A Fun Activity For Kids (And Adults Also)

My mom bought Patrick one of these paint-by-sticker books and they've been so much fun.  They are addicting!

I've been teaching art on Friday's at school, and have some rambunctious, unable-to-focus boys. (I also get them right after lunch and recess and I also love them all and 'get it'.) . When we finished our art project one day, I filled time by borrowing Patrick's sticker-by-number book, had the kids get in pairs, and work on a sheet.  You would not believe it!  These boys were quiet, they sat in their seats, they LOVED doing this, more than any other project I've done.  I think it is something about the exactness, the numbers, the straight forward process that appealed to them-the ability to see the end?  I just loved what I saw-the ability to focus and accomplish a task, even for the kids who really really have difficult doing this.

They have books for all different ages.

The one I used in class for the fourth graders is this one-we all love it!

Here's some for ages 5 and up that are simpler and a good starting point for younger children, although if they recognize all their numbers and letters, and have the patience they could do the more difficult ones also.


As school is drawing to a close, I thought I'd share some summer ideas we use or have used in the past to keep some sense of order. 

We have a "Summer Bucket List",  just simple things like going to the zoo, and visiting the Dum-Dum factory, and taking a long bike ride on a new bike path.

Patrick and Janey BOTH need to practice school work every day-Patrick loses math facts quickly I've found, and Janey is bursting into reading so I need to keep that going.  I've used Summer Bridge in the past, but this year I have so many fun workbooks around the house.  I already made a visit by myself to the library to pick out books for them both, which is sometimes easier for me-I can concentrate and give them new ideas.  (As in less sports biographies, which are fine, but maybe some inventors, etc.)

A few morning summer camps thrown into all that-maybe I'll regret or not, I always just try to guess that year if those activities will be beneficial for summer boredom, or more than they are worth in driving, and sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't.

We also are doing a very simple job list-like water outdoor plants for Patrick, and straighten up garage for Janey.

Andrew is taking a hard class at school, and unfortunately hasn't found a lifeguard job as he's not sixteen yet, but has his certificate all ready to go.  He is going to do a bunch of painting jobs for me outside.  Matt is busy working landscaping all day, and the older two are working in other cities, as they've flown the nest.  Lots of home visits planned for them which is always the best.  We also have a Beilein family reunion planned which is something we all so look forward to and Jeff and I will plan a vacation for ourselves at the end of summer, which I will need by then for sure. 

My summer goal?  A book a week.  And a daily walk, and a new routine of journal writing morning and evening.  I just attended the greatest little three hour retreat and it was so good for me.  The theme was Reflect, Renew, Reignite.  Why is it so difficult to me to remember to keep focused on my life goals, and to do that by daily reflection and inspiration to lead me to that direction?  My mother does it every day of her life.  What the heck?  It's more than buying a cute notebook which I must admit is one of the highlights of my week.  I found some at the grocery store (darn school supply section gets me every time) and bought every pattern because I couldn't choose one, so now I better be consistent and fill those suckers up.

I wish I could go back in time, because what a difference this daily journaling and reflection and gratitude list would make in every facet of my life.  No matter how busy you think you are, you must remind yourself every day who you want to be and how you want to spend your time.  It's so important!  Take my advice and there is nothing that will make your life fuller, better, in every way than this habit and I really want to finally be consistent with it.

The retreat leader had mounds of all these little books-she filled them with quotes, Bible verses and then had some where she, every night, would reflect back on her day and look at the interactions she had.  She'd write them down briefly-a brief list summary of the day-and then would put a smiley face or frowny face next to each one, depending on what brought her closer to God, or farther away.  She said then she could she patterns of what she felt she needed to work on-whether it was snappiness, or too much worry, or whatever she was struggling with in that time of her life.  BUT she also celebrated all the things she did holy and "right". 

Anyways, three more days of school and we are FREE!  No more packing lunches!  (I know we moms all feel the same-what is it about packing lunches???)

Encouragement For The Week

Rushing and a tight time table does not equal happy moms or happy babies or happy toddlers. Settle in. 
Settle in at home with your role as mother, 
embrace it fully and trust that the time you give these years-if you give your children your attention, and structure and find ways to enjoy your days at home, 
it will all pay off. 

Ordinary Days

A long catch up for us here, and wanting to keep track of wonderful memories.  Life has been busy, hard sometimes, fun sometimes, like it always is right?  Patrick wrote on a Mother's card to me, what does mom love?  When everyone comes home.  What makes mom sad?  When everyone goes back to college.

In no order but "spring":

Jeff and I and the three littles decided at the last minute to go to Destin for spring break.  We watched the weather and were lucky to be able to rent a wonderful condo owned by a friend.  Sunshine and warm temperatures every day.  We had so much fun!  Water was freezing but the kids didn't care.

Visited Seaside for a day and I remembered how much I love that place.  If I win the lottery which I won't because I never play, I would buy a house here first. 

