Still not a real post...

Monday, June 30, 2014

I know, I know...  But my back is killing me (well, really my tailbone) so I can't do the laundry that needs to be done and everyone is safely confined in their rooms soooooo here's a bunch of random to throw at you!

- You might as well skip this and go read my sister's latest post if you haven't already: How to Pray: Start Shallow

- I still have WIWS pictures from like, 3 weeks ago that I haven't managed to post...  And I haven't bothered taking pictures since then because I already have pictures I haven't used.  Whoops.

But here's a preview:

Yes, Cecilia wore her Christmas dress from 1.5 years ago.  We realized after we got to Mass that it had food on it.  Cool.

- Elizabeth is so SO very blonde compared to the other kids.  

And she loves books just as much as the others.  We're at that stage right now where any time I happen to be sitting down, they demand that I read to them.  And if I'm standing up, they demand that I pick them up.

"TWO BABIES!" They cry, begging me to pick them both up.  Well, at least it's balanced?

We went to a baptism yesterday and Mary Claire immediately ran to the end of the pew and started chanting, "U-S-A!  U-S-A!!!"

Really good Catholic there.

But Elizabeth may have been worse - "Do you reject Satan and all his empty promises?" "NO!"

Luckily her godfather reminded us that those vows have been made for her, considering the fact that she hasn't reached the age of reason.

- Sometimes I can rope the big kids into reading to the babies instead of me...  But Cecilia can't read and John Paul doesn't like reading aloud because it's so much slower, soooo mostly they still come running to me.

 One of these days, right?

- Elizabeth and Mary Claire can now both climb up into the little clubhouse in our swing set AND slide down the slide without help.  And they don't even look like they're going to die when it happens!  I don't think I trust them in the yard on their own yet (even with the older kids), but next summer is gonna be the BEST!

- John Paul signed up for the summer reading program at the library.  15 books by the end of the summer.  Maybe they meant 15 books by the end of the day?  Last summer I made him read aloud to me, so I'll probably do that again this summer, although he's reading books that are a LOT longer, so I'll probably just get a few "Easy Reader" books and make him read those aloud and give him a break for the rest that he's reading to himself...

- We're brainstorming for a playroom makeover - the twins have stopped trying to consume drawing materials and want to color ALL the time.  But they can't really fit at the table together with art supplies, and John Paul needs space to spread out all his materials when he's doing his various experiments and research projects...  

So the plan is to get an old craigslist dining set to put in there, and maybe a bookshelf or hutch to organize all the school/craft materials.  And maybe replace the futon with a real couch?  I mean, I've had it since sophomore year of college so...  9 years?  You can definitely tell.

And the minions have started fleeing their jail cells soooo I'll leave you with this:

We're trying to get the babies to nap in their cribs together in their room.  As you can imagine, it's going horribly.  They sing to each other, yell at each other, trade toys back and forth, yell at each other for not sharing, and every time I free them, Elizabeth's crib is pushed as far away from the wall as she can possibly get it.  We're having a lot. of. fun.


A Confession

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I have a confession to make.

I posted this picture in Instagram with the caption "On the plus side, she won't need her bangs cut for a veeeeeery long time...":

Then I realized everybody would probably assume that this butcher job was a result of a mishap with safety scissors.

Well, it wasn't.

It was all me.

I gave my 3-year-old the worst haircut ever.

The thick, chunky bangs are usually a good look for her.  That is, until they're cut an inch too short and start to resemble a mullet.

(Also, do you see those awesome sunflowers behind the kids?  Taller than they are, and growing more every day!)

What happened, you see, is this:

- Cecilia was begging for her bangs to be cut because they were *just* touching her eyebrows

- I got ready to cut them, and John Paul threw a temper tantrum because he wanted me to cut HIS hair.  Never mind the fact that I just cut his hair a few weeks ago.

- Cecilia kept moving around and looking every way, so I just grabbed all the bangs I could and cut straight across so that I could just even them out.  This is how I do my bangs, but I wear my bangs a LOT longer than she does, so I should have realized it was a recipe for disaster.

So now I'm thankful that her hair grows ridiculously fast.

I think the funniest part for me is that tonight at the dinner table she reached up to touch her bangs and said, "Mom, my bangs are getting pretty long.  I dink I need a hair cut."

If I post a picture of her bald tomorrow, you know who to blame.

