Away in a Groft House (Our Christmas Card to You)

Away in a Groft house the littles are in bed.
The family’s all home and the kitten’s been fed.
The older kids fight over internet time
But all must be turned off by the ten o’clock chime.

Jay loves to sing and can be seen on TV,
Cantoring masses for homebound to see.
Testing underground tanks, he works hard outside,
We think he’s the best dad to be found worldwide!

Jenni makes rosaries and sells them online
Check out her website when you have the time!
She drives back and forth, lots of time in the van,
But she’ll snuggle down with a book when she can.

Paisley’s a junior and now she can drive
We pray every day that she gets home alive.
She’s super involved both at church and at school
She directs a kids’ choir, they all think she’s a jewel!

James is a freshman and doing so well,
Always wants to arrive long before the first bell.
He works on his music most every day,
Piano bass and guitar he is learning to play.

Posy’s in sixth grade; she’s getting so tall,
Childcare and housework – she helps with it all!
She loves shopping and movies and fashion and crafts,
Her quick wit and smile always bring us all laughs.

Ben is in third and he’s always outside
He walks and he skates or goes for a bike ride.
He likes to play game boy but still loves to read,
His mind and his body are growing like weeds!

Tessa is four and she sings in the choir,
She loves to dress up in her princess attire.
She talks all the time or at least so it seems,
She fills up our days with her bright, warm sunbeams.

Max will turn two on this Christmas Eve
‘tween tempers and climbing he may not see three.
His blue eyes, they twinkle, his pink cheeks, they shine,
Climbs in bed with a passy with nary a whine.

Our hope is that Christmas brings with it much cheer,
Our prayer is for good health and happiness next year.
Remember the season’s about Jesus’ birth,
And we are the reason he came down to earth.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Ben is reacting to Amoxicillin. The kids told me on the way to school that he was covered with a rash. So I took him in to the nurse who wasn’t there. I decided to take him home since he might be uncomfortable and I wanted to get some benadryl into him.

I got home, called the Dr office who told me NOT to give him the benadryl just yet, but to bring him in and let them check the rash. No point in putting him down as having a allergy if it is something else, right? Still, that makes for an 18 mile round trip (yes, I counted it out!) at $3.15 per gallon (in our gas guzzling, 11 mile-per-gallon van) for them to tell me what I already know: penicillin allergy. And poor Ben. He has to miss Buck-a-Jean-Day for this. (He doesn’t seem terribly distraught; he settled right down into watching Dragon Tales without a lick of complaint.)

Max, that precious, happy, jabbering, baby-signing toddler, is standing on my last nerve when it comes to night time and sleep. Last night he resumed his Head-Butt-of-Love routine, giving me a bloody lip in the middle of the night. I think he blasted Jay too, but I am not sure since I was trying REALLY hard to pretend to be asleep so Jay could deal with him for a bit. (Not that he ever shirks that duty, he shares it pretty equally. But hey, I was injured, right? Don’t I get to sit on the bench for a little while for an injury?) So I consider again the idea of sleep training. But to be honest with myself, I can’t give up the rocking and nursing to sleep. It is such a peaceful, cozy, cuddly time. Except when it’s not and Max decides that even though he is drop dead tired he will fend off sleep until either his last drop of energy is spent or mine is. Then it is not so fun.

Paisley has decided that barring any formal, planned family activity, she has no use for being home, except maybe to do her laundry and dump some papers on the table. Is it really in the Teenager’s Bill of Rights that they should be allowed to go out any time there is not special family time planned? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Some kind of limit needs to be set. Especially since the rides are still coming from us. Jay and I will have to discuss this one. I think we might have some time to sit down and do that in August. Maybe. In the mean time, surly, fit-throwing teenagers don’t get rides anywhere. At least not until their attitude changes and they do some chores. Lots of chores.

James was offended that he didn’t get TWO full days off of chores and school work for his birthday. When I informed him that he was luck he got ONE full day off he exclaimed that I just didn’t understand. You betcha I don’t. I don’t claim to understand any of this anymore. Was I really this difficult? (Oh yes and then some!) But he has cleaned up his attitude a bit since then. Removing all privileges does that to a kid. Then add in the carrot of getting to spend the day with Nana (who will probably buy you lunch) and it’s all good again.

Let’s see, who have I not updated on yet? Tessa and Posy! Tessa is so very FOUR and spends all her time playing doll house and begging me to play it with her. But when I play doll house with her it is really just me playing doll house for her entertainment. I have to do all the talking and figure out what the characters are doing. She just sets up the scenes and tells me when it is morning and night. I worry that I am misshaping her idea of play by my doing this, but what is a mom to do? Never play? There is just always some way to worry about them and some new way to wreck their lives and send them into permanent therapy later.

Posy is busy and getting more grown up every day. She is 11 now, and if I remember correctly it will be sometime this year that I will look at her and she will have changed from a little girl to a young lady overnight. For now, I just cherish these last few moments of being smarter than she is and of her being willing to play and do childlike things. The hourglass is running out on childhood for her.

Me, I have just been trying to get enough done around the house to justify sitting down to some scrapbooking or rosary making. neither has happened in forever. This past week has been a gathering up of all my homeschool books and getting ready to sell them. I have no idea where the funding for catholic school will come from for next year, but even if that doesn’t work out I don’t think I am going to homeschool any more. It just became too much for me and I wasn’t doing a good job. I am NOT of the mindset that poor homeschooling is better than public schools. Homeschooling was good for our family while it lasted and then it just wasn’t going to work any more. Selling the books is my way of letting go. Mostly I feel good about it but there is still that panicky feeling of burning that bridge behind me.

