Life Lately

Leo turned six weeks old on Sunday! Already! These past few weeks have gone by ridiculously quickly, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicious summer will be here in the blink of an eye. We’re just now on our second week of homeschooling since he was born, and it’s been really, really good to be back into a routine!

Ready for a deluge of photos? Here we go . . .

Two-day old Leo:

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Four-day old Leo listening in on the pre-bedtime fairy tale:

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Those first few weeks were such a blur that I just have a few cell phone pictures to look back on . . . Here he’s four days old . . .

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The lineup for holding Leo:

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James is so delighted with his little brother. He loves to snuggle up beside Leo, tell him little secrets, hold him, walk around with him, etc. For a while he thought it was hilarious to have Leo suck on his finger – and then his cheek. One day I looked at James and asked him what was on his chin – it looked like a little patch of smudged marker. It turned out to be a hickey, because he had put his chin by Leo’s mouth when the little lad was hungry!

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My parents had a busy couple weeks before and after Leo’s birth, beginning with a holiday in Hawaii on holidays, followed by a trip to Japan to meet their new little adopted granddaughter. When they returned home, they drove over to our place to meet Leo, and to pick up the older three kids so I could have a few quiet days at home (which, by the way, were just as amazing as you might imagine! The glorious silence! I read more in those three days than I have in the past three months!).

Grandpa and Leo:

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Grandpa and the grandkids at his place:

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Jeremy and I drove down to the Fraser Valley at the beginning of his Spring Break to introduce Leo to his aunts, uncles and cousins, and to meet Noa, Duane and Skye’s daughter. She’s a month older than Leo, though they’re about the same size.

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Little treasures:

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Grandpa and Grandma, their new grandbabies, and a typical Sunday night dinner in progress:

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Our kids picked up a sickness during our stay in the Fraser Valley, and were miserable for the next week. I was so, so thankful Jeremy was off on Spring Break, as I was feeling quite exhausted just taking care of Leo (who also got a cough and stuffy nose) and myself. Jeremy made dinner for us, tidied up our home, and consoled the kids when they fell apart repeatedly. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Once they were feeling a bit better, we headed out to a park with some friends.

Alice and Beatrice:

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The kids just love holding Leo; it’s one of the best parts of their day. Whenever he gets up from a nap, they flock around him:
“He’s AWAKE!!!”
“His eyes are open, mom!!!”
“Oh, he’s so sweet and precious!” (Alice says this over and over!)
“Can I please hold him??”

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And then Jeremy’s parents came out to visit for a couple days! We loved having them over, and the kids made the most of every opportunity to play games with them, chat with them, and read books with them.

Oma and Alice:

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I think they were all looking for Waldo here . . .

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I love the look of expectancy on the girls’ faces here!

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And then there was the Triduum, the festive celebration of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday! We attended various masses, had a little Easter egg hunt in our home and had a special Easter dinner. ‘Twas lovely! Plus, it was a time of remembrance as it marked one year (already!) since we joined the Catholic Church!

Things have gone alright since Jeremy’s returned to work, mostly because I’ve felt overwhelmed and have been praying, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own! Please help!!!!!” And He has helped, providing laughter some days, patience on others, as well as reminders of just how young and in need of love my children are.

And some photos from the last few days . . .

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I’m a little biased, but isn’t he just such a little darling?!

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All of our children have been born with large eyes and a habit of staring at things raptly; Leo’s no different in that regard!!

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Alice and Leo:

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June and Leo:

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James and Leo:

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And one of Leo and me, too:

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It is beginning to feel springish here in the Okanagan! ย Walking around Munson Pond the other day we came across a muskrat swimming in the water, a beaver pond, some redwing blackbirds and sprouting willows buds – which google says is one of the first signs of spring! Hurrah for that!

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At the beaver pond:

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Practising his “tightrope walking”:

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Willows:

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We went out to a mountain bike training park the other day. It’s just five minutes from our home, and seems to be mostly visited by preschool and school-age kids who love biking. James was so thrilled!!! He crashed a couple times (the former pediatric ER nurse in me is scandalized I even let him try it without his forgotten helmet), but got back up and kept going.

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And it was Jeremy’s 35th birthday yesterday! We went for a pre-dinner stroll to the Mission Creek greenway and enjoyed a lovely afternoon outside.

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And one last photo to wrap up this lengthy post!

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James, June, Alice & Leo

Here are photos of James, June, Alice and Leo as newborns . . . what are your thoughts on the differences/similarities amongst them?

I think Leo looks like a mix of Alice and James in these photos . . . it looks like he shares James’s chin, and maybe Alice’s nose?

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Baptism Day!

Our little one was baptized on Sunday! How splendid to see him join the family of God!

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Leo wore the baptism gown my grandma made out of her wedding dress, and was snuggled up in a blanket crocheted by Jeremy’s oma! Pretty special!

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Introducing Leo!

We had a little baby BOY on Sunday morning!

