Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Shower of Roses

It is October 1, the feast of St. Therese, our dear and beautiful friend in heaven.  Truly, she makes her prayers well known to those of us who know her (and probably for those who don't, as is evidenced by one of my stories below!).  I'm reposting my post from 5 years ago telling some of my stories about St. Therese.  I know many people with beautiful stories about how she so evidently prayed for them as well.
The "recent" story I speak of in the following post was around a miscarriage I had directly before my pregnancy with Serafina (Serafina Therese!).  It was a time of grace and peace that I didn't expect.  (I still don't want to write the story, but I don't mind telling it to friends.  :-) )  In the time since then, she has continued to be a dear friend, and powerful intercessor.  Only a year ago, I am convinced that her prayers helped to end one of the most tumultuous times in the history of our family - resulting in one of the most grace and consolation-filled years to follow.
This is one of my favorite weeks during the Liturgical Year: Feast of the Archangels two days ago (we had such a great day that I'll have to write about later), followed by today, the celebration of one of the most beloved Saints of all time, tomorrow we honor our Guardian Angels, and Saturday the fest day of St. Francis of Assisi.  Such a great week!

Just recently I read Dorothy Day's biography of St. Therese (Therese: A Life Of Therese Of Lisieux ).  It redoubled my love for her, and really for her whole family, inspiring me to once again celebrate this special day!  This evening we will celebrate with a simple dinner followed by French eclairs, we might watch one of the movies about St. Therese, and this afternoon during Joe's nap the girls and I are going to make sacrifice beads.
I also missed the boat on the novena leading up to today, but I'm going to do a St. Therese novena starting with today.  This one.  Here's to hoping the novena bracelet I picked up at Edel will help me stay on track!  We have an intention for this novena that is very near to our hearts, I have great hope that she will pray for us and that all will go well.  Please pray for us as well, my friends!


I had a picture very similar to the one above of St. Therese in my room growing up.  My Dad took me to the Catholic bookstore one day when I was in junior high and I picked it out, just thinking that she was so beautiful.  At the time, I didn't know who she was, didn't know her name, didn't know the profound effect she would have on my life.
A few years later, during the summer of 1997 the Lord captured my heart on a week long retreat put on by NET called D-Week.  The retreat was for me that profound moment when a child of God finally realizes that they are such and embraces it.  Obviously, at the tender age of 14 I had much more spiritual growth in front of me (as I still do!), but it was a starting point and I praise God that it happened at such a vulnerable time of my life.  I am convinced that that retreat and my experience of God's love there is what preserved me from all the temptations and evils that can be found in high school.
The interesting thing that I realized years later was that when I returned home from my retreat, my Dad commented to me that while I was gone my bedroom smelled like roses.
"I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." 
Can Saints choose us?  I wonder if she chose to pray for me despite my unawareness of her.
Several years later, after getting married and having a few children, I encountered a friend who had a great devotion to St. Therese.  Interestingly, I resisted finding out more about her because I thought that *everyone* had a devotion to St. Therese and surely she had no time to pray for me!
The one thing I may have been right about was that many people of my generation have a great devotion to her!  This morning when I got up, half of the Facebook statuses from my friends had to do with her, their love for her, their gratefulness for her prayers and for leading them closer to the Lord.
There is one ONLY THING to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls
for Him so that He may be loved. Let us seize with jealous care every
least opportunity of self sacrifice. Let us refuse Him nothing - He
does so want our love! 
It wasn't until two years ago at this time that my love and devotion grew for St. Therese.  We had just moved to Colorado and I had just had Colette.  I was simultaneously readingStory of a Soul (finally!) and praying a Novena to St. Therese for an intention for a health issue I was having.  The day I started the Novena, I was outside of our church after Mass talking to others when a huge gust of wind blew up and this strew of flowers blew around my feet.  (There are many flowers on the property of our church, they're so beautiful!)  I also just happened to notice her stained glass window at the front of our church that day!
Anyway, reading Story of a Soul was a life changing event for me.  There are only a few books like this (another one for me is The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva) and it was like walking with a Saintly friend who knew my heart, knew what I needed to do to grow in love for Christ, and what I needed to do to be a better Christian, wife & mother, and daughter of God.  Her simplicity was inspiring, her love for others was ground-breaking, and her love for the Lord was overwhelming.
Concerning the intention of my novena, my prayers were answered but not in a way that I expected.  The suffering didn't just go away, but my dear Saintly friend encouraged me to embrace it, to unite it with the suffering of Christ on the Cross, and to offer prayers for the conversion of hearts.  Months later it went away.
To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to
sweetness - to consolation; but to every anguish, every bitterness, for
Love lives only by sacrifice; and the more a soul wills to be
surrendered to Love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering. 
St. Therese has made herself present in my life during other times, particularly during a time of sadness about a year ago.  I don't really want to share that story, but I do want to acknowledge her continuing presence in my life and that of my family.  Charlie has grown to love her as well and has a particular devotion to her father, Blessed Louis Martin (a father of 5 girls I might add).  Currently, my one consistent prayer that I ask her to intercede on is for the maintenance of my little daughters' innocence.  I hope they grow up to be as innocent and faithful as St. Therese!
O my God, Thou knowest I have never desired but to love Thee alone. I
seek no other glory. Thy Love has gone before me from my childhood, it
has grown with my growth, and now it is an abyss the depths of which I
cannot fathom. 
There are so many more little connections (such as the fact that she is the patroness of our missionary organization!) and experiences with St. Therese.  I hope that someday I will meet her in Heaven, due in part to her prayers for me and the inspiration she has given me to love Jesus more and more during my life on earth.
I desire no sensible consolation in loving; provided Jesus feel my love
that is enough for me. Oh! to love Him and to make Him
sweet it is... 

