Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bananas, anyone?

The other day I was going to fix pancakes for the children for breakfast. As usual, a million things come up that need attending to before I can get to the pancakes, so I instruct the boys to have a banana until the pancakes are ready. They all dutifully reply, "Aye aye, Cap'n Crunch!" (thank you, Veggie Tales) and head off to eat. As the pancakes are about to be served, I notice Justin not at the table. He's standing in the dining room. "Justin, did you eat a banana?" I inquire. "Yes," he replies. "Are you sure? I didn't see you eating one." "Yes, Mom, I'm sure, I ate a banana!" he assures me enthusiastically. So I decide to ask one of the spies, uh, I mean, brothers. "Luke, did Justin eat a banana?" "No," he dutifully replies. As a side note, Luke is honest to a fault. He cannot tell a lie, whether it pertains to him or someone else. And he will narc on anyone given any opportunity to do so. Now I look at Justin. You know, giving him the "Did you just lie to me, son?!?!" look. Justin immediately blurts out with a complete look of panic, "I don't know what I'm talking about!" I step away so as to not totally laugh in the poor child's face, then once I've composed myself, it's off to the timeout corner for Justin. I have a feeling this is not going to be the last time I hear Justin utter those words when trapped in a lie.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And THIS is why I love homeschooling...

People often ask me why I homeschool, and there are a number of reasons, but today reminded me of one reason in particular. I love how it allows us as a family to grow in love of each other. One homeschooling mom I know commented to me once, "When I'm old, I'll never look back and wish I had spent more time with my kids." How true, how true.

This picture was taken today before naptime. I had a couple of things to do, so I asked Justin and Veronica to each pick a book for me to read to them before bedtime and meet me upstairs. When I went upstairs to read and tuck them in, I found Jacob already reading to them in his bed... the top bunk. SOOOO after the initial panic at seeing the little ones being in the top bunk, I decided to grab the camera. These moments are a great reminder to me when I'm stressed out wondering how I will be able to stay on top of household duties and school 4 children (eventually) that yes, it is totally worth it.

I Can't Driiiiiiiiive Fifty-Fiiiiiiiive

I have decided the biggest mistake I have made as a mother is explaining to my firstborn what a speed limit sign means. One of my biggest vices is my lead foot. My husband suggested this would be the perfect opportunity to explain the concept of parallax, thus telling Jacob from where he sits, it may look like I'm speeding, but in reality I am not. Well, unfortunately, not even parallax can explain the difference between the speed limit sign and the speed I usually go. This is what I get for asking the Lord to help me grow in obedience and patience.

So today, once again, on the way home from Mass no less, Jacob pipe's up with, "Excuse me, Mom. Just so you know, the speed limit is 45." *Sigh* Yes, Officer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please, Mom, can we PLEASE have broccoli??

As a mother of four, I have learned a lot over these eight years of motherhood. One of them is, in general, it is best to not run errands with all the children in tow if at all possible. Mind you my kids are fairly well behaved, but I'm a bit neurotic about having attention drawn to myself, and having a couple of, how shall we say, tactile children, there's always a risk of something huge happening that draws the attention of others, and not in a good way.

But every once in a while I get a wild hair and decide to bring my crew out with me to the grocery store. Now before we leave the van there is the usual, "OK, we're about to go into the grocery store. Let's review the protocol: no touching anything under any circumstances, one hand on the cart at all times, keep your hands off your siblings and out of your pants, and if you need something, use your church voice."

Here, I will digress. We have a good friend who is a priest. Once I told him how we run the children through a similar drill before Mass, asking them to rehearse how they will talk in church if they have to say anything (besides the prayers, of course). At the time I had been working on teaching Justin to whisper (which, for those who know Justin, is no small feat), and was wanting to show off this great accomplishment. So as we are standing by the priest, I say, "Justin, how do you speak when you are in church?", and waited for Justin to whisper, "Like this." Our priest friend says, before Justin can answer, "Justin, don't answer! It's a trick! You're not supposed to talk in church!" At this point, we all bust out laughing, completely ruining any hopes of reverence or silence as we are about to enter the sanctuary.

