Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hello again....

and Happy Spring!

It's been quite a while since I've posted.  I've been wrapped up in other things in real life, and something had to give.  But I'm back now, and I'm trying to freshen things up here a bit.

Hope you are enjoying this birds chirpin', flowers bloomin', warm breeze blowin', seed plantin' time of year.  I, for one, am LOVING it.

Evan's 1st picks of Spring for mommy.

Some more picks from Evan, although these ones were meant to stay in the ground.  That's okay, he was just tryiing to be sweet.  :)

Enjoying an unseasonably warm winter day at the park.

70 degrees in winter?!  LOVE it.


Make it SPECIAL!

Be back soon!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Christmas Gift

Alexa got a new apron for Christmas.  I made it for her.  I guess you could say I cheated.  Okay, I cheated, bigtime.  It was an already sewn, denim apron.  I just "customized" it for her, but she appreciates it like I sewed every stitch myself.

 She couldn't wait to try it out.  So for the Feast of Saint Agnes, she and I made a vanilla cake together. 

Nevermind that it was from a box.  She still cracked the eggs (which was hysterical to watch because she was so grossed out by the "gook" inside), and measured the oil and water.  She mixed it all up with the beater and  helped me pour it into the pan. 

We went a little "fancy" with the bundt cake pan.  It turned out to be a pretty, tasty cake. 

We made a glaze from scratch using vanilla, milk and powdered sugar.  We kinda guessed with the measurements on that.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~Some snowflake sprinkles were added for a finishing touch.

 I thought that was the finishing touch, but apparently Alexa decided it needed some color and pizzazz and glammed it up a bit with green sugar sprinkles when my back was turned.  "Now it's finished!" she declared. 
It was almost gone by the end of our Teatime.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~

We managed to save some for Taylor.

I've missed these relaxing Afternoon Teas.  And so have the kids, apparently.  Of course who am I kidding?  They are crazy for cake.  They like hearing an interesting story or two about a Saint, but everything is better with cake.

We didn't do a craft with this Teatime.  I was trying to keep it low key.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much Evan remembered about Saint Agnes.  I have been reading to him every Bible Story and one Saint Story, but I wasn't sure just how much he was retaining (or even paying attention).  The girls each knew a bit about her, too, so we discussed her heroic life during the Caketime.....I mean, Teatime.  ;)

Alexa's handmade (....ahem....) apron held up very well, and she can't wait till we bake again!

Have a pleasant week, everyone!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On a Reading Frenzy

I think I mentioned in a Daybook once, that I had long since gotten out of the habit of reading books for me.  Just for me.  For pleasure. 

I read for information and knowledge and inspiration.

I read to educate, to entertain and to share and bond with my children.  Picture books, chapter books.  Lots of delightful books, really, and I enjoyed, still enjoy, reading stories with my kids. 
It's one of my favorite things in the world to do.

But, over this past summer I began reading for me again, just for fun!  And it is so fun!  I completely enjoy it! 
I have found that 13 year old girl inside myself again.  The one who can't wait to slip away and become deeply involved in someone elses life.  It feels like I'm right there for the ride of their lives!  I have laughed and cried.  I've become angry at the injustice (and stupidity in some cases) and have been so anxious to see what's going to happen next!  (To the point of losing sleep because I can't put the book down!)

I am thrilled with books now.

I will continue to read to my kids, because that's just a wonderful experience for all of us.  It's one of the best parts of being a parent.  You get to sit, super-snuggly-close if you want to and dive into another world with your favorite little people!  And afterwards you can talk about it, if they want to and it can open doors to all kinds of great conversations and insight into their cute little minds and how they feel about things. 


  I want to start a personal log or journal of sorts.   I want to list all the books I've read and review them, for myself, to know if I should ever venture to reread them or recommend them to a friend. 

But before I go on, I should mention that I do not care at all for cheesy romance novels.

                                Ick.  Blech.  Gross.

I gave them a fair shake, too, I have to say.  I wanted some sweet little Christmas stories to read during Advent.  Just something with a cozy feel to it.  I ordered 2 from the library.  They had good recommendations from other readers. 

Ick.  Blech.  Gross.

