Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A day at the creek

This is a little man-made creek just a couple of blocks from our house...our own little nature spot. We come here often. It's a great place to watch for seasonal changes. There's another, better trail a 15 minute drive away that we go to less often.

Here's Jack's first time discovering the creek. Notice how nice and clean he is!

Then he finds rocks to throw in the water. What is it about boys and throwing rocks?
They both did so much of this I was afraid we would deface the creek bed completely.

Feet in the water...getting brave.

More rocks...and muddy feet.

Kain is trying to catch tadpoles here. They were big ones too! But we didn't come prepared for anything to catch them with or keep them in.

Maria finds some frog spawn on a rock. This totally freaked Kain out.

And snails....tiny ones. We showed these to Jack, but I he thought they were rocks and threw them in the water.

Not clean anymore! This was after a couple of half-tumbles into the water. He had so much fun though. This boy *loves* being outside. He never gets enough. This is was so enjoyable for the kids that I am planning a picnic at the other trail when Kain gets out of school.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bug #24

This is Kain in costume as Bug #24 in his breakthrough performance in the kindergarten musicale, Bugz. His antennae are a little cockeyed because he spent the majority of the performance twisting pulling them down to form "guns" to shoot the girl next to him on the bleachers, and then wrapping them around his head and in front of his mouth to form a microphone. He didn't really do much actual singing though. His Adderall wears off around dinnertime and from then on he's pretty much the captain of his own ship, you know?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Today is Pentecost....

the birthday of the Catholic Church. That's right, Protestants. You read it right. LOL...Sorry, but every Pentecost I'm reminded of an old Assembly of God neighbor of mine that was very determined to convert me for many months before she gave up on my papist rear-end altogether, God love her, and one day I mentioned Pentecost Sunday to her, I don't remember why...she looked surprised and a little impressed to find out that Catholics know what Pentecost fact, religiously speaking, Pentecost is second only to Easter in the Catholic Church. Her surprise faded to irritation that we do, in fact, regard Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. Apparently she did not celebrate it in the same vein. :)

We plan to have a BBQ if the weather holds out, and some birthday cake of course!

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

But I do, occassionally, do windows

I've said before that in having Kain we seem to have crossed a threshold of some kind into "larger than average family"...which would be kinda funny if you could see some of the families we hang out with. In homeschooling circles, a family of five is maybe mid-sized at best. Anyway, a few weeks ago when I took Maria for the learning disability evaluation the psychologist was impressed, or maybe disgusted, with shrinks it's so hard to tell, with the age range of the kids and that I intended to homeschool all three next year. She recommended putting Jack in preschool because I surely wasn't going to be able to meet the needs of three children that are, admittedly, in completely different stages of development. I wish I could say I came up with a cutting reply, like "I wonder if the average preschool teacher can really meet the needs of 20 3-year olds in her care, some of them for 12 hours a day," or, "Golly, whatever did women do before daycare existed, it's a wonder the human race survived to this point at all." But I did not. As often happens when unexpectedly put on the spot, I stammered some vague defense and hoped she'd change the subject. I wasn't, after all, prepared to defend having *Jack* at home. I was prepared to field questions about homeschooling Maria and meeting *her* needs, but not Jack. In the end, she leaned towards me and said, in a voice one would use when speaking to a not too terribly bright child, "You know, how can you do it *all*?"

Ah, there it is. Doing it *all*. Don't we all want to do it all? Did I do it all when I was a working mom? Absolutely not. Do I do it all now? Nope. But it's a question I get often about homeschooling, "How do you do it all?" This question means different things from different people. From the shrink it meant meeting the educational and psychological needs of these three children all day long. From another mother, it usually means getting a passing amount of school work done while staying on top of housework, laundry, and cooking. When you read homeschooling blogs and see pictures and descriptions of moms grinding their own organic wheat to make homemade bread everyday, their children outside working on wonderful unit studies (authored by mom), cloth diapers (hand-sewn, of course) hanging on the line, and there becomes this pressure to "do it all" in a whole new way. So I will say, here and now, we don't do it all. Neither does anyone else, even those moms in those blog pictures. I've met many homeschooling families in the last several years, and while they often accomplish amazing things, they don't do it all. So, here's a unapologetic list, in no particular order, of things we *don't* do.

