Summer Fun Ideas, For All of Us Who are Tired of Coming Up with New Things

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.summerfunideas

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.

5-Get outside!

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!

Favorite Eats: Bee Bim Bop recipe + a fun book

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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
4 eggs
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.

To serve:
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!

 

Wrapping Up a Year, and Looking Forward

fyi this post does have a few links to an affiliate, who happens to be running a sale for May 20-31. More details within post.

 

It is May 19th 20th (now that I’m wrapping up the post), and my kids are very excited to know that we will be done with our official school year in after this week and next. I have been feeling the spring fever for awhile, but I don’t actually feel ready to wrap up the year! I feel like there are things to finish which won’t be finished, but when I take a moment to actually look at where we are, we’re doing great.

To *actually* take the moments to reflect on the year…that is what I need. To write down what worked, what didn’t, what I wish we had accomplished but can still do next year. To lay some basic plans for next year, and to chat with the kids about their goals. After all, if I’m doing this homeschool thing in part to allow more time for these inquisitive kids of mine to follow their interests, then we need to talk about those and plan for learning about them! We’ll need to make book lists, brainstorm project ideas, and make a bucket list of field trips.

It will be so satisfying! Sitting and chatting with my kids, getting ideas from my husband, making my lists…what a sense of accomplishment for finishing a 4th year of homeschooling, and to me, it is exciting to look forward to another year with exciting plans in place.

All that will wrap up our official year.

The learning never ends. This summer–ten to twelve weeks of glorious lesson-plan free days–will be perfect for engaging the world and exploring and learning in relaxed, hands-on, fun ways that our typical days just don’t leave enough time for.

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I’m so excited!

I don’t know about you, but I love to write my lists and notes in darling notebooks and on well-organized, simple pages. My favorite lesson-plan notebook was a small spiral-bound book I found at Target, and the months spanned not a Jan-Dec year, but a July-June year. PERFECT! And now it’s time for a trip to Target to find another. It was just the right size for planning the lessons for my kindergartner and preschooler.

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To keep all my master plans, I found (at Target again! Their designs are so lovely and fun) a 3-ring binder to hold my wish-lists, basic daily plans, attendance record, reading logs, calendars, activity ideas for each month, and more (I love my pages from Pam at EveryDay Snapshots).

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I am a big fan of doing master plans this way for the simple reason that I can’t commit to a single system, ever. If I bought a nice bound planner (which I have done before), I’d be stuck with what I had already in it, and couldn’t rearrange pages or add things in and out as I needed or wanted. But with a three-ring binder and handy-dandy hole-punch, I can put in all the pages I want, move them around as the mood strikes and make it suit my whims (which, by the way, are many).

 

In a nutshell (or I’ll never finish the post), here’s what worked and didn’t work this year. Next time, I’ll share what I’m looking forward to for next year!

Worked: (this section does contain an affiliate link to Latin printables. Keepin’ it honest.)

Saxon Math has proven to be a consistent and solid winner for each of my kids year after year. We had a bit of a love-hate with Saxon for my oldest, but came back to it through 3rd and 4th grade, and we’ll be sticking with it.

RC History (also known as Connecting with History) is so fun! If you know about Story of the World, but have been seeking a Catholic twist, RC History is what you’re looking for. We started with Volume 1, and are plugging along. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that there are literature suggestions for each learning level (more than enough, by the way, so if you can’t find a certain book or aren’t as interested in a title, you won’t be missing out. SO many good options), love that the books are suggested as family read-alouds, love that the units are broken down into weeks of learning, weeks of study with the timeline and famous people, weeks of choosing and preparing for projects, weeks to do the projects. This history program is RICH in content. Can’t wait to get into Volume 2 next year.

Little Angel Readers is a phonics and learn-to-read program which was suggested a few times to me, and I decided to go ahead and test it with my Kindergartner this year. It’s been amazing. A-ma-zing. We’ve taken it at a slower pace, to suit my little guy’s needs, but now he’s becoming a quick and confident reader. We’ll finish the first set of books through the summer and maybe into the fall before moving on to the second set. I love the workbook that goes along with the reader, and the easy-to-read pages and stories as you progress with your child.

