Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monday Minutes, again on a Tuesday

Outside my window:
:: Bugs. Bugs. Bugs. The weather warmed back up again and now the bugs are in overdrive. Yesterday afternoon it sounded as if hail was hitting the house because of all the bugs flying into windows and the gutters. The good news is that with the warmer weather there will be another Homeschool Park Day that we can attend, so it's not all bad. But I'm realllllllly tired of having to use the basement entry just because the other doors are covered in seed bugs and wasps.

I am thankful:
:: the bills are coming in from Nugget's birth. They're not nearly as bad as we were expecting. Granted I hit the deductible and out of pocket maximums, but we should be able to get everything paid off lickity-split.

I am thinking:
:: My mom is having surgery today to install some more hardware for management of the Parkinson's. I'm just a-waiting for my Dad to call me after the surgery is over and she's in recovery.

I am working on:
:: getting blog posts out of the draft pile. I've been going through my pictures from our trip to the ghost town and editing them for the web, and I need to do some wrap-ups of our scholastic endeavors. It seems like whenever I try to do so, something happens that needs my immediate attention.

I am praying:
:: special birthday blessings for my Grandmother, who turns 94 this week
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
:: Working through my queue, with more books being added to it. The Autism seminar headed up by Temple Grandin was canceled, so I'm going to do the next best thing and read a bunch of books she wrote.

Around the house:
:: Moose has taken an interest in cooking. I let him look through a kid's cookbook we have and pick out some recipes (Spaghetti Lasagna, Tacos, Chili con carne, and Rice Krispie treats). We made the Spaghetti Lasagna last night, which turned out to be quite good.

Clicking around on the web:
:: If you need affordable, nice clothes; may I direct your attention here. I purchased two skirts and a button-up for $17 shipped.
:: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle: Read This, Not That -  I loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle growing up. Auntie Leila's post was a nice reminder of the stories. I scuttled off to the local library and checked-out the *one* book that wasn't updated. It is a total smash-hit around here and the books have been added to the "must buy" list.

Living the Liturgical Year
:: Today is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul and this weekend is the feast day of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Thursday is the feast of the Holy Archangels. Friday is St. Jerome!

One of my favorite things:
:: Wok has really taken off in her ability to write, which is exciting.
"P-L-A-Y-P-L-A-A-P-P-L"
Like Peanut, she's right-handed, which is humorous as Greg and I are left-handed. She's been using Discovery K12's pre-school and a Kumon workbook of uppercase letters to learn how to write. It's probably her favorite "school thing" to do. Many times I've found pieces of paper with letters all over them - school work from Peanut and Moose, construction paper, the backside of bills - the wall even! I've had to make sure appropriate paper is in Wok's reach for her at all times!

:: And Peanut's figured out that reading isn't a bad thing, and that given the right book it can be fun. For her independent reading, she kept selecting low-level readers like Biscuit to read. I finally got tired of it and gave her C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to read. Each day when she wakes up, she comes upstairs and tells me which chapter she's on and narrating what's been going on in the story.

She gets a lot of practice reading to Nugget, who (as evidenced by the photo below) loves to be read to.
"Mom, he fell asleep while I read to him! SO CUTTTEEEE!!!"
This week's plans:
:: Speech therapy
:: Well-child visits for Nugget and Wok
:: Health assessment for Greg
:: My Grandma's birthday

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesdsay Minutes

Outside my window:
:: After a few days of warmth, we're sliding back into colder temperatures and rain. I'm looking forward to that, as it will put the kibosh on some of the local wildlife that is driving me insane.

I am thankful:
:: We managed to head out of town on Saturday for Living History Weekend at the nearby ghost town. The kids had a blast. It was by far one of the coolest things we've done for school. They panned for garnets (having a mom with a geology degree came in SUPER handy for them), watched miners pan for gold, learned about goods and foods from the 19th century (now when we read Laura Ingalls Wilder again, they'll have a better idea of the inside of a general store, etc), watched the cavalry protect a stagecoach of gold, and more. I have a bunch of pictures to post, so watch for that down the road.

:: Our ASD kiddo used sarcasm today. SARCASM! I probably shouldn't be this excited but I am. :P

I am thinking:
:: Our new routine is going well. Wok and Moose do school in the morning takes me about an hour and a half; and I get time in the late morning to clean/eat/putter; and Peanut does her school in the afternoon. The troops aren't impressed with the chores but too bad for them. I think we may have finally worked out most of the kinks.

