Monday, October 26, 2009

Trick or Treating at The Nursing Home

The kids enjoyed trick-or-treating today at the Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing home. Our homeschool group has been going there for an early and safe trick-or-treating experience for many years now. My kids have come to look forward to this wonderful experience. The residence seem to really enjoy seeing all the kids dressed up in their costumes. Today was also little Elias's first time dressing up. I was at a loss for what to put on him. I've never had a baby this small for Halloween before. I finally just decided to throw something together. All I could come up with at the last minute was a Winnie the Pooh costume. It was rather homely looking, but I think it did the job. It was the shirt off of a stuffed toy Winnie the Pooh, a yellow sleeper turned around backwards, and a pair of yellow pants rolled to look like a hat with ears. Not bad for a free, home-made costume.

This was such a good way to let the kids celebrate and have fun dressing up. The residence seemed to have just as much fun watching the kids and listening to them say "twick an tweet" and a funny little "fank you". Of course that dialogue mostly came out of our little kitty cat's mouth. The others have learned to pronounce their words properly. At any rate,
I was very glad that the kids were so polite and appreciative of what they received. They even went back and told many of the residence thanks again. It made me very proud.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Visiting Some of the Cousins

This weekend we took our first 2 hour drive with the baby to visit some of the cousins up North. We visited first with Dear Hubby's sister and two of her three kids. The girls were all in heaven playing with their cousins' toys and playing ring-around-the-rosie. Aunt Anna finally got to see little Elias and hold him. He was charming and promptly fell asleep on her. Her sweet little boy didn't mind a bit and was happy to sit upon Dear Hubby's lap while Mommy held the baby.

After a short visit with Aunt Anna, we went to see my brother's family and their brand new baby, Michael. By brand new, I mean brand new! Michael wasn't even a full day old yet when we saw him. The kids were thrilled to see their cousins and meet their newest little cousin. Of course, my oldest son was very happy to see that he has another boy cousin. Things are starting to even out now on the boy to girl ratio. As of right now, my parents have 9 grandbabies---5 girls and 4 boys. We are so thankful that all 9 are happy and healthy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Squishy Cookies, Pacie Kid, and Dip Girl

Some days I get ambitious and we do some "fun", yet educational activities. Many times, the activity directly relates to cooking or baking so the kids can practice measuring and using fractions.

This week we made, what I like to call, squishy cookies. You put all the ingredients in a LARGE bowl (the bigger the better for kids). Then you let the kids take turns squishing all the ingredients together. The longer they squish and "play" the better the dough mixes. I found the original recipe and idea for this activity in "The Preschooler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner. I have modified the recipe to add some more flavor and texture to our cookies. Here is the recipe I used:

Squishy Cookies

3 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup to 1 1/2 cups softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate or butterscotch chips (stir in after the kids are finished squishing the dough.)

When done squishing and stirring in the chocolate chips, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Bake these on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12-13 minutes.

I used aluminum foil covered cookie sheets. I have found that it is easier to remove the whole sheet of aluminum foil (hot cookies and all). I let the cookies cool for a minute or two before letting the kids take them off by themselves. After a minute or two the foil is cool enough that you don't need to worry about the children burning their arms on the hot cookie sheet. It also makes for a much easier clean up, which I make the kids do. Isn't clean-up just as much a part of cooking as making the mess?

The kids had a really good time and it was something they all could do together. They especially liked putting on the aprons and acting like real chefs. Surprisingly enough, they enjoyed measuring things out and putting them in the bowl more than squishing the dough.

Pacie kid
Out of all of our six kids, we've never had a pacie kid...until now. Our little man, Elias, seems to want to do nothing but suckle all morning and most of the evening. Even when I know he isn't hungry he just wants to nurse...and he usually does until he makes himself sick and spits up for a long time afterwards.

At the grocery store the other night, I knew he wasn't hungry, but he kept fussing as I was finishing up the shopping. The only thing that satisfied Elias was to let him suck on my finger. I kept thinking, how clean can my finger really be, even though I had just washed them? I broke down and bought him a pacifier, fully expecting that he would spit it out like all the previous had done. To my surprise he took it and was quiet all the way home from the store until I could nurse him to sleep. So, I guess we have a pacie kid on our hands.

Dip Girl

Here is the latest adventures of our "Dip Girl". R is constantly getting into sour cream, veggie dip, chip dip, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc. I know I've posted previously the pictures of her on the table covered in sour cream or dip of some sort or another. Here is yet another example of her obsession. This time she finished off the veggie dip that I had in a sour cream container. By the time I saw her with the spoon in hand, it was too late. This too shall pass. This too shall pass. Or at least, I hope it does and soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Photos of Elias

Gina, a good friend of mine, is practicing to become a professional photographer. Gina came over last Friday to get some shots of Elias. He is one month old in these photos. I think Gina did a fantastic job!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jack-o-lanterns Teach Kids About Christ

Of course, this time of year we see pumpkins all over the place. Many of them are carved into the shape of jack-o-lanterns. My kids have enjoyed carving some of their own the past two years. However, I don't like the overly secularized versions that look really scary. We tame ours down a bit and make the event a teachable moment for the kids.

