The Magician’s Nephew Cake

Our school finished reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis last week, so of course we had to celebrate! The kids got to come to school dressed up as one of the characters from the book, and enjoy some Narnian activities during lunch.

At morning assembly, the headmaster planted a piece of toffee in a big pot, telling the kids that it was soil from the land of Narnia. At lunch time, we pulled back the curtains and lo and behold, a full toffee tree had grown, with toffee ready for picking! The kids went crazy- it was awesome.

There was also a trivia game that the classes competed in- winner got the silver apple. It is an actual apple, dipped in white chocolate, and spray painted silver. The first grade won, and sliced the apple into twelve pieces!

The lion was molded out of rice krispie treats by my husband. He is so talented, no?

Someday maybe

Wednesday was better than Tuesday. Our friends from church own a large property with lakes and trails just twenty minutes away. We took an impromptu day trip to go fishing and exploring. The kids are so content out in nature. They love everything about it- the preparation, the endless fields, the easy-to-catch fish, the fire, and the roasted marshmallows!

My grandfather still lives on the farm where my mom grew up. They used to have cattle, chickens, horses, and a large garden. I spent my summers there growing up- it was, and still is, my favorite place.

Neil’s grandmother lives on their family farm. Acres of wooded wonderland, hunting, fishing and blueberry bushes. We visit her every Spring Break, and although the farm is no longer in full glory as it was when Grandad was alive, it is my kids’ favorite place.

So being out on the farm with the kids this week awakened in me once again the desire, the dream, to someday own our own farm. A small farm- I am not oblivious to how much work it is to own land and animals.

I joked about moving in my last post, but the reality is that there are very few reasons that we can think of to move. We live in a great place and are very content here. But being out in nature, seeing my kids run and fish and dig and explore, makes me remember, and it makes me dream.

Doggone it

On Tuesday, we worked hard and fast to finish all our schoolwork and begin the holiday. August was at my parents’ house so in the afternoon we drove out to pick him up. The kids and I spent the afternoon with them and then headed home, excited for Neil to finish his workday and begin our short break and the many family traditions that revolve around this time of year. As I drove down our block, I ran over my neighbor’s dog. With both wheels.

I never saw the dog. When I felt the bumps, I thought it was a toy left in the street. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the owner run out and pick up the dog. I stopped the car and ran over, the dog shook for a while and then died in her arms. It was terrible. My kids ran over too, asking so many questions. I quickly sent them home. The woman cried and cried and told me it was okay and cried some more.

After repeatedly offering to take her to the vet, or animal emergency room, and standing around for about an hour feeling horrible while she rocked the dog and cried, I told her I had to check on the kids and fill Neil in on what happened. It was so terrible.

We waited for her husband to get home and walked two doors down to apologize to him. They were gracious and told me it wasn’t my fault, the dog shouldn’t have been out loose. Accidents happen. They assured me there are no hard feelings. She was still crying.

I wish there was something redeeming about this story, something extraordinary to tell about, but there isn’t. I ran over their dog, and it was terrible.

We have to move now.

This week…

Our street in Chicago


This week I am missing fall in Chicago. I’ve been missing the way the air smelled and the anticipation of the first snow.

I have also been thinking that I want to record more of the simple moments in the kids’ lives. It is easy to post about the parties and big events, but I hope to try to capture glimpses into their lives that are just as important. They are, after all, my bumper crop.

Antonella: Your teacher encouraged you in front of the class, thanking you for being helpful. You ran out after school and told me all about it. You got new glasses, and I sat in the background simply listening as you talked with the opthamologist. You explained to him why we only need four days of school. He turned and looked at me with raised eyebrows. I just smiled and nodded.

Jeremiah: You read. You really read. You’ve wanted to for so long. During an on-campus day, you stealthily slid your foot and pulled out the chair of the girl who sits next to you. She sat on the floor. You told me you didn’t do it to make people laugh at her. And you told me it wasn’t a mean trick. I’m not sure what your motivation was. During a bathroom break, you showed all the boys in your class how to spike up their hair with water. Your very patient teacher explained to you that although it wasn’t a good choice, you found out what a great leader you are. Yes, you are.

