that show beaming kids going from door to door paint a rosy picture, but they don't show what goes on in the moments before and after.

Before the whole event, there is the mad rush to put on the costumes, find all the necessary pieces, whine about having to eat real food when there is a perfectly good bowl of candy right by the door, and cry because their jackets make their costumes look 'dumb'.

Then at each house there is the shyness that erupts from some of them who refuse to say 'trick-or-treat', walk up to a door all by themselves, and the sheer terror that ensues when said door opens to a view of a very excited dog (who has been worked into a frenzy by each new doorbell). The party goes over well, until it's time to go home of course, and then the 'go to bed and eat your candy tomorrow' battle goes on and on into the wee hours of the night.

Unbelievably, my two year old greeted me in bed this morning at a lovely time of 6:45 am to let me know it was morning and she was ready for her candy!! And now, all day they eat candy, get hyper generally make a mess with chocolate, candy wrappers and fight over who has more of this candy and that candy.

Uh-oh, they are all here begging me for breakfast so I can drag out the bags... wish me luck!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning adventures this week

I am trying to remember to post a weekly update of all the school work we have done each week. We are doing so many things, and I want to be able to keep track of it more regularly.
So here it is! Our week in Grade 2:

Math: Completed up to Lesson 28 in MUS Alpha (learning up to the minus 6 math facts), and did a daily fast math fact practice.

Religion: Chapter 4 in Faith and Life, Chapter 3 in the more workbooky Treasure of My Catholic Faith, Read stories of many saints in preparation for the upcoming All Saints Day.

Spelling: Completed Lesson five in My Catholic Speller A. She only got 11/15 so we'll be reviewing it again on Monday.

Grammar: Finished memorizing Singing by Robert Louis Stevenson, talked more about nouns and learned that ideas can be nouns too. (The love I have for my dog is great!). Started learning the names of the months, and practiced copy writing.

Phonics: Read 4 stories out of Little Angel Reader C, reviewing -ir, -ur, and -er sounds. She did great!! Read the entire Little Bear's Visit story.

Science: Finished our Butterfly and Moth unit in Biology, did a narration on how butterflies hide from enemies.

History: Learned about Ancient Egypt, Joseph and his brothers, and what life was like back then. Drew a map.

Social Studies: Learned about North American landmarks: Golden Gate bridge, Statue of Liberty, Ste. Anne de Beaupre shrine, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls.

Art: She's just about finished making her puppet art class. Can't wait to see the finished product. We also attended an art seminar for homeschoolers and did some drawings.

Music: Weekly choir practice for Girls choir, and church choir. One more week before the fall concert!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Gift of Art

We were privileged to attend a beautiful seminar put on for Catholic homeschoolers in our area called the 'Gift of Art'. The afternoon consisted of two guest speakers, lots of beautiful religious art to look at, and many projects to try our hands at afterwards. Of course our resident artist (age 6) was inspired, and she spent the entire hour and a half after the presentation patiently drawing the following two pictures. She didn't even stop to play or chat with her friends which is very uncharacteristic of her. She was inspired!!

The first is a drawing of the nativity, looking at the Holy Family from inside the barn. You can see through the window and door in the back that it's night outside. I love the use of perspective to show depth of field.

The second picture is her copy of an old painting of Mary. (notice she couldn't help but add in a crown for Mary).

The preschooler was also inspired to draw, and he produced 5 drawings!! The first is of Noah's ark (see the rainbow on the top?) and the second is of Mary also. I was amazed at how his printing is developing.


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 14, 2007

preschool mania

It seems like everyone is having fun with preschool this year. Kim at Starry Sky Ranch is posting a weekly feast of ideas at her Friday Funschool, and Elizabeth and Katherine are taking a trip Along the Alphabet path with Waldorf inspired activities at Serendipity. Beautfiul! I love the Apple pie with the As all over the crust.

I didn't really have any plans for preschool this year. With the twins here, I was going to take things very casually with the littles and just let them explore their new house and yard, playing most of the day.

Apparently they have other plans! I have been overwhelmed with requests for more schoolwork from both of them each and every day. They love doing work, can't get enough of it, and are actually learning things. The four year old is writing letters, numbers and starting to draw, and the 2 year old is counting, learning her colors, and matching shapes.

