Thursday, January 31, 2008

the cold front continues

Lookie what we woke up too this morning...

Real Snow! Snow to play in! And it's still falling! John and the boys are still outside. Yes, Jack is still coughing, and yes, that was probably not such a hot idea to send him out, but this may be our one and only Real Snow this year! Maria was out for a while and apparently busted her tailbone on the sled and decided that was enough. I'm so glad that John is home today and took the first snow shift. This afternoon I will take the kids out and we will make some maple snow candy, a la Little House in the Big Woods. They still have to do some schoolwork though, which makes me Really Unfair because schools are closed, but, as I explained, that was only because those poor children couldn't actually *get* to their schools and weren't they glad they were luckier than that? And, besides, they were not so concerned about fairness when we ditched school to go roller skating or to the park now were they?

We have also been beseiged by birds...there are literally dozens of poor, cold birds at our feeders this morning, disrupted only by the desperate hunting attempts of one of my cold-hardy cats. That tiny red dot is a cardinal, hehe. We tried to get better pictures, but they are a bit shy...

Here's just a couple of cute pictures...Jack getting a breathing treatment...and Maria. Actually Reading. Voluntarily, and unforced. Wow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Make Plans, and God Laughs

Monday, I was on fire. Fire, I tell you. Everyone was on routine (I hesitate to use the term "schedule"), schoolwork was getting done, chores were getting caught up, it was glorious. I got more done than I have in a long time, and I was feeling motivated to keep it up. Yesterday was co-op day. I planned to drop the big kids off, run errands with Jack during the morning, and head home to do my aforementioned laundry round-up. It was a beautiful morning, temps in the 60's. I was at the height of organization. I had my grocery list all ready, all the kids' co-op stuff gathered up, directions written out to a friend's house I needed to swing by, library books gathered, dinner in the crockpot, I had even checked the weather and had seen that a cold front was moving in and had the kids throw their coats in the car...I was stoked. Jack was still coughing, but seemed in a good mood and had no fever, so I carried on.

Jack and I had a pleasant stop at the library, ran to the friend's house, swung into the Walmart Neighborhood Market, and I was well on my way to getting home in time to make use of Jack's nap. When I was leaving the store, it was incredibly windy (though still warm), so windy I could barely keep the trunk from wacking me in the head or my cart from rolling away as I was unloading groceries. Then, when I went to start the car, I found it completely dead. Dead, dead, dead, and for no apparent reason. We had just had the alternator replaced a few weeks ago. John was off work and at home, so I called him to make the 20-30 minute drive to where I was and jump the battery. Then we would take the car back into the dealership. I fumed briefly at the change in plans, then decided not to let it ruin my mood. I would persevere. I was the paragon of organization, now I would throw flexibility into the mix and come out swinging. I pulled our lunches out of the trunk of the car, pulled Jack up front with me, and we ate lunch, read library books, and sang B-I-N-G-O about 247 times.

