Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Homeschool Life

I wanted to chat about where the boys are with school. Last year we actually took about 18 weeks off during my bed rest. Even though Jason moved a desk into the bedroom and would bring the school books in so I could plan, just sitting that much upright was too hard for me. So they didn't get much of vacation for the summer, I think we took a month off or something. So we have Dominic in 2nd grade this year and Christopher in 1st grade.

As you can see a little in this picture and a little bit more in the next, I use the wipe off board to use as a calendar. I write the day and the Litrugical time of year. I think that's super cool, and gets them used to it. We start the school day off with Dominic reading the day and then we say a prayer.
Beth Anne has that printable Liturgical calendar available on her website, I recommend you head over and check it out. She also gave me a link to print out the calendar like what we get from the church. That's nice because we can keep it easy to read and up close. 

After praying together, we have a few lessons we do together. We do an art lesson once a week, it's slightly painful because the boys are not art kids. They don't like drawing or coloring or anything like that. Also, I am a terrible artist. 😐

I've been impressed with the change in Dominic, from not wanting to do it at all to being willing to at least TRY, which is all that I ask of him. The one on the board is mine, and then the one with the chalice that is very clear is what I started for Christopher then he added the rest. 

Religion is mostly just Christopher barely listening, but Dominic is really engaged. The 2nd grade book is set up very cool because it's like the lesson with a few questions to reiterate things. Then the next day it repeats the prior days lesson in a super short version, and adds to it. There are 4 days of lessons with Fridays free or for review. 

Then Christopher has Phonics/Reading, Language Arts, Math, Spelling, and Social Studies. With his special needs counselor we added Handwriting Without Tears which might work for some kids, but for some reason it is a serious misnomer for us. So instead I have done a combination of printing out some handwriting sheets as well as using his spelling for writing. 

Dominic's list of lessons is a bit longer; he has English, Phonics, Reading, Handwriting, Math, Science/History (every other week), and Spelling. Sometimes I even feel like a real teacher with writing on the board and things. 
It's been super fun to see what the boys are good at and what they enjoy. For example, usually for Christopher's spelling tests, he will just tell me the spelling. I mean, sure, he's saying something like "no S no A no T" but he still spelled 'sat' so it's a win. But last week...last week he wanted to spell the words with writing them himself. 😭
He needed help with writing the 'e' and he has a weird habit right now of turning letters into 'H'. So like you can see on number 3 it was  'this' but after writing it he changed the 'i' into an 'H'. He's silly. Number 6 was 'wine' and he did that without any help at all. It was just such a huge change from anything before. 

One other thing that I really love about Seton is that there is religion in everything. Here is some of Dominic's English which is actually the best example. He was learning adjectives, but it tells the story of Tarcisius. He's also learned about Joan of Arc, and most recently St. Bruno. And that's just because of assignments with a story throughout each assignment. 
All in all our lessons seem to be going well and I'm excited to continue on!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Christopher's Progress

Considering that I haven't updated anything about Christopher in FOUR years, things will be really big here! Christopher has done so much in the last few years that in some ways he seems like a completely different kiddo. In other ways he is still very much the same!

First and foremost, Christopher speaks. He can't necessarily carry on a conversation with you if you are not interested in what he wants to talk about, but he can and does definitely verbalize things. I would say that for necessary communication we're at about an 80% give or take. When he is really upset/bothered by something he cannot always tell you what is going on. For instance, he really doesn't like the bells being used during the consecration at daily Mass. Instead of saying something like "I don't like the bells" or even "no bells" for a while he would say "punch/kick/hit Olivia" who is one of our friends' daughters and she is really a great kiddo who was altar serving at daily Mass for a bit. He really likes Olivia, she's one of his favorite friends, but he couldn't figure out how to articulate that the bells were bothering him so instead he blamed the person who was making the noise.

Something else that has been amazing is to see how he is with Benedict. We were really worried about how he would handle a crying baby, something that we couldn't control the sound with. But, it was actually not something to be too worried about; initially he was really upset but then we just put Benedict in his lap and suddenly he was "Christopher's baby" and Christopher was holding him often. Funny thing though, he had to pull his pant legs up!

And then we have him and Dominic. They have moved into a really typical brother relationship which is super cool and super annoying simultaneously. Most often if he's annoyed with Dominic it's for pretty normal reasons and he reacts in that normal way. Interestingly, when we were going through the really rough stage with Christopher, Dominic could sense when it was an autistic meltdown and would just sit there and take it. Now we have to remind him when Christopher is having a hard time because he's autistic and when he's just being a bratty little brother. But they are still best friends and do really play together these days!