What We've Been Reading {FF}

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I have some real blog posts in the works, I promise, with pictures and all!  But it's been crazy around here - Andrew and I were at our very first homeschool convention this past weekend, today was my LAST DAY OF WORK EVER (!), we had our ultrasound yesterday, etc...  I promise, all the updates soon!  But for now, since I'm stealing a little time during naps, here are some awesome books we've been reading lately:

The Seven Silly Eaters - We all love this book - after we renewed it 4 times from the library, I knew it was time to actually buy it...  So when we saw it from a vendor at the homeschool conference, I grabbed it immediately!  The kids all adore it, and it's one that's actually really enjoyable to read aloud because the rhyme scheme is great.  I was concerned that they might decide that they wanted to be picky eaters because the kids in the book are, but not even close - the lesson they took from the book is that they would like to have 7 kids in the family and they would all like to sleep in the same room.  So yeah, I think it probably goes without saying that this family is very likely Catholic ;)

Reckless - Young Adult Fiction!  Yay!  I downloaded a library copy out of desperation because I wanted *something* that was available immediately, and I remembered liking Cornelia Funke when I read some of her books a while back.  This was terrific!  The main character, Jacob, spends much of his life in another world that he enters through the mirror.  This most recent time, his brother follows him and ends up being attacked, which leads to his transformation into another terrifying species.  Jacob and his brother are on a quest to reverse the transformation throughout this book.  Fairies, shape shifters, magic galore...  It's my kind of book!

Fearless - So of course I immediately got the sequel.  Also awesome, definitely worth reading!  But I wish they hadn't been written so many years apart, because it doesn't give me a lot of hope that another book in the series will be written any time soon...

An Alphabet of Catholic Saints - Also a convention buy - I love the illustrations, the kids love the saints.  Not the best editing, since they forgot to fix one of the "Blesseds" on Kateri Tekakwitha's page, so in one place she's a Saint and in another she isn't yet...  But overall, a really nice book for Catholic kids!

  Prima Latina - I know, I know...  Don't start Latin until they're in 4th or 5th or whatever grade.  But...  John Paul!  I mean, last night he slept with a French-English dictionary.  So yeah, he just about peed his pants when we brought this home from the homeschool convention.  And is now greeting everyone with "Salve!"

Okay, I hear John Paul hollering from upstairs, so blogging time is over!  Linking this up with Heather at Mama Knows, Honeychild for my 5 Favorites this week...  And maybe linking up with Jessica at Housewifespice, buuuuut my money is on her being in labor because she doesn't have a post up today!

Links are Amazon Affiliate links - thanks for clicking through my blog when you make your purchases!  Every penny really adds up, and I so appreciate your support!

7 Quick Ideas for Summer Fun (Without Leaving the House!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Even though it's not officially summer, it sure feels like it here in Virginia!  When you've got 4 littles and one on the way like us, you'll do whatever you can to have fun without having to load everyone into car seats or strollers...  Here are some of our favorite ways!


Grow something!

If you've got a sunny spot, plant something!  Bush beans sprout SO quickly and produce really well, and pole beans are such a blast to watch inching up those poles - they grow so fast you can practically watch them making their way up!  We like to "race" our pole beans and see which plant wins :)

Not a lot of space?  Grab some containers and plant some herbs! 

Or plant some zinnias for the butterflies to enjoy!


Too hot for outdoor play?  Cornstarch and water make an awesomely goopy mixture that won't stain clothes, and dries SUPER fast so it's easy to clean up (it doesn't get crusted on, it just turns powdery again):


Got a little space in the yard or on the deck?  A sand and water table will keep them busy for HOURS!

We have this model and it's already gotten a ton of use since it warmed up!  This picture is from last summer, and it's still going strong, although we're not adding sand this year because Mary Claire still devours dirt...


I just remembered we still have water beads sitting in the cupboard, which had been put away since the babies got mobile because it was cold and impossible to keep those things from bouncing away indoors...  But I put some in the water table for John Paul and Cecilia to play with while the babies napped and it was awesome!  You can usually find them at your local dollar store, but I think they're so fun that I bought a ton on Amazon and I have a feeling they'll last us forever...

Apparently Cecilia could be trusted not to eat them when she was not quite 2.  Mary Claire and Elizabeth are definitely not there yet!


It wouldn't be summer without the sprinkler, would it?

Cecilia's swimsuits are from Crazy 8 and Gymboree, a lot like her suit from this year, which is only $8 right now - I love how they provide a little more sun coverage and don't make her look like a little baby hoochie!
I actually like to put our sprinkler in the wading pool so that the grass doesn't get soaked, and then I use the water for the garden when the kids are all done.

