Sunday, March 25, 2012

A warm spring daybook

Outside my window...warm, warm, warm. We had several days of rain last week, but this weekend it is in the 70's. I think we will have a terribly hot summer here in the south.

I am hearing...Jack playing Wii ping pong. Tess and Henry in the playroom.

I am thinking...about all the things I need to get done before this baby comes.

I am thankful for...a third trimester burst of energy. I've been cleaning like mad, still. My back and hips still don't appreciate this much. I am waddling pretty badly because my lower back feels a bit stiff and sore all the time. But it's not too bad.

I am wearing...a black skirt and brown, beaded shirt. Barefoot (and pregnant, ha!)

We are currently reading...Hum. I got "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" on my nook for Maria to read. Not because I expect her to embrace the whole courting thing, but because I think the book makes some good points on boy/girl relationships in general. I am reading Anne of Avonlea...been reading my way through this series for the first time. I somehow missed them in my younger days. Still slogging through Wuthering Heights. Maria is starting Johnny Tremaine this week for history.

I am praying...for a friend bearing far too many crosses right now.

Latest on the babies...I am on week 31 for little honey five. Not 32, like it says on that ticker. Don't know why it says the wrong date, and I can't get lilypie to let me fix it or change it at all, so I guess it will stay the way it is! Baby is *very big* and moving lots. The kids love to watch my "belly-quakes", especially in the evening...she seems to be a night owl.
Henry knows what letters are. He doesn't really know any, but he will point to them and say, "Oh, ee, ay, oh, ay!" Tess's speech is improving soooo much. She is just expressing herself so much better. She has a good bit of trouble with pronouns though, and often leaves them off entirely...she will say things like, "Are going to the store?"

From the kitchen...Tuscan pork roast in the oven, with mashed potatoes and corn cobs for dinner. We are making a poor meal each week from operation rice bowl...we watch the little video to go with the country of the week and then try the meal out, and we donate the money saved by eating our little poor meal to CRS at the end of Lent. Do try it! This is our third year doing this and it is a really meaningful thing to do for Lent. Plus, some recipes are,,,interesting. Not a fan of the Vietnamese spring rolls... :). Some have become new favorites. I really liked the vary amin'anana from Madagascar.

Around the house...working on digging out warm weather clothes,,,and baby clothes while I'm at it. It's too early to wash them and all, but since I'm going through my stash anyway...Also, bathroom remodeling, yay! Long overdue! How much remodeling? It will depend on how long the income tax return holds out. :) All three bathrooms need a lot of work. I'm starting with some repairs, some sink replacements, and new flooring. That will probably do it for now.

In the learning room...some planning for next year.

In the garden-I ordered some perennials to plant in the beds out back in an attempt to make the weed control easier for John...things that will hopefully fill in and be low-maintenance. The dogwoods are blooming. I also ordered some berry bushes to try this year. Any tips?

Plans for the rest of the week...therapies and dance, as usual. Mass on Wednesday and adoration on Thursday. OB appt. on Friday combined with some shopping for Maria and me. We will do some birthday shopping as we have three birthdays coming up, and I need to go to Lowes to get some yard stuffs before the berries and flowers arrive, as well as some things for the plumber's visit.

Our week in pictures...these aren't actually from this week. This is a series I've been meaning to post..."Henry sleeps". I took these when he was outgrowing his morning nap. he would not quite make it until after lunch before conking out. And if I tried to put him to nap late morning, then he would fall asleep sometime around four or five. Almost every day you would find him asleep on the couch at some weird time of day, and always with whatever he was toting around at the time...

Excuse our raggedy couch. It was actually in excellent condition a year ago, before we had a dog. Then SOMEONE trained the dog to climb up on the couch next to him, which was really cute when he was a puppy, but now he's a huge monster of a dog with rather sharp claws. He has shredded the couch cushions. We are retraining the dog, and then recovering the cushions.

