Monday, April 30, 2007

the secret revealed...

There is nothing so satisfying as having a cranky baby on your lap and turning him into a guffawing, writhing, and grinning creature in 20 seconds. All it takes is a few tickles under the chin and gentle squeezes of the thighs.

giggles up to Heaven

One evening last week during our family prayers Maggie was literally raising holy heck. She has her own short Act of Contrition but has gotten into a routine of sticking in an extra word to make it: "Dear Blessed Jesus, I tried to be good today, but if I did anything to offend you again, I am sorry. Please help me to never offend you again. Amen." We all giggled at her error so she retaliated by pulling at her mouth and sticking her tongue out at Will as he attempted to say his Act of Contrition with a straight face. It was impossible, even Tim started chuckling and before we knew it we were all rolling on the floor. She really did look a sight, complete with her eyes crossing and her mouth stretched all out of shape.
Her usual cheerfulness is contrasted by Charlie's almost constant whining and sullen attitude. She is perky, while he is dour and it strikes me daily how each child is a unique and precious gift from God. Charlie isn't all bad, he is just 2 and while he drives me crazy most days, he is also the most huggable child and loves to give me moist, snotty kisses on my lips. It is easy to love a child who exhibits a sunny disposition, but I am sure God gives more credit to the mother who loves the more obnoxious one with the same depth.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I haven't changed the "what we are reading now" link on the sidebar in ages because it seems we have shifted our evening reading routine. It used to be that I would read storybooks for the little ones then pick up a chapter book to read to Will and Mary before prayers and bedtime. However, Will now takes sooooo long in the bathroom and shower that he usually doesn't emerge until 8pm, too late to listen to me read anything. Since I didn't want to leave him behind, he started picking up books during the day instead of waiting for me to read aloud.
During the past 2 weeks he has read several of the Great Illustrated Classics, such as Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, and The Time Machine, with no prompting or prodding from me. He drags his reading material and a flashlight up to his bunk each night to read under the covers before falling asleep, likely in the middle of a sentence. As long as he doesn't disturb any of the younger children, I don't mind him staying up an extra 30 minutes. My mother's rule when I was a child was that we were required to be in bed by 9pm, but we could stay awake reading as long as we wanted. Since Will shares a room with 3 younger siblings, a lamp would wake them up. I am encouraged by his enthusiasm for finding suitable boy books in our home library and will continue to scour the local thrift shops for more adventuresome reading material.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

bless me Father...

Today is Mary's first confession in anticipation for her First Holy Communion tomorrow. She is all ready with her new satin and tulle dress, her veil, new white shoes and stockings. She is prepared after studying the catechism every school day for almost 3 years, memorizing her prayers, and listening to Bible stories every evening almost her whole life. We went over the questions in her little Missal last night before Mass about what sins she needs to confess.
However, somehow I'm still not sure she is completely ready for the enormity of this Sacrament. I even asked her CCD teacher, "Are you sure she is prepared?" Mary has moments during Mass of not sitting quietly, pouting if she doesn't get to hold the baby, and not following along that make me think she doesn't understand.
But do any of us "get it"? Do any of us, except for the canonized Saints from days gone by, really contemplate at Mass the incredible gift Jesus gives us in the Eucharist? I hope after spending weeks, and now years teaching Mary to parrot back, "God made me to show his goodness and to make me happy with Him in Heaven," she will understand in her heart, as best as a 7 year old can, this gift from God.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I am disappointed and aggrevated by some in the blogosphere, an example here, who want to paint the victims and survivors of the Virginia Tech shootings as weak, lily-livered cowards who allowed themselves and their fellow students to be gunned down without putting up a fight. These folks want to re-write 1 week old history to make a point that Christian values are dead, or that men are not as manly as they used to be.
Several Tech students displayed courage worthy of Medal of Honor recipients, the families of the victims have shown bravery in standing up to the despicable acts of NBC, and the Student Government has put their foot down and told the media vultures to leave the campus.
Virginia Tech has a history of producing men of valor, the pillars above the War Memorial Chapel are inscribed with the names of those killed on America's battlefields. Last week one of the members of the Corps of Cadets tried to take out the shooter, but was gunned down in the process. Another of the students, Ryan Clark, a member of the Marching Virginians, raced to a room in West AJ dorm to use diplomacy to get the gun away from the shooter, but was also killed for his efforts. A third student, Kevin Sterne, an Eagle Scout, tied a tourniquet around his leg after he was shot twice and crawled to the door to brace it with a desk when the shooter came back to kill more of his peers. All three students show how we still can and do train men to be brave and fight for something larger than oneself.
I am so impressed with the courage shown by faculty and students on April 16th, the dignity shown by the families of the injured and victims, and the prayers and heartfelt tears from people all over the world. I have never been more proud to be a Hokie than this past week-Go Tech Go, Huah!

