Saturday, May 16, 2015

Learning Notes XXVII

Sunday, May 10th, Mother's Day
 I slept in with Thomas until 7:30 and when I cam downstairs, Felicity had taped up homemade streamers around the dining room and the living room. It was so cute. She and Cecilia both ran to me with homemade cards and pictures and Elizabeth warned me not to look at the picture she was still finishing.
Mass was bit more chaotic than usual in that Brigid was especially sensitive and kept screaming over everything and sometimes nothing. James tried to take Teresa and Brigid into the back but Brigid just began melting down so James took them both to the car and I stayed with the oldest three and Thomas through the rest of Mass. I've decided Cecilia and Felicity are too old to bring any book to Mass that isn't about the Mass. It drove me bonkers that the homily was in such simple language that both could understand and he touched upon topics relevant to both girls and yet their noses were in books. Cecilia and I had been discussing just a few days prior about how all grace comes from God and that every Saint was a sinner and every sinner can be a Saint and that is exactly what he spoke about and then segued into the universal call to holiness. And then a few minutes later he touched on the First Communicants and how the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. So I've told them both they cannot bring any book to Mass except their Mass or a prayer book.
We picked up McDonalds for the kids on the way home (a treat for them as they got nuggets, fries and a toy each, and a treat for us as we didn't have to do anything special to feed them :)) and then, after we got home, James cooked a special meal for me and him consisting of a perfectly cooked steak filet with homemade Bernaise sauce, fresh mashed potatoes and green beans. Felicity had declared her Happy Meal yesterday the "best lunch ever", which kind of depressed me, but James and I couldn't help but recount her comment during our lunch. So, so good!
James gave me a beautiful card and each of the kids (as able) had signed a card. And then I opened my presents. I got Rosamund Hodge's new book, which I'm really looking forward to reading, a new book light as mine has been relegated as a reading light for Brigid at bedtime, Roger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren, and my own Fitbit! My in-laws also sent me a card and a check, which I put toward the purchase of a nicely discounted treadmill from Walmart, which should be here in a week or so. I definitely felt quite spoiled!
 Later we had a moist and chewy cookie cake and the girls and I played a round of Monopoly Jr. while watching my new DVD. Then, as if Mother's Day couldn't get any better...

Monday, May 11th

Thomas slept 9 1/2 hours!!! Quite the gift from my little guy! Wouldn't it be nice if he could start doing that every night! Don't fret, I shan't hope too hard.

Cecilia did her geography, english and a math lesson and put on a magic show for her sisters. She loves performing magic tricks. Absolutely loves it! And she totally does not get that from me.
Cecilia tries to mind read what color on the cube Teresa picked.
After lunch and some Little Ponys on Netflix (it was pouring rain and thundering, which I relish, but can't send the kids outside in), we sat down to do religion. We went over the Trinity and each of the three persons and where they all appear together in Scripture. We also went a bit deeper into who the Holy Spirit is and briefly touched on his 7 gifts and 12 fruits. We then reviewed the 8 questions Felicity will be asked at her interview to receive her First Holy Communion, which basically focus on who the Trinity is, what the conditions for a good confession are, what is necessary to receive Holy Communion, and what the 10 commandments are.
Thomas surveying the playroom.
Afterwards, Cecilia cleaned up her room, the dining room, the hallway and the books in the playroom for an hour or so playing Minecraft while Felicity and Elizabeth played My Little Pony all over the house. Brigid begged to go outside despite the rain but otherwise played with Thomas. Teresa bounced around from watching The Incredibles to playing with monkeys to nagging Cecilia for the iPad.

