Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Playday in the park

Today was a GORGEOUS spring day.  I just love the spring weather.   I took the kids to Clemyjontry Park to play on the fully handicapped accessible playground.  I went with my friend Mary (@ Passionate Perseverance) and her daughter Courtney. Courtney was a little sleepy today, but the vitamin D was good for her anyway.  (She has a Vitamin D Deficiency).  Mary and I traded seeds for our gardens.  We are going to be doing square foot gardens this year.  I'll let you know how that works.  I have been very busy planning the garden and getting things ready to plant.  This is my first year using the square foot gardening method.  My sister has used it with a lot of success.  I am looking forward to learning a little more about gardening.  Hopefully I will have LOTS of pictures to share.  I have a lot of experience with flowers and bushes, but not so much with edible plants.  Unless you count the pumpkins I get for free every year by throwing all the pumpkin guts into the garden in the fall after carving them for Halloween.  I would say that pumpkins are SUPER easy to grow, as long as you don't care how many you get!
                   At the park my kids ran, and climbed on EVERYTHING.  You would think that they would be tired, but they came home and played on the new trampoline for hours.  We did manage to sneak in  a little homeschooling via religion class.  The only important class of the week!   I use a Catholic teacher planner from Creative Communications.  It lists the Saints of the day and Holy Days as well as contains the readings for next Sunday.   It also has a word of the week that is contained within the gospel reading. We spend the week pre-reading the scriptures that will be read on Sunday.  It has helped the children to listen and gain a better understanding of what is going on in Mass.  It also has helped them listen with more interest to the homily. I have been very pleased with the information contained in this planner.   It has helped me to stay on track this year.  Something I always need help with!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jumping in the Backyard

For the kid's birthday, we got them a joint gift of a trampoline.  I got  a good deal on a 12' one from Sears.   From everyone I know who has gotten one, it is a pain to set up because the directions are always difficult. I agree with that! But the reward is a toy that kids of all ages and abilities can play on at the same time.  Not to mention the exercise and "tire them out" factors.  The kids had a blast on their first day jumping.  Here are a few pictures from the HOURS that they spent outside playing.
Here are all the kids at once.  (For the safety folks: Yes, together the do not exceed the weight limit!)  Then a few individual photos.


I will say that it appears to be money well spent!

Advice for putting together your own trampoline:
My bit of advice to the makers of trampolines is to color code 4 of the spring hooks.  That way you could actually follow the part of the directions that says to hook the 1st spring, then hook the other spring that will go directly opposite it.  This would be easy to do if there were not 50+ springs and you only thought is "if I mis-hook this, then I will have to redo the entire thing!"  So here is my solution to following the directions.  I started off hooking the springs every other one, then every 3rd, then every 4th, then every 5th one until I was completely around.  Then I went around and filled in the "missing springs."  My kit cam with a hooking device  for the springs that was VERY helpful.  Apparently not all trampoline kits come with this.  If yours does not come with this tool then look for some tool that you might have with an "L" shape (Like a large allen wrench).  It allowed me to pull the tension of the spring without worrying about pinching my fingers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Keener

Happy 3rd Birthday Sweetheart!
My last birthday of the month.  It is little Miss Keener's 3rd birthday today.  She is such a pistol!  Makes me laugh all the time with her expressions and sauciness.    She is such an opinionated girl.  I am so glad that my little girl was born 3 years ago today.  What a wonderful day.  We did not find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so it was a perfect surprise to have another little girl.  I love you so much crazy girl,  I hope you have a wonderful day.  I hope you never loose your spunk!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Every year we get together with Honey's family on Palm Sunday.  It is an ingenious solution to the "Whose house are we  going to be at this year?" question that comes up in EVERY family when holidays are mentioned.  The kids love seeing their grandparents and cousins and I definitely enjoy having a meal that I don't have to prepare or clean up after.
   After that party we went to visit with my sister and dye Easter eggs.  It is always so much fun to watch the kids dye eggs.  I got smart and took off most of Keener's clothes.  She did a nice job of sharing the colors with Rolo.
           Elizabeth, unca, and Driscoll are dyeing their eggs.  The girls took a long time, but I think their results were quite nice.  (Not that I remembered to take a picture of them!)

I tried so hard to take a picture of Christopher, but he kept changing his expressions every few seconds and I couldn't get any with a normal grin.  I guess he was just my goof of the day.

Here is a picture of my wild man nephew!  Don't know what he is trying to do. Pray?

