31 August 2011

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

I haven't been knitting as much as I would like lately.  So little time!  And it's been so hot this summer that yarn seems a bit miserable.  But I was re-inspired when I picked up a few knitting books at the library recently.  Knitting Green by Ann Budd has some super cute patterns!  (Oh my!  The bike basket pattern is insanely cute!!)

I had a skein of Malabrigo wool that was calling my name, so I am making the Market Bag pattern.  It has a few new-to-me techniques, so that is making is extra fun.  I have finally learned how to "pick up" stitches.  It's so much easier than I thought it would be!  This really is a fun knit.  I am not convinced that wool was the best choice of fiber, but this Malabrigo is so delightful to work with, that I really don't care that it is less than ideal for the project.

What are you knitting and reading?  Pop over to Ginny's place for more Yarn Alongs!

27 August 2011

Babies First Haircut

Avila's hair grows straight and long right over her eyes.  I am always sentimental about the first hair cut and tend to put it off for way long than needed.  This time was no exception.  But poor Avi's beautiful blue eyes were hidden and I am sure she was annoyed!
So, yesterday was the day.  You can see, she wasn't too thrilled!

Poor baby!  But look!  She aged about four months in about thirty seconds!

So pretty!

And here is the super-busy mom's solution to baby-book-blues.  Just tape that lock of hair into the planner!
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26 August 2011

Ten Happy Years

A lot can happen in ten years!  And its amazing how swiftly that time can move.  Andrew and I celebrated our tenth anniversary yesterday and part of me thinks maybe we can't count.  Has it really been ten?  Or maybe ten years isn't really all that long.

And look how far we've come!  I can't think of anything better I could have done with the last ten years.

I have always loved this song.  I think it sums everything up quite well!

23 August 2011

For Sale: One Pint Sized Drama Queen

Andrew has been riding his bike to work lately and it really has been working out well.  But this evening, it was raining quite heavily, so the kids and I were getting ready to go pick him up.  As we headed out of the house, in to the very wet outdoors, Grace exclaimed:

"This is ruining my look!  How humiliating!"

She was horrified as her small siblings splashed and sloshed through puddles and then clambered into the van dripping and covered in bits of mulch and dirt.

"Eww.  Bella smells all musty!"

The Way We Learn

Since this post has been so popular over the past year, I thought I would take a moment to share how our schooling has been tweaked and changed as the kids have gotten older.  I still fully believe in the unschooling philosophy, but it is interesting to see how different it can look for each child and in each given year.

Grace is a voracious reader.  She would read every moment of the day if I let her (and often times I do!).  Because she reads so much, I have a hard time being aware of what she is reading and how much she is internalizing.  (To be clear, I only keep quality books on hand [thanks to my wonderful mother who keeps a steady flow of books coming our way!] and carefully watch what she gets at the library, so this isn't a question of content so much a quantity!) To help me keep up and to help her better understand the outlines of story writing, she has started keeping a "Reading Log."  This has also been a fun way to see just how much and how quickly she is reading!

Math has not come as easily to her (genetics!!), so we have been using the wonderful "Math-U-See" program.  I highly recommend it for a strong math basis and for the more hands on learner.  As far as unschooling math goes, I must say that Grace is great at practical application.  She can do well multiplying a recipe or counting her money.

A rather unconventional thing I am doing is trying to morph a more classical education ( I really like Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum) into the unschooled life style (we love John Holt!).  Some people claim that the two methods are mutually exclusive, but I actually think they blend quite nicely!

We are starting Story of the World history this year, as I love the read aloud format.  I also love how you can expand on the areas that really interest the child, while skimming areas that aren't of such great interest.

We are also starting Prima Latina this year.  Latin is the root of much of our language as well as being the language of the Church, so I think it is important to learn.  When I went to college, I was determined to learn Latin, but I failed miserably because I had no foundation.  I was so surprised by the (mostly homeschooled!) students for whom Latin was practically Kindergarten work!  They had started at an early age and had a real, working knowledge of the language.  I really want to give my kids that foundation.

Grace really loves workbooks.  She flies ahead in her lessons, because she thinks filling in the answers is so fun!  She has the Wordly Wise workbook set as a vocabulary builder and is having fun with that.  She also has Maps, Charts, and Graphs book which she enjoys looking through and answering.  I have been surprised by how much she enjoys these and since they work so well for her, we will keep at it!