We have this sprinkler, which gets terrible reviews online but works really well for my purposes - the kids are generally afraid of sprays that are too high, but you can control these so that they're pretty low, and the kids can use the individual sprayers to spray themselves/each other without too much damage because the pressure is so low.

And the pool?  K-mart.  I don't trust inflatable pools, and this hard plastic one has been doing it's $10 job since last summer!



2 summers ago - how adorable are they?

Do you have a system you like?  We've had the no-spill containers and they worked for a while until the kids (well, John Paul) decided to hold them veeeery carefully upside down so that they drip out all the liquid.  Sigh.  And it's a little much for me to have to sit there holding the bubble container and monitor who gets to blow.  The whole point of these activities is so that they're playing independently!  So hit me up with your bubble recommendations!


Ladybugs!  Butterflies!

Did you know you can order live ladybugs online?  

We got some to help control garden pests last year and I think it worked?  And even if it didn't, it was SO fun!  The kids absolutely loved releasing them and having them crawl on them, and they still talk about it!

Then my mom got John Paul this Ladybug Land kit, so we got to see them grow from larvae into adult ladybugs, which was so cool!  This year I want to try the Butterfly Garden from the same company.  I remember doing that in first grade and it was awesome - I know the kids would adore it!  I bet you could even catch your own caterpillars and do it for free, although we can never find anything but those darned gypsy moths around here...

Just don't let the bugs go near a spider's web.  Lesson learned:

And yes, Cecilia still asks why the spider ate the ladybug.  Whoops.

What's on your bucket list for at-home fun this summer?  I'm always looking for more ideas!

Linking up with Kathryn for Quick Takes this week - check out more!

P.S. Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you click them and buy anything, I get a few pennies at no extra cost to you!  That way I can buy a whole lot more seeds and ladybugs and bubbles!

Ramblings and such

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

-- After getting over a stomach bug and being back to normal for probably 2 days total, I've been battling a stupid summer cold (SERIOUSLY I'm pretty sure it hit 100 today, shouldn't colds be dead?) and can't shake it.  Worst. Ever.

-- John Paul told me today, "I was dreaming about giving rocks to Dad!  I crushed shells into limestone, and I found another piece of limestone that was made into marble!"  

Can you tell we've been reading a lot of Magic School Bus lately?

-- And speaking of Magic School Bus, this:


New Magic School Bus series?  Yes, please!  Not until 2016, but still...  Awesome!

And while I want to be a purist about my Magic School Bus, there are some scientific concepts that the show originally covered that need updating, because stuff changes!  Like the whole Pluto thing...  

-- I finally told my middle school students I was pregnant.  They were like, "Um yeah, we kind of knew...  But we didn't want to say anything because that would be rude."  But then I also had to tell them that I'm not coming back next year, and that was sad...  I feel like this deserves a whole post, but long story short (for now), 5 kids and a growing teaching workload because my program keeps getting bigger?  Just not possible.  Now to see if I can take these kids up on their offers to come babysit for free ;)

-- Mary Claire is too smart for her own good.  We're getting complete sentences pretty consistently out of her, but they tend to be sentences she constructs in order to give herself permission to do something she shouldn't...


Me: Stop climbing, Mary Claire.
*pause while she thinks...*
Mary Claire: You may climb!  
*continues climbing*

Me: Mary Claire, you can't bite your cousin's baby doll.
Mary Claire, mumbling under her breath: You may bite it...

Mary Claire, sticking her finger up her nose: Stop. Picking. Nose.

Reminds me of when John Paul was about 2.5 and used to ask for permission to do something and then give himself the permission...

John Paul:  May I pweeeez...  Have da sharp sharp knife?
John Paul:  Yes, you MAY!!! 

-- 20-week ultrasound coming up a week from today!  What do you think - boy or girl?  Twins? Let's hope not...  Actually, we still haven't decided whether we're finding out the gender.  So that's probably a decision that needs to be made soon...

Someday a coherent post will be formed.  But not today.

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Father's Day, I asked the kids what their favorite things about their dad are:

As you can see, Elizabeth made the most impressive contribution...

Of course, RIGHT after I showed this to Andrew, she started marching around saying, "Wuv you Dad!!!"  

A good student, clearly.

