Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What We're Using This Year: Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

Time for some curriculum talk perhaps?
The past few months I've been reassessing and planning for our new school year.  I had the intention of continuing some lessons over the summer like I did last year but gave up.  I needed a break more than they did and despite the fact that I've had one for two months now, I'm still finding it hard to get excited for the new year.  But often when I just sit down and force myself to write things out, I find that changes and I begin to stir up a little of that motivation for the new year.  Here's hoping anyway!  I've actually been considering starting up again in the next week or so if I can get lists for the kids typed and printed out.  Our summer weather has been decidedly NOT summer weather and it seems silly to not take advantage of the many rainy days and the listlessness that's been creeping in around here.

My brain is too tired from looking into and second guessing every curriculum over the years and at this point in the homeschooling journey I feel good about using what I know works and resting in the fact that curriculum is not the be all and end all of my children's education.  I'm even okay with...textbooks.  I know.  Hey, if a textbook is good and your children learn from it, then use it.  At least I'm learning that anyway.  The success of our year resides much less in the choice of the ever-elusive "perfect" text and much more in my own discipline and intuition.  So, here's what I *think* we'll be using this year as well as some notes on how they will be used.

John Paul
(Grade 5ish - Age 10)

For some reason Singapore does not make level 6 Home Instructor's Guide in the Standards Edition.  I don't know why.  It's weird.  And the normal teacher's guide is really expensive and unnecessary.  I've barely used the Guides for the other grades but they have the answer keys.  Also, I DON'T use the textbooks for any of the levels anymore.  At all.  We use only the workbooks and since I feel confident in teaching math and assessing how well they're understanding it, that is enough for us.  So we're using the U.S. Edition for level 6.  Their level 6 seems to be basically a review of level 5 so we'll use that until I figure out what we'll be switching to for algebra and higher math.  Because they're small, it will probably be in the next half a year or so.  I decided not to keep going with Singapore for the next level once I learned that their new texts are all being redesigned to fit with Common Core.  Running the opposite direction here.  So far I've gotten recommendations for Teaching Textbooks (yikes!  Expensive!  Is it worth it?) and Life of Fred (which doesn't look comprehensive enough for me).  Any others to look into?

I ended up being happy as I think I can be with a grammar program so we'll continue it.  I like that it's easy to use and doesn't involve a million books.  It incorporates poetry, diagramming, grammar vocabulary.

I don't think we'll be doing a formal spelling program this year.  I plan on involving them in the spelling bee again and using those words and study as our spelling for the year.  Plus, lots of reading which is John Paul's favorite go-to pastime anyway.  I think that's one of the best ways to teach spelling and they don't even realize it's happening.

The plan is to have him write every day.  Either copy work or working on a letter to his sponsored friend or an essay or within another subject.  I think the best writing program is an active reading life filled with great books and I have no doubt he's getting his fill.

After much debate I decided to stick with Memoria Press and not switch to Latin for Children.  I'm still unsure about it but I love how their company emphasizes Christian Latin and learning Latin prayers which is the main reason I want my kids learning Latin anyway.  It's not as well designed as it could be, perhaps (at least Latina Christiana wasn't...perhaps First Form is better), but I didn't like that CAP's program doesn't emphasize that and defaults to a classical pronunciation rather than ecclesiastical.  Plus, not gonna lie, it looks a tad bit cartoony for me and I couldn't get a good handle on what level John Paul should get.  We'll see how it goes!  I'll be using the DVDs again to be the teacher.

We're actually doing science this year.  At least that's the plan.  I'm a little apprehensive because I have it planned for the afternoon loop when I'm normally trying desperately not to fall asleep and it requires that I actually do something.  I was going to have the boys start the Biology 101 program because the Chemistry 101 was such a hit but I learned that it teaches from a creationist standpoint which really surprises me and is really disappointing.  (I still recommend the Chemistry, though!)  So, I found out about this Elemental Science program, got an unbelievable (and rare) deal on Ebay and we're going to try it out.  Logic Stage for John Paul, Grammar Stage for Michael and David.  Napping stage for Luke. 

