Monday, October 31, 2005

All Saints Eve

How much fun it is to be a kid!!! The fall is filled with so much fun for them. School starts, Elizabeth's birthday, Halloween, advent begins, Christmas...

Tonight we are going to an All Saints Eve party and so we are busy getting dressed up and ready to go. The kids wanted to be archangels, hence the outfits :-) Elizabeth wants to be Gabriel and I guess Zach is Michael which leaves Raphael for Heather, but I doubt she'll tolerate a costume.

Daddy is going as St. Joseph, and mommy is going to be St. Gianna Beretta Molla. (look her up, she is a really neat modern saint).

I'm having a great day today.. right now all 3 kids are asleep, the house is clean... and my good friend Lisa just stopped by with a Chai Tea Soy Latte for me and some split pea soup for dinner tomorrow.
What a sweetie!!! Friends are such a nice thing to have in life. It's funny, but until I became a mom, I never really spent much time with other women (except of course my two childhood friends whom I love to pieces). But now that I'm a mom and a wife I just cherish all of my girlfriends and know that life would be awfully dull without them. Women have a way of adding that extra special touch to things that can brighten your day. I now have many women friends and I feel so blessed because of each one of them (including my own mom and sister).

I guess that's why Pope John Paul II used to talk about how women were so special and why he called us the 'hearts' of our homes. He also used to talk about that feminine genius that us ladies all have. He wrote a wonderful Letter to Women awhile back that is a great read if you have time. It'll make you proud to be female.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Toy Maker

Wow, now THIS is a cool website. I will have lots of fun exploring it... we are really enjoying the paper toys. So much better than plastic.. you can recycle them when you are bored with them and they don't take up as much space.

And.. check out her blog ... she has more beautiful illustrations there, and some really great phots of her little boy and his stuffed puppy. I love the internet for this kind of stuff!

Just the kind of thing for all you people who work at an office all day to play with when you are bored :-) The spinners look like fun to make. Now.. i wonder if she has any train toys?

Busy week!

Well it's taking some time to recover from the whole birthday thing. Elizabeth has been playing with her new toys all day everyday and is still singing the Sound of Music wherever she goes (always in the quaint little English accent she is so good at mimicking).

With her great-auntie here all week too, we haven't got too much in the way of schooling done... Just the basics of math and reading and writing and religion each day. I've been experimenting more with following Charlotte Mason's suggestions of doing short 10 minute lessons in order to teach the habit of attention. This is something that Elizabeth really needs to work on. She'll forget what she's supposed to be doing 3 seconds after I tell her sometimes. Some of this is age related, and some of it is just her. However, with 3 kids and more to come - God willing - she needs to develop this habit of attention so that we can get our schoolwork done in a timely manner each day as they get older.

On Thursday I was having a really grumpy day and wished that my kids were in school and I was sitting in Starbucks with a good book, sipping a chai tea soy latte. sigh...(actually I still wish the Starbucks part LOL) But then on Friday we had a good day and Elizabeth did such a good job of reading and writing that I was feeling better again.... And we got all our work done before she was off with her friend Jordan to an Opera performance for homeschoolers. She enjoyed that, and thinks that Jordan's mommy is really great because she let them stop at the playground and play for 30 minutes.

She drew a great picture of some singers, with their music stands and sheet music, but in typical frazzled mom style, I left my camera at my mom's house so I can't show you the drawing. Next week, maybe.

Anyways, it's been a long week. Z throwing up one day, Z falling over and hurting himself 4 days, Z pouring dad's bike chain grease all over my stair one day, Heather grumping and spitting up on me, Z still learning to go pee and forgetting sometimes, E and Z waking up at 5:30 (hmmm... with daylight savings tomorrow, does that mean i'll have to get up at 4:30 if they keep doing this??? who invented that system anyways???)

At the end of all of it though, I am more in love with my family than ever before. My darling husband is so supportive of me and takes such good care of me. My children are so sweet and kind, and the only thing I'm really lacking is a good night's sleep.... oh- and an idea for a halloween costume. gotta run!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Pirate Princess

What a lucky girl!! How many five year old girls have songs written about them?

A song for Elizabeth on her fifth birthday by jenny, her mommy's cousin:
(copyright 2005)

Elizabeth walked quietly down the hall to the prow
Drew her sword, wiped her brow
Looked fierce, and with a frown
Stood on her tiptoes,
Cleared her throat, and then she said out loud:

and I love my mommy".