---I don't hang laundry outside. I know it's better for the environment. But I don't like lugging laundry back and forth to the clothesline, and I don't like crunchy clothes. Neither does my husband.

---I don't cook everything from scratch. I do cook many things from scratch, but there are certain convenience foods we have decided are worth using, including certain cold cereals and certain foods for the kids to have for morning snack.

---I don't buy organic. I think this is a worthwhile thing to do, certainly, but we simply cannot afford it. Our grocery bill is our biggest expense as it is, and the things I would be most motivated to buy organic (dairy and meat) are the most expensive to buy. Plus, the closest natural foods store is 45 minutes from here and I have serious doubts about just how "organic" many of the organic brands at Walmart really are. I do shop at local farmer's markets for some organic produce and we have a small organic garden of our own.

---I don't put together my own curriculum. I nearly drove myself insane the first two years we homeschooled trying to do just that. I am attracted to new and shiny curriculum like some kind of homeschooling crow, and the tendency to buy more and more cool stuff to squeeze into my lesson plans is too strong. I picked a curriculum two year ago that is most in line with our educational goals and I stick with it.

--I don't try to keep right on our lesson plans. We try to start on time, and we generally try to work for a certain amount of time and stop where we are. This is a home, not a classroom, and life happens while we school. Sometimes I have a cranky toddler, or a repair man needs to be called, or a child that's taking longer than anticipated on a particular assignment. Sometimes it's just a nice day and we decide to knock off early and go to the park. If we haven't finished everything on the list for that day, it gets shoved over to the next day. This often means we are on week 8 for history, week 11 for grammar, and week 4 for art. That's ok. We catch up on the "behind" subjects at the end of each term.

---I don't prepare time-consuming meals. I enjoy cooking when I can do it without a 2 year old wrapped around my legs, but we usually eat three meals a day here at home, at least two largely made from scratch, and that's a lot of time in the kitchen with even simple recipes. When I'm looking for recipes, I'm looking for ones that have "real food" ingredients and have reasonable preparation times...generally 15 minutes for lunches and 30 minutes for dinner. I often bake something to have for tea time, although often those things are made by my 10yo, or may come out of the breadmaker. I also don't cook breakfast. I put out cereal, oatmeal, and fruit most mornings.

---I don't bathe my kids every day. Maria is of an age, hormonally speaking, that she has started showering every day. The boys alternate evening baths. When it's not their bath night, they will get a quick scrub of their face/hands and lower arms/lower legs if dirty from outside play.

---I don't sew their clothing. I have made a couple of dresses/skirts for myself and for Maria. I do enjoy sewing, though I'm not very good at it. I just can't find much time for it right now. In the past it has been worthwhile to sew for Maria because it has been difficult to find the kind of modest dresses and skirts I wanted for her without shopping at expensive stores, but in general, sewing clothing, especially for kids, doesn't seem to save me much money. Cheap fabric falls apart quickly, and good fabric can be expensive. Mostly, we shop at thrift stores and fill in the gaps at discount stores.

---I don't keep the house spotless. We work on tidying up a couple of times a day, I work on cleaning it once a week, but it is often cluttered and messy. Frankly, many weeks it's all I can do to stay on top of laundry and dishes. This isn't a house that stands empty while everyone is at school and work all day. We are all here most of the day, and we use our house hard. I am endlessly in the kitchen preparing or cleaning up meals, the kids are dragging out toys, craft materials, and books all day, the bathrooms are used by everyone all day long. We live in a smallish house and frankly, all the rooms are used all day long. When I am cleaning up, some small person is right behind me making a mess. So if you come over to visit, watch your step!

