Saturday, September 20, 2014

You discover treasures

1st row: Eating a popsicle and doing schoolwork in the hotel bed, she loves chewing on apples, my favorite "Customer with Child Parking," selfie of Katie and Ellie, and Thomas swinging Katie at Teddy Bear Park
2nd row: Ellie and MK reciting "America for Me" at the picnic, sweet godsisters, Tommy and his rocket picture, me teaching in the hotel room, and Ellie on the elliptical in the hotel after we all freaked out when she disappeared in the workout room for 15 minutes
3rd row: Katie loves pizza crusts, back home doing a puzzle by the front door, Katie trying bananas and avocados, my new curtains made from bedsheets, and me on the phone with my MODG consultant while hiding in an upstairs closet with hunting gear
4th row: sweet sisters one morning, kids asleep in my bed, more sweet sisters, crazy school morning while T is begging me to print him ninja color pages (taken by MC), Katie awake late at night in her exersaucer...a typical night this week.
5th row: Ellie loving on baby first thing in the morning, an MC selfie, all pink in the exersaucer, Ellie's fortune at the Chinese restaurant "You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual." SO VERY ELLIE!, and MC with Katie checking out a fountain

I love all these special little moments with the kiddos.  I am truly blessed to be able to experience these snapshots of our life with little photos as memories.  I can't wait until Steven's schedule slows down so he can share some of these with us too.  Even when I'm weary, I know we are still making memories, living out the days in hope and prayer, and trying to smile in the midst of it!

We had to leave for another house showing today and I was worn out.  I pulled into one of our favorite restaurants to have a restful lunch where the kids could play in the game room a little bit.  Instead, it was closed down and we ended up at a Chinese buffet.  I had to stop the car so many times on the way there, and the way home, because the kids were misbehaving.  I was ready to throw in the towel.  But we walked into the restaurant, and I forced a smile on my face and tried to enjoy that little lunch with my five favorite kids.  I am one blessed lady.  Truly, they are each Blair's Blessings!

Ellie's fortune was so poignant, "You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual."  I think I could write a whole post about this.  She is always hunting for coins at any public location.  She hoards all kinds of crafts and whatnot around her room and in her purse.  But most of all, she finds joy in the little moments.  I had a special time with her at the hotel pool one night and she just talked and laughed and didn't stop smiling.  That's what I love about my Ellie...seeing the bright side of life! May we all see the silver lining of every situation and try to smile on those days when it's really hard.  Thanks be to God who puts others in our path to help us find and choose joy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving is hard.

I have so many posts I want to write.  Ideas going through my head each day, but rarely a time to sit at the computer alone, unless it's 11:45pm like it is right now!

It has been one of those days.  I was feeling really good this week...we were making it through our schoolwork (sometimes not until 8pm, but usually in the mid-afternoon), I was feeling peace even in the midst of all our unknowns, I was handling Steven's long hours and overnight trips, and I was thrilled that we'll soon be heading back to Houston for another week.  But last night I was getting weary and had a sore throat and headache, and I awoke feeling even worse this morning.

Then I got the text I've been dreading (yet still hoping for) all week.  It was 8:30am and I was awake, but still resting in bed since I wasn't feeling well.  "I'd like to show your house between 10 and noon."  YIKES.  That gave me an hour and a half to get the house show-ready, get five kids dressed and out the door, get myself showered and dressed, and instead of having a trusty 11yr old helper, Mary Clare would be doing an online class during most of that time frame.  Ellie was a huge help (even until 11pm tonight, she was helping with the baby), and the boys behaved well enough and only made a few messes of strawberry smoothie drops as I was trying to clean up.

We made it out the door at 10:05am and I felt accomplished.  We got breakfast, ran by Steven's office (since his car held one child's only pair of shoes), and we went to the mall.  I got Katie some sweet new clothes girl clothes can always brighten a day!   But then we didn't really start schoolwork until mid-afternoon and didn't finish it until close to 7:00pm.  The baby was fussy, I still have a head cold, Daddy will be gone tomorrow and Saturday, we'll leave for Houston on Sunday (Thomas' birthday for which we have no plans or presents), and we still have no idea what will be happening with the house situation.

Moving is hard.  This will be our 8th move since we've been married.  Three different apartments, a duplex, and three houses have been "home" for us the past 13 years.  I know it's nothing compared to military families who move every year or two, across country and overseas.  It's surely nothing compared to the displaced families on the other side of the world struggling to have their basic needs met.  I cannot even fathom what they are going through.  But this tiny cross is still hard for me.  I'm longing for a forever home, and praying that things fall into place soon.

