Archive for May 2013

7 Quick Takes (v. 79)

May 17, 2013

7_quick_takes

1.  Monday night I went to an R&B Soul Line Dancing class through my local parks district.  I used to go country line dancing in my late teens and early 20’s, so I thought this would be a lot of fun.  And it was!!  It was a little bit different vibe than when I used to go dancing at the country bar; back then I would have to watch the dance for a few minutes from the sidelines and just jump in.  It was different to have an instructor actually teaching me the different steps before we added in the music.  I can’t go every week, but I might try to make it back to the class at least once a month.

2.  I’m almost finished with the Novena of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (recommended by our host, Jen).  This is my first novena, and it was probably a good fit for me because I’ve been giving the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit a lot of thought in the past year.  I remember when I was 19 that I told my dad that I wasn’t sure if I even believed in the Holy Spirit; I shudder to think over how ignorant I was based courtesy of some of the terrible catechesis I received in Catholic school.  Multiple times since then that I have experienced the workings of the Holy Spirit in my life, and I crave to experience the clarity and assurance that comes with it more often in my life.

3.  It’s been five weeks since my roller skating accident.  I find myself wearing my arm brace less and less; my wrist is less sore and I can do fine motor functions without pain anymore.  I still have to careful about bearing significant weight on that wrist or in that hand  (i.e. milk jugs).  The bigger issue is actually my elbow.  I still can’t fully extend my left arm without it being stiff, and I’m most likely to still get a jarring pain if I forget and reach for something with my left arm.  I figure that I’ll give everything another week to let everything heal up more (the doctor projected six weeks to get it mostly back to normal), and then I’ll try a little home physical therapy (some gentle stretching and weigh bearing exercises).

4.  Usually around May is when all of the television shows start finishing up their seasons, and I am always relieved when this time comes.   Between Saturday and Sunday night I had six shows recorded on the DVR (Dr. Who, Call the Midwives, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Mr. Selfridge, and Survivor), and two of them were 2 or more hours long.  I enjoy watching television, but at the same time I start to get a little “TV-ed” out.

5.  So far I’ve gone jogging three times.  I borrowed a few running books from the library, because ever since the roller skating incident I’ve been really worried about injuries.  The whole thing at the rink was just a wake-up call that I am not as young as I used to be.  That same fall 15 years ago probably wouldn’t have been as bad as it is now.  It never even occurred to me that I should have been wear wrist guards.  While the running program I am using is gentle, I still didn’t want to risk injuring myself out of ignorance.  I have found a few tips for proper stretching, and so far any soreness has not lasted more than about 24 hours.

6.  One running book recommended keeping an exercise log, so I whipped one up for myself on Excel.  (I adapted one of my homeschool scheduling sheets.)  The days that I walk/jog have a little more variation thanks to notes about the weather.  Right now the Wii Fit days are pretty basic:  a few yoga poses, the ball game in the balance section, and step aerobics.  But I can see where it will be nice to have a record of what I am accomplishing.

7.  These are the first things I put on my “To Do” List everyday:  breakfast, school, vitamins, Novena, exercise, read to the kids.  If I can do these 5 things every day, everything else seems to take care of itself.

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Re-Evaluating My Time

May 14, 2013

It’s been a really rough 12 months.  Some things in my life really came to a head in the past year on top of the major exhaustion of having five kids, including a newborn.  I feel like I’ve just been hanging on by the skin of my teeth, just trying to survive each day.  I’ve been in private counseling since last May, and it’s probably the only thing that has kept me sane.

A lot of my problems have stemmed from not having good boundaries.  Over the years I developed a bit of a martyr complex, thinking I had to sacrifice my health and well-being (physical, mental, and emotional) in order to take care of everyone else in my family first.  With the help of my counselor and some good books, I have been re-evaluating my life and making some changes to get myself back on track.

The book I read most recently is The Rhythm of Life by Catholic motivational speaker Matthew Kelly.  I have pages of notes and great quotes, but the book has led me down a lot of other rabbit trails.  One of these thought trails had me looking at my daily schedule as if I did everything I should do to take care of my needs (physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual) and the basic work I need to do to care for my family.  I estimated the maximum amount of time it should take me to do each of these things on a daily basis, or in the case of chores the minimum amount that needs to be done.

  • Exercise:  45 minutes (includes changing clothes)
  • School:  2 hours
  • Shower/Brush Teeth/Dressed:  30 minutes
  • Lunch Break:  1 hour (includes recreation time)
  • Read 1 Book to Little Kids:  15 minutes
  • Fix Family Dinner:  30 minutes
  • Eat Dinner:  30 minutes
  • Eat Breakfast:  15 minutes
  • Afternoon Snack:  15 minutes
  • Bedtime “Meal”:  30 minutes
  • Feeding the Baby:  3 hours (nursing/solids)
  • Preparing Snacks/Meals for Kids:  1 hour
  • Sacred Hour (Quiet time recommended by Matthew Kelly):  1 hour
  • Chores:  2 hours

If you total this up it equals 13.5 hours.  Of this time, 4 hours and 45 minutes equals self-care.  I classify the other 8 hours and 45 minutes as my “work” as a full-time homemaker, mother, and homeschooling teacher.  Ideally this leaves about 10.5 hours to sleep (I wish) and recreate.  Of course, there are a lot of little things that aren’t mentioned on this list but can really add up:  dressing kids, changing diapers/bathroom assists, cleaning up spills and messes, and handling other disasters.