Tuesday, May 12th
Thomas did not repeat his stellar night. In fact, using my new Fitbit, my night looked more like this:
One of the earlier light blue bands in the threesome, is when I got up to get Thomas out of the swing. The thick red part is when I got up to put Thomas back in the swing because he was nursing that entire dark blue section between the two! The last light blue line was when James' alarm went off. While I generally only put Thomas back in the swing when he just won't stop nursing and I'm exhausted, this is fairly typical for me in terms of sleep, waking between 11:30 and 1:30 for Thomas and then again between 3 and 5:30 and getting up around 6:30. Being a natural night owl and losing sleep, it can take me a bit to get going in the morning.
But we did manage to get some work done. Felicity did her english and some more math. Cecilia did another math lesson and Elizabeth finished her math for the week and did her spelling.
Thomas is getting better and better at pulling himself up standing.
After lunch and Thomas was down for a nap, I went outside and secured two more sections of fence and moved about 5 buckets of small rocks. Then we went to swimming lessons. Rather than just sitting and waiting for Teresa's and Elizabeth's lesson (while Felicity and Cecilia were having theirs), I brought my swimsuit and took them in for some free swim time before their lesson and then had free swim with the older two when their lesson was done. I can't watch their lessons that way, but at least the little ones aren't bored out of their minds for 40 minutes and it is better exercise for me than just sitting or standing there.

Wednesday, May 13th, Our Lady of Fatima
I got even less sleep than the night before - getting Thomas to sleep in his crib at night is climbing the priority ladder.
My mom bought this little piano for Cecilia for her 1st birthday. It is over 9 years old and is on its 6th baby.

Elizabeth did her English and Cecilia did her spelling and Felicity a page of math before we all went outside for a break. We moved the paving stones that were too close to the house, caving into a ditch, and didn't reach from the patio to the back door anyway over to the fence gate.
I will still need a few more to finish the path from the gate to the patio, but it is better. We also removed the mulch bed that was underneath it.
Then we came in and Elizabeth did her handwriting to finish her bookwork for the week. Cecilia did another math lesson and Felicity did all but 2 pages of her math.
After lunch, the girls helped me work outside some more. I secured 3 more sections of fence and we continued moving all the little white stones from around the patio to the corner along the house.

Thursday, May 14th, St. Matthais, Teresa's Baptism Anniversary
Cecilia and Felicity finished their math for the week and then we went to the zoo. I didn't actually plan the zoo as part of a way to celebrate Teresa's Baptism anniversary, but it worked out well that way as she is definitely a girl who loves the zoo. We met two other families there so we were a party of 3 moms and 13 kids.
An alligator eyes Teresa. Don't worry. I'm pretty sure she could take him even if the glass wasn't there. 
One of the moms is a friend of mine who we see every week for swim lessons. Her 3 year old daughter is Teresa's best friend (an awesome addition to the anniversary celebration!) and Cecilia and Felicity are both friends with her 7 year old daughter. But we also got to spend some time with another mom I'd only met once before and meet 3 of her 8 kids. Elizabeth especially adored her 4 year old daughter but they all had a good time. We walked through the primate house, then the reptile and amphibian house and then down to the giraffes and finally finishing at the farm playground.

Afterwards, my crew and I met James for dinner at the girls' favorite restaurant, Red Robin. Thomas even got to try some mozzarella cheese stick and macaroni and cheese, both of which he quite liked (but who wouldn't?). Then we came home to putting away laundry and a bit of video games before bed.

Friday, May 15th, St. Isidore the Farmer
It had been 4 days since I had a good night's sleep. Thursday night looked like this:

Now, my memory said I got about a 4 hour solid stretch from about 1 until 4:30 but my Fitbit helps me get a sense of why it doesn't feel like I got even that much.
So, while I had thought we might get to the library this morning, it just wasn't happening. 4 less than stellar nights of sleep in a row meant I was quite tired.
So we took it pretty easy on Friday. Emails, picking up the house. Playing.
Then, my new treadmill arrived, so I spent some time putting it together and testing it out. It isn't anything special, but for $200 it will do the trick and being rather small works to the advantage that I can keep it in my office upstairs rather than needing to go downstairs to use it.
It has been tricky to keep the kids from playing too rough on it though... we will see how it goes.

