Sunday, July 12, 2009

Family Cradle

Many years ago, my great-great grandfather, James B. Brennan built a cradle for his children to sleep in. I'm not sure that he knew when he built this cradle how special it would become in the lives of his progeny.

The first child to sleep in this cradle was my great grandfather, James Sands Brennan. He was followed by his siblings, Marian, Harold & William.

The second generation of children to sleep in this cradle were: the children of James & Sarah Brennan- Jane, Ruth (my grandmother) and James Brennan; the children of Marian & Harry Hart - Harry, George & James Hart; and the children of William & Elise Brennan - Elise & William Brennan.

The third generation of children to sleep in this cradle were the children of Ruth & Gene McDonald - Gene (my father), Jim, Tom & Jeff McDonald; and the children of James & Janet Brennan - James, Joseph, Joanne, Jeff & John Brennan.

The fourth generation of children to sleep in this cradle were: the children of Gene & Diana McDonald - Cindy (that's me!), Michael, Lori, Kellie & Brian McDonald; the children of Jim & Diane McDonald - Julie McDonald; the children of Tom & Kathy McDonald - Angela, Patricia & Michelle McDonald; and the children of Jeff & Robin McDonald - Amanda & Megan McDonald.

Which brings us to the present and the fifth generation of children to have slept in the cradle: the children of Cindy & Chris Kelly - Brian, Sean, Colin & Ian Kelly; the children of Michael & Jennifer McDonald - Dylan & Allison McDonald; the child of Lori & Lou Roselli - Kelsey Roselli; and the child of David & Daniella McDonald - Rachel McDonald.

I thought I would share pictures of myself and my children all sleeping in the cradle. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family tradition with which to share with my children. I hope one day they feel the same sense of awe that I do every time I lay one of the down for the first time in this cradle.

Cindy Anne - 22nd baby

Brian Lawrence - 33rd baby

Sean Eugene - 35th baby

Colin Andrew - 37th baby

Ian Benjamin - 40th baby

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Introducing our newest son

Ian Benjamin

born: June 26, 2009
7:31 p.m.
7 lbs., 4 oz.
19.5 inches

Friday, June 19, 2009

Paul in a Basket

I recently joined the Catholic Company's product reviewers. My first time up to choose a product and I chose Paul in a Basket, which is a musical production created by Rob Evans, The Donut Man. This wonderful compilation of music can be performed by a church group, or just listened to for the sheer enjoyment of the music. Plus, it's a wonderful teaching tool for your children to learn about St. Paul. And, as an added bonus, Mommy gets to learn some things too! :-)

What my kids and I love about this CD is the incredibly upbeat, catchy tunes. Brian's favorite song on the CD is the ending song, "Faith, Hope, Love". It's a short little ditty that drives home the message behind 1 Corinthians 13 - that the greatest of these is Love. Sean's favorite song is "My Name is Paul", which is the opening number. I have to admit, this is one of my favorites as well. The boys like to march around to this song. Despite this being one of my favorites, I honestly can't think of one song on this track that I don't enjoy. I have actually memorized certain bible verses as well - a big feat for this lady!

Paul in a Basket
is reasonably priced, and such a wonderful addition to our time in the car, that I would highly recommend it to anyone. Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Motherhood and the Chalice


A good mother’s life is like a chalice.
It is a precious vessel dedicated in the deepest
sense to the service of God.
Sometimes, as with the chalice,
its depths are glowing with the wine of joy.
And sometimes it feels the tiny splash of a few drops
of water that fall into it like tears.
Like a chalice, too, sometimes it is lifted up
and sometimes brought low.
But always it is sanctified by the Presence,
undoubted, though unseen, of Our Blessed Savior.
Because a good Mother’s Sacrifice can be repaid only
by the Sacrifice of the Mass, I send this Mass to you.

God Bless!
Father Eamon

This was written by our pastor and sent out to all the members of our parish. What a beautiful tribute and reminders to mothers everywhere. Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Benjamin's Box

Today we began working with Benjamin's Box in anticipation of Easter. The book really held the boys' attention, which was nice. I liked how it told the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday all the way through to his resurrection from the grave - all from the perspective of a little boy. I think that helped Brian and Sean connect with the story.

