Monday, February 28, 2011

Bedtime Mathematics

150 rocks in rocking chair
- 1 failed attempt at laying her down
+ 250 rocks in rocking chair to calm her back down
= 400 rocks

1 Mary had a Little lamb
3 Old McDonald animals
1 Night-time prayer
+ 1 rushed Salve Regina
= 6 total verses

4 escapes from crib
1 pacifier (unless he’s hiding some in the crib)
1 cube of ice (?)
3 “eiei –o’s”
1 stick of string cheese (bribe much?)
= 10 unreasonable requests

1 game of “Dweebies”
1 Just So Story
2 Spring-themed books
+1 Night-time prayer
- 1 skipped Salve Regina
= 5 very time-consuming activities

= One more night of bedtime in the Love Shack and the reason that Alexis watches TV all night and never blogs.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Flu: Weeks 2 and 3

flu 034So things have been winding down here with The Illness. One by one the troops began to revive, the fevers lifted (with Cecilia’s squeezing every last bit out) and then we settled into the cough-that-portends-death and the snotty-nose-that-portends-the-snot-covered-shoulder. So here we were - all energized and wanting to explode out of the house but knowing that we sound like the Band of Death coming to infect the masses. We stayed home another few days. Doing…



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Lots and lots of dressup.

“C’mon, Thomas. We can be ladies.”

“OK Rosie!”




flu 160Flying a dragon kite.
Having tea…with the queen. flu 010

flu 029Generally taking out our energies on Mom. Yes that is four sticks of butter on my coffee table.

We began our foray into polite society at the Saturday night Vigil Mass. Which was packed. So we had to sit in the front. BAD NEWS. CeCe and Thomas just couldn’t contain their enthusiasm at seeing people other then the 6 of us and there was a slightly unsavory character taking up the crynook/room so we just did our best to stay cool under pressure and fed CeCe as many pamphlets as she could handle. Thomas we just…I honestly don’t remember. It wasn’t good though so I guess I just blocked it out. Sometimes I thank God that I have no braincells left.
Sunday we were led astray by ambitious weather-men who wanted to promised lovely Spring-like weather. We travelled an hour and half to a beautiful national park only to play for 10 minutes in a subdivision playground and decide that it was way too cold. Luckily we came up with a plan to meet some great friends at the Air and Space Museum. So the day was saved after all.

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Valentine’s made it in there too with a pretty amazing dinner and dessert prepared at home AFTER the kiddos were in bed



We’ve been bopping along all blissfully healthy since Sunday and I have repeatedly said that it’s truly amazing how much more productive the family can be when our bodies are on our side. We went from working at about 85% efficiency before the flu to – no joke – about 7% efficiency during it. Monday and Tuesday we were climbing our way back up and I’d say we were approaching 80% when BAM! The flu got it’s last word in (please, please be the last word). We’ve got a couple double ear infection patients bringing us down to about 50%. Darn kids. Don’t they know we’ve got a family to run? A home to keep? Memories to make?

Ten days of antibiotics and all the lovely benefits to the digestion that it will bring will bring us up to a total of 4 flu-ridden weeks. But this is the last woe-is-me post that I will share about it. Unless of course (and the likelihood of this happening is quite high) that we get a story out of it worthy of the title, Poop Chronicles. Only time will tell.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Two undergrads from the Mount interviewed us for a vocations website that they put together and not much else could mark Valentine's Day in a better way for us. The rest of the videos are just as well done so please take the time to watch the ones on priesthood and religious life - Sr. Liz had me in tear. So did my bizarro hair and lack of makeup but it's all for the kingdom, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Flu: Week 1

Anthony has been down for 8 days with a terrible fever, cough and congestion. He’s a sick little guy. He frequently doesn’t have the energy to watch TV. He lies on a chair and stares at the back of it. The first half of the week the challenge was to keep the little ones busy and not perturbing him.



