Monday, December 22, 2008

3 days and counting

I have nothing witty or beautiful or inspiring to post today...   My dear darling husband has been on vacation since last Thursday, so I have been busy just enjoying my family.

We have shoveled lots of snow, gone grocery shopping, cleaned the house about 4 times over, wrestled with the kids on the carpet, baked many more yummies, read lots of stories, and watched a lot of JellyTelly.   

I especially liked their family movie of the week yesterday called The Very First Noel.  It's a computer animated movie that is very well done, and has the voice of Andy Griffith!  Their website has coloring pages and an activity book to download as well.  

Today will be more of the same.  It's so relaxing and joyful to have this time to be together as a family.  I am cherishing these days when the children are all young and innocent and sweet. It is so much work, but such a delight to be a part of.

I hope you are all safe and warm in your homes enjoying your families too.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

peace

Isn't this a lovely time of year? 

 It's snowing, the children can hardly wait another day for christmas to come, the house is filled with lovely smells from baking, and I am enjoying every minute of it.  

Our christmas shopping was done awhile ago, the baking is almost finished, the meal is planned, the christmas concert over.  The lights are up on the house, the christmas tree is waiting cheerily by the fireplace to be decorated and the Jesse tree is filling up with ornaments tracing the history of God's love through the ages.

I am full of such joy I can't help but smile.  I have been richly blessed. So blessed that it is overflowing into smiles.  

The big kids are over at their grandparents house for the day, the twins are sleeping and I am about to put on some pretty music and do some more baking.  This is a good day.  The sun is shining, it's quiet in my house and I have a full pantry, fridge and freezer.  

Yes, money is tight this year.  Tighter than most years... but I have found that God always provides just what we need....  and sometimes, having to wait for what we need (or want), teaches us lessons about what's really important.  

Yes, I get grumpy. Yes, my house gets messy.  Yes, I usually have no idea what to make for supper at 4:00pm every day and all the kids cry at the same time while i'm trying to make it...   

But overall, and running through everything,  I feel this abiding sense of peace that doesn't leave.

I am where I was created to be.   

It's a lot harder than I thought it would be.... but it's even more wonderful than I could have imagined.  Hard work and sacrifice that springs from love of others, and learning to give yourself as a gift, can bring a fulfillment in life that is unmatched by any other.  

This is what I am trying to learn from Christmas.  Live in the now. Love in the now. 

 Give yourself as a gift.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My big kids

These are my two big kids. Looking at how big they look sitting here, posing for grandma's Christmas card adventure, I smile. My oldest girl is so similar in both looks and temperment to myself, and my oldest boy is so similar in both respects to my husband.

These two were the perfect way to ease us into this journey of parenthood. They are both kind, gentle and generous. They are also very very goofy and fun. I enjoy them so much, and wonder in anticipation what they will be like when they are grown.

I hope they stay best friends their whole life. Being the biggest two of a large family, they share so many responsibilities and privilege's together... and homeschooling has kept them closer than most siblings would be at this age.

I can't help but wonder what our life would have been like if we had stopped at two kids like most of the culture around us... but more importantly how different these two would have been if they hadn't had the joy and responsibility of having little brothers and sisters to both play with and help take care of.

May God grant me the grace to be the best mommy I can for these wonderful children of mine... and may He grant them the grace to grow always in their self-giving love towards each other.
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Snow fun!

It was the perfect day. The snow was falling gently in large flakes that were easy to catch on your tongue if you had the patience to stand there. It was cold enough to require mittens and hats and winter jackets... and the fun of warm hot chocolate afterwards, but warm enough to stay and play outside for as long as you want- especially since the snow stuck together in big soft clumps... the perfect snowman weather.

The big kids played outside for hours, throwing and pushing and shoveling the white snow. Later on when their daddy came home, they worked together to build the biggest snowman they've ever made.

I so enjoyed watching their rosy faces push the big balls of snow around the yard, laughing and giggling - their eyes sparkling with the wonder of it all. Daddy helped them lift up the second and third balls, and they smiled with pride when they put the final touches on their huge creation.

Later on they were thrilled with the warm hot chocolate I gave them, and we spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled in the basement watching our new movie Wall-E with daddy.

In the evening, we set up our outdoor Nativity scene and xmas lights, and then after shovelling the driveway of our neighbor, we went for walk around the block, stopping to play an exciting game of tag in the park. I just love winter time.

Watching the twins enjoy the snow was a delight. It really is wonderful, being able to experience the joy of your own childhood all over again through your children's eyes. What a gift.
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Our New Personal Math Tutors

We are so lucky to have come upon this free service!! Let me know if you want to hire them yourself. They are availbe from 6:30am each day.



They also offer free help in organizing your shelves and cupboards. 

video

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!!

