"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pretty Summer Yummy

Isn't it almost too pretty to eat?

Want some of your own?

3 Roma tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, chopped
2 avocados, cubed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can shoepeg (white) corn
1 4 oz can diced green chilies, mild
salt & pepper to taste
¼ c olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, diced

Combine first six ingredients. Combine last 4 ingredients and pour over other ½ hour prior to serving. Take a picture. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

(Thanks, Janet, for this recipe! I think of you every time I make it, which is often.)

Friday, August 27, 2010


We have, in the past, had a pencil problem (or more than one pencil problem, depending on how you look at it).

Pencils on the floor that no one knows how got there.

Missing pencils that no one can find.

Broken pencils that no one cares about.

Un-sharpened cheap pencils that constantly break during sharpening.

Pencils without erasers.

A pencil that someone is currently using that someone else was using earlier and claims as his or her own, causing a fight over said pencil.

All of this pencil mayhem delays our schoolwork (and, frankly, makes this Mama want to pull her hair out).

This year I vowed we would have no such problems. no such delays.

Each child gets 12 expensive quality pencils for the school year. each set of pencils is a different color. and embossed with said child's name.

Let peace reign!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Daybook - August 24, 2010

Outside my windows... I took this picture of the moon right after I got out of bed this morning.

I am listening to... classical music playing on The Baby's mobile through the baby monitor.

I am thinking... that I am allergic to something in the air here.

I am thankful for... our new community and our new friends.

I am hoping and praying... for a peaceful school year.

From the kitchen... the breakfast, lunch, and snack menus for the school year are done! I also completed a master grocery shopping list for all of the items on these menus and a food pyramid worksheet for each child to begin our nutrition study when school starts. (I also made one for me!) We are focusing on adding more whole grains and more vegetables to our menu.
Monday Breakfast: broccoli, green onion, and cheese fritata, whole wheat toast with fruit preserves, milk
Monday Snack: whole grain crackers with hummus, grapes
Monday Lunch: soft tacos (whole wheat tortillas, beef, refried beans, cheese, spinach, and tomatoes), milk

Tuesday Breakfast: whole wheat zucchini-carrot muffins with raisins and walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, bananas, milk
Tuesday Snack: mini rice cakes with peanut butter and apple slices
Tuesday Lunch: whole wheat macaroni and cheese with hot dogs and frozen mixed vegetables, milk

Wednesday Breakfast: scrambled eggs with hashbrowns, cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and red pepper in a whole wheat tortilla, orange pieces, milk
Wednesday Snack: yogurt with granola and nuts
Wednesday Lunch: breaded chicken tenderloins, rotini with pesto, broccoli, milk

Thursday Breakfast: whole wheat English muffins with egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese, vegetable juice
Thursday Snack: mini wheat bagels, celery with peanut butter and raisins
Thursday Lunch: hobo soup (tomato base with ground beef and mixed vegetables), whole wheat crackers, milk

Friday Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal with raisins and sunflower seeds, milk
Friday Snack: dried fruit, nuts, popcorn, and m&ms
Friday Lunch: tuna and cream cheese on wheat bread, pickles, carrots, celery, milk

Saturday Breakfast: the kids make their own from a list of approved choices
Saturday Snack: the kids choose from a list of approved choices
Saturday Lunch: leftovers

Sunday Breakfast: buckwheat and flax seed pancakes with fruit, hashbrowns with onions and peppers, sausage, ham, or bacon, milk and juice
Sunday Snack and Lunch: to be determined according to our plans
From the schoolroom... the books have been ordered and the master schedule made. Everyone is looking forward to the fall routine. (And I do mean everyone -- the kids are asking if we can start school earlier than I had planned!)

I am creating... our school supply shopping list and our lesson plans for the first two weeks of school.

I am reading... Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West and Bold Journey: West with Lewis and Clark.

Noticing that ... the longer I live in the country the more appealing it becomes. It is so refreshing to awaken to the sounds of cows and crickets rather than sirens and drunk college kids.

Around the house...
it's time to get the school room organized.

One of my favorite things... order and routine.

Pondering these words ... (To all you mommies with little ones, preparing for a new school year, this is definitely worth the time it takes to read it -- a new perspective for a new year! And a reminder I can't live without.)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Continue working on preparations for the new school year. Coffeecake with new friends Thursday morning. Mass and muffins with the local Catholic homeschoolers Friday morning. Young Adults gathering Saturday night.

