Sunday, February 24, 2008

political humor...sort of

This Obama website made us laugh until it hurt. Slowbama was our favorite,,,,wait for it!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Overheard today, Kain promising Maria something...

Kain- I won't do it again, I pinky swear!

Maria- Do you even know what pinky swear means?

Kain- Yes! It means if you do break your promise, you have to cut off your own pinky finger.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From Kain, to Maria

Last night, Kain drew the slip of paper from the Lent sacrifice jar that directed him to write a letter to Maria telling her five things he liked about her. Here's what he dictated to me, all his own words....I just thought it was cute.
Dear Maria,
I love you because you let me hold the guinea pigs sometimes. And I love you because you play with me sometimes. And I love you becaues we play house with the guinea pigs. I love you because we both play with Jack sometimes.

(At this point he stalled out of ideas. I suggested he think of something he liked about Maria as a person instead of just things that she does for him.)

I like you because you are calm and never get in trouble, and I hope you teach me to be like that someday.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day was the first glitch in my homeschooling armor. We started homeschooling over Christmas break 5 years ago. Maria's former first grade teacher was actually the one who brought it up that December on her last day of school. She invited us to come back for Valentine's Day so Maria could exchange valentines with the other kids. It was very nice of her to offer, but I knew we wouldn't take her up on it. It would have been very awkward to show up back at the school after being gone for a couple of months...especially since the principal was being rather ugly about the whole homeschooling thing. I did wonder what we would do about Valentine's Day though. Every Valentine's Day I can remember as a child was about the big valentine exchange at school. What did homeschoolers do?

Silly me. Two months later, we had become involved in two homeschooling groups, and we attended a party and exchanged valentines with our new friends. Now it's 5 years later, and we've attended a party every year. But even if we didn't, it wouldn't be that big of a deal now. Our traditions are redefined. When Maria was in school, and when I was in school, so many of our memories and traditions revolved around school activities. There's nothing wrong with that. The same can be said about our church activities. They are parts of the community, parts of our socialization. But when we removed ourselves from the schools, we formed our own traditions, like heart shaped pancake breakfasts, making valentines to send to grandparents, and a read aloud about St. Valentine. We still attend a party, we still exchange valentines with friends, but this is just a part of our celebration. If we couldn't attend the party (which almost happened this year with all the sickness going around), the kids would be disappointed, but we would still celebrate and still have fun.

There was a snarky comment on a long ago post from Danielle Bean's blog, I think it was during Advent,,,something to the effect that too many Catholic homeschoolers spend too much time and energy making liturgical year plans and how artificial and weird this was. I took this comment seriously at the time. I do tend to overdo things. Just ask anyone. Was this becoming forced and weird? I don't think so. First of all, "real schools" have lots of little traditions every year too...picnics and literacy nights and pajama days and all those fun little things that break up the school year and give the kids something to look forward to. This is our school and it's a Catholic one, so it is valid to use the liturgical season in this way. Second, celebrating the liturgical year has a place in every Catholic home. If my kids were in school all day, we would still do some of these activities, but it would be far less than we do now. Third, this is part of our school day. We often take the afternoon off from our regular schoolwork to do seasonal activites. These activities ebb and flow in our own homeschool too. This year we have done much more than most previous years. But there have been months even in this year in which we have done very little for quite a while. We did lots of activities during Advent and Christmas, for example, but we haven't really celebrated anything else since then. I tend to focus on the major seasons...Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter, and fill in with other feast days as we have time and I have energy. This coming year, with a new baby, I know things will be simplified quite a bit.

Anyway, cootie update...Jack fell sick last night with diarrhea and a 103 degree fever, then vomiting this morning. I have felt pretty badly all day. No gastro symptoms, just falling over tired all day long. Maria is the last one standing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're hit! We're hit!

Sunday night, John came home very late from work and said that everyone in the hospital has had this stomach virus that's going around. Everyone except him. Monday morning that was rectified. He spent most of Monday in bed running a fever, when he wasn't in the bathroom of course.

