Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent in 2 Minutes

Advent begins this Sunday!  Time to start getting things ready.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I had heard Rufus Wainwright's song by this title and was immediatley struck by the beauty of the music. I struggle with the lyrics though. Some of the verses seem to be speaking about the struggles of living a Christian life, but others are a bit confusing, and as a result I always feel conflicted when I listen to it.  So I was very happy when I found this version, written to reflect the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

If you would rather skip the intro, the song begins at 1:36.  Lyrics below the video.

A crown of thorns placed on his head
He knew that he would soon be dead
He said, did you forget me, Father, did you?
They nailed him to a wooden cross
Soon all the world would feel the loss
Of Christ the King before us, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

He hung his head and prepared to die
Then lifted his face up to the sky
Said, I am coming home now, Father, to you.
A reed which held his final sip
Was gently lifted to his lips
He drank his last and gave His soul to glory
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

The soldier who had used his sword
To pierce the body of our Lord
Said, truly this was Jesus Christ our savior.
He looked with fear upon his sword
Then turned to face his Christ, the Lord,
Fell to his knees crying, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Took from His head the thorny crown
And wrapped Him in a linen gown
And laid Him down to rest inside the tomb.
The holes in His hands, His feet, His side
Now in our hearts we know He died
To save us from ourselves, Oh, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Three days went by, again they came
To move the stone, to bless the slain
With oil and spice anointing, Hallelujah.
But as they went to move the stone
They saw that they were not alone
The Jesus Christ is risen, Hallelujah!
Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleluah!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ana Tells a Story

During lunch today we went around the table, taking turns making up stories to share.  Gabe's stories mostly involved robots, and Deceptacons crushing them.  Addie talked about princess and towers, and Juliana stuck with her favorite character, Dora. 

 (Translation provided below the video.)

"And she was * unintelligible* like Boots. And she was all alone with Boots.  And she was all alone!  And she was not... and she was alone with ponies.  And with rainbow on the sky, and it was sunny day, and she... and she waked up in the morning.  In she's house.  And she was not dead forever!  And... and Boots, he was not, too!   And, and, and she, and he was not, and they were sleeping.  And Ana, and Daddy, and Mommy, and Gabriel, and Addie, was was was sawed a bad witch.  And she was bad. And she was all alone. And she was... Mommy was dead forever!  And she was go in the TV with Dora and Boots.  And she was, she likes Dora.  And, and Ana, too.  And she likes Dora.  And she has the sparkles with a cake on it like me. I was doing it by myself when I woke up, for I make the castle made of, uh uh, of a cake.  With Nutella.  It was a new one with a tent.  The End!"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The First Two Weeks

Playing an Add It game.

Mixing up some sugar cookie dough.

Licking all the sugar off their fingers Decorating with sprinkles

Sight word cookies!

Cracking a Mr. Men sight word code

Coloring a picture of St Helena; the saint Addie wants to dress up as for the All Saints Day party.

A sweet moment as Ana cuddles with Gabe, watching him do his reading lesson.

Gabe was very pleased with his tall word-family ice cream cones.

What do you do when you have a narrow fireplace and lots of little kids?  Close it off with a chalkboard!

Color by word family.

Crafty time!  We've had to put the booster seats on the school chairs to get the kids the right height for handwriting, though this is just a temporary solution.  

Gabe was very focused on sounding out his word for the Say it, Write it, Paste it worksheet.

Addie also had her very first Little Flowers meeting yesterday.  She did great and had a lot of fun!  I'm looking forward to helping coordinate the November meeting.

This coming week we have our first P.E. co-op and a field trip to an apple orchard.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our First Day

We've officially begun our school year!  I don't technically have to keep track of any of the kids work until they're seven, but I'd like to stay on pace with other kids their age; the twins are actually a few months older than I was when I started kindergarten.

The girls donned their hats just for these pictures. 

I love that I'll have these to remind me of some of the little things that will change over the years.  Though I don't think I'll need a reminder of Ana's obsession with Dora. 

Silly faced excitement.

We started out with everyone at their own desk for calendar and morning board time.  Juliana has her own table under the window

while the twins are using antique classroom desks. (I love that there's an extra seat on the front for Ana to sit while we're focusing on the bulletin board.)  We just got them in yesterday!  

They still need some work, but I am so pleased with how they're turning out.  The yellow metal has been spray painted black and Addie's desktop has been sanded and re-stained.  

They are so excited to have their own work spaces!

We did a short catechism lesson, then moved on to their handwriting and math work books.  Ana did some coloring and watched them do their reading lessons online.  

After a break for snack we came back to do some activities like tanagram patterns,

 building sight words, letter hunts, and button threading.

 After a little more free time it was time to break for lunch. Mara was thoroughly enjoying her pasta. 

