Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ballet

This afternoon was the beautiful ballet performance of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Mary Clare's class performed as butterflies to Pachelbel's Canon and stole the show! We are all exhausted but I'll leave you with a few pictures

NeNe with the girls and Stevie in the dressing room


Super Steven with PaPa after the show (he did well all things considered, a dark auditorium for 3 hours is a lot for a 5 month-old!)


And the beautiful ballerina!


You were amazing, Mary Clare. Mommy is so proud of all your hard work in class this year! You are beautiful inside and out!

Sweet Dreams

I've been searching for my camera all evening. Hopefully it will show up tomorrow before Mary Clare's ballet recital! I wanted to post a picture of all three kids sleeping in our bed...it made me laugh, especially since Daddy was sleeping in the girls' bed! It was a peaceful evening and I just felt really blessed while singing the kids to sleep...Gentle Woman, Immaculate Mary, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and always the Salve Regina chant for the finale...and they were all sound asleep :)

It was an uneventful week with hardly anything planned. Next week we have a few activities and will be looking forward to finally meeting our little niece and seeing my brother and wife from California who arrive in one week! And we will be the Godparents to little Addison as she is baptized on June 10th! We'll have some other family in town too, so it should be a fun time.

Well, my scheduling and bedtime attempts are going horribly recently (as well as my prayer), so let's see if June will be a month to get back on track. Have a great weekend, everyone! And hopefully I'll have some pics up of my little butterfly ballerina tomorrow :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Help!

My mind is drowning in the sea of homeschool book choices! I'm scouring message boards and websites trying to make that perfect choice...knowing there's not a perfect choice! But there are too many choices! Ahhh! I have 3-5 books listed for each subject area and I think I need to slow down...

Mother of Divine Grace, St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, Catholic Heritage Curricula...

Math U See, RightStart Math, Horizons...

Little Angel Readers, Little Stories for Little Folks, Writing in Narrative, Handwriting Without Tears, 100 Easy Lessons...

St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Faith and Life, Image of God, Once Upon a Time Saints, Kids Book of Saints, Bible story dictation...

Draw Write Now, Child-sized Masterpieces, Classical Kids...

Latin, Spanish, Nature, Poetry, Real Science 4 Kids...

SAVE ME!
(But really, this is fun. I'm blessed to have this opportunity to teach my children. It's just funny how hard a time I have making decisions about all of this!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memory of...

...those soldiers who gave their lives so we could live in freedom. Especially members of our family and friends. I remember our friend Sean Lyerly who died in Iraq last January. May they rest in peace, and may all those who mourn their passing be filled with the peace of Christ. Hope you all had a blessed Memorial Day!

...little Maria Sue Chapman, the 5 year-old daughter of Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman, who was struck by a car in her driveway last week and killed. She was one of his 6 children and one of the 3 they have adopted from China.

I can't seem to get the Chapmans out of my head these past few days. He wrote the most beautiful song, "Cinderella", about dancing with his little girls and treasuring those moments before the clock strikes midnight and they're gone (he relates the story about how he was inspired to write the song after bathtime one night). And many other beautiful songs and stories, many of which you can watch on YouTube.

It has also given me a renewed interest in adoption. We've always hoped to adopt at some point, but this tragedy, and other recent events, have put it on my heart in a much stronger way. Our current family and financial status are not exactly ideal for adoption, but hopefully at some point in the coming years we can start the process to welcome another child in this beautiful way!

May God bless you this last week of May! And may Our Lady's love be close to us as she leads us closer and closer to her Son.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

92

Judith's hair accessory count. See post below if you're totally confused!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friends


Karyn, Michele, and I were the best of friends during our first two years of high school, before Karyn's family moved out of state. Now we all have kids of our own and what a blessing it was this morning to have them over and finally meet 2 of the little ones! Thanks for being forever friends, ladies. I can't wait to see you again and watch these little ones grow up!

judith the junk drawer

doesn't it have a nice ring to it? well, i was happy that in one of my housekeeping blog entries from a few weeks ago, our friend rich the "catholic dentist" assured me that it's okay to have a junk drawer. and rich even scans in all his receipts; he's that organized. well, the problem is that we only have 2 drawers in our entire kitchen, so having one work as a junk drawer causes some problems. and the other problem is that my husband doesn't like judith.

tonight steven was complaining about it because he lost something and was blaming judith. he kept wanting to throw out all my paint color samples, in fact i think he did! as if those were the main problem of the drawer! well, since i'm trying to clean my house here at midnight for guests who may be arriving at 9am, i decided to work with judith for a few minutes.

i was curious...just how many writing utensils does she hold? what's your guess?







