This week the blog will be rather quiet, while I move things over to a new web home. It’s been on my mind for a while to take a leap and make this blog a smidge more official. I’ve gone ahead and set up a personal domain to own. It’s all grown-up for my blogging self. Find me from now on at somedaysaints.com. I’ll be glad to connect with you in my new blog-home!
Annnnnd…I apparently can’t resist a good guest-post opportunity. Bonnie at A Knotted Life asked for guest posts a while back, so I jumped at that chance, too. It was fun! If you haven’t checked out Bonnie’s blog, do, at least to read her stories of her son’s miracle and learn about the cause for Fulton J. Sheen’s canonization–his intercession had a huge role in their son’s miracle at birth!
I’ve never done a “best of the web” post before, but when Bonnie was looking for guest posts and suggested it as a post option, I thought, “how fun! I can use things from Pinterest and my time-wasting moments to fill a blog! I don’t have to think too hard!” which is perfect for me right now. I can’t think much this week, after hours in the orthopedic office to get a cast on my Little Man, keeping up with our homeschool schedule so we can still have our summer break when planned, getting through graduation with my hubs…I’ve missed an appointment because my brain has been so filled with other things. Not thinking too hard about a post is ideal. Yes, I know. I stooped and lowered the bar for myself, because thinking too hard is overrated.
I think this will be a pretty good selection, though. Lots of fun, lots of yum, lots of other good stuff. Basically, the things my mind thinks about for .17 seconds before another shiny thing comes along for me to think about. It’s Best of the Web from my wandering mind.
Shall we get to the list?
(note, these in my photo are just books we’ve read and loved, not that any are on the list. And some aren’t even for tweens…but hey, that tween started with Dr. Suess, right?)
…I like to talk about books we’re reading. But if you know me at all or read my bio, you’ll know that I’d rather do almost anything than sit and read a book (though, I admit, that is slowly changing as I get into really good books). My 9 year old daughter reads like it’s going out of style, and since I wasn’t a big reader as a kid (don’t get me wrong, I’m literate, just didn’t read for fun), I don’t know what to suggest to her, nor do I have the time to preview all kinds of current books and authors before she reads them. I would have to read 24/7 and hire a cook, house cleaner, and send all the children to school in order to keep ahead of my girl. That’s why I love lists of good books for tweens.
And for the rest, do head over to A Knotted Life!
You know how everyone is pinning and blogging and sharing all the best summer plans? All the plans that revolve around children?
Yeah. I’m doing it, too. A series of posts from guests, plus my own top 5 for summer.
BUT! There’s more to summer than enjoying the long days with our kids. There is time in the long days for us, as women and mothers! Time for us to fulfill our needs and pursuits! And so, here is *my* bucket list, for summer and beyond–because, life. It’s fairly certain that my “summer” bucket list won’t be complete and it will carry over through the fall, too. I figure, my needs/desires deserve some attention, and if I don’t make a list of what I hope to accomplish, then it’s never going to happen. Why? Because I have a husband and 5 children, and I’m the sort of person (like many women) to put everyone else’s needs above my own–95% of the time. My hopeful solution is to have my bucket list, and once at a week, at least, make time for *me*.
Without further rambling, my list:
-Read “The Little Oratory” and beautify our prayer space.
-Make a huge dent in my quilt project, sewing at least 3 full squares. I have these 4 done, plus two more. I’m pretty sure I will need 12-15 squares to finish the quilt, which I hope to have done by the Christmas season.
-Run a 5K. This might be my most ambitious goal, because I have little time to actually go and run to prep…but I plan on doing one anyway.
-Simplify our school supplies. I know, I know, that is not so much about me as it is about prepping for another school year…but I feel so much better when our things are organized and tidy and simple. To piggy-back on this: get a canvas for the huge map I have and hang it, as well as create some frames with clips so that I can hang the kids’ great pieces of work and change them out frequently and easily.
-Make a huge dent in my 2012 photo book project.
-Read more of “Visual Poetry”, a photography book I’ve had for years, and see if I can kick up my skills a notch or two.
-Spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors! That will include working on my garden, taking the kids on hikes, visiting the farmers’ markets…
How about you? What do you really want to do this summer, for you?
