Vacation School

A few months ago, when I was planning for our homeschool year, I sat down and planned out our schedule for the year. No, I am not one of those amazing homeschool moms who planned out every lesson for the year in July. Most days I prep what we’re going to do the night before we’re doing it, if I’m lucky (if not, I just fly by the seat of my pants, and that works just fine for kindergarten).

What I mean about planning our year is that I sat down and looked at all the weeks we would be doing school, the days/weeks we would be off, the days Miss would be at her other school, and then figured out how many hours per day I’d need to teach in order to meet our state’s requirement of 875 hours of instruction per year. I don’t actually have to do that many hours this year because formal homeschooling doesn’t have to start until next year. But this is my practice year, so I did it anyway.

This is one of the built-in “vacation” weeks for our year. We’re at the Farm for my husband’s annual week of deer hunting. I knew I wouldn’t be bringing our school work with us, so I didn’t count on logging any school hours this week.


But duh, it’s the Farm. Being here is like having a week-long field trip. I’m definitely logging some hours.

The girls got to see a groundhog in personal after the hired man captured one in the live trap (the groundhog was digging and making a mess in one of the buildings, so he was taken somewhere else). We had a nice impromptu review about groundhogs, while having the benefit of being able to point out, up close, their perpetually growing teeth and long claws for digging.

We’ve had plenty of outdoor exploration, discussing deer behaviors, inspecting scrapes, discovering where they might sleep and what they might eat.

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We’ve had discussions about the formation of rocks, and there has been plenty of “gym class.” Balancing, jumping, running down and up hills, etc.

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While playing on the hay bales, we found a big caterpillar. It was spiky and rolled into a ball each time we picked it up.


So, obviously, we had a discussion about animals’ natural defenses. And then we tried to guess what the caterpillar might eat, and we made a habitat for it.

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I’ve laughed at myself a little bit this week, because we are not doing anything at all differently from what we would do here at the Farm if we weren’t homeschooling our kids. But since we are, I tend to think about everything differently:

“Oh, an animal skull. Science! They’re climbing. Gym class!”


Yes. I’m logging every bit of it. I love homeschooling.

Posted in Homeschool, The Farm | 2 Comments

Little Girls and Fat – 7 Ways to Encourage Healthy Body Image for Daughters

I’m pretty intentional about the way I discuss food and exercise and body image and fat with my girls. Our society is obsessed with fat. Or rather, with not eating fat, not gaining fat, and not being fat. My parents never tried to get me to lose weight, and never taught me, explicitly or implicitly, that I needed to be super thin or diet constantly. However, the bombardment of “be skinny!!” messages in our culture still led me to have plenty of struggles with body image and “feeling fat,” particularly as an adolescent (I was never overweight, just not super skinny).

As an adult I have learned that it is more important to focus more on having a strong and healthy body and less on being thin. I know this in my head, but I still struggle with it every single day. I want to be able to lose the weight I gained while I was pregnant this summer. I want to be able to lose the extra pounds I had before I got pregnant this summer. I want to be thin again, like I was before I had babies. Even though I know better, I have moments of loathing this body that has grown and nourished three little people, because it doesn’t look like what I wish it did. That’s ridiculous, but it’s true.

I want better for my girls.


I have heard about little girls who worry that they are fat, or who want to be on diets, or who won’t eat certain things because these foods will make them “fat.” Five and six and seven year olds.

The idea of my little girls feeling that they need to be on a diet or do something to avoid getting “fat” makes me want to cry. I want to teach my girls about fat and food in a different way than what is common in our culture. Here are seven ways I try to do it:

1. I do not ever speak critically about my own body in front of them. Even more, I don’t scowl at my reflection, I don’t weight myself in front of them, I don’t complain that certain clothes make me look fat. When my kids inevitably poke my belly and comment on how squishy it is I just smile and say, “Yes it is.” I don’t say, “Ugh, I know. I need to eat less ice cream and work out more.” Even if that’s what I’m thinking.


2. I don’t discuss food with them in terms of its potential to make them (or me) fat, and we don’t go on “diets” in our house (I don’t believe eating paleo is a “diet” in the way I’m thinking of it here). We discuss foods in terms of their nutritional value. I explain to my girls that we need to eat a variety of foods to keep our bodies healthy.


I don’t ban sugary treats, but I tell them that we eat small amounts of these because they don’t offer our bodies much, if any, nutritional value, and eating too much of them isn’t a healthy choice and/or makes us feel tired, etc.