I'm not sure the last time I've worked physically as hard as I did the week before we listed the house.  But the work has been worth it, and even if it takes forever to sell the house, at least we are living with so many less "things," and that makes life just much more simple.  I think we all miss the photos on the walls, some of our books, and probably some of the kids' toys and crafts.  In a few weeks we might be missing our fall clothes quite a bit if we don't get this house sold and moved so we can locate and unpack the sweaters and jackets!

We are slowly making the transition.  It was nice to have some down time at home this week, and next week we will be back to hotel life and our fun activities of ballet, nature club, playdates, grandparent visits, and their Friday clubs in Houston.  It's hard not knowing when or where the next step will take us, but it's also somewhat freeing to just live "in the moment" and wait for His will to be done.  There's a peace in the waiting, even though it is so emotionally and physically difficult.

Since I'm talking about all that we've done in the house, here are the photos of what it looks like, all clean and ready for showings.  We have been truly blessed to live in this beautiful home for the past almost-2 years, and I hope the family who buys it next fills it with many more happy memories!

Our Lady, pray for us!
 St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Jude, pray for us!
Thank you all for praying for us, friends!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschool Update Fall 2014

As I've shared a few times, we opted to enroll with the Mother of Divine Grace homeschool program this year.  It had always been something I planned to do in the future as we approached high school, but I ended up starting a little sooner than I thought.  And I am SO glad we made that decision for this year!  Having MODG to follow in the midst of all these life changes has been a big blessing.  I had a phone meeting with my consultant yesterday, and she has been very helpful in guiding me through the decisions and new curricula we're using this year.  I didn't think I'd want to do a curriculum summary blog post, since we're just following their lesson plans for the most part, but I think it will still be helpful for me, and maybe for others, to see the breakdown.  Our grade levels this year are: Mary Clare-6th, Ellie-4th, and Steven Joseph-1st.

Mary Clare is reading the Gospels of Mark and Luke, as well as the Baltimore Catechism #2.  She is doing some short answer questions and written summaries for this course, and is receiving teacher grading services, so I don't have to stay on top of this subject as much!  She speaks to the grader (also our consultant) once a month and sends in her work by email.  Ellie is reading and memorizing the Baltimore Catechism #2 and doing bible retellings from the Child's Bible History book.  Steven Joseph is working with the First Communion Catechism and will be reading some saint and bible stories too.  I like that they are getting the solid memory work through the Catechism, as well as experience with summaries and retellings from scripture and saint stories.

We have now changed both the girls to Saxon Math.  Mary Clare switched last year and it was a very difficult but worthwhile transition.  She is doing much better this year in 7/6 and Ellie has taken to 5/4 very well.  I think in the future we will also move the other kids to Saxon in 4th grade since most say that it's the easiest grade to make the change.  I'm having a hard time keeping up with the grading, but overall I'm happy with their understanding levels and progress with Saxon.  We are not using any DVDs this year, and that's been just fine.  Steven Joseph is continuing with Math U See Beta (technically 2nd grade).  He seems to be more math-minded and I think he will move forward and may stay a level ahead if he continues at this rate.  We haven't watched the Math U See videos much, because I don't feel he really needs them for these basic concepts.  I think the kids have gotten a good math foundation through this program and I plan to continue to use it in early elementary with the other children.

Language Arts
I'll start with Mary Clare (6th grade).  She is using Easy Grammar, which isn't as "easy" as I'd hoped.  My consultant said I should really be sitting with her for these lessons each day and that my grading of this is very important this year.  So it will be our main focus, aside from math.  She is also doing little daily exercises in The Great Editing Adventure.  She isn't doing a Handwriting program, but is doing some Calligraphy in her Art program this year.  She is also reading literature for History, and has to read 45 minutes each day.  We are working in All About Spelling 5, which continues to challenge us with Spelling rules and copywork practice.

Ellie is doing Intermediate Language Lessons and I'm really happy with this book.  I think it will be the perfect book for Ellie, retelling sweet stories about fairies and animals and such, which she later has to copy to work on her writing skills.  She is also reading a lot of books for History and has a 30 minute per day reading requirement.   Ellie is doing All About Spelling 4, and I'm still happy with the AAS program for my kids.  It follows the Spalding method of intensive phonics and spelling rules, but it does so in a more interactive and fun way than other programs we've used.  Still, the girls struggle with Spelling quite a bit, but I was assured by the MODG consultant that this will click more in the coming years as they enter the more logical/analytical stage of classical education in the middle school years.

