Tuesday, January 31

Art

Blogging from my phone! Today the kids finger painted with a homeade mix of glue and shaving cream, dyed with food coloring. Lots of fun but their hands are stained pink and purple! Beth said, "mom, the painting was fun but my hands look like pinkalicious!"



Sunday, January 29

No More Apologies

I think I'll quit apologizing for my erratic posting habits.  Fact is, we're busy and my blogging has taken a backseat to the rest of my life.  Well, it's never been the first thing on my mind, but now that we're schooling daily, I'm busy with my doula work, and I'm trying to be better about spending less time online I really just am too busy.  But, it's an important account of our lives, so I'll just promise to update when I can.

Beth and I are still schooling every day, though we've stepped back from the Mother of Divine Grace curriculum I had been using last semester.  It's boring, for me and her.  She doesn't like a couple of aspects of it and we both just feel so bored doing what seems like the same stuff every day, so I'm taking what I like from it and we're just doing our own thing.  She's still learning to read, but we're doing games and flashcards, and I just bought a couple of new workbooks from Barnes and Noble.  I was there the other night by myself so I signed up for an educator's discount card!  20% off, wohoo!  She was also bored with learning numbers and wanted to move into addition and subtraction, so we're playing games and working through another new workbook and some pages I've printed off the internet.  For religion we're going to work more on Catholic activities and crafts in addition to our bible reading.
sorting broken crayons and peeling off the paper to make "new" heart-shaped crayons
watching them melt- waiting is so hard for the little ones!

the first of the two batches of crayons we made

This is funny but also sort of sad, but the other day Beth asked me what a pope was.  I had to laugh because to her, there's no "religion."  To her, all people are good and all people love Jesus.  She knows she was created by God, Jesus is his son who died for us, and Mary was his mother and Joseph was his father.  She knows about the 10 commandments and that Jesus lives in everyone's hearts.  She knows that we pray to talk with Jesus and the saints, and that her angel is always with her.  What she doesn't know about is that there are people who don't believe the same way we do, she doesn't know there are so many different "flavors" of Christianity.  She tells me almost daily that she loves Jesus more than anything else, and wants to do his will so that she can be in heaven with him.  When Jesus talks about having "faith like a child," I think Beth is the perfect example of this.  She has such a sweet innocence and such a beautiful heart.  I have no doubt she is going to do amazing things with her life, all for the glory of God!  But, in the meantime, I have to teach her a little more about our Holy Father, lol!
sorting and matching lids from various containers i've been saving





Luke is having fun being a 3-year-old boy... Unfortunately most days this means torturing his mother and siblings!  Lately he's been giving me a run for my money, and providing me ample opportunities to practice patience.  I remember going through a bit of a rough patch when Beth was 3, and I think it's Luke's turn right now.  Luckily I have several good friends who have 3-year-old boys and who are more than happy to talk with me about their sons, and I know that what he's going through is pretty standard behavior.  I think he's dropping his nap too, which doesn't help the evening crankiness.  It has made us get very serious about fencing in our backyard though, because I know that once he (and Beth and Jack) are able to go outside and play for an hour or more each day, it will help release their cooped-up energy!
luke did this puzzle mostly by himself!  he was so proud!

the marsh backyard after some rain we had this week. 
At this point Ryan and I are hoping to have the fence done in March- we've decided that first we need to raise the entire backyard and plant new grass.  We had added 6 (?) loads of dirt last year in the very back of the yard, and now the middle part needs to be raised as well because it's still just a boggy marsh when it rains.  Hopefully we'll be able to get to work on all of this soon because this is very important to me!  I know the risks but I'm also considering getting a super-safe trampoline... I'm desperate for them to get outside and burn off that energy!
Jack is now 19 months but holy cow, he's still my "baby."  It's hard for me to believe that when Luke was 19 months, I was 36 weeks pregnant and therefore it made Luke seem so much older!  I can totally see why the youngest children in the family are spoiled rotten, because Jack totally is.  We let him get away with stuff that we were so stringent about before, and I know it's our faults!  He is such a momma's boy, and he's still nursing several times a day.  He's starting to try to use real words, and it's getting to that time where I can understand what he's saying but no one else really can.  He can say ball, book, hair, spoon, grandpa, car, bath, Beth, night night, and probably a few more.  He does understand everything I'm saying though, and eagerly waits for instructions from me when I say his name!  So helpful and so cute.  His favorite thing to do right now is to imitate Beth and Luke in everything from silly noises and faces to playing what they're playing.  When they're doing something he can't see he runs to the bathroom, grabs the stool, and brings it right next to them so he can be as tall as they are.  He gets right in there and participates in everything to the best of his ability!

Poor Finley had surgery almost two weeks ago to remove a couple of lumps that we weren't sure about and to have his teeth cleaned.  Since Boxers are prone to tumors, we decided to have these lumps removed just to be safe.  Now, for nearly two weeks, he's had to wear an e-collar, which has made him rather depressed!  At first he wasn't messing with his stitches but I noticed the skin was getting pink and irritated, so we had to torture him afterall.


