Friday, May 27, 2011

Fitness Friday...Challenge for Me!

Joining the lovely Halley over at Betty Beguiles, I thought I'd subject myself to a little lesson in humility that just might spark me to kick it in gear and get my body moving.

I was very excited to have dropped yet another dress size over the last 2 months!  Yeah!  Consequently, I've enjoyed wearing more skirts because of the warmer weather and their flattering and feminine effect on mommies.:)

However, I have a few things I need to work on...(here goes the humility!)


I really need to start walking again in the morning, taking walks with the kids, and biking.  Running is out of the question since I can't run....I won't say why.  Just take my word for it.:)  I think I'm doing pretty well for having seven kiddies.  I just know I need a ways to go.
Progress not Perfection!

(I think you'll like these, Betty!  The purchase was definitely inspired by you.:)

Violet Wedges with Cute Bows!

I actually dropped a shoe size also!:)

Along the Alphabet Path - R Week & S Week

R is for Ragged Robin Fairy, St. Rita, Rabbits, Rodents, and Rummikub

Books We Read

Author Study - Cynthia Rylant
Books on the Renaissance:  Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo
Fast Facts About Rodents
Rabbits, Rabbits, and More Rabbits

Dwarf Hamsters, Itty and Bitty

Activites We Did

R Letter Formation
R Stamping Work
Playing Rummikub
Learning About Our New Rodents!

Before & After

S is for Strawberry Fairy, St. Sharbel and Shakespeare

We've really not done anything this week Along the Alphabet Path, but we did start reading...

The Wind in the Willows (ok, that's W week...oh, well!)

This will be our last Read-A-Loud for the school year.
And the kids have been very busy putting together a play.  They wanted to perform Shakespeare's Twelfth Night so Monica started writing the script.  To save her all the work, I went online and found this.

I love when they perform stuff for us.  They are always so creative and resourceful with props and costumes.  Here's a paragraph Monica wrote for her IEW writing class about her sister, Maria.

My Creative Companion
Maria is my creative sister who graciously helps me produce plays.  Last Christmas, I decided I wanted to direct a play.  Because Maria is my closest sister in age, I turned to her immediately to help me.  We decided to act out the Nativity for Christmas.  Using her artistic flare, she helped find simple costumes from our dress up box for each character.  She also hunted for cardboard and was lucky in locating a large box that had carried our new water heater.  We made the scenery.  When it was finished, we had an inn made from the cardboard.  She found people for each part, helped set up the stage, and even made a sacrifice and played the donkey last minute.  Even though I have had to bribe Maria into doing things, her creativity, silliness, and garrulous character have definitely made our plays successful and saved our past productions.  

*If you'd like to know more about the IEW (Writing) Course Monica took, you can check out Ms. Brekke's website HERE.  She is a trained IEW teacher.  With only a few days left, she is offering a "MayHem Sale" for a 20% discount off her e-mail courses.  Isn't that great?  Now you don't have to live in the Twin Cities to benefit from her experience as a writing teacher!

Have a Safe and Fun Memorial Day Weekend and
Welcome, Summer!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

round button chicken

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


Jane turned 3 on Saturday.  Happy Birthday, Jane Jane!

A Flower Fairy Garden Cake
If Charlotte is reading this, yes, those mushrooms were inspired by you.  I can't remember when you posted that so I can't link back to you.:(


that these chairs are getting reupholstered after 12 years!



Nicholas trying to catch the fish through the glass at the MN Zoo Aquarium

Nicholas doing the Mango Tango after climbing on a chair in the kitchen!


Having a real fun time with friends at the Land O' Lakes Farm Exhibit - MN Zoo
See more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Moments at Like Mother, Like Daughter by clicking on the button at the top.:)  And, I seem to have lost comments from the last two posts.  I disabled my Intense Debate widget so you can comment, if you want to, through the regular comments button from Blogger.  Sorry for the inconvenience.:(  I hate to discourage anyone from commenting.  I really appreciate all the support and comment love.  It sure helps a gal keep plugging along in her vocation...thanks, friends!:)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Late In The Game Giveaway!

There's an awesome May Giveaway Day going on over at Sew Mama Sew that I wanted to be a part of.  Think about tons of bloggers and Etsy Shop sellers in one place giving away all kinds of homemade goodies.  Since your chances are pretty slim of winning something over there and because I missed the entry deadline I love you, I'm going to do my own giveaway!  Lucky you.:)

It started with this...

which led to this...

and consequently, we had to do this...

SO with the scrapped fabric, I made these!

Bags made from old fabric - black & gold stripe

Bag made from the new fabric - green, cream, and gold

Do you like?

I'm giving all 3 bags away to 3 lucky winners.  All you have to do is leave a comment with the bag you like best and your email where I can contact you.  US entries only, please.  I'll take comments for this until Wednesday, the 25th, at 10PM CST.   We'll select winners on Thursday morning.


