Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year of Thanks

We just put the boys to bed. I wanted to post a "year in review", but would much rather spend the last few hours of 2008 with my hubby (and sleeping . . . I am well past the days of wanting to stay up till midnight!). So, instead, I am going to write what I am thankful for:

- Little Andrew coming into our lives!! We love you A!!
- My husband! He is such an incredible man. I do not know what I would do without him!
- Starting our journey of homeschooling. Watching Joshua learn (and Caleb too!). Getting to be in this journey with both of them.
- Seeing the Pope when he came to DC. We were withing 5 feet of him. I cried like a baby. He is such a holy man and has a gentle spirit. I felt so blessed to be able to be in his presence.
- Family: The older I get the more I realize how much I love my family (my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents). Family is so important.
- Our family of friends! I love where we live, simply because I love the people here. We are so blessed to know so many great families.
- My mom being here after Andrew's birth . . . I do not know what I would have done without her that week. Thank you Mom!
- Christmas in Buffalo with my family.
- Snow on Christmas. Watching the boys play in the snow, Building a snowman and snow forts . . . having a snowball fight!
- Being able to go to Christmas morning mass at the church we got married in . . . this was especially so great because that parish was closed this year and, they, normally, do not celebrate mass there anymore.
- Seeing life through the eyes of my boys. Life truly is full of wonder!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From the Simple Woman's Daybook . . . I am starting this to get back into a rhythm. I felt that we were in such a good rhythm before. We got off track while concerned about Andrew and now that all is well and we had a wonderful Christmas, I am determined to get back to a natural rhythm of life.

FOR TODAY December 30th ...

Outside my window...
It is sunny and nice. Cool, but a beautiful day!

I am thinking...
I am so happy to be home. We had a great Christmas in Buffalo, but life is easier in your own home!

I am thankful for...
My parents' generosity in opening their house to our busy family for Christmas. It was nice to feel taken care of and not worry about cooking!!

From the learning rooms...
We are taking a break from school right now, but still reading a bunch of books!

From the kitchen...
We are going out to dinner tonight! I am planning the meals for the rest of the week: Spilt pea soup, roasted chicken, beef barley soup.

I am wearing...
A blue/gray soft shirt and black yoga pants

I am creating...
A new blog!! Crazy, I know, but I have had something on my heart for a while. The blog will be informational. Right now I am gathering information, contacting companies. Hopefully I will launch it in February! I am excited about it.

I am going...
Grocery shopping today.

I am reading...
Too many web sites about product information. Research, research, research. I am also reading The Love Dare (and doing it too!), Real Learning, and Starting an Online Business for Dummies.

I am hoping...
To get back into a daily rhythm, and to get our projects done before Pete goes back to work.

I am hearing...
J and K playing with Duplos

Around the house...
A is sleeping. Pete is reading and J and K are playing.

One of my favorite things...
Having Pete home on vacation.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Setting up the back room and cleaning it out. Finishing the budget for the year. Getting ready to go back to school next week.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Generations (Andrew with Great Grandpa and my Aunt and with Babcia (Great grandma)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Camcorder Giveaway

I stumbled on this while doing research for a new project . . . I am constantly amazed at what is out there in the "blogosphere"!!

Go to I Never Grew Up for a camcorder giveaway!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Was Magical!

Every year at this time, Santa comes through our town on a fire truck. For the four years we have lived here, we have seen Santa drive down our street on the truck, with all the lights and sirens going. The first two years, J was scared and cried. Now, he cannot wait, and this year was no exception. He gets so excited, in fact, that I usually do not tell him in advance, I just wait for him to hear the sirens. But, the day before, he heard some moms at playgroup taking about it. So, for the whole day that Santa was coming, he was on edge and as soon as it got dark outside, he waited on the couch in front of the window to see if Santa was coming down the road.