quilting project

Remember waaaaay back when I wrote how Mary and I made a king-size split 9 patch quilt top for our new wedding anniversary bed? Well, I sent it out to the long-arm quilter back in February and had to fend off the "How many kids are you planning to have?" questions while I was dropping it off. She finished stiching an overall design today and graciously dropped it off after supper and bathtime. Boy! She did a fantastic job and after draping it over the bed it really is dramatic. I still have to make the binding and sew it on, but that will have to wait until after the move. All my sewing stuff is already packed up and I don't have time to do anything but school, pack, organize, and visit Mother in the next 3 weeks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

my big kid helpers

I have found that trying to take care of the multiple needs of little ones is so much easier now with 7 and 8 year olds on the scene. Mary willingly reads to the preschoolers and presently has her nose out of joint because no one wants to listen. Will loves to push the stroller, freeing up a hand to hold Charlie's. All four of the older ones love to play with the baby, giving me a spare moments to cook, fold some laundry, or blog during the day.
Yesterday however, Tim convinced me to leave the two oldest ones in his office while I took Timmy to his 9mo well baby check. I had skipped the 6mo one so feeling a little guilty I went, knowing it would involve long waits in tiny rooms. Military pediatric appointments average about 2 hours, not including immunizations so I tend not to take the children unless they are babies or really injured.
Charlie, Maggie, Timmy and I were escorted to the weighing room and then back to the waiting area just after we settled down with the assortment of coloring books, sticker books, and crayons that I packed in expectation of the visit. Maggie dumped her baggie of crayons in each place so we and the coreman had to wait patiently for her to scoop them all up again each time. Finally we were put in the examining room where I tried to help Charlie with a Benjamin Bear sticker book since his little fingernails are too short to peel off the stickers. At the same time Timmy started getting fussy in the stroller so I had to nurse him. Maggie was contentedly lying on the floor coloring, but when the doctor came in we discovered that Maggie had scribbled green all over the floor tiles. Charlie started fussing when he didn't understand why I had to stop helping him and then Timmy threw up his milk all over my pants, the chair, and the floor.
Instead of having my usual helping hands to distract the baby, fetch me some paper towels, and peel stickers- I had to do it all myself and was quickly wiped out.
When well-meaning older folks say, "they grow up so fast," my standard reply is "I have been changing nappies every day for over 8 years now, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere." It certainly was true yesterday. I have come to depend on Will and Mary's help and revert back to inept mother status without them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

homeschool carnival

The Bee Edition is up at Sprittabee.

say cheese!

Reading my blog you might think I am super-organized, but a long-neglected project has been weighing on my mind, especially with the move coming up. I haven't put any photos in my albums in a year. I'm not a scrapbooker, I figure with one expensive and clutter producing hobby (quilting), I didn't feel the need to add another. Throwing the prints in a semblence of order is about the best I have ever been able to do and since I was 7 months pregnant with Timmy I hadn't even managed to do that.

Today though Charlie and I pulled out all the sleeves of prints and with a pair of scissors got to work. He went through pointing, "That's me, that's Ary, that's Ill, that's Aggie, that's Immy. Ook! There's Daddy!" Since there were only 8 sets of prints it only took 45 minutes to finish. I have found that the anticipation and dread associated with organizing takes up far and away more time than the actual task itself. Next project: packing up antique dollhouse furniture. Anyone want to help?

Monday, April 23, 2007

You know you are a homeschooling mom of many...

When you announce in the grocery that peanut butter is on sale for $1, somehow 12 jars end up in your cart.
When your children's book collection strikes fear into the heart of the burly moving men.
When a coordinated outfit means your ponytail elastic matches your tshirt.
When the shoe rack by the back door resembles the clearance rack at Stride Rite.
When the librarian knows all your children's names.
(add your own, please!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

beach race

We didn't exactly pound sand, but ran on the beach road next to the shimmering Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards I waited for the award distribution by sitting on the shore and reading until a little girl piped up, "Look at that!" and lifted my head fast enough to spot a dolphin leaping completely out of the waves. On a sunny and perfect 70 F day I pulled a personal best time in the 5K, 22:47 and came in 2nd in my age group. I think that is going to be my last race until fall due to the move and going up to Maine.

