Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How I relaxed and didn't relax about the new school year

Actually, I just want to share some things that are really working and a rough outline of what I'm doing this year,

Sam read Of Mice and Men recently and then asked me to get him The Grapes of Wrath. He started reading it, but now has paused. I asked him if he was interested in the Great Depression in general. He was, and so that set him down a trail for history and literature. I wanted him to understand the period just prior to the Great Depression so I am having him read Only Yesterday. It was written in 1931. It is an interesting read looking back on such recent history at the start of such a bleak era in American History. He is reading the Great Gatsby as well. So am I. Actually I am about to finish. Can you believe I never read it? I love it. Beautiful language. When he finishes he will read The Great Depression. This is a narrative history. He will also read King of the Hill. This a memoir of the era set in the Midwest. He will also read Cinderella Man. This is an autobiography (yes, like the movie) of a Depression Era boxer set in New York/New Jersey. He will also pick up reading The Grapes of Wrath again. So will I. By the way, Sam is 16 years old, technically a Junior.

The other thing that is working is ancient history. I outlined a course for Carmen to follow. This is the part where I didn't relax. She plays travel soccer and wants to play for UVA. I am a little anxious about her High School years. They need to be intentional and thorough. I cannot guess and mumble my way through a transcript for her. In any case, I like the course I have created for her. I can go into detail in another post. What I am enjoying is my decision to mostly pull along her siblings. We are still reading lots of just plain picture books. I am trying to structure these either seasonally or by author studies. But it is nice to have a history spine that is the same for this group. Even my kindergartner is enjoying the topics.

And. Khan Academy. Oh my goodness. My kids are all working through math at Khan Academy. Every single one of them loves it. Loves. They don't love math. They ask to do math. Wow. I supplement with worksheets or exercises and drills when I need to. Sometimes I watch with them, pause, makes sure they've understood, and then keep watching. So well done. Free. Amazing. This makes me love the Internet. Also awesome, the Art History and Science courses. I wrote Carmen's biology course based on their Crash Course:Biology. I can even track their progress and get reports.

Something new. I just ordered the very first Life of Fred book to start with my Johnny, my kindergartner. I think he will love it. I have wanted to try these books for a very long time. I may even use some for my older kids. We'll see.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

We Begin Again

A new soccer season...

This fall I have four soccer players. Four. That is six practices and four games a week (my oldest young adult plays in an adult league, no practice.) That does not include three (more likely four) tournament weekends.

I love it. Yes, it is busy. Yes today was miserably hot. What the heck September?

But. But.

Kay played in her first soccer game ever. She was goalie for the second half and had a clean sheet. They won. Carmen is helping coach the team. The assistant coach for her travel team is Kay's coach. Aggie scored a goal today and nearly scored another sliding goal. She is seven, but the skill she is showing makes me grin like crazy. Carmen is also going to help coach this team. We have connections to them through Carmen's travel team as well. All in the family, right? Tomorrow Carmen plays. I can't wait. Nine weeks of this, I love it.

And yes, a new school year. I can't quite explain what I'm feeling this year. I have so many big kids now. And I have so many littles. I am finding the balance of teaching all of them. That means discussing The Great Gatsby with my grown son and pausing in the afternoon to bake cookies for tea time with my little son. It means Aggie practicing reading sitting with the toddler while I give my new high schooler some help.

I know I will complain some days. I know I will snap when I am interrupted for what feels like the hundredth time. I know I will be tired. Often. It will not be easy. His grace is sufficient and His mercy will make up for my weakness.

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning and sorting lots of toys. 

Why do my children have so many rocks? 

We have so much doll stuff. So much. 

I get a tiny bit obsessive about sorting and storing. And I mean down to what sits next to what on the shelves...all the toys that's build, hot wheels and superheroes should be near each other...and on and on it goes.

None of my containers match. None. Strangely enough, this does not bother me.

Why do my children have so many seashells?

The three year old likes to "help".  

I am both disgusted by and proud of how much my vacuum picks. 

Which leads me to wonder if the big kids actually vacuumed the basement all those times they were instructed to.

Very grateful for A.C.

Wish I had a fitbit. Because wow, countless trips up and down stairs.

