Sunday, December 31, 2006

and a pretty view of our Christmas tree

I like to take a couple of up close pictures of our tree and pick the one that comes out the best for our albums. The corkscrewy ornament is our homemade one for this year. We grew borax crystals on a pipe's supposed to look like an icicle. :) The cat one is Maria's new ornament for this year. The kids each get a new one each Advent. This one looks just like her favorite cat, Dinah (we have 4!). There's some last-minute pipecleaner decoration that Maria made....there's a glass ball behind it, and a snowman peeking up from the bottom. Our ornaments are a bit overcrowded this year. We couldn't put any ornaments on the bottom half of the tree. Jack kept taking them off and distributing them around the house.

my little hugh hefner

Jack, sporting his stylin new Christmas robe...

Friday, December 29, 2006

the Lord giveth...and the Lord taketh away....

We have been going rather stir crazy around here since Christmas Day. Long periods being off-routine have never set well with me, and I just feel like I'm floating around, completely unorganized and off kilter. Kain had been begging me to take him to his most favorite place in the whole wide world, the McDonald's playland, so when I started getting that restless agitated feeling this morning I decided to take them for an early lunch. It was fun! Maria and Kain both found kids to play with. Jack was silly and giggly. I sat on the floor and he ran in dizzy circles around me until he would collapse on my lap for a big hug and kiss, then get up and do it all over again. I felt the stress drain and my brain fog clear up a bit...just the change of scenery was enough to make me feel more in control of things. Then it was time to leave. I gave a warning, told the kids we were leaving in 5 minutes. When I started gathering shoes, Kain started hanging on my shirt and crying that he didn't want to leave. This elevated to him continuing the (very loud) drama through the restaurant (where he decided he wanted the rest of his drink after all when he saw Maria had hers) and out into the parking lot where he flat out refused to get into the car, throwing a screaming fit the whole time. A very nice woman there with 4 or 5 kids of her own was nice enough to help me wrestle him in the car and lock the door...and even though she was nice and even joking about it, I was utterly humiliated. We drove the three blocks home with Kain shrieking in my ear and me trying my very best not to stop the car, drag him out to the side of the road, and leave him there shrieking at the trees. So much for the clearing brain fog.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why I'm not blogging today....

I found this on Elizabeth's blog ( and it guilted me out of my procrastination, at least for today. I'm off to fold a mound of laundry!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

a belated Merry Christmas

Favorite moments of the day include....

Jack opening his first Thomas train set- he has been madly in love with Thomas for several months, and for Christmas he received a set of tracks and several cars. They have been inseparable ever since. He doesn't really drive them on the tracks much yet, but he adores lining them end to end and carefully steering them around the floor.

Maria and Kain test-driving their new scooters out on the street, in the cold, in their pajamas on Christmas morning.

Opening my favorite Christmas candy, Mrs. Field's peppermint bark. John couldn't find it last year, so in reparation he bought TWO packages this year. Good man.

Also opening my new digital camera...stay tuned for a slew of pictures!

John in his much needed new coat- his old one was never warm enough and looked a mess because he kept hooking the pockets on doorknobs.

Getting to tote around this warm and fuzzy 5 month old baby girl at Christmas dinner at Little Portion Hermitage....
scroll down and see the picture of the baby dressed as the "Holy Innocents"...that's baby Madeline, the one that leaves me wondering, yet again, when we will be expecting a baby around here! :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Traditions

In many ways, I think I enjoy Christmas Eve even more than Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, for us, is spent close to home. We spend the morning preparing special foods for this evening, things that can be made ahead of time and brought out quickly for sustenance during the hectic evening- a pretty bowl of clementines, nuts, and cheese to be brought out before evening mass- an antipasto platter (or as John calls it, "the antimatter platter"), chili dip and Fritos, homemade bread, and a relish tray for an easy dinner after mass- and birthday cake, hot cocoa, and hot cider to have before bed. My parents are coming down for the evening mass and Christmas pageant, and afterwards we will all come back here to eat and visit. We are burning down the last of our advent candles this afternoon, and just before mass we will change over our altar, swapping the purple linen for white, taking the purple ribbon off of our wreath and adding a gold ribbon and some holly picks, trading the purple and pink candles for white ones. I'll also load Christmas music into the stereo to enjoy when we get home.

As soon as we return from mass, the Christmas lights and music go on and the wreath is lit. The baby Jesus is placed in the nativity. The kids will each get to open a gift tonight. Their Christmas Eve gift is always something to wear to bed- new pajamas, a new robe, and/or new slippers, depending on what each child needs the most. My parents will head home and we will tuck excited and overtired children into bed. I will mix up some homemade Irish cream for John and I to enjoy. After they finally fall asleep, we will fill stockings, hang candy canes, and lay gifts under the tree. I also always try to have everything ready to go for the ready to brew, camera at the ready in the living room, trashbags tucked behind the end tables to gather shredded wrapping paper. Far too late, John and I will get to bed....and far too early, we will be awakened the next morning.

Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas shopping with Kain

Today I took Kain to Dollar Tree to buy his gifts. I love using Dollar Tree for this. You can turn loose a kid this age, who has no concept of money yet, and tell him to pick anything he wants. Still, gift buying is a foreign concept to Kain. We had a couple of talks beforehand about how this was going to be BUYING STUFF FOR OTHER PEOPLE, not BUYING STUFF FOR YOURSELF. He did surprising well though. He whined a bit here and there when seeing something he wanted, but he recovered and continued shopping. He is also refreshingly quick and finished in about 10 minutes. My daughter takes SO long to pick out gifts, but Kain doesn't have the patience to take more than 10 minutes to do just about anything. I always enjoy taking kids to shop like this. It's amusing to see what they will pick, what they think other people will like. Here's Kain's finds for today--

For me- a nutcracker soldier

For Maria- a little angel figurine

For Jack- a Dragon Tales board book

For John- a flashlight

For his mom- a picture frame with cats around the border and sentiments indicating that the frame is supposed to be for a picture of your CAT. Kain's mom doesn't have a cat. He wants to put a picture of himself in there, and no amount of persuasion would convince him that this frame was for cat pictures!

For his dad- in a similar vein, a picture frame in the shape of a dog bone.

Now check-out is a bit of a juggling act. See, I'm not supposed to *see* my gift. So, he had his own little basket, and when we were ready to check out I looked the other way while the very amused cashier rang everything up and bagged it for him. Then I was allowed to pay. Maria is going to help him wrap all the presents but the one he picked for her. And this afternoon, I take Maria out to finish her shopping.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's been a rough Christmas break....

As Kain engaged Maria in a furious wrestling match over her laundry hamper (don't ask why, there's no telling!)....

ME- Kain, if you are going to fight with everyone all day all Christmas break, I'm going to start driving you to school in the morning and dropping you off at the front door for seven hours!

MARIA- It's eight hours. He's gone for eight hours. I counted.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

decoration destruction

Our sad, sad tree....all the ornaments are on the top half because Jack keeps pulling them off. He even figured out that you could stomp on the glass balls with fabulous effects. Here's a picture of the top half of our tree.... (excuse the ceiling fan in the way up on top!)

And the bottom half....

We keep our decorations up until Epiphany is over...but frankly, I don't know if I can take it.

Memo to myself for next year...Christmas vacation breeds laziness!

Laziness on my evidenced by my much later-than-normal shower this morning. And laziness on Maria's as well. John left to go get a repair done on our car as I was starting my shower, so I asked him to tell Maria to keep an eye on Jack until I got out. Afterwards, I popped my head out of the door wearing a towel and a smile-

ME- Maria!

MARIA- Yeah? (distractedly, tv in background)

ME- Is Dad gone?

MARIA- Yeah (still distractedly)

ME- Where's Jack?

MARIA- Um,,,I don't know...

---Jack rounds the corner from the kitchen with a piece of bread in his hand and a triumphant grin on his face.

JACK- Bread!

ME- Um, how about "he's dumping a brand new loaf of bread all over the kitchen floor"?

MARIA- Um...I don't know...

---I come into the kitchen to find Jack has, indeed, dumped a new loaf of bread all over the kitchen floor. He has, in fact, stepped all over most of it.

JACK- Oh no! Mess!

ME- Uh huh


So,,,no grilled cheese for lunch today after all....

Monday, December 18, 2006

latest picture of my gang

Please excuse my random picture...I'm trying to figure out how to get a picture added to my profile....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

why YES, YES, I *do* have my hands full!!

It happened. A few days ago, I was at the grocery store with all three kids. This doesn't happen very often. See, one of the three kids is my nephew. We are seeking guardianship, but in the meantime we cannot legally homeschool him. Kain is at school all day, and he is usually with his dad on Saturdays. And as for Sunday, frankly, once I get through mass with all three of them my energy for public appearances is shot. But I was with all three the other day in the check out lane, my 10yo daughter, 6yo Kain, and my 2yo son. And the cashier said it, the fateful words that would put me officially into the "larger than average family" category. "Boy, you have your hands full, don't you?"

