Sunday, December 7, 2014

Learning Notes XIII

I hope everyone had a very blessed Thanksgiving!
Teresa discovered the Duplo flowers fit perfectly on her fingers.  
She found ten of them and, voila, Flower Fingers! 
I told her she has Flower Power! :)
Monday, December 1st

This week is our last "full" week of school before Christmas. "Full" because while the girls have most of their subjects to do, we are already done with latin, history and geography until after the New Year.   Next week is a "catch-up" week should we need it to finish anything before the break.

This morning wasn't the greatest since, when the cat is away, you know what the mice do, and I had to make a couple of phone calls. But Felicity got done her handwriting and english, Elizabeth did her handwriting and spelling and Cecilia got done her english. So it wasn't totally unproductive. The girls began their Lego Advent calendars and we began our Jesse tree. A couple of years ago I received these as a gift

And I bought Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift to read each day to the girls as we put our ornaments on a wonderfully cheap and reusable $5 fake tabletop tree I had already lighted!

I read the excerpts while Cecilia displayed the ornament. It was a wonderful refresher for the girls who had been learning about the Old Testament, Salvation history and the line of Jesse this fall.

After lunch I got Brigid and Thomas down for naps and did religion with the oldest three. We talked about the Bablonian exile and some of the prophets God sent to call the people of Israel back to him. They colored pages of Daniel in the lion's den and we talked about how the people of Israel often treated the prophets God sent to them and that John the Baptist was the greatest of the prophets as he heralded the Messiah. We read the story of Zachariah and the promise of John's birth. Elizabeth especially loved hearing about her patron Saint. We talked about what kind of king the Hebrews thought God was going to send them and how they might have responded when Jesus turned out to be not what they expected. And finally we read the baptism of Jesus and the temptation of Christ in the desert before He would begin his ministry. In hindsight it would have made more sense to just skip religion this week and do this chapter after Christmas but I do like that we completed the Old Testament before Christmas.
Our AHG troop collected shoes for Soles for Jesus, which sends pairs of shoes to children in Africa who have none.
After a brief break to catch up on Facebook and James brought home pizza for dinner, I packed Cecilia, Felicity, Elizabeth and Thomas in the car and we drove to our AHG meeting. Cecilia made advent calendars with her unit while Felicity made an angel as a present for her daddy and me. Elizabeth and the Pathfinders made Cheerio bird feeders with pipe cleaners, practiced singing "This Little Light of Mine" and made paper and wood advent wreaths that they will be able to add paper flames to as Advent progresses.
Our Jesse Tree companied by Felicity's angel. 
Tuesday, December 2nd

This morning was a bit limited again as I had an appointment, but Cecilia got done her spelling, Felicity got done her spelling and Elizabeth got 5 pages of math, mostly all while I was gone. Thomas and I went to our 6 week check up. Thomas had gained 2 pounds putting him at 11 pounds, 1 ounce, and I lost 18 pounds. It is funny how child birth is like a crash diet, even with chocolate and pizza. He is strong, healthy, with good color and a hearty appetite.
Getting into the holiday spirit.

After I picked up chinese for lunch, I read the excerpts for the second day for our Jesse tree and Felicity put the ornament of the earth on.

Melanie had shared an absolutely adorable video on Facebook of Lucy saying her ABCs. Lucy and Brigid are less than a week apart and can even look similar and Brigid was enamored with her video. She must have watched it over 18 times taking up the entire computer screen before heading to bed that night. She loved watching her, would demand, "Again! Again!" after it ended and mastered restarting it on her own. My apologizes for Teresa's crash towards the end - she dumped a tub of Duplos in my office. And my sincerest apologies to Melanie and Lucy for the lighting on the screen.... until just near the end adorable Lucy looks radioactive or something the way the camera was compensating for the lack of light in the room. A professional photographer I clearly am not.

James set up his keyboard in the basement and the older girls have been having fun playing on it. I found this on my iPad:

Considering she hasn't had a lesson in about 2 years and even that had only had a few, I was pleasantly surprised. She very much wants lessons though, so hopefully in the new year she will learn more. Gotta love sisterly photobombs, no? :)

Wednesday, December 3rd

Felicity and Elizabeth both finished all their math. Cecilia finished her handwriting and did one and a half math lessons, both of which were from the week before Thanksgiving but at least that completed the lessons we were behind in.
I put Thomas down for some tummy time and he fell asleep for over an hour, although by the time he woke up he had spun around 180 degrees. 
Honestly, the rest of the day is a bit of a blur. I basically took the rest of the day to do laundry and rest. Oh, and I gave Thomas a bath, which makes his hair look like this:
No mousse necessary!
Ain't Jack Nicholson got nothin' on my Thomas! Except the shades. Need to get him shades. 