Story of the World Volume 4 (Audiobook)
We love these audiobooks and again, another Ebay deal.  I got it a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure John Paul has listened to all the CDs already.

I haven't bought this yet (it's expensive!) but I'm excited about the series and I think it will dovetail nicely with learning about the Modern Age through the Story of the World with the younger boys.  I much prefer to all be learning about the same general topic.  It'll help keep me a little bit saner, at least.

I'll be starting a more formal religion lesson just to make sure we cover some of the things I wouldn't necessarily think to cover.  I didn't feel it was needed in the younger grades since so much of what is included in formal religion programs I was just doing naturally (teaching prayers, learning about the Mass, memorizing Scripture, etc.).  But I think now we'll at least use this program as a framework and backdrop to ensure he's ready for deeper Theology in high school.

Memory Work
Classically Catholic Memory Beta Year
We don't use all of this program but I do appreciate the text for giving me memory work for the kids to do during breakfast.  So, I'll be picking and choosing (mostly history, science, and catechism) to use for memory work.

Continuing Suzuki piano lessons once a week and integrating classical music through the radio station and the Music Masters CDs.
And, of course, the occasional kitchen dance party :)

We'll be continuing our bi-monthly art classes with a local teacher.  Drawing, painting, skills, etc.

I'll be using this once a week, I hope, to have all of us memorize a bit of the bard.

I gave this to John Paul for his birthday and I think he's read it all already.  But we'll hopefully go back through together and maybe (?) read a play or two together.

(Grade 2ish - Age 7)

Singapore Math 2A/B (Standards Edition)
We already started this last year and I anticipate he'll be moving on to 3 by late winter/early spring.  Singapore works well for us.


Simple daily copywork time using memory work material and as a discipline method as needed :)

Finding books he and I both like and reading them together.  I'd like that to happen every day.

Prima Latina
I'm a tad nervous to start Michael on this but I think it might be worth a shot.  I tend to underestimate that kid and he tends to be okay with that :)

Biology for the Grammar Stage
Again...we'll see.  I really wish the chapters in the different levels were aligned to use within a family.  But I think I'll be able to jump around chapters so that we're all studying the same general topic.  I'm not as motivated to do this with the younger kiddos because overdoing science in the early years seems so silly.  They learn so much more just on their own.  But since I'll be working with John Paul anyway, we'll try it and see, I think.  Honestly, I can see this being the first to fall come November... (How's that for a great attitude? ;)

Story of the World Volume 4 as above.
With Michael I anticipate using some of the corresponding activity book as well.  He and David really enjoy coloring the pictures.
Ummm...nothing formal?  Daily Mass, Scripture memory work, Latin prayers, normal integrated Catholic life...that's enough, right?

I'm toying with the idea of starting Michael with formal piano.  He hasn't been ready up to this point  and I couldn't justify spending the money for lessons.  But soon, I think?  Either that or I'm thinking of checking in with our musically inclined neighbors to discuss whether guitar lessons would ever be an option which Michael would prefer.  We'll see!

Spelling/Memory Work/Art:
See John Paul's above

(Kindergartenish - Age 5)

He slowly started this last year and we'll be working more through it this year.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
We started this last year at his request but haven't picked it up in a long time.  This year we'll finish it and I'm hoping it'll all click well.  There are hundreds of reading programs out there, many a whole lot more complicated than this.  I really appreciate how straightforward and non-fussy this is.

No formal handwriting program in this house, just some good handwriting paper.  It's sort of like, "here's how you make a D.  Can you make a whole line of those?" and a whole lot more of just integrating it into the child's innate desire to random lists and birthday cards and notes to all counts.  

Latin/Science/History/Memory Work/Music/Art
I have no doubt he'll be tagging along voluntarily with the older brothers for a whole lot of this but I don't require anything more than that at this stage.

I still would like to add some geography in there somehow but maybe sneaky homeschool mom can use online geography games as a reward for lessons completed and win in all the ways.