3. I don’t talk about fat or “being fat” as a bad thing. When my girls ask me why some people are fat, I simply say, “Because God makes people in all shapes and sizes.” Once Miss asked me what would happen if her daddy got fat. I have no idea where that question came from, but I said, “Well then we would just love him anyway, whatever he looks like.”


4. Similarly, I don’t tell them not to refer to other people as fat. The idea of being “fat” doesn’t have a negative connotation for them yet, and I want to keep it that way. I have felt embarrassed when they have asked other people, “Why are you so fat?” but I don’t chastise them for it because it is completely innocent. Obviously, if I ever heard them use the word “fat” as an insult, I would put a stop to it right away. For now, I’m just glad they don’t even think it that way.

5. I never have the TV on adult programming when my kids are awake. Commercials are so full of inappropriate content. When we occasionally have on a sports program during the day, I try to keep it muted, at least during the commercials, to avoid all the commercials about the latest and greatest “lose weight fast” schemes (it’s also nice to avoid the erectile dysfunction commercials so common during sports programming).

6. Exercise is always only referred to in terms of its purpose for making us strong and healthy and helping us to feel good, never for trying to lose weight. I was in our garage working out the other day while the girls played in the backyard. I was doing sumo deadlift high pulls and feeling like a cow, noticing how my belly fat was oozing over the top of my workout pants each time I bent down. Lass came to the door between the garage and the backyard and said, “Looking good, Mom!” I couldn’t help but smile.


7. I don’t talk about how relatively big or small they are. I have one daughter who is on the small side for her age, and two who are on the big side. Miss and Lass are almost exactly the same size. People comment on this all the time, usually right after asking me if they’re twins. But I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t make comments about how petite Miss is or compare her sisters to her in that way. They know they wear the same size clothes, and it’s a non-issue beyond that.


I know I won’t be able to shield my girls from society’s skinny obsession forever. Really what I’m trying to do now is lay a good foundation for the conversations that will come when they get older. I hope that they will have a firmly established set of beliefs about exercise and food and their bodies, so that they can roll their eyes at the photoshopped pictures on the magazine covers and the ads promising that they can “Lose weight fast!!”

For now I’ll feed them healthy food and continue to try to be a good role model of healthy exercise and body image. I certainly need work on this myself.

Posted in Raising Daughters | 4 Comments

Halloween Recap

Whew! Another Halloween is over. We had a fun week of parties, treats, and costumes.

Here’s a recap, mommy-blog style:

First of all, the issue of costumes almost became a big drama when we first started Halloween planning a few weeks ago. I told the girls that I was not going to buy them costumes for Halloween this year, because they each had gotten two new costumes for the Labor Day party in September. Why two costumes? I had already allowed them to pick a costume for the “Cartoon” theme of the party, and then my Mother-in-law requested that everyone in the family come as a Smurf, knowing that would make for an awesome family photo, so they got additional Smurf costumes.

DSC_0763I told them they could choose from the Smurf costumes, the other costumes they got for the party (Mulan, Ms. Frizzle, Sofia the First), or pick something out of our extensive dress up collection. Sis and Lass had no problem with this. Sis wanted to be Sofia again. Lass decided to wear her veterinarian dress up outfit. Miss, on the other hand, insisted that she wanted to be a witch. We don’t have witch dress up. We had a stand-off on the issue for a few days, until I found a witch hat in the Target dollar section. I conceded to buy her the hat, but told her we’d have to piece together the rest of the costume from things we already had. She agreed. And then Lass changed her mind and decided she had to be a witch too. Soooo, a different witch hat, also from Target, and plans for two witch outfits. Costumes decided, crisis averted.

The actual Halloween revelry started last Saturday when we were invited to a party by some lovely friends.


You might be wondering what happened to the witches and Sofia the First, yes? Well, I suggested to Miss that she might want to save her witch costume for her school party, since lots of the kids from her school would be at this family party. She agreed and grabbed her Elsa dress (which needed some last minute repairs). Then Lass decided to be Cinderella, but melted down because her Cinderella dress, which she got as a gift for her second birthday, is now too small for her. She did not want to wear Miss’s Cinderella dress from last Halloween, but Sis decided she’d love to be Cinderella instead of Sofia. Lass recovered from her devastation quickly upon catching a glimpse of her unicorn costume in the closet where it has been stuffed onto a shelf for the past year. So, no witches, no Sofia. Elsa, Cinderella, and a unicorn instead.

Are you still with me? Good.