Being the second time through preschool here, I am enjoying their curiosity and natural desire for learning without the stress of wondering if am I doing it 'right' or messing them up for life by trying to school at home. It turns out, this is actually fun :-)

Here are some of the things we have been doing (and we are planing more to come):


File Folder Games:



These are the best invention.. They store easily, the kids love doing them, and they are cheap and easy to make:

You start with an empty file folder, open it up and glue on the 'game', then cut out the pieces and place into an envelope that is glued onto the front. They take the pieces out and match them to the places on the 'game board'. When they are done, they put them away in the envelope.

So far, we have made an ABC matching one, a number 1-20 matching one, and a butterfly color matching one. Now I want to buy a laminator so they will last longer.

You can purchase these online, to print off yourself, or you can find some of the free ones out there. You can even try your hand and making your own from scratch. (I don't have time for that)



Here are some good links:



Childcareland.com : free printables.. we used a few of these and like them.

Preschoolprintables.com

Enchanted learning.com I love their ideas of using yarn as lines to match shapes.

Phonics file folder games: some great ideas using pockets where you place pictures with the same sound.

MyFileFolder games: these cost $$ but look really good.

Handwriting

We really love Handwriting Without Tears around here. Some of the manipulatives they sell are these wooden pieces that can be laid out to make letter shapes. I haven't had the time or money to go out and buy them so I decided to make my own. I cut the pieces out of craft foam, and made some templates to lay them on from card stock.


Both the 4 year old and 2 year old like this game.

If I had that laminator, I would laminate the card stock mats and then they could also use them to roll out playdough into the letter shapes too.

Guess I know what I'll be asking for Christmas.

Monday, October 08, 2007

lessons from crabapple jelly

This past week I have been so busy getting ready for thanksgiving that I forgot to write about our jelly-making adventures!!

My neighbour has a big crabapple tree in his back yard, and kept offering them to us, as long as we picked them ourself. One crisp fall day at the tail end of apple season, I headed over there to do just that.

On his advice, I brought a big king-size bed sheet along, and carefully spread it on the ground under the tree. My plan was to shake the tree, watch as all the beautiful, crisp, red apples fall onto my sheet and happily carry them back home to process into sweet, apple jelly.

Well, if you know anything of my past adventures in new things, you'll know that things don't always go the way I am expecting. This was no exception, as the tree proved to be too solid for me to shake, the brances, too high for me to grab easily, and the apples that I could reach, too soft to use. So I hopped, and swung my arms at the branches, I climbed the fence beside the tree and tried to shake them off, and I got my toddler to help me pick up the ones on the ground that looked ok. In the end, we resorted to picking a bunch of them off the brances we found out back that he had just pruned off the tree the day before.

Back the in the kitchen, we dump all the apples into the sink and inhale the sweet smell of ripe fruit, and start to sift through all the leaves that had fallen from the tree onto my sheet with the apples. You see, when you shake a tree to get apples to come off, they aren't the only thing that falls... I had oodles of apples, leaves, and ladybugs all over the kitchen. What a mess! We tried to catch the ladybugs before they escaped into the cracks and corners of the kitchen to do who-knows-what, and we sorted through all the mushy apples and leaves.

In the end, we decided to phone grandma Sonia for help, as she is the absolute expert in anything related to the finer art of housekeeping. I need to just plug my brain into hers and download all of the amazing facts and information she has stored in there.

She came over two days in a row and we cut up the apples, boiled the juice down, made the jelly, canned it and picked some more apples to start over again. Here are some of the lessons that I learned:

1. Don't shake the apples out of the tree. You will also get all the just-about-to-fall-off-becuase-they-are-so-rotten ones, dried up leaves, ladybugs, and even a few caterpillars if you are really lucky. Also, the apples that do appear usable, end up getting bruised by landing on the ground.

2. Send your husband with a ladder and a bag to pick the apples.

3. Phone your grandma at the first sign of trouble.

4. Especially if you are thinking of substituting icing sugar for real sugar.

5. Don't use icing sugar in jelly, because it has cornstarch in it, which will thicken your jelly before it is done, making you think it's done, and leaving you with lots of cloudy, runny, sweet crabapple juice.