Friday, April 20, 2007

bunko babes

For the past 4 years I have played Bunko with a gang from the wives club at the local military hospital. We have eaten nibbles and drunk wine, rolled dice and won cash during our monthly little socials. We have celebrated births, mourned the passing of friends, said hello to new faces and bid farewell to those PCSing. I have hosted on numerous occasions and offered to host one last time before we pack out in 3 weeks, though with everything going on sending reminders wasn't at the top of my priority list. Apparently it wasn't at the top of anyone else's list either as no one came. The kids were disappointed, Will had set up a table on the porch with a sign-in sheet taped to the piano stool. We turned it into a family party by eating some of the yummy BBQ and chocolate glop and the kids stayed up late to play one round of Bunko. Maggie was our reigning champion with 5 Baby Bunkos and 2 Bunkos. She was so excited over beating her big brother and sister that she insisted in taking her score sheet upstairs and tucking it next to her in bed.
Sometimes these sorts of things happen, but last evening showed me that Will needs some lessons in how to handle disappointment and being a good loser.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

spring slump

A friend is going through a difficult patch right now in terms of thinking of putting her children in public school. I want to reply to her concerns, but share my thoughts with a wider audience. Her experience is similar to what many of us go through each winter when it feels like we haven't taught the kids anything and we still have miles left to go in our school year.
I am really struggling with some homeschooling decisions for next year. Let me give you the "status quo": I have 2 boys: 4th and K. This is our third year of hsing. Oldest ds went to ps for K and 1. We started hsing him at grade 2. I have never been the "picture perfect" hser. I've never felt totally excited about doing what we do. It is the best option for us and that is why we hs.
...So I have been debating what to do with ds who will be in 5th grade next year. He is a bright kid, but doesn't always want to apply himself. He is also very sensitive and peer oriented and I am afraid that school for him would become more about the social stuff (which is what happened last time) that the academics. I don't think ps is the best route for him, but then I am burnt out.
...DS has a huge heart for God, reads stories about the saints and the CCC for fun, kwim? I have thought of Seton for him next year, but to be honest, I am feeling very burnt out right now. Then today I got back ds's test scores for his standards and he didn't do very well this year.
...Maybe this is just a token of how this whole year has been, sub par and just getting by, and that's what I don't want education to become for him.
First thing I would do is make lists of the positives and negatives about homeschooling and compare the two. The positive one will certainly be much longer. Then get our some recent homeschool catalogues and look through them. Read ahead to the 5th, 6th, and 7th grade book offerings and see if you get a tiny bit more excited about learning these subjects with your son. Go to the library and find books that show homeschooling in a positive light and read these to get yourself more jazzed up. Another souce of pep talks might be tapes from a homeschooling conference.
Write a list of why you are homeschooling and keep it on the fridge, on the child's planning book, or on your bathroom mirror. #1 on the list should be: "I am homeschooling to raise saints!" Perhaps some other reasons would be to give them a top-notch education, to learn morals and values from family, to spend quality time with siblings, to be able to attend daily Mass, and to learn Catholic history.
I would lose the I-can't-do-it-perfectly-so-therefore-I-can't-homeschool guilt; you have a fine son who helps his parents, is kind, polite, and empathetic. None of us are perfect, I certainly run our school like a drill instructor with a crop of fresh recruits more days than I would like to admit. Little boys are tough to teach, that is why schools like to drug them to keep them passively in their seats.
I would pare down the workbooks to the bare minimum, not add any extra assignments than what is required and spend lots of time reading aloud to him. Will is facinated these days about WWII and read The Battle of Britain Landmark book in just 3 days. Find out what your son wants to learn about and get library books, see movies, listen to audio tapes/CDs about whatever topic he picks. Volcanos, earthquakes, classical music, pottery, war, explorers, machinery, chess, art, ships, airplanes... the list is endless. They learn an incredible amount and it turns school into an enjoyable experience again.
Write down some ideas for what he needs to review this summer. If you spend a few hours a week working on math facts, by September they will be down pat and he will be ahead of the game. Spend 30 minutes a day working on art projects, or science experiments, or whatever you feel he has neglected this past year.
Don't give up on homeschooling because you hit a rough patch, move, a family member gets sick, or all of the above happens at once. God has called some of us to this path and he will sustain us if we trust in Him, pray and try our hardest. The Blessed Virgin Mary told St. Bernadette she would not have an easy time of it in this life and homeschooling reluctant learners is likely our greatest challenge. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and set yourself back on the road with a confidence that only comes from following God's will.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

how appropriate!