---I don't spend much time in personal prayer. We have prayer times together as a family, but I don't take much time to pray on my own. I offer up my day as a prayer for different intentions, and I am trying to train myself to take a few minutes at different times of the day to say quick prayers, i.e., the Angelus at 6 and 12, the chaplet of divine mercy at 3, but I often forget. I have recently acquired my grandmother's Liturgy of the Hours book and have ordered a guide for it, and I plan to start saying those prayers after the kids are in bed. I am often reading a chapter of the Bible or one faith-related book or another at bedtime. And I often throw up random ejaculatory-type prayers during the day, like "Dear Lord, please keep me from hurting this child." But other than those things, there is no "sit down and pray" time scheduled in my day. I hope there will be more time for that someday, but in the meantime....motherhood is an active vocation, not a contemplative one, and I pray by living my vocation the best I can.

---I don't spend a lot of time providing entertainment for the kids. I do school with them. We read together every day. We will often do crafts together. I take them to homeschool group activities. I provide them with good toys, and space to play. Sometimes, especially when it's too nasty to play outside, we will play board games, do puzzles together, etc., but I don't sit down on the floor and play with my kids on a daily basis, and I expect them to play with each other and to learn to entertain themselves for periods of time.

So there it is...all the things I don't do. I feel all cleansed, like I've just left the confessional! This list is not tied to any kind of value judgement...I'm not saying, in other words, that the things on this list aren't worth doing. Some of these things I wish I did do. I probably even *should* be doing some of them. But there are only so many hours in a day, and in the end we all have to choose *not* to do certain things to make time for what is most important to our families.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

blog question

Anyone know why my picture up top came out so darn big???

blog consolidation

I have decided to combine my two blogs back into one blog. A giant pain, to be sure. If anyone knows an easy way to do this, feel free to enlighten me. I have decided to do this because I am having difficulty sorting life into different catagories. Originally the second blog was supposed to be a blog about homeschooling, but it is very difficult to sort out "schooling" moments from the rest of our day. Our day *is* schooling. Short of making a list of actual assignments completed, there isn't any firm lines I can draw. Is planting a new garden bed school? I think so. What about baking banana bread? Or a trip to the creek? I consider all of these educational,,,but this is the bulk of our day. There is little I can post about that doesn't involve educating my kids in some way! So, if I don't post for a few days, it'll be because I'm moving everything over onto this blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A lazy and gratuitous post

Some random pictures of cuteness from my camera...

It turned out to be a little cool for sprinkler play yesterday, so we did this instead.

Here's Jack with two helpers....

And one helper....

And finally on his own! Yay Jack!

Here's a picture of what I found Sunday morning. Maria got permission to sleep out on the couch and watch a video Saturday night. And apparently Kain woke up very early in the morning and decided to join her.

This is sentimental to me for odd reasons I guess. This is a toy that Maria got for her second birthday. It has been one of those toys that didn't seem like any big deal to an adult but has been a long time favorite among the kids. It's supposed to be a "radio",,you turn the dial and push the button and it plays music--very fast, get up and boogy music. Maria played with it for years, so long in fact that it was still around to be passed down to Jack when he was born. It died last week after a long and happy existence. I finally threw it away and Jack brought it to me out of the trash and told me to "fix it". Sorry Jack.

And here's an update on our baby dogwoods. They are leafing nicely and we finally planted pretty flowers around them.

And the best for last. This,,,this is Princess Pumpkin. She is our loaner guinea pig, or as Jack says, "gimmie pig". We are pig-sitting for a friend of Maria's, and Princess Pumpkin will be leaving us any day now. Farewell, good Princess. And if Maria should tell your owner that I referred to you as "the orange rat" while you were here, please defend my honor and remember all those spinach leaves I snuck you.