Phew.  So that worked a little bit.  I don't feel as unmotivated.  But maybe just a wee bit more overwhelmed.
All in His hands.

Just so you know, I'm linking to Amazon (and if you buy anything through that link, I get a small commission to run this place here) but in full disclosure most of my curricula I do get much cheaper through Ebay.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Instead of Edel

Greetings, fellow people who are not in Texas enjoying the fellowship of Catholic women bloggers with wine and shoes and delicious food!  Sure, it'd be nice to be at a fancy hotel with comfy beds and mixed drinks and so many of the people you know online all in one place chatting and laughing and drinking and eating all the delicious foods.  BUT I have much more pressing things here at home like taking care of my children while their father leads a retreat in another state.  I'm pretty sure the authorities frown on leaving a ten year old in charge of three younger children for three days, right?  Probably.  So pretty much I've got the opposite of Edel going on over here.  But that's okay because here's what else I'll be doing while you're all "mingling" and "having fun":

Watching this happen:

You guys.  He was so excited.  SO excited.  And it was kind of all placed right in our lap.  This isn't even our parish but we go to daily Mass here and one of the secretaries of the parish who sees us there all the time approached me the other day about John Paul serving daily Mass.  And the next day, it was set up and then today this happened.  He's being trained by the man who usually serves and I know it probably seems like some small blip in the whole world of Catholic parenting for some but ah, it's just so awesome to see your son up there serving at the altar.  He was walking on air afterwards.  We'll see how it works out but this could be such a huge blessing to serve this way.  So good.  So so good.

Knitting Placentas and Waiting on Babies:

My uterus is done and I'm quite happy with it and even got to demonstrate with it at a meeting!  (Ha, it's a knitted uterus, people.  I mean, it's not like I'm weird or anything.)  So now I've started the placenta.  I had three moms due in the space of a month which is another reason Edel wouldn't have worked out.  Two of the three have already had their babies, though!  Yay!  Number three likely has a few more weeks to go but still possible so I'm on call for that sweet little girl, too.  I've got to get started on a hat for that babe, too.

Watching The Way:

Brian and I started this last weekend and got half way through.  I decided that today being the feast of St. James the Greater and the movie being about El Camino Santiago de Compostela (The Way of Saint James) and all, it is the perfect day to finish it off.  The first half gets my recommendation and possibly the second but we shall see.  Half-hearted apologies to the husband for not waiting.

Fonzmobile Dance Parties:

Clearly the dance parties that will inevitably break out at Edel have nothing on these.

Not Blogging about NFP
Not that I don't want to.  NFP Awareness Week and all.  But there's just no unique take I have on it at the moment or more accurate, a take that I have the motivation to write about.  I'd much rather direct you to these wonderful posts all of which I beg you to click, read, and share:

Why I Don't Use Contraception by Rachel Lu in The Federalist
Abusing NFP by Kathleen van Schaijik A Thousand Amens, Kathleen!

Taco Parties, Pizza Parties, Moving, Lawn Fetes, and More...
I have the awesomest friends that are keeping me busy while Brian is gone, a sister and brother-in-law who are moving (the lady with the herniated disk and the four children will CLEARLY be a huge help in the process, I'm sure), our parish's annual picnic at which we will finally finally win one of those goldfish, and if we're lucky, maybe even a trip to Trader Joe's in there.  Please try to contain the jealousy.

And then, of course, there's this:

The excitement never ends, friends.  Never.  Ends.
Take that, Edel.  You ain't got nothin' on the excitement goin' on over here.

(And seriously, those of you who do have the lovely privilege of being at Edel, I hope you have a blast!  Really.  And plan another one for next year, please.  And if it could be worked around my schedule and location, that would be great, too.  Thanks ;)

Linking up with Carolyn-in-lieu-of-Jen for some Seven Quick Takes!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - vol. 52

Popping in for a few to capture some snapshots of current life with the {phfr} ladies!

