Thursday, May 28, 2009

small successes

FaithButtonHere is an idea as a pick-me-up from Faith & Family. Sometimes I start to feel overwhelmed with what I have to do and how there is still so much to prepare for the new baby (just over 3 weeks away now!!!) etc., etc., so this helped to list 3 small successes, which for mothers can amount to a tremendous success!

1- I cleaned every nook and cranny of my kitchen counter-tops. No small feat.

2- I have been diligent in getting into the Great Outdoors with the boys at least 3-4 times a week; this has proved tremendously worthwhile in the adventures,
exploring and good old bonding times we've had. We're trying to be in different
habitats... visits to the pond, beach, forest, and fields... I'm thankful for
where we live. Also began nature journaling!

3- Refining, refining, refining our curriculum and learning center plans for next
fall. It's ever a work in progress but it FEELS like a success whenever I add in
a nugget of wisdom, great idea or book, or delete/modify current plans. For not
being a huge planner in day-to-day life, I LOVE homeschool planning. Check out
our seasonal notebooks I made: chock full of themes, ideas, feastdays, reading
lists and crafts for each time of year. There will be constant additions to this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

must say

how much I love Crafty Crow again...

Just entered in the fabric contest!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

it's waning...

I'm feeling less and less inspired to blog these days. The problem is Facebook. Most people who read this blog are on Facebook and it feels rather redundant to post updates in two places. Plus there are some on FB who never read blogs and it's easier to keep up with them there. I can't deal with more than one social network online at a time I think. So, even though I've been posting only monthly or so, don't expect too much from this anymore. Get a facebook account! See our photos, updates and very important ridiculous quizzes there!!!

That said, here's the latest bullets:

  • Steve is neck deep in EMT classes. They are very time intensive and consuming but I'm really proud of him for buckling down and ploughing through his homework every night. We have 2 more weeks to go and so far this hasn't had a negative effect on our marriage like I thought it might. The communication is still great and we're on the same page with everything. Last night I felt so loved as he even took it upon himself to make dinner and SERVE me and the boys while I was sewing. Then he did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen! I pointed out to my boys how Papa was showing his love for me and the family and they marveled at it. (Steve in the kitchen isn't too common, unless he's rummaging for cookies.) Steve said "That's right boys, this is how you make love to a woman." hahahahaha! I'm so blessed. In addition to the EMT thing, Steve is also one of the coaches for Xavier's T-Ball and that takes up 1-2 evenings a week. Plus Wednesday night bowling league which he does for the chance to hang out with his brother.

  • I went to the NW Catholic Homeschooling Conference and it was very nice. I loved how the kids all just jumped in and played with each other, big and small, old and young... pick up soccer games for all. The talks were okay, nothing too novel for me since I already have a good grasp on what I want in an education and how I want to accomplish that. But I did get a chance to browse a lot of great vendors and get my hands on a lot of the curriculum that I've only READ about so far (managed to BARELY stay under budget in my purchases). As of now, I'm 33 weeks along and still without any set baby names... have a feeling it's going to come down to the wire with this one! I'm feeling fine, reading lots of books, spending lots of time outside, organizing the home when I'm motivated...

  • Xavier loves T-Ball; he has a GREAT throwing arm. He likes everyone on his team and this has been an overall positive experience. He's looking forward to going to the Mariners game we got tickets to later this month.

  • Leo is still his own special self. He's at his finest when he and Xavier are buddies at the moment. His tantrums are slowly becoming both less frequent and less intense; thank you Lord. He still needs some special attentions to help him work through some of his emotions occasionally. He and Dominic play awesome together when Xavier is at his games.

  • Dominic is a loveable lump of cuddles, preferring his father to anyone else on earth. He cries when he can't play ball at the games with Xavier, he wants to do sporty things all the time and he is the child who is always most eager to spend time outdoors.

There you have it! Here's the boys' Easter picture.

Monday, April 13, 2009

best investments

Okay I know I should probably do a life update or somesuch, but I've not the motivation right now. But I have been thinking lately about toys and the boys playing and such and it's caused me to reflect on what have been the BEST and WORST toy investments in our home. Strange how certain things appeal to us adults but not the kids and vice versa... or how price tag has nothing to do with the appeal on some toys. We like to have a limit on toys in general just because we don't want the boys to get too dependent on being entertained... and I've found that they'll spend more time outdoors and doing creative things than other kids we know just because their own toys are limited. So a couple times a year we gather up toys that we don't use or want and let them go! The boys expect this and are fine with it because they know there is always an 'incoming' of toys they can expect throughout the year on holidays/birthdays and garage sale finds etc. So as long as we have a healthy purging of toys now and again, I have no problem acquiring more.

