Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday ~ End of Summer Edition

It is nearing the end of summer and I find myself pondering the days gone by. Where did summer go? We are back to school here and life is beginning to settle after the lazy crazy days of summer. There is so much to be thankful for. I often complain about all of the things that I don't accomplish, so this post is a tribute to all that I have managed to finish and do this summer.

 Thankful for weekend camping trips that taught us so much about our family. 

 Thankful for a beautiful garden space.

Thankful for a bountiful harvest and some new additions to the garden, like the cherub bird bath and pebble path.

Thankful for a sweet daughter that planted and cared for our Mary Garden.

Thankful for a fort that got repaired and painted and for sleds that keep the alley cats out.

I can't believe it, but I have a teenager now. This summer marks 13 years since I became a mom. I am so thankful for my teenager and for such a great birthday.
Did I mention that I am thankful for my Irish twins, two boys who share the same birthday. I am so thankful that the older boy is now enjoying sharing a birthday with his younger brother. That was not always the case and that is why this years' birthdays were so much sweeter than ever before. I must also mention that I am very thankful for the charming 8 year old. I struggled during his pregnancy with the fact that I was having number three. After a whole year of trying to conceive, I gave up. I threw in the towel and I was not so happy that God blessed me with another after I had taken a new job that I had to promptly surrender shortly afterward because of complications in the pregnancy. God and I were not on the best of terms then, but God knew that he would be my easy going little fellow. God knew that this little guy's capacity to love was far greater than anything that I had ever experienced and that I needed his love. SO I truly am thankful for my darling son.

Thankful for bubble wands and gallons of bubble solution. I am thankful that everyone was thoroughly entertained and that the bigger kids helped the little guys and blew bubbles for the baby.

Thankful for outdoor naps because there were many. When all else failed, a stroller ride did the trick and brought this stubborn little guy to slumber.

Thankful for group photos. It is so much fun trying to get everyone to look at the same time.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to see my family grow. I am thankful that we moved here and can enjoy having a larger than normal family.

I am thankful for picture collages of growing babies. I shared this collage on Facebook on Adam's birthday. I am so thankful that we have made it through another year and that I had the opportunity to see all of my little ones grow. I am thankful for those big brown eyes. They remind me of what I have in heaven. The eyes of our unborn baby, as small as the baby was had eyes that look just like Adam's.

I am thankful for soccer balls and big sisters who love to play with little brothers. I am thankful for all of the time that she spends with him, teaching him and hugging him.

Thankful for a big sister who is training to be a babysitter and baths little brothers. I look on in awe at my baby bathing my little babies. She will be a good mama some day. I am so thankful that I can help her, teach her and mentor her.
Thankful for cool towel that were thrifted a while back. Thankful that this little guy lets big sis give him baths while mama watches from the sidelines.
Thankful for a very communicative and silly baby. Thankful that he is eating solids (he hated baby food and anything pureed ~ still does).

I am thankful for kids who like to pose for mama and who can sit still long enough to let mama do their hair. I am so thankful for the YouTube videos and hair~bloggers who give step by step instructions on how to do pretty girly hair-do's.
I am thankful for a nearby Dollar Store that specializes in helium balloons. They have a corner of their store dedicated to them. I am thankful that we could make this guy so happy with this one balloon. I am thankful that it entertained him for almost two weeks before it petered out.

I am thankful for the baby swing that entertains this guy while I garden. He thankfully loves to go for swing rides.

I am thankful for big brothers and little brothers who like to cuddle. I am thankful for the bucket hat that has donned the fourth little boys' head. Oh my how time flies.

I am thankful for my sewing room, my sewing room companions and some time to work on the Star Wars quilt for hubby.

I am thankful for little babies who fit on doll beds and don't mind giving dollies little hugs.

Thankful that everyone helped lighten my load so that I could FINALLY finish Adam's crib quilt. It was begun way before he was born, but I am so thankful that it is finished.

I am so thankful for some more I-spy fabric that I received in the mail today. It was sent to me for FREE from a lovely lady named Susan. I am so thankful that she passed it on so that I can more children happy playing with their I-spy quilts.

I am so thankful that I made some sales in my shop so that I could by some really cute Japanese I-spy fabric and some cute baby and CHRISTMAS fabric. I am so thankful for fabric. It makes me so happy. That may sound funny, but if you are a quilter or a sewer you will understand.

I am so thankful to be taking part in a signature block swap. These are some of the blocks that I have made and all of the fabric that still needs to be sewn together. I am thankful that I will be receiving blocks from all over the world to make into a beautiful quilt some day.

I am so thankful to have been able to join a small quilt yahoo group that posts free patterns for cute little quilts. I am so thankful that I have a daughter to make these little quilts for.

I am thankful for new runners. They are nothing fancy, but they are helping me during my T-Tapp workouts. It does make a difference when you don't do the workouts in bare foot.

