Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bird Feeders (Keep-It-Simple Science Gone Awry)

I had such high hopes for bird watching this winter.  So we made our own bird feeders - little gems mined from Pinterest - and used two kinds of feed thinking it would improve our chances of attracting a variety of birds.  And then I set my expectations way up there - I wanted to see cardinals, wood peckers, and chickadees at our windows on the first day, and maybe even that hawk I've seen around here lately.  I wouldn't mind him swooping in to pick off an unsuspecting sparrow.  (It's not cruel,  it's -cue Elton John here- "the ciiiiiiiircle, the circle of life!") 

Making the bird feeders went very well.  We had lots of messy fun... and we vacuumed a lot. 

Then my fabulous husband said of course he would get out the ladder and go out in the cold and hang the feeders at different windows all around the house.  *love*

Then we got out our bird guides and a lovely library find, Backyard Birds of Winter.  

And then we waited.  And waited.  And no birds came.  And my windows got pretty gunked up with peanut butter (it's like the smelly paperwhites... I'm willing to suffer for science...).  And then the squirrels came.  I wasn't surprised since we spent the better part of the Fall intentionally luring squirrels to our patio door... but the bird feeders were hung in areas that required the squirrels to scale the actual walls of our house, not just skitter across the deck.  Time to take the bird feeders down... because it just feels a little too creepy to have a squirrel crawling on the walls of my home.  (Squirrels eating nuts on our deck are cute... squirrels crawling on the walls of my home become rats with fluffy tails and it is not ok.  I will not suffer rats, even for the sake of science.)
(would you be so good as to overlook the poor quality of these pictures... it's tricky to get a good shot of a moving squirrel through a peanut butter smeared window)

Our last ditch effort was to move one feeder to a little tree outside one window.  Cute idea, but then the  bottom fell out of it - probably an engineering oversight on my part.  Bird watching was just not meant to be this winter.  My children were a little disappointed, but have already begun making plans for different types of feeders for next year.  I guess we'll try again next year, but I sure could use a little encouragement and advice in this department if you have any to offer.  Please?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Growing Winter Flowers (Keep-it-Simple Science)

Simple.  Simple.  Simple.  

This is the second year that we've grown amaryllis and paperwhites during the winter.  Last year it was more a part of our Christmas celebrating and decorating, but this year I sort of forgot we had the bulbs until after the New Year.  So, with the holidays over and bulbs still waiting to be planted, it naturally meant that it would be a part of school, (I'm very liberal with the term "school" and pretty much slap that label on whatever fun activities we do around here.)  

If you've never grown these winter flowers in your home plan on it for it next year!  The $5 kits sold in stores in the months before Christmas are totally sufficient. (I use my own nice pots though, instead of the light-weight easy-to-tip-over brown plastic pots that they give you.)  The best part of these plants, especially for little kids, is that they grow so quickly, you can literally see change from morning to night.  Kids that might otherwise lose patience with another "growing" project will see speedy results with this one.  And it's fun to get some indoor gardening practice even while the garden outside alternates between frozen and muddy.  

Last year I remember we got two or three giant amaryllis blooms.  This year, we waited a little too long to plant the amaryllis so I don't think we'll get any blooms, but our paperwhites have delivered as expected!  We've kept a ruler next to the plants and have used it frequently.  The kids have often measurd the paperwhites in the morning, watered them, then measured again in the afternoon - one day there was an inch of growth during the day!  And of course, there's the unbridled excitement that runs through the house on the morning when we wake up and spot the first peek of a white petal poking through!  I'm thinking that next year I might have the kids record the measurements and watering schedules in their science binders and have them include photos that they take or sketches that they do of the flowers.  

Some ideas to make it more science-y: guess how many days it will be from planting till the first bloom; some bulbs already have little shoots - will the furthest along at planting time be the first to bloom?; does the "pod" of each paperwhite produce the same number of blooms?  all at one time?  do some die before the others can bloom?;  what happens to the plants if you rotate the pot every couple of days?; grow a plant near a window and one in a dim corner and compare the progress.  Kids eat this stuff up :)  Or at least mine do...  And for that, I am grateful.  

