Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Little Girl at the Piano

Look who we find at the piano, playing away, hoping to be just like her big sister.

Sweet J-Bear, we love you.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Tour of the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour

A few weeks ago, we joined over 6,000 bikers for the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour through the neighborhoods of St. Paul.  The Tour is easily one of the highlights of our month, a perfect capstone to our big summer of biking.

The Tour is not a race, but a ride, through the lovely River Road and Summit Ave vistas of St. Paul.  There are 15, 30 and 45-mile loops.  This year, as novices, we wisely choose the 15-mile loop option.  This was wise for another reason: G-Bear and E-Bear decided to bike their own bikes for the Tour!  We weren't sure if they would be able to bike the whole way, so I pulled our Chariot Carrier behind my bike just in case and T had room to spare on the Mundo.  But, to the great credit of E-Bear and G-Bear, they persevered.

The weather for the tour was spectacular this year.  We enjoyed two rest stops along the way, complete with live music, fresh fruit, drinks, pastries and cookies to ensure we were well nourished for our ride.  We invited another family of good friends to join us, which meant that we were all motivated by friendly conversation and camaraderie to finish the trek.

G-Bear riding the River Road during the St. Paul Classic

As a family of six with four kids and two riders ages seven and under, we received a lot of attention and positive feedback.  G-Bear and E-Bear were the youngest kids biking that we saw, but with the right motivation the ride was definitely doable for them.  Many kids could be seen tagging along in trailers or in peanut seats.  We only saw our Mundo, but hopefully we will see more in the future. The Tour was a wonderful family event, and the Yuba makes the ride so easy with kids.  We can't rave enough about our bike investment.

Our crew and friends at the end of the Classic

We finished the tour around noon, for a grand time of just under three hours.  Then, with tired legs and hungry tummies, we hosted lunch in our backyard with our friends.  What a perfect way to welcome the coming fall and celebrate a wonderful summer!  Classic, we'll see you next year.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Everyday Wisdom from Blessed Alvaro de Portillo

On Saturday, a man named Fr. Alvaro de Portillo was Beatified in Madrid.  
This is one of his often repeated short prayers to Jesus, perfect for everyday life:

"Thank you, 
forgive me, 
help me more."
~Blessed Don Alvaro de Portillo

Thank you, Lord, for Your many servants who help to show us Your Way.
Help us, too, to follow Your lead.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Me Bags

During the second week of school, both G-Bear and E-Bear had to fill "Me Bags" to bring to school.
This was a class activity to help the students get to know each other.
It was just as fun for us as a family to see what each of the children chose to put in the bag.

E-Bear was first to decorate and pack his bag.
His directions were to choose three things to help describe himself.

He started by making a lovely picture of our whole family to bring in lieu of a photograph.
Our Family, by E-Bear
To his family picture, he added his newest, most beloved Lego catalogue 
and his favorite monster truck toy.
All in all, these were great choices, impressively representative of things that remind me of E-Bear.

E-Bear's "Get to Know You Bag" items.
G-Bear was next.  
Her instructions were to choose 3-5 items to help describe herself.

G-Bear also did a great job choosing her items.  
She asked E-Bear if she could bring his picture of our family and he happily obliged.
She also choose a bookmark that she stitched herself (because she loves to read),
her piano lesson book (because she enjoys playing piano),
and a green dress up necklace (because she likes to dress up and play make-believe).

We even included Buddy Bear in on the fun. 
I gave him a bag to fill with objects that he enjoys.
He choose his racing yellow school bus and his crimson visor.

J-Bear didn't get to fill a bag, but she didn't want to be left out of the picture :).

What a crew!  I am thanking God for each of these precious, perfectly unique Me Bears.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Friday, September 26, 2014

E-Bear on the sidelines

Guess who go to watch from the sidelines with Dad for the first time on Friday night?

E-Bear was a great helper for his dad.  He even got compliments from the team's athletic director.
They had to stay until the bitter end of the game, (and there were fireworks!), so our little guy didn't get home until 10pm.  Although he fell fast asleep on the ride home, he quickly woke up enough to tell me all about his exciting night.  We're so glad you had fun, E-Bear.