I am so thankful for a custom order that I recently filled for 10 rosary pouches. It is not everyday that I sell anything, let along get asked to make something. I am thankful that I am able to make these and to be able to help out financially once in a while.

I am thankful that I have had some time to make some more rosaries. I love making rosaries and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to design rosaries and chaplets.

This summer has been one to remember. I am thankful that I took some time off of blogging to enjoy the summer, the family and time to experience new things.

I am also thankful for you my lovely blog readers. I love hearing from you and reading your comments. 
God Bless, friends.
Holly Hobbie - friends

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pioneer Times and Egg Pudding

A few years ago, I bought three books by Barbara Greenwood; A Pioneer Story, A Pioneer Thanksgiving and A Pioneer Christmas. I had fully intended on using them to study pioneer times in Canada. Unfortunately, these books were collecting dust until yesterday when we began our study of pioneer times in Canada. My sweet daughter begged me to do a study on pioneers. She was leaning toward some sort of study on Laura Ingalls Wilder until she found these books on the shelves.

We are using these three books to study the life and times of the early settlers of Canada. I have spread out the study of these books to span from now until Christmas break. In each chapter of each of the books there are suggested activities to enrich the study. These books are a combination of the story of the Robertsons, a fictional family in 1840 and an activity book. Today we made sugar anti-freeze after reading about maple sugaring and egg pudding to follow up on yesterday's reading about the first signs of spring.

There was no activity suggested for the first chapter, but that didn't stop us from making one up. The chapter was about the first signs of spring and about Sarah letting out the chickens for the first time. It talked about chickens get broody and that they don't always lay eggs where you would expect them to. Sarah found an egg, but not just any egg. She found the first egg of the season and when she brought it in to show Ma, Ma said she would use it to make egg pudding.

I had never even heard of egg pudding before. Have you? I googled it and found a few recipes, but we can't have milk. We searched some more and found a similar recipe that was dairy free. Yippee! We used this recipe for Thai Egg Pudding, but I am not sure what is Thai about it. It is dairy and sugar free. The recipe called for 45 minutes baking time and well... it took 1 hour and 45 minutes until it was done. It was so worth the wait. It was custard like and creamy and delicious topped with our homemade blueberry jam. If you haven't ever made Egg Pudding, I urge you to give it a whirl.

We had so much fun and look forward to the chapters to come. I am planning on getting a drop spindle and roving to spin some yarn. We will also try dying some wool and hopefully dip some candles, make homemade cranberry sauce and of course quilt something. Stay tuned.

Holly Hobbie - friends
God Bless and have a great day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To School Rules

Starting fresh is easy. Following through and persevering when it is tough is the key to success. I have great plans for this year, plans to persevere. That will be the key to getting through this year. We always start out strong and by Christmas break we are burnt out. After New Year's we are in a rut and barely get ourselves out by Easter and trudge along until we can't anymore sometime in mid-May. Not this year, if I can help it.

In order to succeed this year, I have planned to follow a few simple rules.

  1. Pray first, pray last and pray in between. I don't know about your family, but if we don't make the effort to pray before we all start school and then again after, things go awry. Sometimes one kid does math before breakfast and then another is in the middle of a lesson after breakfast and then the we all get working and don't stop to pray. It happens, but I need to make more of an effort to direct our efforts to God and to teach the children that what they do matters to God. I can't guide them if I am not always guiding them in His direction. I would fall short. Oh wait, that's why this is now a rule.
  2. Don't sweat the small stuff. This is a biggy for me. I let small stuff hijack my day. You know the bad phone call, wet panties, cat barf, spilled milk and such atrocities that happen. Somehow if I don't keep my cool, the day ends up a mess and no school gets done.
  3. Pace myself. Sometimes I want the kids to stick to the plans so badly that I forget about their needs. If we get behind, we quickly fall into despair and despair leads no where except to feeling like failures. I need to let my kids learn at their pace, within reason of course. Laziness doesn't count.
  4. Do snack-time. We generally just eat three meals per day, but that doesn't help curb low blood sugar and mid morning jitters. A mid morning fruit snack, a few nuts or a piece of cheese usually does the trick. The kids forget about what just frustrated them and the little guys are preoccupied with something other than destroying the house.
  5. Speak slowly and calmly even when no one else is. Ouch, I didn't do well on that one today. If I can stay calm when everyone is demanding my attention at once, the spark doesn't have a chance to develop into a major fire storm. Teaching the children to take turns and when they must interrupt and when not to belongs in here, too.
  6. Put school first. The bills can wait until after school and so can organizing the pantry or cleaning the bathroom. I feel better when and less guilty when the kids come first. 
  7. Get enough sleep, exercise and down-time, especially on weekends. The battery needs to regenerate and not run full speed ahead 24/7. Daily exercise is a must and so is remembering to take my vitamins. A healthy mom is a calmer and more collected mom. Failing to follow this rule always leads to a crash and burn, a two week bug that you can't knock off or something really annoying like shingles.
  8. Remember that I am not perfect! I won't always remember to follow the rules. I will fall off of the horse. I will lose my patience and forget snack time, but I must always forgive myself for these things. Home schooling is not easy and neither is being a mom of a wide range of children of varying needs. 
  9. Start the day with a tidy house and meals planned. I don't mean a spotless, but rather a tidy house. It is easier to learn if the space is not a mess and the dishes aren't piled up. Make sure the chores are done in a timely manner and everyone is helping to the best of their ability. Also having meals prepped is imperative to our home school's success. We turn into bears when we are hungry. Knowing that meals are prepped and only take minutes to assemble or finish or cook is so important. Everyone wants to have down time and no one including me wants to cook while trying to jostle a tired and fussy baby. Living grain free comes with challenges and meals are a challenge without a plan.
  10. Enjoy the learning experience. This is the reason that we home school. Filling in workbooks and checking off lists of things to do is not the focus of our home school. We don't school at home, we home school and enjoy learning together and being together. I need to rejoice in the little learning experiences as well as the little things.
"And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing". ~ Galations 6:9