What Jack said

We have had a little Jack issue lately...he is very affectionate with me, and he can be a little, erm, feely at times. I've been tactfully working on this, not wanting to discourage his affections...just redirect them a bit. He's 7 years old, after all, and because of his autism, he often needs to be expressly taught things that other kids just get by this age. So, we've been talking about what's appropriate in this area. Being all Jack-like, he will take these things to the extreme and be very concerned that he is doing something wrong. And also being all Jack-like, he does not whisper...he will announce things, loud and clear, wherever we are. So, we were in mass today and he was snuggled up against me, like he tends to do. Then he suddenly pulls back and says loudy, "Oh, I'm sorry. I was touching your chest with my head." And I shushed him and said, "It's ok." Then he says, just as loudly, "It's very cozy there."

Monday, March 12, 2012

first reconciliation, and autism

One of the characteristics of autism is that Jack has trouble understanding abstract concepts. This makes preparation for his first penance difficult. I'm glad he will be an older second grader and we still have another year to work on this. His first communion is different. That's much easier. Because he's so literal, he has no trouble wrapping himself around the Eucharist. If momma says, and Father says, and his PSR teacher says, that the bread and wine become Jesus' body and blood...if indeed the Bible says "this IS my body" and "this IS my blood"...then so it is. The difficulties with first communion prep will be in semantics...getting him to walk down the ailse and actually receive appropriately, without making any comments about how gross the wine is.

But teaching forgiveness, sorrow for sin, penance,,,that's more difficult. For Jack, "sin" is when you do something that makes other people mad. And "forgiveness" is being nice to someone after they make *you* mad. So Henry will do something that annoys Jack, and Jack will say, "HEY!" and then, "Oh, it's ok Henry", and pat Henry's head, and then say to me, "Mom, I forgave Henry!" and Henry will toddle on, completely unaware of what happened.

His understanding seems to be on about the same level as Tess's. Lately she will come up to me and say, in her high-pitched little girly voice, "I sorry! I sorry Mommy!" and I'll say, "Why are you sorry?" "No!" she says, "You say, 'it's ok!'" And she'll start over patiently, like a teacher with a not-too-bright student..."I sorry Mommy!" "It's ok," I sigh. "Tess, why are you sorry?" But she's gone. And eventually I find what she was sorry about...a puddle on the floor by the toilet, a dumped bowl of cat food, or maybe cat food in the toilet.

Anyway, not too long ago a friend pointed me towards this...a resource for preparing autistic kids for the sacraments. We are ordering this with our homeschool book order for next school year. But there is nothing for first confession out there that I've found. That will take far more preparation and gives me far more willies...not only do we have these concepts of "sin" and "forgiveness" to work out, but he will have to have an actual one-on-one conversation with the priest! And not about legos or star wars either! Sigh.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A nesting daybook

Outside my window...cold and cloudy. It rained last night. I have a bird feeder that attaches to my window, a Christmas gift. For months no bird has been brave enough to visit. Finally I am seeing a few brave chickadees, and this morning I saw a nuthatch!
We've also been hearing woodpeckers somewhere in the pine trees outside the bathroom window.

I am hearing...Jack playing wii sports resort and Henry playing the piano. You know..kind of.

I am thinking...that nesting is awesome. I have been on a cleaning rampage for two days. If I had this kind of energy all the time...well, my house would be clean, that's for sure.

I am thankful for...evening mass after a late night and the spring time change.

I am wearing...tan pajama shorts and a navy blue shirt.

We are currently reading...hmm. Jack is working on catching up his Aesop's fables book. Owl Moon is a favorite right now with the littles. Maria is still sloooowly working through Wuthering Heights and just finished Witch of Blackbird Pond for history. I am reading two new ones..."Prayer for Beginners" by Peter Kreeft (my Lenten read), and "Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things That Really Matter".

I am praying...For Kain. He's doing well so far in his new digs and new school.

Pondering these words... "Reading a book about doing something can be an obstacle to doing it because it gives you the impression that you are doing what you are only thinking about doing. It is tempting to remain in the comfortable theater of the imagination instead of the real world, to fall in love with the idea of becoming a saint and loving God and neighbor instead of doing the actual work, because the idea makes no demands on you."- Peter Kreeft, from "Prayer for Beginners"

Latest on the babies...Tess found one of Maria's old ballet recital videos and has a new love. She now puts on her dress up clothes and twirls all over the house. She can also count to 12 now and kind of says her alphabet..."A, B, C, D, Luhluhluhluh P! Q, R, S, T, U, V! All my Leh-lers, A, B, C, next time won't you sing with me! Yay!"