The party was wonderful, with lots of games and pizza and treats. The girls had a blast.

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^^ A last stretching leap to win her heat of the sack race. She’s not competitive or anything. . .

My Halloween torment began on Wednesday, when I had to roll up my sleeves and actually bake the treats I had envisioned after my Pinterest search last week. I think I mentioned that baking is not one of my talents. Cooking I can do. Baking? Not so much. And yet, I volunteered to bring the sweet treat for Miss’s school party. I’m sometimes not too smart, either.

So, what do you think? Did I nail it?

Cupcake collage

At least they tasted good. I helped out at Miss’s party, and most of the kids devoured them, and had no idea they had pumpkin in them.


Yeah, she decided to stick with the Elsa costume for the school party too.

Yesterday afternoon/evening was a whirlwind of carving pumpkins, getting costumes on, giving candy to early trick-or-treaters, and trying to find their pumpkin-shaped candy buckets.


^^ Last minute jack-o-lantern success.

We had to really bundle up, because it was extremely cold and windy here last night. Miss and Lass each wore one of my sweaters as a witch “dress.” We managed to fit costumes on over bulky coats, so no one’s outfit was hidden for the sake of being warm. I crimped the older girls’ hair to make it look “witchy.” That was my favorite part.


We never did find the pumpkin buckets.

Miss insisted on pulling her sisters in the wagon, and off we went.

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“Trick or Treat!”

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It was really, really cold and the witch hats wouldn’t stay on because of the wind. The houses in our neighborhood are kind of far apart, and there were many with no lights on. We only made it to four houses before calling it quits.



The girls didn’t care that we didn’t go to more houses, and we would have ended up with the perfect (small) amount of candy for the night. Except that it was so cold, very few trick-or-treaters came to our house to take our candy.


Right now our huge bowl of leftovers is “hidden” in our laundry room. Unfortunately I can’t hide them from myself. I’ll be donating all of it somewhere ASAP.

It was a fun Halloween. I hope you had a fun one too!


Posted in Fall, Halloween, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cupcake Anxiety, a Singing Nun, and a Deer Head Dance (7QT)

Doing what I usually do on Fridays:


I’m in charge of making the sweet treat for Miss’s Halloween party at school next week. Right now I am both loving and hating Pinterest. I think I’m using a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes and adding chocolate chips. The frosting will be pumpkin cream cheese and I’ll put orange sprinkles on top. I’m hoping they’ll look something like this:

Of course, they’re not really going to end up looking anything like that. And I have spent waaaayyy too much time thinking about this. But the kids will have cupcakes.


The last time I tried to make something from scratch for a school party was when Miss was still in preschool outside the home, and I tried to make paleo brownies for her to take for her birthday. I baked them after putting the girls to bed, and thank goodness I tasted one before taking them to her school. They were disgusting. Truly. I threw them away and made an emergency late-night trip to the grocery store to get some pre-made cupcakes from the bakery.

This time I’ll bake the cupcakes early enough in the day that I can test one and have some time to consider decent replacement options if these are awful.

Baking isn’t one of my talents, so I must always prepare for the worst.


On Wednesday I got pulled over. I was going 69 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. the officer took my license, went back to his car, and came back a few minutes later saying, “You have a great record, so I’m giving you a warning.”

IMG_3804I barely managed to keep my jaw from dropping.

I don’t know whose driving record he was looking at, but if it was “great,” it wasn’t mine. Or maybe he could only see the past year or two. It has been over two years since my last ticket. . .

I’m kind of a lead foot.


Our house has walls. And rooms.


See that big window right in the front? That’s where my school room is going to be.

IMG_3785 IMG_3790Can you picture it? Little desks and tons of books and art projects everywhere and storage, storage, storage. I can’t wait.


When I was a tween (though no one used that word then), I loved Madonna. My Mom wouldn’t buy me the tape of her music (I think she called M a “tart”), but I recorded the songs off the radio and sang and danced to them with abandon. Borderline, Material Girl, Crazy for You, Like a Virgin. . .

Okay, I still dance and sing to them with abandon.

Yesterday I came across a video. Some people might find it weird, but I just think it’s awesome. It’s a nun. Singing “Like a Virgin.” (I think it’s the nun who won some singing show in Italy).

Her performance is incredible, and it gives the song a whole new meaning. Don’t just listen. Watch her sing it.

It gave me chills. As someone who spent nearly a decade as an atheist, this video really struck a chord with me. I’ll never hear that song the same way again. And that’s not a bad thing.


