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Oh how we love tradition

September 2, 2014

Our beloved Labor Day weekend was blessed yet again. We love our trip to Callaway Gardens.

This year we were joined by college friends who have just moved to Atlanta. God bless them, they are still in transition, and yet happily joined us on a little road trip and day’s adventure. Everyone has a buddy!

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Our kids were delighted to have experienced a tethered balloon ride; something new to them.

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Papa has been up in a free flight balloon a few times, but ironically has never commented on how hot the propane blasts are up against your face. Sweet Michael accompanied them, but chose to sit on the bottom of the basket to avoid the heat. Katie said it was the greatest experience ever. I love her enthusiasm over new experiences.

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After the balloon ride, it was all about the beach and Robin Lake. The kids had a great time and really is the only time they play in such an environment.

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Thank God daddy got in the water. Elizabeth had a great time playing with daddy.

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These two girls have had so much fun together. Clare can’t seem to remember her name, often giving her an alternate name. At any rate, they have laughed and played pretend for three days straight. Clare is going to have serious withdrawals when the sleepovers and carefree days are less available.

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Check this out!!! This was truly the greatest new-to-us invention we’ve witnessed. What an amazing water sport. Still not certainly sure how it works, but really fun to watch.

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The Blue Morpho butterflies did not disappoint. We were so lucky to have been visiting the butterfly garden during this particular festival. The house was FULL of these gorgeous butterflies.

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The gardens are also full of natural butterfly attracting plants. I especially love the flowers at the Sibley Center.

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The Sibley Center is also generally our last stop. It’s the perfect place to play and they have the best climbing trees also.

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There is sure to be some catch and frisbee and football throwing also.

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This 6-year-old makes a great daycare leader. She had the girls doing all kinds of things! Simply precious!

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#1 is officially growing up

August 22, 2014

Our sweet girl surprised us this week with her maturity and ease at transitioning into the realms of growing up and becoming a young lady. I couldn’t be more proud or happy for her. She deserves all accolades ever given a soon-to-be eleven year old.

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She’s a fantastic big sister, a great student, responsible and generous, and loving. She takes life very seriously and loves to talk about everything. I’m continually amazed at her spirit so filled with virtue and sensitivity. I know God has a great plan for her and I’m so happy to see her already laying the foundation for great things. Day in and day out she teaches us all a great deal of what it means to be obedient, hard working, and self-sacrificing. I’m so honored to be her mom and watch her grow into such a great young gal.

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She’s also well on her way to becoming a Wilton certified cake decorator. She still talks about maybe becoming a baker some day. For now, it’s a great hobby. We are so blessed to have found a teacher that doesn’t mind having a younger student in the class. It’s a great Thursday night event for her. She finishes level 2 next week and was especially looking forward to tonight’s class on flowers. Aren’t her lilies really great?

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Not sure what this flower represents, but I like it’s pattern.

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She’s already envisioning her final cake decoration for next week’s class. I can’t wait to see it. She also hopes to gift that cake to friends who may make their way to Atlanta next week also.

I love you sweet girl. Thanks for making daddy and I so proud.

…and she’s off to school

August 16, 2014

Sweet Clare is our first to attend “real” SCHOOL. I might add that the big kids are a little jealous or so they claim anyway.

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The school opened another classroom a week before classes began and we were lucky enough to be one of the ones admitted to that class. Although, we had contemplated this decision in April, we had moved well beyond the idea of her attending school when the call came last week.

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Clare has always had more energy and a need for attention than any of our other children combined. Our family dynamic is interesting right now in that the two big kids are well immersed in their school and chores during the day and more inclined in the evening to play with the neighborhood kids than be home tucking in little siblings. Ellie is very much still a “baby” and with Max on the way that only intensifies the “odd man out” dynamic sweet Clare finds herself in more often than not. She’s not quite ready to really settle down to do school also, but she rightfully loves play-doh and painting and reading and singing and dancing and playgrounds and all things full of life. This, I find is really hard to provide her with given the phases of the other three and soon to be four. Therefore, true to our word, we are choosing school for her. We have said from the very beginning of this homeschool journey that we would only commit one year at a time, one child at a time. For Clare, this year meant she needed more than what I could give her at home. No doubt it’s already a great decision and we couldn’t be happier with the location or the school itself. It’s literally across the subdivision and in their 15th year, these women are devoted to their profession and truly loving on these little ones ages 2-5. We are happy to be part of their community, at least for this year.

