Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Annie's Fourth Year

Well, I thought I would blog about Annie's birthday, but I decided to make a movie instead. Annie likes to feel special.  So I thought a movie was due.





On Annie's birthday I gave her a birthday gift early.  It was a Hello Kitty tee shirt, so she could wear it all day.


Then we worked on a shortened day of home school, so that we could go to the zoo.  It was a perfect visit to the zoo.






We spent the morning at the zoo.  Went home and had lunch and a short rest.  A little while later a couple friends came over for cake, painting and presents.



I drew Hello Kitty pictures for all the kids to paint, but I did not take pictures of them before the tots turned them into muddy messes.  However, Kristiana, painted hers neatly. 



Birthday Magic


Alex made Annie a Lego present.  Whenever there is a celebration Alex makes Lego presents.  However, he did not give it to her.  He carried it around for days and showed everyone what he had made. He was pretty proud of it.


Mno Hiya Lita!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Ordinary Morning

Higgle Wiggle

First thing after breakfast all the children went the back yard to play.  In the yard, the baby pool was full of water from another day’s play.  The kids reached in and splashed a bit.  Then Annie, who is almost 4, ran to the porch and told me she wanted to swim.  There was a swimsuit on the patio table that had been left there to dry.  She pointed at it when she asked to swim.  I grabbed it and quickly slipped it onto her.  After a few seconds Annie began to wiggle and scream as a nickel sized spider crawled out of the suit onto her breast.  I tried to help her brushing the spider away.  But it’s sticky silk prevented us from getting it off immediately.  It bounced from breast to arm, to leg, to leg, to leg, and then to toes where she danced on it lightly and then it bit her toe.  The spider made a dash for the grass where it vanished.  Annie, of course, was traumatized at the hairy, scary, tickly attack.  She no longer wanted to swim.  The thought of getting into a different swimsuit had no appeal as she explained there were definitely spiders in the pool as well.



The Child Philosopher

Later as we made our way through home school lessons my son had an existential moment.  He paused from his work, his face became long and he looked as though the weight of the world were pressing down upon him and indeed it had.  He said, “Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here.  Is the world an illusion?  Is God real?  Why doesn’t he answer me?  Why doesn’t he tell in words that this world is real?”

I played Socrates and started asking him “the questions,”
            “What about this world would make you think this world is an illusion?  What are some things that indicate that this world is real?”

He began to talk about God some more without answering my questions.  So I talk to him about how God talks to us—in silence, in signs, in our humiliation and devotion.  I talked to him about seeing the signs of God.


These are questions men have been asking for ages, son.  It’s just not usual to start pondering this all when you’re just shy of eight years old.  I guess he takes after his father and grandfather.  I know the path you should take in this world, son.  Now where should I start with such a young philosopher?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Comforting Big Baby

Sometimes when the girls are grumpy, whining or throwing fits, I ask them if they want to play big baby.  I swaddle them in a blanket; feed them a cup of milk; and then rock them a while.  Today, during home school I wrapped up my big babies; set them in their cradles and gave them stories to read.  This lasted about 20 minutes.  It was worth the time with the other children.


French Binge

A few weeks ago I had a Franco-American book binge.  I read Bringing Up Bebe and French Women Don't Get Fat.  Bringing Up Bebe was interesting.  But, I didn't really learn anything that made me radically change my parenting style.  Mainly, I took away to not take crap behavior from the kids.  I decided to tighten up on my discipline--make it clear cut and clean.  Seems like everyone needs to do that every once in a while, especially after a summer of watching T.V.

I learned almost nothing from French Women Don't Get Fat.  That's not to say there are not tips that could improve the lives of poor eaters.  However, I simply learned nothing new--nothing I did not already know.  It was a little bit of a bore to me.

But, there is one thing that I really enjoyed during my time reading the books.  I started drinking a petite glass of red wine every afternoon and a small piece of cheese.  During those weeks I felt a lot more relaxed about life.  I felt this way not because I was feeling the effects of the alcohol.  It really was not that much wine.  But, the flavor sensations of the wine and cheese were lovely and relaxing.  And I knew the whole day prior that I had this lovely little snack to look forward to.