An HOUR AND 15 MINUTES later, John calls my cell phone and says he can't find me. He went to the supercenter instead of the neighborhood market. In the meantime, the cold front had moved in and the temperature had dropped like 30 degrees and that warm wind had turned bitter and biting cold. After a couple of hours of charging the battery, taking the car in, waiting around to find out that it was just a LOOSE BATTERY CABLE which my husband found hysterically funny apparently but I did not, especially since the dealership had just worked on the car and must have left the darned thing loose thereby ruining my day, it was too late to make it worth heading back home, so we hung around some more waiting for the kids to finish their classes instead. Jack, who had been coughing like mad all day and now had missed his nap, was now wheezing and exhausted and in a horrible, horrible mood. Finally, around 4:15pm, we were home. The car got unloaded in that horrible cold wind, John gave Jack a breathing treatment, then another when the first didn't help much, while I put away groceries, unpacked lunch bags, sorted through co-op papers, sorted through mail and found out that our water would be turned off in the morning while the city worked on the water line, finished preparing dinner, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Once the kids were in bed, I gave myself a pep talk, told myself I could still catch up the laundry tomorrow if I really busted my hump, and went to bed early so I could start out right again, back on top as the paragon of both organization AND, now, flexibility. Then, at 11:15pm, Jack was up, coughing and wheezing, and so I was on the couch, watching Signing Time and giving him treatments. At 5:30am, he was up again. And Maria was up with another stomachache. I told Maria she could watch something she had recorded, put on a dvd for Jack in my room and tried to sleep a little longer, but without much luck because Jack wanted to lay on top of me. Like, really, right on top of my big pregnant belly, which, by the way, now has very frequent and not very comfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions and definitely does NOT like to be laid on. Around 7am, I was exhausted but gave up and started laundry, caught up on emails and later on, phone calls, though I finally gave up on that because Jack was so miserable and just wanted me to hold him. I did go ahead and cancel Maria's vision therapy for this afternoon. It's supposed to be at 1pm, and I figured Jack didn't need to miss another naptime today, and neither did I. At 9:30, I decided we'd just have to start school as best we could and set the kids to finishing up their morning list. I sat down with my to-do list to re-prioritize my day. I could still use reading and rest time to fold laundry and finish it this evening after the boys were in bed. Everyone was feeding off my lazy tiredness and bad mood (I am not yet the paragon of step at a time), and I needed to get things moving and lift morale. So, I got the laundry rebooted and set Kain to unloading the dishwasher when he came to tell me that there was no water. I'd forgotten...the city was working on the lines, and I'd forgotten to fill any containers with water. So now, here I am, it's got to be like 10am, I haven't had a shower, the laundry is on hold (again), we can't flush toilets, do dishes, and I can't even brush my dang teeth. I'm going to start school anyway, and hope that the water will be back on quickly, and then re-re-prioritize my day. I will salvage what I can. I must. I am a paragon of flexibility, you know. Somehow, some way, the laundry will get done, if I have to go wash it in the creek.

And the week started so well...

Monday, January 28, 2008

tis the season for making changes

January/February is a rough time for homeschoolers. The "our new curriculum is so cool" feeling of the fall is gone, holidays are over, and if you are like me you are bemoaning how far behind you are from where you intended to be in your lesson plans by now. The days are short, the weather is often lousy, and the kids are often sick and therefore homebound (we have been lucky so far this year, but I'm listening to Jack cough from his bed as I type and wonder if our luck has run out). This is the time of year I always question this crazy homeschooling lifestyle that seems like such a *good* idea the rest of the year, and this is the time of year that I question the curriculum decisions that made so much sense back when I made them. And, this is the time of year when new housekeeping plans are made by so many homeschooling moms. It's all over the other blogs, new plans, new systems, new attempts at really getting organized (for good, this time!)...all of these being helped along, no doubt, by the Catholic equivalent of New Year's Day, at least as far as making resolutions go....Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent.

Well, I am no exception. I'm actually pretty content with our curriculum this time around, probably because I changed it all up just before Christmas, haha! I am changing up the housekeeping routine though...if you can call it that. I mean, I have one, on paper, it's all very nice really in theory, but it fails somewhere before the perfect house is often messy,,,in fact, there is pretty much always at least one room that looks like a tornado blew through it. Right now there's two, the play room and the laundry room. Oh, and Maria's room, of course, that's a given. Certain cleaning chores never happen enough. My refrigerator needs to be cleaned, the main bathroom needs a really thorough cleaning and not the 10 minute swipe I usually take at it, and I can't really remember the last time anyone dusted. Housekeeping when you homeschool is *hard*. Our house doesn't stand empty during the day, we are all here, dragging out toys, making food, dragging out toys, tracking the floors, dropping crumbs, dirtying dishes, and dragging out toys all day long. Every day I do a couple of loads of laundry, fix three meals, load the dishwasher twice, and pick up legos and crayons from under my feet 27 times. The feeling of never being done is overwhelming sometimes.

