Friday, June 26, 2015

Learning Notes XXX

Week of June 14th - June 20th

Monday through Thursday mornings the four oldest girls had swimming lessons. The first day was a bit hectic making sure each was with the right instructor at the right place at the right time and we were down 2 pairs of goggles. By Wednesday though we had picked up plenty of goggles and even a swim cap for Cecilia. I was really impressed with the progress the girls made. Cecilia and Felicity can now swim backstroke the full length of the pool. They are working on their front crawl. Cecilia can do the side stroke now too. Elizabeth moved up from the pre-school age groups to the school-age groups since she will be turning 6 before the session is over. Teresa was given a time out once for not keeping a hand on the wall but she is improving by leaps and bounds. A year ago she didn't even want to get in the water, now she is totally confident where she can stand and even her instructor was, quite literally, jumping for joy when she used both arms to scoop in her front crawl rather than only one, which she had been doing for 2 months now. She had been using only one because she refuses to let go of you with the other! But my biggest surprise has been Brigid. I have no pictures from the week because I went swimming during their lessons all week and took Brigid with me. She loves the water and is a bit of a little dare devil. She likes to float on her back and absolutely loves to jump in from the side and doesn't care if she goes under when she jumps in. She absolutely loves the bubble jets on the wall too.

On Monday we did a religion chapter together, this one focusing on Mary. Honestly, most of it was not new to Cecilia or Felicity. We have celebrated many Marian feasts, each of the oldest 3 girls know their patron Saints and each one has a Saint who has a special connection to Mary: Bernadette and Lourdes, Catherine of Laboure and the Miraculous Medal, and Elizabeth and the Visitation. We did go completely through the chapter and color a few Marian pictures, but it didn't take very long. I think the concepts of the new Adam and the new Eve and the Immaculate Conception were the ones we went over the most. I also noticed it has been too long since we said a family Rosary, but I'll deal with that later. Cecilia and Elizabeth also finished their last Spelling lessons for the year. Elizabeth did one page of math, Felicity 3 pages of math and Cecilia 1 lesson of math which focused on adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers.

Tuesday all three girls did some math but otherwise we took it pretty easy.

Wednesday Felicity and Elizabeth finished their math for the week and Cecilia did her 3rd math lesson for the week. Cecilia's been getting the hang of creating common denominators for fractions this week and it has been new. Then we did our final religion lesson for the year on the Second Coming, the Particular Judgement and the General Judgement and what our glorified bodies will be like and what indulgences are.
My new rose bush seems to be liking its new home.
Thursday Cecilia did her final math lesson and we gave the main floor of the house and the upstairs bathroom a decent cleaning. And I spent a fair amount of time Thursday and Friday sewing on all of the AHG badges for all three girls' vests. The only thing I haven't sewn are the numbers on Elizabeth's vest. A local mom is trying to get a troop started closer to us than our current troop and, if it does take off, we would probably join that troop due to the convenience of distance, closer contact with local girls and in case we can help get the troop going. But I've no idea what their number would be yet assuming they can get up and running, so that is on hold.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Learning Notes XXIX

Colonial Brigid. She has loved wearing that hat lately. 
I'm afraid I didn't take notes during the week. So this is more of an end of the week recap.

We really didn't do any school work on Monday. My parents were still here from our busy weekend so the kids played card games and visited with them in the morning.
In the afternoon, a box arrived for Brigid:

Teresa has tried to claim the "girl" bear for her own with the defense that she is her friend, but Brigid will not surrender her new "teddy bear". She has become part of the entourage of stuffed animals Brigid brings down and upstairs with her every day.

 Tuesday morning the sun was weird. It was hard to capture in a picture, but it was orange, bright orange, and I don't mean at sunrise, I mean from 7:30-9am.
 Even though everyone was eating breakfast, the sunlight looked like it should be almost time for bed.

 Turns out it was the smoke in the atmosphere from numerous and extensive wildfires in Canada.

 I did not get much sleep all week and most of the house was hit with some sort of digestive bug and a cold at the same time, so while I mowed and weed-whacked the front, back and side yards, we took it easy most of the week. It was so nice to mow the yard I worked so hard on though - Love it!