I am working on:
:: patience with the wildlife. As the temperatures flex between cool and warm, the bugs are disappearing and reappearing. The most annoying of the bugs, the western conifer seed bug; is the worst offender. They have made it so some doors to the house are inaccessible unless you want to hear a delightful *crunch crunch* and deal with the resulting stench. GAG GAG GAG. Sometimes they get into the house, which is even more annoying. I go after them with the vacuum cleaner as I'm not skilled enough to get them out with a tissue without them spraying. They're like an insect version of skunks.

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
:: I have a lot of books in queue. :-/
Homeschooling refreshment and inspiration
Special-needs homeschooling, since that will be my reality
Borrowing from the parish library
Around the house:
:: We are having someone from the power company come out to the house to do an energy audit and (hopefully) find ways to reduce our heating and electricity bill. We've done all the major things - LED lights, programmable thermostat (set somewhat low, although when there's a newborn in the house we raise it a couple of degrees), making sure lights are off, etc. It will be interesting to see what they find.

Clicking around on the web:
:: Read-aloud Revival podcast #51: The Golden Age in Children's Books - in case you need some ideas for read-alouds (or are like me and thoroughly unimpressed with series like Captain Underpants)
:: Leisure, the Basis of Culture: An Obscure German Philosopher’s Timely 1948 Manifesto for Reclaiming Our Human Dignity in a Culture of Workaholism - Everyone who has read the book has absolutely raved about it. I need to get out of my "to read" book list and actually read it. This article only reinforces that decision.

Living the Liturgical Year
:: This week is the feast of St. Matthew as as well as St. Pio. The Holy Card of the Week from the parish was Padre Pio, who Moose immediately recognized. Additional patron saint for Moose? Possibly!

One of my favorite things:
:: Wok turned four over the weekend. I can't believe she's four now. She is starting to settle down a little, essentially passing the torch of high-strungness to Little Miss Sunshine. Remember the old Loony Toons with the Tasmanian Devil circling about? That's LMS these days.

Wok adores her preschool. I very seriously contemplated putting her in the local Montessori preschool, as they had a few spots open for part-time preschool. It didn't work out in the end but I do have some more preschool-y books coming for her to use.

This week's plans:
:: Speech therapy
:: Energy audit on the house
:: Grandma's birthday
:: Attend an Autism seminar headed up by Temple Grandin (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: COLD. I forgot to set the thermostat from "off" to "heat", so it was a little nippy in the house this morning. We had set the basement thermostat to turn the heater on when it got cold enough but forgot the upstairs thermostat. Oops.

I am thankful:
:: We got the insurance fiasco figured out, finally. So glad everything worked itself out without an issue.

:: We made it to homeschool park day last week, which was fantastic. I think four families showed up which literally amounted to about 30 kids. I hung out for two hours chatting with a mom who pretty much has the same struggles I have with scheduling and the like. I got some good ideas from her, hopefully I could give her some good ideas. Definitely helps to not feel alone in the trenches anymore.


I am thinking:
:: The time is right to send our ASD kiddo back to the occupational therapist for a re-evaluation/second opinion. Now that we've had a trial by fire, we are using an OT who specializes in Autistic kids and will refuse anything that has to do with sensory processing disorder (although I know there's an issue there, we just can't treat it - thanks, insurance).

The referral has been made, so now we just hang out and wait for the OT to call.

I also discovered that there are two BCBA's locally (Board Certified Behavior Analyst). Fingers crossed that 1) they work with Autistic kids 2) take our insurance 3) are accepting new kiddos. We are also batting around additional evaluations for our kiddo, to make sure we are identifying all possible issues that will be impacting them.

I am working on:
:: creating chore charts and visual schedules to keep everyone focused on what needs to be done at the right time. For example, the bedtime routine - I simply can't facilitate everyone's routine. The Olders should be able to do it on their own, yet there's a lot of whining (aka stalling). Time to nip that in the bud.

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
::  The Catholic Family Handbook (complete text online at EWTN for free!)


Around the house:
:: This week, I'm going to start delegating the chores around here to the kids and see how they do. I simply do not have enough brain power/mama power/etc to do it all. I've enlisted Greg as well.

Clicking around on the web:
:: Visual schedules! Using the bathroom | Self-care | Bedtime | A whole bunch of different ones
:: I totally love this chore chart.

Living the Liturgical Year
:: Today is the memorial of the Holy Name of Mary. We already talked about the history of today's memorial. The feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross as well as Our Lady of Sorrows is this week, as well. Lots of things to celebrate. Mary, Queen of Families, pray for us!

One of my favorite things:
:: The Olders have decided that the neighbor's tree is the perfect place to play Lemur Kingdom. Thankfully the neighbors agree, as the kids shake apples down for the Urban Deer to eat.

