Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

WoW!!

As I sit here eating my--oh so good for me--mixed green salad with walnuts and cranberries, the countdown begins...

The countdown to what??

OH, I'm glad you asked!!

Next Wednesday will be my first WoW check-in.

What is WoW?

Well, it is a group that my dear friend Regina just started, in an attempt to embarrass motivate us into losing some weight! Now, not only am I on a mission to clear the clutter, I am also going to try to get into shape too! Honestly, in my case, I think the two go hand in hand.

The deal is, each Wednesday, a group of us bloggers will post how much weight we have hopefully lost, or gained if that is the case. WoW = Weight on Wednesdays.

From the sounds of it, Regina is working on a button for our sidebars, and we will be enlisting Our Lady of Perpetual Help to be out patron!

I am excited, since I would love to lose a bit of weight before our family trip to Nebraska in May!

So far, the Members of WoW, are as of now:

Regina: Ode to Us

Auntie Nee: No blog, Regina's sister

Amy: Knit Together in Love

Michelle: Rosetta Stone

and...

ME

Now... stayed tuned till next Wednesday to see how much I have gained if I have been able to maintain or lose anymore weight, as I recover from the flu!

Our Lady of Perpetual Help ~ Pray for Us!

My Family

My family has not gotten to be ALL TOGETHER since 2003. Since then, there have been many times that we have gotten together, but someone always seems to be missing. Even though 5 of my siblings still live at home, the four that follow me (Jennifer, Sean, Jamie and Paul) all live in different states (2 of them on the other side of the country), which makes family reunions very difficult. Anyhow, I was recently given some pictures that were taken back in '03 by one of my little sisters. This was pre-digital days for me, and so I was really excited about them... A LOT has changed since then... My little siblings are growing up!! In fact, I am quickly becoming the shortest person in the family. At this point, all my sisters are skinnier taller than me, and I am only taller than my mom and two youngest brothers. Anyhow... I thought I'd take a second and share a few of my favorites:

First, I just love this one. It is of the whole fam. Mom decided to finally hire a photographer and get a family portrait and individual shots for her hallway, and this one was taken by Jamie's husband right afterwards, outside the studio in the rain:



I love the black and white, but here it is another one in color:



And since it was in the folder, here is one of my family... Isn't it sweet? My, are we growing fast!



I love these next couple pictures of the twins and Scott. You can click here to see the three of them now. My have they grown! Scott always has thought he was pretty cool. Well, turns out he really is!! Love ya Scottie!





Here is a picture of my mom with her girls! You know... when my parents got married they thought they wanted 6 kids. Well, turned out God had 6 of each in store for them. Thanks mom and dad for being open to life. You have given us all the greatest gift possible!


Back: Jamie, Mom, Jennifer, Julianna, and Me
Front: The Twins, Mary & JoAnn

You'd never know that my mom has had 12 kids, would ya?

Since I showed you us girls... Here are the 6 boys:


Back: Brian, Paul and Sean
Front: David, Kevin and Scott

As I mentioned before, I was the mean big sister oldest. So here is the youngest. My sweet little brother. He was born the day before my 18th birthday! He is also my God-son!



Actually, here's a quick funny story... Back when Captain was a baby... Hubby and I were walking around a quaint little town nearby, and I was carrying Captain, and Hubby had my little brother (who was just 4 at the time) on his shoulders. This older woman said to hubby, "Oh! Your boys are so darling!" Hubby responded, as he pointed to my brother on his shoulders, "Oh, no, this is actually my brother-in-law!" It was hysterical... You should have seen the look on her face, of total confusion! Gotta love those big families!

OK.. I just LOVE these. This one is of me and Twinkle Toes with my sister Jamie and her daughter. The first granddaughters.



One more of Twinkle Toes and me--hummm, bangs or no bangs??



Can you tell that Twinkle Toes has been spoiled loved since day one:



Well, thanks for letting take a quick little walk down memory lane! Hope you enjoyed it too!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Jesus Tree ~ Week Five

One of the things I love about both the Jesse Tree and the Jesus Tree is they tend to make my children listen closer to the readings and Gospel at Mass. This past Sunday, my hubby took the kids since I was sick, and when he got home, the boys ran into my room and said, "Mommy!! Guess what? We don't need to read the story for our Jesus Tree today!! We already heard it at Mass!" I said, "Are you sure it was the one for today?" They said, "Yep!! It was all about the Samaritan Woman at the well!" Well what do you know, IT WAS!! So they hung up their symbol and colored the accompanying page I had found for them.