You Belong in Rome

You're a big city soul with a small town heart
Which is why you're attracted to the romance of Rome
Strolling down picture perfect streets, cappuccino in hand
And gorgeous Italian people - could life get any better?
The two things that struck me most in Italy were the fantastic food and how much they adore babies and pregnant women. Will was 8 weeks old when we first moved to Naples and from the first moment he was fawned over like a exquisite jewel. Grandmothers would ask all the pertinent questions and exclaim, Bello! Bello bambino! Nomine Wheelllliam?" while grandfatherly types would inquire if I was nursing and exclaim in gestured Italian how wonderful it was that I was such a good mother. I learned quickly how to translate all the baby type questions such as How old? Was he born in Italy? Is he our first and do we plan to have more babies? (wouldn't they be shocked now!) and be able to answer them all in rudimentary Italian.
While the money I paid to take a class in Italian was basically wasted due to my laziness and absolute inability to learn foreign languages; I did pick up one very useful phrase that came in handy during our tour, "Sono incenta, il bano, per favore" (I am pregnant, where is the bathroom please). While ordinary folks must buy something in a coffee bar to gain access to the restroom (and there are no other options in most towns) expecting mothers are treated like royalty and are given carte blanc admittance to use any facilities in town.
All this reminiscing about Bella Napoli gives me a craving for a large bowl of pasta, a few olives and perhaps a large helping of tiramisu.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

bikinis and high heels

Mary and I went shoe shopping last evening for her 1st Holy Communion. We had already purchased a lovely white satin dress with an overlay of tulle and a little jacket to match. I sewed tulle onto a satin covered headband since all the veils I saw were too fancy for such a little girl. We tried the base exchange earlier and hadn't found anything so we headed to the mall. All I could find were white shoes with 1" high heels and lots of straps and rhinestones before we hit Payless and finally spotted a proper pair of Mary Jane's.
Thank goodness, for after wandering around the consumer paradise for 1/2 an hour I was almost convinced that there were no modest options for girls above the age of 2. I have been shopping so long at the local thrift shops that I didn't realize how tacky most girl's clothing is these days. Did you know that you could find leopard print bikinis for toddlers or shirts with suggestive messages for elementary schoolchildren? I will continue to stock up on solid and striped tshirts, jumpers, and jeans for the girls. They may be plain , but I would rather describe the look as "timeless". "It is a far, far better thing to be classic than trashy," as Charles Dickens might have said.

Monday, April 16, 2007

virginia tech shooting

My heart goes out to the faculty and students at Tech, where at least 29 people were killed today in a bizarre shooting. The thought of such an ugly and horrible thing happening where I spent so much peaceful time is just incomprehensible.
May God give the grieving families peace and consolation and heal those who are injured.
From the Vatican (h/t Amy Welborn):



back home safe and sound

After a day of zooming around and looking at tiny houses, huge houses with only showers (how am I going to bathe 3 small children with no tub?), houses with no yards, and houses with only 5 rooms we found one that is going to work just fine. The lake within view is a bit scary to think about with little ones drawn towards water like moths to a flame, but it was the only house that fit our criteria so that is done (I know, meat is done, a task is finished or completed).

I didn't want to have to find a local parish near my father's house and endure any litugical antics so we left bright and early Sunday morning and drove 3 hours straight to Mass at our little parish. The look of surprise on Tim's face when he saw us all sitting there in our regular pew was so worth the countdown in the car. "We have 1 hour left to make it on time. Now we have 20 minutes to get to Mass, Mommy," from Chief Navigator Will. The huge rainstorm we drove through cancelled flights at several airports up and down the East Coast and made for not-so-safe driving conditions. Every few miles I imagined trying to rescue the kids from a swamp if we hydroplaned right off the road.

Now the house selling and house hunting parts of the move are finished I can focus on organizing all our stuff so the packing will go smoothly. Military movers are notorius for taking drawers out and dumping the contents directly into a box and packing the trash so this part is essential if I want my unpacking job to be orderly. Everything in the house that is not nailed down and not essential in the next month I will box and label. I have to separate all the items that we need to take to Maine for the summer, including all the items that I need for the house that I wrote on a list and put.... uh-oh. Well, I'll try to remember what they are and if not, I guess we didn't need it that badly.
Glad to be home and able to check off the "find house" block on my master checklist!

Friday, April 13, 2007

a weekend away

I am off to North Carolina today with Will and Timmy to find a rental house. We are going to stay with my father, zoom through 5 houses and just pick one. Tim is going to stay home with the other ones and take them to a birthday party Sat. and CCD and Mass on Sunday. He has been a real brick the past month taking over the evening routine so I could go visit Mother in the hospital. It takes a lot of energy and efficiency to get 5 children bathed and in bed and sometimes he has been overwhelmed. I walked in after a run the other day to find him scrubbing the baby, "Why is he getting a bath at 5:30?" "Because he ate cat poop from the litter box," was the matter of fact reply, "he gets into everything and I can't watch him every minute."