But, the house needs to be dusted, and bathrooms need to be cleaned. So, now that the first trimester fatigue is long gone, I'm going to try using the hour after lunch that the kids take for "reading and rest time" (used to be my nap time) and just work on a list of cleaning chores. I made a list of all the chores and divided them up into smaller lists that should take 30-45 minutes each, and I'm going to try to work on one a day. Any extra time in that hour can be used to continue my Housewide Pre-baby Purge of Junk. I also set aside half an hour before lunch to work on different things that I struggle to find time to accomplish, like planning meals, making grocery lists, making library lists, paying bills, etc. One more thing I have changed is my laundry system. Yes, we have a system. There are five people in this house, soon to be six,,,we need a system. *I* need a system for everything, because my brain cannot keep up with details such as how many clean pairs of underwear does Kain have left in his drawer, or where two tiny clean socks for Jack could be because I *know* there are clean ones in this pile somewhere, or whether John still has clean uniforms in the closet, or if he has clean uniforms but they are stuffed in the bottom of a hamper, or wait, oops, that hamper doesn't have *clean* laundry after all, sorry honey! I've been doing my laundry pretty much daily, as in a load or two a day, but the constant flow is hard to keep up with and it never seems to be folded and where it needs to be. So, now I am going to try to do it all over two days. This will be my first week. Tomorrow, I will have the big kids help me gather all the dirty laundry to the laundry room, and I will trot through there all day long rebooting all the loads and getting it all done. Then Wednesday, I will get the giant heap o' laundry folded, hung up, and put away where it needs to be. This first week will be especially hard. There's not a whole lot of dirty laundry right now, but there is a *massive* pile of clean laundry to be put away....yikes. But just imagine my husband's surprise and joy when he finds *clean uniforms hung up in his closet*! Oh, bliss!

These are a few of my favorite things....

Here's a list of some of our favorite homeschool resources this year...I purposely added a few things that aren't "textbooky". You don't homeschool? Check it out anyway! This list is mostly fun stuff anyone could use.

Math U See-- This is our first time using this program, and we've only been using it for a couple of months, but I find it a vast improvement over Saxon. Saxon is wonderful and very, very thorough, but it is very time consuming. It would take me all morning just to do Saxon with Maria and Kain. Math U See is much more homeschool friendly, especially with older children. I spend about 15 minutes or so once a week watching the new lesson with each child on the dvd and making sure they understand the new concept. Then I spend a few minutes a day checking their worksheets as they work on their own. They move at their own pace through the lessons, and each new lesson takes as little as three days or as much as a week or longer. Two thoughts though...Math U See has a different sequence than most math programs. The Gamma book that Maria is using, for example, is pretty much all multiplication, and you don't do any division or decimals or anything like that until future books. Because Maria was still learning multiplication in Saxon when we switched though, I decided to start with Gamma, which has put us about a book and a half behind where I would have liked her to be for her grade. However, math is one of her stronger subjects and she will catch up quickly. Right now she is easily completing a new lesson in three school days. Second thought, Math U See has adequate review of concepts built in, but there isn't enough fact review. I have ordered Calculadder for Maria to start using. It only takes a few minutes a day and has been highly recommended to supplement Math U See for building speed with math facts.

Phonetic Zoo- Finally, I think we have found a spelling program that Maria will actually *learn* from. It's expensive, and if your child is learning spelling well from $15 workbooks it probably wouldn't be worth the investment. But Maria, who has visual learning problems, just was not learning spelling from workbooks. Not at all. Her spelling is 2-3 grade levels behind now. Phonetic Zoo is completely auditory and they work at their own pace through it. Each lesson teaches a specific spelling "jingle", and they are to work through the list until they score 100% twice, earning an animal collector card that illustrates the new spelling rule in the process. It is highly recommended for kids with dyslexia and other visual learning issues. We have only been using it for a few weeks, but I can already see *much* higher retention. As a big bonus, Maria actually *enjoys* the program and works through it without complaint. One caveat, it is not meant for younger kids. They need to be old enough to operate a cd player easily on their own, able to write quickly, etc. It is intended for third grade and up. Although Kain seems to pick up on spelling far more easily than Maria, I will use this program with him since I already invested in it. He will start it when he finishes the Explode the Code series.

