Archive for July 2011

7 Quick Takes (v. 54)

July 29, 2011

1.  This has been one of those mornings where the three-year-old follows me around whimpering and crying because she needs to poop but is scared to poop because she knows it will hurt.  It doesn’t help that this is the same child who will only eat junk food and chocolate milk.  I really need to get back in the habit of making sure she gets her daily vitamin and spiking her milk with Miralax, but I have a feeling that it is almost suppository time.  This is one of the rare times I envy my friends who are childless by choice.

2.  Reading some of the unfair stuff posted by the atheist haters to Jen’s NCR blog posts made me kind of sick.  But it also really struck me how similar they are to anti-Catholic Christians.  They both denounce the Church for not being sola scriptura, rely solely on their own personal interpretations of scripture, and make all sorts of wild accusations about what the Church teaches based on what they’ve been told that it teaches rather than reading what the Church actually teaches and why.

3.  We have completely been off schedule for two weeks now.  First it was because of the heat wave, but this week it’s -um- mainly because I’ve been too lazy.  Wasting time on the computer is so much easier than cleaning the house or fighting with the kids to pick one item up off the floor.  Maybe next week we’ll get back on schedule…or not.

4.  I’ve become addicted to Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles, and I keep getting really pissed when I can’t get fifteen uninterrupted minutes to do a puzzle without someone needing a drink or food item (right now!), imagining that the baby has some sort of non-food item in her mouth (50/50 chance), getting into a screaming/hitting fight with someone else, or wanting to discuss in detail every costume on the Party City website that they might want to wear for Halloween (!!!!).  If this was Lent I would totally have to give up my logic puzzles, but for now I am just trying to choose more judicious times to work a few into my day.

5.  Yes, Halloween is three months away, but the kids are obsessing about their costumes now.  I wish I knew how to sew and wasn’t completely craft challenged because those things at the store are SO expensive.  But this year my parents are coming up for Piper’s birthday in early October, so maybe I can get them to defray some of the cost.

6.  This week we’ve been going out for nightly family walks to the nearby duck ponds.  Last night was particularly muggy, and when we got home we were surprised to receive a cold blast of air as soon as we entered our garage.  We don’t get cold blasts of air from the A/C anywhere in our house due to the lack of duct work (dumb builders).  Well, back in early spring we had a leaky water pipe that led to a big hole being opened in our garage ceiling, and apparently what little A/C blow we get has been blowing threw that hole into the garage.  Last night I rough patched it with card board and packing tape, but it makes getting that thing properly repaired an even higher priority.

7.  In a little less than 48 hours we’ll be leaving for Wrigley Field to see Sir Paul McCartney.  It will be my first time seeing him since 2002 when I was unknowingly pregnant with my first child.  My husband and that now 8-year-old child saw him last year in Nashville while I stayed with the newborn and two other girls at a nearby hotel.  They are excited to see him again, too.  And this time five-year-old Piper will see Paul for the first time ever!!  The two younger girls will be staying with Granny, but  who knows if they may one day get the chance to see him in concert if he tours for another five years.  We’ve been gearing up all week for the concert; I just hope the weather is nice.


7 Quick Takes (v. 53): It’s Like a Heat Wave

July 22, 2011

1.  Have you ever seen those sci-fi movies/shows where their oxygen gets cut off and just about the time everyone is going to pass out the clean cool air starts coming out of the vents again and they all press their faces to the vent trying to suck it in as fast as they can?  That was me five minutes ago in front of each window of our house trying to suck in the cold rainy air.  My worst fear is that this storm will pass in another five minutes and the horrifying heat will return.

2.  In a related note, I will NEVER again complain about how cold it is in the Chicago area for at least six to seven months of the year.

3.  I realized that we actually have five seasons in the Chicago area:  spring (2 months), scorching summer (2 months), fall (2 months), winter (3 months), and bitter winter (3 months).