Elizabeth climbed the crow's nest, and when she reached the top
She made the cannons stop
Made the Pirate flag drop
And in it's place she raised a flag that said
"I love My Pop".

I love Mom and Dad."

Elizabeth slid down a rope and landed on the deck
Her parrot kissed her neck
She kissed her parrot back
The crew all bowed their fierce heads down and sang:
"She loves Heather and Zach".

and she loves her family."

I know that they Love ME!!!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Five Years Old!!!

It feels like time just slips through my fingers... I am amazed that I have a little girl who is already five years old!! (I'm even more amazed that I will be thirty next April...)

What a special day for my little pumpkin. She had a paper doll party with lots of presents and food and friends! All the guests at the party were so polite and sweet, and everyone had a hilarious time watching Elizabeth open her presents.... She literally screamed with delight as she opened each one. She's still excited 3 days later :-)

With all the chaos of getting ready for the party, and playing with family and friends, we haven't done a whole lot of schooling. I guess you can count two trips to the airport, cutting paper dolls for streamers, planning games for the party, and shopping part of schooling :-) Oh, and then there was math at the toy store yesterday while she picked out what she wanted to buy with the money from Grandma Sonia... (how much money does this cost? How much money do I have left after I buy that?). And, there was learning about phone manners today as the phone rang off the hook with birthday wishes from family.

What a pleasure it is to be a mom to such delightful children. I am having so much fun with them. Have I said that before? It's just such a privilege to be a mother, and a double privilege to be able to spend so much time with them and not have to work or send them off to school. We were joking at the birthday party about how the MOM should be the one getting the presents on the BIRTH day because she's the one who did all the work... But then I guess I really AM the one with the presents: three really big ones (and counting...) and I enjoy them and love them more each year.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rainbow Puppy

All this week we've been learning about dogs. We went to the library and checked out a bunch of books on dogs: sled dogs, st. bernards, helping dogs etc...

Then, Elizabeth drew a picture of a dog from her art book, and added wings so it would be a puppy angel. She also made sure it was rainbow colored... a new trend in her drawings... remind me to show you the rainbow cow from last week someday.

The other big theme of this week is counting down the days until her birthday. She is very excited to say the least, and at random moments throughout the day can be seen with a big smile on her face while she thinks about it. I just love seing her excitment. Children are such a blessing to rushed, stressed-out old grownups.

Oh, we also just started a new religion book called "Leading Little Ones to Mary" and it looks very beautiful. A very nice lady at mass this morning gave it to me and I was delighted because it was a book I had been wanting for some time but couldn't justify getting it becuase of the shipping expense from the states.

OK, I'm off for a nice relaxing bath before I fall asleep for the night. Tomorrow, I think we will have some fun making decorations for the big party on sunday.

Night all! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Updates to my sidebar


I've updated my sidebar with some new links that are interesting:
  • Grandma Leslie has changed her website over to blogger to start a blog.. should be interesting if she posts for us :-)
  • My cousin has 2 really interesting blogs where she documented the making of 2 art projects. These are great, and I see on her website that she has won an award for her 'explorers' print at an art show this month. Great Job girl!
  • The infamous Aunt Val has her own blog which she occasionally posts to, but has a great writing style when she does.
  • We've added some more books to our 'homeschool book wishlist'... you can also consider this a sort of book recommendation list... one book I just found that I LOVE, and I know that some of you would love too (although it's a children's picture book) is called The Paper Princess, by Elisa Kleven. It is written so beautifully and the illustrations are fabulous. It's about a paper princess that a little girl makes and then before she gets a chance to finish her hair, she floats away on the wind and has some adventures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Hills Are Alive....

...with the sound of music !!! Oh my, we just watched the Sound of Music with the kids this week and then checked the soundtrack out of the library and have been listening ad nasuem to the songs in the movie. What with Sound of music this week, and Mary Poppins last week, we are very well acquainted with Julie Andrews, and Elizabeth can do a beautiful english accent while singing her songs.

Zach especially loves to sing supercalifragalistic... over and over, and today elizabeth and I can't get 'do a deer, a female deer...' out of our heads. Have I given you the same joy by having them stuck in your heads too?

Seriously though, these movies are such a delight to us. We've discovered the fabulous resource of our library's dvd collection, and have been watching these great classics together. We haven't had to worry about bad language, scary parts or immoral bits that creep into even the most friendliest looking movies of today.

Anyone have any other recommendations for some old movies we might like to see? I really like the ones with songs in them so we can get the soundtracks too and then learn the music together.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Auntie Melissa!!

hmmm... well we tried to get a nice picture, but getting 3 kids under age 5 to sit still, look cute and stay in focus all at the same time is difficult at best.

we love you!!