Saturday, May 16th, St. Simon Stock
My sleep last night was even worse than the previous four. Or maybe it is just catching up with me. I bear some blame in that I made James watch the season finale of S.H.I.E.L.D. with me and didn't go to bed until after 11pm but I'm sure the fact Teresa came to our bed multiple times and Thomas was in our bed most of the night had something to do with it as well.
 Despite being very tired, the girls have been begging to dye eggs since Easter and, with only 3 kids who eat eggs at all, I finally had enough hollowed out for all of us to dye some eggs and thought it was as good a day as any. It was only enough for each to dye 5 eggs, but that was all I really had patience and sanity for anyway. It has been a few years since we dyed any eggs at all, so they had fun regardless.
 It was Brigid's first time dying eggs and she liked dying the eggs as much as dying her fingers.
It will be fun to see how green they are tomorrow for church.
 I picked up 5 of the Paas sets at Target after Easter for 50 cents a piece. Maybe next year we will do things a little differently and try to get some more colors or variance but this was a good first time experience considering how long it had been since we did it.
My 3 eggs (I had a few extra on hand just in case) are on the left and working clockwise, Teresa's, Felicity's (with one multi-color egg I did but she desperately wanted), Cecilia's, Brigid's and Elizabeth's.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole of Human Anatomy and Bodily Illness

After our experience with "the plague" the girls had some interesting questions. "Why does everything taste different?" "Why are my hands and feet white and wrinkly?" So I thought it might be a good time to dive down the rabbit hole of human anatomy and illnesses.

I ordered a few books and the first to arrive was the DK First Reference Series: First Human Body Encyclopedia, which provided a good overview. Cecilia was particularly interested in it and took the initiative to begin looking through it, making notes, and copying diagrams.
 It even led to a discussion about a cell, what it is, that there are different kinds in the body and what the nucleus is. And it introduced DNA.
 It turns out that the loss of taste is a possible symptom of Norovirus. (That was from Wikipedia, not the book though.)
 The book did however talk about bacteria, viruses, the immune system and ways the body defends itself.

Arriving in the same box was the SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body. Cecilia and Elizabeth seemed particularly fascinated with it. You use plastic tweezers to remove 9 squishy organs, 10 plastic bones or sets of bones, and 2 plastic muscles. You place them on the paper with the name of each and then put them all back together again. It was quite a favorite activity, particularly for Cecilia and Elizabeth. I'm sorry I never got a picture of them actually using it, but here it is:

We watched a youtube video about how viruses spread and attack the body.

A day or two later, The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body arrived.

Really it was a fun rabbit hole and interesting too and I apologize it has taken me so crazy long to get this post up. My bad. :/

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Learning Notes XXVI

Thomas loves practicing standing. And chewing anything and everything.
Monday, May 4th, St. Florian, "May the Fourth"
With all of Thomas' recent milestones and new teeth, it is no wonder nighttimes are less than exceptionally restful. (I forgot to mention on my last post that, on Saturday, he pulled himself up standing for the first time. So just before bedtime I did an emergency lowering-of-the-crib mattress.) So while we did go to gym in the morning, Cecilia stayed home with some congestion and did her handwriting, geography and a math lesson. James stayed home with her and Thomas while Thomas got a much needed nap. I took the other four to gym. Teresa has a friend there that she adores. Actually the two are almost like little twins. They both are endlessly curious, cute and causing trouble and even with matching glasses!
But we came straight home afterwards since Teresa had an 11:15 eye doctor check up. I made the girls sandwiches for lunch and James took Teresa to her appointment. The glasses are helping. Her initial results were 20/40 and 20/100- (the minus meaning between 100 and 125). Her right eye is now 20/30 but her left has only improved to 20/100, so she will have to wear a patch over her good eye for 4-6 hours per day to make her weaker eye work harder. She came home with french fries, stickers, cartoons on daddy's phone and declared herself a pirate! That's my girl!
In the afternoon we did religion. This lesson was all about the sacrament of Confession, aka Reconciliation, aka Penance. We went over the stories of the Prodigal Son and the Lost Sheep as well as the requirements for Confession and the steps of making a good one. We even play-acted through one so Felicity could get an idea what it is like. Cecilia was super excited to play the priest but it is a good thing she can't be one. For Felicity's first confession, Cecilia gave her a penance of 20 Hail Marys.
After dinner, I piled Cecilia, Felicity, Elizabeth and Thomas in the car and we drove down to AHG. Felicity made clay sculptures for her Artistic badge, Cecilia learned about fire safety and "Leave No Trace" for her Fire Safety and Camping badges, and Elizabeth made a fishing rod of a chopstick, string and paperclips and fished for paper fish she colored with magnets stuck to the back. Elizabeth also completed all the requirements for her Fanny Crosby level Award.
These double gym/AHG Mondays are long.
Thomas asleep with "Marshmallow" the Polar Bear on guard. 

