Saturday, February 21, 2015


Tomorrow is Ben's birthday. He would have been fifteen. My mind cannot fathom that. He will always be my smiling little seven year old. Today I am allowing myself to cry. I cry because I miss him and still grieve for him. I cry over the huge hole in our family and in my heart because he is no longer present. Looking out the window this morning at the German landscape, I wondered to myself how I have carried on for so long without him here. It still seems so wrong.

After my tears, I will celebrate the short life of a very special little boy with my family. We will break our Lenten family sacrifice of no meals out and we will find some place here in Germany that serves BBQ wings and we will get very messy and eat them all without wiping our fingers, just like he used to do. We will tell all the great stories that make us laugh and remember how lucky we are to have had Ben in our lives for seven wonderful years. I will order fresh flowers for his grave. I will have Mass said for him. I will honor him in the ways I know how. And I will look forward to the day when we are reunited in God's heavenly realm of eternity.

Monday, February 16, 2015

St. Valentine's Celebration

About a month ago, our little home school group noticed that we all had been hibernating for the winter and had not gotten together in quite a while. It was mentioned that maybe we needed a get together. It was also mentioned that St. Valentine's Day was not too far off. In a moment of I don't even know what, I did something totally out of my comfort zone. I volunteered to host a party at my house!

As an introvert who is not a planner but a very good procrastinator, this was big. So what did I do? Nothing! For quite a while, I did nothing. When panic mode set in, I sat in front of the computer and googled "Catholic Valentine's Day ideas". I will give you links to all the wonderful sites I found and used.

First is Catholic Icing. She had the most ideas and also links to other people's ideas. I cannot recommend her site enough! It is full of fun ideas to celebrate almost any occasion. With Lent arriving in just a few short days, this would be a great place to get ideas on how to make Lent more meaningful for your whole family.

Here is the link for her Valentine's Day ideas. We made the paper bag puppets, the strawberry milk, and the scripture wreath from this post. The scripture wreath is actually found here. I read this book to them out loud while they colored a picture of St. Valentine from Waltzing Matilda. There was supposed to be a mosaic craft to go along with the story I read, but we ran out of time to do all the crafts I had prepared. I have a huge bowl of cut up colored paper. I think I know what Therese will be doing for school this week! I also made some white chocolate dipped pretzels with some red sprinkles on them. I found them on pinterest, I think, but cannot find the link now. Basically, I melted a bag of white chocolate chips and dipped the tops of the pretzels in that and then dipped it in the red sugar sprinkles. The last craft we did was to make a secret decoder Valentine's message for their parents. Scroll down the list of this link to see the picture. I could not find red cellophane anywhere until I went to the commissary and noticed that all the big red boxes of candy were wrapped in it! I put two boxes into the cart. Tony threw in one more "just to make sure we have enough".

I think everyone had a great time. See what you think...

I promise I did not place them in the corner! Some people got tired of crafting.

One should NOT leave chocolate unattended with a toddler about!

It was hard not to sample these.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Yarn Along and A Lot of Furniture Moving

I keep thinking of Barbara and her explosion of purple a couple of weeks ago. Currently, I have multiple projects on and partially on the needles. On one set of needles is a very pretty purple shawl I am knitting for a friend. On another set of needles is a purple baby sweater. On some of my double points was a first attempt at sock knitting. Somehow, one needle escaped the knitting and landed on the floor. Many other stitches also freed themselves from the needles. I suspect they had some help from little fingers, though I can prove nothing.

 Anyway, both of the projects that have stayed on the needles are very purple. Both of them are very soft too. One is Shine by Knitpicks and I have used it before for baby knitting and I love the softness and drape. The other is also from Knitpicks. It is called Diadem and it comes in a hank rather than a skein. I looked up on youtube how to hand wind a center pull ball of yarn and it worked quite nicely!

I am reading "Walking With God" for a new book club I decided to join. If you remember, the last time I tried to do a book club, I finished the book two months too late! We shall see if I can do better this time around.

I don't want to give too much of a preview to the recipient of this sweater.

 No matter how I tried, I just couldn't capture the true hue of the yarn.

This is a bit closer, but still not it.

In my last post, I talked about how the setup of the classroom was not working for us. Well, Tony surprised me Saturday morning by pulling out the tape measure and saying "Let's see if this will work." It did. And we moved a lot of furniture, but I believe we are really going to like it.

from the doorway. We have walls to hang our maps and other things on! This was the boys' room.

I bought a bunch of magazine holders to help keep all those books from falling off in a big pile when the kids pull their books from the shelf. My little shadow who follows me around seems happy about the new arrangement.

My workspace is much better now too.

upstairs in the loft. Three beds and a desk on this side.

I put the dressers back to back in the middle of the room to create a divider. The 'lovely' couches came with the house. If I find something better, I will ask the landlords to please remove them. For now, they stay.

The toy corner stayed as is. Messy.

Anna's bed is in a separate little nook. She likes it that way. She is not a very orderly kind of person. I am trying to learn to live with it.

Joining Ginny as always.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Coffee Talk

It is actually in the afternoon when I am writing this, so technically it would be tea time, but really, I do love to ponder things over my morning cuppa, so the title stands!

What have I been pondering? Everything. It is February and dreary and dull. I desperately need something exciting, something new. So why not look at home school curriculum? I will admit it. I am in burnout mode over here. Are you? I am seeing what is going well and what is going less than well.

What is going less than well? The set up of the classroom.

