Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
After too many post-11:00 p.m. nights, I could barely make it out of bed to walk the dog today. While this morning bore no evidence of yesterday's productivity, at least I didn't fall back to sleep after turning off the alarm (5:00!), and school started on time.
I'm shooting myself in the foot when I start the night with six hours or less of potential sleep. Must. Discipline. Self.
Are you good at balancing work, leisure, exercise, and sleep? I still struggle to make myself do what I know works best. Suggestions are welcome.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
- Baked a dozen muffins and prepared the second pan for later risers to put in the oven.
- Walked with Dusty for an hour (rosary included).
- Cleaned my bathroom sink, mirror, and shower (LONG overdue).
- Started a load of laundry.
- Took a shower.
All is well if I get to bed by 10:00. That doesn't happen often enough, which explains my legendary propensity for falling asleep sitting up, even while reading aloud ("Mom! MOM! MOM!").
Saturday, October 17, 2009
A little news about everyone:
Rebecca enjoyed her soccer games this week. She ran about her tiny field (U-6 plays three on three), focused on the ball and SMILING!
Marianna and a friend have "moved up" to a higher dance class. It is challenging, so we struggle to remember to practice throughout the week. She'll begin wearing hard shoes around Christmas.
Joseph, I think, wins our award for the most activities: homeschool soccer, violin lessons, youth orchestra, Boy Scouts, ConQuest (Catholic boys' club), and tae kwon do (though we haven't been much lately). His birthday party (12!) will be next weekend.
Daniel is enjoying playing soccer on his school's team. The game and practice schedule is the biggest reason he and Joe aren't making it to tae kwon do.
Dan's braces will be off as soon as the latest rubber bands reverse the over correction of the previous set.
David has submitted his first college application, to Christopher Newport University. He sent it in this early so he can participate in a leadership event being held there on October 30--during fall break, and on the same day our family was planning to be field-tripping in nearby Jamestown. Talk about an alignment of the stars!
After my urging (keeping the Sabbath holy), David requested to work Saturdays more often than Sundays, and his boss has honored that as much as possible. An added benefit is that Saturday's shift is 3 hours longer, giving David more money to spend on music and food save for college.
Although I thought I had permission, Lauren was chagrined to find I had emailed pictures of some of her classwork to more family. I guess you're never to old to be embarrassed by your mother!
One of her professors has made the Wednesday before Thanksgiving class optional, so we'll be able to drive to NY that morning rather than traveling through the bleak night with the innumerable masses (traffic rather than TRAFFIC). Hurrah!
While his partner is on holiday, Len has been working more days and hours than usual. Before Dr. B left, he blocked out an appointment for Friday and told Len that someone was coming to "see about some cages." The homeschoolers and I surprised him with lunch and a batch of brownies. The air crackled with excitement, whispers, and giggling as we hid in the office waiting for him to appear. It was a nice break in a long (8-8) day in a long week. Added bonus: science class consisted of observing a real veterinarian neuter a dog. Cool.
Me? My news is up here most days. I feel a bit frazzled lately, as though I'm spending too much time cooking and cleaning rather than planning and schooling. Here's something Jennifer at Conversion Diary wrote (one of the 20 things she learned after a computer-free week) that speaks to me:"Planning is a critical element of having a peaceful life. I realized that it's almost impossible for me to make optimal choices once the chaos of the day has begun; if I don't have a plan, I drift into survival mode where I just do the bare minimum to get by. Preparing for each day in the evening before by getting things ready and visualizing my goals makes a huge difference in my life."
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I don't really have time to be blogging, but here are some accomplishments anyway:
- For the first time since school started, I followed the master schedule and began teaching Marianna to sew. This is EPIC (as my kids would say) because I don't enjoy sewing, I'm not especially skilled at it (funny how those go together!), and it's not always easy for me to spend time on the softer side of school.
- I registered for a Catholic women's Bible study that is starting up in our parish this month. It was hard to make the weekly time commitment, but I've needed something like this for a long time.
- I've been faithful to my weight-lifting program. I skip days here and there, but work most. I've increased the weight (still miniscule) on several exercises and am back up to 20 reps. Someday I'll be strong!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I kept time for Rebecca's team and so watched only a few minutes of Joe and Marianna's playing. Len was also able to be there with the camera (and Dusty). Rebecca spent her time alternating between energetically chasing the ball, crying in my lap, and walking on the field while holding her coach's hand.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Last night I dug it up. The entire harvest is now sitting in a tub with a bit of water, waiting for me to make pesto.I've cut down basil before and kept it flourishing for weeks in water; sometimes the plants even begin growing roots again. Actually digging them up and keeping some dirt is a new technique for me.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
So far we've had two successful clay sessions!The first week, Joe and Marianna made dolphins. One is under the water while the other leaps above.Didn't they turn out great?As you can probably imagine, Rebecca wanted to participate but was frustrated with what her four-year-old self could produce. Eventually someone suggested she make an underwater volcano and her cheerfullness reappeared.
The red squiggles are surfboard decorations.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
While sometimes I'm too frazzled to participate, the exercise of searching for three little victories can perk up my attitude if I'll let it. Here are some bright spots from the week past:
- Our family went hiking on Saturday. Part walk-in-the-woods, part hop-on-rocks-in-the-creek, part rock-climbing, it was a pleasant outing. Sunday we enjoyed our "end of summer reading" dinner out.