Prima Latina You guys. I can’t even begin to tell you how *fun* it is to learn Latin with my daughter. All kinds of works make so much more sense to me now that we’re learning Latin. My 9yr old probably thinks I’m a crazy lady for how excited I get when I learn these words with her. And to make Prima Latina even better are Pam’s Latin Printables, especially the Race to the Colosseum game. So much fun. Prima Latina is simple to use and follow, which makes learning Latin easy (so far).

Morning prayer and read-aloud time has been a game-changer for us. A few years ago, I read about the idea of a morning basket, and have struggled to make it work. I didn’t know what to use each day, if I wanted to vary each morning’s theme, how to follow through, how to transition from the basket work to regular work… This year, I make my own version which has been working fabulously (maybe even well enough that next year I can try to do more with it and vary what we do each day). We gather to prayer together, usually a short prayer or reflection, and then we sit together on the couches while I read from the chosen read-aloud for the month. It is perfect for us! That way, after breakfast, we all say a prayer together and then we’ve knocked out reading. Reaching is so valuable, and if I left the family read-aloud until the afternoon or bedtime when Daddy is home, it would never happen.

Brave Writer is a program that has been on my radar for a few years, and I finally gave in and purchased it earlier this year. We are slowly working into the lifestyle of Brave Writers, but so far, it’s great! The Tea Time idea is part of Brave Writer, and so is the Friday Freewrite, in which children have a set amount of time to write whatever they like about a topic, not worrying about spelling or grammar, to just get ideas and thoughts on paper. I am really excited about what we will all learn about writing as we progress with Brave Writer.

Being flexible is always key to our family’s homeschool life.

 

Didn’t Work:

Memorization I know, I know, I know. Memorization is a big thing in classical homeschool…and I just am not that great with keeping up. It’s one of my goals for next year to add memory work into our morning time after we finish our read-aloud, so hopefully we’ll do better.

Trying to do the same subject at the same time with all the kids I thought I would be efficient and get math done all at once with all 3 kiddos. Nope. Not possible with an early reader and writer–I (duh) had to be right there with him, so that meant the girls weren’t doing math unless I’d started them already. What did work is starting and finishing with my Kindergartner before moving on to my older girls. Once he was done and then off playing with his brother, the rest of the day moved smoothly.

Starting without prayer definitely puts a weird funk in our day. I’m serious. Our days are more peaceful, productive, and enjoyable when we’ve taken the time to gather and begin in prayer.

Learning the recorder was sure a grand idea, but I had no follow-through. It was always left for last, and that meant by the time “last” came around, I was done, the kids were scattering, and it was no fun to get 4 kids together to try to play the recorder. I’m pretty sure paying someone else to teach music and instruments to our kids will be a better idea, at some point.

Being too detail oriented and not enough big-picture focused Don’t get me wrong, the details matter, but does it matter in the long run if we read every single option for history? Does it matter in the long run if we do every single suggested math problem? Does it matter in the long run if I skip a few “formal” days in favor of sunny days outside? It matters that I see how each moment enhances my kids’ learning, and if one more math problem drives us all to tears and banging heads on desks, then the learning is past and the struggle is winning. Struggles like that aren’t worth it. Seeing the big picture matters.

 

Ready to wrap up your year and look ahead to next year? If you are interested in the printable planning pages I use, go check out the store at Everyday Snapshots. Pam is running a sale from today (May 20) until May 31, for 25% off. Use code SEASON14 when you checkout. For some great tips on using the printables and making the most out of them, see posts here which give examples.

Books with Kids: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Welcome to month 5 of my “Books with Kids” series! It is hard to believe that May is not only here already, but in full-swing. Last month we finished reading a biography of Saint John Paul II, just in time for his canonization. It was a great read, and I highly recommend it.

