Sunday, January 26, 2014

Prayer Thought for the Week


In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. ~~ Bl. Mother Theresa

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Carving Show Prize

In my previous post, I mentioned my grandparents' annual woodcarving show. The show is free to the public, but to help pay for the show, they sell raffle tickets. At the end of the show, tickets are drawn to win prizes. Carvers volunteer time to carve two main prizes and then each carver at the show donates a small piece to raffle off. It is rather very nice.

You do not need to be present to win, and prizes can be shipped. If anyone is interested in tickets, I would be more than glad to work something out. Please let me know via nmlove.123 (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment. It is $5 for 6 tickets or $1 for a single ticket.

(My Mom carved and painted the relief on the left. It is 16x11. The angel was done by two carvers, friends of the family. She stands at 22 inches tall.)

Saturday Morning Reflection (14): why I'm still here and other random thoughts

See our Christmas tree propped in a sheltered corner? 
We put treats on there for the birds and animals.

It says too much, I think, when one wakes up just after nine, dragging and hurting and actually wanting to make a cup of coffee. I really do not like coffee but I find that if I have a cup when I find it hard to move or starting in on a headache sometimes helps.

I see the doctor for a follow-up on Friday for our next round of "what the heck is wrong with Nicole" as the breathing issues have eased up but other, equally vague symptoms have come on. I feel like a walking hypochondriac. It's more than annoying. Still, until I didn't feel well this week, we had a really good one!

Our daily schedule Monday and Tuesday were about near to perfection as a homeschool day can ask for. The kids were eager to learn (ok, I may have had one procrastinator on Monday), meals went smoothly, chores too, and I felt very on top of things. I love that feeling. Too bad it rarely happens, right?

Wednesday I felt icky on waking and knew we had to get out of the house, especially after being stuck inside between weather and illness pretty much since New Year's. Thankfully the main roads were mostly clear and I took the kids to a new library. After, we stopped in to visit with my parents, eat lunch, and check up on things.

That night, the boys and I had CCD. The sixth graders talked about the story of Isaac and his sons, Esau and Jacob. Is anyone else bothered by this story? I mean, before they were born, God had chosen Jacob over Esau, and yet, both his mother and Jacob felt the need to use lies and trickery to win over Isaac's blessing. They did not trust in God at all it seems. I am always bothered by this story, start to feel high and mighty, and then I come crashing down as I realize, "yeah, Nicole, how often do you place your trust in God?" I mean, I try to, but it's hard, right? It's hard to let go, to trust, to admit you have no control whatsoever.


My grandparents host an annual woodcarving show every year during the first weekend of February (the first show took place long before that became Super Bowl weekend). I have helped out nearly every single year. The ones I missed were due to pregnancy/new babies. My mom has encouraged me to woodburn and display some items, but it is difficult to find time to burn. No more. I need to find time. I love it. It is a creative hobby, and a relaxing one. Since my dad is cutting up a cedar log, she thrust some thin medallions my way to turn into Christmas ornaments:

I also want to do another portrait. Doing a saint popped in my head, but no one saint came to mind. I decided to google saint holy card images, and immediately was drawn to this saint:

I had no idea who she was (St. Philomena). Anyone know of her?


I asked my husband to take a picture of me the other day. I thought to update my Facebook image, which I haven't done yet. Who says you need to age on Facebook anyway? My husband calls this the hero shot.


So why am I still blogging here? While I do love seeing the few, frequent visitors who comment, that is not the main reason I blog. I have thought much about the why recently, especially with so many other bloggers asking, "Why do I blog?" I keep this space open for me. It is the only place, outside of my head anyway, that I can be completely me. And right now that means completely Catholic. I cannot even be this 100% in my own home, and that is extremely difficult. Extremely. Here, though, I have readers who are Catholic, who live it, who are moms homeschooling their kids, who get it. And that's wonderful and beautiful. So I stay in a space where I am free to talk and to share.


So, this week will be pretty busy. I sure hope we don't miss Mass, but with the weather... it's a possibility. This darn winter I have missed more Mass than I have in a long while thanks to weather and illness. I do not like! 

In addition to school and daily life, we will help my parents get ready for the woodcarving show, and I will be wood burning! And... a certain little boy will turn 7 on Thursday!

