Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Being Thankful when Life throws you lemons

We are supposed to be camping right now. Two kids are camping, sort of. They are camped out on the couch with fevers. I am trying to stay positive (I am positive I am disappointed!) and count my blessings on this day before Thanksgiving.


- that my husband braved the grocery store so I could stay home and nurse sick little people.

- for Advil, since fevers over 103 scare me.

- for beautiful fall colors outside the window.

- that we are not trying to care for sick kiddos in a camper far from the comforts of home.

- that I got some pretty photos of the kids this weekend

- for family and friends

- for a roof over our heads, food for our bodies, and clothing for us all

- for a God who loves me, even at my worst

I pray for quick healing for my kids and all those who are sick on this day.

I pray that all of you may have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

November Yarn Along

Though it is most likely that my baby days are past, I still love knitting (or crocheting) baby items. And so, when someone I know tells me their happy news, I start thinking about what to make. This blanket has proved to be a bit of a pickle. The pattern has many mistakes and for a while it looked as if I would have to abandon the project. However, a friend helped me figure out how to correct the pattern, for which I am most grateful, and now I can continue.

On the reading front, I am still following the reading list of "The Well-Read Mom", though I moved to a new city that does not have a local group. How I would love to hop back to my old group for the discussion and companionship! I just finished Tolkien's short story "Leaf by Niggle". This morning I searched for discussions on the story and hopefully I can delve in while the older kids are at their Shakespeare class this afternoon.

Joining in for the first time in a long time to Ginny's yarn along.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Chester State Park

Today was one of those beautiful fall days. No clouds, crisp air, and the smell of fallen leaves filled the air. After Mass, we ate a quick lunch and made our way to Chester State Park. For those of you counting, that makes 8 out of 47 parks in SC. Chester is small, but it has won its way into my heart. Possibly even my favorite so far. We must take our camper there, for the small campground overlooks the lake and a lovely gathering place, complete with a firepit and many, many cozy swings.

Depositing the kids who "didn't want to go" at the playground, Tony and I ventured out on the short 1.3 mile trail around the lake. I felt the frustrations of the week leave and I could breathe the calm of the outdoors. So many doubts and fears lately, and they peeled off as the afternoon breeze hit me. I know what and how I want to bring up these children of mine, but the constraints of our life keep getting in the way. Jobs, theatre, obligations. They make it so hard to get out of doors and truly appreciate the world that God made. And yet, I feel that I am sometimes sacrificing the important for the mundane. How to find the balance? I know not, but I continue to seek the answer.

And those people of mine who "didn't want to go"? They didn't want to leave when the sun was sinking behind the trees, signaling the end of the day and the closing of the park.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Family Campout

It all came together quite nicely. Our camping trip that is. No one had rehearsals. Tony had Friday afternoon off. The heat that has been relentless finally abated for a few days. The nights would actually be cool! We chose Santee State Park because it was within an hour of us, and it looked like a lovely place to camp. We hope to visit all 47 state parks here in South Carolina to become "Ultimate Outsiders". We are just beginning, as Santee brought our total to 7.

I thought we would be taking the interstate, but the GPS led us on the back country roads. The drive itself was beautiful. The cotton fields were dotted with white. Old farmhouses and barns were scattered between the fields. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings wooed me with their untold stories. I felt like the everyday worries were blown off us as we drove through the countryside toward the campground.

We stayed two nights. For Friday, we had veggie stir fry with cashews.  I chopped up veggies beforehand and made up a stir fry sauce in a mason jar. I cooked the rice on the stove in the camper and the veggies on our portable stove outside. It was a hit with everyone. Saturday's dinner was less successful. The kids found a book called "A Stick and a Fire". They wanted to try the Cheesy Bacon Dogs. The hotdogs did not want to stay on the skewers and we ended up finishing the cooking in the cast iron skillet. There was quite a mess in the skillet. For breakfast, it was cereal for the kids and fruit and bread for the adults. Lunch was veggie sticks and hummus, crackers and cheese, and apples. I am not trying to bore the three readers of this blog, I am trying to document it for myself, to remember what works and what doesn't.