Poor, hard working Jay. Summer has set in here with our first official 100 degree day. Since he works outside the first couple of weeks are always the hardest for him. 100 degrees doesn’t actually describe the conditions he works in, since the official temps are taken in the shade over grass. Jay actually works in the sun over concrete or asphalt. It is so much hotter for him. We have stocked up on Power Ade during that last sale but that is small comfort to him, I’m sure. But still he will suffer outside every single day so that our family can eat and live in comfort. Thank God for his sacrifice!

January: The Month of Change

One year has passed since our fire, and what a year it has been. The last claim has been submitted and with the last check (Oh, when will it come?) we hope to put this chapter in our lives behind us. We lift up our eyes and look towards the future finally and not on what has happened in the past. We can take stock of where we are now and not where we were before the fire.

James is still dealing with some pretty severe depression. He is being treated for that. I have also had to reevaluate who I am and what direction I am going, and so have been in therapy myself.

We decided at the beginning of this month that Posy and Ben really did belong at their school. They started attending again in the fifth and second grades. They are very happy there and we think that our time of homeschooling is coming to a close. They are so happy to see their friends every day, and I am very relieved to have the complete burden of their education off my shoulders. Homeschooling has been a blessing for our family. But we always said we would do it only as long as it was the right choice for our family. It no longer is. So we move on.

Paisley is doing great! She has one of the leads in the school play, Bye Bye Birdie, this Spring. She is sharing the role of Kim with another girl. She has moved into another honors class and is getting fabulous grades.

Tessa and Max miss Posy and Ben during the day. But we have had some fun on our own. Tessa’s favorite pasttime is to play dress up. Max’s is to climb and dismantle anything in his path. He has learned a couple of baby signs now: More, please, eat, nurse… we are trying to teach him more, but he is pretty stubborn!

Just Chugging Along

113 today and it feels every single degree of it! But who am I to complain, sitting inside here in the nice cool air conditioning? Feels pretty good right here.

Things are coming together here. Pictures going up on the wall, cable and internet finally up and running consistently, and… bridges have been burned. (What, more burning?) Nah. Yesterday I made the phone calls to remove Posy, Ben and James from school. Back to homeschooling for them! It should be interesting to get back into the swing of things.

There is finally a Catholic Homeschool Conference here though! I can’t wait to go to that!

Max started solids recently and we discovered that he is allergic to oats, and he has probably been reacting to oats and possibly other foods through my milk. It was the introduction of solids that made it really obvious though. So he is back to just breastmilk and I am on an elimination diet to see what he is reacting to. Today is day two… only 12 more to go before I can start reintroducing foods into my diet!

Springing Back

What a school year! It has been quite a ride, and it’s not over yet. Looking back to the beginning of the year, I can see how much progress we have made. Reading abilities have improved, study skills are becoming more ingrained, and math facts are becoming more natural to all involved. Even the kids are starting to notice that learning is coming a little easier to them these days.

I still have so many days where I fantasize about sending them off to school, doing my house work, a little studying or scrapbooking, then fixing a snack and greeting them with a smile when they come home from school. But then I remember that this is really just a fantasy, and most days wouldn’t be like that anyway. Besides, I would really miss them.

Spring is a time that homeschooling really meshes with our family culture and stops being a way of studying. we have spent several months working really hard, but now there are things around the house that we have neglected, and yet there is still studying to do. In order to balance the two we have to kind of squish them together. The result is a day of housework here and there punctuated by reading, math, and quite a bit of play.

Lately James and Posy have been reading “Archemedes and the Door of Science” aloud to me. So I decided to just follow along on that train of thought and added in some Greek Myths (which Ben has enjoyed listening to as well) and some projects. Last week James and Posy spent a whole morning making a cardboard Labrynth for our guinea pig “Minotaurs” to run through. Tessa got a hold of it, though, before any pictures could be taken, and pulled it to pieces.

Paisley is working her way through Key to Algebra, slowly and in spurts. She has really been concentrating on History this year and the writing assignments that have gone along with it. Her writing skills have really taken off this year! She has also just begun working through C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and we are discussing that.

Posy is learning her division facts now. She is really getting fast with them. Her math book, Rod and Staff grade 3 only goes up through the 6s, but we will cover the rest this summer.

Ben’s reading abilities continue to amaze me. Yesterday I started having him read to me from McGuffey’s Third Reader. He struggled just a little bit, but overall he did better than I expected. He has been devouring Magic Tree House books like crazy, going through 3-4 of them a week!

Tessa and I have been doing a few activities in Slow and Steady Get Me Ready. She really enjoys working one on one and loves to be read to as well. Some of her favorite books are Corduroy, Goodnight Moon, and Elephants Never Forget. She loves hearing nursery rhymes and is starting to be able to fill in the blanks if I leave out a word and wait for her to say it. But she gets tired of that game pretty fast and after the first two or three times will just say, “I don’t know.”


Ben and Posy were playing hide and go seek yesterday, when suddenly there was a loud *Crash!*. Oh boy, here we go, I thought as I headed down the stairs. Jay got there first and was already (loudly) asking Ben what the HECK he was thinking…

…Crawling behind the Christmas tree and under the presents to hide.

The whole tree lay on it’s side, ornaments everywhere, branches bent and falling off. Poor kid, he just had this look of horror on his face. He had no idea that it could just FALL like that.

Long story short… after a trip to Lowe’s and to Jay’s parents house, we found a base that could hold up the tree, so even though it looks a little more battered than before, it will be OK anyway.