Currently we don't have Christopher in any therapies, I took a course called More Than Words with his speech therapist that got him his "talker" or communication device. It was amazing and I'm actually planning on doing a refresher course and going through some of the lessons to work on specific things that he's struggling with. We attempted to restart OT and Speech when Benedict was about 4 months old but it was just too hard for me because it was an hour away. And, with his progress it seemed to be more than what we needed at the time. Speaking of his communication device, he still uses it, but it's often to learn new words or work on sentences. He's started using the keyboard to type out the words if they aren't in his dictionary on there. Because, OH YEAH HE CAN READ!!! That came as a shock as we'd never worked with him on it specifically but suddenly we realized he was reading signs. He can read all the words to me when he does his phonics in school as well as reading his spelling words. Seton helped us to set up a modified course for him with different courses than what Dominic used when that seemed appropriate. Primarily English and Math right now. We are having him sit in on Dominic's religion lesson and then we were gifted a set of these 1st Reconciliation and 1st Communion sets by Beth Anne. It was an amazing thing and he can often be talked to about his behavior with words from the 1st Reconciliation kit including "is this a bad choice?" Which he will often reply to with "No bad choice Christopher! Sad Jesus!" while sobbing, and really, does it get more pure than that?

All in all Christopher has made really awesome progress. He even does things sometimes specifically to get a reaction from you and joke/play with you. Of course, then it becomes a script and deviation is not allowed, but you steps! 😁

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Long Awaited Pregnancy

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

First a bit of housekeeping, I'm trying to link my blog to Bloglovin so if you use that to do blog reading, please follow me! 😊

In early 2017 I started seeing a doctor who put me on some weight loss medicine and metformin in order to help me lose weight and because he thought I was likely suffering from PCOS. I don't agree with this diagnosis necessarily and I also don't want to go back to using that medicine. In April I went to visit my friend Beth Anne for her wedding! We "met" on Twitter and have been close for like 6 years already! That's crazy! Anyway her wedding was amazing and I loved getting to be a part of that!

I was being a bit of a tourist and one of the places I visited was the Mission Grounds with the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche  I said a lot of special prayers for pregnancy and birth. As well for all the mothers I know!

I also met one of Beth Anne's friends who promised to pray for me at the Mission as well. After that we had a relics tour visit our parish and I was able to visit and touch many of the relics. Specifically I touched my rosaries to St. Philomena who is a patroness of infertility. There was even pieces of the True Cross and I was able to be near them and pray very specifically for the intention of my infertility and for the acceptance of God's will. Wouldn't you know it? That month I got pregnant!

In the summer I had a decent pregnancy, just fatigue and nausea and nothing too crazy. I even went to a concert of my favorite band, with a shirt that my awesome husband made for me!
At about 23 weeks, as I mentioned yesterday, I started to really struggle in the pregnancy. I went for contractions that were stopped with meds on the OB unit. That started my bed rest. It was pretty modified at first, I just didn't do too much extra stuff, but still drove myself around and did school with the boys among other things. Pretty soon though, the contractions were getting really bad and that resulted in a trip to the OB unit which ended with a flight for life to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. They thought my water had broken so they didn't have much choice but to get me out of there. Thankfully my water hadn't broken and about this time the doctors agreed that being less mobile was better for me. Even though bed rest isn't typically suggested for pre-term labor anymore, that's what everyone decided was the best for us considering that I'm so far from a hospital that could help if labor was imminent. And although the contractions weren't changing my cervix yet, there was no way to know when/if that would happen. About this time I also switched doctors. For many reasons that I'm not sure I'm interested in getting into here, but I started seeing a doctor an hour away. So that meant that when I was contracting I had to go to the hospital an hour away too. It was tough. My gestational diabetes became tough to control. I think by the end of the pregnancy I was on close to 100 units of insulin a day! That's a LOT! I was so tired of the finger pricks and the injections by the end of the pregnancy. It's interesting to me that a woman can be growing an entire human being in her body and still feel that she's failing because things aren't going perfectly. I don't know if that's a natural tendency or if it's societal or what. But I can tell you that I definitely struggled with feeling like I wasn't "woman enough". 