Steven Joseph started off the year continuing with All About Reading Level 1, but it was becoming a battle and I wasn't seeing a lot of progress.  Last week I decided to start him with the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book.  I really disliked using that with Mary Clare, but I think it will be a better fit for the other kids, so I'll save AAR1 until he gets through 100 Easy Lessons, probably in the spring.  He also has Seton Handwriting and Phonics workbooks which he does every day, and I read aloud to him each day.  He does some narrations and illustrations on Fables that we read together.

Mary Clare is working in the Concepts and Challenges MODG Science book, and is doing some questions and summaries for that.  I believe it's technically the 5th grade program for MODG, but the consultant felt it held some vital skills that we should work on.  Ellie is using the 4th grade Abeka Science book (Understanding God's World), and Steven Joseph just listens along where he can, because Science is not a focus in 1st grade.  Hopefully we will be doing some Nature Club activities when we move.

Mary Clare does History as a twice monthly online "Book Club" and is enjoying the interaction with other students and a teacher.  Their main text is The Old World and America, and then she reads various literature selections, mostly about Ancient Egypt right now.  They also cover Geography with the different maps they create in the course.  She receives teacher grading services for this class, so she has a monthly phone call with the grader (our consultant), and she will be typing and emailing her work for grading.  Ellie is using Our Pioneers and Patriots as her History spine (along with Evangelization of the New World and The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas by Seton), and she's reading quite a few Early American literature selections; right now she's reading a few Columbus books.  Ellie is also doing a Map Skills book and is still reviewing state and capital flashcards.  Steven Joseph gets some history exposure while listening along and reading good books, but there isn't a designated text for History in 1st grade.

Mary Clare and Ellie are both following the MODG Latin programs, Beginning Latin I and II, as weekly online courses.  I am very happy with this program so far, and I think it is a good motivation for them to take more interest in Latin, which is very important in the classical method.  We had gotten to a point where (after doing Prima Latina and Latina Christiana) they had no interest in taking Latin again and just wanted to move into Spanish.  Hopefully we will still do some Spanish at some point, but I know that Latin is good for their formation.  The online classes make it fun, and give them some motivation for staying on top of their lessons since they are called on in class each week.  Steven Joseph will be learning a few Latin prayers and hymns this year.

Fine Arts--Art/Music/Poetry/Ballet
Mary Clare is following the MODG 6th grade Art program which includes some calligraphy and also the Seton 7th grade Art book.  Ellie has been doing the Drawing Textbook by McIntyre and will also use some masterpiece art cards.  Steven Joseph should be doing some art cards too, but I think I'll have him work some with Ellie when she begins her art cards.  He is doing some artwork with his fable narrations.

We haven't done much with Music so far.  Mary Clare has a textbook (The Ready to Use Music Activities Kit), and she is singing in the choir when we're in Corpus.  Hopefully she can continue in a church choir or try some violin lessons when we move.  Ellie has taken a break from piano since May, but hopefully she will start up again when we move since I already have a teacher and time slated out for that.  Steven Joseph is listening to and learning some Latin hymns according to the syllabus, and I might see if he enjoys piano along with Ellie once we move.

All of the children are memorizing poems according to their syllabus from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath poetry compilation.  They are enjoying this, and Ellie even recited one with a friend who is also a MODG 4th grader at their girls' club picnic in Houston last week!  And of course the girls will be back to ballet lessons once we move.  They took three days of classes while we were in Houston and were evaluated and recommended to take two levels of ballet to catch up with what they've missed the past three years.  So they will be spending a lot of time at the ballet school once we move!  I'm looking forward to some more exposure with Fine Arts through field trips and other opportunities that are offered there, if we can fit it into our schedule without stressing out our family!

All of the kids will participate in the girls' and boys' clubs we've been a part of with our friends in the homeschool group in the Houston area, which take place twice a month.  The girls do sewing, crafting, virtue lessons, liturgical tea parties, traditional dancing, and picnics.  The boys do some outdoor activities, virtue lessons, crafts, and picnics.  It looks like we might also be able to do the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Montessori faith formation program during these club times at someone's home, and I may be helping with that.  Depending on what county we move to, we are hoping to start up a 4-H club for the homeschool group once we move, and Steven Joseph will probably participate in some sports too.

