Sunday, April 19, 2015

Learning Notes XIII

It seems like so long since I wrote a Learning Notes post. We did take off for Holy Week and Easter week. And then the kids got hit with another cold just as we tried to get back into school this week. Sigh. Too many viruses. I haven't had much in the way of a cold, but my sleep has been awful with all the sick kids. It didn't help that the previous Thursday and Friday we saw a lot of rain, so much that our backyard looked like this:
 I'm wondering how frequently this happens and if there is a way I might be able to make it drain better and faster.
 It took a couple days afterwards for the kids to be able to play over there.
 So it made for some grumpy, sick kids to have more rain on Monday.
But it is always sweet when he wakes up with a smile, which is pretty much always. 
Monday we were going to go to the zoo, but our colds and the family we were going to meet there 's colds and the rain postponed that. So Cecilia got done her geography, handwriting and a math lesson. Elizabeth did half of her math for the week and Felicity did her handwriting and a few pages of math. By the afternoon I was exhausted and the kids just played while I rested. I bribed the kids to help clean up a bunch with promises of watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which they had gotten a glimpse of playing Disney Scene It with me on Sunday. I had a doctor appointment that afternoon (I finally have a doctor for myself - yay! and she is pro-life! double yay!). My back has been hurting off and on for a few months now. I really liked her though and I think she nailed it. Back muscle spasms totally explains why it feels the way it does and why I couldn't decipher a pattern to it.  My prescription is for 800mg of ibuprofen 3x a day, a heating pad and back massages. Nice, huh? 
Teresa Duck.
We've been doing a lot of watercolor painting during the rainy days. 
Unfortunately Tuesday didn't get off to a better start. Cecilia got up around 3am throwing up and every kid had the cold except Felicity. I got Cecilia to stop throwing up (she has such a sensitive stomach this is not uncommon when she gets a cold but I can generally slow her down with an ice pop and then get something bready in her and she stops and just becomes ravenously hungry) and helped Elizabeth finish her math for the week. Felicity got a few more math pages done and by the afternoon Cecilia was feeling well enough that she did all her english for this week and next. 
A page from Felicity's math book. 
She was really annoyed that almost the whole picture was blue. She is my girl who LOVES to color so asking her to make almost the whole thing blue was just insulting.  

The weather improved so that they were all dying to get outside. Out front riding bicycles, the backyard on swings and slides or shooting squirt guns and bathing plastic animals... the amount of outside time is picking up and they run in and out a lot throughout the day. 
Must. Go. Outside!
By Wednesday the runny noses were in full force but sunny and 50s drew them all outside for most of the morning. Breaks of outside time included a VeggieTales video for the littles and some spelling and math for the older ones, but they couldn't resist the backyard long. They even spent some time out front riding bikes or the plasma car or another ride-on toy. In the afternoon, Cecilia finished her Spelling and Math for the week. Felicity finished her math and Spelling for the week. And I showed the older girls the film The Flight of the Navigator. They were tickled that the alien is played by "Peewee" and I had forgotten how awesome the music to that movie is. I wish more than one song was available to purchase. 
A table of books abandoned for sunshine. 

Thursday, Felicity and Elizabeth finished their bookwork for the week. It was Cecilia's patron Saint's Feast Day as well as her Baptism Anniversary. So we celebrated with some Five Guys for lunch. And the girls spent the afternoon playing some video games but also playing outside quite a bit.

Friday we were supposed to meet another family at the zoo but they were hit by the same cold we were but harder. So they weren't able to go but my kids were so excited to go, I took them anyway. All 6 of them. By myself. For about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
 The outing went well and the kids had a lot of fun. After greeting the penguins at the entrance, we went to the farm and saw cows, had ice cream and played on the playground. It was quite crowded though, so I did try to move thing along... trying to watch 6 kids across 2 playgrounds when it is crowded isn't easy.
 Teresa adores giraffes, so we went there next. None of the girls were happy that the hippos were still MIA, but they enjoyed the tigers, jaguars, lions, red pandas and rhino.
 We finally got to see the polar bears, who were MIA the last time we came. Cecilia really loved seeing them. I only lost Teresa once (!) when the lake apparently held more interest than the feeding of the seals. In fairness, there was a trumpeter swan nearby but threats to buckle her in the stroller if she didn't stay with us proved effective after that.
We had a snack of nachos and popcorn before seeing the black bears, elk, grizzly bears and caribou. Teresa and Brigid had a disagreement about the grizzly bear. Each insisted it was their grizzly bear. They were gorgeous though.
Cecilia and the Water Moccasin. Good thing for that snake that he is behind glass. :)
We visited the small mammals and nocturnal animals house and then the building of snakes, reptiles and amphibians. We swung by the flamingos before visiting the gift store. Felicity got a multicolored pen (again, my girl who lives to color), Cecilia got a polar bear shirt, Brigid got a plush grizzly bear, Teresa got a plastic elephant and giraffe and Elizabeth got a few lollipops.