It's a good thing that the twins got up so early today.. there's so much fun stuff happening. We don't want to miss a minute of it doing something boring like sleeping.

The kids rushed down the stairs and ran straight over to the fireplace where they found their boots  (and a few crocs) filled with chocolate coins and treats, and a candy cane.  

I guess St. Nick didn't have time to stop at the orange grove, because there were no mandarins this year.  
Maybe he was too busy praying or something.  Anyhow, the kids never noticed the omission. They were too excited by the candy and the movie and book that were also left for them. 

Our plans for the morning: make up some cinnamon buns to rise, go watch our new movie Wall-E, and then wait for some friends to come over to decorate some christmas cookies with us. 


My favorite quote of the morning, from Z the 5 year old boy:  (his logic never fails to amaze me)

"Mom, I gave my candy cane to Heather, but I'm feeling a little candy-sick because all I keep eating is chocolate, so I need some candy to feel better.  I need it back". 



Here are two videos for the grandparents:  One of the kids just finding their chocolate, and one of Z telling me all about the picture he drew for St. Nick:

video video

Friday, December 05, 2008

Seven Quick Takes Friday

one

Where has the week gone?  I haven't had much time for blogging. We've been having lots of fun doing Advent activities, and the twins have been growing more mischevious each day, so I have been mostly following a few minutes behind them cleaning up after their messes.... if I could just catch up to them...






two.

We were painting some beautiful pictures with watercolor and JP decided to join in on the fun while we weren't looking. Good thing he's so darn cute, or I might be tempted to get mad at him.









Three.
 While I was enjoying a quiet moment downstairs, the monkeys climbed onto their change table, reached the diaper cream off the shelf above and proceeded to apply it like face paint to each other.  









Four.
So... how do I get ANYTHING done around here?Don't ask.  I think God put me on this earth so that other people would feel better about the state of their own less-messy houses.  If you ever need a boost in your own pride, come on over!

For example, while I'm typing this very post, the babies are in the background dumping pennies all over the floor.  Do I ignore them so I can do something else besides cleaning for awhile.. just so I can clean later? Or do I stop them, clean up the mess, and wait 5 seconds until they get into something else?  It's a never ending dilemma until nap time.  

Five.
Isn't this a nice scene?  
Grandpa came over this past week for a visit and spent some time teaching E how to play the chopsticks duet with him.  We are so blessed to have all the grandparents so close to us.  They are truly a gift. (don't mind the blurry picture.. it's actually (you guessed it) finger prints on the lens from the twins.  sigh.












Six.

If you can't beat 'em...  build them a super big fort in the living room, give them some chocolate popcorn and go hide somewhere with a good book.  

"Wow! It's Like SOO COOOL Mom!" -says the little 3 yr old.






Seven.

Too bad the twins' attention span only lasts as long as it took me to build the thing.  They are back to dumping pennies, and playing with my camera.  I know when I'm old and grey and lonely I'll look back on these times with great joy.  Maybe I should write a book so I can read all about it... actually I suppose that's what this blog is for... and that's why I let them make big messes while I take the time to do it.  

God bless you, everyone.

Tonight we await St. Nicholas who will hopefully bring some chocolate and goodies to put in the kids shoes.   Try leaving your own shoes out and see if he leaves you anything!!  I heard my kids talking about how they were going to leave out their boots, running shoes and church shoes

edited to fix a really incomplete thought. (must have gotten interrupted by the monkeys again).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

And the winner is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

12 
Greg Scheelar said...

I had never heard of the Priests before today and am now enthralled in the idea. I think it is great that you got to do the contest, too!

Add me in!


Congratulations Greg!! 
I'll be contacting you shortly.  I hope you enjoy their music as much as we have.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Last chance

I will be making the draw for the Priests CD giveaway tonight at 9pm Mountain time.  If you haven't entered yet, go ahead and add your name!!

Also, check out my new blog design if you are reading this through a reader.

 Do you like it?  I got bored of the little ducklings and decided to change the name of my blog since we moved.

Have a lovely day everyone!!

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, Monday December 1, 2008

Outside my Window: a beautiful blue sky with a few clouds lit by the sunrise.

I am thinking:  about adding wonder to the season of advent this year.  I don't want to rush the xmas preparations, and get stressed about shopping, finishing up school and getting it all done perfect.  I just want to live in the moment.

I am thankful for: a 'new' couch in our family room (thanks mom! It looks lovely)

From the learning room:  We finished term 1! Now we are shifting our focus to advent. We will be doing a Jesse tree, and following along with Advent Adventures.  We also plan to do some readalouds from A Life Of our Lord for Children.  

From the Kitchen: I'm working on a good gluten free sugar cookie recipe for decorating.  

