Dear Baby Girl,

There is a large bag full of pretty yarns in pinks, lavenders, and creams waiting to be made up into blankets, jumpers and soakers for you. There is also a packet or two of tops waiting to be embroidered, and a fresh set of flannel receiving blankets which will be warmed up and used at your birth. Soon I will be visiting fabric stores to buy pretty stuff to make you dresses and girly bedding… and your baptismal gown. Maybe we’ll have another baptism on Christ the King – just like Louis! What a glorious day to come into the bosom of the Church family!

We’re all looking forward to seeing your sweet little face, and kissing your precious little hands and feet. We’re so blessed that you’ve come along to join our family. You are loved more than you will ever know.

It’s a…

GIRL!

We’ve evened up the numbers – 4 sons and 4 daughters.  I like things to be nice and even, balanced.  The news is too new to have sunk in completely yet.  I thought that I’d have set straight to work shopping, sewing, knitting.  Instead I’m waiting…  I’m waiting for the reality to dawn that we’ll welcome a little gal after two very rambunctious boys.  She’s in awfully good hands as far as protection goes.  I’m certain that “the sons of thunder” will flank her every move, ready to challenge anyone they perceive as any kind of threat to their little princess.

So while I’ve got a pile of sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery to do – and a new Christening gown to design, I’ve got lots of time to think of a name for our little darling.  After three older daughters, I feel like I could use a little help deciding.  In order to encourage folks to suggest names for the baby, I’m doing a giveaway – a little gift of handmade soaps and balm worth between $20 and $30 (check back later for a photo).  All you need to do is to leave a comment below with your vote or suggestion.

To help you out, I’ll tell you a little bit about us.  Brian is French Canadian, I am largely Celtic (a combination of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish).  None of our children have Celtic names, but of course, Brian does – ironic.  Our children all have very conventional names, no oddities – my name is odd enough for the entire family.  We’re Catholic, so we like names that also belong to Saints, or are somehow related to them; and we like to name our children after special people in our lives (relatives, friends, etc.)

So far, our roll call includes::

Catherine Elizabeth

Andrew John

Caroline Grace

William Henri

Sophie Mireille

Louis Charles

James Edward

On our list of possibilities so far are::

Cecilia Jane

Emma Charlotte

Josephine Violet

Marie

Evangeline (most likely as a middle)

Arabelle

MaryRose

Claire

So as I said, just leave a comment to this post with your vote – or a whole new suggestion – and we’ll choose a name at random to take the prize!

Natural Beauty

Our son James would like to share with you his secret for soft, kissable cheeks…

Apple yoghurt facial.

Step One:: Have Mama open the top of the pot; ask for a spoon.

Step Two:: Eat half the yoghurt (it’s delicious)

Step Three:: Put the spoon down and reach one hand deep into the pot; scoop out a handful of yoghurt

Step Four:: Rub hands together to distribute yoghurt evenly; clap hands together if desired. This creates a lovely speckled effect over face, arms (and neighbours).

Step Five:: Rub hands over entire face and squeal with delight.

Step Six:: Wait for Mama or one of your older siblings to come take you for a bath.

GUARANTEED TO GET YOU LOTS OF SMOOCHES, OR YOUR MONEY BACK. 😉

Dry…

I’ve been feeling a little creatively empty lately. No beautiful posts to post, no photos, no inspiration…  Just nothing.

Photo Credit:: Cate

I think that is due in large part to the fact that our life as family is up in the air – and has been for several months.  What I mean is that we are still looking for a new nest.  We’re both, Brian and I, hoping that my juices will start to flow again once we’re settled in a new home.  But we don’t know when – or even WHERE – that will be.

Another possibility for my lack of motivation is my change in activity.  I’m finding new networks to be involved in.  I need that change – but change is so very difficult.  I was feeling that the groups I’d been involved in for many years were adversely affecting me – stealing my joy.  I quit just about everything to give myself the chance to re-evaluate where best to spend my screen time once I’m ready to get back to it.  But the silence has been a challenge to adjust to.