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Ms. Lori & Ms. Mary immediately scooped our love bug into their arms and were happy to welcome her and all her affection also. They learned quickly that Clare doesn’t need to be invited. She just makes herself right at home. These two women are incredibly special and we are quite lucky to have Clare in their care three days a week.

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She’s in the owl classroom giving everyone quick access to her location for carpool, chapel, playground, etc. She loves being an owl and is quite proud of her little nametag.

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She says these lions at the front door are her friends. It’s a little mural created underneath the stairs in this wasted space area just near the preschool door. She always says hello to them when she walks through the door.

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Just as we presumed, this girl was ready for her time at school and didn’t hesitate in the least when we left. She had things to do and explore and friends to make.

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She tells me she has a blue friend and was very excited to see her blue friend today. I am not sure of another child wore blue today or if she truly remembered the boy from yesterday that was her friend and chose just to still refer to him as “blue” or exactly the scenario. None-the-less, it’s really sweet.

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This morning, she hopped out of the car, I waved goodbye and we were on our way to the next thing.

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Saying a prayer for my sweet girl, I look up to see her having stopped the office assistant on the sidewalk so she could turn around and wave to me as I drove away. I hear her yelling, “Bye mommy. Bye mommy. Bye mommy.” as I round the corner. Yep. Instant tears as I sobbed pulling away from that parking lot. Our precious girl does this every morning as her daddy leaves. As soon as she can’t see him anymore, she looks at me and says, “He’s gone” and we go inside to resume our day. However, I’ve never been on the receiving end of that same goodbye. I’m so happy for our sweet girl and her ease at making friends and adjusting to life outside our house. I look forward to seeing her grow in this year and resting easy knowing that she’s getting all the things a toddler deserves to experience.

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We love you baby girl. Have a great year!

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Salvador Dali & Mustache Mania

August 16, 2014

Today I taught the first in a string of art classes planned for this school year. This month’s lesson was centered around Salvador Dali and a brief introduction to his life, art, and fame.

As a man who loved attention, his mustache was one of the most iconic ways he gained attention. Hence, the mustache mania today.

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I had some really talented artists, both young and older. I really miss the classroom sometimes that these short little classes really boost my teaching spirits. I get so energized seeing young artists take blank paper and create something really unique. I think you’ll agree they turned out pretty great!

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I’m so proud of all my artists today. Thank you for participating and sharing your work also. (As an aside, not all students were photographed. It was by invitation. I’m happy to see so many shared their work.)

For those who participated, be sure to work on your nine trading cards this next month. Add some color to the front and decorate the back of the card. Keep all your papers in your binder to serve as your portfolio and bring it back in September. We’ll add the Picasso drawings and create new trading cards. You may choose to work in teams to complete the trading cards this next month. Don’t forget your dice! Register for September’s class HERE.

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Weekend fun!

August 12, 2014

Our weekends are sure to be filled with usually lots of activity. However, our past few weekends have been busy in the garage so play has looked a little different.

After being in KS for so many weeks, Katie was delighted to be back at archery for the last shoot of the season. There is something about 3D targets and prizes that make things especially fun. Now that she’s back home, it will be easier to be diligent about her exercises. Strengthening her arms and makes her aim more precise and her hand steadier. (Katie is facing away from the camera next to her friend with the blue hair.)

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Clare was so happy to have found a surprise from Aunt Jenny (delivered by Grana).

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Thanks to a generous friend, Jen scored Clare the best lot of Little Pet Shop toys ever.

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Simply amazing how much she loves these little critters. In fact, when we go to the gym, she begs to bring one in each hand. When I pick her up an hour later, she’s still holding those two.

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I hear little conversations from the backseat as we are driving. There’s sure to be one or two in my purse for every outing. I love that the accessories aren’t even so necessary yet. She just loves the little animals. I’m certain I haven’t even seen all of the animals as there are so many. Seriously fun though and she’s loving it. Ellie too for that matter! Well, she might just like a reason to climb onto the table.

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I definitely find them tucked away in many places throughout the house.

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Thank you to those with older children who share with younger children so generously. This house appreciates it immensely.

