Seven Quick Takes: Advent Times

My stock Advent wreath photo.. this is a few years old…but looks the same this year!

1. One of the goals I have in setting family traditions is for them seamlessly be apart of our days, weeks, and years. I think that our Advent ones are pretty well established. We have not changed anything from last year or the year before. It took me about 20 minutes to set up our Advent in the home: wreath, Jesse tree, wreath on door. We fit the Jesse Tree into our night time prayer time. We sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with the lights out a dinner. We pray for Jesus to help us prepare to receive Him in our hearts at Christmas.

2. I was just talking to some other moms at our home school co-op this morning about how easy the internet has made Christmas shopping. You can do it in a few hours plus you get the excitement of packages almost every day!

3. The main laborious part of Advent for us is Christmas cards. We still write them all by hand, even the addresses. We purchase our cards from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, and the recipients of each card is enrolled in their novena of Christmas Masses, which I think is so cool. It is worth the card writing tradition to give this gift to all our family and friends. We like to spread out the card writing. The professor and I each do ten a night until we are finished.

4. The weekend before Thanksgiving I took the advice of a few Facebook friends and let my garden Brussel Sprouts brave a cold front. I harvested them on Tuesday in my last harvest of the Spencer Garden 2016 season. They were nearly frozen when I brought them in, so we blanched and froze them immediately for use on the Immaculate Conception. I am going to try them again next year, but plant them earlier and actually space them out so they get more sun. We had a small forest of plants, that only yielded 1.3 lbs of marble sized sprouts.

5. Yesterday, for the Solemnity, I made the Professor’s favorite pie, steak, stout, and mushroom, accompanied by the garden brussel sprouts braised in cream and served with bacon from our “happy” half hog. The “happy” beef is from the Professor’s aunt and uncle’s hobby farm; G even got to pick which of the beeves she wanted for our freezer. It was all delicious. My dear toddler son has yet to discover that Good Food is worth eating, so we had a leftover pie to freeze and eat at a later date. Maybe on the octave?

A little blurry, but perhaps that captures the mischievous glee he takes in all he does…

6. Speaking of toddler sons, I am pretty sure that God made toddler boys for the purpose of having cute haircuts. The hair cutting process itself it not cute: fussing on his part and my fear of cutting my own fingers off as he flops about. But the result is adorable. I am a little obsessed with his hair and eyes these days. But also so thankful that he naps and has an early bedtime as his favorite things to do are drag chairs around, turn lights on and off, and try to get at everything on the kitchen counters.

7. I had heard that there will be a new Rite of Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church soon, but I did not realize that it was so simple. According to my girls to get married a bride has to walk down the aisle to the singing of “Alleluia” and then “Kiss Lips” with the intended groom. When one daughter announced that she had married her balloon I informed her that she had the wrong matter to have the Sacrament of Matrimony and probably the wrong form as well…

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes. Please pray for the repose of the soul of a friend of hers, a husband and father, who passed away suddenly this week.

Sweet at Six

We hosted my side of the family for Thanksgiving, everyone from my parents down to our two month old niece. Some people stayed with us, other people stayed elsewhere, but they all came from out of town. In all we had 9 adults and 9 children around our Thanksgiving table and through Sunday. It was a lot of fun from all of the cousins playing for hours together to staying up late with the adults.

On Saturday we celebrated L’s birthday which is today. She is my Advent baby, having been born on the 1st Sunday of Advent six years ago. Upon opening her present from my parents which was also for the other November daughter of mine, L looked at the three fancy dress up dresses and said, “This is what I wanted! Remember, Mom! A chest of princess dresses to share with my sisters!”

Sweeter still though is the way she has been taking an interest in praying the rosary all on her own during her quiet time. She takes our Sacred Art Series Rosary flip book into her room, asks about the mysteries of the day, and prays devoutly in her own little way. I love to see the faith blossom in this sweet daughter of mine.

Happy Birthday to my six year old!

Now She is Four

The Professor went to a conference this past weekend, and his mother came over from Michigan to help with the kids and keep me company. It has become a sort of annual event since we first had children. He goes to a few conferences a year and I often ask my mother-in-law or my parents to come and stay when he does.

