Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rest in peace

Kelly, we love you and miss your gorgeous smile already.

Kelly passed away at 7:00 am today
(the photo is her with SJ, Divine Mercy Sunday 2008)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Final Hours

Please offer a prayer for dear Kelly,
as she suffers through her final hours.
All Saints and All Souls will be special feasts this year.
May God give her and her family comfort and peace.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All Saints' Day Party 2009

a few shots of our homeschool group's annual All Saints' Day Celebration!

Ellie as Our Lady, Mary Clare as St. Bernadette, and Stevie as St. Joseph:

St. Cecilia, St. Bernadette (as a peasant) and St. Bernadette the nun

Little St. Therese (I made her costume :)

Veronica with St. Anthony, St. Francis, and St. Padre Pio

Parade begins

Where I spent most of my time--our John Paul II Face Painting booth

I see Steven on the hayride but not the kids!

the beautiful sunset to finish off the beautiful evening at the ranch!

I'll try to share some photos of the other booths later this week!
All Saints' is one of my favorite feasts of the year...what fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Along the Alphabet Path--Letter G

G week was pretty low-key; we focused on our lap book, so we didn't do a whole lot of other arts and crafts. We still work on Math U See, Sound Beginnings, and Little Angel Readers each day along with the Alphabet Path activities, sometimes doing some Catechism and 100 Easy Lessons with Ellie. So there are some days/weeks I just don't have a lot of energy for the extras. Today I ordered Mary Clare the Faith and Life Grade 1 text and Ellie the MCP Kindergarten Math, so we'll be adding those to our other texts, and having fun while we continue Along the Alphabet Path!

G is for Gorse Fairy and St. George

I can't believe I found the St. George and the Dragon book on our shelf! We'd never read it because it was without a book jacket and therefore a little "boring"-looking! We did the Gorse Fairy coloring page and read from the Loyola Kids Book of Saints.

Here is Mary Clare's Garden Lapbook

It's hard to see all the little mini-books and activities, but they can all be found on this post of Jessica's.

So, photos were scarce last week, but I have a bunch to share from our All Saints' Celebration on Sunday. And I'm taking more pictures of H week so far :) Hope your week is wonderful!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Yesterday was my first time to enter a hospice facility. What a calling that must be for the nurses and staff who work there! Their gentle spirits and interest in each patient and visitor really moved me.

Of course I was visiting my friend Kelly who is still fighting hard. I was amazed at the strength she still holds, even though her body is very, very weak. She did not want anyone to help her with those simplest of actions which she can no longer do very well. She wanted to acknowledge my presence and spoke kind words. I was able to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet aloud while she slept, and hopefully act as a familiar face while the nurses cared for her when she was awake.

I just can't imagine what it would be like day in and day out to watch patients leave their facility in only one way. It was odd to think of how many souls had left that room for another realm. A very unique place, that's for sure.

And yet when I think more about it, to me it will probably become one of those endearing locations like my local hospital. Every time I drive by the place where my children entered this world, I am struck with an emotion I can't quite describe. I can look in the window and see families in the waiting room on the birthing floor, likely awaiting the arrival of their newest family member. I drive by that place in awe and wonder at the life that God gives.

Something about hospitals brings about that emotion in me, and I think this hospice center will bring about a similar feeling. The place where life ends, where friends say goodbye, where families are separated on earth. I am drawn to it as I am drawn to hospitals and nursing homes. (I think I might have a nurse's calling in another phase of life!) Such vulnerable people dwell there. To hold the hand of an elderly patient, to cuddle a crying newborn, to bring flowers to someone recovering from surgery, or to offer a simple smile and words of love to someone who is dying...isn't that what we are about?

Visiting a place like that puts your priorities in place too. All weekend long I was longing for a quick shopping trip to Target for a few items. I kept putting it off for other important errands, and I was thinking that I'd head there after visiting Kelly yesterday. But as the clock ticked on I really had no desire to go anywhere but just to stay with her until someone else arrived. In the end, no one else did come, and I felt like I do when I have to leave my grandmother's nursing home. Saying goodbye to someone who is alone and who you may never see again on's a hard thing to do. I hope to get to visit again soon.

Please continue to pray for my friend, and for all the dying, and for those who care for them.

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world...

Friday, October 23, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday!

We've finished 8 weeks of school! It's gone by really fast and I'm so happy with our fun Alphabet Path program this year. Mary Clare is almost finished with her first Little Angel Reader, so we plan to reward her with a special treat when she completes the last story next week. Way to go, Mary Clare!

We visited an old friend yesterday who moved to the other side of town. It's amazing how an hour drive easily doubles with kids who need potty breaks and food. I'm getting worried about our upcoming 8 hour drive to Oklahoma for a Thanksgiving Family Reunion!

My sweet friend makes hairbows for fun, so we left her house with a nice little supply of bows for the girls! And I left with a new craft idea!

My dear friend Veronica took a trip to Rome for her brother's ordination to the diaconate. Check out her photos!