About three years ago, I received an e-mail telling of the wonderful Christian meaning behind a jack-o-lantern. If I still had it, I'd post it here, but alas it was deleted long ago. However, the gist of the e-mail was that we are like the pumpkin who is ready to be picked and has fully ripened and matured (this is when we arrive at the age of reason). We, like the pumpkin are full of pulp and seeds, icky and squishy (this is due to our personal sins). The pulp and seeds need to be removed before the carving can begin (this is the sacrament of confession which allows God to remove and forgive our sins). Then we can carve the pumpkin into a smiley face (this is God's grace coming to us and God fashioning us into a new creation). We are happy to receive God's grace and joy fills our hearts, so we too smile. The candle is placed inside the jack-o-lantern (when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, the Light of the World comes to dwell within us). When you look at a jack-o-lantern on a dark night, you can see the light radiating from within it and the whole face glows. When we are in the state of grace, we shine for all to see, especially in our secular world where there is so much darkness. The kids thought this explanation was really cool to hear as we were scooping out the pulp and carving our jack-o-lanterns.

Here are a few pictures of our jack-o-lantern fun.

We also cut up some pumpkins and made pumpkin bread. I guess those pumpkins could represent the martyrs who died for their faith. LOL!
Another really cool way to make those pumpkins evangelists for Christ, is to make a saint-o-lanterns as described by another blogger. Check out the Catholic Cuisine blog for some really AWESOME examples for the older kids to carve. These would be especially great to celebrate All Soul's Day or All Saints Day. Maybe we'll try our hands at these when the kids get a little older. Here is the link:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Elias's Baptism

This Sunday Elias was baptized. Some of our family and friends were there to witness this blessed event. My brother and his very pregnant wife were Elias's godparents. I am so greatful that they were able to make it, even though their baby is due in just a few short weeks.

It was a very beautiful day for little Elias to be brought into the family of God. One of the most memorable things about having a baby baptized is the wonderful smell of the chrism oil. I couldn't help but breath a joyful sigh everytime I got a waft of it. To know that the Holy Spirit dwells so close to you in this newly baptized Christian is so mysterious. I only wish I had more time to meditate and dwell upon such awesome realities.

I am so greatful to the priest who baptized little Elias. After the ceremony he made it a point to tell us that he will be praying for Elias and for us, that we would be good and holy parents. That meant a lot to me. I can use all the extra prayers I can get, especially those of a good and holy priest.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Elias's First Bath

Our little guy is quite the pack-rat already. He held on to his umbilical cord for nearly three weeks. Now that he has a normal belly button, we are able to give him a real bath and not only sponge baths. The kids were all very excited to "help" me give him his first bath. Surprisingly, Elias didn't cry all that much. He enjoyed it a lot more than the sponge baths.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cross Country, Science Club, Crafts, and a Play

Last night was the kids' official last practice and wrap-up awards ceremony. We gathered to watch the team do a final "meet" where they got to race their fellow team mates. I was really proud of both of the kids. They did a great job and gave it their best effort! Our oldest came in second and beat all the boys! Woo, whooa! Way to go! Our oldest son was able to beat quite a few kids older than him. I was beaming with delight as they both crossed the finish line. Here they are with their medals and award certificates. "M" received the courage award for getting past her pre-race gitters and stage fright. "T" got the award for finishing strong. Even if he wasn't one of the first to finish, he really kicked it in at the end of the race and tried not to let anyone pass him.

The older two kids attended their third science club meeting today. Last month's theme was botany and we explored the roots of plants and the vascular system at our last meeting. So, today the kids presented their science projects on botany. "M" decided to do her project on the vascular system of monocots and dicots and "T" decided to do his on how seeds travel. Here are some of the pictures that they included in their project reports. They did a great job!

This month's lesson was on astronomy and we took a closer look at the moon. The kids did a hands-on experiment that helped them to better understand why the surface of the moon looks the way it does. The experiment involved dropping a rock into a container of white sand that had a layer of cinnamon on top. We dropped the rock from different heighths and then measured the diameter, depth, and length of the splash rays. Everyone seemed to enjoy the process and learned more about how objects from outerspace can alter the landscape of the moon.
Today, my oldest daughter also attended a library "art" project class. She, along with some friends, made "haunted" gingerbread houses using lots of candy and chocolate graham crackers. It looks good enough to eat!

Another noteworthy event, "M" has landed a part in the local theatre's Christmas play again this year. She has rehearsal tonight and finds out which role she will be performing. The play is called "Nuncrackers: a Christmas Musical". Not totally sure what the play will be about, but I know there is lots of music and singing, which is right up her alley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Recent Family Photos

Well, here is the latest family photo. We haven't had a professional one done for quite some time. I think it may have been a little over two years ago when we had our last one. I know that it was definitely before our 22 mo. old was born. I forgot how hard it can be to get a photographer who is willing to take a picture of a large group of people.

After the photo shoot, the photographer was nothing but complimentary about how well the kids did at listening and following directions. She was amazed at how well the kids interacted with one another and spoke politely to her. I wish some of those nay-sayers about homeschooling would hear some of the compliments we get from people like her. Who says homeschooling kids are social morons? I beg to differ and I think compliments like these prove the benefits of homeschooling your kids. I feel like our kids have learned manners from us instead of being socialized by other kids their age who often times have no concept of how to be polite.

First Friday Activities

This month's first Friday activities were centered around the rosary and Our Lady's apparitions. To begin the day's activities, one of the moms talked about the origins of the rosary and the importance of meditating upon the mysteries of Our Lord's life. The kids then were taught how to make rope rosaries.

The really little kids colored a page about the rosary.

When the kids were finished making their rosaries, the priest from the chapel at the nursing home came to bless them.

After he blessed them, we all went outside to the Rosary Garden and prayed a decade of the rosary. The older boys were asked to lead the decade and they did a great job. It was a very nice time for everyone. They all were so proud of their rosaries, I couldn't help but get a picture of them at the Rosary Garden.