For crafts, we worked on some crucifixes that I had picked up at our new Michael's. The boys used Do-A-Dots to add some color to the wood of the cross, and then glued on buttons. They both decided that they wanted to buttons to represent different parts of Jesus' body - eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet, and even the nails.

Next, we used the Do-A-Dots again to make crosses on paper. Unprompted by me, both boys made 3 crosses on their papers. Brian even went so far as to explain to me how the really big cross in the middle of his page was for Jesus and the other 2 were for the other men who were there with Jesus.

Finally, we made our own treasure box, just like Benjamin. We started off cutting some "straw" to line the box with. Then the boys went around and found all the different items that Benjamin had placed in his treasure box. I was rather impressed with their ingenuity!
Brian later went back through the box, and through the box recounting each of the treasures. I was quizzing him on what each treasure reminds us of. He was pretty good at remembering.
Our finished crosses.
It was a good start to our Holy Week preparations. Looking forward to the rest of the week as well.

Holy Week 2009

This week, in preparation for the Easter celebration, we will be putting a hold on our Alphabet Path journey and focus on the miracle of Easter.

We will be reading Benjamin's Box and The Easter Story. I plan on having the boys make their own "box" and will will fill it with treasures just like Benjamin does. We will also talk about the importance of the Easter Triduum. The boys will be coloring pages that correlate with the institution of the Eucharist, and the washing of the feet. I found a wonderful coloring book of the Stations of the Cross that we will discuss and color on Good Friday.

Starting on Easter Sunday, we will revisit our Resurrection Scene. Brian and Sean just adored acting out the Bible story of Jesus' resurrection last year, and Brian has even been asking me about where the pieces are to his favorite story.

Since going on his retreat, Chris has made a commitment to participate in all aspects of the Easter Triduum this year. He is looking forward to attending Holy Thursday Mass and The Passion of Our Lord's service on Friday. I will be attending the live Stations of the Cross performed by the teens at our church on Friday evening, followed by confession. Chris will be attending the Easter Vigil, and watching one of his team members from formation come into full communion with the Church. And finally, I will be attending sunrise Mass on Easter Sunday. I'm looking forward to the day when we can go as a family to the Easter Vigil - I just think it's a little too much to ask of all the little people in our house at this point.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and most importantly a very holy, Holy Week and a joyous Easter!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Small Successes

I've been checking out all of these posts chronicling the Small Successes that people are achieving in their lives and I've decided to take the plunge and join the party.

1. I've come up with a bare bones cleaning schedule. It's based on cleaning a different room/zone each day. I've managed to stay on target for the past 2 weeks. Big success in my life actually. :-)

2. I managed to be a "single" soccer mom this past weekend and get 2 boys to 2 different games. All while toting a chair, backpack with shoes to change into after the game, snack for after Brian's game, and pushing a stroller.

3. I have been faithfully praying the St. Michael's chaplet and reading my Lenten Devotional book each night.

What Small Successes have you accomplished this week? Check out more Small Successes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fun with Presidents, Geography and Math

Ever since the election, Brian has become obsessed with the presidents. I have had to find coloring pages of each of the presidents...he carries them around with him. He has conversations with them. I've gotten a book, Yo, Millard Fillmore from the library based on some recommendations from the 4 Real board. He now knows the presidents in their order. His favorite president is Andrew Jackson; followed by Martin Van Buren (b/c his mommy did a report on him in 4th grade), and Ronald Reagan (one of his daddy's favorites). He quizzes people on who their favorite president is. He's actually moved on to the vice-presidents and can't understand why there aren't any coloring pages available for these guys. Can you tell he's a little obsessed?

So I have decided to capitalize on his enthusiasm. I created this little game today that combines the presidents, some geography and wrapped up with a nice little bow of math.

I started with a blank wall map of the U.S.A that I picked up at our local Education Station the other day. I printed off a list of all the presidents with their home states. And with these items in hand, we began our fun!
You can see some of Brian's coloring pages at the top of this picture. As he told me which president came next in line, he would pull the coloring page out. We then placed a sticker on the state a president was from when he was elected. The boys knew a fair number of the states just by sight, but those that they weren't familiar with, we had our trusty place mat map which they found the state on and then matched it up to the big map.

