Sunday, March 1, 2015

Learning Notes XX

Monday, February 23rd, St. Polycarp

We got off to a good start getting the laundry started and off to gym class, even though the temperature was this:

 The older three practiced dribbling basketballs and some basic fitness while Thomas slept, Teresa played, I chatted with other moms and Brigid shadowed me carrying a cup of dry cereal.

After we got home and had lunch, I had the older three all do their geography, handwriting and some math. Cecilia did one math lesson, Felicity 2 math pages and Elizabeth 3.

From Melanie and Cammie, I got some great suggestions via Facebook on how to keep Brigid from pulling off her diaper, taught in camaraderie to her by Teresa.

Tuesday, February 24th

And since I was saved cleaning up random pee spots on the carpet from Brigid, on Tuesday I said, Hey! Let's potty train Teresa! And so began the week of messes. She had only two successes the whole day and about a dozen accidents, but she was trying.

And, much to my surprise, all three of the oldest finished all their math for the week. Imagine my bafflement at it being only Tuesday and being done with math! Knowing next week is a "catch-up" week motivates them to get done like nothing else. In addition, Elizabeth did her Spelling as well.

Wednesday, February 25th

The potty training continued. Wednesday she had 3 successes but the real progress was in the fact that one of them was #2. So, slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Meanwhile Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth finished their English and Spelling to be done for the week.
Cecilia got off to a rough start complaining her stomach hurt, but, knowing Cecilia's sensitive stomach, I knew that the odds were good if I could just get some food in it, she would be fine. Sure enough, after 3 ice pops, two buttered waffles and 2 bowls of rice with gravy, she was great and wanted to go outside.
After the oldest five went out for a bit of sledding and snow fun, I wasn't too surprised to see a tired Brigid like this:
Brigid surprised us at dinner by eating 3 bowls of rice with gravy but around 9pm, while I was trying to get her asleep, it all came back up. I hoped that she had just overdone it and that would be the end of it, but it had just begun. I did get her asleep by 10pm but she was up throwing up again by 11:15. I sat with her for 3 hours while she vomited about every 15 minutes. It was painful. She didn't want me to wipe her face nor even touch her. She would hide under the blanket to avoid the towel (baby wipes brought on crying and screaming). She asked for her stuffed panda bear but it needed to be washed. She moaned and cried but all I could do was offer my presence.

Thursday, February 26th
At 2:15, Thomas woke to be fed, so James took over with Brigid and I went to nurse Thomas and get some sleep, although even that took until around 3am. I slept for about 3 or so hours before getting up for Teresa and Elizabeth and getting the older four breakfast. I was worried that, through the monitor, I could hear Brigid continue to wake periodically and throw up. Brigid is little. She is 2 years and almost 2 months, but she only weighs about 23 pounds. I called the doctor to ask at what point I should be concerned about dehydration. He asked me to bring her in then. Upon examining her, she had no fever, complained of no particular pain, weighed 21 pounds and 13 ounces and had an elevated heart rate of 144. She was diagnosed with a GI virus and mild dehydration. While we were waiting for her prescription of Zofran to stop the vomiting, she threw up again. But this time, at 10:15, would finally be the last time, after 13 hours of throwing up. The Zofran worked so well that she took right to the Pedialyte and wanted to share her sisters chicken nuggets and fries for lunch. She did have a little but even that she kept down. Although it was not long before the diarrhea began, at least the vomiting was over.

She continued to doze in and out and want me to hold her throughout the afternoon. I was initially supposed to go to a Mom's talk/retreat/social event that morning but God had other plans. That afternoon, while Thomas napped in his crib, and the older girls played video games, Brigid curled up on my lap and fell asleep.

It had to be at gym because it was the only place she had been in a week. But I was glad to be able to hold my little angel when she needed me. She slept on me like that for about an hour. My little sleeping beauty, getting some rest she so desperately needed in the most comforting way.

A bath, clean clothes and some children's tylenol later, she felt asleep on the sofa. It was a really long day and James, Brigid and myself were all exhausted.

