Friday, May 30

End of our School Year

 

Last day of 1st grade!
First grade is officially over! Comparing this picture with the one I took at the beginning of first grade, I can tell Beth has blossomed quite a bit this school year.  She has gotten taller and her hair has grown (but she's wearing the same shirt in both this picture and the first day of school picture!).

She told me her favorite subject was math, because she learned how to do calculations faster.  Her reading fluency has really improved, she went from a first grade to a fourth grade reading level (according to the little online tests, are those even accurate?).  She still loves reading bible stories and drawing and coloring pictures of what we've read, and as of last week she wants to be an author and illustrator when she grows up!
Science reading

She really enjoyed our co-op, her favorite part was meeting new friends, bible history, and US geography.  She thoroughly impressed all of her teachers at co-op.  During both semesters, they would come up to me to tell me little stories about how smart and sweet she was. One teacher told me about how Beth kept raising her hand to answer questions, but then stopped raising her hand.  After class, Beth told the teacher that she stopped raising her hand to give the other kids a chance to answer questions!  Another one told me about how Beth politely corrected her when she said something wrong about one of the bible prophets.  And everyone was always impressed with her manners, although I heard that she goofed off a little bit with a couple of other girls in her class. ;-)

Friends from co-op
 Luke and Jack loved co-op too!  It was SO good for them.  It was really good for all of us, actually.  :-) Their class was mostly boys and it was just the perfect atmosphere for Luke.  Their teacher was so sweet and amazing, and Luke also matured so much.  His writing and drawing has grown by leaps and bounds, and I think once he's ready he is going to take off reading.   He's super excited about kindergarten next year (he keeps reminding us that HE will be in kindergarten and NOT Jack) and is looking forward to seeing his friend Sam at co-op again!

I am making myself wait until July to start planning for the fall.  I just want to get past a few upcoming events before I delve into planning again!  I'll do another back-to-school post in the fall!

Friday, May 16

7 Quick Takes!

---1---


My mother's day was so very nice and relaxing.  Well, it started off a little busy- I got called to work at 4:30 am!  My first birth back was on mother's day!  It went pretty fast and I was home by 10 am so we could run to 11 am mass and come home for brunch.  Ryan and the kids made me a feast, and I was treated to a back massage by Luke while Ryan was cooking!  Of course we had mimosas, but also my favorite- toast with fried ham and cheesy eggs!  And bacon.  Always bacon.


---2---

But mother's day didn't really start there.  The day before, on Saturday, we drove out to a local plant nursery that I just adore.  They were serving frozen bellinis and I got to cruise around while Ryan hoarded the kids around.  I bought a few plants to put in the pots on my porch!  Before the day was even over there was already a hummingbird drinking from the pink salvia!



 ---3---

I have to tell you how proud I am of my garden.  It's grown so beautifully and perfectly.  We have fresh mixed salad almost daily!  Soon we should have carrots and onions too! I randomly threw in some naturtium seeds in an attempt to keep aphids off of my other plants.  They add a beautiful pop of color in both of the beds.
 


 ---4---

 This week and last Caeli has really gotten into some serious finger sucking.  She's the only kid who hasn't needed a pacifier, so I guess to compensate she uses her fingers.  I know how hard it was for the other kids to wean from their nuks, so when Caeli didn't seem to need one I didn't bother to offer.  And now she sucks her fingers.  Well... All three big kids still always have something in their mouths- fingers, toys, hair... I know finger-sucking is a hard habit to break, but it's not like a pacifier kept the other ones from sticking stuff in their mouths!

---5---
Oh yes.  The other big thing we did last weekend. ;-)  I made an impulsive decision because Ryan wouldn't decide for me!  At the farmer's market a man was selling bunnies, $10 each.  I offered $15 for two, and he accepted!  Meet our two newest family members,

Blaze

and Star


They're not quite as little as I wish they were but they're sweet bunnies who fit in perfectly with our crowd!  Of course the kids love them and they're doing super-well with them.  I got a rabbit for my 9th birthday and had various pet rabbits up through early high school, so my love for them is deeply ingrained, and I knew I wanted to have rabbits as a part of our family eventually.  So while it was impulsive, it was a tiny bit planned!  

They're named after animals in two of our favorite books- Star was one of Almanzo's cows in Farmer Boy, and Blaze is named after the horse from the Billy and Blaze books.  (If you have a boy under five years old, you have to read Billy and Blaze.  My boys love them!)

