Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring 2017, Family and Homeschool Update

I've fallen way behind in posting the events of the past few months. We're hoping to finish up all the schoolwork and assignments to be sent for grading this week, so that I can finally take this computer in for some much needed repairs! Then hopefully I can load all the photos from my phone and camera, and do a major blogging update this summer. I even got a new zoom lens for Mother's Day, so I'll have some really good photos to share!

It has been a busy spring as usual, with ballet, baseball, 4-H and swim team. Adding a cranky baby to the mix has not been easy! Poor little Peter (almost 6mos) does not like the carseat and gets fussy during our evening (and sometimes daytime) adventures. Hopefully he'll get used to this crazy life sometime soon!

Lent was a time to try to get refocused on prayer. I worked through my Blessed is She Lenten Journal and had some time to reconnect with the Lord. Now that the Easter season is here, I purchased the Blessed is She Road to Pentecost Journal, but my prayer routines of Lent haven't transferred over very well. I hope as life returns to a more normal pace in a couple weeks, I can do better at carving out that most important time for daily prayer and journaling. We did better with daily prayers throughout the day, trying to pray the Morning Offering, Angelus, Rosary, and Chaplet when we could. The children all had their own Lenten commitments and I've been so impressed seeing them work on virtues that they struggle with, taking the time to go to confession, and learning about their Faith in our daily religion lessons, their CCE classes, and their homeschool virtue clubs.

We don't have a lot planned for the summer. Once these spring activities are over, our days will mostly be spent relaxing and taking some trips to the pool. The girls will take some summer ballet classes and we will have VBS at the church in late July. In August I'll have a mom's weekend away (with Peter), and we'll be going to the Fullness of Truth family conference once again. Hopefully we will have some little trips to the beach and bay this summer, and we're much looking forward to a big family trip to Washington D.C. in January, to see the historic sites, visit with family and friends, and go to the big National March for Life. We can't wait!

As I mentioned, the kids are finishing up their school year, and I'll do a mini update on each of them:

Mary Clare is finishing up 8th grade with Mother of Divine Grace homeschool program, taking Latin, History, and Math in live online classes. She has done a great job this year with her studies, and I know that will help her adjust to the rigor of the MODG 9th grade year. I can't believe she will start high school this fall! We plan to scale back on daytime commitments and just continue with ballet and 4-H next year. MC has really grown in her photography talent, and I look forward to seeing where that takes her! She has also kept busy with babysitting for neighbors and at the ballet school, and assisting with a young girls' ballet class. She helps a lot around the house with meals and even started creating a meal plan for the family! She's so good with Peter and helps take him off my hands when I need a break or need to take care of something with the younger kids.

Ellie is completing 6th grade. She took both Latin and History online this year, and has become a very good independent worker like her sister. I'm always impressed when we have a daytime commitment and Ellie takes the time to complete her schoolwork the night before! She also worked hard in her 4-H contests making her jewelry and candy creations for the fair.  Ellie has always loved crafting, so I'm glad she can actually be rewarded for her efforts now! She's also starting to babysit for us and for some neighbors, and she assists with the preschool class at their ballet school. For her 12th birthday last month (also to-be-blogged), she wanted a bedroom makeover for her and Katie, who is slowly moving upstairs. They now have bunk beds and a newly-painted room with some fun decor. Ellie will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in early June, and we are very proud of her!

Steven Joseph is almost done with 3rd grade. It is a big jump academically in our homeschool program, with several new subjects and a new math program since he's working a year ahead in math (Saxon 5/4). He also started All About Spelling this spring. Reading is a subject that has been very challenging for Steven, so all of the reading for different subjects this year (like historical novels, bible stories, and history/science textbooks) gave us a lot of time to work together. He's almost through All About Reading Level 2, and we will continue that next year because he is making great strides in his reading skills! Steven played baseball in the fall and spring, and was chosen for the All Star baseball team at the end of this season. He's so happy to be back on the neighborhood swim team again, although Mama is weary with everything else going on and is very glad Daddy handles the swim meets!

Thomas is completing 1st grade this week. Academics come very easy for him, so our biggest struggle is just pulling him away from the Legos or the backyard baseball practice to sit down and get his work done! He's starting to read chapter books and is almost finished with the Beta (2nd grade) Math U See book. He listens in on a lot of Steven's lessons and soaks it all up; he loves blurting out the state capitals as I'm working with his brother! Thomas has really enjoyed playing baseball again, and although he never goes to practice (because we don't have time for t-ball practice), he has been a star player. He's doing well in swim team this year too, and is even able to compete in backstroke. Thomas loves his baby brother, and carries him around even though the baby looks giant compared to him! Tommy is starting to try some different foods and is starting to play more with the other boys at our different activities, which makes me happy since he's more introverted than the other children. He's no longer my little preschooler sidekick, and is really growing up.