Rolo and Honey after dyeing their eggs.

What a busy day.  It is time to rest!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alter Boy.

Today Christopher served as alter server for the first time at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  Wow!  Isn't that a mouthful!  We went on a tour there today with our good friend Father H and our homeschool group.  He gave mass in the BEAUTIFUL chapel and Christopher was one of the boys to get to participate.  He was so excited!  The nice thing about Father H. is that he wants to seize the joy of being a server and allow boys to participate whenever they are ready.  He figures that if they have the desire to serve God, then allow them to participate.  He does not mind the little mistakes and tries to encourage them on their way to serving God.  Some priests are really bothered by the little mistakes, but not Father H.  He just corrects them with a gentle word.   I was very proud of my little alter server.  He did a great job.  Father H also had me do the reading for the mass.  Oh boy was I a nervous wreck!  Oh well, God knows I tried my best.
    So after our wonderful day at the Basilica, I came home to have dinner prepared for me by Keener's godmother.  She brought dinner and cake to celebrate Keener's 3rd birthday (Next monday).  Oh how yummy and what great conversation! Once she gets her pictures on her blog, I'll put a link up so you can see the food.  Kebabs with scallops, shrimp, swordfish, chicken, tomatoes onions, and peppers; and a Kenwah salad.   I am so glad to have friends like these.   She is a great comfort and help when I am not feeling my full 100%.
   I'll leave for now, baby has decided to kick for a while, and I want to enjoy it.  It is always a comfort to know that baby is doing well and has the energy to move around.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chuck E Cheese

We took Rolo and Keener to Chuck E. Cheese for their birthday party today.  The party was after Rolo got out of his preschool, so most of his preschool class was able to come. I have to say that I HATE that place, but the children love it, so I force myself to be nice and take them once or twice a year.  I have learned the secret to going though and I will pass them along in a set of 5 rules.
Rule #1 NEVER  go when it is a school holiday.  In the middle of the summer is fine, but then you must follow rule #2.
Rule #2 Go Early in the morning or between 2-4 on a non rainy weekday
Rule # 3 Never go when it is raining.
Rule #4 Never go on a weekend, except for rule #5
Rule #5 The best time to go is early Sunday morning.  I know, what about church?  But that is WHY it is the best time to go.  This is when it is nice to go to Saturday Mass or got to an early church service.
By the way, the place was empty and CLEAN today.
The best part about going today is that I said "no more parties there. They are too expensive.", so now I get to avoid that place forever.  Honey can take them once or twice a year, but I get to stay at home and be content with silence.

So it goes.

For several days, I have been feeling contractions, some  bigger than others.  So I decided to go get it checked out.  I had early contractions with Elizabeth for 12 weeks before she was born, yet she was born on her due date.  So on one hand I was not worried, but on the other hand, I think it is better to be a little cautious.  So joy of joys, I now am on "limited activity" or "modified bed-rest".   It is hard to get me to slow down, but this little one is doing a good job of making me.  I am not "progressing" according to the doctor, so the contractions are not doing any harm.  Thank the good Lord!  My biggest worry is that I tolerate the pain of labor quite well and have quick labors, so I am concerned that I will go into labor and have little time (if any) to stop it or get the baby some steroids for his or her little immature lungs.

  I believe very strongly in the power of prayer and the power of mind over body.  So as I will my body to get this baby to a safe age to be born, please say a few prayers for the little one who still needs to grow.  I figure that 5 weeks is a minimum for any viability, 8 weeks is much better (I'd be about 28 weeks).  The chance of survival goes from 25% to 75% in the matter of 3 weeks.  I always find that so amazing.  Of course better still would be me getting all the way to 40 weeks, but I take it one day at a time.  What else can you do?

Monday, March 22, 2010

#5 Ultrasound

I went to have my 20 week Ultrasound today.  Here are pictures from Baby # 5.   I did not know that I was going to be having a 3-D Ultrasound, but I was glad to get to see the little sweet face.  What a great joy a little bit of technology can bring.  Baby's face is a little blurred at the chin because the placenta is in front.  This also explained why I have not been feeling a lot of the kicks.

 Baby was not cooperative, so we saw a lot more of Baby's behind than baby's face.  Oh!  I know I will have a fun one to deal with!   Here is a "moon" shot for all of us.  Made me laugh!

Here is the traditional side shot of the baby's head chest and arms.

A Picture of the baby's foot.  You can see the tip of the other foot also.