So that's our yearly plan in a nutshell!  It is a full schedule of lessons, and it often takes us until almost 4pm to finish their schoolwork with all the distractions of house packing, hotel stays, and the baby!  Today we stayed on top of things and finished by 2pm, so I even got a nap!  I think we will slowly get into a routine and things will go smoothly, probably just in time to make our move back to Houston!  At least we have the consistency of an accredited program with lesson plans (that can be customized and printed each helpful!), so that in the midst of a lot of family changes we can feel like we are on top of our schoolwork and I have the extra support I need to make for a successful year.  As for now we are just at home waiting and praying for some progress on the house-selling front, and hoping we can find just the right house for our family.  It'll be an eventful school year for sure!

Our Lady and St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Clare, pray for us!
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
St. Stephen, pray for us!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St. Katharine Drexel, pray for us!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The long drama-filled journey

Our second week at the hotel has been much better than the first!  No stomach viruses. Yay.  The kids sorta got into a little schooling routine that went like....walk down the hall for the free hotel breakfast while mom was still in bed, do one easy subject like practicing a poem, sneak on the TV while mom is in the bathroom or putting the baby down, do a workbook page, disappear down the hall for awhile, do part of another school lesson, get in a fight with a sibling over a pencil (or room key, or piece of gum), lose your school book (or remember that it's at home), then grandparents would show up for swimming or it was time for ballet class, and we'd have a mad rush to try to finish all we could.  But it was never completely finished.

I have no idea how I'm going to stay on top of all the MODG subjects for all the kids.  And we're not even doing all the subjects like art or music.  Just the reviewing and grading of Mary Clare's work is like a full time job.  So we're doing our best.  And I'm anxiously awaiting the phone call with my consultant on Monday.  I'm hoping she has some helpful hints at how I can do this without an extra set of hands or eyes or ears or mouth.  I'm also hoping that maybe this whole hotel situation is what is making it extra hard too.  Since we're living in two rooms with two TVs and a computer and a LOT of distractions.  And a fair bit of stress and unknowns.

SO...I should be glad that we're going home this weekend, right?  WRONG.  I'm actually struggling quite a bit.  I've gotten used to the two weeks of this little carefree, but crazy hotel life.  I don't have to cook breakfast, someone cleans our rooms, we have so few belongings that it's not hard to keep up with them, grandparents are helping a lot, we have some fun activities with friends, and Steven has been here most nights.  It's still crazy with five kids in a hotel and not really having a break, but at least I don't have to worry about showing a house in the middle of the homeschool day.  I am worried that could drive me looney.  Except that we haven't had all that many showings.  Boo.

We were hoping we'd have an offer on the house by now.  And I was hoping we'd have found a house and that we'd have a moving date to focus on.  All summer I was thinking we'd be moving this weekend.  Instead we're in what seems like another LONG, drama-filled journey to the next step.  I feel like all the big things in our life are just that...long and drama-filled!  Our move to Corpus Christi was decided in July and it took four months to get there.  Finding our current home that we bought was about a six month process.  Even things like Steven Joseph's heart surgery, the rental cabin situation while we waited for Katie's arrival, school and job changes...all the things feel like they take forever to work out, and I feel like everyone around me thinks we are nuts and wonders what in the world is going on with our crazy life!

And maybe I am crazy, because I'm trying to take the next step before we're there.  I'm having a hard time living in the present.  But Steven has been working here most weekdays since July, and it just doesn't make sense in my head (or my heart) for us to be in Corpus alone while he's working here, our families are here, and all the activities we'll be joining soon are here.  It's really hard for me.  But living in a hotel for weeks is also hard on me and on the kids.  I worry about them with all the stresses and upheavals of this year.  I want to give them a stable life and a comfortable home, and I know we are very close to it all coming together.  But it's so hard to not be able to see the next step or know when we will reach it.

But I know that it will all come together in God's perfect timing.  I know that His plan is much better than mine.  I just need to let go and trust that He will take care of it all.  I need to stay out of the way and pray.  As we discussed last night at a lovely mom's group, His Mother can take all our needs and petitions and make them beautiful to present to her Son.  I will entrust this situation to Mary and Joseph who know what it means to be parents, that they would ask their Son to take all our little crosses and make them sweet.  That Jesus would meet all our needs, big and small.  That He would provide all the grace we need to persevere on this journey.  Holy Family, pray for us!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Monday Motivation!

