Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good Kind of Busy

For over a year, or really, since we moved into our house, I have not cared for the colonial blue walls in the foyer and hallways. Not only is it not my favorite blue, it was one of the worst painting jobs I have ever seen. It was slapped on so haphazardly that patches of blue decorated the ceiling where they never bothered to wipe up mistakes. Then they tried to touch up the bad spots with the same color but with a different sheen. It was bad. I have had a paint chip taped in the hallway for the past year, along with a quote from local painter. This was one job I did not want to tackle. The foyer is a two-story entrance. I am not particularly fond of heights. We made the call and set up a time for the job to be done. Here are some before and after pictures of the project.

I am really happy with the results. It makes it seem much brighter.

My parents arrived on Friday to go to Colonial Williamsburg with us for their homeschool days. Saturday was cold and breezy and we tried to see indoor sights as much as possible. I did not even take any pictures because my hands were cold and we were so bundled up, I am not sure you could even recognize us from the other bundled up visitors.

That evening, we got the kids settled with their dinner back at the house and the adults went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant. We celebrated our 20th anniversary, which is next week. I could not have asked for a better evening.

Sunday, after Mass, we headed back to Williamsburg for more fun. The weather was much nicer and I got some pictures this time. Anna bought herself a small cloth doll as a souvenier. Somehow, a second identical doll ended up in our stroller by accident. We planned to return it to the gift shop at the end of the day since we had already boarded the bus and were heading into the historic area and away from the visitor's center. Unfortunately, the gift shop was closed when we finally caught a bus back to our cars. Tony had to spend his lunch hour yesterday driving back yet again to Williamsburg to return the doll. Thank goodness it is only 20 miles up the interstate. Jack picked out a little lantern with a battery powered votive light in it as his remembrance of the weekend.

We spent most of our time at the palace.

In the gardens behind the palace.

They probably don't look kindly upon children having rock throwing contests in the gardens.

She liked the rocks.

I bet this arbor will be beautiful in a month or so.

Jack ran through there several times.

The sky was brilliantly blue.

If you looked closely at the ground, you found signs that spring is close.

I wondered what was beyond the gate.

My mom and dad.

A heron had just flown up within a couple of feet of the kids.

Trying out the sepia setting.

The old brick paths made the walk even more special.

And that was how we celebrated Ben's birthday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feeling a little like Ma Ingalls

Sunday dawned cold and dreary. The forecast left little hope of improvement. In fact, the day turned steadily colder and wetter and windier. I asked Tony to go into the chilly attic and bring me the rosemary I had drying up there. With Anna an eager helper at my side, we sat together and stripped the branches of their leaves. We filled two empty spice containers and half a gallon ziploc bag. Having just finished "The Long Winter", I couldn't help thinking of the girls and Ma taking turns grinding the wheat in the little coffee mill while the wind and snow whirled around their little house. Those two spice bottles will be more than I need, so I am thinking about making little sache's of rosemary to freshen up the dresser drawers.

This morning, with Olivia and Tony home for the day, I made a more hardy breakfast than I normally would on a Monday morning. Tonight's menu is chicken salad sandwiches, cole slaw, and homemade tomato soup. But there can be no sandwiches without bread. I put together the dough, started the diapers, then got ready for the day. By lunchtime, the bread was out of the oven and the laundry machines have been steadily humming while we got a few subjects of school finished.

Seeing the bread loaves reminded me of something I read about Lenten meals the other day. I believe I will try and serve simple soup and bread each Friday this Lent. I always pray while I knead my bread and I need more prayer time during Lent. I wonder if God is leading me to try and live more simply this Lent?

Ash Wednesday happens to be Ben's birthday. He would have been 12 this year. I suppose we will celebrate on Shrove Tuesday instead. A dear friend sent me an e-mail this week telling me about how a memory of Ben was sparked and brought tears and then joy to her. Oh, to know that I am not the only one who remembers my sweet boy and that someone else still thinks about him is so uplifting. To hear someone speak of him and say his name to me is brings such comfort.

I know this have veered way off track from feeling like Ma Ingalls, so I will wrap up with the little project that made our classroom just a little more cozy.


and After...(ahhh)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Young Writers Club {week 2}

Only Anna is participating in the Young Writers Club this week. We go to our homeschool co-op on Friday and Saturday was just too pretty to not play baseball!

The topic was:  tell about a family member who you look up to.


I admire my sister Sophie. She is loving and brave and smart. She likes to knit. She is smart at math and she helps me play 'five crowns'. The way I look up to her is she was brave to go to Austria to study.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Young Writer's Club {week 1}

Anna and Jack both wanted to participate in the Young Writer's Club when I told them about it. I did Jack's in an interview style, since he cannot yet write. Anna wrote and typed up hers all by herself!

"Where would you most like to live and why?"


I'll like to live at home becuase I want to live with my family and play with my friends and play baseball with my Dad.


  me: Where would you most like to live?

  Jack: ummm...the beach!

  me: Why?

  Jack: If there's a beach house for sale, so we can go to our beach. We can play in the water and make sandcastles. I think that's it for my 'card'. (He then signed his name to the paper on which I was dictating his thoughts.)

I can see that this will be a good exercise in writing. Already Anna noticed that her original sentence contained a lot of the word "like". She made some changes herself and then we discussed different ways to say that you like something without actually using the word.