A few parting shots. One, I just love when cats put a paw over their eyes.

And, one for boys who are growing up way too fast!

Until next time, God bless!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Prayer Thought for the Week

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“Lord, I can’t live this Christian life on my own. 
Please lead me to people who love you and serve you. 
Help me to find where I fit in your body.”


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Morning Reflection (13): a sick week

Ugh, winter... It's a love/hate thing.

I love this (but not driving in it as I was doing!):

But hate this:

Yes, that is Miss Z, poor thing. You see, a little over two weeks ago Skipper got sick. He was sick for days before anyone else, but then it hit the others. Miss Bear and Critter felt icky and irritable along with a cough and gunk. Miss Z started off just fine with cold symptoms and a fever on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week.

Then Sunday hit. She tried to get up and eat and play and then, she was out. She slept and after a bit to try and wake up, but her eyes would kind of roll around before she would sleep again. She really started to worry me, especially when her breathing changed to this weird wheeze (I was thinking pneumonia as it is hitting so many around here). It being a Sunday, I took her to the ER. Poor girl cried some but mostly kept trying to pass out. Turns out she has RSV and the chest x-ray showed signs of mild bronchiolitis, nothing else. We were shipped home.

I spent the night holding her (she was slightly feverish, very restless, and I wanted to keep an eye on her breathing which seemed to have picked up in addition to the wheeze). She was pretty tired on Monday, but I thought we had turned a corner. She did not feel too feverish and tried to eat in the morning and even play.

Then, in the blink of an eye in late afternoon her temperature spiked way up and you could tell she was having trouble breathing. So much so, that my sister-in-law drove from twenty minutes away to check on her, she was so worried (she's a nurse).

Based on her observations and what she had me tell Miss Z's doctor we were again sent to the ER despite it being not quite five. Boy, we had a brush-off. By the time we got there, her breathing had eased up some so the doctor just said, yeah, RSV does that, just keep doing the motrin/tylenol thing (ok, so I paraphrased, but that's how it came across to me). We went home and wouldn't you know it, not ten minutes passed before her breathing was rapid again. Anyway, long story short, she did improve enough I did not have to go back, but when I took her into the follow-up doctor appointment, he put her on breathing treatments until the wheeze and cough is gone (still there, you can hear it + we went for another follow-up today).

All that, and I was one scared mama for a bit. Don't you worry, she's back to herself aside from taking some decent naps and having the wheeze/cough still.


We had a pretty good snowfall last night while I took Miss Z to the doctor and back. The kind where the roads disappear and you can't see 20 feet in front of you. I came home to the boys outside and my husband snow blowing. I thought I would help. Boy, was it cold!

I think white-spackled sweatpants could be the newest fashion. (Eh, Elisa? I did wear these out to the doctor's. They're great for when you can't wear normal pants. So they are very practical.)


I've been thinking a lot on the direction of our homeschool. Our days have not been so joyful or peaceful. One child is very resistant, even though I consider myself a laid-back homeschooler.

I found this article very helpful: Homeschooling Held Hostage.
"If you are not experiencing the “life” you were looking for when you began your homeschooling journey, it may be that you’re not giving the Lord permission to lead you there."
I am considering putting school on a partial stand-by (as if we didn't have a long enough break with moving house and the holidays!) to go to daily Mass, re-establishing chores in this new house, reading together, and continuing with Life of Fred, individual reading, and history. I think I need to work on being present. Too many "to-dos" are pulling me away from time with the kids. Always thinking, always changing. Trouble is, we get into a good rhythm and then life happens (oh say, a really bad migraine or moving house or getting sick or not being able to get off the couch for a week).


This post feels kind of complainy. It's not meant to be. This is my life at this moment, at this time. A few good thoughts to leave you with: puckered kid lips before bed, my daughter covering me when I said I was cold and lying curled up on our big chair, my oldest taking charge of breakfast and making sure everyone ate, and grandparents who brave thickening snow and slippery roads to take their granddaughter to dance class so I could take the littlest one to the doctor. And some little cuties with new glasses!


Until next time...