Handwriting Without Tears- I started Maria with this program for cursive in the 3rd grade. We had tried a couple of other series and she found the flowery, complicated script too frustrating. This series has a very simplified script and short lessons with an emphasis on writing a few letters very well instead of laboring through a long lesson. They also have a printing series though. When Kain entered the picture, it proved a lifesaver. He has motor skill issues and writing is very difficult. The short lessons have been important for him. Plus, this workbook is the only one I've seen that is set up in such a way that the lessons use a correct model from the book for each and every letter written by the student. I'm going to try to explain this and hope it makes sense. In other texts, a student may be told to write a line of letter "m's", and there will be an example of this "m" at the beginning of the line. Once the child has written their first "m", they are looking at their own previous "m" as an example for writing the next letter. As a result, I found that with each letter *their* "m's" got progressively messy. With HWT, they are looking at the letter in the book each time they write a new letter.


Fun Stuff!

Beethoven's Wig- This is a series of cd's. I think they just came out with the third. They are so fun and such an easy way to become familiar with classical music. The lyrics are truly funny and tolerable even on the 42nd listen through in the car. Warning, you will never be able to listen to these pieces again without the lyrics coming out of your mouth.

Signing Time- These dvd's are a favorite with everyone in the house. Even John and I have picked up on a fair amount of sign language from watching these with the kids. They are well done and not hokey or irritating the way some kids dvd's can be. Jack especially loves the show and watches it *every day*. Cheapskate's note- our local PBS station airs the show on Sunday evenings. We Tivo it and keep his favorites.

Bill Nye- Remember him? The kids love Bill Nye. Even Jack will often sit through these shows. On a busy week, this passes for science around here. Again, we record him on the Tivo. Tivo is wonderful for homeschoolers!

Board games- Fun, fun, fun learning. The kids never see it coming. We love Made for Trade, a game in which you barter for goods a la colonial American style, and Scrambled States of America for geography and state capitals. Next I'm wanting to try 10 Days In Africa, which is actually a series of games about different continents.

Puzzles- Jack has plenty, of course, but these are great for big kids too. Here's a favorite of ours we did a couple of years ago and I plan to break it out again soon, called the Global Puzzle. Warning, this is *hard*! I had to help through the whole thing, and I mean down on the floor, atlases open, working for hours help. But we loved it!

Music Masters- This is a series of cd's worth having for actual music appreciation. The selections include biographical information and snipets of certain pieces by that artist, and then at the end the complete versions of those pieces. Very painless music lessons, perfect for car use.

Ok, I'm done, though I know there are other things I will think of. Feel free to share your own finds!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Lent is only 10 days away, people.

Seeing as how this just occured to me, and with great shock, the other day, I thought I should pass it on.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

a little eerie

The other day we went to visit my grandmother. When we got home and I was dressing Jack in pajamas, I asked him if he had fun visiting Grandmom. He said, "She cries." Puzzled, I said, "Grandmom cries? Why does Grandmom cry?" And he said, "Because she doesn't have a Grandpa."

My grandfather died 3 years ago when Jack was just 3 months old. He doesn't have any memory of him, or of course even know that he existed, really, we've never talked to him about my grandfather. The only time I can think of that I've even mentioned him was that day at her apartment...he had picked up a baseball cap that my grandfather used to wear every day. Jack put it on his head and I told him that was my Grandaddy's hat.

He has he ever seen my grandmother cry either. But she does. She cries often, and has struggled with depression ever since his death.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

peanut update- week 23

It's been a while since I've posted any pregnancy news...that's because there is nothing to report, really! Everything is going well and my midwife visits have been blessedly uneventful. I'm looking big and prego, and the baby is moving often though no one has felt this from the outside yet. It's a good time to be energy level is good (most of the time), and though I'm already starting to have some aches and pains, I can still do what I need to do without feeling like my uterus is going to fall onto the floor at any moment like it does at there at the end. I've had my risk assessment from the obstetrician and we are all cleared for the birthing center, barring any future complications of course.