Friday, May 18, 2007

learning disabilities

A while back I posted about our concerns for Maria and her problems with reading/spelling. I've been meaning to post an update but I've been waiting for as much information as possible first. We first made a couple of appointments, one with an optometrist for an evaluation for vision training and another with a psychologist for evaluation for dyslexia. She was not diagnosed with dyslexia. As I suspected, her reading, although painfully difficult for her, is still on grade level. Her reading comprehension is even better. But her spelling and writing are way down on a second grade level. That's what they were looking for, a discrepancy between her test scores in certain areas versus her scores everywhere else. The psychologist diagnosed her with an "expressive language disorder"...a fancy way of saying she has a really hard time learning to spell and write. She couldn't give us much direction in what we could do for her, however. We have been told to just keep working with her so she can progress as far as she is able, then teach her how to type and use spell check. I am poking around into different language arts programs, all expensive and all dubious in their value to us. In the end, we will probably keep doing what we are doing and allowing her to make her very slow progress.

The optometrist was more hopeful, definitely feeling like she would benefit greatly from the vision training. However, our insurance doesn't cover this, the school district here doesn't provide it, and it costs....are you ready for this?...$3,360. When we were at the appointment, she wrote this nonchalantly on the contract and handed it to me, where I quickly smothered my gasp of horror and folded the papers over so John wouldn't see the figures until we were gone. Obviously, we cannot even begin to afford this, especially since this comes with no guarantees of working either. We are not on a "gamble $3,360 on something that might do some good" kinda budget. Honestly, I really think this could help. I've researched it in my typical obsessive-compulsive way and there's a lot of good feedback out there for this therapy, and I wish we could provide it. I wish our insurance covered it. I wish the school system provided it. But unless one of these things changes, we just can't do it. I have had to let this go. I have placed it in Christ's hands. If it is His will that she have this, He will have to open a window for us.

She also gave Maria reading glasses, saying the bigger print would help her eyes to coordinate better and be a kind of crutch until she could have the training. And she recommended teaching her to type.

I also spoke a bit with the school district's special ed services person when I called about the vision therapy. I told her about Maria's diagnosis and she asked me to send her a copy of Maria's test results, but she said she didn't think there was much she could do for her either. If she were in school, they would basically pull her out for tutoring in these subjects, which is basically what she has at home full time now. She did say that other school districts did do this vision training therapy, and that it was very possible that the school district would offer the therapy sometime in the future. She also recommended teaching her to type.

So, that's where we stand...with an official diagnosis, but one that doesn't do us a whole lot of good because there's no where we can go with it. It's extremely frustrating to me. She is an intelligent girl who does well in other subjects. But since pretty much all subjects require some amount of reading and writing, she hates school. In fact, her attitude about school can be pretty lousy. She is at an age where she talks a lot about what she wants to do when she grows up, and now she sifts her dreams through her disability and wants to know how much college different careers require because she doesn't want to go to school any longer than she has to. I hate to see this define her life's path. In fact, it makes me cry every time I think about it. But there isn't anything else I can do at this point but wait for a window to open. I am working on Maria's attitude, trying to encourage a virtue of fortitude. I am looking for some multi-sensory methods for working on her spelling lists. And, yes, I am teaching her to type.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

summer plans

Well, we school pretty much year round, so things will continue as usual for a while yet, probably through July. We do have some fun stuff planned though.

--The kids partcipate in the summer reading program at the library, which includes a fun activity one morning a week. We plan to head to the park next door and play afterwards too.

--We'll swim at the city pool or go to the lake at least once a week I'm sure.
I prefer the lake,,,my husband prefers the pool. :)

--Maria will do a couple of weeks of summer ballet in June.

--Everyone will do a week of Vacation Bible School at our church in July.

