Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent In Our Home

Advent In Our Home...
1. Introduced the Theme: Watch, Prepare and Wait
We hung up the sign I made in a word document. I printed it, laminated it and then ran purple ribbon through it.

2. We placed our Advent Wreath in the middle of our dining room table where we eat dinner every night. We blessed our Advent wreath. If your candles are not staying in place melt them into place...Branden had that idea this year! Great Idea! Advent Wreath Daily Readings and Prayers can be found at

3. We created a purple chain that has quotes from Saints on each day. I got all of my quotes from EWTN's daily readings and copy and pasted them into a word document. I printed it and then the kids pasted the paper on purple construction paper and then we cut each strip. Then we stapled each strip together. We will read one each day of Advent. Before Tristan could read I just put numbers in each. I will probably do Bible verses one year or maybe parts of the Catechism etc...
4. I took our big chalkboard I use for entertaining the little kids while I teach and we are using that to track our Advent Giving Mission. Every day the kids look for ways to be extraordinarily good or helpful or look for ways to serve someone. Every day after we read the quote of the day from our chain we paste it to the board and then that evening we talk about the things of the day. An example is when we were in Walmart a woman dropped her bracelet and Tristan ran to go and get it and give it to the woman. He saw it and acted.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Expecting More than I am Willing to Give

In the realm of parenting.
1. How often I expect the kids to ask me one time for something and not ask again if I say no...because my no means no. They do ask more than once and sometimes many times leading me to great frustration and sometimes anger, but they have learned that what I expect is inconsistent with what I give them. On a rough day, when I am tired, when I am overwhelmed and sometimes out of desperation to get them away from me I will say yes on the fifth time after I have said no four other times and said the same exact words no means no. So actually what I expect and what I am giving them with my actions are two entirely different things. What they are hearing is we should ask more than once and maybe many times just to make sure mom really means no because sometimes she says no, but then she changes her mind so maybe I should ask five more times just to make sure! Wouldn't you do the same if you knew that would be the outcome! They are smart.
2. So often I expect first time obedience or another way of saying this is listening the first time. Whether it be walking through a parking lot and keeping everyone together or getting out of the car or picking up their toys or coming to dinner. I expect them to listen on the first time and often when they don't listen the person it inconveniences the most is me and this leads me to great frustration and I wonder why they don't listen. I expect first time listeners, but I give them a wife that doesn't always listen to her husband. I give them a mom that is on the computer and to distracted to listen to their big ideas or look at their newest lego creation. Even in other very important areas of life such as meals and schooling I fall into thinking my things and my time are more important. So often during these things that I think are so important I tend to not listen to the kids. Whether it be an I can't listen right now, or get out of here and find something else to do or I yell at them for being in the way or I just say uh huh...oh neat...okay and I really am not listening to their story or looking at their creation or whatever it might be. They think and believe as we all do that we are super important. Fortunately for us adults we know there is an Africa out there with tons of starving people dying daily and we know that there are babies being aborted daily and we know that there are families falling apart all around the world, but unfortunately for us on a daily basis we don't choose to live in a world bigger than ourselves. For the little ones they don't know or understand where or what Africa is and they don't understand that children can starve to death because they only know their life and can only understand how they have felt. They cannot go outside of themselves and are not supposed to at this point which makes them really a big part in this world that they know. They are a big and very important part and that is the way God intended it to be, but as a parent I tend to not let them know and let them feel as important as I should by listening intently to their ideas or looking at the pile of rocks and leaves they have found...the mom that doesn't listen looks at their rock and leaf collection and sees just rocks and leaves but the mom God created me to be sees those rocks and leaves turn into the beautiful treasures that my children are seeing.
Children will listen if we listen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Day at the Farm

A day at the farm. We have some friends who own a farm and we have been able to enjoy a few days out there fishing, having picnics, going on trails, riding horses, throwing rocks, playing in creeks and getting dirty! It is such a blessing! One day when we went out there we took some pictures. They turned out so wonderful!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Babies and Sleeping

Great Article. We co-sleep around here for the first year or so and love it! There is more and more research showing that co-sleeping is great for everyone! Read the article and read through the experiments. Very fascinating. Here is a little blurb from the experiment. To me it seems so natural to just have the baby right next to you especially when nursing.
What to call it
Sleeping with your baby has various labels: The earthy term "family bed," while appealing to many, is a turn-off to parents who imagine a pile of kids squeezed into a small bed with dad and the family dog perched precariously on the mattress edge. "Co-sleeping" sounds more like what adults do. "Bed-sharing" is the term frequently used in medical writings. I prefer the term "sleep-sharing" because, as you will learn, a baby shares more than just bed space. An infant and mother sleeping side by side share lots of interactions that are safe and healthy.