I've been working on a few projects lately, related to my new year's resolution of moving toward a  more healthy and natural home.  I made homemade laundry detergent and dishwasher soap, both economical and containing less scary ingredients than store-bought kind.  So far they both seem to work!  I also made a yarn wreath for our front door, I meant for it to be for Valentine's day but it just looks nice and spring-y. 
 I know now why they're sold for $30-$50 on etsy.com though, just wrapping the yarn around the wreath took nearly two hours!  Although I've seen some very cute colored once, I chose white so that I could change out the felt decorations throughout the year and to make it more seasonal.  The pink and yellow flowers are made from felt and hot glued onto hair clippies so that Beth can wear them when I move on to new decor. :-)

Ryan and I had a date night last week, much thanks to his parents for babysitting for us!  We had drinks and a late dinner at Lupe Tortilla  then went to Barnes and Noble for "my" date I had planned!  We completed these challenges then had some Starbucks before ending the night.  Not our typical date, since we usually head to a pub and have some drinks, but we had fun and in the end spent less moolah!

I had a rough week, emotionally.  I don't feel overwhelmed with my tasks, I just wish I had better control of my emotions and reactions to the kids when they push my buttons.  I know it'll be a life-long journey for me, but I truly hope they know that everything I've done in my life is for them!  I love them so much, and I melt when they tell me at the end of the night that I'm the best mommy in the world because there are some days when I could swear I was the worst person ever in the history of the planet.  But, after a thought-provoking homily this morning at mass, I'm ready to tackle this week with a clear head and new motivation!  Say some prayers for me!


Sunday, January 15

Teamwork

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I had two night births and it's been sort of hectic!  We're trying to get back into our daily routine and we were somewhat successful last week.  :-)  One morning I was getting very frustrated by all the "mine!" and "leave me alone!" sort of comments, that I scrapped our morning lesson plan and decided to focus on teamwork instead!  I came up with a few things on the spot, and the first was a mini-lecture of sorts (ha!) on how a family is like a football team... I thought Ryan would be proud of my analogy!  We talked about how each person has strengths and weaknesses, and how we help each other out, how the coach knows each player's strengths, etc... Luke said his strength was running fast, and Beth said her strength was being honest!  So, they sort of got it. ;-)  Then I got on youtube and we watched the winning play of the Texans vs. the Bengals.  The kids watch football with Ryan so they knew what was going on, but I kept starting and stopping the video to try to make points, like this guy is good at kicking and this guy is good at catching, etc.  They just liked watching a video, lol.

After our discussion we had a three-legged "walk" around the house.  They had never done this before so I tied their legs together and let them go at it.  Surprisingly they didn't fall, but they didn't quite get it the "right" way either.  I think the benefit of this was that they were standing near each other- arms around each other- and not trying to hurt each other.  I'll consider it a successful activity.!




After this we played a modified game of hide-and-seek, but they had to hold hands and find an object I had hidden.  The goal was one person had to say, "I think it's under the pillow" and the other person had to lift up the pillow to look.  They did it well a few times, and I played too so they took turns hiding the object. 

We also read a Curious George book where George takes newspapers and makes paper boats to float down the river, and so we decided to fold a paper boat!  This wasn't really a teamwork exercise, but they thought it was really cool, and I was just happy I could follow the illustrated directions in the book!  The boat lasted about 2 minutes in the water before Luke pushed it under the water, he didn't realize that would make it sink!


I truly hope that I'm able to help them cultivate a special friendship.  So many days I think one is out to kill the other!  They have different personalities but I pray that as the years go on, they're able to share happy memories, share faith, share family, and be good friends!


And here is a photo of Jack, because although he didn't fully participate in our teamwork activities, he's definitely part of our team!


And while that would be a nice place to end this post, I have a few more pictures to share that don't belong anywhere particular. :-)

Another day last week we made a race track and blew little poms around the track with air from our straws.  Beth loved this activity, then of course the boys took matchbox cars to it and destroyed the track within a few minutes.  They had a fun time destroying it though!



Sunday, January 8

Our Christmas Gifts

Our Christmas gifts for the kids this year were given with the hopes that it would provide lots of entertainment for them upstairs.  We hardly spend anytime upstairs during the day, except when the kids have rest/nap time.  Luke is still napping, but I have a feeling that he will drop it sometime in the next several months.  Luke received a bunch of matchbox cars, trains, a set of semi-trucks, and books to fill up his little bookshelf in his bedroom.  I kid you not, before Christmas he had books and a set of wooden train tracks in his room- not really conducive to extended playtime! He now has plenty of toys, hopefully he will enjoy playing on his own for awhile since he's not really into sharing right now. ;-)

trucks, cars, diggers, trains, helicopters, blocks, train tracks!  you think it'd be enough to entertain him for hours! 

Saturday, January 7

Welcome 2012!

 Last Saturday night was New Year's Eve, and we celebrated at home with the kiddos this year.  We grilled some ribs and played outside- wearing shorts and t-shirts. ;-)  I bought some firework popper things, I thought they just shot out streamers but I didn't realize there was actually a pop!  The kids "helped" Ryan pop a few while we were making dinner, they thought it was the coolest thing ever!  Even Jack wanted a turn!