From the kitchen...a chicken is simmering on the stove. After it cools I will pick it for chalupas tonight.

Around the house...I spent hours and hours yesterday cleaning and organizing the laundry room. Maria wanted some mall money, so I hired her to be me for the day while I cleaned. I purged and cleaned and organized, I caught up on ALL the laundry (including putting away!) and moved a bunch of things around to make more room in there. Oh! My back! My hips! But it's so nice to have so much accomplished.

In the learning room...fatigue. We are ready for Easter break.

In the garden- the hyacinths died in a frost. The forsythia is blooming nicely. Dogwoods are ready to bloom any time now.

Plans for the rest of the, and,
Today- evening mass. Maria spent the night with a friend and will go to the mall today, then to mass, and we will pick her up after Life Teen tonight.
Monday- therapy for Jack
Tuesday- dance class, library, and errands
Wednesday- mass, therapy, and also an OB appointment. Fingers crossed for my glucose tolerance test.
Thursday- adoration..we signed up for an hour during Lent.
Friday- mass..maybe the park after?
Saturday- John is working again, so I'm thinking another project day...the upstairs? The school room? I'm so torn. The school room is an abomination. But I really need to get upstairs and sort out warm weather clothes.

Our week in pictures...

Maria and Tess's "flower cake"...they made this yesterday when Maria was babysitting.

Jack does "fish cracker math". He always has whales crackers during math, and we use them for subtraction manipulatives, hehe. Addition facts he can work out without manipulatives, but subtraction, not yet.

Tess and Henry's new favorite school pastime,,,do-a-dots!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


(Jack trying out instruments at an event at the University)

I thought it'd be easier to share some of our recent pics one child at a time....
"Recent" is a relevant term...some of the ones I downloaded are 6 months old!

(Christmas Eve)

Jack is having a hard time with the weekly grocery shopping. I usually can handle Jack, he's usually a quiet and sweet boy, but he has his moments. Shopping is one of them. He does ok when we are getting food. I let them each pick out a snack of some kind and he picks cheese sticks. Once he's got these, he is done. When we start moving through the rest of the store, to the pharmacy, pet supplies, diapers, etc....he gets really agitated and starts whining and carrying on.

(7th birthday party...a lego theme this year. The cake was too hideous to post, but he liked it. :))

He'll say, "Are we never done with shopping? Do you have 20 hundred more groceries to get?"

(cow train at the corn maze)

Today, he started pushing the cart away from me, so I snapped at him, and he started crying, "Are you going to put me in the dumpster? Do you want to throw me away?" Now, we've never threatened to put the child in a dumpster, I promise. This is something he often says when he gets in trouble. We have no idea why.

(goats at the corn maze)

When we were checking out, he started up again, and was wrestling the cart in the parking lot, so I grabbed him by the arm and made him walk right next to me. He got really upset then and started sobbing hysterically, "Ow, your breaking my arm!"
(a ninja for Halloween)

(St. Tarcisius for All Saints' Day)

And when I put him in the van, he was screaming at the top of his lungs, "Are you putting me in the dumpster? She's putting me in the dumpster!" over and over again.

(checking out bones at the zoo)

(on the drive to the zoo, Jack said that this was the Eiffel Tower)

(and those towers in the background were lighthouses)

I talked him down once we were all in the van, and he was calm again. On the short drive home though, we passed a dumpster. He said softly, "There's a dumpster. Just pull over and throw me in."

(This is very recent. The child is toothless. All his front teeth got very loose at once. Three fell out within a couple of weeks of each other. Kain helped the fourth along when he accidentally knocked Jack with the wii remote while playing Swordplay Showdown.)

Monday, March 05, 2012

a seven months along daybook

Gosh, it's been a long time since I did a daybook!

Outside my window...Beautiful! Warm! Sunny!

I am hearing...Disney Junior. Yes, they watch too much tv lately. It's the only way I can post, or cook dinner, and I'm trying to do both right now!

I am thinking...about Kain. He is registering for school today, starting tomorrow. This past weekend was much harder emotionally than I thought. I thought I'd feel nothing but relief. But it was very difficult. Lots of tears.

I am thankful for...a quiet Sunday and Monday with my kids. It really is much more calm here.

