Monday, March 4, 2019

It's Almost Lent!

This weeks starts Lent! I'm very excited this year for some reason. Dominic is doing kind of an enforced fasting/sacrifice, and by default Christopher is as well. Dominic can understand why he's being asked to sacrifice (he definitely doesn't like it, but he understands!), but Christopher doesn't. I wonder if that means that his sacrifice is more meaningful. Who knows! Anyway, the boys (and also by default-me) are giving up electronics before school is done. We used to always do this anyway, but when I was not getting much sleep I was letting the boys do that so that I could sleep in. Yes, yes, bad momming I know. So, we are getting back to that; in addition we will not have electronics for any meals any more. We do well with dinner, but if we are having lunch at home I often let them eat with their devices, but I'm going to stop that. I'm hoping that at the end of Lent we are better positioned to continue both of those habits.

Since fasting and abstaining is not technically required for the boys (though they abstain when we do anyway, I do enough double cooking, I'm not adding extra for that), I'm going to try to get Dominic to do a small fast weekly. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday these will be bigger, but on Fridays I'm thinking it will be something like only eating main meals, no snacks/dessert. I'm trying to guide him without forcing, but I know that he does need the specific direction as well.

Jason ordered this book, and it's been kind of fun to go through her list of Lenten sacrifice suggestions. I'll be real, some are weirdly intense, and some don't seem intense at all. For example, one that is listed as an advanced sacrifice is to not use your dishwasher, we don't have one anyway; but another one the beginning suggestion is not eating out and the advanced is growing your own food. Ummm, that takes way more planning than I've ever given Lent and I've been known to start thinking about Lent during ADVENT. I mean for real, that would require living in the right place and A LOT of pre-planning. There are some really good suggestions though, and I'm pretty excited to go through the rest of the year with her.

We are very excited that the first Sunday in Lent we will be attending Low Mass at an FSSP parish in Denver. It is 3 hours away, but we are feeling a calling to a more traditional Mass. Bonus is that there is no music at low Mass, so hopefully Christopher will approve! :)

That's it for now! I plan to post some recipes during Lent and some other things about our Lenten sacrifices and how things are going. I will also hopefully be able to post some pictures next week from the FSSP parish we attend!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Updates

I was doing so well with my blog posts, I need to schedule time to get one in! Which seems crazy but the truth is I just forget.

We are just ending week 25 in our homeschool, and prior to this week I've always written out my lesson plans in a notebook or planner. Jason gave me a hard time about not being techy despite having all the technology easily available, so this week I started scanning in the lesson plans to a Google drive file and then scrolling through on computer. This is actually incredibly handy. I can do just the daily portion of the lesson plan (in case this is confusing; Seton provides lesson plans for each course your child is enrolled in, but they come all together. They also offer a way to print out daily or weekly lesson plans but it's not easy to transfer them to another file type and it's a waste of printing), and then I can add several pages. For Dominic this is really great because he does have several lessons, for Christopher I can add a comment and list out his lessons that aren't included in the lesson plans because they are part of his special ed program. We decided not to continue with Time4Learning, not because it wasn't a good program, but because it was a huge fight for Christopher. I'm hoping to get to the city maybe this weekend and get some more workbooks because oddly that seems to be what he does better.

Benedict is ready to have his own desk and important things to do!

I have decided to start Weight Watchers (WW now) again; it seems like I've started and stopped a million different things, Weight Watchers included, but in some ways this feels different. I'm feeling really hopeless with regards to my weight and I need to make some serious changes. Especially because Jason promised me I could order this dress if I drop 25lbs and I desperately want it (with sleeves and past my knees though)! And I really want to be bike riding ready by Spring. I'd like to get a recumbent bike, possibly a tandem one to ride with Dominic, but at my weight it's hard to justify such an expensive purchase if it's at all possible that I could break it. So, wish me luck!

This book is coming to us, Jason doesn't remember if he ordered it or not, but he got a notification that it's on its way so someone did. I'm actually kind of excited because it looks like it will be really good. We are always looking for ways to live more liturgically in our home. I've been trying to have the boys do saint coloring pages and reading to them about the saint as they do, and I think that's been one good way.