Clearly he was not fond of his new do. 
Thursday, December 4th

Elizabeth did her phonics, finishing her school for the week. Felicity did 5 pages in phonics and Cecilia did 1 math lesson. After that we pretty much cleaned, vacuuming and picking up toys and sweeping and getting the house presentable for Friday.
I came downstairs from getting Thomas asleep to find Brigid had dumped out half a box of Captain Crunch all over the table, chairs and floor. She was quite proud of herself and thought her picnic quite fun. I was not so amused. 

Friday, December 5th

We had our first Wisconsin at home play date! Overall I'd say it went well. Yes, there was broken glass (a small old hand held mirror) and pee on the floor, but the kids had fun. Their oldest daughter, who is 7, was an absolute sweetheart and the girls got a hint of what living with a little brother will mean from their 5 year old son. And they want to do it again! Hopefully soon.
Like peas and carrots. 
My awesome babysitter and her bestest buddy. 
Saturday, December 6th

The kids woke up to stockings full of chocolate coins, St. Nicks, reindeer and snowmen and each one got a new book. Brigid got a Sesame Street board book Have Yourself a Furry Little Christmas and Teresa got Elmo's Merry Christmas (a Lift-the-flap book). No neither one is stellar literature, but we already have several wonderful Christmas board books and they are both very fond of Elmo and love the lift-the-flap books, which last much better than any pop-up book. Elizabeth got Jan Brett's Home for Christmas. Felicity got C. Lourdes Walsh's The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas and Cecilia got Laura Ingalls Wilder's A Little House Christmas Treasury: Five Holiday Stories. I was only alerted after I ordered these that there is a new noteworthy St. Nicholas book out, but I've put it on our wish list for next year. I'm sorry I have no pictures from St. Nicholas' Day this year... the girls were simply too fast for me and I was too busy with little ones and life. On the upside though, I gathered a great list of Christmas books we don't have to be better prepared for next year!

We also caught up on our Jesse Tree, which we got two days behind on. And then had to skip the book's version of December 6 since my next ornament matched December 7th. Oh well. C'est la vie.

James took Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performance where the girls got to see and hear a live symphony. It is a nice way to end our study of the instruments of the orchestra. Cecilia especially loved seeing the harp and she was so happy they played part of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker before their music inspired by Chris van Allsburg's The Polar Express.

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That is pretty much how I felt by the time the week was over. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thomas - One Month

A week ago, Thomas turned 1 month old. On Monday, he was 5 weeks old. So I thought a small update might be in order.

Thomas is definitely not the sleeper Brigid or Felicity were. But I don't think he fights sleep the way Teresa did either. Actually, as a sleeper, he reminds me most of Cecilia. Do you start over again with #6? He will go to sleep being held, nursed, rocked, swung or even just laying down but he can be a sensitive sleeper too. He can fall asleep to general noise but it won't take much to wake him up. 
 He is slowly becoming more alert but the spans when he simply sits or lays quietly looking around are brief. He mostly sleeps, eats or cries to sleep, eat, or be held. He loves being held upright.
 He is very strong and already has some impressive head control, so it makes sense he generally enjoys tummy time until Brigid takes it upon herself to flip him over, which is always done less than gracefully. He has remained happily on his tummy for 45 minutes before demanding to be picked up.
 It was only last Sunday I got my first half of a smile. Cecilia took until 5 weeks to smile as well.
So it is fitting it was on the day he turned 5 weeks he gave Cecilia this:

But most of the time he looks like this...
 And this
He is very snuggable though whether he is awake or asleep. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Learning Notes XII

 I apologize in advance for how lengthy this post is but, I swear, this was ALL in one week. It has just been a long one. We packed it in before the break. :)
I got up on Sunday and Monday to this on our upstairs window. 
Beautiful but quite cold. On Monday, while I was taking out the garbage, it was 10 degrees with a wind chill of -5. Brrr!
Monday, November 17th