G-Bear, Buddy Bear and I had watched our favorite PBS shows together and at chocolate cake after J-Bear was asleep to make up for the fact that only one kid could go with dad.  G-Bear and Buddy Bear were pretty thrilled with their deal too.  For that, I was truly thankful.  

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Happy Birthday to Johnny Appleseed

From Grraphics by R.Ritchie
Today, so far as I know, is the birthday of Johnny Chapman, who is better known as Johnny Appleseed.  I can't vouch for the authenticity of the above quote, but I thought it appropriate to the American folklore surrounding Chapman and fitting for the spirit of the day that I would like my kids to remember.  Increasingly, I am asking God to help me see His great things in the small, whether in small acts of faithfulness, within little people, or within the seemingly small details of everyday life.

G-Bear was making applesauce in school today in honor of Johnny Appleseed's birthday.  So, the boys and I had a special apple lunch and then made Johnny Appleseed hats.

Johnny Appleseed was known for wearing a pot on his head, so we combined that theme with the above quote in the making of our headwear.

We could have easily substituted the "Appleseed Prayer" on our hats, or simply written "Oh, the Lord is good to me," or something of the like.

Our Johnny Appleseed hat

I can remember my dad singing the Appleseed Prayer to me as a child.  My kids already associate the prayer with Papa, so it has special sentimental value in my heart.  This was our prayer at lunch and dinner today:

"Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
for giving me the things I need:
the sun and the rain and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.

 This was such a beautiful way to spend an autumn day!  

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

E-Bear's Sentence

Today, after E-Bear got home from school he said,

"Mommy, can I write you a sentence?"

I got E-Bear a piece of paper and a pencil.  This is what he wrote:

Never I have read a sentence more perfectly backwards or more perfectly loving.

I have such a hard time sending my kids off to school in the fall.  I miss them and our summer routine tremendously, and I miss getting to be the one to watch them learn and play all day. The other day G-Bear thanked God for school during our bedtime prayers.  Like E-Bear's sweet sentence, G-Bear's prayer reminded me to be thankful for the many ways that my children love school and learning this school year.  We have such a wonderful school!  I am so thankful for the opportunity to share in the growth of these four precious lives.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Views from the County Fair

One of the highlights of September each year is our parish festival, the County Fair.  In only two years since we moved here, the Fair has become the much anticipated event following the start of school.  The rides and games, food, music, fun with friends and of course, our one outdoor Mass of the year, make the Fair a favorite event for many families in our parish and community.

Here are views from our County Fair days this year:

The Pirate Ship is always a favored pick.

The swings are much faster than they look.

I couldn't believe that this little guy was big enough to ride,

or that he would want to ride again.

It probably helped that he had his big brother to look up to.

I was blessed enough to get to ride my favorite ride,


 Only one of us cried when we had to get off, but both of us could have shed tears.
A first ride at the Fair is a special event.

What we admired but didn't bid:

 What we admired, bid on, and won!

We even got to bring the kids home with us too!

I know we'll have trouble waiting another whole year for the Fair to return.   

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Two weeks in...

We're two weeks into the school year.

G-Bear loves spelling and writes stories with new words.

E-Bear is making friends and remembers some sight words.

Buddy and J-Bear enjoy playdates and Wednesday mornings with MoMo.

I've given three lectures and have planned two more.

We've been to two Fairs (for our State and our Church).

We've been on a bike tour around our neighborhood.

All this in two weeks?  How can it be?

That's the whirlwind of September, sweet as can be.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking GG to the Cabin

This year, for Labor Day Weekend, we took GG to her cabin.

Watching another generation enjoy the cabin with GG is a tremendous treat.
All the effort and energy that we put forth to get to the cabin together is worth it.

The cabin hasn't changed much in its 94 years.
It remains the cabin of many memories.

Of course, with a crew our size, tents are required (and thoroughly enjoyed).
MoMo and Papa's tent hasn't changed much in my lifetime either.  
This Labor Day, G-Bear, E-Bear and Buddy Bear got to sleep in the tent.
They chattered with MoMo and Papa late into the night and woke up to read stories with the late-August sunrise.

During the day, our favorite activities always include fishing with Uncle Scott.
Cousin B and Uncle Scott helped our Bears find their worms.

