Monday, January 31, 2011

Name That Tune

I'm having too much fun with my video editor. Only wish I had more time to play :)

video

Juju began singing this on the way to Mass yesterday, it made me smile. Hope it brightens your Monday too.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy First Birthday Gabriel

video

We still have a few flu-bug leftovers, so birthday celebrations are on-hold. Still, it is unbelievable to me that a whole year has gone by since I first held this little one in my arms. I knew when he was born this year would fly past so quickly. I truly tried to savor every moment with this sweet baby. Still, here he is growing too quickly for his old mom.

My sweetie, I say he's a lover not a fighter. He holds onto me tighter, he wants more attention, and still he's almost always pleasant. He is, however, learning to make his will known. As number six he has to have some survival skills. He yells when Joseph tries to snatch his favorite snacks, he clamors at my feet if I stand long enough for him to catch me. Dh says that Gabe has a certain look of satisfaction whenever I pick him up and carry him around the house. He throws his arms in the air in an effort to be tickled. He makes me smile.

Song credits again go to Tia Ciferno. I can't say enough about her Heaven Sent CD.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Some Day We'll All Laugh Over This

Right?

This week I faced one of my greatest fears, and now we are crawling out from under the rabble. On Monday, right before dinner it began with little Bophie, followed with poor Juju, then in the middle of the night it struck sweet GabyBaby. By Wednesday it had knocked me for a loop, and then dragged down poor Bear who spent the night on a rug in my bathroom. Yes, the dreaded stomach bug. It had been going around and I knew there was little chance of escape.

I thought we had done a pretty good job of maintaining some order during this chaos. As soon as it started on Monday, I began washing any dirty laundry I could find knowing it would mount exponentially as more children got sick, and it did. So far it has skipped Banana who has been an amazing help in all this ordeal. She kept little ones entertained, she cleaned, she liked pretending to be the babysitter. All this helped to keep things fairly together.

Still the laundry has been piled on the couch all week in various stages of being folded and put away upstairs. The house is for the most part tidy, but in no way clean. Then there is my appearance. I am sure no one feels glamorous when stricken with the flu, but having the flu and trying to tend to other little ones with the flu left me particularly out of sorts.

So imagine my HORROR surprise when last night the doorbell rang. Thinking it was probably just some sort of door-to-door salesman, I did my best to hide out of sight. Turns out, I wasn't that lucky. In fact I am not sure I could think of a worse scenario. It was our social worker. She was there for Joseph's one year post adoption report. I had scheduled it weeks ago, but for some reason thought it was Wednesday night and that dh must have canceled it knowing I was down for the count. Actually, dh had forgotten all about it.

So there she was. There wasn't even a place for her to sit. A sick child laying on one couch, Mt. Neverest of laundry on the other. Various piles of folded laundry scattered throughout the rest of the room. I was in jammies (not even nice ones), with bedhead, no makeup, changing another of the endless diapers that follow a stomach bug, with no place to hide, no rock to crawl under. To add to that it was bedtime for four children in various stages of recovery in no mood to have Mom and Dad have a conversation with someone else. Alas, she was there, and the report had to be done.

We answered questions, the kids did surprisingly well. She sat on the floor doing her best not to touch a single thing in our germ-infested house. When at last that act of humility came to an end, we closed the door, put the kids to bed, and went to bed ourselves hoping that sleep would help.

Some day I'll laugh about this, right?

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Year Ago

This sweet boy stepped out of the airport doors and made his way into my heart.

A year ago our house was filled with pink and frills,
There were doll houses and dolls,
Jewelry and hair clips requiring trips to the malls.
Now there are trucks, trains, and cars that go zoom,
And more trips to the Emergency Room.
This little boy has shown us the meaning of snips & snails & puppy dogs tails. He has introduced this house of girls to new levels of ick. He eats dog food, rocks, and glass! This year I have learned that boys are indeed different than girls. My organization skills have necessarily reached new levels. I have discovered I can survive on much less sleep, consumed more coffee, and embraced dark-circle under eye concealer.
Yet, the joy he has brought our family this year is immeasurable. He embraces life much the way he gives his hugs, two arms wrapped around your neck squeezing with all the strength he can muster. His joy at a new truck, a passing truck, a piece of cake, or a glass of milk, even at a green pepper sliced for him, is each day a reminder of the many blessings we have been given. His infectious smile lights a room, his antics make me laugh (although not always initially).
He is no longer that scared little boy I met a year ago. He has many new accomplishments. He helps get himself dressed, expressing a clear preference for anything that has wheels or animals that roar. After quite a bit of work, he knows all his major body parts. At first he paid no attention to singing or books. Now, he loves to bring any willing person a book to read to him. He also asks to sing "The itsy-bitsy spider" with all its accompanying motions. And while he is definitely Daddy's boy, I am the occasional recipient of his big hugs, his slobbery kisses, and he even says Mommy.
Thank God we have had this wonderful, crazy, never been so tired, year with this amazing little boy.