Well...








if anyone said EIGHTY they'd be correct. that did include 2 items found under the kitchen table after i shot the picture. so technically 78.


i think judith the junk drawer feels a little better. i sure do. next on the judith cleaning mission...hair accessories! what's your guess for those???

Friday, May 23, 2008

church tour

one of our parish priests gave the homeschoolers a tour of the church and rectory this morning. he finished by giving them all ice cream popsicles! they had a great time! thanks, fr george!

homeschoolers with father


one of the archbishops happened to be saying mass this morning so we stole a picture with him too!


checking out the incense

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Flower Fairy



The Song of the Iris Fairy
by Cecily Mary Barker

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh

and for those wondering about Steven's winnings from the coin jar at his company picnic..........

$419!!!

First Bananas

Edited: Let's see if YouTube works since the Blogger video doesn't seem to be loading right.

Once the girls saw their (10-days-younger-than-Stevie) Godbrother trying some baby food, Mary Clare rushed to the kitchen and got some bananas ready for Steven Joseph to try! Boy, it's hard to feed a baby and take a video. So much for that outfit today...

Springy days

a big radish from the backyard


nene and stevie


mommy and stevie


picking blackberries at the farm with our homeschool group yesterday


ellie's not sure about gathering eggs from the henhouse


baking blackberry pies with miss wanda


taking turns


so cute!


wouldn't you love to look out at this from your front porch? paradise.


cutie boy this morning

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Winner!

At Steven's company picnic yesterday he was the grand prize winner of this jug of coins. Guess how much money is in here? He guessed within $2 of the right price!

We also won this

And the girls and daddy had fun doing this

Then we had a co-worker's wedding where the girls did a lot of this :)

Hope everyone is having a fun weekend!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mama Bear and Suffering

It has been hard watching Ellie as the "middle child" recently. It's particularly difficult when she wants to play with Mary Clare and her friends but can't keep up, when she wants special homeschool books, when she wants to hold her brother like her sister does, or now watching her big sisters and all the little girls prepare for the ballet recital which she isn't able to participate in.

For some reason, probably my dance history among other reasons, I am very sensitive about how she reacts to the issues at dance class...the other kids getting their costumes, watching them rehearse today, etc. I've almost been in tears listening to her innocently cry out "Mommy, I four (years old)? I dance today, Mommy? Please I dance, Mommy?" I finally went and asked one of the staff today if there were any extra costumes and if she could participate. After all, my little 3 year-old is actually more proficient at the ballet steps many of the older girls! I was almost more disappointed to know that there was an extra costume but that the director had said she couldn't participate since she just started last month. I was tempted to go ask the director myself (which I had done before, asking if she could join the class) since she seems to be favorable to my family. But it was a busy evening of recital rehearsals where I couldn't catch the director, and my sweet friend C helped encourage me by reminding me of this quote a friend posted on our homeschool loop recently:

Pope Benedict (from a recent audience):
"Even suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus, trying to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk creating, despite our good intentions, fragile persons of little generosity: The capacity to love, in fact, corresponds to the capacity to suffer, and to suffer together."

Oh, how hard it is to be "Mama Bear" and watch your baby bears suffer! I hate it (and I don't use the word hate!). I hate when they're sick. I hate when they get left out. I hate when they have to suffer from disappointment or discouragement because something doesn't work out right.

But I also have to teach them that it's part of life to suffer. That Christ suffered and suffers with us. That Mary our Mother always loves us and walks with us as we carry our crosses. It will make them more generous, more sympathetic, and more loving. I hate that they have to know sorrow and sickness and death and sadness so early...but I would hate to deny them the ability to grow in charity, to have a greater capacity to love and be loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So here is Ellie's one chance dancing with her classmates last week when they first tried on the costumes and let her practice with them during class. (Ellie is 2nd in line behind the maroon-sweatered teacher and MC is the last one in the video. Yes, they have three teachers helping and the director in there!) My little butterflies!
video

My talk

(here's the talk I gave this morning. went well, just a little short for my attempted half-hour time frame. but a beautiful morning of grace and reflection on Mary)

Your Kingdom Come!
Mary, Mother and Model of Virtue
Formation Talk, Regnum Christi Morning of Reflection
May 13, 2008

A couple days ago we celebrated Pentecost and Mother’s Day. We honored our own mothers and might have been honored ourselves. We might have reflected on how blessed we are to have mothers to look up to, or how thankful we are to be a wife and mother. Maybe we even thought about our Heavenly Mother, the model for all of us in motherhood. How can we model our motherhood after Mary?

