Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Grandma is AWESOME. I just love her, and I'm watching all of her videos. Somebody needs to sit down with her and write a book. Or they can call me, I'll do it. :) Talk about something relevant to write about.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I have NO IDEA where he learns these things

The other night, Jack came trotting out from his bed for the 247th time.

I swatted his diapered can for the 247th time.

Yes, he still wears a diaper to bed.

Yes, I do occasionally spank.

No, it doesn't work. Obviously, or I wouldn't have been doing it for the 247th time. I'm out of ideas.

So, anyway, I pulled him over and swatted his rear end and he screams, "OW! WHAT THE HELL?!!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten plans

Blessed Ash Wednesday everyone!

I'm so glad Lent is here? Is that weird?
We haven't done a whole lot of liturgical year activities here since Tess has been born, and I'm looking forward to a productive Lent. Here's what's going on this year...

---The picture up above is from last year. My camera is still not fixed. Long story. Anyway, on the altar you can see the sacrifice jars on the left. We had little folded up papers for the kids to pick from each night. Each one had a sacrifice or good deed to be done the following day. Then they could remove a thorn from the crown. This year, though, the kids really missed the jelly bean jars we did a couple of years ago. So, I'm going to have the crown of thorns and the jelly bean jars. Instead of the sacrifice jars, I'm going to let them pick what they want to do off of the list of ideas I usually cut up and put in the jars, or they can come up with their own ideas. For each sacrifice they can pull a thorn from the crown and for each good deed they can put a jelly bean in their jars.

---If you aren't familiar with the jelly bean jars, here's how they work. They try to earn jelly beans to fill up their jars over the 40 days of Lent. After they are in bed on Holy Saturday night, I fill up the rest of the jar with white jelly beans. The white jelly beans represent Christ's grace, which we cannot earn and which fills us up where we fall short. Oh..and then then get to eat the jelly beans. :)

--If you aren't familiar with the crown of thorns...this is a braided salt dough crown with toothpicks pushed into the dough before baking. The idea is that the toothpicks will be gone by Easter Sunday. Then we decorate the crown with flowers and leave it up for the rest of Easter season.

--We will put the pot of dirt on our altar again. That was a hit last year. You can see it in the picture there. It's actually a glass bowl, not a pot, with a votive candle in the middle of it. We burn our palm branches from Palm Sunday of last year and mix the ashes with some dirt in the bowl. We use the candle in it as our prayer candle during Lent. On this coming Palm Sunday, we mix some seeds in the dirt and start watering. By Easter, there should be life! And by the time the Easter season is over there should be lots of growth. Last year we used grass seed because it sprouts and grows quickly, even indoors. It isn't very pretty though. I'd like to use something else this year but I'm not sure what...any ideas? Maybe a lily bulb?

--We are trying a couple of new things this year. First, a custom called "burying the Alleluia". In our Catholic masses, for those that don't know (do other denominations do this? I guess some probably do.) we do not sing the Alleluia at all during Lent. Then at the Easter masses we sing a very jubilant and loud Alleluia. So, at home, there has developed this tradition. It can be done in lots of different ways...basically, you have the word "Alleluia" on a banner or plaque or, like we are doing, individual wooden letters from the craft store that spell out "Alleluia". The you stash your "Alleluia" for Lent. You can actually bury it, hide it, whatever...we will wrap ours on a plain box and leave it on the altar. During Lent, I will sneak into the box and paint and bling up the letters and then put them back in the box. The plan right now is that when I hide the Easter eggs. I will also hide the Alleluia box and let the kids find it and put out the pretty letters inside to display on the altar for the Easter season.

--Oh, one more thing...I read about this on I've always wanted to pray the stations of the cross at home during Lent. It's very difficult for me to go to them at church. John is almost always working on Fridays, and to go by myself to something so solemn with all four kids...yikes. So, I bought this book last year. This year we will do them here. To make it more special, I made a candelabra of sorts. It's nothing fancy at all, but the kids are impressed. It's basically a couple of Styrofoam blocks wrapped in purple tissue paper with seven white taper candles pushed into each block. The website gives some suggestions for fancier ones. Maybe I can make a nicer one for next year. Anyway, you are supposed to light all 14 candles when you start, and at each station you snuff out one candle. When Jesus is put in the tomb, the last station, the room is in darkness.

I wish my camera was working! I will be taking pictures with my "old school" camera and have them put on a disk next week. But it's not the same!