After my blood sugars started going really crazy (I started crashing in the middle of the night), and pre-eclampsia reared it's ugly head (had it with Christopher as well), we decided on delivering at 37 weeks. Pregnancies can be difficult for a lot of reasons. I seemed to have several of those reasons. It was scary to think that if I had to be hospitalized Jason would have to either go on leave or work from home or we'd have to look at getting someone to help with the boys. That is a really scary thing to look at. We had a lot of people offer to help where they could which was amazing. My local friends arranged a meal train and we had a full home cooked meal once a week (Jason also cooked every day!), that was fun! But, Christopher, while he's doing so much better, he's still difficult. His communication is definitely lacking in that he won't necessarily answer specific questions and he's still not potty trained (there will be more on this in my update about him specifically), so that's a lot for other people to handle. Thankfully the doctor let me come home after prescribing extra at home meds to slow down contractions where necessary. 

Benedict is such a joy and blessing in our family. We are all loving having him around and can't wait to see his personality develop more and more. He's starting to walk and he talks a ton (not really saying real words, but he's still talking!), and he's just a blast! It's funny to us how different and yet similar he looks to his brothers. I'll leave off this already long post with one last picture, a collage of all 3 boys about the same age!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Coming Back

Well hello there in the blogging world! 👋 If you follow me and forgot about it because it's been TWO YEARS since my last! A lot has happened in the Spano world and I'm hoping to give an overview here and then post more frequently in the future and that will include more specific updates. I'm looking to use this space to talk about what it's like to be a stay at home who is terrible at keeping house; being a special needs mom; being a mom of boys (there's a new one! Pictures will be in this post!); being a chronic dieter, and someone who desperately wants to get healthy (but also loves brownies); and most especially what it's like in This Domestic Church. Homeschooling, teaching the Faith, LIVING the Faith, going to Church, and everything else that springs to mind when you hear about a domestic church.

So, some updates. As mentioned above, we have a new baby! In May of 2017 I found out that I was pregnant! About 6 years of trying, and then it happened. My pregnancy was kind of rough, despite having been the healthiest, and in the best shape prior. I had gestational diabetes that required ever increasing levels of insulin. I went into pre-term labor again, just as I had with Christopher the first time at 23 weeks I think. After that was modified to complete bed rest. I had two transfers to the bigger hospital in Colorado Springs and two overnight stays locally. Finally at week 36 my sugars were crazy, and I had developed pre-eclampsia. So, we scheduled my c-section for 37 weeks. We ended up having the c-section at Colorado Springs because they were a bit concerned that the baby's sugar would be uncontrollable which would involve a transfer from here and I would be separated. It's a good thing we did, there were some issues with the c-section itself (it was so painful that I actually asked for pain medicine during it!), and there were blood sugar issues with the baby. And the baby, oh the sweet baby! Benedict Luke was born on January 14th and he has been such a joy and blessing to all of us! Christopher loves him and frequently tries to pick him up! Dominic thinks he's hilarious and cute even if he is also very drooly.

Christopher is doing amazingly well, there will be a post all to Christopher and his accomplishments. But he has lots of words and uses them most of the time without having to use his communication device. He does still use it but it's more for learning new words and how to say certain things. It's really been amazing! He's doing 1st grade work in homeschool with some modifications that Seton helped us to come up with. 

Dominic is becoming quite the gamer and he got his own Nintendo Switch for Christmas (also kind of a gift for mom so I don't have to share anymore 😉). He is doing really well with his 2nd grade work with a few modifications regarding how much he has to write. He has a fantastic imagination and I'm really working to be able to foster that in a way that will be fun and not tedious for him.

And with that I think I'll end this overly long post. There are plans for more specific posts to address some of the specific things I want to talk about soon like Christopher, homeschool, and wellness/fitness. 

Here goes nothin'! Hope to see you back here and commenting! 😀

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#40LentPrompts - Week 5

I have some new things I've been wanting to post about, relating to my weight loss and most especially about the boys' progress - Dominic in school and Christopher's therapies. Hopefully I'll do a 7 quick takes link up tomorrow!

23. How did the first part of Lent go for you? Wait, what? Lent is HALF over?! Yikes, that has gone fast. This Lent has been fruitful in ways that I didn't plan for, and of course I've failed in some of my Lenten promises. I wanted to make Daily Mass a regular part of our day during Lent, but I've definitely not hit that desire. I decided this morning that I think we should focus on a couple days a week for daily Mass. Maybe focus on Monday and Wednesday, and depending on how Christopher is doing possibly Friday evening before the soup supper. We've just thrown everything at him lately and it's a lot. He now has therapy 4 days a week, and we're kind of asking more of him. It's not just all play, but play based learning, which is super awesome, but I'm also pushing him more than I ever have. I'll definitely post more about this later, but it's caused our Lent to be fruitful in ways we didn't plan. Dominic is having to suffer a bit in that life is so focused on Christopher right now, and that's never easy; we're trying to make time for it to be all about Dominic sometimes, but that is hard as anyone with more than one child knows. This is not specific to a special needs kid, but is something that all families with more than one child has to learn. It's also been a struggle for me. Honestly, it's much easier to stay with what is comfortable; but I'm trying to liken what I'm dealing with to Christ in the desert. It would have been much easier for Him to be comfortable too, for him to give into temptation and turn those rocks into loaves. That's what I tell myself in moments of clarity, looking back at the the moment I'm usually like "ugh, why am I doing this, it's much easier to laze about and let Christopher play with his square all day!"