OK now back to the grocery. Once I have the boys repeat the grocery protocol back to me (because I have learned that just telling them doesn't mean they heard it, so repeating it back is a requirement), we're ready to enter. I only need a few things, so figure this is a low risk mission. We get inside, Veronica in the baby seat of the cart, Justin in the main basket, and Jacob and Luke flanking either side. We head to the produce aisle... and then it happens. Luke sees a display of broccoli, and immediately starts asking if we can have broccoli. Justin chimes in, and they are both hounding me excitedly for broccoli, as if we were in a candy store and they were asking for candy. "Mom, Mom, there's some broccoli! Can we get it? Please? We love broccoli! Can we Mom? Please? PLEASE?" I'm just in awe that my children are so excited over arguably one of the worst vegetables ever, in my humble opinion. And now I'm wondering what the people around me must think I feed my children that so much enthusiasm could be generated over broccoli. Then I realize the longer I stand there, the greater the potential for disaster, lest someone decide to touch something, so I quickly put a couple of bunches in a bag and put it in the basket. Then I promise them, if they are good for the rest of the shopping trip, then yes, they can have broccoli for dinner. I'm such a nice mom, aren't I?

Fortunately, the rest of the groceries were gathered and purchased without incident. I could exhale after we were all in the van, and the kids could have their broccoli for dinner.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Yahoo Archives

Here are my posts from my old Yahoo blog.

Entry for April 20, 2008: Lift High the Cross for Vocations

We have been blessed to be able to have a Relic of the True Cross in our home for a week. Our pastor received the relic from his uncle, who was a priest also. Our pastor has generously decided to share the relic with the parish, allowing one family a week to have the relic in their home. He has asked that we pray for vocations to the priesthood, and for all vocations, especially for our children.

I asked Jacob once if he thought he wanted to be a priest, and he answered, "No, I want to be a daddy like Daddy." Not surprising. He loves his brothers and his baby sister so much. He is really coo coo for babies, and all children. He always enjoys playing with the younger siblings in my friends families, playing big brother to them all. But today, when we brought home the relic, I asked the boys, "What did Msgr. Deutsch ask us to pray for while we have the relic in our home?" And Jacob correctly answered, "for vocations." WOW! And I reminded him that we are praying for whatever vocation God is calling him to. I told him we would pray for him to be a good daddy. Then he corrects me with "Well, I'm either going to be a daddy or a brother, like St. Francis." So who knows where he will end up.

I was explaining to the boys that they each have a vocation, a plan for their lives, a plan from God. I was telling them to pray, and ask God what He wanted them to do with their lives, and someday when the time is right, they will know in their heart what God wants them to do. A few days later, Luke tells me, "Mom, I was praying last night, and I think God told me He wants me to be a priest." I said, "That's great Luke! Well, keep praying and asking Him to show you His plan." Jacob hears all this and says, "Luke! You want to be a priest???" And Luke replies, "No, I want to be a construction worker, but God wants me to be a priest." Too funny.

And there's Justin... my Mass lover. I will be surprised if he does not end up becoming a priest. If I'm up early enough for daily Mass, I usually make all the kids go, but occasionally I will let them decide. Well most mornings when left to their discretion, Jacob and Luke say "No, thank you" (at least they're polite). But Justin always excitedly volunteers to go, and is in the van before I can even finish asking the question. He just loves to go to Mass, and always says the responses louder than anyone in the church. I guess he keeps the priest awake...

Yes, vocations are an interesting thing. I can't wait to see what vocation God has for our children. It is exciting watching them grow and seeing their love for God grow as well. Those boys are good examples for Veronica, too. If she ends up with a religious vocation, it will be from watching her brothers. Praise God!

Entry for April 02, 2008: Fruits of the Holy Spirit

OMG I cannot believe it's been over a month since I've blogged. Life is so crazy busy. I've been thinking about blogging about the kids for a while, and I am just now getting to it. The boys are in bed, Dean is in Houston, and Veronica is playing happily next to me on the floor. I have other things I should be doing, but Veronica is at the phase where if I get up and leave she freaks out. I could bring her with me from room to room, but she always wants to be a part of whatever I am doing, and not in a good way. So I'm taking this time to update the blog.

Every night when I pray with the kids, I ask Jesus to help the fruits of the Holy Spirit to grow in their hearts and souls. While all the fruits are there to one extent or another, each of the children has shown a tendency toward a particular fruit.

