Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I think Lil' Wingnut is going to be numbers man. The lil' guy is obsessed with what time it is. He was constantly asking for the time, several times throughout the day. We finally just taught him to read the clock for himself. Yes, I know, he's three. He picked it up pretty quickly, too. He doesn't have it down completely perfectly, but it really is a crack up to hear him announce, "It's four-firty-free!" Watching the digital clock is how he passes his time in the van, now. He was really amazed when the clock changed from "four firty-free" to four forty four. "It's three fours! It's three fours!," he called out. I still can't figure out why he needs to know, but it must be pretty important.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Early this past summer we discovered two of our children have dietary sensitivities/allergies. Special K is highly sensitive to food additives such as artificial flavorings, colorings, and certain preservatives. We went through our cupboards and eliminated any culprit foods and restocked with natural alternatives. To say her behavior improved after implementing the dietary changes would be an understatement. The results were drastic and immediate. She became calmer, was able to focus better in school, and was more emotionally appropriate. We also noticed that if we slipped up or allowed her to indulge in "no-no" foods, even just a small amount, we'd see immediate results that were of the undesirable type. For the good and sanity of all, we've been pretty strict about her diet.
At the beginning of this school year, Special K had a morning that left me ragged and wondering if we would make it through the rest of the day. She spent much of the morning throwing a tantrum in her bedroom and my nerves were shot. Then she ate lunch. She had a peanut butter sandwich and some fruit. From lunch on, she was an angel. I realized that she hadn't had any protein for breakfast. Protein seems to be a key here, and so we've added scrambled eggs or slices of ham to her breakfasts. Success again. She's doing wonderfully and serenity prevails.
While potty training Lil' Wingnut, we discovered our little guy has an issue with milk. Over the summer we eliminated all cow's milk from his diet and within three weeks his issues resolved. I've had to become pretty creative with the menu around here. The little guy just absolutely loves cheese and ice cream and many other milk products. We've found suitable substitutes for ice cream and have discovered all sorts of cheeses made from goat's milk that Lil' Wingnut can not get enough of, and have worked fairly well in certain recipes. He wasn't too thrilled with drinking soy or rice milk straight, but I have been using rice milk in cooking pancakes, waffles, etc., and it bakes up very moist and a bit sweet. I came across goat's milk at Trader Joe's last week and thought we could give it a try. Lil' Wingnut is hooked. I actually have to hide it in the back of the fridge, as he'll down an entire carton of the stuff if he sees it. Goat's milk is not cheap, at nearly $4 a quart, so it will be used sparingly.
I never thought I'd have to worry about food allergies in our children. This has been quite an adventure and learning experience. I have newfound sympathy and respect for folks that have trod this path before me! I'm so grateful I've been able to come up with solutions for both of our sweeties!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Small Successes Thursday, an opportunity for moms to pat themselves on the back for getting the job done.
1) Five of our six kids needed new tennis shoes. I took the whole gang to the shoe store, $211 later, they all have new shoes. I know I could have spent much less, but three of the five now wear adult sizes. Adult shoes are so much more expensive than children's shoes. Another factor that tends to drive the price upward is Wingnut believes everyone should wear well made, supportive shoes. He insists that we buy brand name shoes and have them fitted properly. As he's willing to shell out the dough for good shoes, I'm willing to submit :-)
2) I went through and swapped out most of the summer wear for fall and winter wear for the two younger girls. Other than their tennis shoes, I won't have to purchase a single item of clothing for either one of them. They had so many hand me downs from older sisters, friends, and neighbors, they were able to be a little picky and weed out some of their wardrobe. I gathered a bag of clothes the girls thought they would never wear and will pass them down to someone else down the road.
3) When I wrote out lesson plans this week, I left Friday open so that we could take a field trip. Our local science museum has homeschool days in September, and from what I could gather from their site, admission for homeschoolers is free. I'm usually not very good about planning field trips for the kids. I tend to get bogged down in making sure we meet our school work goals, and forget that sometimes we just need a break from the monotony. The kids are pretty stoked about going on a field trip, especially since some their friends are hopefully joining us. Watch out Baltimore, here we come.
