Tuesday, March 29, 2011

some days are like that

Yesterday was a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Charlie had to be reprimanded and apologize to the mother's helper and Julia Ellen spent much of the school day alternating between screaming and having to sit on her bed for time-out. The house was a mess and I felt pulled in every direction from children needing assistance with their work, needing me to wipe their fanny, needing me to put on their socks, nappy, pants, needing me to brush their teeth... I spent an hour running to have some alone time and prepare for my first 10K this weekend and almost got run down by some jerk in his car. I have taken to carrying a stick to ward off SUV drivers who perceive a 40 year old woman running down the side of the road as a target, but this guy made me jump backwards almost into a ditch, refusing to give me even 20" of clearance. I spent the rest of the day wishing for revenge and had nightmares about my body being found and no justice being served against a hit-and-run murderer. Will dragged his feet all day and was 20 minutes late to Cub Scouts because he was still doing math at 5:50pm.
Some days are pretty awful and yesterday I really would have given serious thought to turning in my vocation and moving to Australia. But of course, like Alexander figured out, the sun comes up again and presents us with an opportunity to have a new start.

carnival of homeschooling

This week Consent of the Governed is hosting with a homeschooling journey theme.

This edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling offers some fine "nuts and
bolts/back to basics" blog posts about homeschooling our children (teens
included). Everything from remembering why we chose homeschooling to how we do
homeschooling to how we celebrate our choice to homeschool (and more), is
presented in this carnival this week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

another schooling myth debunked

Supposedly children can only learn to use computers and technology after being shuffled off to a super expensive computer lab staffed by an expert. I discovered a few weeks ago my oldest child scanning baby photos into the computer to create a power point presentation of important dates in the life of our family, complete with graphics. He has cleaned up my hard drive, cleared out my cell phone's storage, and stays on top of the anti-virus software. After I was impressed by the spreadsheet he created and stored on a flash drive to record his chore/babysitting money, I asked Will to make each child a chart to record their school progress. I had been relying on handwritten charts in their binder since they are not even close to being on the same week in any subject. Will made a master sheet for each child and left room for me to pencil in notes.

I am impressed by how quickly Will has picked up computer skills without any formal instruction or having a mother who knows little more than a few HTML codes. He has just played around and learned a great deal. One of the downsides of all this technological savy is that he has decided to start pestering me for his own computer and cell phone, but since that isn't likely to happen for another 5 years, he has ample opportunity to crash mine.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

short-lived anxiety

Boy, wouldn't it be lovely if all stressful events could be remedied so quickly. After worrying about finishing the school year in a timely manner, Charlie has scored 100% on several spelling tests with only a day of studying, Maggie has finished phonics for the year, and Will has caught up in English and is speeding forward in spelling and vocabulary. I looked up the number of days we have sat in front of the books and determined that we should be in week 26 and everyone is somewhere around that mark except for a few great exceptions.
Spelling must continue over the summer and Will is going to have book reports hanging over his head for quite some time as well, but the fretting that we won't be able to escape from thier studies to enjoy our new home in Maine this summer was a bit premature.

I have great plans for a huge garden (we already procured all the seeds we need from the $1 bushel baskets at Johnny's Selected Seeds in Waterville), plan on packing Will's pseudo GPS so we can explore the interior of the woodlot and expand our trail network, have heard the boy's plea for swimming lessons, and want to undertake the refinishing of two pews we carted out of the old chapel to use as seating on either side of my Grandmother's enormous dining room table. The big kids are excited about camp and I am looking forward to spending time with friends and taking everyone to the lake. I'm sure we can fit in an hour or so to finish up the school year in the new house's classroom and still manage to squeeze in all our activities.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

put on your pants child!

Julia Ellen is perhaps interested in using the potty, my big clue is that twice in the past week she has yanked off her nappie to poop on the floor. The first time it happened I was out running and the big kids cleaned it all up. Other days she just likes to wander about naked and has even appeared sans clothes at 11pm at our bedroom door.
I think it amusing that the child development teacher next door seems to have all the answers, but that is because she only has one child. Back when I only had 1-2 kids everything seemed so simple and easy, but as time went on and more babies appeared at our doorstep, I had to juggle 8 things in the air at once and could not treat every child as if they were the most precious pearl in the universe. If one wants to play a game, but the toddler wanted to destroy all the parts, we have to postpone our activity for after said bambino went to bed. In addition, the house has to be kept relatively tidy or Mommy goes berserk. (trust me on this) 

With baby #6 I have experienced such behavior that makes me realize how good I had it for so long. None of my other children could catapult out of the crib, none attempted night after night to get in my bed, and certainly none ripped off their diaper to leave excrement on the floor. This too shall pass, and I might as well look on the bright side and experience another first: a child who could be potty trained before their 3rd birthday.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

what have we been doing for 7 months?

Ever since the first weekday in September we have laid out stacks of books, written paragraphs, filled out pages in workbooks, read chapters, conjugated Latin verbs, read aloud stories, and memorized spelling words. The children only got off 2 days for Thanksgiving, less than a week for Christmas, didn't take a single snow day, and haven't gone on one field trip during the week. I can't blame pep rallies, band concerts, motivational speakers, standardized testing, fire drills, bomb scares, or the myriad of other interruptions that plague public school teacher's yearly goals. Despite all this, the children's progress ranges from the 5th week to the 28th week out of lesson plans that total 36 week's worth.
Of course the younger children are closer to finishing the year than the older ones, Seton's program is much more lax for the early elementary grades with free days on Fridays and science/history on an alternating schedule. By 6th grade, the lessons sent with enrollment are so thick that it is almost impossible for a child to complete all the assignments in less than 200 days, much less the official 180 days.

