Monday, October 27, 2014

Learning Notes: Special Edition: Thomas

Needless to say, since this happened Monday:

We didn't do any school this week.

But that doesn't mean no learning was to be had.

Cecilia and I spoke quite a bit about pregnancy, labor, childbirth and newborns. While no, she hasn't had the "birds and the bees" talk, she asked about why birth and postpartum are, well, messy. All the girls got a brief lesson in how they got belly buttons and how to care for a newborn's umbilical stump. They checked it every day to see it changing. (And it cracks me up when they misspeak and call it his "essential cord," although, prior to birth, that wouldn't be an inaccurate name.)

And you simply cannot have a household of 5 little girls, introduce a baby boy, and not get questions during a diaper change. "What is that?" So while the details have varied depending on their age, there has also been a bit of discussion between the physical difference between baby boys and baby girls. (The proper cleaning of which even I have been learning this week.)

They have all been learning or practicing the proper way to hold a newborn.

 And we have been learning we need to set rules about when and how and for how long Thomas is held in order to avoid tantrums and meltdowns. And I think my reaction has taught Teresa not to try to carry Thomas around by herself.
 I learned that newborns can have a growth spurt and want to eat every 15 minutes even when they are only 4 days old.

And I learned I am the new leader of the Pathfinders in our AHG troop.

School definitely has its purpose but learning and life happen whether you are doing school or not. It has been a busy week here even without the books and pencils, but we will be doing school again come Monday. (The girls need the structure and it isn't like I can't do it sitting down.)

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Thomas

I woke up at 12:30 this morning with a contraction I could sleep through. They continued in varying intervals and durations throughout the morning. My midwife checked me around 4am and I was 3cm. I was also dead tired. So I went home and tried to sleep some but I was so cold I was shivering despite sweatpants, a sweatshirt, slippers and two layers of duvet. A warm bath warmed me up and I was able to nap between contractions between 7am and 9am or so. James asked if I was okay enough for him to run to the store really quick and pick up pull-ups for Teresa. Everything had been so irregular, I said sure.

So, of course, at 9:27, while he was out, labor picked up with those whopper contractions that tell you if you are going anywhere, now is when you go. I texted James he needed to get home but he was stuck in a check out line. A few contractions later I had managed to get on my slippers and coat and make my way downstairs as James arrived home. Cecilia had asked to watch the birth and I had said it might be okay but I think I scared her when she asked if she could come and James asked me and I replied, "I don't care but we are leaving NOW!" Oops. I wasn't trying to scare her... I just couldn't deal with anything but getting to the birth center. I could already tell he was very low and putting a lot of pressure on me. My water hadn't broken as far as I could tell but it felt like it might have and, as with Teresa, he was simply so low he was blocking all the water. And focusing on anything else was simply more than I could handle. Cecilia, seeing my reaction, opted to stay home although she went to my office and got the iPad and continued to text James over the next couple of hours asking about me and her brother.

God bless the birthing center, when I arrived around 10am they already had a tub ready with warm water. All the vitals were fine and I was right how close he was. He was born at 10:27am and I couldn't believe how big he looked after how surprised I was by how small Brigid had been at the previous birth.

The previous Tuesday, the midwife had guessed he was right around 8 pounds. I had known for a few weeks that he would not be our smallest baby, which was Felicity at 6 pounds even, but I didn't know if he would beat Teresa's 8 pounds, 5 ounces. He set the record though at 9 pounds even and measured 21 inches. That explained so much from how he could squish my bladder so well while pushing on my ribs to how he had been bruising me from the inside.

 James ran home to get the girls and his parents so they could all meet Thomas. Brigid seemed very confused at first but I think it might have been more wondering where I had been all morning than why she was there. Before she left she was ecstatic over her new baby. She adores babies, so Thomas' timing is perfect for her.

 Cecilia had been so excited when she knew her brother was coming she couldn't eat lunch. She was dying to see him and hold him. She kind of regretted not coming but honestly everything happened so quickly once we got there, it might have been just as well. She was the first sister to hold him and didn't want to leave without him even though we hadn't brought his car seat with us yet.
 Felicity has long been my mommy-want-to-be and lover of all things babies, so she was quite the competitor with Cecilia for time to hold him.

 Teresa insisted on a turn and insists he is "her baby."
James' mom and Thomas. 
James' dad and Thomas. 