We had a delicious family-style dinner, which is another one of my resolutions.  Ryan and I get very frustrated during mealtime when the kids are making demands constantly... more milk, more water, new napkins, give me mustard, I need a new fork... So we're putting everything on the table before dinner, and asking the kids to help out by either getting their own water or by setting napkins/forks at each chair.  So far it's wonderful!  Ryan and I can actually sit down and eat with the kids, instead of one of us always having to get up!  It creates some extra dishes but in the end, we're okay with that!
 

 
As soon as it got dark, the neighbors started shooting off firecrackers.  Not little firecrackers or occasional pop, but the real kind that make you feel a BOOM in your chest.  Needless to say our children were not interested in going to bed!  We stayed up a little and let them watch the show, and eventually put them in their rooms to bed with their fans (white noise) on as loudly as we could manage.  I'm amazed they went to sleep, and stayed asleep during the grand finale at midnight!

New year's morning was Sunday, and we went to mass as usual and came home and made an extra-fancy brunch!  Mimosas for Mom and Dad, and bacon, hash browns, eggs, and pancakes for all.  Family style, of course, in my new serving dishes from Target!






We spent the rest of the day relaxing, talking about our goals for the year, and working in the yard a bit.  Ryan had Monday off too and we took a family trip to Ikea for a new bookshelf for my new printer (more on that later!).  Never again will Ryan and I take them to Ikea... It's really just not worth it!!!

It's been a wonderful treat to have Ryan home so much during the Christmas break!  He's back to work as usual and I'm ready for us to start school and get back on our schedule again.  Tonight we took down our Christmas decor and Monday we'll start our spring semester! 

Thursday, January 5

Questions

Hmm...
Do you ever have one of those days when you just want to take the afternoon off? 
Do you ever feel trapped in your own house, look outside the window and it's almost like you're looking through jail bars? 
Do you ever look at your life and go, "Wait. What now?" 
Do you ever wonder if you're actually talking to the wall, because clearly no one has heard a word you've said all day long? 
Do you contemplate what would happen to the kids and your house if you just were to lock yourself in your closet all afternoon with a stash of dark chocolate and Dr. Pepper?  
Do you tell God, "I know you won't give me more than I can handle, I just wish you wouldn't trust me with so much?"

Oh you haven't?  Um yeah, me neither. :-b

Tuesday, January 3

Today

The Scene: Beth was "nursing" her baby with a blanket draped over her baby and chest.

me: "Beth, why are you covering with a blanket?"
beth: "So I don't ruin anyone."
me: "Ruin anyone?! How would you ruin them?"
beth: "I mean, destroy anyone. So I don't destroy them."
me: "Destroy?!"
beth: "Um. Distract. So I don't distract anyone."

A new resolution

I still haven't decided what my new year's resolutions should be yet!  I'm a couple of days late, but I think my procrastination paid off last night when I read this blog post.  While she's a bit wordy (her book is like that too!), I felt like I could relate to certain parts of her post, and I loved her idea of giving each year a name.  Today I've been pondering what my year could be, and while I can't think of a snappy name I picked a single word that speaks to the person I've been trying to be lately.

Joy.

I want my 2012 to be joyful!  I want to be able to seek joy in all things, because for me seeking joy is nearly equivalent to learning to become grateful.  Gratitude naturally leads to thanksgiving, and thanksgiving leads to humility.  I love that these virtues are so closely entwined!

Our deacon pointed out at church this week that to have a resolution means not just stating your goal, but figuring out the steps you'll take to achieve your goal...So with that in mind, here are my steps.  They sound silly but I think each one will bring me one step closer to living a joy-filled year!


purposefully laugh.
smile when i want to frown. unfurrow my brow.  don't force it- become it.
be thankful for my blessings. write down one thing I'm grateful for per day in my day planner.
seek joy in the most difficult/awkward/frustrating of all situations by pondering it in prayer before speaking.
be a source of joy to those around me, especially my husband and children.
imitate the one who was full of Joy herself, mary!


In Luke 2:19, "Mary pondered these things in her heart."  Somehow I feel drawn that spending more time pondering- instead of speaking (yelling?)- will lead me to joy.  Joy in Jesus, joy in my daily life, joy in my faith.  I'm not sure quite how yet, but I hope that by spending more time pondering, Jesus will turn my eyes to the true joy that I can only find in him!

Happy 2012!

Sunday, January 1

Christmas Tree Farm

Our trip to the Christmas tree farm this year was more of a trip to visit the animals, ride the train, and run around the tree fields!  The farm we go to has lots of little fun extras to see and do, and we spent more time checking out these extras than we had in the past. 

Year In Review

I've been feeling very contemplative lately, like an end-of-the-year post might do me some good. :-)

2011 marked a few big events, the first one that comes to my mind is the conception and loss of our sweet baby.  I still think about him daily, and some days are a lot harder than others.  It's hard thinking of what should have been, like that I'd soon be entering my third trimester.  But, it's also comforting for me to know that we have a little saint in heaven praying for us!
 
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