Friday, August 31, 2007

Craft box idea

Pinnings and wishings ---
I know this is beyond my capacity right now... http://oniondome.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/07/a-treasure-box-.html
I just thought it was SUCH a kewl idea. I would modify it and put Holy Days of Obligation lessons in each. I ran into a friend "hi, Stacy" who suggested having one per month with saints of the month activities in each. They're so pretty that I could keep them displayed on my book shelves as decor!!


Co-op Cleaning

Wednesday, after doing a little school and having lunch, several families met together to clean the classrooms where we'll have co-op next month.
My involvement was bringing supplies and sitting... I'm seated with each of my girls around me and all the tired moms who actually DID the cleaning checking the scene.
Thanks, Jen for the pics (my camera stayed in my purse -- it would have involved getting out of the chair)...
I also brought some slave labor -- they did a GREAT job!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maternity Support Garment

I called several stores in town and none of them have what I need. But calling Babies 'R Us and trying to explain THIS to 3 different MEN (one of which didn't know what maternity meant) was the pinacle. I sent the picture to my husband so he could get his laughs out of his system before I put this on for the first time.

My mom told me things like this were common knowledge in my grandma's time, I guess when women had more children and needed them more often.

I just ordered it, so it'll take a few days for shipping. I'll let you know what I think of it -- I can't believe I've been reduced to this. I know, I know...whatever it takes...no false pride (or any pride at all once I'm wearing this...)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Complain, complain 2

Lack of mobility during pregnancy - continued...

Earlier in August, I was really trying to take the kids to Mass once or twice a week before school (we started August 1st -- not knowing what would happen with the new baby, I wanted to make sure to get a jump start on school)...I guess daily Mass has to go -- along with a ton of other things I usually do. (Friends have been making lots of offers and I've taken a few people up, but I feel like mostly this is something we need to get through as a family ... I'm just not so good at getting through it silently.)

I can get the clothes washed & dried, but not sorted & folded. DD1 is in charge of dishes this year, which is a HUGE job, but I usually help her with keeping the counters cleared & cleaned plus the microwave & the stove. Ds4 sweeps the floor daily and DD2 mops once a week, but I usually sweep/vacuum the floor before she washes as Ds4 isn't all that great of a sweeper. Dd2's job is the 3 bathrooms this year, but I usually do the downstairs bath once or twice again, during the week. DS3 empties the dishwasher (sometimes multiple times per day) and is awesome at quickly doing anything I ask of him (the same can not be said of Ds4.) The kids do all the picking up and vacuuming of the house several times per week, but they're not as good as DD1 and I at getting all along the edges and not sucking up marbles & legos. Other than the dishes, keeping her room clean, babysitting and helping each day pick up our mess from school, I don't feel like I can ask much more of DD1. She's a daydreamer (like her Mama was) and just can't seem to get all her school done under 6-8 hours (we only do school 4 days/week). Honestly, though, just sitting or laying down or anything is really uncomfortable until it becomes painful. So, even teaching school from my recliner with each kid coming to me and being surrounded by their planners and them fetching & returning each of my teacher books throughout the day is exhausting. I'm not sure if it's the pregnancy or the pain that makes me so tired, but I'm up to 2 naps a day some days.

The kids make their own (and my) breakfast & lunch. I've been choosing one of the 3 older (7-11 year old kids) to talk them through making dinner each night. It's REALLY frustrating sitting at the table while I watch them muddle through stirring something up as they get it all over the counter or make silly mistakes like dumping a bunch of pepper in a casserole & ruining it, or thinking they know how to follow directions on a box and using olive oil in a baked good or mistaking the phrase "confectioners sugar" for a brand-name of granulated sugar. As I'm writing this, I realize that I yelled at the kids for each of those mistakes when they're completely reasonable mistakes for a kid to make. I'm frustrated with the situation and frustrated with myself. I'M THE MOM! They still need a mom, but I can't stand-up to do much of that. I haven't quite figured out how to get the shopping done. I usually go once a month for 3-4 hours and get it all over with. I tried to run to the corner store for 3 items last week, was gone for 20 minutes and could hardly pull the car in the driveway, I was so nauseous & in pain. (Dave asked me if I'd allowed DD1 to pull the car in the driveway.) I've had offers of dinner...but I'm not confined to bed and I'd feel like I couldn't EVER go out and do something I want (like an MNO book club) if families were sacrificing their time/money/effort to make things easy on me.