Heather - black & gold bag
Karna - black & gold bag
Jenny - green, cream & gold bag


Friday, May 20, 2011

Educational Bungee Jumping

in which I try to gather my thoughts before my first post on an Unschooling Yahoo Group!

I may have your attention with that menacing word in my subtitle.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy...sort of like the connotations that the words unsupervised, undisciplined, unstructured conjure up.  I recently read Suzie Andres' book, Homeschooling with Gentleness, and it got me thinking...about a lot of things.

...thinking about a lot of things.

I should probably start at the beginning when my boat started to shake a bit.  I started out this year...not the school January with the Alphabet Path.  I was intrigued by Elizabeth Foss's ideas and had heard about her book, Real Learning.
I knew it had a Charlotte Mason bent so I wasn't all that interested.  But the Alphabet Path was very interesting.  After our trip to Europe, Gabe and Jane were chomping at the bit to get going with reading.  Gabe already knew all of his letters and numbers and was quickly learning the phonograms from The Writing Road to Reading along with Lucas.  He wasn't interested in writing so I didn't think I'd push that.  Besides I didn't have time and I was still feeling drained from our trip.

I was doubting everything in November...homeschooling, having a large family, and whether I could handle it all.  Overwhelmed was an understatement.  I was so depressed that after a friend's daughter committed suicide, I had reached an all time low point.  I quickly sent in applications for the five oldest children to a charter school that would be opening its doors in Fall 2011.  I thought this was surely the way to sanity.  Thankfully, a friend suggested I recheck my thyroid levels and talk about my depression.  It took one visit with one of the midwives that delivered one of the kids...I can't remember which one!...for her to suggest I get evaluated for depression, get a prescription, and start seeing a counselor and psychiatrist.  She said that she'd never seen me that low and reassured me I had more than my share of things on my plate.  A couple months on medication and several visits later with a counselor got me back on my feet.  All the while I was praying and talking to Daddy about which route to take with the kids.  I knew I didn't want to send the kids to school.  After all, I love homeschooling, and they do, too.  So we went to one parent meeting for the charter school and withdrew their positions on their wait-list since all of them had gotten in.

...all of them had gotten in.

Getting back to Charlotte Mason...I have always liked the ideas there, but the narrations, the nature studies...I guess all the time spent having to do things with my kids scare me.  Hah!  I know I spend lots of time with the kids, but I like to lay out a plan and let them go.  They come to me for explanation, and I'm not all that patient when they disturb me.  What am I doing that they disturb me?  Keeping my sanity by crafting, reading, scheduling praying, and organizing.  It's a tough balancing act to serve and do and love and do it all over again.  It seems our days are spent changing Nick's diapers, straightening up so we can walk through the house, clearing off places to work, sweeping and vacuuming, making meals and cleaning up, sometimes reading aloud, and running around for activities.  We are living.  Together.  We are busy, active, happy, frustrated, impatient, loving, serving, and finding God in all of this.  I don't follow a set curriculum.  I've always been afraid to buy a boxed curriculum.  I have a homeschool road map that I like to follow, but sometimes I get off the path.  Sometimes life doesn't allow me to stay on track, but I have found that God always has my back.  

...God always has my back.

Also, in November I met a wonderful gal at our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd location.  She too had a son in the same class with Lucas and Gabe.  At that first meeting, we talked about homeschooling, unschooling, and her thoughts on both subjects and mine.  I was so taken with her and started to look forward to seeing her at Good Shepherd and asking her questions.  She would pose different scenarios or ask questions about parenting.  She really got me thinking about our style of homeschooling.  Was it really that close to being "unschooling?"  I was a bit shocked and then a bit relieved.  I remember hearing the term "unschooling" the summer after we withdrew our girls from school.  A mother at a ballet class was telling me how popular Classical curriculums had become, but that she chose unschooling as a better way of teaching her children.  I was so disgusted.  How could anyone not like the Classics?  How could anyone not want their children to follow a path that was well-worn, time-tested, and pursued the true, good, and beautiful?  

...the true, good, and beautiful

And, yet, she was a confident mother.  I was envious of her confidence.  I wanted that, too, but not with unschooling.  But I had it wrong.  After conversations with the "Good Shepherd" gal and reading through Suzie's book, I realized that a Catholic can be an unschooler.  I thought I might be one of those people.  After all unschooling does not mean you don't use textbooks, sign up for classes, or let your children sway in the wind like dandelions going out to seed.  On the contrary, I was being exhorted to tend my little garden with a gentle hand, to have conversations with my little flowers, and watch them grow into whatever God intended them to be.  I may have to stake them at times, fence them in, weed around them, and maybe even replant them.  But that is what a gardener does knowing all the while that he, too, is being pruned, tilled, and fertilized by his Gardener.  We never stop learning.  We can't.  If our hearts desire to be with God, isn't life one big lesson where we learn how to do that?