Since she loves workbooks so much, I got her the Getty-Dubay handwriting series.  I like the look of their writing and she enjoys the book, so it is perfect for us!

When all written out, this seems like a large amount of work, but in reality, it is not at all.  She works on her school work in the morning and is finished by lunch time.  She is free in the afternoon to pursue whatever is interesting her.  Usually, she can be found with her nose in a book or we walk to the library for a new stack of books!  We are looking forward to many field trips with friends and our co-op this year.

I love being free to indulge the individual personalities of my children.  Grace is as happy homeschooling as Christopher is at school!

On Food and Growth and Giant Feet

My children are eating us out of house and home.  For the past few years, I have had a lovely little routine of weekly grocery shopping.  One evening a week, I venture out all alone and purchase whatever food stuff we need for the coming week.  This routine has served us well.  But last night, only a few days since my grocery excursion, I realized we were completely out of fruit.  I knew this wouldn't stand well with my little people.  So off to the grocers I went.  Again.

Along this same thread, see this picture?  It's my feet, but Christopher's shoes.  This just shouldn't even happen!

No wonder he eats so much!  I can practically see him growing before my eyes.

18 August 2011

I love me a good deal!

I am really loving these internet deal sites that are cropping up all of the web.  I just discovered a new one the other day called Mamasource by Mamapedia.  Like with all of these sites, you get a daily email sent right to your inbox and most of the time, it probably requires nothing more than a quick skim and delete.

But sometimes, the deals are really great!  Like today's One-Year Subscription to National Geographic Kids for only $7!  The deal is listed at $10, but with the coupon code NATGEOLK3 you can get it for only $7!

Another great feature about this site in particular is that you have the option of choosing a school to receive 5% of your purchases!  Our local Catholic schools are recipient options.  Great deals helping a great cause!

I am really excited about receiving our magazine, as I know the kids will love it!

16 August 2011

Time Marches On

Christopher started the Fourth Grade today.  I am in a bit of shock and disbelief.  How did he get so big?  Why, oh why, are his new gym shoes the same sizes as mine??

I am feeling a bit of nostalgia as well.  He walked into his new school today as the fourth generation of our family to be educated in those walls, by the Franciscan Sisters.  I was taught there, my dad was taught there, and my grandfather - Christopher's great grandfather, was taught there.  It's crazy really.

But, alas, times have changed since my grandpa was there.  My dad recounts a story of a little Izzy playing ball on the playground with his friends when the ball landed on the roof.  Being who he was (and he certainly passed this trait on), he asked the Sister if he could climb onto the roof to retrieve it.  Sister said yes, assuming that he meant the very much lower roof of the gym.  Poor sister then looked up to see him on the roof of the school.  If you are familiar with the school, you know that you never. ever. ever. want to look up and see a little boy up there.  It's really high.

But if you are familiar with my brother, you won't be surprised by this.  Can't you see him doing the same thing??

I am just hoping my son doesn't try this little stunt.

I am certain he will create his own St. Boniface memories to pass on and share.

15 August 2011

Happy Solemnity!

Oh Happy Solemnity of the Dormition and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin!

We are packing up a picnic dinner and then celebrating with fluffy "clouds" of ice cream for dessert!  Today is also Christopher's last day of summer, as fourth grade starts tomorrow!  We'll send summer out with a little bang.

"Hail, O Woman full of grace, the Lord is with you, the Lord who because of you, bestows 

great mercy upon the world"

12 August 2011

Seven Quick Takes

Today I kind of have that mixed feeling of "Is it Friday already??" and "Maaaan, this week was long!"  Either way, I am glad it is Friday, but boy. this is a busy weekend.

I gave Andrew his early anniversary gift - a "new" mountain bike.  So around here, it's been all bikes, all the time.  It's been super fun, as biking is something the whole family enjoys and can do together.  The two little girls love being in the trailer and the three older kids do a great job of riding along, so it's been great fun.  And, as a bonus, we've been using the car way less, so I anticipate this little hobby will fund itself.  Hooray for that!