See, ya'll with large families seem to cringe under these statements, and I can understand why. When you step out with a large family, you are wearing your lifestyle and your values on your sleeve, so to speak, and you tire of the irritating commentary that comes with every milk run. But, I have always wanted a large family....and babies are slow in coming around here! I mean, Jack is 2 years old and we have been (freaking out) waiting patiently for another one for some time already. I am 32 years old. I know I have several baby-years left, but I am already at the age where fertility starts to decrease, and I couldn't help but wonder if a large family wasn't in our future after all. But then came Kain. Kain was a freebie you see, a "bonus kid", if you will, that nicely filled the age gap between Maria and Jack. Now all of a sudden, we are one of *them*, a "big family". I realize that this comment makes those of you with 10 kids chuckle, haha, but throw me a BONE, ok? I realize that in big family circles we are still small potatoes, but you are missing the milestone here. I have always heard friends with large families bemoan the "you have your hands full" comment, but with one deft sentence that cashier at the grocery store put me in ranks with them. I looked up from my frantic search in the diaper bag for my wallet to find out she was talking to *me*, and I was so surprised. I mean, I knew that certain things had changed since Kain's arrival. All of a sudden, dinner recipes had to be doubled because they just weren't *quite* enough...all of a sudden my sedan was a very tight fit...all of a sudden the laundry seemed to DOUBLE with the addition of just one more person. But somehow, maybe because Kain is my nephew and has only been with us a few months, and maybe because we spent the first couple of months waiting for someone to take him away again, I missed this new reality, this new large-family identity. And even though Kain is my nephew and not my own son, we are raising him as our own and sure hope to keep it that way. I looked around at Jack fussing in the cart, Maria and Kain fighting over who was going to put which bags in the car, and I beamed at the cashier. "Why yes. Yes, I do have my hands full, don't I?"

finally, justification for putting our books away

even though we are still so behind!! :)

Twas the Night Before Christmas Homeschool Style(Author Unknown)

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the home,
Children were still studying for their test on Rome.
Mom was planning, she had just an hour,
To teach 'one more lesson' before their night shower.
A whole week of vacation, the children were thrilled,
But Mom saw the lesson plans, and the blocks were still filled.
"Can I stop for a day, much less a whole week?"
Just the thought of time off made me shudder and shriek!
Would they remember anything, would they fall behind?"
Lord, I need your help, just give me a sign!!!"
Then out on the sidewalk, I saw my four boys,
And I heard them say, "it's not about toys."
To the neighborhood kids, they explained Jesus' birth,
And how through Jesus, not toys, we gain our worth.
At that point, math and spelling and learning to write,
Meant little to me as I had lost the sight
Of what teaching at home was truly about.
Then I sat at my desk and began to pout.
The pouts turned to sobs, "Lord what have I done?
It's not about grades, but to follow your Son!"
"Please guide me and show me my job is to teach,
and turn them to you, and of Jesus I'll preach."
Now we'll put away books and not open them 'til later,
We'll focus on Jesus, our Lord and Creator.
It's His day and so we will all celebrate,
I'll never mention the words "behind" or "we're late".
So, Thank You, Lord, for blessing me,
With such a great husband and family.
Now homeschooling moms, TURN OUT THE SCHOOL LIGHT!
And, "Happy Christmas To All And To All A Good Night!"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

comment troubles?

I have gotten word from a couple of people that they haven't been able to comment on my blog...don't know why!! I didn't change anything! But I have tinkered with the settings and hopefully it'll work now. Sorry! :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

not a creature was stirring....

I am sitting in a completely silent house. It is 8:30 in the morning. Usually we are in full-activity by this time of the morning. But it is completely still and quiet. And yes, we have carbon monoxide detectors. John is off of work today. When I got up this morning, I left Jack in bed with him. Kain is now at school. And Maria is still snoozing away. Ah, the bliss of Christmas break....I let her stay up late last night so she could watch "Supernanny" with me, and she is free to sleep as late as she needs to today. Still, it's unusual for her, for anyone in this house, to sleep so late! Uh oh...wait a minute...I hear someone stirring,,,a nose blowing...and yep, Maria has joined me. And yep, there it is...noise. She's switched on PBSkids. Ah was nice while it lasted! :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

nuh-nuh's = love

"Why haven't you weaned that baby yet?" Would ya'll like to know? Somewhere around Jack's first birthday, I read an article on extended breastfeeding. The article stated that there was a window for natural weaning around the first birthday, and if you don't take it, you'd better be prepared to nurse for a good while longer. I didn't notice that with my first child, but I definitely saw that window in Jack. Around his first birthday, he was eating table foods very well and only nursed once or twice in a 24 hour period. I definitely had the feeling he could take it or leave it, and felt like if we wanted to wean it could be done pretty easily at that point. We didn't wean. My first child nursed until she was nearly 4 (Don't be too horrified. It was just at bedtime!). Weaning at 12 months definitely felt too soon. Eventually he started nursing with more interest again, although he still mostly nurses at bedtime and maybe once during the night. Since his 2nd birthday, however, nursing has become an emotionally-laden activity for Jack. He *loves* to nurse. Whereas before he could, and often would, go to sleep at night without nursing, now he will actually cry for his "nuh-nuh's". When I lay down on our bed to nurse, he will smile at me and sigh, "nuh-nuh's" while he pats me through my clothing. And then, before he latches on, he says, "hug", and turns his head into my arm, and then, "kiss", and pucker up at my face for a kiss before he starts nursing. Nuh-nuh's equal love to him. And that's why we haven't weaned. :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

snow, snow, snow, Snow, SNOW

That title was from "White Christmas". You've seen it, right? Totally cheesy old-timey movie with Rosemary Cloony and Bing Crosby? It's a must-see in this house, believe me. I've seen it every year since I was, oh, 12 or so? Anyway, we actually *did* get some snow...not as much as forecasted, but then, the forecast is *never* accurate where snow is concerned. I tried to warn the kids,,,,and sure enough, we got about 3 inches instead of the 6 predicted. But still enough to play in! Kain is having a blast. He seems to have the most fortitude for it. He'll stay out there, his otherwise very, very fair-skinned face turned fire-engine red, clothing eventually soaking wet no matter how you dress him, until you drag him inside. Jack also loved his first snowfall (last year we really didn't ever get enough to play in!). He was content to play out there as long as John's fortitude held up. Maria has far less tolerance. She gets her fill of it for the day pretty quickly. So, the day following our snowfall, John had the boys outside most of the day while Maria and I baked 4 dozen cookies for a church fundraiser. Today, the snow is melting fast. It was quite warm and beautiful yesterday, and most of the remaining snow melted. Still, we had enough to make what follows in my next post.....

a "Little House" experience

I love the Laura Ingalls books, and my favorite is "Little House in the Big Woods". So I was especially excited to try my hand at making Ma's maple sugar toffee, just like in the book! We turned up a small bottle of "real" maple syrup at Walmart and boiled it on the stovetop until thickened. Maria brought in a small pan of snow and we periodically tested the syrup in it. At first it just disappeared into the snow, but eventually...viola! Soft strands of toffee solidified in the cold snow. We rushed our pan of hot syrup outside to the back deck. I poured lines of syrup in the snow and Maria came behind with a spoon, twirling up the soft toffee. It was very good, and very rich. That little bottle made more than Maria, Jack and I could ever eat, and we learned that at room temperature it quickly turns back to liquid again. The mom that told me how to make the toffee also told me that if you cook the syrup until it gets grainy, it becomes a hard candy in the stock up for the next snowfall! :) Kain missed this experience because he was visiting his dad, so we will definitely have to do it again.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Zebras, gazelles, wildebeasts, oh my!

We have a new African webcam. Check it out here... If you watch it early in the morning or late at night, it'll be daylight in Africa. Jack got to see live zebras this morning and sat at the computer for a good 10 minutes crying, "Zaza's! Zaza's!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ooooohhhh, the first snowfall of the winter....

Its' weird to even think's still something like 65 degrees outside right now! But the word on the street is that there is a cold front moving in tonight and we are under a winter storm warning for freezing rain/sleet turning into several inches of snow. The kids are absolutely ecstatic. We don't get a whole lot of snow here most winters....last year we didn't really get any accumulation at all. Best of all, their winter boots from Land's End arrived yesterday, and we finally got around to picking up some snow gloves for Maria today, so they are all set. I do wish I had more "power outage friendly foods" on hand though! We do have plenty of diapers and toilet paper though, so that's something...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

For us, at least. When you have a family full of nurses, you get used to celebrating holidays on the fly. Thanksgiving is one that we always celebrate a little off-calendar. John works Thanksgiving and New Years so that he can have Christmas off. He's not working today, so we are making our turkey dinner today. On the menu---

Turkey, of course, and gravy
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes with fresh cranberries
Green bean casserole
Cranberry sauce
Seven layer salad
Pecan pie
Pumpkin pie

Tomorrow I will travel with the children to have Thanksgiving with my family. My parents are domestic members of Little Portion Hermitage and live practically next door to the monastery . It has become our tradition to join them at the Hermitage for Thanksgiving dinner.

We thank God for our tremendous blessings this year, especially for the gift of having Kain with us.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Maria as St. Kateri

Here, finally, a pic from our All Saints Day party...thank goodness for friends with digital cameras!
Tying all those beads onto that fringe...whoo! What a job! We all worked on it, John, Maria, and me. It was worth it,,,it came out *so* cute. And now it lives upstairs in the dress-up box. The "heavenly" background is courtesy of one of the mom's in my wonderful homeschool group.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

and speaking of being behind

Here's a revealing statement that will chill the hearts of all you curriculum-ites out there. We are only on WEEK 6 of our syllabus. That's right people. Week 6. We are *supposed* to be on week 11. haha! What lofty goals I had over the summer! Week 11 by Thanksgiving, what giddy idealizations! But, here we sit on week 6. No big catastrophes, just countless smaller ones combined with days where mom said ", we have *got* to take the day off and get this house together"...not to mention days taken off to go on fun field trips and play days with friends. Ah's ok, really. This is our 4th year homeschooling, and this happens *every* *year*. We start in September and we finish when we finish. This pretty much means that we school year-round. I had planned on quitting for a long break after week 11, but now we will keep going as best we can until Christmas Eve and take off until after Epiphany.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who are these people....

that homeschool a dozen kids, bake homemade bread everyday, and are busily knitting exquisitely crafted homemade Christmas gifts????! Am I missing out on some kind of "homeschooling gene", or even "homeschooling drug" here? I have three kids and struggle to make time to SHOWER, ok? My house is ALWAYS a mess, we are ALWAYS behind on school work...we do love baking and crafting but it sure doesn' t happen nearly as often as it seems to happen for these people...and our big Christmas craft last year involved glitter, wax paper, and a lot of Elmer's glue. I was picking glitter out of my children's heads for a month. HOW do these moms manage to do all of these things? It just doesn't seem mathematically possible to fit so much into a day. Well, I figure my appearance on the homeschool-blog scene is to provide the same service that my appearance at the public pool make all of YOU feel better. I am flawed, I struggle mightily to keep all the balls in the air, I am no super-mom...and yet we are all well-fed and in clean clothing. We might have been fed frozen pizza, and our clean clothing might have been dug out of the giant "clean laundry pile" in my bedroom....but we are healthy, happy, and we enjoy each other immensely. And you best of all, you will rarely find this blog to be guilt-inducing for you, dear reader.