I finished them because I didn't want to feel defeated or like I gave up too soon.  "Maybe it will get better" I'd say to myself.  No.  It did not.  Both books were just cheesy.  Possibly they are just not my style.  Maybe they rated so high because there are a lot of other people who prefer this kind of book.  So if you do, don't go by my judgement.  They were just not for me.

I don't shun romance in books always.  I like the classic Pride and Prejudice and such.  But this modern day malarky.  It just left me with a feeling of, "Really?.....oh come on!"

Now that I dissed a certain type of book,  I should mention some I liked.  I've always like Little House books.  They take me back to my 13 year old-book-lovin' self.  Maybe that's why they still appeal to me.  I recently reread  The Little House on the Prairie and The Long Winter and enjoyed them both immensely.  Good wintertime reads.

I also read more from my kids shelves......The Cottage at Bantry Bay series (it was ok), The Letzenstein Chronicles (4 books....loved them all), And a bunch of other classics.

More recently I read The Secret Life of Bees (good book!), and The Hunger Games (excellent, excellent book!).  I ordered the 2nd one from The Hunger Games series from the library and it should be in by next week.  CANT WAIT!  And my sister recommended books by Patricia Cornwell (I think that was her name).  I will order a book by her from the library, once I finish the Hunger Games series.

In the mean time I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love.  I've just begun to read it tonight so I can't say how I feel about it yet.  Perhaps I will let you know in a future post.
It snowed again last night, just a little.  Just enough to put a layer of fluff on top of the ice, which is on top of a ground layer of snow.  Looks cold out there!  I'll find out later when we venture out for Mass.

Well, stay warm everyone!  And if you come across any interesting fiction stories (without the gush), let me know! 


Saturday, January 14, 2012

If You Fill Them, They Will Come

That is a cheesy title.  Yes, I'm aware of this.  It's all I've got right now.

We have bird feeders in one of the trees in our back yard.  I've mentioned this before.   The tree is pretty close to the house and very visible from the school room window.  We only fill it during the winter.  I kept putting it off this year, but finally got to it this week.  Evan's pretty happy about it.  The birds fluttering around the tree and eating off the feeders in the back yard add just a teensy bit of excitement to our rather drab looking wintertime back yard.

We filled them Friday.

We get tons of birds here, as you can tell by all the nests.

And Alexa and Evan left some treats for the bunnies, too.

We went inside and had some ....drink that is sweet.  And chocolatey.  I'm sure you can't imagine what it is (sarcasm).  Actually I'm pretty sure you could guess as I seem too have an addiction or unhealthy obsession with the stuff this time of year.  I can't help it!  It's good stuff!
Today we checked the feeders before breakfast and they seemed to be untouched.  Evan was disappointed but I told him it takes a little while for the birds, squirrels and bunnies to realize that the buffet has reopened.

By mid afternoon, one of those critters must have gotten the word out, though.

We had a pair of cardinals stop for lunch, too, but they didn't stick around for a picture.

I'm looking forward to getting the Blue Jays and hopefully a woodpecker now and then this winter.

The ninja squirrels stopped by the tree at one point, too, but we didn't see any rabbits.

It's been a mostly indoors kinda day today, because it's so cold.  I really don't care for the cold at all, but whatcha gonna do.

I'm trying to enjoy the seasons as they come but I really, really, really can't wait till our beach trip this summer.  You think I talk about hot chocolate too much?  Wait till the beach trip gets near.  I will probably never shut up about it.

Hope you're having a sunshiney weekend with your favorite people!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Relaxed Winter Schooling at Home

I love days like these.

Days that have a schedule, but not really.

We have things to accomplish, many things to learn, but not a list of places to be with rigorous time constraints.

That's when our learning feels more natural.

Some subjects, like handwriting, really do require sitting at a desk or table.  And with Evan, the core subjects work best at my desk because he understands he needs to try to focus when we sit there (although I do have to mix it up a bit with him to get his wiggles out).

But I love it when we can relax on the floor as the sun shines through, or get cozy on the couch as I read to the kids and we discuss history or their religion lessons.  It just feels right.

