Sunday, February 28, 2016

Learning Notes: February

My homemade Alex's Salad: cut lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, bacon, ranch dressing and croutons. If you have a J. Alexander's nearby and have never had one, they are really good. And pretty too! :)
It was tough to get going in February after trudging through the second half of January, coming in behind schedule in Math with two kids, behind in reading lessons for another and still recovering from the cold virus that wouldn't die.
Clearly I need to get some boy sunglasses in the house. 
But the first week went pretty well, even if a bit hectic. On Monday, February 1st, we had both our local Catholic girls Club meeting and AHG. Tuesday was Felicity's Baptism Day so had a little celebration in addition to doing chapter 15 in religion. We also began reading D'Aullaires' Book of Greek Myths. Wednesday Thomas had his 15 month check up and got 2 shots and a blood draw to check his iron levels. He is doing well, saying some words, climbing the sofa, measuring up around 31 inches and weighing about 22 pounds. Brigid, who is now 3, is taller than him by 5 inches, weighs only 3 1/2 pounds more and wears the same size diapers. I just know by this time next year people will be asking me if I have twins.
Princess Teresa with her pink purse and striped kitty. 
We also went over Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in terms of their distinguishing characteristics, names, locations and sizes, etc. On Thursday we practiced the Kyrie and read more Greek Myths. And by Friday Elizabeth had gotten all caught up in her math. Only two kids behind!
Brigid insisted on sharing her pizza with her baby.
Saturday, other than food shopping, was spent taking it easy. With all the appointments and meetings plus school work I was wearing down. But I was ecstatic on Sunday that our priest offered the St. Blaise blessing of the throats after Sunday Mass to anyone who wanted one! It has been years since I've been able to get the throat blessing and even the kids were able to get it too! I showed the girls the movie Angels in the Outfield, which I was sorry how many bad words were in it but they liked the angels and the baseball. Also, Yay Denver!

The second week of February went even better, but having fewer meetings and appointments definitely helped. I had planned an outing to Milwaukee's Domes but due to damage to the structural integrity of the buildings, they were closed indefinitely, so we just picked up with school as normal. I did chapter 16 in religion with Felicity and Elizabeth and got Cecilia started with her new religion assignment. I bought her a notebook and asked her to read the second reading on Ash Wednesday and write down some thoughts about it. She can practice journaling, handwriting and religion in one and should get some nice meaty texts from the Church fathers. Her first was from St. Clement, and early pope. She only wrote half a dozen lines but it will take practice. She really liked it though! I also began Sibling Reading Half Hours, when each of the older three read to one of the younger ones for a half hour and then we read more Greek Myths. We also got a good 5 inches of snow so even though there was no outing, they were in and out all day sledding and playing in the snow.

And, of course, I put them to work. Eventually full hands become simply many hands! :)
On Tuesday we went over Uranus, Neptune and the Dwarf Planets. Just doing paperwork and reading about the planets is beginning to bore them, so it is good I had some more hands on activity planned for later in the week. Wednesday was Ashe Wednesday and we all got up and going early to go to Mass with James at the seminary. We were given permission to come with the seminarians, not only so I didn't have to take 6 kids by myself somewhere else, but also so the deacons could practice putting ashes on kids. When the very tall deacon got to my tiny 3 year old, he took a deep breath, bent down and said, "Okay, little one," before he blessed her. It was quite cute. Kids are good practice in so many ways. I put up Lenten charts for each of the three older kids for them to write down or just mark off that they do something each day, whether it is a prayer, sacrifice or kindness.

Thursday we read more Greek Myths and then I tried an idea I had of painting balloons to look like the planets after inflating them based on the size of the planet. Unfortunately I failed to take into account what wet paint would do should a balloon pop. So, after scrubbing down the wall, we switched to simply painting the planets on card stock. 6 kids painting adds up to lots of pictures and a lot of mess but they had fun and got to go over the planets while they did it. 

On Friday we played Multiplication Bingo, where I call out factors and they have to figure out the product and then put a dot on their board if it has that number. Getting BINGO wins each child half a dozen M&Ms. Filling the whole board gets each a Rice Krispie Treat. The older three girls help Teresa and Brigid play along. Then we did the Stations of the Cross. I bought 8x10 pictures of each station and I lit 14 candles. After I say each Station I read a short reflection, Cecilia sings a verse from the Stabat Mater, we pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be and then they take turns snuffing out one candle for each station. Overall it went quite well though the younger ones played a lot through it. 

Disgust is Teresa's favorite character in Inside Out and so she insisted on snuffing out the green one.
 That Saturday was the AHG Service Day. The girls are encouraged to come in their pajamas for fun. Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth helped make rosaries for prisoners, cards for children in the hospital, Love Socks (warm socks with small essentials inside them) for the homeless, and sweet chains to adorn the nursery at the hospital. They had pasta for lunch, sang songs, danced and did skits.

