Friday, November 16, 2018

{SQT} Mary's Birthday Edition

1. Mary's Birthday Festivities

Click here to read about our girl turning ten!

2. Soccer Playoffs

John's soccer team made it to the penultimate game in the playoffs! We were so pleased for him to have an excellent, tough, inspiring coach this season.

Sitting on a stepladder because we don't have enough lawn chairs

The littlest fans

The team went out to lunch afterward.

3. Homeschooling

Reading a Bible story to the three little boys

I caught a virus and lost my voice one day this week, so the girls took over reading aloud our history that day.

I re-organized the Bonus Room yet again by putting all three work tables on the school side of the room (and in a U shape), and moving the couch to the play side (creating a nice reading area next to the chair).

4. Physical Education

I'm going to give a quick, positive report about Family Time Fitness.

My homeschooled children lack some basic playground exercises, movements, and games that are a foundation to core strength and later to playing sports proper. Indeed, my kids have spent all these years playing exuberantly outdoors--lots of dashing about, climbing trees, and hopping on bikes--but I have now started to see that this really does not cover all the bases.

My children thrived at the YMCA Homeschool P.E. classes a couple of years ago, but they are timed from noon to two, which means two of my tots miss their nap and it chops our school day in half, which we cannot afford to lose.

We can do sports sometimes, but that is expensive, a major drain on family time, and usually benefits only a subset of the children.

I was thrilled to find Family Time Fitness, which is a complete, open-and-go Physical Education curriculum designed for homeschoolers. I open my program (right now, doing Beginning P.E.), find my day and lesson (it covers one hour per day, five days per week, for nine months!), and teach everything laid out. There are links to brief YouTube videos showing me anything I don't already know.

I am very particular about how most exercise videos show dress we consider immodest and play music we consider inappropriate, but these videos do neither!

In our first week--perfectly timed because it rained for four days straight--we practiced things like standing leg swings, toe raises, rocking horse series, frog squats, shuffle, skip, hop series, jump the river, crab walk, jump the line, plank, and various stretches.

I am doing all the exercises that I can with the children and, unlike when I'm walking, I'm not having to stop innumerable times to break up squabbles (because they're all having so much fun). I got heart-pounding workouts and was satisfactorily sore for days afterward!

We were loudly laughing and it was entirely impossible for us--EVEN MOMMY--to retain a dour, stressed-out attitude. We had a great morning break from academic work and then moved right into snack time and hitting the books again.

I've only tried Family Time Fitness for one week, but so far, I give it two thumbs up!

5. Mary Saved David's Life

Our Thursday could have ended tragically if Mary had not acted quickly and decisively: click here to read how she saved her baby brother's life.

6. Reading Aloud

With John's start of middle school, both I and they have been too busy for me to read aloud to my older set in several months. It has been such a sad lacking for our family!

I have continued to read aloud chapter books to my boys 5 and 3, and that is a blessing, but, still, the older ones and I have missed reading something together, having it to talk about, and the time together most evenings.

This week, I determined to try really hard to start reading again. I've been reading "Evangeline" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and I am very happy with my efforts so far.

Current history for children I am reading to the 3- and 5-year-olds

7. Professional Family Photos

We had professional family photos taken for the first time in six years: below is your sneak peek before the Christmas season!

Laying out outfits for photos

Earlier that morning before the photos, we could not find Thomas' regular pair of shoes . . . the nice blue leather shoes he can wear to church, to visit, or to play. I grabbed an old pair of church shoes I found in a bin, only to discover at Mass that they did not fit him.

So, my kid was the kid in socked-feet.

I thought we would resolve this problem when at home getting changed for the photography shoot, but I was mistaken . . . and we were twenty minutes late meeting the photographer due to searching for that rascally footwear. My three-year-old ended up wearing much-too-large church shoes belonging to his big brother.

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mary Saved David's Life Today

Thursday could have ended very differently than it did--calm, cheerful, a family talking too loudly over a dinner of leftovers--all because of one green bottle cap that my 15-month-old choked on.

Scottish Dance had just ended, so I had strapped Baby David and 3-year-old Thomas into their car seats. David is still rear-facing, so I could not see him. We were waiting quietly for a few minutes because Mary was auditioning for the girls' Latin choir. The other kids were playing outside of the van with their friends while we waited.

I was enjoying the blessed silence for a few minutes, as silence is a rare thing.

Mary finished her audition and came trundling back to the van, so her siblings leapt in too. John sat in the front passenger seat, so was oblivious along with me, but the other three kids who loaded in through the side door began screaming repeatedly, "David is choking! David is choking!"

I knew I couldn't crawl back there in tight quarters with any speed, so I leapt out of my driver's door and ran around the 15-passenger van to help.

Mary tells me that David was silently choking with eyes bugged out, face changing color, waving frantically.

I never would have heard anything and he truly could have died in the seat behind me.

I thank God for the grace that my children came back to the van when they did.

In the seconds it took me to run around the van, Mary began sweeping his mouth and dislodged the deeply stuck bottle cap. David vomited all over and was crying (breathing!) by the time I got to him.

Everyone else was fine, but the adrenaline rush was a lot for Mary, who wept with me for five minutes.

Mary is our family's heroine! We thank David's guardian angel for watching over him and we thank God that Thursday was not the day we lost our precious baby.

