Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas pictures

Please excuse any popcorn litter on the living room floor. My vacuum was clogged up with pine needles and needed to be taken apart, and Jack had strewn popcorn everywhere... :)

Here's our way-too-big-for-our-living-room tree.

Here's the top of the tree. It bumps up into the ceiling fan...must think smaller next year.

The advent wreath turned Christmas wreath.

My dad and kids....we were singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus after Christmas Eve mass before having....

birthday cake! What else? This is one of my favorite little traditions...a fun way to remind the kids why we are really doing all of this.

New Christmas Eve pj's

Christmas morning...Jack with his new toolbench.

Kain after emptying his stocking. That's a "pet tornado" in his pocket.

Jack with new books. I was tickled with the way he immediately grabbed them and ran off into a corner to check them out.

Kain got a couple of new Lego kits...he's really getting into them.

Jack on my parents' land later Christmas day. It ended up being warm and beautiful!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas recovery

Well, my week hasn't gotten off to the slammin' start I was planning. We didn't start school, and we are still working on putting the house back together. I'm working on putting everyone back on their usual routines today, and I guess we'll wait until Monday to start up school.

I've been putting off posting Christmas info because my camera is MIA...but I'll just post pics when it turns up. Christmas Eve we went to our parish's pageant and mass. Maria was singing in the choir, and Kain was a shepherd and did well this year as best I could tell...last year we had an issue with him head-butting a kid sitting next to him...but honestly it was hard to pay attention. Jack talked *nonstop* through the whole pagaent and the whole mass. His church behavior has gotten much better. We don't usually have to take him out anymore. But he talks the whole time, this running monologue about what he is seeing, echoing parts of the mass, etc. It's so cute, really, but distracting to those around us I'm sure...but I can't seem to get him to stop! I hate to squelch his sweet attempts at participation anyway. It's just that he gets pretty loud. Here's a sample from Christmas Eve...

"Angels! Angels! Red flowers!"
"Mary and Joseph! Joseph, Joseph! Baby Jesus, Jesus in the manger, Jesus in the manger with STRAW! STRAW in the manger!"
"Shepherds! Lots of shephers guarding their SHEEP! HEAVENLY HOSTS! HEAVENLY HOSTS, MOM!"
"Holy Spirit be with you ALL!"
"Life of the world to come! Momma say LIFE OF THE WORLD TO COME!"
"Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord"
"Communion, it's communion, COMMUNION, MOM!"

I kept urging him to whisper, but it didn't help much. Thankfully the Christmas Eve mass is full of noisy, cranky, yelling kids and I don't think he was noticed too much. And really, I know I have to reign him in for the sake of other parishoners,,,but I hardly think he offends our Lord. He is enthusiastic, he *likes* going to mass, he is involved and paying attention, which is probably more than can be said for 70% of the adults that would be offended by his noise. Still...I've gotta teach that boy to whisper at least...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

This will probably be my last post until Tuesday evening. We are in the final haul here. I'm having a bit of a mood today, isn't that terrible and un-Christmas-y? Just lots of stuff to do this week and lots of things that aren't working out quite right...from a way-to-big-for-our-living-room tree that bumps into the ceiling fan and is hard to even function around and that is already dropping it's needles and ornaments from drooping the cranberry walnut bread I tried to bake for Christmas gifts that is coming out gooey in the the 15 pounds of fudge I made that just wore me out to no end. Tonight I will put the boys to bed and go upstairs to wrap the gifts, all of which I've managed to save until the last minute. Hopefully a night's sleep will improve my mood.

Plans for the coming week...

Monday- Wild flurry of cooking and cleaning until my parents arrive, then we will head off for our parish's Christmas pageant and mass. Kain is a shepherd and Maria is in the choir. We will come home to chili cheese dip, spinach spread and pumpernickel bread, eggnog, and Jesus' birthday cake. The kids will get to open two presents, a new ornament and new pajamas. Then I'll play Santa and wait for John to come home from work.