Welcome to my life, dear. This is what I do all day, every day. Toddlers smash playdough into the carpet, no matter how many times you tell them to only use it in the kitchen. Older kids dump their bikes and junk on the lawn and forget about it, despite the fact that you have made them clean it all up every afternoon for the past 5 years. Babies speed toward the cat food dish or the stairs despite our best efforts to distract them with toy cars and balls. Being in charge of a household with 5 little children is messy, chaotic, and involves having a lot of situational awareness. Knowing what they are likely to do and heading them off is preferable to being blindsided and having to clean up afterwards.
Tim is a great father and will do a fantastic job this weekend feeding, bathing, ferrying them around, and reading stories. I am so blessed in his being such a involved parent and have no fears about the state of things while I am gone. However, when I return and see clean floors, changed sheets, and scrubbed faces I might feel a little outdone.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

alphabet meme

[A is for age]: 36 years, old enough beat the socks off all those 20-somethings in the local road race.
[B is for beer of choice]: Corona with a lime (I loved Mexican $1 beer nights in college)
[C is for career]: Full time Mommy, part time blogger.
[D is for favorite Drink]: Starbuck's Venti Chai Latte with a dab of whipped cream. umm...
[E is for Essential item you use every day]: Changing table.
[F is for Favorite song at the moment]: When the Saints Come Marching In. (Will is practicing it every day on the piano- sounds great!)
[G is for favorite Game]: Computer game is I Spy, board game is Mad Dash. (geography)
[H is for Home town]: Portsmouth
[I is for Instruments you play]: None, I can't carry a tune in a bucket either.
[J is for favorite Juice]: Orange with crushed ice.
[K is for Kids]: 5 here, 3 in Heaven.
[L is for last child-free vacation]: Uhhh, I think that would be our trip to Jamaica, 9 months before Will was born.
[M is for marriage]: I hope so with all these children!
[N is for Nickname]: Kat, but I went by Kitty for a very short time in 3rd grade.
[O is for Overnight hosp stays]: Several injuries when I was a child resulting in 2 full length leg casts. More recently there have been 5 trips in with a balloon under my shirt and out with a bundle in my arms.
[P is for phobias]: I ain't scared of nothin'.
[Q is for quotes you remember from childhood]: "That which does not kill us will make us stronger." "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." "You were not born with the word FAIR stamped on your forehead."
[R is for biggest Regret]: If you could do it all over and change things, would you? (if you had to relieve the teen years?) Me neither.
[S is for sports]: I liked college football in college, but don't really care now.
[T is for Time you wake up]: 7am.
[U is for underwear down in the dryer]: 2-3 loads of wash each day.
[V is for Vegetable you love]: Artichoke, asparagus, beans, corn, cucumbers, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes. Tis the season for asparagus, yeah!!
[W is for What do you do on Wednesday?]: School with the kids, art lessons in the afternoon for the older ones, and hopefully squeeze a run in before supper.
[X is for Xerox, copied anything interesting?]: I did a art project in college involving xeroxing my hands. I think I got a good grade for it, but that shows you the value of part of my degree. (I also took bowling one semester!)
[Y is for Yummy food you make]: cakes, breads, pies, any dessert.
[Z is for recent Zany adventures]: Does going shopping after attending a Pretty Princess concert at the library count? The girls were getting funny looks at the Dollar Store and Kroger dressed to the hilt and waving magic wands about.
tag if you like