Jack's shiner

Jack has a black eye. It is most alarming...and even more alarming is that I'm not quite sure how it happened. He just kind of...fell. I mean, I actually saw him fall, it was one of those stumble-over-your-own-feet kind of things, no doubt brought on by the fact that it is, after all, "co-op day", also known as "no-nap day". He didn't seem to fall especially hard. I was kind of surprised when he started crying as hard as he did, and even more surprised when I picked him up and saw a bloody eye. He cut a nice gash into his right eyelid with...something! I guess he fell against the molding? Or maybe hit that cd case on the floor just so? In any case, it bled quite a while and quickly swelled and turned a lovely shade of purple. It'll definitely be one of those "nasty looks in Walmart" injuries...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kain Amadeus is baptised

I feel like we have accomplished a big hurdle. I am not a real "mystical" person generally, but I really felt like we were fighting the devil to get this far! Now, just 2 years of PSR and he can receive first communion, lol.
Normally baptisms are done during mass, but because of Kain's attention/social behaviors we opted to do it privately with just our family/friends. I was hesitant to do it this way, but I'm very glad we did. Kain was extremely excited...came bounding out of the bedroom this morning, "Hey, Aunt Mel, I'm getting baptized today!" and was wound up tight all day long. He was literally rolling down the ailse while we waited for Fr. Mike, and his romping around the big baptismal font almost got him a baptism by immersion. We tried mightily to keep him as calm as possible. I even took him into the adoration chapel for a little chat/prayer, just the two of us before we got started, to try and settle him a little bit, but he was a wild man anyway. My mom is going to have her pictures put on cd-rom for me so I can post them. They are hysterical! Most of the pictures show me holding Kain by the shoulders tightly while he is obviously trying to pull away, my face alternating between pained expressions and fighting back laughter. Fr. Mike was very patient and had a good sense of humor about it all. No one was bothered too much by his behavior, and that was mostly why I was very glad it was done privately. We surely would have been quite stressed to do this in front of a crowd during mass! Kain was very excited with the little white "garment" and candle given to him as well. ("Aunt Mel, there's a little bird on it!") It will be a long time before I get those from him to put safely away. We came back home to lunch, cake and ice cream, and a few presents too. It was a special day.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Um,,,it's November, right?

We have a high of 84 degrees here today. 84 degrees! How can you do school when it's 84 degrees in November? It's almost HOT outside! And we are enjoying it...because a cold front is moving in tomorrow! And surely, surely there will be no more weather like this before spring!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"let's watch the polls close!"

We are official geeks. We don't watch sports, ever, in our house. No interest from anyone whatsoever. We are usually surprised to find out that it is Superbowl Sunday, and we often have no idea who is playing. Polls closing though, now that's entertainment. John is going to pick up a dessert to eat while we watch the polls close. Go vote, there's still time!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

a tale of two eaters

I have a picky eater. This is most irritating to me. My first child is a fabulous eater...always has been. She loves veggies, she tries new foods willingly...she digs up weird looking stuff in the produce section and asks if she can try it. She whines for me to buy fresh aspargus and artichokes. She loves fresh spinach salads and turnip greens. I *love* that she is such a good eater. My two much-younger brothers were terrible eaters well into their teens. I have irritating memories of them pouting and refusing to eat at any restaurant that didn't have chicken nuggests on the menu. I swore that would never be my child, and I held Maria up as evidence that kids *can* love a variety of foods, and of course I chalked this up to my superb parenting. And then I had Jack. Jack, to my knowledge, has never actually eaten a vegetable...unless you count french fries as a vegetable. A few have crossed his lips when I've managed to sneak them in, but he promptly spews them back out. If you put a vegetable on his high chair tray, he will grab your hand and place it back on your palm. I can list the foods he will eat.

ice cream
mac and cheese
scrambled eggs
peanut butter sandwiches
crackers (of the saltine, tortilla chip, and goldfish variety)

I really think that's it. Oh, and french fries of course. I am at a loss. He seems to be getting more picky instead of less! He used to eat spaghetti, chicken, apples,,,he won't now. No vegetables, ever. I think he ate pureed sweet potatoes a couple of times as a baby, but that's it. He seems to have an especially deep affinity for junk food too. He sniffs at and usually turns down almost anything you offer him, but if the food up for grabs happens to be a cookie or cracker of any kind he will barely glance at it before shoving it in his mouth. It always baffled me when he was a younger toddler that he would regard almost any food I pushed at him as suspicious and usually refuse to eat it, but later that same afternoon while at the park I'd be fishing cigarette butts and bugs out of his mouth. No accounting for taste....

Monday, October 30, 2006

come on blogger

please let me post...I don't know what I've done to offend you the last couple of days, but will you let me post now, please???

Sunday, October 29, 2006

update on Kain

Please continue to pray for us. We are at a really low point right now in our efforts with Kain. It has been a *bad* bad that I was seriously entertaining the idea of putting him in an inpatient facility for some kind of crisis intervention. We really, really need some professional help with him. I guess we were naive to hope that simply giving him a better environment would be the answer for him. In reality, giving him a better environment hasn't done much of anything except tick him off. He fights us tooth and nail (and often hand and fist) on any kind of rules/structure/authority. Don't get me wrong, I know the better environment is good for him whether he knows it or not, and it will pay off in the long run, but for right now we are all very stressed. He has also been in repeated fights with neighborhood kids and kids at school this week. We are trying to get him help. The local guidance centers won't touch him until we get legal guardianship (something we can't afford to do right now). My brother is going to go in this week and see if there is some kind of release he can sign that will allow us to take him to therapy. We are still waiting to hear back from the Schmieding Center, but there is a long waiting list'll be a while. In the meantime, we feel very much on our own and very incompetent to handle him properly. Please keep us in your prayers.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Girl's Day Out

Maria and I had a day out today. We aim to do this once a month, but honestly it doesn't really happen that often lately. John has been working lots of overtime and often has his own list of things to do on his days off. My parents have moved recently and no longer offer convenient babysitting. But today, we finally got out. We had tickets to a 9:30 show at the Arts Center anyway, so it seemed like a good day to do this. After the show, we decided to check out the new mall. Let me tell you...I *detest* malls. I literally have not been to a mall in at least 3 years. I hate crowds, I hate wasting money, and I rarely enjoy shopping at most stores....I would much rather shop by internet than navigate some mall. My daughter, however, girly-girl of the year, *loves* malls. I don't think she even remembers the mall very well. She has just seen them in movies enough to know they are "cool". So, off to the mall we went...bad Chinese food and a $45 blown at Build-a-Bear (*never* go to Build-a-Bear. I had no idea it would be this expensive and I promised her a bear before I had any idea!!), a smaller amount spent at Claire's buying a birthday present for a friend, and we had had enough. Even Maria had enough. I'm glad I got to spend the day with Maria, but I am done with the mall for another 3 years.!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

managing the chaos

I am feeling overwhelmed. Every summer, I vow to cut back, to simplify our schedule. I am a closet homebody. I would be content to stay home most of the time. In fact, I struggle with organization so much that staying home most of the time is essential to keeping up with housework/schoolwork/every-other-kind-of-work...when we have weeks like this one in which we are gone everyday, things quickly start to unravel. You know the scene...housework doesn't get done, laundry piles up, meals don't get planned, schoolwork doesn't get graded/filed efficiently and grows into a paper monster threatening to take over the entire upstairs....I am very visual and just being surrounded by the mess is depressing to me. I am longing to have several days home to take back control. How does this happen? We *did pare* back activities this year! We have our homeschool co-op every Monday, all day. That's one big time-sucking event. We enjoy participating, don't get me wrong, but it's a rough way to start the week. We leave the house at 8:30 and don't get home until after 4. I spend the morning grocery shopping and running errands while Maria takes her classes at the co-op. Then I come to the co-op to teach an afternoon class, leave to pick up Kain from school, then back to the co-op to pick up Maria after her last class. I am *wiped out* for the day, for the *week*, after that. Maria has choir practice at the church every other Wednesday. The kids have PSR on Sunday, and I teach the preschool PSR class. It's not bad...I actually co-teach the class, so I only have to actually plan a lesson every other week. We meet with our Catholic homeschool group for Little Flowers/playtime once a month. And we participate with another homeschool group for various social activities/field trips when we have the time/energy. It's not so bad, seems like everyone else is involved in a lot more actually! But I still struggle. The days I enjoy the most are the days that we stay home all day, follow our routines, and the day unfolds smoothly. Those days are in short supply lately.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

on the mend....

Each of the kids has had this virus now....Maria most recently. Update---Kain is well over the virus but still wheezing and coughing up a storm. Not sure what else to do for him. He is on an oral steroid, so I am waiting to see if this helps. If he is still having a hard time when the steroid is gone then we will go back to the doctor, but this usually does the trick for my other wheezers. Jack is much better. He ended up with an ear infection and is on antibiotics, but other than finishing those up he is just fine now. Maria still has a low fever today. She has not been as ill as the other two though. I think another day or so and she'll be fine. In the meantime, we are having quiet days at home. I have given free reign on PBS kids, our video collection, and computer games to the kids and I have been working on various cleaning/organizing issues that have been hanging over my head. We have played lots of checkers/monopoly/etc. It was a nice break actually, but everyone is starting to get a bit bored. I'm not a big stickler on forcing mildly ill children to stay indoors. I think generally the fresh air and change of scenery does them good as long as they don't overexert themselves. But the weather has been so cold and wet that I have had to keep everyone inside. We are looking forward to wellness!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

and the Lord taketh away....

We were supposed to go to the zoo today. We go to the zoo every year with our homeschool group, and I planned the event this year. Kain has never been to a zoo before, and Jack is just now old enough to enjoy going, so we were all really looking forward to it. It's not just the zoo after all, it's caravanning with friends, picnic lunches at the zoo playground, buying tokens to ride the carousel, hitching a ride on the train that circles the zoo.... Well, last night we ended up in the ER with Kain. His asthma has been getting progressively worse and we ended up at the hospital around 8pm and didn't leave until 10:30. That's actually pretty good time for an ER. If you come in with a kid that can't breathe, you get the express treatment. :) Anyway, Kain was markedly better after more treatments and a shot of steroids, and we were still toying with the idea of trying to go to the zoo....the weather is warm and dry today for a change and we thought we could rent one of those wagons and pull Kain around if the walking was too taxing. Then Jack woke up at 4am with 103.8 degree fever. zoo. Instead, we got to go to the doctor's office...and to the pharmacy...