The gift from my friend Tim that I discovered on my counter this morning as a thank you for letting Brian go help lead a retreat this weekend.  A real honest to goodness soup tureen which is WAY better than the doughnuts I thought were in the package at first.  (Not, of course, that I would mind someone mysteriously leaving doughnuts on my counter either.  But a Polish pottery soup tureen totally beats doughnuts in my book.)  Anyway,  I love it.  I have very few fancy serving dishes (I bet you can guess what color all my dishes are ;) and this one is so pretty.  I have visions of fall soup parties already...

Our coneflower is blooming.  It doesn't last long and the plant is small but the few blooms it does give are so pretty.

Behold bird with worm.  The boys made me take a picture as it posed for us.  It made them happy, I guess...

Oh, my hydrangeas.  I love hydrangeas so much but have zero luck with them.  Granted, our shady yard is not good for hydrangeas in this climate but I tried anyway.  Out of my six plants that were planted two years ago, there is one flower that may bloom.  But that one flower is making me happy because it's the best I've ever gotten. 

Two of the bushes still look like this: 
and other than the blooms they came with the first year, have never flowered again and must be protected by chicken wire so escaped hens don't peck at them.  I pictured big bushy beautiful hydrangea bushes in front of the porch.  The plan is not working out so well.  (But at least my impatiens seem happy this year?)

And a preteen chicken.  Because that's the best I got for funny today.  

I'm daring to show you this.  I can't tell you how disappointing our garden is this year.  The plants got in late, the weather has been sucky for gardening, and our broken fence meant that deer have been snacking and destroying.  And then there's me who has done nothing (literally) to help the situation.  This is as close as I can get without getting overwhelmed to tears.  Because that's rational, right?

Linking up at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr}

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pockets of My Boy

I mentioned the other day that I had the esteemed privilege of going on a date with Michael.  He was such a joy.  Now that we've had a little more free time since baseball is done, I've been trying sneak pockets of time in with each of them.  It means so much and the bigger they get, the more I realize how important it is.  I don't mean to be that person who has to take a photo of every single thing I'm doing (and if I were, I've been awfully bad at it this year!) but I'm grateful when I do remember to snap a few shots.  I can't see myself remembering these sweet moments as well if I didn't.  

First stop was the baseball field for ice cream (we still have so many tokens left from their season!!).  We sat and watched the older boys play for a few minutes.

We headed over to the dollar store because we are high class date people.  Michael really wanted to buy one of those long lighters for his homemade chapel (I know.  Really.) so with many warnings and rules given about it's use, that's what we did.  And then we wandered around the store where he was afforded the ultimate luxury of looking at all the things without being hurried out by whining siblings or a mom with things to do.

His next declared desire was Hobby Lobby.  We were out of red and yellow construction paper, you know, and it was of utmost importance to him to get it replaced.

His favorite aisle

Who would've thought that walking into a craft store would feel like some sort of political statement?  But with all the news, that's totally what it feels like now.

Mission accomplished.

By this time it was getting late but we decided to make a quick stop to see Jesus

and take a stroll over to check out the little shrine nearby.

(Sorry, hon.  You may not scale the grotto.)

We got back past bedtime and the other boys were already upstairs.  He chattered away while getting his pajamas on and then emptied his (apparently large) pockets on the table.  Brian and I couldn't help but smile.  

The perfect snapshot of my boy:
Pocket knife, First Communion medal, all three Roman soldier keychains he desperately searched for in Rome, a crucifix, a bullet casing saved from the Memorial Day service, a bead found in the yard, and a five cent Euro coin.  
Isn't that what you carry in your pocket?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Breaking Up (with your OB) is Hard to Do

I've heard it countless times now. A woman discussing her obstetrician and lamenting wistfully over the fact that she can't just leave him and find another care provider.  

"It's too late."  

"I don't know where else I'd go."  

"But I've gone to him forever!"  

"I know he does x, y, and z even when I don't want him to...but he's a good doctor."  

"I don't want to mess with my insurance."  

"I would feel so bad changing!"

and others...
It begins to sound eerily like a domestic situation.

Why is it so hard for women to change their birth and woman care provider?  