--John's parents are coming to visit in June.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


John had to work on Mother's Day. Such is a small trial of being married to a nurse...they work holidays. They work weekends. Mother's Day is both. So, this Mother's Day started with the dreaded "taking all three kids to mass by myself" task mentioned below. It didn't go too badly. I tried something different this time. I'm a big believer in sitting right up front. Kids just aren't going to behave if they have to stare at someone else's backside for an hour! But this time I I sat allll the way over to the side of the church. This was a bit like sitting in the bulkhead seats of an airplane. We just had more space around one sitting in front of us, no one sitting on one side of us..just less people for the kids to bother. This took a lot of stress off of me. Jack spent most of the mass laying quietly on my shoulder, which was nice, but every so often he would just give a loud HOWL of protest...that's when I realized one problem with our new seats. We were right behind the priest! We had moved to the side of the altar where he was sitting, and he could no doubt hear everything out of my kids' mouths, as evidenced by the slight turning of his head every time Jack would howl. No perfect solution after all...

After mass, the Knight's of Columbus handed out roses to all the moms, something they do every year. This always excites Maria. She was wanting to hurry out of the church, "in case they run out". I wasn't in a huge hurry to run out of the church to sit in a hot car in the parking lot traffic. But not to worry...they didn't run out after all.

Then we loaded up for the drive to visit my mom. My mom lives in a tent in the woods. Seriously. Crazy, right? Not so much. They are doing this while they work on building a cob house, so it's semi-temporary. And it's a big army-style tent and they actually have quite a nice set-up out there. I mean, it's maybe not the lifestyle for everyone, but they are happy with it. I, for one, am quite dependent on air conditioning. I wasn't particularly looking forward to sitting out in the heat,,,the temps hit 88 degrees,,,especially since previous visits had seen me repeatedly chasing Jack down the dirt road, not sitting in the shade with a cold soda. And after mass and the great chaos of loading everyone and everything in the car, I was already fried. The drive into the mountains did much to improve my mood though. I soon lost reception on my usual Catholic radio station, so I switched it to a "mix" station instead, and we sang loudly and car-danced on the way up there, counted motorcycles on the highway, looked for wildflowers...something to remember- if kids get too loud in the car when you are trying to listen to a really cool song, say, Abba's "Dancing Queen" or "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, a most excellent punishment is to turn the radio off and make them listen to you sing it in a loud and obnoxious a capella.

We stopped to meet my grandmother at a gas station that was on our way. She doesn't like to drive up the dirt roads in her car. On the last bit of the drive, the kids had great fun listening to her lecturing me to slow down and keep two hands on the wheel. I took this with good humor, winking at the kids. I'm very close to my grandmother and love her dearly, and her lectures are very frequent and very well-intentioned. We had a nice afternoon with an easy cold lunch and visiting with each other while the kids played with my parents' dogs, climbed rocks, swung in hammocks, tried to catch butterflies, and watch the numerous birds that visited the various feeders. Jack even refrained from running down the dirt road more than once or twice. In the early evening, I loaded up sweaty, dirty kids and blasted my beloved AC on the drive home. The kids were thrilled to pick up McDonald's for dinner on the way. I was less than thrilled with the happy meal toys. They were from Shrek. You press a button, and Shrek burps and then yells, "I'M AN OGRE"...over and over and over again...times three toys. Jack was gleefully copying Shrek, screaming, "I'M A YOGURT!" at the top of his lungs, which the big kids found terribly funny. I turned up the radio and tuned out as best I could. Once home, I unloaded the kids and the car, washed up the boys and checked them for ticks and sunburn, and sent them off to bed. When John arrived home around 9pm, he brought me take-out Lo Mien and crab rangoons, and presented me with chocolate goodies for dessert, a wonderful Mother's Day ending indeed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

unholy thoughts

Sometimes, on Saturday evenings, when I know John is working the next day and I'll be taking the kids to mass by myself, I start to think things like...

...attending mass with three kids should be considered grave enough reason to be able to stay home...

...especially when one of the three kids is a 2 year old...

...and mass bumps up against that 2 year old's naptime...

...and another one of the three kids is Kain...

...and, did you know that when St. Therese's mother had young children, she did not take them to mass?

