Wednesday, August 27

Peace Out, Facebook

This week has been the start of our 2014-2015 school year!  We started on Monday and have been very punctual and diligent and have all (mostly) had good attitudes about the whole thing.  I've been waking up (thanks to a little one) around 6:30-6:45 and getting some things done before the kids come down for breakfast.  I really like the way it's all been flowing.  We even had a tea party yesterday with fresh-baked cookies and we worked on manners!  It's been a great 3 days so far!

I know it sounds a bit like a fairy tale, or maybe now's when I say BUT...  But I'm not going to. :-)  I am, however, going to own the fact that maybe I did something right for me.  I gave up Facebook!  Is it coincidence that I haven't snapped at the kids in 3 days?  Or have managed to accomplish keeping the sink empty WHILE homeschooling WHILE cooking WHILE entertaining a teething, clingy baby?  I know this isn't the effect on everyone, but sometimes for me it's been pretty obvious that Facebook= mean mommy.  So I just cut the cord.

Honestly, I do miss aspects, like my professional community or getting suggestions or referrals from certain groups of people.  I am worried that I'll lose touch with some people.  I've tried reaching out to friends via text and phone so I know what's going on.  It's funny to me that "texting" is sort of old-fashioned compared to Facebook messenger!  (Please, friends, don't lose touch!)

I've heard from lots of people who are teetering on the edge of giving it up.  I'd like to encourage you to just do it!  Give it a week.  No need to start a revolution here, but see if it positively impacts your life.  I think, for me at least, the benefits of giving it up outweigh the disappointment of missing out on certain things.

I did decide I won't deactivate my account, and I'll "check in" once a week on a Saturday.  I do get communication from clients this way and occasionally a friend will tag me in a photo that I want to see.  I know, it sounds like I'm making excuses... I guess I can see how that goes too!

I'll sign off this blog post with an unrelated but super-cute picture of Caeli riding in a grocery cart for the first time.  She totally loved it.

Monday, August 4

Recalibrating Our Routine

I have been reading a lot of A Sabbath Mood Homeschool, and she wrote a blog post about recalibrating your morning routine that I have been thinking about.  I like our routine.  It works for us.  I really wish I could be a morning person, and maybe one day I will be, but right I can't make myself get up any earlier than 6:45.  But, if I actually stick to that, I should be able to get a few things done before the big kids come downstairs and we officially start our day- so that will be my first change! 

My goal will be to get dressed, make my bed and my latte, have morning prayer, and probably start a load of laundry all before serving breakfast to the olders.  As per our previous schedule, I like to start morning chores at 8 and work until about 8:45, with a 15 minute break before we start school at 9.  Getting the kids back into doing their morning chores is going to be a challenge.  We've all been "off" since Caeli has joined our family, and I can't function like that anymore!  I had a housekeeper on and off for awhile but at this time we've decided that it's not the right decision for our family, so I really need to utilize that 45 minute window in the morning to take care of cleaning!

We have lessons from 9-12, more or less, depending on the day.  I'm not sure how it's going to be this school year with a pre-toddler crawling around the school room!

We pray the Angelus and have lunch around 12, pick up after lunch, and have rest time from 1-2:30.  This means kids upstairs, mama downstairs, but I think now that they're getting older I might need to structure their rest time a bit more by offering them audiobooks or handicrafts to do on their own.  Sometimes the boys are lost in play, sometimes they're at each other's throats!

2:30-3 is snack and pre-dinner prep (I'm trying to get better about this too) and then I want afternoons to be reserved for handicrafts and nature and playtime.  I think this will be easier this year because Beth is becoming so capable of doing many things on her own!  She's learning how to follow recipes (she made banana bread today!) and I think she'll be able to use my sewing machine with just minimal help from me.  She always wants to be creating something so I have to come up with a lot!

We have a 15-minute pickup when Ryan is on his way home from work, dinner is usually between 5:30- 6, and the evenings are spent playing with Daddy!

Since our summer schedule has been a little wacky, I'm already starting to ease back into things so that it's not such a shock to our system come August 25.  Re-establishing morning chores has been the most difficult task so far but habit training happens slowly sometimes!  