As it stands, the classroom and the playroom are together in the loft on the third floor. We have only three bedrooms, a dining room/den, a kitchen, and one large bathroom. There is another bathroom, but I don't count it as one because the washer and dryer are in there and I use the shower stall for holding all the dirty clothes! That loft is the only extra space available for toys or classroom. But this leads to much temptation for students. In an effort to help them "avoid the near occasion of sin", I am contemplating moving all the children's beds upstairs and making it a dormitory. That frees up two small bedrooms, one for the classroom and one whose purpose is yet to be determined. My husband and his back are not huge fans of my idea and if they mutiny, then my plan cannot be executed.

What else is going less than well? Anna's curriculum.

 I am finding that Anna's vocabulary book is not challenging her. I believe it is time to jump ship midstream and try something new. And while I am at it, I will probably switch up her grammar. I am still trying to decide what I will use, but I have decided it is best to make a change. I am also pretty certain we will switch curriculums entirely in the fall. She will be starting 6th grade and I think she needs more than what we are currently using.

The burnout?

Well now. I know part of it is the winter blahs, part of it is frustration in the classroom, but honestly, it is the realization that I need to put more of myself into this endeavor and I just don't know where that inspiration is going to come from. It was hard to admit that I am not giving enough. Now I have to do something about that, don't I?

So. How do you handle the dark, depressing days before Spring? How do you cope with burnout? I would love to hear all about it! Go get your coffee and let's chat!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yarn Along and Stuff

First things first. Yarn and knitting and reading. I finished Anna's little mouse. I think she turned out cute, but there were a few learning moments I thought I would pass along.

1. Not all worsted yarn is the same. Anna liked this skein of yarn I scored for free from Knit Picks. It is a pretty color, but it is acrylic. It is much, much thicker than the Knit Picks washable wool worsted yarn I used for the dress. I would have changed yarns, except that Anna asked me to use it.

2. Working with thick yarn on tiny needles may cause the needle to snap.

3. In the end, if the recipient is happy, that is all that really matters. And she is.

Waiting for her dress to be made.

Taking a peek outside. It looks much warmer indoors!

Ahh, that's more like it. A dress!

All dressed up with a little sparkly touch for when you need to feel special!

I thought I'd share my little knitting spot. My ipad has my patterns on it, the coffee is very essential, and I love having a cozy spot to sit and knit. See that yarn that the mouse is sitting upon? It will hopefully be a hat in a couple of days. The first attempt would have fit Therese, though I was knitting an adult size pattern! It was so pretty, but I ripped it out and am trying again.

I have been reading The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart to the kids at bedtime. We have been listening to Johnny Tremain on Audible.

Now, for the "stuff" part of the post. I have been experiencing the winter blues quite overwhelmingly lately. I am lost. I thought you might like an illustration of just how I feel. I saw this poor guy on the table yesterday and knew just how he felt.

I may not be a doctor, but I know stressed out when I see it! This is my face most of the time, or at least the face I want to make. And the legs? Yep, I feel like I have lost my footing. I can't seem to get it together.

I could use a prayer or two if you have a moment! Spring needs to hurry up and get here already. In the meantime, I will try to soldier on, and remember to ask God for those daily graces to make it through this awful thing called February.

Joining Ginny, as usual.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What I learned today

We decided to try out the local ice skating rink this afternoon. I learned a lot.

For instance:

Believe the lady when she tells you the two year old is too young.  We could have saved some money and missed out on aching back muscles.

Four year olds are too young too. Especially whiny ones who probably needed a nap, not an outing.

Just because you knew how to skate twenty years ago does not mean that you do now.

Eight and ten year olds will have the time of their life and want to go back soon.

Husbands who never have skated will not be able to help other non skaters.

Next time, plan a different activity for the little ones.

Wear thick socks.

Remember to put the memory card back in your camera.

Ibuprofen will be required for all those over forty.

Crepes filled with Nutella are yummy.

So, in my humble opinion, ice skating with young children is not a great family activity. We do much better at the bowling alley.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yarn Along

One day, Tony came home with a bag full of yarn that someone at the band hall was giving away. There were mostly small bits left over from projects, but with making all the little animals, I could put them to good use. There was one giant ball of yarn. And I mean huge! It was very, very crayola blue. And Therese loved it. She hugged it tight and let it be known that she expected a sweater from this very yarn for Christmas. She and I looked through patterns on Ravelry and she picked Ginny's Sunday Sweater pattern. It is well-written and I love how it fits her.
Well, Jack had already requested a bunny for Christmas and Anna had requested a mouse. Thankfully, Peter doesn't know how to request things yet. My sweet Anna saw that long list and kindly said that I could knit hers after Christmas. I plan to start on that this week. I also plan to start a baby gift for my niece.

As for reading, I have not done much personal reading lately. I need a good book.

Joining Ginny as always.

I found the buttons at the German fabric store. They have an amazing selection of buttons!

I still have a surprisingly large amount of this yarn left. It seemed like making a whole sweater hardly made a dent in this giant yarn ball.

See his little white paw. That's where I ran out of yarn. I like it though. I pondered for a couple of days how to solve the problem of not enough yarn.

The sweater is so cute. I used some leftover yarn from Sophie's shawl that I made this summer.

OK. This was a fun afternoon project. I had hastily assembled that yellow yarn as a wig for Anna's Rapunzel costume a couple of years ago. It became a "tangled" mess, but the kids still wanted to play with it. I don't usually crochet, but this worked up super quick and the results are perfect!