I am wearing:  A soft green cotton skirt and a striped cotton tshirt.  My hair is freshly washed and up in a bun.  I wish I had some nice comfy feminine slippers to wear around the house.

I am creating: Lots of ideas for advent activities.  We did our advent chain again this year, with a few additions.  maybe I'll blog about it later.

I am going: to my weekly holy hour on Wednesday to pray for all of my family and friends that they have a peaceful Christmas this year, and don't get weighed down by the business and stress.

I am reading: Lord of the Rings book 3.  I still love this series. It's fun to be reading fiction again.

I am hoping: I will remember to live each moment one at a time, relying on the help of God to be kind and generous with each person I encounter (especially each of my little ones that tug on my pant leg while I'm 'busy' with other things).

I am hearing: My 3 year old playing with one of the toddlers.  My older two helping each other with some advent word searches, and my other toddler rocking in his high chair.  A relatively peaceful morning.

Around the house:  Our Advent wreath is on the kitchen table with a new purple table runner under it, and our Pregnant Mary statue sitting in the middle.  We will slowly add decorations as we get closer to Christmas.

One of my favorite things:  eating supper as a family by around the table with all the lights in the house off, except the flickering lights of the advent wreath.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Finishing Christmas shopping and getting everything wrapped.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you:
Visit Peggy's blog for all of the entries this week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1.

Last week it was flour, this week.. crabapple Jelly. What will they get into next?  And the more important question... When will mommy smarten up and stop them before they make any more messes??  Please tell me I'm not the only one who never seems to notice the crazy things the kids get into until it's far too late.

2.

We went to the Waldorf Faire at the local school this weekend and it was so much fun. The kids enjoyed beeswax candle dipping, apple peeling, a magic fairy-well, candle decorating, entertainment and good food. They even had a gluten free soup on their menu in the cafeteria that made E feel so special.  (and it was GOOD soup! I need to get that recipe).

I enjoyed browsing the artisans fair in the gymnasium, and oogled over all of the wonderful craft supplies that I sadly cannot afford this year:  modelling beeswax, block crayons, beeswax crayons, wool felt, stockmar watercolors, kite paper, craft books galore.  It was a visual treat for the eyes.  At this time of the year the malls and advertisements are packed with plastics and bright, unnatural colors and smells.  This faire was enveloped in soft and natural joys for the senses.  I wanted to stay and sit in the classrooms and be a little kid again.
  
3.  

I did it!! I made my favorite Christmas time Ginger cookies into a gluten free recipe.  Yummy!  One recipe at a time, I think I can conquer Christmas baking.  These too were made out of oat flour, and let me tell you, this has made all the difference in our baking.  We have to use certified Gluten-free oats because the regular ones are easily contaminated with wheat while they are growing in fields, and being processed at the plant.  I'm going to look around online for a good source of GF oats, because right now, the only ones I can buy come in a teeny-tiny bag with a big price tag.

4.

We are finished our first term!! HALLELUIA! Just in time for advent, we will be backing away from more academic pursuits in favour of preparing for Christmas.  We will be doing some of the following: 

5.

A good friend of mine was over the other day for lunch with her little one and we were chatting about fun activities for the littles to play with.  One thing that came up was felt boards.  I am now so inspired to get back into this fun activity, but this time with real wool felt, instead of the polyester stuff in the craft store.  

I did some looking around and found some fun links:  flickr group, making a felt board from a picture frame, and travelling felt boards.

Look for an upcoming blog post on felt boards when i have more time.

6.

What do you do when you run out of grocery money, spending money and extra-special-saved-this-for-a-rainy-day money, and payday isn't for another 5 days?  

In our family we have made a pact to not go into debt anymore.  We have eliminated all of our debts except the mortgage, and we want to keep it that way.  If we don't have the money for things, we don't want to be spending what's not ours.

This has proved to be more than a little challenging.  It means we had to stop using our credit cards, and switch to cash in an envelope for groceries and spending money.

It also means that I have to be a lot more creative with the abundance of food that can be found in my pantry and my freezer.  When grocery money runs out, it's so easy to run to the store with the visa and get a bunch of stuff to tide us over, but instead, we have been eating more muffins, , making our own yogurt,  tortilla shells and taco spices, pizza shells, soup... and relying on the vast quantity of frozen veggies and fruit that is in my freezer.

Thank GOD it's Friday though.. let me tell you!!  I'm going grocery shopping!!

7. 

I'm so excited to start planing our greenhouse garden for next year.  It was a gift from my grandma, and I have no idea what we'll grow or how we'll do it, but I'm sure it will be fun, and a great way to save on those grocery bills I was just talking about.  Anyone have any experience in greenhouses?  Apparently we can either grown things directly in the ground, or build some raised benches with planter boxes on them.  