Dave's been working almost another full-time job helping out with Matt Kelty's campaign. He volunteers to do the website, plus he helps out in several other areas. Although it's volunteer work, it's taking alot of his time/attention/energy. It's something we both strongly believe in and feel is worthwhile, but he already feels so maxed-out that although he understands that I need to rest here at home, there's still conflict about how much of my slack he feels he should have to take up. Apparently, when I'm so tired I'm nauseous & sweating or in pain, I don't present things to him in a conflict-free way. Now that we're at our 5th pregnancy together things have been better than any other pregnancy, but definitely not free of marital bumps.

There's been TONS of grace in all this. Many of my friends have been calling me daily, some taking the kids, offering to help. Dave and I are still actually speaking to each other through a pregnancy. Nothing was wrong Thursday, but it helped Dave really see that I'm not being lazy (he'd NEVER actually say the word) and that he needs to cut me more slack than seems reasonable to either one of us. Intellectually, I can see the kids becoming more self-sufficient (even if I feel REALLY guilty about that).

Usually, when things get really hard, I can't ever pray. I trust God is there and I yell at Him, sometimes, but I have such a hard time being present in the moment enough to pray. The grace is that I'm not there, yet. I'm approaching it, but I'm not there. I don't have a toddler I'm chasing (which makes pregnancy exponentially more difficult in my opinion.) I have a secure home, a loving marriage, the opportunity to school my kids as I see best, my kids aren't in the hospital, I don't have a chronic condition... Intellectually I know that 'this, too, shall pass', it's just really hard to keep that in mind as I painfully re-adjust postions moment to moment.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Complain, complain

Yesterday, Dd2 got in trouble for whining and complaining all day (she was tired). Today, it's my turn.

I'd prefer to be an underground river of spiritual strength and take all my discomforts an inadequacies and give them only to Christ. Instead, I'm going to give in and complain to you...

I was spotting heavily Thursday morning. Went for an ultrasound but they found no complications (they thought just early effacement). I returned home within a few hours but was given strict instructions to take it easy for the remainder of the pregnancy (due 10/26).

Honestly, I WAS trying to take it easy - I've been in a considerable amount of pain the last month. The Relaxin in my system makes many of my joints pop-out of place. Traditionally my ribs (like when I cough), hips and SI joint pop out multiple times during pregnancy. Chiropractic care just isn't worth the money in my case. I spent the bucks with the last 2 pregnancies and by the time I waddled out to the car and hoisted myself in, I was all popped out again. If it's too bad, Dave has to massage and "pound" my joints back in. This pregnancy, the bones that let the baby out are stretching apart from each other making standing and walking pretty painful. That separation is great as the baby comes out -- not so good for walking around. I've also had pretty bad back pain & cervical pressure, so my mobility has been increasingly reduced the last month or two. Sleeping or even adjusting my position when sitting is not pleasant. Since I've got 10 weeks to go and I'm showing pre-labor symptoms, I'm eager to obey the doctor's orders - I'm very anxious not to have a pre-term baby.

OK -- I think that's out of my system for today. No more complaints, with God's help.

Quote of the Day

DD1 has been...apathetic, lately. Life holds little interest, nothing sounds fun and if we ask if an event was fun, she finds something to fault about it. She noticed this phase (teenage phases come at age 11?) coming soon after she watched Narnia and we often talk about Susan in Narnia who is too old to have fun, anymore. She and I were having a chat about her lack of interest and our forcing her to participate in much of family activities. Both Dave and I will give her lots of opportunities for "alone-time", but when we ask a question (like 'do you want alone-time') she has to be honest. So often her answers about herself consist of "I don't know." So I was trying to express this need for honesty to her when she said,
"But sometimes I'm already thinking about something, and I don't want to lie, but I don't want to have to think about the question you're asking, so I just say any answer that pops in my head."

I guess that's another form of honesty...

Friday, August 24, 2007

The laundry...

I would like to publicly announce I no longer have clothes baskets of clean clothes sitting around our family room. My husband got sick of it quicker than I got the energy and he spent the evening folding what must have been 20 loads of laundry this week. I really like husbands like him...

It's a boy!!

- Dave thinks this picture looks like DS1 -- I think it all ultrasound pictures just look a little weird.
We had an ultrasound after a little scare, yesterday. Everything's fine, and we found out that we're having another boy!!
Which do you like -- we'll call him Wil (or Will)? :
William Frances - Dave's traditional family name discovered in geneology research
William Joseph
William Matthew
William Christopher

Vote now...

Quote of the Day

"Mama, look, I found buried treasure in the back yard!!!"

"What is it?"

"A gold necklace!! I think it was left by the Greeks!"

(I think he means the ancient Greeks we've been studiing...)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quote of the day

This is one of those over and over conversations...