4.  I can feel better about opening our windows to take in this cold air because this week we had Guardian Angel window guards professionally installed in all of our windows.  It was worth paying the wonderful company that did it, because they also put in two new stair gates in areas that I was having problems getting them to stay safely.  The owner of the company did our consult himself, and he’s been featured on Larry King and Oprah.

5.  It was so unbearably hot last night that the entire family camped out in the living room.  We spread thick blankets and sleeping bags on the floor and covered them with sheets that I stuck in the freezer for awhile.  Unfortunately the sheets didn’t hold their cold for very long, but I also positioned every single fan we own (like 6) along the perimeter so that we slept in a vortex of air.

6.  Have I mentioned that it’s been unbearably hot this week?

7.  I figure I’ll give it an hour, and if the heat doesn’t amp up to high I may try to wash all of the bed sheets to get all of the sweat build-up off.  But at least the house is getting aired out a little bit.  I have no doubt that it really needed it.  (And no, I really did not intend to steal Simcha Fisher’s Quick Takes topic.  The heat has just taken over our lives this week.)

7 Quick Takes (v. 52)

July 15, 2011


1.  Last Wednesday I took my two older girls (8 and 5) to see the new Selena Gomez movie Monte Carlo.  It’s rated PG, and it was nice to see a non-cartoon movie for tweens/teens that didn’t have a lot of foul language or sexual situations.  There is some romance but nothing more than a few kisses.  The cinematography of Paris and Monaco was beautiful.  And the bonus for me was that Dr. Who’s Catherine Tate had a minor role in the movie.

2.  Once again I felt the urge to buy a drying rack and take advantage of the hot, hot sun that hits our back deck most of the day.  I figure that if I only run my loads in the dryer for 30 minutes (to activate the fabric softener) and then air dry them the rest of the way I can save a little money.  Unfortunately, the condo association has been repainting my back deck this week, so I wasn’t able to use it much.

3.  The three older girls are going to stay the night at Granny’s today.  The plus is that we all get a break from each other.  The minus is that 24 hours is just not enough of a break sometimes.  It seems like I always have a to-do list a mile long, and then I try to squeeze in quality time with the dh (we’re hitting a steakhouse for dinner tonight) and a full night’s sleep without the three-year-old squishing me, the five-year-old waking up screaming in the night, or the eight-year-old needing to be taken to the hospital for stitches because she slipped while climbing on the bathroom counter.

4.  I am going through another stretch where I find myself hitting the library drive-thru every single day.  I either have holds to pick up or more commonly I have a load of books that need to be dropped off.  The library always sends me a courtesy notice three days before  any books are due.  But of course I can never find all of the books at the same time, so they end up going back in bunches of three and four before the kids run off and hide them again.

5.  Most nights we go outside after dinner for the girls to play with the neighbor children.  I have a large piece of carpet that I spread on the pavement with a play-yard on top of it for the toddler (the kids have to play in the driveway between two rows of town homes).  Our nexties have three girls; the older two are about the same age as my two oldest, and their youngest is three months older than my baby.  We had the two little ones in the play-yard, and it was so cute to watch them playing together.  They were giving each other hugs and kisses, playing ball, and fighting over toys.  It’s still amazing, though, to note how big the developmental differences are between 13 and 16 months of age.

6.  Bailey (8) and Piper (5) have been taking turns driving me crazy with their computer time choices.  Bailey keeps wanting to play every single sample song form the Kidz Bop website, but Piper wants to keep watching videos for this new (and expensive) toy she wants for her birthday, Fijit Friends.  My husband quipped that what they really need to make is a Fijit Friend that sings Kidz Bop songs.

7.  Only sixteen more days until we take Bailey and Piper to see Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field.  Yeah, I know.  We’re the cool parents!


And What About College?

July 9, 2011

I recently re-read And What About College? for at least the third time.  It’s one of my favorite homeschooling books.  It’s basically a practical guide for homeschoolers on how to deal with the college admissions process.  Besides offering advice on how to record-keep and put together what they call a “home-brew” transcript, it also offers a schedule for standardized testing, choosing which colleges to apply, and filling out all the other paperwork.