This month we’re moving into fiction and fantasy, with “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. LionWitchWardrobeWe have read this as a family before, about 2 years ago. The second time through is even more exciting, and it’s hard to put down once we start! We stop every now and then to discuss the themes of choosing right over wrong, and how easily we can fall into sin from temptations (poor Edmund, he keeps telling himself it is too late to turn back, thinks so much of the Turkish delight that he forgets how sick he felt after eating the whole box…). I just love how imaginative C.S. Lewis wrote the story, and how detailed his descriptions are; we are all drawn right into the story! On days such as today (we’re having another spell of winter weather!), it is not hard to imagine trudging through a wintery, snow-covered land.

For this book study, I hope to enrich our reading with more than watching the movie as a treat once we finish. A quick internet search pulls up dozens and dozens of resources for unit studies, crafts, and recipes. Here are a collection of my top searches, from which I will be gathering ideas and using the premade studies. No need to reinvent the wheel, eh?

Home Scholar Books has a very thorough collection of unit studies, with links to science project ideas, Biblical connections, and more.

Free coloring pages to download and print can be found at Oncoloring.com.

Educator’s guides, values’ based activities, and quizzes can be found at the C.S. Lewis Foundation website. These look promising. I will mostly likely use the discussion ideas to deepen our understanding of the themes, but not do all the classroom activities.

There is a lapbook style unit study at Confessions of a Homeschooler. It’s not free, but for the low cost, may be worth buying.

This duct tape sword and shield look easy, fun, and customizable for reenacting scenes from story.

Here are some copywork pages with C.S. Lewis quotes if our study turns to include more than the story but also the author himself.

For those who like to color and play with dolls, there is a darling Lucy paper doll printable.

A very nice map is available at Narnia Web.

And, who can resist trying one of the main sweets of the story, Turkish Delight? It may have been enchanted by the Witch, but this recipe claims to be  “non-evil” and delightfully tasting. Worth a try! Or, you might find a box of the sweet confection in stores such as World Market. We have even seen it before in TJMaxx.

Art project ideas:

Diorama, painting of the wood and lamppost, design a shield, design a dress, design and build a castle. The possibilities are nearly endless.

We are up to chapter 12 already–they keep asking for more! It’s great to read a chapter and have the kids so interested they want to keep going. If you have read this before and have ideas for discussion or activities, please do share!

Tea on Tuesdays

tea on tuesdays

Here we are again! After whirlwind Mondays–the day I perpetually over-plan just in case we are really on the ball with hitting the books–Tuesday rolls around and I’m ready to slack off. It’s nice to have a plan in place already for something fun, special, and worthwhile to wrap up Tuesday afternoons. It’s been just about a month since we started adopting the Brave Writer Poetry Tea Time into our own homeschool routine. I’m holding out hope that one day soon all 4 of the big kids will enjoy the poetry just as much as the tea and treats. 😉

This week, I am even prepared with a treat! We are going to have my version of gluten-free Nanaimo Bars. I’ve had this recipe saved on my Pinterest boards for.ev.er (2 years, actually). It looks so tasty…but I’ve never had them before, so hopefully anyone who has had them, won’t be upset that I’ve changed the recipe up a bit. I subbed gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies for the graham crackers, and used half a box of vanilla pudding in place of the custard powder. So far, it’s looking great. (and, it is great. I couldn’t resist a sample while cutting the bars for the pictures.)

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The bottom layer was so tasty as I licked the spoon! I can’t wait to share this with the kids later today.

In the last few weeks, we have recited the poetry we’re learning from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath, and I have read a few other poems I’ve found using my tablet. Last week, each child chose a poem from a list of silly poetry and read it aloud for us. It is so rewarding to me to see how excited and enthusiastic my young boys are to participate! Especially my wiggly Comedian–he is so proud to recite his rhymes (such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider), and excited to “read” new poems with me. This week, I’m prepared with a book of poems I checked out at the library. It is a collection of pieces of Shakespeare’s works, talking about the seasons of the year. I’m looking forward to this; and I think it will be fun to read since in the last 10 days, we’ve had nearly all the weather for each season!

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On Mother’s Day

(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. IMG_1593And 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.

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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. 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. 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.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

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.