I drank a bottle of wine a week.  Alas, this became too expensive of a snack.  A decent wine is at the very least $10.00.  A $10.00 snack for one person is too much, not to mention the cheese.  It was a nice ride maybe someday I will have money enough to continue this day break.


Mno Hiya Lita!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chore Tags

I attribute our relatively smooth home school days for the past two weeks, and free time for myself to our new chore tags, and parental, no nonsense attitudes.  We have been able to be especially no nonsense, because we have the chore tags to back us up.  Next step: manners tags.

Last spring I came up with this idea to make these laminated chore tags on rings, but it took me a long time to put them into action. 

First, I spent a week thinking up all the things my children need to do in a day.
Then I spent weeks upon weeks formatting, downloading clipart, and purchasing supplies (lamination pouches and book rings). It took me a few weeks to convince myself that this is something I wanted to spend money on.

Then it took me a week to print, cut, laminate and assemble.  There are over 100 tags.  It breaks down to about 30 cards per kid.  We also have weekly card like dusting, sheets and bathrooms.




Why I did it: 

One should not need cute little cards to do the simple things one needs to do in a day.  I should not have to repeat myself over and over, brush your teeth, wash yourself, pick up after yourself. However, all I do all day is bark orders at the children.  They don't do what they are told.  Then in despair I give up and do it myself.

So I put it in simple pictures and black and white.  Now they know what I expect done.  Now they know how to take care of themselves.  It's like a scavenger hunt. 

Suddenly, our house is generally neat, tidy--dare I say, clean--and I have free time.  In the past couple weeks I've read books, taken naps and prayed in the afternoon hours. 

(Lucy loves helping the most)



Next, I plan to make manners tags, because I constantly have to correct behavior.  Perhaps, if they can see it in black and white, it will finally click and they will exhibit proper behavior.  Wish me luck.  It will take me weeks to format, find pictures, print and spend the money on these tags.  I plan to make it like a game.  On one side of the card list a scenario, and on the other side proper manners.  I might have to draw the images myself.  I have about 40 manners in mind at the moment.  But, perhaps if they see the effort I have put into their manners, they will care too.

Mno hiya Lyta!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Because We're Happy

I'm not going to say that I am bad at getting pictures of the children.  It's really that the children are bad at getting ready in good time to take darling photos.

And really as cute as those "first day photos" are, I find myself rolling my eyes at them a little.  They bother me: the perfectly coifed children holding the perfect, little slate, with "first day of school, X grade" written in pretty cursive.

I'm just one to want to live in the moment and relish it as it is and not because I'm going to take the perfectly posed keepsake photo during that moment.  It kind of makes life feel forced.  I guess if I'm going to take a picture I want it to be natural and photos almost never are.

First Day of Home School Co-op

I would have liked to have a picture of all my children dressed neatly in their Co-op uniforms.  But, it just did not happen, because they were all busy having a great time meeting with there friends and learning new things.  I took a couple posed pictures, but their with other children and I do not feel right posting them without parental permission.


We made a model of the layers of the earth at Co-op



Claytonopolis School


Our first week of school was very smooth.  I made chore cards for each child to carry around.  I made cards for morning, noon and night.  We have done pretty well learning morning and noon chores, which made our home school day go very smoothly.  We have not begun the night chores yet.  I figure those will come in time.  The chore cards have helped because both the children and I know what they ought to be doing at all times.  If something is left undone, we all know it.


After working all summer, we decided to begin Kristiana on first grade material.  I was a little skeptical as to whether she could do it, especially in spelling.  But, she performed like a star the first week.  She even impressed me by proving she could write her very long name.


The second week she is having a little trouble wanting to finish all the work.  My solution, give her a big long play break; and of course, she can have no T.V. or media time unless the school work is done.


Annie, has enjoyed some preschool time too.  She wants to do what Kristiana is doing, which Kristian never wanted to do what Alex was doing.  Annie has also spent lots of contemplative time with our preschool manipulative.


Lucy does her own things and almost never bothers us.  We're super lucky with this baby--going on big girl.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Making of a Passport Photo

I am totally amused at the making of my passport photo:

-two side tables
-three table lamps
-one child sized chair
-poster board
-masking tape
-three giggling kids
-one pseudo-photographer husband

We ended up having to get our five year old daughter to crouch behind my chair holding a lamp behind my head so there was no shadow behind.

