Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Able Assistant

Yesterday as I was decorating gingerbread cookies for Bible study, Becca decided she wanted to help. Warm, wonderful, and welcoming (hah!) mother that I am, I said, "Sure! Hop right up here!" If only...

I had a cookie plan, and although it was proceeding slowly, it was proceeding MY way. I did not want a mess-maker or a helper who needed help or a companion who would cry when her artwork didn't meet her expectations (believe me, it's happened before).

Fortunately, child #6 is persistent. I succumbed, she washed her hands, pulled up a stool, and produced these:
No fuss, no complaints--just pleasant chatter and shared sprinklings. The child is five!
My design is less complicated, but it was surprisingly time consuming to get the sugar to completely cover the icing (inside, outside, on top). The end result was certainly bright!
Lesson learned? Maybe. I hope so.
Post script: Rebecca wanted everyone to see her cookies, but did not want them eaten at Bible study. Her solution? "How about if you take a picture and put it on your blog?" ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010


I taught our writing co-op (14 students, grades 4-9) again this week. It was a lively class; we brainstormed/outlined two paragraphs. Then I erased the outlines so we could write a paragraph. I had filled almost the entire board before realizing that somehow I was now writing with a permanent marker. Aargh!

I hunted the internet for solutions. The best bet so far seems to be "Spot Shot" carpet cleaner (which we happen to have) rubbed off with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Len added some elbow grease, and the board has progressed to the hazy stage. I'll try another treatment in attempt to achieve complete cleanliness.

Not exactly the kind of teaching moment I'd been hoping for... ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 37

We're almost caught up with the "Jesus Tree" readings and ornaments. Even for Rebecca, most of the stories aren't new, but they give us another chance to pray with scripture, always a good thing.

We're in the home stretch now. How's your Lent going?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dinner with Joe

Cooking a meal with a child can be a time consuming project. Joseph's dinner, rescheduled twice, ended up mid-week, so we planned quicker but still tasty fare.

Tonight's menu: shrimp scampi, peas with pine nuts,
fresh fruit salad,and Moosewood fudge brownies.
As they say on A Prairie Home Companion, "tasty and expeditious!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small Successes


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

Last week I didn't pray enough to "earn" much online time. Truth be told, I had several busy and/or gloomy days that would have kept me from posting anyway. Happily, life is looking up and I have a bit of good news to share:
  1. Yesterday the homeschoolers and I made it to Confession and 20 minutes of Adoration, keeping us on track with our family Lenten commitment.
  2. We also managed two short visits to our schoolroom "annex", a nearby playground. We ride bikes and combine some work and play.
  3. I've taught two classes of our writing co-op and today finished correcting and returning work to the other families. This co-op has been such a blessing; I love the IEW program but on my own have never been able to stick with it for more than a few months.
To be inspired by other moms, visit Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Not Official Yet...

...but it sure feels like spring!

Today we made our first visit of the season to our schoolroom annex (aka the playground). When Marianna asked, I obliged with a reluctant "Yes", but later was oh-so-glad. We all enjoyed our combination of workand play. Check out Becca's trail-gator above--she was whooping with glee whenever we rode fast enough.
I thought my morning walks had kept me in decent shape, but biking is different. I was huffing and puffing up some miniscule slopes ("Pedal, Becca, pedal!").

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaching Moment

Right now Lauren is spending her spring break in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, as part of the Mayan Arts Program. She and her fellow students are teaching art to elementary students in a remote highland village. (Remote in geography and culture--there are two translators per class--English to Spanish and Spanish to the local dialect!)

As part of her course work (this is a class she had to compete to enter) Lauren will also be learning crafts from the local women (probably weaving). When she returns, she'll create a reaction project, probably a book or photo exhibit.

Anyway, the program has a website and blog. There's not much posted there right now, but you can check it out here if you're interested. (Actually, scroll up and down a bit--Len just noticed that some days are posted out of chronological order.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Conversation With God

This book (I own the Lent/Eastertide edition) is marvelous! Whenever I read it, I find myself underlining quotes or scribbling notes in a journal.

Today's topic is God's particular love for me and my response. It's a message I've heard frequently lately. Such timeless advice:

"The way we love God is shown in the way we live charity with those who are beside us in our day-to-day lives."