 Not one to be left out of doing something "first" today, she became mobile.  She's not crawling on her hands and knees yet, but she's pushing with her feet and pulling with her arms well enough to get her to where she wants to go.  

A little while later the kids headed out to the garden with Daddy to replenish our cherry tomato supply.  While checking on the peppers they made a little discovery.

Can you see it?

It's a tomato hornworm catterpillar.  They were quite enthralled.  At the time I had no idea what it was or what those little white things were, so while the twins had their quiet time and the two younger ones napped I did a little research.  When they came back down a while later we talked about the little wasps that lay their eggs on the caterpillar, how those eggs hatch and the larve eat the inside of the caterpillar, and then make cocoons for themselves on the outside.  It was weird, and gross... and therefore, super cool.  

We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Addie crafted her very own, complete with cocoons.  

 And an angry face... he is being eaten alive, after all. 

The rest of the day was spent running around the house, playing Zoodles (an online collection of educational games and videos), and decorating the downstairs for a surprise-Halloween-birthday-dress-up-party.  Or so I was told.  

I was very pleased, and a little surprised, with how much we were able to get done today.  I was prepared to focus on establishing the new daily routine and expectations, making any real work a secondary priority... at least until next week.  But they were ready to dive in.  The girls more so than Gabe.  He had several frustrated moments and needed more prodding than Addie; I heard a few grumbled exclamations of, "Aww, nuts."  But he really enjoys the math book and the activities, so I know it'll just take time for him to settle in.  

I'm looking forward to doing a weekly science lesson and going to a P.E. co-op with our ARCH group as well.  But for now, we're easing ourselves in, trying not to overload and keep it fun. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Family That's Sick Together...

A cold is wreaking havoc in our house.  It started a week ago when Mara developed a fever that lasted for 3 days.  She had no other symptoms but I soon developed a nasty cold.  I was fairly well out of it for 4 days but fortunately my mom provided some much needed help, and company, while I struggled to care for myself and the kids.  (I am very blessed to live as close as I do to family.)  I am on the mend now, though, just in time for the rest of the family to be taken down with congestion, fevers, runny noses, hacking coughs, and a bout of croup.

It can be very frustrating, not having time to fully recover before needing to be on full health alert.  Trying to keep 10 hands sanitized, tissues from taking over, keep track of medicine schedules,  and give enough comforting (while trying not to let the house swallow you in laundry, dishes, and crumbs) is draining.  But I'm trying to stay focused on the positive; that I was sick first so I can better take care of my family now; that there are always more cuddles and kisses; and that Progresso makes tasty soup.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feast of the Assumption of Mary

To celebrate this feast day we did a special craft; a triptych!.

The first thing I did was to cut some blue card stock into house shapes, making tabs to fold back on the sides.   I found some artwork depicting different parts of the assumption (leaving earth, entering heaven with Jesus, and standing among the clouds) and printed them out, 5x7, on card stock.  Then I set the kids up with glue sticks, cotton balls, and star stickers to decorate their pictures.  While they worked I read a description of this feast day and we said a special prayer.  After their pictures were finished I glued the side tabs together and we stood up our triptych!  To complete our centerpiece we added a white candle with ribbon, surrounded by a ring of ivy.

After their lunch I made a special treat, assumption parfaits!  That sounds much more fancy than it was; cool whip and blue jello, layered in a narrow glass, look like clouds!  I actually used quilted canning jars.  Before they ate we lit the candle and prayed a Hail Mary.

Happy feast of the Assumption!

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Festival Fun!

Yesterday we attended the annual festival of our small town.

  Held on the main strip of downtown, the road was closed off for vendors to set up tents, food carts, music stages,games, and bounce houses.

The kids did great and seemed to have a lot of fun.

We also were able to save a lot of money by bringing our own drinks and snacks.  As tempting as the funnel cakes were, we were content to munch on apples and graham crackers.

We also did some face painting at home before heading out.  I had some paints left from this past Halloween so I figured we'd make good use of them.  It really wasn't very difficult.  I simply went to google images and searched for key words like princess, butterfly, and spider along with "face paint" to get some ideas.  In the end, we saved ourselves about $27 and time spent waiting in line.  The kids loved them just the same and I didn't cringe when they were washed off 2 hours later as we cooled down in the sprinkler.

We ended the trip with a treat of dippin' dots ice cream. Buying 2 and sharing between 3 cups gave each kid plenty to eat and, since it's eaten in a bowl with a spoon, made so much less mess than cones. (A lesson that we learned at the St Patricks Day parade when we were caught with nary a wet wipe. You don't know what sticky is....)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Eat or not to Eat

I have recently tried to identify a berry tree in our backyard. It's actually growing between our back fence and the fence of our backdoor neighbors, though it hangs mostly into our yard.

 I am fairy certain it is a mulberry tree, but I'm not sure enough to start munching on the berries.

