Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Reflection

Well, I'm typing this up on Holy Thursday because we are about to have a family technology fast for the Triduum.  I think this will be our first Easter to be away from our family in Houston, so there will be a lot of time to hang out together and just live these holy days with our little family.  We hope to make some beach visits and make it to Confession and the other services at church.  And hopefully it will include some good lessons for all of us as we are "unplugged" from the technology that threatens our family on so many levels.

I have learned some good lessons this Lent.  I think my main lesson has been how to grow as a mother.  I think I have a vision for how I will succeed at it now.  It seems daunting, and I know I can only do it by the grace of God.  I've read a book about Back Talk, am reading one called Siblings Without Rivalry, and have pulled out Simplicity Parenting again.  I also have Mitten Strings for God on order.  Hopefully I will make a dent in these this weekend.

The overriding lesson to me is...less is more (as pertains "things" and outside activities), and I must be WITH the children in the midst of our days.  I need to let them cook with me, I need to sit with them throughout school time, and we need to clean up and do chores together.  I have a tendency to send them away so that I can do my chores and care for the baby without small people on top of me.  But that is where they want to be, and my kind heart towards them is what they need.

My speech is another main problem that I need to correct.  Words of affirmation, kindness, smiles...these are all things that have gotten harder with the number of children we have.  But these are all things that set the tone for our family and the way they treat each other.  If I'm snapping at them and always critical, that's the way they will treat their siblings.

We are at the point where I have some very good helpers.  The girls can cook, clean, and care for the baby.  I had a very long night with the baby last night.  Steven took her early this morning as he got up for work around 6am and then put Mary Clare in charge of her.  I woke back up at 7:30, a little frantic about where the baby was!  The girls were taking care of her and I was able to go back to sleep until 9:00!  What a gift.  My workload has decreased, so now I need to step up in my emotional offerings to the family.

I think we also need to come up with some goals for how our home works.  We have this tendency to hang out in the master bedroom, where the computer is, but it is very overwhelming for me and I don't think a healthy habit.  I want to work at spending more time "living" in the living areas together and encouraging play with them in the playroom too.  The boys hardly play upstairs at all, because they don't like being there alone.  Outdoor time with them is another major goal, which we have done pretty well with in the evenings.  One night this week we took a nice family walk together which I'd like to continue.

I put some alarms on my phone for daily prayer...a Morning Offering at 9am, the Angelus at noon, and the Chaplet (abbreviated) at 3pm.  Night prayer together is an area where we always need growth.  Really our whole nighttime routine needs work.  We tend to just send the kids to bed, which doesn't work with the boys and they end up in our room and sometimes (peeing) in our bed!  These are all good goals, but we must work in baby steps to get to them!

So here is my list of goals, and hopefully I can revisit it every few months, even adding progress to my Monday Motivation lists...

-Continue reading these parenting books
-Little prayers throughout the day
-Do work and chores WITH the children
-Start days in living room together with lots of reading, then move to schoolroom.
-Kind speech
-More smiles
-More time in kitchen, living room, and playroom together
-Night prayers as a family
-Night routine (baths, prayers, books, tuck them in)
-Less technology (keep phone away most of the day, no computer time until schoolwork and chores are done)
-Better chore plan for the family
-More consistency with discipline, especially backtalk and violent outbursts (hitting, etc) 

I'm hopeful that having a vision will help us to reach these goals.  And I'm also realistic that they will be very hard and I cannot reach them without relying on God in prayer.  With a large, homeschooling family, we have many more emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.  I always wanted many children but didn't realize the work it would take.  I'm grateful for this season of Lent where I could reflect on the issues that were plaguing our family.  May this upcoming Easter season be filled with joy and with the resolve to be a better mother every day!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Daughters

We are so blessed to have these three beauties in our life!

Mary Clare (11)

Elizabeth (turns 9 next week!)

Katherine (8 weeks)

I was working on "garage light" photography, where the subject is placed at the edge of the garage for nice light on their face and a dark background, like in the first two photos.  Katie is in her rocker with a blanket draped over it.

Family Fun

Some memories with my brother's family during our time in Houston, April 7-9, 2014.
Playing at NeNe and PaPa's house and at the Woodlands Children's Museum




Mary Clare, Wedding Photographer

Mary Clare did a beautiful job as the photographer for our nephew's wedding on April 5th.  Not many people can say they photographed their first wedding at age 11!  Here are a few of my favorite images from the wedding of Seth and Danielle...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Five Favorites: Toddler and Preschool Books

Five Favorites, hosted at 

Joining Hallie again for Five Favorites this week!
I'm sharing five favorite children's books.  These are mainly favorites for our toddlers and preschoolers.

This is actually a series of books by Giles Andreae that all of my kids have loved!  The other books are called Commotion in the Ocean, and Cock-a-Doodle-Doo! Barnyard Hullabaloo.  It looks like he also has one about bugs and another about dinosaurs that we haven't seen.  My kids have all had these books memorized.  We're on our second set, because the first was so well-loved.  The rhyming meter and whimsical artwork makes them all lots of fun to read!

My boys have both loved this little board book, and Thomas still asks me to read it several times a week.  It's just a simple color and counting book, but for some reason they like to read it over and over again, and soon they learn the words enough to "read" it themselves.  We're also on a second copy of this book, because the other was read so much it fell apart!

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name   -     By: Sally Lloyd-Jones
We read this almost every morning for our bible story time.  The language is a bit modern and whimsical for my taste (and I see that some Amazon reviewers are very critical of this), but I absolutely love how "every story whispers his name." At the end of each chapter, they tell how that particular bible story was a precursor to the Savior.  The boys like hearing the same stories over and over again.

 This was a favorite of my girls, and I imagine it will make a comeback in our family now that we have our own little Katie!   It's the delightful story of a kangaroo mother without a pouch who tries to find ways to hold her baby, mimicking other animal mothers.  The illustrator is H.A. Rey of the Curious George books, so it evokes those kinds of happy feelings.

This is actually MY favorite book.  The artwork is stunning, and the rhyming story is beautiful.  "Said the mother horse to her child: I love you as much as the warm summer breeze.  Said the mother bear to her child: I love you as much as the forest has trees," etc.  It includes beautiful painted scenes of animal babies and their mothers.  We have a board book and hardcover of this one.  And I love how the baby on the final page appears to be co-sleeping with his mommy!  Makes me want to go read it to little Katherine right now.  Time to go join her in bed!

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