I absolutely despise Arkansas summers. They are sooo hot and humid and miserable for weeks on end. But, you know what? Everyone is *well* in the summer. When fall comes, and that cold damp air hits my 3 little wheezers, it seems like it's one illness after another. I felt bad breaking the news this morning. Everyone was very disappointed. Ah well...we are still planning to go to the zoo just as soon as we can coordinate total wellness with Daddy's days off again....and Dad took Kain and Maria to get ice cream and pick a book at Barnes and Noble instead. Nice Daddy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

co-op day

Monday is co-op day in our house. Sort of. We belong to a place that is part dayschool/part co-op. The morning classes are academic classes taught by paid teachers, and the afternoon classes are "fun" classes taught by other moms. You can pay for these too, or you can help teach and earn tuition credit. This term, Maria takes a literature, math, and life science class in the morning and then spanish, ceramics, and woodworking in the afternoon. She *loves* going to the co-op, mostly because she gets to have lunch/recess with friends. :) Usually, Jack and I do grocery shopping/errands/library on this day, but today Kain is home with asthma troubles. The weather is wet and cold, and so we are all staying home. I have helped Kain discover one of my old favorite movies, "Pete's Dragon". :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday cookin'

How do you celebrate your Sunday at home? Here in the South, it's almost a given that you will have the traditional "Sunday dinner", or Sunday brunch, or both. I used to try to do both...brunch after mass followed by a nice dinner/dessert....but I found myself cooking all day on Sunday! Not really a day of rest... So, we have modified a bit. I make brunch for dinner. Brinner, the kids call it. Some kind of eggs, bacon *and* sausage, pancakes/waffles/or biscuits and gravy (it is the South, after all), hot cocoa or smoothies. It's easy for me, I make enough of the pancakes/waffles to heat up for breakfast Monday morning, and it is the kids' favorite dinner by far. Everyone eats well, even Jack, my toddler that lives on milk and cheese sticks, and peanut butter. We have dessert on Saturday, which is game night (and really, doesn't the Sabbath begin then anyway? What better way to bring it in than with pie!). Now, what takes the place in the traditional time frame of Sunday brunch? Well, this is almost blasphemy I know...but Sunday afternoons have become my big "purge the leftovers" meal. I know, I know...terrible. But I buy groceries on Monday, so it's a good day to empty the fridge, it's quick and easy to fix when we get home from church and everyone is starving, and the kids' enjoy getting to pick and choose what to eat for a change. I hold a plate of more recent leftovers for dh to take to work for lunch on Monday. Everything else from the week gets cleaned out and nuked. Salvagable dregs of meat and veggies go into the "soup bucket" in the freezer and the rest is tossed. Now, I actually get to rest on Sunday!

Friday, October 13, 2006

a day in the life

OK, boys and girls, here it is,,,, a day in our life. It's not a perfect one, and I knew it wouldn't be. Jack has been sick all week, and I was feeling badly myself on Wednesday and Thursday, so things around here had kind of gone to pot. But I decided to include this day anyway. It shows that you can still homeschool when life is less than perfect...some days you just have to suck it up and prioritize! It's a long post...sorry about that. The day is long sometimes. :)

Sometime during the early morning hours- Kain comes in our bedroom to wake me up. I whisper to him to go lay on the couch. He wakes up almost every night and travels. Sometimes he wakes me up, sometimes not.

4am- I wake up, I'm not sure why, and see that Kain is asleep on the floor by my bed. I wake him up and tell him to go lay on the couch. He shuffles off. Jack wakes up to nurse. He's already in bed with us, so we just snuggle up and drift back off.

5am- My alarm goes off. I get up and attempt to turn it off. I'm not getting up this early today. I was feeling bad all day yesterday and the day before, presumably with a touch of what Jack has, so I decide to sleep in a little. I hit the wrong button on the alarm clock and the radio starts blaring. I pull the plug from the wall to shut it off quickly, get my watch and set that alarm so that I can wake John up.

5:15- I poke John and tell him to get up.

6:00- Jack is awake. It's early for him to be awake, and I don't want to get up yet. I nurse him and try to get him to settle back down, but he rolls around on the bed, kicking the wall, poking my eye sockets, babbling to himself. I should have just gotten up at 5. Now we are behind schedule and I didn't really get any more sleep anyway.

6:15- John comes in at 6:15-ish to kiss me goodbye,,,and also I know to make sure I don't oversleep too much. I go ahead and get up. Jack starts shrieking at me as soon as we enter the kitchen. I give him a cheese stick and some milk and make myself some coffee. He's on steroids this week for his asthma...they make him hungry. Maria comes staggering in and tells me her stomach hurts. Her stomach often hurts. I ask her the usual,"Did you pee? When did you poop last? Are you hungry?" Nothing seems to pinpoint the cause, but her forehead isn't warm and she doesn't seem to be hurting much, so I send her on her way. She sits down and flips on the tv. Yeah, we watch tv. Unapologetically. The kids generally watch PBS kids or assorted videos. They TiVO a whole mess of stuff from PBS,,,Arthur, Cyberchase, Fetch, Reading Rainbow, Bill Nye. We go through periods of limiting it, but mostly they are pretty good about doing other things too. She's been watching way too much since Jack has been sick all week....a battle to take on later. John and I don't watch that much of it. Jack grabs a loaf of bread off the counter. It hasn't been tied shut, so it dumps all over the floor. I feel myself getting irritated. I'm used to waking up by myself,,,not with the whole gang. I start a load of Kain's laundry.

6:30- I sit to quickly check my email and start this entry. My priority in life now is to get Kain out the door on time. I find him asleep on the floor in the hallway. It takes more effort than usual to wake him which makes me wonder how long he was awake last night.

6:45- I spend the 45 minutes fixing eggs for everyone, pass around the fruit bowl, pouring milk, nagging Kain to eat, get dressed, etc., while Jack follows me around fussing. The steroids also make him cranky. I finally gather him up and we go sit and snuggle on my bed for a minute. I change and dress him and put on his Raffi Bananaphone cd. I give him a little basket of crib toys and his sippy cup and he's happy to play quietly on my bed for a bit.

7:30- Maria and Kain are fighting over who gets to read the rice krispy treats box, an argument that ensued when I asked Kain to pick out something to take to school for snack time. He's also still not done eating, and we are supposed to be leaving now. I confiscate the box and tell Maria to come in my bedroom and leave Kain by himself so he will eat. I give Jack a much needed breathing treatment and force his steroid on him.

7:45- Kain is finally ready to go. His school starts at 8, so we need to run. I leave Jack with Maria while I drive him to school. Before you freak, you should know that 1. Maria is very responsable, very good with Jack, and knows how to dial 911, 2. It's only really about three mornings a week because John is sometimes home on weekday mornings, and 3. Kain's school is very close by. I timed us this morning and I was gone for a total of 13 minutes. I kind of fell into leaving Jack with her for this morning errand because Jack is sometimes still asleep or very newly awake at this time.

8:00- I'm back, and I'm fried. Jack is still cranky, we are all over the place schedule-wise. We usually have a very specific schedule we try to follow (see and it is out the window this morning. I take some time to sit, have a cup of coffee, and contemplate the schedule for today..where we are, what needs to happen today so that we can catch up after our string of sick days....the house is an absolute mess. Housekeeping is, um, not my strong point, and being on schedule is the only thing that keeps the chores happening like they should. I decide that anything not essential to life needs to go out the window today so that I can have extra chore time and get caught up. So that's what I'm doing...contemplating the schedule and seeing what can change for today. That and having a cup of coffee and holding Jack. Jack and I read one of his Winnie the Pooh books. Twice. He *loves* to be read to and brings me books several times a day. I also kick Maria into action and tell her to start her morning chorepack (also on

9:00- We sit down to say our morning offering and rosary. Maria takes a moment to whine about it and asks if we can say "half a rosary"...then she "forgets" how some of the prayers start. Jack sits with us, sweetly holding a rosary and yelling "Amen! Amen!" for the first few Hail Mary's, then he brings me picture books and whines at me to read to him. He finally wanders off and plays with his cars, lining them up across the living room floor. When we're done, Jack gets a diaper change and then....

9:30- Upstairs to start school, only half an hour late. I tell Maria to pee now if she is going to. It has been an issue lately that she will desperately need to pee 5 minutes into starting school. I call, "Upstairs!" and Jack comes running. He loves to go up there...that' s where all the toys are! I don't let him go up there without supervision yet, so the rest of the time he's limited to one box of toys at a time that I rotate downstairs. I turn Jack loose to play and give Maria a timed addition fact drill to start on. While she does this, I correct her papers from yesterday and make her a list of assignments she can do on her own today. I wouldn't recommend grading papers this way. Last year I went upstairs early each morning to prepare for the upcoming school day. But having to get Kain off to school has taken that time out of my morning. So, we are doing it this way for this school year. Maria finishes her fact drill in 5 minutes and 20 seconds. Not her best time, but respectable. I get onto her a little bit because of the sloppy state of one of her assignments. We have to have this conversation every so often. I put yesterday's math lesson back into her inbox. Later, she'll correct the problems I marked wrong and give it back to me. We go over corrections on her Latin quiz and history questions. We still have 8 minutes left in the 30 minutes allotted to our first "together" school time, so I have her recite the first three stanzas of the poem she is memorizing (America for Me) and start working with her on the 4th stanza. Then we work on our state and capital flashcards, reviewing ones she is still memorizing and adding 5 new cards.

10:00- I leave Maria to start on her independent work. She decides to start with her science quiz, then goes downstairs to do her saxon math lesson with the cd-rom. I sit with Jack and we play with the little "workbook" that came in his brighter vision kit ( . These are just fun little kits. Maria used to get them when she was little. The workbooks include hand rhymes, songs to sing, poems to read, sticker pages, etc. When he tires of this, we read "Rock-a-bye Farm". This takes a while since he has to point out every star on every page, "Tar! Tar!".