I don't feel like summer is almost over because we don't have the mad back-to-school rush that I think a lot of families experience.  Easing back into our routine will help eliminate that feeling too, I think, because we will basically just have to add lessons into our day.  And Beth is already looking forward to starting school- I think she's been a little bored lately. :-(  I hope that means she'll be enthusiastic in three weeks!

Monday, July 21

Waking Up from Naptime

First I sneak a  peek around the corner of my dresser and see this:

Oh good, she's waking up happy!

Not just happy, but really happy!

So I unswaddle her so she can have a good stretch.

She's ready to be picked up and cuddled now!

But first, she needs to stretch the legs too!

Everyone sounds so surprised when they hear I still swaddle Caeli.  She's only swaddled when she's in this little bed though, and as you can see she's about to outgrow it!  It's been so perfect and this has definitely been one of my favorite new things to have for her.  She sleeps here for naps and for the first part of bedtime.  After I go to bed, whenever she wakes up I just unswaddle her and pull her into bed with me!

Sunday, July 13

Beth's First Holy Communion

On June 22, the feast of Corpus Christi, Beth received the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord for the very first time!  After careful consideration, our pastor decided she was ready for her First Holy Communion, and we planned for a beautiful feast day in which we'd have family and friends in town to help her celebrate.

She received the sacrament of penance just a few days before, so her soul was nice and squeaky clean!

Beth's dress was custom-made from an etsy shop and her veil is from Veils by Lily.  She wore her first pair of "high heels" that she picked out and absolutely adores!

 After reading and research, Ryan and I opted to have her consume a Vatican-approved low-gluten host, kept separate from the other hosts in her own pyx.  She picked it out herself and we discussed with her how the miniscule amount of gluten in the host (less than .2 parts per million)  kept it licit.  She agreed to go this route for now.  If we ever think that her host could be making her sick, we will re-evaluate and see if maybe she should receive Our Lord from only the Precious Blood.

We had just a small gathering of friends at mass and at our home afterward to celebrate.  We had brunch prepared for everyone ahead of time, and of course had yummy cake and white punch.  Everyone loved the punch and asked for the recipe, so here it is!

The man of the house offered a prayer for her, and Beth also received some sweet gifts from her treasured friends and family members: a prayer book, a rosary, a crucifix, a James Avery necklace, and a book about her favorite saint.  We are so proud of her and so happy that she was finally able to receive Him, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The Many Faces of Caeli Rose

Wednesday, July 9

Caeli is 6 months old!

Half a year old?  Already?  Stop, time.  Stop passing.  I'm not ready for this one to grow up.

I want to remember this toothless, enthusiastic smile forever.
Every person- seriously, everyone- that we meet comments on how happy she is!  No, she doesn't really cry.  (Well, she's cried a few times, and mostly recently when she's fallen over from a sitting up position.)  She hardly even fusses!  I think we've both been really good at figuring this kid out and getting her down for a nap at the right time (before she's overtired and overstimulated), and I think she has a lot of activity going on to entertain her. ;-)  She doesn't nurse as frequently as the other kids did, and she goes to sleep a lot easier.  In fact, she's still sleeping with us, because she's the first kid who nurses and then rolls over and goes to sleep on her own without touching me.  And she wakes up only two or three times during the night, going back to sleep very quickly.  It's pretty amazing, and I now understand how parents bedshare for such a long time.  It's really pleasant when the baby isn't constantly needing to touch you or nurse all night long!  I remember being so over-stimulated with the other kids and needing to have my space.  It's been quite a different experience this time.

The big question I wonder is why?  Why is she so different? Ryan and I are always looking for the cause... We can speculate all we want but I'm sure we'll never know.  My pregnancy was healthier than with the other kids. Her birth wasn't any different from the boy's births.  Her infancy wasn't any different than Jack's.  She's been wearing her amber necklace since she was about 6 weeks old and she has 3 big siblings to help care for and entertain her.  Maybe I'm less worn out because the other kids are older and I'm a more experienced mom?

