Saturday, January 30, 2010

Art/Nature with BOL pictures from 1-22

In our homeschool world we have tried to add a few activities to include all the ages.  

We were blessed to have one very nice day in the middle of January.

Fun Day!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What you see and What I see

What you see: When you look at this picture I suspect that you see a very messy back yard. You see play houses thrown together with sheets draped over the tops and paint drop clothes under the entrance. I suspect you might also see a large dog standing on a dilapidated picnic table. I wonder if you also see the Rubbermaid buckets and boards laid out in some sort of messy fashion.

What I see: Clearly this is a picture of the great castle in Narnia. There is a moat around the entrance like any great castle. I see tunnels and passages that lead to the thrones. I also see the Great Aslan looking over all His land.

What you see: In the front a that messy backyard some silly person has dug a hole and inserted a pole. This serve no purpose and the Pole will not even stand up properly.

What I see is the famous lamppost that leads the way for those that enter Narnia through the Wardrobe. It came from our world at the creation of Narnia and it grew from a piece stolen by the White Which. I see three daughters Eve posing near the lamppost knowing that it will help to guide them into this strange world.

What you see: I wonder if you see three silly siblings dressed in table clothes and playing with cheap plastic swords found at the dollar store.

What I see is Three Queens of Narnia practicing for battle. It is their job to defend this precious land. They will give their lives if asked to do so by the Noble Aslan.

What you see: A daring young child threatening her dear innocent mother with the cheapest of weapons.

What I see: A young Queen preparing for battle to defend her kingdom.

What you see: Neen's crazy children standing on that broken down picnic table.

What I see: The Royal Court greeting their subjects after defeating the enemy in battle, protecting all the land, and promising a lifetime of support to their dear friend Aslan. Narnia is safe again and it is now time for rejoicing and celebrating.

For Aslan!

We always try to sit down on New Years Eve and Catch a series of movies. This year we watched The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie. Then we searched the house thinking that we owned Prince Caspian. In the end we didn't own it and we couldn't find in to rent at 9 p.m. on New Years Eve. The next day after the Holiday J and I had to visit the store and while there picked up the next movie. We all sat down again and fell in love with the fantasy and excitement. While watching the movies this time I kept my lap-top out and started sharing with the children all the references to the Christian Faith that are hidden in these stories. This really got us all thinking and it was agreed that we would watch both movies again when it got close to the release of the third movie, due out December of 2010.

Then the Holidays ended and it was time to for us the buckle down and get back to our school work. This is not an easy task considering how busy we were before the Holidays. We had so many life lessons that our hearts still ache from the death and the people we miss. You can only let that get to you for so long when you just need to move on, but how. It is hard to create order when you FEEL nothing but unrest and disorder in your soul. A trick I learned years ago that always helps this home schooling family get back on track is to pick one great story and start reading it aloud. I love how this gives the family something to rally behind. The pain and growth might mirror our lives but it isn’t ours. We can close the book when we need to. This does inspire the other order and learning. It always follows a good read. I don’t know why but I have learned to trust it.

So I was packing books up to take to the resale shop and the collection of Narnia books fell out. They are too old to resale. They are falling apart. It seams like divine providence though. We wanted to read the series before December and the Third Movie. We are very Narnia inspired right now due to viewing of the two movies over our New Year Holiday. We were looking for the right book to ease us back into “real” school work. I also started the other blog where I was reading all about the Creation of Earth and the Fall of Man. (Perfect correlation to the Magician’s Nephew.) We needed a story that would appeal to mom, so I would keep interested, the older kiddos, the middle age kiddos and even the young ones. This is a hard role to fill and the perfect books were handed to us, or fell out at us.

So we grabbed the books, I did a little research, printed off appropriate free coloring pages and worksheets. Monday morning came around the week after New Year and even though we were not quit ready to get started 100% we did start with a read aloud with some coloring sheets. Having previous knowledge of Narnia and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe we decided to start our read with the Magician’s Nephew. As the week went on and our reading during the early morning of what would become school time encouraged us all. Reading books aloud tends to unite the family. I love that.