Wednesday was the Feast of St. Lawrence.  My parents invited us up for a BBQ in honor of the great, grilled saint.  It was delish and tons of fun.  My mom certainly doesn't skimp in the food department, and that is a happy thing!

This weekend is the Grand Opening of the Natural Parenting Education Network, of which I have been a part.  It is very exciting to see the project getting in its feet.  Come by and visit!  Food, wine, music!

This weekend is also the Assumption Pilgrimage at St. Boniface.  I am HUGELY bummed to miss it, but I will offer my bummedness (I am sure that's a word) for the valiant pilgrims!  And my family will definitely be there.

To add spice to out already incredibly busy Saturday, Andrew wants to participate in a "Bike Obstacle For Charity" thingy.  (I told you it was all bikes all the time!)  I am hoping Christopher can do it as well.  Fun and cute!

Um.  Crud.  Seven is always such a hard number to get.  Oh!  School starts Tuesday!  Yipes!  Christopher is super excited and that is a wonderful thing.  I hadn't planned on starting the others until closer to September, but they are kind of chomping at the bit, so we may start a bit early.  Not that I am even closed to prepared.

Here's my little angler.  She makes me laugh.  She's 14 months old and STILL not walking.  Not because she can't, mind you, but because she won't.  She's far to smart for that silly walking stuff - why walk, when you can be the princess everyone carries?  Her siblings are spoiling. spoiling. spoiling her.  And I'm just fine with that.
(I have a better picture than this, but of course, I can't find it.)

Happy Weekend!
For more Quick Takes, hop on over to Jen's place!

09 August 2011

Death of the Appliance

Over the past few months, the small appliances in my kitchen have slowly been dying off.  While we fixed the Kitchen Aid (although it still sounds funny), the toaster, microwave, blender, and immersion blender met their demise and haven't been replaced.

I didn't mind, really.  It meant less stuff in the kitchen and I managed just fine with out.  I did, however, joke that I would soon be cooking over the open fire if anything else decided to bite the dust.

Apparently, the appliance gods missed the joke part of it all.

I didn't really want a fire in my oven.

Or an oven with an inability to stop heating.

At least we'll be warm this winter!

08 August 2011

Where'd All These Kids Come From??

Last night at Benediction, I had to take the three year old to the back because she was just not into being there.  After standing with her for a bit, I saw my seven year old walking up the aisle, carrying the one year old.  And my heart melted.

I have long watched the big families in our parish juggle there little ones, passing the smallest off the the biggest while mom or dad deal with a toddler.  I love to see the big kids carrying their smallest sibbling up to Communion or over the the Creche at Christmastime.  And all of a sudden, last night, I realized -- here we are.  A big(ish) family with big(ish) kids helping us with the little ones.

It's strange to me, too, because as of late, I have been approached multiple times with comments such as "Wow!  You have real kids!" (as opposed to just babies) or "What's it like to be out of the 'all toddlers and babies' stage?" and even "So, tell me what it's like to have a whole bunch of kids . . . I have always wanted a large family, but I get so over-whelmed with my three!"

Generally, what I want to say is "What?? I don't know what I am doing!  Maybe insanity has blinded me to reality?  Whose kids are these anyway??"

But  I don't.  'Cause then they'd just check me in.

What I do say is "It does get easier!"  Those wild toddlers get bigger and have moments of clarity in which they really do pitch in and lend a hand.  They learn to converse and discuss and truly bring a level of maturity into your days of diaper changing and toddler pacifying.  It's amazing, really, to watch those chubby toddlers grow into real little people.

I am not trying to imply that I have the slightest notion as to the how of raising real little people (because I don't.  I'm winging it here!).  But I do know that toddlers grow into "real" children and "real" children are great!  And "real children" love toddlers and babies.  They can learn a great deal from them, too.  So to those questioning, over-whelmed mamas, I say carry on.   In the throws of three-under-four days, it is tough, but the rewards of having more is worth every moment in the trenches.

And really, it does get easier.

02 August 2011

Our mini vacay

Last week, we spent a few days "vacationing" at my parents river cottage.  It was such a peaceful little time.  Lots of fishing was done!

Fishies small and large were caught and released.

The most ginormous was caught by Bella.

Avila loves the river and aspired to be a great angler one day.

This is the kids discovering good old fashioned fun -- a radio!  I guess they had never played with one before.