All we need to do now is find the key. Ahem.  The children were playing with it and now it's locked and the key is nowhere to be found....  

And with great irony, I just received a lovely gift in the mail from the company who sold us the greenhouse:  A lovely key chain for my greenhouse keys.  How kind of them.
 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

our week...


Wow, where does the time go?  This week we all had colds again, and an annoying eye infection that is plaguing the littles... so I didn't have any time at all for blogging, or even twittering.  

Oh dear dear computer, I hope you haven't missed me! I was, alas, having fun living my 'real' life.





Here's what we have been up to this week:

In school:  

  • Math- counting by 3s and 5s, multiplication of 10, 0, 1, 2, 3 and 5, telling time
  • History- we FINALLY finished our ancient history studies, and we're moving on next term!  We didn't spend as much time as I would have liked on Roman and Greek times, but I know we'll get back to it later.
  • Music-  E is moving along quickly in her piano lessons, and is enjoying the Girls Choir. Her Christmas concert at the Concert Hall is coming up very soon.
  • Science -  We're still moving slowly in our chemistry studies, learning about the periodic table, Marie Curie and molecules.
  • Latin -  Counting in Latin!! Unus, duo, tres, quattuor, quinque.  The kids love Latin.
  • Grammar -  Predicate Nominatives.  huh?
  • Art - more printmaking, and a special commissioned project for a nativity scene that E just finished.
  • Reading - Z is learning slowly to read!! He can read 3 letter words with short vowels, like CAT and MET and DOG.  Yay!!
 The littles:

I spent a lot of time just playing with the little ones this week.  They are all at such fun ages.  The twins are so curious about everything, and have no fear, and H the snapdragon is delightful with her exuberance and joy for life.  

Yesterday she learned how to ride a 2 wheel bike with training wheels.  I loved watching the proud look in her eyes as she conquered it.  The twins were having an equally fun time chasing her on their two little tricycles.  It was lovely to be outside enjoying carefree time with them.

On Tuesday a dear friend (since the days of junior high) came over with her little 2 year old, and we spent the day playing on the floor surrounded by blocks, trains, little people and books.  I love those slow, messy days, where I'm not feeling rushed or stressed.  

I hope you all are having a lovely day.

Don't forget to enter the CD giveaway for the Priests CD. You really should give it a listen, they are beautiful singers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seven Quick Takes

Back for another edition of friday 7 quick takes.  See Jenn's blog (one of the blogs I always read because I enjoy her thoughts so much) for more quick takes.

One.

I am enjoying twitter.  They call it 'microblogging' because you basically keep a mini blog running of your life with a 140 character limit.  It's challenging to summarize both the silly and meaningful events of the day into short snippets.  Try it out if you're brave enough !!  You can follow me on twitter here.

Two.

Ways to entertain two two year olds while you are trying to do anything else that requires attention and arms:  (first put them in their high chairs with seatbelts fastened)
  • black construction paper (or any dark color) and chalk. 
  • fingerpaint and paper (only as a last resort as this gets really messy)
  • popsicle tray with the sticks neatly placed in each 'hole' so they can pull them all out and then put them all back in again.
  • thin layer of flour spread on cookie sheet. (show them they can draw pictures with their fingers.
  • clean egg carton with one chocolate chip in each egg spot... and extras to spare.  This ensures they don't eat them all in one gulp, and maybe they'll try to put the spares in their own holes too.  

Three.

I'm afraid.  The twins know how to do too many things by themselves. This week alone I found them
  • 'unloading' the dishwasher by themselves
  • watching a dvd that they had put into the computer themselves and turned on (no kidding!)
  • inside the pantry getting out various snack foods that look appealing.  (if they don't look appealing they throw them on the floor out of the way)
  • trying to see what happens when you drop 12 eggs on the floor (ok, grandma found them doing this)

Four.

Jelly Telly.  From the creator of Veggie Tales. It's a new online TV station for kids with games and short 20 min segments of programming each day.  Instead of vegetables, the station features puppets, similar in style to the muppets.  It's pretty silly.  They are trying to 'connect the dots between sundays' for the kids.  I like their mission.  However, like I need any more catchy kids tunes stuck in my head...  Am I the only one who goes around singing these silly songs?  

They have a weeks worth of shows archived at any time, and they also have sunday movies for the family to watch together.  You can sign up for a free month, and after that it costs $2.99/month.  Pretty reasonable. 

Five.

 Speaking of watching shows online, we have enjoyed EWTN kids online for a few years now, but you have to turn it on at the right time, (2pm mountain time), or you'll end up watching something that isn't very interesting to children (like a tour of the vatican art gallery or the history of the renaissance saints).   There are shows like My Little Angels, Truth in the Heart, Image of God, The Donut Man, The Story Keepers, and more.