St. Therese, pray for us!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Andrea Approved {7 Quick Takes}

My Daybook went way too long the other day, and I really just want to put some of these things down today for Seven Quick Takes, so I'm gonna actually try to be, you know, quick.

I read this post today and found it endlessly fascinating: Making, and Eating, the 1950s' Most Nauseating Jell-o Soaked Recipes.
It's all about mid-century cooking: I like cooking, and I like history.  Very interesting, indeed.
this pic from the original post
It's not ALL about jell-o.  So, do not fear.

Maybe part of the reason I found that article compelling is that we have been on an "I Love Lucy" kick at our house, thanks to Amazon Prime streaming.

The girls think it is hilarious and BEG me to watch it; I don't usually mind because I can talk them into folding laundry while they laugh.  Win, win.
uh...ladies? not a lot of folding going on there...
We're not huge TV watchers, and it's not allowed during the school week, but this is pretty innocent fare.  That said, I'm usually drawn in to watch with them and, typically, I'm pretty horrified about the 1950's thoughts on marriage and women being projected through the show.  Surely this is going to spur an entire post, because it's been very thought provoking to me.

It's been raining for many, many days.  Bucking the flash flood warnings, we ventured out today after cabin fever set in.  We needed provisions.  And by provisions, I mean hazelnut coffee, hot tea, and bagels at Panera.  So, we brought along school work too (see my big girls in the background reading?  so mature.).

Many compliments were enjoyed from fellow patrons, and no water was spilled.  So, I'd say it was a win.
And we didn't need our floaties due to flooding.
And, at least it wasn't been snow.
I hate snow.

Are you interested in another link?  Well, here's a sweet one I stumbled upon the other day: Keep Dating Your Wife: 25 Ways to Show Your Wife You Love Her.
My beloved husband is stellar at this.  (3,4,&5 are my favorites on the list!)

I think my favorite part about reading this was trying to see if I could think of ideas to make sure he knows how much I respect and love him.  It's so important to stay on top of these things....our marriages are important not only to ourselves, but to our children, and to society at large.
My treasured Chacos are on their last leg.
house call from Dr. JoJo - why am I getting a shot in the leg?? nooo!
The soles are coming apart, the straps are fraying and I hate the thought of replacing them because 1) $$$, and 2) they're ugly!  Despite all that, they are my favorite, so I'm gonna need a new pair around Easter when my feet aren't swollen anymore (they're not yet, I'm just anticipating here).  I'll have to start saving now.  This pair lasted me 7 years though, and hiked mountains, hauled my pregnant self around 3 times, and trekked all over the country.  So, I guess they're a good investment.
I actually need some cute flats for Fall.  Help?

My daughters were amazed that I could change light bulbs in the laundry room and bathroom this afternoon.

This is proof of two things:
a) my husband is so super sweet and serves me with a joyful heart;
b) I need to make sure my girls are properly empowered and know that I'm quite capable in many areas that I don't usually manage - and they can be as well.

Maybe they'll get power tools for Christmas.

I started plopping things into my Amazon baby list last night because it's been a few years since Joe, we've moved a lot, and many things are worn out.  It helps me stay organized so I can be scouring second-hand and deals.  But - Wow!  There is some new and innovative baby gear since I started this adventure 11 years ago.
I still maintain that the only baby items that I really love and need are sweet FuzziBunz and an Ergo.  My last Ergo bit the dust, so I'm the in the market for a new one.

