Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The hardest part about homeschooling...

... I have not even begun to see, although I have barely treading water here. I know God has called me to this, and so I must "cement my mission" as it is described in this post, from someone else... again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When we both need a hero at 5:00... a re-posting

My precious friend Erin lives too far away. But she has a wonderful blog that helps me to know how she's doing... more than just pictures of her beautiful, growing children, but how her sweet soul is doing, too.

That's why today, I am choosing to post a wonderful blog post from Humble Handmaid...

Thanks, Erin, for this fantastic, holy, and life-giving post.

Monday, August 19, 2013

John P'auls First Day of School!

Just wanted to fill you in like other mom's who's kids go to "regular school." We had a great day, and I know that schedules were the reason. I have devised a schedule for everything and everyone through 4 o'clock, because while I love organizations, charts, and lists, I am also borderline crazy and have 4 children 5 and under. So for all those people at the grocery store who say, "How do you do it?" the answer, besides grace, is my rule... I'll explain:
 I have these schedules do my thinking for me, so I know that breakfast on Mondays is Cinnamon toast and yogurt, the main chore for me is David and I's clothes, the little kids will have stickers, crayons, and paper at the big table to occupy them if they so choose to have "school" too, and lunch is PBJ's and fruit. Mother's Rule of Life and one of my closest friends have given me great practical tips on pulling this off.

Hard to believe, but I was able to do daily readings, Liturgy of the Hours, breakfast, Monday's laundry, school, exercise (by exercise I mean like 5 minutes of lifting weights, but whatever), dishes, outside time, and lunch all before noon mass. Now the very obvious thing missing here is real quality time with the other kiddos, and I pray God will provide that each day... one day at a time.

Here's his class room... if you've been to my house, it's the foyer:
Here's my sweet little man at his desk on his first day of school!

"Look! That's me holding a plane!" He has also asked me to write "John Paul is 5"

Micah Philip- 12 weeks and 4 days of preciousness! JP has asked me to write "Therese is 3"

And little of what he's up to these days: at this age he is already putting his hands together, grabbing his feet, grabbing at objects in his bouncy seat, and he has (no joke) rolled from front to back.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Homeschooling... buckle up!

I can say with a large amount of truth behind it that we attempted homeschooling with John Paul for his Pre-K year, which was last year. I can also admit that what started out as a scheduled, fully interactive homeschool experience quickly tanked when we found out that we were pregnant... or really more when the first trimester's joy really settled in. So with the help of Catholic Icing and a very large workbook of all skills pre-K, John Paul finished the "School year" with a great amount of skills and knowledge needed to say that we did a good job and that he was educated at home for that year.

All the while, David and I discerned, discussed, cried (ok, it was just me who cried), and prayed hard about what God's plan for John Paul's Kindergarten year would bring. We are blessed in Lake Charles to have public schools as not only a viable option, but a very good option for educating our kids. We also have great Catholic Schools from which to choose. So we didn't feel like we had no choice. And so, [insert very big sigh] John Paul will be at home this year. I will be using a Catholic curriculum  and his little classroom will be our foyer, so that he can concentrate. I have lots of little activities for Therese and Jacob, who will no doubt be wondering what John Paul is up to... so the foyer classroom may need to be moved to our kitchen table OR a total revamping of our guest room, which has really become a toss room.

I am nervous, and frankly though I have a bachelors and a master's in child development and early childhood education, I have seen that book knowledge means not a whole lot when the rubber meets the road. God will provide... he will HAVE to provide... did I mention we have a 12-week old, a precocious 3 1/3 year old, and a mama's boy 21 month old? We know this is the best choice- God's choice- for our family this school year, and He has been faithful to us all throughout our journey of marriage and family life... don't think He's gonna ease up on that now.

I have found fantastic help from friends who've home schooled as well great resources online! I wonder how homeschoolers did it without the internet? without free printables? without support? with activity ideas for your little ones? without scheduling help?

Social interaction, you ask? Did I mention we have a 12-week old, a 3 1/2 year old, and a 21 month old? He has plenty! You will see pics quite soon of John Paul at his desk in his classroom... if I could just find my camera!

So... field trip anyone?

Monday, August 12, 2013

John Paul is 5, y'all!

Our eldest has reached 5 years old. I breathe a sigh of relief today in the midst of the joy. I have heard quite recently that the first 5 years of parenting are the most difficult. God has brought us through it... and given us 6 children in the last five years. Praise Him for His Goodness to us! So who is John Paul?

The first moments after his birth were overwhelming joy and exhaustion. He needed that first heel stick, and David slapped on a rubber glove and put his pinky in John Paul's little mouth to help him soothe himself while getting the stick.

I had labored (we had labored) for 25 hours, and we waited to find out what he was. So David took too long to tell me that I yelled, "WHAT IS IT?!?" He later informed me that there was "so much going on down there" that he really couldn't tell for a bit.

After he was wrapped up and in David's arms (and I was covered up as well), a crowd of our family and friends came into the room and David said, "I would like you to meet somebody. This is John Paul." Not a dry eye in the room, y'all.