"Mama, how big is the baby, now?"

Mama, looking at bottom of blog,
"It says that it's 3 lbs and 15 inches."

"Hey, BABY, you're bigger than a Subway sandwich!!"

Unexpected Surprises

Normally on a rainy day, we do school and try and get some chores done. An acceptable day is when we don't annoy one another too much and get some things accomplished. A good day is when no one gets in time out and we get quite a bit done and possibly have fun in the process. (We won't talk about the bad days, right now.) Today was an EXCEPTIONAL day!

Dd2 has a special relationship with my aunt. My aunt has always been the classiest, flashiest, most driven & outgoing person I know (until I met Dd2). Several years ago she was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and wasn't expected to ever talk again. She's worked very hard at it and hasn't let that stop her from communicating with us. Some people in the family are better at understanding her than others. Dd2 seems to understand Aunt Sue without trying. They have the same kind of spirit in them.

Several times a year, Dd2 writes Aunt Sue a letter. I try and do very little editing of the letter so it's really her own work. Today a package came from Aunt Sue to Dd2. All the other kids were so excited for her. They all commented that they never receive packages, although Aunt Sue remembers all of them when she sends something to Dd2. School came to a stand still as you can with Ds3 & Dd1 both still holding the school books they'd been working with when the surprise came!

In the package was a Jane Austin Book, Emma, because "she was homeschooled just like you" (although it will be a few years before Dd2 can read it). Candy, pencils and glue sticks for each kid and highlighter markers for me to start our school year off well! It was such an exciting surprise!! Everyone was energized. Dd2 will write Aunt Sue a thank you note and who knows what she'll say in it -- it's always an original. I'm so thrilled that Dd2 can get the kind of attention from someone who understands her to the core and that Aunt Sue can mean so much to Dd2. It's such a lovely piece of heaven for each of them!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quote of the Week

All last week our clean laundry was in baskets in the family room waiting to be folded. Every day we heard
"I can't find any clothes!"
from multiple children.
Everyday my response was the same,
"Look in the baskets in the family room!"
I'm SERIOUSLY planning on this week not having this same conversation over and over and over -- and actually getting all the clean laundry folded!!

A "living" solar system

I'm not sure if it's because it's in our "living room" (our library) or if it's because by hanging it by thread from the ceiling the planets turn, but the kids dubbed this our "living solar system". It's not done, but we'll add to it throughout the year. We've got lots of moons to add around Jupiter and the backs of all the planets are white, so we'll take them down and have the kids color the backs as they study that planet. As you can see, Dd1 did all the work. My effort was waddling to the teacher's store to find the bulletin board set. There was a time when I resisted allowing all our living spaces to be turned into a school. Now, I'm just happy to find the right materials at the right price to turn things into a learning environment.
I know we have to move Jupiter -- I knock into it each time I try and sit on the loveseat. I'm not sure if all those planets hanging from the ceiling will drive me crazy or not. It's possible in frustration I'll rip them all down. It's also possible that the new "sticky wax" we used to hold up the strings won't do the trick. The kids think the room has been transformed and are all very excited about their new school room in space.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

Daddy to Ds4 who had neglected his chores "...and pick up that Bug's Life movie, too!"
Ds4 "NO, Daddy, it's uhhhh Bug's Life. See the cover? It says A Bug's Life."
Whoever taught that kid to read, anyhow?

Night-time ritual

Our night-time ritual only indirectly involves the kids. When I'm ready for bed, after all the kiddos have been in bed for a while, Maggie, our black lab, and I go room to room to check on all the kids before I head off to bed. If I take too long in the bathroom, she'll only wait so long for me and then, she'll check on everyone herself. If a kid ends up asleep in front of their door, she'll lay down in the hall waiting for me to get the door open for her to check.
That boy is definately cuter awake. Once he's alseep, he's also impossible to wake up. I'm sure it's his sound-sleep that makes his night-time diaper neccessary at 5.
I never know where I'll find Dd2. She has a hard time "turning off" her mind and if she stays up just a little too long, she gets overly tired and can't get to sleep. My room is one of her favorite places, but by the time I waddle up to bed, the last thing I want to do is wake up a very sound sleeper and escort her to her room (I'm always afraid she'll fall down the stairs in her stupor). This night, I found her on her sister's floor. Sometimes I'll find her with pillow and blanket at the top of the steps -- that's pretty scary. She even paid her own allowance to decorate her room in lavendar! I think a big part of it is that she doesn't like to sleep alone, but the sister she used to share a room with DOES! She insists she doesn't want to sleep with her brothers -- but if I had a nickle for all the times I've found her in her alseep with her brother or on their floor...
I had to climb up into the top bunk to get this picture -- quite a picture in itself! He's EASY! We say, "goodnight!" and within a very short time period, this boy is alseep. When Maggie & I check on the kids, I usually just make sure I see his foot sticking out of the rungs of his bunk to make sure he's in bed. I can't tell you how many times I'll find a kid alseep in a closet, under a desk, or some obscure place when I can't find them in their bed at night.
Even at 11, she still can be such a little girl...sooooo sweet!! It just warms the cockles of my heart! About half the time I find her still reading at 11pm. I get really angry about that because she's hard to get up in the morning. I've told her that if she'd take responsibilty to get herself up at 7am with the rest of the kids, I probably wouldn't care how long she read. I also get frustrated having to traverse the mess (or sister) on Dd1's floor to turn off her light if she's fallen alseep reading. Dave's never said anything, but I have the same habit. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The RHYTHM of our school year