At about 7 Pm we heard the sirens. J and K ran to get coats and shoes on. J could see the lights from the fire truck. Santa was close. We could see the firetruck going up and down neighboring streets. J could barely stand the excitement. He kept asking,"When is he going to come down our street?" By about 7:45 PM, The sounds of the sirens had faded. No Santa in sight. We went outside and could not even hear the sirens anymore. J began to get worried. He would ask every 5 minutes "When is Santa coming?" I tried to convince J that Santa would be coming soon, but I myself was not sure. After much reluctance, I convinced the boys to get dressed for bed. It was, after all, bed time. So both boys were in their "footy" pajamas. I put their shoes and coats back on them. We went outside. 8:15 PM. I could not hear anything. By 8:30 Pm, I told the boys that we had to finish getting ready for bed. The boys brushed their teeth and then one more trip outside. No sounds of Santa. By this time, J was sad. I told J that maybe Santa was not coming down our street this year. J is my "feeler" and I could tell that he might start crying at any minute. At 8:45 Pm we prayed our bedtime/Advent prayers and I took them to bed. I told Joshua that I would come get him if I heard Santa, but I really did not have any hope that he would still come. We sang "Jesus" in their bed room. I kissed K goodnight, then kissed J goodnight (by this time J crying a little) . . . I just started to say "I know you are dis.... (I was going to say disappointed), when the sirens started again!!! They were really loud, so I knew Santa was close. J and K jumped out of bed. They ran downstairs and got their coats on and we went outside. Within 2 minutes Santa was in front of our house. The boys were waving wildly at him. K was saying, over and over again, "Hi Santa!".

After Santa was out of sight, we began going into the house. J opened the door, and with a huge smile on his face, he looked at me and said "Mom, that was magical!"

I am such a sap that I began tear up. I love how excited he gets at something as simple as a Santa on the firetruck. I enjoy being able to experience life with him and to see things in a new way. It was a magical evening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Cry Room?

This Sunday we went to another church for mass. We were running on time for the 10 AM at our church, but when we got to the van to go, we realized we had forgotten to take a bunch of stuff out and put the seat and car seats back in. Luckily, a local church has a 10:30 AM mass. The boys love going to this church because they have donuts after all masses, every Sunday (ours only has donuts once a month).

When we got there, Pete and I split up. Pete went with J in the main church and I took K and A into the cry room. Now, I must admit, I like the idea of a cry room. I like to have a place where I can be with the boys if they are acting up, so they do not disturb mass. Also, I see it as a place to "train" K to sit quietly at mass. But, I think sometimes I must be the only one who sees it that way . . .

This Sunday it was like a "free for all" in the cry room (OK, it is usually like that every time I have been in one). There were kids walking around. Parents talking full voice. A little girl was coloring and eating graham crackers. Directly in front of us was a family with a boy who was more than old enough to know how to sit quietly at mass. Instead, he was eating a LARGE bag of chips. K, who is a lover of all food, kept on asking me for chips. Luckily, he did not complain when I said "after mass".

I understand that it can be difficult to keep kids quite during mass, but where is a mom to go when she wants to teach her kids to be quiet and learn that it is not OK to eat in mass and most parents in the cry room are allowing their kids to do exactly what you are teaching your kids NOT to do.

I think I am going to stay out of the cry room from now on.

Monday, December 15, 2008

When in doubt, it is probably under the couch!

Sunday K woke up from his nap and, seeing the rest of the family in slippers, immediately began to ask for his. We keep shoes and slippers for the boys in a bin in the kitchen. I went to look for them and only one of his slippers was in there. I began my search over the whole house. I could not find the other slipper anywhere. Just when I was abut to give up, I figured I should look under the couch. There it was, along with about 10 toys that have been MIA.

I guess I should clean under the couch more!! I usually forget about cleaning under there unless something is obviously sticking out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

St Andrew Chaplets

I am finally getting around to posting about these. We finished them about a week and a half ago and I really liked how they turned out. I wanted to make paper beads for all of them but that will but be a project I will not repeat soon.