I admit that it worked so much better than I ever could have imagined. A few days later we added handwriting and phonograms for the younger kiddos right back in. As the weeks go on we continue to add another subject back to the daily grind. So If you are looking for something that can unite and inspire the kiddo to buckle down and get back to work try a read a loud and if you really want to get them moving try CS Lewis’s series of the Chronicles of Narnia. Your faith with be inspired, the desire to read will be ignited in your children, and your soul will be filled with the wonder and hope that come from this series.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Where is Baby Jesus!"

Mind you that is said with frustration and with a mother's tone . . ."Where is Baby Jesus?"  That statement is sometimes followed by "Why can't you just leave the poor baby alone?"  One of my better crazier statements as a mother, "Come on guys, He died for you, why do you have to play with Him?" (I know, what the heck does that mean?)

I know that sounds so bad but as a Catholic mom I struggle with loving our nativity sets and all of their Christmas beauty.  J and I have taken a few trips over the years and we always try to come back with an ornament for our tree and new nativity set that has the flavor of the area we visited.  You would be surprised how different a set from Mexico is from a set from Canada.  Often they are not very costly just beautiful in their own rite.  I enjoy them more than anyone else.  Now I look for ones that will be harder to break.

When we first married I was blessed to get a couple things from both our moms.  J's mom gave us a tree topper that I hope never breaks.  It is a Holy Mary Tree Topper.  It isn't exactly like the one pictured here.  It is a little more simple just plain fabrics of blue and white with Mary holding the baby.  It has lights around the base of her dress and under the child.  A night it sets the tree off beautifully.  Hopefully I can search out a picture of her.  I just love it so much.

The other cool gift was the one that I got from my mom.  She started me on a collection of a Fontanini set.  I loved these because they very durable.  They are beautiful.  Over the next few years she grew my collection to be about 14 pieces or so.  I have the family, the wise men, the shepherds, animals and angels. 

Years go by and the set has held up pretty well.  I should have been more protective of it but I love that the children interact with the holy family.  I love that this set is very durable and that they can do this without much damage.  Now that our sets have grown in numbers the kids like that set the best.  It is the one they get to play with.

In recent years we have had a harder and harder time keeping track of our dear baby Jesus.  It is not a stretch that Jason or I will walk into the room and can be heard screaming after we notice that Batman is on top of the manger and that Mary is resting in the front seat of a Barbie car, and the baby Jesus is now where to be seen.  We often conduct searches until we locate the little one.  Some times He is found with the Barbie girls, sometimes He is on a mission with the army men, sometimes He in church (or the candy shop) of our miniature village.  This year he has spent some time with the Toy Story people and hanging out with Jumba.  Apparently Jumba likes to take the Baby Jesus on a tour of our home.

The best moments are when you catch a conversation.  Baby Jesus is always baby Jesus, for some reason they never pretend that He is someone elses baby.  I love that.  So you can hear, "So Jesus do you like the Wii, which game should we play?"  or "Jesus stand clear, I will protect you, well unless you want to make the bad guy disappear."  You really just never know how Jesus will respond.  I am always amazed that he is always Him.

All of our decorations have been picked up but not packed up and put away.  The outside lights just needed to be moved to attic along with the trees and ornaments.  Today we did that and started the longer process of wrapping our beloved Santas, Snowmen, and Nativity Sets for their long summer nap until the next Holiday season.  Sure enough when putting the Fontanini set away we can't find Baby Jesus.  So in my house I could be heard screaming, "Where is Baby Jesus?  Does anyone know Where is Baby Jesus?"  The sad thing is that Pickles replied with full knowledge of what I was asking.  "I don't know mom, but the last time I saw Him He was playing with Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb."

I am going to assume that He will show up when we are finished packing and when He is finished playing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anyone Can Cook!

"Anyone can cook!" says  Gusteau from Disney children's film Ratatouille.  This is a cute movie that we have watched a few times over the past few years.   Dad was out of town and the kiddos and I sat down (on a cold winter's night) to this flick.  It is a very appropriate movie for us right now.