Tuesday, May 5th, Cinqo de Mayo
After a long Monday, we did our best to get a nice amount of school work done. Cecilia did her english and a math lesson. Elizabeth did half of her math and Felicity did four pages of math. I was hoping the girls might get a bit more done but it was hardly a wasted morning.
The afternoon we just played or read and I worked in the backyard to secure the bottom of one section of fence where Rosie had been digging to meet the neighbor's dog's nose between fences. And I discovered this beauty growing along our fence:
Then we had swimming lessons.

Wednesday, May 6th
Wednesday Cecilia impressed me finishing all her Spelling and math for the week! Felicity finished her math and did her spelling. Elizabeth finished her math and handwriting. I was so excited my planner for the new school year arrived and I spent some relaxing time just coloring the title page:
Thomas munching puffs.
I just cannot get enough of his smile! Just want to gobble him up!
Thursday, May 7th
In the morning Felicity finished her english and Elizabeth finished her english and spelling.

Much of the afternoon was spent outside.

Friday, May 8th

Friday morning I worked on a second bottom section of the fence securing it for/from the dog.
Thomas marveling at Rosie.
It's okay, Thomas, she baffles all of us.
It was actually quite warm by the afternoon, near 80, so the girls played outside some, especially with the sprinkler and the water table, but they took breaks inside with some video games. 

Saturday, May 9th
I completed 3 more sections of fence. Here are 4 of the sections:
2 sections I've used 4x4 boards and the other 3 have been border stones that I'm removing from around the patio. I have enough stones to secure 6 more fence sections and several that still need to be done.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Learning Notes XXV

Thomas gnaws on a french fry. Apparently solid foods aren't so bad after all?!? 
On Sunday, I had gotten so little sleep that Cecilia made this sign for me. If only it worked! :)
Monday, April 27th
I was somewhat relieved not to need to go anywhere this Monday. We got a lot of school work done. Elizabeth did all 10 pages of her math for the week! Cecilia did her English, Geography and a Math lesson. Felicity got done Handwriting and half of her Math for the week. Unfortunately there were so many interruptions, snacks, etc. that we didn't finish until around 1pm, much later than we usually do.
Cecilia helped sort all the dirty laundry, cleaned up her room and the hallways for an hour of playtime on Minecraft while Felicity, Elizabeth, Brigid and Teresa ping-pongee playing outside and inside. I scored a shower! :) I also registered us with the city so I can sign the girls up for sports and activities. Then I planned our next AHG Pathfinder meeting and sent 3 emails on the subject.
Trying to nab the camera.
Bright eyes
All smiles! (with two erupting baby teeth)
Things look different upside down.
Gotta love the bald spot. 
Tuesday, April 28th, St. Louis Marie de Montfort
On the one hand, I have to wonder if God caused the big diaper blowout to force me to give Thomas his much-needed bath I've been meaning to give him for days. On the other hand, I'm grateful I didn't bathe him before his blow out. Regardless though, Tuesday began after Thomas slept a glorious 6 1/2 straight hours during the night to a much needed bath.
Elizabeth did her spelling. Cecilia did a math lesson and her handwriting, which was writing a letter to her new favorite friend in Wisconsin. And Felicity finished her math for the week. It was so gorgeous outside Teresa and Brigid spent most of the morning in the back yard playing with play-doh. The afternoon was mainly reading, playing and then swimming lessons.