I don't know how David found a bottle cap in his car seat, of all places, but obviously it was a leftover from one of the children's disposable water bottles from some earlier road trip. In six kids, I do not think I've ever experienced that scary of a choking experience.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mary Turns Double Digits!

Our firstborn daughter has turned ten! Mary Genevieve is bright, diligent in her work, self-motivated, and thoughtful. Numerous times daily, she will say something to me like, "I've finished doing such-and-so, is there anything I can help you with?"

Her tenth birthday festivities were spread out over several days.

Ear Piercing

Our gift to Mary for her tenth birthday was getting her ears pierced, which she has been requesting for some time now.

I did not want to take her to a mall kiosk where a teenager with maybe half an hour's worth of training uses a possibly unsterile gun to pierce her ears. I (who had seven ear piercings back in the day) had various such teenagers shoot my piercings crooked, have to do them over again, and I came away with infections.

So, we found an actual tattoo and piercing establishment which has gone "somewhat mainstream" in our local mall. This establishment is the only such of its kind in our city which uses the same sterilizing machinery that hospitals use for their surgical equipment and is, of course, staffed by people who have (for better or worse) made careers out of piercing.

Mary was entirely brave and I really should not have been surprised, given knowing this daughter for ten years, when the dreadlocked piercer pulled me aside afterward to tell me admiringly that "She's one of the best kids we've ever had. Usually young people have . . . very heightened reactions."

This child did not flinch.

Afterward we went to dinner together and had a lovely, peaceful time!

Anne of Green Gables Celebration

Mary has read the seven-book series of "Anne of Green Gables" (a fondly remembered fifth birthday gift from her Grampa Neil, may he rest in peace) and wanted to celebrate in that style. This was a lot more complex than when our firstborn son wanted to celebrate his tenth birthday by roasting hot dogs over the back yard bonfire and playing football in the back field!

It was glorious fun and a truly joy-filled time!

Family Birthday

Then on the day of her actual birthday, we opened gifts from out-of-town family and Chris took her on a little daddy-daughter date.

Her siblings gave her a new apron.

One exciting gift was a pogo stick! On the first morning, Mary could manage only six jumps, but she determinedly went outside to try again on every break she could. She announced her new records to me for days and I think now is over 100 jumps in a row!

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Friday, November 9, 2018

{SQT} Visiting Atlanta Served a Better Purpose

1. Soccer

We delayed our departure for Atlanta because Joseph had his last soccer game and his pizza party that morning. He was excited as a five-year-old boy can be!

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, John had a playoff game (which his team won!) and, best of all, he earned the Captain's Armband that week. Each week, the coach gives the Captain's Armband to a player who exemplified some particular moral virtue or effort in that week's game, and the player gets to keep it for a week. This is an honor earned by merit, not something Coach is rotating through all his players, and sometimes an excellent player would earn it two weeks in a row. Well, this week, my eleven-year-old earned the armband and it was worth more to me than any goal he could have kicked.

2. Seating Auditions

Simultaneously as the soccer games were Mary's seating auditions for orchestra, so Chris and I had to divide and conquer. Mary is happy with her seating placement and we are happy with her diligent hard work!

3. Atlanta: The Best Laid Plans

Our trip to Atlanta was a comedy of errors all overshadowed by a major medical event that caused the cancellation of my in laws' marriage blessing at Mass and their big 55th anniversary party.

It drove me to dark, doomed thoughts when my baby screamed his head off for the last 90 minutes of our long drive, arriving so beyond his bedtime at ten p.m.

It made me think I would go loony when I had almost nursed him to sleep and Chris marched into the room to tell me that our HVAC wasn't working, that he'd called the hotel maintenance man, and that he'd be arriving in two minutes to work on the panel, which was right next to the bed in which I was lying with my nearly asleep baby.

It made me feel positively acerbic when my baby woke for the day at 5:08 the next morning, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, even though he had not fallen asleep till six hours earlier.

But God ordained that we would get to be there to visit our loved one in the hospital instead of being comfortably and too-far away at home.

That Sunday, we visited our old parish and got to see the children's godfather.

Three monkeys on a luggage cart

The drive home on Monday morning gave Chris and me a rare chance to talk without interruption and for more than five minutes, so we talked through all kinds of parental issues, and planned our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a couple of upcoming trips, as well as plotted out some dreams for the future.

4. Voting Day

We took a whole family field trip to vote on Tuesday . . . six kids in the steady rain . . . a great time was had by all!

5. Tennis

Mary tried out for the more advanced tennis class (that John has been in) and was invited to join by Coach! She has been practicing in her free time to gain the skills to be ready, and she is so excited about what she will be learning in her new class.

David (14 months) running around in an empty court during tennis lesson

6. Homeschooling

7. Landscaping

John mows lawns in the summer and now he's tried his hands at raking leaves in the fall! Leaves are a serious business in our wooded neighborhood and this week--instead of having recess breaks--John raked up sixteen 75-gallon bags of leaves from our neighbor's yard.

Three-year-old Thomas got right to business in imitation of his big brother, donning the safety ear muffs in order to "mow" the lawn.

The fall is bringing not only major leaves but major Wildlife Sightings to our property: deer! We are seeing deer in our yard or directly across the street almost daily. Last Tuesday at dusk, as we walked home from tennis through the rec club meadow, four children and I suddenly froze and realized we were standing in the midst of a herd of deer! That is actually a dangerous predicament, so we proceeded very carefully to get through them and get home. And tonight we spotted a buck on our driveway!

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.