This week's plans:
:: Speech therapy
:: Visit my aunt
:: Ghost town field trip (depending on the weather)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up #2: Coming Up for Air

Last week was a learning curve adjusting to the curriculum, this week is a learning curve adjusting to the schedule.

We were doing well with getting everything accomplished that needed to be accomplished until a giant wrench was thrown into our working machine. We started to run into problems of Peanut's work taking a while to do - and by the time Moose was ready he was tired and not feeling the school thing. We adapted by having Moose and Wok do their work in the morning and Peanut gets the rest of the day. This has worked well, so we'll keep it for the time being.

Another thing that we changed was homeschool preschool for Wok. In the years past, preschool has never been overly formal, just the standard early learning that happens organically. Wok had been asking for school to do, so I gave her a dollar store workbook to color in. She still complained and asked for more.

I am pretty much against any kind of super structured preschool, but I'm also against putting all kids in the same educational mold. Peanut wasn't interested in preschool, Moose probably could use another year of no school (but dang that compulsory age coming up soon), and Wok is begging for preschool. I noticed that Discovery K12 has a pre-K program - so guess who has preschool now? :) She has loved it.
Wok's preschool worksheets
My plan with preschool is to let her guide - if she wants to do it and use the worksheets and watch the videos, fine. If not, I may prompt her but I won't force her. As I'm just now getting this up on a Sunday (sigh), Wok has asked me to do preschool. SO, full steam ahead with her.

We're getting into a groove again yet I still find myself crazy busy with homeschooling, keeping the house clean (but not freaky deep clean, that's still relegated to Saturday), playing with everyone, feeding Nugget, etc. I had a good conversation with a mom at Homeschool Park Day, and I have some ideas on getting chores into the mix, now that everyone is mostly adjusted to a slightly heavier workload. I think that will help me not feel so busy.

On to the next week!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: I think summer has finally ended. It's been overcast and rainy all weekend, and the high over the two weeks is in the mid-70's. Leaves are starting to change again and the birds are getting scarce (except for the magpies). Bugs of all shapes and sizes are trying to infiltrate the house, some successful; most not.

I am thankful:
:: Greg had some suspicious moles removed last week, and at his doctor's appointment to remove the stitches he was informed that they were benign. Deo gratias!!

:: my parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary over the weekend. :)

I am thinking:
:: I need to adjust the quantities of food we buy, as 3 gallons of milk pretty much disappeared in the blink of an eye. Buy stock in Costco, people!

I am working on:
:: trying to get Nugget's insurance figured out. We called from the hospital to get him on the insurance, which we were told was pending. Once we delivered his birth certificate he would be 'activated'. A few days later I received a letter telling me the same thing. We dropped his birth certificate off (after being notified that it had been deleted from the website I was directed to use) in person, the receptionist looked him up, found his pending application, and said it was complete and would be processed.

We took him to his check-ups and told the doctors offices that his insurance was pending, etc etc etc. So now we're starting to get bills. We called the insurance office, and they have no record of him in their system. I can't even. We're waiting a callback to figure out what the heck is going on, telling doctor's offices there's an issue, and trying to figure it all out. Such. A. Mess.

:: trying to find something to chew on for our ASD child, who has taken a liking to chewing on pens. 

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
Around the house:
:: The last project for the basement is wrapping up - making the shower surround in the basement bathroom waterproof. We were originally going to go with tile, but scrapped that because we're not professional tilers. We opted for a vinyl surround, instead. We still have a few last minute things to do (sealing), but when that's done Peanut and Moose will be able to shower in the basement (which is fantastic when you have 5 kids who all need to be bathed at once - as much as I try to prevent that from happening, sometimes it does).

Clicking around on the web:
:: Nope - not this week!

Living the Liturgical Year
:: Yesterday was the first feast day of St. Teresa of Calcutta. I highly suggest watching The Letters if you can (it's on Netflix and Amazon). Greg and I found it very well-done and there wasn't any Catholic bashing. Awesome!

One of my favorite things:
:: Nugget cuddles, so sweet!

This week's plans:
:: Speech therapy
:: Doctor appointment for Greg

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up #1: First Week Edition

Our first week of school went very, very well.

Of course, there was some drama but it was quickly nipped in the bud. For the most part, Peanut and Moose are enjoying the change to Kolbe Academy. Peanut had a bit of a learning curve but she adapted nicely.

The schedule worked itself out, as well. Our days are pretty much the same, except for various things like doctor appointments, speech therapy, other appointments, etc. I quickly found out on the first day that Moose and Peanut need to have separate work time for some subjects. Math, for example; they need to be split up. The subjects I combined them on they have no problems with.