I am wearing...A purple t-shirt and pajama pants. I'm always in pajama pants. It's a third trimester rule. I find maternity pants so uncomfortable. I put them on to leave the house and change as soon as I walk in the door.

We are currently reading..."You Are a Better Parent Than You Think" by Dr. Ray. Started this for Kain, lol. Still need to finish. Trying to plod my way through Wuthering Heights with Maria. I'm sorry, I'm not a fan. I realize that's like blasphemy or something. Maybe it'll improve.

I am praying...for a better Lent than what I've had so far. I've been very distracted.

Latest on the babies...Jack has made some great strides. I was trying to think what had changed recently, something in the way he has been talking to us...I finally realized the other night...he is making eye contact! Not great eye contact, lol. But it's definitely improving.
Tess can't say "f" either. This is really funny. She says "bood", not "food",,,"wowers", not "flowers"...and my favorite, "blip blops", not "flip flops" :)
Henry is a big boy! He suddenly looks like a little boy, not a baby. His hair is coming in thicker, and he has gone from clinging to my knee to being so social and outgoing.
Baby Bee is 28 weeks along today. Everything is going well. I was informed she is measuring three weeks further along than her due date,,,that's about par for my course.

From the kitchen...crock pot dinner tonight, pineapple pork tenderloin, rice pilaf, and broccoli. This was planned for Sunday. I forgot that we were having Sunday dinner at church yesterday.
Tuesday- crock Italian chicken over noodles
Wednesday- Shrimp jambalaya, french bread
Thursday- Artichoke pesto chicken, roasted broccoli, garlic bread
Friday- Vary amin'anana. Never had it? Me neither. It's a recipe from our rice bowl calendar...learning about the poor in Madagascar. It'll be interesting!
Saturday- Mesquite beef sandwiches, oven fried potatoes
Sunday- Tuscan pork roast, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes.

Around the house...catching up, finding a new normal. We are very behind in school due to all the pregnancy stuff and Kain stuff...we will be working hard to get as much done as we can before my due date, and still doing school through most of the summer. Sigh.

In the learning room- a hot mess. It's on my "to organize, or burn to the ground" list.

In the garden- daffodils, lots of cleaning up before spring comes and everything starts growing like mad. But that's mostly John's department.

Plans for the rest of the week...
-Monday's about over. Usual therapy today
-Tuesday- Shopping and library. Dance is cancelled.
-Wednesday- noon mass, therapy for Jack, PSR in the evening for Jack.
-Thursday- adoration...we signed up for an hour during Lent. I have so far been able to go alone or with a big kid. Bliss!
-Friday- noon mass. Maybe a park day?
-Saturday- home all day, hoping to tackle that school room.
-Sunday- Mass,,,I found out that the move in our parish towards having weekly evening masses has been delayed until fall. Sigh. I was looking forward to that! But this Sunday is the usual monthly evening Life Teen mass, and Maria will have confirmation prep class afterwards.

Our week in pictures...I have just downloaded almost 300 pictures off my camera since I found my cord. Sigh. Totally overwhelming to even think about organizing. Here's one that I have to show now though!

Isn't she just lovely? This is my first 3D ultrasound, and I have to say it is VERY COOL to have such a picture of my little one! I have the pics on my fridge and love to see her every day. :)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

And what's not working anymore

I warned you when I started these posts...what works now may not work for long around here. So it goes. Things are changing around here fast. Kain is leaving us. He's been here 5 1/2 years! But he's leaving today to go live with my parents, his grandparents. He's 12 now, so I don't want to say anything that will embarass him later. He's made lots of progress in lots of ways. But we have had some serious behavior problems in the last year that we have not been able to resolve. John and I are burned out...fried crisp. We just can't handle it anymore. I feel like a failure every day, trying to fix something that will not be fixed, that will not even improve no matter what I try, that in fact defies all efforts on my part and just gets worse and parents have offered to try and we have decided to let them for the sake of our sanity and peace for the rest of the children. He will still be around. My parents don't live too far off, so he will be around to visit. They will need breaks. :) Please pray for them and for Kain. This is his last opportunity, really, to make staying with family work. If he continues for them like he has for us, he will probably end up in some kind of group home. None of us wants that. We are hoping and praying that the change of scenery, the structure of public school (special ed), and being an only child (and thereby the focus of all attention...I've mentioned many times how intensely competitive and needy he is in every way) will be enough to help him start fresh and do well.