It's so simple.  And it's science.  And it makes your home look flowery-lovely in the winter. (The only down side is - however, the benefits are such that I'm trying to ignore it - paperwhite blossoms really stink!)  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Birthday Girl - She Makes Turning Three Look Easy!

Three years ago, the doctors said, "It's a girl!  And she has brown hair!"  We named her Ruth Elaine.  And that was the beginning of our life with daughters!  It's been three years of delight and we got to celebrate Ruth's birthday yesterday!

She's got a rough-time-of-year birthday, though.  Last year, her birthday fell on Ash Wednesday.  This year it was a Lenten Friday.  So of course my dilemma was what meat-free meal can I make that the birthday girl would love??  The kids and I brainstormed on the way to the grocery store, and when I said, "ravioli?"  the back of the van erupted in cheers!  So here was the final birthday menu for last night:

bread and butter
cheese ravioli, sauce
roasted cauliflower w/ Parmesan
glazed carrots
strawberry lemonade

(the highlighted portions were the kids' favorite parts of the menu!)

We are so blessed to live near my parents. Since they weren't available to celebrate with us last night, we were forced to schedule another birthday celebration for this evening.  Man, it's a rough life.  I briefly thought about making two cakes, one for last night and one for today.  Luckily, I came to my senses.  So tonight we will have the traditional birthday cake and last night... can you stand the suspense... we had the not-so-traditional pan of chocolate popcorn.  WoW!  If you haven't made this stuff, well.... just make it.  It was delicious!  And it turned out to be a very festive alternative to cake!

quick recipe:  melt white chocolate discs, pour over  plain air popped popcorn,
stir to coat, spread out on wax paper, add sprinkles and additional melted dark chocolate.
allow to harden before eating (we used the fridge to speed things up)
it's delicious.  your welcome.  

Although I was having a frustrating night with the camera, I managed to take some pictures.  So, as you can see - turning three IS all it's cracked up to be! 

 an OLIVIA shirt!!  

book, "The Littlest Matryoshka" and a fluffy meerkat

her brothers got Ruth some Schleich meerkats and (with some help) made a Kalahari Desert habitat out
of a cardboard box.
The boys loved planning the surprise.  Ruth loves meerkats.  I love these kids!!  
blanket from Great Grandma!

quilt and pillow from mom!  (hopefully I'll write some other time about this sewing project.)

Happy Birthday, Ruthie!

And one final picture... because there's nothing sweeter than snuggly sisters in matchy sweaters...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Favorite Homeschool Stuff

Oh!  I got so excited to see Dwija's Favorite Homeschool Stuff link-up!  I have said a few times recently that there is nothing I appreciate more than a whole-hearted recommendation or an absolutely confident it's-not-worth-it-ation (?) from like-minded moms.  I've already benefited from this link-up and can't wait to track down one of these!!  And of course, I love to share my recommendations too! 

... I can't even believe that I am going to wax eloquent (or not, as the case may be) on office supplies.  And yet, when you have a blog you can pretty much ramble on and on about whatever you want (whether you can retain any readers after going on and on about office supplies, though, remains to be seen.)

(If you actually want to read about my favorite curriculum stuff, you can travel on over to this post here where I chat about Flyleaf Publishing, Dover Coloring Books, Draw. Write. Now., and copy work.)

The homeschool tools I love this year (and this stuff is so obvious that it will give away what a rookie I am) are binders and binder rings.  Flash back to last year when papers were flying everywhere, someone would ask to do a lesson and I couldn't find anything for them to do, I'd want to bring flashcards in the car but they'd be all over the wet muddy van floor in a minute... etc...  Then at an informal curriculum sharing night at my house, one of the moms brought over her child's reading lessons (the folded books from Little Stories for Little Folks) all gathered neatly together on a binder ring, and my world was rocked.  It was so simple, and yet, I hadn't thought of it.  Now, I will never go back.  And I had fun photographing the proof of the depths of my love...