10:30- We come downstairs and make tea/snack. Maria is done with her cd-rom and wants to know what we are going to do about recess. We are still 30 minutes behind schedule. Usually we would be done with snack and heading outside now. I tell her we are just going to skip it today. It's still awfully cold and damp out and Jack is still wheezing and coughing. She says since we are skipping recess, can she watch a tv show (DVR'd) while she has her snack. "Deal," I tell her. We usually do a read aloud from our history reading list during tea time, but we are in flex mode today. I sit down with my tea and some peanut butter toast I am sharing with Jack to write in my blog. Jack is playing with his cars at my feet. We have no dining table right now. I *still* have not finished putting everything back together in the kitchen/laundry room after our remodel, and it's all piled on the table. It's an issue. I vow to resolve it this weekend.

11:00- I call "Time to go upstairs!" again and we all head back up, though not without some griping. I was in the bathroom when Maria's show ended and she took advantage of this fact and jumped onto a computer game. Now she's griping about having to stop. Well, hello, I told you you had 30 minutes, you watched a 30 minute show, what do you think I'm going to say?When we get settled upstairs, Jack starts pitching toys over the baby gate and down the stairs and gets a talking to. He plays relatively nicely the rest of the hour, dumping math manipulatives onto the floor. Maria and I go over her mental math problems for the day. I have her work a few of the new problems she learned on her cd-rom so I can make sure she understood the lesson. We discuss the section in her science book that she read yesterday on insects, something we should have done before she took her quiz this morning! We go over vocabulary/declensions for a new Latin lesson, review phonograms for spelling, and drill two chapters of catechism Q and A's. I find myself harping at Maria quite a bit. She keeps fooling around with toys and things and zoning out when I'm talking to her. While doing all this, Jack blows us both away by coming up to the table and counting to ten! What?! I didn't know he knew how to even begin to do that! This how he operates, just quietly taking everything in and then boom, out it comes. He did it so well too, only skipping we had to stop and call Meme and tell her of course. We can't wait to show Daddy tonight.

12:00- I leave Maria to work away at her list. I'm done with her work for today, the rest is up to her. Included in her list is for her to read a new chapter in the catechism, a grammar lesson, do her math practice problems from today's lesson, correct a couple of problems from yesterday's math,,,and I tell her to take another look at her science quiz and see if she needs to change any of her answers after our review. I put on Teletubbies for Jack, reboot laundry, and make grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. We get a surprise visitor- UPS with a smoked turkey! Wow! A surprise gift to say "thank you" from some homeschooling friends of ours. We watched their children while she was in the hospital having baby #8. Very sweet, and haggle over whether to put it in the freezer for Thanksgiving or have it on Sunday. We decide on Sunday and call Meme back to invite them for dinner. Even we can't take down a whole turkey by ourselves!

12:30- Time for lunch. Maria watches Reading Rainbow. We don't usually do TV during lunch, but again, no table and the temptation is great. Jack won't eat...a casualty of eating on the run. Jack doesn't eat well when he's not at the table. He has taken to grazing all day instead. I have given up this battle until we have the table back. I give him a cheese stick and some grapes instead.

1:00- Time for a break, praise God. We all lay down...Maria goes off to read- she's reading Sarah, Plain and Tall for her homeschool co-op literature class. I change Jack and lay down on my bed to nurse him. I doze myself, and it is good. :)

1:30- I'm reluctantly up. I pick up sleeping Jack and lay him down in his crib. I send Maria upstairs to finish her work, and this time she goes without complaint. She's in the final stretch and feeling no pain. I sort the mountain of clean laundry- I fill one hamper with Maria's stuff and plop it outside her bedroom for her to fold and put away later. I fill another with Kain's and go sit in his room to fold and put it away. The rest stays together to be folded in my room this evening.

1:50- Maria's done and wants to zone in front of the tv some more. I suggest she go for a bike ride or on the trampoline while I look up some new computer games for her online.

2:00- Maria is on the computer,,,or tv, I'm not sure which. My quick search for games was not very fruitful. John called to see if I was all right with him volunteering to work tomorrow. He needs the overtime. I say I don't have anything spectacular planned, and I also tell him about Jack's genius behavior. His reaction is underwhelming. Maybe he's distracted. He'll just have to see for himself. I go and try to make my world right again by tackling the kitchen/living room piles. After a quick email check. :)

2:40- Jack wakes up crying. I let him fuss a little because I am in a groove picking up the living room.

3:00- time to pick up Kain. Still not done picking up (yeah, it's that bad), but I've got to stop. I grab Jack. He's very irritated by his stint in the crib. Maria wants to stay home, so I ask her to finish picking up the board games Jack dumped on the floor while I'm gone. She is, of course, thrilled to do so.

3:20- Back with Kain. Flurry of activity as I change Jack, fuss at Kain to put his things away and get the snack bowl and fruit bowl to pass around. The snack bowl- I keep a big green mixing bowl full of assorted slightly-junky snack packs. The current mix includes rice krispy treats, granola bars, teddy grahams, fruit by the foot....Kain picks one to take to school for morning snack, and all the kids can pick one snack from the green bowl and one piece of fruit to have after school. Kain almost always refuses the fruit. Today, they both refused it. Ah well,,,I try. Jack and I have grapes. Kain and Maria have a rice krispy treat. Kain is highly irritated that the "good ones" are gone (the ones with chocolate in them). Well, he's been eating two a day since I bought the box, so who do you think got the good ones? Once upon a time I used to make all the snacks from scratch....but this has brought a small measure of sanity. There's just so many hours in the day. We have standards for the snack chips, no snack cakes...nothing too horribly junky. I keep a similar bowl in the car to stave off emergency rations from the gas station/drive-thru.

3:30- The kids are outside with neighborhood kids on the trampoling while Jack and I linger over our snack.

4:00- I am debating whether to take Jack outside this afternoon. I usually take him out for an hour or so in the afternoons, but he still has a cough and snotty nose,,,but it's pretty mild out right now. He's also getting cranky again. I'm chalking it up to the steroids, but he's also been in the house since Monday and it would do him some good to get out. I decide to update this entry and take him out for 30 minutes. In the meantime, he is watching Caillou.

4:30- I go to hunt up Jack's shoes, reboot the laundry, and head out. I don't usually do all the laundry in one day, but it is behind like everything else. I am *tired* all of a sudden...

4:35- I can't find one of Jack's sneakers. Anywhere. The house is a mess (still) and he hasn't worn his sneakers in a week. There's no telling where it might be. My first pass through likely looking piles hasn't turned it up, so I give up. We sit on the couch and read books, sing songs....

5:00- I get Jack started playing with his bricks and head for the bedroom. Fish for dinner tonight. It doesn't take long, so I have some time to start sorting through the rest of the laundry. I pull out all the stuff that needs to hang in the closet, and armful of hangers, and get going.

5:45- Yikes! I'm just now starting dinner. I got going on the laundry and lost track of time. Only 15 minutes until dinner time...I forego the baked potatoes for frozen fries and get the fish in the oven. Now I need a vegetable. ...

6:15- The evening is deteriorating fast. The fish was still partly frozen and so it just now done. I call the kids in to wash up and start slinging plates. I hate dinner in the living room! The kids also usually have mealtime chores, but that is difficult to do with no real table to set/clear...

6:45- The fish was...disappointing. I've made this recipe before, but I usually fry it in a skillet. This time I tried to make it lower-maintenance by baking it. Well, maybe it was because it started off partly frozen, I don't know, but it was kind of...mushy. Anyway, a quick dinner, and now for Kain's bath. He is shrieking mad because he wants to play on the computer. This is a common problem for him. He wants to play outside for hours *and* have time to watch TV, play on the computer...only so many hours in a day!

7:00- I give Maria her clean clothes to fold and put away. I also ask her to go through her closet and drawers and pull out summer clothes/outgrown things. She is less than thrilled. I remind her that it's Friday and she gets to stay up until 10, so she'll still have plenty of free time. This alleviates her anguish somewhat. Kain is hollering, "AUNT MEL! I'M REEEEAAADDDYYY!" over and over again. This is my cue that he is ready to have his hair washed and to be walked through washing his body.

7:30- Kain is out of the tub, in PJ's and eating a bowl of cereal...standard bedtime snack here...reasonably healthy and quick and easy. Kain would have you fix him a whole other meal if he could...especially when he's had fish for dinner. I change Jack into PJ's and wrestle another dose of medication into him. I also make him half a peanut butter sandwich since he didn't eat a thing for dinner. I break out our current read-aloud book, a Vision books biography about St. Bernadette. Before this, we had been reading through Treasure Box series for Kain, but I decided to start something on Maria's level this time. I don't read for long...attention spans are short at this point. We read for about 15 minutes and then have prayers. Maria lights the two votives on the altar, Kain hits th e lights, and we all kneel (more or less). We say an Act of Contrition, Prayer to St. Michael, Guardian Angel Prayer, and short litany to everyone's patron saints. We pass around holy water and bless everyone. Maria and Kain each blow out a candle, and then we're done. Sounds long, but it only takes maybe 10 minutes.

7:50- Boys into the bathroom for teeth-brushing. I send Kain to his room and ask Maria if she will read to him tonight so I can give Jack a long overdue breathing treatment. She does, and Jack and I put on Raffi and do the treatment. He's very sleepy. I give him a drink of water, read a quick story, and lay him down. Usually he nurses, but he didn't even make a move for it tonight so I just put him to bed.

8:15- I stop by Kain's room and tuck him in. He also looks like he's fading fast. Speaking of fading fast...I am so done here. I clean up the dinner mess...there's a plate stashed for John when he gets home. I'm pooped. I reboot the laundry again, and then just sit.

9:15- John calls and says he's on his way home. I realize I've been vegging for an hour in front of Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs. He wants to stop to pick up his dinner...I guess reheating the soggy fish isn't so appealing. He offers to bring me a milkshake. Good man- all is forgiven.

11:45- OK, yes, I'm still awake. John brought milkshakes and we've been hanging out for a bit. I am *so, so* tired now, so off I go to bed.

