Friday, November 27, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday


A Google search I never anticipated making: "glow stick liquid in eye."

Thankfully, Mary was alright after the dibutyl phthalate was flushed from her eyes and we did not have to follow up with a call to The Poison Center. It was really creepy to see glowing droplets of liquid all over the floor, her shirt, and her face.


A sick baby + a desperate mama = a milestone!

Thomas caught the little cold we'd all had, which made him cranky and unable to sleep more than a few minutes out of arms. He's so big that I put him on my back in the Ergo for the first time and was able to cook dinner without leaving him to wail.

And now he'll probably take after his siblings and pretty much live on my back like a baby koala until he learns to walk around 10 months old. I reserve the right one minute to consider the Ergo the most convenient thing since sliced bread and the next to consider myself overly burdened by a baby on my body all the time.


Advent starts on Sunday November 29! See my favorite spiritual preparation worksheet for this "little Lent" here at Regina Prophetarum.

"A Beautiful Season: Busy Times Ahead" by Charlotte Siems--a good piece to remind us to maintain our home life routine, including the nightly read-alouds.

Advent ideas from my local friendly acquaintance (and mom of 13, I think), Christi: see here.


"5 Ways I Got Homeschooling on Track after Chronic Illness" by Molly Aranda--excellent advice for women in an out of debilitating pregnancy and newborn periods as well.


No matter how many children are watching television, they all insist on sitting in this one chair.


It took a week and a half to see great improvement in a particular child who would not pick up daily clothing off the floor. Mama doesn't even mind reminding nightly, "time to pick up clothing off our floors!" but Mama is done with a child who balks, fights, and outright refuses. I confiscated the small mountain of clothing that had built up on the carpet and informed said child that I needed to see five nights in a row of the child picking up clothing without reminder in order for the child to begin earning back the outfits. The first many nights, the child left the clothing out, so I went into the bedroom after children were sleeping and quietly confiscated those outfits also: my sack of clothing ultimately filled a plastic garbage sack. Finally the child noticed the paucity of outfits hanging in the closet and decided it was worth it to pick up clothing off the floor, and five days later earned back the clothing. Now I know what to do next time when this habit begins to slip again!


I think the dark fog of pregnancy/postpartum time is starting slowly to blow away on the breeze, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't been able to concentrate enough to read a book in seven months but now I'm eagerly in the middle of reading three: "Alignment Matters," "The Eternal Woman," and a new Bible study I'm doing.

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

We spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with Chris' parents, so we enjoyed a very festive and beautiful holiday instead of what would have been simple to the point of ordinary if we had stayed home with me in charge.

In preparation for what is now a rare road trip, I printed out many car games from two sites (here and here), plus we brought along books on CD. Games included Finding License Plates, Finding Brands of Cars, Car Bingo, and Battleship (old-fashioned, on paper!). (I want to give a 'shout out' to one of our audio books: "Squanto" by Focus on the Family--which we did not end up listening to on this drive, but have in the past and it is excellent and recommended by me.)

Joseph playing car bingo with Mama helping him

I was really pleased to see how much fun we had as a family conversing and playing games for the 3.5-hour drive turned 5 hours. My heart was touched during bedtime prayers when I asked Mary what was the most fun thing she did all day and, within a very fun day overall, she said playing Battleship on paper with her brother. Old-fashioned paper and human interaction won over the fancy online game with glorious computer graphics which I dislike so much!

My mother-in-law puts on such a beautiful Thanksgiving with a spread of traditional food.

She even made table decoration turkeys out of pine cones, felt, and google eyes! Go Grandmom with a hot glue gun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hornets Game Daddy-Daughter Date

Due to our neighbor's Thanksgiving travel plans, we were blessed to be given his season tickets to Wednesday's Hornets game. Through the complex calculations that are parenthood (who went anywhere where last, who went last year, who has what emotions right now, who has behaved good/bad, who can stay home with Mama, etc.), Mary was selected as the companion to go with Daddy.

They went on a very special Daddy-Daughter date going to dinner at a restaurant, then out to gelato, followed by taking an Uber car to the front door of the stadium to avoid walking any dark, downtown streets. I hope these special occasions with Daddy teach our daughters how ladies should be treated by gentleman, so that when they are teenagers and adults, they will feel repelled by boys who treat them shoddily.

Speaking of young ladies who might not yet be married--and I know I have some among my regular blog readers--I thought tonight of the kind of sign to look for to find a good husband. In the morning, my husband went to the store for me to buy some last-minute items we had run out of: coffee and cold cereal. Then he worked his full day and took our daughter on a date late into the night.