Our Year so far...

It's hard to believe we've been doing school for 7 weeks already!! Today is day one of week 8. Here's how Elizabeth is learning:

-her drawing is getting really good. At the beginning of the year she was still drawing stick figures etc.. and afraid to try anything she didn't know how to do. Now she is following directions in books by herself and drawing the cutest things, and then improvising with things too. On Friday we were at homeschool group and she drew a picture of her sleeping in bed and it was really good!! the perspective of the bed is how she would see it when she walks into her room. (grandma jeri has it on her fridge because Elizabeth gave it to her).
-she is also enjoying her clay class once a week, as well as playing with modeling clay and playdough at home.

-she is very good at memorization, and has memorized the Angel of God prayer, and the Morning Offering. (she already knows the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Mealtime prayer and the Sign of the Cross).
-she has a beautiful childlike faith and adores her guardian angel (sherbet).
-she has learned about angels, the trinity, saint Francis, Moses.
-we have read bibel stories each day and are up to Samson.

-she has progressed very well so far with her writing. She can print all of the Upper-case letters very well and we are slowly working through the lowercase letters one at a time with proper strokes. The book we are using, Handwriting without tears, is excellent and will prepare her for later cursive writing, in how the letters are written. She is very neat in her letters now and can write MUCH faster than she could at the beginning of the year. (she used to take 10 minutes to write her name... and now she can do it very quickly).

-she is still on 3 letter short-vowel words, because we are working very slowly in 10 minute time slots. I want her to love reading so we aren't pushing this too fast. She is gaining in fluency from 2 months ago, but is still quite slow.
-she is very good at listening to the sounds in words though. Today we did an exercise where she had a picture of a word and had to write down the first letter and the last letter of the word. She didn't even hesitate on this exercise and did it quite quickly. This is a great precursor to spelling next year and in grade 2.
-she is also learning Right/Left and is still a bit shaky, but then so am I LOL.
-her comprehension is improving drastically though... For both things she reads herself, as well as books that I read to her.

-She has progressed very far in math in these last 2 months as well. She can now write all of her numbers 0-9 and can write and read numbers up to 999. She has learned about the 10s place and the hundreds place (in kindergarten terms) and is progressing slowly into addition in the next 2 weeks. She really enjoys math, and this program, Math-U-See has been an excellent choice for us.

-she has a beautiful voice and a very good sense of rhythm. She can memorize any song very quickly and sings all day long. She has learned about Tchaikovsky (who wrote swan lake, the nutcracker and sleeping beauty), and Handel (who wrote the messiah). She asks for these by name to listen to at home. :-)

Science and the rest of learning:
she is curious about everything and this is a joy to be a part of. She has learned about:
-carnivores, omnivores, and herbavores
-fall: leaves (leaf rubbings)
-how to make an apple pie
-how we get salt from salt water
-how to make hot chocolate
and many many more things each day...

Now we are off to the library to get some books on dogs so she can draw a dog picture and learn more about them.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Flower fairies

Yesterday Elizabeth:

- made a flower fairy out of modeling clay from a fun library book (mommy helped, but Elizabeth did most of the work... this is the fun stuff I love about homeschooling... we get to play together)
- practiced writing the letter Mm
- practiced building and reading 3 digit numbers
- practiced the guardian angel prayer and the morning prayer
- read more bible stories
- drew a picture of a purple and orange cow
- watched Heather learn how to crawl
- watched the begining of the Sound of Music with Daddy after dinner

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

For all of my family who is reading this, here is some pictures of thanksgiving this year. On Sunday night we went to grandma Leslie's and Grandpa Jack's house for dinner, and played Crokinole after dinner(very fun!), and then on Monday I cooked all day while Sean cleaned and occupied the kids for me.

For Monday's dinner we had: (all organic and very wholesome!!) homemade buns, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, home grown carrots, green beans with nutmeg, stuffing with sausage, Roast Turkey, fruit salad and of course apple pie and pumpkin pie.

I'm still aspiring to be like grandma sonia, but I haven't made it yet :-) A few minutes after putting the pumpkin pies in the oven I noticed a big measuring cup full of milk on the counter... hmmm.. I wonder what that was for? I wondered.
Out came the pies and in went the milk. (have you ever tried mixing milk into pie filling while it's already in the half-cooked shell? very messy and a bit gooey. LOL.
Grandma Sonia said it tasted great anyways, so I'm still happy :-)

Then after dinner, we played cards again, and I lost all my money this time.
aren't we cute? i'm just testing out a new feature with the photo prgram I use (picassa). I look surprisingly alert after having cooked a turkey dinner for 9 all day!

