Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Daybook for July 2, 2014

Outside my window... sunny and hot.  I took the kids to the fountains downtown this morning so they could get some outside time in the sun but also stay cool  After nap/rest time, I predict a mostly inside kind of afternoon.


I am thinking... about plans for the upcoming school year.  I am making lists, stacks of books I have so far, and thinking of scheduling in my mind... I need to inventory the art supplies and things like pencils, glue, etc. to see what needs replacing.  I am also considering a history curriculum (I use that word loosely; it is a booklist and suggestions) that would be useful across many years, as well as an art program and some composer CDs.  I want to do better this year about an art lesson once a week, listening to specific pieces from a composer regularly, and making those be things we can all do together.  If anyone has any of those three items linked, let me know what you think of them!

Our book stacks so far...


I'm also thinking about what things I can combine and have Caroline and Cecilia do together next year... we do a "Circle Time/Morning Basket" each day which has shared items, such as reading about the saint for the day, learning a new prayer and hymn, calendar, reading/memorizing poetry... I am thinking I will add to that this year.  Caroline wants to be included when Cecilia studies birds this year using the Burgess Bird Book - she really liked this when she did it in first grade, so I am thinking of adding the reading of that to our Morning Basket.  Caroline will be beginning some Shakespeare this year, so I am wondering whether I should have Cecilia listen in at this time.  I need to make a list of everything and see what we can do together and what needs its own time carved out for me to work individually with each of them. I need to take a couple of planning days... last year, I went to the coffee shop for much of the day one day while Gran stayed with the girls while she was visiting... I need to get stuff together so I can do that again one day when she visits this summer!  I am not sure what date we will officially begin school... Cecilia is doing some study of rivers, lakes, and oceans this year, so the beach trip will be a good start to that.

I am wondering... about evaluating my responses on Facebook... when to comment on something and when not to comment.  I'm not talking about friendly comments on people's cute kid photos or anything, but about when somebody shares an article and it makes you think... On the one hand, I see a shared article as an invitation to others' thoughts on it, for a conversation.  Something else I wonder about is the whole vaccine debate.  I can see both sides of it, and as such, my children have gotten a few vaccines while skipping most of them, and I am always reevaluating whether they will get more or not as they get older.  I think I made a friend mad the other day on Facebook for saying that I can see both sides and that parents who consider the question of vaccines at all are doing so out of love for their kids and ultimately make the decisions they think are in the best interest of their families.  The title of the article that had been shared was "Parents who refuse vaccines are ethically negligent."  I thought that it used unnecessarily strong "fighting words" kind of language.  So, if I was adamantly opposed to vaccines and thought that parents who get their children every vaccine on the schedule were somehow negligent, I could see that saying so would cause tension.  However, that wasn't my position... even as somebody who leans towards less vaccines and therefore may be more in agreement overall with the total non-vaxxers, I wasn't even trying to debate that.  I was only trying to say that perhaps most parents who make the decision to forego all vaccines are making an informed decision that just happens to be different than that of people who think every vacccine is necessary for nearly every child, for the public good.  Both are trying to make good decisions, and neither is opposed to public health.  But somehow this was still not taken well at all, and I felt like I somehow pushed buttons and made somebody upset even when I was trying so hard to find a middle ground and wasn't even arguing for/against vaccines.  It makes me wonder whether it is even worth it to ever say anything.  It is hard to sit by and watch people get called "negligent" who you know are trying to do their best (or when you feel like you're being called 'negligent' because you've skipped most vaccines for your own kids)... but yeah, I sometimes just stop reading people's articles on Facebook because even asking some innocent questions or offering the benefit of the doubt to a group of people will set off somebody.  So, even though I had two people tell me privately that I didn't say anything wrong and that it was weird I received such a strong response... I still find myself wondering about reevaluating what I say.  I am long-winded and so maybe it looks like I am trying to be a know-it-all; really, it's just that I have issues with getting my thoughts into concise words!
I am praying... still praying for my grandfather's soul, of course.  Also for discernment for how to organize and set things up for the upcoming school year, how to best keep Lucy out of trouble and enjoying her own things to do.