ANYWAY, I do need some advice.
I'm notorious with my husband for being a bit unprepared (is that an understatement, Charlie?), so I'm toying with the idea of getting a ::gasp:: diaper bag.
Can anyone help a friend out here?
Here's my criteria:
- Nothing "cute."  I don't like cute.  Cute is not Andrea Approved.  (Beautiful, classy, black - those are approved.)
- Nothing that can't endure a few kids.  I mean, let's be honest, I need my gear to last.
- Nothing that I couldn't pull off as a purse.
- Holds wet wipes, a couple Fuzzi's, and a wetbag.  MAYBE a nursing cover (meh), a Lara bar, and if the toddler's lucky, a sippy cup.  I don't know.

Please tell me there's something like this out there?

Have a great weekend everyone!  Visit Jen for more fabulous Quick Takes!
(That was quick right?  I think it was quick...)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Dinosaur Out the Window, Three Good Books, and Vegan Cookies {a Daybook}

Rainy days are for are days when I don't really have time to sit down all at once and put out a blog post.  I have a week's worth of posts I'd like to write, but my vocation calls, and blogging in spurts is my reality today.

Outside my window...
It's a Texas fall.  It's rainy.  It's less-hot.  (Do not mistake that with "cool."  This is Houston, friends.)  The fact that we are no longer blasted with a sauna when we open the front door makes me feel like busting out all my lovely Autumn decor.  I think I'll do that this weekend.  I'd also like to do something pretty with my front porch.

Giving thanks...
Do you know what I am most thankful for this week?  I am thankful that we stepped away from most of our "extra" commitments for the year.  What this has done is opened up many hours, but in particular, one spectacular hour, on one Monday a month, that I can attend my Opus Dei cooperator's circle.  I've only been twice now, I used to often go when we lived in Colorado, and I forgot how much I love need it.  The fellowship of other women who are seeking holiness in the midst of our daily work, compounded with prayer and a sustaining talk is a catalyst for remaining in that place of prayer, always, every day.
morning meditations from In Conversation with God, my most treasured series of books

We are learning...
We are learning SO much.  This school year, four weeks in, is beating me up.  On the other hand, my girls are thriving and have been very happy with the content of their education this year.  My highlight so far has been the switch to Saxon Math for my girls older than 2nd grade.  I'm not interested in a K-2 math curriculum that has a million manipulatives and requires a ton of prep on my part, which, in my perception that's what Saxon is through 2nd or 3rd grade.  My 3rd grader is using Saxon 5/4, and my 5th grader is using Saxon as well.  It's like a breath of fresh air for me, a non-mathy mama.

From the kitchen...
Today after lunch, I made the children these "vegan, gluten free" peanut butter cookies.  Mine weren't gluten free because I used regular flour, and I couldn't really care less about being vegan, I just didn't want to use an egg. haha  Anyway, they turned out lovely, at least they were a smashing hit with my children and not so bad with my afternoon coffee right now.  ;-)
When I'm finished, I'll toss a lovely pork tenderloin in the crock pot before we get back to our lessons. 

At the gym....
Oh that mythical place that I love but can't seem to drag myself into????  The gym???  Sigh.  I went ONE time last week, and it was horrible!  I fully expected to get there and not be able to throw down a couple of miles at a slow jog because I spent my first trimester asleep.  I was wrong.
I got on the treadmill.  I dutifully walked a little bit.  Then I just....couldn't...handle it!  I NEEDED to run!  So I ran.  I could have easily run and run and run and just kept going, except that blasted need to "keep my heart rate down" and all that shenanigans.  UGH.  It was SO frustrating.
I'm irritated now thinking about it.

I watched some previews of "prenatal fitness" videos on Amazon the other day and wanted to tear my hair out.  So much cheese.  So much "cute" (I don't like being thought of as "cute" that just annoys me).  I just want to ride a bike and go to BodyPump.
I'm getting a little weepy.  This was so much more fun to prepare for than child birth.  But I admit, not as life-changing or beautiful or wonderful as a new little child. :-)

Out of the mouths of babes...
A few weeks ago when we told the children that we are expecting a new baby, someone very small (who is working on her spelling) made a list of potential baby names: 
For girls: Colette (ha), Ann, Sarah, Mary, Margaret
For a boy: Jesus

hehe  Sweet angels.

I am working on...
Trying not to be a blogging slacker.  There has been a sudden onslaught of encouragement for me towards this little blog here, and so, I'm going to try to work on it.  But, vocation takes priority.  Always.  

I am reading...
I'm reading three books right now.  First, The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful on Kindle.  It was $1.99 a few weeks ago, and despite my resistance to read a "home decorating" book, I was convinced by my sweet, sweet friend Wendy.  I am enjoying it, I'm almost finished with it, and I'm not totally sold on the premise - especially as a renter.  I find the desire to sink any amount of money or time into a rental home to make zero sense whatsoever, but I'm not done with the book yet, so we'll see.  
Secondly, I have been working on The Fellowship of the Ring since July (I can remember dragging it to Edel with me, which, I will not be attending in 2015 boo!  But it sure looks like fun!), and I really must finish it.  
Last, and easily my favorite right now, is Paul of Tarsus.  I love St. Paul, I love his writings, and this book has been so interesting both as a biography, and also as a history lesson for me.