 So, on Thursday we dropped the Professor at the airport and picked up his mother at the same time. About 24 hours later as we were sitting down to dinner, F asked, “Where is Daddy? His car is here! Where is he?” I suppose that she was having so much fun with her grandmother that she had forgotten about the whole airport event. Fast forward to Sunday, with her grandmother already flying home and her daddy not home yet, F was a mess of emotions in her quiet time. She did not want to be alone, she was so, so sad. I went to her and talked to her about how she was feeling, but nothing cheered her up until I said, “Do you know where Daddy is right now? He is on an airplane.” Her tears of sorrow turned into giggles and laughter as she buried her face in the comforter she was laying on. “What does that mean?” I asked her. “It means he is flying home!” she said joyfully.

And that is my little F.

Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
I’ll never love blue eyes again.

(Well that is the way I feel when I look at those deep brown eyes.)

Happy Birthday, to my sweet four year old!

NCRegister Blog: Our Children Need to Know the Saints

My girls frequently talk about what they will be when they grow up. One says that she would like to be a mom, while another proclaims her desire to be a princess, and another often talks about becoming a sister or nun. Around the canonization day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I read the newest book from “The Life of a Saint” series published by Magnificat and Ignatius Press called Mother Teresa, The Smile of Calcutta. Within hours of reading the book, one of my daughters came up to me with the book saying, “I want to be that kind of sister…”

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

She Just Had to Know

The dresses arrived in the mail, and I decided I might as well try them on. My 6 year old daughter decided to come and watch. I don’t normally change in front of my daughters; maybe I should more often.

“Why does your belly look like that, Mom? Why does it have wrinkles and brown marks? Mine does not look like that.”

“It looks like this because I had babies. I once had a smooth belly like yours.”

“Oh. Okay.”

I put on the dress. I am going to be in my sister’s wedding next summer and we have been hunting down the right dress for her bridesmaids, most of them being the mother of at least two children. It seems that the average bridesmaid dress was not designed to flatter the postpartum body. But we found a dress at a chain store which flattered me at 6 months postpartum after my fourth monster baby.

So, I am in this dress, and my six year old wants to show her sisters.

“Here comes the queen! Wave to the queen as she walks by!”

 I snap a few pictures to send to my sister, to see if she likes the dress. And we go back to change. My three year old tags along.

“See Mom’s belly!” my six year old tells her.

“Mom, do you ever wish that you did not have babies so that you could have a smooth belly?”

“No dear. I would much rather have four babies than a smooth belly. My four babies are much more important than what my belly looks like.”

“Children are more important?”


These four people are worth any amount of shrunken, funny looking postpartum stretch marks and extra squishy belly.

If I ever forget that, may my right hand whither.

Pink and Five

My Dear L,

You have grown so much in the last year, and now you are five. Your birthday always comes in the whirlwind that is Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent. You were born on the First Sunday of Advent, you labor beginning early in the morning and ending just before dinner, quite the opposite of your older sister who made us stay up all night, but setting the standard for everyone else.

What would life be without the middle sister? For G, she cannot remember life before you, and after the first strange weeks your presence became so necessary. For F, you have always been the caring, sensitive sister. And baby T has a special smile and squeal of delight just for you.

You strive hard to wear all pink everyday, and if not pink, it has to be something pretty, like stars. Your school (besides the occasional reading lesson) and quiet time this year has been devoted wholly to the making of paper dolls: princesses with pretty crowns and large extended families. And in your generous nature you make paper things for everyone in the house (except the baby). Who needs toys when you have tape, scissors, paper, and crayons?

You told us last week that when you grow up you are going to be a Pink Sister, a mom, or a ballet dancer. I suppose in any of those vocations you could still pull off wearing pink everyday.

Love you Always,

Now We Are Three

 My dear F,

Today you are three. Three. Three years ago, I woke up at 4:30 am in labor with you, and you took another 15 hours to come out. You were so worth it, but you know that. You tell us all confidently daily, “I am a pwin-CESS!” You spend your days going from intensely serious about whatever you are doing to trying to make us all laugh by being silly.

You love playing with your big sisters, and you love your baby brother. You also like to scream. A lot. You screamed a lot at the farm this summer. You were afraid of the dog. But after a couple of days you were okay with her, and when we went back to the farm last week you were not scared of her at all. “That’s Rosie. She is my favorite.”

I do not think you that you feel supplanted by your baby brother, and I am glad. You are so confident that you are loved. Of course your Uncle P will like the card you made him for his birthday, because “He likes purple and he likes ME!”

Happy birthday to you, my sweet, silly girl. And thanks for all your “help” in the kitchen. Maybe one day we will actually make your peanut-butter cup filled and covered chocolate cake together without any mishaps.