Friday, February 27th

 While I did get Felicity and Cecilia to work on the scouting religious award books, most of my day was focused on Brigid. I expected after sleeping for 13 hours, she would bounce back and I would have to work to keep her resting. That is what usually happens after a stomach bug. But this wasn't one of the quick ones. She asked for M&Ms and, though I negotiated her down to a strawberry pop tart, she kept falling asleep between pieces of it.

When I would move her to change her diaper, it was like carrying a fragile 21 pound doll. Her limbs would just hang and she was almost completely limp. It scared me. Not feeling well I could understand. But she is so tiny.* She doesn't have extra fat to burn. And even after 13 hours of sleep she struggled to remain awake. I called the doctor. Fortunately, he was more calm than I was and reassured me that as long as she was drinking fluids and, so to speak, moving things along, it was okay and to expect her to take a few days to feel better. She spent most of the day either sleeping, or looking like this:
Fortunately she absolutely loved the Pedialyte cherry punch flavor. She downed it all day and night.
We had our family movie night and watched, at Elizabeth's request, Ice Age. But the devil is not easily dissuaded and he seemed determined to send us to the hospital this week. Out of nowhere, Teresa decided to stick a popcorn kernel up her nose. I didn't even realize it at first. I just couldn't figure out why she kept babbling about her nose. Then I looked up it and saw a popcorn kernel. She thought it was a bit funny. I was not amused.
Fortunately, sparing you the details, we did manage to get it out without going to the hospital but we did have a little teachable moment for anyone able to understand that we simply do not put anything up our noses.

Saturday, February 28th

James took Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth to their American Heritage Girls Daddy-Daughter Dance but before they went, we had to make a food to bring and share. So the four of them made homemade pretzels together:

They turned out really well and were delicious. Understandably, there were none leftover after the dance but the girls had a good time.

Unfortunately, while they were on their way home, Teresa began throwing up. So began the juggling between a very sick 2 year old and a very sick 3 year old. And it has, unfortunately, put Teresa's potty training on hold.

Long story short, she finally stopped throwing up about 13 hours later, around 3am. None of us will be making it to Mass today but that's okay. I plan on going over the readings myself later and we will just make our own Lenten sacrifice here from our domestic church. As both girls are now in the second stage of this evil virus**, we have renewed hope we can hold it to two girls. We've spoken with the older three about washing their hands often especially right now, not drinking from anything their little sisters drink from, sharing their food, etc.

Brigid got up around 9 this morning and is improving but very slowly. She will get up and walk a bit but then she lays down and just lays there. I found her in the playroom on the floor just looking at the ceiling. She had gone in there to play but got too tired. We will be making full use of any and all electronic devices for the next few days if it helps keep the little ones in one place resting.

Fortunately we are all on Spring Break this week. James still has work to do but we are in the clear for school work. We will see if we can make it to our AHG meeting on Monday but it will depend on who/how many are sick. Certainly don't want to share this one.

More Learning Notes (but hopefully more sanitary ones) at Melanie's :)

*This is a picture from a week ago of Brigid holding Thomas. She is almost 26 months old. He is 4 months old. They are only about 8 pounds apart when she is healthy, even less at the moment. She wears Pampers Cruisers size 3; he wears Pampers Baby Dry size 3. So she is little and, unlike Thomas, really doesn't have much baby fat to spare or burn through.

**I was saying to James before this thing hit Teresa, I think viruses had to be a creation of the Fall. When sin entered the world, so did the deprivation of health. They are parasites sucking life from their hosts and hence, I call them evil.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Learning Notes XIX

Sunday, February 15th
We got up Sunday to some pretty cold temperatures
 So James and I tag-teamed Mass and kept the kids inside.
But since I'd set up the atrium, the older girls held their own Mass. These are the missals they made:

I love the songs they made up!