Our study revealed that Lauren breathed better when sleeping next to Martha than when sleeping alone. Her breathing and her heart rate were more regular during shared sleep, and there were fewer "dips," low points in respiration and blood oxygen from stop-breathing episodes. On the night Lauren slept with Martha, there were no dips in her blood oxygen. On the night Lauren slept alone, there were 132 dips. The results were similar in a second infant, whose parents generously allowed us into their bedroom. We studied Lauren and the other infant again at five months. As expected, the physiological differences between shared and solo sleep were less pronounced at five months than at two months.

Inclusion - Teaching to the Family not just the individual

With Tristan in first grade and Annaliese in kindergarten and one more child added to the mix school has definitely become more interesting this year! So we change. With life you can never stay the same. Honestly to stay the same would be incredibly boring and very frustrating (I have tried before and it didn't work)! So we keep moving and keep changing as we need to. So here are a few things we have been doing with school lately. I am including everyone more and more in the activities we do if not there are more messes than I care to deal with and more crying than I can handle and a super frustrated mom! So I have changed and it is working...for now :) One activity we do for math on a regular basis is Mom's Shop. We do a lot with this and everyone is working on a different skill. For Gavin he is working on identifying the coins by hearing the name and pointing to it and matching the picture of the coin he needs to use to buy something. Annaliese is working on knowing the names of the coins and the values and Finn is working on using his words and manners. Tristan is working on adding and subtracting and substituting coins that have equal value! This makes everyone happy. I sometimes add special things to moms shop, but the way that we do it most of the time is for the kids to buy their 10am snack! They love having a choice and I love that they are learning. You can see we use a window and I sit on one side of the window and the kids on the other side and AMAZINGLY it turns into MOMS SHOP and the kids think it is so much fun and so do I!

Another thing we do is we use laminated letter cards for different games. One is a hopscotch type of game where they hop from letter to letter saying the sound or blending a word or saying the letter name. Finn just has fun! Gavin is learning letter names and basic identification. Annaliese is learning sounds and works on blending. They love this game. Then we take the same cards and the kids are timed and crawl on their knees to identify the answer to a question I will give them and touch the answer with a bat. An example of a question is what letter says ____ or touch the letter a ____ or spell the sounds ac etc.... Pictures will hopefully help give you a better idea of what I put into words.

The last thing that you will see a picture of that we recently did was learning the letter H. It was cool enough where we could all say the sound of h on the window and cause it fog up. Finn just fogged up the window and made it dirty. Gavin said the sound and fogged up the window and made it dirty. Annaliese said the letter the sound and wrote the letter on the fog and made the window dirty!

As you can see we are just trying to include everyone in some way and it makes every one happy, especially me!

And in the picture where Gavin and Finn are crawling through the window...sometimes we do make it window day. We don't use the door only the window...even me!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Boys will be Boys

Happy Birthday to Gavin. He turned 4 on October 8th. His two requests were that he wanted a sword and a yax. So we decided boys no matter what will turn whatever is around them into swords, guns etc... Sticks have been our boys preferred way of waging war on each other with stick fights etc... We have piles of sticks sitting outside each door of our house.
How we celebrate birthdays....We don't have parties with friends until the age of seven when we feel they can really appreciate and anticipate the fun. Then from the age of seven on we will have a birthday party with friends once every three years.
So how do we celebrate...
1. A couple nights before the birthday party we let the birthday child stay up late with us and talk about what would make for a special day.
Gavin requested...a star wars cake with star wars decorations, a sword, a yax, a movie, and pizza.
2. So we decorate the dining room of our house with streamers, balloons and of course the theme of the party Star Wars!
3. We make a birthday chair that is decorated much more than the others.
4. We eat off of the themed plates and drink out of the cups for at least a couple days (a good wipe down with a paper towel makes paper plates last quite a while).
5. We can't forget the oh so important birthday cereal. We don't each much cereal around here and if we do it is definitely not the fun sugary kind. So each birthday they get to pick out a big giant box of sugar cereal the night before their birthday. This is their birthday breakfast along with a breakfast favorite like homemade cinnamon rolls, pancakes, waffles or french toast. Normally every one chooses the cinnamon rolls...they are amazingly yummy, but take more time and effort than the other choices which means we have them at birthdays and Christmas and that is all.
6. The birthday kid gets to make the decisions for the day. All day what they want to do and eat.
7. We sing happy birthday in all different voices each person yells out a different theme and then we sing it example...the spooky way, the hillbilly way, the soft way, the squeaky way, the loud way. We come up with all kinds of crazy ways and we end up somewhere around twelve different ways that we have sung happy birthday to the birthday kid.
8. The birthday kid gets to pick out their own present within a budgeted amount of money. We take them to Toys R Us, Target, Walmart and sometimes the Dollar Store and wonder the stores looking at everything. This is their favorite thing to do.
9. Date Night: We will do it every birthday for each kid because we find this part to be the most important of all. We take the birthday kid on a date. Mom and dad and only the birthday kid. This could range from going to the park and packing a picnic when money is tight or what we like being able to do because we rarely do it is taking them somewhere special like the bowling alley, ice skating, jump zone etc... Gavin wants to go bowling and eat pizza. Branden will probably take him bowling to cut down on costs and then I will get a sitter so I can meet them for dinner and dessert. At dinner we always make a list of the things we hope to see them accomplish in the next year and they tell us the things they would like to accomplish. (teaching them goal setting skills) We review their previous years goals. Branden tracks all of it on his phone and/or ipad.

