Monday, November 29, 2010

first phrase

The children and I have been playing the fun "identify the body part" game with Julia Ellen. If a person mentions aloud, say, "head" then she pats her top, so we go faster and faster to confuse the poor child. The other amusing activity is for everyone to say, "Thank you" after a meal and she attempts to repeat it by saying, "Ank ooow."

I know it won't be long before she is screaming, "Mommy, I want..." so I better enjoy this phase while I can. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

With most of the children still snug in their beds (oh, that's next month), I drove up to the Mariner's Museum to run a 5K Turkey Trot, but left before awards were given out (I had to get our turkey in the oven). I do know that I can't manage to get below 24 minutes, no matter how hard I run, and I was the 17th woman to finish (I counted heads at the turn around point). So I was absolutely famished for dinner, which was served at 2pm. Even though the children were only allowed one piece of plain toast all day, they still, for the most part, turned up their noses at my lovely meal. Most children would be gorging on sweet potato muffins, homemade stuffing, perfect mashed potatoes, and juicy turkey with gravy as well as the veggies, but not this picky bunch.

If I played as much as they did I would be so hungry that I would willingly eat the roasted leg of a musk ox, but they all seem to survive. The debate of the day is whether pumpkin pie will be offered to all or just the ones who managed to choke down some turkey and stuffing.    

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I got scanned today

This afternoon I hauled some of the children to the Navy Hospital and got my first mammogram. Since my grandmother has had breast cancer and my mother died of ovarian cancer, I've been a little stressed out over getting some variety of cancer myself and leaving Tim to raise 6 children alone. But, after enduring smushed bosoms, I got to see the images and didn't detect any glaring abnormalities. I have great faith in the protective power of nursing since studies show a 10% decrease in risk (pre-menopausal) of breast cancer for every year of breastfeeding. I have nursed a total of almost 8 years, so my risk should be pretty close to zero.

Yeah, you thought I went through the TSA harassment at the airport, didn't you? After doing umpteen trans-Atlantic flights with infants and toddlers, the airline would have to pay me a lot of $$ to get me on a airplane.

baking day

The day before Thanksgiving is always filled with pans clattering, flour drifting through the air, and the smoke alarm going off at least one time. The kids will do a minimum of schoolwork so we can prepare for the big feast tomorrow. Tiny sweet potato muffins, pumpkin pie, mashed potato, green bean casserole, and stuffing will all be sitting in the fridge in the morning, leaving the oven free for the turkey. Prepping allows my stress level to not go out of control since I am not a good cook, especially under time pressure.

One of the other good reasons to prepare a day early is that I signed up for a 5K Turkey Trot at 8:30am on Thursday. Fitting this event into an already busy day might seem counterproductive, but I certainly won't feel any guilt about going back for seconds! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

musical events

In addition to the children's music lessons, I want to expose them to listening to live music, but even cheap tickets end up costing too much with 7 of us attending a performance. After reading the local paper I learned that some of the churches downtown offer a variety of classical music once a month from handbells to choir. Today we got most of the schoolwork completed before we heading out to hear a pianist and violinist give an hour long free concert. The violinist wouldn't have earned a spot in the Virginia Philharmonic, but the children did learn that playing a stringed instrument is far more difficult than the piano. I ended up standing in the back with the little children, but since it doesn't seem fair to the older ones to miss out on all cultural experiences because they have a host of younger siblings we just do the best we can. To reward everyone's cooperativeness, we stopped at Pizza Hut for a couple of free pizzas through the Book It! program and had a picnic in the park.   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

benefit of homeschooling #468

A principal in New York state is in trouble for going into the home of some truant students and asking them to get out of bed and go to school. The principal of our school (Tim) goes into the boy's bedroom every weekday morning and wakes up our 12 year old to get him going before leaving for work. I guess we better not let Will see this article, or he might be thinking of pressing charges.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

reason # 568

Will went on a 4 day field trip/service project to Philadelphia with his Boy Scout troop, the itinerary was jam-packed with touristy trips to the home of Betsy Ross, the US Mint, Independence Hall...

The only information I have been able to extract out of my normally talkative boy is how uncomfortable the beds were at their Scout campground. Why am I harboring the thought that the event was conducted like a typical school field trip and they hustled through each site, never stopping for more than 5 minutes, and certainly not absorbing any historical knowledge?  

carnival of homeschooling

Nerd Family is hosting this week's carnival with an Open House theme, go check it out!

Monday, November 15, 2010

on your mark, get set...for angst

Early Saturday morning the two big girls and I hopped out of bed and laced up our running shoes in preparation for a 8:30am race up in Newport News. The beneficiary of the run was the local Catholic school run by 4 Nashville Dominican nuns. Mary and Maggie were signed up for the 3K race, while I was entered in the 8K run. However, the shorter race began 10 minutes after my race, leaving me in a bit of a bind. I approached a nice looking lady surrounded by girls, "Are you running in the 3K?" I asked. "Yes." "Could you do me a huge favor and watch out for my girls?" Of course she agreed and chatted for a bit before I moved up to the starting line.