I am thankful... that it looks like my parents are planning a family beach trip this summer after all!  They rent a big house or condo on the beach and then we spend a week there with them and my brothers.  And the week we would go is my birthday week, which has been typical since I was little.  That first week of August was almost always the beach trip for the years we would do it.  Now it seems that so many schools begin by August 3rd though, but that actually makes it nice because there are less people at the beach when we go in August.  A week at the beach is the best birthday gift I could think of!  This may be the last year my brother Tim can easily come with us for the whole week... next year "real life" starts for him once he is ordained a priest!

I am hearing...  Cecilia humming.  And the window AC unit in the sunroom running full blast!  Lately in the car I have been listening to Emerson Hart's new album, Beauty in Disrepair.  Beautiful lyrics, great album, highly recommended! :)

Learning at home... still reading a lot.  Cecilia has been hearing some fairy tales from The Blue Fairy Book, and we just finished reading Winnie the Pooh to her and will get House at Pooh Corner next.  This is what we need, really, because the two of these we do have are falling apart.  Caroline has been plowing through whatever books I check out for her from the library.  I have what seems to be a never-ending booklist, but... she is awfully fast.  And I do think it is doubtful that one could run out of good literature because thankfully, a lot of it has been written over the last many, many years!

From the kitchen... lots of good stuff!  I have had beef stock simmering on the stove since Monday and will use it tonight in a Scottish steak pie.  I made Triple Chocolate Brownie Squares yesterday... those aren't going to last long!  Don't know what we will do for July 4th yet, better get thinking on that.  We had grilled fish and avocado leek soup on Sunday - served cold.  It tastes better than it sounds; everyone except Lucy likes it.  Although Lucy has been on an eating tear lately... she will ask for more food an hour after eating something.  Then she will eat an entire banana at once, so she is truly hungry.  Must be a growth spurt!  Oh, and I am so, so excited, because I bought an old Vitamix on eBay!!  My cheapy blender finally bit the dust (it had a good run, 12 years for a cheap blender is not too shabby!), so I bought an old powerhouse of a blender which I hope lasts me the rest of my life, ha ha.  I will be oh so glad to not be sloshing soup and smoothies out of my food processor now.  Have you ever tried to puree boiled leeks (in their cooking water) in a food processor?  Very messy.  Probably because I wanted to make it all fit in one batch.  A blender will hold a lot more for pureeing soups.  So I am excited to try some things in it as soon as it arrives in the mail!


Beef stock... a 48 hour process.  It tasted slightly burnt because I used some bones that got burned at the edges, whoops.  But it is very faint and won't be noticed when the stock is cooked into things.  Still can't get it to gel; maybe I don't have enough gelatinous cow parts in the pot...


A favorite quote from Winnie-the-Pooh regarding food:

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

I love to cook (and eat!), so I couldn't agree more! 

Looks pretty un-appetizing, huh?  Served in my Scooby-Doo bowl that I bought on an impulse at Wal-Mart my first year in college... we thought it was awesome to go to Wal-Mart and buy random things... turn me lose in the world and I go nuts, huh? 

I am reading...  A Picture Perfect Childhood by Cay Gibson... it is about the importance of reading good picture books to children of all ages and has many titles suggested in it.  Yay for good children's literature!! 