So taking it easy included some computer games. Teresa practiced counting and her numbers.
 Felicity helped me clean out the van on Wednesday, which was my self-appointed task for the week. It had not been vacuumed or cleaned out since before we moved last August! Honestly, the lawn and the car were the only really active parts of my week, apart from keeping up with 6 kids of course. :) We did go for their last afternoon swimming lesson on Tuesday and I went swimming with them for some free swim and this time I even got Brigid to come. She had refused previously over wearing a swimming diaper but I tricked her into one and she had a blast. She loved the pool and jumped in more times than I could count.
Thomas pulls himself up standing on anything and everything and has even begun cruising on the furniture. 
Thursday and Friday we had thunderstorms pass through, which was fantastic for our grass, both the new that I am trying to keep alive and the old that has begun going a bit yellow in the front. I love thunderstorms too, so it was a bit of a treat.
Thomas has finally learned how to get down from standing to sitting without hurting himself. And while all of his naps, and they are usually quite good lasting from 2 to 3 hours, have been in his crib, I began working with him to get him sleeping in his crib at night. At night, he has mainly been sleeping a stretch in the swing and then in bed with me but this week he basically refused to sleep in his swing. Honestly I think the problem is that he is so active he wants to be able to move, reposition and get comfy and he can't do that in a 5 point harness in a swing and I can't blame him. That said though, he is a really sensitive sleeper and I think he and I would sleep better if he spent more of the night in his crib, so for two nights now he has begun the night in his crib. The first night I stayed 4 hours before wanting me, although I think last night was only 3 hours. It will take a bit of time to transition but hopefully as he gets used to it he will sleep more and longer in his crib at night and I won't be so tired either.

All the girls did their math for the week and Cecilia finished her Geography book. Elizabeth and Cecilia each did a spelling lesson and we did one religion lesson, this one focusing on grace and the sacraments. I have to admit, after Felicity's First Holy Communion, it feels like we should be "done" religion for the year.

I spotted Brigid taking pictures of Cecilia with my phone...

 So I photo-bombed. :)

Another reason I have trouble getting things done. Look at this face... how am I supposed to get stuff done with that smile?!? 
I came back to my office after doing religion with the older girls to find Brigid asleep on the floor.  She's so cute and I'm so jealous. lol. 
During the thunderstorms, I noticed this in the front flower bed. The downspout drops the rain right next to the concrete into the mud. That flower bed is going to have to become a project itself but I might leave it for the fall when I can plant some bulbs for next spring. So many projects, so little time. :)
I'm sorry this post is seemingly so random, but that isn't an inaccurate representation of the week either.

When Brigid says "Ew" it is so cute it slays me. I finally managed to get a video of her saying it:

And just for fun... Brigid was singing to herself but I only caught a little bit of it at the beginning but she was so cute I just kept filming. You get a glimpse of her squishy duck face though she doesn't do it all the way.

Felicity's First Holy Communion

 On Sunday, May 7th, Felicity received her First Holy Communion. It was a wonderful day and she looked beautiful.
 She picked out the dress herself. She wanted a "princess" dress, so hence the puffy sleeves and waist (contrasting Cecilia's which was an A Line). I loved the belt of roses though and thought it fit Felicity perfectly.
 The first half of Mass wasn't too difficult but it was tiring. My dad held Teresa, who he admitted was a handful. Shortly thereafter though, Teresa came to me. And then nothing I did was keeping Thomas happy. He was so overtired the only way I can get him asleep when he is that overtired is to nurse him to sleep, but his sisters wouldn't let him sleep. So I thought a fresh pair of arms might help him, so I passed him to my dad. And then it was time for Felicity to receive her First Holy Communion. And Teresa saw her. "Want Icity! Want Daddy! Want Icity! She's my friend! I want to go!" I could see from a distance Felicity receiving but I couldn't get a picture I was so busy juggling the little ones. When we went to receive communion, she saw daddy, she saw Felicity and then she saw others receiving communion. "I big! I want some!" I carried her back to the pew and then she said she had to go potty. After the potty run she insisted she wanted daddy and I was worn out, so I took her up to James and then went back with Brigid to my parents, Thomas, Cecilia and Elizabeth.

 As the Corpus Christi procession went by, Thomas fell asleep in my lap, which was why I was able to get a picture of Felicity as she went by.

  Teresa marched with Daddy around the block in the procession, during which the wind blew off Felicity's veil, so James held onto it. But he said Teresa was great during the procession, though she wanted to walk up with Felicity. She even held her hands in a praying position. So cute!
With her transition lenses, she looks like she is just hanging out, with Jesus passing by. :)
 Teicity's veil, so James held onto it. But he said Teresa was great during the procession, though she wanted to walk up with Felicity.

 Afterwards we went to her favorite restaurant for lunch, Red Robin, and them home for cookie cake and presents.
She was so beautiful and so happy and we are so proud of her and happy for her. God Bless my Sweet Felicity

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Learning Notes XXVIII

Saturday, May 30th, St. Joan of Arc
James took Felicity to Church and she received her First Reconciliation. She came out of the confessional with a big smile, improved only by a chocolate ice cream cone afterwards.