Do you have any small successes to share? Check out the fun at Faith and Family Live.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Remember when this photo was first published? It has been ten years, and this photo is still having an impact on the pro-life movement, and has taken on a new relevancy in the face of Obamacare.
Last Friday evening, Karate Kid and I had the privilege of hearing a talk given by the photographer of the picture dubbed by the pro-life movement as "The Hand of Hope." Michael Clancy, while not a professional lecturer, had such a profound, and inspirational message. His story was absolutely riveting.
While I won't be sharing the entire story of the photograph in this post. You can read Mr. Clancy's testimony on his website, here. You can also order free copies of his presentation from Defend Life, here. Just ask for the Defend Life Lecture Series CD for Michael Clancy.
What I did want to share were a few thoughts that came to mind as I listened to Michael's story.
1) Michael Clancy is incredibly humble and possesses a childlike honesty and sincerity when he talks about his life, experiences, and the photograph. He truly believes he was an imperfect instrument of God, a brand new Christian, who would not have described himself as being pro-life before he took the photograph. These qualities give Michael profound credibility.
2) Why would it be important for Michael to be credible? Dr. Joseph Bruner has denied the reality of Michael's photograph from day one. He has denied that Samuel reached out and grasped his finger as shown in the photograph. He claims he posed the photo as a trick on Michael Clancy. He has denied this photo three times. I find that pretty significant.
3) As a result of Dr. Bruner's denial, Michael Clancy's reputation has been ruined and he has been branded a "pro-life, right wing, activist". In the world of journalism, this branding can and has destroyed promising careers. Although, heartbroken over his inability to obtain work as a photo journalist, Michael has dedicated his life to defending this one photo, the Gift God has given to him, and to the world.
4) This photo, the testimony of Samuel and his family, and the testimony of Michael Clancy were instrumental in helping the cause for banning partial birth abortion during Senate hearings on the bill. You can read about their testimony, here. This photo's existence, verifies that infants can and do feel pain prior to reaching the somewhat arbitrarily chosen age of viability. Samuel was 21 weeks in utero. Many states place the gestational age of viability at 23 weeks or more.
5) This photo has relevance in today's ongoing debate over Obamacare. Samuel has two younger brothers. His first brother was born without complication or disability. His second brother was born having a similar spinal lesion to Samuel's which led to Samuel's corrective fetal surgery. The reason his brother did not receive treatment for his spina bifida in utero, is that this particular type of experimental surgery is now controlled by a government research entity (National Institute of Health) and the government denied the request for the surgery when Samuel's parents applied. This part of the story is more complicated than I have stated here. There is a better article about Samuel and his younger brother, here. The point I'm trying to make is that Samuel's surgery was approved and carried out in the private sector. Now that the government has taken control of the study, Samuel's younger brother was ultimately denied the same kind of treatment. You can connect the dots from there.
Those are my thoughts on Michael's lecture. I feel blessed to have been there to hear his story. I know Karate Kid was equally impressed upon and I hope and pray Michael's story stays with her and continues to make an impact upon her throughout her life.
*note* I wrote Michael for permission to use his photograph here. He retains all rights to the photo, which in itself is a miracle. He is more than willing to send copies to anyone who asks and will personally email a digital file to you if you ask. You can find his email address on the site I linked to above. His desire is that we distribute his photo far and wide in Congress and make ourselves clear: WE WILL NOT PAY FOR ABORTIONS! WE WILL VOTE YOU OUT IF YOU VOTE IN FAVOR OF OBAMACARE!
Speaking of which, I received a nice little email from Senator Ben Cardin, reassuring me, through lies and distortions, that the bill on the table will not pay for abortion. I think I'll send him one of Michael's photos!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord
And let Perpetual light shine upon him
May the soul of Deacon Jeff Raffensperger, rest in peace.
His passing was not sudden, but happened so quickly. Deacon Jeff was in wonderful spirits, cracking jokes, and at peace to the end. His faith, strength, and courage were a witness to us all. Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the comfort and peace of his family.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Nicknames are common in our family. Wingnut has a knack for creating pretty unique pet names for the kids that often make absolutely no sense, but continue to be used as terms of endearment.