Six.

I just bought my advent candles... and while I was at it I bought some pretty gold ones too (to replace the purple and pink ones on christmas morning).  You have a week and a half to get ready.  It's such a beautiful season to celebrate as a family. We love advent, and it gives so much for meaning to christmas for us.  If the only thing you do this year for advent is get an advent wreath, you'll be adding traditions that you children will never forget.   Christmas would not be christmas in our house without the nightly lighting of the advent candles.

Seven.

We are just about at the end of term 1 for homeschooling.  I can see the horizon, and it's looking clear and beautiful.  We are done on the 28th of november.  Just in time to start advent.  We will be doing school-light during advent to give ourselves time to prepare our house, our minds, and our hearts for the coming of baby Jesus.  Math and spelling will stay, but we will emphasize read-alouds, crafts, card making, baking, and religion.  I'm looking forward to a shift in our focus.  Maybe we'll even have time to do a few lapbooks again.

Any suggestions for some good read alouds for advent?  I'll be closely following the great blogs out there for inspiration in the craft department.  

p.s. Don't forget to enter my CD giveaway !!



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adventures at Church with Twin toddlers

I used to love going to church.  It was such a quiet, warm, prayerful place to go each week.  I loved it so much that I would often go to weekday masses each morning as well.  In fact, it is one of the things I love most about being Catholic.  Being able to recieve the Eucharist each and every day.

Anyhow... that was all before the twin factor entered our lives. 

Now it is all so different.  I still love the idea of church, I still love receiving communion... and I wouldn't miss a sunday mass for anything... but I don't often make it to daily mass, although it seems a shame because at this point in my life I think I need the graces more now than when I was actually going daily.  

We are lucky enough to live within a very short walk from our church, but when we get there, from the moment we enter the church building, until the moment we leave, we play the octopus game.  

Each of us (me and my husband that is), pull out our extra special hidden arms that come with twins and use them to keep various small under-the-age-of-reason children from:
  • running up the aisle towards the priest (and laughing an evil laugh because they know they are being bad)
  • running down the aisle out the doors into the back of the church and straight outside into the parking lot!
  • climbing under the pew in front of us to escape out the aisle
  • climbing over the pew behind us to escape (and landing on their heads onto the feet of very surprised parishoners)
  • dashing with great speed through the communion line, like a football player, weaving in and out of the communion ministers and the priest himself before finally making a quick exit out the back door
  • and more...
Keep in mind that these can all happen simultaneously if it's a really bad morning.  To fully experience the game, you'd have to come with us some sunday.  

I'm not sure what our current priest actually thinks of our endearing little family.  After the poor headless St. Joseph disaster when we had the previous priest over for supper, we haven't ventured very far in having our new priest over yet. 

I would attach some pictures, but I didn't think it was appropriate to be snapping shots in the middle of mass while my kids terrorized the place.  Funny, yes. Appropriate, no.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Simple woman's Daybook

See other daybooks at Peggy's blog.

** Don't forget to enter the CD giveaway below***

For Today, Tuesday November 18, 2008

Outside My Window...  Snow, sparkling in the sunshine. Another beautiful cloudless wintery day.  I love Calgary for that.

I am thinking... about how I need to take care of myself better so I can be more generous with others.

I am thankful for... the joy of my children and the continual chatter and laughter I hear all day.

From the learning room...  finishing up term 1: more latin, fractions, the letter j, printmaking.

From the kitchen... chocolate chip cookies!! (gluten free, made with GF oat flour.  They worked!! I love using oat flour now. It's added so much more variety to our diets).

I am wearing... Oh not again!! Wait here for a second :-) ....

I am creating... the cutest little soft toy for the boys at xmas.. pictures coming soon.

I am going... nowhere really.. do i ever go anywhere except to visit others through their blogs online?

I am reading...  the Two Towers.. still.  But i'm almost done. 

I am hoping... someone enters the CD giveaway I have posted on my blog. Anyone?  

I am hearing... my 3 year old yelling because her big sister won't play with her, the twins rocking themselves to sleep in their high chairs, the washer running, and the lonely call of the clean laundry on the floor waiting to be folded.

Around the house...  lots of smiles, lots of silliness, a little screaming now and then (but I am happy to report, I am only doing two of the above)

One of my favorite things... flowers from my husband sitting warm and cheery on the kitchen table.

A few plans for the rest of the week... keep living my life, one hour at a time, remembering to pick up after myself, help the kids pick up after themselves, and smile and my husband.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing... My grandma (my daddy's mom) as a little girl. 
I would love to go and play with her on that beach!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oh this is so darling!

If only I could make it so the twins wouldn't be able to destroy it in 5 minutes.