Anyhow, here are the symbols for next week!

Day 27 ~ The Centurion's Servant

Symbol: Roman Helmet
Readings: Mt 8:5-13
NCPB: Page 134
Coloring: PDF File with Coloring Page and Activities




Day 28 ~ Zacchaeus the Publican
Symbol: Tree
Readings: Lk 19:1-10
NCPB: Page 187
Coloring: Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Just for Fun: Zacchaeus Maze; Word Search




Day 29 ~ Peter Receives the Keys to Heaven

Symbol: Two Keys
Readings: Mt 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-21
NCPB: Peter, Head of the Church Page 159
Coloring: St. Peter  (Update: Jesus Gives Peter the Keys)




Day 30 ~ Widows' Son Back to Life
Symbol: Face with Tears
Readings: Lk 7:11-17
NCPB: The Widow's Son Page 142
Coloring: Jesus raises Young Man




Day 31 ~ A Coin for Caesar

Symbol: Caesar Coin
Readings: Mt 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 21:1-4
NCPB: We will read page 163 -- but since it exactly what I was looking for we will read out of the bible for sure...
Coloring: Render to Caesar
Just for Fun: Render to Caesar Word Search




Day 32 ~ Lazarus Raised from the Dead

Symbol: Mummy Head
Readings: Jn 11:1-44
NCPB: Page 179
Coloring: Jesus Raises Lazarus
Just for Fun: Jesus Raises Lazarus Word Search, Maze




Day 33 ~ The Adulteress

Symbol: Gray Stones
Readings: Jn 8:1-11
NCPB: Page 175
Coloring: PDF File with Coloring Page and Activities

Team Work




Speaking of...

... how easy it is to make my day.

Check out this delicious surprise my Auntie gave me as a bonus for finally catching up her bookkeeping:



These little things are SO GOOD!!

Thank you AUNTIE B!!!

Oh... and how soon is Easter?? In the meantime, it's a good thing that another one of my auntie's sent me this!

Simply Lovely One-on-One

Being a stay-at-home, home-educating mom, I don't often stop to think about the need to "spend time with my children." I think I lean more towards thinking about when hubby will be home so I can have a little break! However, when I noticed that the Loveliness Fair this week was on the topic of spending one-on-one time with your children it made me stop and think. "Even though I am home all day, do I really spend enough time with my children??" I know I do spend time with them, almost ALL my time, but how much quality time do I spend? How can I improve on this area of mothering? And, how can I make each of my children feel special since they are growing up in a large family, and so much of what we do is all together?

I ran across a list last week, of some of the various ways to make your children feel special, that I thought I would share:
Ten Ways To Make Your Child Feel Special
By Ann Douglas


1. Help your child to recognize what makes her unique and special. Dr. Robert Currie, professor of psychology at Judson College in Elgin, Illinois, suggests that parents make a point of acknowledging such traits as honesty, courage, insight, and creativity, heaping on praise where praise is due, noting that "It only takes twenty seconds to make someone's day."

2. Be generous with your praise but make sure that it is sincere. Rather than speaking in vague generalities when you are praising your child, try to be as specific as you can, suggests Linda Dunlop, chair of the psychology department at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. "When you're looking at a drawing that your child made, tell him or her exactly what it is about the drawing that appeals to you. Say, 'I love the colors you used' or 'You have a special way of looking at things.'" Children are more likely to accept praise that sounds heart-felt rather than contrived.

3. Talk to your children about things that really matter to them. Jerry Aldridge, an associate professor of early childhood education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, feels that parents can help to make their children feel valued if they take time to really listen to what their children are trying to communicate. "Be genuinely interested in whatever news they care to share with you about whatever might be happening at school or with their friends."

4. Understand your child's own unique rhythms and temperaments, and honor them, suggests Brian Nichols, an instructor in the Center for Community Development and Health at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. Instead of trying to change a night owl into an early riser or an introvert into the life of the party, accept and love your child for the person that he or she is just as you expect others to accept and love you the way you are.