all things nautical

The Secretary of Defense announced yesterday that all Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan are now 15 months in length and announced a few weeks ago that standard Navy deployments are now extended to 9 months. Military families has been subjected to intense strains during the last 5 years with many damaged and destroyed lives as a result.
The only deployment I have had to experience as a Navy wife was at the start-up of the war and began with me dropping off Tim on the pier enormously pregnant with 2 and 4 year olds in the backseat. Nine months later, the three children and I waited joyfully for him to return to us safe and sound. Two members of the crew sadly did not return to their families.
I didn't worry about our marriage falling apart while we were apart, and in fact grew stronger due to daily emails and phone calls. We are both mature and strong individuals and each tries to put the other person first, but many couples are young, inexperienced in decision making, and immature and end up destroying their relationship. Even a colleague of Tim's, in a 20 year marriage found a "Dear John" letter in his email one day while he was 1/2 way around the world and unable to prevent his soon-to-be ex-wife from filing for divorce and full custody of their children.
In the spirit of extended deployments and tours, I thought I would share a few explanations of nautical phrases in our everyday language. Most came from a British book, The Real McCoy I picked up at the library this week.
"to be taken aback: If a person is taken aback they are shocked, but a ship is taken aback when a sudden wind blows directly against its sails from the front and forces them against the mast. This prevents the ship from moving forward and also puts the masts at risk of being snapped in two."
"three sheets to the wind: an informal term for drunk, but on a ship 'sheets' are ropes attached to the lower corners of a sail, used to secure it or alter its direction. If they are 'to the wind' they are loose, and so the ship is impossible to control (as is a person who is drunk)."
"no room to swing a dead cat: describes a small or confined space. A flogging for serious offenses was likely to be carried out with whip with knotted cords, known as a cat-o-nine-tails. Conditions on board ship were of course cramped, making it difficult to use this sort of whip with the desired force."
"son of a gun: a friendly way of referring to a male friend. This term got its start with babies born at sea to women who had been allowed to accompany their sailor husbands on a long voyage. The baby would have been born between the cannons on the gun deck, where the ordinary sailors often slept."
My grandmother often stated "pull up the ladder Jack, I'm aboard" to my brother or myself as we were growing up. This nautical expression refers to boarding a ship from the side using a bosun's chair and ladder from a smaller boat. When one of us helped ourselves and then selfishly did not see if anyone else needed the same item, Grandmother would snap, "Pull up the ladder Jack" and we knew we were in trouble. I now use it with my children and perhaps the phrase will continue down through many generations.
May God bless all military families. Please keep them safe, calm their fears, and give them strength in these troubled times.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

reason #45 why we homeschool

I was reading a on-line bulletin board about relocation to North Carolina and came across a query for homeschooling groups in the city. The thread quickly degenerated to a debate over homeschooling in general but this post from a public school administrator caught my eye:
I think public schools can be very successful, and some are. My point about people who have not been in a classroom and therefore do not understand how behavior problems can effect learning, was saying just that, nothing more. There are many people who find it easy to say that a child can thrive in any environment. That may be true, and there are certainly success stories everywhere. However when you have a classroom of children who are consistently off task, and whose parents could not possibly care any less (although they're the ones giving you hell if you discipline their child) it does effect learning for the other children. Is that the teacher's fault? Maybe, but I think the issue is much bigger than that.

I plan on teaching my children 9 years of grammar so they can learn proper English and be able to distinguish between simple words such as affect and effect.
Affect is a verb and means to stir the emotions of.
Effect is a noun and means a result.
Proper use in a sentence:
One effect of a thunderstorm is lightning which might affect small children greatly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

67th Carnival of Homeschooling

Is up at Apollos Academy.


One of my favorite homeschooling resource books is The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother, Jessie Wise. I have supplemented our traditional schooling program with some of her suggestions in the areas of music, language, and history. In fact, while Will and I are on volume 3 of Story of the World, I found volume 1 on Mary's bed yesterday. It seems that after ignoring pleas to come sit with us and listen she decided to read them in order all by herself. I am constantly finding chapter books in the house and car with bookmarks stuck in them. She takes after her mother, always reading 5 books simultaneously.
The best quote in TWTM heads up chapter 36, The Confident Child: Socialization:
The Smithsonian Institution's recipe for genius and leadership: (1) children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents; (2) children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and (3) children should have little or no association with peers outside of family and relatives.
H. McCurdy, "The Childhood Pattern of Genius"
I certainly don't know if my children are going to be geniuses or great leaders, but they do spend a great deal of time surrounded with learning opportunities and stimulating, intellectual conversation. Other than Scouts, lessons, and socializing with a few friends they spend most of their time within our family. And Will and Mary certainly get a lot of free exploration, which leads to creative play in most cases and worry from me occasionally. Mornings in our house are usually taken up with book work, leaving afternoons free for playing, reading, and child-initiated projects.
Yesterday Mary and Will asked to walk the 1 1/2 miles home from the farm where she takes riding lessons. The path is through the woods and is very safe so I said they could and drove the little ones home for lunch and naps. When almost an hour had passed I started to get a little nervous, "What if kidnappers were lurking in the shadows? What if they were hit by a car? What if they fell in the ditch with 6" of water in it and drowned?" I asked a neighbor if she could come over while I went searching and of course found the two on the very next block. "What were you doing that took that long?" I asked them. "Exploring," was the casual reply.
Later, after lunch I went out to fetch the mail and heard, "Hey Mommy, I'm flying!" My neck almost snapped I whipped around so fast and my stomach lurched as I saw Will jump off a ladder under the big pine tree. The two of them had wound a rope around a thick branch, and using a carabiner snapped on their back belt loop had constructed a homemade belay system. They took turns jumping and hoisting themselves up until Mary got scared because she pulled the wrong rope and had a crying fit.
So far in terms of academics and social skills our children are about average, not geniuses. They are bright, polite, interesting, and outgoing and certainly have their moments of fighting (and biting). However, they usually play well with each other and always look out for the little guy. And that is my definition of successful socialization.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