Some picture-thoughts I am sharing: with my Gramma on our trip to Minnesota last weekend.

For more daybooks, visit here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New School Year -- Decisions Made

“The attainment of heaven with the greatest possible sanctity is our ultimate goal for each of our children. That has been the fundamental, guiding principle in the education of our children. We measure and choose everything -- every book, every activity, every opportunity -- with that end in mind. After that, we’d like to see our children lead happy, productive adult lives, lives that in some way contribute to the building of a Christian culture. Confident that God has a plan beyond comparison for each of our children, we make every possible effort, fueled with much prayer, to provide enriching opportunities for forming gentle, humble hearts; disciplined wills; selfless, trusting attitudes; and enlightened minds. Whatever their chosen vocation might be, we hope that when they’re called, their hearts will be ready.”
Cynthia Blum "Character-Building and Academic Readiness: The Early Years"
I just finished putting together my plan for our new school year and ordering what I had left to order in the way of books and resources. (Yeah!)

The Girls are very. excited. to start this year. We are using this:

We really enjoyed doing another literature-based program for all of our language arts subjects last year, but The Prairie Primer will include not only our reading, comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, and creative writing, but also our science, history, geography, art, music, and some religion and virtue study. What better way to start our new life on the prairie! And who doesn't love the "Little House" books?

The Prairie Primer does not include a formal grammar study, and learning and using proper grammar is important to me and to my husband in the education of our children. It is difficult (for me, too!) to speak correctly when few others seem concerned at the butchering of the English language. I am often appalled at the mistakes I notice in professional writing and correspondence and every day speech. And my husband often laments the poor writing quality of his college students. In order to reinforce good grammar skills, The Girls are going to spend a few minutes each day doing a Daily Language Review and some Daily Paragraph Editing.

We will also continue to use ShillerMath as we have the past two years. (I love this program because it's Montessori-based with lots of manipulatives, and it's also scripted!)

We'll supplement the Bible and virtue study in The Prairie Primer with some Catholic lapbooks and our normal liturgical year celebrations. We're also going to take a break from the Faith and Life series and focus on the saints this year. I've purchased a study guide from Race for Heaven for Mary Fabyan Windeatt's saint biographies and also the Once Upon a Time Saints books.

Speaking of lapbooks, we've never done any before, but I think it's something my kids will really enjoy. In addition to religion, we'll also supplement our geography and history with a North Dakota lapbook and a Lewis and Clark lapbook -- getting to know our new home.

The Girls, since moving, have each decided to get an e-mail address in order to stay in touch with their friends. Both are eager to learn to type faster, and so this year we are incorporating some keyboarding practice into their daily routine. I was very excited to find some on-line keyboarding games (and I only wasted half an hour trying them all out!).

Finally, we'll continue with our Latin studies, moving on to Latina Christiana I. We'll also start more seriously studying Italian (though I'm not sure how yet), in the hopes of an extended visit to Italy some time in the next couple of years.

The Boy will join The Girls for many subjects this year, but he'll do his own math (Shiller) and his own language arts program, which we sat down and looked at together yesterday. He wanted to start right away! That's a good sign, right?

To all you homeschooling mommies out there, you are in my prayers -- may your school year begin with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may you find peace in the many decisions made, and may love and joy abound in your homes!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The Kids helped clean all day yesterday.

They each packed their own clothes.

I stayed up late packing the van and making sure everything was ready to go.

I got up early this morning to take a shower and pick up the house for my DH who is staying at home to work on his dissertation.

The Kids woke excited to drive back to Saint Paul to see friends and dance at Irish Fair.

We got in the van.

It wouldn't start.

We're waiting for a tow truck.

Everyone is bummed. super. bummed.

(Please say a little prayer that this is a quick, inexpensive fix and we can still make our trip.)

UPDATE: We made it. We left two and a half hours, $117, and a new battery later. Thanks for the prayers. Stay tuned for pictures from our trip.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, B!

Thirty-two years ago today I became a big sister for the first time.

Happy birthday, Little Brother!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Along the Road

I spent the first half of my day today 
working on an appeal of a marriage nullity case to Rome.

I spent the second half of my day 
working on plans for the new school year.

By dinner time I was fried. 



After dinner, I took The Baby down the road to get our mail.