Love you forever,

The Awesome School 2015: What We Plan to Do (K and 1st grade)

Once upon a time, M and I decided to home school our children. Well, we did not have any children, yet. And I have been slowly dreading it to some extent. I mean, it is a lot of responsibility to educate your children, and we have this vision of a classical-traditional-sacramental education we want our children to have so that they can be awesome people.

Last year we went to the curriculum fair at the homeschool conference, and I cried got overwhelmed about homeschooling. I was trying to decide if I should do some first grade things with G (who was five at the time) or not. I finally settled on giving her a year of casual kindergarten. And we did this, and I am going to do the same thing with L (5 in November) for kindergarten this year:

I finished this book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) with G last school year, and it was a struggle. We may have fought and cried our way through the lessons. I wish I had become a more patient person through it, though I am not sure that I did. Well this summer (five months after finishing the book and reading really simple library books together), she came up to me out of the blue and said: “Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to read.” I really did cry then. Now she reads everything she is able to read. She loves it. She reads to her sisters, she reads to herself. She gets better everyday.

(NOTE: I know this sounds like the book 100 Easy Lessons was awful, but really it was just personality and my dynamic with G. L and I have done 20 lessons so far and it is much different. We think G does better as a self-learner.)

We have been working through the Handwriting Without Tears (Handwriting Without Tears: Letters and Numbers for Me) curriculum, so we just did that everyday. She wrote to her penpal, wrote cards for family birthdays, etc.

I did not buy a kindergarten math book, we just got more comfortable with numbers doing Montessori activities from this book: Teach Me to Do it Myself And it all went well.

And we did random science activities from that book as well. We also joined a twice a month co-op which had art, gym, and a science class for her.

So, I am going to do what I did with G last year for L this year, and if it goes well I will decide if she is ready for first grade next year or just do another casual year.

First Grade:
When M and I were discussing first grade, I really felt like I wanted to get a set curriculum. I am a slight perfectionist, and I can’t do something as major as homeschooling without something like, “You will do this exact thing today in this subject, and this in this other subject, etc.” That seemed the only way.

But my dear husband, reminded me of our plan to give our kids the education we preferred for them and none of the set curricula do what we want. So, he agreed to plan meticulously with me, with our textbooks and other books, what we are going to do this year.

We decided to start the Awesome School next week. Summer weather will hopefully continue, but I think we are all ready for some structure after the baby.

We are going to do two half weeks, and then after Labor Day jump in full swing. But this also means that I have to get my act together. This week is home organization, and school supply purchasing.

Here are the books we are using (minus the St. Joseph Catechism, because a certain six year old wanted to read it during quiet time):

For reading and spelling we are using the Catholic National Reader Primer and Book One.

I love this. It is an old fashioned reader with reading practice, phonics, plus comprehension, plus spelling words. I am slightly geeked out to use it. We are also supplementing with Explode the Code  because G really likes the activities in it.

For English I am finally going to learn grammar, I mean G is going to learn grammar with Shurley English Level 1. The teachers manual is very scripted, fortunately for her. This must be my post about crying, because I cried for about a week trying to learn the parts of speech and how to diagram a sentence Freshman year of high school because I was not taught how these things in elementary school.

Once G gets the hang of grammar and reading a bit more, we are going to start Latin with Prima Latina . She is already memorizing the Latin prayers with M in his memorization hour he does with her twice a week.

For Math we are going with Singapore 1A & 1B, largely because we have heard it is the only curriculum that prepares students for advanced math. There are already algebraic concepts in 1st grade!

For science we are going all Charlotte Mason/unit study:
M is currently planning units including birds, trees, dinosaurs, astronomy, simple machines, and rocks. We might throw in the human body as well. For this we are using library books, the above pictured books, going outside, and are getting a science museum membership.

In Theology we are possibly doing First Communion prep since G will be 7 in March. We are giving her a couple months before we decide. But we will be working through two books: Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism and Our Heavenly Father (scripture based). We will also be discussion saint days and the liturgical year.
We will also be doing Fine Arts for everybody. We have selected a famous painting and a musical composition for each week to learn about. And we will work on some basic drawing with Draw Write Now.

I think we will probably be doing school 4 days a week for 2 hours (8:30-10:30 depending on baby naptime), and 1 hour on Fridays or our twice a month co-op (the same one we did last year). Science and the Fine Arts will be only twice a week.

In addition to what I am doing with the girls, M is going to be working on poem recitations, Latin prayer memorization, geography, and some history with the girls a couple hours a week. He did this last year with G, and she did really well.