Devin and Katie might be welcoming a new blessing. Go offer them a note of encouragement and prayer! What a gift and calling fostering and adoption is.


The All Saints' Day costumes are still stacks of fabric. Two days to go! Yikes!


One of our favorite breakfasts is a puffed oven pancake with powdered sugar. Tried a new recipe from Wildflowers and Marbles. It was a huge hit! Might have been that 3 tablespoons of butter. Check out her Montessori posts, such a beautiful schoolroom! I'm getting excited about the Montessori book club our homeschool group is starting!

Ellie turned 4 1/2 this week and is so excited to be closer to 5! Stevie turned 22 months, which is the month that I weaned both the girls. I don't think I'm very close to weaning the little man, especially if he is facing open heart surgery early next year (we'll know more in December). He's still my sweet baby boy and Ellie is still my baby girl...but how is she nearly 5 years old? Time flies too fast.

My Firefox browser crashed about 5 times while writing this. Now I'm logged in as Steven. Anyone have ideas about what the problem might be (I'm on an iMac)?

Check out Jen's Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Belated Anniversary Present

At the end of September, a sweet couple I know celebrated 35 years of marriage! Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!

A friend had told me about a name plaque she'd found on etsy, so I decided to try my go at making one for this anniversary gift. I bought the wood with scroll designs from Wal-Mart, and enlisted the girls' help in painting the iridescent white background. Then I printed out the words in a font I liked and sketched in pencil before painting.

I thought it turned out fairly well, and hope to make more fun painted gifts in the future. Painting is one of those things that usually relaxes me, and a finished project always brings a little sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back to the Basics

Yesterday we bought a new pencil sharpener. I'd wanted to buy a nice electric one for awhile now, something quick and easy. I had no interest in buying an old fashioned sharpener. Those were far distant memories from my old public school days! Technology has come a long way since then.

But I heard a faint whisper (through my enlightened husband) that encouraged me to go "back to the basics" on this purchase. Our culture today tends to foster an I-want-it-now mentality. We've got fast food and fast internet. We can find the best deal online in a matter of seconds and we can order our pizza to be delivered with a few mouse clicks. I can see my pictures as I take them with my digital camera, and have forgotten the excitement that used to come from picking up my photos from a roll of film. If there's a recipe I want to make, I can likely find hundreds of versions online, including detailed reviews of how it turns out. Click, click, click and my bills are paid. A few back and forth texts on a cell phone and a conversation is done.

But there's just something about sticking that #2 pencil into the metal sharpener, cranking it with your hand, and seeing that sharp tip emerge. Going "back" even further, I love watching my husband sharpen a pencil with a knife. We are forgetting what it's like to use our hands and to slow down our minds. We do whatever we can to make our housework and homework faster and easier. But sometimes we just get that mess which is the eaten up pencil out of the electric sharpener.

I feel like this today. My world is spinning ahead of me quickly and I can't seem to catch up. Whether it's laundry, All Saints' Day costumes, homeschool lessons, or my daughter's recent behavior issues, I feel like I'm left in the dust with not a clue as to where to start solving these problems. I am reminded of baby steps. To go back to the basics. Fold a load of laundry now. Buy the fabric for the costumes. Complete a math lesson. Spend some one-on-one time with my child who needs my attention. But instead I run away to the phone or the computer or the homeschool outing. And it all piles up.

So yesterday I went back to square one. I had my mission. Office Depot and JoAnn's fabrics. A stapler, a pencil sharpener and 3 colors of fabric for costumes. It was all I needed and I had my plan. The kids did well in Office Depot and were patient as I debated stapler options and called Hubby for assistance with the pencil sharpener choice. They even got a "compliment" from the employee who was helping me, "They're really smart for being home schooled!"

But things went downhill at JoAnn's. Fabric was being knocked to the ground and children were hiding under shelving and behind boxes. I had to get out quick, but not without the whines and protests of the kids who wanted their 'wants' now!

Today was even worse. After 2 1/2 hours at the park on a gorgeous afternoon, I decided to brave Wal-Mart with hungry children at 6:00 p.m to find some cheaper fabric. Brilliant. We left the store with one child sobbing about wanting glittered zebra flats, one hysterical about leaving before we bought some snacks, and the last (with unsnapped britches, after getting a diaper change in the cart!) was crying to be held and nursed. I barely made it to the car with all 3 of them. My saving grace was the threat that the security guard was going to come and think they were hurt for screaming and crying so loudly. It was probably my worst store experience ever, but I was actually laughing at how silly we must have looked.

And so my lesson today: Slow down. Simplify. Listen to that sharpener slowly crank those pencils to complete sharpness. These children can't be forced into an electric pencil sharpener. They will come out broken. I need to enjoy them for who they are. Precious children made in God's image and entrusted to slowly sharpen and hone, to love and care for them as God cares for us. To do my best to give them a happy, yet simple life, knowing they are loved and knowing the God who made them.