Lucy is starting to really like reading a lot more lately, too... she typically couldn't sit still for a book for more than five minutes, and it had to be one in which the pages could be turned pretty quickly.  She was sick a week ago, though, and while the older girls were at our church's Vacation Bible School one morning, she sat pitifully on my lap for some very long picture books: One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey, and Mouse House by Rumer Godden.  I thought it was a fluke because of her illness, but now that she has recovered she has wanted to hear both the McCloskey books again (and didn't try to rush me by turning pages prematurely, ha!), and her current favorites are A Birthday for Frances and Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever.  We haven't even made it through all of that one yet - each page has so many things to look at and name that she is quite enthralled with it.  It's so funny to hear what she thinks some of the pictures are - a round, pink bar of soap (can a bar be round???) in the bathroom picture is "salami."

she also thinks that is a pillow he's holding to his face...
To live the liturgical year... well, still not doing well on this one.  But we did have that fish for the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul because they were fishermen before they became followers of Jesus, who told them he would make them "fishers of men."  That avocado soup is supposedly for their feast day too, although I really don't get how... but it sounded like it would be good with the grilled fish.

Later this month we have the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel... maybe I can do something for that.  And then Caroline's patron saint, St. Anne, is toward the end of July, so we usually do something on that day.  St. Anne is her "name saint" since Caroline's middle name is RhiANNon. Yes, like the Fleetwood Mac song.


One of my favorite things... flirting with my husband on Facebook!  And in person, of course, but it is fun when he's at work and we can make a few playful comments back and forth to each other that way.     
I am creating... booklists and lesson plans and schedules, oh my! 

Around the house... Lucy is learning to use the potty, yay!  So she is in underwear and her little plastic potty from IKEA is found around the house all the time now.  Today she has only had one accident, and she caught it halfway through.  Same with yesterday.  She is suddenly very proud of her "big girl panties" and is excited to pick out a pair each day.

Pondering these words... how about some Emerson Hart lyrics?  "It was worth it, These are the lines that you're made of, We were certain time that was lost could be made up, When life hits you fast, There's no takebacks, But there's a grace in that, It was worth it, These are the lines that you're made of..." from The Lines by Emerson Hart

A few plans for the rest of the week... Tomorrow I am picking up eggs, stopping at the grocery store, getting the tires rotated, and helping the girls find the library's summer reading program scavenger hunt clues that are hidden around town.  We have three more to find and then will stop at the library on our way home and turn them in.  One of the clues is at my favorite place, our local coffee shop, so I think I will be using the gift card that one of my sweet LLL moms gave to me while we stop there!  Then we are having friends over in the afternoon, and Friday is July 4th... I am thinking I'll call my parents and brother to see if they have any plans.  Maybe a cookout, fireworks, etc., the typical July 4th stuff.

A picture thought I am sharing...

Blueberries are ripe in our backyard, yay!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Caroline's New Room

This was a sorta-kinda birthday present for Caroline... we moved her into her own room around the time she turned nine.  She had been sharing with Cecilia, so we began turning the guest room into her room.  She wanted the walls to be purple, so we chose a color that we thought would compliment the furniture, which we picked up at a local antique mall.  I LOVE the furniture, and fortunately, Caroline did too.  It fit my requirements of real wood, not too expensive, used but in good condition.  I was amazed at how low the price was, actually, for furniture that somebody had repainted so nicely!

So, here are some pictures...

found the rug at Big Lots...


This one was taken with the flash... I couldn't decide which showed the colors better, flash or natural light.

this one with no flash
I made the artwork... the center is an old picture frame found at an antique store, to the back of which I staple-gunned old chicken wire.  Then I painted the center painting on a thin board and had Chris drill holes in the corner.  I cut scraps of chicken wire and used them to thread through the holes and twist onto the chicken wire that is on the frame.  The two side paintings are just done on pre-made canvases, already primed with gesso.  The paints are acrylics because that is just what I know; I have never really painted with oil paints or anything else.  I probably should have taken more art courses; I loved my high school drawing classes and could have taken more art classes then, as well as more than just Intro to Painting in college.
I made the tree part by painting it all white, then letting it dry before adding the silver paint.  I dipped the edge of a piece of corrugated cardboard into the silver paint and then used it to make a print, over and over side by side along the trunk and branches of the tree, in an effort to give the tree some texture.  Silver paint is hard to photograph!
Painting walls with a toddler around is probably impossible... so Chris and I painted the walls while she was asleep!  I also did the bird and feather paintings while the kids were all sleeping.  I have one more painting to do for her room - I am thinking maybe a sea green background, a yellow nest, and purple eggs speckled with silver??  It is for the wall opposite the dresser.  She has the purple saucer chair in there with a sea green pillow on it, and that is basically it.  I may add a few pieces of bird-related decor here and there... don't want it to be too crowded, as she already has her dresser covered with her collection of random knick-knacks.  One day she will probably have a little school desk in there, and one day it might need to be a bigger one with drawers.  She has her bookcase under her loft-style bed, and we could turn it to make more room under it for a desk if need be.