Sunday, May 31st, Trinity Sunday
After Mass, we had a walk through rehearsal for Felicity's First Holy Communion next Sunday. We were told Father had changed the plans and the communicants were no longer to sit with their families. Rather, all 14 homeschooled First Communicants would sit in the front row, each would have 1 parent sit directly behind them in case they were nervous, and their families would each be assigned a pew behind. While I realize my parents will be with us, this does leave one of us to tend 5 children without the other parent. My quibbles aside, Felicity didn't like it either. These kids are not a class. They are homeschooled; they want to sit with their families. During the rehearsal, Felicity turned to me and said, "I like Confession better than Communion." While I'm glad she likes Confession, think about that for a minute. Just for whom are we separating the children from their families? It isn't easier for the kids. It isn't easier for their families. Who is it for?

As always, I will submit in humble obedience, but I think it is a shame that what should be occasions of unprecedented mirth and joy are locked behind convenience, rules, and neat little boxes. Of course, I believe it will still be a grace-filled day, but I find the attitude behind such decisions disappointing. God's grace is the greatest weapon the church militant has and she would do well to open the floodgates.
I can never get enough of his bath hair.

Monday, June 1st, St. Justin Martyr
I don't note which books the girls read each day because they pick up different ones all the time and I never would be able to keep up. It is a bit easier to note the longer ones that they really get into though and spend more time on. Felicity and Elizabeth love to sleep together in Elizabeth's bed and, while they don't do so every night, they do most nights and when they do they read a chapter from a children's bible together. Last I heart they were up to the story of Joseph. Elizabeth has also just finished reading James and the Giant Peach. Felicity is 40 or so pages into Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (we have the British copies). And Cecilia, having finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Hobbit has begun reading The Fellowship of the Ring from The Lord of the Rings.
Well, all the girls have finished their handwriting work for the school year. And Cecilia finished her English for the school year. Felicity knocked down 1 of her 3 remaining Spelling lessons and Cecilia did 1 of her remaining Geography lessons. Elizabeth did 3 pages of math. And then we all broke for some outside time with bubbles and watercolor painting.
After lunch, we did a chapter on religion. We talked about the New Covenant vs. the Old, the Church Triumphant, Church Militant and Church Suffering, the kingly, priestly and prophetic roles of Christ and how we share in them and a brief overview of the history of the church including the Great Schism and the Reformation. It was a bit much to cover in one lesson, especially with Teresa interrupting every 5 minutes to ask to go swimming, Brigid stabbing paper with pencils all over my floor, and Thomas refusing to nap and crying screaming from his crib. Still, it was good to go over it. A lot of it was review for Cecilia but even then going over things like infallibility again is good. Elizabeth and Felicity especially loved their part in the kingly role and how they really are princesses. Not surprising considering Felicity was painting and said, "I'm making the barn walls red because most barns are red except the rainbow ones but those are really really rare because they have unicorns and pegasuses and unicorn pegasuses in them!"
Later we all went out together for dinner and then to our AHG troop's Court of Awards. Cecilia got her Archery, Aviation, and Daughter of the King badges. Felicity got her Physical Fitness, Cake Decorating, Swimming and Artastic badges. And Elizabeth earned her Joining Award and her Fanny Crosby Level Award. Cecilia also earned a religious medal, the I Life My Faith medal, and Felicity earned the religious Family of God medal. Teresa and Brigid both had fun eating M&Ms the troop gave me in recognition for my birthday that was in October but they hadn't known about before. Then there was cake. I was humbled to receive 2 potted plants, a car magnet, a custom made card and a bouquet of flowers in appreciation. I was dreading having to speak in front of everyone but it turned into a better evening than I had anticipated.

Tuesday, June 2nd, St. Erasmus

I was very tired Tuesday morning. While Felicity did 3 pages of math, Cecilia did a math lesson and her spelling, and Elizabeth finished her math for the week, I made tea and had a tendency to talk to myself. Teresa and Brigid went outside to play with bubbles or swing on the playground.
In the afternoon we had swimming lessons. Teresa begs me to take her swimming all the time. Some days I can hear this for hours:

Sometimes she even tries to rope others into begging with her.

I've offered to take Brigid with me but she refuses to wear a swimming diaper so she can't come until she is willing to wear one.
I did manage one video of Teresa in her lesson with her best friend though:

All the girls love going to swimming lessons but Teresa especially loves getting to see her best friend.
Teresa and her best friend.
All the girls are doing well in swimming though Teresa doesn't pay attention very well. She has always been a girl to march to the beat of her own drummer but I think that added to the fact she is still getting comfortable in the water means she enjoys her lessons but she only does so much of what her instructor asks her. They can't get her to put her head under water yet and she has trouble kicking her feet behind her without holding onto someone or something in front of her. So if you are holding her form the side, she moves her feet under or even in front of her to kick. Which can hurt. But these are her first ever swimming lessons, so I expect it might take her a bit to get used to it.
After all the kids were in bed, I cleaned all my kitchen counters. Oh it was so nice to see a clean kitchen going to bed!