I did pretty well, 2nd place in the women's Masters category (40+) and found my daughters eating granola bars and begging me to let them attempt the Army's rock climbing wall. After we got back home I noticed that Mary was a funk, refusing to practice the piano and snarling at everyone. It turns out that her brief exposure to Catholic school girls left her jealous and resentful that she didn't go to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, have mountains of girlfriends, and go to classes led by the young, sweet looking nuns. I explained to her, after doing a little internet research, that we couldn't afford to send our children to Catholic school, especially one an hour away, that cost $21,000.

A friend at church consoled me and I again commiserated with Mary that for right now, homeschooling is our only school option. Yes, it is a lovely fantasy that my children could walk to an excellent Catholic school staffed by loyal priests and sisters, filled with merry classmates, just like in the stories in their readers, but that is just not going to happen anytime soon. For now, I need to look harder for other opportunities for Mary to find more friends in our neighborhood and local homeschooling community.  

Sunday, November 07, 2010

a blogging pause

Lately things have hit a rough patch and I need to focus like a laser on the children's behavior and their school. This morning I almost broke down in the confessional (after making the three big kids skip part of CCD so they could go to confession). It dawned on me that the solution begins with me, a regular schedule every morning with breakfast, brushing teeth, and starting school on time, rather than letting things slide so I can read the political news. I need to spend more time supervising my children rather than writing about them. So... I'm going to take a little blogging break and hopefully will return with lots of good news to report on the parenting and homeschooling front. May God bless all of you.

Friday, November 05, 2010

reason #567 why we homeschool

Our family is obviously very patriotic with Tim serving 19+ years in the Navy and my family tree sporting a number of patriots going all the way back to several members in Virginia's House of Burgesses in the 1600's. We expect the children to love their country, respect the flag, and be good citizens. My children are not taught garbage like this:

The theory that Americans are better than everybody else is endorsed by an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters and approximately 100 percent of all U.S. politicians, although there is less and less evidence to support it.

Obama was asked during the 2008 presidential campaign whether he believed in American exceptionalism. He said, “I believe in American exceptionalism just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Newt Gingrich’s gloss: “In other words, everything we cherish about America, our president thinks is not so very special, not so very different from any other country. ... No longer, in the left’s view, are we the Americans of the frontier, the sturdy, independent farmers.”
Michael Kinsley, Politico

Instead, my children read stories about American Exceptionism from their Faith and Freedom readers (a reprinted Catholic series from the 1950's which emphasize family life, prayer, and being good Americans). Yes, some of it is hokey on occasion, but they learn stories of America's founding, the Saints, and what it means to be a good Catholic in a series that gradually increases in difficulty.

One commenter summed up what American Exceptionalism means quite well:

we do believe that America is a superior country because of our freedoms and form of government, and the productivity and innovation that those freedoms allow. If somebody from another country becomes a citizen and works in pursuit of their goals and dreams, they become one of us as well.

This week, the United States of America has been given another chance to turn away from  the lure of socialism (fair, but equally miserable outcomes) back to the promise of liberty and equal opportunity. Let us reject the notion that America is "just another country" and teach our children what a blessing and privilege it is to be American citizens.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

election 2010

Yes, there were some disappointments such as Barbara Boxer, the most anti-military Senator in history keeping her seat, but for Mainers the results were pretty positive. Paul LePage, who famously said that he will tell Obama to "go to hell" won the governor's race and the state legislature is in the control of the Republicans.

In an historic repudiation of nearly four decades of Democrat policy, the latest returns show Republicans reaching 20 seats in the Senate and at least 76 seats in the House, establishing firm majority control of both bodies.

Perhaps now the state will move from dead last in business climate and we can gain jobs. Our family is going to need one or two of those jobs soon so we can actually move to our farm.   

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

emerging readers

Charlie was given a new windup flashlight yesterday morning in a little ceremony. I told him that he was now a reader after he sounded out the first 4 Bob Books. The flashlight allows him to join his older brothers and sisters as they stay up late in their beds flipping book pages. I observed Timmy this evening telling baby Julia Ellen, "You can't play with that flashlight. It is Mary's. You will get your own flashlight when you get big and read books." 

Since our typical trip to the library is almost an hour in length and concludes with us toting 3-4 huge bags of books out to the van, I'm sure in no time we will have 6 competent readers.

Monday, November 01, 2010

candy wrappers everywhere

Due to participation in our chapel's Fall Festival and 2 hours of trick-or-treating, the children all have pillowcases stuffed with sugary confections. Unlike some moms who dole out the candy one piece a day, I prefer the "get it over with" method of letting the kids gorge on candy for 3 or 4 days before packing up the remainder and sending it in with Tim to work. They get to eat all their favorites, I get to sneak a few packets of sweet tarts and peanut butter cups and a week after Halloween our home is back to normal. However, for those few days I am constantly walking around with a wet wipe in my hand to wipe sticky mouths and furniture.