The smart and creative mom at gardenymph makes up a secret kitchen clubhouse once or twice a year for the kids under the kitchen table with sparkly lights, blankets, books, etc... You have to see it, to appreciate the genius of this idea.  She even started a flickr group so people could post their own versions online.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Priests CD giveaway!!


This is so exciting! The very first contest at my little blog, and just in time for Christmas.   The nice folks over at Sony BMG have offered to give away a prize package on my little blog for the new album that's coming out this month called The Priests.  

I blogged a bit about them in October here, and since then they have been interviewed by many newspapers and magazine across North America. ( CNN.com   McLeans magazine).  You can even read their own blog over here, and listen to their podcasts here.

I can honestly tell you this music is beautiful, and inspiring. Go listen to it here, (or HERE for Americans if the first link doesn't work)  and then come and enter the contest.  

To enter:  Leave your name and email address (or link to your webpage where I can find your email address easily) in the comments of this post.  I will pick a random entry on December 1st.

The prizes will include  Priests magnet, Christmas ornament, bookmark, and of course a copy of their new CD.




Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Quick Takes

Following Jen's lead at Conversion Diary... Here are my Friday Quick Takes:

One

I love Google.  I use so many of their products, that my husband teases me about it all the time.  I love googling for things, checking my gmail, connecting with the world through google reader, updating my busy calendar with google calendar,  (which is great when you can share calendars with your parents and then know when are good times to call for help in babysitting!) organizing thoughts with google notebook, journalling my life with blogger, and keeping my pictures well organized with Picasa.  

Most recently, I have happily downloaded the new beta version of Picasa 3 (thanks mom), and I have been enjoying all of the new features, like making fun photo collages, and movies.   I have also started using google's new web browser Chrome which I really really like too.  It is very easy to use, quick, and doesn't have all the annoying toolbars that take up space like some of the other browsers.  I love the homepage option of having a snapshot of your most commonly visited websites that you can choose from. 

Two

I am going to change the name of my blog soon.  I hope all of my faithful blog readers (Hi aunty melissa and mom!) will not be confused.  Stay tuned for updates!

Three

There is a dinosaur doing math in my school room.  It's a good thing this dino is home schooled. His antics wouldn't last long in a real school :-)  He was doing great at reading, because T-Rex's can read, you know... but math was a struggle, because he only had two fingers on each hand and couldn't figure out how to hold the pencil.  
From dinosaur math

Four

The babies (I mean the boys.. I guess I can't call them babies anymore, now that they are a big 2 years old) are learning slowly how to talk.  Here are some of their words:

More!
mommy! 
daddy!
book!
baby
Meeee
meow
woof
baaa

please (in sign language)
puppy (in sign language)

And many other very understandable grunts and yells with varying intonation.  

Five

My house is still clean... a whole week!! It helps that I started with a fully clean house (took a day off school work to clean and declutter).  It also helps that no one has been sick for a week. 
If only life was always this easy.  If anyone wants to come for a visit, this is the week to come!

Six

Speaking of cleaning, I've tried to get into a bit of a routine:  Monday Laundry, Tuesday put laundry away, Weds piano lessons/holy hour, Thursday meetings, Friday Cleaning.  So far it seems to be working much better than my crazy plans I've come up with in the past.  

Seven

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family in the States. We all have so much to be thankful for, don't we?

More fun with printmaking

From more printing
div>We had so much fun with the print making, that I decided to go out in search of real printing ink.  It comes in big tubes and is the consistency of toothpaste.  Each tube costs around $6.  Michael's didn't carry these, but we did find them at the local art store. 

This worked so much better.  I think because the ink is thicker and stickier.  We had so much fun playing with the colors and making a mess.  The ink is also water soluble so it washes up really easy should you happen to get it everywhere.  ahem.

This time around, we did relief printing which is a fancy way for saying we scratched some designs into a piece of Styrofoam, rolled ink or paint onto it, and then pressed it onto a piece of paper.  This would be such a fun way to make Christmas cards, thank you cards or anything else that children like to send off to their grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles.

Supplies:

  • Styrofoam sheets (we used cut up meat trays. you can also use styrofoam plates from the grocery store, or fancy sheets from the art store)
  • Printing Ink (called Block printing ink), or thick paint like tempera, or ink pads. I think even finger paint would work in a pinch.
  • Rubber brayer for spreading the ink onto your Styrofoam plate (you could use a paintbrush too if you don't have a brayer, but it's not nearly as fun).
  • Waxed paper 
  • White paper 
1. Tape some waxed paper to the table. I taped down a piece about the length of my arm.  

2. Cut out a piece of styrofoam to the size you want.  I found a small square or rectangle worked great (maybe 4 inches wide).  A circle would be really fun to do too.  