One of my new years resolutions is to cook more.  Now I did say resolution.  I have heard others rename this tradition to creating goals or dreams for the year.   I myself have goals but I am trying to add a tad more meaning to what I try to change about myself.  They are not just dreams about a new me but something that I have committed to.  They are resolutions after all and according to Wikipedia the definition is:  "A New Year's resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit,  often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year's Day."

So I resolved to try to be more organized when it comes to feeding my children .  I also resolved to learn more about cooking.  My motivation for this resolution is two fold.  The first being financial.  I spend too much money running to the store for that nights meal or even worst running out to get something fast.  With a family our size a quick trip to even the cheapest fast food place is an investment of around $40.  I want my children to enjoy the treat of eating out every now and again but I certainly don't want it to be the norm.  The other aspect is my desire and need to learn more about cooking.

I say need because my husband is traveling more and more with his job leaving us at home for longer periods of time.  I used to think that he cooked just to help a busy mom out but as I try more and more I just think that he likes his own cooking.  It isn't that he doesn't like mine but that he cooks when his mood is and so he is needing to adjust the my whims more.  That will not hold true if we get better at organizing ahead of time.

Where to begin?  This has proven to be the most difficult part of the entire endeavor.  I quickly became overwhelmed at the end of last month while I tried to prepare for this change in my life, actually our lives.  I turned to the best source I know about, my homeschool mom friends.  We started a mom's meal planning club with our very own yahoo site.  We met and just shared ideas.  I must admit that half way through that meeting I realized that I was not leaving with a super year plan but some great ideas that I can work to incorporate.  Like any other resolution this will not be one that I can say I am working on or not working on in any given day.  I am pushing myself and my family to a complete lifestyle change.  Maybe not complete, everyone will still eat.

I will talk about some of those ideas as I proceed but for me the first place to start was realizing that cooking doesn't mean everything has to come from scratch.  There are a few foods that might be cheaper already prepared or that the time involved is so great that it is worth the extra money.  I needed to really redefine my resolution before even getting started.  Even though I loved the movie "Julie and Julia" I don't have the time, the money and the knowledge to dive into Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1.  Maybe next year but for now I am starting off very simple.

The mom's helped me define my thoughts on thinking.  We chatted about differeent methods and different staples that I know little about.  I need to learn.  They would begin talking about adding a specific spice to something and I would think, "How do they know that?"  I will dive into that in February.

January's portion of the resolution was to try to adapt how I shop.  I need to be smarter about this.  One mom shared a wonderful resource that she has created for herself.  She organized a shopping list by what they normally purchase and it is laid out according to where the item in located.  She has more than one version for the different layouts of the places she shops.  I love that, thank you Katie.  My older kiddos want to create our own list as our needs are a little different from her family's needs.

Another idea that these ladies shared was that planning should come in small burst not a month at a time.  They also being open to waiting to see what is on sale at the store.  Another idea is to make about 5 or 6 weeks worth of weekly menu's then rotating them.  Friends have winter sets and summer sets depending on the weather.  Another friend can not do that because she likes more variety.  She prefers to write a schedule then fill in with old and new recipes.  So her plan might look like: Sunday - Italian, Monday - Sea food; Wednesday - soups; or something like that.  I can use this idea the most as I try to learn more about "real cooking".  If you have any others words of wisdom or ideas that you use please feel free to leave a comment.  I am trying to learn here and I can use all the ideas you might have.

If you have made a similar resolution and don't have a little rat to help you in the kitchen then know that I have said a prayer for you.  I do believe that "Anyone can cook" but I also know that it takes skill, knowledge, work and practice.   I will never be Julia Child but when I need inspiration I plan to pull out the movie about her.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

9 Texas T's+ 9 Snows = Wonderful Lifelong Friendships

So about 20 years ago there were two couples in different parts of the country each taking vows in the church. Both couples dreamed of the family that God would provide and trusted in that mission. Each couple stood before God, in the arms of His awesome Catholic Church and smiled when the priest asked them,
"Will you accept children from God lovingly and bring them up according to the
law of Christ and his Church?"