Monday, February 16th, Washington's Birthday, Presidents' Day
Since we had no gym today and I knew Wednesday and Thursday wouldn't be great for getting school work done, I tried to get a lot done today. Felicity did her handwriting, geography and spelling. Cecilia did her handwriting, geography, and a math lesson. Elizabeth did all 10 pages of her math for the week. For history I let Elizabeth skip it and briefly went over the beginning of the conflict in Vietnam and the Korean War. I really feel like a lot of detail on these would be over their heads but we talked a bit about communism and the disagreement between the US and the USSR on whether more countries should be communist.
After dinner, I drove Cecilia, Felicity, Elizabeth, Thomas and myself to our AHG meeting, realizing 30 minutes into the drive that I had not brought the diaper bag. Fortunately, another mom who is in the troop came with her 2 month old who already weighs more than Thomas donated a diaper. Elizabeth and the Pathfinders read a simple biography of George Washington and colored a sheet drawing him and filling in information about him. We briefly went over the Pledge of Allegiance and then we demonstrated voting by voting on whether to play Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light. Red Light, Green Light won and the kids had a ball for 10 minutes trying to out run and tag each other.

Tuesday, February 17th, Mardi Gras
Felicity dove early this morning into her spelling and got that done. Then she began math and got about 7 pages done! Elizabeth did her english, spelling, geography and handwriting, completing her individual work for the week. Cecilia did her spelling and another math lesson. Some of the times tables she knows inside and out and others she still blanks on. I need to find a time to help her nail those down but I'm not sure when yet.
Elizabeth's handwriting, with a picture of the Nativity.
Wednesday, February 18th, Ash Wednesday
We all got up early to go with James to the seminary for Mass. Fortunately, other than Teresa laying on the aisle floor for a bit, the girls were pretty good and Thomas was easy peasy. For several of our kids it was their first Ash Wednesday Mass. I'm sorry I couldn't get any pictures of our ashes but Brigid's hair blocked any ashes from actually sticking to her head, Felicity and Elizabeth refused to get ashes, Cecilia didn't want to get any (which surprised me as she has gotten them before, but perhaps the environment made her self-conscious) and Thomas' and mine mostly wore off before I could get any decent picture. C'est la vie.
After making mac and cheese and broccoli for lunch, Cecilia did her remaining 2 math lessons and her english to be done for the week while Felicity finished her math and began her english. But the snow was beckoning. All five girls went outside to play for a bit even though it was 5 degrees with a wind chill of -14. I admit I didn't realize it was that cold when I said they could go out but it certainly explains why they didn't last long. Cecilia and Elizabeth did try multiple times to get Rosie to pull them on the sleds but they were too big and she was too small.

Thursday, February 19th
Thomas had his 4 month doctor appointment this morning. So despite this
 I bundled Thomas in multiple layers and under blankets and braved the cold. His appointment went well - we have an awesome Catholic, pro-life, father of 11 pediatrician and it was nice to chat and ask a couple of questions about the kids. Thomas got shots and then I ran to Office Max to pick up fasteners. After I got home I was able to finally finish my fabric/ribbon project:

Ever since we got so many Christmas cards with pictures of family and friends we are now so far from I've wanted to find a way to display them for everyone to see, remember and pray for but in a way we could update easily as we get new ones. We have pictures of 4 of the girls' godparents and their families up there, one of our godchildren and one of our nephews. I'm hoping to add to it soon.

But before I went home again I ran to the mall. I had Five Guys (it has been years since I ate Five Guys fresh in the store hot off the grill and oh, my is it delicious!) and browsed a bit of baby boy clothes. It was then that I realized that the stores pervert boy clothes almost as much as they do girls.

 I just can't stand the idea of my sweet little innocent baby boy being labelled as a "Ladies man."