Today was lovely. Days like this are why fall is my favorite season.


They were trying to catch leaves in their hats as they fell from the trees. They weren’t too successful, but it sure was fun to watch them try.

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Each time she fell she’d look up and me and say, deadpan, “A little help here.”


Hunting season is upon us. After watching my husband practice shooting his bow, Miss asked to get hers out too (my Dad gave it to her).

She practiced for at least 30 minutes, and went from needing lots of assistance and correction to being able to nock, draw, aim, and shoot the arrow herself, often placing it in the target.

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Lass took a short turn with the bow when Miss was done. Both the girls said they wanted to go out and hunt with my husband, to which he replied that they could (hunt = watch deer). This quickly resulted a dance and song that went something like this, “We’re gonna put a deer head on the waaaall,” over and over and over.

Deer dance

I hope you had a lovely Friday too.

Catch the rest of the Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Building the House, Fall, Funny Sayings, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five Favorites – Etsy Shops for Kids

Have I ever mentioned that I love Etsy? Once or twice, yes?

(just for fun, type “Etsy” into the search bar on the side of my blog and see how many posts come up. . .)

Well, since Christmas is coming up, and I always love to get a few sweet handmade/non-mass-produced things for my girls, and because there is a new hostess of the Five Favorites link up so I want to give Jenna some love, here are my five favorite Etsy shops for kids’ stuff.

I adore Etsy so much, that I don’t think I could narrow down my favorite shops to just five overall, so these are just for kids. And maybe later I’ll share another post with my tops shops for grown up gifts and/or home decor. Then maybe another time I could share my five favorite party supply shops. Or five favorite shops for vintage stuff. Five favorite jewelry shops?

Yes, I love me some Etsy. So, without further ado, five favorite shops for kids’ stuff, in no particular order:

1. Huggie Saints – These soft saint dolls are so snuggly and very well-made. Sis has a Saint Brigid that she sleeps with every night.

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Super Friend got a Saint Philomena for her youngest daughter, which is just as cute as can be too.

2. Nana’s Sewing Closet – These dresses. I just can’t even explain the cuteness. We have a Minnie Mouse dress, a Snow White dress, and a Cinderella dress (though ours is made of cotton and is quite different from the one linked to here). And I can’t even get over how sweet the work dresses, or “raggy” dresses as my girls would call them, of Cinderella and Belle are. We have cute, comfy dresses like these from another shop too, but I like Nana’s better because hers are less expensive and she has the biggest selection of different character dresses to choose from (plus the other shop closed!).

This is my favorite type of princess dress, because the girls can wear them any day, not just for dress up. They are comfortable and easy to wash.

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I couldn’t find any good photos of our dresses. The girls wore them to Disney World, but it was so cold they were covered up with coats the whole time. Just trust me. They’re adorable.

3. and 4. Pray With the Saints and St. Luke’s Brush- These little saint peg dolls are so fun. We have dolls from both of these shops, and both are wonderful. Pray with the Saints dolls are less detailed, but also less expensive. St. Luke’s Brush dolls are amazing in their detail (check out his Blessed Mother Theresa!), and he has a larger selection. We have Saint Cecilia, Saint Therese, and Saint Brigid from St. Luke’s.


Maggie from Pray with the Saints was delightful when I requested a custom order doll for Miss’s birthday last year. Miss had been begging for a Saint Anne-pregnant-with-Mary doll, and I couldn’t find one anywhere (not surprisingly). She also wanted Saint Anne to be holding a rosary (not historically accurate, but she was only four when she was imagining this doll!). Maggie was so accommodating and asked lots of questions to get the doll just right. She even asked what color Miss’s eyes are to make the doll’s eyes match.


Perfect for St. Nicholas feast day presents!

5. Three Yellow Starfish – The reversible pinafores from this shop are darling. The fabric selections are gorgeous and the sewing is flawless.

Three Yellow Starfish pinafore

They’re reversible!

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Though this isn’t really the time of year for little dresses like these, they look adorable over a long sleeve shirt with pants underneath too.

Any guesses which of my girls that is ^^?


Two more shops that I am very intrigued by, but have not personally purchased anything from (yet):

Whole Parenting Goods – I’ve been stalking this shop for a while. If I had a baby, I’d be all over this stuff. I almost want to snuggle my computer screen when I look at Nell’s blankets and scarves. She just added leggings to her list of items, so I might need to get some of those for Sis (they don’t come big enough for Lass or Miss). The bandit bibs are so sweet, and would have been much cuter than the ugly, stained bibs I had during Miss’s crazy drooling phase.