To make the paper beads, I cut the strips and had J use the glue stick to put glue on the paper. Well. as any 5 yr old would, he used way too much glue, and as I rolled the paper, it stuck to my fingers and made it very difficult to roll. I had him help me with about 30 and then I figured I would finish them after the boys went to bed. I will say they got easier the more I did, but when they were all dry and complete, only about 40 (of the 60 I needed) were usable. Although I am "thrifty" and did the paper beads because I thought it would be a fun craft project and cheaper than other beads, I am also of the mindset that "time is money" and the paper beads just took too much of my time. Luckily, I had some beads around the house that we could use and J helped string the beads to finish the chaplets.

The boys love praying with them each night after Advent Prayer.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Balancing Thrifty and All natural

We are a thrifty family. For many reasons, we are thrifty. To save money. Because things are so expensive. Because my husband works for the church. So we stay debt free. You name it, we have good reasons to scrimp and save.

We do not have a strict budget, but we do adhere to one. We do not have a lot of extravagant things. My father makes fun of our, non-HD, small, non-cable/fios/comcast TV when he comes to visit (I keep telling him if he wants us to have a bigger TV, he will have to get us one for Christmas (maybe this year!!) Most of our furniture is either second hand (that we got for free) or we bought on Craigslist (and with three boys, I see no reason to buy any furniture NEW . . . they are destructive!!). We buy most clothes at a Thrift store or on a major sale. And most of our boy's toys come from freecycle, the thrift store or someone else bought them for the boys. Even though we are thrifty, we never seem to want for anything. We are very blessed that way.

But the one area that I struggle with is food. Food is getting more and more expensive. I cringe when I get the total at the grocery store. I try to buy staple items and make most things from scratch. My BIL is a Dr and he tends toward the natural . . . he knows a lot and knows too much about the additives in conventional chickens, milk, eggs, etc. Now, more is coming out in mainstream media about melamine found in milk, eggs, etc. If money were no object, I would be buying all organic everything. I want to feed my kids, good, healthy food.

So, I am torn. The thrifty part of me says to get the food we need the cheapest we can. The health conscious part of me is trying to figure out how we can drink less milk, start eating different foods, so that we can balance getting organic and all natural foods with our budget. So, in January I am going to start a new project. We are going to be buying through an all natural market and an Amish farmer to get most of the things we need that are organic/all natural. I am going to try buying most of our milk, etc this way and see if we can keep our food costs down.

This is a difficult balance. I will let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

An Early Christmas Gift

I am so happy I did not have to wait until Christmas for this gift!!

Yesterday, we found out that A does NOT have long QT syndrome. Let me update you. For the last two weeks we have gone back and forth with our insurance company, the cardiologist's office, and the lab that does the blood test. Right before Thanksgiving, we decided to get the blood test done, even though our Dr was still on vacation. Because of offices being closed for the holiday, we decided to wait till after Thanksgiving for the blood to be drawn. The Wed before Thanksgiving, the cardiologist called. He explained that the 24 hr EKG is not used to measure the QT interval. The only information he got from the 24 hr EKG was that A did not have any irregular heartbeats. He said that A was borderline for LQT but that since the blood test was going to cost us a lot of money out of pocket, he wanted us to come in and do another EKG in the office to see if the blood test was really necessary.

Well, we had to wait a week and a half to get an appointment, which was yesterday. We went in and the nurse ran a short EKG strip and then a long one. We waited patiently for the DR and then he came in, said hi and began looking at the EKGs. Out came a little ruler. He wrote numbers on the top of the pages. He pulled out Andrew's old EKGs and said "You can skip the blood test." I said, "Really?" He then went on to explain that A's QT interval has actually gotten shorter since his last EKG. He is no longer borderline, he is now just long, within the normal range. He said that we should check him at 1 yr of age just to be sure, but all looks good.