So...that changes all those routines I typed up. :) One less child to do school with will open up some pockets of theory anyway. I started biweekly OB visits this month, so that is another time wrench. I have a long list of things I want to get done before baby arrives, and we need to get as much school done as we possibly can too. So we will be very busy. Our day will stay basically the same, with me working on my pre-baby to-do list whenever possible. I won't stress the details of making a new routine too much...things are in flux too much right now. Soon I will start weekly prenatal visits. I'm feeling good right now, but soon that last weeks' funk will set in...I will be way huge and uncomfortable and just trying to lumber through the day. And then of course, we will have a nursing newborn and all the change that that brings. So I'm leaving things as they are and just shifting a little inside the routines we already have. Once we are ready to find a new normal, sometime over the summer I imagine, I will be revisiting all of this to see what might work then. I think the dynamics in our house are going to shift significantly. Up until now, our day and routines have been mostly about the big kids...their activities, their schooling, etc. I had a couple of big kids to help manage a couple of little kids in public, to help keep them entertained during the day while I got things done. Now things have shifted and we will be a house of mostly littles. Kain will be gone. I will have four kids ages 7 and under. Oh my gosh. Did I just type that? Four kids 7 and under! the oldest of which is not really seven years old in many ways yet. One will be a nursing newborn. Maria's life is changing and taking her more and more frequently away from our home, which is as it should be, but it means I am more and more the only person in the house capable of doing...well, anything, really. School will be less of a challenge in some ways. Maria does a lot independently of course, and Jack is still young enough that school goes quickly. But I will have lots of challenges that come with a house full of tiny people. Our routines will center more around naps and meals and nursing, around outside time and picture books and preschool activities. I'm rather looking forward to it. I've often felt like the littles get the dregs of the day, whatever's left after I deal with the big kids' needs. It will be refreshing to focus on my little ones.

What's working now- weekends

And this will wrap up this series...

Saturdays can vary. They are first and foremost my cleaning day. We work together on a list of chores, everything from stripping sheets that need washing to washing pet dishes and bird cages to dusting and cleaning floors. I start early by throwing dinner in the crockpot. Saturday is long and physical. I don't want to have to cook dinner at the end of it. I work on things I need to do myself while everyone else is asleep...purging and organizing an area usually, and cleaning the main bathroom.

The day changes here, depending on whether or not John is off. If he is off and available, Maria and I have a girls' day out. We go thrifting, often, or maybe to the craft store or dollar tree, the bakery thrift store, the library to get books that I couldn't look for when I was there with a bunch of kids, or anywhere else I've been needing to go and don't want to go without littles. We finish up with lunch out somewhere and come home to rest up for the afternoon.

If John is working, then I stay home and make it a project day. I have an ongoing list of things I need to be doing...right now that includes organizing and purging the laundry room and school room closet, and going through clothes to bring out spring and summer things. Also, twice a year the boys play baseball for an 8-week stretch on Saturday mornings.

Whatever Saturday morning brings, when my crew is ready after rest time, we move through the house. If pick-ups have been done nightly, we can work quickly with the dusting and floors. After those chores are done, I send the boys to clean out the van and check the yard for trash. Maria cleans the bathroom off our school room. I clean my bedroom and bathroom. We quit at 5, wherever we are. If it didn't all get done, then so be it. We try. Either way, I'm exhausted at this point! I break out my crock pot dinner. We clean up quickly, and then settle down for a movie and popcorn. The movie is geared toward the older kids, a reward for a hard day's work, but needs to at least be appropriate to have on around the littles. They usually watch some, and then wander off to play. I'm not really motivated to bother with laundry folding on Saturdays and once the kids are in bed I continue my couch patrol. It's a long day, and the next day is Sunday! A day of rest! Woohoo!