I’m so delighted to be guest-posting on my dear friend Amanda’s blog while she’s honeymooning! Her series on the questions of intent and marriage vows is lovely, and writing this post to share has been fun. We do, after all, have some experience in this topic. 😉
Marriage isn’t just something to do when you love someone and think they’d be swell to live with for the rest of your life. Not even close! I’ll let you know, I love my husband. He is swell. But we don’t always get along, we don’t always have the same ideas about how to raise our family, we don’t always speak the same language, we don’t organize things the same way. Marriage is not always swell! But it is worth it. Marriage just so happens to be one of the various vocations to which a person can be called. It’s a vocation, because it’s a call from God on how best to live our lives and serve Him in this world. Do it well, and we hope for a place in Heaven alongside our spouse (and kids!) for the grand feast and perfect joy that comes with being united finally with God.
The Church has a few things to say about marriage and what is important. She teaches these things because, well, Jesus gave us the Church to guide us. The “rules” are in place to guide us, teach us, help us as we learn to live in the love of Christ.
It’s a big deal. And so, the things which a couple must understand and consent to–the things the Church has to say about marriage–are also a big deal.
One of them has to do with children.
Read the rest on Amanda’s blog!
A Cut Above
Summer can be a great time to work on children’s academic and fine motor skills. A really fun way to accomplish both of those is with activities that help improve scissor skills. Scissor skills are an important part of every child’s early childhood development. Although most of us recognize that fact, we don’t always realize why children need scissor skills. Aside from the obvious use of scissors, there is also a relationship between scissor skills and writing, and then between writing and reading. Research shows that children who struggle with scissors, will often struggle in correctly forming letters, and children who can’t form letters correctly may have trouble reading. Unfortunately this can lead to frustration, and some children develop a dislike of not only writing, but also reading.
Some Summer Time Scissor Activities…
Clay Play: Part of the success of cutting and writing, is the strength of children’s fingers. One of the best materials for working those finger muscles is clay. The clay takes much more strength to manipulate, therefore providing children with great opportunities for finger muscles — a great warm up for cutting. Want to add a summer twist, play with your clay in the summer sun, as it melts kids can squish and smoosh it. If you are using colored clay swirl and meld together to create new colors or a tie-dye effect.
Play-Doh Cutting: Kids new to scissors or you are not ready for little pieces of cut paper everywhere – try Play-Doh with a pair of plastic scissors. Keeping scissors straight, and applying the appropriate pressure to cut through paper can be incredibly challenging for some children. The amazing thing about play dough and plastic scissors is no matter how you cut, you succeed! This is another wonderful outside activity, perfect for downtime in the shade when it is really hot outside or perfect for occupying hours during a rainy day.
Play-Doh Line Cutting: Want to create ‘lines’ for your child to follow? I use cookie cutters, and instead of pushing all the way through depress half-way. This leaves an ‘outline’ for children to follow with their scissors to practice cutting along lines. Give a plastic knife and let them create their own outline to cut.
Basic Cutting: Give children leftovers from when you wrap gifts, such as scraps of paper, ribbon, cards, envelopes and some scissors and just let them cut to their heart’s content. Worried about clean up – sit them in a wading pool (with or without water) or on a blanket. Cutting ribbon into water seem like a big mess – not when you end play time by handing out sieves to collect the scraps!
Cut and Collage: Want to use those cut up ribbon, cards, envelopes and paper scraps? Give children white glue and a cardboard (use a side of the cereal box), and let them create a colorful collage. Transform into wall art but gluing a cardboard frame to the top of the collage – which also provides more blank space for adding all those cut pieces!
Snip and Weave: To reuse holiday or birthday cards, with your child make small snips (cuts) around the edges of the card. Then, give your child yarn to weave or wrap around. The weaving helps to develop fine motor skills necessary for both cutting and writing. Variation: Use hole punch to turn old cards into lacing cards. Summer Twist: Purchase flat sponges that expand when water is added (found in educational supply magazines, or find thin sponges at the door store – after children have finished cutting them in to desired shapes, give them a bucket of water for a wet sponge fight!
Paper Trail Game: For older children, put them in the charge of creating a cut paper (ribbon, yarn) trail for you or younger siblings to follow leading to a hiding spot. What about the mess? Give the finder a basket, and have them pick up paper pieces (you can even get creative of how the pieces are to be picked up) as they venture down the path. Try chopsticks for pick up – this also increases their fine motor skills and strengthens their pincher grasps.
In my 15 years in providing childcare and teaching preschool, I never met a kid that didn’t like to play with scissors. However, this love can quickly turn to frustration and discouragement when lines are introduced. Practice really does make perfect, and summer is the perfect time to provide children that practice.
Copyright 2014, Allison Gingras, M.Ed.
