Monday, September 29, 2014


Heesu and I just finished homework for the night. My primary job is to keep her awake and read some assignments to her, as her listening comprehension is stronger than her reading comprehension in English. It's a good thing I'm not expected to contribute to actually completing the homework, since her algebra class has progressed beyond what I remember!

I am quite adept at Kindergarten, though. Peter has memorized his poem (From a Railway Carriage) and memory verse (Sirach 16:24-25) for the month of September. He generally refuses to recite for anyone, but did consent to a video recording, so I have some record of what he has accomplished. Our virtue this month was attention. Simply learning that it is a virtue seems to have spurred him to work on it. He has gotten better about listening the first time. Hooray!

Oh hi, just being adorable

Today we celebrated the feast of the Archangels. The kids and I colored holy cards of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel and made a poster. This afternoon, my parents came over bringing gifts of angel food cake, fresh strawberries, and heavy cream for whipped cream. Quite a feast! Tonight, I taught my second week of religion class with my sixth graders.

Sadly, I did not get my workout done today - first time since I started the challenge. Maybe tomorrow I will be amazing and do two in one day. At any rate, Heesu needs to be woken at 5:30AM, so it is bedtime in this house! Hope your week is off to a great start.

Friday, September 26, 2014

7QT (Vol. 102): Quotable Kids

More outtakes from my favorite kids! Enjoy. :-)

P, wearing a cape and holding a stick: I am St. Peter. My superpower is catching a fish every time I put my pole in the water.

P: Anne, do you want to argue about can openers?
A: Yes!
P: OK, let's go somewhere where Mommy can't hear us.

Jeremy has taught him the expression, "Fortune smiles upon you."
P: Mommy, unfortune smiles upon you because that is not what I want to do.

me: Who did John Bosco teach?
P: Kids
me: And what did he teach them?
A: Words!

P: Can you do the mermaid verse?
me: I don't know a mermaid verse. The only other one I know is a mule verse.
P: Yeah, that's what I meant.

P: Seal (his stuffed sea lion) wanted to see the big sharks, but she didn't want to have tooth marks on her so she took a boat.

me: Wow, that's cool.
P: What's cool?
me: We just got $350 from the State of New York.
P: Wow, that's a lot! Can I have five dollars of it to buy something?

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hiking with Frogs

I took the kids to White Brook Nature Area today for a one mile round-trip hike over level ground. It took us about an hour to complete it, including a break for snack. :-) If you're local and have any frog enthusiasts in your family, definitely get there in the next couple days! These warm afternoons are perfect for spotting them. We saw at least 100.

We didn't get our morning chore or the scheduled writing activity done today, but I can't help but feel that this is an excellent example of a successful homeschooling day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lessons in Fitness

Two weeks ago, I started at 30 day fitness challenge (via Livefitmama, if you're interested). I'm having mixed results. I am completing the challenge, doing all the workouts plus a couple extra each week, so in that sense it is a success. (I'm very much a rule-follower, so if I'm told to do this set three times, that's exactly what I do!)

Obviously not me. We don't have that wallpaper.

Goals Achieved
Drinking 64 oz of water each day
Getting seven or more hours of sleep each night (mostly)
Eating four or more fruits or veggies (mostly)
Incorporating exercises into daily activities

Positive Outcomes
I have had no headaches, higher energy levels, and better mood stability. Worth it!
I have done modified core exercises and reduced the space between my abdominal muscles.*
I have seen a strong negative correlation between my energy levels and lots of sugar. (Sort of a positive outcome. Knowledge is power. I am still eating brownies, if you're curious.)

Prior to this, the only exercise I did with any regularity was running. I like running. I'm good at it. This fitness challenge, though, is whole body. I'm not good at it. I am frustrated at my lack of progress and lack of either weight or inches lost - then exasperated with myself for caring. I was never critical of my body before, so it is ridiculous to become so while I'm actually exercising daily. In truth, it's not even that I think I'm unattractive. I just am so competitive that even "losing" when there's no competitor aggravates me.

