Wednesday, April 16

Boys at Play

The scene: Playroom floor.

The toys: A collection of wooden blocks; little people, animals, and accessories; trio blocks, fashioned into rocket ships; diggers and dozers; two "guys" with a jeep.

The story: The rocket ships have to fly fast.  And be repaired.  And he had to move the dump truck so the other guy could mow underneath.

These two are 20 months apart.  They share a bedroom now and are together all day, every day.  Some days I wonder if it's too much- maybe they need some alone time?  But since they've started sharing a bedroom (it's been about a month or two), their daytime play together has increased and become more mature.  The stories are elaborate, and they easily get lost in their own world for an hour or more at a time.  They hardly noticed me taking these photos of them today!  I hope they are the best of friends for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, April 9

Tuesday, April 8

Planning Ahead

Am I the only homeschooler with next fall on my mind already?!   Pretty catalogs are arriving in the mail, we are preparing for next year at our co-op, and I'm already thinking about how I'm going to formally school TWO kids!

 I will admit.  I've had a day planner since 2000, when I graduated high school and got a summer job at The Container Store.  I used their August to August day planner for 12 years, and every June I would look forward to my annual trip to pick one up in a new color.  That's the sort of stuff I get giddy about, y'all.  Finally last year I pulled myself away and purchased The Catholic Daily Planner from Michele Quiqley (who has also written the curriculum I use).  This gave me a little more space, a calendar/day planner with my lesson plans for Beth in the back.  It's been fabulous and I think I will purchase another one soon... So I can start planning our 2014-2015 school year. ;-)

I do love having my history written down in my day planners.  I wrote down everything- classes and dates, trips and interviews, wedding planning, babies, doctor appointments and playdates.  I can see the progression of my life.  And you know things were written in color-coded ink!

The Restore workshop I am "attending" right now addresses our day planners, and how as busy moms it's important that we not let it rule or dictate our lives.  I am not sure that I've had that problem before (though I can certainly see how one might), but I am a list-maker and I do feel a certain obligation to check items off.  And I can't cheat and write down things like "wake up" "eat breakfast" or "breathe."  That's just not me. ;-) Right now we are in maintenance mode, and I'm really not getting ahead at all.  I do feel such accomplishment from checking items off my lists, rewriting the lists, and throwing the old ones away.  Because to me, it means I'm getting something done. 

They have mentioned the importance of writing down goals, and that used to be something I was really good at.  In fact, Ryan and I used to write out a yearly plan, mapping out the vacations, parties, birthdays, holidays, and other events or goals through our year.  We haven't done that lately, but it's something I would like to get back to.  I like to plan ahead, as you can see!

I feel lucky to have a friend who is just as crazy as I am in all of this, so I know I'm not totally alone!  But- are we the only ones???

Friday, April 4

My First Seven Quick Takes

I'm trying something new!  For anyone who doesn't know, "7 Quick Takes" is a way to document the events from our past week, sometimes related events and sometimes not.  I think it will be good for me because right now I'm not really good at organizing my thoughts (I'm sort of lacking on time!) and so I can work on it when I have time, without having to worry about it "flowing."  It's "hosted" by Jen Fulwiler, and awesome Catholic convert blogger and author.  I hope you enjoy!

Sisters.  Finally, at last!  Beth still tells me, almost daily, about how happy she is that she has a sister.  She was so disappointed during my pregnancy that we didn't find out the gender; she would ask me how other women knew if they were having a boy or girl.  Beth always wants to hold or play with Caeli, and now that Caeli is getting older and becoming more interactive, Beth is wondering when they will share a bedroom.  I hope she still wants to share when Caeli is older and digging through her toys and clothes!

These are my great-grandmother's flowers. She passed away in 2007, and after her funeral, we gathered at her home.  Somehow I received a pot of flowers from her backyard, and I brought them back and cared for them the best I could (I don't have a good record of keeping plants in pots alive!).  Last year I repotted them, and I guess a little new soil was all they needed because this is the first year I've had them that they've actually bloomed!  Not only that, but they've spread throughout my gardens and they're blooming all over the backyard!  It's been so neat to see them everywhere!

Not only are the violets blooming, but now everything is in bloom!  The weather finally cooperated and Ryan was finally able to give the yard it's first yearly trim.  Wouldn't you know, the boys were both right behind him!  Luke still uses the weed wacker we gave him for his second birthday, which is now so broken and old that it hardly resembles a weed wacker anymore!  Ryan and I agreed that we'd buy them a new one this year, and probably another lawn mower as well.  They both spent 3 hours following Ryan around in the yard- taking turns riding on the mower with him, edging and weed wacking, and finally blowing everything off.  The yard always looks so fabulous when Ryan is done!

Yay!  Look at this happy girl!  She generally loves diaper changes and she especially loves baths!  I've had her in cloth diapers since she was about a month old and started to fit into them a little better.  She's mostly wearing the same diapers that both of her big brothers wore, but I will admit to buying a couple of new pink ones. :-)    She's also been wearing her amber teething necklace for about 2 or 3 weeks now, I put it on her after I noticed that she was starting to drool a lot.  I don't know that I completely believe that it will help with teething pains, but since: 1. I know it's authentic 2. I won it during a black Friday contest, 3. she's totally cute wearing it, and 4. I have friends who swear it helps with pain, she's going to wear it. I shall report back later!