This is a guest post from blogging friend Allison! Allison Gingras is a Catholic blogger, inspirational speaker, and radio host. Allison founded Reconciled To You (RTY) ministries in 2009 to share the wonder and awe of living the Catholic faith, and to encourage others how they can do same. RTY accomplishes this through radio, day retreats, presentations, social media, books, blogs and Apps. Allison’s radio show, Catholic 24/7 offers inspiration through your radio, computer or smart phone. Her faith sharing book: “Three Persons, One God: Growing in Relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, encourages people to reconcile their idea of who they believe God to be, with what is taught through Scripture and Tradition. Allison has also developed the Words with Jesus App, Seeking Faith retreat series, and Social Media BLINK series on Catholic TV. For more on Allison and RTY, visit www.ReconciledtoYou.com
You know how babies can be so fun to shop for, because they’re brand new and fun and how can a baby already have everything?
And you also know how impossible it is to buy a gift for the person who has everything?
Well, in my house, the baby *does* have everything. Almost, anyway. It’s a pretty sweet deal for us as parents, actually. Since he’s #5, we’ve passed down tons of things from his older siblings. Firecracker has no need of riding toys, blocks, balls, puzzles, books (but books are always a great gift, in my opinion. Stories are awesome. Books help imaginations and creativity and literacy. Books are swell).
The only small problem is that Firecracker’s first birthday is just around the corner (July 4, hence his nickname), and people are going to want to gift him with something. Let’s face it, he’s too little for gift cards (because then that is really a gift for meeeeee), too little for Legos (which already abound here), too little for his own bike (which will be a hand-me-down from his older brothers anyway). He needs no clothes, either. He won’t have any idea what is going on if he were taken on a fun outing for his birthday.
What do you gift a baby or toddler who has almost everything?
I’m digging up ideas. Here are some of my top finds, based on my own tastes and ideas for my kiddos, as well as ideas my friends said they’d love for their kids! Some you can even do yourself.
–Playdoh (use your best judgement. If your kid eats everything, maybe wait on the playdoh. I plan to just play with him)
–Soft soled shoes
–A box to play in, decorated and spruced up with tactile things like hanging ribbons
–Branch blocks for outdoor play
–Experiences: a zoo outing, picnic with special treats at the park, that kind of thing (best, in my opinion, with older toddlers and children)
–Diapers and wipes (on the wish list of my friend who has twins!)
–Personalized things which will hopefully be lasting treasures (suggested by a fellow mom, though not everyone likes personalized gifts! We don’t do much personalization around here)
–Books (books are always awesome! These are some of our most-loved baby books.)
–A toy-of-the-month–now, don’t get all crazy and roll your eyes on me here! I *know* I said it’s as if we have all the things…but we don’t, and there are some pretty sweet shops on Etsy which have quality, handmade items that would be great gifts. This idea, a wooden toy of the month, was suggested by a friend in a mom’s group. I love it!
–Another spectacular idea: a photo shoot with your baby! Many photographers offer gift certificates if you can’t swing the whole session fee, and many photographers are very reasonable in their prices. I just *love* the photos I have of my children, and when Firecracker was born, we were lucky enough to have won part of a package with a local photographer. Those images are precious!
Have fun and get creative. Think outside the box for one and two year olds–they don’t need much, but it is fun to gift those sweet little ones, isn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but after a while, I just want someone who has had a full night’s sleep to tell me the great ideas in life. It’s been over a year since I had a full night of sleep with no interruptions, 4 years since beginning home schooling, and it is the end of our school year. Basically, I am tired of thinking. But the looming summer break practically begs for at least a few preplanned things to do. Knowing myself and my kids well enough, I realize that without some ideas in mind, we’ll just sit around being lazy and eventually grump at each other. I’ll be nagging them to do their chores, they’ll be whining they’re bored and hungry, the July heat will make us sweat and they won’t want to play outside, and since the dreamy, bygone days of running to the creek or riding bikes to friends’ houses aren’t part of this era or suburbia life we live, I NEED to have at least a basic bucket list of summer fun ready to go.
As I said, I’m too tired to think of them all on my own. I’ve called in reinforcements! Brace yourselves, a summer fun series is coming your way. Yes, another one. I realize all the bloggers are doing something like this, but hey, the more the merrier. And there’s bound to be a new idea, or fresh approach to an old idea, somewhere! In fact, I think I’ve found a pretty swell and easy thing for your littles to work on this summer, thanks to my blogger friend Allison. Her post will be one of the first in the series, so stay tuned!
To start off, I’m going to share 5 of my top bucket list things to do:
1-Join summer reading programs
Did you know there are a gazillion of them? You can join at your local library, you can join at Barnes and Noble, at Pottery Barn Kids, at Half-Price Books and more! Go wild and crazy and sign your little readers up for more than one, or keep life simple and sign up for just one.