1st row: watching Netflix at hotel, MC disapproves of sofabed-jumping brothers, someone wrote on the wall!, Katie in her bumbo
2nd row: he felt better when floating in the tub, crafts from NeNe, messy school stuff in hotel room, swimming with PaPa
3rd row: Katie loves sitting up by the closet mirror, Tommy proud of his parrot coloring, SJ figured out how to make spit wads without anyone telling him about this concept--a true boy, looking at old photos with NeNe
4th row: a rainbow on daddy's birthday, walking around the waterway after dinner, lunch fun with friends after mass, and my Pretty in Pink girls in their Sunday best!

Another week begins!  We are starting Week 3 of our homeschool year and I'm hoping this will be a much better one than the last, when all members of the family (except the baby and me who had some mild symptoms) were plagued with a yucky stomach virus!  We are still hotel-living at this point.  It looks like there have been two showings for our house so far, and we are going to stay away for now in hopes that it will sell before I need to come back with this crazy, messy crew!  We have been on the road so much this past year, and I am just hoping it's not much longer until we can sell our house and find another here where we can settle back down and not take any road trips for awhile.

I'll do a homeschool update soon, but overall the Mother of Divine Grace program has been a great fit for us this year.  I need the support and accountability, especially with all the upheavals in our life right now.  I love the way I can print out customized weekly checklists with assignments for all the kids!  And I can email my consultant whenever I have questions.  Next week will be my phone consultation, and Mary Clare will have one too for the classes where we've signed up for grading.

We are enjoying seeing my parents a lot, along with our local friends here.  The girls also started back to ballet at their old studio while we are in town.  We have looked at a few houses, one that the girls fell in love with, but we are waiting to see what happens with our Corpus house.  We are entrusting it all to St. Joseph, knowing that he will take care of all of this in God's perfect timing.

We were able to celebrate Steven's birthday as a family last night.  The kids made him banners and we picked up balloons and a little rosary.  We went out to dinner on the Waterway, and then picked up a few special cheesecake slices for us to share!  It was a great night, but I know Steven was exhausted after working all day.  He's back to Corpus tonight and we're just hunkering down, watching way too much TV, and hopefully getting back on track with school tomorrow.

One good thing about being out of town is that I can't have a normal to-do list.  The housekeeping cleans the room if we need it, there is free breakfast down the hall, and I just have to try to keep kids quiet and entertained and stay on top of schoolwork.  It's hard, don't get me wrong, and we've had quite a few minor injuries and kids nearly damaging the hotel room.  One child has a red arm that looks just like a clothes iron, ironically?!?  And we may have left some crayon marks on the wall of our "sick" room next door before we switched rooms (see photo above).  The kids are really getting on each other's nerves by the end of each day.  But I know that keeping our house show-ready with all of us there would be much harder!

I know we will look back on this crazy year and laugh...staying in a cabin while awaiting the baby's arrival, staying at a hotel while the house was on the market, getting a stomach virus on top of it, and the many drives back and forth from Corpus to Houston with all of the children. Our moving plans and Steven's work schedule change by the hour it seems, so we are learning lots about flexibility and patience!  There are so many virtues to practice during this crazy time in our lives!  Please say a prayer for us...and I'll be offering prayers and little sufferings for the intentions of all of you.  Thank you, friends.  

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Happy Birthday to You!

We've been on quite a wild ride the past few years, this past one in particular!  On your birthday last year we were leaving on our epic Disney vacation, which was followed by many months of exciting events, leading up to the birth of our precious #5, Katherine Maria Grace, forever "Katie" to you (I'm still not sure you know her middle name).  
It was a challenging summer with you traveling so much, but we also enjoyed lots of fun memories at swim meets (if you could call those fun), the beach, the conference resort, and even the mini golf and go-cart outings!  We now feel that there is an end in sight, and we are close to being together more and back near family again.  We've missed you a lot recently, but we know there are so many good things to come in your 39th year!
I can't begin to express my gratitude for the way you lead this family...the decisions you make, the strength you hold, and the laughter you bring in the midst of it all.  You balance me out in all the right ways, and you help our children and me to know what's most important in this world.  I am honored and grateful to get to share this life with you.  Happy 38th, Steven!  Thanks for working so hard for us, even on your birthday!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Fullness of Truth Conference

Here are some photos from our weekend in San Antonio at the Fullness of Truth Catholic Evangelization Conference.  It was a wonderful weekend and just what we needed before the chaos of the fall semester began.  I haven't blogged in the past week because we started homeschooling, packed up half the house, prepped it for showings, packed for a long trip to Houston, drove all five kids by myself in a rainstorm, arrived in Houston, looked at some houses, and started week two of homeschooling today while two children have been puking at the hotel. Yay, Labor Day!