It's not that I don't want to go to mass,,,it's not even that I don't want to take my kids to mass. Taking them to mass by myself is exhausting. It's not about being able to hear the homily or meditate on the Eucharist. I've given up any thoughts of those things happening until my kids are grown. It's about sitting between two noisy boys for an hour and spending the entire time trying to keep them reasonably quiet and still. I am absolutely fried to the core by the time mass is over. And so I find myself dreading Sunday mornings, which is not really a place I want to be. Not every Sunday, of course. When John is there, it is much more managable. But he works at least every third Sunday, so this is not an uncommon thing. I try to push aside the dread and remind myself that these Sunday mornings are not for me...they are for my children. They are about teaching them reverence and respect for the Eucharist. Someday my kids will be grown and I will have many quiet masses.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thou cursed meme....

I was inadvertently tagged by KC...but I love memes, and this one is sure different! I started out doing this during quick hydration break during my cleaning marathon and ended up taking much more time than I intended!

Here's the Meme--

Grab the nearest book.

Open it to page 161.
Find the fifth full sentence.
Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
Don't search around looking for the coolest book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

OK, so I had some problems. First, I turned to the basket of library books within arms reach of my desk. It was...

---full of picture books from the library that don't have enough pages in them.

---I also found Just So Stories, and on page 161 there are only two sentences,,,really, really long Rudyard Kipling-ish run-ons,,

---and James Herriot's treasure for Children, in which the pages are UNNUMBERED, what is UP with that!!!

---So, being a giant meme dork, I counted through the James Herriot book to find page 161. I am a hard-core blogger, yo, that's how I roll. As I flipped through the book, I soon realized that at least half of the pages were just pictures with less than five sentences, if they had any words at all. Sure enough, page 161 yielded only a picture. Not to be deterred, I just looked at the following page, 162.There were only 4 sentences.

---Irritated with James Herriot for being so uncooperative, I tossed the book back into the basket, I turned around and the only other book in the whole *room* with at least 161 pages was Maria's history book, Pioneers and Patriots. Haha! So here's the sentence--
"All of the English settlements were east of the Appalachian Mountains."

--Well, that was disappointing. I was kinda hoping for something a little more profound. So I had a light bulb thought that the altar was in this room, and even though it was cheating, I went digging for something better. The BIBLE, hello, how deep can I be? I found page 161 in Deuteronomy. Uh oh.
"Then we turned and proceeded toward Bashan." Duet. 3:1

---Wow. Even God is being uncooperative. Then I remembered that, in this Bible, the page numbers actually start OVER again in the New Testament, so there are actually TWO p.161's. Surely the gem lies there...

"They certainly had knowledge of God, yet they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks; they stultified themselves through speculating to no purpose, and their senseless hearts were darkened." Romans 1:21

To this I have to say two thing---
--And what does "stultified" mean anyway?

Back to dishes...

I tag Entropy and Kelly.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


"Do you want me to get him?"

This was John at 5am this morning.
He was asking the question, presumably, because I had spent the last 15 minutes in denial that Jack was *again* awake so early, his early babblings progressively giving way to howls of indignation because no one was coming to get him. "No John," I sighed in an irritated tone as I tossed aside the pillow and got up, like it was his fault Jack was awake. I *did* want him to get up with him, of course, but I couldn't in good conscience ask him to do that since he hadn't gotten any more sleep than I had...and he had worked a 12 hour shift yesterday. But I was tired too, and also irritated as I saw my day going down the tube. Jack, I knew, would become cranky and tired by 10. We were planning to go to the library this a big wrench in the plans. I don't like my plans to change, and this was more the cause of my irritation than my fatigue.

I stomped down the stairs and went to go put on some coffee first before getting Jack. We were out. Fabulous. I scowled into the empty can for a minute before deciding to indulge my inner 5-year old. "I'm going to get coffee!" I shouted up the stairs to John. " you want me to get Jack?" he asked. "I DON'T CARE!" I yelled back,,,still 5 years old.