Most importantly for me, this baby suddenly feels very real to me. From the beginning, this coming baby has felt very kind of abstract. It's hard to explain. It's kind of been like, even when we started hearing the heartbeat, or I started feeling the baby move, when we talked about the baby it felt like we were talking about some hypothetical baby, not a real baby that was actually already here and slated for arrival. We have always just kind of left our family planning in God's hands thus far, so once Jack was about 6 months old and my fertility returned I knew we could hypothetically conceive a baby at any time. We would even talk about doing this or that "when we have another one". That's kind of how it has still felt up until now. I don't know what has changed, really...maybe feeling the baby move more often...or maybe it's starting to get a feel for its temperament, like the way it sometimes stops moving when I sing and then start up again when I stop, or the way it wakes me up with kicks early in the morning...or maybe it's just that my due date is now looming so much closer now that the holidays have passed...but now the baby seems very real, and very sweet to me. I can't wait to meet him or her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The library book returneth

Maria is least partly, she still has to clean her room. We went to the library and John took the kids to the children's room while I paid for the missing book so as to make check out time, which is always nutso with three kids and all their stuff, go more smoothly. Once I was in the children's room I decided on a whim to check the shelves and make sure the book wasn't there. Lo and behold, it was. Not exactly where it was supposed to be, but very close, it wasn't hard to find or anything because if it was I wouldn't have found it...I really didn't expect it to be there. So, I went back out to the front desk and the apologized and gave me my check back. We used the money to go out for Chinese food instead.

why Maria is Grounded For Life

Maria's room is a pit. I would post a picture to embarass her if I wasn't so embarassed myself. And we are missing a library book, one that has been missing for months, has been renewed the maximum amount of times so as to give optimum time for it to return from whatever hole it has hidden itself in, and still it has not turned up. In the meantime, I have cleaned all the rooms it could possibly be in, sorted through all of our bookshelves, dug through both cars, and still it has not turned up. The only room that hasn't been cleaned since, oh, October or so, is Maria's room. Back in October, *I* cleaned her room. She went to visit my parents for the weekend, and I went into her room with three large black trashbags, cleaned it myself, and threatened her with early death if she let it get that way again.'s that way again. And, well, I'm not really allowed to kill the children, even when they trash their rooms to the point of being considered a geniune health hazard. So, this morning, when the library officially billed me $15 for the book, I went into her room myself and dug through piles, crawled around on my considerable belly to dig under her furniture, pawed through her closet and drawers and nightstand, and got a first hand look at just how disgusting her room really is, I pronounced her Grounded For Life from the TV, the computer, and any activities we don't have prior committments to attend. Ok, so it's not for life, it's until her room is clean, which may mean the same thing at this rate. Oh...and the library book? It still hasn't turned up.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Meme That is Everywhere lately

I've held off on answering it, because it's a kind of boring, generic meme for the most part, but it's easy and requires no thought, and I'm killing the last 20 minutes of reading and rest time before I go upstairs to work on dejunking my bedroom as part of my mission to completely dejunk and finish painting my entire house before the baby is born. In 17 weeks. While homeschooling. Ambitious, no?

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE ? Yes. I was named after Miss Melanie in Gone With the Wind, my mom's favorite book ever. It could be worse. I could have been Scarlett.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Oh my. I'm pregnant. I teared up this morning while doing the aforementioned bedroom dejunking. I was listening to our local Catholic radio station and they had one of those corny feel good stories, kind of like those "Chicken Soup for the Soul" things? They are always way corny and always make me tear up. Lame.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No. I type whenever possible, and print when it's not. My handwriting is passable enough I guess,,,just awkward.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? This is embarrassing, but I love old school Oscar Mayer bologna and cheese sandwiches. But, bologna is kind of gross, so I never buy it. Hardly

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Oh yes.


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Have we met?

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No. Why on earth would anyone want to know such a thing?

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Heck no. And I think those that do are mentally ill. There can be no other possible explanation for hurling yourself headfirst off a bridge with a giant rubberband tied to your ankles.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Cheerios with banana cut up on it. Seriously.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No, but I rarely wear shoes with laces.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? In theory. In daily practice, not so much.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Pralines and cream. But I'm not picky. It's all good.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Whether they seem friendly or not. I have an instant dislike for people that seem snotty, which isn't always fair, because maybe they are just having a bad day, you know?