Okay so in no particular order these are the items in our home that we've gotten the most bang for our buck: I'd love to hear YOUR most loved, best investments also... please share!

Hot Wheels (and other smallish cars):

We've got to have close to 100 cars or so in this house... but they don't seem to get old. They have a wide age-span of playability and they are very flexible with what the kids can do with them... they are a consistent presence in the play here on most days. Check out the new parking spaces I discovered when I opened up the piano the other day. Plus at only $1 each, you get to constantly flush in and out of new additions to the car box.

Unit Blocks:

We've had many little block sets come and go in the home... they've all gotten played with but eventually the paint chips or they just aren't taken care of etc. Unit blocks are a MUST in any home, in my opinion. These differ from other block sets in that they are sized to correspond with each other (e.g. Two square blocks are the exact size of a base rectangle; two triangles equal a square etc.). They are larger, sturdier (maple I think) and inifinitely fun in what the kids can do with them! Blocks around here build houses, race tracks, fire stations, roads, towns all kinds of things. We bought each boy a set for Christmas a couple years ago because they more you have, the more you can create, and they are forced to share and collaborate. The ones we bought were on sale at amazon at the time. A great investment!

Random pieces of cloth:

I'd love to buy some quality silkies like those shown here, but they're out of my price range. But I've picked up basic squares of different cloths at Wal-Mart or garage sales and such and the boys have been able to make capes, robes, ipromptu picnic blankets, and all kinds of costumes. Just a basic rectangle about 3 feet wide/tall or so and imaginations run wild.

Stuffed animals/ Baby dolls:

Now I never thought little boys would get into stuffed animals or dolls so much but they each have their own little boy baby, and we have a plethora of stuffed animals that seem to be constantly flushing in and out of our home and as long as the stash isn't GROWING, I'm fine with that. Generally new ones come in as gifts or from rummage sales etc, but older ones (except the most beloveds) find their way out the door too. Anyway, the boys do all kinds of pretend play with their animals, they dress and feed and wear (!) their babies, drive them around in laundry baskets etc. So while I'm not personally a fan of stuffed creatures, I see that the boys truly enjoy them and do imaginative things with them so they're here to stay!

Balls of all shapes and sizes:

I'll be the first one to admit that our house is a rough and tumble kind of home. Things don't always get taken care of they way we'd hope. Many basketballs, footballs, baseballs, bouncy balls etc., have come, gone, been lost, popped, ruined or roofed over the years. But, we ALWAYS have balls around. And they inevitably get used in one way or another or enjoyed for spurts of time while interest is there etc. And the advantage to this just became obvious to me. For example, people who have musical instruments lying around have a greater chance of raising musicians and just exposing kids to a variety of musical styles... it's the same with balls from all sports. Our kids shoot baskets, throw footballs, catch baseballs, bounce play balls, kick soccer balls etc. And they are all getting better and more coordinated at it. Xavier is in T-Ball this year and he's got the best arm on his team when it comes to throwing and catching (batting, not so much). It's obvious that he's had a lot of experience throwing things around and playing catch with his brothers and Papa. It amazes me to see some of the other kids throw the baseball with astounding inability... I'm talking 6 year olds who don't get the concept of when to release the ball and the thing only goes 3 feet in front of them, it's quite sad. So yes, balls of all types, have been great investments for many reasons.

Markers/Crayons/Colored Pencils/Paints/Paper

These also are in constant flux around here since they get ruined half the time, but I keep a close eye on the GOOD ones we have... but having consistent access to drawing and coloring materials has been essential in allowing the kids to be creative in an artistic way. They do some kind of drawing or coloring a few times a week it seems... and they even go in phases where they'll take a box of crayons, a couple coloring books, and spend the whole afternoon in their room!!!! It's crazy... but I'm not complaining!!!

Fisher Price Little People

I'm talking about the vintage ones as seen in our header here. They've played with the newer versions and will enjoy them for a while if they have them, but they always seem to go back to the old skool ones (which I keep in a giant storage bin and only bring out every so often) that aren't sold anymore (we got ours from garage sales, thrift stores and ebay). I've reflected on WHY they seem to prefer the older ones... I mean the newer ones are brighter, more detailed, make noises sometimes and overall more FUN looking. The old ones look boring in comparison. I mean just look at the picture on the top of the blog compared to this:

So my theory is that the kids prefer the older ones precisely because they can imagine more with them... THEY have to make the noises.... THEY have to pretend they're holding things and that their outfits are interesting or bodies are more than simple shapes etc. I really do believe that "less is more" when it comes to toys and if you give kids ambiguous, simple toys, they'll have much more to play with than the toys that do all the imagining for them.