Picture of Baby's face with hand in front.  Baby was being very shy, but moving all around.  It took a long time just to see the heart and all the chambers.  Everything looked perfect.  Yeah, that is a relief.
At the end of all the tests, the baby is doing well and is growing big and on target.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3 down 1 to go

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  It is also Rolo's Birthday.  Happy 6th Birthday Rolo!  Amazing!  My little sweet boy is 6.  I remember that it was overcast and it snowed on the day he was born. He was my back labor baby.  I wish that on no one.  Not that it is particularly more painful; different but like all labor it is more mind over matter than anything else.  The problem was that  the contractions did not register on the machines, so the nurses did not believe that I was progressing that quickly.  Boy were they wrong!  He was my fastest baby. 1 hour 50 minutes.  For the second time, the doctor came running into the delivery room.  I am starting to wonder if I really need them at all, if they barely bother to show up!  Luckily my sweet baby was born and has brought me a great amount of joy.  He is my snuggle bunny.  I love to cuddle with him.  He is happy to stay cuddled for hours.  Rolo also has a tremendous amount of patience and self reliance and has a great ability to play nicely with others. Yet, he has always been content to play by himself building things.  He was born to be an engineer or an architect. (Only if he wants to be!)  He is constantly building.   I enjoy watching him grow up and seeing all that he learns.  Oh, baby boy I love you very much!  I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2nd One & still going strong.

It is Christopher's 8th birthday today.  Wow!  Is my little boy really 8?  It seems like time barely moves on, but yet here I am celebrating 8 years of being his mother.  He is truly a wonderful and energetic boy.  I remember thinking, where did this baby come from?  Elizabeth was so calm and such a GREAT sleeper, that I was taken for quite a shock with him.  He was a fast delivery  (2 hours 5 minutes, literally the doctor ran into the room at the last minute)  and he hasn't stopped running yet.  He is also VERY consistent about waking up.  It is a rare day that he does not wake up at 7:00 am.   Energetic does not begin to describe him, but I do love watching him play.  He is always so busy.  It can be tiring, but there is such a pure joy of life, that it is hard to not just be happy and enjoy life too.  So Happy Birthday dear sweet boy.  Don't grow up too quick, your mama still wants to cuddle a little while longer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Do you ever wonder?

                  Do you ever wonder how you get sucked into that movie that you "swore" you'd never watch?  I got sucked into the Discover channel's movie "The Flight that fought back."  I try to avoid all the September 11th things.  It just hurts to much to watch.  I believe I am like many people who lost a friend that day.  Unfortunately with 9-11 stuff, it always comes unexpectedly and I never seem prepared for the wave of emotions.  I lost my friend's Rahma Salie.  Both Rahma and her husband Mikey Thodoridis and their unborn child were on American Airlines Flight #11 from Boston.  It was the first flight to hit the towers.  That is one thing that slightly consoles me.  Before 9-11, we were so conditioned to just "play along" with terrorist and let their demands be met, that I don't think that she could have fully known what was going to happen.  I am grateful that Mikey was with her so that she was not alone, but saddened that they both had to die.
      This was the first time I had re-seen the most of the footage that we watched on that horrible day.  It was hard to not watch.  It is just as horrible the second time as the first, except that when I watched the towers swaying the first time, I kept thinking that the people inside them must have had more than enough time to evacuate and that there would not be that many people who died.  Boy was I wrong.   I remember thinking at first that with one plane, it must be a tragic accident, with two planes something must be wrong with our flight communications system, but I became increasingly aware that this was not normal and something was seriously wrong.  By the time I heard the early reports about the Pentagon, I knew something was seriously wrong.
     I am sure everyone remembers how they heard the news.  I got a phone call from my friend Alicia who was late for a play date for our daughters.  She told me to turn on the TV.  The fact that it was Alicia always gets me saddened again, because not quite two years later her husband Peter died in a Navy training operation.  It is odd how the memories of two lost friends are just jumbled together.
        Anyway, I watched the movie and was crying the entire time.  The tragedy of the day and the lingering affects are just devastating.   I have not been able to bring myself to go to New York City, but I know one day I will.  I just have to be ready.  Here it is 8 1/2 years later and I am still not ready.  I am not ready to fully say goodbye.   As for the movie, I have my doubts as to whether the flight was shot down vs crashed by the terrorists while under attack.  I am sure that the American spirit must have provoked the passengers to fight back.  Americans are too fiercely independent to not start fighting back, but I also know for certain our government would NEVER release information about the military shooting down a civilian passenger plane.  It is much easier to have a plane full of heros than soldiers who were responsible for the deaths of American civilians.  I don't think it matters anyway, their tragic deaths were the responsibility of terrorists, no matter why the plane actually crashed.  
      So for Rahma, Mikey and your baby, I hope that you are safe with God, while the rest of us continue our journey here on earth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another year older