What amuses me so is these two photographs are the same picture, same moment.
One is chaos, the other peaceful.






Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cataldo

We went to see the Cataldo Mission one Sunday after Liturgy.  It's the oldest building structure in Idaho.  It was built by the Jesuit missionaries between 1850-1853 for the Coeur d'Alene tribe.  It was built in the Italian style.  All of it was handcrafted.  Wood was carved and painted to look like marble.      The paintings were hand painted. The candle holders and chandeliers were carved out of tin cans.  This place was clearly created by people with great devotion and reverence.







Mno Hiya Lita!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just One

It's been a busy week of swim lessons and home school.

The kids have swims lessons each morning Monday through Friday, and we stay in the pool extra time for fun.  I believe it has tired them out.  My son professed he is actually burnt out on swimming.

On the other hand, Annie began the week crying through her swim lessons and now she smiles through them.  Her teacher was very patient about her crying.  She did not baby Annie.  She only reassured her.  The teacher also made Annie do all the swimming activities even though she crying.  Annie finally realized she was just going to have to suck it up, because she wasn't getting out of it.

For the past two weeks Kristiana and I have been working on her Kindergarten materials for an hour each day.  In that hour, we work on religion, reading, nursery rhyme memorization, writing and art and math.  It sounds like a lot, but it's pretty low key.  I teach her a lesson and then I ask her to demonstration her knowledge of the lesson.  If she cannot demonstrate, then that day we spend more time on it.  

A lot of the time, Kristiana seems a bit ADD to me.  It's a struggle to get her to focus on one thing.  She does not learn very well by just listening.  In fact, she does not even acknowledge being called, very well.  Sometimes I have to yell very loudly before she acknowledges being addressed.

If I can occupy her hands, then I can often get her attention better.  Sometimes I draw what we will talk about and ask her to color it while I teach her the lesson.  Today, I started thinking up hand motions for her religion lesson.  I am going to call her a tactile learner.  I do not know if this is just her age or her method of learning.  She also talks non-stop from morning to night.  She often talks herself to sleep at night.  She's also very creative and artistic.

I have a feeling Kristiana did not accomplish much this year in her lessons because she has a special learning style that I need to grasp and put in order for her.  But, since I have been able to work with her one-on-one without interruption for the past two weeks it has felt more like it was with my son.  Kristiana has made big progress.  Now I need to figure out how to do this with more than just one.

This is our favorite book for Kristiana right now, "Draw, Write, Now."  Alex did no like it as much.  He's not the artist type.




Mno Hiya Lyta!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Washington Trek 2014

Ready to Ride
This little girl is the worst traveler of our family.  
We had to entertain her the whole way.  It was a pain. 
Then she would cry for an hour before she would nap.
At night, she played up. 
But, she was funny too.  She learned a lot of new words on our trip.
At one point she started screaming at a big rig hauling cars.  
She yelled, "Get down! Get down!"  She thought the cars were up where they ought not. 
It was a riot. 
We told her it was okay.  They were stuck up there.  Then she starting saying, "Stuck? Stuck."


Good travelers.
All on one bench seat, taking care of each other.


We saw hundreds of giant windmills all across the prairies.



We visited at Grandma's house in Wyoming.
Grandma set off fireworks for us!
Fun times.








Alex built a castle out of the broken bedrock on Grandma's property.  Mommy helped.




Lady loves Grandma's property, because she can run and sniff and explore.


The kids can too.


And it is very peaceful.


We visited Uncle Adam's tomb, and laid flowers there.




We watched the trains go by at the downtown Laramie bridge over the tracks.  
They blew their horns for us.




Artists have painted the buildings down town.  This is new since I was a child.




This happened here.  It's the pride of our state. "The Equality State."


My mom found this statue in a storage unit somewhere.  
I'm convinced it's the statue from my first grade classroom at St. Laurence Catholic School.  
If it is not, it is at least a replica. #nostalgia


Then we drove 1,000 miles more through Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, taking in fresh mountain air and huckleberry ice cream and finally arrived at our final destination in Washington.  

Now is the time for Washington adventures.
Mno Hiya Lyta!