Anyway, we picked up some baguettes and broccoli cheese soup from Panera for lunch on Friday and went home.
Brigid discovers static electricity. 
But since her hair is usually in her face, I'm not sure she noticed. 
Friday, February 20th
I had Cecilia and Felicity each work on their religious award booklets. Cecilia had to write about some of our family traditions and those who serve in our parish, etc. Felicity's was focused on the unique roles of each of our family members. I loved how when it asked for something we all do together and why, I figured she would say go to a movie or go to Disney World or go out to eat or something, but she chose that we pray together. She drew each of us in pencil with our initial above our heads.
Thomas began running a fever during the night from his shots, so I made it a priority to get him some Infants' Tylenol and then a nice bath, for which he was due anyway. He isn't especially fond of his baths. He doesn't cry but he is tense during them and despises getting out and cold.
Once Thomas was down for his afternoon nap, I worked some on planning for next years' school some. I'm kind of blown away that, while she will only be in Pre-Kindergarten, Teresa is more than capable of beginning to learning to read, which means that I will technically be homeschooling 4 kids next year.
I also watched the bald eagle on her nest. I did keep the volume down though so as not to hear the wind so much but I showed the girls and they thought it was really neat. Every once in a while she gets up and takes off. She isn't gone long, so you have to be vigilant, but when she does you can see the egg and her wings and it is beautiful.

Saturday, February 21st, St. Peter Damian

 The eagle laid a second egg!

More at Melanie's :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brigid & Thomas

I have quite a few fun and great shots of Thomas and Brigid sitting on my desktop just begging to be posted. Hence this post.
A smile is irresistible with a Totoro on your tummy. 
 Brigid was upset I wouldn't let her in my lap at the time and so, in protest, made herself a bed on my office floor.

 Brigid still like to think of herself as the baby of the house sometimes.
But she adores Thomas.

And she will even try to share an iPod with him.
Thomas turns 4 months tomorrow and had his 4 month check up this morning. He looks great. He weighs 14 pounds and measures 25 1/2 inches.

The many smiles of Thomas...

With smiles like that I've no idea how I get anything done.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Learning Notes XVIII

I'm sorry this post is so long and with so very many pictures but it has, once again, been a very long week. Maybe next week will be more laid back. Next week begins Lent, so it has to be calmer right?

Sunday, February 8th
We went to Mass at our usual 10am and the girls were surprisingly not bad, despite having missed Mass the previous Sunday. I even got to hear part of the homily, which had something I loved in it. He talked about how everyone has a calling, a universal vocation to solitude and while people can be called to varying degrees of solitude, everyone is called to some degree of solitude with God, to appear naked and alone before God and be transformed by Him.

After lunch at Chilis, the girls showed Grandpa some of their video games. They tried to get him to play them with them but video games are not his forte. And he had to catch a plane back home that evening.
Monday, February 9th, St. Apollonia
Monday was busy. We got the laundry sorted and started and then went to gym class. While the oldest three were in class, Teresa played with a group of other littles
and Brigid pretty much clung to me like glue. There is one little boy there that has really taken a liking to Teresa. He isn't in this shot, but he is the one that invited her to play with them. And last time Teresa was sitting pouting about not playing and he came over and asked her to play and she got up and hugged him. It is too too cute!
Anyway, one of the things all the girls like to do at gym is pop quarters in game machines and get bouncy balls and bounce them all over the place. Unfortunately one little boy's bouncy ball bounced particularly well directly into Teresa's eye. She didn't take it especially well, so once their class was over, we went to the car and to perk Teresa up, I picked up Chick Fil-A on the way home.
After lunch I sat the girls down and had them do their Geography, Handwriting and History. They are starting to get a bit tired of WWII, but there was one half of a chapter left I wanted to touch on, specifically the creation of the modern nation of Israel and why there is such conflict about it. They colored a picture of the Israeli flag while I read.
Thomas got a bath and I kept the laundry moving. When James got home I ran out and got the extra ribbon I needed.

Tuesday, February 10th, St. Scholastica
I had plans to get more done today than I did but a rude headache hit me midday and lasted until evening. Cecilia did her English focusing on verb tenses and one math lesson. Elizabeth wowed me sitting down and doing all 10 pages of her math for the week. Felicity struggled but she finished the math from last week, which was 3 pages. She really didn't seem to be feeling well. I was very patient, never scolding but only encouraging and she was still on the verge of tears. So I took the 3 pages and let it go hoping she wasn't getting sick or anything. Maybe just those 7 year old mood swings? I did get all three of the oldest girls to sign a birthday card for their cousin and another for James' dad and make him some pictures to send him for his birthday.