I've ordered a cage for them and I think we will set them up in our school room.  So far Finley is terribly interested- I think it's going to take some time for him to be calm around them.  I don't anticipate them being friends anytime soon, if ever, but he at least needs to chill out around them.  I won't ever take any chances with Finley or the cats around them, but they should all be able to at least coexist nicely!

---6---
Summer is almost here for us!  Beth is finishing up rather quickly so I think we will cut down on our weeks and finish in about 3 more weeks.  Since our co-op and other activities have drawn to a close, we're trying out some new things!  There is an Irish dance studio down the road, and they have a class with a lot of our home school friends, so we decided to join for the summer months.  Beth and Luke love it, and Jack sneaks in when no one is watching him!  It looks like so much fun!


---7---
Okay, I'm going to go out on a ledge here with this last one.  This has been heavy on my heart for months now and I want to get it out.  I re-joined my gym when Caeli was six weeks old.  I lost three pounds pretty quickly but I've hit a plateau with these last five pounds- and I'm okay with that.  I'm still a good two sizes larger than what I was before.  But I'm okay with that too.  I know what my body used to be, I know what it did (hosted 6 little souls and birthed 4 of them!), and I know what it is now.  

What I really want to say to everyone who feels like they have a right to comment on my body is this: Please.  Don't.  Please don't think anything of me at all.  It hurts my feelings and makes me feel very self-conscious.  I am not doing this to "look good."  Please don't jokingly tell me you "hate me" or that you're "jealous" of me.  Be proud of your own body, for what it has done, and what it is capable of.  Don't compare yourself to me or anyone else.

Because what you don't see is the inside of me.  You don't see the clouds that gather in my mind when I don't make it to the gym for an adrenaline rush.  Yes, I want to be strong, healthy, and to set a good example of health to my children, but most of all I want to be mentally present to them. I've found that for me, the best way to accomplish that is through exercise.

So the next time you see a woman who has dropped a lot of weight quickly after having a baby, please don't judge her, or silently be jealous.  I read an example in Simcha Fisher's book The Sinner's Guide to NFP that really made me think about how I can be judgemental.  A woman was so fit and athletic, but complained about not looking good enough to her friends, and everyone thought she was crazy because she was clearly a beautiful woman.  At the end of the example, the reader discovered that this woman was in an abusive relationship with her husband who told her she was fat and ugly, so she thought she wasn't good enough.  Would you have even considered for a second that maybe there was more to her story?  There's usually is.  There's so much more to my story.  (Though I should probably clarify, not abuse, thank God!)



I'd like to encourage anyone who feels the need to clear their mind to just find 20 minutes to go walk around the block.  It doesn't have to be some huge production at the gym.  Mental health is so important and worth it.  For your kids, your spouse, and for you.

Okay I'm off my soapbox now and done with my second 7 quick takes! Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 12

4 Months Old!









I forgot to post this on Caeli's 4-month birthday!  Oops!

Stop growing, baby girl!  I love you to pieces but this is all going to fast.  I saw a newborn the other day and it made me realize that you absolutely not a newborn anymore.  I'll go with "baby..."  Are you even an infant anymore?  You already have such a bright personality!  Your smiles make your Daddy and I just melt!  You are just the perfect baby.  You let me know exactly what you need, when you need it, and then you're happy and content again.  I just can't believe how wonderful and easy this all is. 

When Daddy is holding you, he spikes up your long mohawk hair to look like a unicorn.  Even during mass.

When I hold you, you reach for my hair or necklace, or even my cup.  Anything you can get your hands on goes immediately to your mouth! 

You are desperately trying to roll over.  And you're so close!  But stop already- you're too little to be doing this!

You suck your middle and ring finger.  I call it "I love you" and some of the mean people out their call it "hook 'em."  But you were born an Aggie and an Aggie you shall remain.  Let's try to suck on two different fingers though, shall we?!



You're in size 6 month clothes and I'm having to change you over to bigger cloth diapers because the size small are too short in the rise.  I think this week I might pull out our bumbo to see if you're ready to sit in it!

I think my favorite "milestone" of yours right now is that every time I put you down on your back, you immediately grab your toes!  I love this!  I loved it with all of your siblings and I love it now!




I know it's cliche but I still just can't find any better way to say it: time is flying by too fast.  I wish I could bottle up the feelings I get when I look at your smile and keep it forever.  I love you my sweet girl!