I could not stop smiling. I felt, for lack of a better word, lighter. It was not until that moment that I knew how much the "not knowing" was really affecting me. I must have been worrying about it a lot more than I really knew, because I felt so much different after that office visit.

On our way home, we quickly stopped in to a local church for adoration to say Thank You to Jesus.

To all those out there that have been praying for our "baby A", thank you!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Great Website for Coloring Pages

Each day in advent the kids have been doing coloring pages from Advent Adventure. K really wanted to color baby Jesus and since today's coloring page did not include baby Jesus, I searched the internet for a good coloring page. There are some great coloring pages at Praize Kids. The boys are working at coloring the Little Drummer Boy. It is their favorite Christmas song (This should not be a surprise since they play drums around the house all the time and LOVE the fife and drum band at Williamsburg!!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Theology 101

I am not one of those moms who teaches her kids all the names of the Popes, what happened at what Church council, nor have I had them memorize Jesus' lineage. For right now, I want to develop in my children a real love for Jesus and for the Church. But, every once and a while, I try to slip in some of the amazing revelations of our faith.

This morning we started our school day in prayer sitting in front of our Jesse tree. I read the scripture that corresponded to today's ornament (a ladder for Jacob's ladder). J put the ornament on the tree and I got inspired . . .

I began to explain to J and K that the Jesse tree ornaments that we would place on the tree and the scriptures that we would be reading each morning talk about God's relationship with His people and His promise to His people. And that we are beginning at the bottom of the tree and will be getting closer and closer to the top, to the star we placed on the tree. And that that star represented the fulfillment of God's promise to His people. It represented Christmas . . . Jesus' birth . .. Jesus among us.

And what were my two beautiful theologians doing as I was explaining this . . .

They were throwing Cheerios at each other that they found on the floor.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homeschool Humor

J is not a morning person. He usually does not want to do anything for the first hour he wakes up. So, to get him excited about starting school, we have started a tradition of singing a silly song about school while eating breakfast. It goes like this:

School, school, school is cool
school, school, school,
school is cool . . .

Well this morning, while singing it, I added another "verse"

. . . especially homeschool

J, not missing a beat, immediately added his own verse to my new one

because it's shorter than the other school . . . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent, school and other things

Today has been a busy day. With last week off from school, it was good, but a bit hectic, to start up again today. It will be good to get back into the routine of school.

I feel a bit "manic" today. Growing up my parents always said that I got the best ideas "in the eleventh hour" and that has not changed as an adult. I like to plan, but when it comes down to it, I will often change my mind at the last minute and have a better idea 5 minutes after I needed it. I work like a mad woman to get the new idea in motion.

Advent is like that this year. Last year we made an Advent Chain and used our Christmas tree as a Jesse tree. Each day had a saint or a scripture on the link of the chain and we learned about the saint or reflected on the scripture (relating to Jesus' conception and birth) up until Christmas. This year I wanted to do something different. This year I made a Jesse tree out of construction paper (it looks like a Christmas tree). Each bow corresponds to two dates leading up to Christmas. We are using the Jesse tree reading and ornaments from the Diocese of Erie. I found these last year and we will be using them again. We will put out Jesse tree ornaments on the tree. Also, for all the amazing feasts in Advent, I have collected pictures of the saints to put on the tree too. (Please do not laugh at my lack of artistic ability!!!)

This year is special too because we have our own A now with us. Since Sunday was the feast of St Andrew and we found the following great novena for St Andrew, we will be praying this till Christmas.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

When I found the St Andrew Novena, I got the idea to make chaplets for the family. Last night I ordered the St Andrew medals and today we are making the beads that Waltzing Matilda mentioned on her blog here. We should have the chaplets done by the end of this week (at least it is before the novena is over). This morning while reading Elizabeth Foss' blog I noticed she posted a photo of the chaplet her family made. That woman is amazing!!

We are praying the novena for little A and his health!

I need to go make some more beads . . . maybe I will be more organized next year!!