Jacob (age 7) is a combination of charity, kindness, and generosity all rolled into one. He is the most compassionate child I know. The word "mine" (with regards to a possession) has never crossed his lips. I have a picture of him when he was 18 months old sharing one of his favorite toys with his infant brother. Jacob never had the "terrible twos." Even as his brothers have gotten older, if they took something from Jacob, he would say in his 3 or 4 year old voice, "It's ok mom, he's just a baby." If one of his siblings gets hurt, Jacob will run and get his favorite bunny (which he has slept with since infancy) to offer it to comfort the suffering sibling. He is equally generous with his money. Any change Jacob earns for his piggy bank is not in the bank long. He puts it in the St. Vincent dePaul poor box during the next trip to church. He is constantly wanting to give toys away to boys and girls who don't have any toys. He has the most generous heart.

Luke's (age 5) fruit is by far faithfulness. He loves Jesus so much. He collects holy cards and tapes them to the wall next to his bed. Everyday, at some point, he asks if he can go up in his room and pray. I try to tell him he doesn't have to ask, but I think he just wants me to know what he is up to. Once I peeked in on him, and there he was, just sitting on his bed looking at his wall of holy cards and pictures (including a picture of the crucifixion he colored himself), praying silently. Whenever we go to adoration, he is the first to prostrate himself. He then goes to the kneeler right in front of the monstrance to pray. He is forever telling me the Bible is his favorite book. He is an avid reader, and is always reading his children's Bible. For his fifth birthday, he asked for a Bible cake. Recently, he's been on a Scooby Doo kick, so when he asked what I thought he wanted for his sixth birthday cake, I guessed Scooby Doo. He said no. It was during Lent when he asked me, and he was really into the Stations of the Cross, so I said a Stations of the Cross cake. He pauses, and after a moment or so says, "no, that will be my seventh birthday cake." I tell him I give up, and he says, "A crucifixion cake!" Now seriously, how many 5 year olds would say they want a crucifixion cake for their birthday?? The funny thing is he wanted it originally for his fifth birthday, but I thought it was a bit morbid for a birthday cake, so I encouraged him to pick something else, hoping the desire would pass. But it has become obvious he will not let it rest until he has a crucifixion cake. Luke is an inspiration to me of his love for Jesus and Mary. He is a willing pray-er, and always exercises right away obedience. He says, "I do right away obedience because that is what Jesus wants me to do." Now you would think when you ask a child such as this what he wants to be when he grows up, he would say a priest. Not Luke. What do you want to be when you grow up, Luke? A garbage man. Go figure.

Justin's (age 3) fruit is obvious from a mile away -- joy. I think he came out of the womb smiling. He is the happiest child ever. You can't help but smile when you see him. He's always bee bopping around doing something funny. And how he loves to sing, especially at Mass. He closes his eye, swings his head back and forth... really gets into it. He is always smiling and/or laughing. Even if he's been hurt, or been punished, he quickly bounces back to a smile. Justin is our most mischievous, er, I mean, curious child. "I wonder what will happen if I...." is his motto. And while joy is by far Justin's most bountiful fruit, he also has a fair amount of faithfulness. He loves to go to Mass. Again, who has heard of a 3 year old that actually asks to go to Mass?? Whenever we get ready to go somewhere, Justin asks, "Are we going to church?" If I say no, he says, "CAN we go to church?" Justin is so busy/antsy in church, too, that Dean and I are constantly reprimanding him, telling him to sit still and be quiet. You would think this constant correction would ruin him on going to Mass, but it doesn't phase him in the least. Our latest correction for Justin is to remind him not to dunk his whole hand in the holy water. But it hasn't sunk in yet. Everytime he goes for holy water, he is compelled to put in his whole hand. Oh well. At least he's not drinking it... not yet, anyway.

So it will be interesting to see what fruit little Veronica will nurture in the garden of her soul. She is starting to show signs of love. She just turned 1 this past Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday. The sweetest thing she does right now is when she sees the boys, she puts her arms out for a hug. They, of course, are more than willing to oblige, and as they put the arms around her, she hugs back, patting their back. It is very sweet. She is also a very happy baby, much like Justin... when she gets her way. But if you have to put her somewhere she does not want to be, or take away something she wants, boy does she get upset. At least at this point it isn't anger, just extreme sadness. When you take something away, you would think you had just taken away her best friend from her reaction. Well, whatever fruits manifest themselves most strongly in Veronica, I'm sure they will round out the family quite nicely.