When we were painting the walls, I was so excited because I had pulled out some old clothes to paint in... clothes that were from before I was ever pregnant, even.  And the jeans fit me!!!  So, I got thinking about how old the jeans were, and I think I got a little too proud of myself, because in my mind, the old pair of jeans was this pair pictured here:

So the first one is a clearer photo, but the second one shows that I wore these jeans as far back as freshman year in college.  The first photo is from my sophomore year.  Yes, I realize they are in reverse chronological order, but it was all I could do to get them side by side at all - I don't even know how they switched order.  Best that I can do.  Anyway, I looked back at photos, trying to decide just how old that pair of jeans was, and then I remembered: the pair that I was remembering were Union Bay brand and so they couldn't be the ones I wore to paint in, because those were Nautica.  The reason I got them mixed up is because both have a baggy, straight-leg style cut.  The Union Bay jeans were so comfortable and so I wore them a lot and thus remembered them well, but alas, I was not still fitting in size 9 jeans as I inadvertently thought.  The Nautica pair of jeans was newer, and I don't know how much newer, because I couldn't find a photo of myself wearing them.  Unless I was in a seated photo; it is pretty hard to ID jeans when they aren't clear front shots like these.  So, needless to say, I was all excited that I fit in old jeans that were really not quite as old as I had thought at first.  However, I had worn them before ever getting pregnant, and so at least I had gotten to the point weight-wise where I could zip and button a pair of pre-children pants.  I am just going to assume my hips have widened since my early college days!

So then I started looking at the baggy, wide legs on the jeans in these photos, and the short shirt style, and I started thinking, wow, I thought those looked attractive?  And then I realized I probably didn't care; they were comfortable, and I was never a fashion-minded kind of girl.  I mean, I had a shirt that my brothers dubbed, "Erin's Ugly Shirt."  I still have it, actually, but it can't button at the hips.  For some reason the shirts were all short back then, as you can see in the photos.  Thank goodness most shirts are made longer now; my post-partum x3 belly appreciates that very much.  Who thought designing such short shirts was such a good idea back in the 90s??  I remember once in high school, my dad was folding laundry and gave one of my shirts to my brother who is nine years younger than me: "Yes, the shirt looks short enough to fit him, I said, but really, it's mine.  They just make them that way for some reason." 

And yes, I did take photos of the photos above with my camera phone.  Technology allows me to add old photographs so as to embellish my randomness - isn't it great?  Or maybe not... as my husband has said of me, "Some people just shouldn't have camera phones."

And now that I have gone completely off on a tangent... this was supposed to be about decorating my child's bedroom, yes?  Sorry, I tend to get very long-winded, as I am sure anyone who has read this blog for awhile can attest.  The moral of the story: I am not as skinny as I thought I was, but old jeans from at least 2003ish still fit me.  For what that's worth, which maybe isn't much anyway.

{end babbling}

So, Caroline likes her room, and now I am on the lookout for a bed for Cecilia and (one day) Lucy's shared room and will decide what else to do in that room (other than Lucy-proof it so she can't destroy it, which will be a challenge in and of itself).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Catching Up - Caroline's 9th Birthday!

Caroline turned nine on March 21st!  She wanted to have a spring/flower themed tea party, which ended up being very easy to do: flower shaped cake made of cupcakes, tea sandwiches and that sort of thing for lunch, and tea in the old teacups I had been collecting from thrift stores and antique malls to use for our Little flowers Tea parties.