So for now; our schedule goes as follows:

Morning
- Greg wakes up freakishly early and makes a huge plate of eggs, etc for whoever is up (usually Little Miss Sunshine and Peanut). The rest of us arrive not too long after. I take over breakfast duties + cleanup when Greg heads to work.
- Get everyone dressed, diapers changed, etc. Hang out and play until it's time for Nugget to nap.
- Work with Peanut until we finish her work or get to a stopping point. Little Miss Sunshine and Wok typically play dolls together and Moose is working on Legos. I give Peanut 30 minutes to do each subject - if she doesn't finish all of her math (for example), she works on the rest after lunch. Nugget is usually awake at this point.

Afternoon
- Little Miss Sunshine naps, as does Nugget.
- Work with Moose. I don't time him, but his lessons are shorter than Peanut's. Peanut works on any unfinished work from the morning. Wok does her "school" which consists of writing the letter "I" and drawing people.
- Grandparents visit (if it doesn't happen in the morning).
- Peanut and Moose head over to visit their friends once they're out of school
- Chore time + dinner prep.

We do our combined subjects after dinner - we call it the Learning Basket, and it's a nice transition to bedtime. Plus, Greg's around for crowd control and he can listen to some of what we're doing, as well.

One thing I learned is that the science I selected for Moose is too easy. I went ahead and ordered a copy of the Harcourt Science Grade 2, which Kolbe suggests for grades 1 and 2. It will be a week or so before it arrives, so he's been listening in during Peanut's science.

Additionally, Saturday will have to be my deep cleaning day. I can do basic cleaning throughout the week, but everything else will have to wait. My cleaning systems that I honed while pregnant with Nugget are now shelved until a less busy season.

Despite the busyness, everyone is enjoying the new rhythm. I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but it's a good exhaustion - if that makes sense.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: Another bumpy road, weather wise. Heats up and cools off, all within the same week. There's a fire near us and the air gets very smokey every now and then. I'm looking forward to slightly cooler temperatures so we can spend more time outside without feeling like we're in a skillet.

I am thankful:
:: After Nugget was born, we went to a different Mass time while we adjusted. We finally made it back to our "regular" Mass time yesterday. Everyone was very happy to see us - many people figured out that I had had Nugget and were eagerly awaiting our return. Lots of people offered babysitting (for the entire flock!), and of course; many a Grandma and Grandpa were falling all over Nugget. As I told Greg after Mass, it's nice to go to a place where people all understand the dynamics of our flock, they know who has Autism and roll with it - the greeters keep an eye on our ASD kiddo during stimming (since it's done away from the Sanctuary) while I fed Nugget, etc. There are several other large families who attend, and other kids on the spectrum also attend this Mass. No one bats an eye. :-)

I am thinking:
:: I'm ready for getting the school year underway. I think everyone is ready to get back into the swing of things.

I am working on:
:: cleaning out my recipe binder. It needs a good clean-out. I treated myself to a NICE recipe binder, this one in particular:
I've amassed a large collection of recipes, but for this organizer I only want to put the ones that are smash hits with the family. It should make it much easier when I menu-plan and still leave room for trying new recipes out. 

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
We're borrowing this book from Peanut's friend - it's a nice, light story that Peanut is thoroughly enjoying.
Pondering these words:
:: Sunday's homily was about the difference between humility and being humbled. It was very thought-provoking, and even made an impact on Peanut. One of the questions Father posed to us - are we teaching our kids humility?

Around the house:
:: You guys. We finished the floor and the rooms in the basement - entirely! The kids have their own rooms, the floor is in, the schoolroom is a-maze-ing. The last thing left to do is tile the shower surround in the basement bathroom and then the basement is 100% done. Both Peanut and Moose are loving their new rooms, and the anxiety level in the house has dropped now that that's done. DEO GRATIAS!
Our bright and sunny school room. We're going to put in more shelving where the lumber is standing.
Clicking around on the web:
:: Texas Teacher Defends No-Homework Policy -I'd love to see more schools and teacher adopt this policy.
:: After Death: A Husband's Final Act of Love for his Wife - I cried. A lot.
:: When Your Ten Year Old Can't Read - Something to keep in mind as we begin this lovely new school year.
:: Homeschooling Twice Exceptional Kids - This hit home in a big way.
:: The Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher - a little motivation for the school year.

Living the Liturgical Year
:: Greg's name day is this week - he gets to choose a special dinner.

One of my favorite things:
:: Nugget and how much everyone loves him. There's still bouts of sibling rivalry but for the most part; everyone is still smitten with him (who is now 2 pounds over his birth weight).

This week's plans:
:: Speech therapy
:: Doctor appointment for Greg
:: Nugget's Baptism!!
:: Begin our school "year".