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!  My dear Elizabeth is 11.  Wow, time sure does fly by!  I was thinking about the Sunday morning that I became a mother and she changed my life forever.  What a wonderful day!  It is hard to imagine that my sweet baby is almost all grown up.  Every year that she gets older, I wish she was younger.  I keep thinking that I am one day closer to not getting to spend every day with her.  Soon it will be  time for her to leave the nest.  I know I will never be ready for that, but time goes on and we must let them go no matter how hard it is.
In the meantime, back in the real world and out of my mopey dreams, we had a busy day.   I think Elizabeth had a lot of fun  which is all that really matters.  One of her friends and her cousin spent the night last night, then we went to church, had lunch and cake with her friends at home, then drove to a local indoor pool (Cub Run Rec Center) with water slides.   All the kids had fun.  The bonus was that the admission was less than expected, They charged us a family rate.  Yeah! How often does that happen that you save money unexpectedly? Normally it is the other way around.  
       My only word of caution is that I think the pool was not originally designed very well.  They have slides and play features for little kids (2-4 year olds) and two big slides for bigger kids (48"+).  There are no medium slides.  This makes it hard to take a 5-8 year old if they are short or scared of the really big slides.  Otherwise, the facility is nice and clean and easy to get to.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Homeschool Hurdles

I have been having trouble staying on target with school lately because I am so tired.   In the meantime, I gave the children their assessments for the homeschool program we will be using next year (St. Thomas Aquinas Academy). With Honey being gone last year, Elizabeth having a big learning disability, Rolo starting school "officially"next year and a new baby on the way, I knew I needed a little bit of help planning for next year.  I am a little behind in some subjects and have been desperately trying to catch up.  In my defense, most of the backup comes from Elizabeth from where her public school failed her.  And yes that is as nice as I can be.  She was over 2 years behind in handwriting, spelling, grammar,  and math, when we withdrew her from the public school.  I hate to think of what might have happened, if Honey and I had never intervened. It has been very difficult to play catch-up when I don't know where all the holes in her knowledge are located.  I am hopeful that St. Thomas Aquinas Academy can help me position Elizabeth with better resources to fit her specific needs.  Since I had to test the children individually over several days; we needed a "light" school project to fill in the week, in order to not loose all that learning time.  I happened to see an ad for the Planet Earth* documentary series on Animal Planet.  That seemed perfect, and thanks to TIVO-the best $5/month I ever spend on TV- we have been able to watch all 11 shows over the course of the last 3 weeks.  We watch a 1 hour episode, then write about and discuss the show.  It is nice to have one item that can cover science, geography, handwriting, writing, spelling and grammar all in one shebang!  I know that all the year can not be made up of movies, but it certainly has helped me get over this bump without leaving the kids behind.   I am even noticing a big advancement in Christopher's writing.  He is starting to understand how to pull related information together to form one thought.  Getting him to focus just a little bit is a big achievement.  He is so much like his mama; rush ahead, learn the hard way, retreat, retry.  It is hard to teach him a little bit of focus, when I lack that skill myself!

* Personally I think the series, "Earth, the Biography" is better narrated and more interesting.  Planet Earth is still worth seeing, but should really be titled "Earth Animals" or "Planet Earth-Animals".  It is more devoted to animals and the environments in which they live, than to the earth itself.  Also, there were many times when a map would have been a very useful addition.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Better to call a plumber