5. Give your child as much one-on-one time as you can. If you have more than one child, find ways to spend time alone with each of your children. Make a habit of taking one child with you when you do the grocery shopping so that you can spend some time alone together. Or better yet, hire a babysitter to come to your house one night each week so that you and your partner can take one of your children to a movie or out to dinner by himself or herself. If you rotate kids from week to week, each child will have the chance to experience some glorious two-on-one time with his or her parents. This special time with your child may be complicated to arrange, but it's definitely worth the effort, says Dunlop. "One-on-one or two-on-one time says you're special."

6. Celebrate regularly. Don't hold out for major achievements or milestones, suggests Nichols. Celebrate all the little things that deserve to be savored on a day-to-day basis�the first goal of the hockey season, a positive comment from a teacher at school, an exceptionally clean bedroom, and so on.

7. Let your child know that you will be there for him or her in both good times and in bad, and that you will do whatever you can to help them get through the rough times. "Believe in your child when he or she is shakiest," said Clint Kelly, author of How to Win Grins and Influence Little People. "Say, 'Hey, not to worry. Even Winston Churchill had to repeat sixth grade. Let's see how we can get you over the hump.'"

8. Laugh with your child. There's nothing like shared laughter to foster a bond between parent and child, says Lisa DeHaven-Jordan, program director of Raising Today's Teens, a non-profit parenting hotline. "Sharing an inside joke reminds your child that he or she has a very special place in your heart."

9. Share something of yourself with your child. Tell him or her about the time you failed your math test, had a fight with your best friend, or lost your dog. Most important of all, be the first to admit it if you've made a mistake, particularly if that mistake affects your child, suggests parenting consultant Diane Pipher Wolf. "In our family, if we've blown it when dealing with a particular child, we simply shout, 'Erase' and start over!"

10. Above all, remember that making your child feel special is one of your most important tasks as a parent, says Anita Landau Hurtig, a pediatric psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "No one can build a child's self-esteem the way a parent can."

I love how she pointed out that "It only takes twenty seconds to make someone's day." It is so true... I know how easy it is for someone to make my day, but how often do I make a point to do that for my children?! Reading through this list, I see a few areas that I definitely need to work on.

That said, I am really looking forward to reading all the posts on this topic! If your interested, hop on over to Marianne's Blog, Learning2Love, for the links, and get ready to be inspired to spend some Simply Lovely One-on-One time with your children!

Stuff... Stuff... Stuff...

Speaking of Stuff, Colleen has a very thought provoking post on the need to declutter:

"From the day's First Reading:"

"Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint, but willingly...Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be an example to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."

"It doesn't get much clearer than that, does it? There is no question for those of us who live in families which flock of God we're to tend. The question needing to be answered is a matter of the heart. What keeps us from tending our flock willingly? What makes us irritable, short-tempered, and overwhelmed? What makes us want to run away from it all for a few hours or day or....What prevents us from being an example to our flock? In my experience, when I find myself fussing, pointing my finger, and honing in on my family's shortcomings, it's usually because I'm feeling the sting of my own faults rather acutely. What brings on those episodes in your life? Lent is a time to remove the blocks in our lives that keep us from following God with our whole hearts. God's will for us and our path to heaven are to tend the flock of our family willingly and eagerly. What is in our way? There's still enough Lent left to get rid of it."

"For me right now, the answer is STUFF. We've got to get a handle on the things in this home that are crowding our time, our space, our thoughts, and our hearts."

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's all TOO MUCH

A couple weeks ago, I started reading the book It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. It is so great, and is just what I had been searching for!

For months now, I have been feeling slightly overwhelmed, and I knew I needed to do something about it. It seems like no matter how much I "organize" I just can't catch up, and I feel like I am wasting so much precious time dealing with STUFF--whether it be trying to find STUFF, or constantly moving STUFF out of the way.

As I started reading, a particular paragraph jumped out at me, and pretty much summed up how I have been feeling:
Clutter is insidious, a slow but steady tide. It enters your home little by little, usually over years. Clutter sucks life away. It leaves you DEPRESSED, OVERWHELMED, LACKING MOTIVATION, and unable to breathe. Clutter prevents you from enjoying the most precious intimate moments in life. Clutter robs you of far more than the space it occupies--it steals your life!
How true is that!?!?!? After taking the "How Clutter Free Are You?" quiz in the book (I just love quizzes!), I came up in the middle category as a "Clutter Victim," thankfully I'm not a "Hard-Core Hoarder" but I'm definitely not "Clutter-Free."

