A Saturday Morning in May

by | May 26, 2013 | Daybook, Gardening, Picture Books, State-by-State, State-by-State Scrapbook | 42 comments

Outside my window… 
I can see the beautiful new flowers my thoughtful husband picked up on his way home from work and planted in my hanging baskets from last year.  Much to everyone’s delight the hummingbirds have already been spotted enjoying the flowers too!

I am thinking…        
about curriculum plans for next year!  I’d love to wrap them up soon and place the last of my book orders.

I am thankful… 
for this delicious steamy cup of coffee (with a little half-and-half) following the three-day detox which I successfully completed, despite the flu-like symptoms on Day One!  It was a tough few days, especially choking down the flax granola each morning (which is surprisingly starting to become more palatable), but I really do feel great and it has been so nice to see the weight, which has crept on the last couple months, fall right back off!  I am confident that I’ll finally be able to hit a new low this week and finally get off this plateau and continue moving towards my goal.

Learning all the time 

“I would’t do…”

Celebrating the liturgical year 
Trinity Sunday is tomorrow.  I think we will pick up some Neapolitan Ice Cream on our way home from Mass… And maybe I’ll make Tacos for dinner!

From the kitchen… 
lots of recipes from The Plan: Eliminate the Surprising “Healthy” Foods that Are Making You Fat–and Lose Weight Fast as I continue through the 20-Day Meal Plan.  Today I get to have Coffee (1 cup only), Cheese, Wine and Chocolate! I am the most excited about this morning’s cup of coffee and the 1 oz of dark chocolate for dessert.  I’ve never been able to drink wine without having an allergic reaction, and we’ll see how it goes with that goat cheese (the test food for today)… My mom is determined to find some that I will like and suggested some soft cheese with herbs from a local creamery.

Preparing Carrot Ginger Soup for Lunch on Day One

Updated to add:

Goat cheese…. Wait for it…. Yep, there is that awful aftertaste! 😉
Actually, I must admit, of all the goat cheeses I’ve tried in the past, this was the least disgusting best.  
Day Four Dinner… YUM!!

I am working on… 
cutting out the names of more states, with the boys’ help, using the Cricut!  The biggest challenge of this State-by-State Study has been having the materials available for the boys when they are ready for them!  They are now all set with the worksheets for all the remaining states, and the scrapbook pages for the next nine.  Next up is Florida, which means I still need to post pictures of their completed Maine, Missouri, Arkansas and Michigan pages!  (Note to self:  If Snuggles decides to do this project be sure to have everything ready ahead of time and maybe it will only take 1 to 2 years instead of 3 or 4!) 

Speaking of our State-by-State Study, and since Florida is up next, I’m really excited about the Unit Study from Catholic Pilgrimage Press we will be incorporating!  I would love to have something like this available for each state to easily incorporate the Catholic history.  In the meantime, I just ordered a copy of Our United States of America to add to our study, as we work our way through the second half of the states using the Discover America Series!

I am creating… 
a list of books to read during our upcoming study of WWII.  If you have a favorite I’d love to hear about it!   The Winged Watchman and Enemy Brothers, are already definite favorites in our home.  Sean just started reading Snow Treasure to all the kids and I am planning on starting Five For Victory   with them next week.   I also picked up the Molly series at the library yesterday and Twinkle Toes has already completed five of the six books!

I am going… 
to grade the boys Math lessons. I’m already missing the automated grading in Teaching Textbooks…  If only they could turn Saxon into a computer program!

I am hoping… 
that I get to see my little sister JoAnn (one of the twins) while she is in town this weekend!

I am praying… 
for my brother.  Next week would have been my nephew’s 5th birthday… It doesn’t seem like it has been nearly 5 years since that heartbreaking night.

I am reading… 
lots of fun picture books to my little ones.  Actually, last night, as I started to read The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries (such a unique and interesting book!) to my little Rose, I loved how all seven of my children cuddled up on the couch to listen to the story!   I couldn’t help but think that these days are limited as the boys get older…  I’m enjoying every minute of it while it lasts!