...conversations with my little flowers...

I'm now reading through A Little Way of Homeschooling, Suzie Andres' second book.
 Have you read it?  Any thoughts?  Are you a "closet" unschooler?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

round button chicken

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


New ground cover for the shady plot in the backyard under the Ash tree.

Two new Northern Lights Azalea shrubs for the front yard.  This will be a BIG project!


Meet the two newest additions to our family, Itty and Bitty!

Monica and Jane before a soccer practice

And this makes for a very happy Mommy!


That the girl who hates to study using flashcards...

decided she needed to make flashcards to learn the German Alphabet!


That really is Daddy's Middle School Biology kit retrieved from his parent's attic!

Click on the button at the top of this post to see more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Moments over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Along the Alphabet Path - N, O, P, and Q Weeks....Phew!

I am so delinquent in Alphabet Path postings so I decided to lump all of them together in this one.  Here goes....

N is for Nasturtium Fairy, St. Nicholas, Laura Numeroff Author Study
O is for Orchis Fairy, St. Odilia, Mary Pope Osbourne Author Study
P is for Pansy Fairy, St. Patrick and Easter (the Paschal Feast!)
Q is for Queen of the Meadow Fairy, Mary Queen of All Saints, and Quilt

Books We Read

In November
The Napping House
St. Nicholas & Why He Matters to Christmas
Laura Numeroff Books
Strega Nona Takes a Vacation
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile

One Fine Day
Peeping Beauty
Magic Tree House Books

No Books for P Week:(

No Books for Q Week:(

Activities We Did

Nursery Rhymes

The kids did activities while listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on CD.

Working with Numbers

 Activity for O Week

Oh, we went to Texas!!
Activity for P Week


Activity for Q week

We worked on our Alphabet Quilt.  The three oldest girls sewed all the blocks together.  Bringing back my Mom's vintage Singer Fashion Mate sewing machine was perfect for having enough machines for all the girls to work at the same time.  I just finished zigzag stitching all the applique letters today.  Now all it needs is a border, the layering and quilting, and binding.  It will be awesome when it's completed.  Here's what we have so far!

The embroidering was going to take too long and too much thread so zigzagging the edges of the letters worked better.:)

I have still have a few catch-up posts, but this one brings us up to speed on our journey along the Alphabet Path!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quickly, Quickly...

I just wanted to let those of you who commented to win that the winner is....

Clyde's Mom! sister:)

I promise this wasn't rigged.  Maria closed her eyes, turned to one side, and reached her hand in pulling out the winning name.  I think her hand was definitely led by the Holy Spirit as my sister teaches Confirmation classes!

Thanks to those who commented...more posts on random things later.:)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Zippered Pouch Tutorial

I was inspired by Ginny at Small Things with this post about her need to use up some vintage zippers and store her Bob Books.  Because little hands have trouble or aren't always so gentle with the boxes Bob Books come in, I too was interested in pursuing this project.  I got even more excited when I saw a similar project in my serger book, Ready, Set, Serge: Quick And Easy Projects You Can Make in Minutes.  I am really enjoying all the wisdom in this book...very practical.  Here's how I did it.

First I took a 12" plastic zipper and centered it along the shorter side of an 8 1/2" X 13" piece of fabric.  I used coordinating fat quarters to make 4 pouches.  I ended up not using my serger to attach the zipper.  I used my zipper foot on my sewing machine to do this on both short sides of the fabric.

Here's the view after opening the zipper and sewing it onto the right side of the opposite short side of fabric.  Do you get that?  Somewhat confusing I know.:('s what it should look like if you turn the fabric right side out and close the zipper.  Notice that I moved the zipper about an inch below the top of the pouch before pressing it.  Still with me?

Then I turned the fabric wrong side out after closing the zipper.  I'm getting ready to cut that extra 2 inches off the side.  Stay with can do this!

You're going to serge the other side of the bag, too.  I don't always get things right the first time around, however.:(

I had to set that pouch aside and get another one going in order to finish this tutorial.  Because of that, you'll see another printed fabric.  Still with me?  Before serging the side where the zipper will open the bag, open the zipper 2" from the side of the bag.

Now you can serge that side.  Hold the zipper together with your fingers and watch it with your cutting blade.  Bleeding all over your fabric and machine is not cool.

Now that both side seams are serged, turn the pouch right side out through that zippered opening.

Here's what it looks like zippered shut and pressed.

The pouches are the perfect size for the books and fill a need in our homeschool.  Score!

Here are the finished pouches I made.

Have a Fun Weekend!

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