On Saturday, we decided to splurge on a two hour barge tour of Lake Marion, which is home to a sunken bald cypress forest and alligators. It was well worth the cost. The wildlife was abundant, some of it a little scary! The boats pulling children on tubes were more frightening to me because of the number of hidden tree stumps just beneath the water's surface. You can't see them until you are right upon them. The risk of hitting a stump seemed pretty high to  me.

 The rest of our time, we just enjoyed the view of the lake, many campfires, family games, the playground and each other. The first night became a jig contest as we listened to bluegrass music. Therese had just finished the chapter in "Little House in the Big Woods" where the grandma bests the rest of the family in a jigging contest. The silliness and giggles melted any lingering bad moods of children who might not have been so keen on camping. The second night saw a sing-a-long of songs from every genre as we scrolled through playlists. Everything is more magical and special with a campfire burning, I am sure of it.

The drive home Sunday morning was so picturesque with patches of morning fog draping the cotton fields. I already look longingly toward our next adventure in the camper, which does, by the way, need a name.

Setting up the campsite

learning to chop the firewood

Dinnertime the first night

sunrise Saturday morning

also Saturday

waiting for the pontoon boat to arrive

the bald cypress trees in the water

two different kinds of woodpeckers made this tree their home


The captain of the boat said that to determine the size of the gator, measure from the snout to the eyes. Each inch represents one foot. We estimated this guy to be around 12 feet.

The water level was almost 2 feet below normal

Sunday morning. Oh, how I wanted to stay longer!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Little House Supper

We use a little of this and that for our curriculum. The one we mostly use is Catholic Heritage Curricula. We supplement with Mater Amabilis and we use a different grammar book that works well for us, Voyages in English.

CHC has a new reading/literature program for 4th grade that I am loving. The first book Therese is reading is Little House in the Big Woods. We have read this story many times, but now we are diving deeper, thinking about the characters and their actions, and putting it all together at the end into a report. But the part I like best is the midweek activities page. We can choose from several ideas. This week, we made breakfast for dinner and made pancake men like Ma. Of course bacon and sausage were added to the menu, along with some fruit. This is where Peter's science activity came in handy. He had to use a can of fruit to act as a fulcrum in trying to lift the couch with a broom. It was a success and we had one very dented can of pineapple to add to our dinner.

They each got to make their own pancake people

or pancake mouse

mmmm, bacon

the batter in the front is vegan, made with almond milk, and flax meal as a egg replacer

Tony is still vegan

the batter in back is buttermilk pancake batter

the rest of us are definitely not vegan


Friday, September 13, 2019

The First Two Weeks

We have just finished our second week of school. We are slowly getting into the new routine. Anna and Jack are spending most of their non-school time at the children's theatre. They are in a production of Les Miserables, taking a theatrical tap class, and a Shakespeare class taught by a professor at USC. Thursday was the first Shakespeare class. To make things work out, we have go early and set up the computer for Anna to attend her online classes and then immediately head into the theatre. This was our trial run and I would say it was successful. The younger kids and I hung out in Barnes and Noble and did schoolwork, then played.

Anna is also in a homeschool band once again and I am so glad we could make that happen. Some people are on a youth bowling league. And auditions for a play for Therese and Peter will be next week. I think we have enough extra curricular activities for now.

The other day, I was scrolling through my photos, looking for a particular picture, when I noticed that my subject matter has changed. I used to document our days and now, not so much. I want to go back to documenting our days. These days are so short that we have with our children and I want to be able to look back one day and remember what fun times we had.

We had finished our schoolwork and they were trying out the how-to-draw books.

I have never had a kid into Pokémon, but his friend introduced him and he is serious about it.

Books to be shelved

He will be making his First Reconciliation and First Communion this year. We did a demonstration with pepper in water to show how sin hides Jesus in our souls. A little soap dispersed the pepper and made Jesus visible again just like confession cleans our souls.

Fridays are catch up days or fun days. Today was both. We caught up and then went to the splash pad.

A good balance of work and play is how it should be.