My day planner.  Oh how I love it.  We talked about planners last week during my Restore workshop, and it renewed my interest in passion for how I use mine.  (In fact, I have a whole post about it that I'll publish next week!)  The workshop has also mentioned several times about the need for art and creativity in our lives.  I am pretty bad at this, in fact I'm certain that I'm the worst artist in my family!  (Beth is always asking me why I can only draw stick people!)  I'm making a concentrated effort to pick up and use the crayons or colored pencils or water colors when the kids are using them.  I drew a violet the other day, from my great-grandmother's pot, and it inspired the kids to get out their nature notebooks and also draw too, but they were afraid of...

...the wasp!

Can you see him inside of the bird house?  Ryan killed one the other day- he said it was super easy because it appeared to be sleeping or hibernating?  The next day we noticed this one in there, clearly at work building the nest, coming in and out throughout the day.  I'd go and peek in on him every few hours and I could see the progress of the nest- in a day, he made 3 or 5 little "pods."  My theory is Ryan killed a female and this guy is still building the nest, not realizing his lady isn't coming home!  I keep meaning to google it!

They were brave though, and decided to draw anyway.  They used crayons and spent about 20 minutes working on this.  Then they decided to play on our fort and build a pirate ship.  I am loving this nice weather! 

How did I do with my first 7 Quick Takes???  I hope I can keep it up, to get back to chronicling our lives!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, April 1

A Boy Growing Older

I want to dedicate an entire post to my second child, who is daily surprising me with how much he is growing and changing.  I'd have to start by being real: Luke and I have had some difficult challenges to get through.  I hear from friends that the children who are most like you tend to be more difficult to manage because you're both so similar, and I think there's a lot of truth to that!  Luke favors me in his looks, and as he's gotten older I think he favors my temperment as well.  I don't know if I acted like him when I was a child, but I can see that his passion for whatever he's doing, his short temper, and his need for sleep all mirror me!

He started sleeping through the night when he was almost a year old, when I night weaned him.  Since then, he's been the most consistent sleeper of our children, falling asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow, sleeping all night, and even still taking occasional naps.  Ryan and I used to go out of our way to make sure he got the sleep his body needed.

As my first boy, I wanted to be careful that we nurture his feelings, making sure he felt he was always safe to express himself.  It's so important to me that he feels safe and never stifled... But goodness gracious it's not an easy task for this mother!  He has a lot of "big feelings!"  For months we taught him deep breathing exercises, and finally when it felt like I was a big failure of a mother, he started catching on and doing it on his own.  He just needed to do it in his own time.

And that's what parenting is really about, isn't it?  We can't "make" them do anything... You can punish and time out and threaten all you want, but it's up to the child to make their own decision.  For that reason, I've wanted to be a parent that maintains an open dialogue with my kids, and I hope that I've done that for them. 

In our family, I can usually tell there's going to be a big change soon by the way a child is sleeping or acting.  Before a baby starts crawling, they usually go through a few weeks of fitful sleep.  Before they start walking, sleep always seems to suffer again.  And as they've gotten older, I can tell there's going to be a big mental change after a more obvious physical change.  Luke has gone through several growth spurts the past couple of years, it seemed like I was always buying him a new pair of shoes!  (He wears a size 12.5 right now, the same size as Beth!)  Recently, he went through a mental growth spurt.  It seemed like overnight, he got very interested in writing and drawing, and sitting still for an hour- by choice- to draw.  And draw and draw and draw.  And his handwriting went from "zero-to-hero" almost overnight.

And all of the sudden, he and I are connecting so much better.  I feel like I understand him more, can reason with him and talk to him in a way that makes sense to him...and maybe that's me or maybe it's him.  It do feel like a rotten mom for having gone through years of not "getting" him.  But on the other hand, I want to take advantage of the time we have now to play and learn and grow together.

Well...I think it was him who went through a mental growth spurt, but I wonder... Was it me?  Did something in my brain change or click so that I could understand him better?  My pregnancy was so wonderful, I had so many lovely hormones flowing through me- they truly did help me be a better mom!

Or maybe God has heard my desperate cries to connect with my son.  With this little dude who has challenged me in ways I didn't think was possible.  I won't go into details for the sake of family privacy, but it's been difficult.  And boy, did I have to pray hard to get through some days.  I know God wants me to rely on Him, to give Him my worries and anger and anxieties and let Him take this from me. And maybe He's trying to teach me to choose virtue instead of vice?  It's so real to see your children have your own same faults... To realize that's what I'm like?  Boy I wish I could teach him now so that he wouldn't have to go through this difficult time trying to reform as an adult!

But I won't be able to, because it's not totally up to me.  He is his own person- a silly, genuinely funny, artistic, skillful boy- and all I can do is set a good example for him (what a challange!) and pray. Pray pray pray pray pray.


His face is changing.  He's growing into a "big kid" and leaving behind my little boy.  He still favors me, I think, but sometimes I catch him looking at a toy and he looks like his Daddy.  So handsome and so old!  I think he will be tall and have broad shoulders.  He's definitely a soccer star but he tells me he wants to be a knight, a space man, and a daddy.  At Sunday's mass he saw the Knights of Columbus with their swords and that caught his attention!

I will make it my prayer that whatever he decides to be, he follows the path God sets before him.  And I am thankful for the opportunity to connect and reconnect from all the times I missed when the journey was too hard.