And even after all that, he went to the grocery store because I had discovered that we were out of half-and-half which I would want for my coffee the subsequent morning . . .

. . . even though he was tired

. . . even though he could have told me he'd already gone on a special grocery trip for me that very morning

. . . even though I am the only one who adorns her coffee instead of drinking it black

. . . even though we're going out of town so this half-and-half is for one morning's coffee

. . . even though he could have told me to wait till we hit the road around 10:00 for my first cup of coffee-with-cream, which we could get at a drive-through fast food joint.

Even though!

Mary added the note labeling my half-and-half

Young, unmarried ladies: drama and over-the-top romance will get a couple only so far. Steadfast devotion to the sacrament of marriage (more than to the spouse) and a commitment to make oneself a better Christian (versus trying to change the other person) are some signs that I personally think teenage girls should start looking for in young men. If any of my readers didn't read it when I posted it the first time, may I direct you to "The Real Truth About 'Boring' Men--and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring" by Ann Voskamp?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dentist with Five

On Wednesday I took all the children to the dentist for cleanings. I realized on the way--and I wasn't anxious outright but was prepared--that I've been mindful to avoid taking all five in public by myself unless absolutely necessary. This isn't out of fear but out of increasing wisdom because when Mama loses her peace, the home becomes a maelstrom.

We took our books, and talked in the car about how we would be reading instead of watching television. The staff at this office are so good: I had already gone back to the exam area with the two youngest when a staff member approached me: she had been ready to turn on the television in the waiting room but had heard me tell my children to read instead of watching. I said thank you, but I understood if there were other patients waiting who wanted the TV. The staff member replied that my children were the only ones there, so I told her that indeed I would appreciate her leaving the television off and she said that was fine. Great service!

Margaret (4) began reading her story to Joseph! Really reading it!

Joseph was so eager at 2-1/2 to join his siblings for a teeth cleaning that the dentist encouraged us to make him an official appointment next time. This was 'next time' and Joseph at the cusp of three was not anywhere as excited about a cleaning. Basically he clammed up.

The hygienist and dentist were so gentle and kind with Joseph, having him climb in the chair with his big brother. Ultimately, he got half a cleaning and no exam, so the dentist didn't charge me. Great service again!

I relied heavily on my helpers, Margaret and Mary, to hold Thomas while I helped with frightened Joseph.

On my way out, the children were waiting for me in the waiting room while I scheduled our next cleanings. I walked into the room where a woman (who apparently thought I had three children) asked, "Are all these children yours?"

I replied, "Well, I have another one somewhere, but I don't see him here. John? Where are you?"

That's when I turned and she saw for the first time the baby on my chest. She gasped, realizing I had not three or four, but five children: "What? You have five children? I had two and it just about killed me."

For the first time, I was able to express this sentiment with true sincerity--a sentiment I've read in various writings--when I whispered to her (so my children wouldn't here): "I've come to think that no matter how many children we have, it just about kills us."

She smiled big and said, "I'm just so, so proud of you!"  It was precious, just like she was my grandmother.

The good thing about just about dying but not quite is that, one hopes, one continues to die to self and unite one's suffering with Christ's because nowhere can we be nearer to him than when we are suffering for the glory of God. We are not closer to Jesus when our homes stay orderly, our waistlines thin, our meals gourmet, and our minds at quiet peace because of the lack of interruptions in our lives.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thomas at 4 Months

Thomas is four months old and today we went for his well-baby check, where I found out his latest stats:

weight: 18 lbs 1 oz (91st percentile)
height: 26.25 in. (89th percentile)
head circumference: 16.5 in. (55th percentile)

In other words, he's a bruiser!

Our first four babies all weighed 15 pounds and change at four months, so Thomas is significantly bigger.

Look at them rolls!

Thomas can sit tripod style for four seconds and can roll front to back but not the more difficult back to front.

Friday, November 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday


You can't see in this short video clip, but baby Thomas was fussing (before I began filming) until Mary began playing the piano, at which point he stopped abruptly.


She often "soothes the savage beast" with music by holding Thomas in her lap and playing.


This week I had the unusual occasion to buy ginger root for a recipe I was making. (Right? I actually made a recipe, not a frozen something!) Someone who remains unidentified absconded with the strange-looking thing and it was found by Daddy on the floor of the girls' bedroom. He returned it to the kitchen with a bit of eyelet pinned round it to make a dress since the root looked like a baby doll, and the girls happily named it Ginger.