I am praying...
Remaining close in my prayers are friends due with babies soon, friends with many health issues, intentions for extended family, and that St. Joseph will pray for us as begin to crack the door open to finding out where we will live in the near future (it's time to buy something, and maybe that's why I don't want to mess with my rental? haha  It's all in God's time I don't know when/how it will happen.  He is making it very clear to both of us, in prayer, that *this* is our community, where He wants us to stay.  We've explored moving downtown, and to somewhere more rural, even to a different section of the out-lying parts of Houston, but this is it...these are our people.  This is where we belong.).

The Liturgical Year...
Last year I did a good job planning for the Liturgical Year for the family.  This year, it's part of the 5% of the work I haven't finished.  On the upside, we have never been members of a parish that lives up the special holy days and feast days like our beloved church now.  I almost feel some of the burden lifted because no amount of picture books or crafts or meals will ever outshine genuflecting in the presence of a pice of the True Cross on the Exultation of the Holy Cross at Mass last Sunday.  And that's just one example.

I am struggling...
I'm battling exhaustion by the middle of the day.  It's hard for me to keep my mind straight, I have to work to keep a smile on my face, and it takes some serious prayer to be willing to give of myself after about 3pm.  

I am hearing...
I hear the sounds of my appliances doing work for me.  Can I just say I am so grateful to live in a time of electricity?  I just really like air conditioning.
The dishwasher is running it's first round of the day, the washing machine is scrubbing clothes clean, the crock pot is humming - filled to the brim with a delicious dinner, and my sweet girls are cleaning their room.

Clicking around...
This podcast, a six part series on Hamlet, has been a wonderful use of my time: Circe Presents: Hamlet, A Six Part Discussion Series on Shakespeare's Masterpiece

Added to "My Wishlist" board on Pinterest: Geode Slice Bracelet from Wrenn Jewelry (I looooove all of her stuff!)

(Two for one here!)  I love this series running on The Rhodes Log on "Before I Had a Seven-Year-Old."  When I was in the trenches with a bunch of tiny children, I really needed this.  Have y'all seen "Mom's Night Out?"  The scene where the pastor's wife tells disheveled mama of three young children, "It'll get better!  Give it five years....(or seven)..." cracked me up because: Truth.  It is hard to be the mother of a lot of tinies.  
Some personalities handle it better than others (if you want to see the epitome of how a graceful mother handles 4 under 5, read this loveliness from one of my dearest friends in the world, Lauren.  Everything you read here is truly how she lives it.  She is the ultimate present mom.), I didn't handle it all that well.  It was hard for me.
Having a 7-year-old and two more older still has been a total game changer in my quality of life.  Check out this series!

Around the house...
I'm not a huge pet person, but I miss my dog.  I'm not even joking.  I had NO idea how much he pulled his weight just by eating crumbs off the floor.  Sweeping and mopping and vacuuming are going to take over my life.
All to the glory of God.  :-)

One of my favorite things...
Gabrielle's art.  And her sense of humor.

This is her math binder.  It's a picture of her in our school room thinking about how much she loves math, with a dinosaur peeking in the window.  love love love love love

A few plans for the next week...
Over the next week we have CCD at church (and Mass, of course!), lots of home projects over the weekend, a potential dinner with Nana, and next week a regular week of school and ballet, plus a play date, our homeschool nature club, and Gabrielle will be preparing an "authentic" Thanksgiving dinner next week for social studies.  That's a lot of excitement.

This week on Instagram...
This picture from Saturday got the most likes all week, obviously NOT from the stellar photography, but probably the sentiment.  Our family spent the bulk of the late afternoon cooking up a storm and dancing through the kitchen to make a feast of appetizers to enjoy during Saturday night's Texas Longhorns football game.  It was so much fun.

My sweeties in the courtyard at church got almost as many likes, on their first day of CCD.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Facebook Fast: Two Months In

It has been two months since I decided to take a break from social media, on a nine month fast.  The nine month mark will hit in April, and while it's a little bit of irony that pregnancy (supposedly) lasts for nine months, that is not why I chose that period of time.  I chose that time because a) it's a long time, the better part of a year, and b) it seemed more like a "novena of months" while I prayerfully discern whether I want to stick with it or not.

I still feel like I miss out on a lot.  There are friends I primarily kept up with and maintained contact with via Facebook and I miss not knowing what's going on in their lives.  There are family members that I never get to talk to and I have virtually no idea how things are going for them.  Social media (especially Twitter) was my main form of news information, so I have been behind in knowing about a lot of news.