Looking at this picture, I can't believe that one day I will be teaching Heather how to do math and read and write too. She's so little... but I can remember Elizabeth being that small like it was yesterday.

In fact, Elizabeth was just a little bit older than Heather and sitting on my lap like that when I was listening to the radio on 9/11 that sad sad day. I'll always remember that... I was packing because we were about to move into our new house. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Apple pies and Dinosaurs

Well it feels like I haven't written in my blog forever LOL... We've been so busy all of last week and the weekend.

On last weds we visited my grandma and she taught us how to make a perfect apple pie, and pie crust. She is an amazing cook, and we all had great fun baking and sampling the goodies. This is a woman who when she was close to my age was working as the only cook in a lumber camp, cooking for 8 or 9 grown men every day! She can cook the best food, and she never uses a cook book!! I aspire to be like her one day. Everyone needs a grandma like my grandma Sonia.

On Friday, daddy had the day off, and so we packed up the family and drove off to the dinosaur museum in Drumheller. Elizabeth's kindergarten school board Phoenix organized the trip, so we got in for free. First we went on a guided hike in the badlands through the hoodoos, and then Elizabeth got to an interpretive program where they learned about carnivores, herbavores and omnivores. Then we got to wander through the museum and look at all of the cool exhibits. Both Elizabeth and Zachariah loved it... it hasn't changed since I was a kid. I think the last time I went through the museum was when we went with my cousins years and years ago (junior high or late elementary school?... hey Jenny, remember my song I made up when we were in the motor home? "I love the Cloooooooooouuuuuuuuudddddddsss in the sky.... I love the birrrrrrdddsss that fly so high. I love the WWWWOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRLLLLLLLLDDD. But.. I hate asparagus." (LOL funny, I like asparagus now)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Advice For Anyone Considering Homeschooling

A dear friend of mine is thinking of homeschooling, and since I took the time to write a very long response to her via email, I figured I'd post it here in case anyone else could benefit from it.

My long list of Homeschooling advice/ links for a new Catholic

The books and websites that have helped me
the most have been:

1) The
well trained Mind
(not catholic but very good)
This is a very
popular homeschooling book that explains the basics of a Classical Education.
(emphasizes the basics of reading, writing, math, and history and science). you
study history chronologically and in the older grades the kids are reading the
classics like Plato and Aristotle etc.. They study Latin and history. This
book is in the library (click on the link above), and you can buy it at chapters
or the homeschooling bookstores here in town We are loosely following
this. They recommend a whole curriculum from grade 1 to grade
12. On their Website they
have more resources including a message board that is helpful.
These authors
have also written a very good language arts program called First
Language Lessons
for grade 1 and 2. This is in the library. They
also have a history program for grades 1+ that's in the library too called Story
of the World
2) Designing
your Own Classical Curriculum
by Laura Berquist.
I have this book
and it is excellent and not as thick as the one above. Laura Berquist is a
Catholic and I really enjoyed her book. She tends to be more focused on
American history, so her material wasn't as useful to us as I had wanted, but
she has a website that
is very good, and she runs a 'school' where they will keep track of your work
and give you lesson plans, report cards, an advisor you can phone for help
etc.. (this is pretty $ and not really important until maybe you have a jr
high kid or a high schooler).

3) A
Charlotte Mason Companion
by Karen Andreola
Charlotte Mason was a school
teacher in Britain many decades ago, but she has had a big influence on the
homeschooling movement. She encourages the use of 'living' books instead
of text books. These would be real books written by people who are
interested in what they are writing.. i.e. for history, they could be historical
fiction books, autobiographies etc.. . Not boring textbooks
anyways. She also encourages the children to have very short lessons but
help them to focus on the habit of 'attention'. She also focuses a lot on
nature study and letting the kids get outside everyday. This is a good
website explaing her theories:
This is a really nice website with some very inspiring articles and a good forum
page where you can discuss homeschooling with other catholic moms. I have
never read her book but I really want to get it.

There is also a
website where 2 homeschooling moms have designed a FREE Catholic CURRICULUM
based on Charlotte Mason principles. It is found at and
I'm going to be looking more seriously at their suggestions next year.

