Friday, November 17, 2006

Movie day!

Friday is the day of choice for the kids in this family because friday means it's movie day!! In fact E measures the days of the week by how close they are to friday :-) They get to pile onto the couch (why did I buy a white couch btw? why didn't people tell me that was a bad idea for someone who wanted a bunch of kids one day?... anyways, I digress).

Since we don't have a television per se, we pull the laptop onto the coffee table and drag it as close as it can get to the couch for the real big screen, full sound experience. Today they are going to watch Prince of Egypt. Let's call this our history class for the day... and we can mix in a music class too because Prince of Egypt is a musical... oh, and don't forget religion class! I like this movie!!

Mommy loves movie day too, because not only do I get a break for a few hours, and I can also clean up the house faster than they can unclean it!

I also love movie day because it means that E is very motivated to get through her reading and math. Today she did SUCH a good job at reading.. it's really starting to 'click' for her. She read to me for about 45 min out of some little readers we have, and I'm just thrilled that she's starting to get it.

For math, we are working on memorizing the +2 facts. We're going through math-u-see but we've stopped for a bit and are focusing on memorizing the math facts before we move on. That's what I like about being the teacher.. I can ignore the book and do what I want.

John Paul and Peter love movie day too, because it means that they can play on the floor without the danger of being stepped on or loved too much.. and they can practice rolling over. (Peter rolled this week!!).

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thankful Thursdays part 2

Last week I had lots of time to write about all the biggies because I was stuck in bed sick, and had the laptop to keep me company. This week will be considerably shorter considering the 5 children who all seem to need me the second I even think of typing something on the computer.
Thanks to Diane for hosting the carnival.
What am I thankful for this week?

the little, simple things:

1. The smell of cinnamon buns baking in my kitchen... and the sticky smiles of my children enjoying them. (a science experiment to follow up on our study of microbes -- yeast)

2. Books on tape, and Storynory that can entertain my children all day while I try to get some housework accomplished inbetween nursing and changing babies.

3. The nap that I was able to have yesterday afternoon when my dear friend Karin was here helping out with the babies

4. The six hours of sleep that the twins had before they woke me up to eat in the middle of the night, and the four hours right after that. Good babies!

5. The wonderful afternoon that Sean and I enjoyed without the kids last weekend while my amazing parents and sister babysat all five kids.

6. The cinnamon bun I just had for breakfast... yummy!

7. My new washer and dryer that allows me to do two and half loads at a time compared to my old one. LOVE it!!

8. Chinooks!!

9. Disposable diapers (we've used cloth with all the other kids, and i'm so happy that people have given us boxes and boxes of disposables as gifts for the twins, because as much as I love my new washer - see #7 above - I don't love washing diapers).

10. Real Learning, the book. I just bought this from Elizabeth Foss and I am enjoying every page.

SHopping time!

John Paul sleeping on his auntie... This weekend we had a BIG treat! My parents willingly offered to babysit all five kids at the same time so sean and I could go out by ourselves. We couldn't find any interesting movie to go watch, so we had fun strolling through the toy stores without the kids, buying christmas presents and stocking stuckers. It's acutally quite fun to go into toy stores when you have no kids with you. you can imagine how your well behaved children will play politely and quietly with all of the new toys, and how they will develop creativity and learn to share.... It's also just plain fun to fall back to the child you used to be and imagine all the fun you would have had with these toys.

We ended up at the bookstore later that afternoon, and discovered the secret to the toy clutter problem that plagues our house: books!!! With five kids, calculating in birthdays and christmas, we have approximately 50 presents a year entering into our house (yikes!!) from relatives alone, and so we decided that the presents we have control over need to be fill some requirements:
1) small (so they don't take up lots of space)
2) timeless (so the youngest child can still use a present that the oldest child outgrew years ago)
3) durable (so they last longer than a few weeks)
4) educational (we are homeschooling here and need all the help we can get !!)

Books cover all four requirements and more, so we had a blast looking through all the titles in the store and thinking of other ones we'd like to get. Books even solved the question of "What do you get for your twin babies for christmas when they have everything and more?". Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

How can you tell...

...if a baby is a boy or a girl when they are first born if they don't have any clothes on?
E wondered this aloud recently when the boys were born, thinking quite deeply about the question, because as she knew, they weren't born with dresses or pants on.

Ah ha! she told us she had found the answer: Boys have short eyelashes and girls have long ones.

Then, thinking how to delicately explain this to her, I told her I knew an even better way to tell: They go to the bathroom differently.

She just laughed and laughed at me and said in her patronizing voice: Mommy! babies don't GO to the bathroom!! You change their diaper!

oh yeah right.. how could i forget :-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

today... some schoolwork!