In some ways, high school and college seem so far away for my kids.  My oldest just finished 2nd grade.  But then again these first 8 1/2 years of her life have seemed to fly by, and preparations for college really need to start in 8th grade.  If you are planning to homeschool through high school, as we are, I don’t think it’s really too early to even start doing general planning for high school.

In some ways it’s very exciting to be putting reading lists together and thinking about which subjects encompass a basic college preparation program.  I have some definite ideas of what I think is important for my kids to study, especially in the realms of Language Arts and History.  On the other hand, the realization of how much control for my kids’ education I will have to voluntarily relinquish is kind of scary.

This doesn’t mean that they won’t still be accountable to me to actually do things, but it would be in their best interest if they are allowed to offer more input about the what, how, and when of studying certain subjects.  They will have to try to discern what they thing God is calling them to do with their lives, and they will have to take the responsibility for doing the work without Mom standing over their shoulder all of the time.

Re-reading this book has made me realize that when Bailey reaches 8th grade, we will probably need to schedule meetings at least once a month to discuss high school and college.  We will need to set up short-term (Freshman year) and long-term plans for her high school education, go over how to document everything she is doing for her future transcript, and be prepared for the actual procedures of getting into college (if that is where her path seems to be leading).  I’m also compiling a list of non-fiction books that I think are important for her to read and discuss with me before she starts high school, including this book and Do Hard Things.

I want her high school experience to be amazing, but not necessarily in the way teens are told to expect by pop culture (proms, dating, and football games).  I want her to really start to own her education.  I want her to see God’s hand in her life.  I want her to embrace not just the freedoms of adulthood but also the responsibilities of adulthood while still under the guidance of us, her parents.  I want her to learn from her failures and enjoy her successes.  I want her to have the opportunity to do positive things that I would never have even thought possible with the “well-schooled” mentality I had as a teen.  I want her high school years to not only be the culmination of her previous 8 years of formal education, but also an open door leading to the rest of her life.  This goes not only for my oldest but all of my children.

I have no doubt that I will re-read this book at least a couple more times before I hand it over to Bailey in five years, but I know those five years will probably go by in a flash.  In the meantime, I will enjoy my time with my big girl as we face the perils of 3rd grade.

Reading List June 2011

July 6, 2011

1.  The Unschooling Unmanual edited by Jan and Jason Hunt:  This book about unschooling made me stop to think about whether or not I had Bailey’s schooling too structured.  But then I decided that I didn’t, and Bailey still has a lot of free time to explore her interests.  I think unschooling is great to a degree, but I don’t really believe that kids will study or soak up everything they need to know without any kind of push.

2.  How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper:  This is the first of a new series by fellow WKU-alum Molly Harper.  I didn’t like it quite as much as her vampire books since it’s not set in Kentucky, but it was still a fun read.

3.  Life Skills for Kids by Christine M. Field:  See previous post about this book.

4.  A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson:  I really admire the Charlotte Mason method, but it would just not be a good fit for our family.  Read aloud has usually not worked well, and we only get about one tenth of the outdoors time Mason espoused for kids.  But the book did turn me on to a grammar book I might use.

5.  Hand of God by Bernard Nathanson:  This is an interesting biography of a founding member of NARAL and abortion doctor who later became pro-life and converted to Catholicism.  I had to skip the chapter getting into the details of abortion procedure.

6.  The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper:  This is the sequel to the above Molly Harper werewolf book and another fun read.

7.  Star Wars:  Conviction by Aaron Allston:  This is the latest book in the Fate of the Jedi sequel series that switches focus between Luke’s journey quest with his son Ben and Han and Leia’s attempt to protect their grand-daughter.  Apparently Allston is a Dr. Who fan since he named one of the alcoholic beverages in the book a sonic screwdriver.

