Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Thankful for tall pines that take your breath away...

Thankul for blue-eyed babies, just like their father...

Thankful for autumn scenery and gloriously beautiful days...

Thankful for a husband who takes time off work and puts family time first...

Thankful for little boys who challenge, but make me melt all the same...

Thankful for nine year old girls who grow up in the blink of an eye and say some of the most insightful things...

Thankful for 7 month old baby girl who one day decides to make crawling her new full time job *sigh*...

Thankful for progesterone shots that help me maintain pregnancies, despite my absolute dread of them. It's worth it, for the baby's sake...

Thankful for a sweet baby bundle who curls up in a ball, just to show off his or her contortionist ways...

Can you see that little leg and foot stretched out up there way above his or her head? It was a good thing we weren't trying to find out gender, it would've been near impossible last week.

Thankful for sweetness in florals, pinks and purples with untamable hair...

Thankful for nature's little things that leave my children in awe and wonder...

Thankful Thursdays
A time to remember to be thankful
A pause in the week for praise,
thanksgiving and thinking positively
in addition to the normal daily praise
we need to give God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Celebrating Nine-Round 2

On Lily's birthday we celebrated with cake and friends. On Sunday we celebrated with some family and hosted brunch after Mass. YUM!

Lily's choice for this cake was a homemade chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.

Inspired by Jamie's piano cake, Lily knew that was what she wanted. I googled images of piano cakes and found a round cake that would work and leave us with few leftovers.(We've had quite enough cake for one week!)

This is the finished product:

It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. And the birthday girl was quite pleased.

Nine is fine, especially when you get to celebrate this much!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reason #84 Why We Homeschool...

...a Friday Family Field Trip!

When Reed told me several weeks ago that his monthly region meeting in his line of work was at Itasca State Park, I knew it was an opportunity for a Field Trip.

We were all eagerly looking forward to it and I prayed that the weather would be autumn-crisp and perfect.

Friday's weather was just that.

We awoke the kids earlier than usual to make our way out on our almost 2 1/2 hour trek. The sun shone and the kids were all in unusually chipper moods to start out our journey.

Hubby made it in time for his meeting and headed in. I knew we potentially had almost two hours to kill before meeting up with him at lunch time. We found the nearest source for a printed map, hit the restrooms, checked out the gift shop and made our way back outdoors to explore.

There were so many trails to choose from and we wandered a bit trying to find the correct one to lead us to the observation tower. Apparently, while map skills are normally a strong suit of mine, they aren't so much when I am trying to use a feeble, pregnant brain.

We did, however, find this fella:

And the swingset/play area:

In the end we finally asked a worker for some directions! About to head on the correct trail, Reed happened to text me letting me know his meeting was finished. Already!! Perfect timing (I guess we wandered for so long for a reason, after all)since we were still close enough to the lodge for him to catch up.

We set out to find the 100 foot, old fire observation tower. What wonderful hiking we experienced and enjoyed as a family! We couldn't have asked for a better day, weather-wise.

We made it!

The big kids headed to the top with daddy. Mommy stayed on sure ground with sleeping Gianna in the stroller. Who am I kidding? I probably wouldn't have made it all the way to the top any way.

The adventurous three at the top:

Some of the view:

A look at mommy from the top of the tower:

After that we hiked on back to the lodge for lunch, relishing every step and marveling at the beauty that surrounded us.

Lily and I, stopping for a quick photo(Every once in a while mommy does actually get in a photo):

After an excellent lunch at the lodge restaurant, it was time then to drive 5 miles and make our way to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Not too long of a walk on the trail to find what we had set out to see. I was surprised to see actually how small of an area the water covered to begin the Mighty Mississippi. I don't know what I expected, but I guess maybe a bigger body of water. Either way, it was fun to say we saw it.

Crossing the rocks with daddy:

Can you see their faces below? They say "We love fun family outings!!"

Another day of precious memories and beautiful moments, all of us together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrating Nine

My firstborn, Miss Lily Mae, turned 9 yesterday!

I was telling my husband yesterday that I couldn't possibly imagine going through the almost 24 hour (med. free)labor and being overdue 11 days EVER again like I had for Lily. But, she was so worth it!

Lily's day started out with birthday hugs and kisses from all of us. Thankfully, nine isn't too old for those yet. She appreciated them.