I drove the two blocks to McDonald's and back, and that was long enough for the guilt to set in. I knew darned well John would get up with Jack. He was too good a dad not too. I bought John a coffee too, to heat up later, as a goodwill gesture. "Sorry- I'm a brat," I said when I got back. "That's ok, Mel!" he answered, sitting on the couch with a cranky Jack. John...he's always like this, always the sweet, calm center in the place of my ever-changing moods. It wasn't ok- I'd acting like a jerk. If he acted this way towards me he'd be sleeping in his car. Alas, my moodiness also comes with a healthy double-standard. I have very low tolerance for other moody people. Jack wouldn't even look at me, stung by his morning shunning. I sat down next to them and pulled Jack on my lap, sent John back to bed, and resigned myself to a sleepy morning of reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and watching Signing Time.

I post this because I have heard from a couple of people lately that reading homeschooling mom blogs makes them feel inferior. This is my own little public service...broadcasting my imperfections. Don't you feel better? :)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

what we've been up to lately

Pictures from an Earth Day field trip at the botanical garden--

Maria making prints of fish "fossils"....

Jack checking out the backhoe...the botanical gardens are still under construction. This was the highlight of the day for him. "Backhoe" was one of his first words!

A picture of Maria ready for "Peter Pan" last night....Maria's character was "Ribbon", a Lost Lass...not enough boys in drama for Lost Boys. :)

A Day in May

Welcome to May 1st!

The big question of the day is, did I open the new month with my new exercise habit? No, alas, I did not. I really, really plan to tomorrow! I beg a reprieve today. Maria was in our homeschool co-op's production of Peter Pan last night, and it was a very late night indeed by the time we all got to bed. We all slept in a bit. You'll also find, tragically, that we did not do school today. I opted to spend the morning finishing our bedroom/playroom switcheroo.

7:15- I wake up to Jack babbling over the baby monitor. John is gone! For the first time he got up and left for work and I didn't even hear him! I must have slept like the dead...and I'm still not wanting to get up. I hang out in bed, dozing and listening to Jack, just comfortable and lazy. Usually I'd be getting Kain ready for school at this time, but I decided last night to let him sleep an hour later this morning. He didn't get to bed until 9:30 last night!

7:30- Maria comes upstairs, undoubtedly to make sure I'm not dead. I assure her that I know what time it is and I am on my way down. I start coffee, change and dress Jack, and get him some "hahv-row" (peanut butter sandwich...he lives on it).

8:00- I wake up Kain...he still doesn't want to get up. That kid loves to sleep. I give him his yogurt/Adderall cocktail and lay out his clothes, make him an English muffin, etc., and tell Maria to start getting herself together as well because I will need her help this morning. I plan to finish the playroom organization project today and need her to keep Jack entertained.

9:00- Kain is finally at school. I have breakfast myself, finally, and check my email, bloglist, etc. Then I spend the next couple of hours working in the playroom. Maria does a good job with Jack...playing with him in the backyard (with me watching...the playroom windows overlook the backyard), painting with watercolors, watching a Thomas DVD.

11:30- Oh my goodness, I finally finished it. I finished organizing and purging the toys. Woohoo!! The closet in that room (our old master bedroom, remember) is still full of junk (seldom used/outgrown clothes) so I pile all the Rubbermaid containers of organized toys in that now rarely used bathroom for the time being. Some toys stay out on the shelves. I plan to rotate them around. We have lunch and I put Jack down for a nap.

1pm- After happily playing in his crib for almost an hour, Jack finally goes to sleep. I send Maria to read The Caterpillar That Came to Church while I pick up and vacuum the living room and then do dishes. I am amazed at my industriousness today. Go me!

3pm- I pick up Kain from school today. He's mad because my brother was supposed to pick him up today. I haven't been able to get a hold of my brother so I'm not sure what is going on. When I get home Jack is awake. "Poop," he greets me from his crib. "You pooped?" I ask. "Check!" he answers. A man of few words. He wants to play in the playroom...all the neatly placed toys do look like fun. I leave him for a bit to play. Maria and Kain go outside.