Photo Credit:: Cate

On the other hand, there is a degree of joy in just *being* right now.  School (theirs and ours) has kept us busy.  We’ve been out in the beautiful sunshine planting a big raised-bed garden and dreaming of canning and pickling projects later this summer.  We’ve got about half our garden built and planted – perhaps next week we’ll finish it all up.

Photo Credit:: Cate

Today was a particularly productive one.  Our new online magazine – “Family Centered Living Magazine” has finally gone live.  It’s the culmination of years and years of contemplation and planning.  We’re all really pleased at the results so far.  I have a feeling that my involvement with FCLM and our other online magazines will be a source of renewal for me.

It occurred to me that this dry spell is not so very unlike the dryness we sometimes experience in our prayer lives.  The trick is to persevere.  Keep on plugging away and something will begin to break – like new green shoots from dormant seeds beneath the earth.

PUSH – persevere (and pray) until something happens

Rite of Spring:: Re-organizing

It seems that every spring I get the urge to re-organize everything.

My re-organization always begins with schedules and forms for my home management book.  I’ve also been refining the chore system that Brian and I designed for our kids several years back.  I hope that one day, I’ll have all of these things down to a perfect science so that I won’t have to edit or refine anymore. I think that’s an unrealistic expectation.  Our family changes constantly as children grow, our business changes, and our specific wants and needs shift.

I am unable to function in a chaotic environment. We live in a very tiny house – at least, it’s tiny for a family of ten.  I need to be hyper-organized in order to get through each day.  Lately… Actually, since we started packing out to move to the farm we thought we had locked up, our house has been a disaster area.  We still have boxes in the hallway, piles on the desk and floor in our entry-cum-office.  It feels very much like all of our time is spent cleaning up small messes while simultaneously trying to keep looking for a new home and keeping our businesses running.  Not a lot of school-work or fun is being accomplished…

Since I can’t immediately change our living arrangements, I can get us back on a scheduled routine.  If you have read my old blog “Simple Gifts” you’ll remember that our daily schedule is called an “Horarium”, which is a borrowed term from Benedictine monastic tradition.  The times and tasks haven’t changed much from what we’ve always had, but the little poster I hang up for all to see has a new image, new fonts.  Here’s how it turned out::

Horarium

And here is a link to a blank one that you can fill in::

Blank Horarium

Our laundry days have become a jumble – sort of catch-as-catch-can affair, and also needed a slight shift from what we had before.  Brian had made a very handy laundry schedule about 18 months ago.  I simple added an image, changed the fonts, and rearranged things a bit::

Laundry Day

And here’s a blank one for you to fill in for your home::

Blank Laundry Day

Because our family learns better with a less regimented “school” schedule, with plenty of field trips, long talks, good books, movies, and audio, I came up with this little reminder poster – bright and cheerful::

Gentle Reminder – Schoolwork

Please help yourself to a blank reminder chart (you can fill it in with anything you want to remind your children of, not just homeschool things).  You can get the same effect I got by using brightly coloured Sharpie markers::

Gentle Reminder – Blank

And finally, I’ve got the chore record for us to either post or keep in our home management book.  Our children receive a lanyard which holds laminated labeled with various chores.  We used to change those out daily, but it became quite a lot of work with such a large bunch.  Our oldest two will have permanent chores, and the younger children will have chores that change weekly or monthly.  When their chores are completed to our satisfaction, we mark the box next to their names for that day.  I still feel like I need some sort of sweet illustration at the top of the sheet, but hadn’t found one I love.  Not yet.::

Chore Record

This will be part of our newest edition chore system, which we will make available when we’ve got an illustrator for the complete project.

All I need to do now is put together Student Planner/Record Books for our kids to use to record what they’ve completed each day.  The older kids will also have project planning sheets for those things they wish to work on.  When I’ve completed the template, I’ll post a blank one for you to print for your child’s binder.

I hope you’ll find the blanks useful in some way.  If you have any questions about how to use them, please go ahead and ask…

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