Karate Kid has always been Wingnut's "little noodle head". Her uncle has always called her "Shorty".
Stat Boy was called "Gummy Joe" as an infant, but is more often referred to as "the boy", nowadays.
I believe I was the one that came up with the nickname "Oleander" for Oleander. Oleanders are beautiful flowering bushes that are also one of the most poisonous plants in existence. Read into that what you will.
Skoshi A has always been our "Queen Monkey". She's also been called "little A" or "Skoshi A". Skoshi being a japanese word that means small or little.
Special K has had the most nicknames of all the children. Her personality just screams out for nicknames. She has been "Flabber-doo", "Flibbity-flab", "Bobbley-doo", "Boo", "Skit-skat-skoodle-doot-flip-flop-flee" and "Kit-kat".
Our Lil' Wingnut goes by "Benedactyl", something between a pterodactyl and Benedryl.
Evidently, Lil' Wingnut has inherited the creative moniker gene. Several months ago he referred to me as his "little widgey". Any idea what a "widgey" is? The term of endearment he created for his daddy really takes the cake. While cuddling with us on our bed yesterday afternoon, Lil' Wingnut referred to Wingnut as his "little earwax". Um, yeah, nice one, buddy.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Time once again for Small Successes, brought to you by the wonderful folks at Faith and Family Live.
1) We are in the kitchen, once again, if you fly with the FlyLady. Last month our kitchen got the toothpick and Q-tip treatment. Not this month. I did wipe down the filthy microwave after someone, who will remain nameless, let their chili explode all over the inside. The refrigerator also got the once over, just in time for grocery shopping. Does anyone know why there isn't a "d" in refrigerator, but there is one when we call it "the fridge"?
2) With a few small exceptions, our school week has gone fairly well. It seems like each day there is a run-in or difficulty with a different kid. I suppose that is bound to happen when you have six. We've done really well sticking to our weekly assignments and I've not resorted to a single video for the three year old. Lil' Wingnut is playing so much better on his own and he's still enjoying his special "school time only" activities.
3) Wingnut and I are still hanging in there with the P90X. Our school year schedule is in full swing, which truly makes carving out the hour plus much more difficult. We have not been able to do our workouts together at all this week. I'm pretty proud of doing the workouts on my own, without the added benefit of Wingnut beside me encouraging me along.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I hadn't planned on it, but when our daughters got an invitation to audition for the Nutcracker once again, we decided it was worth the experience. Oleander, Skoshi A, and I spent all afternoon, Sunday, at the Kennedy Center while the two girls auditioned for a new production of George Balanchine's Nutcracker staged by the Pennsylvania Ballet. If you are familiar with George Balanchine's production of this story ballet, you know there are tons of children's parts to be had. This was a completely different experience from the auditions of last year, when the girls danced with the Joffrey Ballet. There were incredibly few parts available to my tall Oleander. In fact, there was only one dance that needed 6-8 dancers that she was the correct height for. There were dozens of parts available to Skoshi A, as a shorter dancer. Many of the dancers did not even have to actually audition. They were measured and then assigned a part based on their measurements. I found that very strange, to say the least.
In the end, Oleander was released, after a protracted argument between the dance masters and the artistic director about whether she was too tall. After measuring her again, they decided she was indeed too tall. She was disappointed, of course, but handled herself incredibly well. Skoshi A will be dancing with the Pennsylvania Ballet as a toy soldier. There go my weekends, at least through Thanksgiving. Still, I'm very proud of both of my dancers!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We had the honor of attending First Profession of Vows and a beautiful Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine, yesterday afternoon. Many of our favorite Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara were renewing their perpetual vows and others were making their First Profession. It was my first experience attending a Mass of this kind and I hope I am fortunate enough to attend many more. This order of nuns and their brother order of priests and religious do everything so beautifully. The Mass, itself, was stunning with billows of incense filling the entire crypt chapel, dozens of priests, deacons and sisters, and an amazing choir made up of members of the orders. I haven't heard such a lovely choir in years. I truly felt like I experienced a little glimpse of Heaven.
