On Saturday we were blessed to be included in the intimate moments of a husband and father's Requiem Mass followed by a potluck and sharing of memories at the family home.
|Our family, plus a wee, extra toddler who wandered in|
On Sunday, we went to an early Mass (an unexpected two hours and ten minutes long!) so we could join Chris' parents for a mid-way day trip in Greenville, SC (sight of such a sorrowful school shooting last week).
I was such a cool mom that not only did I let my kids walk around in the goose poop water on the interesting rocks, but I walked around with them (because I was nervous about the three-year-old being swept away--by a torrent of goose poop?).
|Walking in goose poop|
Joseph (3) dancing on the amphitheater stage . . .
Climbing the hills . . .
Thomas did a face plant on the sidewalk in the park and got himself a shiner.
|Thomas with a shiner the next day|
Scholastic ScenesI've invented a "life hack" for All About Spelling, which makes me so happy (read here). (And right after that, I read about a woman (read here) who sits her five grades of children together for spelling and they simply cycle through AAS Levels 1-4 over and over again, which is a pretty nifty way to do it as well!)
|The older kids now actually do their school work while I go exercise for an hour!|
We are twelve weeks into school around here and have recently achieved a major breakthrough: the two older children are learning to work faster and more diligently, thus finishing school earlier . . . instead of by 3:00 or 4:00, it is sometimes before noon! Both of them have realized that there is a 'golden hour' (a dark hour?) from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. in which they are usually flopping around doing nothing, but during which they can complete all their desk work if they want to, thus leaving them only their computer work, their music practice, and Mama's rotating teaching lesson of the day. The level of focus and diligence has increased around here and I'm pleased.
But sometimes attitudes are a little bit raw, and rewards of tiny chocolate nibbles for correct answers gets kids enthusiastic again!
In ten weeks of lessons, we have now finished our first unit of Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature and the paired IEW's Geography-Based Writing Lessons using Holling C. Holling's books. These two courses were based on "Paddle to the Sea," and next we begin "Tree on the Trail"!
The children's piano and violin teachers are trying to fledge John and Mary from their nests of having all their sheet music written out for them. Several years of music theory classes means these little birds need to start sight reading! John and Mary were tasked with figuring out some of their own competition pieces this year, and I have been so tickled to watch them taking on the challenge.
|Mary taught herself "American Gothic" this week|
We prepared for bad weather on the outskirts of Hurricane Matthew by doing an ancient custom of putting blessed palm leaves in the four corners of the property and praying some special prayers.
Reflections on Different Ages and Stages
This week, I've been mulling over all the ages, stages, and personalities that make up this household.
Having a nine-year-old boy means being asked to try his Very Fun Idea to make spelling more interesting. Instead of my simply dictating the spelling sentences and him writing them out, he invented a System. Each perfectly written sentence will earn him two bullets for his Nerf gun, while each sentence requiring corrections will earn him one bullet. (We do about four sentences per day, so he could earn up to eight bullets.) After all our sentences are over, the boy gets to shoot at his homemade target, which has varying point levels on it. Fifteen points will earn him one square of chocolate (you know, a little square from a chocolate bar from Aldi's). He takes his earned bullets, aims at his target, and tries to earn some chocolate.
This is what makes spelling interesting to this nine-year-old boy. And, you know, it was more interesting!
Having a seven-year-old girl means having a Second Mommy in the house: often that means I receive a lot of help, and equally as often it means I have a little person sternly administering justice and judgment left and right until she is reminded that she is not really the mommy.
One morning I was finishing school when I heard the baby wake, but I also heard Mary dash up to the baby's crib. Since I could hear on the monitor that he was happy, I decided to finish the lesson with the other child. Well, it turns out that Mary took him out of the crib (how does a 50-lb child lift a 28-lb toddler?), laid him on the bathroom counter (again--lifting?!) where she changed his diaper, and then she brought him down the stairs (!!!) to me.
Having a five-year-old girl who happens to occupy the middle position in the family means watching a girl trying to find her place in two worlds. Sometimes she is such a Big Girl, and I utterly forget she is five (and surely demand too much of her). She tries to fit in with her two older siblings and is crushed when she is excluded because she can't read as well as them, or play piano as well yet. Other times, her best friend is her three-year-old brother, or she is outright impersonating a toddler and very happily so. I never quite know which Margaret I'm going to encounter at any given moment.
Having a three-year-old boy means . . . oh my! It means having an impish, mischievous, whirlwind of energy who absolutely adores his Mama, but tests her at every turn. It means that I must be downstairs and ready to snuggle with him on the couch when he wakes in the morning: if I am missing, the whole house will be woken by his grief and tears.
It means that one day this week, while I was standing on the music teacher's driveway consulting with her, my three-year-old used his new skills at unbuckling car seats to unbuckle first his own car seat and then that of the 14-month-old, who then promptly climbed out of his own seat and was balancing precariously, about to fall out the open van door onto the driveway below.
It means listening to this little soul begin to voice profound thoughts.
"Mama, when I turn four, will I still be Josey?"
"Yes, honey, you will still be Josey."
"Will I still not like peas?"
"Right, you still won't like peas." (But one can hope.)
Having a one-year-old boy means getting to watch this precious thing stump jovially through the house as he races here, there, and everywhere. Thomas climbs, dances, spins, and tries generally to "keep up with the gang." He says, "Wow!" in an awed whisper, wants books read to him, and now grabs little cars and 'drives' them while saying "aaaaaahhhh."
There has been a lack of the passion I like to see for books around here lately, so I put a bunch of recommended titles on hold at the library, and on Thursday we went to pick them up.
Mary discovered "Ginger Pye" and read it for the hour's drive to Scottish dance, she tried to take it into class but I confiscated it, then read it for the hour's drive home, tried to read it while eating dinner but I confiscated it again, read it more at bedtime, and will probably finish the 320 pages within 24 hours. That is the passion that I was looking to ignite!
Checking out 36 books with five kids who all want to help gets a little stressful for this Mama.
|Josey stole my camera and took photos of us during the ordeal|