What is interesting about what I'm "missing" is that I am ok with it.  I don't need to know all the tiny details of my friends' lives.  It is SUCH a joy to see them, or text with them, or receive an email from far away friends and hear about how things are going.  I love the intimacy of sharing real life with my friends, no matter how near or far, because when we converse with one another, the level of trust is infinitely higher than when we "like" Facebook posts or tap out something small and insignificant that doesn't actually bring others, truly, into our lives.  For a multitude of reasons, not just this social media fast, I have seen my relationships with friends blossom lately.  But I think that this plays a huge part, mostly because when we talk, we go deeper, when we see each other, the quality of time is richer, even when we text, we ask "how can I pray for you?"  While I often asked for prayers using social media (and blessedly received them!), I can promise you that I never shared the deeper, real needs for prayer. Being vague, across the board, is not friendship.

As far as news goes, I am careful to protect myself from certain news and I have been for a long time.  If you catch me watching the news, you should take my pulse.  When I read Searching for and Maintaining Peace for the first time, I was able to finally understand something significant about myself.  I empathize to a fault.  I internalize other people's feelings, I take on burdens into my heart that are not mine....and then I fall into desolation.  Desolation is not from God.  Sadness is not something He wills for us and it is easy for my imagination to go wild, way too wild.  Before I had the huge realization that God does not give us the graces to handle certain situations unless we are in them, I had many sleepless nights.  I worried endlessly about people I knew and loved, about our government, about situations around the world, about human rights issues that I was helpless to correct by myself.  These things would unduly burden me, and I would loose joy.  I would loose hope.
Indeed, we live in "a valley of tears."  As one of my dearest friends commented, we are not living in Eden.  This world is wracked, wracked, wracked with evil, and suffering, and so many people walk through life feeling completely hopeless.  Social media was one of the main ways I encountered various political nonsense, heartbreaking news stories, and projections about the status of the world.  But here is the thing: I refuse to live in fear.  My hope is in the Lord.  I don't live with my head in the sand.  I know, in broad terms, what is going on in the world.  I pray all the time for our government, for our country & culture, for those around the world who are suffering, for those close to me who are suffering.  My responsibility is to remain at peace.  It is to allow myself to be transformed by the Faith, by my hope in Heaven, to not wallow in sadness, to not fear suffering or death - because it comes for us all.  My responsibility is to affect what is within my reach.  It is to love well.  Constant bombardment of the media on Facebook and Twitter did not aid me in Joy.

Many years ago, I stopped drinking Cokes.  Then a few years ago, I quit Diet Cokes.  Around the same time, I made a commitment to not eat fast food (uh, Chick-fil-a excepted).  These little absences in my life led to healthier lifestyle in general - I'm not a nutrition guru, but we don't eat a lot of junk.  You won't find me on any Paleo diet, but I can't fathom the thought of putting things into my body at which I used to never bat an eye.  I'm thinking that two months into this little experiment, I may have already made up my mind.  The thought of getting on Facebook now feels like driving through McDonald's for a cheeseburger and a coke.  Quite off-putting.  It's surprised me!  I feel more whole.  More healthy.  And very grateful.

Peace I leave with you, My own peace I give to you; a peace the world cannot give, this is My gift to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid...(John 14:27)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

If You are to be Salt & Light, You Need Knowledge

Last Tuesday was our First Day of School.  By the time we started, I had 95% of the planning finished, and 100% of the needed supplies and books purchased, so I figured that's a good start!  I still need to finish planning during what Saint's days we're going to be livin' it up (I'll do that tomorrow - I'll just slightly revise my plans from last year), decide if we're going to try out the "Morning Time" concept (I'm not sure that it won't just add more to my to-do list, but we'll see), and I really need to take my teacher's course for Institute for Excellence in Writing (once I do that, I'll start the girls, but it's not so bad to ease in with everything else and then slam them with a mind-blowing writing program...right?).