I have a theory.
(I know.  Watch out.)
Birth is one of the most intimate experiences a woman has. Akin to sex, she is vulnerable, naked, and experiencing enormous physical and hormonal shifts. She is investing her body, emotions, soul, her entire self into the event. She does things that in any other setting would leave her embarrassed. She entrusts her wellbeing and the wellbeing of her child to this other person oftentimes when she is compromised by pain or the foreignness of a hospital. She is expected to "perform" and to do it "correctly" or risk being snuffed at and snubbed or wheeled to the operating room as a diagnosed "failure." Even when she has never given birth and is going through a normal exam, she is opening herself up in ways previously only known to sexual partners.  

Whether we want to or not, we as incarnational Christians cannot pretend that isn't true. We cannot pretend that this is "just business." As Christians we aren't free to separate our bodies from our souls. And, I think, as tempting as it might be because of the vulnerability of the moment, we cannot accept a doctor or midwife who treats it as just another cervix to be checked or vagina to watch. 

Why is it that we feel we can pick a name out of the insurance provider book or take any old resident on call that we've never met and find that acceptable? Why is it that even when things are bad, when he doesn't respect our choices or does things to us or our babies that we asked him not to or speaks condescendingly towards us....why is it that women accept that?

A huge part of that inability to break up with your OB is because we've developed an intimate relationship with them. Whether we like it or not, the moment we get on that table for an exam or discuss our sex lives or allow them to see us naked, things change. The doctor or midwife doesn't necessarily notice. For them, maybe it is just another body, another cervix, another day at the office. (There are many providers who DO break that pattern, however, and thank God for them.) But we now, whether we birth with them or not, feel a connection. We've revealed more of ourselves and are more vulnerable than we were before. For many women, it's understandably hard to just cut that tie after such vulnerability.  

And if that's not enough, then there's the actual birth.

And in flows the oxytocin.

Most of you probably know what that is but in case you don't, oxytocin is the "love hormone." It's the hormone that helps bond you deeply to another human being. It is released in torrential amounts in the female body during three significant moments - orgasm, natural birth, and breastfeeding.  It literally bonds you to the person you are with and thank God for it. When used correctly, it becomes the superglue that chemically bonds two people together. It strengthens marriages and mother/baby bonds and helps us overlook faults and stay in relationships. It's beautiful and awesome and a gift from God. 

When used in a disordered way, say in premarital sex, it causes heartbreak and unhealthy attachments. See where I'm going with this? This oxytocin flooding our body during birth bonds us to our babies and husbands, yes, but it can also give us an (admittedly much lesser) bond with the other people in the room as well. And that, I believe, is one of the reasons women seem to feel a sort of loyalty to their provider even if the provider's treatment is less than acceptable.

It's interesting to note here, too, that for most of history, a woman's birth was attended by other women, usually sisters, mother, aunts, and cousins. If my little theory holds up, then birth would have strengthened the bond with those women in her life, something that to me, seems more natural and desirable. This, the profound physical intimacy of birth as well as that oxytocin bond are just some of the factors that have made me personally more and more uncomfortable with the very modern trend of the majority of birth attendants being male.

Another aspect of that mother-provider bond, no matter HOW you give birth, is the emotional investment that it is to become a mother. It is a hard thing to admit that maybe things could have gone better for our baby, that maybe a difficult or traumatic birth could have been prevented or that we could have made a better decision (as small as that decision may have been). Our defenses are immediately provoked, because we love that baby so much, by the idea that maybe things could have been improved. So we can sometimes cling to the hope that the doctor surely did all he could or that she was always working in our best interest (even if evidence points to the contrary). That's normal and understandable. We want so badly to know that we are doing well by our children. I'm learning more and more as a mother that in all aspects of parenting, our need to believe this has the potential to get in the way of making an honest assessment and possibly better decision the next time.

So what is my ultimate point in sharing this?

Not that all OBs are evil (as I said above, there are some wonderful doctors and midwives doing beautiful work) or that it's necessarily bad to have some sort of loyalty to your doctor or midwife. My point is rather that we should take all of this into account when making our decisions for a provider. Loyalty to our doctor or midwife should never trump doing what is best for us or our babies and if something is telling us to switch, then we need to listen to that.