Ok, I'm off to get our day underway...mass at noon today, and lots of preparations to finish!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What they said

Kain- The bread is almost gone. All that's left is the hooves.

Me- The hooves?

Kain- Yeah, you know, the pieces on the end.

Me- You mean the heels?

Kain- Um, yeah, the heels.


Maria- I thought you weren't allowed to drive on the elbow.

Me- Huh?

Maria- You know, the elbow. The side of the road.

Me- mean the shoulder?

Maria- Oh. (blush)

Friday, February 20, 2009

A day in February

***this post was started on Wednesday of last week. I never got to finish it and then I decided I'd better just post what I have.***

Wednesday evening, Feb. 9th...

Tess is cranky in John's lap and it's already very late (for me), so I'm going to throw this out in the same slightly manic stream of consciousness style as the last post. :)

Here was our day today,,,a pretty typical day at home.

5:30- I'm awake, kind of. Tess wants to nurse. I reach over into her crib which is still bumpered up co-sleeping style and pull her to me. Jack is curled up at my back..he starts out in his own bed but always winds up in mine by morning, and I can hear sounds of John getting ready for work. It's really windy and blustery sounding...rain is forcasted this morning.

5:50- I'm up, making coffee, saying my Angelus in the kitchen. John is at the computer eating breakfast. We don't speak much, each just kind of doing our own morning thing. Kain is asleep on the couch. He very often travels in his sleep as well. I sit with my coffee and my prayer journal and my Bible and pray everyone stays asleep. John leaves for work about 20 minutes later. Muchas smooches.

6:50- I go outside to pull the laundry hanging on the line from yesterday. It is supposed to rain this morning, so today's loads, washed and waiting, will have to wait until later.

7:00- Everyone is still asleep. Often Kain is up by now, and sometimes Jack too, but not today. I start hot cocoa and prod the older two out of bed. We have breakfast- English muffins, bagels, cereal. We have morning prayers..morning offering, prayer intentions, spiritual communion, and I read a chapter out of the Faith and Life second grade book. We read the first half in preparation for Kain's first confession, and now we are reading the second half for his first communion coming up this spring. The review is good for Maria. We pull out a saint card of the day...the Blessed Mother!, and we read the consecration to the Immaculate Heart on the back. Jack wanders down during this and eats a bit, and then Tess wakes up. Maria goes to get her and she turns her nose up at rice cereal (why do I buy baby food? this is my third baby to reject it and now I feel like I have to try and use up what I've bought) and eats some Cheerios instead.

8:00- I unload the dishwasher and head upstairs with Tess, leaving the kids to do their meal chores and morning lists. Maria clears the table, starts a bath for Jack, and gets herself ready. Then she is supposed to start her list of school work that she can do on her own...spelling, math sheets, reading a chapter of the gospel of Mark, filling in a map of ancient Egypt, practicing her Latin flashcards, a grammar worksheet, practicing calligraphy for art, doing an assignment of Editor in Chief. Kain is supposed to make some attempt at loading the dishwasher and get himself ready for the day. Upstairs, I change, dress, and nurse Tess and get myself ready. Jack, finished with his bath and dressed by Maria, comes upstairs and joins me on the bed while I'm nursing Tess. He has a couple of books in hand. We read Going on a Bear Hunt and Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear. He starts giggling at the animal sounds, and Tess starts giggling at him, and it is a cute moment, snuggled up with the two little ones.

Sometime around nine- I come downstairs and Kain is dragging his feet through his morning list. I check the dishwasher and he has done his typical passing gesture at his chores, leaving the sink a mess and most of the dishes still unloaded. I call him in, lecture him, and tell him since I'm doing his chore he will be unloading the dishwasher for me later, and then I have him help/observe as I finish loading. He still hasn't done anything towards getting himself dressed, so I send him off to do that.