Pondering these words…
from Strickland Gillilan found in my copy of Reading the Saints.  This has been such an excellent resource, and I just love the little quotes sprinkled throughout… I just realized it has been updated and there is now a brand new Second Edition.  I might have to add that to my wish list!

“You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a mother who read to me.” 

I am listening…  
the sounds of spring heard through the open windows.

Around the house yard… 
pinecones… LOTS of pinecones! The boys have been picking up a wheelbarrow full each week!

One of my favorite things…  
my new scale!  I had a feeling that our old scale was off, since I always weighed less when I would visit the doctor or midwife in the past.  Gotta love it when you find out that you actually weigh a couple pounds less than you thought you did!  (Even if it isn’t technically a new low for me, I love seeing that lower number!) Oh, and our kids all prefer the old scale… They can have it! 😉

This week’s plans…
Only two more weeks until our summer break!  We’ve finished quite a few of our courses from this year and are still working on wrapping up a few.  In addition to the tutors on Tuesday and Thursday we have Orthodontist and Dentist appointments on Friday.  Hopefully we will be able to finish planting the garden too!

A little peek at some recent days in the garden…

I wrote this post this morning and then headed out to the garden without clicking post…  
It has been such a nice day! I hope you are all having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend! 


  1. Krista

    Is there a good "kid version" of "The Diary of Anne Frank?" I know there is a DK Reader edition – not sure what else there might be.

    Elie Wiesel was a professor at Boston Univ when I was there – I heard him give a lecture once with guest Solomon Perel for his experiences during the war as a youngster. If there are still copies or an online download available, you may want to get (or at least pre-view the movie) "Europa Europa". It is the true story of Solomon's life during the war. He was a Jew that escaped the Nazis by "getting into the Hitler Youth and living with a German family in Germany in which the father was a high ranking Nazi officer!" It may be suitable for the older boys. The movie came out on VHS in 1991 and is a foreign film, so subtitled, so not sure what is out there now.

    Actually, here's a link for further info:

    OH! JUST FOUND THE MOVIE ON YOUTUBE – COMPLETE! You could look it over and see if it would be suitable for the boys at least:


    There is also the book, "Europa, Europa", as well.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Sleen

    One of my favorite books of all time is "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. There is a movie based on the book that is excellent also.

  3. Nope

    Keep the pine cones they make great fire starters, also start the grill with them gives the steak that great flavor. You an dip your pine cones in wax and fill a small basket of those for Christmas gifts …

  4. Theresa

    Oh my, Jessica! Your garden looks lovely. Can't wait to see it in full bloom/yield! And if I may suggest two great books that I read when I was a kid and I'm hoping to use with my own for WWII next year… One is "Twenty and Ten" (by Claire Huchet Bishop) about twenty students at a school run by Catholic sisters. They hide 10 Jewish children in occupied France. The other is "His Enemy, His Friend" (by John Tunis) – GREAT for boys! It also takes place in occupied France and is about the friendship that develops between a French boy and a German soldier – their love and appreciation of soccer bring them together, and eventually their friendship is tried by events of the war and a soccer match that takes place many years after the war ends. A GREAT READ! I highly recommend it… but since I'm a stranger, I know you may not immediately trust my judgement! (I get that!) I hope you'll get to check them out b/c they're both great books and I think they'd suit the ages of your kids well!

  5. Jessica Gordon

    Someday I would sure love to own all of the Vision Books! We have all the ones that have been reprinted but only a couple that are currently OOP.

    I think that this particular book is actually during WWI (Father Francis Duffy died before WWII began, but there is a different Father Duffy during WWII), but it still sounds like a book that my boys would LOVE! I just found a copy of it on ebay for a few dollars and ordered it for them. We recently studied "The Fighting 69th" during our Civil War Unit Study so this is a perfect follow up!

    Thank you so much for the recommendation!

  6. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you Theresa! I, too, can't wait to see the garden in full bloom! I am not a gardener and this is a learning experience for all of us! We have a short growing season here, so hopefully this year will be a little more successful than last.

    Thank you for the recommendations! I was able to find a copy of Twenty and Ten at our library, but not the other… It looks like it is out of print (other than the kindle edition) so I'll have to look into used options.