Anyway, the conference was huge and we enjoyed attending the Adoration and Praise & Worship the first night, Mass on Saturday and Sunday, Steven got to listen to two talks, and I heard one talk.  Aside from the encouragement we received, we also experienced great fellowship and community with lots of other wonderful Catholic families.  I hope we can attend again next year.  Thanks to the Fullness of Truth ministry team (and their spouses) and all who worked hard to put this on.  It was such a blessing to us!

Photos from my big camera...

And more phone snapshotsl to come! Can't wait for next year!

Snapshot Catch-Up

So many of our daily snapshots are captured on my iPhone and kept on Instagram, but I haven't printed any of these and don't want to lose them.  They're all such special little memories of our days!  We had lots of fun these last few weeks of summer!

Top row: Ellie making a wedding collage at NeNe's, Katie doesn't like her new dress, "No caps worn backwards" and "No bandannas" at the go-cart place!, and Ellie on a go-cart (using coupons from their summer reading
2nd row: the boys on go-carts, Katie wearing a denim jumper of the girls' and MC did her 6mon photo shoot, walking to mass on the Assumption, and SJ dressed up to be in the photo shoot
3rd row: mini golf on the island finally, Tommy inhaling goldfish crackers, messy schoolroom prep, mohawk baby hair
4th row: growing water beads I bought for fun, Katie in the bumbo, Katie and Ellie, and the boys playing outside

These are all from our San Antonio trip:
1st Row: MC in the room, the lazy river, SJ watching the outdoor movie, Ellie on the tree swing,
2nd row: Katie eating a menu at Cracker Barrel breakfast, kids sharing drink, playground out our door, Tommy asleep on the bench at Chuy's
3rd row: girls took this of Katie in goggles, conference speaker, cutie pie Katie, and sitting on our porch.
4th row: Tommy running barefoot, getting ready for mass, SJ on tree swing, and my torn up Jamberry nails!

1st row: Sweet brother/baby time, happy girl in her exersaucer, kids on the first day of school
2nd row: the best part of moving...purging!, the boys digging into ice cream, the girls with their fondant cake
3rd row: Katie at her first baseball game in her "little" bow, bedroom ready and clean for showings, and Tommy joining me on my final lap around the block

Monday, August 25, 2014

Majorly motivated on a Monday

We got back Sunday night after an amazing long weekend in San Antonio at the Fullness of Truth Catholic evangelization conference. It was held at the gorgeous Hyatt Hill Country Resort, and it was a fabulous weekend full of family, friends, faith, and fun!

I'll share some photos and reflections in my next post because I am pleasantly exhausted as we came back from this trip and jumped right into our school year this morning!  I was up past midnight printing checklists and stressing out. But it went well overall, although it was quite a bit of work for me on the first day. Hopefully the kids will get used to the newness of this curriculum (Mother of Divine Grace), and we will get into our groove soon. It was much better than our summer days with nothing to do, though!

Just as we finished up our schoolwork this afternoon we had a lovely teenage girl come to help us pack up some of the house to get it show-ready. We packed coats, the under-stair closet, our altar area, some books, a lot of toys, and much of Ellie's room. Mary Clare has been packing her own things, and we are also moving some furniture items like bookshelves, kid desks and tables out to the garage. 

We packed 10 boxes and it feels so good! We were very productive today with the schoolwork and packing, and I hope the rest of the week is the same! I'd love to have the house ready to show in about a week, and I think we can do it if we keep working really hard, especially since we have the help of this nice young lady. An added blessing of this week is that it looks like Steven will be working here in town. Even if it's past 10pm when he gets home, at least he will be here if I need him. 

And so one of the busiest seasons of our life has begun. I even took all five kids to Walmart at about 8:30pm for some school and food items. Crazy! I only abandoned the stroller twice, and only once was the baby in it. Oops. I was just a few feet down the aisle. The school supply section was a mad house!  Anyway, I think the rest, rejuvenation, and the blessings of the conference this weekend will help us get through this challenging time. I pray that God will guide us in every step we take, and in all the big and little decisions we are making may His will be done! St Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

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