Tuesday, May 6

Thoughts about Facebook

I am on the verge of... quitting Facebook.  I've been a member since it came out in 2005, and have taken occasional breaks but I am really feeling called to just throw in the towel all together.  So often it leads to stress or feeling down about myself, and is usually such a huge distraction that I can't see that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

There are certainly lots of benefits- I have made friends (real and online friends) whose friendships have blessed me!  I would miss that.  But another part of me thinks that I need to nourish the friendships I have and get out of my comfort zone to make new friendships... And as nice as online friendships are, they are not a replacement for a flesh-and-blood-sitting-across-the-table-from-me sort of friend.

Ahh, but what about the professional aspect of it... I used to maintain a business page for my doula business, but since I've been pregnant and on "maternity leave" I've neglected it...And I don't miss it!  I would miss a bit of community amongst other doulas in my area- but again, that's something I would need to maintain offline.

I don't tend to get caught up in "mommy wars," but I do feel weighed down sometimes.  And I will openly admit that I am desperate for close friendships.  Only recently have I realized that my introversion has left me in a sometimes very lonely place.  And I think the solution to that is not in Facebook, but in having to step out and just do something about it. I never kept count of "friends" on Facebook; I am actually pretty consistent about keeping my friend list limited to people I would actually be willing to hang out with in real life.  But making friends intimidates me- I get nervous just thinking about it- but another part of me thinks "LET'S DO THIS!"  I think perhaps I'm hiding a little bit.  Behind the security of Facebook.

Just the other day I decided to take the first step to ditching Facebook and I removed the app from my phone.  You know what?  I held my phone a lot less that day, and every day since then. And that's a major goal of mine- to not be staring at a screen, distracted and pulled away by someone else who isn't even actually in the room with me!  And lately all I can think about is the example I'm setting for my children in the way I speak, dress, and in what I do.

I know it's not all bad!  There are certainly things I would miss.  For example, if a major sporting event happened, I could usually get enough information about it to impress Ryan when he got home from work. ;-)  Since we don't have cable and I don't follow major new networks, I would definitely miss breaking news announcements.  Pregnancy announcements from friends, other big life events... And now I'm leaning toward not quitting!

You're probably thinking I should just keep it up in moderation, right?  That's just so hard for me! I have very little self-control!

I do know that my goals are to not hold my phone as much (I do have to keep it with me constantly when I'm on call, but at least I don't have to be handling it), to be less distracted by less-important things, and to make new friends and reach out more to the ones I have. 

I absolutely hate the feeling of reading something that affects my mood for several hours. I also hate a false sense of belonging.

So I have lots of things to consider and pray about.  I'd like to know if anyone has quit Facebook and never looked back?  


Monday, May 5

So Long, Soccer Season!


Another long but fun semester of soccer has drawn to a close.  It's been awesome watching Luke and Beth turn into some really amazing soccer players- some of the best kids out there in my opinion!  Just over the past few weeks Luke has really started to own the game, I think in part to some daily practice out in the backyard with Beth and Ryan.  He absolutely adores it and loves having Ryan for his coach.

  
I finally got a picture of the "peanut gallery," hehehe.  The grandparents are faithful attendants of our Saturday morning soccer games and are such a big help with Jack- who wants so desperately to play soccer!  I splurged on a plastic-lined picnic blanket because carrying 4+ chairs out to each game was getting very cumbersome, and I knew Caeli would be wanting to roll around and eventually crawl at the games.  Next fall we need to find a nice big umbrella (or some other shading device) and probably a wagon of some sort.  I give up!  I accept this soccer mom life so just give me my minivan and all the soccer mom trappings and make this easy on me!  


Unfortunately I forgot my camera on Beth's last game day, which was the week before Luke's last game.  That day her coach took some time to say some nice things about each player, and about Beth he said, "she's very very assertive, she always goes for the ball and always gets the ball first before anybody."  Because that girl is FAST!  I think maybe next fall her team will start playing positions, and I'm excited to see her develop as a little soccer player.  She's built for speed and I think that will greatly help her game!

After Luke's last game we went to Red Mango for a frozen yogurt treat!  Great grandma sent some money for Easter and said we could kick off summer with ice cream- this is the best we could do! :-)


I have to admit, that as much as I love watching them play, I am sincerely looking forward to having our Saturdays back!
 
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