I also have to add that Nell is a blogging friend, and you can check her out here.

Catholic Inspired – I’m especially intrigued by these rosary mats. What a great idea. Finally a rosary that Sis can’t break (at least, I don’t think she could break it).

Now, you must tell me – what are your favorite Etsy shops?

And, check out others’ favorite things at the link up, now going on over at Call Her Happy.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Five Favorites, Other Great Blogs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Seven Quick Takes. Okay, Six. Five and a Half.

Hooray for Friday!


I was getting ready to put the boxes for my girls’ new shoes in the recycling the other day. I happened to notice the labels.


I’m just going to note that I’m so glad my four-year-old has “running” shoes available in her size. These will be super important when we start her marathon training. And I’m not exactly sure what “lightweight training” is specifically, but I’m relieved that my five-year-old will be prepared when she encounters it.


Speaking of being prepared, I have been really trying not to freak out about the cases of Ebola in the United States. I think the media is (as usual) really overblowing everything and trying to make everyone feel terrified and therefore be glued to their televisions. I also think, “What-in-the-world-is-wrong-with-you-CDC-people???” Beyond that, I’ve been really working on not panicking about this thing.

However, I have spent at least one night of restless, nightmare-plagued sleep over it, and I am considering just boarding up my house and eating freeze-dried food for however long it takes the people in charge to come up with a cure and a vaccine. At least I’ll still have the internet.


Monday was the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. We made a dancing sun craft and watched our DVD about the Marian apparitions and miracle at Fatima. Then, because Mary referred to herself during these apparitions as the “Lady of the Rosary” and requested that people pray the devotion daily, I had the girls pray a complete rosary with me for the first time.

I’m all about inspiring a love for the prayers, and chocolate makes everything fun.


Thanks to Kendra for the reminder to try this this month (though we didn’t manage it on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary).


I have been liberated. I am truly free.

My children are of the age where they can go outside and play by themselves. However, after a few stings last summer and this summer, and due to an intense fear of the noise of the train near our house, they have insisted that they are too afraid to go outside without me.

Now, normally I try to be nice and sensitive to my children’s fears. But there are times (lots of times) when they just need to get outside but I have other things to get done, and/or I am not jazzed about the idea of standing out there with them. Over the past weekend I had one of those times.

Miss wanted to go outside, but not all by herself. Sis wanted to go outside but only if I went too. Lass didn’t want to go out at all. Two of them were crying. Sis was saying, “I so sferred!” (she can’t make the K sound).

I kicked them all out. I literally pried Sis’s fingers from the door as I slid it shut and said, “Have fun!”

She wasn’t happy at first.


You may think me cruel, but I knew exactly what would happen. She and her sisters all pulled it together and had plenty of fun. Now they go outside without me, without complaint or tears, every day. Tough love.

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I came across Jess Connell’s blog the other day when a friend linked to this post on Facebook. The post is about Jess’s answer to the question some people ask (and someone posted in her combox), “Why do people keep having more kids if they are already exhausted with the 1 or 2 they do have?” Jess has six-going-on-seven kids, and her response to the question is perfect.

Basically it is this, anything worthwhile is tiring. And it comes down to how you view children: as a blessing or a burden? a joy or a chore?

She hit the nail on the head.

When I was tired from studying or writing my dissertation in graduate school no one ever asked me, “Why would you do that, since it makes you so exhausted?” That would have been a bizarre thing to ask. Yet people ask it of parents about their children not infrequently, on social media in particular. Read Jess’s whole post here. I’d love to hear what you think about it.


I know there were more things I wanted to put into Quick Takes this week. I just can’t for the life of me remember what they are. Someday I’ll get the hang of writing down the things I plan to blog about instead of trying to remember them on the fly. For now I leave you with five and a half takes.

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out the link up at Conversion Diary, where other writers actually get to seven in their posts.


Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday, Other Great Blogs | 2 Comments

Diary of a Grammar Geek

I freely admit that I am a big nerd when it comes to my love of proper grammar. I can’t really help it. I just really like it. It makes me happy.