Then, they were out to the end of the dock, where everyone gets a fishing pole and a chance to catch a fish!  G-Bear has become a pro.  Buddy Bear is just a beginner.  I remember when G-Bear was Buddy Bear's size, learning to catch a fish with Uncle Scott.  Those days felt like yesterday as I watched my crew fish the lake.

Looking back to shore, what a sweet sight to see.

J-Bear enjoyed exploring the cabin for the first time.  She was here last summer, but she was just a newborn.  This year, she got to experience the cabin for herself.

Our sweet little J-Bear loved running in the yard, digging in the sandy shore, kicking the soccer ball with her siblings and Big Cousin B, and dipping her toes off the dock with me.

Can you believe that GG was J-Bear's age when the cabin was new?  

The best part of being at GG's cabin is the same today as when it was first built:
 the time spent together.  

Of course we had our traditional fireside dinner with hot dogs, hamburgers and s'mores. 
The corn this year is sweet and delicious!  J-Bear is just like her GG and her siblings.  She loved it!

The view from the pontoon was lovely as usual.  
We rode the boat to town to get an ice cream at the Dairy Queen.
What a blessing it was to give GG yet another tour around the lake.

T and I sat by the fire before heading to bed one night, and we watched the light of the tent and listened to the giggles from the sleeping bags.  Summer days at GG's cabin are sweet.
Thank you, GG, for all of these wonderful memories. 

Thank you, Lord, for GG and such sweet times together.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First Week of School!

We have made it through the first week of school!

This year, G-Bear is in Second Grade.

E-Bear has started half-day Kindergarten.

Buddy Bear is excited for preschool activities at home.

What a big week we have had!

G-Bear had a great first week.  She is excited to be with old friends and is already making new ones. She is remembering the finer points of hot lunch and loves to lay in bed with me at night and talk about her day.  She has big hugs for her siblings when we welcome her home.   She is excited to be writing poems, journaling and learning about germs during these first few days.

E-Bear started Kindergarten with flying colors!  He got to go to orientation with MoMo (I was giving my first lecture to my students that morning).  Even though he was a little nervous about not knowing most of his classmates, he was so brave and enthusiastic.  He was up early on Thursday for his first day and certainly looked handsome in his uniform.  E-Bear gave Buddy Bear a big hug on the plaza the first day and re-assured his little brother that he would "be home soon."

Buddy Bear is sad to see his siblings go in the mornings.  I know how he feels, because I feel sad too.  Buddy Bear is so excited to do school activities that we are planning to do preschool at home.  For G-Bear's first day of school, I treated Buddy Bear, E-Bear and J-Bear to a morning at the Children's Museum.  Buddy Bear is so excited to do school activities that we are planning to do preschool at home.  After dropping G-Bear and E-Bear off for their first day of school, Buddy Bear, J-Bear and I arrived home to do "Shaving Cream Painting" for our preschool activity.

We made quite a mess and had fun doing it!  After a long, playful bath, we sat on our ABC mat, sang the ABCs and pointed to the letters.  Then we read books and sang more songs together (This Little Light of Mine) and then it was already time to get E-Bear.   It is wonderful to have focused time with Buddy Bear and J-Bear.  I know that time with fly during our school day.

Happy first week of school, dear Bears.  May God bless us with a wonderful school year!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning Time with real tools

Buddy Bear loves tools, but it is hard for me to find ways that he can use them safely.

The other day, for Learning Time, I had an epiphany.  

It sounded so fun that even G-Bear and E-Bear wanted to join in!

I grabbed three blocks of styrofoam from a recent package we received.
The kids each grabbed a hammer from their tool bench.
I pulled out some real nails and screws and laid down the ground rules:

1.  Nails only go in the styrofoam.

2.  Put the nails back in their box when your done.

3.  Be careful of your fingers!  Hammers can bonk and nails are pointy.

 4.  Have fun getting all your nails in your block!

The kids did remarkably well with all the instructions.  They loved this activity.  I think we lost a few nails under the deck.  In the future, I will probably get larger nails for this project than the ones I had on hand.  But, all in all, this one was a success.

Happily Ever,
Queen B