Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Paul Wall

Here is the beginning of a year long project we just started...The Paul Wall. Or, alternately, The Wall of Paul.I haven't decided which one I like better yet. :)

Pope Benedict declared this year, the 2000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth, to be a special year dedicated to him. There has been discussion on the 4real learning forums of ideas for celebrating this jubilee, including a year's worth of weekly scripture readings. I decided to make a timeline using these readings....

Very humbly done, so excuse that, I've just been throwing it together while the kids have been in VBS this week. We are already getting a late start, the year actually started at the end of June, so I wanted to get this going quickly. Each of the little cards along the timeline has one scripture story about St. Paul's life. The symbol at the top is the Vatican symbol for the Pauline Year. The poster underneath is free for the printing here. And above the first card on the timeline you see our first illustration. Each week we will read the scripture and the kids will take turns illustrating it and posting it above the card. There are cards and there will be pictures along the top and bottom of the timeline, hence all the free wall space at the moment. This is also just half of the timeline. When we are finished, I will add the other half below our poster.

We will also do an art study with this with St. Paul art prints posted on the 4real learning website. I plan to print one a month and put them up them on either side of our poster, 8 altogether. Someone is publishing a Pauline Year lapbook I'm hoping to work on during Easter break, and St. Nick will be bringing this board game on his feast day. Cool, huh? Can't take much credit for it, so much of it came from the 4real learning forums! Thanks ladies!I know it doesn't look like a whole lot yet, but I think it will look great as the year goes by and it fills out a bit.

Tess turns two months old

My little Miss Sunshine,
This time two months ago I was trying to imagine what your face would look like, what your personality would be like, even whether you were a boy or a girl! You were completely unknown. And now we already can't imagine life without you. At two months, you already have learned to use your hands to swing at toys...

You can even manage to suck your fingers, and your favorites are always the two middle ones on your left hand.

Mostly you just light up our days with your almost constant smiles and laughs.

I love you Sunshine!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

quote from my inbox

God is there in these moments of rest and can
give us in a single instant exactly what we
need. Then the rest of the day can take its
course, under the same effort and strain,
perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes,
and you look back over the day and see how
fragmentary everything has been, and how
much you planned that has gone undone, and
all the reasons you have to be embarrassed
and ashamed:
Just take everything exactly as it is, put it
in God's hands and leave it with Him. Then
you will be able to rest in Him - really
rest - and start the next day as a new life.

- Edith Stein

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where, oh where, has Melanie gone.....

Hello out there!
I am still around!
My gallbladder, which started acting ugly during my last trimester with Tess, finally got evicted last week. It was acting up terribly and making me cranky and sick,,,so out it went. I'm recovering, doing pretty well, and hope to be back to posting here as soon as I empty out my inbox.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Girls' day out, and the grocery pinch

Yesterday was my big grocery shopping day. Once a pay period I plan two weeks worth of meals and make a big shopping trip. Maria is my shopping buddy. It's a chance for some girl time. This time she also had several allowances saved up and wanted to go to Build a Bear, so we decided to make this an official girls' day out and go to Olive Garden for lunch as well. Tess, of course, came along because we travel as a unit. The boys stayed home with Dad. I go to great pains to avoid taking them on the big shopping trip. It's not that they behave horribly in the store or anything,,,but it's a long trip and I have a long list to concentrate on. Plus, logistically, I need the room in the van, and I often have two shopping carts full of food to pull out of the store...the logistics of it all get pretty complicated. I realize this statement will offend some of you more girly people out there, but...I *hate* shopping. I really do. I don't mind shopping online, but I hate real life shopping, I hate the crowds, the lights, the noise, the constant not so subtle push to BUY THIS THING RIGHT HERE, YOU NEED IT!, everything. It's all too overstimulating for me, all of it, whether it's walmart or the mall or whatever. I hate it so much whole years will go by without me setting foot inside a shopping mall. There are a couple of stores I enjoy. I love book stores. I love Hobby Lobby. I love educational supply stores. Other than an occasional stop at one of those places, I avoid any unnecessary shopping trips. If walmart ever develops online shopping, where you can shop online and have the groceries delivered to your door, I am SO THERE. With bells on.