Tuesday, he already felt much better. Everyone else seemed fine, and so although this stuff seems very contagious I had hopes that we were done. Tuesday evening though, Kain started complaining of a mild stomach ache right before dinner. He still wanted to eat though and said he felt better afterwards. By bedtime, he had changed his mind, and soon after going to bed, the vomiting started. The fun part was that, for some unknown reason, Kain refuses to throw up into a bowl. He would simply roll over and puke off the side of the bed. After the third episode of this, John and I brought him upstairs with us so at least Jack could sleep. It was a rough night. He continued to throw up regularly, sleeping very fitfully in between episodes, moaning and writhing in his sleep. Each time we would wake up and push the bowl at him, but he still wouldn't use it and still puked on the floor. WHY??? Well, we don't know, and neither does he apparently, he just would NOT use the bowl, even though I was telling him we were just about out of clean bedding and towels and he would soon be sleeping in the bathtub. Kain still just doesn't seem to "get" certain things a child his age should understand, and this was one of them. Luckily, around 2am he finally emptied himself of spaghetti and moved on to mere dry heaving for the rest of the night. He was crying and begging me for water, but I wouldn't let him have any....mean Nurse Aunt Mel. At some point in the early morning hours, it must have been around 4 or 5am, he finally fell asleep for a while. This morning, he woke up saying he felt better and begged for water. Much to his irritation, I would only let him have a few sips at a time for the first couple of hours. I told him it was a consequence for refusing to use the bowl. If I was going to have to scrub whatever came up out of the couch, then we were moving slowly. At lunchtime, he wanted a hot dog. He got jello and apple juice instead. We've had no more vomiting though, just a bit of diarrhea, and he's starving, which is a good sign. Now he's taking a forced nap, but I told him he could try some actual food when he wakes up.

Now we are taking dibs on who's next to fall. I've felt a bit queasy, but I have felt that way off and on all month, so it's hard to tell if I'm coming down with the bug or just being my pregnant self. Or, maybe it's from rinsing and washing yucky towels, rags, sheets, blankets, and pillows all morning and scrubbing vomit out off the side of the mattress and baseboards that we missed last night in the dim lighting. Hard to tell.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Well, I managed to pull Lent together after all....even though it really snuck up on me this year. Today we made our usual crown of thorns, as pictured above. It's a bit on the small side this year though. Instead of making the batch of salt dough, I decided to try some bread dough. I'd read about doing it this way, and since I'd procrastinated doing the salt dough until it was too late for the crown to dry, I gave it a shot. It turned out fine, but the batch was too small! It looks a bit like a porcupine up there.

We are trying something different this year though. I made a sacrifice jar for each of the big kids. There are slips of paper in each, one for each day of Lent. Each night they will pick their sacrifice for the following day. If they do their sacrifice, they will get to pull a thorn out of the crown. Here's the list I came up with. Excuse the doubled numbers...some were not appropriate for both kids and had to be tweaked a little.
1. Spend 20 minutes playing with Jack, doing whatever he wants to do.
2. Say 3 Our Father’s during reading and rest time for an end to abortion.
3. Say 3 Hail Mary’s and 3 Glory Be’s during reading and rest time for Father Mike.
4. Give up TV for today…without complaining.
5. Give up TV and computer games for today…without complaining.
6. Give up computer for today…without complaining.
7. Do your chores extra well and without having to be asked more than once.
8. Do your school work very neatly and with your best effort.
9. Find Aunt Mel or Uncle John when they are working and ask if you can help.
9. Find Mom or Dad when they are working and ask if you can help.
10. Pick some toys you don’t use anymore and clean them up nicely to donate to Helping Hands.
11. Find a mess someone else has left out and clean it up for them. See if you can do it secretly and tell no one what you did.
12. Donate some money for the food drive. If you don’t have any money, ask for a couple of extra chores you can do today to earn some. Then ask to go to the store to buy the food yourself.
13. Practice right away obedience today.
14. Put others first today. Let someone else pick what to watch, what to play, where to sit in the car, etc.
15. Make a card and mail it to Grandmom.
16. Say 5 Our Fathers while mediating on a crucifix and Jesus’ 5 wounds. Offer your prayers for the conversion of sinners.
17. Look for a chore that needs to be done…maybe the recycling needs to be taken out, or the entertainment center needs a good dusting, or the car has some things in it that need to be taken in, or whatever you can see that needs to be done. Do it secretly.
18. Take a walk outside and pick up a walmart sack of trash.
19. Give up seconds on something you really like to eat today. Offer it up for children in the world that will go to bed hungry tonight.
20. Only drink water between meals today.
21. Can you go a whole day without saying any unkind words and without an unkind tone to your voice? Try it and see how hard it is!
22. Can you go a whole day without yelling at anyone?
23. Be a servant today. Be the first one to volunteer to help out when help is needed. Look for small ways that you can be helpful to others.
24. Do a chore of Kain’s today.
24. Do a chore of Maria’s today.
25. Say a decade of the rosary for those that will be baptized as new Catholics at the Easter Vigil mass.
26. Say a decade for the intentions of Pope Benedict.
27. Make a small food sacrifice today, like eating toast without jelly, your eggs without salt, or your veggies without ranch dressing. Offer it for the holy souls in purgatory waiting to get into Heaven.
28. Write 5 things you like about Kain. Leave it on his pillow for him to find.
28. Have someone help you write 5 things you like about Maria. Leave it on her pillow for her to find.
29. Write 5 things you are thankful for and share them with everyone at dinner tonight.
30. Pick a saint story and read it.
30. Pick a saint story and have someone read it to you.
31. Read from the Bible for 15 minutes.
31. Pick a Bible story and have someone read it to you today.
32. Let Kain play with something of yours that he really likes but you don’t usually let him play with.
32. Let Jack play with something of yours that he really likes but you don’t usually let him play with.
33. Play with Kain today, and let him pick what to do.
33. Read a book to Jack today. Let him pick the book.
34. Ask Mom to pick a day to put on the calendar to take you to adoration, just the two of you.
35. Be the electricity police today. Keep close watch around the house for lights and other electricity not being used and turn it off. If you do a good job, Mom will put $3 saved in the poor jar.