Well, that's all the updates for right now! Hopefully I get a schedule going for writing out blog posts! 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Finding the Right Balance

We've been happily using Seton for our Catholic homeschool since Dominic was in pre-school. I do kind of geek out and look at various different programs, but all in all I'm content with what we're doing. I love that everything has the quiet background of our Catholic faith; Dominic's English lessons frequently have stories about saints and his math has beautiful artwork on the pages. Christopher's lessons are a bit different because we are doing special ed for him and he's not using all of the same lessons from Seton. But, there is still that quiet background of faith in most of his stuff.

However, lately I've noticed that Christopher is mostly just watching. I don't have the knowledge to know how to make sure that he's getting everything. He is tested in spelling and phonics, but he is not tested in math or language arts. He does exceptionally well at spelling and phonics and is a really good little reader! On top of that, he's actually only doing 30-45 min of lessons. Then the rest of the day is filled with too much screen time (I know, I know, I'm terrible!). So, I wanted to add something, but there's a reason that I don't design our curriculum. A friend of mine had used Time4Learning for a bit last year and thought that it was pretty good. It was actually also listed in an article i read about good online homeschools for autistic kids so I thought it would be interesting to try.

We are not changing from Seton. We've added this to our day. I'm not super worried about a schedule with it, so if we finish by the end of the year that's great, if not, that's also okay because this is in addition to what we're doing with Seton. We've been doing it for a week and we do "computer school" in the afternoons and it's a little bit of a fight with Christopher, but I'm sticking with it because it's a good addition for us. Wish us luck!

**here's a few unrelated photos because we have cute kids!
We're getting to where everyone loves the library!



This is Dominic when he was 2 I think? Jason found the picture and it reminded him of the inkling girl's face when she loses! So funny!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Sometimes Housekeeper

I am a terrible housekeeper, like really bad. It's weird because I have distinct memories of rules for keeping my room clean as well as Saturdays spent cleaning house. And yet, the sad truth is that I'm a slob. Poor Jason! His borderline OCD has caused him to have to let a lot go in our house to deal with my shortcomings. The problem is that I let things go too long (lazy) and then the idea of getting things back to where they need to be is so overwhelming that I can't begin and then it gets worse and it is a terrible cycle.

I have frequently relied on Jason to help with things, which he is awesome he totally is always willing to do anything I ask of him. Even cleaning bathrooms!!! Well, in doing some spiritual reflection (weird right?), I began to realize that my laziness and my inability to complete these tasks MOST of the time was in fact a spiritual problem. My vocation is as a wife and mom. My primary concern is of course raising good, holy children. But, caring for my home is definitely an important part of this. Caring for our home in a way that provides a safe, relaxing environment is important for us. Not just because nobody wants to be in a messy home, but also because it allows Jason to have that relaxation time that he needs to do the spiritual care of himself that he needs. It all intersects and it's all equally important.

So, I set myself some calendar reminders and gave it a start this week. Jason cleaned the living room really well a few weeks ago and we've been doing a pretty good job of keeping it mostly clean. We have the boys help do a clean up at night before our family Rosary. I cleaned up the kitchen including sweeping and mopping this past weekend and am determined to keep it this clean. It's very convenient to have be able to have Benedict wander the kitchen just a bit while I'm cooking or doing the dishes. You would not believe how convenient! So, I have 2 days a week where I'm going to sweep and mop the kitchen, 1 day for the living room, 1 day for picking up and vaccuming the bedrooms and schoolroom, and 1 day for bathrooms. Laundry interspersed throughout with school every morning. It's a lot, but actually it's not. It only took me about 15 minutes to sweep and mop the kitchen yesterday afternoon because I'd just done it. I anticipate the bedrooms will take a bit longer to do this afternoon but only because it's been so long since they've been cleaned really well. 

It's not perfect, but it's a definite start!

Now for some unrelated photos! 😊



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 know...baby steps! 😁

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Long Awaited Pregnancy

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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!