a portion of our classroom the night before we started - I love this's a game room (and has a BAR - I joke about putting my margarita machine in there for days when math goes wrong, but I'm just kidding!) and has big beautiful windows facing a golf course and a large tree that is always covered in cardinals
AND it has doors to the back yard so, when the weather is nice, I can send littles out and just leave the doors flung wide open, glorious 
the afore mentioned bar (mostly where I store craft supplies, and children are forbidden back there)
andddd....the printing station/Kindle charging station/people's really cool artwork station
So, there's good news and there's bad news about this first week.  I'll give the bad news first: I'm pretty massively overwhelmed.  In theory I get the "teaching from a state of rest" concept...I know that I'm not under anyone's oppressive or watchful eye, I know that I'm not on a prescribed timetable, and I know that I have chosen to take this on by my own will.  All that's a lot of work this year.  The varying ages of my children requires me to be constantly thinking on my feet while each of them needs something different all at the same time.  My closest friends and my poor, dear husband have offered me great consolation this week - and I have hope that things will improve as we settle in, and as the children become more familiar and comfortable with their curricula.  So, while I held it together: the house stayed reasonably clean, the laundry stayed caught up, and everyone got fed, educated, and loved, I do continue to wonder about how I will sustain this and thrive.  A wise, much more experienced mom I know who has been homeschooling for 23 years continues to warn me against burning out, for *my* mental and physical health.  This is something I can totally see happening as the sweet days of learning how to count and learn shapes and explore nature morph into something much heavier, though very exciting.
The good news: My kids loved their week.  My curriculum choices are spot on as far as I can tell (except I'm bumping Gabrielle to the next level in math).  I LOVE the resources we are using this year to learn; *I* am excited about them and so are the children.  The work is a joy.  People might complain during grammar or math, but that's ok.  The rest is just exciting; we all love to learn.  So, while I am just plain tired, I'm not going to pretend that homeschool is all sunshine and unicorns and roses (yippee!), I am glad to be on this journey and I'm thankful for this precious time with the people I love the most in the whole world.  Each of the children are lovely to be around, and as they grow older I delight more and more in who God has made them.  This is God's path for me.  This gives me joy.

5th grade, Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade
For the sake of my memory (even though I have all of this in Evernote) and anyone's interest, here are our curriculum choices for the year (loosely based on Mater Amabilis):

5th Grade
Literature: books of her choice from my master list for 5th grade, King Arthur and His Nights of the Round Table with the Memoria Press Student Guide, Robin Hood with the Memoria Press Student Guide, The Aeneid for Boys and Girls (free on Kindle), and Shakespeare (I'm using How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, as well as a selection of adaptations, audio, and fun activities I found on Pinterest)
Poetry: The Harp and the Laurel Wreath (always)
Grammar: Intermediate Language Lessons
Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing
Spelling: All About Spelling
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears: Cursive Success (this will be her last year of handwriting, unless she'd like to learn calligraphy at some point in middle school)
Typing: Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum 5 (she's already a very proficient keyboarder from using this last year, which is remarkable because she doesn't use the keyboard much - I think I"ll let her more for narrations and papers this year)
Math: Saxon Math
British History: Our Island Story: A History of England for Boys and Girls along with some great activities I have planned for her that I created and picked up around the web
Ancient History: Famous Men of Rome, with the accompanying workbook from Memoria Press (I don't know if I'll continue workbooks with each child, but this one likes them), along with a slew of "living books" on the topic and some fun activities planned
*Also for all history, and any music/social studies/art, etc, she is beginning a Book of Centuries.
Geography: Memoria Press Geography I: Middle East, North Africa, Europe (this family LOVES
geography), and Continental Press Map Skills E
Religious Studies: Faith & Life Credo: I Believe, read & narrate Pearls of Peace A Rosary Journey through the Holy Land, her choice of Vision saint's books, and parish CCD (this isn't necessary, but we love it so much that we are willing to go, our parish is really quite exceptional)

3rd Grade
Literature: books of her choice from my master list for 3rd grade, Lassie Come Home and Charlotte's Web with corresponding Memoria Press Student Guide, Classic Myths to Read Aloud (I read this aloud to Gab and Colette, we all love it!)
Poetry: The Harp and the Laurel Wreath
Grammar: Primary Language Lessons
Writing: IEW
Spelling: All About Spelling
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears: Cursive Success
Typing: Typing Instructor for Kids
Math: Saxon Math
Social Studies: Our United States from Catholic Heritage Curricula (I am super excited about this one, we enjoy CHC geography and social studies a lot - this one comes with all sorts of activities, field trips, and interesting stuff!)
Geography: Continental Press Map Skills C and geography themed books listed in Mater Amabilis mixed in with her literature books
Ancient History: read and narrate The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, and we also have a whole slew of other books on the topic that the girls love
Religious Studies: Faith & Life: Our Life with Jesus, read and narrate from our collection of Once Upon a Time Saints books, memory work from the Baltimore Catechism, parish CCD

2nd Grade
Literature: lots of read alouds and books of her choice, The Courage of Sarah Nobel and Little House in the Big Woods with corresponding Memoria Press Student Guide (we use the guide to discuss, at this point, I don't make her write down answers), Classic Myths to Read Aloud with Gab
Poetry: A Child's Garden of Verses (this book is SUCH a treasure)
Grammar: Primary Language Lessons (we'll start mid way through the year with this, I want her a fair way behind Gabrielle)
Spelling: All About Spelling
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears: Printing Power Plus
Typing: Typing Instructor for Kids
Math: Abeka 2 (this will be the last year we use Abeka, even though it's done well for us over the years...more on that another time)
Geography: Explore the Continents from CHC (SO fun so far!), Continental Press Map Skills B
Ancient History: Ancient Israel - we are just reading and narrating from the Old Testament starting with Moses, to start, but then we'll move on to some other resources
Religious Studies: Faith & Life: Jesus Our Life, read and narrate from Once Upon a Time Saints books, memory work from the Baltimore Catechism, parish CCD