Of course, I forgot my camera, but I did get some very blurry photos using my iphone. I can't believe I forgot my camera.
Seven sisters made their First Profession before a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word.
It was a beautiful and touching sight to watch the more senior sisters help change the veils from white to blue for their former junior novitiate sisters.
Our favorite smiling sister, Sister Aiparthenos, made her First Profession. I don't believe she could be anymore joyful. In the background there is the statue of Saint Kateri Tekawitha. I believe she is the patron saint of the junior novitiate formation house in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Sister Porte Caeli will always have a special place in our hearts and prayers. She was Special K's kindergarten CCD teacher and Special K absolutely adores her.
The Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara and their brother order, The Institute of the Incarnate Word all wear a gorgeous and unique cross, called the Cross of Matara. Check out the explanation of it's several symbols here. (note: The explanation is embedded in the site. You will have to click the link on the right entitled "Cross of Matara")
Monday, September 14, 2009
Honestly, do we really think the government can run healthcare at all? I know I don't believe it can. I've had too much experience dealing with government run entities lately.
We've been working toward getting our oldest ready for testing for her driver's license. We were shooting for early October, until a friend pointed out that a new law taking effect on October 1 would require that our daughter wait 9 months from the time she obtained her permit until she could test for the provisional license. This would mean she cannot test until January 9th. I decided I would call the MVA and get a clarification of the new law. For three days all I got was a busy signal. When I finally got through, 3/4 of the instructions were in Spanish and then I was hung up on. I got through a second time and was finally able to speak with a live person. She did confirm that any new driver that had obtained their permit after April 1 would have to wait the 9 months. Can anyone explain to me why the law takes effect this October but affects folks beginning from last April ? It really makes absolutely no sense to me.
Karate Kid is also prepping to take the PSAT in October. I spent four days placing calls and leaving messages with different departments of two different public high schools trying to figure out the process for registering. Of course, no one returned my calls, and I was repeatedly re-directed, to no avail. I finally got in touch with someone I hope knew something about what I needed to do, and of course, she let me know that the front office had this same information all along. The front office was the biggest culprit of re-direction and misinformation.
Obviously, these examples are run by state and local governmental agencies. Can you imagine what healthcare run by national government will be like? Calgon, take me away!
Friday, September 11, 2009
I created this recipe for the kids yesterday. They devoured it. It really was that delicious, so I posted it on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen website.
Posted using ShareThis
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I admit, this week I've been a bit pre-occupied with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. I am really reaching to squeeze three successes to post this week, but here is what I've eked out:
1) Our parish has a fantastic Labor Day Festival every year. Wingnut had to fly, which meant I took all six of our offspring to the festival, bought them a bunch of tickets, and set them free to enjoy carnival fare, games, and pony rides. We had so much fun! I even managed a few quick visits with friends.
2) We began our school year on Tuesday. For the most part it went pretty well. A couple of the children need to work on attitudes, and Lil' Wingnut needs to get used to playing on his own for a bit each morning, but they did pretty well diving right in this week.
3) We had planned to hit Confession as a family on Saturday, but Lil' Wingnut began his day with an upset tummy and a little vomiting. Undeterred, I took the older 4 to Confession and then to Mass, leaving Special K and Lil' Wingnut at home with Wingnut.
I was able to find three. Good for me! Come leave your small successes at Faith and Family Live.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Patrick Archbold had an intriguing, if not controversial post last week on CMR. There was a comment on that particular post that saddened me and has stuck with me ever since reading it. The commenter wrote, " I never wanted to be a mom because all the mom's I knew were unhappy." It broke my heart to read it.
My mom stayed home with us as we were growing up. I had a carefree, wonderful childhood. My mom was always home. I felt safe, secure, and loved. I am so grateful she stayed home with us, and from what I recall, she seemed content to be there.