2-Sign up for at something sporty
Find a training camp, swim lessons, baseball teams, mini sports camps…something to keep those energetic kids moving! We are probably going to do swim lessons and ice skating camps. Our local ice arena is having half-day camps with activities and ice skating, what a great way to beat the heat!
3-Shop the local farmer’s markets
My kids have always loved the farmer’s market, maybe because they often get samples from the stands and because I let them choose something every time we go. Buying local fresh produce has changed the way we eat, and has helped my kids be excited to eat healthy food. Check Local Harvest for farms near you.
4-Make your own ice cream.
Great fun for adults and kids alike. If you don’t have or want to buy an ice cream maker, don’t worry. There are lots of recipes online for ice cream and sorbet and other frozen treats you can make without one.
Go on nature walks, hike local state parks, plant in your garden, play in a sand box, run in the sprinklers, have a picnic, read under a shady tree, run through open spaces, run a 5K if you’re ambitious, blow bubbles, color with chalk, play hopscotch, jump rope…just enjoy the outdoors!
Check back starting Monday for a guest post that will give you ideas for your preschoolers–it’s fun, and it’s something they can do to help with motor skills! Happy Summer!
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…
Nevermind, it was just a long time ago, across the country, when I was doing a 365 photo challenge, and also blogged lots of recipes. This was, oh, 6 years ago? Anyway, it was a long time ago. Back to the point, I used to post on my old blog about the recipes I was trying, and it was so fun! Also, I just love food photography and lately am trying to improve on my own food photography, just for fun and giggles. All I’m trying to say is, “I used to share recipes and thought it was fun, and now I’m trying to take better food photos, so here I am doing both again and you get to tag along for the ride and hopefully enjoy a few new recipes along the way.”
(So sorry, Ms. McD, for that awful run-on sentence. I know this would have earned me a “D” and rewrite back in high school.)
First recipe: a family favorite, Bee Bim Bop.
It’s a Korean dish, and is so yummy and fun to make. Your kids will hopefully also love it. It’s very customizable, so if you don’t like one thing, don’t eat it and have more of another! My kids often only eat the meat and rice, sometimes they add an egg, sometimes they get crazy and even eat the spinach. Shocking, I know. Everyone’s favorite side is sea weed. Even the baby shoves it by fistfuls into his mouth.
Now, if you’re going for a really fun and well-rounded experience here, go to your library before you make this dish and look for the children’s picture book called, “Bee Bim Bop.”
It’s delightful. When we lived in New York, we stumbled across this book in our local library, and it’s a definite gem. I was excited to find it because Bee bim bop is a Korean dish and my mother-in-law is Korean (as in, she grew up there!). It’s fun to have a story and connection to her culture that my kids can enjoy. Also, it has a great recipe for Bee bim bop at the end! Don’t worry if you can’t find it, I am going to give you a recipe for it in just a bit.
My mother-in-law has been making the meat part of this dish for us since before we were married. It’s called bulgogi, and refers to beef. Basically, it is marinated strips of beef which are cooked in a skillet. So yummy. Bee bim bop is “mix mix rice” and is a dish with rice, meat, veggies, and sometimes an egg. You put it all in your bowl, mix it up, and eat! Delicious. You really should try it. It’s not scary at all and you don’t even have to go to a unique store to find ingredients. Your local grocery store will have it all, and if it doesn’t, you might live in a very small town that has no soy sauce, and if that is the case, I’m sorry. But Amazon can sell you soy sauce, so never fear!
And now for the recipe! Introducing, BEE BIM BOP!!! (besides, what kid won’t have fun saying “bee bim bop”? It’s a great name!)
For the meat (bulgogi)
1lb flank steak, or any tender cut you like. Slice it thinly.
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 green onions, if you like them
5 T soy sauce
2 T sugar OR chopped apple or Asian apple pear
1 T sesame oil
1 T cooking oil (I use coconut, because I believe it is healthiest! But use what you have on hand)
1 t ground ginger, or 1 T fresh, chopped ginger (fresh is best!)
1 t sesame seeds (optional)
salt and pepper
Mix marinade ingredients together and mix with sliced raw steak. Let sit in fridge for an hour or up to overnight. Also, this freezes REALLY well, so make a double batch if you like.
When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over med-high to high heat. Add the meat and marinade, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Time will vary depending on how thinly you sliced your meat! Set aside.