Here are some photos from the day...

Flower-shaped cake... made by arranging cupcakes into groups and frosting over them.  They were chocolate with strawberry icing.  Although the leaves and stem were made with plain frosting tinted pale green with pureed spinach.  Yes, spinach.  The pink color resulted from the strawberries in the frosting, and the purple outline was tinted with grape juice concentrate.  The gunny thingies at the center of each flower are pure artificial color goodness, ha.



The birthday girl serves herself some tea party foods

Lunch was a team effort... grandparents brought chicken salad on mini croissants and crab-filled flaky pastries, to go along with the egg salad tea sandwiches, fruit, crackers/veggies with cream cheese bacon dip, tomato-bacon appetizer thingies, hummus and pita chips... I am going off the photos here and not my memory.  What I do remember is that it all tasted delicious!

Caroline and Cecilia enjoy lunch.  My brother Mike's truck photobombing through the window to advertise his employer on the license plate, ha.

Presents!

Caroline got a big illustrated Audobon bird book...
...a How to Find Flower Fairies detailed pop-up book...
Apparently Lucy was so bored she went to sleep, ha.
Cecilia gave Caroline a detailed underwater scene she had drawn.
She also got a journal, a craft kit, and a new bag for dance class.
As you can see, the two year olds were thoroughly impressed by the present-opening.
She also got American Girl accessories for the doll she had gotten at Christmas from grandparents.
Her doll, Josefina, all dressed in her new outfit with her new pet goat.
Dessert Time!

Along with the cupcakes, we had flower-shaped cookies that the girls had decorated and chocolate-covered "cookie dough" balls... oh, so yummy!  They are made of chick peas and honey, believe it or not! 
The dessert table
Blowing out the candles
And here is Caroline wearing her Josefina dress up outfit, a birthday gift from Mommy and Daddy, ordered from Etsy at the same time as Cecilia's colonial dress up outfit.  They are so well-made and the girls have loved them!

Happy 9th birthday, Caroline!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catching Up - Cecilia's 6th Birthday!

Cecilia's birthday was in January, I know!!  I have been bad about getting photos up lately.  So, better late than never: Cecilia's 6th birthday!


Cecilia wanted a fairy castle cake for her birthday.  We have been using the Flower Fairies alphabet book this year for Kindergarten, so flower fairies were a favorite for her at this point!

She had flower fairy plates and napkins for her cake.  We didn't do a big meal for her party because we were also fitting in a ballet recital that day - phew, tiring day! :)

I had made Caroline a castle cake before, so this one was basically the same.  Cecilia picked out some fairy toothpick decorations and stuck them in the cake.


 Part of the flower fairy banner we got... that I planned to reuse for the End of the Alphabet Kindergarten party at the end of our school year.  Guess what?  I forgot to hang it up then.  I even got it out and had it laying on a table, and then just didn't remember to hang it.  Maybe for Lucy, then...

We always have family parties... from this photo I can recall who was here: Gramma and Grampa, Gran and Grandad, Uncle Mike and cousins Julianne and Chloe.


 The best part about this cake - the towers get pulled apart and you get to eat ice cream out of chocolate covered cones!

Caroline, Cecilia, Chloe, and Julianne enjoying ice cream... Lucy must have been napping and missed out.  Shh, don't tell her.

Opening presents - she got Calico Critters...



and doll clothes...

and a sketchbook and drawing pencils...

and some books...

and...

a colonial dress-up outfit!  This is what she most wanted.  It was handmade and I didn't get the order in in time for Christmas, so I ordered it for her birthday.  Yay Etsy - most of the time, that is!

She went to try it on right away - and she wore it tons in the first few months she had it.  It is very well-made and she says it is very comfortable!

While Cecilia was changing into her dress-up outfit, Gramma read to Lucy...

and Grampa read to Chloe.

And to close out the day, the girls at the city auditorium after their ballet recital.