So that's today. Like I said, far from perfect! But we got school done, I caught up a bit on housework and plan to continue catching up over the weekend. Meals were served, laundry caught up, books were read, prayers were said, kiddos were tucked in and all is right in our world. Thanks for playing along!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

a foreshadowing of homeschooling Jack

This is what I mean when I say that Jack is "quietly stubborn". For weeks now, we have been having this discussion in the bathtub- he holds up his rubber squeaky giraffe for me to name. I say, "That's a giraffe." "Goat," Jack pronounces. I can only assume that this is because the giraffe has little horns on it's head. "Giraffe," I say back. "See the long neck?" "Bahhh," he insists. "Goat."

After his bath, he brought me a yellow marker. "Puh-poe," he states. This means "purple", for those of you not in the know. "It's yellow, Jack. Yel-low," I say carefully. "Puh-poe," he mutters as he walks away. He takes it to his sister. She's coloring her own picture. He holds it out to the back of her head. "Puh-poe," he tells her. "Uh huh, yeah" she answers distractedly. He turns to me, I swear with smugness all over his little face,,,"Puh-poe!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

and today for theatre arts class....

Maria helped me give Jack his breathing treatments today by performing self-choreographed dance routines to his Raffi cd. These were a big hit, especially the slap-stick ones in which she collapsed on the floor or crashed into walls. Picture me sitting on my bed with Jack in my lap, holding a mask to his face, while Maria prances and twirls around the room for the 15 minute treatment, Jack alternating between chuckling and coughing into the's been very entertaining. :) She's a good sister.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

cold and flu season...already?

Jack is sick. This is nothing we are not quite used to. Jack is often sick, and because he has asthma it is often ugly. There's no such thing as "just a cold" for him, because every virus brings on the asthma attacks. Yesterday morning, I took him for his first hair cut. I noticed when I was pulling his near-30 pounds out of the car seat that he was coughing occasionally and had a bit of a goopy nose. I had a pretty good idea what the rest of the day would bring, but even I was not prepared for how quickly things would progress. By the time we got home from our errands he was in a full-fledged asthma flare, and by evening he was running a high fever. He didn't sleep well at all, which meant that John and I didn't sleep either between calming him *to* sleep and then listening to him breath while he *was* asleep. He started vomiting during the night as well, so we had no hopes of giving him anything for his fever and obvious miserable discomfort. The low point came during a 3am breathing treatment. He has come to detest these. I put it off as long as I could, but as I watched his breathing become more and more rapid, his nostrils beginning to flare as he started grunting with every breath, I knew it was inevitable. The mask on his face scares him. Imagine having trouble breathing and being hot and miserable with fever, and here comes Momma, your source of comfort, to force a smelly plastic mask on your face for an eternal 15 minutes! We have to literally hold him down, which at his size is a 2 person job. He was tired and miserable and screamed in shock and disbelief that we would do such a horrible thing to him. We had no choice. I was a pediatric nurse before Jack was born, and I know only too well what is in store for him if we don't get his breathing under control at home. So I held him in my arms, bracing his hot, sweaty, head between my arm and my shoulder while John held his hands and feet down. I used my other arm to hold the mask to his screaming face and sang his favorite songs in his ear in a useless attempt to soothe him. In the end, it was too much for this tired old Momma at the end of her rope. By the time it was over we were both sobbing. But his breathing improved and I was able to nurse him to sleep. When Jack is sick is when I am most grateful for nursing. He frantically latched on and squenched his eyes tightly shut, nursing desperately between coughs, until his breathing, and mine, finally slowed and he fell back into a restless sleep. We have had to give him treatments all day today, but nothing has been as terrible as that 3am treatment.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Jack-man!

My Jack, my baby turned 2 on Saturday. Happy Birthday are so much like your Daddy- sweet, gentle and quiet, but silently stubborn too. :) So much a little boy already, obsessed with cars, trains, sandboxes, and anything you can climb. While not much of a talker yet, you are still so expressive and bright. I love you so much and can't wait to see what kind of big boy you become.For Jack's birthday, we made this cake... and put it in a giant Tonka steel dumptruck, the coolest boy toy in the world. Grandmom, Meme, Papa, great-Aunt Sharon, his Godfather Don and two of the Brown children all turned out to celebrate with us. Jack loved singing Happy Birthday and eating "ahss-keem". We couldn't get him to blow out the candles though...he kept trying to grab the dump truck from us.

Friday, October 06, 2006

and for science today....

A small engineering project....
We are waiting for the counter guy to come today and install our new kitchen counters (woohoo!). In typical Master Procrastinator fashion, I waited until 8 this morning to start getting ready...putting away clean dishes that were left drying in the un-hooked-up sink, piling dirty dishes to soak in the camping cooler, clearing away the make-shift plywood counters and all the junk piled on them...I remembered that I had dropped part of our big cat food dispenser that we use when we are on vacation down between the cabinet and the wall. Once the counters are installed, this space will be sealed off forever...or at least until the kitchen is remodeled again in 30 years. I shined a flashlight down in the space and saw several things had made their way down there,,,one of Jack's cars (a nice wooden one too, not your average hot wheel), several pieces of candy from this ancient big bag leftover from LAST Halloween I have stowed up in the pantry. So, Maria and I stewed a bit,,,,tried various kitchen utensils that didn't reach...on a brilliant brain wave, I sent Maria upstairs to fetch the sticky tack. On a wave of her own, she also brought down the yard stick. We used these to stick the part to the cat feeder and bring it up. I hypothesized that the car would be too heavy to bring up this way. Maria tried the experiment anyway and my hypothesis was proven correct. We decided we needed something to try and hook the car around an axle, so we hunted up a wire coat hanger. After several tries, Maria managed to hook it and bring it up. The candy remained in the hole. 30 years from now, someone will tear out those cabinets and find ancient suckers and sweet tarts.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

stayed tuned

for a day in the life....
I've been wanting to do this at least once a school year...because you see, dear reader, this blog has a secondary purpose. I print it off and it serves as a journal for me. I've never stuck with a journal before, and I thought having an occasional actual reader to be accountable to would motivate me to stick with this one. You are all just pawns in my little plan. heehee. And I thought, "30 years from now, it'll be cool to look back and remember what a day was like when Maria was 10, Kain was 6, Jack was 2". Anyway, I've been waiting to get good and settled in our school year to do this,,,that way everyone is used to their routine, used to any new materials, etc. and we are in our groove so to speak. I also love reading others "day in the life" writings. When I was just starting homeschooling, I was fairly obsessed by these, reading in awe about families with half a dozen or more children (these always seemed to be the homes that ran most smoothly too). I was always amazed by the vast differences in different homeschooler's lives, how they juggled everything, how exhausting their days sounded. Now, I just enjoy a peek into other people's homes. And now that we are in our fourth year of homeschooling, and I am more amazed by the similarities than the differences. So, I have taken a peek at my calendar and picked a day that looks the most promising for an example of a "typical" day. This day will be next Friday. I tell you ahead of time because I have decided that when the day gets here we will stick with journaling it, no matter what, even if it goes haywire and Jack puts the cat in the drier or Maria throws up her breakfast,,,,because the unexpected *is* typical around here. I reserve the right to change the day *before* the actual day gets here...just because if something comes up and we end up being gone all day long, it won't be a homeschooling day really at all!

nothing like a good yard sale

I used to be a religious yard sale go-er. I relied on them heavily in fact...they were my main source of kid's clothing, toys, etc...and I used to go most Saturday mornings during the summer. I quit going a few years ago. They changed, somehow...for one thing, as Maria got older it became harder and harder to find clothing/toys in decent shape for her. When I did find a good sale, things were always so expensive! I would find a child's coat marked $25...the person selling would usually say something like, "I paid $80 for that coat and she only wore it a few times." now I gotta pay for your inclination to pay too much for your children's clothing? Going to yard sales is a pain, you know? This isn't entertainment for me, this is work! Lots of driving, getting in and out of the car, resisting your child's pleas for a cast off, naked, ratty-haired Barbie,,,,it's not worth my while to go if I'm going to spend as much as I would spend buying a similar item during my weekly trip to Wally World. Anyway, our church is having a yard sale this weekend and we went to check it out today. I have realized that these types of sales are worth going to....there's always a huge selection of stuff and the prices are really, really good. They are selling someone else's stuff, so there's no "I paid so much money for that" song and dance. Today we just went with pocket change and walked out with a nice Discovery Toys puzzle (50 cents), a Winnie the Pooh video ($1), and a Winnie the Pooh cd-rom (50 cents). Tomorrow's payday,,,,we shall return.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy Feast Day!

Today is the feast of the archangels...a special day in our house with our two John Michael's. Traditionally you are supposed to mark the feast day with a berry pie,,,,blackberry? I don't remember. Here we often mark feast days by a donut run or ice cream sundaes....I've usually made a couple of berry pies already by this point in the year. Tonight, however, Maria really wanted to make her own we are having spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and brownies. :)

followed by a bad morning...and a revelation?

We carried over lousy behavior this morning, unfortunately. Kain and Maria started fighting over something, and he hit her, and I lost my temper again......

then we left for school and I attempted again to talk with Kain, nicely, about his behavior, mainly explaining that he couldn't hit when he was angry, etc. When I was done, he said "I wish I was dead now." Ok...when I asked him why, he said "So I don't have to see you anymore." Well. Thanks for that. We continued to talk, and he said, "Maria always says she wishes she never met me." When I got home, I questioned Maria about this, and she insists she has never said this to him...but I wonder how often she has "said" this by her actions. I wonder how often we all have "said" this to Kain, because surely we have all felt it at least sometimes over these last few weeks. I think today we will all work on sweetening our attitudes and see how it goes. I told Kain that today we would "start over", everyone with better attitudes, mom included.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

what a bad evening looks like around here...