6. Cloudy, runny, sweet crabapple juice apparently makes good pancake syrup, and can possibly be spread in between cake layers or poured onto bread pudding. (or at least so says my grandma).

7. cooking with grandma is lots of fun, and very educational.

8. cooking without grandma is risky, and very scary.

9. Google has no search results for 'substituting icing sugar for sugar in jelly'. There! Now they should. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!!


I am again amazed at how fast my year has passed by. Last thanksgiving, we were rejoicing that the babies were out of the hospital in time for us to celebrate all together with our whole family. The thought of eating a turkey dinner at home while the babies were alone in the hospital broke my heart (as did the thought of leaving my 3 other kids so I could be at the hospital with the babies). I am so thankful that that ordeal is over, and we are all healthy and together. Family is the biggest blessing of all, isn't it?
This year, we hosted a family dinner at our new house. It was fun, really. We've made more than a few turkeys over the past 7 years of marriage, and have begun to enjoy hosting these dinners. It must be the daily chaos of having five kids under 7 that made a turkey dinner seem like nothing!

Our Menu:
FreeRange Fresh Turkey (16 pounds)

Organic mashed potatoes

Organic steamed carrots
Organic steamed green beans

Cornbread-sausage stuffing with apples

Sesame twist rolls (homemade)

Parker House whole wheat rolls (homemade)

Organic Gingersnap cookies

Pumpkin pecan pie (homemade by sean's parents)

Rhubarb crumble pie (homemade by sean's parents)

It was so yummy!! We moved our big table into the family room, so we had lots of space, and ate by the warmth of the fireplace beside us. The table was decorated with three little mini pumpkins carved out with a tea light resting inside of each.

Most importantly, however, was the company. We enjoyed visiting with our family, watching the antics of the children, writing down what we are thankful for on our 'thanksgiving tree', and watching the birds out the window with the babies. I am always, without-fail, exhausted when everyone goes home, but fall asleep with a smile on my face, and a feeling of warmth in my heart.

Thank you God for all your blessings.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fall photos



We spent some time outside on monday taking pictures and playing in the leaves. Living in a community with big, old trees is fun in the fall when they all start to blow around and land on the ground.
video

The kids played outside for a long time, enjoying the fresh air. It sure is hard to get a good group shot of five kids under seven though :-)

video

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's good to be one!

We took the babies out to dinner on their birthday to a real restaurant (not McDonald's). They were such big boys, sitting up in their highchairs, eating chicken nuggets and french fries like the rest of the kids. For desert, they shared an apple tart and they liked it very much. Then we went to mass to celebrate their birthday and get blessed by the priest. In the morning, they enjoyed watching birdies and squirrels out the window for a long time, giggling with each other while playing with a puzzle, and having leisurely naps. It's great to be one!

Yesterday we had a big party for them with lots of family and a few friends. I made them two ducky cakes and a bunch of chocolate cupcakes. Yummy!! They played with their little friends Evan and Adelyn, enjoyed opening their presents and seeing all their new toys and clothing, and charmed all the relatives with their sweet demeanours. I am so blessed to have such adorable little babies. I don't want them to grow up!!


Today daddy and the kids are off to the local historical park to attend Train Days, and I am enjoying a quiet afternoon cleaning up the house and playing with the twins without all my 'helpers' running around. The smell of fall is blowing through the open windows, and I'm about to start a second batch of crab apple jelly.

It's amazing how one can be so happy and feel so blessed with so little sleep. God gives me so much grace to be able to live my life with such fullness. Thank you, thank you.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Babies!!!!

Many would say the events around the birth of our surprise twins one year ago were miraculous... and I would be the first to agree, but the real miracle here is that I have lived to tell the tale, one whole year later!!

Oh babies, you add so much joy to my life. You have taught me to slow down. You have shown me that I am capable of so much more than I thought - especially when I have people helping me, you have given me a chance to truly give of myself, even when I feel I have nothing left to give.

You are miracles, and we love you. Thank you, dear God, for blessing our family with such an abundance of new life. I'm not sure how I will survive the next few years through toddlerhood, but I'm willing to try, one day at a time.

For a memory of that exciting day when the babies were born, here is the email announcement my dear husband sent out when they were born:



Greetings Friends and Family,

I finally had 5 minutes to send you a note about how our lives have changed dramatically in the past 48 hours.