Duh. But it requires being mindful and prayerful to actually carry out. I am reminded of a long ago essay by Elizabeth, "It's All About Love."
Another stand-out quote for me today: "When we rise to repond to God's love, the obstacles disappear; on the other hand, without love even the tiniest difficulty sems insuperable. If there is union with the Lord, everything becomes tolerable."

Len and St. Francis de Sales both try to remind me that the annoyances of the day can be transformed (by my attitude towards them) into opportunities for growth, grace, and prayer. I haven't picked an inspirational word for the year, but maybe it should be mindfullness, by which I mean making conscious (and Godly) choices about my actions and attitudes. Hmmm....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Context: Martin Luther King, Jr.

We're studying American history this year, and finished up the Civil War last week. Inspired by a fifth grade teacher, I borrowed all 5 discs of Ken Burns' PBS series from the library. Joseph, Marianna, and I spent weeks (the series is over eleven hours long!) watching, listening, and learning. With pauses for discussion and review, we all absorbed a lot of information.

Anyway, when we finished the dvds, we covered the era of Reconstruction. Then instead of moving on chronologically, we jumped ahead to the Civil Rights era and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Civil War and Reconstruction should have given all races equality in America, but that's not how it turned out. One hundred years later, the fight was active again.

Our library has an audiotape of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. It's stirring and poetic and inspiring, and I can't wait to listen to it again.

In preparation, the three of us are reading a biography of MLK. I'm not patient enough to read it aloud (it's too long, and I want to keep moving), so we're sharing the book for our quiet time (the homeschoolers have a minimum of 30 minutes of approved/school topic reading each day).

Together, we're reading another book (Becca, too): I Have a Dream by Scholastic Press. It contains the entire text of the speech, along with paintings by 15 different artists. I highly recommend this book! We covered the first half today, analyzing and explaining
  • the meaning (the promissory note and the bank of justice),
  • the poetry (Why does he repeat "one hundred years later" four times in one long sentence?),
  • the context (explaining his urging of nonviolence with the picture of ketchup being poured on people sitting-in at a lunch counter),
  • the Biblical references ("I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."),
  • and the symbolism (Why does he begin with "Fivescore years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation."?)
We'll finish up tomorrow and then Friday listen to the speech while reading along (as I remember it, the tape is scratchy). Reading and analyzing is educational, but actually hearing that preacher proclaiming will touch our hearts.

I know lots of folks study MLK in January, around his birthday, but his life and efforts will make more sense to my students right now, when the Civil War and its aftermath are still fresh in their minds.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big Girl

The bangs are grown. The tooth is gone. And I do mean gone--she swallowed it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happy Birthdays

Daniel turned 15 more than a week ago, but the celebrating continues...

The day before, he went skiing with a friend (our gift over midwinter break). On his actual birthday, Dan's aunt took him out to lunch and then to a movie. The following Sunday we had a family dinner chosen by Daniel, complete with the official blowing out of candles. Today we'll enjoy a meal at Grammy and Grandpop's house to celebrate the February and March birthdays of our clan--six out of fourteen of us! Last Sunday I took Marianna and Rebecca to Aaliyah's first birthday party. They love this little girl, and are thrilled with any chance to see her and her mama. I'm glad we're still in touch, too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Small Successes: Teamwork


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

Today I realized that my accomplishments are frequently due to teamwork or outright gifts from others. For example, this week:
  1. Thanks to my teens, I had a discount babysitter available on Saturday so Len and I could go out to dinner, and a driver to tae kwon do yesterday who gave me an hour and a half of free time. Okay, I used it to clean the kitchen and make dinner, but otherwise we might have eaten sandwiches in the midst of chaos!
  2. A friend took Rebecca to the insect zoo and butterfly pavilion at the Smithsonian on Wednesday.
  3. And today, 4 drivers cooperated to get 14 children from 6 families to and from 7 destinations in under 3 hours (including the evening rush)! Don't you wonder how we got anyone anywhere before cell phones? I've been a parent long enough to remember not owning one!
Read about the successes of other moms over at Faith and Family Live.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Just this weekend I read some of Ann's posts at Holy Experience about saying, "Yes," to God and to her family.

So when Rebecca asked me if she could paint this afternoon, I said yes. Even though it was (I thought) just half an hour until dinner. Even though we had the four hour orchestra expedition coming up.

I was even prompt and cheerful with water changes and paint refills.
I'm not looking for kudos or congratulations; this is how I should behave. It's just that, often, I don't.

So much of parenting, of love, is about being mindful.