Anyway, there's my compendium for now. Empty boxes also get used a lot around here, and anything new, whatever it is, will get loved and played with exclusively for at least a couple weeks. But as it goes, the boys eventually get bored with these and then shuffle back to their tried and true toys...

(Biggest disappointment? We have received some lovely puppets over the years; I have great visions of my kids lovingly setting up a show and creating all kinds of comedies and dramas with their puppets... but alas... they've not barely used them. I wonder if we have a girl that this will change... because I refuse to part with these whenever purge time comes!e)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Well, it's obviously been awhile since I've updated this blog. A couple of reasons:

1- My camera is broken. Thank heavens we were still barely under warranty so it's being repaired... but they've been taking their sweet time.

2-We've been really busy!

3-I spend probably an inordinate amount of time on Facebook and much of what I post on here feels rather redundant. I'm thinking about quitting the blog altogether again (I know, I'm such a waffler) especially since most the people who read this blog are now on Facebook so there's that option of keeping up... but I'm not sure.

A quick update before you don't here from me for awhile. I'll be offline throughout Lent; though I'll check my email weekly or so (probably Monday evenings if anyone wants to know).

  • I'm doing lots of organizing and spring cleaning around the house; it feels like there's so much to do and not enough to do it. But I am well into my 2nd trimester now so that's usually when I'm feeling my best and I need to take advantage of that!
  • Steve and I aren't coming to any agreements yet on baby names so don't ask! :o)
  • I'm sewing a lot lately, making lots of mei tais and enjoying that.
  • Steve is busy being Superman at work and home doing everything he can to juggle all the demands placed on him. He won Sailor of the Year and may be up for more awards this year on a national level! Still unsure of post-Navy plans... we're putting our faith in God and trying to be patient.
  • Xavier is signed up for Little League this year-- his first go at organized sports. What he REALLY wants to do is play football, but he's biding his time. Leo is getting better and better and simple math equations and letter/word recognition. He's quite a bit more advanced than Xavier was at his age. We're considering getting him involved in Tai Kwon Do... just so he has his own focus apart from his brother-- their competition can be brutal sometimes. Dominic is his little rascally self-- snugglicious still and his terrible twos aren't TOO terrible so far.
  • Upcoming Peck plans include an overnight date to the Seabee Ball (on Steve's birthday!), babysitting curtesy of my Mother in Law, a WWME retreat weekend in late March, babysitting curtesy of my parents, lots of liturgical Lenten activities around the home ( I encourage you to check out some of the posts written about this season on the old Coffee and Diapers website), a couple different community and church volunteer projects Steve and I are involved in, and a perfect day to celebrate my birthday: Easter Sunday.

So there's all that. Hope all of you are well. And we'll see what kind of conclusion I come to about the blog after 40 days or so. God bless!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

crafty crow

Notice the new link on my sidebar to The Crafty Crow. What a fantastic resource! I can spend hours just perusing the craft pictures and ideas... it's so great to have someone cull so many blogs/websites for great ideas and put it all in one place! So glad to have discovered it....

Planning Part II

Well, we've all been sick around here with some kind of "Mississippi crud" that Steve brought back with him, but laying on the couch is getting old and I figured I may as well try and piece together a bit more of our curriculum plans.

Dawn over at Sun and Candlelight has a fantastic planning tool with her monthly themes. I went ahead and copied them for my own uses, only changing up some ideas and making things more relevant to our lives and geography here (e.g. whale migration time, special family birthdays/feastdays, local festivals and field trip destination ideas etc.). I also put my book basket ideas on a separate sheet (hence the previous post) since the list is long and only grows all the time. I'm so very excited to get these all printed out and put in nice notebooks that I've taken extra care to decorate nicely (I find that if I put more effort into something, it'll likely get used/appreciated more... of course). Especially useful will be the concept of being able to put in one place all the different crafting ideas and such... I hated throwing away copies of Family Fun magazine for example... but now I can just clip crafts or ideas I want to remember and place them in my monthly notebook. Here is a great post she wrote on how she plans and then organizes hers.

This has been hugely inspirational to me on how to just be more organized with the rhythms of life in general...

Next up, specific curriculum planning on the academic side of things.