"Go to Mass every day and if possible, serve it. Do a little spiritual reading. Say devoutly your morning and evening prayers. Every morning make a brief meditation on a truth of our faith."
- Don Bosco

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Morning Reflection (12)

Time slips away so fast. Here we are, nearly mid-January. My baby just turned two, and in a few weeks, Critter turns seven. How do we slow down time? I read a poem to the kids this week about time, the author asking time to sit down and take a break, but alas, time never breaks.

When I think of time, I think of seasons. The past few years it feels as though I am finally warming up to a season before it is gone. In this busy life of mom I find it increasingly difficult to just be - to be present, fully, and without other thoughts or worries taking over. I have to continually force myself to focus, to listen, to slow down. Sometimes, when I am most disagreeable, I think how much easier this task would be if I was by myself, but the thought swiftly follows that if I was alone, well, I would be alone and then why do what I am doing?

I may not have as much time as I wish to sit down, breathe, and think through and sort my thoughts, but my brain still goes like crazy. It helps to write it down though.


On weather... Like much of the U.S., our weather was crazy this week with a lot of snow (and some ice) and crazy, frigid, arctic air. Thankfully, it is in the forties as I type this and raining. So now we will have a bunch of rain and snow melt to deal with, but I do not have to worry about pipes that are frozen, keeping a fire stoked, and frost forming on the windows. I can walk around in just regular pants and a shirt - no need for a housecoat and blanket at all times. I feel positively toasty at 69 degrees. By the way, our pipes that did freeze seem to have thawed without damage.


On School... Homeschooling is a journey, that is for sure. The last few months have been very reflective for me. I am trying to break from my own school experience (public) to set my children on a new path. I am trying not to worry when the seven year old has been stuck at CVC words for forever, but loves to scribble and sketch, tell stories, and has a natural way with real-life math. These few sentences are so inadequate to what I have thought of concerning school lately, but overall, it seems like our school was becoming to workbookish and a chore. Now, that does not mean I need to come up with crazy and outlandish projects. It just means, I want to step back and help guide the children in learning, to not rush, to explore, to listen, to observe. I think I started that way, but it has definitely been lost, no doubt as our school days were shortened with a new baby and then ill health.


On Health... Speaking of health, today is a very good day and in general it has been, especially comparing this time of year to last year. It appears that I am now dealing with asthma. ??? I have never had asthma (that I know of) but had a sudden, and near emergency attack, last May while on vacation. At the time, I chalked it up to a preventative migraine medicine that I was taking. Anyway, December was a rough month, probably because of a cold I caught over Thanksgiving that went right to bronchitis. Up to this point, I thought, ok, asthma, whatever, but then it seemed the albuterol was not working, and I had a really bad week. The doctor questioned his diagnosis and sent me for some tests (CBC and chest x-ray) which all came back clear thankfully. My lymph nodes along the left side of my neck and above my collarbone swell up, which freaks me out a bit, but in trying to distance myself from the situation, I really think it's boiling down to autoimmune junk and that I need to be serious and dedicated to overhauling my diet. I have done so in the past and felt better temporarily (so I thought) and a friend recommended not only going grain-free but following the paleo autoimmune protocol and making sure to eliminate high histamine foods. People, that is a lot of restrictions but still very healthy with protein, lots of vegetables, and fruit. With moving and the holidays, food started seeping into my diet that I usually do not partake in. It's highly probable that it is affecting my health. I know how difficult overhauling the diet can be so I am breaking it into steps. This week is about no dairy, eggs, and legumes, which I never ever should have started eating again. You think the weight gain alone would have stopped me! Next week I am overhauling breakfast, even the kids' breakfast. I will post success with that if anyone is interested. Time will tell how this helps. I know it will help some, but will it help everything? That is the question.


This Week... Keeping quiet at home. Learning, reading, back to a daily rhythm. Finally arranging all my clothes from moving. Taking down Christmas items.


A Final Thought... I am trying to take part in The Motherhood and Jane Austen Book Club. Pride and Prejudice is the first book. I have not read very far, but I find myself very intrigued to read these through a mother's eyes. In the very first chapter we read concerning Mrs. Bennet:

"Her mind was less difficult to develope. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married, its solace was visiting and news."