After lunch I had planned to do religion but my head hurt so much I just let it go. I took two ibuprofen, got some hot tea and a shower, which helped enough that we got all the laundry put away, but after Teresa screamed at me for about 20 minutes it was back again as though I'd never done anything to get rid of it. I made the girls leftover spaghetti alfredo with broccoli and peas and read Pajama Time to Brigid more times than I can count. It is one of her current favorites along with The Going to Bed Book and I Like it When. Although just before bed she found the Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book and seemed to enjoy it dancing as I read it.

Wednesday, February 11th, Our Lady of Lourdes
I was shocked that Thomas slept 8 1/2 hours and woke to James' alarm at 5, which annoyed me (I can usually sleep through such things) but I took the opportunity to grab Thomas and give him a much needed feeding before I fell asleep again for a little bit. I woke up at 6 when Teresa came to our bed and I could hear another alarm, this one much louder. At first I was worried it was one of the girls' alarms but it was coming from downstairs. On the kitchen table was Cecilia's new meteorological device with the alarm beeping so loud it was very audible even upstairs in our bedroom. Fortunately it didn't wake anyone else, though I still wonder if it woke Teresa.

Elizabeth finished her English and Spelling completing her individual work for the week. Cecilia did two math lessons, and Felicity did 9 pages of math. Felicity really hasn't been feeling well but I don't think she is sick. She has no physical symptoms. She is just very sensitive and emotional. She hid under a blanket and said she didn't want anyone to see her and began sobbing. When I asked why and what was wrong, she couldn't articulate an answer. She knows she doesn't feel happy but she has no idea why. Explaining hormones and mood swings to a 7 year old isn't easy but it does seem to start when my girls are 7. Nine pages of math though was pretty impressive, so I was happy she got that done.

After lunch, Brigid fell asleep on the sofa and I got Thomas asleep for a nap and then I ducked into the basement to clean some. The entire basement is an absolute mess from the kids lego-scattered corner to the toys and laundry to my fabric scattered project table and boxes added and moved and opened and Christmas stuff not yet put away. I spent about 2 hours putting away all the Christmas and Advent stuff nicely organized and labelled and reorganizing any and all boxes and sweeping about a third of the basement. The girls picked up some of the lego zone. Basically I got about 1/3 of the basement cleaned and organized which is a huge improvement.

Around 4 o'clock we sat down to do religion. We went over Commandments 6-10. We did 6 and 9 together focusing on marriage, family and purity. Then we did commandments 7 and 10 focusing on property, jealousy and respecting others and being grateful. Then we did commandment 8 focused on lying and loving the truth.

Thursday, February 12th, Lincoln's Birthday
Today was a field trip. We drove south passing the ever amusing sign:
 to visit Marytown, the Shrine of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Since James has students from here, we got a guided tour, which had its pluses and minuses.
 On the upside, he was very informative, friendly and interesting. He showed us around and answered our questions about the shrine and the museum and the Franciscans there.
 This is barbed wire from Auschwitz.
 And one of the very few bodily relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Since his body was burned by the Nazis, his shaved beard was the only bodily relic left and it survived because he was shaved before entering the camp and the man who shaved it off, knowing of Kolbe's reputation, tried to save it. Kolbe actually scolded him not to make a Saint of him and ordered him to throw it into the fire, which the man did, but since the fire wasn't lit, he went back for it later.
 Having been studying WWII, I thought this would be a good field trip for the kids since it focuses on a Saint. I liked this reference for all the different badges the Nazis used.
 And I thought it especially interesting and fitting that the same company that made the deadly gas used in the gas chambers is the same company that today makes the Plan B abortion pill.
 A brick and mortar from Auschwitz.
 The only downside to the tour is that it was harder for us to control what the girls saw and didn't see and there were just a few photos of piles of dead bodies that Cecilia saw that did upset her, understandably. I wasn't really intending for her to see that yet and I wish she hadn't but I think having daddy there helped her recover better.
 They have an impressive collection of dolls in all sorts of different religious women's habits. Some are antique dolls, some are cheap recycled Barbies.