Monday was exhausting. James woke me at 6:30 telling me he had been up since 4:40 with Teresa. And since he had been sick all of Sunday, he went back to bed and I got Teresa her breakfast. When I reminded the girls to brush their teeth and hair, they asked about the chore charts I had been working on on Sunday. Once they got their hands on them, there was no stopping them. They wanted to do everything on their lists. I spent the hour before school showing Cecilia how to scrub toilets and start the washing machine and dryer and how to mop the bathroom and showing Felicity how to wipe bathroom counters. There are some chores each of the older three have every day and some that are once a week. To be honest, I wasn't planning on starting using the chore charts this week. I'm not sure I have them exactly how they want them, but I guess there is no better way to find out than to test them and the girls were so anxious to do chores no parent in their right mind would discourage them. It was exhausting, but I did end up with 2 clean bathrooms, a vacuumed office and living room, and all the dirty laundry collected, sorted and a load started. All before school.
Their chore charts, at least for now. Time will tell how they may need to be adjusted.
Once we sat down, all three girls did their geography. Cecilia also did her latin and english. Felicity also did her handwriting, spelling and finished her last poem for 2014. Elizabeth also did her spelling.

After James cooked the steaks we had planned to have on Sunday for lunch, I did history with the oldest three. We talked about the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI and why and how many ways it was problematic. We also talked a bit about Joseph Stalin and the consequences of communism in the USSR and what a horrible and cruel leader Stalin was. Ironically enough, they had a bit of a mental image of Siberia and the gulag from Muppets Most Wanted. Obviously more of a G rated version, but at least it gave them an idea of the cold camps Stalin sent so many of his own people to.

Then I finished cleaning up lunch and it was time to bake cupcakes. No, I wasn't glutton for punishment. Felicity's AHG unit are working on earning the Cake Decorating badge and she was asked to bring two cupcakes to their meeting that night. And you cannot bake just two cupcakes. So we made a batch. But, never you fear, I had a whole crew lining up to help eat them. Teresa couldn't even wait and ate 3 before I could even get any icing on them! Everyone else had two. Felicity, Cecilia and Elizabeth each helped bake the cupcakes. I confess I was not up for the girls to decorate them. I had already wiped the table 3 times that day and knew the icing would be enough of a 4th clean up.
On Sunday, the older ones took advantage of the snow, even if there wasn't much.
Rosie loved it too. She has been much, much better this week too!
After about an hour break, I took the oldest three girls and Thomas and drove to our semimonthly AHG meeting. With the wind chill it was -6 outside. Thomas was very bundled and I used multiple blankets on top of his carrier to keep warm air in and the wind out, and it worked so well that he slept the whole way there and through the whole meeting. During the meeting, Cecilia worked on her music appreciation badge and had so much fun seeing the various musical instruments other girls had brought in to play. Felicity, of course, decorated her cupcakes and ate one of them. Elizabeth and the Pathfinders went over the Trinity and did a little shamrock Trinity craft from Oriental Trading, began learning their next Bible verse, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength," and then went over the creation story and made their own 4th, 5th, and 6th day creations out of play doh in shadow boxes.
When the girls realized there wasn't enough snow on the front lawn for sledding, they almost gave up. 
Until they realized there was ice on the driveway. 
Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth had a ball sledding until the ice was basically gone. Teresa almost slipped down the driveway though, so she was not so enthralled. Instead she tried to lick snow off the car. "Don't lick the car!" is just one of those things you only say if you have kids. 
They actually asked me if they could shovel. 
It isn't a huge front walk, but it was cleaned for free child labor! LOL
Tuesday, November 18th

With James down and out all day Sunday, and after the long and busy day that was Monday, I got up Tuesday and didn't want to do much of anything. We did get some school done though. Elizabeth finished her last poem before Christmas and did her handwriting, phonics and part of her latin. Felicity did five pages in math and Cecilia did her vocabulary and finished her last poem before Christmas. The promise of finishing a subject until after Christmas is a definite motivation.

After lunch we sat down and did religion. We read the story of Solomon and his request for wisdom. We talked a bit about wisdom as a gift of the Holy Spirit we receive at our Confirmation and how Solomon used it to figure out to which of two women a baby belonged. Solomon used his wisdom to help others and, through others, God further blessed him with honor and riches. But we also talked about how Solomon married women who didn't believe in God and who turned his heart from God to worship false gods and for this reason God didn't give Solomon's throne to his son. And then we talked a bit about the prophet Isaiah and some of the texts that foretell the Messiah. We briefly reviewed all of the Old Testament figures we have gone over leading up to the promised Savior.

