Life Bursting at the Seams

Some cross-posted on Facebook, but mostly new stuff . . . 

Smatterings of the Schedule

The weekends bookending this week were busy as usual. The first weekend, we went out to a movie together, leaving the kids to babysit themselves (oldest are 15 and 13), which was our first evening date in almost two years. We could have gone to a sawdust factory and been happy to be there.

We also enjoyed a really lovely family dinner at the home of some new friends. Then Sunday involved the final teen apologetics the class, girls' choir rehearsal, Mass, and hosting for dinner the friends who will be watching our kids while we are in Boston.

Mary (13) made the watermelon bowl.

During the week, we took an extracurricular outing for an art class, open to all ages, at a freedom-loving coffee house. This café is owned by a homeschooling family and during the overreaching lockdowns, they still allowed groups to gather there and would not require masks. They stood up for freedom and I love them for it. So, I took the littlest boys to the Thursday art class they host and we had a grand time. It turns out the teacher and one of the adult students are Catholics, too, one of them a Latin Masser from our own parish!, and the other student was an older woman with her darling, ancient, blind chihuahua that she was wearing in a baby carrier. We also got to enjoy the conversation of an amiable and loquacious Korean War veteran. I definitely plan to go back and to take all the family.

Playing board games at the coffeehouse

On Friday night, we divided and conquered so half the crew could attend the annual Dominic Savio Mass and reception (food and fun) while the other half could take Margaret to her final voice recital rehearsal, all during a massive storm and tornado warning.

On Saturday, Chris took the 15, 13, and 9-year-olds to an all-day wilderness survival course, which was fabulous.

Then we parents cleaned ourselves up and went to our first Parents' Night Out with the parents from our children's hybrid homeschool, marking our second evening date in two years. We're on a roll!

Over the weekend, the girls sang at two First Holy Communion Masses.

Sunday Mothers' Day will have to get its own post!

Learning Our Anatomy

One day at school this week, Thomas announced, "Let's learn about anatomy today." So I got out our skeleton with inner organs for us to take apart and reassemble while we talked about functions. As soon as Thomas was diagnosed with cancer in June 2020, I bought several children's workbooks on anatomy, suitable for Kindergarten through early elementary. I figured knowing his inner anatomy would be important in the journey ahead. I had no idea how important! Thomas sure knows anatomy better than most six-year-olds, both location and functionality. Love that quirky kid.

Increasing Healthy Independence

You see the unremarkable scene of a six-year-old making a peanut butter sandwich from his perch on a stool. I see an exhibition of growing knowledge and confidence that makes my heart sing with joy. 

I don't know how it works in other households, but my preschoolers have always been climbing atop counters, monkeys that they were, to make their own food--usually with my knowledge! If you want a 10-year-old who can make a meal for his or her family, I believe that starts with independence and competence many years earlier in the kitchen. Since Thomas experienced such medical and surgical trauma, he learned to passively be served and, in fact, not to eat unless an adult was serving him. By "an adult," I mean me, his mama. It has become a problem that if I ever left the house, for months he simply wouldn't eat because mama wasn't there to serve him! I truly think he was afraid of eating without my supervision because food had to be chosen so carefully, medications administered, and a false step would mean he would become violently ill. 

Lately, he is increasingly making forays into making his own food. In the case of this photo, I was in the kitchen and everyone was grabbing lunch, but instead of his sitting there waiting for me, he hauled over is own stool, his own supplies, and made a sandwich.  He knows which bread is safer for him, and whether he can have one or two slices of which type of bread, and which peanut butter he should eat (the protein-fortified one), and which jelly (the lower sugar one). 

We've also been practicing Thomas taking ownership of his own medications because pretty much everyone except me forgets to give him his meds when he eats. Finally, I decided the only long-term solution was to get Thomas to memorize that he needs to take his own meds. This past week, I have stopped touching the meds for the most part, but am only using my words. "Thomas, what do you have to do before you eat?" He has to walk across the kitchen to get the meds, he has to open pill box, he has to know which to take. "Thomas, what do you do after you eat?" He has to get out the after-meal med. He is building muscle memory and I'm seeing great improvement already. 

I love seeing him grow in confidence about what foods are safe and smart for him, and how to protect his body through medications. He's going to grow up to be a man who can manage his own conditions! It's my duty to work myself out of the caregiver job some day.

Springtime Homeschooling

I love the spring weather when we start eating meals outdoors in the mild weather. It is one of the perks of homeschooling! One day, Thomas and David enjoyed lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn, and apples, while the puppies raced around. If Tilly's ears flap any bigger, she's going to take off like an airplane!

You Know You're a Homeschooler When . . . springtime isn't a season of weather so much as that time of year when you still haven't started teaching school yet in late morning, you spot the first and third graders independently playing chess, and you figure, hey, that must check off a couple of subjects from school today.

Miraculous Moments Abound

I've been reading "The Hobbit" to the little boys at bedtime for a couple of weeks now. One evening, I finished my reading when Thomas (age 6) asked to continue reading aloud to his little brother. Fourteen months home from the hospital and these domestic moments are still seen as miracles by me. The horrifying, graphic images of him in PICU--photos of which we've not shared publicly--are never far from my mind. Ever.

Miscellaneous Moments

I love how helpful four-year-olds naturally want to be! Four is a great age. David loves to spontaneously go get the mail or empty my drier load of clothing or carry things around the house where he thinks I want them to go. On this day, Thomas's very heavy tube feeding supplies had arrived--well, four of the six boxes--and David hauled them inside by himself, then brought me over to show me his accomplishment and his big muscles.

Plentiful Puppy Pics

The dogs like to watch through the front door to guard against miscreants.

Tilly after her bath

Just when our daughters outgrow dressing up dolls, we get a girl puppy and it starts all over again . . .

Teaching the littlest boys how to walk dogs in the safety of the fenced yard

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