I try to post the positive steps in our journey with Kain. It's easy to dwell on the negatives in such a situation, and I want to feel positive about our time with him. But tonight...tonight has been rough. Maybe something happened at school to start the cycle. He asked me on the way home this afternoon if I thought his mom missed him. He rarely even mentions his mother...I'm not sure what triggered this. I told him, Yes, I'm sure his mom misses him. I asked him if he missed her, and he said Yes, but he would see her someday. Then he rambled on to other subjects. When he got home, he began a series of near-constant temper tantrums because

--he wanted macaroni and cheese for an after school snack, which I wouldn't fix. I offered him our standard "snack bowl" and "fruit bowl", both of which we pass around every afternoon since he came two months ago. As usual, he took a snack, refused the fruit, and because he didn't take the fruit too...
--he threw random fits from 5-6 because he was hungry and didn't want to wait for dinner.
--then at 6, when dinner was ready, he threw a fit because he didn't want to come in and eat. A neighborhood kid had just shown up in the yard and he wanted to play.
--when I made him come in, he threw fit because dinner was "ugly and gross" and refused to eat. At this point I totally lost my temper and started yelling back, telling him that he could eat or go to bed. Now. Without dinner. Never have I threatened such a thing to a child before. I'm not proud. But the dinnertime rules are strict around here about such things. Picky eating is contagious, and besides, I don't enjoy having my cooking bashed. The house rules are, you eat at least three bites of everything served, period. If you really hate what is served so much that you can't eat more than that, you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich. But there is no negative food-bashing allowed. A polite, "I don't want any more" is enough. "EWWWW WHAT IS THAT ON THE CHICKEN, DISGUSTING!" is sure to push Momma over the edge.
--After he finally came to the table and got his three thank you bites down, he admitted he liked the chicken and the potatoes, but still refused to eat any more than the three bites. Then, while Jack and Maria had baths, he threw random fits because bedtime snack was too long in coming.
--At bedtime snack, he threw a fit because I still wouldn't make him macaroni and cheese. We pass around assorted cold cereals for bedtime snack here (I don't serve it for breakfast). It's quick and easy, nutritious enough, and filling enough for a kid who picked at dinner.
--At evening prayers, he threw a fit because I wanted him to leave the hall light on so that Maria could read the prayer cards. While we said prayers over his screaming, he came out of his fit to let us know he wanted to help blow out the candles. Then he threw another fit because Maria blew out the one he wanted to blow out. After three warnings to come blow out the other one before I did it myself, he threw one more final fit when I actually did blow out the candle myself. I then proceeded to haul all 70 pounds of him through the house, over the baby gate in the hall, and into his bed where he continued his fit for a good 15 minutes. When he finally quieted down, I went in his room and talked with him about all that had happened today, calmly, not wanting to end the day on a bad note...but when I refused to relight the candle so he could blow it out, he began his tantrum again and I just gave up and left.

Now it is 8:45, and quiet. This is the hard part for me. I miss peace and quiet, and it is never peaceful and quiet with Kain here. Even when he is in a good mood, he is loud and rowdy. Constantly. And I hate nights like tonight, when I find myself getting loud back. I have a bad habit of losing my own temper, and I have painfully worked on that over the years...and made pretty good progress if I do say so myself, especially where my kids are concerned...but Kain does know how to push those buttons.

the island of misfit jewelry

We frequent thrift stores around here. First of all, I consider kid's clothing to be a disposable purchase. They outgrow clothing quickly, they are hard on their clothes, and all of this bothers me less if it's clothing I acquired cheaply. Secondly, if we bought new clothing it would probably be from Walmart. I have found that clothing that survives someone else's child and makes to to a thrift store in decent condition is much better quality than what I can buy new at Walmart.

Anyway, we made a thrift store trip yesterday with Maria and Jack in tow. We were looking for fall/winter clothing for Maria and Kain. Maria *loves* going to the thrift store. Her allowance goes further there. Her favorite thing to spend on by far is the junk jewelry. You can get Ziploc bags full for a few bucks. Honestly, most of this is pretty ugly stuff. But that doesn't faze her much.

She comes home and sorts it into three piles...the first pile is for her favorite items...the pretty chains, bracelets, pins. These will go into her jewelry box. Sometimes she picks something for this pile that is not appropriate for a young a big ole chunky necklace that looks like it belonged around the neck of a great-Aunt Edna. I try really hard to ignore this. Her taste in jewelry will improve as she gets older, and her enthusiasm for the newest pieces in her collection is short lived. I consider one of the small and unforeseen benefits of homeschooling is that I can indulge most of the clothing-related obsessions kids go through- as long as it's modest and clean, we can generally work around a treasured item.

The second pile is for the gaudiest pieces. These usually end up in the dress up trunk....the great big neon-bright necklaces, often with some wild animal suspended on them, chunky geometrical clip-on earrings...this week's haul even had those round plastic deals you could thread oversized t-shirts through...they were so popular in the '80's, anyone remember those? Yeah, I'm dating myself I guess....

The third (and smallest) pile is pieces that she really doesn't like at all. Maria dresses with flair, so these items are usually plain or in colors she considers "ugly". This week this pile contained plastic bracelets and earrings in olive, white, and khaki. Occasionally I will pick something from this pile...but not often. I'm not a big jewelry-wearer, but what I do like is pretty plain. The dregs will be put into our own "donate" box...they will eventually be returned to the thrift store....thus completing the life cycle for the misfit jewelry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

the early bird gets the worm?

What an incentive, huh?

I wake up at 5am. I will pause and let you marvel at my self-discipline. heehee. Seriously, I often get comments about how early we rise around here, but let me assure you I am quite lacking in self-discipline. Our lives have just kind of slowly shifted towards these early hours for several reasons. My dh is a nurse and has recently started working day shift, which means he has to leave for work at 6:15....he doesn't get home until around 8pm (on a good day), and has go to bed no later than 10. (It sounds horrible, but he only works 3-4 shifts a week) Around the same time, Jack started cutting 2 year old molars and was having a terrible time falling asleep at the end of the day. His previous 7pm bedtime turned into this long,drawn out 2 hour tear-fest. Kain and Maria were being more and more neglected in the evenings. I found sanity by keeping Jack up until after I got Maria and Kain in bed...then I could lay down with him and nurse him to sleep without feeling guilt over the other children. And I often fell asleep with him. Since I was going to bed so early, I started waking up earlier. This has worked out nicely because Jack is now sleeping later and I can use the early morning hours to get done what I would have gotten done if I hadn't gone to bed so early. In fact, I actually get much more accomplished. When I was trying to do these things in the evening after all the kids were in bed, the temptation to crash in front of the TV was often too strong to resist. In the morning, I am refreshed and awake and much more motivated to get a jump on the day. And as a bonus, I can see John before he leaves for work!

Jack's sleeping patterns are improving now. He will actually fall asleep by himself pretty well. I could shift his bedtime back, and it's tempting because I feel oddly guilty for his unconventional bedtime....but I think I'll wait for now. See, there's another benefit to our schedule shift. I lay down with Jack around 9pm. I am not quite ready to fall asleep that early, so I plan to read a bit while he falls asleep. But we usually end up just snuggling, reading picture books, and singing together for a good while instead. At the end of a busy school day, with my attention almost constantly devoted to the needs of older children, this has become Jack's special time....and mine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

an exhausting day at the doctor

We are also working on getting Kain's lung condition evaluated. He has bronchopulmonary dysplasia from being born 2 months prematurely and being on a ventilator for several weeks. His lungs have not been properly assessed and treated in Lord knows how long. So, this has been on our "to do" list since he came to stay with us. Last week we started by going to see the family practitioner assigned to him by Medicaid. This doctor referred him to see a pediatrician, which was great because we managed to get him referred to our pediatrician. I took him to see the pediatrician today....with all three kiddos in tour. I am still being initiated to doing such things as a larger-than-average family. I didn't prepare very well, I'll admit. I didn't pack things to keep the kids entertained, didn't pack water bottles,,,I've got to get on the ball! Anyway, after getting through the pediatrician's office, we were sent to the hospital for chest x-rays, and by the time it was all done everyone was cranky and fighting...not good. I continue to be blown away by large families in public with well-behaved children. Teach me! Mold me!

We also left with a handful of medications to treat Kain with and a referral for a pulmonary function test followed by an appointment with a pulmonologist. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

how to wash dishes in a kitchen with no plumbing

We have been almost three months without plumbing in the kitchen. It has been most unsatisfactory, to say the least. I have long ago had to resume cooking...a couple of weeks of take-out/frozen meals made us realize we cannot afford to eat that way for long! We have relied heavily on throw-away dishes, but there are still pots and pans, mixing bowls, sippy cups, etc. I had been washing them in a large mixing bowl, but this hasn't worked very well. Pots and pans generally need to soak when you are washing by hand. Trying to get a greasy, gunky pan clean in a bowl of water just doesn't work. But I have a NEW and IMPROVED system now...odd, but effective enough. I post this for those who might have a remodel done in the future, God help you. I am using our cooler as a "sink". In the morning, I carry the cooler to the bathroom and fill it with as much water as I can carry (about half full). As dishes are dirtied, I scrape them into my "sludge bowl" on the counter (aka, the piece of plywood that is serving as a counter) and deposit them in the cooler. When it is full, or after dinner, whichever comes first, I drizzle dish liquid over the heap and use our mop bucket to haul very, very hot water from the tub to dump over the dishes (have a towel handy). I let the dishes soak. When I'm ready to wash, I flip the mop bucket over to use as a seat in front of the cooler. I wash the dishes and deposit them in the (un-hooked up) kitchen sink. When they are all washed, I go get clean hot, hot water in the mop bucket for rinsing and leave the dishes to dry on the counter (aka, the top of the un-hooked up dishwasher). Then, and here's the fun part, I use the mop bucket to scoop up dirty dishwater (mmmmm, good) and haul it to the toilet for dumping (again, have a towel handy). When I've dumped most of it this way, then I haul the cooler to the toilet and dump the dregs, rinse the cooler out, rinse the mop bucket out, and viola! dishes are done. This chore is all mine as no one else in the house has washed a single dish since we lost the plumbing. But that issue is for another post.

For all those concerned about our health, you should know that we haven't been using the mop bucket for mopping. It is exclusively for dishes. And I clean my bathroom daily. And yeah, it's still kinda gross. What else can we do man?

Well, I'm off to wash dishes...we ran out of throwaway dishes and I have quite a pile today! haha!