I read that, and was like, whoa, what a dispiriting way to live. What happens when her daughters do marry? What will keep her going? How do I want to be different, to be contented, to find solace in the every day and in God, to grow mentally and spiritually. As for visiting and news, I sure am glad that that is not my solace as I would be woefully discontented. Of course, in the end, Mrs. Bennet and I are very similar in that we want what is best for our children. Ok... maybe that means a family of influence for Mrs. Bennet whereas for me it means stability and a God-driven life, but still, overall, she acts from that desire for her girls to have the best, and I am torn between the two sides of this seemingly shallow woman.


Have a good week, and God bless!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Suncatcher Art Project

We're off to a slow, but generally good, start to school this week. The local schools were closed all week except for today because of the crazy snow storm and arctic air that came through. It's rare that schools close that long around here. The last time I remember I was in elementary school (back in the 80's).

Naturally, the kids got sick this week. But aside from Skipper, most of us are weathering it well (he's doing better too).

Today we did a fun art project. If you have time to kill and fresh, new Sharpies, give it a try to brighten up some winter windows. 

All you need is wax paper and Sharpies (new is better but old will work, just not as bright or easy to work with). Tear off a piece of wax paper to desired size and color away. We were talking about stained glass windows so the goal was to make a replication. The more color you do, the better it looks hanging up. Of course, my kids like to do their own thing, and that is completely ok, most of the time. This is one of those times.

You could do a lot with this idea. It was fun. I was scribbling by the end because of a certain two year old, but can you tell what theme I came up with (because apparently I can do nothing unless it's themed!)?

Even Miss Z got in on the action. Give her a marker and the girl is happy.

Critter... He loves projects likes this. I'm not exactly sure what he was drawing. I know a house is in there, and I know he's not done. He'll work on this off and on for quite awhile before finishing.

Miss Bear... She loves circles and hands and scribbles like she is writing in cursive. Today she goes to the white board and asks me, "So what is 1 + i?"

Me: "Well, what does '1 + i' equal and I'll tell you what 'i' is?" 

Miss Bear, changing tactics: "Um, how many dog biscuits do you eat if you eat one and..."

She trails off so I say, "I don't eat dog biscuits. I'm not a dog."

Miss Bear: "Well, the dog wouldn't eat the biscuits because he's mad. Why is he mad?"

Me, guessing, "Because you didn't feed him? Didn't play with him?"

Miss Bear: "Because I wouldn't take a bath with him."

The conversation fell apart after that. This is a typical conversation with her. She loves to tell stories.

Skipper... Who gave me the inspiration of a sun. I love that he always loves to draw the host and chalice in all his drawings.

What do you do when you're stuck inside and sick but not too sick?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

Today was cold and blustery at -12 just an hour ago, but sunny. Though the Catholic Church in the U.S. celebrated Epiphany yesterday, we chose to do it on the traditional, today, January 6th. 

I had a few more fun things planned today as well as an easy start to school, but a certain little student has been more than difficult in cooperating (Any homeschool moms with advice? I'm struggling with this one.). Skipper was out sick (like passed out on the couch with a fever ill) and I was still feeling half and half with whatever is going on with me (thankfully I felt really good after a rare afternoon nap - thank you, Miss Z!).

So, we pared it down to a few "kingly gifts" to the kids (bubble bath, chocolate gold coins, and smelly markers), reading a few books while the kids sketched...

And a special dinner with a king cake after. Critter helped decorate the table.

And he found the bean again this year!

Happy Feast of the Epiphany to you. I sure hope this finds you warm and cozy at home and with family.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hanging onto Christmas

We're hanging onto the Christmas spirit here. Not quite in the way I wanted to since a health "flare" happened which has me moving slowly (or not at all). In general, my health has drastically improved but I keep experiencing these "flares." That's what I call them anyway since I'm not sure what's going on (neither does the doctor as all tests so far have been normal... thankfully).

We didn't quite get the promised 11 inches from the last snowstorm but still plenty at around 8 inches. The sunny days have been so nice since we are stuck inside. It makes the snow all sparkly and our rooms warm.