His mother said to the servers “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) at the Wedding at Cana. And here begins Christ’s earthly ministry, following the instruction of his mother, as the servers bring him water and he turns it into wine. I’ve always found such depth in this Gospel…Mary leading us to Christ, their participation in the wedding festivities, Christ’s first miracle, the beginning of his public ministry, and the way he first reveals his glory to the disciples.

Mary always points us to her Son. But how does she do this on a human level? She is the Mother and model of all Virtue. She exhibits all of those spiritual and human virtues that we long to posses.

Let’s take a minute to think about our own mother. Think about the ways she lead you to Christ on a human level. Now think of 3 virtues that you most admire about your own mother. If you’re able, write them down. Some of us may have mothers who aren’t practicing Catholics, maybe not even Christian, or possibly not very devout. But I challenge you to think of those human virtues that have directed us to Christ whether we recognized it or not.

They might be things like acceptance, caution, flexibility, forgiveness, gentleness, honesty, prudence, simplicity, strength or trust. Take a few minutes to jot them down.

As I’ve reflected on my mother, one virtue that most comes to mind is her patience. I can’t recall her ever raising her voice to us. I can’t recall her ever getting angry. She shows calmness, gentleness, and patience in the face of trial. This patience is an example of Christ’s love for me and his patience with me when I sin.

Another human virtue my mother possesses is her creativity. Her mind is always thinking of new and beautiful things and her hands are rarely idle. She has a degree in art and has always had some sort of art project going on. Her talents have allowed her to create a family business that supports many people. Her creativity is also apparent in the home. We always lived in a pleasant and attractive home, drawing our minds and souls to peace and harmony…which in turn leads us to God.

And finally, I admire my mother’s forgiveness. She looks on those who’ve hurt her with love and continues to seek good for them. She taught us to never hold a grudge and to realize that we never know the heart of someone else. She continues to try to reconcile over and over again, especially with family members who may be distant in location, in mind, or in heart. She respects their differences but hopes in God’s forgiveness and trusts in his mercy. She has helped me to be faithful in forgiving others.

Now let’s take a few minutes to reflect about a mother, besides our own, who we most admire, preferably a woman who is still living. Think about what it is that draws us to this woman, what we admire most about her. What 3 virtues do we most want to emulate? Take a minute to write those down.

I am blessed to say that a mother who I most admire is my mother-in-law. My husband is the youngest of 7 children of a beautiful Catholic family. They are a family who seems to far from the norm in today’s society because they all get along. They love each other, respect each other’s differences, and help each other like no family I’ve ever encountered. And the heart of this family is his mother.

First of all, I admire my mother in law’s humility. She never talks about herself or boasts about good things she has done. She has a quiet faith and a humble heart. My husband once told me she prays the rosary every day, but had never told anyone until he asked. Her bearing is modest and She stays away from the limelight. She finds a quiet soul to speak with amidst the chaos of big family events. She is very generous in her giving but never wants it acknowledged. She respects other’s differences and rarely gives advice unless asked. She shows me Christ, who is meek and humble of heart.

Secondly, I admire my mother-in-law’s prudence. I have never seen or heard of her making a rash decision. She is very frugal in her spending and rarely spends money on herself. My husband has lots of memories of growing up and his mother’s thriftiness. They rarely ever ate out at a restaurant or spent money on silly things. She helped her husband to manage their resources to support their 7 children through Catholic schooling, even though I’m sure it was very difficult. I have seen her evaluate situations while shopping…she takes her time to make the most prudent decisions for her family. I admire this virtue very much in her because it shows that she honors Christ in her decisions and day-to-day matters.

But one of the virtues I admire most about her (since I’m working on it myself) is her discipline. Her home is always in order, the way she completes jobs follows a method. She does things with thought, from the way she gets a glass from the cupboard to the way she cooks a meal, or even the way she cleans the home. She does things slowly and methodically (unlike my own tendency to rush around hastily) and she shows self-control when faced with excitement. She keeps order in her days, with her waking and work, her meal-making and other events. This helps to keep her husband and her family at peace, brings harmony to her home, and helps to lead us to Christ through an ordered and disciplined life.

It’s interesting to me to recognize myself doing things just the way my mother did. There is the story of the woman who cut the end off her roast every time she cooked, so her daughter did the same, and her daughter did the same. The granddaughter asked the mother why she did it. “Well, because that’s what my mother always did.” But when she finally asked her grandmother why she cut the end, she found it was because her pan was too small! Don’t we sometimes do things like this out of habit, without thinking them through? Are we following the examples of family or friends around us just because that’s what we’re used to?