Samuel: You have been captivated with pilgrims and indians this Thanksgiving season. You told your teacher you’re pretty sure you want to be an indian when you grow up.  You made an indian headdress at home with your brother. At school the next day, making a headdress was one of the activities, but you already had yours. The whole class made matching ones and you wore the one you made at home. It was just a reminder to me that you don’t care what everyone else does, just like when everyone was playing and you quietly came into the kitchen and asked me if you could help me with anything. You greased the cake pans.

Augustine: You lay your head on my shoulder and whisper, “I love you, mom, ok? … You’re welcome.” Please stop growing.


This summer at the park

Adoption Day

photos by my father-in-law, Doug

Early yesterday morning we met our family at the courthouse. Everyone was talking about the weather–it was perfect. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law had the final hearing for the adoption of their son, Jesse. He has been with them for over a year, he’s already family. But yesterday was an important day. A day to legalize that he belongs to them.

As the judge declared him part of the family, he also legalized his new name. The name given to him by his mother and father.

Jesse will never remember the judge, or the courtroom, or even his old name. He will grow up with traditions and customs that are his own, that he will someday pass down to his own children.

However, he will grow up knowing that one day, someone stood before a judge and asked for him, wanted him, took responsibility for him, and called him their own.

It’s a beautiful Gospel.


Charlotte’s Web Party

Jeremiah’s kindergarten class finished listening to Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White this week, and to celebrate I helped organize a simple party. I was able to snap a few pictures of the activities while running around helping!

We divided the class into four groups and had them rotate through different stations in the room.

First, was Zuckerman’s Farm, where Charlotte hung on her web. The kids dug through the “dumpster” trash, like Templeton, and had to find words that describe Wilbur.


Then they each had to write the word out with white pipe cleaners and place it on the web to make it look like Charlotte wrote it!

These are some of the words they found…

The next station was the Somerset County Fair! The kids played a few carnival games and won prizes.

The prizes were small plastic pigs, rings with scenes from the book, “ticket” candy, and crazy straws.

For the next station, I brought our farm animals, small blocks, and a carnival Lego set. They got to build their own scenes from the story on the floor.

The last station was set up for coloring. We printed coloring pages and provided crayons… a few little girls asked if they could stay at this station!

For snack they had popcorn and pig cake pops!

The kids really enjoyed the party, and after sitting quietly all semester through the whole book… they deserved it!

Two things I simply forgot to do… I wanted to bring buttermilk for them to taste, and E.B. White has written a letter to children that I wanted to read to them. Oh well, I’ll have a kindergartener next year!

Wormy apples

I love to surprise the kids with a fun snack on days they are on-campus all day. Sam also happened to be reading one of my favorite books this week- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. He had apple-related activities at home and at school, including making apple sauce, baking an apple pie and counting seeds. We also had fun finding the little red house with no doors and no windows. And he loved this snack!

Wormy Apple!

I just made a hole for the worm with a pointy knife, but here’s a better way!

The Princess and The Pea Play Set

Antonella and I put together a little play set as a thank you gift for some friends. For inspiration, we looked at this one and this one!

The Princess and the pea and a tiny set of markers to draw her face, dress, crown, and color the pea… green.

The stack of mattresses! I think it would’ve been fun to make seven more of these to add to the set, but this is all we had time for. Hopefully enough for our little friends to stack and act out the story from their imaginations! I folded a long rectangle in half and sewed the long edges. I stuffed each mattress with two layers of thick fleece, and sewed the top.

The bag with a pocket for the princess and the pea!

All set up for a miserable night’s sleep!

A couple more things…

I answered some of your questions about the beds at the bottom of the post… Scroll down to read more information about the bolts, heights, safety and more.

The paint color is Creek Bend by Behr. My husband picked it out and I was really not convinced. It wasn’t until the beds were hung that I fell in love with it!

The ladder, seen unfinished here, was built by my dad for our library… and we cut it down to fit both the beds! He’s happy for it to get more use!

Please let me know if you build the beds–I would love to see pictures!