Brian and Sean showing off their good work (and some coloring pages to boot!)
Of course Colin didn't want to be left out of the picture taking - he's saying "Taft"!

After putting all of our stickers on, I had Brian identify the state and tell me how many presidents came from that state. We then placed the states in order from the most presidents came from that state down to counting how many states have never had a president come from them. The highest number of presidents was 7 from New York - although as a caveat to this, we counted Grover Cleveland twice. Ohio and Virginia were next in line with 6 each. There were 12 states only boasting 1 president each, and 29 sad states that have never had one of their sons lead our country.
Here's Brian showing off his map, his tally sheet and yet another president coloring page. The great thing about today is that the boys learned a ton of stuff, but if you asked them, I bet they would say they just had fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation

Elizabeth reminded me this morning that today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Whew! This pregnancy brain is really working overtime! So, I whipped together some yumminess for an afternoon tea time.

I had thought about making an angel food cake (for Gabriel) and blueberries (for Mary), but with not feeling well, having a sick husband at home, and absolutely no desire to drag 3 small people to the store with me, I settled on what I had in the house.

I made a butter cake but we dyed it blue - or as blue as you can get when you start with a yellow cake mix!. And added whipped vanilla frosting. We also read Mary by Brian Wildsmith (ties in nicely with "W" week as well).

Getting ready to eat cake. Say "Mary!" - and the actually did!And finally, the fruits of our labor. A "blue" cake to represent Mary, frosted with whipped white icing, to represent the Angel Gabriel and the purity of Mary's soul. The boys enjoyed the cake, and listening to the story of Mary's life. A fun time and a special way to celebrate.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Food news

Yesterday was a good food day in the Kelly household - well, as good as it can be. We don't have kids like my niece Kelsey.

For lunch yesterday, I offered Sean the choice between a peanut butter sandwich (a daily staple) or a turkey sandwich. He told me he wanted a roast beef sandwich. When I explained that I didn't have any roast beef, he said, "Okay, I'll have a turkey sandwich." Well, I've heard this before and then had a fit pitched when I placed said item in front of them. This time, however, Sean took a bite of his sandwich and proclaimed "I like turkey!" Woo Hoo!!!

Then for dinner, I made some slider hamburgers (just like Aunt Lori so that Brian might eat them). Sean didn't touch the burger, but Brian did actually eat some and biggest surprise of all - Colin chowed down on his burger. If I had made this comment 18 months ago, it wouldn't have been a surprise since Colin was a fabulous eater. He's unfortunately following the cues of his big brothers and has begun to survive on only air. He just kept piling the hamburger in his mouth. It was great to see.

Small success - I'll take 'em.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Joseph's Feast Day

St. Joseph is a pretty neat guy. He had an incredible role in the life of Christ, and is a wonderful role model for all men. So, in honor of his feast day, I decided we would celebrate Italian style.

Now, Chris' mom was 100% Italian and I have always heard stories about the wonderful Italian food that his mom and grandmother made. Needless to say, I've been a little intimidated. But I have conquered my fear of making the meatball, and I moved on to making homemade sauce. Having Italian in my heritage should help, right?

I asked my friend Elizabeth for her grandmother's recipe for Bolognese sauce. And then the cooking began.

I started with the carrot, celery and onion chopping. And according to my friend Trish, Tuttorosso tomatoes are the only way to go in Italian cooking.
While I was chopping away, the mild Italian sausages were browning in Chris' grandmother's pot.
After the sausage was good and browned, I threw the veggies in and sauteed them up.
I added the sausage back into the pot, and then threw in the crushed tomatoes and let it bubble and boil for almost 3 hours. Made the house smell really good. :-)And instead of just putting this delightful sauce over noodles, I decided to incorporate it into a lasagna. It was delicious! Hope you had a wonderful Feast of St. Joseph!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This St. Patrick's Day was extra special in the Kelly house. Not only did we have the traditional Irish meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage - which Brian and Sean BOTH tried and even admitted they liked!!! Not only did we talk about St. Patrick, read Patrick the Patron Saint of Ireland, color pictures and play a St. Patrick's Day game.