Vacation tradition of way too competitive mini golf.

SOOOOO cold, but beautiful water.

Sunshine was heavenly.  

Matt came home to celebrate his 20th birthday, just for a quick weekend, and then back to school-can't believe his first year is over.  He loves it and is doing so well. 

Abbey had her senior art show the night before she graduated at a cool downtown space.  We are so proud of her.  Two of her professors who attended raved about her, and her work ethic and the quality of work that she would always strive for.  It came with a lot of stress on her part.  One of the professors we spoke with was one that was particularly hard on Abbey and gave her a lot of grief so it was extra special to hear that he had a lot of respect for what she has accomplished in the last four years.  It was one of those "well it would have been nice to know that earlier" moments for her, but then maybe that is what pushed her too.  Two down four to go!  

Corny photo mom made her take.  11,000 graduates.  Four hours long.  But really cool also.  So much excitement.

Found this old photo of Jeff and I in Florida when we were dating...same age as Abbey!  And I thought I was old. :)

Made it to a MI game.  Janey was thrilled-a cheerleader and a dancer!

So much fun at these MI games.  They had a great season and I am so proud of my uncle and excited for things to come.  (I don't get too passionate about sports can you tell?)

I went with friends this year to the Fem-Catholic conference and it was SO SO cool and we had a bunch of fun too.  Great speakers and I learned so much.  It was in Chicago-cold but pretty on the Loyola campus.

Janey's door.  I miss Kate so much.  My hurt heart oftens because of it.  She is such an inspiration to everyone you knew her.

When Jeff was shopping for gifts for me for my birthday he said as a joke to Janey, "Let's get this for mom."  She said, "No Dad I know what Mom likes here (TJ Maxx my favorite) and this is NOT it."  But I am sure she wanted it for herself terribly. Who doesn't want a glitter mermaid tail?

My beautiful sister-in-laws who I love and who gave me wonderful gifts and helped Jeff with my party.  We have been through babies and teenagers, and now engagements, weddings and grandbabies for them and it's so fun.  We can cry and laugh together at how our children are growing so quickly.

Janey at her best friend's play-they found this pic of "Blue Christmas' and thought Janey found her match.  A good laugh.

A couple more Florida photos-Janey found these on sale for $10 and even though yes I know they are awful, she fell deeply in love and I couldn't resist.

Lots of digging and sand castle building.

I sit in front her Mary a lot and pray and find peace.  Our church is so beautiful.

I gave a wedding shower for my sweet niece Chloe and it was gorgeous.  All those SIL's pitched in and my other niece and Chloe's sister Tori did a fabulous job. 

The gorgeous bride.

Isaac had a long awaited surgery-weirdly he had one side of his jaw grow more than the other during college and it really threw off his bite etc, so he had both sides broken and matched up during surgery.  Wired shut for 6 weeks.  It was a very rough first week but was back to DC and work quicker than we ever thought possible and one tough but skinny guy now.  And we are so glad it's almost all over after waiting years for the right time to do it (had to stop growing first!)  Lots of smoothies and soups.  

School morning-usually one is chipper and the other is not.

Cousin love.

My sister who will kill me for putting this on my blog but who we are all so proud of because everywhere hospital she works at gives her these awards for being the best nurse ever or something like that and I don't doubt it because she is wicked smart, no nonsense and a super hard worker.

And finally, a gorgeous sunset down by the river.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful dedicated sacrificing mothers out there
who truly know what a gift it is to be called "mommy".

I am so grateful for my mother who has walked next to me, hand in hand with me, gently, while I navigated all the parts of my life-good ones and difficult parts too.  She has always been gentle, the best source of advice, and a wealth of spiritual knowledge.  I feel so lucky to have her as a mother.  From the always home made cookies and dinner every night, to the handmade matching clothes (and bikinis!), to the special back to school new uniform shopping, to the simple appreciation for nature and books, to my faith, to witnessing hard work and dedication, to consistent discipline and high standards for kindness and manners, and to always always being gentle and kind, to all the little traditions (birthday gifts on the stairs, Advent wreaths, downtown shopping), my childhood is filled with the best memories.

Thank you Mom.

Encouragement For The Week

Every birth begins as a mystery, an enterprise whose outcome cannot be foretold. We think, "may all be well." And all is well - almost always. 

But joy is only the beginning of the journey. And we must move forward, fueled by faith.

We can decide to be happy, make much out of little, embrace the warmth of our ordinary days.

Life unfolds as a mystery.  An enterprise whose outcome cannot be foretold.

We do not get what we expect.  We stumble on cracks, are faced with imperfection, bonds tested and tightened.  And our landscapes shift in sunshine and in shade.

There is light.
There is.

Look for it.
Look for it shining over your shoulder on the past.

It was light where you went once.
It was light where you are now.
It will be light where you will go again.