::A few things to remember::

Your provider and their philosophies on birth are one of the utmost factors in how your birth goes. Choose well.

We are choosing them. Not the other way around. If you aren't happy with their care and you can't discuss things openly with them, switch. It is okay and good to "shop" for your provider.  Being "nice" is not enough to qualify them to be chosen. You are likely not going to hurt their feelings by switching (and if you do, they'll get over it and maybe learn something from it).

It is never too late to switch. Whether you're 39 and a half weeks or have already birthed children with that provider, you can still switch. I just heard a story about a mother who fired her OB while in the delivery room because he was doing the well-known switcharoo with regard to her birth plan and dismissing her reasonable requests. Good for her.

It is okay and JUST to expect that your provider treat you with respect, dignity, and listens well to your concerns. If they dismiss you or will not work with you to have the birth that you want or if you feel rushed or like another number during appointments, then switch. If they mock you for having too many children or for using Natural Family Planning, then switch. The more women begin to demand better, the more we will see a safer and more dignified birth model in our country. (And if you do switch, consider writing a letter to let them know why.)

Birth rape, trauma, and abuse are actual things. Simply because someone has the title of doctor or midwife or because you have developed a relationship with them does NOT give them the authority to do something to you without your permission. If your provider tries to pressure you into procedures or violates your body without your consent, it is NOT okay.

Encourage your husband to have a role in the birth. Hold that baby right away if possible. Let that oxytocin work for you and your family.

I would love for you to share.

What have your experiences been with woman care and birth providers?

Feel free, too, to think I'm crazy and disagree with me and my theories...I'd love to hear what you have to say either way.

*image source*

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Daybook of Sci-Fi and Uteri

Outside my window...
A rising sun on yet another day that's supposed to be coolish for July.
This summer feels weird weather wise, right?  Or is that just me?  I feel like it's not summer and it's sort of just been slipping by.

Thankful for...
all your lovely encouragement on that post the other day.  I feel grateful that people got what I meant, that it was a source of encouragement, and that it seemed to resonate with so many people.

the gift of doulaing.  What a blessing it is.

and for health.

Thinking about...
homeschool plans and schedules.
Sarah has been such an inspiration in this area!
Hoping to share a bit of the plans for this coming year in this little space soon.  

"As John Paul makes clear, "Christ does not invite man to return to the state of original innocence, because humanity has left it irrevocably behind."  Rather, Christ calls us to find "the living forms of the 'new man.'   In this way a connection is formed, even a continuity, between the 'beginning' and the perspective of redemption.""  

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Have the same attitude toward all.  Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly."  
Romans 12:15-16

what makes each one of these little people tick.

how important it is to close the computer.

From the kitchen...
will be something caramelly today for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  I'm thinking ice cream sundaes perhaps?
If you're up to making your own caramel sauce, you must use this recipe.  It's easy and so so good.  You'll never buy again.  

a uterus.  No, really.
I'm knitting a uterus.  
Because why not, right?
I bought a model pelvis a few weeks ago to use for work with doula clients (you have no idea how weirdly exciting it was to get that box in the mail).  You can't have a pelvis without a uterus (well, unless you're a man I suppose) and I know how to knit and I found this here pattern so...

There she is.  In all her pink cotton glory.

She's almost done and I think it will actually be really helpful. 
I'm realizing more and more that the more clients know before their birth about how their body works and can visualize and work with it, the better their birth seems to go.  Just wait til I get started on the placenta :)

wait...are you ready for it?  (Probably, since you already saw it up there.)  I'm fiction.  
I know!  I, the one who eschews anything involving aliens or time travel or having the faintest hint of space, the one who turns her eyes from zombie fads and vampire fetishes, am working on C.S. Lewis' space trilogy at the prompting of a friend.  I think I like the stretch but I really don't see myself turning toward the genre any time soon ever.  There are some very profound insights and passages, though.  I just finished the first book and am heading into the second.  I'm pretty sure this one involves some time travel. *shudder*  

not many places this week!  Just a few meetings.  This week it's felt really good to organize the house a bit and settle my mind in the process.