So, anyway, we went to Olive Garden for soup, salad, breadsticks, and gelato. Maria insisted that Tess' carseat sit in the booth next to her and I smiled at the obvious way she would take her out of her seat and then talk loudly to her, looking around to make sure everyone near us was watching her and her new baby sister and appreciating the cuteness of them both. The service was very slow, and by the time we were done I was already ready to go home. What a party pooper, huh? It had also been library day, so we had already been on the run all morning and I had had enough fun. But we carried on to that mecca of consumerism, the shopping mall. This one, thankfully, is an outside mall, allowing you to park outside your store of choice. Maria had $36 to spend, a small fortune to her but to Build A Bear, not so much. She carefully picked a panda to stuff, then chose a High School Musical tshirt, a denim skirt, a pink sequined microphone, and two flowered scrunchies to wrap around the bear's ears. She named her new friend "Sharpay", of High School Musical fame of course. I was proud of her for not trying to talk me into buying more than she had saved up for.

I nursed Tess in the mall parking lot, and then we headed for Aldi. I am on an Aldi experiment. I hadn't been there in a long time because I wasn't convinced that there was much money to be saved compared to Walmart, but given the recent grocery pinch I was trying it again. I'm still unconvinced that it's worth an extra stop. Their bags of chicken breasts are quite a bit cheaper, and their produce prices are good, but the biggest savings are to be had with convenience foods, and I just don't buy much of that stuff. So, I picked up some chicken, some produce, some granola and cereal bars for portable snacks when we are out of the house, some junky food to take to the lake next week...and we headed off to walmart to finish out the list. By the time we were checking out, I was completely depleted. Everything in my body hurt. Even Maria was worn out. Tess was *unbelievably* good. I can't get over how peaceful and happy a temperament this baby has. She'd been dragged all over the place all day long, putting up with late diaper changes and rushed nursings, and she was just happy as a clam at the end of it all, cooing and smiling in her seat.

The grocery the end of it all, I dropped $292 for two weeks worth of groceries, including the nonfood stuff like cat food and all of that. I will need to get milk, yogurt, and butter at Braum's, plus make another run next week for more milk and more produce, so I figure we're running around $340 for two weeks of groceries for 6 people, one of whom doesn't even eat yet. Ouch. There were unusual for the lake, a new broom, a handful of school supplies that were on sale, etc., but honestly, there's always *something* "unusual" to buy for. I have always grocery shopped pretty carefully, but I think the time has come to start making cheaper meals and keeping a price book. We are spending $200 more than this time last year on budget is screaming! But I'm not really sure how to make cheaper meals. It's not like we're buying T-bone steaks and such, you know? I will often buy a roast or something, but we will get a couple of meals out of it, or, for example, I bought a 1 1/2 pound package of round steak, not as cheap as beans and rice, certainly, but I will make two meals out of it, using a pound for stir fry and half a pound for soup. Feeding five people (ok, four really, Jack eats next to nothing) twice on 1 1/2 pounds of meat is pretty danged good, I think! Anyway, feel free to share your grocery pinch stories below....

By the time we got home it was after 7pm. Including the library trip, we had been out of the house since 10:30 that morning. The guys unloaded the groceries while I quickly put them away and tried to ignore the mess in the kitchen. Maria nuked a quick, late dinner for everyone and John and I threw the boys to bed. I settled on the couch with still smiling Tess for a long, long nursing, complete with lots of talking, cooing, and then snuggling to sleep. She sure earned it, God love her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

nursing is fun...

because sometimes you'll be nursing and reading something at the same time, and you'll realize that the baby isn't nursing anymore, and you'll look down to see this smiling up at you...

Don't hate me, but....

I have a baby that sleeps. I mean, really, really sleeps. Last night she fell asleep around 10pm. She's *still* asleep. She slept ALL NIGHT. I had to wake her up at 5am because *I* couldn't stand it anymore...I woke up with rock hard breasts and milk leaking everywhere...I could barely get her to wake up and nurse much at all! She kept falling asleep! And then I put her back down and she's STILL ASLEEP! Wild...