Tuesday- We will do the whole present shebang and then drive up to my parents/Little Portion Hermitage for Christmas dinner and visiting. This is where almost half the fudge will go. John will be off too! We'll make the long drive home and collapse, thankful to have managed to pull of another Christmas.

Wednesday- I will balance accounts and bills and assess holiday damages before payday. The kids will get the day to enjoy their Christmas presents and relax.
We will read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey for tea time.

Thursday- School schedule. Aren't I mean? I know, it's still Christmas, right? We've had a very slacker Advent as far as school is concerned, and we all feel the need to get some structure back. I'm starting to have some discipline issues as far as chores and all go, and the fix for that is to get back on routine. Also, I got Maria's new high dollar spelling program, Phonetic Zoo,,,it's recommended for kids with visual learning issues. I'm anxious to start it. Here's hoping it helps, the child still has so much difficulty with spelling, (sigh). Instead of our regular afternoon subjects though, we will finish up some things we didn't get to during Advent...this day I plan to read Country Angel Christmas and make gold glitter stars.

Friday- We will do a bit of school in the morning before heading out for a park day with our homeschool group. In the afternoon we will read Clown of God for tea time.

Saturday- Grocery shopping and, if the weather cooperates, a nature walk. Hey, you gotta get out in the winter too! If the weather doesn't cooperate, we will read Legend of the Poinsettia and make tissue paper flowers.

Sunday- Mass and hopefully a day of rest. Today was not one.

Hope you have a blessed and holy Christmas! Please join me in not getting so freaked out over the holiday that you lose the meaning of the holy day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Jack

Isn't he beautiful? No, really. See, here's a close-up....

In these pictures he is singing to his nativity scene. He does this several times a day right now, arranges his velcro Advent wreath, then lines up all the wooden nativity pieces just so, and then he sings,,,he doesn't know many songs yet, so he just sings "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Holy, Holy, Holy Jesus" over and over again until tears come to my eyes. This simple devoutness he possesses is a quality I've not seen in the other children, nor is this the first time he has shown it.

This child is the sweetest part of my day. I hope my others won't someday read that and feel slighted. I love the other two dearly, I'm really not playing favorites here. I'm just saying that somewhere in between Maria's pre-teen hormones and Kain's unending, unfulfilled needs, there's this little person, this unconditional love and total uncomplicated sweetness. That's not to say that preschoolers don't have their, ah, issues now and then. But he wakes up calling "GOOD MORNING, MOMMA" and beaming at me from his crib and climbs on my lap for sweet snuggly kisses at random moments during the day. He loves, loves, loves everyone in his world in that gentle way so like his father. Now that he is finally talking in actual sentences, he is constantly revealing how he sees the world and the thoughts in his head...and often leaves us amazed or laughing out loud. He still smells like a baby and has that soft fine baby hair. I can hold him tightly and it feels like he was just born yesterday. But no...he is a big 3 years old now and will soon be a big brother. I love you Jack.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

role reversal

Maria- Dad, why are you so grouchy?

Me- He's not being grouchy towards you. He's ticked off at me.

Maria- Why is he ticked off at you?

Me- Because I got ticked off at him. So now we are going to see who can be ticked off the longest.

Maria- Oh. That's mature.

John- She started it!

story of a Christmas photo

"HEEELLLLOOOOO!!! Everyone look at the CAMERA!"

"KAIN, COME ON! LOOK AT THE CAMERA!!, and KAIN, quit making that weird face and just SMILE NATURALLY!"

"MARIA, Jack's HEAD is in front of your FACE!"

"(sigh) Whatever. Good enough."

Monday, December 17, 2007

a Christmas meme...because I'm procrastinating cleaning...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I prefer wrapping paper...but sometimes gift bags just make more sense.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. I love real trees...until the needles start falling off and I start cursing the darned thing for the rest of the season and think maybe an artificial one wouldn't be such a bad idea...but I always come back to the real ones.

3. When do you put up the tree? Um, I still haven't put up our tree. It's sitting in a bucket of water next to the garage. We usually do it the third Sunday of Advent, but we had a very full day yesterday, and John is working today...he is off tomorrow, so we will do it then.