Unfortunately, Ginger met her demise when I grated her into a marinade for teriyaki chicken.


I am always interested in helpful Book Lists (and readers might like to check out my books label or my Worthwhile Reading page).

I came upon an interesting blog post--"How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers"--within an overall interesting website chock full of book lists and reviews created by a woman long immersed in children's literature. Tanya Turek is not writing from a Christian or Catholic perspective, so I'm sure there are books she recommends that a religious parent would avoid, but, by employing some parental discretion, this website should be very useful!

Finding age-appropriate reading material for advanced readers can become a part-time job for a homeschooling parent (or any parent, I suppose)! One can have a goal of previewing (reading ahead) all unfamiliar books before they are given to a child, but when one has a growing number of readers in the home (now three over here) and less and less free time, any shortcuts one can take with previewing are a help.


After I had our fifth baby, following about a month on bed rest, a very challenging labor, and a lengthy postpartum recovery time in which Chris still took care of much around the house for another six weeks or so, I wanted to write an article. And it would be a raw article. I never did write that article and, lo and behold, Ann Voskamp wrote it better than I ever could.

I present you this gem and advise you to have Kleenex on hand:

"The Real Truth About 'Boring' Men--and the Women who Live with Them: Redefining Boring" by Ann Voskamp


Photographic proof that the big siblings really do love Margaret, no matter how they act sometimes . . . we went on a two-mile walk, which fatigued Margaret greatly so John and Mary volunteered to give her a piggy back, which they did for most of the one-mile way back.


Speaking of Margaret, she now joins her siblings in being able to swing from the rope swing like Tarzan in the jungle. She loves it!



For your reading pleasure, may I direct you to Simcha Fisher's resumed blog series, "What's for Supper?" I read this weekly and it usually has me laughing with tears streaming down my face, as it did this past week (read here).

What's for supper around our household isn't nearly as delicious or funny. But the word 'frozen' is used only three times in this week's meal plan instead of up to seven, so that is a really big improvement.

Saturday--I had cooked a meal for another family who just had a baby, so doubled the meal for us.
Corn bread
Pasta-veggie salad


Monday--We went to a house blessing and potluck, to which I contributed . . . 
Sweet potato casserole
Mac and cheese

Chicken teriyaki (new recipe, enjoyed by two, eschewed by three, with the vegetarian mama abstaining)

Wednesday--I cooked a meal for another family who just had a baby, so doubled the meal for us.
Slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs (using store-bought frozen meatballs)
Pumpkin pie (because John asked me to make this so he could decide if he likes it before Thanksgiving)

Thursday--With music lessons and a visit to my personal trainer, something easy was in order.
Frozen pizza

Frozen eggplant Parmesan
Over spaghetti with marinara

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday over at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Good School Week

Since having Thomas almost four months ago, having a Good School Week is newsworthy. Envision old fashioned news boys shouting from the streets, "It was actually a good school week in the Lauer household!"

This week, I moved the school room back to the Bonus Room! Yes, I did it, despite the handsome nature of our downstairs school room and the generosity of Chris giving up his downstairs office for me. I had tried out the system for a couple of months and there were pros and cons (which I won't write out due to great length), but I decided there were enough cons that I wanted to try being upstairs again. Such a short summary for all the agonizing details to which I subjected Chris' ears as I tried to make this decision!

Below is a short tour of our new-old school room. You can see that I divided the room in half, with the "play room" and the "school room" separate. For now it is separated simply by little bookshelves and a long baby gate, but my Vision and Dream is to have bookshelves built as a dividing wall with a (locking!) door in the middle. This will both provide separation-with-supervision and give me much-needed bookshelf space for school supplies. In the meanwhile, before we get estimates, set aside money, and commission such a project, I thought it prudent to try out my new plan for a couple of months to see how it feels.


This vision is following the advice of quite a few mothers who have said that many of my morning troubles will disappear if I keep all my children under my supervision: we are still in the 'young years,' as they say. I felt it was not possible to have all these little (BIG) voices in one room during school time, but I think I may just have to 'pick my poison.' It has been very problematic to try to school the two olders while the 4- and 2-year-olds run wild through the house, causing havoc and having tiffs because they're unsupervised. That may seem obvious, but it also seems obvious that it is very problematic to have 4- and 2-year-olds being their noisy selves in a classroom with older children--so what is a Mama to do?