How is Kain doing?

For those that are kind enough to wonder....

We are actually making some progress behavior-wise. Some things that have helped...

--I have had luck with discussing his behavior with him. The key is not to do this when he is enraged about something (which is often). He will not hear you and you will only make it worse. I talk to him at bedtime, discussing what it means to be obedient, what it means to speak kindly to people, etc., and giving specific praise (Remember when I told you it was time to turn off the computer and come take a bath and you did it right away without complaining?). He seems to really eat up this positive reinforcement.

--He needs *so much* physical affection. He's like a puppy. Seriously, you can almost see his tail wag. It's difficult to give him affection some days. He is not always a very likeable kid. Don't get me wrong, I love him very much. This is just honesty here. If you think all kids are inherently likeable, you need to get out more. :) I think he has the *potential* to be more likeable, but his social skills are terrible, and it is very clear that, while he has been abused, he has also had a serious lack of limits and real (constructive) discipline. But the physical affection is what helps him really bond with us it seems, and then he *wants* to do what we ask more often. And it helps us bond with him too. :)

--Catch him early. One of our frequent bedtime talks is to keep control of his temper and his voice. When he gets angry, he quickly loses it altogether. And he is *loud*. Really, really loud. We have discussed this enough that I can frequently catch him as he is starting to get worked up and remind him, "control your voice". And he will! You know, sometimes.... :)

All in all, we are seeing small improvements. We are working on getting him into a place nearby that does lots of testing/therapy for kids with all kinds of problems. We are also in the progress of getting his lung condition evaluated/treated. Slowly sorting it all out....

Monday, September 18, 2006

sick days

Maria, Jack and I have been sick all weekend with some kind of virus. We had plans to go to the fair yesterday, but with three of the five of us running fevers we didn't make it after all. Jack seems to be on the upswing today. I didn't fix breakfast this morning for anyone besides Kain (because he had to get off to school)...instead I've just fed everyone on demand today. Maria has had nothing but a bowl of broth. I think she still has a ways to go. She just started her fever last night, whereas Jack and I started ours Saturday and I'm hoping we will feel much better by the time the day is done. Jack has had three cheese sticks, half a peanut butter sandwich, and some tortilla chips....definitely feeling better....

Saturday, September 09, 2006

color me exhausted

Our kitchen makeover is chugging along....slowly. The cabinet guys first arrived on August 1st. Now, over a month later, our cabinets are installed (although we have a couple of things that weren't measured properly that we are haggling with Lowe's about), my floor is in (extends from the kitchen and into the laundry room), and counters have been ordered. We finally have our stove back, but we don't have a sink or I am washing dishes in a bowl on our makeshift plywood counter. Nothing like a makeover to make you appreciate your kitchen. We are thrilled over every small step! This weekend I have been painting. I picked out colors for the laundry room and dining room this morning and have been working all day,,,,literally, since dawn until about 5 minutes ago. I love painting though. It's so much bang for your buck, such dramatic improvement for $30 and a day's work. And much to most people's surprise, I pick bright colors. My laundry room if freshly painted in bright peach,,,tomorrow I will paint the shelves in there a pretty blue. The dining room will be the same blue with a pale yellow colorwashed into the dark wood paneling. My grandmother is horrified, and my mother in law probably will be too when she sees my handiwork. My grandmother believes in painting for the sale...that is, you should decorate your house in neutral colors so that it will be easy to sell someday. I don't care about painting for some hypothetical person that might be buying my house in 5, 10, or 15 years. And I don't like my walls neutral colors! I rented for years, and I have grown weary of white walls and beige carpet! Now, I have seen lovely houses decorated in neutral colors, don't get me wrong...these houses are usually owned by people that can afford to buy beautiful furniture, tasteful paintings, and carefully selected accent pieces. See, bright colors have another advantage for me. When you decorate your house in the Early American Garage Sale motif as we do, bright colors help you pull off a cozy, eclectic cottage look. When you pair the Early American Garage Sale motif with white walls and beige carpeting....well, it just looks like you shop at garage sales.

Friday, September 08, 2006

another happy birthday

to my double-digit girl. My Maria turned 10 years old on the first. My sweet, sensitive, high-needs baby that taught me how to be a momma, that dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of AP parenting because she would accept no she is growing up on me! This is the payoff, these big kids,,,Maria is my right hand. The birth of her little brother almost two years ago has helped to give her that final push into becoming a responsible, accountable person (almost all the time :)). She is kind, passionate, and has a wonderful sense of humor. I am really enjoying the young girl she is growing up to be. Surely God is making the most out of my parenting strengths and smoothing over my many mistakes to develop her into this special person.

spelling with Kain

Kain- Do you know how to spell "red"?

Me- you know how to spell "red"?

Kain- Yes! R-A-D!

Me- Well, that's very close. It's R-E-D.

Kain- No, I learned it in school.'s R-A-D.

Me- You are mistaken honey, it's R-E-D.

Kain- My teacher SAID it's R-A-D.

Me- OK, well, you can ask your teacher tomorrow if you want, but it really is R-E-D.

Kain- I'm sorry, but you really don't know very much about spelling "red".

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday Blessed Mother,
Happy birthday to you!

I'd love to say that I planned some kind of deeply meaningful activity for the Blessed Mother's birthday...alas, I have not. We are still knee deep in our remodel. Today we have completely been banned from the kitchen/laundry room area as the floor is grouted. Life is a bit wild a crazy...I have no special devotions planned, nothing special set out on my altar...I have asked Maria to go on a flower-search, but the pickings will be slim this late in the year. Tonight we will present our meager flower offerings and sing Happy Birthday to Mary,,,and like any mother, she will surely accept our inadequate offerings with the love and devotion behind them.

I also apologize for my neglectful blogging practices. Like I said, it is nuts around here! We are getting back on schedule this weekend if it kills us all! haha!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

screen time

Defined in our house as any non-school-related time in front of the tv or computer. For example: time you spend working on your Saxon DIVE cd-rom- not screen time. Playing Zoo Tycoon=screen time. Watching Reading Rainbow or a video about sharks with Mom during tea time because Mom needs everyone to sit quietly while she catches her breath- not screen time. Watching Fetch with Ruff Ruffman before bed= screen time. We have never had to manage screen time much around here. Our time is pretty well scheduled, and Maria has always been just as likely to spend her freetime outside or playing upstairs as she has been to watch TV. We also only have basic cable and TV is limited to preapproved shows (mostly PBS kids) and DVD's, so that helps too. However, now Kain is here....and Kain is used to LOTS of screen time. Kain spends hours everyday in front of a screen of some kind. This bothers me on a lot of levels, not the least of which are the daily battles over whose turn it is in front of which screen. We are trying a new chips. One for every 15 minutes of screen time. They have to "pay" me for their screen time, and they get a certain number of chips per day. The number varies a bit depending on if it's a school day or not. Near crisis came when we were picking bingo chip colors, as red is both Kain and Maria's favorite color. Crisis was avoided by decorating white poker chips with a red now Kain's are red and Maria's are red and white. These issues make me long for our tv free days...a couple of years ago we had no cable at all. Such bliss...never to return if John has anything to say about it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

the backpack

Last night, I took Kain into his room here,,,it's been a guest room/alternate nursery until now. Sleeping arrangements are complicated here. I have a large master bedroom, and we made part of it into a nursery. Jack's crib is in there, and he slept there and in our bed for a while. Then John started snoring. Whenever he puts on some weight, his snoring gets crazy, especially on his first night back from working a string of night shifts....presumably from being so tired.. I set up the portacrib as a temporary measure for use on these nights. Anyway, now it is an official bedroom for Kain, and when Jack is a little older we will move him in there too. I was showing Kain his school supplies, including his new Pokemon backpack. He was ecstatic and has been wearing it ever since. Seriously. He slept with it on last night, wore it to church this morning. I hope it's still in one piece when school starts next week.

mass with Kain

Of course, being a holy day, we had to go to mass...just me and the three kids. Whew! Maria was serving, and of course she's not really a problem at mass anymore. Jack was his usual rowdy self, except this time I didn't have John to trade off with. He's SO heavy! Kain had a hard time too. I am picking my battles. He has only been to mass a handful of times. I am focusing on teaching him to be quiet during mass, and to stand/kneel/sit with the rest of us. He gets three chances, and then we go to the back of the church, and there's a consequence at home....usually no computer games, a fate worse than death!

He seems glad to be here. He has said several times in the last 24 hours, "This is the best day!" heehee...honeymoon period? We shall see...

Blessed Feast Day!

Today is the Assumption....
For the uninformed, you can check it out here...

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with with confidence, I fly unto thee, O virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen. "

Feast days are big in our house...we limit desserts to Sundays. Feast days and other holidays/birthdays are the exception. Gives a whole literal meaning to the term "feast", yes? :) I have no kitchen at the moment to bake anything, but ice cream was appreciated!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kain Arrives

Today, Kain will be coming to stay with us. For the uninitiated, the short story is that Kain is my 6yo nephew...his mother is, well, I don't really know where his mother is...and his father has asked us to take Kain for an indefinite period of time. We were happy to oblige. We have wanted to bring Kain here for 3 years! We are also overwhelmed and pretty freaked out about the whole thing. Kain has had a very traumatic life (no short story there), and he has a lot of behavioral/learning/emotional problems. It is quite a tangled web...and it will be no small feat to sort everything out and find the best ways to help him. He will not be homeschooled with my own children. In our state, you can't homeschool children that are not your own. He is enrolled in school near us and starting next Monday. I am nervous for him. He should be in first grade...his mother didn't bother to enroll him in Kindergarten last year. He is a big boy...I'm sure he'll be head and shoulders above the other kids. Combined with his other problems....well, let's just say I am hoping for a kind, patient, and highly motivated teacher for him. And I could use some patience myself. We have been scrambling to get ready...I know that the transition will go much more smoothly if we have a tight routine right from the beginning. Tightness is not generally my strong suit...especially when our own school is still on a lazy summer break. My own family has been forewarned. As of his arrival this afternoon, we will swing into full school-like schedule, especially concerning morning/evening routines. I need him to adjust to these before school starts...and he has trouble adjusting.