8.  A Love that Multiplies by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar:  This sequel covers a lot of the same ground as recent episodes of their show, but the section on character training has inspired me to do better in that area of parenting.

9.  Managers of Their Homes by Stephen and Teri Maxwell:  This is the scheduling and home organization system that the Duggars use.  I’m in the process of tweaking our schedules, but this system has really helped me get a grasp on where all of my time goes.

10.  Abandon by Meg Cabot:  This is the first of a new trilogy based on the myth of Persephone.  It’s a little darker than some of her previous books, but it was still an interesting read.

11.  Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris:  This book challenges teenagers to defy the low expectations set for them by society by doing hard things.  It offers a lot of examples of how “normal” teens did extraordinary things.  This is a very inspirational read for anyone, but I totally plan to make my kids read it when they reach their teen years.  It does have a very Protestant Christian viewpoint, just FYI.

12.  Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids by Dr. Laura Schlessinger:  Dr. Laura doesn’t pull any punches when she says that the best situation for kids is in a family with two married parents of opposite sexes in which one parent, preferably the mother, stays inside the home to provide care and guidance for the children.  She warns about the perils of not disciplining children, not supervising teens, and treating children like accessories there for our convenience.  I had some concerns, though, about her views on certain fertility treatments and sterilization (which the Catholic Church forbids), and I am not sure about her assertion that an unmarried pregnant woman should never ever try to raise the baby without the father (she should marry or put the baby up for adoption).

7 Quick Takes (v. 51)

July 1, 2011

1.  Congratulations to Jen at Conversion Diary on the birth of her fourth daughter, her fifth child, last week.  I continue to pray for a fast recovery and good baby moon for her.  I’m all still keeping Simcha Fisher, The Mom, and all of the pregnant women I know in real life in my  prayers.

2. About a week and a half ago, my dh introduced me to  Between the new household schedule I put together with set meal times and the accountability of putting in everything I eat, I’ve been doing pretty good at reaching my goal of 2200 calories per day.  It also analyzes my nutrition, so sometimes I find myself reaching for a glass of orange juice or other healthy treat that  I might not have other wise considered.  I have also been more likely to remember my daily vitamin.  Yay!!

3.  On a whim I grabbed an easy reader book about sea shells from the library, and I was shocked when Piper (5) actually let me read it to her.  Then the other day she pulled out a bag of sea shells her Memaw bought them last year and started comparing them to the ones in the book.  Then she and Katie (3) spent time sorting them into groups and comparing weights with our little plastic scale.  I love it when the kids put together their own unit studies like that.

4.  I bought Bailey (8) her own alarm clock when we were out guitar shopping a few weeks ago.  It is set for 9:00, and it has been awesome!!  There has only been one morning where she fell back asleep after it went off.  Now I don’t have to stop whatever I’m doing downstairs to go wake her up only to have her roll over and go back to sleep as soon as I leave.  I think it is loud enough that it really jolts her awake.  Our mornings have been going so much smoother.

5.  I bought Sabrina (1) some of those Gerber Graduate meals to try out.  She totally hated the pasta, but she liked the vegetable side dish.  Instead of paying two or three bucks for that stuff, I bought three little cans of vegetables (peas & carrots, green beans, and corn), mixed them together in a storage container, and then I’ve been doling it out a quarter cup at a time for dinner every night.  I wish I had thought of this three kids ago.

6.  While I have many reservations about the Gothard Movement, of which the Duggar family is a part, after reading A Love That Multiplies I printed out several copies of this pdf listing the operational definitions of 49 character qualities.  I’ve been going through one quality (and reviewing the previous ones) over breakfast with the girls.  Once we introduce all 49, I plan to go back and dig into one quality per week.  It’s offered great meal-time discussion, introduced new vocabulary words, and offered a reference for correct behavior.

7.  Well, in a bit I’m off to take Bailey to the pediatrician to get the two stitches out of her chin.  Do they sell Mederma by the gallon?