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He was born eight days after we moved into our new home, and the day after my parents left after a quick visit.

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We are all completely smitten with him!

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What life in our home looks like these days:

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I”d been so sure he was a little girl I hadn’t really given boy names much consideration! Jeremy and I discussed boy names for a few hours after his birth, we re-read Kate’s baby name consultation, and eventually we decided to name him Leo Ignatius – Leo after Pope St. Leo the Great (who defended the church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ and prevented the spread of heresy), and St. Ignatius (whose letters strongly influenced Jeremy when he was first considering becoming Catholic).

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Jeremy’s got the week off of work, so it’s been a mostly restful week as we adjust to being a family of six… except for this morning when June accidentally closed the French doors while Alice’s pinky finger was wedged between the hinge and door jam. I heard a piercing scream from the kitchen as Leo and I rested in bed, and then Jeremy ran into the room with a towel wrapped around Alice’s finger – it looked like the tip of her finger and nail had come off. We packed up the kids and flew to the ER where Alice was sedated for a few stitches. She did really well; in fact, the doctor kept commenting on her cooperative nature (that’s totally Alice for you!). And her nail is still sort of in place, though the doctor expects it to fall off one of these days. Kind of like an umbilical cord? Thankfully Leo spent the whole time snoozing in Jeremy’s arms!

Alice with the teddy bear the ER nurses gave her:

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Moving!

Last Saturday we moved to our new home! The themes of the day were snow and help. The week leading up to the move we were watching the forecast with interest; it showed mostly cold and clear days, and then snow/rain on Saturday. And it turns out we got a huge dump of snow on moving day, about 15cm! It began in the morning and continued till mid-afternoon. The snow piles on either side of the driveway (hardened to lumps of ice) made backing into the driveway rather tricky.

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Made it!!!

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We had so much help that day! Tim and Kristi and their children came out, as did Brian and Terry, and Jeremy’s principal and our weight-lifting neighbour also lent a hand. It made for a very smooth day! When we moved from Fruitvale to West Kelowna, it took Jeremy and another guy all day to load the truck; here it took about two hours! Amazing!

James and Jake tended the ramp to the U-Haul truck, making sure it was clear of snow and debris:

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Mid-move:

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These two little girls puttered around cheerfully all day:

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After some scrumptious cinnamon buns (courtesy of Kristi, which totally reminded me of when we packed up our condo so many moons ago and she also made cinnamon buns for the movers!), Jeremy and the guys left with the U-Haul. Kristi and I stayed behind to tidy up and pick up a few leftover items, and by the time we got to the new place, everything was already unloaded! So we all took a good break and enjoyed some pizza.

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Since then we have been unpacking and re-arranging our new place. The weather has been very chilly (-19C one morning!) so we haven’t explored the neighbourhood yet… but just setting up our home has been enjoyable. And tiring! I’m 39 weeks pregnant today and definitely feeling every one of those weeks! It’s been such a relief, though, to have the move behind us – I was having frightful daydreams of going into labour before the move, or mid-move, and it’s wonderful to know none of those are going to come true!

A few days ago the kids and I headed back to our old home and cleaned it from top to bottom. It was a big job, and the kids were SO helpful! They cheerfully tackled the bottom shelves of the kitchen, wiped down the walls, helped pack up the remaining items in the fridge, etc. So we stopped in at a cozy bakery-coffee shop on the way home and had a little treat.

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I’ll have some photos of our new place once things are in their proper places and the house is not so cluttered! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 6-, 4- and 2-year old)

This is a little snapshot of what our days look like these days, a little time capsule of sorts to look back on in years ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

0530: Jeremy usually leaves for school between 0630 and 0700, but today it’s a Thursday, so he leaves early to go to Adoration, then continues on to school afterwards.

0600-0730: the kids are usually up sometime between 0600 and 0730, but they play pretty quietly on their own for the first hour of the day. I haven’t been able to fall asleep until the wee hours many nights (thank you, restless legs/pregnancy insomnia), so they know I’m not going to be up at the same time as them. They do pop in and out of my room during this time for the settling of disputes and other urgent matters.

0730-0800: my usual wake-up/get up time these days. I usually say some quiet prayers in bed before getting dressed and greeting the day.

0830: we make some muffins. We’ve got a pretty solid weekday breakfast routine going on here. We have oatmeal (made by James) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; German pancakes on Tuesdays; and muffins on Thursdays. This was a Thursday, so we whipped up some blueberry muffins (you can find my favourite recipe over at Once Upon a Chef) and boiled eggs.

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While the muffins baked, James asked if he could do a math worksheet, so I printed one from Math Fact Cafe. He is ALL about math worksheets these days. And about scoring 100%.