Thought For the Day

"Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Ronald Reagan 1982

Today I am praying for my friends attending March for Life in Washington D.C. With over 200,000 people expected, I still doubt we will see any local news coverage. Still, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time Out

Look at this sweet boy.
Those who know my house, may have guessed he might be sweet but he's not so innocent. They probably recognize that he has not found a cozy spot to nap, but rather was relegated to the "Time-Out" stairs. Some blog followers may recognize the stairs too. They are used quite frequently these days.

Today they were used when that sweet boy waited until I was occupied putting the baby down for a nap. Then that darling boy snuck into my pantry and found the pancake syrup and a paper plate. He then filled the paper plate with syrup, only it wouldn't hold all the syrup. So he let it spill out all over the coffee table, and then he watched as it ran off the coffee table onto the floor (dh, if you are reading this, take a deep breath, then be thankful it was in the piano room and only got onto the wood floor not the carpet, and I managed to clean the whole mess. Also, dh, we could use another bottle of syrup for the wonderful leftover pancakes the kids are looking forward to for breakfast tomorrow.). The syrup looked so good as it made delicate designs on my coffee table that my adorable little son decided to stick both his hands in the plate and try to lap it up. This left him, all his clothes, and the floor, further covered in the sticky mess.

It's a good thing that boy is so darn cute when he sleeps. Otherwise, I might not have been so understanding when less than ten minutes after the syrup incident was cleaned, I found myself cleaning up the brown sugar from his attempts to reorganize my lazy susan. No wonder he fell asleep in time out today, he has spent his fair share of time there.

Since I needed a little bright spot in the day, Gabe decided to flash his best "ham-it-up-the-camera-is-on-me" smile. The cuteness is almost unbearable.
Little Gabe, though, has me wishing for a time out. He is all-Mommy all the time right now. Whenever anyone threatens to take him from my arms he clings to me with two fist fulls of hair, especially the little hairs on the back of the neck. The few times I get him down, he clamors trying to climb up my leg. My only respite comes when he is somewhat placated by food. Then sometimes he just collapses.
They sure are cute when they sleep :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Blog Bleg about Math

Bleh, right?

My general question is this, Is it important that your child/student correct all his errors in schoolwork? I know in school you are given a grade and the assignment is finished, but is it an advantage to homeschoolers that they have the opportunity to correct their mistakes? Has this process helped your children make fewer future mistakes? I offer the following as an elaboration on one way this impacts our school day.

Banana has really amazed me in her ability to grasp Math concepts, something clicked with her last year and her Math skills have blossomed. She almost always completes her preliminary work and her Lesson Practice (5-7 questions making sure she grasped the current lesson) with no mistakes. Occasionally I might have to re-explain a topic in a different way, but she always seems to get it.

That said, almost everyday she misses several Mixed Practice questions. Mixed Practice is around 30 questions reviewing all of the concepts she has learned. She misses these not because she is having any real problems. She makes simple calculation errors, or she copies the problem incorrectly, on occasion she even misreads her own handwriting (mistakes a 0 for a 6 kind of thing). In earlier grades Saxon had a front worksheet and a backside that mirrors it so we had a deal, if you get it right on the front you don't have to do it on the back. This system worked wonders for her. Now, though, there is no mirrored problem sheet and I think she needs to complete each problem because they cover different concepts.

So, do you make your children/students correct all of their mistakes? Is it important to take the time to make the corrections and recheck them? Math takes a long time for Banana as it is, and it would be an understatement to say that I have a full plate. As it stands now, I do (mostly because of my perfectionist tendencies), for the most part, require her to take the time to fix each mistake which means she has to redo the whole problem even if it was a simple mistake. I then check each correction which means extra paperwork I have to keep straight.

Am I making too much trouble for myself, is it better to point out the mistake and then move on? I will always require her to fix problems that I think may indicate she is struggling with a concept, but should I require her to fix all the silly errors? If I don't have her correct each problem on her own, how do I encourage her to be neat and precise in her work?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Year of the Kindle

I know Christmas is long gone, but I was on a much needed computer break. So I am writing a post I thought I would write then, better late than never, right?