  7. Jessica Gordon

    Well, most of the pine cones were used as fire starters for all of our burn piles! I'll have to hang on to some from this week. 🙂

  8. Amber

    Oh my goodness, I love that first picture of Rose!! How funny.

    I second the recommendation of The Hiding Place. I think it does a great job of describing the conditions of civilians as well as what it was like to hide people during the war, while remaining much more hopeful and positive (but not in a false way – the miracles she experienced are amazing!) than a book like The Diary of Anne Frank.

    And thanks for mentioning that there is a second edition of Reading the Saints out! I look at that book periodically, but haven't bought it yet. Maybe I'll carve out a little room in my book buying budget for it this month. 🙂

    Your garden looks great! We're having huge problems with rats this year, and I'm so frustrated!! Thankfully they are leaving the established plants alone… but we've lost all our peppers, cucumbers, and about a third of the tomatoes. And then there's something in the other half of the garden that ate all the lettuce (except the romaine, go figure), chard, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower! And that's with an 8 ft deer fence, a 3 ft small critter fence that overlaps the ground so the rabbits can't dig in, and mole/vole repellent. Gardening seems so hopeless sometimes!

  9. Poussy Stitches My Love

    bonjour je viens vous faire un petit coucou, pour vous dire que je pense toujours à vous,
    bisous de FRANCE,

  10. 9peasMom

    Loved this post, especially the garden pics. The meals from the detox look good! I'm happy to find out it kick started the weight loss for you!
    Thanks for sharing the state by state information – it is something I plan to incorporate into our homeschool this next year!

  11. mel

    Jessica, someone suggested this way to save time grading saxon…you might already do this, but it hadn't occurred to me! We were spending SO much time going over the incorrect ones, often finding out that it was a silly mistake, not that they didn't' understand the content. So I started having them bring me their assignment, the answer key, and a colored pencil as soon as they finished the assignment. I would quickly correct it, just circling the incorrect ones, and hand it back to them to try again. Later we would just go over the ones that were still wrong. This weeded out many that I didn't really need to spend time on. I didn't do this for tests though. Only one chance on tests. 🙂

  12. T

    One of my all time favorite children's WWII books. I read my copy as a child till it was falling around and no longer readable.


    Another one that is a truly great read (but it might be a little to old for your kids. I can't remember how old your oldest are.


  13. Jamie Jo

    Jessica, I just pinned this, for the garden. We want to do something like this someday in our backyard, high fence to keep the deer out…landscape our hill to make a large flat area fenced in like yours. (just wanted you to know I pinned this)

  14. Jamie Jo

    Oh, and your garden!!! Oh, I love it!!!! Beautiful!

  15. Jamie Jo

    Those flowers came back? They are beautiful. I'm itching so very badly to go dig in the dirt and plant things!! (hopefully next week!)

    If you want some Minnesota Wild Rice I will send you some for that unit!

  16. Katie V.

    Sounds like a great diet! I would love to try it…however, I find diets that have lots of recipes and special ingredients challenging…did you have to do much prep for the diet? Love your arched doorway in the garden! And yes, i love it when the children gather around for a good story!

  17. Jessica Gordon

    Thanks! Our library has the audio version (in addition to the book) that I just reserved. I will have to see if I can find a copy of the movie too! What ages would you recommend them for?

  18. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you, Krista! I'm excited to look through all the suggestions.

  19. Jessica Gordon

    Isn't that picture too funny! I love it!! 🙂 She is always cracking me up!

    I'm sorry you have had so many challenges with your garden! That sounds so frustrating!! I'm hoping we have a little better luck this year than we did last… Last year spring arrived late and fall arrived early, with one of our longest dry spells ever in between – not a drop of rain from July 20-Oct 12!!! At this point the produce coming from the garden has been incredibly expensive! 😉

  20. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you Kathy! Today is Day 6 of this new diet plan and I've already dropped the 5 pounds I had gained since Easter, plus another 2 which is another new low weight for me! Even though this plan includes about 2,000 calories per day the author says you should lose about 1/2 pound a day, unless a "test food" (you test a new food most days and then see how it affects you before adding it back into your diet) causes you to gain. I'm hoping that the weight loss continues, since it is really keeping me motivated to stick with it! 😉

  21. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you so much for the recommendations! 🙂

  22. Jessica Gordon

    Oh, no, the hanging baskets are from last year, but the flowers were purchased this year. And we'd love some Minnesota Wild Rice! Though only if it isn't too much trouble! 🙂

  23. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you, Jamie! We finished building three more raised beds this weekend and planting the rest of our plants/seeds. It has been such a great learning experience for all of us and Sean is actually thinking about taking a Master Gardener course with the older children next spring! I hope you are eventually able to have a garden too!