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Long live a tradition started many, many years ago. Ms. Rebecca is always so gracious to give our kids (first Katie and Michael and now the little ones) the chance to help her wash her car. Today, the occasion called for church clothes or rather the urgency to not waste time changing.

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What child doesn’t love water? However, it’s even better when you get your own water bucket and soap soaked sponge, and control of the hose and sprayer too. Simply fantastic!

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Ellie abandoned her pacifier to play in the water.

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Actually, maybe it was just to practice her dog impersonations.

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I love that Clare pretends to not want to get wet (after she’s already soaked) and begs to be sprayed with the water while protected under the umbrella. Hilarious.

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All finished.

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Their reward for a job well done….goldfish and the chance to dry in the sun before coming into the house.

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Now it’s the start of a new week and a school week also. New things to come in this week.

First Day of School Excitement

August 12, 2014

Ugh. What a bummer. I had my original post almost completely finished and then “lost it”. So…I’m starting over. It’ll sure to be shorter than the first as it’s late, but I know I won’t get to this tomorrow so there’s no time like the present.

School started for us today. It seems so late to be starting, but it seems (after having gone back through the blog) that our start date really varies wildly from year to year.

The kids always wake to find their school supplies on the kitchen table.

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This year, I asked them if they’d like to help me select the supplies. They both shouted a resounding, “NO! We want to be surprised!” Well then. It seems, however, this year I was less apt to choose correctly as they happily swapped several things among themselves.

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We are doing a few things differently this year, so we’ll see how it works. I’ve added all their week’s papers to one binder hoping to cut down on my inability to get things graded in a timely manner. I’m also hoping it saves them some time not having to locate extra books. I’ve also given them each their own assignment book/calendar. I was especially delighted when Michael remarked today, “Mom. Thank you for my book. It really makes things a lot easier.” I love when an idea actually gets executed and then is something valuable at that. You can see Michael’s book and interview HERE and Katie’s HERE. Their yearly interview is on the back cover.

School supplies also include a little sweet something as a treat. The big kids had to wait to eat theirs, but the littles got theirs while waiting for breakfast. I know….I know….terrible parenting, right?! They were happy and quiet waiting for their “big” breakfast to be made.

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Clare was delighted to suck on her lollipop all day. Elizabeth was delighted to try to spend her day stealing it out of Clare’s hand.

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Clare always sits on the front porch and yells goodbye to daddy as he leaves for work. This morning, I sat with her. As we walked into the house, I noticed that a little visitor had been perched behind our heads on the screen. I hear they are good luck. I took it as a first day of school omen. Yippee!

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The first day of pictures are of course a bit of a tradition. It seems hard to believe we’ve been schooling at home for so many years and how much the kids and the dynamic of our house has changed over those years. WOW! Want a trip down memory lane? Here are our first day of school pictures over the years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Katie has really grown so much this year. Middle school already!! WOW!!

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Michael starts the year with the classic toothless school picture.

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The pictures of Clare might be a bit overkill, but this girl is seriously a child of many personalities. I couldn’t resist showing several of them to you in this post. She makes life interesting and certainly full! She starts school on Friday (the first of ours TO GO TO SCHOOL), but I was only getting the apple out once. Can you blame me? I’ll post her official first day pics on Friday.

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I hope your year brings you this much joy! Blessings to all school kids and their families whether schooling at home or otherwise. It’s sure to be a full year!

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Sarah Harkins Birthday- An Invitation

August 2, 2014

sarasusybob:

What a beautiful way to celebrate the ultimate birthday…united with loved ones left on earth as you celebrate eternal rewards in the presence of the beatific vision. I’ve offered my spiritual bouquet and invite you to do the same!

Originally posted on A.Thimons:

On Saturday, August 2nd… it will be Sarah’s 33rd birthday. But it will be her very 1st birthday in heaven! She could not have received a better birthday gift, as she herself even said on aher blog post dated August 2nd 2009:

Today is my 28th Birthday and I received many wonderful birthday gifts, but the best one was from my Lord- he gave me the gift of his precious body and blood at Mass today. I couldn’t think of a better birthday gift! He loves me so much that died on the cross and rose again so that I could be with him in heaven. Today he again poured his never ending love into me through the Eucharist. He knows my every need, and he knew that today, I would need Him most of all. It was actually quite by accident (or divine intervention) that we…

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