Tomorrow's goals: Spend time playing with each child. Put away some laundry. Start cutting the fabric. Prepare to donate some extra toys and clothing. Thank my husband for showing me how to love the simple things. Pray.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Battleship Texas and San Jacinto Monument

On Saturday, we went to visit Steven's new workplace and then he took a very long lunchbreak to grab a bite to eat and then head over to see the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto Monument. I can't believe I've lived in Houston this long and have never been to either of these.

We weren't sure how admission worked and didn't have any cash on us, so the best part...the kind state park worker let us in free!

Here is the fam (SJ is asleep in the stroller) by the battleship

I'm sure Steven could tell you all about how it served in WWII and such. Glad we have at least one adult history buff in the family!

The USS Texas. Steven says they don't have battleships with cannons anymore, now that there are missile destroyers like the one my brother is currently deployed on.

fun photo op for the gals :)

The battleship is docked on the Houston Ship Channel. Here a giant barge is floating by!

After the battleship, we headed across the street to the San Jacinto Monument, the tallest war memorial in the world (even taller than the Washington Monument)!
Here you can see Steven and the girls heading up to the monument.

Again, hubby could recount this better, but the monument stands as a memorial of all those who fought for Texas' Independence. In the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, Texas gained its independence from Mexico in an unexpected defeat, surprising Mexican General Santa Anna while he and his army were taking a siesta! Read more about it all here.

Steven and the girls were brave enough to ride the elevator up to the top of the monument, 50 stories up! Yikes! Here are some photos he took from the top:

The museum inside was really neat too. There were a couple papal documents and priest's vestments (I think from missions in the 1600s) and a lot of war items from the 1800s. I also enjoyed seeing the household items like the raisin seeder, silverware, and sewing supplies.

Here they are looking down at the ground with the monument above them!

The San Jacinto Monument.

and Battleship Texas

I look forward to studying about these and visiting again as part of our Texas History homeschooling courses in the future! But the visit this weekend was a great little taste of it!

Farm Fotos

7:00 am Mass makes for an early morning, but provides the opportunity to head out to our friends' beautiful acreage on a gorgeous day...

love this one. stevens. cows. pretty trees. bird flying. peace.

checking it out

L-R: enriquito (5), gerardito (3), ellie (4), steven joseph (21mos), mary clare (6), and fernandito (21mos), and in a few months little santiago (due in jan.) will join the group!

took a fun ride in the back of the truck all around the property,
this is a look from the way back in the pecan orchard

lots of serious things for these farmers to check out
how is the grass growing?

what is in these cow patties?

are the deer feeders still full?

not sure what my husband was doing climbing up this tree!
i think he was checking out a deer stand

kids watching the dads

and of course, another recount of the fishing

sj was totally obsessed with holding the fishing rod
he would go absolutely berserk if anyone else held the princess rod!
his first catch!

ellie always catches the big ones!

of course my girls will not even put a finger on the fish
(i guess i won't either!)
they were the only ones at a reptile birthday later on in the day who wanted no part in getting anywhere near the lizards, snakes, or crocodiles!

ah, but enriquito is the brave boy!

we're so excited that our friends are moving back! and what fun it will be to watch them build their home on this property. can't wait to share some new memories with you guys, veronica and enrique! thanks for letting us in on all the fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Along the Alphabet Path--Letter F

Here are highlights from our 2 weeks studying the letter F! We used the lesson plans from Serendipity and ideas from Jessica, and still feel like we could spend another week or two with F! A great letter for fun things like...

The Fuchsia Fairy and St. Francis

Coloring pages of the Fuchsia Fairy

We read Tomie de Paola's
Francis the Poor Man of Assisi
and made a Mini-book from That Resource Site about St. Francis
and St. Francis wooden painted peg saint

(unfortunately Diamond the Fish didn't make it to the end of F week. Died Thursday night after a water change.)

Here Mary Clare is reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
to the little ones in a Fire Engine Tent

Watercolor wash on fish colored with crayons

Reading The Magic Fish

Cut out magazine pictures of F items to paste in a big letter F

They painted Flower pots

F collage coloring sheet

We had a lesson on being a good friend. We listed ways to live out that virtue and drew a picture showing someone being a good friend. Mary Clare wrote some phrases under her drawing, while the littler ones just wrote the word "friend" or "Be a Friend"

F Art lessons...
"Roman Girl at a Fountain" and Feet pictures

drawing a Flower still-life

Our Favorite F Books!

and a favorite book of Fingerplays and Songs...
including songs like Where is Thumbkin and The Itsy Bitsy Spider,
and the favorite of the day...Ring Around the Rosy

We all fall down!

and to finish the week off....a visit out to Little Way Farm with our dear Friends, enjoying Fishing with father and Godfather!

(check back Monday for more fun farm fotos,
and also a recount of our visit to a state park this weekend!)

Now on to G week! We're also looking forward to H week, the week before Halloween! Lots of fun things to do!
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