A Girl and a Salamander

Let me tell you a story about a girl, who was the sort of girl so sensitive to noises and new things that she would run away screaming from the sound of the doorbell, cry at the thought or mention of touching an animal, cry when dogs barked from another room of a house, huddle close to Mama when she was nervous about the aforementioned things, and was someone you’d never thing would want to hold a lizard.

She’s my 9 year old.

And she caught a lizard–a tiger salamander–a few days ago.

This girl is so surprising, in so many ways, especially her growing love for animals.

Last fall we found two tiger salamanders in our basement window well, and have kept them as pets in a tank we found at a thrift store. For months, Chickadee has been wanting to hold one, but they can dry easily especially on contact with things/humans outside their natural environment. We haven’t let her hold them, even though she has gloves from a tie-dye kit which she thought of wearing to protect the skin of the salamander. Honestly, I didn’t want the creatures out. I didn’t want to deal with them scurrying off or jumping from her hands.

And then a few days ago, she found another, a much smaller salamander, when we were working on turning the sprinklers back on. I decided to go ahead and let Chickadee try to catch and hold this one, only about the size of a finger.
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She was so excited about it, letting it crawl on her hands and being very careful to keep moving her hands to catch it.

The first pair of salamanders have grown to be about double their size, and are now large enough that they’ll eat not just bugs, but smaller animals as well. Because of this, Chickadee decided not to keep her newest salamander in the same tank.

She kept him in a smaller plastic container.
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The little guy was in the container, in the house, for about 36 hours. This is the part that my Mama-instinct kicked in, and I *should* have listened. Around the time I was getting cozy in bed last night, I thought to myself, “I wonder if the lid is covering the salamander…” and then rolled over and dismissed the thought.

Turns out, the lid was not covering the dish, and the little salamander has escaped. (This happens to be slightly reminiscent of a pet disaster her Daddy had as a child…only that was a hamster which escaped and ate through the couch!)

You guys, we haven’t found the salamander. I have a feeling we will either start smelling funk from the vents because it has fallen down the heat vents, or we’ll find it’s dried up dead body when we move in two years. Either way…ewwww…

And poor Chickadee, she’s upset about her escaped salamander, which she had already named. At least she’s off the hook for finding bugs to feed it!

Currently {3}

Thinking about:

Just exactly how do I figure out, and then follow, God’s plans for the day to day details. You know, staying joyfully on top of housework, handing on the faith to my little brood of children, getting yummy and wholesome meals on the table before 6:30pm meltdowns… All while staying somewhat on top of laundry, sweeping, lunches, diapers, homeschool lessons, showers, time to talk with Fence, lift a few weights here and there (who am I kidding?! The most workout I’ve had in weeks was a half mile run to the park with the kids yesterday)…You get the idea. I’m thinking how to be the best *me* in the life God has given me.

Reading:

I’m always reading Lisa Hendey’s “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms”, “Something Other than God” came last week and I’ve started it, and the blog Simply Convivial has me hooked at the moment. She has started a sweet new series about happy housekeeping. It sure fits with what’s on my mind lately!

Listening to: 

I’ve pretty much been listening to Fence’s crazy mix of tunes, since I haven’t been turning on my own playlist. He has classic rock, 80s, Christian pop, rap…it’s interesting.

Watching:

bloop…bloop…bloop…

“24” is back on (starting last night). We actually had the kids in bed in time to watch it. My verdict? Meh. The first hour didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. When it finished, we watched “The Time of the Doctor”, which is the final Matt Smith as The Doctor episode. Doctor Who is just so fun to watch, and even though it was *so weird* at the beginning of the new series (those first few Christopher Eccleston episodes–weird), Fence and I have really enjoyed it together. I’m always a little sad when the Doctor changes. They’re each so clever and witty and fun!

Thankful for:

Health. I believe we are finally, finally on the way to everyone being healthy.