abortion and the nanny state

It is the height of hypocrisy that our country continues to take over the role of childraising in this age of unfettered abortion.
A law pending in Virginia mandates carseats for children up to the age of 8. A toddler drowned last week in a flash flood in Texas and many blame the mother for not watching her child every second. Another example is last year's story of Abraham Cherrix, a 16 year-old boy in a custody battle between his parents and the Accomack County Social Services Department over decisions concerning Abraham’s cancer treatments. Also last year the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that parents have no right to determine what is taught in their child's public school. A current federal proposal threatens to force millions of kids to undergo psychiatric screening, whether their parents consent or not.
The New York Times, tries to have it both ways in a pro smoking-ban article, "The government's job is to discourage parents from making choices that affect other children — like a refusal to be inoculated for serious diseases — and to enforce laws that protect youngsters from clear and present dangers, like unbuckled car seat belts." but continues with a warning about regulating choices in child care, "The equation might change if it became clear that breast-feeding could protect babies from serious illnesses later in life." The implication is that in the future the government could outlaw such things as bottlefeeding, soft drinks, fast food, and candy sales to minors in the name of protecting children.
Why is this happening?
When we allow parents to murder their unborn children we try to make up for it by "protecting" the children that are left. When we contracept our way to only 1 or 2 children per family we tend to coddle them and try to insulate them from every possible danger. Also, when people don't have their hands full caring for their own children they have plenty of time to criticise others and meddle. Legislators simply need to back off and stop trying to take over the job of parenting to those who have been entrusted by God to do so.

Happy Easter!

Charlie: "I luv eggies,
I luv bunnies,
I luv choclate eggies,
I luv Mommy best!"
Maggie: "Scrumdittilyumsious!"
Mary: "I haven't eaten a single bit of MY chocolate!"
Will: "Look! I decapitated my bunny!"

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

The beauty and majesty of the liturgy certainly comes to full fruition in the Tridium of the traditional rite.
I was impressed last year when our then-new priest arranged for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament to a hastily constructed altar of repose complete with an antique ombrellium held overhead.
This year he invited a deacon to help with Lenten preparations and a subdeacon to assist with the services surrounding Good Friday and Easter. Even in our crowded and tiny chapel I have experienced a scant bit of Heaven when praying and watching the adoration given to our Lord during Mass over the past few days. Thursday the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament was processed to the now elegant altar of repose with 8 altar servers and the choir. Friday we were able to adore relics from the True Cross, the Pillar of Scourging, and the Crown of Thorns before Mass began. I am so grateful that I have been able to witness this beauty and reverence shown for God, it will stay with me forever.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

busy bees

Two quotes come to mind in a humorous way when reflecting on yesterday.

I advise thee to visit thy relations and friends; but I advise thee not to live too near to them. Thomas Fuller
My stepfather usually takes my grandmother on her errands, but due to Mother still in the hospital I volunteered to drive her home from the hair parlor. It is her social event of the week due to her age and immobility. She tends to be cranky and is old-fashioned in her interactions with children. She likes them neat, quiet, and polite- all the time. It took 15 minutes to drive downtown, 20 minutes to wait for her to come out, 5 minutes to drive her across the street to her apartment building, and another 15 minutes home again. The 5 minutes with her in the car was the longest aspect of the morning. I love my grandmother dearly, I really do, but to be polite she does best with tiny babies and much older children.
What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.
Henry Ward Beecher
In the afternoon we drove back downtown for art lessons for Will and Mary. I took the younger ones to Mother's and plopped them in front of the TV while I mowed the grass, pruned the bushes, and cleaned up the backyard. She is coming home from the hospital today and I wanted it to look neat and tidy. It is the only thing I can do to help and I am happy to do it.
I did feel a little jealous of some of the other moms who looked cool and fresh after their lunch out while I was hot and sweaty with baby barf on my shirt. However, I know that lunch out with 3 under the age of 4 wouldn't have been refreshing at all and I actually enjoy mowing the grass. Seeing clipped grass is instantly gratifying, much like folding the laundry and vacuuming; at least until the grass grows back, the next load of laundry is deposited on the bed, and muddy children tromp on the carpet.