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Finally ready for brekkie! We added some tea to the mix seeing as a bunch of us have got sore throats today . . . And yes, June LOVES to choose her own colourful outfits, matching or otherwise. She often helps Alice get dressed in the morning, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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During breakfast we read through or review a chapter from the New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism. It has a Q+A format with illustrations the kids love to look at over and over.ย And then we read the Bible story that corresponds to an illustration in the Dore Bible Illustration book and James narrates it. I’m really liking this strategy – the Dore Bible Illustration book has gorgeous, classic illustrations and we can read out of whichever Bible we happen to have on hand (currently the NASB). The kids love paging through this book after breakfast, too and asking questions about dramatic pictures (the children who mocked Elisha getting eaten by bears, etc.).

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If the kids are still eating, we also read through some of our other religious readings likeย Our Island Saints (stories of holy people in the days when Christianity was just coming to Great Britain) or The King of the Golden Cityย (sort of a Catholic version of The Pilgrim’s Progress, meant for children preparing for their First Holy Communion).

Today day we read through a bit of The King of the Golden City. Dilecta (the main character) gives in to Self and her Lamp of Peace (a special gift from the King) goes out for the first time. The kids were very absorbed in the story, and June noted “the Lamp of Peace is getting a bit dim” a bunch of times during some squabbles later in the afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Garbage truck rumbles by and everything else is put on pause for a moment:

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1000 – the kids disperse and play while I tidy up the kitchen and check my email.

1030 – we walk to the mailbox and the kids play outside for a bit. Notice the kazoo in James’s mouth: “It’s a way of announcing my joy to the world, mom!” Haha!

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1100ish – Alice goes down for a nap. She’s getting to that awkward point where she can skip a nap occasionally, and sometimes it takes her a while to fall asleep . . . but quitting her naps right before the baby is born sounds like trouble to me, so we’re persisting for now. Also, look at her snuggle her new dollie, Mimi! Grandma gave her the doll a week or two ago and they’re constant companions. ๐Ÿ™‚

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1130 – we usually start school a bit after Alice goes down for her nap, but today James and June are rambunctious, so I send them back outside to play for a while. James happily honks his kazoo out there. I get some lunch prepped while the kids play.

1200 – school begins. We read some stories (Aesop’s Fables and The Burgess Bird Book today) and James tells them back to me. Then James completes his copywork, does some reading practice and solves some math problems.

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1300 – Alice is usually up from her nap around this time, so we wrap up our lessons, have some lunch and listen to our folk song, French song and a selection of classical music from our term’s composer, Antonin Dvorak.

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Alice is two (in case you were wondering), and she loves to show off her muscles. ๐Ÿ™‚

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1330 – our afternoons are usually unstructured. The kids go play outside for a while, or, if it’s cold out, they play in their rooms or the living room while I do a bit of tidying and get some laundry started. Sometimes I end up spending a lot of time reading about homeschooling online; other times I rest, or read a bit, or do some baking. Today I took care of switching over our bills to our new address in anticipation of moving.

1430 – James’s friend across the street usually comes home from school around this time and the boys often play together. Today the girls and I snuggled on the couch and read some books while the boys played outside.

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1530 – the neighbour boy goes home, and the girls head outside. James comes to the door every ten minutes or so to share with me what he’s been up to. I get a bit of reading in.

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This book by Cardinal Sarah is AMAZING! He is a humble, insightful, prayerful man with a fascinating story of growing up in the back forty of Africa.

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I could underline half of the book – like this quote from Georges Bernanos.

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1600 – the kids play indoors.

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They’ve been playing church quite often lately (here they’re both are holding up the crucifix while processing into church).

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1630 – dinner prep. Jeremy stayed late at school today, and attended a play in the evening so he wasn’t home for dinner (very unusual). So James helped a bit with dinner, and then we said some prayers together as the Lamp of Peace was flickering very, very low.

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1730 – dinner time

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1815 to 1900 – Jeremy usually reads fairy tales (from the Red Fairy Book or My Book House) to the kids after dinner, or chats with them about their days, or plays a game with them. Today the kids were falling apart because of their sore throats and coughs, so I brought them to bed early.

1900 to 1930 – we usually bring the kids to bed.

1930 till I go to bed – I’m usually rather worn out by this time, so I often take a bath, sometimes listen to an audiobook or watch a show, chat with Jeremy and then head to bed. And get ready to repeat it all the next day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Baby Name Consultation

Jeremy and I have been giving a lot of thought as to what to name our little one whose entrance into the world is expected in fewer than five weeks.

Before we became Catholic, we simply chose names we liked. We chose James because it was classy and straightforward. We named June after June Carter Cash, a woman known for prayer and hospitality – plus, my birthday happens to be in June, so thatโ€™s a nice little connection, too. And Alice is a sweet and feminine name, and our little girl happens to fit her name absolutely perfectly.

Since becoming Catholic, our thoughts on naming have changed, and we’d love to name our baby after a hero of the faith. It turns out there’s a fascinating website called Sancta Nomina (“holy names”) dedicated to Catholic naming. Kate offers baby name consultations where you tell her your naming criteria and she gives you suggestions on names for your little one. So we had one done! Click here to see what suggestions Kate had for us! ๐Ÿ™‚