  24. Jessica Gordon

    It hasn't been too bad. I did go to Trader Joe's to stock up on some things before I started and have had to run to our local grocery store once this week too. It has included lots of fresh veggies which has been so great but definitely extra work. I'm getting use to it though. The hardest part has been making regular meals for the rest of the family without eating them. I've found that I seem to have one day with extra food prep and then use leftovers the next for at least some of the meals.

    Today is "Day 6" and my "test food" for today is a protein of my choice from a list of options. When I woke up I had my cup of hot water with lemon and then a cup of dandelion tea. Breakfast was a bowl of flax cereal (I make enough for two meals every other morning) with coconut milk and apple (other days it has been blueberries or pear). Cup of coffee with half and half. Lunch will be Mixed greens with avocado, carrots, beets, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas (low sodium) with a light rye cracker and 1-2 TBS raw almond butter. For an afternoon snack I will have 1-2 cups of watermelon with chia seeds. And for dinner: we will make either grilled fish or steak and I'll make the recipe for Roasted Squash and Kale Salad (I'll probably leave out the manchego cheese – with enough leftover for lunch tomorrow). Dessert is 1 oz of Dark Chocolate (65% cacao max).

    And thanks! I love our garden gate too! We found it for an extra low price on clearance at Costco last year!!

  25. Jessica Gordon

    Oh, I forgot the water! Each morning I fill a pitcher with the correct amount of water (Body weight divided in half is how many ounces I measure) to drink before 7:30 each night – adding extra for exercise etc. I think this alone has been helping with the weight loss, since I know I was not drinking nearly enough the past couple months.

  26. Katie V.

    Thanks Jessica for sharing all these details! Determination and organization! It seems quite interesting testing foods – I guess to see which agree best with one's body? I must order the book! I found some of the recipes on line and they look quite good! And wow, 2000 calories a day…that's very good and to still be able to lose weight! Good luck and congratulations on your weight loss so far! And yes, I think drinking more water would help me too! 🙂
    PS for some reason, I can't post a comment from my phone anymore (which is how i read your blog 99% of the time)…would you know why?

  27. Kimberlee

    Your garden looks lovely! That arched gateway looks so wonderful!
    I highly recommend The Hiding Place as well – it's one of my favorite books. Perhaps you can read it yourself and then see which of your children it's appropriate for. I read it aloud some years ago to my children, modifying just a tiny bit as I went, but I don't remember their ages at the time. I wrote a bit of a 'review' here: http://ponderedinmyheart.typepad.com/pondered_in_my_heart/2008/03/i-recently-read.html

  28. Anonymous

    Hello Jessica-
    Just wanted to thank you for your wonderful blog and for all of your ideas! We began the state-by-state study last summer and plan to continue this summer as we all really enjoyed it! One silly question… do you use a program to make the state titles? They are so nice and I cannot seem to do it well. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you again for sharing how you live the liturgical life daily. You are amazing! God bless you and your beautiful family.

  29. Anonymous

    Hi Jessica! I have been following your blog for several years now. Thank you so much for the inspiration you provide in so many areas! We live in Florida and just returned home from a visit to St. Augustine. I planned to expand on it this week with my children and just happened to read this post with your link to the Catholic Pilgrimage Geography for Florida! The work of the Holy Spirit never ceases to amaze me! Thank you for sharing! So excited to get started…
    Blessings to you and your family,

  30. Eliana

    I agree with the above comments that the Hiding Place is a wonderful book–so inspiring! Another good kid's book about the Holocaust is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. You might also consider Journey to America http://www.amazon.com/Journey-America-Sonia-Levitin/dp/0689711301. Some that are even more sad/depressing and better for teens are http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Witnesses-Teenagers-Holocaust/dp/0312535678, The Shadow Children http://www.amazon.com/The-Shadow-Children-Steven-Schnur/dp/0688132812, Friedrich http://www.amazon.com/Friedrich-Puffin-Books-Peter-Richter/dp/0140322051/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369720264&sr=8-1&keywords=friedrich+richter, and A Pocketful of Seeds http://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Full-Seeds-Marilyn-Sachs/dp/0595338461. Because of the subject matter, sometimes the books can verge on feeling somewhat hopeless, and show what happens in a world without God, so you may want to preview them first.