Do you home school? Do you have a motto or rules for success? I am interested in learning what you do. 

On another note, I thought you might like to see some photos of our first day of school. We have a dedicated space for school in our basement this year. It is a small space, but it works for us so far. Everything is handy and accessible, except for the things that little guys shouldn't get into without supervision. Those things are stored up really high. Free access to glue and scissors is not permissible in this little house of mine.

 This is two oldest working on their IEW writing course. They were watching the video together. Luckily, they don't do all of their work in such tight quarters.

Here is Owen learning how to type using home row. He is having a few difficulties not peeking at his fingers, but that will get better in time.

Here is Maria reading out loud to me while I play cars with the baby. This book is really good. I didn't want her to stop reading, but she had to move on to her next exercise.

Here is Owen listening to his religion course online. I am really liking the Faith and Life online classes for a change. There are little video excerpts from the "Footprints of God Series" and lovely music interludes.

This is behind the school table. Hubby has plans for painting the school room in a lighter brighter color. There are perks of being married to a painter.

This is the opposite side of the room. This is the computer work station. The back to back desks are working really well so far.

This is my basket full of teacher's manuals, books that we are reading and everything that I need at my fingertips. There is another basket beside it filled with library books and another basket on the other side of the room in the corner. We have books everywhere. I am in my element here for sure. 

Well, that was our first day with hopes for the rest of the year. I hope that you come back often. We have lots of plans. Tomorrow we are making egg pudding just like the pioneers. Later this year, we will be dissecting an owl pellet and spinning yarn. 

God Bless, friends and thanks for stopping by.
Holly Hobbie - friends

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to School Photoshoot

Tommorow is our first day of school. Oh boy, I hope and pray that it goes well. There are lots of plans made, books and supplies purchased and a few grey hairs to boot. The last few years were rocky and I am really looking forward to a better year this year. What can go wrong, really? I just have a preschooler and a baby that love to tear the house apart the second that I am not looking. Oh and not to mention, chase the cat or break their siblings stuff. No sweat! I got this. At least I have hope to receive the grace I need to get through this year.

We are starting with a new school board and facilitator and throwing our old ways to the wind. I am actually learning to get over my Type A personality and getting better at not sweating the little things. It is really, really hard, but the benefits are endless. I have learned that different kids can have totally different learning styles and that curriculum that worked amazingly well for one child is the next child's nightmare. I have learned to pick my battles and to stick to my guns when I need to, theoretically. I second guess myself all of the time. I try to fake it until I make it. What is the worst that can happen really? My kids know that I love them and that I am NOT perfect and that I try to always do what is right. I am only human and therefore I need to have more faith in God that he will aid me where I am weak and strengthen me in my abilities, my knowledge and help me learn from my experience.

This year, I actually have back to school photos. We took them after Mass today. I really wanted to get a group shot, but Patrick got stung by a bee while everyone was arranging themselves. The shot wasn't that important anymore. Poor kid got stung three times by a big ole bumble bee. I am just thanking God that he isn't allergic.

This year I actually let hubby take pictures of me. That is an enormous accomplishment on my part. I hate having my picture taken. I have a horrible relationship with myself. I have huge body image issues (pardon the pun). I debated on whether or not to share the pictures because I am still not at my goal weight. I feel uncomfortable in my skin. I see other mom's shedding the weight easily after having babies and I am still forty pounds more than I was before babies. I was always the skinny kid and that all changed after having babies. I tried to have fun with hubby and let him take really quirky pictures of me. I really am a funny person and love to clown around. I hope you can all have a chuckle with me. God Bless friends and cheers to a new school year.

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