3:45- Still feeling industrious, I clean the kitchen floor and make some cornbread to have with dinner. We have a ton of chili leftover from the before-the-play-chili-dinner, so I hope everyone is in the mood for leftovers. I also change the cat litter box. I was supposed to do it last night before the trashmen came this morning. There's that lack of fortitude again.

5:00- I take Jack back into the playroom and finish up some odds and ends...mostly organizing some school papers and that kind of thing. I have three big sore spots left to work on. 1, The dining room, which has become our major dumping ground during this room shake up and is now pretty much un-usable. 2, The laundry room/craft room..this room was never set up well after we remodeled in there and has just slowly disintegrated since. 3, that closet in the new playroom. I plan to start slowly working through these areas tomorrow,,,,slowly, because we must get back to school too!

6:00- I make an attempt now to get onto our regular weekday routine and make this evening a good one. We all have chili and cornbread and all clean up.

6:45- I send the big kids to do their evening chore lists while I take care of Jack. While bathing him I purge his bath toys, getting rid of the ones that suck up bathwater and get all ookey inside. There is no end to my industriousness today. I tell Kain and Maria that if they are done in time they can watch a video.

7:30- The boys and I head upstairs to read.

8:00- Evening prayers, which are very quick here. We light our altar candle, turn out the lights, say an Act of Contrition, Prayer to St. Michael, Guardian Angel Prayer...everyone invokes their patron Saints, and then the kids' favorite part of prayer time, passing out the holy water. If we ever forget, Jack reminds us after prayers by shrieking, "BLESS YOU! BLESS YOU MOMMA!"

8:15- Jack is in bed and Maria and I settle down to watch The Lord of the Rings. We've been watching it over the last couple of days. Yeah, it's PG-13 technically, but this is recorded from network tv and has stuff edited down to make it PG. It's my first time seeing it too...I haven't even read the books...and we are enthralled. It is a bit scary, even edited down to PG! Definitely picking up The Hobbit book. John arrives home around 8:30 and I rustle up some chili and cornbread for him.

9:30- Sending Maria to bed, a bit late. We managed to finally finish the movie, which is good because part 2 will be on next Sunday! John goes to bed too, after telling me he doesn't have a uniform for tomorrow...which means I'm up doing a load of laundry. I just washed our laundry a few days ago, so I'm not sure why he is out of uniforms...

10:15- Uniforms are in the drier and I'm going up to bed. Going to bed with the drier on always makes me a bit nervous, especially since ours is so old...but tonight I will take the risk. Gotta get up to exercise in the morning after all!

Day in the life- May 1

Yes, boys and girl, it's time already for the monthly "Day in the Life" over at my neglected my little secondary blog.

St. Catherine of Sienna

Sunday was Maria's name day. As per family custom, she had a chore free day, a gift bag with some religious-themed gifts (a couple of bracelet kits and a kit to make a foamie "stained glass" window), and her choice of dinner--- Beef Nacho Casserole, couscous, lima beans (yep, she's a weird one), and yellow cake with chocolate frosting. My poor, quickie excuse for a cake is pictured below, and I include the pic only because my sweet, unaffected girl was so tickled by it and thought it was just beautiful. :) She actually gasped with joy at seeing her name in frosting.

Here's some info on St. Catherine...and she's my patron too!

Easter altar

Here's a picture of our Easter altar I've been meaning to post....pardon the fading lily. That's what happens when you wait too late to buy one. That's our former crown of thorns in the middle wrapped in flowers, and the kids' jelly bean jars. Kain's is already about empty. :)

Here's a closer up picture of our homemade Paschal candle.

Kain and the perfect mother

Me- Kain, your teacher sent a note home saying that your class was having a Mother's Day tea next Friday.

Kain, softly- Yeah...I know.

Me- Is it ok if I come and be your mom for the day?

Kain, brighter now- Yeah! You do that, ok?

A few minutes later....

Kain- Aunt Mel? I wish my real mom could come though.

Me- I know you do, honey.

Kain- I wish I could live with my real mom, except that she did everything just like you do it. Except the things that you don't let me do...she could let me do those.