I'm sending some pictures along as well...hopefully they make it.

Mel and I had really no idea that there were two little
boys inside, but fortunately our midwife did - but only when Mel started
measuring bigger than she should have about 2 weeks ago. So, we were
slated for a "rush" ultrasound, which we ended up getting done on Monday
night.

When the ultra-sound tech told us the news, all I could do was laugh -
mostly out of Joy for how much God wants to Bless us with life, but partly out
of shock.

My next thoughts were why didn't we listen...

About 2 days after finding out we were pregnant for the
fourth time, I was riding home on the bus with much joy in my heart and a smile
on my face...God then put the idea of twins in my head, and I remember chuckling
quietly to myself "That's a good one, God.".

Easy enough to pass off, right?


Mel did the same thing when I told her, though with a little more
"trepidation" (sp?) In her voice. However, we should have at least
investigated when that night at the dinner table we were sharing the news with
our other kids and asking what sex they thought the baby was - I think Elizabeth
went for a girl - I thought a boy...but imagine our wide-eyed wonder when Zach
said with all confidence: "I'm having two brothers!".

Again, we nervously laughed and looked at each other with wide eyes, but, silly us, chose to ignore it.

Now, fast forward to this Monday night when we are we
are scrambling to come up with another boy's name (we knew at least 1 was a boy
after the ultrasound). I go to bed trying to calculate how best to fit all
the car seats in the Van about 11:30. Then the fun began.

Mel taps my shoulder at 2:30 in the morning saying that she is having mild
contractions that were enough to "keep her awake". So, we call the
midwife, who is just coming home from another birth. The contractions
seemed mild enough at the time, but based on previous experience, I started
packing for a trip to the hospital, called the Grandparents and got them going,
and then Mel got up. Contractions started to kick in hard, and within
about 3 minutes, she had the urge to PUSH!

After calling Joy (the midwife) again, she changed direction from going to the hospital to coming to our house, and said call 911.

So, Mel went back to the bed, I had 911 on the horn and went to unlock the door.

By the time I got back, Peter was already on his way out! I caught him as Mel pushed him out with one contraction (he was tiny!). He was crying right away, so I wasn't worried about him.. He was on Mom's tummy right away, and I scrambled to find my shoes to get a shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord. By the time
I was back, John Paul was on his way - feet first. But, being as small as
he was, within two pushes he was out as well. He didn't cry right away so
I gave him a vigorous rub on the back and that got him mad enough to get things
started. Right about then, 2 paramedics and a fireman came into the
room. We wrapped them up quick, and then Joy our midwife came about 5
minutes later. All was well, though JP was having a little trouble with
the breathing. Grandpa and Grandma were on the scene, so Grandpa watched
the other kids while Mel and I and our two new bundles of Joy got a free ride in
the ambulance and Grandma followed us to the foothills.

And that is where they are. Peter came in at 4lbs 11oz, but is the more alert one (the word "scrappy" comes to mind) and JP at 5lbs 7oz is the more laid-back of the
two...but he's had a lot of work to do getting his breathing in order, so I'm
sure he'll be more energetic soon.

I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for all your offers of help and assistance and your congratulations. Mel and I have a long road ahead of us, but are confident we can handle this fine with our friends and family surrounding us as they
have.

Please pray for a speedy strengthening for these two little tykes so we can get them home soon with their siblings who so dearly want to be with them.

For those who may not have seen yet, we are on the cover of the Sun today!!

Thank you for sharing in our Joy,
and God Bless you all!




To anyone who has helped us over this past year... for meals, prayers, clothes, diapers, time, love, cards, gifts, cleaning, holding babies in church, smiling at me in the mall... THANK YOU!!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

preschool history

I have started a wall timeline for the kids. So far, it's pretty boring. A long line on the wall, with creation written at the beginning.

I guess Z wanted to make his own because I found him working very hard on this in the office this afternoon:

The world is at the beginning, and then the stick figures are as follows from left to right: Noah, noah's boat, Moses, David and Goliath. Cute!! (he told me he though that he was drawing Goliath first, and then david, but when he looked at them the second guy looked mean, so he is goliath.)
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here's Es picture of the mystery bird

We think it's a house finch.. but we're not sure.
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birds birds everywhere!