My obligatory postpartum turkey sandwich. Incidentally, if Publix would like to come to Wisconsin, I'd be a regular customer, particularly at their deli! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Learning Notes VIII

Brigid has figured out she can crawl under the bunk beds and will do so if she can escape my putting her to bed.
Monday, October 13th

James didn't have off for Columbus Day and I wasn't about to waste a day I wasn't in labor, so we got off to a bright and early start. Cecilia whizzed through her handwriting, Spelling and English and then began working on the next stanza of her poem. Elizabeth did her phonics, handwriting, spelling and rehearsed her poem "Singing Time" very well. Felicity finished memorizing her poem, "Bed in Summer," did 1 page in phonics, and completed her handwriting and spelling. 
Teresa dressed up as Frozen's Anna. 
After lunch, Cecilia put on a magic show for Felicity and Elizabeth. Once I had Brigid down for her nap, I sat down with the older girls to do religion. We read about the 10 Commandments being given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and the Israelites' big oops with the golden calf. Felicity didn't understand about the golden calf until I compared it to us praying to her light up unicorn figurine upstairs and she began laughing at the thought; she understood how silly it is. We talked about the differences between venial sins and mortal sins and why the Israelites worship of the golden calf was so serious a sin. We talked about the manna God gave them in the dessert and what a quail was and how Jesus is our "bread from Heaven" in the Eucharist. We talked about the ark of the covenant and what it looked like and how important it was and the similarities to Mary and the Church and how God dwelt with Israel in the tent tabernacle and with us in the Eucharist in the tabernacle. The girls colored pictures of Moses receiving the commandments and the people worshiping the golden calf and of the ark. We read about the death of Moses but the text didn't explain why Moses couldn't enter the promised land, so we went back to my bible and read about the water at Meribah and that while Moses was a great prophet and incredibly important, he wasn't perfect. 

I admit by the time we had discussed all that, it had been almost an hour and the girls were about done. They did want to watch The Prince of Egypt again though, so I called it a day and they put on the movie. Not bad for a rainy 38 week Monday. :)

Tuesday, October 14th

Since I had my weekly check up at 10:30, I knew we would only get so much done this morning. Elizabeth did 8 of her 10 math pages while Felicity did all her phonics and Cecilia did one math lesson and finished memorizing the second to last stanza of her poem. 

I was planning to do our Science lesson on energy in the afternoon but we've been having internet problems and I had the AT&T technician here for two hours trying to fix the problem. Needless to say, we never got to Science. So today was a very light but not totally unproductive day. Felicity, Elizabeth and Teresa got to play outside for a little bit between rain showers and, frankly, I made this week light for a reason. :)
Brigid dove into my cherry tomatoes and dip. 

Wednesday, October 15th

This morning I was determined to get as close to being done for the week as possible. Elizabeth finished her last two pages in math and then did her english. Cecilia, it turned out, only needed to finish two lessons in math, which she did, and then typed up the stanzas from her poem she has learned and spent some time practicing typing on the Typing Instructor for Kids program. Felicity slowly, but eventually, finished all her math for the week. 

After lunch I saw down with the oldest three and talked about energy. We discussed how our bodies get energy, both from sleep and from food. And we talked about different kinds of energy, particularly solar, hydro, fire (coal and wood), wind and electric, referencing the DK Eyewitness book on Energy. Now, I didn't have any experiments lined up for this topic. I don't have a steam powered boat, I'm totally inept at electric magnets and it has been too cloudy, rainy and chilly to make anything solar possible. By this point, Elizabeth's interest was gone anyway, so I let her go play. I pulled out their AHG books though and found a badge on caring for our environment and we focused on ways we use energy as well as ways to conserve energy. We defined what "environment" and "ecosystem" ae. We talked about how to conserve water and conserve electricity and how to make our homes more energy efficient as well as how to care for our environment, from which we get or create energy. We defined what "environment" and "ecosystem" are. So it was kind of half a lesson on what energy is and half a lesson on where energy comes from and how we can best care for the environment from which we get our energy. For example, we talked about not polluting the water we want to use in dams or waterwheels and we talked about the dangers of oil spills and how those need to be cleaned up. I think Felicity and Cecilia might have been able to earn that badge though, which would be nice. Considering the complexity of the subject and the age of the girls though, I thought we did a decent job by it. 