Confucius say, "A binder for everything and everything in a binder."  

Handwriting practice for the littles?  Keep it in a binder.

Use Handwriting Without Tears and have letter cards and wooden pieces all over the place?  Put them in a binder.

Keep copy work contained... in a binder.

Binder rings for every sort of flashcard immaginable.  I especially love this for math facts and sight words because I can easily add the new material/facts when it's time.  And it all stays TOGETHER!!!!!  even when the whole pile gets accidentally knocked off the table or 'accidentally' thrown across the room.  
My mom and I thought it was superbly educational  to get these cards for the betterment of my children (plus they were in the dollar section at Target, so why wouldn't we buy them??)  But once they were in my house I had a rule that no one could take them out because they would end up under the couch, behind the shelf, and in the toilet.  Not so, anymore!  Now I even toss them in my bag and bring them to the pediatrician's office to show all the other moms in the waiting room how convenient and easy it is to homeschool on the go.  (please, I hope you don't miss the sarcasm here... I mean I DO bring them but they get thrown around the waiting room - it's just that the binder ring makes it convenient and easy to snatch them up and make a quick flush-faced exit from the office.)

 Thanks for the fun link-up, Dwija!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pithy (or Profound)

Pithy (or Profound) - The Things I Might Have Posted on Facebook This Past Week if I Wasn't Pseudo Giving It Up For Lent (I'm allowing myself a Sunday check-in!)
(I think I actually mean trivial or profound, but pithy or profound has a nicer ring to it.  I'm not really too into lexical semantics...obviously.)  

Wednesday (Ash Wednesday)

"Rend your hearts, not your garments."  and "Choose mortifications that don't mortify others."  (the latter is from St. Josemaria Escriva.  Thanks for the reminder, Friend!) 

If you're timing your workouts and the machine says it lasted 30 minutes, but you're body thought it was more like 3 days, is it acceptable to take the average of the two?  

Thursday (St. Valentine's Day)

I've always hated the chalky taste of Conversation Hearts.  Today may distaste for that candy was renewed when I heard my 5 and 6 year old sons reading, "Too hot"  and "Get Real."  When Aaron read, "Don't tell," he actually said, "Does that mean you're not supposed to tell that you're eating candy?"  Yes, son.  Yes it does.  
I'll stick with chocolate - it's usually phrase-free!   

"This love is total... a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything with each other, without reservation or selfish calculation.  Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself."   - Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI
(my go-to reminder for all things marriage and love related)
Happy  St. Valentine's Day!


Ahhh!  I am surrounded by sick children, and we've passed the point of it being cuddly "I need to be held" sickness.  It's entered the realm of unbelievable whining, noses that overflow onto the furniture, tears and meltdowns, stinky sinus breath, not eating, not drinking, "my legs hurt," "my cheeks hurt,"  "my eyes hurt," my spleen hurts," and then another dose of whining.  

I generally do not participate in, or advocate, "retail therapy" but I'm doing it tonight!  Thanks, Russ, for sending me off to the fabric store!  The promise of quilts and crafts to come will cure this mom's common cold-induced burn-out.  
"Should a mother forget her child?"  (Is. 49:15) No, but a few hours of peace and quiet at the fabric store will at least help her forget the stinky sinus breath.  


Feeling sluggish on your Saturday morning?  I have three words for you: John Philip Sousa.  


I almost forgot that I have a sewing room.  But I fixed that problem today, and now I have the front of a quilt covering the floor of that sewing room!  I think I'll actually get it done in time for Ruth's birthday!


I have a red and drippy nose to match my daughters.  Puffs Plus - we love you!  