First food- a bit of Earth's Best mixed grain cereal mixed with breastmilk  We will be practicing baby-led weaning again, but we decided (based on current research) that she needed to have some gluten before she was 6 months old.
Over all I think it's a combination of who she is and my decision to just let things go.  To toss out the parenting and sleep books and just do what God created me to do.  To trust my experience and mama instinct.  To listen to my heart and not worry about what anyone else thinks I "should" be doing. 

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to play with in our house!
Mentally I'm in such a great place.  In fact, I don't think I've been better, and while I've always been a confident parent I've had many days when I didn't feel like myself.  I guess I was trying to figure out who I was as a mother- and to a certain extent I guess I'll always be trying to discern God's call for us. 
Sleepy baby
"They" said that the fourth kid is easier than the rest, and so far that's truly been absolutely correct!  Having the first was the most difficult for me, adding the second wasn't too bad, adding the third was harder, but the fourth has been a breeze and a joy!

I wonder if the fifth is even easier? :-)

Monday, June 30

Sitting up and rolling over

Caeli rolled over for the first time while Uncle Matthew was visiting in May- she was 4.5 months!  WHAT?  I really don't remember the other kids rolling over so early- maybe I'm just old and forgetful but that seems kind of early, right?  Well, she's on the move now- she will roll from one side of the room to the other if she wants to get something.

This video is her second time to roll over.  Of course I missed the first time!

I pulled out the bumbo seat for her around then too, and we realized she was already pretty strong.  Right now, at almost 6 months old, she's a very strong sitter and will sit for 15-20 minutes in the play room, tinkering with a toy and watching everyone else play.

I'm so happy she's healthy and strong, but she's growing up too quickly for this mama!

Tuesday, June 24

Jack is Four!

Jackson is four!

I call you my "baby" and you quickly correct me and tell me that you're a "big boy."  But as big as you think you are, you were my baby for 3.5 years, and in some ways you will always be my baby!

With you, I learned respect.  I learned how to respect your personal space and give you nothing but unconditional love.  I have been fiercely protective of you, and you never went through "terrible twos" or "trying threes," and I'd like to think that my respect for you helped us bypass those phases.  Or maybe you did go through them, but my approach to parenting you differently helped me realize that you're just a little guy in need of love and respect.  Whatever the case, you are such a unique boy with so much love and giggles to share.

As you turn four, you love to sing!  You get a song stuck in your head and you sing the same lyrics over and over and over again!  You declare almost daily that your favorite songs are "Hello My Name Is" and "Speak Life," then you sing them as quickly as you can!  Of course, you do as all little kids and mix up and change the words up quite a bit. :-)


You share a room with your brother now, and you spend some much time drawing with him and you emulate his every move.  You are so blessed to have a big brother and a big sister who dote on you and love you so much.  You guys are all so close, now that the three of you are grown up a bit I can really tell that y'all are buddies and will remain that way for life.

And of course, that little sister of yours.  You dote on her and spoil her with kisses!  Even when she's sleeping and I ask you to leave her alone, you can't help but steal kisses on her little toes.  You're going to be such a good big brother to her!

You love your pets and you steal and eat green tomatoes off our tomato plants.  You always want to "do school" when Beth is learning and I think you're going to be reading early too.  But you're left-handed, and I'm having a heck of a time teaching you how to write!  But you're just sort of figuring it out on your own, which is fine with me!


I asked you some questions today, and here are your answers:

Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Movie: Max and Ruby
Favorite Game: Farmer (you play this with wood blocks, little people, and tractors with Luke)
Favorite Game with Daddy: Forest Monster (Daddy chases you around and you squeal with joy!)
Favorite Outside Game: Baby (Beth is the Mommy, Luke is the Daddy, and you're the Baby!)
Favorite Friends: Sydney and Andrew
Favorite Place to Go: B.J.s (out to eat!)
Favorite Book to Read: Billy and Blaze (though I think you equally love Fancy Nancy!)
 Favorite Meal that Mommy Cooks: Pizza
What do you want for your birthday: A scooter

You are such a joy to me!  Your birth was such a pleasure (no, really- it was.  Nearly painless!) and you changed my life for the better.  I love you!