 The first 6 months were no piece of cake. We were basically alone in Plaquemine, LA, David taught religion and coached high school girls' basket ball, and I stayed home. But somehow, he didn't seem to notice, and he really was a happy baby. I honestly cannot tell you if he was a textbook baby, early, late bloomer, or if he was a super easy baby. I only remember that he didn't have colic, he slept through the night 1 time until he was weaned at 14 months (after receiving his 8 weeks shots), and he thought Daddy was the greatest. I remember we rented blockbuster movies (before switching to netflix to save some money) almost every night for the first 4 months or so because the nursing/rocking/bedding process seemed to take so long, and we distracted ourselves from it's difficulty by watching a movie while it was going on. I was so focused on making him a convenient baby (sleeping all night, napping for hours, etc) that I wished away those precious few months, something I will always regret. But God has gifted me with Micah, who looks so stinkin' similar to John Paul that I feel like He's given me a chance to enjoy these first few months... like a do-over somehow.

Our first summer as parents we felt called to return to camp- where we first met 6 years prior- and David ran the girls' paddling program, while John Paul and I did the camp thing in North Carolina. A mobile, but not-walking baby boy... how did I do that? He was so overstimulated that he woke up at least 3 times a night. Lots of singing and shouting and lots and lots of girls wanting to hold him all day. That would overstimulate anyone. He was a champ, and he stole many hearts.

 We returned to LA the week that John Paul turned a year old... and were preparing to move to Lake Charles bc David had become the new High School youth minister for OLQH!

 We had a precious little man and were expecting our second baby. That first month we were in town, we met and fell in love with one of John Paul's favorite people...

I'm not for arranged marriage per say, but Giana Lewis is my pick. I can already see this picture at the sign in table of their wedding reception. Don't worry, he's not called to priesthood... that's Jacob.

We then welcomed our little girl...

We call this one, "I kissed Therese"

Then came his second birthday...

He has always been a loving, observant, and predictable little boy. He is dead set on justice for all, and he helps remind me of what I need to do next (bc he needs to know what comes next). David describes him as the runner on the bottom of the screen on Fox News. I never cease to have a play-by-play on everything that goes on... he keeps us strait!

He turned three, and a few months later, we welcomed Jacob Joseph...

      (in case you're wondering, that really is Jacob in John Paul's arms. If you can believe it all four children came out with dark complected skin and dark hair. They all lost all their hair within in the first month, and they all "lightened" up by 2 months.)

We celebrated his fourth birthday during his first trip to Colorado (thanks Granny and Grandpa). We spent time with our Colorado family!

John Paul's fourth year has been one of joy and challenge, as he has really grown into his big wonderful intelligent personality. We attempted some homeschooling for pre-K, and he dropped his nap, but would (and still) rests quietly while everyone (including mama) rests in the house. This kid is awesome, y'all!
John Paul and Liam at T's 3rd birthday party

We welcomed Micah in May, and John Paul has blown us away at his thoughtfulness ("Mom, thank you for nursing Micah") , his joy in his siblings ("Mom, can I pull up a chair and watch Micah while he sleeps/ while you nurse him?"), his desire to take care of them ("Mom, I'll rock him to sleep" "Jacob's awake, can I go see him?") and his intelligence (We're starting Kindergarten at home, and he is reading some and can recognize numbers through 100). Fine motor is... coming along. He's a boy, ya know?

I would be remiss if I didn't give a plug for his namesake who will be made a saint this year...
John Paul II, pray for us!
I'll conclude with a "thanks" for being willing to let me brag about my baby... and for putting up with lots of "just-birthed-a-baby" photos of me. 
And a prayer...

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of our son John Paul. Thank you for all the ways that you have blessed us and challenged us. We never knew it was possible to  love in this way, and we praise you for counting us worthy to be his earthly parents and co-creators of his life with you. We pray that he knows he is loved and cherished just as he is and not as we wish him to be. We pray for his vocation, that he may be connected to you and know what you desire for his life. We pray that we will always pray for guidance before we decide ourselves and that we always remember that he is your child. Bless him abundantly today and every day until he is with you in Heaven. Amen

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dancing in the Minefield...

David and I will be married 6 years on September 8th. We have four children on earth, two in Heaven, and at present we are neck deep in transition. David is now the director of marriage and family life for the Diocese of Lake Charles while still keeping his job at Our Lady Queen of Heaven part time, we are preparing to begin homeschooling John Paul, who turns five next week, and we are 10 weeks into welcoming our precious little treasure Micah Philip. Life is a lot of work right now, and finding the joy takes more energy than other times. We're both really tired most days. Our prayers as a couple (when we do pray together) are intense and are done with our last fatigued words and thoughts of the day. I know that the days are long, but the years are short, and I have to tell you that I am smack dab in the middle of my deepest, and wildest dream: raising a family and enjoying a life with a man who is beyond anything/one I could have asked for or imagine...

" 'Cause we bare the light of the Son of Man, so there's nothing left to fear. So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands 'til the shadows disappear. 'Cause He promised not to leave us, and His promises are true. So in the midst of all this chaos maybe I can dance with you."

So to you, my sweet spouse, let's dance...