4. When do you take the tree down? After Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog? It's pretty good. I like Bailey's Irish cream better! We usually make some on Christmas Eve...but none for prego momma this year, so I may just stick with a virgin eggnog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmmm...that's hard. I remember getting a swatch watch one Christmas. I desperately wanted one, and my mom said they were too expensive and I would lose it, but she got me one anyway, and it was *SO COOL*. A couple of weeks later I left it at the playground...I was crushed, and so embarassed to tell my mom, but she was very cool about it.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes, see Advent week 2 post below.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My in-laws, for sure. They have everything they need or want and not really any hobbies we can supplement or anything. Always an issue...

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Hmm..I can't remember a specific gift. I remember one Christmas when I was 14 or 15, I found all the gifts before Christmas and opened them (sorry Mom!)...that Christmas really sucked. lol...serves me right I guess.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I really don't do many cards at all. I will email a note with a Christmas picture to a couple of long distance friends I don't see often, and I'll send a Christmas picture with a note to my in-laws with their gifts, but I don't do Christmas card mailings any more.

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? I *love, love, love* A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. And Charlie Brown Christmas. And of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? As soon as possible, and I do most of it online. I have one more thing to pick up for Kain, and candy for stockings, then I'm done, woohoo!

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I remember!

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Does the Bailey's Irish Cream count? :) I love peppermint bark, and peppermint milk shakes...and I make a really yummy, really easy, really fattening hot chili cheese dip that sits in the crock pot when we are gone to Christmas Eve mass,,,then we come home and have that, put the kids to bed, and have Bailey's. :)

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? White lights, much to my daughter's irritation. I do put the colored ones outside.

16. Favorite Christmas song. O Holy Night. Also love What Child is This, and I remember crying to Away in a Manger when I was a kid...because Jesus didn't have a "crib for a bed". :)

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We travel, but just less than 2 hours away to see my family.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer. Yep!

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning, except for a pair of new pj's and a new ornament the kids open Christmas Eve.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Just one? Ok, I'm really irritated by non-Christians that celebrate Christmas in a totally secular way and then get irritated the Christmas is "too Christian". To take one of the most holy days of the liturgical year, secularize the heck out of it, and then be irritated that it's still a Christian holiday to the rest of us is just profane and insulting. Christmas is a Christian holiday. If Christianity offends you, then don't celebrate a Christian holiday, celebrate something else!

crazy homeschool family video

This is really funny, and only a couple minutes long. Go check it out! My favorite parts are the geeky dad and the looks on the neighbors' faces...heehee.

And while you're wasting time on the computer, this is a funny one too, 12 Day of Christmas meets Toto, found on the Testosterhome blog.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A bit disappointing....

Well, it's just before noon or so, and here's what's left of our snow...if you look hard, you can see a bit in the shade of the telephone pole.

The snow started yesterday and came down fast and furious for maybe an hour at the most. Then it slowed to nothing but a few flurries for the remainder of the evening. This morning is warm and sunny, barely worth putting on a coat for, and the bit of snow we had is melting fast. Poor Kain is quite irritated about it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advent- week 2

This week was a much slower paced one, what with our assorted cooties and an unexpected car repair that left the kids and I stranded at the public library and required a two day juggling act back and forth to the car dealership.

We did manage to put up our nativity scene....

Our nativity scene is an odd mix of two sets. I got the white porcelain set from a flea market before Maria was born. The very breakable pieces have seen better days. Many have tell tale fracture lines where they have been superglued back together. They are being replaced at the rate of one or two a year by a much more durable (and expensive) Fontanini set. I started with the Holy Family, and then moved on to replacing the saddest looking pieces first. This year I bought the sheep.

They were a welcome addition, as a couple of our previous sheep had lost most of their legs altogether and required some serious propping up.

The other missed activities have been shifted to next week or dropped until next year. I did really want to have a celebration dinner for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as take Maria to the midnight mass at a nearby parish, but that was the day of the aforementioned car we just read this book instead.