Science or Dessert?


Anna is learning about the layers of the earth. Namely the crust, the mantle and the core. Imagine her delight when she found out that we were supposed to build a model of the layers using ice cream, frosting, magic shell topping and chocolate chips for school this week. We assembled it during the day yesterday because Thursday night is pizza and movie night and what could be better than pizza, movies, and ice cream?

This is not exactly to scale. OK, so we weren't even close. Still, Jack asked me which blob of blue frosting was the Atlantic Ocean. I pointed to a blob and said, "Why this one, of course." He was satisfied.

Please ignore all the pizza night dishes in the background. I would never make a good food photographer.

Our core is vanilla fudge ripple. Our mantle is chocolate. The crust is the magic shell topping. The oceans are the blue frosting and the mountain ranges are the chocolate chips. Tony, being the thoughtful person he is, when I sent him for all the ingredients, came back with dairy free popcycles for Jack and Therese so they would not be left out.

If you are wondering what science book lets your kids make models out of ice cream, it is this one. This made up for a couple of weeks ago when they wanted the kids to dig up our backyard to discover the different kinds of soil in our area!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Comedy Relief

For those of you who, like me, are more than disheartened by all that is in the news recently (I am more than worried about the future of our country.), I thought I'd share a little something that made me laugh out loud.

So, back when the weather was warmer and I actually ventured out of doors, I found this book at a yard sale...

It was published in 1963, and I thought it would be fun to see the tips from housewives back then. The introduction made me laugh out loud though...

Can you read it? The paragraph in brackets?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Little Bit of This and That

I was awoken last night, or this morning, depending on how you look at it, at 4:30 am by some random noise. Tossing and turning, sleep was proving elusive, so I turned on the little lamp on my bedside table and picked up "The Story of a Soul". I am embarrassed to admit that I have been reading this for a year now and I am still not done. It is not that I don't find it interesting. On the contrary, I feel that I must digest what St. Therese has to say in small bits, so to better understand and remember. What a joy for me to come upon this passage last night: "The following morning, September 8, an outpouring of peace flooded my soul, that "peace which surpasseth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7), and in this peace I pronounced my sacred vows." You see, way back when I was pregnant with our little Therese, before we knew she was a girl, Tony and I were on a walk when the name Mary Therese filled my heart. Tony was not as in love with the name as I, but I kept hoping. He had agreed to Therese Clare right before she was born. Then she was born on September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. Oh, how I wanted her name to be Mary Therese! We still had not made a decision, but while I was in the shower, I felt moved to put Therese Clare on the birth certificate and planned to do so as soon as I got dressed. But when I went to write it down, imagine my surprise that Tony had already filled out the birth certificate...with Mary Therese! I never knew until last night that September 8 was also when St. Therese professed her vows. How perfect.

Yesterday, I went for an ultrasound where they measure the back of the baby's neck, looking for an indicator for possible Down's Syndrome. I would like the time to prepare myself if that is what God has in store for us. We won't know the outcome for a week or so. But as they were taking all the measurements, this little hand came clearly into view and seemed to be waving to us! See?

Four weeks ago, we saw our baby, who looked like this tiny little bean. It is so amazing how much they grow and change in a matter of weeks. Look...

Is there anything more amazing? I thought not.

Finally, to round up this completely random post, another little story. We were having people over a while back, it may have been for Jack's birthday, or maybe even before that. I noticed how dirty the fabric was on our dining room chairs. They are, after all, where we sit to do our schoolwork and there are pencil marks, marker stains, and general dirtiness on them all. In this moment of needing things to be perfect, I had Tony help me remove one of the chair's covers and threw it in the washing machine. Not such a good idea when you don't know what the fabric is made of. It was ruined and instead of a clean chair, I now had a coverless chair. It has stayed that way until this morning. In another moment of craziness, I decided to try and use this bit of leftover fabric and cover the chair even though I know it won't match. I had just put the clothes in the dryer on touch-up, which runs for 18 minutes. I was just putting the last staples into the chair when the dryer chimed the end of the cycle. So, in under 20 minutes, I fixed something that had bothered me for more than a month!

Now it is time for me to get to work in the classroom with the kids! Have a good day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yarn Along- Frogging

Have you ever had yarn that you fell in love with, but then couldn't figure out what it was for? Well, that has been the case with this yarn for months. I started out knitting a scarf in 1x1 ribbing, but the stripes weren't coming out like I had hoped. So I ripped it out. Then I tried a scarf in stockinette with a border of garter stitch. I loved how the stripes were going, but it still rolled something awful. I tried blocking a small piece to see if it was worth continuing, but it was not. So out that came too. Then I tried a reversible stitch pattern of K2, P1. Back to the stripes not looking right. Frogged again! Finally, last night, in the middle of the night, as I was trying to convince Therese that it was not time to be up, I searched on Ravelry for one skein projects using sock yarn. I found this pattern. It is turning out just how I hoped! Whew!

The book I am borrowing from a friend. I am learning SO much. It is an easy read explaining economics. Something that I have never really understood, but wanted to. I would recommend this to anyone who is confused by economics.

Look at that jumble of rumpled up yarn that has been frogged three, count them three times! It is still pretty though, isn't it? Stop by Ginny's to see more knitting and reading posts.