So first they played the “Honey Game”. Where Thomas and Rosie are each Honey (a mommy and a daddy) and CeCe is “the kid”. So they dressed up for work and grocery shopping and then they shifted plans, got suited up in aprons and got busy with chores. They make a very industrious family. When that wore out it’s entertainment ability we did a little baking. Anthony had a perky 1/2 hour and helped us. But he was rapidly worn out and back into bed watching dinosaur documentaries on Netflix.


One of his great joys during one of his perky times was to sharpen both ends of his colored pencils. He’s really demanding patient. Shortly after he finished The Great Pencil Sharpening of 2011 Rosie went off-food and promptly developed her fever. Cecilia followed in the middle of the night.

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At some point in The Longest Week Of My Life we took a short walk to “air the babies”. I took the bookends down to look at the creek that just started to thaw. I realize that the pictures look like Anthony did not want to go but I assure you – he wouldn’t hear of staying home. So, I loaded him on the stroller and he rode down a couple blocks just like this. Face hidden curled up. This is what he’s looked like all week.

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Being out, even for 15 minutes was like a miracle worker on Anthony (CeCe was less impressed but she wasn’t any more miserable). He was totally fascinated with the melting ice flying down the creek. We’ve been watching a lot of penguin movies lately (March of the Penguins, Happy Feet, reading the Little Penguin, we’re kind of on a kick) so I guess it resonated with him. But he tired out after about 5 minutes and rode home in the stroller and then climbed onto “his chair” again and didn’t move for the rest of the day. Literally, didn’t move.

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When we returned from our excursion to the four wailing walls of our jail home Thomas had joined the ranks of the diseased. He was the last to fall and put up a darn good fight but we all knew it was inevitable.
With all four kids having the flu it’s a little like playing Whack-a-mole, without the bopping them on the head part. They all have their perky moments as different times so they are rarely able to keep each other entertained. But it does occasionally happen. You can notice that Rosie is never really too sick to dress her doll and herself up. Even if they just lie around on the couch all day they must be well-attired. She insisted on wearing her “Sunday dress” on Sunday in spite of staying home from Church. It was Sunday, after all.

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We tried to watch the Princess Bride together as a family. While initially there was great deal of excitement from Rosie, due to the name of the movie (her two favorite things), after the first 2 minutes the phrase, “he’s not dead, he’s just mostly dead” had a new meaning when you looked at her. Thomas was “cared” of every other person or animal and Anthony thought it was boring. Well, it is boring when you go hide in the kitchen every time there’s a sword fight or a wrestling match or a little bit of fire-swamp action or torture. So that was pretty much a flop. The only thing that we have discovered to be a big hit for the WHOLE family, two-years old on up, is Pass the Pigs game. The turns are fast enough for even Thomas to wait, the scoring is simple and there is NO skill needed. We’ve had many games of Pass the Pigs this week.


I don’t know how CeCe would fit into the Pass the Pigs game because she spends her whole day either nursing or in the Ergo. When she’s perky she rides along in the back (as pictured) when she’s feeling crappier she rides in the front. She does take many naps in her crib. THANK GOD for that. It’s very difficult to take care of the other kids when she’s onboard.

So, we are now into week 2 of the Flu and I have changed my formerly apathetic attitude regarding the Flu Shot (cue the angel-singing). I think it only takes one bout of the Flu to hit the whole family to make a convert. This will be the last year that we don’t go the preventative route, I assure you. You win Flu, you win.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Zone Defense