This is just the opening act. Up next, the little girls room. The most frightening room in the house.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Least of These

Can you imagine feeling so desperate and frightened for the future and life of your child that you would place them in a car, on a bus, in a plane alone, hoping that a family member far away will be able to find and care for them, knowing that the people your child is with only care for them as far the amount of cash you've handed over? Can you?
I talk often about the real moral evils my children deal with every day. And I rightly worry about the culture of death I battle every single day. They are real and frightening. But, they have a roof over their head, good food, clothing. If they went to school, I would not live in constant dread that they might not come home. I don't worry about gangs forcing me to pay "protection" money. I don't fear them witnessing a brutal attack on their father or rape of their mother.
I can't imagine feeling like the only hope for my child is sending them far away, indefinitely.
This is what I keep in mind as this whole "immigration" debate unfolds. These children are not criminals or somehow morally corrupt. They are innocent children. A culture of life does not criminalize them and simply demand their immediate removal back to the life-threatening situation they came from. We can do better. This is not about "open borders" or forgetting about the rule of law. Properly caring for these children does not mean either of those things. It is our duty as Christians to care for them mercifully and humanely.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Around the World


More soccer.

World Cup Soccer.

Carmen is so excited. Four years ago, when she was 10, she watched all but 2 games of the entire tournament. She already loved playing. But that summer ignited a burning passion for the beautiful game that has grown stronger these past 4 years. Now an avid fan, the names of these international players are as familiar to her as pop stars are to girls her age.

I am ready to savor the thrill and excitement of the next month right along with her.

Here we go!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In the World

I was struck this morning on this first day of Lent, of how the Divine Office urges us to be active in the world. Even as we "retreat" spiritually through these 40 days. I loved the words from Isaiah calling us to active participation to minister to those around us, "our own". What an amazing promise, that even as we give of ourselves,
"He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry."
Never run dry. Oh my. Rebuilding foundations. Such power in these words. Lord, grant me the grace to live them these 40 days.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Then and Now

This is to the mom at Wegman's today. You were having lunch with your four children, all little. You chatted with them. You had to tell the toddler to stop touching her brother's food. You had to promise another slice of pizza. You juggled a baby in your lap. Your oldest boy took the antics off his siblings in stride. 

I saw you and I smiled. I helped you clear your table. I know these days. Heck, I still have three little ones under five years old. 

But I have time. Time that seemed to pass slowly at first. Time marked by stinky diapers and tantrums, and first words and learning how to walk. But now? It flies by me, I can hardly keep up. 

Tomorrow my second child turns eighteen. Eighteen. She is grown up and beautiful and so loved by little sisters and brothers. 

I know you are tired mom. I know today at least two of those darlings were supposed to be in school. I told you it's okay. You'll survive this time. You'll look at your husband much too soon and wonder how it is you have adult children already. I know you said this was it, your limit. I know. It's okay. 

But for today I want you to know this. Your oldest? He is sweet. I could see by his easy smile and how he was ready to chat with me. Those middle cuties, they will be best friends before you know it. And that baby? She is stinking cute. Hold on tight, mom. It will go too fast. I promise.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When Life Hands You Split Peas...Make a Salad!

Yesterday I was tired. Beyond tired. The baby, battling a cold, had given me quite the night. Awake at 2 am and angry that I would not let her nurse AND let her pinch and scratch every inch of my exposed flesh. (Why this soothes her, I will never know.) She cried. A lot. I think I did too.

I was a zombie. Between that, the wonky schedule changes because of the weather and the bitter cold, not my best day. By 4 pm I gave in and took a brief nap. I woke up a wee bit better and went to tackle dinner. I did not want to cook. I had planned a lentil salad, only to realize that those were bags of split peas, NOT lentils, sitting in the pantry. I was still so cranky. I was sure I never wanted to look at another pirece of chicken as long as I lived. As I mucked around in the kitchen making dinner, dirtying one pot and pan after another, I apologized to Sam. His chore is dishes after meals. I must have sounded pathetic. My sweet son told me not to apologize. Of course I was getting things dirty, I was cooking the family's dinner. How was I expected to cook without getting some things dirty. Silly mom, don't apologize. 

Right there, a moment of grace and mercy. Even  with my bad attitude, all day, my son showed me in a moment gratitude and mercy. It lifted me up. 

Dinner was delicious. Did you know you can use split peas like you would lentils, just have to watch the cooking time very carefully so they don't become mushy? Yep. Salad was perfectly tasty.

God is good and so is my son.