Having just about recovered from another nasty bout of mastitis (grrrrrr!), I felt well enough to try and entice the kids into doing some school work this morning. We got a lot done for not having done much for a few months!


We finished up the chapter on 'solving for the unknown' (a fancy way to say begining algebra for first graders... the way her math program introduces subtraction). Notice how E took the time to illustrate the two word problems. The first has two tennis players with the correct number of balls, and the second problem has 4 people at the table playing a game with a party going on around them. She patiently takes the time to draw all these pictures, making math last much longer than I think it should... but her 'doodles' are so much more productive than any of my schoolwork doodles ever were :-) Since having the twins, I've learned to slow down a lot and relax my expectations of life.... so math doodles are quite charming to me right now.Spelling/Reading

We are working on List E in SWR again, and she actually remember quite a bit of her spelling. I was proud of her!! She learned words like 'this, look, may, your, short'. We also reviewed all of the phonograms so far and she remembered most of them. (more than I remembered actually!)

Language Arts

We are working on memorizing a new poem and chose one by Robert Louis Stevenson called "Whole Duty of Children"

A child should always say what's true
And speak when he is spoken to
And behave mannerly at table
At least as much as he is able.

She can memorize so fast that I think she already knows the whole poem. The lesson plans in her FLL book allow a few weeks for her to learn it, so I think we will be modifying those. She also practiced her handwriting while writing the title, and then illustrating the poem:

the first drawing is a person saying yes (what's true)
the seond drawing is of a person saying "i did" (speak when spoken to)
the third is someone behaving at the table.. notice the napkin on their lap.

Cinematography (a relatively new course at our school)

Now the children are watching the 'making of mary poppins' and learning all sorts of interesting things :-) They actually ASKED for the special features on the mary poppins DVD for their weekly friday movie. (they watch it on daddy's laptop).

Now it's only 10am and I'm watching the clock waiting for daddy to come home... looks like it's going to be a long day here. Maybe we'll have to do more of our home economics class and get the laundry and dishes done. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thankful Thursday

Lisa at JoyfulChaos is hosting a blog carnival of sorts each Thursday through the month of November where we are supposed to write 10 things that we are thankful for, and since I have had so many blessings one after another in the past few years, I thought I would join in on the fun. Especially since I have been sick the past two days, and need a fresh perspective on life.

Ten Things to be thankful for

1. My husband...
My charming, handsome, gentle, and incredibly strong husband. The joy of my life and my best friend. I know it must be hard to be the breadwinner in a single income family with 5 small children in this day and age. He gives his all at his job during the day, and when he comes home, he gives us even more. He cleans up the kitchen, bathes the kids, reads stories and puts them to bed each night, and since the twins have been born he has often done it all carrying a baby in an arm, or on his chest in a baby carrier. When I'm sick, he doesn't hesitate to hop on a bus and come home as fast as he can to take care of me, and when I'm tired, he let's me sleep in, and brings breakfast (and lunch if need be) on a tray up to my bed. He has the most adorable smile, the strongest arms, and the wisest eyes I have ever known. I will always be thankful he asked me to marry him 7 years ago.

2. My Children

How could one mom be so blessed to have been given five precious children before she turned 31? They are all in the cutest years too: six years old, 3 1/2, 18 months, and 2 babies 6 weeks old. They have taught me better than anything else to let go of my selfishness and grow in generosity. They love me, even when I'm grumpy and mean to them. They draw me wonderful pictures, and give me the bestest hugs you could ever get. Even my little H gives me kisses each day. I always have reason to smile when they are around.

3. My extended family

With the birth of the twins, I have never felt so loved or taken care of. Everyone has surrounded us with their love and generosity. So many people our age live apart from their parents and siblings, growing their careers in different cities... but we have found the secret to a happy life: stay close to your family. We are so blessed to live near so many of our loved ones: Mom, dad, grandma, my sister and her husband, sean's parents and his brother and wife... They all add such joy to our life and the lives of our children. I can't imagine being able to manage my life without their love and support.

4. Our wonderful friends

When sean and I first got married we didn't feel like we had lots of friends, or even that we fit in anywhere. Being converts to Catholicism, we were sort of alienated from many of our protestant friends, and lost a lot in common with them, and we didn't know anyone in the catholic church because we were so new. We prayed often that one day God would find us some good friends and boy has he ever delivered on that!!!

We have always kept up a beautiful friendship with two of my friends from junior high and their husbands, and to this day they are so much fun to be with.. Especially now that they have their own babies!! There is such a comfort in being with a girlfriend you have known since you were only 12 or 13 years old.