Wednesday, November 19th

Wednesday was Felicity's 7th birthday, so we didn't do any school work today. It was cold and snowing again, but we cleaned up a bit, ate doughnuts for breakfast (and leftover doughnuts for lunch), played video games, had dinner at Red Robin (the girls' favorite restaurant), and opened presents. It was a nice break day for me too, especially after losing 2 hours sleep the night before to a sobbing Brigid. Her three new teeth have broken through but I think their progression out was bothering her as she seemed to not want to stay laying down from 11:45 or so until 1:30.

Thursday, November 20th

Today I was hoping to get more done than we did but progress is progress. Felicity did her Latin and finished her math. Elizabeth finished her latin and did 5 pages of math. Cecilia did a math lesson and her spelling.

After that we cleaned up some and then the kids played. I did some laundry and watched Fr. Barron's New Evangelization. I have been trying to wrap my head around what the "New Evangelization" is and how it is different than simply evangelization. Unfortunately the 3 year old and 1 year old didn't let me hear everything on the video but I think James helped fill in some of the gaps. In general, I don't think it has been explained very well to the faithful.

Friday, November 21st

Friday we managed to get a bit more done, though not everything. Cecilia did another math lesson and her handwriting, Elizabeth finished her math and did her english and Felicity did her english. What did not get done was Felicity's phonics and 2 of Cecilia's math lessons. But, we are taking off the week of Thanksgiving, have a week of school after that, and then a catch up week before our Christmas break, so even if we remain behind for two weeks, we will soon be at a catch up week before our break. This should also give us plenty of time to do our science lesson I didn't get to this week on astronomy.

Felicity had her annual check up and got a clean bill of health. Her homework is to try more fruits and veggies taking "at least two big girl bites" of each new kind. She is my pickiest eater. Part of the problem is that she really prefers things spicy or salty. She is not a sweets girl. And there are no salty or spicy fruits. So she has no interest in any fruit. She loves bacon and pepperoni and salsa and chips and popcorn. She will eat broccoli if there is enough salt on it, thank Heaven, but we need to expand her horizons.

We had a bit of family time watching Masterchef Junior. My girls, especially Cecilia, absolutely love this show. Seeing 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 year olds cooking like professional chefs just wows them. Cecilia in particular is eager to learn to cook more. Hopefully this coming week will afford her some good opportunities to get her hands dirty. :)

Saturday, November 22nd

We intentionally did the food shopping Friday afternoon so that we could all go to the local science museum Discovery World. It was actually cheaper to buy an annual family membership than a single visit ticket for each of us that is 3 or older. So we can go back for free any time in the next year. Overall it was an enjoyable museum, but it is geared more towards those in high school or older.
Cecilia works a robotic dinosaur.
Felicity creates motion.
How electronic guitars are made. 
Seeing sound waves.
Our favorite area had to be the aquarium. Understandably, it focuses on the Great Lakes and the ecosystems involved. Felicity got to push the "Big Storm" button that created an indoor thunderstorm and scared a couple of her sisters. She relished it.
Brigid and the Bluegill fish. 
Brigid watches a soft shell turtle. She and Teresa particularly loved the sea life. 

When Felicity's "Big Storm" hit, all the fish congregated in one corner of the tank and the soft shell turtle buried himself under the gravel.  
A soft shell turtle buried. 
Teresa and the box turtle. :)
Cecilia and the Bull Snake, which is non-venomous.  
On the one hand, it was hard to tear Brigid away from the fish. On the other hand though, it gave me a break when I didn't wonder where she was wandering off to next.  
Several tanks throughout the aquarium run along side and down underneath you such that you can walk above them and look down. Brigid and Teresa refused to walk on them, but I thought they were neat.  
Pretty Jellies! 
This tank ran above, along side and below you - really awesome! 
Felicity listening to sounds from under the water, including ice, humpback whales and various fish.  
They LOVED the ship! Felicity helped steer.  
Brigid wouldn't steer, but she begged me to sit with her on the deck.
Selfie! Actually, this might be my first. lol 
Making waves.
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