9:45- Tess falls asleep on me and I lay her in the crib. We head outside. I want to work on cleaning up fallen branches from the storm. We do that for a bit but most of them are too heavy and it's clear we will have to borrow my parent's chainsaw. I work on clearing some overgrown scrub around the fence instead. It's slow and tedious. Jack and Kain jump on the trampoline and Maria prowls around our huge yard searching for materials to build fairy houses. Kain gets in trouble for being too rough, repeatedly, with Jack on the trampoline, so I have him get off and haul a few branches to the curb for me. Jack decides he wants to "help", so I give him a rake to pull around and have him stomp up and down in the yard waste can to smoosh the leaves down. Eventually we hear Tess on the monitor and go inside. It's still bright and sunny and I'm wishing I had gone ahead and hung out the laundry. Obviously the rain is coming later than forcasted.

noonish- We have "quesadillas" for lunch...just some tortillas with beans and cheese toasted in a skillet. After lunch, Kain unloads the dishwasher amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth because it's "NOT FAIR". Maria clears the table, and I get Jack pottied and ready for rest time. Maria goes to her room to read "Mara, Daughter of the Nile" for history and Kain goes to the playroom with "Magic Treehouse- Night of the Ninjas". I put Tess on the floor to play for a bit, then nurse her and lay her down.

around 2pm- I sit with Kain and slowly, tediously, with much forced patience, work through a Saxon math lesson with him. I have to redirect him every 2 minutes and it's enough to make me insane. Jack plays with his trains, Maria watches The Cosby Show. When I'm done with Kain's math, he takes a break and has a snack and Maria and I work together. She recites her current poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" for me, and then her catechism questions. We work on her Latin lesson together and then on a lesson from the Balances unit in TOPS science. I go over some grammar corrections and then work on a new lesson in Easy Grammar...predicate nominatives...working with Maria is quick and easy. She just wants to get done and she works fast. Her poetry is the best part. She pulls out playsilks and puts on a show for now-awake Tess while she recites it. Jack imitates her with his own silks. Very cool, to see your 4 years old reciting Yeats to your baby. :) Then I call Kain back, much to his irritation. His mood has been really lousy today. We read a bible story, work on his memory work including his poem, "The Children's Hour", and catechism questions, and a page from his map workbook. I then leave him to copy some sentences out of his grammar book and do a music worksheet. Enter more wailing and gnashing of teeth. Grrr.

During all of this, we float around a bit. Tess starts out on the laid out futon with some toys, then moves to my lap, then we all move into the dining room and I put her in her high chair with some banana and a couple of animal crackers, then back to my lap again. After Kain is done, I sit with Jack and we do a fun little Valentine-y lesson, sorting different colors of foam hearts into cups. He reads a Bob book to me too. And I'm done. Phew.

***I lost my computer time and then rest of my day here. I tried to do it from memory, but it's really just not the same. So, I'll stop here and try again next month. Basically at this point I got dinner on, tried to do some housework, etc., and then we ate dinner, I dropped Maria off at church for PSR and then came home and got the boys ready for bed, read to Kain out of his current history book, "Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims", read something to Jack for bedtime, went to pick up Maria from church, put the boys in bed, then watched American Idol with Maria. But the little details and moments are gone now that it's a week later. John came home sometime soon after the boys were in bed. He works 12 hour shifts, so his days are long.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

priestly parenting advice

Think parenting advice from a priest that lived 200 years ago would be irrelevant? Think again, my friends...

This is from St. John Bosco, a Saint from whom I've begged Kain-prayers for years.

"Sometimes it might seem to us that a young person was taking no notice of our advice, whilst deep inside they were well-disposed to cooperate, and meanwhile we were ruining him by our harshness which they cannot understand. ....

Everything at its proper time, says the Holy Spirit. When there is the need to punish, great prudence is required to choose the right moment. Nothing is more dangerous than a cure applied incorrectly, or at the wrong moment. We can get to know the right moment only from experience which has been fine-tuned by the goodness of our hearts. First of all then, wait until you are in control of yourselves; do not let it be understood that you are acting because of a bad mood, or in anger. .....

Young people often need convincing that we have confidence in their ability to improve, and feel there is a kindly hand to help them. You can get more with a friendly look, with a word of encouragement that gives his heart new courage, than you can with repeated blame, which serves only to upset, and weaken enthusiasm. Using this system, I have seen real conversions among those one would otherwise have believed impossible. All youngsters have their off-days - you have had them yourselves! ...."

Ouch. It's like he's a fly on the wall around here.
Good advice is never irrelevant.

H/T to Karen

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mel on scripture

Last summer I bought a daily Bible,,,each day has a reading from both the Old and New Testaments, and the idea is that you will read through the entire Bible in a year. You know, if you get up early enough to read it every morning, and if no small people wake up and wander in demanding food during your prayer time, etc.