The leaves and berries seem to match the descriptions I've found.  Has anyone ever come across one of these trees before?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Da Woad Be Wiff You

I've had my first official request for vestments.  Gabe came up to me this morning and said he wanted to be the Priest, wearing the green cape with the cross.

They're doing a decent job of taking turns playing Mass this morning. They switch roles during the Mass, going from being an altar server, to a cantor, an usher, and a deacon.  Gabe says some prayers, hand clasped and eyes shut tight, while Addie sings a very passable Alleluia.  Later, cantor Ana leads the congregation in the song, "Dora, the Explorer."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter!

We had a wonderful Easter day celebration this year.  Mom and dad had commitments with their Church choir so we went to an 11:30 Mass at our Church.  This later Mass time allowed for a leisurely morning of hunting for hidden baskets, acting out the resurrection story, sampling some candy (Peeps were a hit with Gabe and Ana, Addie was not impressed), and sitting down together for a pancake breakfast.

We were ready for Church in record time but it still didn't get us there early enough to sit in the Church.  It had reached capacity 20 minutes before the service and they were filling up the reception hall for a separate Mass.  We managed to snag a window sill in the very back, others simply had to stand outside in the courtyard and listen. The kids did pretty well considering they couldn't see.  It was nice to see so many people.

We continued on to Mom and Dad's house for an egg hunt and early dinner.  We took some pictures right away, before play and candy could stain dress clothes.

A great shot of the kids with all their grandparents and great-grandfather.

There were a few more traditional pictures but ultimately this is the real us.

The kids couldn't wait to start the hunt!  

They were simply gleeful as they ran around exclaiming, "I found one!" at every egg.

 Afterwards, they examined their goodies and sampled a few.

The girls actually managed some self control.  Gabe, however, was stuffing them in his mouth as fast as he could open them.  They repeated the hunt themselves, taking turns "hiding" them.  Throwing them up in the air as they walk in a circle is a more accurate description.

Both grandmothers got the kids baskets and some fun toys like bubbles, flashcards, garden tools, flower bulbs, chalk eggs, and dress up gloves. Plenty to keep the kids entertained while food was being prepared.  Dinner was wonderful; ham, deviled eggs, quinoa cakes, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, pineapple casserole, and rolls.  Followed by strawberry pie for dessert.

It was a wonderful day and we were all ready for bed by the time we got home.  We are so blessed.

He is risen! Let the 50 days of celebrating commence!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Thursday

I made a mini Last Supper for the kids to look at while I read the story from the Bible.
This great little craft came from Catholic Icing, of course.  ;)

We talked about how Jesus instituted the Eucharist, (Daddy's bringing home some pita bread for dinner and we'll have a little bit of wine, too.)  Also, how he knew this was his last meal and that one of his friends would betray him. This craft is based on Da Vinci's Last Supper painting, and is supposed to capture the disciples reaction after Jesus tells them that one of them will betray Him. 

We continued on in the story to the washing of the feet, talking about how Jesus wants us to care for others, even doing the dirty things that aren't very nice.  After that we had a foot washing!  Mommy went first to demonstrate, washing six little feet with a wet wipe and a small bowl of water.  

They were eager to try and took turns kneeling down, with a towel over their shoulder, to wash their siblings feet. 

There was a bit of spilled water but it was not for lack of being gentle.

The kids have said they want to wash daddy's feet when he comes home.  I'm sure he'll be... surprised.  ;)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lent in our Home

We're still pulling out of a illness that was full-family-take-down, so we're a little late in getting some things started for Lent.

Aside from doing calendars this year, we're taking moments during our day to talk about doing things to show Jesus we love Him.  I think they're still a little young to understand the whole sacrifice thing (at least sacrificing joyfully, anyway) so we've been encouraging behavior like cleaning up messes we didn't make and sharing.

I'm also trying to do Stations of the Cross with the kids on Fridays. I printed out a kids version that has great images and a short prayer after the reflections (which are a little too old for them.)  I laminated them and put them on a ring so the kids can flip through them.

The kids are really enjoying the countdown calendars.  One of them is a printout from Catholic Icing that they color on each day, and has cute drawings to depict Holy Days.  Lacy's blog always has wonderful ideas for celebrating our faith with kids! We're also going to start her idea for an Alms-giving Box.  I love this simple, visible, tangible way kids can participate and see what giving to others means.

Our other calendar comes from These Forty Days.  I didn't have any purple poster board so I simply glued purple cardstock onto a piece of cardboard (diaper boxes have many unusual uses.)

I love the trans formative nature of this calendar; after placing caterpillars on leaves during each day of Lent,

the kids will come down Easter morning to see that they have all transformed into butterflies!  I think I'm going to hang them in some fashion resembling a mobile; it should be beautiful!