Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I Loved About Last Week (42nd Ed.)

1. Last week, First Son became an alter server. He served daily Mass four times and is now ready to serve on a Sunday, though I think it'll be September before he gets on the schedule. He was so very excited! I absolutely loved how he would leap out of bed when we went in to wake him so he could eat early enough.

2. We ate lunch at Taco Bell to celebrate First Son's first day serving Mass. (Mainly this was because it worked out for us to be in town during lunch in between errands, but he was pleased.)

3. Second Daughter and Second Son both had well-child visits last week. Both are healthy and doing well. Second Son seemed to finally figure out the doctor was not actually going to hurt him. He still cried, but there was a measurable decrease in his agitation over the course of the visit.

4. I took the kids, all of the kids, on a number of errands last week. No one hyperventilated. No one had a panic attack. No one called the authorities. I was very pleased. Stressed, but pleased. (Anyone who has taken four children between two and eight on errands involving school supplies, superstores, clothes, doctor's offices, and a hobby store will understand the stress.)

5. Included in our errands were two trips to the library, conveniently located for the times I needed something to occupy us for just a little while between appointments. First Son asked about getting a library card, so we did. The three older ones all have cards now and gleefully used the self-check-out for two books each.

6. Second Son "read" Blue Hat, Green Hat. The rendition was recognizable and adorable.

7. Second Son has also started joining in with our Litany of Saints during evening prayer. He'll sing, "Pway fo us!" (The older kids also taught him to sing "St. Elmo" in the Litany, which is hilarious and I do dearly pray for St. Elmo to forgive any disrespect. I hope he has a sense of humor...)

8. We took our annual back to school field trip last week. This year we decided to go to the Oklahoma Aquarium to see the sharks. It was a bit of a drive, but the kids handled it well and I think they had a great time. They may even have learned something.

First Daughter took our picture

9. Kansas Dad and I finished week 7 of P90X. We're more than half-way done - only six weeks to go!

10. Yesterday was our first day of school! That explains why "What I Loved About Last Week" is a day late; I was too busy gathering materials on Sunday night to finish the post. It was a good day! First Daughter had a fabulous reading lesson (meaning she didn't cry or make me cry) and First Son handled the day rather well.

First Son - first day of third grade

First Daughter - first day of kindergarten
Second Daughter - four years old and causing trouble
Second Son - two years old and wants in on the fun of picture time


  1. Number 4 made me smile...and I only have 3, and one of those is a newborn. But I totally, well, sort of, understand. Can't empathize for errands with 4, but can DEFINITELY sympathize. ;-D Glad it was "successful".

    Kolbe has the same green stripey shirt as second son in the first picture. He calls it his "gator ball" shirt. His favorite shirts are the ones with balls on them, and he never wanted to wear that one so we told him the gator in the circle was a gator ball, and now he loves it!!

    I'd be curious to pick your brain about keeping your other kids entertained while you work one on one. I would love to do "Teach Your Child to Read" with Gemma, and other things too, but Kolbe (who doesn't nap anymore) wants to be rigth there with us doing whatever she is doing. I can't tell you how many battles I've had with him over a glue stick. BAH! That boy is not easily distracted, even if it's something "really cool", and it just makes it hard to do anything too out of the ordinary or special with Gemma. I'm kind of frustrated.

    BLESSINGS your first week of school!

  2. Hm, entertaining the other kids. Well, the simple answer is two words: messes and manipulatives. I basically let the other kids have free rein in the living room so the toys get spread everywhere. This is easier to handle when all the toys are dumped in one bin at the end of the day and/or you have an eight year old to help clean up. I also sent the little ones outside today when I was working with First Son. This works because we have that little front yard and I can see them from the front window the whole time. It's hard for the oldest, though, who'd rather be outside playing. And they got very dirty. Sigh.

    Then there's the manipulatives. Nothing is as intriguing as something we use for lessons. Second Daughter happily used the salt box the entire time I spent with First Daughter on her cursive lesson. She even wrote the number a few times herself in the salt. She felt like a part of the lesson but wasn't really interfering at all. She did, of course, dump half the salt all over the kitchen table and floor when I left her with it to move on to something else in the living room. But if you're going to sweep anyway, it's not really more work. Same policy with things like pouring rice or bean activities. You can also give Gemma a broom to sweep up afterwards, which she'd probably love, but it's unlikely to actually mean you don't have to sweep yourself. My older two are still not great sweepers, though I think the boy just lacks proper motivation.