I feel (naively, no doubt) that I have happened upon the perfect system. I am going to write it down here even though I’m quite convinced that by doing so I call down the wrath of the chaos gods. Such are the risks bloggers must take.
Since moving into this cozy, quirky home almost 2 years ago we have been shifting and nudging and generally feeling our way around, settling into more-or-less permanent places for things and activities and bodies. We have created schoolrooms, dismantled them and moved them 2 floors away. We have had 3 different designated uses for the room that we still refer to as the “toy room” even though there haven’t been any toys there for over a year. We’ve turned a gently used shower on our main floor into a coat closet (complete with coat wash if a child gets in there and turns the wrong knob). We’ve finished (and by finished I do not mean done) the attic. We’ve added shelves about the toilet in the broom closet in the kitchen and turned it into a cleaning closet, complete with toilet/garbage disposal (yes, you read right – I should really include a picture of said closet in this post). So after 1 year of mild buyers remorse and homeowner self-doubt we have wedged ourselves into our home rather comfortably.
Unless you are slightly nerdy or just have a lot of time on your hands (here’s lookin’ at you James) then don’t feel any obligation to read all the details that I can’t help but provide. Forgive me, it’s a compulsion. I will provide a Moral of the Story at the end of the post for those you skip the bullet points.
The permanent zones that have been formed are :

  • Basement (unfinished): 1. School room (ALL homeschool materials. ALL); 2. Play room adjacent to school room. (ALL toys). They all have homes in these 3 old college dorm wardrobes that I bought off craigslist. Best idea I’ve ever had. DOORS for toys. Sweet peace. 3. Some pantry items (Costco purchases); seasonal storage (holidays, beach and snow); and tools. This section is separated from the rest and HAS A GATE (notice a theme?). Phew. That is really a huge amount of our life right there. I got a nice little heater and put down some rugs and lots of bright lights. Plus, in the spring we can open up our windows down there and we look right out into the garden. Last year we had an eye-to-eye relationship with a baby bunny in our yard. It’s not as bad as I feared but it did take me 2 years to admit that we were going to spend large amounts of our time in the basement. But I’m so glad that I finally did. It’s really the key to my sanity. We basically have an entire FLOOR dedicated to school and play. More on that later.
  • Main Floor: 1. Meals (all cupboards have “child safety locks” – should be called “mommy-sanity savers” 2. Reading (non-school books and picture books are housed here). 3. Laundry facilities. 4. Coats and shoes. 4. Bills. Not much.
  • Upstairs: 1. Beds 2. Clothes 3. Bath. Really not much.
  • Attic (now finished): 1. Storage area (long-term clothes storage, baby gear, memory stuff) 2. Chill-axing. The attic is EMPTY. There is nothing there except a place to sit and a desk for John in the summer when he works at home. Also, more on that later. I am going to make a sign for the door that that, “Come this way to get above the fray.” It is bliss. I will post pics in a couple weeks once the carpet is in.

The Moral of the Story:
I have made a dedicated effort to do things IN their specified zones. This drastically cuts down on the schlepping of the hated STUFF hither to yon. It’s simple, have zones – use zones. That combined with a maniacal use of locked cupboards and doors (WHY, WHY spend precious energy and time putting things back that didn’t need to come out in the first place?! Thank God that I had an insane male toddler when we moved in here – I’m so glad I finally just got everything out of his reach. Third kid’s the charm) has reduced the time that I spend tidying up by an estimated 2-3 hours a week. Never mind how I came up with that number, it isn’t scientific but I think it’s accurate.
If nothing else, sticking to the zones has simplified my tidying up because it greatly reduces the decision-making component of tidying. It’s simple. It’s easy. I have a house that is as clean and tidy as I want it to be (not necessarily as clean as what you want your house to be, but still…) and it’s not been a huge amount of effort to keep it that way. It’s magic. Truly magic.

Or maybe Cecilia just hasn’t reached her B.T. (Big Trouble) age yet. It could definitely all go up in flames and I have certainly tempted the fates by writing this post. The taming of the stuff doesn’t really have an end, I’m sure but for the last two weeks I have actually experienced triumph instead of defeat and it is sweet.