Anyway, I have to say that I really don't like the Old Testament readings much. I mean, there's your standard stories of Moses and the Hebrews and all, but some of the Old Testament is a bit...tedious. Sorry, God. But my biggest issue is that I really don't *get* much of the Old Testament. I have a really hard time reconciling God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament. Yeah, I know, they are the same God. That's my point. The laws given to the Hebrews, aside from being rather...bizarre...seem so harsh and exclusive, it seems you can hardly blame the Jewish people for being what they were at the time of Jesus' arrival on the scene. Sorry, again God, I know, everyone's a critic. I'm sure it's my own ignorance shining through, I'm sure they are really very *good* laws with *good* reason behind them, but...ok, like this one---

"None of your descendants who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles;" Leviticus 21:17-20

A couple of thoughts here...

---Often when I read scripture I am pleasantly surprised to find passages I didn't even know I knew. This is a blessing of being Catholic. Most of the mass, including the music (if it's done right) is scriptural, and it's neat to find a verse that I realize I've known ever since I learned a certain hymn in 3rd grade. But, to my memory, I've never heard this particular passage in mass. I'm quite sure my children would have burst into hysterical laughter if someone had said "crushed testicles" in mass, so I would've remembered.

---Were crushed testicles a big problem back then? I mean, I guess it wasn't an unheard of problem or they wouldn't have mentioned it, right? I have never, even as a nurse, ever seen someone with this particular injury, unless you can count all those skateboarding guys on America's Funniest Home Videos. How on Earth were all of these Hebrews injuring themselves like this? Thank heavens for OSHA, huh?

---But, back on topic, this kind of passage, and there's many, many of the whole book of Leviticus...shows such a big contrast between this God we meet in the Old Testament, who tells the Jewish people to exclude physically imperfect people, and Jesus in the New Testament healing the sick and touching the lepers. And why did God want such things from the Hebrew people? What was the purpose in these Old Testament laws? And what relevance do they have today? They must have some, if the church deems it worth studying. Anyone have a good resource for studying the Old Testament?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

kids and books, and movies too

Look at me, posting *daily*...
I am furiously trying to catch up on your blogs as well!

As Maria gets older, I realize that there is a need to rethink/reread/rewatch things with my "mom hat" on. This need first surfaced a year or so ago when I mentioned to John that Maria would love to watch "Grease". She loves musicals. He reminded me of some of the more inappropriate things in the movie, and so "Grease" was shelved. Then Maria watched "Back to the Future" at my mom's. Cute movie, right? I was probably close to her age when I saw it for the first time. Are you aware that one of the characters is almost raped? Because I sure don't remember it being that big of a deal when *I* saw it as a kid, but it is certainly a bigger deal now that I watch it as a mom.

This issue surfaces with books too. I mentioned on a homeschool group list how much I loved "A Wrinkle in Time" as a teenager, and a couple of people told me that the books have been given negative reviews on some booklists for questionable content. I have never read these with my 12yo in mind, really, but my goodness! I loved these books! I don't remember anything questionable in them. I do remember the family in the books, how close the siblings are, how great a relationship they have with their parents, how they look out for their odd and bullied youngest brother, how the kids risk their lives for their parents and for each other...I will reread these books with my "mom hat" on, but I'll admit I really don't think I will find anything objectionable in them. Granted, all the books in the series are not appropriate for a 12yo, but I think "A Wrinkle in Time" will pass muster, at least in this house.

And then the other day I came across a box of free books at our homeschool co-op and pulled out a copy of "Superfudge". Score! Loved Superfudge! Who doesn't? Funny stuff! I started reading through it at home, and thought "Holy Cow, these kids are monsters!" The oldest brother is Maria's age, and I thought, "Do I really want Maria reading books where the 12yo screams ugly things at his parents and lives to see the light of another day?" It never would have occurred to me to have an issue with Superfudge. But it's going to go live somewhere else now. If she had some burning desire to read Superfudge, since there's not anything really morally offensive in it, I would likely let her and then talk with her about some of the situations in it that bother me, but I don't feel the need to have a copy in my house. And it's not as funny as I remembered anyway.

It's not that I intend to control everything my kids are exposed to forever and ever. It's just that they are still quite young, impressionable, and still being formed. What is appropriate at 16 or 17 is not appropriate at 12. If Maria were 16 and well-formed in her habits and in her relationship with her parents, I would not be concerned about a book in which a child behaves like a mouthy brat. But at 12...goodness, isn't 12 a difficult age already? I'd much rather have her read about noble characters and close-knit families. You the one in "A Wrinkle in Time". :) I think. Let me reread that again first.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the ultimate in "crunchy momma" moments

Has to be undressing at the end of the day and finding granola in your nursing bra.