We have also been given a large community of friends through Church and the various apostolates we are involved in. When the twins were born we were overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone. We have been given so many diapers that 6 weeks later I still haven't bought a single one, and our two freezers are so full of meals that we have no room for anything else!! I have also had so many people offer to come and play with the kids, take them out, read with E to help her schoolwork along, pick up groceries for me, pray for us, and even clean my house for me. People I hardly even know have been helping us.
Friends add such a richness to my life. I only hope that I can be as good of a friend to others when they need me.

5. My faith

I'm not sure I would have been able to get through the shock of finding out we had twins, having them born the next day at home before the paramedics got here, having them in the hospital for 2 weeks, and having sean go back to work so soon leaving me home with 5 kids under six, without my faith.

Through my whole tiring pregnancy, and the craziness that came afterwards, I always had my faith to keep me strong, and hold me up. I have a tendency to become a real worrier, and my faith has allowed me to take one step at a time, not worrying about what is to come after the next step.

When I think of all the coincidences and timing of everything to do with this pregnancy and birth, I can clearly see that God was taking care of us. Firstly, we weren't even trying to get pregnant this time. We wanted more children eventually, but right then we were taking a little break, or so we thought... (of course we are always open to the gift of new life, and were so excited when we found out we were pregnant, but the very fact that we weren't trying to get pregnant makes the twins even more of a gift and blessing to us). Secondly, I was on an airplane from Kelowna a mere 30 hours before the boys were born!! In fact, 30 hours before they were born, I didn't even know I was having twins. Thirdly, because my labour was so short, if sean hadn't been home at the time, I would have likely had to deliver the babies myself with three kids running around. Now that would have been a good news headline!! Fourth, they were born at home like I wanted, without any interventions and excitement of doctors and nurses whisking them away asap. Fifth, they were born on the feast day of the twins St. Cosmas and Damian. Cool! Sixth, Peter, who is named after my dear grandpa Pete who passed away two years ago, was baptized on the anniversary of his death. What a beautiful way to redeem that day.

6. Baby Carriers

I love baby carriers.. slings, pouches, wraps, backpacks, mei tais... It's so fun to pick out beautiful carriers to buy on the internet, and to hunt for bargains in the secondhand baby stores, and there's nothing that beats the feeling of carrying a newborn close to your heart in a carrier while he sleeps. Not to mention, how would I ever get anything done around here without them? We don't have lots of baby contraptions like swings and vibrating what-nots that play music and twinkle and sparkle to keep babies entertained. We don't really have room for them, and I can't leave babies that exposed to the antics of my other kids anyways. Plus, I love the physical contact with my babies, and they love it too, I'm sure. What a great invention!

7. Homeschooling

This has been such a blessing to our family. Firstly, on a practical level, I don't have to take my grade oner to school each day, bundling everyone up into the car in the morning and again in the afternoon. Secondly, the kids love being together, and I don't know what I'd do without my 6 year old's help during the day. Thirdly, I love learning alongside them, and watching them grow. It's such a joy to be with them all day each day.... oh, and it gives me great excuses to buy more books :-)

8. Books

We spend a lot of time each day here immersed in books. Whether listening to books on tape, or reading at the dinner table, or at bed time and nap time, our family loves books. Nothing can stretch your mind and take you places you haven't ever been like a good book. They promote creativity, concentration and patience, and expand your vocabulary and knowledge. We have so many books, we are running out of book shelves, and I am sure that we have paid for a few extra shelves of books at the library in late fees by now :-) I am currently feeling a bit lost here because I have read all of the fiction in the house, and haven't had the time to find a new good book to read. When I have a bath, it feels so empty without a book in hand.

9. Debt free living

Oh the freedom of not having debt hanging over your head. I am so thankful that my husband has been strong enough to lead our family out of all debt (except our mortgage of course). We live simply, and within our means. We have a small house, and one car, and we have been blessed with the generosity of friends and family where we have needs we can't meet ourselves. It's funny, the more we try to simplify our home and cut back on buying material goods, the less we want the stuff we already have! It seems like every week I'm sending a bag full of stuff to donate to the goodwill, and when requested to make a Christmas list up, I struggle to think of anything that I could possibly want or need (besides a housecleaner and more frozen meals LOL).

10. TV free house

More freedom!! We have been without a TV for so long I can't even remember now... Probably 8 years now. This has been a huge help in number 9 above, because we don't see the commercials, and all the cool stuff that the reality TV show people have. We don't know about all the new gadgets, the latest styles, and the fancy cars that 'everyone' has because we don't watch it on TV.

Also, we have so much more time for reading books together as a family, for playing games, going for walks, talking, and my favorite... Sleeping. The kids are so creative in their play, and rarely get bored. They know how to entertain themselves without me having to organize everything for them, and they don't even know what the latest and greatest toys and breakfast cereals are. I think that the secret to the success and happiness of our family is the lack of television.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

hide and seek... a mother's best friend

I just stumbled upon the most wonderful game for the kids to play. Hide-and-seek!!