As we entered our high school years, mom joined the workforce so that my parents could afford a college education for the three of us. My parents helped me pay for college, and I got my bachelor's degree in sociology. College was enjoyable and I am thankful for the sacrifices my parents made, but all I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother. I worked for the year between graduating from college and my marriage to Wingnut. I worked as a substitute teacher and took graduate courses toward my master's degree in education, while Wingnut labored in pilot training, during our first year of marriage. We never discussed what our plan was once children came along. When we did finally discuss starting our family, I let Wingnut know that if I was going to have children, I was going to stay home with them, end of discussion. What a blessing I married a man who felt the same way I did. He was 100% behind my plan. We started our family and I got my "dream job."
I really mean that, too. I am here today, bearing witness, that happy housewives do indeed exist. Not only am I living proof, but the majority of my friends also fit this description, although their paths, and dreams may have been very different from my own.
That is not to say life is perfect around here. I think I've honestly posted on many of the challenges we face from day to day. Every family has challenges. I am not immune to becoming tired, frustrated, impatient, and downright resentful at times. It can be tough to serve ALL. THE. TIME. I am so very thankful for the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. They keep me on track, refueled, and at peace.
I cannot imagine having a more exciting or more fulfilling career. God Willing, when I stand before Him on Judgement Day, it will have been a job well done.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I rose early this morning, before all the children, which is truly out of the ordinary for me. I dressed, took the trash to the curb, and then sat in the still and prayed. Today is our first day of school and I am looking forward to a wonderful year. I prayed for wisdom and guidance, I prayed for my children, I prayed for all our friends and family in need, I thanked God for the beautiful family he has given us and the many ways He has blessed my life, and then I sat in silence, and stillness waiting for God. I was filled with such peace. I hope I am able to do this every morning. It is the right way to begin my day and our year.
The children are beginning to stir. The coffee maker is primed and ready to brew. I am off to start our day.
May God rain Blessings down on you all, especially those beginning school today!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Could there ever be too many movies depicting Nazi Era Germany? I hope not, especially if they are as well done and as inspiring as this film. Sophie Scholl--The Final Days is a German language, foreign film available with English subtitles. The movie is a faithful retelling of the last six days in the life of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine, Sophia Magdalena Scholl, who, along with her brother and five other members of White Rose, was arrested, interrogated, tried, and executed for high treason and troop demoralization by the Nazi regime at the height of World War II, after being caught distributing inflammatory pamphlets denouncing Hitler and the Nazi war machine.
Obviously, this is not light fare, but well worth your time. I spent the film admiring Sophie's courage in adhering to the idea of freedom and peace. I wondered if under the same circumstances I could remain as brave and steadfast. The film makers did not shy away from showing characters of faith, characters unafraid to pray, characters whose faith remained unchanged and undaunted even when faced with execution. I highly recommend this movie to adults and mature adolescents. Other than the dark content and final outcome, the film contains no objectionable material.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
With only one week until we begin our school year, I have been very busy cleaning out our old school stuff and organizing and planning the new school year. I'm feeling pretty good about my small successes this week.
1) I cleaned out and then restocked all our school cupboards and shelves. I also filed last years school work, in case the nanny state comes a knocking. Normally I only keep one year's worth of work, and then it gets tossed holus bolus, once I have my portfolio review with the county. The only exception to this is I do keep all four years of high school work for our high schoolers, especially any tests or papers they have written in case we need to send examples of their work to prospective colleges. I have a file box for each high schooler with their work neatly organized into years and subjects. For each quarter I also file their grades for each subject and have a running transcript with their final grades in each subject, grade point average, etc.
2) If you fly with the FlyLady, we are in the living room this week. Our living room stays fairly clutter free, so other than dusting and washing fingerprints off windows, there is rarely much in that room for me to accomplish. Our computer/family room, on the other hand, is a veritable pigsty. This week I tackled this room with a vengeance. The computer desks have been de-cluttered above and below. I cleaned out and re-organized our art supply boxes and I'm in the process of eliminating baby toys from Lil' Wingnut's toy box of horrors.