The birthday girl ruled the day for the most part and chose homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. She certainly is easy to please.

Lily wanted to have a couple of friends over who happen to be sisters. We had invited them over for a couple hours to come party/play/eat pizza for supper and have cake with us. They had so much fun!

The cake Lily chose was strawberry with vanilla buttercream frosting and she wanted a butterfly on the top. Deciding to bypass numerous decorating sprinkles and candies, I opted for using colored marshmallows on the wings instead. I had the cake all frosted before the party, but waited to put the marshmallows on. It ended up ideal since the kids all wanted to help, so they each decorated a portion of the wings.

It turned out pretty cute, don't you think?

We all enjoyed celebrating Lily and the beginning of her last year in the single digits. Yikes! That's hard to believe! And the Birthday Girl agreed that it was a perfect birthday.

We still have one more family celebration coming up this weekend, so I'm sure I'll post photos (especially of the cake Lily chose) of that one too! You never can celebrate too much when you are NINE.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Speaking Honestly

Some days you can wake up rested and rejuvenated. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the day's outlook is beautiful. All the children are well rested, happily eat their breakfasts, get dressed for the day, do their chores and eagerly await the teacher at their school desks.

THAT was not today.

It's Monday, let's start with that. They aren't always my favorite after a family weekend that fills me up and let's me down with the start of the new week. It's harder to get out of bed on Monday, harder to get my exercise in and just harder in so many other areas of the day. There's just a lot to do on Monday.

Add on top of that a restless night for baby who is apparently teething and me lazily laying in bed just a little longer. There are my other children who should've gotten their adequate amount of sleep because I let them sleep in as needed, but seemingly that was still not enough. Instead, I was greeted with revolt, tears, crabbiness and utter chaos.

Not exactly the picture perfect homeschooling, at-home mom ideal that we all like to portray, huh?

In the end school was pushed back and not easily accomplished, but we did get through it. Baby took short (like 15 minute) naps and I tried to roll with it. To throw the day off a little more, I had a scheduled OB appointment and ultrasound this afternoon to get to as well.

It all happened. The day is almost done and we all survived.

Today won't go down in the books as one of our best days ever and that Homeschooling Mom of the Year Award will surely bypass me this year, but that's ok. Tomorrow is a new day, thankfully.

I just wonder if any other pregnant mother has actually looked forward to a doctor appointment just to have a little time alone and get away? Today, I sure did.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Searching For The Right Fit

This was my status last night on Facebook:

"Trying to find an activity for Jonah to be a part of, even if it's short term. He's not into sports, but he needs to get around some boys his age. Ideas?? Activities? Clubs? HELP!!"

Now I send out the same message to you. Can you offer any suggestions?

Mothering a boy is different than things are with Lily. He WAS my 'baby' for almost six years after all. So, despite him being a stubborn, head strong at times and energy zapper when he's in a funk, I sure love this little man.

He holds the key to my heart in a unique way and therefore, perhaps I need to let him grow wings more than I have let him thus far. Ok, so it's not like he's a teenager or something. He's six and has plenty time to still grow up.

But any way....

We are trying to figure out how to get him involved in something worthwhile that builds his character and confidence. Something that helps him learn how to work with others and preferably has more boys in it than himself. Because he's around his sisters and mom all day and most often with friends and family who only have girls his age, we think he could benefit from some male companionship.

Reed has considered starting a Blue Knights group (with my help), but even that may be difficult to find enough boys in our circles that are the right age. And, although Jonah was keen on the idea initially, as of late he has decided that if HE can't be the 'leader' of a boys club, then he doesn't want to be a part of a club. Stubborn, I remind you.

We were seriously considering checking out Martial Arts and have been looking in to it. The drawback is that we aren't getting returned phone calls to answer our questions and another place has disconnected phone service. Out of business?

Hubby has also looked in to Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts. I think the whole idea of having to go camping pretty much makes hubby shy away from that one. I then remind him that sometimes we have to put aside our own dislikes and comfort zones in order to encourage and help our children.

Jonah did try t-ball this past spring. He liked it a bit and it was six weeks long and once a week. That was ideal for him.

Other interests? No sports interests. And we've reached pretty far (even offering wrestling, despite my best judgment and dislike for it). He just loves to use his imagination, play Thomas trains and is fascinated by the idea of film making/movie making.