I promised Dominic that once he mastered the poem he has been learning, I would put it up online.  Unfortunately, we discovered that videos on Blogger have to be under a certain size, so this is a no frills poetry recitation.  It seems cold and calculated, like there's a scary schoolmaster waiting in the wings with a willow switch, but I promise I really did encourage him before he started and praised him when he finished.  You just didn't see it.   C'est la vie  Blogger.  
So, for your enjoyment, presented by Dominic Jerome, a no frills recitation of 
"Little Things" by Julia A. Carney 

Thought about finishing the quilt tonight, but have decided to finish Downton Abbey so that we can stop trying to block all the spoiler alerts that come our way.

* * * * * 

Seeing this collection of possible Facebook publications puts your use of Facebook into perspective, doesn't it, Theresa??  Why yes.  I guess I don't really have that many profound things to share with the world after all.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Tomie DePaola Book List

My Tomie DePaola Book List


Good Books You Might Want to Read to Your Young Children if You are a Catholic Parent, or Any Other Kind of Parent, Who Thinks It's Important to Read Good Books to your Children

artwork from "The Clown of God" by Tomie DePaola

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a school project we did, wherein we wrote to one of our favorite authors, Tomie DePaola. (No reply yet!)  And I've had it on my brain to write about What's So Great About Tomie DePaola Anyway.  If you're a person who trolls Catholic mom blogs then his name has come up.  Over. And over. And over. Is it just because he's written a few saint biographies for children?  Or a book of Children's Bible Stories?   Or a sticker calendar for celebrating the 50 days of Easter?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But I think there's more to it.

Not only is his work enjoyable and beautiful, Many of  DePaola's books are valuable tools for Catholic parents... even if  not at first glance.  Here are some of the things that ran though my head when I had discovered my first DePaola books a few years ago:
* Do you want to read stories in which relationships with immediate and extended family members are valued and nurtured?  You've come to the right author.
* Are you a Catholic parent who desires the Faith to be an integral and natural part of the rhythm of your life and day, not just "we're Catholic when it's time for Catechism lesson?"  Yep, Tomie writes it.
* Do you want your children to feel the stirrings of the Faith while reading a picture book, because you're pretty sure they might tune you out if you say, "let's talk about Jesus." ???  Tomie's got your back.  

Much of Tomie DePaola's work is overtly Catholic.  His biographies of St. Patrick, St. Pascual Baylon, St. Francis, and Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego immediately come to mind.  He has illustrated  (though not authored) children's books on Sts. Benedict and Scholastica and St. Joseph Cuppertino.  He has also written a book about the legend of St. Christopher.  It's difficult for me to describe what makes these books different from other saint biographies for children, but I think it's that they are presented as true Once Upon A Time stories, instead of reading like a list of dates and happenings.  Imagine when you were a little kid and you'd say to your parents or grandparents at bedtime, "Tell me a true story."  These books are like Tomie's answer to that question.

Tomie's collections of Bible Stories, Miracles of Jesus, Parables of Jesus, and the life of Our Lady stand out for me because the text is pulled almost entirely from Scripture.  They aren't a "re-telling" for kids that is condescending or dumbed down.  His other books revolving around Christian themes are lovely and engaging stories that can be used as springboards for discussing the significance of prayer, conversion, offering our best for God.  (The Night of Las Posadas, The Clown of God, The Legend of the Poinsettia)

A lot of Tomie DePaola's books are just plain fun - stories that are timeless and enjoyable to read at almost any age.  (The Knight and the Dragon, Fin M'Coul)  Some of the most enjoyable are his autobiographical works - picture books and chapter books based on his childhood.  These are delightful glimpses into his close-knit family and innocent childhood shenanigans. (Tom, The Art Lesson)  The stories are sweet and funny, the characters are familiar and endearing.  Tomie's portrayal of family life is always cheerful and touching- rejoicing at the birth of a new baby, memorable weekends spent with his grandparents, the loss of his beloved great-grandmother.