At age 3, Katie is just starting to get interested in drawing, letters, and numbers. This fall I'll probably get some workbooks for her to have her own "school time." Usually once or twice a week she spends a morning or afternoon with my parents, which helps me to get work done with the boys. Her big accomplishment this year was learning to use the potty! She's been trained pretty well since around her birthday, but she still likes to use the mini Bjorn potty chairs at home, in the car, and I even take one in the stroller to the baseball fields or the park since the big potties are so big and loud for her! Katie has such a bright and happy personality. I always say that everything is happy in Katie's world. She loves singing, dancing, her baby brother, her dolls, and her purses :)

Peter will turn 6mos in about a week. I think he's already at least 20 pounds and is surely my biggest baby! He's wearing 12 and 18-month clothes and has those adorable "thunder thighs!" I've been feeding him some baby food the past month, which he loves. But he has sure gotten fussy recently! I think he's about to cut his first tooth, so I'm hoping he might settle down a little bit after that, because I keep having to leave events early and skip things because the poor child is so cranky. He does enjoy his exersaucer, sitting in his high chair, and now can sit up and play with toys and watch his big brothers and sisters. Sometimes all he needs is a different person or a change of scenery to calm down. Yesterday morning he was terribly fussy and wouldn't go down for a nap until Mary Clare took him on the porch swing and got him to sleep in her lap. I love seeing how each of the kids take such sweet care of him in their own ways...Katie smothering him with love, Tommy carrying him around the house, Steven making videos with him on my iPhone, Ellie comforting him in the carseat, and Mary Clare greeting him with love and smiles each morning! What would we do without a baby to love?

Well, the coming days will surely bring more new adventures as we complete our last full week of school for the boys, complete final assignments and assessments for the girls, keep the babies happy, and enjoy our ballet, baseball, swim team, homeschool clubs, and upcoming Memorial Day BBQ. There's a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks, months, and years with this beautiful bunch of kids, but as I sit here with the sleeping baby in my arms and the others all snuggly asleep upstairs, with no big stressors in our lives right now, I can't help but think that this is such a magic time right now...with them all still home with us, all still little enough to be a part of everything...I wish I could freeze this forever!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mutton Bustin' by Thomas


While the girls were competing in the Food Challenge Finals, Thomas chose to compete in the "Mutton Bustin'" (sheep riding) contest for the second time. He tried it last year, and this year he barely made the weight limit, but with the removal of his boots and belt, he just made it in! 

He won first place, staying on the sheep for the longest, compared to the 20 or so other kids. He won the belt buckle he's holding in the photo. Steven had a funny idea for filling out Thomas' information form for the contest. So before he started, they called out his name, city, and said his favorite food is Shepherd's Pie and he wants to be a Sheep Sheerer when he grows up! Too funny. 

Mommy was pretty disappointed to miss watching it because I was with the girls, and wouldn't you know, Daddy got a phone call on his cell phone just as Thomas started off on the sheep! So the video he took didn't record. Too bad. I trust it was a good ride, and we are proud of our brave Thomas for doing a great job on that sheep!

Rodeo and District Food Challenge

I have so much to share from the last few months, but our laptop is still on the fritz and not loading new photos! I'll have to add in more as time goes by and just share these for now.  The big Food Challenge at the Livestock Show and Rodeo took place in mid-March. The Sugar and Spice Chefs once again did an excellent job and made it to finals, placing 3rd overall for the Intermediate division (8th grade and under). We are so proud of these girls and all their hard work. This is a nerve-wracking competition as their every move is scrutinized by judges and they have to be prepared for all kinds of nutrition and cooking questions during the interview. 


and with their dish and their little mascot in her matching apron!



The girls also won 1st place in their division at the District Roundup competition in early May. That will be the last food challenge contest they can do together for several years, as two of the girls will be in the high school division next year. So hopefully we will have teams competing in both the intermediate and senior divisions next year. Our other big 4-H event this spring was the county fair, and I'll save that for another post, because it was an exciting experience for the girls!



Here are some snapshots of the rodeo contest. 
I can't edit on my computer, so you'll have to forgive the haze, 
yellow casts, and the lack of cropping and straightening. 
I think all my settings were wrong on the camera that day!





















Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Away to the Bay

I got to take a weekend away with friends in early March, and then we were blessed to be able to take a trip down to a bay house on the coast the next weekend! It looked like it would be a weekend full of bad weather, but thankfully there was just some rain on Saturday morning, and then we had time to drive around, get some lunch, see the town, do some fishing, and the big kids even took a boat ride! It was a great weekend away as we prepared for a busy spring season of sports! (I'm posting these blog entries, but can't get to my photos to edit, so just imagine all of these straighter, cropped, brighter, and clearer!)
Took a pic of the kids when we arrived Friday night


There was lots of fishing...






Some driving around town...




Checking out the little aquarium and museum






Some photos of the town by Mary Clare





Daddy and the big kids stop at the house on their boat ride


Ellie catches a fish!


The babies hanging out inside with me



Such a fun time, even with some wind and rain!
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