Our other drawback in the whole thing is the fact that we live at least 10-18 miles away from towns that provide even some of the things I've mentioned. It's another drive in to 'town', but worth it if we can truly find something that is just right for Jonah.

Can you help me, help him? I welcome any ideas (even far-fetched ones), suggestions or feedback on any of the above or something I haven't mentioned.

We'd love to help him find just the right fit.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strawberry Poke Cake

Rushing around last week to come up with a quick cake to make on the fly for our anniversary (aka Blessed Mother Mary's birthday, which we also celebrate), I stumbled upon a Strawberry Poke Cake recipe.

I was searching for something strawberry since that was the flavor we chose for our wedding cake. Although I found many that sounded yummy, I just didn't have the time for them.

The Poke Cake served us well and was a light and creamy treat after our meal.

I followed the Betty Crocker Raspberry Poke Cake recipe and just substituted strawberry jello. Using a boxed white cake mix, jello and whipped topping made this quick and easy, which is exactly what I needed that day.

Pardon the photo and the lack of perfectly cut and plated cake--I snapped it quick before I stuffed my face relished every bite.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Butter Baby

This also could've been titled 'The things I let child #3 do that I NEVER would've allowed my firstborn to do'.

Now you know how Gianna has become my chunky monkey. I let her eat sticks of butter.

Kidding, of course.

And I do so L-O-V-E my babies with their little chubbers (my name for their thighs), because every one of my children have had them.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just A Glimpse

One of my favorite things to do is peek in on my kids when they are asleep. Sometimes it's a feeling of relief that the long and difficult day is behind us.

Sometimes it's just to behold their dreamy faces and listen to the rythmic breathing.

With my baby it's usually one more look to be sure that she's breathing, isn't laying on her belly and has settled down.

No matter the age of my children, I still find it tugging the heartstrings of this mother's heart. It's usually a quick glance, but it's enough to make me wistful and just want to cuddle my growing little people.

I wish I could capture each and every one of these glimpses since they are few and far between amidst the bustle of every day life.

These days I'm eager to hold tight to what is right in front of me and not rush away the moment. The kids grow up whether I want them to or not, whether I've got my eye on them or I don't. They each are at different stages and yet each reaching for their own kind of independence.

I catch one more backwards glance as I leave the room and realize that I, like them, am still growing and changing right alongside them. With each stage and season they enter, I am called to a new kind of mothering.

It's good for all of us.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bountiful Harvest

I know I mention it every year, but this time of year always makes me feel a little like a Pioneer. You know, like the Ingalls Family. I've been busy these last weeks canning, freezing and storing away food for the winter.

I guess it also makes me feel a little like a squirrel too.

Our garden has served us well this summer and been plentiful.

-The green beans produced enough for me to freeze many meals for later use and several meals fresh from the garden.

-My parents picked up 10 dozen ears of corn for our family from a local farmer in their area. We cut it off the ears and froze over a dozen bags.

-My parents were also our source of apples this year from their abundant two trees, which provided 12 qts. apple pie filling, 9 qts. applesauce that we canned and another 8 freezer containers of applesauce.

-Our tomatoes haven't done too bad, although they are awfully small romas this year for some reason. They have already produced 16 qts. spaghetti sauce, 6 qts. V8 juice and 13 pints tomato soup. I still have plenty more to ripen, but I think we'll be finished up soon.

-There are still potatoes to be dug and squash to pick, bake and freeze this fall yet.

Although it's a lot of work and about now I'm sick of seeing the produce and dealing with it, I always remind myself of that rewarding feeling I have in the winter months. It's a good feeling to pull out one of those jars from the shelf and reap the benefits of the extra effort I'm making now during the harvest.

The homegrown taste just can't be beat!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

To The Man I Love

Ten years ago today we were the Bride and Groom.
Today we are the Husband and Wife.

It's true that God brought you to me at just the perfect time. He made me for you and you for me. I truly cannot imagine being nearly as blessed without you in my life.
So blessed, that when I try to list all of the many ways you fulfill your role as husband, I am overwhelmed by the limitless ways you faithfully do that daily.

Yes, you were my knight, my prince charming.
You came into my life when I relied most on God showing me exactly who was my perfect mate.
You were ready and so was I.