Anyway, don't hate me, because I've had my share of babies that don't sleep, believe me...I had this coming.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, random I am reading The Very Grouchy Ladybug to Tess...see what good parents we are? I expect her to be reading soon....

hehe...I'm kidding, actually I was reading to Jack, Tess was just along for the ride. I'm really not in the "baby genius" crowd. But it occurs to me how cool it is that these little kids of mine will be exposed to so much good literature so early due to homeschooling...Tess will hear me read Sarah, Plain and Tall, and Little House in the Big Woods to Kain this year, hear us drill his phonograms and spelling words, read about thunderstorms and earthworms, and she'll hear me decline Latin vocabulary with Maria, help her write papers on the Gospel of St. Luke, hear us discuss the Hittite Warrior, etc.

I had my 6 week postpartum check-up yesterday. There was a little issue...this is the visit where they want to have THE TALK,,,you know the one where they go, "Ok, so congratulations on that beautiful baby, she's great, now WHAT are you going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again?" I told her we weren't going to do anything. Really. The look she gave me immediately told me how stupid and naive she thought I was. In the past, you see, my cycles have stopped for several months due to breastfeeding, and we seem to have some fertility issues anyway. I mean, we didn't "do anything" after Jack was born and he and Tess are three years apart, know what I mean? And if we felt the need to "do anything" at all, it would be natural family planning of course. But right now...we don't plan to do anything. Yes, yes, I do realize that just because doing NOTHING worked fine for us before doesn't mean I won't become pregnant again sooner than later...and it probably doesn't help delay my fertility by having a 6 week old that sleeps through the night! But we've decided, at this point anyway, that we are comfortable leaving such things in God's hands. I would feel really overwhelmed and vaguely nauseous if I got pregnant with a little "Irish twin", for sure. But I wouldn't be mixing up cyanide kool-aid or anything if I did manage to get pregnant right away, you know?

She assured me that I definitely needed to DO SOMETHING, and told me the best thing to do, since I was breastfeeding and all, would be to use condoms. I didn't respond at all. I know I should have said something, like, "Thanks, we're Catholic and don't use contraception, and really condoms are barely any better than doing NOTHING, aren't they? If we wanted to do SOMETHING, natural family planning would be a far more effective SOMETHING."

Not to mention that I find condoms repulsive, mostly because what an obvious and blatant slap in the face of the marriage covenant, you know? Like, "We interrupt this marriage act and renewal of our sacramental vows before God to get up and physically put a barrier between us that will allow us to blatantly and obviously attempt to remove our God-given creative powers and yet still allow us to get our groove on." I mean, I know all artificial contraception does this, and I guess at least condoms aren't abortifacients like the pill, but they are still a mortal sin, and I find them personally repulsive because they are just so...RIGHT THERE. Anyway...sorry, off on a tangent...some of you might not read this blog to hear about my sexual beliefs and preferences. But, hey, it IS a Catholic blog, says so right in the title up there...

I didn't say anything, because as usual in situations like that I can't think of anything appropriate to say until I'm in the car 20 minutes later, especially with my 3 kids running around the place and Tess desperately trying to nurse after the long car ride out there. My mind was just blank as I fumbled to come up with an appropriate response. So, I preoccupied myself with latching Tess on and she briskly moved on to other topics. Later, I saw she had written on my chart that I had selected condoms as my form of birth control. Grrrr. I should have said SOMETHING!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The 4th, in pictures

Yeah, yeah,,,I know, no diaper post.
Not much posting at all.
I'm having issues finding computer time lately. I was accustomed to getting computer time in the evenings after the kids are in bed, but it turns out Tess wants to be held/nursed for a good two hour stretch during that time. She is so low maintenance and easy going the rest of the day that I can't begrudge her this time. In fact, it's nice to have the time to spend one on one with her. She's not really even cranky during this time, just a bit restless. But until she starts settling earlier, I'm going to have a hard time blogging much. I miss having time to write, and I'm frequently "blogging in my head". And you should see my inbox! But, Tess is only a newborn once...and I wouldn't want to miss even one of these smiles....

In the meantime, I'll post the lazy's our Fourth of July.

The night of the third, John and the kids set off our own fireworks at home...

...while Jack and I watched from the living room window.

We also made our homemade tshirts. This is the third year we've made 4th of July tshirts...I guess that makes it an official tradition.

Don't know what's up with this weird face he's making...

Even Tess got one!

On the 4th, we made our usual flag cake to have for dessert with our cookout.

And went to fireworks with Meme and Papa.

Gratuitous Tess close-up...feel free to pinch the virtual cheeks...

Happy Independence Day!