This year Gramma made Brian, Sean and Colin special shirts with her special sewing machine. They were the talk of the town. Thanks Gramma!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Super Soccer Saturday (Sort of)

Saturday started out promising. Both Brian and Sean were dressed in their new soccer uniforms. Shouting "Soccer!" as I took their picture, smiling, laughing and ready to start their season.

However, the day didn't end up quite as much fun as it started out.

Brian had a ball. Let's just contrast that with the picture of Sean at his game. I would say that a picture can do this much more justice than words.

As you can see, happiness, joy and glee in Brian's face. Pouting and mad on Sean's face. At one point, Sean's coach (a high school soccer player) picked Sean up, carried him onto the field, plopped him down on the center line, and there Sean stayed - arms folded, pout on the face. It was pretty maddening at the time, but funny to look back on it now.

Needless to say, I have a few more pictures of Brian's soccer game seeing as how he actually played soccer. Enjoy the slide shows.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Teacher's Prayer

I just came across this prayer at The Homeschool Classroom. As I pray daily to make the right decisions for my children and our family, this prayer really hit home for me.

Teacher's Prayer
I want to teach my students how
To live this life on earth
To face its struggles and its strife
And to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book
Or how the rivers flow
But, how to chose the proper path
Wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth
And know right from wrong
And gather all the beauty of
A flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow
In wisdom and in grace
Then I shall feel that I have won
And I have filled my place.
So I ask your guidance God
That I may do my part
For character and confidence
And happiness of heart.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Reminder I Needed

To My Child

  • Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.
  • Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.
  • Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.
  • Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
  • Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles..
  • Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
  • Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.
  • Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.
  • Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys...
  • Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how yo u were born and how much I love you.
  • Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.
  • Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.
  • Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.
  • Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.

I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore.

And when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day...

~Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Interesting new law on the books here.

Next fall, a new law in Florida will require its school districts to set up optional online schools for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The law will give parents more options for schooling their kids. Supporters of online schooling say it allows kids to learn at their own rates and get specialized instruction. But others say that it's important for kids to interact with other kids at school.

Again it goes back to that age-old question of the dreaded word "socialization". Webster's defines "socialization" as such:

transitive verb
: to make social ; especially : to fit or train for a social environment
2 a
: to constitute on a socialistic basis <socialize industry> b: to adapt to social needs or uses
: to organize group participation in <socialize a recitation>
intransitive verb
: to participate actively in a social group

Our job as parents is to help our children grow and learn how to be responsible adults one day. I don't think that having children be in an homogeneous group day in and day out will teach them how to be members of society at large. Once they are grown and on their own, they will not be living in an homogeneous society - they will need to know how to interact with people of all ages and stages. That's one of the benefits of teaching children at home.

Additionally, children come with all kinds of different abilities - some advanced and some needing a little more help. Take my middle son Sean as an example. He taught himself how to read when he was just a little over 3 years old. According to state laws, he can not enter kindergarten until he is a month from being 6 years old due to when his birthday falls. What would that mean for him? Chances are, Sean would be insanely bored by the time he got to kindergarten - where the minimal expectations that a kindergarten teacher has for incoming students is:
new kindergartners should know how to sit still and be quiet,to take turns and share, and to follow basic instructions. She also said they needed to know how to take care of themselves like knowing when to go to the potty, how to tie their shoes (or work the Velcro), how to get their coats on themselves. They should also know their address and phone number and their parents' names. She told me that some children will come to kindergarten knowing their ABCs, their colors and how to count to 10 or 20, and some will come not knowing any of that. Those basic academic skills will be taught during the kindergarten year. Children who have that knowledge beforehand will have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up.

Based upon Sean's skills at the age of 4, I have no doubt that he would end up not only bored, but would probably become a "problem" student because of it. Doesn't it make sense that children learn at their own pace - in an environment that enhances their skills and nurtures the areas that they need a little help with? I think it's a wonderful advancement that Florida is offering this opportunity to parents, and look forward to what the future of home education here will bring.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Three Kings

Brian, Sean and Colin got a special treat tonight. We all stayed up a little later than normal to watch Dora Saves Three Kings Day. So while it wasn't the most religious event, we still got to talk about the significance of the day. Happy Feast of the Epiphany!