Outside my window... Dark, moonlit, warm and breezy
Around the house... Oh boy. I realize the clutter won't go away by itself and needs regular attacking. I get one spot cleared and 3 more pop up in its place! The kids' pillows are spread on the floor for TV watching. Benjamin has scraps of wood and tools around where he is "building". Some toys are out, but will be picked up for bedtime. Several big boxes ("playhouses") have been exiled to the back bedroom just so I can see some clear floor area. I am tempted to add them to the trash pile for tomorrow, but the kids have so much fun with them, I may let them stay another week or so. I wish we had a basement or attic or somewhere that the kids could keep this stuff as my chaos tolerance is low and the only place they play is right in the middle of it all, the "great" center of the house which is all one area. In the same space is my computer area, my dining room table stacked with books and catalogs and magazines, and baskets of laundry awaiting my attention. Oh, and the kitchen. Calgon!!!!
In the yard... I had to weed around the patio as the "rain forest" is encroaching on our living space. The weeds went crazy! I pulled them out by handfuls and slowly realized something had a familiar, green, garden-y smell - bean plants! We had played with dried beans outside earlier in the year, and some of them ended up sprouting and growing into huge plants. I only noticed before I pulled the last 2 out, so I left them in to see what they will produce. I am sure they will not be green beans! Maybe pintos? Can't remember what they were... Anyway, I didn't have to worry about my flowers drying up, as Mother Nature has taken good care of them for us. After this week's rain, they are doing great!
From the kitchen... I am planning to make some soft molasses cookies tomorrow. We need something homemade around here. Last week we "ate on" a big pot of beef stew all week... hastening Fall, I guess, but it was nice to have something ready to heat from the fridge. I guess we are getting tired of summer food. This weekend I have to come up with a nice meal that I can share with my friend whose daughter is in the hospital - mama has been eating snack food for 2 weeks already and needs something comforting and nourishing. Pondering what it will be.
Cultivating beauty... This one stumps me every time. Apparently I don't do this much. Nope, can't come up with a single thing other than continuing to clear the horizontal surfaces.
Living the liturgy... I am going to steal my friend Jamie's idea to make a liturgical folder for each month of the school year with a theme, a saint, a song, a prayer and a virtue. At least I will use it for inspiration since I don't know exactly what she has in there (yet). Sounds to me like a perfect solution to keep a disorganized mama like me on track. Here's one of my go-to resources for craft ideas to go with liturgical seasons and feasts: Catholic Icing. Lacey is so clever and fun!
Learning notes... It is summer, but we are no slackers. Well, actually, we are always slackers in the sense of being terribly relaxed... but I really like this time of year for science exploration. We have watched maybe a dozen of the short videos in the series The Way Things Work (from the library), and they always spark lots of interesting discussion. Sometimes it's way over our heads, but that's OK. We are always online looking up answers to questions that come up. I just had to search some photos of London Bridge for Benjamin, who was asking me about iron bars and other complex issues. What I always thought of as London Bridge is really the Tower Bridge (much more impressive) but the history of the former was fascinating. Onward! Tomorrow we are looking for growth rings in tree stumps. Somehow the questions always come up at bedtime so I have to postpone the searching! Or I get curious and do it myself the same night. I try to back it up with library books or any real life materials that might apply. We are reading, reading, reading (too much to list) and I keep sneaking history videos and books in for my own satisfaction. (Darn it, I will produce a history lover somewhere in this family!!) Nice discussion about the settling of America, tonight, so that's a good sign.
The kids this week... Ah, it's all about the bikes lately, and that's good. We are desperate for a change in the weather so we can get out more and exercise till we drop - we all need it. Today was Jeff's birthday, and his parents gifted him a very nice bike they no longer use, so that he can go riding with Brendan. Benjamin is heartbroken that he doesn't yet have a 2-wheel bike, and cried many huge tears and also rudely demanded that we buy him one "on payday", ha. His birthday is in 3 months, but I think he may die of grief before then, what to do??
Last weekend... This time Jeff took the kids to Lowe's for the Build and Grow workshop, where they made bug boxes. Big fun for them, and I got to sleep late with Molly! It was too hot to do anything outside, so we stayed in, and even went to a very late Mass on Sunday evening so that the sun wouldn't cook us while driving. I like that we often see my brother Michael and his wife Laura when we go there.
Some plans for the week... Currently trying to decide if and when to put ourselves through the State Fair experience. It starts today, but we have only a couple of nights that could work. And of course, the weather is about to turn blistering hot again (as opposed to just horribly hot, as it continues to be). Jeff and I have always loved State Fair, but as we say frequently now, it's just not the same as it used to be! That's because we have to do all kid stuff, and we don't get to wander around aimlessly in the vendor area for hours. That is not fun with a bunch of small ones. But the kids love the midway and we love watching them love it, so... decisions... We will also be having some kids over to play at some point, since we've been laying low due to germs in the house while Jeff was sick recently. Ready to socialize now! We managed to get to Aunt Katie's for playgroup today and had a lovely visit with lots of friends and cousins.
Pondering in my heart... exactly how to approach the school year and which materials we will invest in. We use a lot of random things, mostly free, but I feel the need to be more intentional in some areas this year, particularly faith formation. How to be free to learn, but build some structure into the day. How to keep things simple and uncomplicated, yet make the learning environment richer. I'm glutted on food for thought, thanks to the internet, but I keep coming back to the beautiful lifestyle portrayed in my favorite educational book of all time, Real Learning. It's my wavelength!! And I know that its author, Elizabeth Foss, has been moving towards simplicity in her own journey too, so I consider all that I have gleaned from her in the last year or two as well. She makes me think like no one else.
I am thankful for... A much-needed step forward in Jeff's job, which we have been working toward since the dreaded lay-off 2 years ago. It means some lonely days a couple of times a week, but it's so much easier on him physically and he is so upbeat, wonderful to see. It will give us a little freedom to breathe easier. Thank you, Lord.
I am praying... for our friends' 17-year-old daughter Sarah, who is in the fight of her life against Burkitt's Lymphoma, undergoing chemo and a long hospitalization. Her courageous and faith-filled family are an inspiration.
A picture to share... Finally! Two years in the making... hair long enough to put up.