But yet other times we can see ourselves admiring something we have seen other mothers do. Then we make an effort to imitate them ourselves. Maybe we admire the way our friend prays with her children, or maybe we like the way our aunt planned her meals, maybe we see the care with which our neighbor cares for her garden, or maybe we see how our mother cares for her dying father with grace. We can take these examples of virtuous behavior, these little helpful hints, to guide us to holiness.

I think also of the virtues of Fr. Maciel’s mother, Mama Maurita. She dedicated her life to her 11 children and showed them to see God’s hand in all that happened in their lives. She taught them to have spontaneous, cordial dialogues with Jesus and Mary. She cared for the sick and the poor in the village, even the lepers. Nuestro Padre writes:

“She had something for everyone. She always had a good word for everyone. She provided them all with medicine…They came when their husband or child had died…She’d console them, sit with them, speak to them about God, about patient acceptance, about heaven, and so on. There was a continuous mission going on here.”

Mama Maurita was a great example of virtue and imitation of Mary. She knew that the best example of holiness in motherhood is Our Lady. Mary was perfect in every virtue; she lived motherhood to the fullest. The Catechism tells us that:

967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus)508 of the Church.

968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace."


We can look to Mary who was perfect in every virtue. She showed the perfection of the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. And she possessed the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

By her faith, she freely committed her life to God. She sought to know and do his will. She also knew that faith without works is dead, and she showed her living faith through her charity.

Mary had the hope of Heaven and placed her trust in God as the source of her happiness. Her hope was expressed and nourished through her prayer so that she could face the most difficult tribulation of watching the suffering and death of her Son. And after his death, she allowed the Holy Spirit to continue to pour out his grace into her soul, to keep her from discouragement, to aid in the beginnings of the Church, and to give her hope in the glory of Heaven where she would be united with her Son for all eternity.

Finally, Mary perfected that one virtue we all long to posses…that burning charity. She loved God above all else and loved her neighbor as herself. The Catechism states that:

1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony";105 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.

And so Mary, by her charity joins “in bringing out the birth of believers in the Church who are members of its head.” (CCC 963)” She is the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of us all.

We can reflect further in prayer on these virtues of Mary. We can thank her for being our model and ask her to show us how to form these virtues in our lives. We can go to her as a child goes to her mother to share our concerns with her and find care, consolation, friendship, and love. We can take our loved ones in prayer to Mary that she would entrust them to her Son. Mary models virtue for us and mothers us in virtue.

As I conclude, I’d like to challenge each of us to grow in virtue in imitation of Mary. I’d also like to propose a resolution that in honor of our earthly mothers and those mothers who we admire, that we would take time this week to call them or write a letter, to share with them how their virtues have led us to Christ. We can thank them for being a wonderful and virtuous mother as Mary was and is to us.

And I’d like to thank each of you, as a young Regnum Christi mother still learning the ropes, for being examples of faithful mothers to me. I have grown in virtue from the examples of many of you and I know we have all supported each other in prayer. Thank you and God bless you. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thanks, St. Anthony and Marcy


There are still nice people in the world, thanks be to God!
She took the wallet home when she found it in a shopping cart. Didn't trust the Wal-Mart employees to take care of it. The only number she could find was our insurance agent who left me a message today. One of the best messages I ever got. Thank you, St. Anthony and Marcy!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Worn Out

Whoa. I didn't realize I hadn't posted since Wednesday! Since then, we've:
~Had a group over for lay movement meeting
~Hubby out all evening with his family at the Astros game
~Nature club at Arboretum. They learned about pollination and made their own little flowers to pollinate each other!




(Ellie didn't want to be pollinated!)

~Stayed up on Friday night until 2am writing my talk for tomorrow
~Went to a bridal shower for the girls' dance teacher. Here's how they decorated the present...

I had no wrapping paper so we used the banner paper Ellie got for her birthday and they watercolored it and made a cute bow...their teacher loved it! Too bad we got the same gift off the registry as someone else; Mary Clare was disappointed. I enjoyed getting to know the teacher and other dance studio staff and moms. They are amazing Christian women!
~Remembered why I don't shop with 3 kids when I went to Target Saturday afternoon. Ellie had a potty accident in the middle of the book section! When I got to the car there was a necklace stuck to the stroller basket, so I had to walk back in and return that...
~Continued watching lots of episodes of The Office, our new favorite show you can watch online!
~Ran to vote in our area elections and then to Wal-Mart (sans kids), and sometime between paying at Wal-Mart and leaving for Mass Sunday morning LOST MY WALLET! Still haven't found it and I'm concerned I left it in the shopping cart. Had to cancel my cards and am praying I don't have my identity stolen since my brilliant self had my SS card in there!
~Saturday night got an iTunes gift card and light fixture (and steak dinner) for Mother's Day :)
~Made it 15 minutes early to Mass on Mother's Day and sat in the FRONT ROW!
~Went to a beautiful restaurant on the Waterway with my parents where the girls fed the ducks and we went to see the new water fountains nearby:







~Noticed a huge tree branch fell on our garden. I'm not sure this garden is in the cards this year! We'll see what survives! I also got a beautiful little rosebush from my parents, Steven bought a couple tomato plants, and Mary Clare found a seed packet in the $1 section at Target, so we have a lot of planting to do this week!