15. RED OR PINK? Shoot, I don't know. I'm not overly thrilled with either! Pink, I guess.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? My lack of aforementioned strength in the day to day.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Hmm...I'm pretty much in touch with anyone I want to be in touch with, though I wish I heard from certain friends more often than I do. I guess I'd say I miss my grandfather, but I plan to see him again someday.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Grubby gray sweatpants that fit way too snugly on my pregnant self to be remotely suitable for wearing outside the house but are comfortable for sitting on the floor digging through drawers of junk. No shoes.

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A burrito. No, not for lunch. Just for a snack a few minutes ago. A one hour post lunch snack. I'm *starving* all the time now. But I only gained one pound this past month, even with all the holiday eating. It's nice to be one of those people that can actually eat and not gain a ton of weight. For a change.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Blessed silence, mostly, since it's reading and rest time. The occasional plink of legos from the playroom where Kain is taking his rest time. The occasional sounds of Jack talking to himself from the crib where he is apparently not going to nap today.

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Oy. I hate the whole color thing. What am I, six years old? It depends on what I'm doing with it! I like sage-y greens, I guess, if I have to pick something.

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? My babies. Coffee. Lilacs. Vanilla. Honeysuckle.


24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I don't watch sports.

25. HAIR COLOR? light brown.

26. EYE COLOR? Blue.

27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No. I do have glasses that I really just need for distances like in a classroom situation. I had contacts once, but I didn't like them at all.

28. FAVORITE FOOD? This is like the favorite color thing. Who can pick one favorite food? Pad Thai. A good steak. Anything Italian. Anything cooked by someone other than me. When I'm pregnant, anything I can find, apparently.

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. I hate scary movies.

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Veggie Tales- Jonah. With the kids, of course. John and I hardly ever watch Veggie Tales by ourselves.


32. SUMMER OR WINTER? Neither. I hate temperature extremes. I like spring the best, and fall a very close second.

33. HUGS OR KISSES? Another dumb question. Hugs, I guess. There's very few people I would want to be kissed by.

34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Again, one dessert? (sigh)... Cheesecake. And pie, I love pie. Any kind of pie is awesome. Pecan is awesome.

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Three to Get Married, by Fulton Sheen. Awesome. I'm saying 'awesome' a lot, aren't I? Sorry about that.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don't have one.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Babies, when they start to do that cooing thing? And then you talk back, and they hold Perfectly. Still. With their eyes big and wide, listening to your voice so intently. And then when you stop talking they coo at you to get you to talk to them again. Magic. Definitely better than 'awesome'.

39. BEATLES OR ROLLING STONES? Beatles, no question.


41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? No, not really. heehee. I'm a little good at lots of things, but not really specially talented at anything. I do make a mean pecan pie.

42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Northern Virginia

Ok, now reading and rest time is over and I'm going back upstairs to continue my purging. If you are also on the computer when you should be doing housework, consider yourself tagged.

That's right ya'll....I've got the total package.

You Are Marcia Brady

Confident yet kind. Popular yet down to earth. You're a total dream girl.
You've got the total package - no wonder everyone's a little jealous of you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And later that day....

The kids were absolutely nuts at the midwife's office. Yikes. After calling a halt to the constant "I want to weigh myself one more time" on the scale, I lay down on the exam table to be prodded and measured and all that good stuff. Jack started screaming because he wanted to get back on the scale and "make the rumbas (numbers) go", and at the same time Kain was trying to sneak back on the scale and Maria was "helping" me by wrestling him away from it. The whole time I'm kind of trapped under the midwife's hands and unable to do a thing except fume with embarrassment when my usual sarcasm came to the rescue..."Golly," I said in a chipper voice as she was listening to the heartbeat, "I hope it's twins!"

A lazy weekday morning....