We usually start school Aug 1st (or the Monday of that).
  • My allergies and one of my kid's allergies start right about then, so we prefer to be in air conditioning then, anyway.
  • The kids have had a full summer and are getting bored with the park, etc. and are in need of structure (and behave better with a school schedule than without one).
  • Indiana is HOT in August.

We go full speek ahead all August, September, October & November.

  • A new school year is relatively exciting and so many of us are eager to begin a fresh new year.
  • We get into a much better groove in Autumn than we do in winter and we get sooo much school done, that I'm pleased to have our autumn session last 4 months rather than 3.

We take about 6-8 weeks off school for Advent & Christmas and don't start back until after Epiphany.

  • The stress (mine) of trying to have a wonderful Christmas with crafts to celebrate the liturgical season, helping the kids make presents & cards, keeping the house clean while we redecorate (which is what it feels like we do every Christmas) baking, watching our budget.... it would overwhelm me if I tried to do all that with the full-time job of teaching.
  • I don't want to rush Advent & Christmas, I want to treasure and savor them as special family times. If I'm a maniac...not going to be so special around here. I know my limitations -- and this is one of them.
  • I also want the kids to feel the rhythm of living the liturgical year and taking time off our regular books really feels special to all of us after working as hard as we did all autumn long.
  • Many times taking that time off allows us to do more intimate learning than we normally do with our classical curriculum - a unit study, more in depth saint studies, memorizing all the verses to treasured hymns, more read alouds... Summer has too many pool party & park invitations to get more than a subject or two (if that) accomplished, so this is our chance to try on a completely different learning lifestyle than we normally feel comfortable with.
  • I don't think I'd feel comfortable taking that time off if we didn't have almost 1/2 a year under our belt by that time.

We school from Epiphany (around January 6th) until around the end of April.

  • Our school work never reaches the finely-tuned schedule & as effortless teamwork that happened in the fall. We try and have fun, but we're often bored with school, bored with housework, bored with lighting fires and baking cookies, sometimes bored with each other. It's hard work and we just have to do it. Many times we're stuck in the house due to weather or illness of one or more children for one or more weeks. Our hope is all pinned on spring during those dark, often sick, sometimes dreary days of winter.
  • As the hard work of Lent becomes Easter and we celebrate new life, we work hard to finish up for the year while spring touches the air (and quickens our hearts).
  • As we get subjects completed for the year (often a child, then two, then more will complete their Grammar program, then spelling, possibly math) I fill them in with alternate curriculum, but don't stress it at all. The kids have done of full year of that subject and it's really just to keep them busy while I focus on completing things with their siblings or have them spend more time in an uncompleted subject.
  • Completing subjects makes for each week of spring having a lighter and lighter work load and all of us getting outside earlier in the day.
  • I get REALLY antsy about April and can hardly stand to be in the house when my garden is calling to me. So, we really like getting done earlier - which ties into why we start earlier...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Amy's Schoolroom

Amy, I LOVED your post about your new schoolroom!! It motivated me to get back to bed (sleepless pregnancy nights are not good for doing school the next morning, but great for getting work done on the computer)..so, I need to get back to bed (I've been up since 2:30am) so I can hurry up and get up in the morning (or sleep in just a little) and teach school!

I LOVE your pictures!!
Thanks for the night-time motivation!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hamster Quote of the Day

Our friend Gabriel, 4, came with his 5 sisters to play at our house today. He must have been staring at Eatey because his mom and I heard from the other room,
"Hey! That hamster has no eyes!"

Quote of the Day

I have a magnetic bumper sticker on my van that advertises a crisis pregnancy center. It says, "Pregnant? Need Help? Call..."