Spirituality Quiz

Your Spirituality Type: PATH OF ASCETICISM (Ignatian prayer)

More than half of churchgoers practice this type of prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. It involves imagining oneself as part of a scene in order to draw some practical fruit from it for today. This spirituality goes back to the Israelite way of praying in 1000 B.C., to remember and immerse oneself in an event, thus reliving and participating in the event in a symbolic way.This is how Ignatius meditated on the Nativity scene: ''I will make myself a poor, little, unworthy servant, and as though present, look upon them, contemplate them, and serve them in their needs with all possible homage and reverence. Then I will reflect on myself that I may reap some fruit.''His preoccupation with order was evident in his Spiritual Exercises, which, writes Thomas Clarke in Playing in the Gospel, aimed at overcoming ''disorderly affections, so that the may make a decision that is in keeping with God?s will.'' According to Clarke, ''Most souls who are willing to endure the discipline of the 30 days of intense prayer activity of the Spiritual Exercises are rewarded with an unforgettable spiritual experience that frequently changes the whole direction of their lives.''

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

religious vocations

Well, if I wasn't married and didn't have children I would certainly look into the religious life. According to Vision Vocation Match I would make a great Benedictine nun. Their motto is Ora et Labora: prayer and work. I love the practicality of the clothes, am willing to work hard, and have proven that I can sacrifice my own desires for the good of the community.
Today was certainly hard work. I had to hold Timmy for 3 hours straight and keep 4 other children under control while simultaneously tidying up the house for the home inspection. By the time the inspector, buyer, a friend, and two realtors left I simply had to escape with an hour long run. Some days I feel the religious life would be less stressful and more fulfilling. But most days I have a glimpse of what God wants for me and, while it involves practical clothing and sacrifice, it's not being a sister, it's being a mom.

66th Homeschool Carnival

Monday, April 02, 2007

time traveler

Maggie can count to 29 (sometimes skipping 15), identify most of her letters, draw detailed pictures (including pregnant Mommies), but will ask, "Isn't today tomorrow yet?"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

palm sunday

Thank you Mother for teaching me so many years ago to make crosses out of palm fronds. It keeps little fingers busy during the oh, so long 2 hour Latin Mass. I didn't take the babies since Tim was sick and stayed home. Somehow we picked up an extra kid, and other than the occassional slumping from Mary during the singing of the Gospel (it was over 4 pages in my Missal) it was a well behaved crowd during the beautiful service.

paying to parent

Some snippets from a Tennessee article:
"Teaching your kids to ride a bike, shuttling them to doctor appointments, reminding them to say "Yes, ma'am," helping with algebra homework and training them to be sensible shoppers.... services in the Nashville area that give you the choice of outsourcing traditional parental duties...

Having "experts" help raise our children is not unexpected in a world where we hire people to clean our house, plan our parties, organize our closets and deliver our groceries.
Today's world of specialists wrongly gives parents the impression that they aren't competent to teach their children certain things...
In some large cities, you can pay professionals to come into your home and coach your baby into better sleeping patterns, toilet train your toddler and pick the head lice off your little one's scalp.
One Brentwood concierge company, At Your Service, will fill in the gaps in your day-to-day routine by driving your children home from school or ferrying them to doctor's appointments in the middle of the day.
In many homes, homework time can be the most stressful time of day as parents find that a child's homework is too tough for them."
I guess that I experience a certain amount of naivete, but why bother having kids if you pay someone else to raise them? I organize my own closets, do my own grocery shopping (with 5 kids in tow), take them to doctor appointments, teach them manners, and potty train them, and I don't consider myself SuperMom. Actually, one is not quite true, Tim did potty train both of the girls in less than a week.
I do understand the idea of specialists wrestling control of children away from parents. It starts with baby books that chastize mothers for any non-perfect behavior such as indulging in cookies and chocolate during pregnancy. The impression given is subtle, if you don't do what they say then if something terrible happens it is all your fault. Now the tomes of parenting follow you through the infant years and up to school age kids and beyond. All these books dictate the "right way" to raise children, and all giving conflicting advice. Spank. Don't spank. Scheldule feedings. Don't scheldule. Use cribs. The family bed. Circumcise. Don't circumcise. Allowances. Chores. TV. No TV.
It is enough to make your head spin.
These days common sense has flown out the window and now parents don't trust themselves to make even the smallest decision without input from these "experts". No wonder parents feel trapped in the public school system, they have been brainwashed into thinking that learning is too difficult except in the professional's hands.