~Went to the pool


~The girls were so tired, Ellie fell asleep at the kitchen table


~Now I should be cleaning the house and watching the girls while the baby sleeps. They are playing swim team and Ellie just came to me after Mary Clare did this to her arm!

(the kids on the swim team write their swimming info on their arm like this)

Okay, well have a great week everyone! And if you could offer 2 prayers for me: that my wallet would be found, and that my talk goes well tomorrow morning. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Book Review

Confessions of an Organized Housewife by Deniece Schofield

This was a very helpful book. Even though there were some things that wouldn't work for me (pushing a housekeeping utility cart with cleaning gear around, making a map of things in a deep freezer, binders with codes to organize puzzles and fabric, or writing a timed schedule for Thanksgiving dinner), there were many, many helpful tips. I wrote down my favorites and I hope it's helpful for you. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who's working on organization, housekeeping, and discipline! Thanks for recommending it to me, Veronica!

My favorite tips:
*Think things through before acting. Make a plan of attack before starting your chores.
*Store things where they are used. Items should have a clearly-defined space in the house. Can anyone in the family find a safety pin? A regular pen? A hairbrush? Ballet shoes (can you guess why we were late to ballet yesterday)?
*Find a planner/calendar/filing system that works for you. Make a running list of things to buy. Make meal plans! (getting better with this)
*Use drawer dividers and tame the wild junk drawer!
We have drawer issues. Note only 2 drawers in the whole kitchen!

And one of them must be a junk drawer! That will be my true test of organization. Can it ever be tamed?

*Be motion-minded. Keep both hands busy. Do something productive while you're on the phone.
*Use accrued benefits. Double a recipe or find a creative use for leftovers. Do all the mending at once. Straighten the house at night so things will be clean in the morning.
*When you see something out of place, quickly put it away. (this is an important one for me!)
*Remember that no house is ALWAYS clean. Even those homes you visit that appear immaculate are messy sometimes.
*Things I should do daily: general pickup, wipe/sweep floors and counters, laundry, dishes, vacuum, bathrooms.
*Be sure your home isn't just "surface"-cleaned. Here's a good quote from the book:
"Imagine for a minute that you live in a home that is clutter-free. Everything in the home has a well-defined, well-confined space. Cleaning an already orderly home is twice as fast and half as fatiguing. The kids come home from school, drop their coats and boots in the corner, throw their papers and books on the counter, grab a snack, spill the milk, drop crumbs on the floor and so on. Sure, the surface is getting messed up, but underneath it all there is still peace and order. Cupboards, closets, and drawers are still neat and tidy. Things can still be found and put away quickly. In a home such as this, bringing the surface under control is not really a big deal."
Now that's an ideal!

Her advice on: Where to Start?
*General pickup, beds made
*Laundry current

I try to pick up every day, but it's hard if I go to bed early. I work best and most efficiently late a night. The girls did do a lot of cleaning after this picture was taken (they were playing "camping" under the altar!), since we'll have a meeting here in the morning. But that laundry + another load is still waiting on the couch to be put away!

*Well-balanced meals served regularly
Hmmm...does oatmeal and cinnamon toast count? What if they had an apple slice with them? How about pizza and an apple slice? Alfredo pasta with bread? Can you see I have a hard time with the veggies???


*Kitchen is in good order (dishes done?)
I'll show the "after" picture here

*Bathrooms cleaned and straightened regularly

*Entry areas clean and tidy


I think I'm passing, but barely. The guests coming tomorrow thing put me just over the cutoff. Still have a ways to go, but we're getting there!


"Put into action a program that makes getting organized an exciting and attractive way of life."

To put it into action...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Take Two

A few weeks ago our garden took a hit. We left weed killer spray up high in the backyard, and while having a get-together with many many children, it was found and sprayed all over the vegetable garden. Thankfully no one got hurt! We've been planning to plant again and finally got around to it this weekend...we'll see if it's successful! Hopefully the big rain today helped out!

Here's what's left: some big corn plants and some radishes.


Replant (whoop!)


Steven randomly planted some radishes in the flower bed; look how huge!


One of the radishes!


And swinging Ellie :)
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