I especially love it when it's in the middle of Winter, and it's freezing cold outside, but yet the sun is shining.  And the warm sunbeams are streaming in through the curtains, stretching across the floor in our front room. 

I can totally see why cats tend to sit right in those sunny spots.

I hope you are enjoying your Winter!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snowy Monday!......and yes, it's another post that ends in hot chocolate.

Every morning, I check the weather on the internet, as I sip my coffee.  On Monday, the weathermen called for some rain, but that was about it.  We went about our day....breakfast, prayers, school, lunch.

I checked the weather after lunch briefly too, when I checked my email (and facebook....yes, I'm on facebook), while the kids were on their freetime break.  At this point there was a chance of a few flurries....perhaps a dusting in some areas.

I was really hoping we'd get something.....something.  I knew it wouldn't be much, but just something that could pile up a little, and get the kids excited.

Within just a few minutes, some really nice, fat flakes came cascading down out of the sky.  I called Evan to the sliding glass doors to look out and man do I wish I was video taping that moment.  His face went from a "what, mom?" to a "OH.MY.GOSH.LOOK AT THAT!!!"  He started jumping up and down and exclaiming "It's snowing!  It's snowing!  It's snowing!"

I kept telling him it wasn't going to last or pile up at all, but we should still enjoy watching out the window it while it lasts.  But who was I kidding?  We couldn't just stay inside and watch from behind the glass.  We had to take this moment in and get as much out of it as we could!

 In Northern Virginia, snow is a hit or miss situation. 
An all or nothing.  And the weather forecasters were positive this was a nothing.

We have, in the past, been in the direct line of an awesome, snowpounding, whiteout, blizzard of a storm.  And we have also had winter's go by with only a flake or two dropping by for a very brief visit.
Every year it's anybody's guess how much snowfall we'll get around here. 

Those whopper storms are only every few years, when everything in the universe aligns just right.  They are very rare.

So I wasn't about to let this moment (and that's all this might be....a brief snow moment) go by without at least trying to catch a measly snowflake or two with our tongues, without feeling soft, cold snowflakes landing on our eyelashes.  We had to get out there...... fast, before it just stopped. 

So I went into hyperdrive to get ready (and procrastinated, yet again, with taking down the tree).......and we bundled up and headed out to the back yard.

We laughed, and ran around a bit.  The ground wasn't even covered, so the yard was kinda muddy.
I need to get a cute hat like Sky's.  I had to borrow John's since I don't have my own. 

A walk on the sidewalk (and out of the mud) amidst the snow flurries seemed like a good idea.  We went through the neighborhood, breathing in the cold, fresh air.  It's quite invigorating and makes you feel so alive, taking a walk like that.

We did start to feel a little too "invigorated" and the kids began complaining a bit of frozen toes, fingers, noses, etc.   I think they were just in "kahoots", trying to get sympathy so they could talk me into some hot chocolate. 

Little did they know I had planned on it, already.  I mean come on....if you've ever read this blog before or know me at all, you know that boatloads of my winter posts end with hot chocolate.  I love the stuff.  Don't judge me.  ;)

We peeled off the wet/slightly muddy clothes (one of the children....not mentioning any names.....ahem.... nine year old girl), thought it would be cool to try to make a snow angel in the whopping 1/18 inch of snow in the backyard. 

In case you are wondering, it doesn't work.  It just melts the snow in that one spot she landed, and smashes the grass and smears the mud in an almost recognizable angel formation.

 She does get an A for effort and bonus points for enthusiasm!  We love that girl! (who still shall remain nameless)

Everyone got dry and cozy and then we sipped our hot chocolate and ate the last of our gingerbread family.  We hate to see them go.  Actually we like to see them go, because they are yummy! 
But we hate to see them gone. :(
You're not really shocked by the vast array of Swiss Miss I keep on hand, are you?

Taylor was at school, so she didn't get the walk in the snow with us.  Well, actually she did get the walk in the snow, but just not with us. The snow kept falling and she had to walk from her bus stop, so I guess she did have her walk in the snow.  And I made her some of my fancy shmancy hot chocolate when she got in.  :)

And as an added bonus to my day....the tree is dooooowwwwwnnnnn!
I win.

Happy Winter, Everyone!