Now, thanks to Flylady, I don't think that our home is overly cluttered, even though that reality might just be one craft project away! :-)

You see, although, our house is not that small, it is seriously lacking in closet space. In the words of Marie Bellet, "I am a woman who worries about closet space and it bothers me a lot... Constantly distracted by what I haven't got..." A couple years ago, when we added on to our home, unless we wanted to upgrade our septic system, which we didn't, we couldn't have closets in the new bedrooms. (In fact, since I really wanted a closet in our new master bedroom--or rather two, since, for some reason, hubby didn't want to share my unorganized walk-in with me--we had to remove a closet from one of the old bedrooms, so, it was turned into an alcove in the living room...) Anyhow, the fact is, I have very little storage space, it consists of: two closets in the master bedroom--mine and hubby's, one in the school room, two small hall closets--one is my pantry, and a coat closet! To help with the not-so-little problem of the children's clothing, my parents gave the girls my twin sisters old armoire, and a couple months back hubby added closet organizers to one of the walls in the boys room (which has really helped). Now, mind you, I am willing to admit that my walk-in closet is plenty big. I simply have too much stuff! So, needless to say, any overflow of shoes, clothing, or accessories (or books, kids artwork, craft supplies, and learning aids--for that matter!) have nowhere to go. So, since we can not afford to buy a bigger house, and since I am realizing that a clean uncluttered home is key to my sanity, I am going to PARE DOWN AND SIMPLIFY!!

In the book, the author says to "imagine the life you want to live," and then think about whether the stuff you own "contributes to the life you are hoping to achieve, or if it is getting in the way of that vision." If I am honest with myself, so much of our "stuff" (as great as some of it seems) is getting in the way...

As I started to sort through all our stuff, I realized that so much of what I have is from the past! Old music cd's that haven't been listen to since I was a teen, old clothing that hasn't fit in years (including a pair of size 4 jeans--don't I wish!!!--and I never even wear jeans anymore!), even the RSVP cards for our wedding over 8 years ago--now why did I save those?!?

Reading this book has inspired me to try my hardest to LIVE IN THE PRESENT, and "have nothing in my house that I do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful!"

Getting rid of everything that doesn't fall into one of those two categories (useful or beautiful) will be difficult, to say the least!! I am finding that it may take going through the "Stuff" numerous times, as I seem to be able to let go and purge a bit more each time through.

The past couple weeks I have been working on getting through Step One- the Kick Start of my "It's All too Much" Home Makeover, and trying hard to tackle all the surface clutter.

One of my goals this Lent, has been to work hard on this very necessary PURGING, of both my over attachment to STUFF, and of the actual STUFF itself. Before I get back to my decluttering, I thought I would leave off with this particular bible verse that I have found particularly helpful in letting go of some of those little treasures I have been finding:

"Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there thy heart is also." Matt 6:20-21

Personality

Everything is calming down around here... The kitchen is clean, the boys are schooling, the washing machine is staying very busy, and so far no one has thrown up! Thank you all for your prayers! I really appreciate them, and I KNOW they have been a TREMENDOUS help. Please don't stop sending them, since this may just be the calm before the next storm!

I hope I am not boring you all with too many posts... Usually when hubby is out of town, I catch up on the movies that I've been wanting to watch (that he wouldn't find interesting)... but, having given those up for lent, I am finding myself at the computer more often, trying to feel at least a little bit "connected" to the outside world... In this blogging has been such a blessing, and I just love my blogging friends! I find that bloggers are generally smart, funny, driven, optimistic, confident and opinionated. Who wouldn't want a blogger friend?

Speaking of personalities, I took a quiz on "How Rare is Your Personality?" the other day (right after taking the punctuation quiz) and had it in my drafts folder to post when I got around to it. However, I just saw that Regina posted a similar quiz, and I was curious to see whether or not the results would turn out the same on it as well...Sure enough they did! It looks like I am an ENFP.

Here's the first one:

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ENFP)

Your personality type is enthusiastic, giving, cautious, and loyal.

Only about 8% of all people have your personality, including 9% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.


And here's my result on the one Regina took:


You Are An ENFP



The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends. You are also unconventional, irreverent, and unimpressed by authority and rules. Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives. You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're quite the storyteller!

In love, you are quite the charmer. And you are definitely willing to risk your heart. You often don't follow through with your flirting or professed feelings. And you do break a lot of hearts.