My view during the Sunday afternoon football game. 
Thursday, October 16th

The only school we have left, aside from the sewing we are still behind on (but again... Wisconsin winter I expect to allow time for that), is Felicity's english. Cecilia began the day working on her latch hook rug and inspired Felicity and Elizabeth to do the same but they became frustrated quickly and stopped. So I helped Felicity do her english, which officially finished our school for the week. 

One of Brigid's later nights. She crash napped and woke crying but, after bringing her to our bed, our Netflix bored her to sleep...with her bears of course. 
Now I hope to rest, clean up a bit, and get ready to meet baby #6, who I hope will not keep us waiting too long. 

Visit Melanie at The Wine Dark Sea for more Guilt Free Learning Notes! :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Learning Notes VII

Cecilia was inspired by Melanie's Bella and her leaf drawings and spent Sunday afternoon drawing and coloring her own. 

Monday, October 6th

The morning got off to a slow start. After several night bathroom visits, I was awaked at 3:15 to Teresa head butting me in the back in her sleep. I tried to reposition her but over the course of the following 45 minutes she continued to whack me with her hand and arm and generally rotate 90 degrees. Around 4am her massage of kicking James in the back woke him and he took her back to her own bed. I prayed the rosary until I fell back asleep around 4:30 but totally didn't want to get up at 7. 

So we didn't even start school until 9 and I can't say as any of us were especially eager. Felicity did her handwriting and geography and then trudged through Phonics. Cecilia did her geography, handwriting, spelling and vocabulary. But Elizabeth impressed me the most. She got done her handwriting, latin, poetry ("Singing Time" by Rose Fyleman) and spelling, all within the first hour. Not bad for a 5 year old.

After I got to eat my lunch, I answered a few emails, put Brigid down for her nap, made a phone call and caught up on Facebook before sitting down with the oldest three to do history. Teresa joined us and was very upset I hadn't made a copy of the map of the US for her to color as well. I'm going to need to make her copies too from now on. Fortunately once Elizabeth was done she donated hers so Teresa could complete it. We read about the Oregon Trail and the pioneering move west, which really made me want to commission them all to start reading Little House on the Prairie again but I didn't. Cecilia is in the middle of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Felicity is working through The Black Cauldron so it isn't a good time to hoist another series on them. The girls got a kick out of some of the Native American names like Geronimo and Crazy Horse. Then we read about Andrew Carnegie and the general difficulties concerning the influx of factories around the turn of the century, what it means to own stock in a company and a bit about his philosophy on wealth. And I told them the old Carnegie Hall joke. "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!" :)

We all had dinner at Pizza Hut (dinner for 7 under $40!) and then went to our AHG meeting. Since the troop is so new, they are mainly practicing the flag ceremonies and the AHG Oath and Creed. Cecilia and Felicity are already very familiar with them but they did get to practice the proper way to fold the American flag. James watched Brigid and Teresa while they played with a few other younger siblings and I accompanied Elizabeth and the Pathfinders. They learned about Fanny Crosby and what it means to be blind and wrote their names in "braille" (they filled in dots rather than raising them). The troop seems to be coming together nicely but they also seem so concerned with learning the new AHG stuff they aren't taking much time to learn each other's names. I've commissioned Cecilia and Felicity to help Elizabeth learn the Oath. 

Tuesday, October 7th

School got off to a good start. Elizabeth got all of her phonics done and did it almost entirely by herself without any help from me. She also did her geography. Cecilia did her latin, two math lessons,  and memorized the next stanza from O Captain, My Captain. Felicity did her English and half of her latin. 

Felicity went with me for my weekly check up. She loved hearing the baby's heartbeat, which was in the 130s. I'd been having indigestion and reflux after anything and everything I'd eat, so I figured he had migrated up a bit. Turns out he is as far down as usual, just getting bigger. Measuring 38 weeks. 

The afternoon was pretty lazy and laid back. With chocolate. It is hard to get much done when you can just sit and watch this :)

Wednesday, October 8th

School did not go very well today. We got off to a late start. Cecilia and Felicity asked to go work in their bedroom, which was fine with me, until they came down twice bickering. Then I insisted they return to the table. Teresa and Brigid wouldn't give us a break all morning. They both constantly either wanted to be at the table with us or were causing trouble for each other. I lost my temper, the girls got upset and the whole morning was a disappointment. All Elizabeth got done in a 2 hour span was 3 pages of math but I gave up after that. Cecilia only got one math lesson done. Felicity made more progress than the others. She completed her spelling lesson, finished her latin and memorized the second stanza of "Bed in Summer."It definitely wasn't our most productive or pleasant morning.