I spent this first week trying to teach that we're all going to be together during the school morning and we're going to use Quiet Voices. I have to model this with the quiet, modulated voice of a librarian. I have been surprised at how well this has gone, considering that I thought it would be disastrous. For the first couple of hours, the children all do really well at this. The third hour is a bit difficult, but we're working on it and it's been only a week.

I re-introduced a tiny snack break in the morning to get us a chance of scenery (down to the kitchen, where I have resumed reading aloud History) and stretch our legs. The 4- and 2-year-olds seem to be thriving and happy under my much closer attention.

One day we paused mid-morning to take a family "bike walk," which served as my exercise for the day (such as it was) and got the children's wiggles out, and then we did more schoolwork till lunch, instead of our typical recess from 11:30-12:00. That was a good day!

Thomas' first time in a regular stroller (not an infant bucket seat),
which he actually fits into already because of his mongo size.

The day we took a rain walk for morning break was also great fun!

Glimpses of school life . . .

Homeschooling at its best: Joseph on my lap playing with school money, while I teach a math lesson on counting change to John and Mary is in the background reading her literature assignment (Andrew Lang fairy tale).

Teaching Margaret her reading lesson, both of us on the floor, with Joseph sitting by me cutting up paper with scissors (fine motor skills!), and in the background John and Mary doing independent lessons

Even a little girl with a cold and a low fever can cozy up on the couch
with her independent reading subjects.

Snack time is a lot better now that I have enough older kids that they make their own snacks while I hold the baby and oversee.

Breaking for snack time: Mary peeling apples for us while perched precariously

The 4-year-old is all about doing it herself.
When someone isn't being mean, someone is being sweet! Mary wrote Joseph a Certificate of Excellence for Being Cute.

He is cute!
Joseph (close to 3) is the boy who asked me this week when we were walking the Greenway, "Mama, what does 'ominous' mean?"

Mama, who heard his perfect pronunciation, but did a double-take: "What does what mean?"


"Well, ominous means foreboding, that something really bad is going to happen."

"Like what bad thing?"

And then we talked about bad things that could happen that would seem ominous to a preschooler. I love homeschooling.

We got so many of our daily goals accomplished, probably our best week since having the baby!
One reason homeschooling seems to be getting better is that the baby's sleep is starting to fall into a nice morning pattern. He wakes between 6:00 and 7:00, which means he's ready for first nap between 8:00 and 9:00. I am trying to push him toward 9:00 because on those days I can get through serving breakfast and get the baby asleep right in time to start school. Then he naps for about two glorious hours, waking up (or I wake him up) just in time for us to take a walk outdoors. He stays awake while we finish school and eat lunch and lately I've even been able to time his going back down for second nap close to Joseph's afternoon nap. Get the older kids in Quiet Time and the two littles sound asleep, and I might actually find an overlap of a few minutes 'when not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse'! And that, my friends, is balm to this Mama's soul.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Mural at Our Parish

On Wednesday  night, the year-long planned wall mural was revealed at our parish.

Chris took the older three children to the grand unveiling in the evening and came home agog. Seeing it on a computer screen during the fundraising period gave us such a small glimpse of the true beauty of the real thing.

Our priest has flown out to the artist working in the Midwest many times during the last year to oversee this grand work of art. Father said he made many corrections, examined every face, every arch of eyebrow, every hand, every item of clothing for as much authenticity and beauty as he could.

Please head over to our parish website or to the Catholic News Herald on Facebook to see the photos! Our tiny parish--and, believe me, not the most wealthy--is probably the most beautiful Catholic parish in our whole diocese!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We Are Godparents Again!

Congratulations to our friends the D----s on the birth of their sixth child! Congratulations to Charles Michael on entering the Church!

(And thanks to my friend P----- who held my own almost-4-month-old during the whole ceremony, even when he spat up profusely and I'd forgotten to bring a spit-up cloth.)

Six days old and quietly alert the whole time!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fall Soccer Ends

Today was John's final soccer game of the fall season and the first game I was able to attend.

Praying before the game, a YMCA tradition

The players all giving each other high-fives after the game

Staying warm in 40-degree weather

Staying warm in 40-degree weather

Post-game snack

Every child received a trophy after the final game. While, as a mature adult, I think this generation's practice of rewarding all participation is nonsense, as a mother, it warmed my heart to see John's excitement. Coach H. did a wonderful job of calling up each child by name and praising them for something very specific that child learned this season--for one child, learning to kick with his left foot, for another child, learning how to defend his position, for another child, always having a smile on his face.

John receiving a trophy