(I take a massively hands-off approach to Kindergarten, if she wants to work and I have time, we do it.  If she's not up for it, we don't do it.  I skip pre-k homeschool altogether.  I think 3 and 4's should work by playing, listening to books, and hanging out with their mamas.  So, we ease in through K and 1st grade.)
Reading: story books
Poetry: A Children's Garden of Verses
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten
Math: MCP Kindergarten Math
Religious Studies: picture books, children's Bible, coloring pages, Coloring with the Psalms, and Our Catholic Family Paper Dolls

Things we all do together as a group: 
Latin: Song School Latin (I'm over caring whether or not my kids can ever speak Latin.  I hope it can be familiar to them, that they can understand how words are derived from it, that they can pray the prayers of the Church if they need to, and then move on to what I think is WAY more important: Spanish)
Science: Apologia Astronomy with the Student Journals (I didn't spring for these last year and I regretted it) and the experiment kit from Home Science Tools (Apologia science leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion, I don't love the heavy-handedness with which the Christian perspective is used; ironic I know.  As Catholics, we don't always agree with some of the things we come across in the Apologia science books - for example, we are not hard core "creationists."  It's a tricky subject.  Anyway, I DO like the subject matter in the books, I like the depth to which they can learn it, and I am *not* a slave to a textbook, it works for *me*, so if I want to skip something I don't agree with, I do.) 
Nature Study: we have planned nature walks, nature experiences at home, and nature books, and our nature journals, we are also attending monthly Nature Class with our homeschool group
Earth Science: we are all doing the Mater Amabilis Level 1 Weather Unit together, it's not time intensive and I think they'll enjoy it!
Art: Picture Study from Simply Charlotte Mason - right now it's Botticelli, then I think we'll do Monet
Music: How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in 52 Easy Lessons - this will be cake to do together with Spotify and YouTube.  I am SO crazy excited to get started with it on Monday.  We love our classical music around here. ;-)
Etc. : the three bigger girls are in ballet, and if time permits I'd like to continue working on Sewing with St. Anne and pick up some knitting or crochet with Handicrafts Made Simple DVD's (I'm thinking I might give them these DVDs, some supplies, and some free time after I have the baby and see how they do!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pregnancy & Vanity, The Way, and Cereal on the Floor

Oh Labor Day do I love thee?
One last blast before we are in full blown school year mode, but it should be WONDERFUL.
Here's what's on my mind...

So, yay!  I'm pregnant!  My whole family is thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about a new tiny member joining us this coming Spring, but I tell you what, pregnancy is hard on me.  I covet your prayers.
It always seems embarrassing to me to admit how much I just really dislike these 9 months, because I'm not ungrateful for the gift of my children, and I'm not physically sick.  However, I've realized this time around that what I've been struggling with all these years is spiritual attack.  I become very vulnerable while I'm pregnant.  I, admittedly, struggle mightily with vanity, and this is the perfect time to take heed with all the lies in my ear: you're fat, you're ugly, you're worthless, you can't handle all this, you're weak, you are overwhelmed, nobody is going to like you, you're too emotional, and so on.  I fall victim, and I admit, I allow myself to wallow when things aren't going swimmingly; like Wednesday when a 24 hour tension headache bowled me over, or when I'm plain exhausted from the flood of hormones and baby-building, or whatever.
Blessedly, now that I've realized this, I have seen the love and mercy of God in that He has been sending me a river of consolation through the Scriptures, through dear friends, through mentors, and he has given me ears to hear my husband - who tells me all of the truth, contrary to the above mentioned lies.
(All that being said, nobody hold their breath for any "pregnant selfies."  There are exactly 2 photos of me pregnant from the total of 48 months of pregnancy I have endured in my life, neither of them with my permission. Those baby bump pics are lovely for other ladies, but I'll pass.)