While I lament not having a garden again this year, 
I am thoroughly enjoying the wild prairie that grows along our road --

hearing the grasses rustling in the wind,

smelling the warm pines,

taking in the colors -- bright red and deep green,

sunny orange and emerald.

I love the daisies,

and the thistles,

in varying stages of bloom,

and, oh, the sunflowers!

The Baby enjoyed her explorations too -- 

feeling the warm sun,

touching the grasses

and flowers,

And I enjoyed my daughter's wonder, and her antics.

Along the road, I am renewed.

I am ready for bed.

I am ready for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An Encounter


The first sentence of today's Gospel reads, "A man came up to Jesus and went down on his knees before him." This is the proper response to any encounter with our Lord. We Catholics know this. We bow before the altar. We genuflect before the tabernacle. We fall on our knees before the Eucharistic Presence of our Lord.

But how often is this devotion authentic adoration, and how often is it a more automatic response, something we've been trained to do? How often are we really aware of Who it is we are encountering?

I just finished reading the second chapter of Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth. This chapter is entitled "The Temptations of Jesus." I read the following:
If we had to choose today, would Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, the Son of the Father, have a chance? Do we really know Jesus at all? Do we understand him? Do we not perhaps have to make an effort, today as always, to get to know him all over again? The tempter is not so crude as to suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision, that we choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world, where God may have his place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes.
There is a lot here to think about, to pray about, but the passage struck me. Do I really know Jesus at all? Yes, I am a theology graduate. Yes, I work for the Church. But, do I really know Jesus? Do I let Him "interfere in my essential purposes" or do I try and control every aspect of my life? Do I live what I believe -- that Jesus is my Lord and Master?

I have resolved this school year to pray for an increased devotion to the Eucharist. I have resolved to find ways to foster this devotion in my children, to teach them the whys of their bows and genuflections, to teach them love and adoration, not just mechanics. In order to do this, I must "make an effort ... to get to know [my Lord] all over again." Every day. I must encounter our Lord in Scripture and in Sacrament. I must make an effort to teach my children how to get to know Jesus. I must teach them more than facts -- how does one fall in love with facts? Children need encounters.

So, my question to you, dear readers, is how do you foster love for Our Lord in your family? At what age do you start bringing them to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (for more then a quick visit)? How do they spend their time there? How do you approach a church where the tabernacle in hidden from view? Simply put, how do you and your family "go down on your knees before Him"? How do you love Our Lord?



For the past month we have been watching the original Star Wars trilogy with the three older kids. I haven't seen the films in I don't know how long and the kids have never seen them. We started watching Return of the Jedi last night and I discovered, to my amazement, that I have never. seen. this. movie. I remembered the first two as we were watching them, but I have no recollection of any of the events in Return of the Jedi. Unbelievable!

UPDATE: We just finished Return of the Jedi. I know for certain that I have never seen this movie. Can you believe I did not know Darth Vader ended up on the good side!?! Unbelievable! What a great movie!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Press Release

Read all about my DH and his new job right here. I'm so proud of him!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - New Tricks, New Treats, New Hats

New Trick:
Look carefully -- see the jump rope?

New Treat:
Rice Krispie Bars

New Favorite:
Potato Salad

New Hat

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Orlando Recap

I realized with all the busyness of our move that I never posted any pictures from our jaunt to Orlando.

The Older Girl and I had a great trip. Our flights were without incident. Our accommodations at Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort were fabulous. It rained quite a bit the first two days, but it didn't bother us at all -- it was very warm and the grounds were beautiful.

We both had fun at the pool and on the water slide.

The Girl even got to spend some time swimming with her friends from her old dance school in Milwaukee, who were also in Orlando for Nationals.

Though she didn't place as well as she had hoped in her competition, competing at the national level as a nine-year-old is a big deal.

And Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom was a good distraction after her disappointment. Her favorite rides were the Tomorrowland Speedway, which we did twice.

And Splash Mountain, which we got to ride three times -- the last time because the park was closing in five minutes and there was no one else in line, so they let us ride twice in a row!

Other than the stress of a daughter competing in a major competition, which really was stressful for me, the rest of the trip was quite relaxing. I didn't have to cut anyone's food or wash anyone's hair or make a meal or make a bed. I had the most self-sufficient of my children with me, so it was more a vacation than a family trip.

And, as you parents of many children realize, it is rare to have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time with any one child. My four days with my oldest daughter will be a time I will always treasure.