I had both sauces and made "Divine Mercy" Spaghetti! :)
Fortunately, the third week of February was a "Catch-Up" week, so Cecilia finished her English, Felicity got almost all caught up in math (I dropped the ball on the last two pages since the week ended with multiple unplanned doctor appointments), and we finished reading the Greek Myths. Thomas got a haircut and I cleaned up the basement, finally putting away the Christmas decorations I had just tossed down there as well as the dyed eggs from last Easter! I was so excited to have space again I began a 1000 piece puzzle of mine - I love puzzles. I set up dentist appointments for the 6 oldest people in the house. 
Brigid's sweetheart of a godmother crocheted her a little purple bear and a blanket.
She adores "Baby Bear."
Unfortunately, on Wednesday, the week took an unfortunate turn when a little cold began circulating the house, Felicity got a fever and threw up twice, and Teresa began complaining about her ears. Due to this, I had to cancel an archery outing on Thursday. Then early Friday morning Elizabeth began complaining of her ear and inability to sleep and I decided a doctor call was necessary. Elizabeth's left ear was infected and both of Teresa's ears were infected. Considering it was disrupting Elizabeth's sleep and Teresa had both ears infected and had been complaining for 3 days and it was Friday, I opted to get the Amoxicillin. We still did manage to play Multiplication Bingo and say the Stations of the Cross though. We took it easy on Saturday, although it had turned so warm some of the kids went bike riding. In about a 24 hour span, about 90% of the snow and ice had melted and we had temperatures in to the mid 50s. It melted so fast, the backyard couldn't absorb it all and it looked like this:
On 2/13 it had been -1 with a wind chill of -18. By 2/20 it was 54. But it froze again overnight so we had our own glacier:
Not enough to ice skate though :). Hence the only way to enjoy the warmer weather was out front on pavement, and since it was so much warmer, we did get some fresh air bike riding. But Saturday night and into Sunday morning Thomas' night was terrible. His naps had been on Saturday as well. He was running a fever. He usually handles colds well, especially when sleeping, but even with 3 doses of Infants' Ibuprofen over the course of the night he was constantly waking and crying and fussing. So Sunday morning I took him to a walk-in clinic. Sure enough, his right ear was infected. By the end of the weekend we had 6 bottles of Amoxicillin in the fridge. It had been years since we had had even one ear infection in the house but I suspect the two colds so close together was just more than some of their ears could handle.

My poor, sick Thomas curled up with his polar bear Marshmallow and his tiger Hobbes. 
After our "catch up" week we only had two weeks until Spring Break and then one more week of school before Holy/Easter week break, so I really wanted to make the most of it. Unfortunately, I greeted Monday with a sore throat of my own. We did have a very productive Monday getting religion done, more reading and some bookwork, but by 4pm Monday I was hitting the worst of it and for the next 24 hours I did as little as humanly possible. Felicity and Elizabeth did get a little done but since Cecilia spent the evening before throwing up, she took most of the day off with me.
Brigid has been going through a puzzle sensitive period. She does puzzles all day, in ever room. Floor puzzles, wooden puzzles cardboard puzzles. From 15 pieces to 100 pieces she is puzzle obsessed and thrilled!
 We did manage to end February well despite our second round of illness since beginning the new semester. We listened to all of Holst's Planets and we read Herodotus and the Road to History. We watched "Jason and the Argonauts." And we got the telescope out and got a close enough view of Jupiter to make out two of the darker bands! Then we star gazed a bit and I pointed out Orion, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor and Polaris and Cassiopeia. We played Multiplication Bingo and said the Stations of the Cross. It is neat when we play multiplication bingo to see which ones they have down and which they don't. Some, like the 1x, 2x, 0x, 10, and 11x tables are easy enough but it is interesting that Felicity has 7x8 memorized but not 7x7. I do think it is helpful the way we play though. I call out the problem and anyone who knows it can shout out the answers. This way there is no shame if you don't know it and you aren't left feeling like the only one who can't figure out the answer, the little ones can even find a number on their board or practice finding the bigger numbers, but the like being the first to know it and shout it out and it helps move the game along. It has become a Friday morning favorite.
On Saturday I pulled out all my scrapbook stuff: albums, pages, matting, punches, stickers, ribbons, trimmers, etc. and spent a couple hours helping all three girls earn the Memory Maker badge.


 and Cecilia's
Since Cecilia had read all of The Lord of the Rings, over the course of February, after the other kids were in bed, I watched the extended versions of the films with her. She kept a blanket handy to hide from any scene too scary, though I think Shelob was the part that disturbed her the most. She really enjoyed getting to see the characters come to life and what Rivendell and the Shire and Mordor might look like and she is now a huge fan of the music. But we ranted together when they deviated so poorly from the books. It was a lot of fun. Since we finished them, I've now shown her "The Odd Couple" and "12 Angry Men." She has been plowing through the Little House books and I believe only has two left to read. She has been enjoying them so much she got Felicity into them. Felicity usually struggles to get through chapter books (she begins them, reads several chapters, and then either forgets or gets tired of them) but she has been loving Little House in the Big Woods so much that she is plowing through it quite quickly. (I'm so glad I have 8 more for her to devour!)
A 1000 pc puzzle I completed. I almost didn't want to put it away because I wanted to jump into it so much. Sigh. 
Holy Father Benedict sent us a lovely note and holy card with prayers. We had sent him a Christmas card. 

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