I think that is it minus the fact our kids with their theme like to dress up on the day of the birthday with the theme of their decorations. Birthdays are fun and birthdays are simple ways of giving thanks for the little person God has given us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moving...An Amazing Story

So we moved two weeks before Emmaline was born to an amazing house that we love! This house is truly a blessing. The story is so moving to me so I am going to share it. It starts out something like this...God is faithful...he is faithful in all things. He provides for us in so many ways every day. He provides for us more and more the more children we have. One month before Emmaline was born mothers day was celebrated and my mom came in town to be with us for the weekend. To say I love garage sales is an understatement. Nearly everything we own is from a garage sale! My motto "a coat of paint makes all things new". My mom watched the kids while Branden and I had an hour before a soccer game. We went to a few yard sales in neighborhoods we had been to and then we went to a garage sale I found on craigslist. We followed the directions to a neighborhood we had never been to before and turned in and loved it immediately. Older homes on big lots. We both commented on the lots and mature trees. Then we saw a house on the right with an amazing yard and a front porch and we both said wow that is an awesome house. We continued down the road to the yard sale. After the yard sale I said babe lets go dream. So we stopped at the house again (note: we were not house hunting nor did we need to we were in a lease that lasted for another 15 months and we never pick up fliers because it leaves my heart wanting)and there was a for sale sign and some fliers. We picked up a flier and it was definitely not in our league, but I said Lord I would love to live in a house like this some day. We took the flier home and put it on the fridge. Branden said it would give us something to work towards.
Two weeks go by and Branden begins working on the kitchen floor. He would exchange his work on projects in the house for compensation on our rent. So his latest project was ripping up the laminate kitchen floor and putting tile down. As he was ripping up the floor he found quite a bit of mold. I said YIKES and freaked out and we called a mold specialist. I knew we had obviously been living there with it, but I did not want to bring a new baby home to a bunch of mold spores. The mold man came and told us it was a certain type of mold that needed to be removed in a certain way and that we probably shouldn't stay there. So we house hopped to our wonderful friends homes while we waited for the mold to be removed. Much to our dismay our landlord lied to us and went behind our backs and removed the mold improperly etc...(there is a history here of a list of many things he had previously done to us to take advantage of us). So this was the icing on the cake and Branden said we will not bring a new baby into this house. Our landlord said I understand (him saying this in and of it itself is a miracle) and poof we were without a place to live. We did get our deposit back because our landlord broke the lease with his actions. So two weeks from baby and no place to call home. Branden was working on the floor on Sunday. Tuesday we broke the lease. Friday a friend from church called Branden and said he had someone he thought we should contact. Our friend had lunch with this man a month prior and when they were speaking the man mentioned he had a house for sale, but he was really considering taking it off the market because he wanted to help a young, big, Catholic family. He said he learned too late in life what was important and it was he and his wife job to help young families that are open to life. So Branden called this man John at lunch time on Friday. John said come on over I will meet you at the house in thirty minutes. Hey gave Branden the address and Branden came to pick me up. As we pulled into the neighborhood Branden and I were super excited because we recognized it from two weeks prior and we both said again wow we love this neighborhood. We continue down the street looking at the mailboxes for the address and we came upon THE HOUSE. The same exact house we had a flier for on our fridge. Okay if you don't know Franklin it is not a tiny city and I bet there are thousands of houses for sale in Franklin alone. So I started crying and Branden as well. We could not believe this was the house we were coming to look at. Both of us in the back of our minds thought we cannot afford this house be it a rental or purchase. We meet John in tears and explain the story and look at the house and fall more in love the more we see. He explained we are going to make it work and that is exactly what we did. John and his wife are being extremely generous to our family. We are so grateful to them and we love our new house. There are still boxes that have not been unpacked, but we are getting there. One thing I did do upon moving in and the month that followed was started coming up with systems and a better way to organize our stuff. I will post later some of the things I have done that are working for us with five kids and homeschooling two of them now. So in summary we Love our house it is more than we need and we are so grateful to God for his detailed love to our family.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sweet Emmaline....

So lots of life and lots of fun since my last post. We moved and had sweet Emmaline!
We are in love! Totally Smitten over her! All of us! It is amazing how a new little person comes into your life and you can't imagine life without them. She is talking and smiling all of the time. This girly loves her thumb. She loves to be around the action and is constantly being held or talked to by someone. I know some people think children may be deprived of attention when you have a handful of children, but I beg to differ I think Emmaline gets more attention than her previous siblings because there are more people to love her. Lately she loves to sit in the bumbo chair and hang out in the kitchen where I spend a good portion of my day and there is an insane amount of traffic coming in and out doing school work and playing. She is always entertained.