Wednesday, June 3rd

And to wake up to one! Felicity got all excited that there were only 2 Spelling lessons left so she decided to finish them and did so. Then she wanted to finish her English book, which only had 4 pages left anyway, so she did that too. Elizabeth did her Spelling lesson for the week and then finished her English book. Cecilia did 3 math lessons to finish her school work for the week. Really all the work that is left scheduled for this week is 7 pages of math for Felicity. Generally she wouldn't have so much math left so late in the week, but she did do double English and triple Spelling to finish those books and I'm not about to stop a child from doing work if she is so motivated.
After lunch I taught myself how to use the electric bush trimmer the previous owners sold us and trimmed 3 bushes - one along the drive way I had begun hitting with the van when I'd pull in, one by our front door that thought it should grow over the front walk, and one along our house that even the house inspection report said was too close and could cause insect or mold problems. Then I finished cleaning up our garage.

It isn't done done in the sense that there are shelves still to be organized and those drawers need to be de-cluttered, but at least everything is off the floor and the floor is swept.

Thursday, June 4th

Felicity did 4 pages in math and Elizabeth, even though she was done for the week, decided to join her and did a few pages of next week's math herself. Then we went into cleaning mode. From picking up toys to vacuuming, sweeping, laundry, etc. it was a busy cleaning day.

Friday, June 5th, St. Boniface

Friday was busy. In the morning we had a playdate with another Catholic homeschooling family.
Then, around midday, another family came to give our Little Tikes play set a new home.
We had it for 6 or 7 years and it served us well but it is really best for the littles and even Brigid prefers to be with her big sisters on the big playground. And I LOVE how much more space is on the patio now!
So much more room for sidewalk chalk, riding the little train, whatever!
In the afternoon my parents flew in and we all went out to dinner at Cheesecake Factory and picked up some slices of cheesecake for Saturday.

Saturday, June 6th
Saturday was busy too. We hit the road around 9am for the Shedd Aquarium. It might not have been the best day for it as there seemed to be a graduation, wedding and concert there all there that day so parking was a bit crazy but we'd never been before. We first went to the noon aquatic show but it was really disappointing. They spent more time watching video footage and talking and even had a whole section on rescuing a dog (um, this is the AQUATIC show right?) than they did showing the whales or dolphins. I understand one of the dolphins was MIA with her new calf, but you'd think they would showcase the whales more. Anyway, after that we went down to the polar play place where Teresa got to play in the touch and feel tanks.
 Cecilia and Elizabeth tried to touch the starfish but they were ALL along the back wall and only Cecilia could even reach one. Elizabeth was very disappointing. The tank was clearly not built with kids in mind.
 The highlight though had to be the Beluga Whales, which were beautiful and very playful. They kept swimming in circles by us while the kids munched popcorn.

 Then we visited the penguins, which were very cute.
 We somehow failed to even notice the entire amphibian exhibit on our way back upstairs (apparently it wasn't very big or noticeable?!?) and went to the Touch and Feel Sting Ray tank where Cecilia, Felicity, Elizabeth and Teresa! got to pet sting rays. Teresa loved it especially!
 From there we went to the Wild Reef area. The kids had fun using the touch screens to learn about the reef fish and coral.
 Most of my pictures were dark and the sharks don't exactly hold still so they were blurry, so I don't have many pictures from it, but they did enjoy it.

 From there we went up to the oceans room and saw the octopus, gobi, moray eels and spider crabs.

While there were still a few tanks left to see, Thomas had not napped the whole time and was at his limit, Teresa was getting tired and cranky and Brigid and Teresa were claiming they were hungry. So we hit the gift shop and the exit.
It was a nice aquarium and a fun outing but I do think the Baltimore aquarium is better.

We had dinner at one of James' favorite restaurants, and one my parents and I really like as well - J. Alexander's. Since our nearest one is in Illinois, it was on the way back anyway and was so good! After we got home, we had our cheesecake and celebrated an early Father's Day since my dad was visiting and James has to be at a conference on Father's Day anyway.
 Only half of James' gifts had arrived, all books, but two more have arrived since then. I was just only so prepared since I was also focused on Sunday.
 We got my dad a gift card to Barnes and Noble because.... Books! And my mom got him a new iPad to replace his struggling Netbook.
The cheesecake was really good and while James helped my dad set up his iPad (isn't it nice when your husband IS your IT guy?!?) I got the kids bathed and ready for bed. Sunday was going to be a busy, big day. :)