Pretty soon, I'd like to do a post about our curriculum choices for this school year.  I know it's not a crowd favorite, but it's nice for me to go back and look.  I've finally got everything together, and just need to wrap up a little bit of lesson planning today.  We start on Tuesday (after Labor Day), even though I had hoped to start 3 weeks ago.  Such is life.  I'm glad to have the freedom to do what's needed.  We're enjoying these last days of summer. (But WOAH, I'm bummed that Pinterest's Autumn hasn't shown up in Houston.  It's still brutally swampy here, with no end in sight.)
the last of our ordered supplies showed up today: a kit from Home Science Tools with all the necessary parts for experiments in our Astronomy curriculum - if I didn't spring for this, there's no way this mama would ever get to the fun stuff.  now all we need is a membership to the NASA museum about 1.5 hours away....wouldn't that be amazing?!
We need a new dog.  You know why?  Because two year olds.
"No mean to, Mama!"
The clean up effort surrounding this child would be so much easier with a furry friend who would follow him around wagging it's tail and gobbling stray cheerios, or entire boxes of cereal when the boy-child takes snack time into his own hands.  Whatev.
(No seriously, this child is so destructive.  He's so lucky he's so cute and I love kissing those cheeks and I think he has the most delightful personality.  Otherwise, it would be hard to overlook the last 24 hours that involved the breaking of one of my favorite bowls, the coloring on leather in the car, and dumping out an entire box of cereal.)
We need another Goldendoodle.  (If you saw my post earlier this summer about the boxer, that did NOT work out.)
"Felicity, what are you doing?"
"I'm mad, so I'm cutting this mail up!"
"Why are you mad?"
"Because, they sent this notice for Bree!  Don't they know he's DEAD?!"
I got to talk to my dad on the phone today, for almost 45 minutes.  It was easily the highlight of my day.

While we chatted, we decided to run a half marathon at the Houston Marathon in January 2016 together.  He's got several scheduled between then and now being the super athlete that he is, but obviously, I'm down for the count on distance running for a few months.  It'll be just the inspiration I need to get back to it after le bebe makes an appearance.  It'll take me a while to build up to that long of a distance.  I think before I was pregnant, 10 miles was probably my max.

Anyway, it was so so good to talk with him.  It'll keep a smile on my face for the rest of the day.  

My husband is the director of a Catholic conference ministry, and we just went last week to their biggest conference of the year in San Antonio.  
the resort where it was held has a very fun lazy river, pool, sandy beach, and water slide
the children loooove going there

lunch time on the balcony of our suite
It was such a treat to see friends from around the state, our parish, and from Houston.  I didn't get to many of the talks, but that was ok by me since we made it for adoration and Mass.  It was lovely to just visit with dear friends and spend time with the children.  We hardly saw Charlie, poor guy had to work while we played. ;-)  
these sweet sisters live in San Antonio and spending time with them was one of the best parts of the conference
visit their website at if you're ever in the market for really lovely soaps for gifts or for yourself

BBQ, late night swimming, volleyball, and birthdays on our last night
what a way to bring our summer to a close
One of my favorite parts of these conferences is that they always bring a huge Catholic bookstore.  All sorts of wonderful treasures can be found.  I always walk away with a super long list of books I want to scour Amazon used books for - don't tell!  The only ones I'm willing to buy for full price are from Scepter, because they're hard to come by and shipping from their website is rough.  I picked up both The Way and The Forge, even though I had hoped for this copy that has all three: The Way, Furrow, and The Forge.  I often give my copy away and go a long time without one, and when I purchase a new book, it's like being reunited with a dear friend.  
(Two of the books I'd like to pick up that I saw at the conference are Beloved and Blessed: Biblical Wisdom for Family Life (I have the other books in this series and loved them, in fact...I think I should re-read them now that I'm in a new phase of family life) and The Little Book Of The Holy Spirit, from Sophia Press.  Their books are so lovely.)
the men playing volleyball on sunday night
Speaking of Scepter Publishers, one of these days I'm going to start collecting the Navarre Bibles.  I can remember seeing them in my dad's extensive library growing up and had no idea what a treasure I had at my fingertips back then.  Someday, when my phase of life allows for this level of study, I'm going to have to take out a small loan to get them all (I kid!), but they are so beautiful.  I loved perusing them at the bookstore!
(Last and not least, check out these free booklets on Scepter - I've known supernumeraries who have the actual copies to loan, but it's nice to have them in digital form.  My favorites are "Sanctifying Daily Work" and "Bright and Cheerful Homes.")

It's nap time for my 2-year-old, which means I need to make put dinner in the crock pot, fold some laundry, finish a bit of school planning, and return some phone calls.  OH!  And schedule myself a hair cut and pedicure for the morning.  It's gonna be a good weekend!

xoxo my friends

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Friday, August 15, 2014

You Move in the Unseen

You can take my dry bones 
breathe life into this skin....

Wonder of wonders....deep in the dark, hidden from the world, resides a new little life.

With each child, our ability to love expands.  This tiny one, a creation of pure love, is a gift from God.  Each of my children is wonder, beauty, eternal.  And now, I'm happy to share we add to the family another precious one.

Baby #6.

Arriving March (-ish....if you know me, it'll probably be April) 2015.

I can never hide
You are here and You know me