Veggies and sides:
2-4 c cooked rice (cook as much as your family likes–we always eat a lot with bee bim bop)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 packages of frozen spinach, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
oil for frying
kimchi, if you like it! We love having kimchi with bee bim bop.
Saute garlic in oil and add spinach until warmed. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Fry eggs, or scramble them and slice into ribbons. Set aside.
Add rice to bowls, then top with the bulgogi and veggies. Now for the fun: mix it up, stir like crazy! Enjoy your bee bim bop!
(I posted this to my personal family blog, but wanted to share here, also. Anyone following both blogs, now you know)
A few reflections. Some sappy, some silly.
“Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories.” – John Wilmot
So true, right? I mean, I’d spent every one of my teenage years babysitting, and most of that time was for a large family (7 kids!). Then I went to college and spent summers working with kids. Let’s not forget the years I spent being raised by a lovely mother. All those things add up to: brilliant ideas about raising kids!
And then Chickadee was born. We came home from the hospital, and suddenly changing diapers (which I’d done only about 1,000 times already) was a daunting task. And good grief, HOW does one put clothes a tiny wiggly thing without breaking the precious wiggly baby?! Thank goodness I had my own mama there to hold my hand through it all or I think I may have fallen out of my recliner in a half-dressed, sleepless stupor and cried for days with the baby. Mom-you gave me a great start at motherhood. I’m pretty sure those first few weeks would have been crazy hard without your help.
Those were just the first few weeks. Those are the easy times, cuz, you know, the baby is just darling and only needs to be fed, burped, changed, and loved. There is no discipline, no teaching manners, no chasing naked toddlers through the house. That’s when it gets interesting. Toddler and preschool days are days of mystery, insanity, joy, laughter, tears. They are the days which demand routine but half the time, the only “routine” that is predictable is that you can count on your child to behave unpredictably exactly when you thought you could count on them to be sweet and mild in public. Or when you spend a week working on a no-fail sleep routine that is carefully tailored to your family and your child’s temperament, with references from all 597 baby experts and the books you’ve read… only for your child to spit on the routine and scream, ask for 7 drinks of water and 12 hugs, make up their own monster who lives behind a tree in the yard (We won’t ever forget the “WHITEY-WAH” made up by Chickadee), ask deep theological and philosophical questions at 9:13 pm, and then generally defy all “rules” of getting a child peacefully to sleep by 8pm.
There are the body-painting days, too. “Let’s paint a picture!” I said. “It’ll be fun and crafty and we’ll have quality time,” I thought. And then Sweet Pea ate the paint. Then the girls caked paint on their hands and arms, making themselves gloves. Then Sweet Pea used ranch dressing as body paint and broccoli as her brush.
Now, with Firecracker being kiddo numero cinco, I’ve learned that all that matters about being a Mama is to love. (cue the “awwwwww….”) There are too many books and theories; too many experts spouting off on *the* way to raise a child. I pretty sure that as long as we genuinely love our children, we’ll figure out what we need to do in the details.
Because, (duh), Love solves everything. The Love that matters is the Love of God which directs (or should–I slip up just as much as anyone) all my actions. So, if love on Tuesday means letting the kids go nuts with paint and be creative, and then we cooperate and clean up the mess together–great. We’ve been creative, had quality time, and learned about being responsible in cleaning up after ourselves. If love on Thursday means tough love and cleaning toilets for talking mean and nasty to siblings, so be it. On Friday it means family pizza and movie night. And on Sunday it always means getting up and dressed for Mass, because if I as a mother don’t share what I know to be true about Jesus and God’s Love for us, then I fail. All those theories of parenting, the books by experts, the how-tos? They don’t matter if there’s no love.
(You ought to know what’s about to come next.)
Nothing matters more in being a mom than the way I love.
“13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails…13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13 1-8, 13
With love, we can cry with and for our children. We can laugh at the silly things, and laugh instead of cry at some of the exasperating things. With love, we can bear the visits to the ER, the nasty dangly loose teeth, the late-night cries of a child being sick. With love, we can climb mountains together, build sand castles, dig up worms, buy insects to engage our children in discovery. With love, we can cheer at games, comfort after falls and failures, help with math for the 87th time before the same skill “clicks”.
Being Mama is non-stop, tough work, and tough love (meaning, it is often tough to love an selflessly and unconditionally as being a mother demands). Being Mama is joy, fear, hope, and more joy. Being a mother is a blessing. I love and cherish all the moments with my children, every day–not just on Mother’s Day (because, let’s face it, there are years when other days are better days with our kids than the “holiday”). I am looking forward all the coming years, the lessons I’ll learn, the ways love will make me grow, and the ways my children will bless my life.