(If you're reading this in Feedly or another reader, you probably have to click through to see the video - I think it's worth the 1 minute 6 seconds!)

Here's Father's Day 2013, Why I Love My Husband, Father's Day 2012, and Father's Day 2011, just in case you want to click all the things and read about nothing...

And in the interest of answering more of Cecilia's incessant questions (why can't I see the noodles when they're cooking? can I touch the hot pot? why would fire burn me? when will you die? can I take the name Therese when I'm a nun? why did the witch not want Rapunzel to leave her tower?), I'll leave the post at that, and maybe try a WIWS post later, since I got pictures!

7 Quick Takes: Jam, Duggars, Vestments, etc.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Micaela's homeschool link-up & interview series!  I love it!  I'm so excited for more experienced homeschoolers to link up, because I'm just. so. fascinated.  Seriously, if you homeschool, will you answer her questions?  Or just tell me all the things?  Even if you feel like you write about it all the time on your blog, you probably don't write about it as much as I want to read.  Do it!  I love you!


And speaking of homeschooling, Andrew and I are going to the IHM National Conference next week (not because we're hardcore, but because it's only 45 minutes away...) - will you be there?  Do you have homeschool conference tips?

We don't have to *do* anything with John Paul this coming school year because we're "red-shirting" him, so we don't have to prove any progress.  But his behavior around the house improves DRAMATICALLY when he has some sort of structure, and he and Cecilia have been begging to go to school/do school lately, so I think we'll start *something* this year, we'll just see what...


How has it taken me this long to start watching 19 Kids and Counting?  It's on Netflix, but I've only ever watched an episode here and there when we happen to be somewhere with TLC.  I've started watching from the beginning and HOLY COW!  I dunno, I find it fascinating.  Particularly the whole bus-with-15-beds thing.  We need to get us one of those...


We went strawberry picking yesterday and managed to walk away with 11 pounds of strawberries!

8 jars of jam later:

And at that point we still had enough for a giant container living in the fridge and two huge cookie sheets full in the freezer.  Score!  Andrew pointed out that the organic strawberries at the grocery store are cheaper right now, since they're on sale for only $2.50/lb and these were $2.59/lb...  Buuuut I say we still win, because these are juicier and tastier and local and and AND strawberry picking!  Childhood memories!

I just made freezer jam because it's easier than regular jam, but considering the sugar:fruit ratio (2 cups sugar per cup of fruit), I'm thinking I should probably try regular jam next time...  But John Paul and Cecilia were "helping" me, so we were making the process as easy as possible!


It's hard to celebrate Mass when a toddler keeps stealing the chalice.  I feel like we should maybe invite more priests over to our house just so that they can appreciate the fact that when THEY are celebrating Mass, mostly they don't have to deal with someone trying to rip their vestments off, steal the Missal, run off with the Host, or any of the other issues poor John Paul has to deal with:

And even when he's left alone, someone's cramming her hands down her diaper...


Did I ever tell you about John Paul's set of vestments?  His alb required a tiny bit of sewing, but the chasubles and stoles?  Fleece!  No sewing required!  Not the highest quality, obviously, but if you have a little boy who loves to play Mass and is a little bit obsessed with the liturgical year, wait until Joann's is having one of their MANY 50% off fleece sales, grab a yard each in white, purple, green, and red, and get snipping!  So easy, and he absolutely adores them.  And the girls use them to be various ghosts and saints, too!

Elizabeth put his purple chasuble on and said, "Saint!"

"Are you a saint?" I asked.

"Mawwy!  'Wese!  Jo-fuff!"  (Mary, Therese, Joseph)

"How about St. Elizabeth?"

"Saint...  Eee-biff!  Saint...  May Care!  Saint...  Pah Paw!  Saint...  Sa-sih-ya!  Saint...  Dad!  Saint...  Mom!"  (Saints Elizabeth, Mary Claire, John Paul, Cecilia, Dad, Mom)

She was going well there for a while!


And speaking of saints, Cecilia put on this robe and belted it and asked me which saint she was.  "Maybe St. Teresa of Avila?" I answered.  "But you'd need a veil."

So she grabbed a floral veil and now she's pretty much in heaven because she's dressed like a saint.  But she FREAKED THE HECK OUT when Andrew guessed that she was St. Therese.  

Yikes.  3-year-olds are touchy about their saints...

Kathryn is guest-hosting Quick Takes at Team Whitaker this week and next - go check out her adorable blog and some other quick takes while you're at it!

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