We've been enjoying more birdwatching as the days get cooler here in alberta. The kids will sit for 10 min at a time, silently watching the feeder out our front window. I love seeing their curiosity and attention span develop. They have even made their own birdfeeder (from a taco box with some pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed... I asked her if she wanted to paint the box, but she said that then the birds wouldn't know it was for food because the taco picture wouldn't be on it)

Today, I was greeted with 'shhh's when I came downstairs because they were 'watching the nuthatches'. Sure enough, there were 3 nuthatches at the feeder. I'm so excited they are learning to identify the different birds.
Each day we've been watching the blue jay, the nuthatches (red breasted), the chickadees, some sparrows, a black squirrel and a grey squirrlel come and go. Today we were treated to a new suprise: a flock of new birds we've never seen before... the males had red heads and breasts, and the females were white and brown striped along their tummies.

Looking through our bird books, we think we have identified them as house finches, although my guide says they don't come this far north.... we showed them :-)

Last week, we were lucky to have a butterfly land on the windowsill to warm it's wings when the clouds came out. He sat their long enough for E to identify him on our butterfly poster, and then draw a picture of him. Beautiful! We even learned what the catterpillar looks like.

In science, we are reading about the desert, and E has been busy drawing pictures of desert toads and tadpoles (did you know that some of them hibernate for 11 months of the year and only come out during the rainy season?? now that is quality sleep!!).

I love all these extras of schooling. The spelling and the math are oh-so-necessary, but the science and the real learning that happens throughout the day are really fun.

I won! I won!!


If you see me walking about and don't recognize me, because I am wearing a sylish bag on my shoulder (instead of the clunky diaper backpack) I won't be offended. I am just thrilled to have won a blog contest from Amy over at Fresh Vintage. Thanks Amy!!

B is for...

Blogging: I have really enjoyed keeping up this blog over the past few years. It has become a wonderful chronicle of our familie's life, and our homeschooling adventures. I don't have a lot of time to scrapbook, so this is my own version of the family album.



Babies: who doesn't love 'em? Cuddly, cozy, soft... and I have two of them all to myself! Their innocence and dependence always calls me back to God, and brings out the best in me. (it's the toddlers who bring out the worst LOL).



Bedtime: my favorite time of the day, besides early in the morning before anyone else has woken up...



Busy: My life since having kids. But, I love it. I am hardly ever bored.



Brown: my hair and my eyes. Well my eyes are more like hazel, like my daddy, and I do have a handful of grey hairs sprinkled throughout my hair, but who's counting?

Bread: My little secret-- I love baking homemade bread, and I've always imagined being able to bake all of the bread our family needs. I think I have about 4 bread cookbooks and I love reading them, and imagining the feel of the dough in my hands. Last week I actually made 3 loaves, but in this house, that only lasts about 2 days. I want to start learning how to bake sourdough because I like the texture better, but that's a whole other ball of wax :-)

Books: My favorite things, just about. I love kids books, encyclopedias, cookbooks, craftbooks, and fiction. I think I have paid the library enough fines to stock an entire row of shelves with books. Maybe an entire floor :-) (ask my mom and my husband.. they can tell you). Currently I am obsessing over which books to buy from the Usborne book party that I recently had. I love buying kids books. Come to think of it, maybe that's one of the reasons I love homeschooling so much.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the latest artwork


We are still moving along in our art curriculum that we started last fall. This past month we have made some clay tablets and carved pictures into them, made a clay cup and painted it with black paint like the ancient greeks, and then drew some profile pictures on the wall (shining a flashlight onto paper and tracing our shadows).

The first picture is E, (why an american flag in the background I don't know).
The second picture is of Z... he looks so cool!
The third picture is yours truly, drawn by the resident artist of the family, E. I think I look like some eighties rock star LOL. She certainly is creative.

I am amazed at her how long her attention span is for drawing, and how short it is for math. If I could only harness it!!
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Friday, September 14, 2007

Nature notes

Now that we live in an established neighborhood (read: big trees) as opposed to our old fancy new neighborhood (read: barren wasteland sprinkled with lots of pristine green lawns and annuals), we are excited to be in the midst of a bustling community of critters. We have seen all sorts of them, and are having great fun learning to identify different species.