 The Friar who gave us our tour said they could do a collection of monks but they just aren't as fun as the women have much more varied and beautiful habits.
 The chapel is simply gorgeous. It is loosely based on the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
 In the back are statues of St. Francis and St. Benedict.
 And hanging in 8 frames around the back half of the church are dozens of relics. They had several from our girls' patron Saints but Cecilia was bummed she couldn't find one of hers so when I saw this one I snagged a picture to show her later.
 There are two side chapels, of which this is the larger and both are exquisite.
 It had life size statues of Our Lady of Lourdes flanked by St. Jude and St. Kolbe.
 A mosaic of St. Kolbe
 Around the inside of the main chapel are beautiful huge mosaics of Saints, this one of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Louis.
 Many of the mosaics and paintings are lined in gold and the detail work I could gaze at for hours.
 Elizabeth along side Pope Francis in the gift shop! :)
 Brigid found the carousel of crucifixes and could not refrain from grabbing Jesus. "Jesus!"
 And there were so many Jesus' to be had! "Jesus! Jesus! JESUS!"
 I almost felt bad making her put them back. (Why are nice, simple, wooden crucifixes so insanely expensive? I mean, these are pretty simple and yet each is over $50.)
Before we went to lunch, we drove around the campus of Our Lady of the Lake Seminary, also known as Mundelein Seminary. It is a gorgeous campus but, alas, we did not run into Fr. Barron. If we had I would have spared no humiliation to ask for a selfie with him but we couldn't even get out of the car to see the chapel as all the girls were hungry and Teresa was having a bit of a meltdown. Although I suppose wandering around the seminary with the kids like that might help cement some vocations. But I'm a huge fan of Fr. Barron's preaching and really enjoy listening to him, so some day I hope I can get down there to hear him.

After we got home, I cleaned another 1/3 of the basement.

Friday, February 13th, St. Catherine de Ricci
Cecilia jumped in during breakfast to finish her Spelling and be done for the week. Felicity did her Spelling and last page of Math before taking a break while I vacuumed James' office and the living room. Then when Thomas went down for a nap, I snuck down to the basement and began working on the final third that needed unpacking/cleaning/organizing. I made about an hour or so worth of progress before Thomas woke up and it helped that Felicity came down to help me. Once he got up, Felicity and I got to work on her English, which she finished.
The afternoon scored the victory of a shower for me and the finishing of the cleaning of the basement.
Lego Heaven
The atrium finally unpacked and set up. 
Pictures still packed, spare boxes and boxsprings, holiday decor, etc.  
The dog cage, my project table and craft supplies storage cabinet. 
Can walk to the laundry without tripping now!
James' extra books, keyboard and exercise equipment.
Train/Block/Remote-control Car station (with Felicity's art projects waiting to be begun.)
A few weeks ago we began making Friday nights our family movie/game night. This week we watched Despicable Me, which the girls really enjoyed. They LOVED the minions.

Saturday, February 14th, St. Cyril, St. Methodius, St. Valentine
This morning I had arranged for Cecilia's Explorer unit and our one Pioneer girl from our AHG troop to receive a lesson at the Kenosha Bowmen. All the Explorers earned their Archery badges and had fun learning about bows, arrows and shooting about 20 per girl of their own. Afterwards the Bowmen provided cupcakes and a pin for each girl and they got to take their targets home. I'm so thankful it was a very successful outing and I'm going to look into maybe Cecilia and I taking lessons together.

There were 5 extra cupcakes leftover that were bequeathed to us, so the girls shared them when we got home as well as some candy treats I had prepared.

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

More Learning Notes at Melanie's!