3) I am so excited about history with the three girls this year. I have been planning, prepping and dreaming for our foray into ancient history. This week I made history notebooks for Skoshi A and Oleander. They are divided into 5 sections each: the first has a pre-printed timeline of ancient history that we will be adding important events and people to throughout the year; the second will have our black line maps to be colored and filled out; the third is for important people--rulers, inventors, artists, writers, heroes, etc.; the fourth is for descriptions of various cultures we will be studying--food, art, clothing, etc.; and the fifth is for the theology of each culture--beliefs about gods, life and death, origins of life, etc. These notebooks should turn out to be wonderful tools for learning and will be terrific end products for the girls' portfolios.
4) I've had such a productive week I need to post 4 successes today. My last success has to do with letting go. Karate Kid is getting closer to fulfilling all her requirements for getting her driver's license. She has nearly 40 of the 60 required hours behind the wheel, and this week she will have completed her 6 hours of driving with an instructor. She is really hoping to get her license in October and Wingnut and I are working hard at helping her reach that goal. It has been hard for me to believe and accept that we will soon have a teen driver in our family. I'm getting closer to accepting and welcoming that fact.
So, what are your small successes this week? Head over to Faith and Family Live and post yours with the rest of the Small Successes gang.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Wow, the school year is upon us! I've been frantically clearing out the old, and restocking with the new all week, and we are almost ready to go. We have all new school supplies and our cupboard looks so nice and organized. I'm really looking forward to the new school year. It should be a good one. God's Will be done.
Special K--Second Grade
Math: Saxon 2
Language Arts: Faith and Freedom Readers, Explode the Code 2-3, Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting book C, picture journaling
Music: Our Musical Year
Art: Our plan is to explore and attempt creating art related to our ancient history work.
P.E. Ballet, swimming lessons, and tennis
Skoshi A--5th Grade
Math: Saxon 65
Language Arts: English 5 for Young Catholics, Reading 5 for Young Catholics, Spelling Power, Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting book F, Wordly Wise 3000 book 5
Music: piano lessons
Art: see Special K
P.E. Ballet, swimming lessons, tennis
Math: Algebra 1/2
Language Arts: Lightning Literature for 8th grade, Vocabulary from Classical Roots A, English 7 for Young Catholics, Write Shop, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Music: flute lessons
Art: See Special K, Oleander also wants to continue with the Artistic Pursuits series.
P.E. Ballet, tennis
Stat Boy--9th Grade
Math: Saxon Algebra II
Language Arts: Seton Grammar 9, Vocabulary from Classical Roots B, Write Shop, Stat Boy's literature will come from the history program we are implementing using Mother of Divine Grace's syllabus for High School Ancient History.
Electives: Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, piano lessons, Rosetta Stone Italian I, taekwando (for PE)
Karate Kid--11th Grade
Math: Saxon Calculus
Literature: Lightning Literature's British Christian Authors of the 19th Century for first semester, second semester is yet to be decided.
Electives: Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle, piano lessons, Rosetta Stone Italian III, taekwando, Henle Latin
I'm still working on a plan for religion this year. Our goal is to make it to daily Mass at least once a week. I'm leaning toward using the Family Catechism from Apostolate for Family Consecration and learning more about many of the wonderful sainted priests of the Church in celebration of The Year for Priests.
That about sums it up. Sorry for the mish-mash of information. I had wanted to do a bit more reviewing and describing of the materials we use, but time is short. I created links to most everything here, so you might check it all out on your own time. May God Bless our new school year!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Our dear deacon was diagnosed with cancer just a couple weeks ago. His prognosis is not good, as all indications are the cancer has spread rapidly throughout his body. Our parish is in prayer overdrive for the deacon. A Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction is scheduled for this evening and our pastor has written the following special intercessory prayer:
Almighty God our Father,
We pray that through the intercession
of Bishop John Carroll, special patron of
Sacred Heart Parish by his election here
as the first bishop of our country, and by
Your loving providence, You might grant
physical healing to (name).
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
One Our Father
One Hail Mary
One Glory Be
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us (3 times)
If you have a moment today, would you say a prayer for Deacon Jeff?