At work, you are driven but not a workaholic. You just always seem to enjoy what you do. You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

How you see yourself: compassionate, unselfish, and understanding

When other people don't get you, they see you as: gushy, emotional, and unfocused



So there you have it... What's your personality type??

Reminding myself...


"For one pain endured with joy,
we shall love the good God more forever."

"Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant,
count as nothing."

~ St. Therese of Lisieux


Sick and tired

She's not in a "laughing mood" was what I heard on the other end of the phone line this morning, after being woken up (on the second attempt) with a few bookkeeping questions.

I honestly can't remember what it was that I should have laughed at?!?

I'M SO TIRED!!!

Last night, when I should have been cleaning my kitchen up from dinner, I decided to work a bit more on decluttering our bedroom... You see, hubby is gone on training all week, so I thought it would be nice to get it done before he gets back--plus I just don't sleep well when he's gone.

Anyhow here is how my night went:
  • Move old Computer off kids dresser in corner of my room
  • Move dresser to girls room
  • No room for dresser in girls room, so start cleaning
  • Dresser needs to replace one of the other pieces of furniture, so decide between toy box and bookshelf
  • Decide on bookshelf
  • Take everything off bookshelf.
  • Bookshelf won't budge and I don't feel like looking for tools
  • Decide on toy box
  • Put all books back on bookshelf
  • Call mom (at 9:30 PM) for advice
  • She says take the bookshelf out (and go to bed!)
  • Take books back off bookshelf, and try to remove L bracket
  • Unable to remove L bracket
  • Rethink situation, decide to leave bookshelf
  • Decide nursery/guest room dresser would work better in girls room
  • Move the 1st dresser and toy box to guest room
  • Chiquita arrives at guest room door crying
  • She throws up
  • Me seriously wishing hubby was home
  • Clean up... During which I have a small problem with my gag reflex
  • Bathe Chiquita
  • Move toddler bed to bathroom
  • Put Chiquita back in bed (now very near the toilet)
  • Continue to clean carpet
  • Nurse Snuggles
  • Finish moving 2nd dresser to girls room
  • Put books back on bookshelf
  • Take a shower
  • 1:00 AM - Get in bed and Nurse Snuggles
  • Chiquita throws up (all over herself) again
  • And so the night continued...
And it had been such a beautiful day!!! Now, I better go make breakfast and do those dinner dishes! Be back soon--when I am hopefully, in a better mood! :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Beautiful Day!

One of the benefits of being an "eclectic" home-schooler is that you can draw from so many wonderful learning styles, which I just love to do. If I had a strictly "textbook" home-school, today would have been a complete failure as I spent most of the day catching up from being sick and started to seriously declutter my home--more about that soon...

Instead the kids had a WONDERFUL DAY! The sun came out after being hidden behind rain clouds this weekend and we all went outside to soak up the rays!

The kids lost no time in finding things to do and explore:






Back indoors they kept busy playing with stacking blocks and many other learning aids.

The girls played with one of their felt tales play sets:



We did our Jesus Tree and Lenten Calendar Activities:



We listened to the rest of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:



Played a few games (Tetris, Connect Four and Battleship!):



And much more!!!

Tomorrow, we will get back to a few of our textbooks... :)


What a surprise!!

Ever had one of those "I really wish I would listen to Flylady mornings," when you put off showering and getting dressed, and then when you finally take a shower, the doorbell rings? That's what happened to me this morning.

Anyhow, when I finally made it to the door, I was surprised to find a sweet old man from church with these:

Aren't they WONDERFUL!!! They are so much prettier than the cpc one that we have!!

I JUST LOVE THEM!!!

AND SO DO THE KIDS!!

Thank you so much, Mr. Pecor!!


**He did tell hubby he was going to bring them over... I just hadn't heard yet! :)

Four Seasons Craft

Our recent spotting of our first bud of spring triggered a conversation about the four seasons. Since Twinkle Toes really enjoyed making the craft on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I decided to have her make a similar one found in the Little Saints program.

First we read a few picture books, including:
Then, it was on to the craft! First she colored the truck and branches of four trees:


After that, she glued them onto a piece of construction paper and made little balls out of small pieces of tissue paper (brown, green, pink and yellow for each of the various seasons) and glued them onto the trees:


Then she added a few appropriate stickers, and I helped her with labeling the seasons:


**I just noticed I took the picture before having her add apples falling from the fall tree...
You'll just have to imagine them! :)


It is such a fun craft, and quite easy--a definate plus!