You might think this often erupts into noisy chaos with kids running around like mad, but I have found the secret to this game quite by accident....

You see, after playing this game with their babysitter, and my new mother's helper (God bless her heart), they thought they might like to try playing it by themselves when she left. E came running downstairs to hide in the perfect spot while Z and H were upstairs counting (so she said). After about five minutes of quiet all through the house I began to wonder if Z didn't think that HE was supposed to be the one hiding... I was about to go tell him his error when I came to my senses.

WHY on earth would I disturb three perfectly quiet children?... Especially right before dinner time when they are normally fighting and underfoot while I'm trying to make dinner. So I took the moment to take a deep breath, stir my sauce on the stove and relax. :-) Who knew I would find joy in such small things?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm not alone!!

I should be sleeping... the twins are asleep, the toddler is asleep, the preschooler is asleep, the grade one princess is asleep, my husband is out, and the house is so beautifully quiet.

I just couldn't resist a few minutes, however, to catch up on some good blog reading, and I'm so glad I did. There are many other Catholic homeschooling moms out there, and I have been enjoying reading about their lives. Especially this one at Three plus Two where a mom describes her crazy toddler twins and the trouble they get into. I giggled and giggled, and then prayed for help as I imagined my life next year.

If she can do it, so can I!! Thank you, dear God, for the companionship of other women... even if it is just a peak into each other's lives through the fun of blogging.

The new normal?

I have been advised by many wise people that instead of waiting for things to get back to 'normal' around here, I should redefine normal.. or perhaps get rid of the concept all together.

We are slowly adjusting to life with five little children 6 and under, and I am almost used to the sleep deprivation now. The other 3 kids are adjusting very well, and even enjoy having little babies in the house. (I think it's probably because the babies can be counted on to tie mommy to the couch for at least a half hour every 2-3 hours, so the others can get into all sorts of fun activities that would otherwise be forbidden).

So what have we been doing each day besides nursing babies and changing diapers?? Not much really... lots of playing, a bit of 'school', a few movie days on the couch, and a lot of reading stories. One of the joys we have discovered is listening to books on tape. Right now the kids are in the living room listening to Heidi (10 hours long.. that should keep them busy for awhile!!), and they have spent all of last week listening to old time radio shows for children.

We are also enjoying reading aloud Farmer Boy by Laura Ingills Wilder at dinner time after mommy and daddy are done eating, and the children are inevitably just starting their second bite. This has two benefits that I can see: The children are given time to finish their food without mommy or daddy having to cajole them, and we are all enriched with good literature. It's becoming a nice family tradition.

What I have learned

The one thing that I've learned through this whole new adventure is the virtue of humility. (Not humiliation... although I have that one down too, when people come over to see me still in my PJs at 3pm, with hair everywhere and milk all over my shirt, and toys strewn all through the house).

Learning humility for me has been allowing myself to let go of my perfectionism and pride, and allow other people to help me. To say yes to every offer of help that comes our way (and believe me we are overflowing with offers), and to admit that I can't do this by myself. Without humility I would be shut up inside my house alone (with five kids), pretending that I am supermom, and drowning in laundry, dishes, dust and diapers... and growing more and more grumpy and irritable each day.

Instead, God has given us the most wonderful gift of a community of people who have surrounded us with love and great generosity. I have rarely been without help since the babies were born 5 weeks ago. Every day someone either comes over and drops off a meal, throws in some laundry, reads to my little emerging reader, changes a diaper, or just settles in for nice adult conversation. Thank you with all my heart, to everyone who has shown their kindness and love towards us. I can say with certainty that we couldn't do this without you.

The only reason I can see that God chose to bless us with twins is not that he knew WE could handle it, but that he knew YOU could handle it. He had such faith and trust in our community of friends and family, that he knew he could leave us all in your kind, generous hands.

Thank You.

What will it be like when the TWINS are this age?

What is life going to be like in another year and a half, if this is the kind of trouble my other toddler and preschooler can get into??

This morning, after taking a shower, I came downstairs to discover my mischevious little monkeys stuffing handfulls of sugar into their mouths... the day after halloween to boot! What a mess!! sugar in the hair, on the clothes, on the floor, and then all over the vacuum brush, and the bathroom towel.

Shortly after this adventure, while I was still vacuuming up the sugar, I found my little princess perched on the kitchen table dumping the salt out of the salt shaker and tasting it. Sigh... I think she'll be either a great scientist (such wonderful curiosity), or perhaps a mother to her own set of toddlers to clean up after.

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