This morning, at 9:30, I am still in my pajamas. I slept in a bit and woke up to hear Maria and Kain up birdwatching from the living room window...we made pine cone bird feeders yesterday and had quite a turnout this morning. Now, after breakfast, they are outside with a hammer and screwdriver, determined to open what they are convinced is a geode. I've told them it is not, but what do I know? They are at least now dressed. I forced them to do so after telling them that the neighbors were quite likely to call child protective services on those crazy homeschoolers if they were not only outside hacking at rocks instead of doing math, but hacking at rocks in their *pajamas*. Jack, also dressed, is in the playroom working hard with his favorite alphabet puzzle and listening to Raffi. I am finishing some leftover lasagna I heated up for breakfast. Gross? Hey, I'm pregnant, and I wake up hungry now!

Now I have to run. The lazy morning is over. I have a midwife appointment at 11am, and we need to leave,,,oh, in about 20 minutes. And I'm still in my pajamas and have lasagna breath.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

catholic pick-up lines

Found on a yahoo homeschooling group....

Top Ten Conservative Catholic Pickup Lines

10. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?

9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a
dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced
HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

8. Sorry, but I couldn't help notice how cute you look in that
ankle-length, shapeless, plaid jumper.

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary
Cenacle like this?

6. You don't like the culture of death either? Wow! We have so much
in common!

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic
bookstore downtown.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font
at the same time?

1. Confess here often?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dear Doctor,

I know it is cold and flu season, and I know your office is very busy right now, but could you please call me back with the results of my daughter's x-ray? Because when your child having bad belly pain for the third day in a row, and even though you *know* it is probably nothing, but you also *know* all the things it could be, your entire day comes to a screeching halt because all you can do is nervously start and not finish 80 different things while waiting for the phone to ring. And the longer you wait, the more convinced you become that Something Is Really Wrong This Time. And even though you know that appendicitis, if she should indeed have that, is a very treatable disease and a very routine surgery, nothing is routine when it is Your Very Own Child, and your mind keeps drifting to a little 10yo Latino boy you had as a patient a few years ago when you had a Real Job, and how that 10yo little boy was misdiagnosed with a stomach virus two days in a row until he was in the ER for the third time,this time vomiting stool because his appendix finally burst and he became septic, went into organ failure, and ended up in the children's hospital on ECMO for a very long time. And these are really bad places for your brain to go to. So please call and tell me she's just full of poo or something. Ok? Pretty please?

***Update---the doctor's office called around 4pm and told me that she was definitely full o' poo. We are dosing her up with miralax every couple of hours, something that has her quite miserable, but we're glad it's something easily fixed.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some pictures...January nature walk

These are all out of order and I'm too lazy to sort them out. Generally we start our walks going down a leg of trail that winds through the woods, over a cool limestone trail that used to be the bottom of a sea bed, and the kids sketch their trees and watch birds and that kind of thing. Then we go down another leg that heads up to a small waterfall. This waterfall is run off from a dam above the trail. There's benches near the top where we sit and have a snack before heading back through to the car.

Here's the part where Jack likes to give us all mini strokes by hanging off the edge of the bridge. Over and over again.

This is the waterfall...I have some gorgeous pictures of Maria from a few years ago on the rocks in front of the fall, but now the area around the falls is fenced off to keep hikers away...apparently parts of the area were being damaged.

The creek at the bottom of the falls.

The kids in front of the falls,,,there's that unscenic fence. Jack was filthy by this time.

Maria's tree...she picked a pawpaw. We will sketch and photograph it each month to observe the changes through the seasons.

Kain's tree...a dogwood. I encourage them to pick fruiting trees...more changes to see. Can't tell much from photos unfortunately...just looks like a bunch of sticks this time of year!

Kain sketching his tree.

Jack with his favorite past time, throwing rocks in the creek. I think he could do this for hours.

Limestone bluffs along the trail...very cool!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

and a Jack funny too

When Maria's vision therapist saw the steristrips on Jack's forehead yesterday....

"Jack, what happened to your head?"

Jack, with a confused look- "It's right here!", patting the top of his head.

catechism slips

The kids have to memorize catechism questions and answers as part of our religion curriculum.