Wednesday, April 29th, St. Catherine of Siena
Elizabeth finished her English and handwriting, Cecilia finished her spelling and all her math for the week, and Felicity finished her english and spelling. So we finished all our bookwork for the week by Wednesday, which was really nice. In the afternoon we did a religion lesson on the Eucharist and the Mass. While much of it was review for Cecilia, it was really good to go through it all for Felicity. Felicity will be receiving her First Holy Communion in June and so we have been going over what the Mass is, the parts of it, what the sacrifice of the Mass is, what transubstantiation is, what the Eucharist is and the proper way to receive it.

Thursday, April 30th, St. Pius V
In the morning we did another religion lesson to catch up on our schedule. This one focused on original sin, actual sin, conscience, and mortal and venial sins. Cecilia remembered most of it and enjoyed helping lead the lesson but it was again very good to go through it for Felicity before she receives her First Reconciliation. Then, as a belated feast day treat for me, we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch and enjoyed a yummy meal without buying anything from the store and with only one rude comment about our kids! (When one man saw our five girls and then the baby, he asked if the baby was a boy or girl and when I said boy, he said, "Thank God, right?" Perhaps they should offer classes in high school for those without filters. It could be called Tact 101!)
Anyway, that afternoon, Thomas figured out how to maneuver on the linoleum.
This basically means the entire first floor is open to Thomas.

Even my office.

So I spent the rest of the afternoon vacuuming, sweeping and sorting through lost game board pieces, missing puzzle pieces and other infant hazards.

Friday, May 1st, St. Joseph the Worker

Friday was crazy busy but in a good way. First we went to the library for some reading, playing, coloring and crafting.
Even Thomas got to crawl around some.
And the crafts they made were these cute paint/glue/glitter pictures based on the book Owl Babies.
And I even got to chat with other Catholic moms! Afterwards we crossed the street for some fun at a playground. It was a nice one but it was warmer than I had anticipated and I was struggling to keep up with all the kids. They all either wanted me to watch them do something or help them do something and Thomas was getting hot, tired and cranky. But they had fun while we were there. Brigid especially fell in love with a bouncy chipmunk (though we had quite the debate over just what animal it was and raccoon, dog, squirrel and other possibilities were thrown out).

And Thomas went for his first swing ride!
He wasn't overly thrilled with it.

On our way back to the car we stopped at a frozen custard place for a yummy and cold yet meatless lunch. :)
After we got home and I got Thomas down for a nap, I got to work hacking away at a huge bush in our backyard. It wasn't a bad bush per se but it attracted ants and bees, crowded the walk from the back door to the patio and blocked my entire view from the kitchen, including of the kids!
 Felicity was my big helper helping cut the branches and put them in piles. The ants swarmed on the piles of yellow flowers. Brigid, as per her photobomb, was my moral support.
 Digging out the base was another chore though. It was big and determined and all I had was a shovel and a pair of clippers. Thomas came out and spent some time with me after his nap.
I had to muzzle Rosie after she tried to grab a fry out of Brigid's hand. She curled in the corner in shame. 
 Saturday, May 2nd, St. Athanasius
 I continued working on it Saturday afternoon determined to not be defeated by the bush that just would not quit. But eventually I worked the shovel under it enough that it budged more and more until it gave. I had won.
 I did have to have James come help me heave it out of the pit and then he chain-sawed off the stalks.
 I bundled all the branches and dragged them out of the back yard to the side of the house and rolled the base into a wheelbarrow and left it by the gate.
 I discovered by said gate a pretty plant I had previously thought to be a weed but it turned out to be a Bleeding Heart plant! So pretty!
 Bush Gone!

Sunday, May 3rd, St. Philip and St. James the Lesser
After Mass and a nice lunch, I went back to the yard and cut several of the lower branches off the pine trees so now you can actually walk under them without getting poked in the eye or needles in your hair and hopefully the grass will grow easier under the trees.
Needless to say, we now have about 8 bundles of branches plus the bush base to dispose of. We are going to see if a friend with a pickup truck might be available for a little hauling to the dump. :)

Busy, busy week!