I wish we would learn to just call a plumber.  Instead, Honey and I spent 3 hours tonight taking apart the toilet to find the Mardi Gras necklace medallion that was causing the clog (and multiple daily bathroom floods).  Some days I just look at these messes and say "Is this really my life?!"  This 3 inch clover shaped medallion* was a real pain in the neck (and back and knees...).   The problem is that Honey and I had been able to deduce that something must be stuck only in the toilet since we were not having trouble with the drains in the tub or sink.  I knew how to change the toilet wax ring, so I thought it would be pretty simple, no need to call a plumber.  That would be silly!  All we had to do was  turn over the toilet and find the clog.  How hard could that be?
Here's my time estimate: Turn off water to tank and unhook the water hose (2 minutes), drain the water (1 minute), unbolt the toilet and turn over (5 minutes), scrape the old wax ring off** (5 minutes), remove the object (30 seconds-NOT!), clean up before reinstalling toilet (5 minutes) and reinstall the toilet (2 minutes).  My estimate was spot on for everything except finding and removing the clog, so it took us 20 minutes to do everything but find the medallion.  That's 2.5 hours to get the medallion out!!!  We did not know ahead of time what we were looking for, but the toilet drain line is not that long, how hard will it be to find the toy?  Answer: VERY HARD!  Not to mention that it was hard to reach or pull out.

I wonder why I don't learn from my mistakes and just call my very nice plumber first.

*  The medallion clover shape lent it to be very capable of rotating and causing a clog, but also spin open so the toilet would drain.  Annoying, annoying, annoying!
** It is always easier to pay $5.00 and replace the wax ring for the toilet than to find a leak from the seal 2 days later., and have to remove the toilet again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baby of Mine

I went to my 17 week checkup yesterday.  Everything is going fine with our new baby.  My morning sickness is passing, but the extreme fatigue has not.  I need naps daily, but get them about twice a week.  I have again (third time's the charm!) gotten gestational diabetes.  I am hopeful that I  can manage it with diet and exercise. The baby seems to be doing well and as usual for OB check-ups I got to listen to the heartbeat.  I love listening to the heartbeat.  It is very comforting just to listen to that sweet little beat.
 I am very much looking forward to my next appointment. It will be for the ultrasound.  I just love seeing our new child and having a picture of him or her.  We still have not decided if we will find out the sex of the baby or "be surprised" when he or she is born.  Keener was the only child that we did not find out what her sex was ahead of time.  It was very exciting to wait and learn when she was born. So I am leaning towards a secret.  Secrets are such fun.

Independent living

Honey told me last night that several people had complimented our children lately.  "They are so independent", he was told.  I was happy to hear this.  It is not always easy to see the big picture when you are dealing with the day to day raising of the children.  I am very proud of this compliment.  I tell the children that my job is to make them capable of handling their own lives by the time they are 18 (or leave home).  I do not expect perfection, but they should be able to make a decent meal for themselves every day for a week, drive a car safely, choose right and wrong, know how to find a plumber or a how to book on plumbing, among other things like balancing a checkbook, doing their laundry and doing their taxes.  My wish is that they will be useful citizens of this country, compassionate members of their community and loving people.  This can be achieved if they are taught to be independent.
   My mother taught me how to be independent and it is probably the best thing that I could teach my children.  They need to learn that Mommy and Daddy will not always be there to help them.  My mother never did my taxes for me.  When I was 16 and had a job, she got me the 1040 EZ form and said, "Get to work."  My job, my money earned, and now it was my responsibility.  So I sat down and figured it out. Several years later, I worked for a tax accountant during tax season and I was amazed at the number of people who PAID FOR their child's taxes to be done by an accountant.  What lesson was this teaching the child?  Not to mention the cost.  Not many teenagers need more than a 1040 EZ form, so why pay $75+ for a form the child could fill out for free in 1 hour?
  Another more memorable way that my mother taught me a life lesson, happened when I went on spring break my senior year of high school.  My friends, sister and I went to New Orleans.  We were going to visit with my older cousin and stay with him for two days.  My mother gave me a turkey to cook for him.  Yes, a WHOLE Turkey!  I looked at my mother like she had lost her mind, but took it with me anyway.  I had never cooked a whole turkey before.  My cousin said, "Uh, most mom's would have given you a package of turkey lunch meat or $20."  He was right, but what lesson would I have learned?  She taught me to bring something with me when I am a guest.  She also taught me how simple it is to cook a turkey.  So I successfully cooked that turkey for my cousin and have never had a fear of cooking one.  It is also a great story about how crazy my mother is.  I do love her very much, but seriously a turkey?!

Crazy Woman!

I went out to the grocery store tonight to get eggs and bread for tomorrow.  I realized as I was walking across the parking lot that I was STILL WEARING MY SLIPPERS!   Who am I? I was not about to turn around and go back home, but I felt like such a crazy old lady!  I realized I must be turning into my mother who would wear her slippers everywhere.  I guess it takes one to know one.  Here's to you mom,  you have now turned me into a crazy woman.