This month, we have been busy setting up some bird feeders and a bird bath outside our school room window so we can keep an eye on our new friends. Today we were treated to quite the show:

A black capped chickadee (we love these little guys)

A mystery bird that is probably another chickadee but has an orange belly and a black 'mask' across it's eyes like batman... maybe a nuthatch?

A big black squirrel

And, our favorite so far, A big blue jay. He is the funniest, because he pecks and pecks around in the feeder trying to pull out the peanuts. He also has a very loud call to announce his presence. He looks like a giant on the feeder compared to the little chickadee. I hope he sticks around through the winter. We are going to have to buy some more bird seed.



We hung the feeder in the big spruce tree that was planted waaay too close to the front of the house 30 years ago. I was contemplating cutting it down, because when you look at it with the eyes of one who is coming from a pristine new community, it's quite the eyesore.. but now that I have seen it in it's true light (a beautiful part of the habitat in this community of wildlife). I think maybe we can keep it. It provides a great hiding place for the birds, and lots of branches for them to perch on... and it hides the big mess of seeds and shells that the birds toss on the ground below the feeder.

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Speaking of nature and the fall time:



There is a lovely new online magazine that is available for free through September called Seasonal Delights. It's billed as a magazine for young ladies and their mothers, (although it could be enjoyed by anyone really), and it's filled with craft ideas, recipes with great photos to accompany the instructions, and poems. It's the kind of magazine you want to curl up on the couch by the fire with a blanket and browse through, dreaming of all the fun you could have with your kids this fall. I am looking forward to reading it myself.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Learning...

..is fun when your brothers and sisters are doing it alongside you!!
Yesterday we spent the day fishing with grandma J and grandpa Ed (both of the older kids are great at casting... we were so impressed with them... pictures to follow shortly).
Today, we are having a concentrated school day at home:
Math:
-fast math for E (6yrs old):
I gave up on calculadders for now, and made my own math sheets with a free program online. She gets two minutes to complete the page (9 questions) and then gets a smartie if she gets it all right in time. This is working so much better than the sheet of 25 or 30 we were working on before. Now she gets it done, learns her math facts, and feels a great sense of accomplishment. Slowly but surely we will teach her to increase her concentration time. Today she did all the +2, +3 and +4s. (One sheet for each... so the first sheet had in random order 2+2, 2+3, 2+4 etc..). The only problem I can see is that I need to invest in some more smarties because with fast math, and potty training, I'm giving them out all the time!!
-MathUSee for E: lesson 22 -- subtracting 8. Great job on this one too!!
-Z (4 years old): He is learning about the numbers and how to write them. I'm using the kindergarten teachers guide from handwriting without tears, the Stamp-and-see screen (like a little magnadoodle.. it's REALLY good) and some worksheets I printed off for free from A kids Heart. com He is really starting to love learning, and his fine motor control is improving every day.
English:
-E read to me two stories out of her little angel reader.. she's doing so good. She can read long sentences like the following: "Jean and Lee did not feel like helping mother. But they put down the dolls and ran to her." (that story is a keeper!!)
-E also did some writing exercises, adding -ed and -ing to words, and spelling words with ai and ay. She does really well at reading.
Science:-we spent a long time watching the chickadees outside our window, and a big black squirrel. We also looked at two wasps who were trying to fly through the glass window, and a big white moth on the porch.
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We had a snack of yogurt, and a good breakfast of eggs and toast. Now they are just finishing up a lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, and are about to go play with one of their friends in the neighborhood who is also home schooled. I'm doing laundry, snapdragon is learning to go on the potty, and the babies are being babies. A lovely day.

Happy Birthday Mary

A big feast day around here always calls for a special meal and desert.

We celebrated the birthday of Mary (september 8) with homemade pizza (yummy!) and spice cake with maple fluff frosting.

I was feeling especially domestic that day. We had high tea for lunch with triangle pbj sandwiches, kiwi fruit, and hot chocolate (and chicken nuggets LOL), and then we made the pizza dough in the breadmaker.

The smell of fall in the air always lures me into the kitchen to start baking again.
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Friday, September 07, 2007

We Got a Kitty!!