F (3 in November) is going to just tag along, color, listen, and be little. 🙂

Seven Quick Takes: Friday, August 7–Summer, never leave me!

These all came from the garden. Yum!

1. I am really soaking up summer right now. I don’t really want it ever to end: sunshine, warm days, garden fresh veggies, flowers everywhere, barefoot children, and squishy bare baby legs. It does not really get better than this… please summer, don’t go away, ever…

2. This guy is smiling and cooing, and as F (2) says, “He is talking at you!” That is probably the most apt way to describe it: “talking at.” And we are getting some sleep at night, at least six hours most night of interrupted sleep is all I need as long as I can have my cold press coffee mid-morning after I have had my hot coffee with breakfast.

3. We checked out a beach at a local county park last Sunday. (The Twin Cities has amazing parks). It was perfect. The water was not too deep, there were umbrellas for shade for the baby, and the bathrooms were about 30 feet from where we laid our blanket. This was our plan for teaching the girls to swim this summer, but we might just have to give in and do lessons at some point. Anyway, the beach was nice and I did some coverless public breastfeeding to kick off World Breastfeeding Week (because everything needs a week I guess) and showed less skin than most of the other women on the beach, so there…

Not a nursing picture.

4. We have had the following conversation at dinner about 5 times in the last week:

G (6): “I still am going to be a nun when I grow up.”

L (4.5, and who previously expressed a desire to be a nun): “I think I might get married instead.”

F (2.5): “I am going to be a PRINCESS!”

Of course you are, F; dream big. Be who you want to be. You can keep the Disney Princesses out of you home, but your can’t take the dream out of their hearts. Actually, we do a lot of princess stories here, just sans Disney.

5. G came out of her room dressed like this the other morning.

Me (wondering if she is going emo): “You know, G, you are wearing all black.”

Her response?

“Some nuns wear all black everyday!”

Me: “True. Good point.”

6. Back in June, M and my mother took the girls strawberry picking. They came home with 30 lbs of strawberries, most of which we cleaned, crushed and froze. Well, last Sunday (the one before we went to the beach), we made a whole bunch of strawberry jam. So much so that we canned it in quarts and pints. With four kids we have moved up to club size canning!

7. And in case you don’t follow me on Instagram, check out these morning glories:

I love them!

That’s all folks… I guess this was a photo dump post…

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Nearly Everything My Two Year Old Said Last Wednesday

in the potty
in the potty
sit on bench
sit on bench

teething necklace
across the table
orange juice

I like my coat
I wear my coat
I no wear snow pants today

that’s my church book
my book
what is that?
what is that talking sound?

G is wearing star shirt
L is wearing polka dots

I walk
I walk
I a fish

I go potty
go potty

take off veil
get veil off
all done veil 

on this foot
do it again

peanut butter on a spoon
peanut butter
I got a cup

all done
all done
I flash potty

I no like butterfly hairband

no mommy
you do it

L has my hairband
my teething necklace
I want tea
orange juice
I no like my pretzels

light blinking
I’m in pew, too

I go potty
that’s a book
this book
shut door
uh oh
bear in bed
bear in the bath

all done
I on potty, L
shut door
wash my hands, mommy

pretzels on plate
dry my face
this is my plate
no no nooooooooo

I go potty again
go potty again
book again
shut door
sit on bath tub

I no like that book
fell on floor
mommy fix it

bunny in garden
drink book
all done

der dats a glass
here’s a glass
I go potty
I go potty

cloth napkin

no go potty
I go pee
all done

my bookie
where my book?
that’s not my book
my book
I need pencil
where’s my sharpener?

where’s my stroller?
it’s downstairs
no no
leave alone, G
pink party

I love JESUS

angels sing

dust room
my duster

be happy

I find my shovel
I need my bow
all done potty
where’s my cuppy go?
that’s not my cup

my belly hurts
my belly is moving

I have pink, too
I want chocolate cup again
peanut butter cup
peanut butter cup
L, I have peanut butter cup

Mine is kitty cat

G’s is dog

want to see, too
want to see
don’t fall down, G
peanut butter cup
no wipe me
saints go marching in

that’s my bracelet
that’s my bracelet
that’s my bracelet 

L knocked me down
kiss me
right there

I see
dert time
I want orange

Here daddy
brush hair
brush brushh

shall be my strength
pray for us
pray for us
pray for us

I’m a dog
doggy stay here

my shovel
shovel grass
shovel fork for grass
two roosters

two candles shining