Each couple said, "Yes!" (I think that is when God smiled!)

Just look at how wonderful it can be when you say yes to God and trust in Him over the next 20 years:

I have been so blessed in my life to have always been surrounded by great people. I have had so many more friends than one person should ever be blessed with. God has been so generous to me. I love each and every one through out the years. One such friend that has touched me greatly on and off the past 10 years is my dear friend Krysten. She has been one of those people that I connect with on a deep level without much effort. She has said things over the years that have stayed in the back of my head and helped me through bad times and find direction when I needed it.

We both love our homeschooling days and yet can relate when we are frustrated. We both have tons of laundry but get through it and are thankful for all the clothes. We both worry about our children and care for them until we are exhausted. We both are selfish enough to long for alone time with our husbands. We both value faith most of all and desire to instill that in our children. We both love the comforts that the world has to offer but balance that with being willing to offer up anything for a pour soul in purgatory. We both try to save our family money any way we can so we can plan fun adventures. We both enjoy board games and movie nights with our families.

We both like to laugh at the world, our children and ourselves. We both love to laugh.

We both love to watch our 18 year old children take care of their younger siblings. We both giggle when we are corrected by the 16, 15, 14, or 13 year old on how we should be parenting.

We both watch other families count out the number of children in our families and smile. We are both amazed that often people loose count around 5 and can't seam to add all the way to 9 not to mention the reaction when we are together with all 18.
We constantly chase, change, look for, explain to, and/or love on the nearest child within reach.We both love how our children blend together into a mix of happy, unselfish, loving, homeschooled, Catholic, teens and little ones that out shine any group or family we encounter.

We both love that the "hottest" item in our group is the youngest one. Everybody loves the baby. We love the sense of adventure and play that exist within each family. We love that even a big hill can entertain 18 children for an hour without an issue.
We love the fact that we have so many children together that you can't see both ends in these pictures.

We love that after 5 years of not seeing each other our kids were able to hit it off again. We loved that the little ones that had never met were playing together within minutes of meeting. We loved that the big kiddos were sharing stories and swapping tales within an hour or rekindling friendships.

We love that we met each other, became friends, and can go 5 years without seeing each other and then continue our friendship right where it was put on hold when they moved out of town. Most of all we love each other, each others families and our good God that has allowed us to spend precious time together again!
Just look at how happy and beautiful those 20 people are. You don't find that with every family or every friend. The Snows are special people. We love you guys!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Join me on a journey through the Bible

One of my goals for years has been to read through the Bible. Last semester the LifeTeen group at our parish dove into Scripture study again reminding me of this lofty goal. A few years back a friend sent a link to a "read the bible" in a year website that included readings from the old and new Testament every day. I couldn't keep up but did keep the link on the computer telling myself I would go back eventually. If it was too much with 8 children then it would be too much with 9 bigger children that need to be driven all over the world.

Not giving up on my desire I woke up the other morning with the idea for a blog. I will read so much every day and post the reading and my reflections. Maybe no one will ever comment or even read what I am writing. That will not bother me one bit. I have "published" this desire and the blog so as to keep myself accountable. Time will tell . . .

It all starts with a post Do Catholics Read the Bible? Give it a read and considering joining me in my daily journey.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I used to dance around my room and pretend that it was New Years Eve and that I was all grown up. In my dream I was dancing with the most handsome man laughing and enjoying myself like only grown ups do. Then I grew up and my handsome man is not much for a night out dancing.

Tonight, like almost every New Years Eve for the past 20 years, was quiet and with family.

It included movies, chicken wings, the entire family, and lots of love. Granted my dream has not come true but reality is much better!!
Thank you God for all the blessings of 2009. Thank you for all the heartache of the past year that has taught me how to find you. Please grant my family a year in which we continue to grow closer and closer to You. I pray that for all my friends and family while also wishing them health, wealth and happiness!

Welcome 2010
and all the joy contained within.