I have to recall that this, "How are we ever going to finish by June?" panic occurs every year about this time, and somehow we do manage to complete almost all the assignments around that date. Last year was worse because we joined a co-op that turned out to be a waste, and went on numerous field trips in the Washington, DC area, but here we are in the exact same boat, wondering how we are going to plow through all this work. If I break it down then the anxiety starts to diminish: Timmy has about 10 pages left of preschool, Charlie is doing well except that we began spelling late so he can continue that every day over the summer, Maggie is within a week of finishing several subjects and is almost to the last quarter in everything but spelling, and Mary only has a few weeks of work left for the year besides spelling.

The issue is Will, as usual. He finished his first math text of the year Saxon 7/6 and is now working through Algebra 1/2 with his father so that subject is not my responsibility. He switched to Johnny Tremain for his 2nd quarter book report after the first choice, Men of Iron, turned out to be so dreadfully boring that I didn't even want to read it. But we still have half a year left of reading and English assignments and only 2 official months left to do them in. I really didn't want to spend my entire summer in Maine sitting down inside with this child AGAIN, but it looks like that will be the case.    

Monday, March 14, 2011

where have you been?

I'm sure someone has been asking that question, but after spying The Orchid Affair on the new fiction shelf at the library, I've been holed up re-reading the entire series of spy stories by Lauren Willig. The first is The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, with 8 others following. To get a gist of them, think Jane Austen time frame and setting with lots of British and french spies trying to kill each other with a bit of spice and much romance thrown in. I have come up for air, meals, school, and Mass, but am spending all my free time immersing myself in Napoleonic exploits, hair dressing tips, George III, the myriad of ways one can tie a cravet, a bevy of flowery spies, and proper decorum for young ladies at balls. 

Monday, March 07, 2011

dedication day

Over the past 30 years, St. Benedict's Chapel in Chesapeake, Virginia has grown from a small group of traditional minded Catholics attending Mass in rented rooms, to over 170 families present on March 5, 2011 to dedicate our brand-new church. This might be the only building erected in the past 30 years from the ground-up specifically to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

The building project has taken 5 years of planning, construction, fund raising, and many delays, but it is an incredible structure with so many beautiful details that show how much love for God and our Catholic Faith are held by this community.  

The altars, lectern, communion rail, and Stations of the Cross are antiques that were collected by Father Willis, our former chaplain, who began the project in 2006. The East Rose window depicts the Agnus Dei and was chosen from a vestment that Father Willis wore. The West Rose window above the choir loft is an accurate representation of the St. Benedict's medal. Other architectural details include a Rood Screen Crucifixion depiction attached high above the main altar on the Rood Beam which both came from England and alternating stained glass windows of Seraphim and Cherub created by the Joseph Byers Studios in Philadelphia.  

The dedication service was presided over by Bishop DiLorenzo and Mass was celebrated by our chaplain Father Nichols, FSSP, North American District Superior Father Flood, FSSP, and our assistant chaplain Father Byrne, FSSP. It was a beautiful service with angelic music sung by St. Benedict's choir and assisted by 18 altar boys. Many clergy were present as well as some of our parish's seminarians. A reception was attended by 200 parishioners afterwards to give thanks to all those who put in many hours of hard work in the building of the new church. A most special thanks must go to Father Damian Abbaticchio, OSB + who served as a priest for 60 years and as our much-loved chaplain for 13 years.

A link to the chapel's website shows many pictures of the building construction. Seminarian Philip Johnson has written about the dedication at his blog In Caritate Non Ficta. A Priest's Life has several posts about the dedication, including a line of altar boys that contains my son, Will, who fainted during the litany of the Saints at the beginning of Mass.

May God be loved, worshipped and glorified, may the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the Saints watch over us, and may our love for Our Lord and each other help bring many souls to God.    

Friday, March 04, 2011

pristine for 10 minutes

The property manager stopped by the house yesterday to "inspect" the place and make sure we hadn't trashed the joint before extending our lease for another year. I guess the combination of the last tenants leaving it a mess and us having 6 children was the reason why this was stipulated in the lease. I was a little nervous about the possibility of her being like our previous sleazy property manager finding any excuse to get rid of us so I spent the last week scrubbing, dusting everything, steam cleaning the carpets, and even organizing the toy bin.
After giving us the okay and walking out the door Julia Ellen got into my purse and smeared lipstick on the carpet and naughtily drew on the walls, doors, and upstairs carpet rather than go promptly to bed last night. Yes, it is all cleaned up now, but Charlie hit the nail on the head when he asked, "Aren't you glad she did that today rather than right before that lady got here?"

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

cheaper by the half dozen?

Yesterday after we finished school and the mother's helper went home, I decided to skip running due to the wind (40mph gusts) and take the kids out for the afternoon. First we swung by Pizza Hut and redeemed our January BookIt coupons for 3 free personal pan pizzas. We brought back a totebag full of books to the library and finished Timmy's February reading program (the goal was to read 10 books during the month, we only counted 2 night's worth for a total of 17 books).
Then we hit the grocery store to combine ecoupons, paper coupons, and sale items for big savings. I stopped at the RedBox on the way out the door and used a email coupon code to get the kids a free rental of Toy Story 3. While I was driving home I noticed that my favorite gas station's prices were significantly cheaper than the competition and with my grocery customer card I could save even more on top of that. While $3.07/gal doesn't seem all that great a deal, it is when even the cheap station has a posted price of $3.25.   

Since everyone finished their work for the day and I needed a rest from my labors, we had a movie afternoon (they couldn't go out anyway, Julia Ellen would have been blown away) and I got to surf the web at my leisure. I might not work for pay, but I figure that my frugality saved us over $79.