We are stuck inside because it has been cold! Yep, the van said -6. We have a break today with temps around 30 degrees so we'll head outside to play and sled! But another storm with 8ish inches is coming (and possibly ice to start off with) followed by extremely cold temps, like -40 wind chills. Oh brr... Have I mentioned our furnace keeps making this loud boom and last night it sounded like an explosion? I pray someone can come out today to check it out.

Cozy fires have been nice this season.

So we've been reading, watching some Christmas movies, playing with friends (who are moving to Tennessee today), eating too much sugar (the kids), and trying to get back into a nice sleep schedule (hahaha). And those kings? They're slowly making their way to the nativity. Soon, soon, kings, you will reach your destination.

I love Epiphany and I just hope the day finds healthy kiddos here (as it seems Skipper is coming down with something again). We like to have a king cake with a hidden bean for good luck, a few gifts, blessing of the house, and the arrival of the kings. Do you do anything special for Epiphany?

Christmas Painting

Here is a very easy and fun painting. I printed out different Christmas coloring pages on cardstock (for durability), used different flavors of kool-aid and added water in small bowls, and voila, instant yummy smelling Christmas painting ensued. I used printed coloring pages for ease and knowing my kids would like it but a blank page would do just as well too. **NOTE: kool-aid can stain so plan more appropriately than I did!**

Miss Bear's

Miss Z's



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our Family's 2014 Patron Saint

Using Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint Generator, our family's 2014 patron saint is...

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Feast Day: November 18th

I have seen this saint's name before, but knew nothing of her. Reading a short biography, the few items that jumped out at me... Her family was Catholic but were they really practicing in their hearts or just going through the motions? (They didn't want her to be a nun - "violently opposed.") Her mother gave St. Rose her religious education. (What about her father?) St. Rose was a teacher of sorts, prayed constantly, and kept doing God's work despite hostile government, unknown territories, and illness.

I look forward to learning more about her.

The Motherhood and Jane Austen Book Club

I love Jane Austen.

If you do too, or always wanted to read her books, read on.

6 books + 1 year = book club.

That's right, you read one book within two months, discuss along the way with a final live chit-chat over the book. Then repeat, ending in December.

What makes this more fun? The discussions are prompted from a view of motherhood, especially looking to the mothers in Austen's books.

I think this will prove very interesting, as I have read most of the books on the list, but it has been years and pre-motherhood days for me. I look forward to a new perspective. And I love that Austen's books are an "easy" read for this busy mama.

It's easy to join. Here's the Facebook page and here is the original blog link.

And if you like to read classic books in general, I found this post very helpful in listing different book clubs/lists.

Happy New Year!

We are so very blessed. Last night was full of family fun and laughter and (good) tears and games and food.

Little cuties ran around, like Little Miss Z, who held out for the ball (and that's without a nap yesterday!):

We were visited by a queen (the king is in the background) - sorry for the blurry picture but it is a cute one and very Miss Bear.

We played our annual Pictionary game, men vs. women. For the I don't know how many years in a row, the women won again (and actually won two games as we were able to get through two somehow this year!).

Pictionary is hilarious, especially as the drinks flow. Even with losing year after year, the men still come back for more, that's just how fun it is for us. I think I know why the women win. Here's a typical turn of the women:

"Tree -- Forest -- Fairy -- Peter Pan -- Youth" (Not an actual play-by-play but you get the idea of random, yet connected words, that eventually lead to the answer.)

Here's the men's way: First silence with a grunt or two and then "tree ... Tree ... TREE!" as if by shouting a word louder and louder the answer will come.

The women really are no better at drawing, just in talking. Oh, here is the highlight picture of the night. If you can guess it, I will gladly give a prize. :) Category: Object.

Today will be a quiet one, full of recovery and cleaning (lightly) and our last vacation day as a family. I have a little Christmas activity too, something simple, to continue our Christmas season celebration.

Of course we have been to Mass this morning, and though tired, I love Marian feast days. Let us always remember to say yes and yes again to God, just as Mary did.

A picture of our house turning in after Mass this morning. We had a few inches of fresh snow last night, and a storm is supposed to come in today through tomorrow, leaving us with up to 11 inches. Fun!!! I'm staying inside, all warm and cozy, next to a fire and hot soup. Thank God for shelter, clothes on our back, family, and food to eat.

God bless you in this new year.