3. Using a blunt pencil or ball point pen, draw a picture onto the styrofoam, making sure you are drawing firmly enough to make an indentation.

4. Squeeze a bit of paint onto the waxed paper. (a bit more than you'd put on your toothbrush). 

5. Roll the paint with your brayer to cover the brayer in an even layer of paint. 

6. Roll the freshly inked brayer onto your styrofoam drawing making sure to use good pressure to get lots of ink onto your drawing.  Your drawing should stay white while everything else becomes inked.

7. place your styrofoam face up on the table and place a piece of white paper on top.  Carefully rub your fist all over the paper with good pressure to make the print.  

8. Peel it off and Voila! admire your beautiful creation.  
From more printing

Kids think it's fun to make lots of different prints. You can experiment with color variations (mix colors together, or ink one part of the styrofoam a different color than another) varying amounts of ink, and varying colors of paper.

Afterwards, cut them out leaving a white border around the edge (maybe 1/2") and mount them on colored cardstock or to the front of a card for grandma.  
 


From more printing
From more printing

Thursday, November 13, 2008

41 days...

... and the Nativity pictures are already appearing in our house.

I love seeing the progression from each year as E gets older(8 years old just last week). Look at the detail in the manger.













And this one is from Z the 5 year old, complete with an M for Mary. I just love kids artwork.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And I LOOOOOOVE Boogle!

But no one will ever play withe me anymore...


You Are Boggle



You are an incredibly creative and resourceful person.

You're able to dig deep and think outside the box to get things done.

You are a non linear thinker. You don't like following directions

You draw your inspiration from the strangest places sometimes. You're constantly inspired.



Bored... try boggle online here..
or.. the horribly addicting Babble here.

Inspiring books for an inspiring season

With all this snow lying about, it's only natural for my thoughts to turn towards the ever closer seasons of advent and Christmas.    Here are a few books on my 'want to get' list.  I thought I'd share them with you.  

1) Christmas Mosaic (ok, I already have this one, but it's such a great resource, I couldn't help mention it).
This is a picture-book guidebook that takes you through some of the best children's christmas literature and includes activites, discussion questions and helpful suggestions for how to celebrate the seasons of advent and christmas through rea
ding beautiful picture books together.





 A new book out from Paraclete Press.  
Spend this Christmas in the good company of the Holy Fathers
"I am an old Christmas person and cannot imagine a more spiritual and impressive way than spending the Christmas season with the popes. This is a marvelous book to give anyone who has a real sense of the Church and of the significance of the teachings of the bishops of Rome. I highly recommend it." --Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.



"Written by a Vatican insider and accomplished church historian, this book is a unique behind-the-scenes look at the world's smallest nation and the spiritual center of the Catholic Church. Produced with the full cooperation of the Vatican, this is a beautifully illustrated insiders guide into the 2,000 year long history of the Vatican and papal influence, daily life and governance of the world's largest religious body, and the art collections and other priceless treasures rarely seen by the public. In addition to a unique photographic tour, the book includes personal interviews with various Vatican employees and insiders who make their home there, from a Swiss Guard to a singer in the Sistine Chapel choir. This book is an unparalleled look into life inside the Holy City."
4. Bella:  Not a book, but a beautiful, touching movie that I recommend everyone watch.   

5. Jesse Tree Kit.  We made this one year and had a lot of fun. I want to do it again this year now that the kids are older and can do the cutting and coloring themselves.  You can get it directly from Illuminated Ink (great store!) or for Canadians, Blue Mantle sells it as well.  Also, check out the wooden ornament tree that you can buy to hang them on as you finish each one.
 


This looks like a beautiful and informative book.  It's brand 
new this fall!  I would love to get my hands on one of these.  


  


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Printmaking with kids

This was a fun art project. We are learning about the introduction of the printing press and how it changed art. 

We are using the art curriculum called Artistic Pursuits, which I highly recommend.
Today's lesson called for us to try doing our own prints. We did monoprints today. It was really easy and fun for the kids.


Supplies:
Waxed paper
printers ink (or tempra or any thick liquid paint)
white paperrubber brayer (can find at michaels or any craft store)
pencil with an eraser
Wear old clothes, or a craft smock:

1. Cover the workspace with waxed paper. I taped it down to the table with masking tape.

2. pour a little bit of paint onto waxed paper. (we used about a TBS worth... don't measure it, just blob a bit on).

3. Use the brayer to spread the paint around so it smoothly covers the waxed paper in a rectangular area. Make sure it's smaller than the size of the paper you wish to print on.

4. Carefully use the eraser end of the pencil to draw a picture right into the wet paint. Remind the kids that this is not finger painting and they are to just use the pencil for drawing. Be careful not to push too hard or you can rip the waxed paper.