I don’t mean to say that I think I am always perfectly grammatically correct. I’m not, in either my writing or my speech. I tend to write this blog the way that I speak, so I know it doesn’t always make the A+ grade for grammar. Sometimes I use sentence fragments if it helps my flow. I often start a sentence with a conjunction, though I almost never end one with a preposition. And (see?) sometimes I say things like, “I’m good” in response to the question “How are you?” *gasp*

I think what makes me a grammar geek is that I actually care about things like the correct use of adverbs and adjectives. Even though I don’t always do it perfectly (see what I did there?), I am always trying to make my grammar correct. And I love learning new things about proper grammar. For example:

I bought a book recently called “It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences,” and it’s fascinating.

It was only just recently that I learned the rule about when to use “who” and when to use “whom.” I thought I knew it, but I had only understood part of it. I was so excited. Truly.

I kind of can’t wait until my kids are old enough for me to have them start diagramming sentences in our homeschool. It was one of my favorite things to do in English class.


There are some things that drive me kind of nuts, like improper use of apostrophes.

Or lack of apostrophes when they should be there.

I mean, one of the reasons Super Friend and I are such good friends is because she knows when to type “you’re” and when to type “your” in a text or email.

Just kidding (sort of).

BUT, though I freely admit to being a nerd, I don’t consider myself to be a “grammar Nazi.”

I don’t ever correct someone’s grammar, punctuation, or spelling unless they specifically ask me to. Except in my head. And when I do it in my head, it’s not malicious. I just can’t help myself.

My thinking as I scroll through Facebook posts:

“‘Should have’, not ‘should of’.”

“‘Too funny’, not ‘to funny’.”

“‘Couldn’t care less’, not ‘could care less’.”

“Quotation marks do not mean emphasis.”


What’s my point? I don’t have one. I just like thinking about and writing about grammar. I do wish people would pay more attention to using it correctly. But I’m a nerd. Here’s a take home message if you want one:


And even though some of this song is kind of mean spirited, I do enjoy this Weird Al Yankovic remake of “Blurred Lines.”

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

Grandparents (again), Field Trips (again), and Walls (finally)

Quick Takes Friday!


We had a lot of fun with my parents when they were here. We got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in my very favorite way. With gifts from the Dollar Tree, of course! I let the girls each pick two things as gifts for my Mom. The two older girls really tried to choose things they thought their Grandma would like. I just love watching how proud they are to see their gifts opened and appreciated.

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Miss chose a fall-themed oven mitt and a water bottle (similar to the one my Mom uses for her coffee). Lass selected a six-pack of plastic hangers and a statue of a mother holding a baby, which she immediately thought to be Mary and Baby Jesus and decided my non-Catholic mother must have it.

Sis chose a snow globe with puppies in it and what she thought was a small “bouncy ball” that turned out to be a soccer-themed washcloth.


I never get tired of the dollar store presents.


The only time our little dolls and castle ever look like this:


With every. single. one. posed at “The Ball,” is when my Mom is here.


Grandparents are the best.

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Two weeks ago, we read the book A Pair of Red Clogs (set in Japan). The Godmother brought me some real Japanese clogs and kimonos and an obi and other things from Japan, that her father had brought back after WWII. She told me to let my girls touch and feel and try on and play with these wonderful items!

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Somehow I only got really crummy photos, but the girls had such fun trying on the shoes and clothes and twirling and clomping around. I have such a thoughtful and generous Godmother.


I had wanted to take the girls to a hibachi restaurant for a meal/field trip, but didn’t get around to it during the week that we read the Red Clogs book. So we went with my parents on Wednesday night. The older girls loved it.


Sis didn’t want anything to do with it.



Speaking of field trips, this week we’re reading “A Glorious Flight” about how Louis Bleriot built an airplane and was the first person to fly a plane over the English Channel. We have an amazing aviation museum nearby, which was the perfect field trip this week.

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In case you’re wondering, that’s at least seven field trips for us already this year!


Finally, I am very excited to show you this last photo:


Walls! We have walls finally going up. We have such a long, long way to go, I know. But this, seeing something coming up from the ground for real, has just made my weekend.

For more Quick Takes, check out the link up at Conversion Diary.


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Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 7 – The Rosary

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and October is the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. When I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day, who is in the process of reversion to the Catholic Faith, she mentioned that she is eager to learn about the rosary so that she can begin praying it herself. So I’m bringing back Baby Catholic Answers All the Things (sorry, it’s been a while!) with a post all about this beautiful devotion.


The rosary has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. You can read a history of the devotion here. It is made up of five decades of repeated prayers, Hail Marys separated by Our Fathers, used to meditate on sets of mysteries.

So, what does that actually mean? Using sets of prayers, called decades, to meditate on sets of mysteries? Wha?? Why the repetitive, memorized prayers? Why the devotion to Mary?