Around the house...
we're working on painting the mudroom.  I started and Brian, because he is the awesomest and because I was being a baby and getting frustrated that it was harder than I pictured, seems to be finishing.  It's an ugly mudroom but I am always amazed at what coat of paint can do!  I'm sure I won't be able to resist showing you a picture or two when it's all done.

Have you noticed that I have done exactly zero gardening posts this year?  There's a reason.  With the trip in April and the off weather spring and so many other commitments, our garden is so so sad.  We've gotten a few lettuce leaves and hopefully we'll have a tomato harvest (I'm counting on those frozen tomatoes!) but the rest has been very disappointing.  I find it incredibly hard to go away that time of year when you need to be doing all the things outside to have a good year and when things are finally finally starting to get nice around here.  It's not all that easy to be a vegetable gardener in this climate.  I'm thinking we should permanently move Easter to May or June.  Anyone with me?  Or maybe we should just plan big trips accordingly.

for a reader who is grieving the loss of her unborn baby.  

for the unborn baby of a friend who has been diagnosed with a skeletal disorder.

for Nella.

Please pray with me?

Worth a click... 

The Bringing Felicity Home Auction is going on now!  
Come on over and help Katie and her family bring home their sweet daughter from China!

from CARM
from Leila...Yes, to all of it!
from Kendra
from Melody
from Jennifer Fitz
from CBN News...I really hope we learn more on this soon!
A picture thought to share..

You feel more empowered already, don't you?

Linking up for the first time in ages with Ginny for Yarn Along!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Month in Boys - July 2014

John Paul

(you can tell he has a little cold in this pic!)

-turned TEN!
-played in the division's All-Star game.
-found four 4-leaf clovers a few days before his birthday from a patch in our yard.  I wish I had captured the excitement on his face!
-finally finished removing that concrete sidewalk and has the saved up for bee bee gun to prove it.
-mowed almost all of the lawn the other day!  (You have no idea how exciting this is!)
-is, for the first time in his life, opting to sometimes stay in his bed for a few more minutes of sleep in the morning.
-if he's staring off into space, is more than likely thinking about baseball or bee bee guns.
-currently chooses both chocolate and cookie dough as his favorite things to eat.


-Michael:  I want to move into a new house.
Me:  Why?
M:  Every time we move into a new house God gives us another baby.
So THAT'S how it works.
-decided one morning he wanted to turn their closet into a chapel.  And so he did.  They've been using it for prayer during the day and it brings me so much joy.  (He also showed it to our neighbors during their first visit to our house...)
-thinks he's big enough to ride John Paul's bike.  He's getting darn close and I think he's getting ready for yet another growth spurt soon.
-for his date with Mama chose to go to the baseball diamond for ice cream and to watch the older kids play, go to the dollar store to buy a lighter for the candles in his chapel, and go to Hobby Lobby for some red and yellow construction paper.  We made stopped and saw Jesus on the way home, too.
-still would prefer to play a game or do an art project than read.
-after exclaiming, "I don't know!  There are so many good things!" decided that cookie dough ice cream is probably, maybe his current favorite food.


-shared, "I know how growing works.  Every second another atom comes onto you.  And so you grow!"
-while bringing in the husked corn complete with all the saved corn silks:  "Mama, that part's for us.  So we can disguise ourselves as girls.  It's for our spy kits!"
-is my first to really enjoy coloring at this age and is really really good at it for a five year old!
-loves their art classes.
-when discussing my recent hair cut told me, "I don't think you should look like that anymore."
-is still our turn on the flip of a switch kid.  But he's slowly getting better.  Slowly.
-would really like to make his First Holy Communion.
-has become our hardest at bedtime.
-decided that "you're my second favorite adult."  It's sort of hard to beat Papa, I guess.
-has declared "chocolate mixed in with peanut butter and graham crackers and marshmallow and steak.  All mixed together.  I would LOVE that."