A funny from today from Maria....

Q- Why did God make us?

A- "God made us to show forth his goodness and to share with us his everhapping lastiness in Heaven."

Q- Which are the chief creatures of God?

A- "The chief creatures of God are angels and men." (muttered under her breath, 'and women')

I've explained to her the whole, "when they say 'men' they mean mankind, all of men and women", but she's not buying it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

This week, and last....

Yesterday was our first day back on school schedule. I'm so, so glad. We needed to get back into a routine, and it was a very nice day. We started the day out with a nature walk at a nearby trail. John was off, and it was a really nice morning, unusually warm too. The kids each adopted a "tree for the year", and we did lots of exploring. I have some great pictures,,,,once my camera turns up again...

Then we spent the afternoon doing whatever school work we could squeeze in,,,math, grammar, cursive, religion, poetry, and Latin for Maria, and Math, reading, printing, religion, and poetry for Kain.

This morning we are off to a late start. We got some bad storms last night with tornado warnings....all the kids were scared and up with us until 10 or so, and at one point we were all in the school room with no power, candles lit, city tornado sirens wailing, ready to jump into the walk-in closet,,then Kain returned to my room a few hours later with the next line of storms hit. We feel blessed, it was a close one, with two unconfirmed tornado sightings just maybe a mile to the north and east of us, the system went on to cause two deaths that I know of up in Missouri. The yard is littered with dozens of branches, but no other damage to report. We've had a few near misses like this over the years, but I never really get used to it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the first six days of Christmas....

I promise I have a couple of more thoughtful posts brewing that consist of more than just pictures of my kids....but my plate is very full right now until Christmas season is behind us, so please indulge me...besides, we are doing so many cool things!

First we thought we'd start the season off with a nice head injury. No one really knows how Jack got this. He and Kain were playing in a room together, literally for just a minute as I had just gone to the laundry room to reboot things in there, and I came back to find Jack on the floor beside Kain's bed, bleeding like mad. Kain says he didn't see it happen but that Jack wasn't on the bed. I think he must have fallen against the corner of the bedframe. He probably should have had stitches. It was a pretty good gash. But I couldn't bear the thought of taking him to the ER and having him held down for all that trauma, so I decided to chance a scar. At least it will be pretty well covered with hair. Well, until his hairline starts to go the way of his daddy's of course. John was at work, so Maria helped me fix it up with superglue and steristrips (yeah, really. what do you think they use in the ER? :)). This was the first bandage, the bleeding did finally stop and it looks nice and clean now.

For the Feast of the Holy Innocents, we read a Medieval legend called "The Dough and the Child" in the book, "Hark! A Christmas Sampler". In this legend, the baby Jesus is hidden when Herod's soldiers come to the door in a bowl of bread dough. So...we made bread!

It was very yummy while it lasted. It didn't slice well though, these braided loaves, but just kind of came apart in chunks.

We also read "Country Angel Christmas" by Tomie de Paola and tried to make glitter stars on wax paper as per this unit study, but they wouldn't turn out. The glue kept kind of shrinking away on the wax paper and the star shapes wouldn't stay. We eventually gave up, but if anyone has a solution... This book, though, is just *precious*, and a really sweet way to tie the whole St. Nicholas/Santa Claus thing together. It doesn't tell the story of St. Nicholas, but Santa Claus is called St. Nicholas throughout the book. It's also short...some of the books in this study have been much longer. Since Kain is Adderall free this week (long story), I was glad for a short one.

And here's a couple of New Year's Eve images from last night. John was off...a rarity, he's *always* worked New Year's. So after the boys were in bed we broke out some goodies and sparkling juice and watched that ole ball drop. I barely made it. By 11:30 I was falling over tired. But make it I did, and at midnight (which was actually an hour *after* the NYC ball dropped since we are on central time), we stepped out into the below freezing weather to annoy the neighbors with horns and confetti for a few minutes before finally going to bed.

Today is a holy day, the Solemnity of the Blessed Mother, so I am off to dress kids for mass. Merry Christmas! It ain't over yet people!