Monday, February 09, 2009

how we are doing

Hello, those patient and loyal blog-readers still out there.
We are alive. I know my blogging is almost non-existent. I am having trouble finding time to blog. I do blog on the imaginary blog that lives in my head. But finding time to park in front of the computer long enough to blog...ah, that is the issue. What little time I get here is often spent trying to sort out my emails or trying to catch up on *your* blogs. And when I don't blog for a while, well...the blog starts to feel like some old friend I haven't been very good about keeping in touch with. The more time that goes by, the more there is to tell, and the more there is to explaining your absence, and so you tend to stay away longer....

Anywho, I'll just jump in with a quick update I guess. My life in a quick 10 minute post, because this is the only way I'll be able to do it, and if I don't get it down quickly it'll never happen!

I'm doing swell, in a running around and always behind on everything kind of way. I just can't seem to quite get my bearings since Tess has been born. I'm not sure why. She is an easy baby. But it seems *just* out of my reach, you know? Today I had great plans to get our schoolwork done early and then spend the afternoon cleaning storm debris out of our backyard with the kids, fresh air and exercise and all that good stuff, and then Kain had several fits during school time and it took us much too long to get done with his school work. More about that tomorrow, as I am working on a "day in the life post" for today.

Maria just had her first feis, her first Irish dance competition. It was crazy and wild because we didn't know at all what to expect and it was very different than anything we've done before, but we survived and she won first place in one of her dances. She and Kain are both playing Upward basketball right now. She was very nervous about playing because she's never played basketball before. It was pretty surprising to see the burst of insecurity from my otherwise outgoing and confident girl. I literally had to force her to go to the first practice amidst tears and anguish. Guess what? She loves it, and she scored a basket in her first game. Lucky for me, because if it had gone the other way my name would have been mud around here, huh?

Kain is...Kain. Hehe. He's doing pretty well most days. School is pretty rough. He's not on the Adderall right now, (insert long medication juggling scenario here) and so it's like doing math with a chicken. He's literally all over the place, rocking and rolling and thrashing and interrupting and it's insane. To top it all off, I can't really shorten any lengthy lessons for him or anything because we are working on catching him up to the grade level he was supposed to be on...he's been a grade behind because his mother never bothered to enroll him in school and it *really, really* bothers we've been making a big push, especially in math. It makes for some long days. He doesn't want to give up though, and if we can both survive the math we'll be ok. He turned 9 last week and messed up the cool thing I had going on where all the kids were aged in factors of 4...Maria 12, Kain 8, Jack 4, Tess a teeny baby. Am I the only one that enjoys such symmetry? I am quite anal-retentive sometimes, yes?

Jack is awesome. He is going through a big Momma's boy stage right now and I love it. I'm eating it up. He's developing a great sense of humor and we just have a blast together. He's reading Bob books all by himself and is just a smarty pants. He's still obsessed with music and his new thing now is to play "conductor". His favorite books are "Meet the Orchestra" and "Zin Zin Zin, a Violin". Love. This. Boy. sunshine. She is sweet and happy and cutting her fourth tooth. She's eating mushy bits of table food and rolling across the house to find little fernerds of lint and stuff under the furniture to try and choke on. She's fat and sassy and lots of fun.

My camera is still busted, so no pictures. I keep forgetting to take it in. I'm losing my mind. It's leaking out of my ears and running down my neck right now. But I'm here, I'm ok. I'm not burned out or anything, but I feel like I could be if we don't get a grip on our routines and stuff here. I feel like the big clincher is Kain's math. I simply cannot spend two hours a day trying to cajole him through math and still get everything else done. I just can't. I don't know what else to do. We are using Saxon math 3 for him, and it's just taking sooooo long. It's a long program anyway, even with a "normal" child, and with Kain...oy. That meeting. It takes forever and ever. All that topic switching. But his math skills are so iffy that he really needs a lot of review, you know? So, what...I should take a slower pace through the book? That would be nice. It might come to that. It'll mess me up so bad for next year though (sigh). We wouldn't be ready to start Saxon 54 when we start 4th grade. And that's my anal-retentiveness coming out again.