I'm still 5 ideas short...any contributions appreciated!

Also, there's a new altar decoration I shamelessly stole from Dawn, who is always a font of great ideas. If you look again at the picture above, you'll see a small bowl of dirt on the left. It's mixed with ashes from last year's palm branches. There's a small votive in the middle of the bowl. Most days the bowl will stay unlit during prayer time, except on Sundays, a mini "feast" in the middle of Lent, when we will light the candle. On Palm Sunday, we will plant some grass seed in the dirt and start watering it, hoping for a bowl of greenery on Easter Sunday in which to set our Easter candle.

Other Lent plans include adding the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to our day, along with the scripture readings our parish provided, and the usual giving up of desserts and such. We will also try to start making it again to our parish's daily mass It's only available on Thursdays, surely we can do that much! Uh oh...tomorrow's Thursday...see, I almost forgot already!

I'm pleased with our plans. They have only jelled together in the last couple of days. We have mix of familiar traditions and some new things to try. Prayers for everyone for a fruitful Lenten season!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Something to stew on.... we go into Lent. This is part of a post from Starry Sky Ranch. The rest of it is worth reading if you can spare a few minutes.

"My point is you have to be a good steward of your time. The more kids you have, the more health issues you have, the less wiggle room you have. I live by a few slogans. One is that there is always enough time to do God's will. There is rarely enough time to also do your own agenda. I have found God to be economical. He always provides for our needs. Not always so with our 'druthers. When pressed for time and or when energy is depleting I have had to step back and ask again, what of this is God's will and what is my own? Clearly SOMEthing is my agenda because while God does not promise to make me supermom He does promise me I can carry my yoke with His help. That does not mean I can carry ANY yoke I choose, only the one He has designed for me. This is where I run into trouble."

This quote speaks to a point I have slowly been reaching over the years as our family has grown. I started homeschooling with one child, and we kept very busy. There is a staggering number of activities available for homeschoolers in this area. You could literally go somewhere and do something wonderful every day of the week.

The activities aren't less wonderful now than they were then. I just have less time to do the things that are more important. The hard thing for me has been to distinguish what is more important. More important is often less fun. Instead of joining every group and class and field trip, I have to forgo some of these to make sure there is time to keep up with math, keep up with laundry, and keep up with the clutter. I need to make sure I'm home at least most days for Jack's naptime and to put a decent meal on the table for dinner. This has been a matter of self-discipline for me...and it continues to be. I guess we all have our issues. Many say they struggle with spending too much time on the computer. I have had days where I have been caught up in that more than I should be, usually in an effort to procrastinate backed-up housework, but generally it's not been a huge problem for me. I have a limited tolerance for sitting at the computer anyway,,,it just starts to make my head spin after a while. I do have my own weaknesses though...and the draw of those outside of the house activities is a big one. With the addition of a third child, I have finally reached a point where running myself ragged to do too many activities is officially not worth it anymore, even to me. It is now truly so much more work to try to play catch up when everything falls apart around here that I am far less tempted to leave home to begin with. Now I am faced with having a newborn in 3 months time, and I know I will be more and more drawn toward home, and wondering how I will balance this with what the older children need.

Here's another gem from the above blog...

"Best advice there - ALWAYS get up before the children. Whatever else happens do not wait until you hear Cheerios hitting bowls or Barney on the tv. The day is already in trouble at that point."

This is very true in our house. I used to be really good about getting up early. It wasn't difficult, really, I tend to do better in the mornings anyway and I'm pretty beat by 9 o'clock or so at night. But during the first trimester with this pregnancy, I started sleeping later, comparatively, waking up whenever the first child woke up, usually around 7:30 instead of my previous 6am. Then when my energy picked up again, I started staying up later and still sleeping later. It's tempting because the peace and quiet are so welcome after everyone is in bed, and when John is off of work he tends to stay up late too. But it's not been a good thing. When I was getting up early, I would make some coffee and get online, answer emails and read blogs, just have a nice quiet start to the day,,,then I would be ready at 7 to wake up kids and jump on the day. The morning moves smoothly and everyone gets the things done they need to get done with minimal complaining. When I wake up when they wake up, it is so much harder to get the day started on the right foot. By the time I am ready to start our day, they are sitting in front of the television and I get attitude problems all morning. I'm going to work on correcting that this week.