-requires that Papa sing "Happy Birthday (to Mama)" to him every night last thing before he goes to sleep.
-is still nursing.  He seems so big (but then he's the biggest for his age of our kids) but he still needs that time with me and it really gives him peace and security, I think.
-spilled a half gallon of blue paint all over himself and down the mudroom stairs.  It was epic.  But at least it forced us to start painting so there's that...
-is a big fan of fighting the "bad guys" whoever that may be.
-"Luke, what's your favorite thing to eat?"
"Five?  Your favorite thing to eat is five?"

Friday, July 11, 2014

On Baseball and Biting My Tongue

Our baseball year is officially over.  Well, minus one team party left to attend.  It'll be so nice to have so many more nights free again but we've had a great year with it.  I do love going to the games and seeing my little people out there in their adorable little baseball pants.  At first I bemoaned the need to buy so many extras - special baseball pants, cleats, the right color socks, even a belt - as yet another expense. I mean, when I played softball as a ten year old, I wore denim shorts and sneakers and my older sister's braided leather belt that went around my waist almost twice.  But it is really adorable to see them all decked out in their uniforms, I must admit.
It's been such a great experience for both of them and so interesting to watch them play with a team under the supervision of someone else.  I love that games are really getting exciting to watch now at John Paul's level.  If you hear me talking with a lisp it's probably from the tongue bites from getting a little too into the game and striving hard not to be that parent.  It's all for fun but it's easy for me to get caught up in a game!  So I knit and chase little people and watch and bite my tongue and chat with the other moms there.  David is itching to play next year.  I have no idea how we'll do that with three on separate teams (and eventually four!).  I guess somehow we'll figure it out, though.  I'm in awe of families with more children who do sports and other extracurriculars for each.  We have said no to travel league invitations because that is just way more of a commitment than we're willing to give.   Rec league has really been the only regular outside extracurricular that we've stuck with and I think it's good for all of us.

John Paul was one of the pitchers for the team in their first year of kid pitch.  He loves that and catcher best.  By the playoffs they had him pitching two innings which is the max you can pitch in one game.  He's still pretty inconsistent but he's getting better and better.  I love how these two shots turned out.  

Michael wears the best smile when he plays.

Except here apparently... when he's very serious about being ready to run to second.

His body moves like it should be running much faster than it really goes.  It's quite cute.

This boy would play all day every day if he could, I think.

Happy as catcher.  After one great game, coach Mark gave him their extra catcher's mitt to keep which was so nice.

Last game of the season.  "Who had fun this year?"

We found out about half way through the season that another boy on Michael's team was home schooled!  Unfortunately, the day after their last game, they moved to Minnesota so we won't be able to be on the same team again next year.

Going in for the adorable!  

Both their coaches were so so great this year.  John Paul's team, especially, I wish we could clone.  It's hard because they draft now at this level.  We requested that John Paul stay with the coach he had last year and were grateful that happened along with a new assistant coach who was just as great.  The boys on his team were so sweet and kind and respectful.  Even the boys who had a harder time were encouraged by the other players and they really looked out for each other.  The coaches really set the tone and some of the other teams...well, I'm very glad those weren't ours.  I would have a very hard time if our coaches were as competitive and as hard on the kids as I see from some of the other teams.  Ours were so encouraging, so patient, and while they played competitively, it was never at the expense of honor or tender little boy hearts.   

And these two?  They alternatively played their own games with other kids there, watched the games, ran the bases, and ate snacks.  But please look at those ridiculous shorts all folded over.  No, shorts, you are not size 18 mos. no matter what you say.  They were falling down the whole game but we were in a rush to get there and they were the first pair grabbed...  But they do look stunning with a pair of rain boots.  All the rage in two year old fashion.

Let's get a close up of that hair, shall we?  This is what happens when your mother mistakes the size 3 clip guard with the size 6.  They're both purple, you know.  
It's still an improvement than the mop that I let go for far too long.

Linking up a day late with the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Have a a lovely weekend!

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