Ds#4 brought the bumper sticker to me and said, "Hey, Mama! You're pregnant and you need help. You should call these people."

I said, "Honey, that is so generous of you to care about Mama. Your help is all the help I need right, now."

Isn't he a sweetie?
His shiner, came from his friend Gabriel who came to play. They were sword fighting (plastic ones). Gabriel cried longer than Ds#4 because he felt so bad.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pregnancy Q & A

* Yes, we're able to get school done the last week and a half.
*Yes, I'm still having to take naps throughout the day.
*No, we're not getting everything done.
*Yes, the kids are doing quite a bit of their work done, even with a less than energetic mom.
*No, the house isn't really getting clean. Between doing so much school on their own and their normal chores, I don't want to overload them with responsibility just because I'm pregnant.
*Yes, even though it's less than I'd prefer, I'm very happy with the kids' efforts.

These are pictures of the Greek helmets & crafts the kids did while I napped.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hamster Update


It must be an act of God. It's scary looking.
We've been giving it the liquid antibiotic 2x per day. One eye is shut (the previous injury) Dave told me it wasn't it's eye that fell out -- it's still blindly in it's head -- just some discolored bedding. The eyelid and surrounding tissue is completely swelled covering the other protruding eye. That poor thing is loosing it's hair, now. But it's eating and playing on it's wheel -- blindly sniffing around it's cage. I discovered today that it's water bottle has been clogged for at least the last 2 days. I CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW THAT THING IS STILL ALIVE!! The prayers of a 7 year old boy must touch God's heart at least as much as it does mine....

Book Review : Natural Speller

There was a question on a yahoo group about a spelling curriculum I LOVE - it's the Natural Speller.

For spelling through all the grades, hands-down, I prefer Natural Speller. I cna't selpl. Neither can my oldest daughter. So I read a bunch of posts and this was recommended after you've tried everything else - so I decided to try it.
I use it by asking kids to orally spell the words until they have 10 words they don't know & they study those for a week using the suggestions in Natural Speller.

*It is E-A-S-Y to use.
*An inexpensive non-consumable investment for all my kids for 1st - 8th grade, words by category, foreign words.
*It's the word lists organized by sight/sound patterns so the kids get a bunch of words that are teaching the same thing at the same time (all the long 'a' silent 'e' words are together, etc.
*Spelling Rules (which I don't use, but you could - it's all greek to me)
*Suggested spelling practice activities / dictionary skills using spelling / grammar skills using spelling / vocabulary with spelling
*Teaching aids - letter formats for friendly, business & writing rules of capitalization & punctuation.

The question on the yahoo group wanted to know a jumping off point to starting the program. I use it like this :
  • Each of the kids works at his own pace. I begin spelling after the kids are fluent readers (usually by 2nd grade or so.)
  • I ask a kid to spell each word orally in the lists until he hits 10 missed words. Those are his spelling words for the week. I write them on index cards for them to study throughout the week and in his student planner. Natural Speller has suggestions on how to study words throughout the week on page 4 of my copy. They study them throughout the week. On Friday I test them (orally - it's quicker). If they miss 3 words or more, they have the same list with their additional 10 the next week. If they miss 2 words or less, they just have those words added to their 10 for the next week. This has worked out GREAT for us.
  • The words are based on sounds so all the -ent words are together in a list. I don't tell them which ones they got right or wrong until they've accumulated 10 wrong. I don't want them guessing to get a word right. If they don't know it, I'd rather they study it. If they study 10 -ent words in a week, I'm fine with that. I feel like studying the words they don't know as a group will give them "pegs" upon which to hang future information and allow for better recall when writing them in a real world situation.
  • There are spelling rules in the back of the book. I personally don't use them (meaning I don't make my kids memorize them). Either they are a naturally good speller and don't really need them -- or they are as rotten as their mama and memorizing the rules won't make much difference. Many people just LOVE the rules in the back, though. I checked and I didn't find the difference between -ent and -ant words in the book, so I typed in "ent ant spelling rule" in yahoo and came up with this site. All those rules are a little more in depth than I prefer to go, but some people really dig that stuff.
  • One question asked was about teaching all the kids the same "rule" or set of words at the same time on their own grade level. Since I'm so thrilled for my oldest daughter to be just 1/2 year behind in the spelling level of her grade and thrilled my middle daughter is a year ahead of what grade she'd be in -- meaning I want them challenged to the best of their ability -- I'm not so interested in combining spelling lists. I'm not sure how this could be accomplished.
My goal in teaching spelling is to make them the best they can be -- not necessarily spelling bee champs. This product helps me do that cheaply, easily (as far as how much teacher time is required) and effectively.