4) Not a book that I've read, but a very gentle approach to
Catholic Homeschooling that is very popular: Catholic Heritage Curriculum. They have
lesson plans layed out for most of the grades, and excellent and inexspensive
curriculum that is thoroughly catholic. Here is a good review of their
lesson plans:

stuff is available at in

5) Some good message boards for hearing other people's
experience and asking questions:

Some good CAtholic Homeschooling websites:
excellent webiste that talks about catholic homeschooling and reviews all sorts
of curriculum and materials:
also see

7) Some
local Calgary/Alberta Resources:
a homeschooling magazine published in calgary every few months
Their website
has EXCELLENT resources for knowing about homeschooling in Alberta. Click
on HOmeschooling in Canada and then follow the menu to alberta. You can find out
about all the different school boards that you can register with, as well as you
can find out about alberta learnings curriculum. (if you want to follow what the
government is teaching.. we don't care ourselves, but some people like to know
what they are 'supposed' to be teaching each grade). the
Catholic hs support group in calgary an
alberta homeschooling info page

8) a List of Catholic
Homeschool 'Schools'
that you can register with or just use their curriculum
advice. If you register with them you get a teacher to help you with any
questions, they give you report cards and help you keep good records
(more important for jr high/highschool)

I've probably overwhelmed you by now, but these are all really good places to
start looking. What some people do if they really want to get their kids
out of the school system asap is they just start with a prepackaged curriculum
like Seton (see in 8 above) which is similar to normal school, and do that for
the year while they think about what to do the next year.

Grade 1
is very easy and there is only about 2-3 hours worth of work a day 4 days a week
at most that needs to be covered. So don't worry :-)

Look down in my august archives of my blog and you will see where
i've linked to all the curriculum that WE are using this year. I will use
different things next year probably, but we are enjoying what we have for

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Shopping for glasses

Tonight we went to the eye doctor and got a prescription for glasses. Elizabeth was so very brave when they put the eye drops in her eyes, and then she had lots of fun shopping for frames. We're going back tomorrow to finalize our choice. Isn't she cute?

We turned this into a science lesson and learned about how glasses are really like putting magnifying lenses up to your eyes, because they make things bigger. I showed her my glasses and we had fun looking through them at the letters on a page.
As well, she got a reading lesson at the eye doctors office when she got to 'read' the letters on the eye chart for him :-) Isn't homeschooling fun and so portable??

Feast of Saint Francis

Today is a special feast day, so we decided to do our schoolwork around that theme:

We read a book about St. Francis (Good Man of Assisi) noticing the wonderful illustrations.

We also looked up Assisi and Italy on our globe and talked about how Grandma Leslie was there this summer.

Then Elizabeth drew a beautiful and very creative picture of St. Francis talking to the birds (with a cat following him.... I'm not sure if the cat is following him to hear him speak about God too, or if he just wants a lunch of yummy birds ).

The picture she drew is great!! She decided to do a border around her picture like the illustrator in the book and decorated it with clouds and flowers. I love the detail in her tree and the birds. Then she narrated a short paragraph for me about Saint Francis and then practiced her handwriting by writing "Saint Francis, By Elizabeth" on the top of the page.

Monday, October 03, 2005

SNOW!!! (and salty hot chocolate)

Wasn't it just a few days ago I was talking about fall and how short it lasts?

This morning we had a nice snowfall!!
The kids were so excited that they had to go out and play right after breakfast. They got on their winter boots and jackets and mitts for the first time since winter, and they had so much fun collecting the snow off of the fence and the grass. It didn't last long as it's just hovering around the 0 degree mark, but they loved it nonetheless. I still remember as a child the joy that comes with the first snow and the itching to run outside and play in it.

While outside, they also thought it would be fun to splash in the water that has collected in our wheelbarrow... And consequently got very wet and very cold, so they came in with nice rosy cheeks and freezing fingers, and we made hot chocolate together.

Now that was an adventure in itself, because we are on dairy-free diets around here so we had to find a recipe:

1 cup milk (or milk substitute) 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs cocoa
2 tbs sugar

heat 'milk' on stove or in microwave

mix well

and enjoy...... (that is IF you put the right ingredients in LOL)

When it had cooled and I did a quick taste-test to see if it was cool enough, I nearly spit it out in surprise!!!!!! We had added salt instead of sugar. The kids laughed and laughed at my funny expression. Oh, it was very yucky indeed. Two whole tablespoons of sugar in only 1 cup of ricemilk. blech!

We made it again with the correct ingredients and it was very good. They giggled like only little kids can do while they sipped it out of coffee mugs and dribbled it all over their faces.