This toilet is located in the only closet on the main floor of my house – in the kitchen. Nicknamed, “Potty-training Alley”. We needed somewhere for brooms and what not so now it’s the “toilet closet” (not to be confused with the “shower closet”). It serves another purpose though (the brain child of the ever-inventive Kristina) as a stand-in garbage disposal. For all the ends of soup and cereal that are just generally a nuisance in a home that is sadly in want of a garbage disposal. And note the toilet lock on the toilet. The bane of many guests with an emergency potty problem but the savior of many cookies that were being threated with a dip is the (probably unflushed) ‘pot’ – yes this is why we got the toilet lock – not a hypothetical.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Conversing with Rosebud

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Rosie: When Natalie is a princess at her wedding I am going to be a princess too. I am going to wear a pink dress with roses and I am going to have a crown with pink hearts and I am going to have petals and throw them down. Mommy, I am sorry that I cried when you threw my petals at Miss Walker’s wedding. When Miss Walker was a princess then she was Mrs. Mileo I should not have cried.
Mommy: It’s OK Posy, I shouldn’t have thrown your petals down, that was silly. Hey, do you know who Natalie is marrying at her wedding?
Rosie: No.
Mommy: Uncle James!
Rosie: Oh! Wow! That is so great!

Mommy: Rosie, I found your beaded socks!
Rosie: Oh wow, mommy! You have great eyes! The perfect eyes for finding my beady socks! Bella shared these beady socks with me. It was so, so, so nice of her. She’s my best friend. Actually she is my best friend and Lucy and Jane are my best friends.

Rosie: Mommy, I think I’ve got the same sickness as Anthony.
Mommy: Well, you don’t have a fever. And you don’t have a cough. And you don’t have a stuffy nose. So I don’t think that you do have the same sickness.
Rosie: Well. Remember that time when I had the croupy cough and threw up in my bed? See? So I can be sick too.

After learning about the letter sound ‘mmmmm’.
Rosie: Mommy! I’ve got the sound for it! I L-L-L-LOVE M-M-M-Mommy.

With her arm around Thomas who is crying because I won’t let him go upstairs.
Rosie: C’mon honey. Sometimes it’s just difficult. Let’s go downstairs.

Unfortunately I cannot capture in words her hilarious looks that accompany all these conversations – her nostril/lip curl combo or her frequent double eyebrow raising or her self assured squeaky voice that can’t consistently say her L’s or R’s but somehow manages to be very articulate anyway. Can’t beat a three-year-old girl for sweetness.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All that I’m not doing

Yesterday was a fabulous home-schooly type day. Lots of creative, hands-on, passionate, child-led learning in the heart of our wintry home. It was everything that I see homeschooling as being in my mind’s eye. My camera had been left elsewhere for the day so I have no pictures to show you and as I was regretting this the fact dawned on me… the thing to do is not to tell you about all the neat-o things that I did yesterday but instead to tell you about all the things that I did not do. This will be my own little antidote to that crappy mixed feeling of envy, guilt, admiration, inadequacy, self-doubt and judgementalism that are so easy to fall into while reading the blog records of all the great mom's out there who look like they have it so together. We are all choosing all the time. If someone looks like that are “doing it all” then be sure that they are not. We had a great homeschool day yesterday and yet we did NOT…

  • Do any Religion, Math, Spelling, Spanish, Science or History. What does that leave? Nature Study, that’s what.
  • Any laundry
  • Any dedicated preschool time
  • The grocery shopping at the proposed time
  • Daddy had to pull dinner together so I could get the grocery shopping in (no milk and a “big storm” coming).

There are only so many hours in the day, only so many arms gifted to each mom, only so many creative cells endowed to each brain, only so much energy granted to the sleepless parents out here. I had a great day yesterday – one that I hope I’ll remember even without the aid of a camera but I don’t want to feed the culture of ‘never-good-enough’ that is the siren call of the mom-blog world so I’ll just keep it to myself. I hope you enjoyed YOUR day too.


(I did manage to get one picture at the end of the day. I just can’t get enough of this sight. How dear is he? My newly independent reader. He didn’t even notice me and the flashing camera. I could just eat him up.)