Fortunately the afternoon was an improvement. It was gorgeous outside and, despite the fact the backyard isn't fenced yet, I let the oldest four out informing the oldest three they were to supervise Teresa. They played well and raked leaves in the back yard for a good 20-30 minutes but, shocker, Teresa couldn't just stay back there and wandered out front. That was when I had to join them. Since Brigid was still napping, we pulled out the bikes.

We live at the end of the street, which generally makes for very little traffic although we had 4 vehicles all come down just while we were out there... all the way to the end of the street just to turn around and then two left. Why drive all the way to the end only to turn around? I may need to get one of those "Children at Play" signs just to hint that they should turn around before they get to the end of the street.

 Cecilia brought out the rake and raked up a huge pile of leaves for her sisters to ride or jump into.

 Teresa had an absolute ball!

She really got into burying herself in the pile.

Thursday, October 9th

School definitely went better. Elizabeth finished all her math and her english while Cecilia finished her math for the week and her english and Felicity finished her math for the week. It was a bit weird and crazy trying to instruct 1st grade math, 2nd grade math and 4th grade math all at the same time but at least today had no screaming and no tears.
Brigid takes center table while Teresa colors and her sisters do their work. 
After lunch and Brigid was down for her nap, we finished the story of Moses and the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. We discussed how the Passover foreshadows the Last Supper and the lambs foreshadow Jesus and the passing through the Red Sea's similarities to Baptism. Then the girls watched The Prince of Egypt.

Friday, October 10th

The only thing we had left for the week were our Science lessons, which I simply hadn't gotten to, so I made a point of doing Science today.

We kicked off the morning doing our unit on weather. Cecilia had actually already read through all the books I'd gotten on the subject so she was happy to open the books to relevant pictures and inform her sisters a few of the things she had learned. She loves meteorology and goes back and forth between wanting to make animated films and be a meteorologist. I had purchased The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks and The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane, both by Joanna Cole. I'd also bought DK Eyewitness Books: Weather by Brian Cosgrove and Weather (Eye Wonder) by DK Publishing as well as a cloud chart on the different types of clouds.

We began by discussing the water cycle and the types of clouds. It didn't take long for the girls to jump from thunder storms to tornados and hurricanes, both of which we went over and watched a video of a tornado. We talked about their categories and force as well as how to prepare for one. We talked about Bentley and his photography of snowflakes and pulled out our copy of Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. We talked about hail and its different sizes as well as a bit about air pressure and humidity.

It was about when Felicity said, "Are we gonna do anything or are we just talking?!?" I knew I was starting to lose them then so we moved on to a few experiments. We used boiling hot water in a jar with a paper plate and a few ice cubes to make condensation/rain. We used the same boiling hot water in a jar and ice cubes with a strainer to create fog. We also used the same jar (multipurpose for the win!) with cold water, vinegar and dish soap to create our own tornado. The older girls had made wind socks and rain gauges last spring, so I didn't expend any energy doing that again but we did talk about sun dials and weather vanes and how to tell which way the wind is blowing from by wetting your finger. And finally each had the opportunity to color a set of trees for each of the different seasons. Cecilia didn't tire or get distracted through any of it. She loves this subject. By the end Elizabeth was, well, acting like a 5 year old and even Felicity had had enough. So we ended there. But since I bought the above books, they can always go back and learn more and review and soak more in when they are ready.
Brigid has a few late nights this week.  
She coped by hanging out with us, chewing on a toy shark, you know. 
Still cute though, even at 10 o'clock. 
Sharing a "cookie". She has been getting two upper teeth this week.
Hard to resist that face.
When you consider a teething one year old, the fact Teresa had 3 rough nights with screaming fits of hysterics, and the fact that I am now 38 weeks, I think we did pretty well. We didn't get go over energy at all as a Science lesson, but we will get there. I don't have much in terms of experiments lined up for that one anyway. And, fortunately, I've scheduled next week on the lighter side with no latin, vocabulary, geography or history. So, barring the arrival of the little one, we should be able to do a lesson on energy next week.

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