Well, for one day, anyways.. that was long enough for me :-) This is Moto.. what a cutie pie! The kids found her sitting on our front door step, one morning looking very lonely for attention. She didn't have any tags, stayed around all day, and even ran inside once.

None of the neighbours were missing a cat, and since she didn't have any tags we didn't know what to do, so I went to my trusty-fix-all solution: Google. I found a really cool pet lost and found service online called PetLynx, and I posted a picture and matched up a description of the kitty, and then was automatically emailed matches of lost cats that fit my description. Sure enough, one of them happened to be moto's mommy.

They came over at once to retrieve her (she had been gone for almost a week), and we were all happy with the reunion... especially mommy and daddy who are allergic to the little animals.
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Five kids and a laundry basket

Here's how we entertain our kids after dinner without having a TV in the house: give them a laundry basket and two babies to play with.


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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dinner with our priest

Brave little me decided to invite our parish priest over for supper this week, and it happened that he could only come tonight. He told me this yesterday, so I had to scurry around the house cleaning all day, while thinking of something good to make for supper besides our normal 'mom with five small children' fare ( chicken nuggets, tacos, pizza, pasta).

Here's a short summary of the night:

1. Father comes early... (AHHH! I"m not ready!!). The kids are giggling upstairs hiding from the doorbell. The babies are still sleeping. I"m trying to make homemade biscuits and pudding cake at the same time.

2. I try to entertain father while reading my two recipes at once (bad idea) and keeping tabs on the three small children running around loudly at my feet. Daddy isn't home yet (where is he??)

3. ooops, that was one TSP not one TBS of baking pwd..(scoop, scrape, dump)... uh, which bowl did the salt go into?... oops! (no problem, I can multitask, I have twins!)

4. Speaking of twins, baby 1 wakes up crying, while i"m trying to put the carrots and potatoes on, take the chicken out, roll the biscuits and stir the pudding cake. Oh, and there's baby number 2 crying now.

5. Snapdragon the toddler runs by with her shirt off.. (why is she naked?? Where is daddy?) The kids are climbing up a shelf to get at the pictures they drew for the priest.

6. Uh-oh... they knock over a statue of St. Joseph, and in the process, his head falls off (again, but that's another story). Why do these things always happen in front of the priest? I'm still trying to cook the biscuits and I ask E to bounce P for me because he's crying for milk.

7. Finally, Daddy is home!! yay! He brings father into the living room for some grownup chat, the kids go wash their hands and we sit down for dinner: Fresh baked biscuits, carrots, peas, mashed potatoes and Salsa-chicken. For desert, pudding-spice-cake. Little snapdragon is very happy with our guest, and continually tells him to 'Watch ME!!' and pulls on his arm to make sure he's actually doing it. When he leaves she says 'Bye Bye Water' (she can't say F yet).

8. He leaves with a smile, telling us he's encouraged to see a loving young catholic family... daddy was happy to have a nice dinner complete with tablecloth and desert, and the kids are still running in circles through the house giggling.

9. "we should do this more often", says Daddy.

"Right", I say. "after I have a few months to recover... and we get St. Joseph's head fixed".

We're Famous!!

Well, not really, but I'm so excited that Storynory wrote about us on their blog. How exciting!!
We're also listed on the Math-U-See blogroll too, and just last week a newspaper man called and wanted to interview us for a story on large families (if you're in my city, look for us in the Neighbours section mid september.. unless of course they thought everything I had to say was just not cool enough to make the newspaper).

Maybe I should go get my hair done, because I'm sure next up, Oprah will be knocking on my door. (maybe I should go clean the kitchen instead of blogging!!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

School today...

While the rest of the world is starting school again today, (and I need to remember not to speed through school zones again), we are still living the same old homeschooling life we've always led.

No stressful back-t0-school shopping trips, fighting over what clothes, shoes, binders, pencils, backpacks, and other assorted items that they just HAVE to have.

No rushing out the door in the morning, and rushing out the door in the afternoon so as not to be late.

No tired kids complaining about homework, after they've been at school all day. No papers to lose, no books to drag back and forth in a heavy backpack, no fancy lunches to be made to compete with the other kids.

No money to fork over for school fees, lunch fees, bus fees, school supplies. No time spots to sign up for volunteer time, committees to join, or field trips to supervise.