To be together was so easy and still is.
To connect, communicate and love so well hardly was believable.

After our whirlwind romance, we settled in and built a home and a family.

If the walls of this home, our home, could talk they would be able to share the joys and happiness that have filled countless days in our marriage together.

They could retell of sorrow and pain so immeasurable at times, that we could not help but be drawn closer to one another, God and our faith.

Our marriage has become unshakable.

In ten years we have ridden some amazing highs and carried each other through valleys so low our love-struck eyes could never have foreseen.

You have held my hand and walked beside me despite my many flaws.

You have always remained attentive to me and my needs and desires, most often putting all else before yourself.

With kindness and compassion, love and loyalty, patience and joy you have nurtured our love and our marriage over these years.

To daily walk beside a man filled with so much grace, strength and courage, I am humbled and honored. You still are my knight, my prince charming.

I look forward to the many years ahead together and the many ways that we will continue to grow and build upon our marriage that has been rooted over these first ten years.

I cannot imagine how many more ways God will see to it that we are blessed in our sacrament of marriage.

Thank you for the man you are, the husband and father you've become and the treasure you are to me.

I love you dearly, Reed. Happy Tenth Anniversary!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To School

We made it through our first day back to school! Hooray! Well, not that there was any doubt. It was more of a question HOW exactly it would all work out. It's tough to say what the days and weeks ahead hold, but we take it one school day at a time. And today was good.

I'll also have to interject that we didn't start with a full-on, all subjects kind of day either. Some courses we'll add next week with our first full week of school. Others, due to their shorter length will be added in October.

If nothing else, it will keep my students guessing. Ha! More like, it will keep us all on task and interested in our classes as we move through the year.

Remember my mention of Homeschool Tracker? Seriously, it's my new friend and we are working well together. I couldn't be happier more nerdy.

1st Grader

3rd Grader

Classroom Helper

How was your first day of school?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer's Last Hurrah

When the calendar turns to September, summer comes to a close. At least around here it does. Not long ago when my days were not marked by a school year, it really just meant another turning of the page.

With two school age children in our household, it's a new season. Bringing on September means gearing up for hitting the books. In ways it brings uneasiness of the daunting task of covering all that we need to for another school year, but on the other hand brings relief in the rhythm and routine of our days.

As the page turns, the final sands of the summer hourglass come to pass. It's in these final days that we bask in their glory and fill them to overflowing.

On Friday I took the kids to visit friends and their new baby boy. We also hit a local hot spot only open in the summer. I hadn't had the stomach or gumption to drive over there all summer, but now that I had both it was a top priority! Hot dog, burgers and fries fresh off the grill enjoyed outdoors at the counter with the swivel stools. We enjoyed it so much that I neglected the camera and reveled in the moment.

With shakes (Cherry-marshmallow for the boy and Banana for the girl) and Smores Cyclone (aka Blizzard knock-off) for mommy in hand, we headed to the park. Serenity and beauty awaited us as we had the place to ourselves. I couldn't help but snap a few photos of the fun. The only thing missing was daddy who was slaving away at work.

Sunday brought a crisp autumn-like day and we took advantage of the chance to meet up with my parents and grandma. We headed down the road and drove an hour to capture the fleeting beautiful blooms at the gardens, one of my favorite places. We wandered the grounds and with camera in hand I snapped away.

Though there was an intermittent rain shower or two, we still had several hours of quality family time and that was what mattered most. We finished up at the playground and feasted on perhaps our last picnic of the season.

Today whizzed by as the whole summer has, but we made time to squeeze in all that we could. Reed took the kids fishing this morning since he had promised he would one more time this weekend. A bit nippy, but they still caught a couple and as always, enjoyed their time with daddy.

We hit the bike trail this afternoon for a family ride. Gianna tried out my BIL's bike trailer for the first time and enjoyed it most of the ride. It was ideal weather to enjoy the sunshine, the breeze and the scenery just the five of us.

Tomorrow will bring a new season, a new school season. As tired as I am right now, I'm not sure this teacher is ready to begin homeschooling year #4. By the morning (and after some coffee) I think I'll feel differently.

Good luck to all of you tomorrow as you begin your new year, whether at home or sending your children out the door. Either way, I'm sure each of us will have stories to tell and pictures to post.

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