5. Gently place a piece of blank paper on top of your 'drawing' and smooth it down with one hand while the other hand holds the paper still. You don't want it slipping around or it will smear your image. The book we used told the kids to make a fist and use the fleshy part of their fist to flatten the paper in a circular motion.

6. Peel the paper off the table slowly and admire your picture!

After they were dry, I cut the prints out and mounted them onto colored paper and then arranged them onto the wall.  I love my little art gallery :-)  

Other Links for Printmaking with Kids:

The Crafty Crow (this looks like a great blog btw)




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How do they come up with these things?

blog readability test

I spend all day talking like a preschooler, so at least part of my life is more intelligent.  Perhaps it's at a High School level because all I did through high school was procrastinate and tried to look like I was actually working.  I do a lot of that around here too :-)  

Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Please see Peggy's blog for more entries.. and add your own!

For Today, Monday November 10, 2008

Outside my window... the leaves are still all over the grass. The snow has mostly melted, and I'm inspired to clean out those flower beds and start dreaming about my garden next spring.

I am thinking... about how to maintain a routine amid the chaos of homeschooling, tending to the littles, and housework.

From the learning room... Printmaking, Ancient Rome, new math curriculum (Horizons), helping verbs, Joseph in Egypt.  Made a big switch in our math curriculum (again).  I had switched to Saxon this year from math-u-see, but 2 months in and I was going crazy with the annoying scripted lessons and SLLLOOOOOOW progress that it makes.  I'm sure the older grades (5/4, 6/7 etc) are better as they aren't scripted for the parent.  I wandered into the homeschooling store last week and looked through all the options they had for math and ended up trying Horizons.  We'll see how much I like this new curriculum.  I'm hoping it will stick for awhile.  

I am thankful for... the warm sunlight that shines into our school room in the afternoons and warms us.

I am wearing... Jammies again. I wonder if there isn't a pattern to this LOL.  I"m taking after my grandma Sonia.

From the Kitchen... experimenting with oat flour. I'm hoping to make a loaf of bread today.

I am reading... Two Towers still, and also starting a Matthew Kelley book called The Rythym of Life. 

I am hoping... that my family knows how much I love each and every one of them!

Around the house... it's clean!! I spent all day friday decluttering and cleaning and it's still mostly clean. What a nice feeling.

One of my favorite things... JP saying 'mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy' over and over again while he smiles at me. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... keep the house semi-clean, tackle laundry mountain, smile lots.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...



Friday, November 07, 2008

Potty Training times TWO

Last sunday, Sean and I were getting the twins ready for bed. A favorite game of theirs is to dash away as soon as their diapers are off and run naked around the room while we try to catch them.

P must have been in a very mischevioius mood that day because instead of running around furiously, he turned towards us, and with a twinkle in his eye, very purposefully peed on the floor and then laughed.

What a turkey!!

It was rather obvious that he was able to control certain bodily functions with great precision, so I ran him to the potty and he was happy to go pee like a big boy. His twin brother followed behind and had his turn on the big throne too.

Now since then, there has been a trail of toilet paper, pants and diapers strewn all over the place. Fights have erupted over the little potty and the big potty and flushing rights. I'm telling you, everything with twins is just that much crazier.

The thrill was, of course, flushing the toilet after he was done. I suppose this has been the thrill all along, and perhaps that's why they both have been visiting the potty every 5 minutes all morning. I have since fished a sippy cup full of milk and a hand towel out of the potty, wiped up many misses, and am just about to take two advil for a headache.

Note to self: buy two potties next time God lovingly blesses us with twins.

Note to husband: HIRE A CLEANING LADY!
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Belated halloween pictures

From 2008 10 31 Halloween
Trying to keep up with homeschooling, chores, meals, diapers and of course blogging.... I forgot about halloween somewhere in the middle of all of it.  Luckily we fixed up some costumes pretty fast!  


Z is always easy, he always wants to be St. Michael the archangel.  

The twins followed right behind him as two more archangels.

E dressed up in my old prom dress (with many safety pins to hem it up so she could walk).

H wanted to be a princess too.  So she tried on a dress for 30 min and decided it was too scratchy.  Then later E convinced her to try on a different dress, but it was too itchy, and close to the time we were leaving for our all saints day party, she tried on yet another princess dress... which also proved to be too scratchy.   

She ran upstairs and emerged with a triumphant look on her face announcing she was ready to go.   Wearing her bathing suit!!  

I finally persuaded her to put on some clothes and she came to the party as herself in her favorite green shirt, an old flowery pink organza skirt, and blue striped tights with orange crocs.  

The kids had a blast at the party. They played a donut game, ran and ran and ran, giggled and laughed, hit a pinata, and got way too much candy.  

Maybe next year I'll be on the ball and will actually sew them some fun costumes.