    Math manipulatives are particularly attractive - teddy bear counters, linking cubes, pattern blocks, just about anything that's usually in a bag or box out of reach is great. I think that's how First Daughter learned so much math...I'd let her sit at the table with some of the manipulatives while I taught First Son his lesson. I didn't try to teach her anything in particular, but she was quiet and felt involved and managed to learn some, too.

    Second Daughter (who just turned four) is particularly fascinated with pattern blocks right now. Melissa and Doug has some with colored boards to put them on. We also have Mighty Mind and Super Mind and she'll work with those for a long time. Dry erase crayons (Crayola makes great washable ones that really are washable, as least off of sheets) and little white-boards are also extremely popular around here. So much so they went through about 50 baby wipes cleaning them off yesterday. Sigh. But I'm willing to sacrifice the $1.00 for the hour of quiet time I had.

    Maybe if you played with Kolbe and got him interested in something then moved over to do something with Gemma? Mostly I'd encourage you to try to find a way to sit between them and teach her while he's not getting in the way too much. It might not be your ideal, but he will eventually learn to entertain himself or not feel like he has to be right there with you. It'll be easier when Clem is older and will play with Kolbe. I promise the day will come!

    If you really want to do something special with Gemma, try to find someone to be with Kolbe (aunt, grandma, dad, etc.). She'd probably be in heaven.

  3. Oh dear! I should have made that response a post!

    I meant to add that the little ones change and grow so quickly that what is a struggle this month may be easy as pie next month. I try to just take it a day at a time and juggle things around so we can get done what has to be done. And if we don't get it done, life goes on.

  4. I took all the kids to a hobby store last week, too, which is something I've never done before. It wasn't too horrible as long as I kept them moving along. At least nobody broke anything. :)

    Love all the pictures!

    It IS hard to keep the little ones occupied in a non-destructive, non-interruptive manner. Anthony has improved quite a bit from last year, but it can get exhausting. I'm trying to work with all the kids on not interrupting when Mommy is working with one of the kids. This year Catherine has an assignment list, and I should do one for the twins, because it helps a lot. I actually have more trouble with Joseph right now, because he is doing "real" school for the first time in Kindergarten and he wants something to do the whole time the others have school. I'm having trouble keeping up with him and then he gets mad. It's been a little tough juggling all 4 of the students, but I think I'll adjust. Have to, I guess!

  5. Thank you so much for the detailed answer, I really appreciate it. I think part of my problem was starting Gemma first and THEN trying to distract Kolbe with something else. Today I started him on our bean tub and the bottles and lids, and he happily did that while Gemma and I did Mass prep and now she's using her new oil pastels (which I really didn't want him getting ahold of) and he is still occupied. YAY!! It's that small little stuff that sometimes I just don't think of.

    We have both sets of M&D pattern blocks and they get quite a bit of use at our house. I ordered and printed some additional cards for our "difficult" set, and Gemma has really been enjoying those, even Kolbe too. We also have teddy bear counters, and he and I had some fun with those a few weeks back when Gemma was out with her daddy so I'll have to pull those back out again. But you are right, I think it's just a matter of getting him started with something "cool" first and then moving on to Gemma.

    We are slowly but surely striking a groove for our afternoon learning time, each week I've been tweaking and changing things as our needs dictate, and we seem to slowly be coming up with a good system that works for us. And then everything will change again next year when Gemma goes to Kdg. but ah, we'll worry about that then!

    You inspire me...messes scare me. A lot. Or rather, they turn me into scary mama. I need to learn to let go more really, but oh it's hard.

    Thanks again for your time, I really appreciate others' thoughts.

  6. It's all about balance - balance the allowance of messes with the mama's ability to handle the mess without freaking out. There's something to be said for a mom's mental health and a nice tidy house is part of that.

    Not that my house is often quite as nice and tidy as I'd like, but it's ok to want it to be that way and to work at keeping it that way.

    My greatest challenge right now is teaching the kids to handle more of the cleaning on their own. They're terrible at it and I hate to let them do it!!


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