February 20, 2008: Potty Central
February 20, 2008: Potty Central magnify

We are in the midst of potty boot camp in the house. I decided on Saturday to take the plunge and potty train Justin on Saturday, mostly because we were out of diapers. He turned 3 in November, so the timing is about right. People say, "Oh they'll tell you when they are ready." Puh-LEASE. No such child exists in my family. Jacob (who turns 7 next month) would still be wearing diapers if I waited until he "told" me he was ready to be potty trained. In our house, we pretty much dictate when it's time. So Saturday morning, I told Justin to bid farewell to his diaper, and pick out his favorite pair of underwear to start the process. It has been a long and grueling 5 days, but slow progress is being made.

When Justin had his first successful pee on the potty, there was much rejoicing. Jacob quickly left the room to work on a surprise for Justin. One of Jacob's favorite things to do is to draw pictures, especially as gifts for other people. It's one of the few gifts he can make that doesn't cost anything, and that can be done by himself (thus enabling it to truly be a surprise). So any marginally exciting event in our household gets documented by Jacob with a picture. As you can see from the image, Jacob has quite an eye for detail. Not only has he drawn the Ninja Turtle underwear around Justin's ankles, but has thoughtfully drawn a cross-section of the potty seat, so you can see the poop and the pee. If you look closely, you may even notice Justin is anatomically correct.

Jacob wanted to write "congratulations," but settled for just saying "Yay Justin!", as that was easier to spell. If you are wondering about the blue blob after the J in Justin's name, it is a heart. When Jacob first started writing, he occasionally made mistakes when trying to spell a word. He used to get so frustrated and down-hearted, that I showed him that mistakes can easily be fixed by changing the wrong letter into a heart. To this day everytime he writes a wrong letter, he makes it into a heart, then writes the rest of the word. I can't wait to see what his resume looks like someday. Hopefully his spelling will improve enough by then to not require so many hearts.

It is quite the family gathering when Justin has a successful visit to the potty. He is like the town crier... "Hear ye, hear ye, let it be known throughout the land that I have gone pee pee in the potty! Come all and witness what wonders I have wrought!" Then Jacob and Luke rush to the bathroom to see and oooh and aaaah over Justin's achievement. They are quick to praise Justin for his success, then quickly ask if they get to share in the candy reward, as if they had some integral part in this.

At any rate, as if potty training in itself is not enough fun, Justin came down with a cold this week, which rapidly developed into an ear infection and pink eye. But once you start potty training, there's no looking back... well, there may be looking back longingly, but no turning back. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor sleepless nights, nor snow, nor pink eye will stop us!!

Hopefully by this time next week, Justin will have mastered sitting on the potty, THEN going poop, instead of the other way around. A girl can dream...

On an unrelated final note, we are using a book this year called "A Year With God: Celebrating the Liturgical Year." It has different ideas for celebrating the different seasons of the church calendar. For Lent, one of the suggestions is to sing the Stabat Mater before evening prayers. Justin loves to sing, so this is right up his alley. He has already memorized the first verse, and can be heard signing it through the day. We sing it as a family after we say grace before dinner each night. In the book, there is a quote after the hymn I would like to leave with you:

"Two hung on one cross," said Saint Alphonsus Liguori; so close was the union of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the Bleeding Heart of her Son on Calvary.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

January 31, 2007: Blades of Glory

It is 10:02 on Thursday night. Dean's flight should have landed two hours ago, and we should be chatting on the couch about the week's happenings and winding down for bed. But unfortunately his flight has been delayed, and he isn't even due to land for another hour and a half. At least it gives me time to update the blog...

Last night I had a girls night with my friend AnnMarie. I got a sitter, and was blessed enough to even get one with generous parents who would drop her off and pick her up. The plan was to watch a movie at AnnMarie's house over coffee and girl talk. AnnMarie suggested Blades of Glory. Now AnnMarie doesn't have a tv, so the original plan was for me to bring my little portable DVD player, which has maybe a 6" screen. But I thought I would surprise her and bring the BIG den tv. Our den is under construction, so the tv was all disconnected and just sitting there, ready for an adventure! So I deftly maneuvered the tv into the trunk of the van. Then I throw on my puffy coat (over my flannel pajamas... after all, it's just going to be me and AnnMarie) and get ready to head out. Before I leave, I decide to call AnnMarie and tell her I'm on the way. While on the phone, I ask, "Now AnnMarie, you have this movie, right?" At this point, AnnMarie chokes on whatever it is she is eating or drinking because she is laughing so hard. She does not own the movie. I think she thought my DVD player was a wishing DVD player, and if you just thought about the movie, it would play. But alas it isn't, so I tell her I will stop by Blockbuster on my way and pick up the movie. It is only after I get out of the van at Blockbuster that I remember I am wearing my flannel pajamas. Oh well. Thankfully, I do not see anyone I know. I am sure I was quite a sight, with my flannel pjs, snow boots, puffy coat, and wet hair, which is now partially frozen.