Some of these are the maximum time.  For instance, school time doesn’t always take 2 hours, especially on days when we don’t have school at all.  I have started jogging 3 days each week which normally takes the full 45 minutes, but on other days I just do the Wii Fit for about 20 minutes without having to do a special change of clothes.  (But I am also hoping to take some exercise classes through our parks district which will take longer than an hour, including travel time.)

Matthew Kelly recommends taking a Sacred Hour of quiet meditation and prayer each day (very reminiscent of the hour of Eucharist Adoration that the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen insisted on every single day no matter how busy his schedule).  Considering that taking a shower is problematic given the amount of supervision my young children require on a daily basis, the chances of me getting an entire hour of silence, especially alone, on a daily basis is very unrealistic at this season of my life.  But I may try to find a few 15 minute segments here and there.

Overall, it’s been an excellent exercise for assessing where my time does go and should go and if I am capable of striking a good balance between upholding my responsibilities and taking care of myself.

Happy Birthday, #3!

May 9, 2013

Five years ago today, my dear daughter #3, my Katie, was born.  I remember when she was “the baby”, and now there have been two more babies in the past five years.  I worried that Katie would not be willing to share me with each new baby sister, but the bigger issue was whether Katie would share each new baby sister with anyone else.

Now Katie is preparing to start homeschool kindergarten in the fall.  She loves rhyming words, and she’s starting to sound out the beginning letters.  She has an interest in sign language, so I’ve been learning a few signs to share with her.  Katie also really loves books.  I’ve been making a special effort this month to read her a book every day, and I also introduced her to audio books.

The last  shadows of the “Psychotic 3’s” have dissolved away over the past year.  Katie is still very set in her opinions, though, and more stubborn than a team of mules once she has made up her mind about something.  She is also very shy to the point of rudeness sometimes.  This is something we are constantly working on.

For the most part, though, Katie is a sweet and undemanding child.  We have to be careful sometimes that she doesn’t fall through the cracks like a stereotypical middle child.  Part of this is because she likes to spend large portions of her time pretending in a world of her own.  She’ll spend hours each day running, walking, skipping, and hopping from room to room lost in a secret story in her head.  Sometimes she’ll keep a book handy to spur her imagination; sometimes she’ll admit to acting out her favorite television shows, stories, or movies.

When she is not pretending alone, Katie loves playing on the computer alone or with her big sister Piper (7).  They often play Club Penguin, ToonTown, or Pixie Hollow together.  She, Piper, and Sabrina (almost 3) also do a lot of pretend play with toys and costumes.  They often pretend to be a pack of wolves or packas (an imaginary animal of their own design).

Katie is really good about looking out for her little sisters, even when they get on her nerves sometimes.  She’s the child most likely to help me “tidy up”.  And she’s most likely to demand a hug, kiss, or snuggle and offer an “I love you”.  She’s definitely not a baby anymore, and I can’t wait to see all of the ways she grows, develops, and learns in the coming year.  Happy Birthday, Katie!!

School’s Out! (Almost…)

May 2, 2013

It has been a doozy of a school year.  If I picked two words to describe my life since August, I would choose sleep deprivation.

I knew to expect it to a degree with baby #5 arriving on August 1st.  I just didn’t expect to the horrendous levels that have been achieved in the past nine months.  Part of this was exacerbated by the desperate decision to put Bailey (4th grade) in regular school in October.  It has been good for her, but terribly stressful and exhausting for me.  (Can we say 7 am wake-up after the baby won’t settle down to sleep until 1 am?)

There are only 5 more weeks of school left, 5 more weeks of waking up early and packing school lunches.  If Bailey were still being homeschooled we would only have three weeks left, since we used to follow my husband’s college teaching schedule.  But now Piper (1st grade) will have an extra two weeks of school since I try to keep her and Bailey more consistent with each other (to reduce the complaining).

So, over the next 5 weeks Piper and I will be finishing up her various curricula.  Some subjects, like history, will peter out early.  And other subjects, like logic, we will need to double and triple down on to finish.  Our math is a little bit up in the air.  Piper finished first grade math weeks ago, and we have started on our second grade math books.  She is at a point where she really needs to have her basic addition and subtraction facts down cold before we can start the next unit.  So, until she can finish a 5-minute frenzy with at least a 95%, we will be nothing but addition drills.  Then we’ll move on to subtraction drills.  Then we’ll eventually jump back into our math books.

Having Bailey away at school all day has been an adjustment for Piper.  Bailey’s work was always more intensive than Piper’s due to the difference in age, but Bailey was also very, um, high-maintenance.  As result, sometimes Piper’s bad habits and behaviors would fly under the radar.  This has caused some rough days in recent months.  I also just had to do a lot of tweaking since some of my original plans for the year included combined subjects for Bailey and Piper that can’t be done the same with only one student.

As I write this, we are expecting that Bailey will continue to go to regular school for the foreseeable future.  I will have two “full-time” students again next year, though, with Piper in 2nd grade and Katie starting kindergarten.  I’ve been busy, on my less exhausted days, putting together the plans for the fall, which can be a subject for another post.  I am also sure that it won’t be long before Sabrina (almost 3) starts asking to “do school”, too.

Right now, though, I am looking forward to summer.  Bailey has already had her dreams of a school-free summer dashed.  Her school gave her a reprieve on not knowing how to write cursive for this year, but she needs to be ready to write in cursive for 5th grade.  She will also finish up her 4th grade homeschool math book and math drills to keep that information fresh in her mind.  Piper will just continue solidifying her math facts and moving on in her 2nd grade math book over the summer.  And Katie will continue working her math and phonics books.  Our work loads will just be lighter and more flexible depending on the weather and opportunities for summer fun, but whether we do much formal work or not, I know that the learning will never stop.