Let me break it down. First of all, you can read my Baby Catholic Answers post on Marian devotion here. In a nutshell: Catholics don’t’ worship Mary. The rosary is not a way to worship Mary. One of the people in my RCIA class from last year had been staunchly anti-Catholic before converting from Protestantism. She began praying the rosary during Lent and asked during class one week, “What is the deal with all these prayers to Mary? Why am I praying to Mary??” My answer to her was something like this, “The rosary is not so much about praying to Mary as it is about growing in our understanding of and faith in Jesus. The mysteries are almost all about Jesus, not Mary. Mary always leads us closer to her Son.”

Let me back up just a bit more here to explain how the rosary works and what a “mystery” is in this context. First, how the rosary works:

If you pick up a rosary, you will see a loop of beads with a tail coming out from it. At the end of the tail is a crucifix.


Above the crucifix, on the tail, there are five beads. First is an “Our Father bead.” Our Father beads are sometimes different from most of the beads on the rosary, and sometimes they’re just separated by more chain. The next three beads are  “Hail Mary beads.” Then there’s a space and another Our Father bead, followed by the joiner (I think that’s what it’s called). The joiner can differ from rosary to rosary. One of mine has a Holy Family medal, another has an Ave Maria thingy (see below).


^ This one is an example of a rosary where the beads are all the same but the Our Father beads are separated from the Hail Mary beads by more chain.

Looking more closely at the beads on the loop of the rosary, you can see that there are groups of ten Hail Mary beads, called “decades,” that are separated from each other by Our Father beads.


So to pray the rosary, you start on the crucifix and say the Apostles Creed. Then you move to the first Our Father bead and say. . . an Our Father. Then three Hail Marys on the Hail Mary beads. On the the chain between the last Hail Mary and the next Our Father bead, you say a Glory Be. Then on the final Our Father bead, announce the first mystery, then say the Our Father.


Then you move to the first set of ten Hail Mary beads and say ten Hail Marys. When you get to chain before the second Our Father bead, say the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer (I’m not sure if some people maybe don’t do this last one?), then move to the next Our Father bead, announce the second mystery and say the Our Father, then pray the next decade of Hail Marys. And it goes the same way through all five mysteries and five decades until you get to the last Fatima Prayer. After the last Fatima Prayer, on the joiner, pray the Hail Holy Queen. Then to conclude there is another prayer, but I’m not sure what it’s called. Most sites I looked at included it at the end of the rosary, but I haven’t seen a name for it. It goes like this:

Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant we beseech Thee that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.

So that’s the sequence of praying the rosary. But you may be wondering what in the world are these mysteries I keep referring to, and why so many prayers repeated over and over?

The answer is meditation.

The rosary isn’t so much about the prayers, as it is about meditation. The prayers are repeated over and over because most Catholics can say Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Glory Bes without needing to think about them, freeing their minds to meditate on the mysteries. The rhythmic nature of the prayers actually facilitates the meditation. And what we meditate on are the 20 mysteries of faith.

For centuries, there were 15 mysteries included in the rosary, grouped into three sets of five.

The Joyful Mysteries (prayed on Mondays and Saturdays):

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity of Jesus
  • The presentation of Jesus
  • The finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Glorious Mysteries (prayed on Sundays and Wednesdays)

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption of Mary
  • The crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven

The Sorrowful Mysteries (prayed on Tuesdays and Fridays)

  • The agony in the garden
  • The scourging at the pillar
  • The crowning with thorns
  • Jesus carries the cross
  • Jesus is crucified

In October 2002 Saint John Paul II (is he referred to as Saint John Paul the Great now?) added the Luminous Mysteries (prayed on Thursdays):

  • The baptism of Jesus
  • The wedding at Cana
  • The proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The transfiguration
  • The institution of the Eucharist

When you pray the rosary, you meditate on the days’ mysteries, each for the duration of a decade.


^ Someone else around here really likes my rosaries and chaplets.