  31. Jessica Gordon

    For all the state pages pictured in this post we cut out the letters using my Cricut machine with the George cartridge (that came with the machine). However, in the past, we were mostly using punch out letters that I had left over from the Little Flowers Scrapbook Pages I created for my group. I had purchased tons of them years ago when I found them on clearance at Walmart. You can see something similar here. I hope that helps!

  32. Jessica Gordon

    Yes, if your weight goes up following a test food (without any other reasons for it to do so – not enough water, etc.) you know that is a food that your body doesn't react to. I've been having so many of my "allergic reactions" (I know the doctors told me they are all caused by stress, but I think there is something else triggering some of them too) that I thought this would be a good thing for me to try to see if I could pinpoint a few of my own trigger foods. I had a foods sensitivity test done years ago, but I know our body's can change over time and I think some of those old problem foods might have changed. So far it has been interesting! Yesterday was really busy and I didn't get to drink all my water, missed my snack, and ended up just having some of my leftovers for dinner without preparing my test food. I also ate really late. I didn't gain anything, but it was the first day the scale hasn't dropped at least a 1/2 pound in the past week. I'm going to make sure I drink all that water today!! 🙂

    As for the comments… I did activate the word verification since I've been having a huge problem with spam. I wonder if that might be the problem? I also have been moderating comments since I've been receiving some that are either not very nice or attacks on myself or the Church. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate that you've taken the time to comment anyways! 🙂

  33. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you Kimberlee! I just loved reading your review and can't wait to read the book!

  34. Katie V.

    Yes, I think it is good to know which foods affect us….because I find there are days where I seem like I'm dragging and perhaps it is a reaction to the wrong foods! I'm so sorry to hear that people are making unkind comments and criticizing you! I guess that happens when we are faithful…it will make people angry! Your website is a blessing and such an inspiration to see such a beautiful family! It's a pity we live in different corners of the world! 🙂

  35. Mary S.

    The Hiding Place is a favorite book of mine, too. But since you mention ages, I must caution you that while Corrie Ten Boom seems to do a tactful job in portraying the facts as they were, she does not write her book for children, necessarily. I'm would read/listen to it yourself first, if you are at all concerned about possible scandalization for any of your children in the horrendous acts of terror committed against Jews and Christians.

  36. Mary S.

    Okay, just saw others' comments about The Hiding Place and Anne Frank's diary and must agree: the former would be MUCH more appropriate read for your children, yourself, or anybody. Anne Frank's diary immerses one in the filth of the times… Corrie Ten Boom gives hope, as another reader so appropriately pointed out. Not knowing your children's tolerance levels of dealing with the realities of prison camps, etc. I would still suggest a pre-read if you're at all concerned. 🙂

  37. Anonymous

    Here are two WWII books that we LOVE. They both moved me to tears. The Little Riders, by Margaretha Shemin, and Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop.

  38. Jessica Gordon

    Yay! I just picked up a copy of Twenty and Ten at the library and we I had purchased a copy of The Little Riders awhile back. We haven't read either of them yet, but we will soon! I'm glad to hear that they are really good. Thanks!


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Father in heaven, grant me the grace to appreciate the dignity which you have conferred on me. Let me realize that not even the Angels have been blessed with such a privilege—to share in your creative miracle and bring new Saints to heaven. Make me a good mother to all my children after the example of Mary, the Mother of your Son. Through the intercession of Jesus and Mary I ask your continued blessings on my family. Let us all be dedicated to your service on earth and attain the eternal happiness of your kingdom in heaven. Amen.

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Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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