Dh and I really agonized over what to get for Christmas for our Banana this year. She's getting too old for most toys, and we aren't big on items most tween (I hate that term) girls would want. She couldn't even think of something she would like. Banana is our biggest book worm, and that's really saying something in a house full of bookworms. She has asked for new books every Christmas since she could read, so we were discussing different sets we could get her when the discussion turned to the Kindle. While it was out of our Christmas gift price range, we both knew she would love it. She loves nothing more than a new book to read and this would provide her with countless new reading. We justified the higher price by recognizing the educational potential. This year being what is has been, we have not made a single trip to the library, the Kindle lets us download new books from the comfort of our kitchen. So the added bonus of me having one less guilt trip about things I haven't been able to do lately made it worth the extra expense.
She l.o.v.e.s this thing. For almost a solid month she has had something new to read everyday. She has blown through reading material, but always there is something waiting. She hasn't had to reread the same novels over and over (you should see our Little House and Anne of Green Gables series, they are literally falling apart). There are so many classics available as well as older book series. She is currently finishing up the Bobbsey Twin series, looking forward the the Five Little Peppers series. Along the way reading novels like The Wizard of Oz, The Little Princess, and some short stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This is in one month and for free, except the cost of the device.
She isn't the only one, either. When dh started the research on the Kindle, he decided he'd like one too. So I bought him one for Christmas. He downloaded the Divine Office and the daily Mass readings and is taking the Kindle to Mass a little early to pray the Morning Office. He also is reading novels by an out of print Catholic novelist. At one point he had printed one of them off (100+ pages on our printer), now he has downloaded several, all for free. This is not to mention the few Zombie books he has thrown in as well.

Turns out Banana wasn't our only child enthralled with the Kindle, Bear was constantly borrowing her dad's Kindle. When it was in use, she would convince her gracious older sister to let her read over her shoulder as they turned on the "read to me" option. Listening and following along with stories together. Dh lost the use of his Kindle so much that he finally opted to use his Christmas gift cards to buy another for me (really so Bear doesn't borrow his). When it arrived he promptly removed all the girls' literature from his device and put it on mine. I didn't really think I would have time for it, but I have enjoyed the word games and picked out a few short stories. I like that it isn't back-lit. I am able to grab it when up in the middle of the night and it seems to help me get back to sleep.
When it came time for us to purchase a gift for Grandma we again settled on a Kindle for her. She, too, seems to be enjoying it. I must get my love of word games from her. Juju, too, seems to be taking after her.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This and That

Yesterday, as dh was mopping the floor, the baby was crying, and the two year olds were creating quite a rabble, Bophie was playing with her new doll. This doll talks to her, it cries, tells her she wants to be fed, coos for a kiss, and even lets you know she needs a potty-- all in four different languages. In the chaos, Bophie turns to me and says, "I really wish this doll would just speak up!" Bophie has some extra fluid in her ears, which didn't help the cause. She will be having tubes put in her ears in a few weeks, I am hoping this will help the doll "speak up."
Speaking of dolls, Juju also got a new doll for Christmas. She and Bophie found a stash of old diapers and asked if they could put them on their dolls. I relented just to see the smiles it brought them. There is something about a little girl and her doll. The diaper was a little to big for Juju's doll and after 3 or 4 minutes it began to fall off. Juju picked up the doll and said, "O pap." Right then I was thankful that this little girl often needs a Mommy translator, because at least when out in public, most people would not know that my sweet, two-year-old, adorable little girl just said "Oh crap!" in a tone that strangely mimics that of her mother.
The older girls are on the hunt for a missing library book. A library book that happens to be on dh's library card. Last night, we knew we had allowed bed time to stretch too late when they became a little too upset about the missing book. An emotional Banana asked if I had ever lost a library book. Me, lose a library book? The most egregious story in this category is the library book I lost my senior year of college. The one I swore I returned and refused to pay the fine. The one that held up the reception of my degree. I fought up and down, certain that book was in a pile of returned books. Years later, during a move, I was reminded of my profound need for humility when I found that book. I consider sharing this story as an act of humility made in reparation for the pridefulness displayed then.

Finally, all these tidbits display little ways my dh has shown how much he loves me. He was done with dolls for Christmas. It was the only thing he did not want to buy this year and yet three of my girls received dolls. He was mopping the floor. He only teases me a little about the kids picking up my poor mannerisms and sayings (of course thankful they weren't picking up his). He also was incredibly patient with me as he was thrust in the middle of my library book debacle. More than all these things, though, his love for me was abundantly clear when I came down this morning to find a pot of coffee, piping hot, waiting for me in the carafe. He doesn't even drink coffee and yet, for the third time this week, it was ready and waiting for me when I came downstairs. It honestly doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

Joseph's first Christmas season with us brought giggles and smiles as he "mooned" St. Nicholas at our parish celebration. It brought warm, melt your heart feelings as I watched the young boy dressed in his finest, look with wonder at a church beautifully decorated for Christmas Eve Mass. To see him wonder at the singing of carols, the twirling of incense, the joy of those around him. There were feelings of gratitude and blessing to later watch him get the concept of presents. Opening each one to find the treasures. He has walked around this house for days with all of his trucks, trains, and cars. I was thankful we were given the opportunity to share in these festivities with him. What a different Christmas he must have had last year.