To sum it all up, when I pray the rosary today, it will go like this:

  1. I will make the Sign of the Cross
  2. I’ll say a short prayer stating my intentions for the rosary (i.e. I offer the rosary for the intention of my children, my husband, my godson, a sick friend, etc.)
  3. The Apostles’ Creed
  4. The Our Father
  5. Three Hail Marys
  6. The Glory Be
  7. Since today is Tuesday, I will then say, “The first Sorrowful Mystery – The agony in the garden.”
  8. Then I will pray the Our Father
  9. Ten Hail Marys
  10. The Glory Be
  11. The Fatima Prayer
  12. I will do 8-11 all while focusing my thoughts on Jesus’s agony in the garden. This is the meditation part. I’ll try to think about how He felt, remember what He went through, imagine myself in that situation, etc. I’ll try really hard to stay focused, but sometimes (often!) my mind will wander. I will repeatedly bring my thoughts back to Jesus in the Garden.
  13. I’ll repeat these steps for each of the other four Sorrowful Mysteries.
  14. I’ll pray the Hail Holy Queen
  15. Closing prayer (above)
  16. Sign of the Cross

If you pray the rosary frequently, you are repeatedly meditating on all of Salvation history, all of the mysteries of our faith. It covers Jesus’s conception and birth, high points of His childhood and His adulthood as He spread the gospel and performed miracles, His Passion, death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven, and His sending down of the Holy Spirit.

I really love praying the rosary. It is so beautiful and such a fulfilling way to pray. I highly recommend it.

DSC_0132^ Only two of those are rosaries, the others are chaplets (Seven Sorrows, Stations of the Cross, and Hannah’s Tears)

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Awesomeness. Plus Puppies, Leaves, and Grandparents

It’s Friday!


I chaperoned a field trip for Miss’s kindergarten class on Monday. We went to a Farm where they got to pick an apple and go on a hay ride and pick a pumpkin. I had three little girls in the group I was charged with. One of them is a girl I’ve heard Miss mention several times as her special school friend. I overheard that little girl say to Miss near the end of the trip, “Your mom is awesome.” And Miss just said, “Yeah.”



In a few weeks we’re going to have a couple of additions to our family.


Two of these little cuties will be coming home with us in early November. We have been looking for a Border Terrier puppy for months. They are very hard to find and most breeders have waiting lists. I happened to find the owner of these dogs on the AKC website. She bred her two dogs, and then decided she doesn’t really want to do the breeding thing, so this is her first and only litter of Border Terrier pups. Since she’s not a known breeder and doesn’t have a website or anything, she has no waiting list! We decided to get two puppies, one male and one female. We get our pick of the puppies in the picture. The hard part will be choosing the puppies from photo and video, since she lives seven hours away and we won’t be able to see them in person before picking them up.


My parents are coming to visit today. Yahoo!

Lass is very excited, because that means she gets to share her room with Miss.

I’m very excited, because that means I get to have an overnight date with my husband this weekend.

And everyone is excited, because Damma and Tuppa rock, of course.


Speaking of Lass and my parents, over the weekend we had beautiful weather, and my husband blew/raked all our leaves up into a magnificent jumping pile for the girls.

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At one point, the pile had gotten quite flattened and dispersed from all the throwing of and jumping into leaves.

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I was raking it back together when Lass exclaimed, “Mama! You learned to rake the leaves for us!” (apparently, my husband usually does this?). I responded drily, “Yes Honey. Grandpa taught me to rake leaves a long time ago when I was a little girl.”

She said, “Oh, I just love my Grandpa. It’s so good that he taught you to do that Mama.” I’m not sure that my childhood and adolescent self would have agreed with that, but I’m sure glad she thinks so now.


While the girls were jumping in the leaves, I decided it was a good opportunity to experiment with shooting in manual mode. I got a few shots I really like.

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And several that didn’t turn out so well.

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I really, really want to learn to shoot in manual all the time, and though I have a general understanding of most of the basics (shutter speed, aperture; I’m still working on remembering ISO), at this point it’s all pretty much just trial and error. I just need to do it more, I think.


I was finally able to get my girls back into gymnastics starting this week. Trying to schedule it so they could all go was just not working out before, but they were missing it and asking to go back.


^^ Somersaults in the leaves.

I managed to get Sis into the tot class in the morning, and Miss and Lass are in a private lesson right after hers. It really isn’t much more expensive than regular classes for them, and it’s probably a wash when you consider that now we won’t be paying for the weeks they miss when we travel. They get so much more from it with the more focused attention of their teacher (last time I had them in a class there were nine children in Miss’s class!), and I get to not hate every minute of taking them to a class in the evenings (I’m not a fan of evening activities if I can avoid them). Win/win.


That’s all I’ve got. I’m off to put ham and bean soup in the crockpot, so it will be all ready and yummy when my parents arrive. Since we have company coming, we may be having a “Home Ec.” day in our homeschool today.

Have a great weekend! For more quick takes, visit Conversion Diary.

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