- I endured shopping for much needed fall/winter tops, and managed to bring home five keepers for $57 (sale plus coupon!). Marianna and Rebecca came along, racing around as I searched for suitable shirts ("my" colors, correct size--so few left!, not too tight, not too baggy, not too long) to try on. Then they stayed with me in the dressing room as I tested at least two dozen. Yeah, that part was fun--hah! They tried not to pay too much attention, but Becca did make one remark about my tummy, to which I calmly responded, "That's because I've had six children, honey."
- After calling two branches for shelf checks, I found the library book I "remembered" returning in the "going downstairs" basket under a pile of tablecloths and dishtowels. At least it wasn't overdue!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This year she's thrilled to have her own checklist, with an array of subjects: phonics, math, Bible, piano, handwriting, memorization, and other stories. We're learning together about persevering with learning whether in an eager or reluctant mood.Rebecca is an orderly child. It can take her a long time to make her bed or tidy her kitchen area, not because she is dilly-dallying, but because she is so, um, particular about how everything should be arranged.
Sometimes her orderliness veers into perfectionism and begins to cause trouble. During school this is most obvious when we work on Bible stories together. Here's our routine: Mom or Dad reads a Bible story aloud. Becca retells it as the tale is typed. She then illustrates the printout.
I have had my children draw their own pictures, sometimes helping brainstorm (for the Garden of Eden: an apple, the snake, Adam and Eve, the snake in the tree, Eve with the apple, etc.). I might also coach the drawing, make a sample (a simple ark, maybe) to copy, or even draw part of the illustration for a frustrated child. Their effort and creative work have always been more important to me than the actual product.
That hasn't been working with Rebecca. She started out well enough, but even on Day One was frustrated that her drawing didn't match her vision. The Creation picture below (Saranac Lake, our bank, and Tommy's Rock) was NOT her first try. Each day became more of an ordeal than the last. Here are a few more "coached" drawings:Next came parental tracing or drawing. I outlined Joseph in his coat of many colors. Rebecca colored it in and drew his head and face. I traced the fat cow of Pharaoh's dream and then semi-traced the skinny cow.Eventually I began finding pictures online. Now I use Google Images to preview designs (search for coloring pages, like "Red Sea coloring page" to find simple choices) and copy them onto the story even before I type it up.This technique is a winner. Becca is no longer anxious about her drawing, which makes her more willing to work on the story itself. Sometimes she even helps pick the design; like me, she shies away from the silly (babyish) versions.My older children might tell you I've gotten soft. I will admit to mellowing, but I think that for Rebecca at least, this solution is the best for now. She can think about the story as she colors rather than obsessing about executing a drawing that meets her standards.
Let's remember, too, that way back when the first children were retelling the Bible, our internet connection was that amazingly slow dial-up, not really conducive to googling!
Monday, October 5, 2009
I've been intending to write about cycle menus for those of you who haven't heard about them or haven't tried them yet. Meanwhile, here's a glance at this week. Most days I'm cooking for 7.
- Monday: grilled chicken and mashed potatoes (for 5)
- Tuesday: quesadillas (The marinated chicken was frozen with enough to feed 8-10, so there will be plenty leftover.)
- Wednesday: soup night (for 25-40!)--beef barley and clam chowder
- Thursday: gyros (also from the freezer)
- Friday: sesame noodles
- Sat/Sunday: flank steak
The sides aren't much planned yet. The gyro veggies are in-house already, we have plenty of salad fixings, and there's a 3# bag of broccoli florets in the fridge. I bought apples to make sauce, but don't know when I'll get around to making it. I can serve that any day to great cheers. :-)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Tonight we enjoyed our traditional final prize, a family dinner at a local restaurant. We hardly ever eat out, so this is still an "event" for us. Primping in the parking lotThe raspberry limeade was popular. Almost everyone chose a big, juicy burger.
Friday, October 2, 2009
- David turned 17 this summer.
- He's been taller than me for a long while and has the deepest voice in the house.
- He recently received a letter of commendation for oustanding performance on the PSAT--not the very highest rank, but still in the top 3%.
- On Wednesday his paperwork made him an official VA driver. We still must go to court to obtain the plastic copy, but it is already legal for him to drive solo. So far he's managed to wangle the keys in order to buy me some hard-to-find pasta and to get himself a haircut. He seems to be on the "errand a day" plan. ;-)
- With his participation in choirs, band, Sea Scouts, and work, and preparation of college applications, one might be amazed he has so much time left for online friends and videos...
Thursday, October 1, 2009
"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."
Not much to say except we're still hanging in there.
- School has been starting on time (give or take a few minutes) since we began. We've been faithfully praying our rosary decade (with meditation verses) and listening to a chapter of the Bible (the gospel of Matthew right now) every school day.
- The laundry is caught up. The hampers are not empty (are you kidding?), but there aren't enough dirty clothes to run a new load yet.
- Even with plenty of afternoon driving and activities, we've had a week of tasty dinners. Okay, the children didn't appreciate Friday's curried tofu and chickpeas (yes, really! with coconut rice!), but everything else was acceptable: steak kabobs (Joe's meal), chili, pot stickers, pork lo mein, and beef BBQ. Tonight: quesadillas. Tomorrow: manicotti.