Finally - and this is my favorite - much of Tomie's work portrays the practice of the Catholic Faith and Tradition as a natural and integral part of daily life.  In his books the practice of Catholicism doesn't need fanfare, introduction, or explanation.  He doesn't apologize for it or make excuses for it.  It just is.  Just as we (as Catholic parents) want the practice of the faith to be as natural as breathing and as integral in our children's lives as eating and sleeping, so it is for Tomie's characters.  They sprinkle holy water during a storm, they go to Mass, they light Advent candles, they pray in the town square, they speak of the Sacraments, they have crucifixes and pictures of Our Lady in their homes, priests and religious not only exist, but they wear habits and clerical collars.  All that stuff I just mentioned... NOT from the overtly Catholic books.  It's all just seamlessly a part of his appealing-to-the-general-public story books.  You don't have to go to a tiny musty smelling Catholic book store to find this good stuff, people!   Don't tell the public library, but this stuff is on the plain old shelves in the juvenile section.  (On my book list, I refer to this as "covert" Catholicism, for lack of a better term.  Maybe I'll switch it "Catholic. Naturally."  because again, it's not hidden or disguised, it just is.)

This whole idea of Faith and family in literature is only one of the things I love about Tomie DePaola.  As for his artwork, it is unique.  I think it's wonderful, though a friend of mine has said (and I paraphrase) "I can't look at Strega Nona because she'll give me nightmares."  And I say, stick with it!  You may come to appreciate his folksy style, but if you don't you may be willing to overlook it.  After all, if you completely discount Strega Nona on account of her looks you will never know that there is more to her than "headaches and husbands and warts."  My favorite Strega Nona moment is in Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.  It is Christmas Eve.  She comes down into the village with a heavy heart.  After the vigil Mass she approaches the Creche to worship the newborn King and she shares her sorrows and loneliness with him as she prays.  You just don't get that in your run-of-the-mill secular Christmas books.  But you do here.  Give her a chance... and also check out the other wonderful books Tomie DePaola has to offer!

Click here for a somewhat conversational list of my favorite Tomie DePaola books.  They are my personal recommendations.  I'd love to hear about your favorites too!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Got Baby Sloth!

Did you ever win an ebay bid, or cash in your stock at the best time, or wait for a sale + coupon and get a really great deal???  And then you want to shout it from the rooftops, right?  Oh.  Maybe that's just me.  

Well, I got a bargain and it's announcement time!!  I got Baby Sloth!!!!!!!!!!!  What, you don't know what that is?  

... For his fourth birthday last year, my son Dominic received this book...  (thanks good friends, you know who you are!)  Baby Grizzly:  
We all love this book.  (It inspired the family-wide grizzly bear study of 2011!)  The photographs are fabulous and the text is written for children, but is not childish.  A lot of information is packed into this story of three bear cubs during their first year of life.  

Aubrey Lang and Wayne Lynch are the prestigious naturalists that wrote this book (though I confess I hadn't heard of them until we started reading Baby Grizzly.).  They are a husband (photographer) and wife (author) team who among others things, have published the entire Nature Babies series, of which Baby Grizzly is a part.  These books are not available through our local library, but the quality of the one we have is so fabulous, (educational and enjoyable!) I've wanted to get more from the series.  Nearly all of the books are available through Amazon (and the paperbacks are part of their 4-for-3 deal!)  The books all sit on my "books-for-the-kids" Amazon Wish List, but I've never bought any (still hoping the library will wise up)... UNTIL TODAY!!

All of the Nature Babies paperback editions are listed for between $6 - $8.  EXCEPT Baby Sloth...  it was listed for $680... used.  So I got curious and started searching all over the planet for this book and that was it... used copies available for $500+.  I'd check back on Amazon every couple of days, no change.  Then one day, it was $450.   Then a couple days later it was $168 - I quickly emailed my husband at work with the news because by that time it had become  little  joke.  I checked back a few days ago and it was $50.  Then this morning it was $8.50 and I bought it!  (Still a little steep for a used book, but there clearly is a world-wide shortage of this out-of-print work.  I had to snag it before everyone else realizes they need a copy and there is a run on the bank used book industry.)  
While I'm fairly certain that no one out there really cares about my bargain book score, I hope you will take my recommendation of this series seriously. I am very picky about books I buy for my kids, and I give Nature Babies two thumbs way up!  (And hey, maybe you'll get lucky and the price for Baby Sloth will keep dropping.  That seems to be the trend!)  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Ice Cream

It snowed something like 10 inches yesterday,,, steady snow all day long.  (Could little kids ask for anything better on a February Friday???)  After tons of shoveling, snow angels, and snowballs the kids came in and we made snow ice cream.  I was going to write about it last night, but the pictures I took of the event were rubbish.  "Darn... I'll have to make it again tomorrow," I thought.  So I did, and here it is!