This challenge has been very good for me. I hope to use it to get me started on a regular fitness plan that will definitely include running. Even though to some extent it irks me, I think I will also continue doing the workouts I've learned these past two weeks. After all, quitters never win, right?

*If you've been pregnant before, do a search for diastasis recti and check yourself. It only takes a minute.

Friday, September 19, 2014

7QT (Vol. 102): God is unchanging. We aren't.

Every now and then, God decides I am not going to pick up on subtle hints and sends me a direct message. Such was the case in Confession recently. I have wrestled with maintaining a quality prayer life for years, a struggle which has become more acute in the past few months. I take my kids to daily Mass regularly and say a Rosary with Jeremy before bed, but I often feel like I've spent time near God instead of with Him. While talking this over with our priest, he mentioned something that has been a huge eye-opener for me:
"Our relationship with God must change."

I've heard before that our relationship with God must grow, that a stagnant relationship is an unhealthy one. I have sought again and again ways to take my relationship with God further. But whatever I tried, I could not maintain the discipline, even as I pleaded in prayer for the grace to keep on. I would slip back into the busyness of life and get so caught up in everything else that prayer had to be slipped into my schedule instead of being the focus of it.

As Father talked, I could almost hear God clear his throat and see him raise his brows pointedly. I have changed. My life has changed. My relationship with God must change as well. I realized that what I've been trying to do is continue the relationship I had with God as a college & grad student and into my first years of marriage. My life then had a very predictable timetable. When work or classes were done, I had hours of uninterrupted time in which to plan my leisure, chores, and prayer life. I attended daily Mass, prayer groups, and Bible studies.

And sometimes I multi-tasked, having friends visit me at work :-)

Then I had Peter and life changed. It changed slowly at first, as newborns sleep a lot and don't much care where they are. But as he grew, life became less predictable. I learned to let go of a rigid schedule and accept a general rhythm of times of activity and quiet. My friendships changed; we learned to meet during the day and chat while watching the kids or wait until late in the evening when they are asleep. My marriage changed; we learned to tend to the immediate needs of the children before our own wants.

But I refused to let my relationship with God change. I had found such comfort and strength in the relationship we had that I was clinging to it. I was sure I could find that security again if I just tried hard enough. I begged God for the self-control to stick to a prayer schedule, to prioritize Him above all else, but in vain. I got so discouraged.

My relationship with God has changed.
Our priest counseled that I embrace my vocation as an act of prayer. The act of bringing the children to Mass is a prayer, an offering of our time to God. Responding with love and patience is a prayer, recognizing God in the least of these. The honest cry for help when I am overwhelmed and touched-out is a prayer. Drawing close to Mary, asking for her heart of love for Jesus and faith to say yes to God, is a prayer. Our priest didn't discount the need to have God at the top of my priority list, but suggested that there is more than one way to do that.

There is still value in simply sitting quietly with God, something I still do often. But it is not my only prayer, nor do I feel like a failure on days it doesn't happen. Now I know the truth, and the truth has set me free.

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

When Cognitive Age and Emotional Age Don't Match

First geography lesson: building a map of our town

We have been having a lot of fun doing Kindergarten! I am so thankful we have this opportunity to teach Peter where both his academic and social needs can be met. Academically, he is in the right place to begin Kindergarten. He can write most of his letters, can count to 109, knows letter sounds and text direction, easily masters patterns, and can even do some basic arithmetic. He has the attention span to listen to a story for over half an hour. 

If we were doing typical school, I would be very torn about sending him, though, because he just turned four. He wants to be with me and - even at home - retreats somewhat regularly when he is overwhelmed. I think sending him to a typical Kindergarten would be a disaster. Homeschooling gives me the chance to slowly help him build a tolerance for stress. Usually we get together with other kids weekly and have joined a monthly co-op where he will spend two hours with his peers without me. He also takes gymnastics lessons. These experiences are giving him the confidence and resilience to continue to expand his horizons. In the mean time, we'll be riding bikes.

Second geography lesson: transferring the map to the driveway
He and Anne rode all around town!