Not so much. :) But yes, relatively, it is a day of rest. Sunday varies a bit...some weeks we go to a 10am mass...once a month Maria has a Life Teen mass and so we go to mass in the evening. In April, our parish will start having Life Teen mass every week, so I will go with that routine since it will soon be our norm. I sleep in, at least until Jack wakes up...he's usually the first one. I make brunch on Sundays, but the little kids aren't' going to wait that long to eat, so I feed them something..some yogurt or cereal. I make something to have with our brunch, often banana bread since I have a bunch in the freezer to use up. Around 10, we have our brunch, always pancakes for Jack, and maybe omelets or quiche or a frittata, sausage or bacon, whatever bread I made earlier. We have rest time when that rolls around, and do baths and such after, getting cleaned up for mass. I put dinner on after rest time. We will eat early, around four, since we had brunch and since mass falls over dinner time. Dinner is something yummy but not too time-consuming. I did make that big brunch, and it's my day of rest too! So often a chicken or roast or something like that,,,one of those things that looks like more work than it was. We eat dinner no later than 4 so as to make our communion fast by 4:30, and dress quickly for mass. Since clothes are laid out and everyone is (ideally) pretty cleaned up, it doesn't take long. Maria, by the way, is not here at this point. She has band practice before mass, then sings at mass, then has a confirmation prep class or Life Teen after mass. So she is pretty much at church all afternoon/evening. So, anyway, mass, then back home to relax. We usually pick up donuts after mass for good behavior motivation, so that's dessert, though usually the little kids will need something else more substantial to eat before bedtime since dinner was so early. At some point I will motivate to the kitchen to clean up the dinner mess that is still waiting for me. No baths to worry about since we already did that. I do my laundry room time, even though it's Sunday, because I probably didn't do it on Saturday and I need to make sure clothes are ready to go for Monday. Someone will need to go pick Maria up at 8...but that's the weekend! Writing it all out, Sunday doesn't sound too relaxing :) But it is. I don't mind the cooking when there's not a thousand other things to do. I like making a nice brunch. If I didn't, I wouldn't do it, or I would get some pre-made things to use for brunch. There's still work to do, but the pace is slower.

What's working now- Fridays-

Moving right along... :)

Fridays are quite similar to Thursdays. I made Friday another office day. In Large Family Logistics, she only has one office day. I didn't feel like this would be enough for me, so I made two of them. I'm hoping the extra office day will eventually give me some time to do things like organize photos and scrapbooks and that sort of thing that never ever gets done.

The only difference between Thursdays and Fridays is that we go to noon mass on Fridays. After math with the boys, I feed the littles a good snack and we head out the door. Lots of homeschoolers attend the noon mass. Often there are friends to visit with for a little while afterwards. We come home for lunch and continue on with the day.

In the LFL book, instead of two office days she has a "gardening day". This sounds lovely, but I just didn't see how to devout the whole day to this. I get a lot of my work done very early, and often John is gone. I'm not comfortable being outside working while the kids are asleep. And most of the year it is still dark at that time anyway! It has been my practice to get outside with the kids for little bits of time during the day and water plants, weed veggies, etc. Larger projects, like planting, yard clean-up, etc., need to wait for a free week-end.

what's working now- Thursdays

Moving right along...finally...

Thursday bears the distinction of being the *only* day of the week that I don't have somewhere else to be. Love Thursdays. Wish I had more of them. Thursdays are also my "office day". I (rather poorly) handle all the household paper stuff...budgeting, bills, grocery lists, school stuff, filing, it's all mine. It gets ugly. The paper monster is huge. Thursday is the day to try and tame it. My to-do list includes...

-paying bills and doing the budget
-making menus and grocery lists
-filling out the family calendar
-cleaning out my diaper bag
-making library lists
-school planning and paperwork
-liturgical year planning
-filing and organizing the whole mess. This is still a work in progress. I hope to get to some kind of maintenance point this spring.

So I start out early, as on the other days, get done what I can until it's time to feed the crowd, and plug away during the day if the opportunity presents itself. Hopefully there will be some of those since we are home all day. I have my list prioritized because I likely won't get to everything. Bills and grocery lists are always on top, along with any other timely "to-do's", like getting grades together to send to MODG, that sort of thing.

The day plugs along as I've written before, only without the running around. We have breakfast, do morning chores, Maria has PE and I also add art to her Thursday since she is also home all day..I do school with her, math with the boys, lunch, rest time, wrap up school, dinner and chores, baths and bedtimes, work in the laundry room...and that is Thursday. It's a busy, full day of catching up on house stuff, but it's a day well-spent.