You will need:

1 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 T. vanilla

two nested bowls
potato masher or other mixer

*  Gather all your ingredients and supplies before you being (including your boots ready to go near the door!)...  

* In the smaller of the nesting bowls, mix the milk, sugar, and vanilla until frothy
* Bring the larger bowl and a pot for snow outside.  Fill the pot with the snow that will become your ice cream.    Fill the bowl half way, and while outside, press the snow down to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl.

* Head back inside... and work quickly now that you've got the snow in the warm house!  

* Cover the snow in the larger bowl with salt. (I've read that rock salt works better, but I used table salt.)   Place the smaller bowl with the milk mixture onto the salty snow in the larger bowl.

* Begin adding snow to the mixture, using the potato masher to blend it.  Add until desired consistency.

* Serve it up right away.  You can store it in the freezer, but it's not as good :)

Enjoy your frozen treat!  
And don't forget - there's always some way to enjoy the season, even in the middle of February!

When you are making ice cream, the temperature around the ice cream mixture needs to be lower than 32 F if you want the mixture to freeze. Salt mixed with ice creates a brine that has a temperature lower than 32 F. When you add salt to the ice water, you lower the melting temperature of the ice down to 0 F or so. The brine is so cold that it easily freezes the ice cream mixture. (from




Experimenting With My Camera


Pretending to be Wilson Bentley 

(the photos on the left are the originals, the photos on the right were cropped with minimal editing using  iPiccy) 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cloud in a Bottle Experiment (Keep-it-Simple Science)

We haven't been using any specific Science program or textbook this year.  Reason 1: the textbooks I previewed looked dull.  Reason 2: we live in a wonderful fantastic world and my husband and I try to be very intentional about training ourselves and our children to see it, to observe and study it, to appreciate it, and to recognize the glory and wisdom of God in it all.  I'm sure as the years pass we'll need a more official science text or program, but for now we take hikes, collect nature, grow plants, use our magnifying glasses, and conduct simple experiments around the home (often impromptu).

Because science is one of the subjects that we keep kind of loosey-goosey, and it's largely based on our interests and the availability of resources, I think I might start keeping a record of it here - to share with you some of what we do, and for my own reference since I don't have a book with an index!  And so I start Keep-it-Simple Science.

To help pass the winter days, the boys have been going to a weekly program for homeschoolers at our local science museum.  Last week, they came home with the instructions for this experiment: A Cloud in a Bottle.
STEP 1: Gather supplies - 2 liter bottle with cap, matches.  Have your kids blow into
the bottle to get all the dents out... this is really just a time-waster so you can
grab the matches and the camera.

STEPS 2 and 3: take the label off the bottle and fill the bottle 1/3 full of warmish hottish water

STEP 4: put the cap on the bottle and squeeze it.  Nothing happens.

Temporarily suspend experiment for a funny picture.

STEP 5: while holding the camera and taking pictures with one hand,
light a match, hold it over the opening of the bottle for a few seconds,
then drop it in.  Replace the bottle cap immediately.

STEP 6: squeeze the bottle again and see a "cloud"
form as you release and change the air pressure in the bottle.
I could not capture the "cloud" in a photo, but it did work!

Explanation: The warm water evaporating provides water vapor inside the bottle.  The smoke particles from the match enhance the process of water condensation, and squeezing the bottle causes the air pressure to drop - the three ingredients needed for a cloud to form.