Shortly thereafter I arrive at AnnMarie's. As I mentioned, I would like to surprise her with the big tv, so I decide to just bring it in alone. In my rush, I neglect to properly pick up the cords, and halfway to the house I step on a cord and flip the tv forward, dropping it on it's top. It was somewhat of a controlled fall, and my guardian angel must have been carrying the tv as well, as through some miracle I did not bust the tv. To make matters worse, I get a case of the giggles, and am now trying to lift the tv out of the snow and get it inside before my "surprise" is spoiled. Well, I can only manage to get the tv to the front porch, so I go in and ask AnnMarie to help me carry it in the rest of the way.

We get the VCR connected and running after a brief moment of panic when I thought I had forgotten the necessary cables. We enjoy the movie over coffee and Kahlua and a Sponge Bob Squarepants ice pack. In the process of trying to slow the tv's plummet I banged up my knee, but what adventure is complete without some sort of injury to go along with it? At any rate, it was a night of much needed laughs. Movies like Blades of Glory are always funnier when you are watching with someone else. I am thankful for friends like AnnMarie, who always seem to be a source of laughter. What a gift!

Entry for January 27, 2008

Well, Dean has gone to Houston, the kids are in bed, and the house is decently clean. Most of the motivation for cleaning was to find Luke's favorite toys, his Batman and Robin toys, but they were nowhere to be found. We have enlisted the help of St. Anthony on this quest, so we'll see when/if they turn up.

Life is busy. Very busy. I love most Adam Sandler movies, and recently I feel like I am living the movie "Click." My life is in fast forward. My baby girl is almost 10 months old, and it feels like just a blink ago I was in the hospital recovering from my c-section. She is such a sweet baby, but a rough sleeper. I look at it as an opportunity for mortification... there should be many souls entering heavenly bliss from the realms of purgatory by now.

I love homeschooling, but Sunday nights I am always anxious as I anticipate the start of a new week. There is so much to do, and I usually get it all done by Friday, but getting started Monday morning is the hardest part. We are trying a new approach tomorrow. We are going to go to 8:00 Mass. This is particularly ambitious of me because I am NOT a morning person. But the boys excitedly picked out their clothes ahead of time so we can get ready quickly. This is encouraging, at least. I always find going to Mass alone with the 4 children daunting, but I think starting the day by receiving Jesus will do us all some good. There is an Abby by our house that has Mass at 11:30 and I was gunning for their later Mass, but my boys are creatures of habit (much like their Momma), and they want to go to Mass at "our church," not "the new church." We went to Mass at the Abby for the first time last Thursday. The Mass was really very nice. There were about a dozen or so priests and brothers there. Luke asked me who the men in brown were. I said they are brothers. Luke says, "I didn't know priests had brothers!" LOL. But the sun was shining in the glass of the chapel, and it was so peaceful. The boys liked it OK, but prefer to go to our regular parish, Holy Cross. And that's OK, because deep down, I like Holy Cross better, too. They have a beautiful gold tabernacle at the center of the altar. The altar is very ornate, which I like, because it reminds us that this is God himself on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament. I think sometimes people forget just how precious the Eucharist is.

Well, that's it for me. Time to catch a few zzzzzz's (hopefully). I pray that Veronica sleeps the night through. I'm tired of being a walking example of the effect of sleep deprivation on the human brain. As a closing, I will put in a funny story about the boys:

I was reviewing the 3 forms of matter with Jacob, and asked him what they were. He replies, "Solid, gas, and...." (he always forgets liquid). As he thinks, Luke pipes up with "and MYRRH!" Later I decide to quiz Luke, as he tends to have a better memory about these things, despite being younger. Luke replies, "Liquid, gas, and solid." My 3 year old, Justin, hears this and says, "Salad? I LOVE salad! Can we have salad for dinner??" I love my boys. They make me laugh. I can't wait to see what little Veronica will bring to the mix.