We also helped package and deliver baskets of food for our parish food bank this morning. It was a good experience for the kids. It's very easy to donate food to the food's another experience altogether to go out to people's homes to deliver the food. The whole thing only took about an hour and a half out of our morning, and it made me appreciate those that spend all year working for this ministry.

Friday, December 14, 2007

funny linkage...

The rules for this were to google the answers to these questions and pick an image from the first page...

1. Age at my next birthday:

2. Place I'd like to travel:

3. Place I've been:

4. Favorite food:

5. Place I was born:

6. Place I live:

7. Name of past pet:

8. Best friends' nickname:

9. My first name:

10. First job:

I find myself wanting to explain all of these,,,but then that seemed to make it less funny. So, I have left it open to interpretation, but I'll explain any if you'd like. :)

Let it snow!

Here it comes! Our first snow of the year! Any northerners reading this will roll their virtual eyes at me, I'm sure,,,but here in the south snow is a treat. It's rare that we get enough to play in before January, and some years we don't get much at all. Last time I checked the forecast they were calling for 1-3 inches...but that may change. Snow forecasts for this area are often wrong, and when we do get it, it doesn't last for long...the weather usually warms in a day or two and we watch it quickly melt away. I can never imagine what it must be like to live in an area that has snow on the ground most of the winter! Hopefully we will at least get enough to have some fun. We are all ready to go...everyone has snow boots and snow gloves, we have real maple syrup for making snow taffy, and John is even off of work this weekend so we don't have to worry about him commuting. Bring it on!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

the first cooties of the season....

Well, the long and healthy summer was fun while it lasted. Frankly, I'm impressed we made it this far, what with all the asthmatics in the house and all the stuff I know has been floating around out there. Kain and I started coughing a few days ago,,,then Jack started coughing yesterday. I was holding out hopes that it was just asthma stuff (all three of us have asthma). When I went to bed last night, my own coughing was keeping me awake for about an hour until it finally settled down enough for me to sleep. Then, around 11:30 last night, I heard Jack over the baby monitor coughing hard in his sleep, then crying. I went downstairs and got him a drink of water and he seemed sleepy and settled quickly, but soon after would start again. By my third trip down, he was wheezing and hot with fever. So, I brought him, his sippy cup of water, and an inhaler and spacer upstairs to my bed and we spent the next several hours trying to doze and hitting the albuterol...both of us. He finally fell into a hard sleep early in the morning and slept until 7ish. He woke up feeling somewhat cooler but breathing fast and hard...and coughing, of course. So, we went downstairs and broke out the nebulizer. That worked much better and he has seemed pretty comfortable today. Around 10am he started looking coughing again, developed circles under his eyes, and just looked pretty worn out, so I gave him another nebulizer treatment and put him back to bed. He's still there, but I can hear him stirring and talking to himself, so I guess I'd better go check on him.

So, here's to all the moms out there, in my first of many nights this winter, I'm sure, up with sick kiddos! :) Here's your checklist....the corporal works of mercy

To feed the hungry- check

To give drink to the thirsty- check, check...lots of water pushing going on.

To clothe the naked- actually, I kind of stripped the naked down to a onesie once the fever started....

To shelter the homeless- right in my very own bed.

To visit the sick- That's a given, especially after spending the morning watching Little Einsteins.

To ransom the captive- from his very own crib.

To bury the dead- Well, thankfully it hasn't come to that...

Thursday, December 06, 2007


So, today is the feast day of St. Nicholas, and at our house he puts chocolate coins in children's shoes and leaves a family gift of some kind, a gift that contributes something new to do during the long winter evenings indoors...last year it was the Chronicles of Narnia dvds. This year he was about board games, leaving Homeschoolopoly (doesn't that look silly!), and Payday.

The problem was that I misplaced St. Nicholas' chocolate coins. I bought them when I bought the little candies for the Jesse Tree bags, and I stashed them....somewhere. I looked last night for a little while, but I was so tired my head was spinning, so I decided to go to bed and look in the morning since I'm almost always up before the big kids. I was up at 6:15, tearing the house apart, digging through all my usual hiding places,,,high kitchen cabinets, empty vases in the hutch cabinets, top shelf of the pantry...nothing! I finally located them in the back of a bookshelf. I'm sure hiding them there made sense at the time. It was 6:45, and the kids woke up at 7. Phew! Wish I could still have coffee!