Today, though, he capped his first Christmas season by instilling fear, worry, and disbelief in a mom who had perhaps grown too accustomed to life with girls. I walked down the stairs to hear him crunching on something. Crunch, crunch, crunch. I look around to find little drops of blood and spit on the carpeted stairs, he munches away. I search to find the source of the snack he really seems to be enjoying.

Imagine my horror when I realize he is eating the bulbs off a strand of garland lights that decorates our banister. He was eating the glass lights!!! Chewing them into little ground shards!!! Five little lights he bit off, chewed up, and hopefully spit out. Quickly I scrambled to clean out any remaining pieces and he bit my finger, hard. There were tears of pain mixed with fear at what ramifications would come from eating glass. I searched the Internet and read the damage will mostly be to his mouth and throat, there was little evidence of any of that. I quickly fed him lots of bread (an Internet search yielded that suggestion), I called dh who did his own searching and calling.

The boy is currently happily napping, the garland has been removed, the stairs cleaned, and I am attempting to recover from the shock. Seriously, eating light bulbs off the strand. I just don't know where he comes up with these things.

** Update: After his nap, Joseph came to me with a piece of glass stuck in his foot. Those stairs I had just cleaned now had drops of blood to be cleaned once more. Then wouldn't you know it, I stepped on a piece myself and had to clean up another round. My poor white carpeted stairs will never survive these children.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Apology

To my dearest third daughter, a doomed middle child, a girl forever caught between the older girls and little kids, my darling Bophie. I do love you very much, you are a blessing to me and to this family. Please forgive a mom who was very busy with Christmas preparations, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, trees to trim. With six kids this year I had to use a spreadsheet to keep the gifts straight. I was up many, many nights very late Internet shopping and then wrapping. It was hard enough to get Christmas cards out the door to a few friends. The fact that your name was somehow inadvertently left off the card while all your siblings names were there is no indication of your place in this family. It is an indication of how scatterbrained and overwhelmed your poor mother was this Christmas.
I hope this has been made up for by the fact that the garage pantry is still well stocked with Christmas cookies, that our house is still standing after all the decorating, that you got such wonderful presents that were wrapped so beautifully on Christmas morning. That you know I love you because I scooped you up at least three times each day to tell you how much I love you. That you are assured I love you because I show you with clean laundry, good food, tucking you into bed, reading you books, and endlessly providing you with art supplies.
To my credit, preparing Christmas cards on the Internet is not always easy. There were four different cards I was choosing between. I typed in our names over and over again. Then somehow the card I was working on disappeared and I had to begin all over again. It was late, I was tired, I had to get to other Christmas preparations. Please keep this in mind when you are in therapy, lamenting your middle child status. Remember you got that doll you wanted Christmas morning. You know the one that says, "I have to go potty," in four different languages. I fought hard to get you that doll. Your father said we had too many dolls. I insisted, knowing how much you wanted it, even if it was ridiculously expensive.

So, once more, I love you dearest Bophie. I love you very, very much.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again


Ridin' the range once more (by range I mean the cooktop)
Totin' my old .44 (by .44 I mean 44 ounces of coffee)
Where you sleep out every night (sleep out? more like get no sleep all night)
And the only law is right (six kids who each think they're right, and one mom who has to decide who is)
Back in the saddle again

While today is the eighth day of Christmas, it is the first day back to work for dh and although we are not beginning school today, it is the first day back to working for me. For one glorious beautiful week I had dh at home. We didn't go anywhere, we didn't do any major projects, we just enjoyed the holiday. That was busy enough. I sort of caught up on sleep. I had a break from cooking and diaper duties. We read, we played games, we baked, we ate, we enjoyed having our little ones playing around us. It was wonderful.

I obviously took a needed break from blogging. The truth is I started a few posts, but I was too busy, too sleep deprived, and too distracted to put anything worthwhile out there. This Christmas I took a much needed semi-break from the computer. I've thought of going back to post about our wonderful holidays, especially some beautiful pictures, but am not sure I will have the time. For now, it will just have to be back to blogging about everyday life.