It wasn't a bad week, despite the rain and colds. It did wear everyone out though.
Brigid asleep on her feet. Literally. 
Saturday James had to attend the ordination of the deacons, so we took the opportunity to get a nice amount of cleaning done. Cecilia cleaned the toilets, bathroom floors, her and Teresa's bedroom and the books in the playroom. Felicity did the bathroom countertops, picked up and vacuumed the hallways, helped clean the playroom and helped clean up her, Brigid's and Elizabeth's bedroom. Elizabeth helped clean up the bedroom and cleaned up the living room, vacuumed the living room and helped clean up the playroom. I got my office vacuumed and cleaned off my desk. After the girls did some reading, Saturday video games were rewarded.

Thomas has been busy learning quite a bit himself, but since he turns 6 months this coming week, I'll save that for his own update. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How I Pray

Kristen at St. Monica's Bridge liked how Thomas McDonald's "How I Pray" series work to introduce the reader to the blogger and asked me if I would join her in answering them in this light. My apologies to her for how long it took me to get this up. But here goes. :)

1. Who are you?
I'm a faithful Roman Catholic wife and mother of six children. I was born in New York and I grew up in South Florida. I've lived up and down the east coast but went to college in Texas, so I'm a bit of an amalgam. I got my B.A. in Philosophy and my M.A. in Theology, both from the University of Dallas. I enjoy reading, hiking, swimming, puzzle-solving, planning and organizing.

2. What is your vocation?
As a child of God, my vocation is to become a Saint through my marriage to James and my motherhood to Cecilia (9), Felicity (7), Elizabeth (5), Teresa (4), Brigid (2) and Thomas (5 months). I also homeschool our children.

3. What is your prayer routine for an average day?
I have no average day. With 6 young children, every day has its curve balls. But I have goals and an ideal day.
I try to get up around 6am so I can say morning prayer in some peace and quiet before all the kids are up. I prefer to use the Divine Office for my Morning Prayer. I would prefer to use the book, so I won't get rid of my set, but I mainly use the iBreviary app due to the varying circumstances of my morning. The app is simply easier to juggle while nursing a baby or snuggling a little one who got up too early. At 7am I put EWTN live streaming on my iPad and watch/listen to Mass while I get the kids' breakfasts and do the dishes. I really miss going to daily Mass. James and I used to take Cecilia every day when she was a baby but by the time we had #2, it got too complicated. I really look forward to the day I can go to Mass every day again.
At noon I try to say the Angelus. This is a new habit I began working on during Lent and it is a hard one to do with the kids simply because a lunch with everyone sitting at the table at the same time doesn't last long. They come, they eat, they scatter. I have my phone set with an alarm though to help me remember this one.
Another alarm goes off at 3pm. I used to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day with Cecilia when she was little and she loved it. Unfortunately, that habit faded with more kids. But it is still one of my favorite devotions so while I would like to pray the whole thing, even if I can't, I try to say at least some simple prayer invoking the Divine Mercy.
Once the kids are ready for bed, we say prayers together. We say The Guardian Angel prayer, Hail Mary, Our Father, St. Michael Prayer, invocation to the Sacred Heart, petition to the Immaculate Heart, a Litany to the Patron Saints of every family member, and petitions for those who need our prayers.
After all the kids are in bed and all is quiet, I enjoy some personal prayer.
We do try to always say grace before every meal.
And I do say small prayers throughout the day. For example, ever since I fell down the stairs carrying Cecilia (oh, 7 years ago?), I always pray for God to "guide my steps" when a carry a child down stairs.

4. Do you have a devotion that is particularly important to you or effective?
I love the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I also renew my Consecration to Jesus Through Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort yearly.

5. Do you have a place, habit, or way of praying?
Place is where I am. Ideally I'd be in church or outside or in my recliner with a cup of hot tea but life with littles doesn't work that way, so I pray on the stairs, in the kitchen, doing the laundry, laying in bed, etc.

6. Do you use any tools or sacramentals?
I use my iPad with the EWTN app, the iBreviary app on my phone. We keep holy water available in the kitchen. Every member of the family has their own rosary. We give out holy cards on feast days and baptism anniversaries. And we have a nice assortment of saint statues and religious art around the house, including a crucifix above every bed.