To further celebrate today, we will read The Real Santa Claus. Then we will dig out The Polar Express (St. Nicholas brought this the year before last) when Jack goes down for a nap and have some Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Chocolate to drink while we watch. I feel a little mean about doing this during Jack's nap, but the truth is that, 1.he really just doesn't sit through long movies very well yet and will just be a distraction to the big kids, and 2. the big kids will surely be watching it again and again anyway. This movie is just magic for Kain, and I want to make it special for him especially...with an ADHD kid, that means no distractions.

Tomorrow we will read The Legend of St. Nicholas and watch St. Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa....if we can get the VCR to work. It is dying a slow death, and we can no longer find a replacement that is not a VCR/DVD combo. This VCR/DVD thing is a pet peeve of mine...but that's another post altogether.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Why is it that food that a child was shoving into his mouth suddenly become too gross to touch when it comes time to rinse his plate in the sink 3 minutes later?

Why is it *so gross* to have to flush the toilet after a forgetful younger child, but it's not gross at all to neglect to wash your hands after using the toilet yourself?

Why is it that an 11yo girl deems it very necessary to spend a considerable amount of time picking out the perfect outfit in the morning, but is unconcerned about the dirt under her fingernails? Or will spend 20 minutes hunting down the headband that matches her shirt, but has to be harangued into actually washing her hair on a regular basis?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Sunday of Advent

Our preparations began a few days ago with digging out our purple altar cloth and advent wreath, and making candles. The candle making was new this year. I found a kit on ebay with pink and purple beeswax sheets.

Here's Maria using a blowdrier to warm the wax sheets...this makes them easier to roll....

...and also softens the wax enough to let her taper the ends.

This is by far our favorite part of Advent...our Jesse Tree ornaments. Here's the garland where the ornaments hang during Advent, each numbered one through twenty-five. So, technically, you use it during the first 25 days of December.

This is what the ornaments look like on the other side...for those who are unfamiliar, Jesse tree ornaments trace the lineage of Christ all the way back to Adam. So, each ornament has an image representing different bible stories and ancestors of can see, if you click on the picture, the dove with the olive branch for the story of Noah, tablet of 10 commandments for Moses, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Samuel, etc., are all there, all the way up until the birth of Jesus there at the end. You can't tell from here, but those are little party favor bags like you find in the wedding section of craft stores. Inside the bags are three pieces of candy, one for each child. The last few days also have the O Antiphons in them with little "gold coins" (yellow cardstock circles) for each antiphon.

Each day during Advent, a child gets to take down a bag, pass around the candy, and hang the bag on the "tree" (dead branch from the back yard). We read the bible story related to the ornament while the kids have their small treat...a little taste of Christmas. By Christmas day, the garland is empty and the tree is full and pretty.

Then, per this Advent unit study, we read Merry Christmas Strega Nona. It's set in Italy, so Maria and I made spaghetti and meatballs, caesar salad, and garlic bread for dinner.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A busy weekend....

of my big payday grocery shopping haul...

of two birthday parties (for friends, not for my own kids)...

of baking 4 dozen cookies for the church cookie walk...

of readying Advent decorations and supplies (photos to come tomorrow)...

and PSR starting after a nice two week break...

I know I said I'd be posting a "day in the life" homeschooling post, but we haven't, um, been really doing much schooling, what with waiting for new materials to come in and all the holiday stuff going on. We've been watching Bill Nye the Science guy,,,and Maria did a science kit on magnets,,,does that count?

On a less busy note, last week was our last day of co-op until late January, woohoo! The kids aren't as happy as I am...but I was ready for a break. Here's a random photo of Maria with her science concept map project on polar deserts that she made this term in her Environmental Science class. Surely *that* counts as school....
and it was nice to see her take such pride in something school related. Gives me hope. She has also said that she can already tell that reading is much easier after a month of vision therapy!