Experiment was from - more info there on what forms a cloud and why the experiment works!  (I think we're going to try the make-your-own fog experiment tomorrow!)  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Do I Dare Do a Daybook???

I never really got blog daybooks.  And I always said I was never going to do one.  But...............................
I haven't written anything here for over a week, partially because I am busy during the days and exhausted during the evenings, but also because I haven't come up with anything thoughtful, significant, earth-shattering, or funny to write about.  I don't even have anything remotely sarcastic that I've been mulling over and craftily piecing together in my mind.  And that's what I usually do - I fall back on Sarcasm when I'm too tired for Thought-provoking and Soul-searching.  

But it's been a week.  I can't let it go any longer and so I'm thinking the unthinkable.  A daybook.  Who started those anyway???  Is it a link up from the early 2000's or something???  Well, I have no one to link to, and no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going for it - a short and simple account of small and ordinary things, because there are no earth-moving epiphanies happening in this brain of mine right now... only subtle movements of life and love and daily life-ness... and that's ok with me :)  

I am thinking... about Lent.  In general I don't look forward to Lent, mostly due to my own childish dislike of fasting.  But this year I feel a little more hopeful about my own personal observance of the season, and I am very eager to get out our Stations of the Cross for family prayer.  Our children have really enjoyed that particular devotion the past two Lenten seasons, and their interest has kindled my husband's and my appreciation for the Stations as well.  I'm really looking forward to those added prayers again this Lent!

I am listening to... right now, it's quiet.  My husband is working late and the kiddos are fast asleep.  shhhh! But during the days I've been more intentional about playing a variety of music via Pandora.  So far I really like my Andy Williams/Ella Fitzgerald/Bobby Darrin station for play time,  my Relaxing Music station for the morning and evening, except sometimes I have to jump up to skip the Yanni songs that come on, and my Baroque Masters with a little Mozart mixed in station for meal time.  

I am reading... Mulierus Dignitatem: On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, by John Paul II (a re-read, but I confess I don't remember much about it from the first time around...).  Also re-reading Who Gets the Drumstick? by Helen Beardsley, because, well just because it's one of the most fun stories of love and large family life ever!  And, if I ever get on the elliptical to exercise, I will read Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries and Grace for the Race  on my Kindle.  I am reading Prince Caspian out loud to the boys.    

I am creating...  practically nothing, except flashcards (phonics, math, Greek, you name it...  I've made a flashcard for it.)  I haven't done any sewing or crafting in weeks and it is not good for my well-being.  I have a few projects in mind so I'll be speaking sweetly to my husband about some sewing time for me this weekend.  I have a tavel bag to make for my mom before my parents' trip to Ireland (it's not a purse because my dad might occasionally carry it while overseas...)  and I'd like to make a quilt and matching pillow sham for Ruth's birthday coming up (she just got a new big girl bed!)  We'll see if any of this materializes.

In the kitchen... I feel like I can do no wrong (except my bread machine did give birth to a brick earlier this week and something tells me it was the result of human error)  The meals I've been defrosting, heating, and serving are of the variety that make my children say things like, "Oh, my darling mother!!  Thank you for making this amazing and delicious food.  I don't even like corn, but when it's in this casserole, I can't stop eating it."  That was pretty much verbatim.  Compliments like that send me to a happy place!  

I am thankful... for my husband who goes to work day in and day out to take care of us.  I'm especially thankful that he works with integrity, honesty, and respect for individuals, which I can imagine is sometimes difficult to do in sales-related positions.

I am looking forward to... chatting with my husband when he gets home, because this morning he said, "There's something I want to talk about - a family vacation."  WHAT???  Immediately all at once I thought yes!  never!  impossible!  hooray!  Since my initial reaction, I've calmed down and I'm interested to hear his thoughts.  (My thoughts are Chincoteague.)  

I am thinking...  that a daybook is harder than I first thought.  I don't know if I'll be doing this again.  But for now, this will do.  Plus, Russ just walked in the door!  Perfect timing.  

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