7. What is your relationship with the Rosary?
The rosary and I have a difficult relationship. I like the rosary, I do. At one point I had a special intention for every mystery cycling every two weeks. My difficulty is that I get very easily distracted even without 6 kids so now I am always distracted and while I don't mind plowing along and doing my best, it is ridiculously easy to lose count. So I can easily spend multiple days praying over 20 Hail Marys just to get through one decade. I just forget where I am. Or I fall asleep. My favorite mysteries have always been the sorrowful ones though.

8. Are there any books or spiritual works that are important to your devotional life?
I'm assuming the Bible is a given but I would specify the Psalms and the New Testament. I am also a huge fan of the Diary of St. Faustina. I also loved Fr. William's "A Heart Like His," which was my Lenten reading one year and I hope to revisit one Lent.

9. What is your most recent spiritual or devotional reading?
I began reading Lenten Reflections with St. Thomas Aquinas for Lent but it fell by the wayside during "the plague". Last Fall I read several books on St. Thomas Aquinas anticipating the arrival of my little Thomas. And over Advent I read Houselander's Wood of the Cradle.

10. Are there saints or other figures who inspire your prayer life or act as patrons?
Oh my yes, quite a few. Personally I'm very fond of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Rose de Lima, St. Michael, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina. As a wife and mother I've grown close to the Blessed Mother, St. Nicholas, St. John Bosco, St. Francis de Sales, St. Francis of Rome, and the patrons of my children. I'm also deeply indebted to my guardian angel.

11. Have you had any unusual or even miraculous experiences as a result of your prayer life?
Last year I began praying a 30-day novena to St. Joseph for James. It was not for a job, but simply because St. Joseph is a patron of fathers as well as James' confirmation Saint. On the last day of my novena, the feast of St. Joseph, James told me about a job opportunity in Wisconsin. On the last day of my novena to the Sacred Heart, on the vigil of the Sacred Heart, the employer, which has Sacred Heart in its name, offered him the job. We had very little time to find a home for it to work. We drove 800 miles with the kids and spent 36 hours looking at over a dozen houses. The very last one would work for us. We put in an offer and had a contract but a lot had to fall into place from the inspection to the mortgage papers, etc. We closed on the house on the feast of the Queenship of Mary. In about 5 months, the Holy Family changed James' employer and our location of about 800 miles, much to our surprise.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Eaglets!

I found out through our local homeschool loop about a live 24 hour feed watching a pair of Bald Eagles on their nest.

We watched the eagles take turns sitting on the nest through snowstorms and high winds.
 She laid 3 eggs and sat faithfully only leaving for brief periods to stretch her wings and eat.
Sometimes they added to the nest. 

A day or two ago, one of them brought a dead fish onto the edge of the nest. I guess they knew it was soon, because today two of the eggs hatched!

 And one of the eagles has been shredding the fish and feeding them!
If you haven't seen it, I recommend checking it out. They are so beautiful and it is so neat to watch.

Happy 4th Birthday, Teresa Marie!

On Saturday, my parents and James took the four oldest to see Cinderella in the movie theater. She keeps asking to go again. 
 When we asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she answered, "Pink!"
 Pink is her favorite color, if you couldn't tell.
 And she loves having everyone sing Happy Birthday to her.
 Amazing photobomb by the dog there. Apparently she knew she wasn't going to get any cake.
 She loves Lego so Duplos were a must and a welcome addition to our Duplo collection.

 A My Little Pony the original TV series DVDs.
 Books!!! "This is Not My Hat" "Giggle, Giggle, Quack" "The Grufflo" "Julia's House of Creatures" "Miss Fannie's Hat"

 Shaun the Sheep DVD Season 2.

 "Frozen" clothes from James' parents as well as coloring books and a plush Hello Kitty.
 Sofia the First Duplo set. It has a pegasus. A purple one. Couldn't resist.

 Her own sleeping bag. The next time we drive part way across the country she can use hers and I get mine back! Or Brigid borrows mine. :)
 Cecilia made minions for Teresa on Minecraft.
 My dad, James and I spent time from Thursday through Monday putting together the playground my parents had bought for the kids. It moved here with us but spent the winter in the garage.
 The kids have been having a blast on it!
 This morning we went to the Milwaukee Zoo - a perfect outing for my wild Teresa.

 Teresa and the elephants! (With Felicity in front)
 Teresa and the tigers!

 Teresa and the lions.
 Teresa and her giraffes.
 And a birthday lunch at Red Robin with singing and an ice cream sundae.
A long but very successful birthday weekend of movies with popcorn and M&Ms, swings and slides, chutes and ladders, elephants and giraffes, cake and ice cream. It might be tough to top next year, but she is worth it. Happy Birthday, Teresa!