Check out Beth Anne's page and spread the blog love!

Friday, March 4, 2016

#40LentPrompts - Week 4

No, you didn't misread that, I missed last week. It was such a crazy week that I didn't manage to do any blogging. Then all this week, I kept thinking of doing it and posting it late, but it just didn't happen.

20. Did you attend Stations of the Cross this Lent? Yes, actually, Dominic and I have been twice. Our Parish does a Friday evening Mass at 5:30, then a soup supper, then Stations of the Cross. I tried meeting Jason there at 6pm after he went to Mass with the boys the first week, but Christopher was really not having it. That was just too much a change of routine for him. So instead now the boys and I meet Jason there after he goes to Mass, and Dominic and I stay for the soup supper and the Stations. It's been really great; I'm not sure how much is seeping in for Dominic, but I've been noticing that he picks things up without my actually forcing it on him. I don't make him stand and kneel at appropriate times, but I do make sure he is quiet.

21. How has your prayer life changed this Lent? Well, it hasn't much, honestly. I'm making an effort to say my daily prayers, but I wouldn't say I'm winning at that necessarily. I have noticed that we are doing better with our family Rosary, so that is a blessing. We do two decades with the boys, and then Jason and I finish. We are finally in a really good routine with that and the boys expect it in the evening. We have changed our homeschooling with Dominic to Seton, and I've noticed that since there is more a focus on the faith life in his lessons, I'm getting more Bible reading in, and I'm saying more prayers with Dominic. Just last week, we had to discuss sin and confession, and being sorry for our sins and we added a new simple act of contrition to his night time prayers and he has taken to it very well. The book suggested a slightly truncated Act of Contrition similar to what you say after confession, but I knew Dominic would never be able to remember that so I made one up. "Dear God, I'm sorry for my sins, please help me to be a good boy." It's really adorable to hear him say it and I think he's proud of it, because if you start to say it with him he'll say "no, just Dominic" or "my turn".

Go check out Beth Anne's post to see other Lenten posts and those other people who didn't slack last week! I know I'm going to!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#40LentPrompts - Week 2

I'm a little more on top of things this week since here I am doing my second Lenten link up this week!

6. What are your favorite Lent or Easter Books? I'm going to cheat a little, this is actually a booklet. We love the Magnificat Lenten and Advent companions, and we usually get the Kindle version because it is easier for us and we can share it easier. It not only offers a reflection based on the readings, but it also offers some small penance for each day. It's wonderful! I heard this year that they actually have an app, but it's only available on i-devices, so that's a no for us. ;-)

9. What almsgivings are you doing this Lent? We picked up a rice bowl from church and we are focusing on having Dominic put the change that would normally go into his piggy bank in there. We explain to him that other kids are hungry and not able to have enough to eat, and that this money will help them to be able to buy food. He acted really sad when we told him not all kids get to eat whenever they are hungry, and he's overall very sensitive so I think it touched him a bit.

10. Share this weeks Lenten meal. This is kind of another cheat. :) We are trying to make it a point to go to our Parish's Friday services that include daily Mass, then a soup supper, and then Stations of the Cross. Last week Jason went to Mass and the boys and I met him for supper, but Christopher couldn't handle Stations so we ended up leaving after the 3rd station. This week, we might let Jason do Mass and then Dominic and I can stay for the soup supper and stations, and Jason can get Christopher out of there. Neither of them eats soup anyway. ;-) So every week a different group volunteers to provide the soup and crackers and bread. Last week I had this awesome chili cheesy potato soup and the rolls they had were amazing. My group isn't volunteering until March 4th and I'm still debating between a cream of broccoli soup and this amazing tomato basil soup with ricotta dumplings that I had when I went out of town with a friend.

So, that's all I'm talking about today, go check out Beth Anne's blog and share some blog love for the other people linking up!