Wishing: (goals for the week)

We have a First Communion at the end of week, and family will be here to visit! So many goals with this: get the house ready, menu prepped, decorations finished…but more importantly, I hope we’ll all be in a joyful mood to celebrate with and support Sweet Pea on her special day. Her godparents might even make the visit! Her godmother is pregnant with their 3rd baby, so depending on how she is feeling, they’ll make the hour-drive down to support Sweet Pea. That would be *so* special for her! 20060723baptismgodparents

I can’t believe it has been almost 8 years since her baptism! Our baby girl is growing up into a beautiful daughter of the King, with such a sweet heart and soul, and honest questions. It’s been a delight to be by her side this year as we prepped for her First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.

Also, Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I need to finish up the special things for my mom and my mother-in-law. It will be a lovely, joyful weekend!

A Mama Collective

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

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It’s been a while, I know. Life has been a little hectic with all kinds of germs around here, and Easter… But now it’s almost Mother’s Day! Who still needs ideas for the special mother in her life? Here are a handful of lovely, easy, and inexpensive ideas. Save them for birthdays, too!

{one}

A mason jar tied with pretty ribbons or lace, filled with fresh flowers. The flowers are lovely, the jar is reusable!

2014-05-01 11.59.51 1(note to the observant: I realize my flowers are not fresh. The fake ones look nice, too, but I’m hoping for a fresh bunch of flowers soon!)

{two}

A box of pampering delights from Julep.com–order one for yourself, and get it free!

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I’ve had fun with Julep, customizing my personal profile, choosing items from their secret sales, waiting for a new box to arrive with fresh and fancy new polishes and beauty products. It’s a fun splurge–especially when your first box is free! (sign up with the link here, my referral link, and I’ll earn points toward a free box myself. Your first one is 100% free. Get friends to sign up, and you can also earn a free box!)

{three}

How about a DIY coupon which invites your mom out to a fun lunch, just you and her? Enjoy some time you don’t usually get together, have the hubby and/or Grandpa watch the kids, and go out for some quiet girl time, where you can both enjoy a hot meal and the luxury of not having to cut someone else’s food, wipe their nose, or get up 5 times for a bathroom run. You know you want to. Hey, I’ll make it easy for you! Here’s a printable to get you started. Use it for a lunch date, breakfast in bed, whatever your come up with! CLICK HERE for the download, not on the image. The image below will not have the best resolution.mothersdaycouponprintable copy

{four}

A nice devotional seems to be a good gift, in my opinion. All moms need a break to rest in the life-giving Word of God, and there are plenty of devotionals to meet that need. My favorite, which I have read over and over, is “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” by Lisa Hendey. You could choose this or any other nice devotional, and add a lovely notebook for prayer journaling and saving favorite quotes to make a nice gift.

{five}

Take one of your fab photos (even a great phone picture!) and make it into notecards. I personally like Shutterfly the best, but use your favorite photo printing site if they offer notecards, order a set and tie it up nice with a ribbon.

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Most important, make whatever you do heartfelt. ❤

 

 

Currently {2}

Thinking about:
There’s a blog post in the works, and has been for a month, that I need to finish today! It’ll be a guest post on my friend Amanda’s blog, once she is hitched and married to her sweetest guy! It just may be the longest post I’ve written, ever. I need to tie up the post, add some pics, and send it her way.

Reading:
Still working on the 6th book of “Harry Potter”, 13697122154_f7d01ea344_zand waiting not very patiently for the mail carrier to deliver my copy of “Something Other Than God” by Jennifer Fulwiler. She is hosting a crazy-fun release party, with prizes and ways to get lots of friends reading the book…so I want to get my hands on my copy and steal some time away from my other pressing things on my to-do list, and start reading!

Listening to:
Right now, there is silence. Far off the background I can hear the boys playing downstairs, happily and without fighting. Those are sounds I never get tired of hearing.

Watching:
We’re watching nothing. Last week, Fence and I finished watching “The Day of the Doctor”, and haven’t turned on anything else. I watched “Frozen” yesterday while lesson planning–with one of the kids, not by myself!

Thankful for:
A great hubby who is helping the baby go back to sleep! He (the baby) is teething and he keeps waking after 30-45 minutes. It’s life. But I am so thankful for the break at this moment, which is allowing me a chance to finish a blog!

A Mama Collective