Just the normal chaos of us.

Here is how we spent our day:

7:00 am sharp: snapdragon the toddler wakes me out of a deep sleep, kisses me on the forehead and crawls into bed with me. I try in vain to go back to sleep.

7:30 am: Z the preschooler wanders in, and climbs into the other side of the bed.

7:45 am: Breakfast for the 3 of us... yogurt and granola.

8:00 am: Baby number 1 joins us.. straight to his highchair for breakfast.

8:15 am: Baby number 2 is awake, and E the 6 year old is now awake too. Breakfast all around. E helps feed the babies. Z and H pull out the 'ball game' and convince me to sit and play with them for 30 min, learning about colors, numbers, shapes and letters (or how to take turns without crying, and how to lose gracefully).

8:30 am: the kids unload the dishwasher, clean off the table, and we start school.

8:45 am: Speed math. E practices her math facts. (addition) Z and H fight over toys in the other room, the babies are still eating breakfast in their highchairs.

9:15 am: Math-U-See lesson 21: Subtraction with 9s. We all watch the math lesson on the laptop, (well the babies wanted to watch, but they couldn't see, so they just pulled on my legs and tried to pull the computer down off my lap, so we moved into the kitchen and watched it at the table, while I distracted the babies and changed their diapers.

10:30 Wow, that took longer than I wanted... hard to get math done when the babies and H are underfoot. Must teach E how to be more self-sufficient while doing her work pages. Now we have 'break': snack (yogurt and applesauce and raspberries), and a short 10 min play session. Both babies went for a nap.

11:00 phew! Is it really almost lunch?? Time for reading: E reads to me a story in Little Angels book 2 about Duke and Luke catching crabs in the sand dunes, and then does a few workbook pages on long-u vowels. She is really getting better at reading!! Meanwhile, H has removed her diaper, and I take the opportunity to have a short potty-learning lesson. She is excited to get smarties if she can pee pee on the potty. We pull out the plastic potty from the basement and she sits on it for 5 seconds.

11:20 reading is done. Recess!! Kids run off to play. Meanwhile, baby number one is crying in his crib. Upon investigation, I find him standing buck naked in his crib, cold and wet. He had apparently taken his own diaper off before he fell asleep (I wondered what he was playing with when I heard him gibbering in his crib before he went to sleep... at least it wasn't a yucky one). Anyways, he woke himself up in the middle of his nap time because he had peed and got cold.

Baby one comes downstairs to help with teaching H how to use the potty. Maybe he could use a lesson too?

12:00 Lunch time: leftover pasta and meat sauce, frozen peas, frozen blueberries. I read aloud from our latest Little House book, Little House in the Highlands (the unabridged version of course) H gets up and down from her chair 30 times, sits on the potty 5 times, and eventually goes PEE!! She celebrates with a hand full of smarties. Baby number two wakes up and joins the party. He eats chicken pasta soup, frozen peas, leftover pancakes.

And that is our school day. At least the stuff that we routinely do. Of course the rest of the day is spent playing, reading science and history books off the kids bookshelf, creating elaborate stories with the Little People toys, playing dress up, running around outside, watching the birds and squirrels in our yard, listening to Storynory, and drawing pretty pictures.

All in all, I enjoy our life a lot. It is a bit crazy at times, with so many littles around, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A is for....

As promised last week, I am slowly going to fill in an Encyclopedia of Me. A collection of posts all about me, my life, and my loves. Hopefully this will help me take the time to really appreciate who I have become, where I have come from, what I have been blessed with, and where I am going. I rarely have a moment to reflect on anything these days, so this will help me carve out a small scrap of space in my mind (and blog) for me.

A is for...

Abundance


I have been blessed with an abundance of many things:

Grace to get through each day
Love from my darling husband
Children (my five precious sweetie pies)
Bedrooms (thank you God!!)
Family (and almost all of them live within babysitting distance)
Friends
Money
Clothes (in various sizes, seasons and genders... oh, and the maternity ones, the transitional-after-baby-ones, and the "surely-I'll-fit-back-into-this-one-day" ones)
Socks (both the paired and non-paired variety)

the only thing I lack is sleep (but that's a whole other post).