Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Toddler with an Entourage

All four of our children have taggie blankets with their names on them. I had hoped that one of them would take to it and keep it as a lovey.

Grace, Cian and Zoe all wanted no lovie, taggie blanket or otherwise. Ellison, unfortunately, doesn't like her taggie blanket either, but is the total opposite of her siblings regarding lovies.

Ellison has an entourage!

She refused to go to bed unless she has her whole entourage present and accounted for!
It must include:
her new Olivia the pig lovie she got for Christmas, an empty sippy cup bottle with a Percy from Thomas the Train lid (no, no other lid is acceptable, we have tried!), a small pink poodle, her pink dog she named Emily, Violet the leap frog dog, Mac from Clifford and most importantly, Cleo from Clifford.

Of course, this is in addition to her pillow with Diego pillowcase and Dora the Explorer fleece blanket and at least 2 pacifiers (yes, we wimped out and still haven't taken them away yet!).

Every morning she has to get all her "friends" to come out as well. Every day at nap time, they must accompany her to the nap, then they all come out again and they all go to bed with her at bedtime. Every one must be accounted for and in her bed or she won't go to sleep.

Guess I got my wish about at least one of them having a lovie.... I just didn't know she would have SEVEN!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Traditions - Naming Our Children

My H&H blog group has done the topic "traditions" for the beginning of November. My last blog, click here, you can find my post about carving jack-o-lanterns. For this post, I decided to write about a different kind of tradition. Since we are expecting a 5th child next year, one thing on my mind is naming the baby.

I am sure most people put a lot of thought into naming their child.
Although, I wonder if some do. Apple? Really.
 Or how about the names like Female?
I guess to each his own!

For my husband and I, we have always given a lot thought to our childrens' names.

Obviously, we tried the names we liked with our last name (Sorry, I never list it on the blog! You'll just have to take my word that they work. ;-) I also always think about whether the name will fit a little kid, teen and grown up. I also say the name with Dr. in front of it! Hey, a mom can hope! :-)

Even more important to us, each of the 4 children have a name that honors one of the 4 of my husband and I's parents/families. Equally important, as Catholics, we also use a Saint's name or a name from the Bible for their Baptismal name. Here's a great post from Catholic Answers that explains this belief for those of you readers that are not Catholic. Click here to read it.

Finally, my husband is Irish and I felt it was important for their names to honor them being 1/2 Irish. Not in the "I'm Irish too" way where everyone in American seems to think they are Irish, but authentically, one of their parents was born and raised in Ireland, Irish.

So here is a look at our kiddos names and why we chose their names for them.
An important tradition in our family.

Grace Elizabeth:

"Grace" is God's gift to us. We truly felt that she was and is! Her name was chosen for its meaning.

Her middle name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the English version of Brian's mother's name which was Eilish. It honored her grandmother Eilish and Grace's Irish heritage both! Of course, we all know of St. Elizabeth and in the Bible where Mary visits her cousin and John leapt in Elizabeth's womb. A favorite Scripture of mine and many is Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God." Knowing that in her age, Elizabeth had conceived a child. It was especially meaningful for me being pregnant with my first child. What a true miracle of God to have life growing within your womb.

Cian Patrick:

We decided we would like an Irish name for our son. There is a St. Cian, but I don't know anything about him. We did love the name for its uniqueness and because it is very uncommon in America. It was chosen to represent his Irish heritage. It has worked too! We have had SO many people ask us not only how to pronounce it, but its origins as well.

We chose Patrick for his middle name. My paternal grandfather was Patrick. Both my father and brother have Patrick as their middle name. Of course, everyone knows St. Patrick and he is the Patron Saint of Ireland! A perfect fit really!

Zoe Micah:

Zoe means life. My original due date was January 22nd. That is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I prayed she wouldn't be born that day as it is such a sad date. However, choosing a name meaning "life" meant that much more to me as she grew in my womb. 

Zoe's middle name is Micah. Her middle name honors Brian's father Michael. Obviously, that is the Irish component to her name as well. My absolute favorite verse in the Bible comes from Micah 6:8. It says, "what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." I try to live my life by this and treasured the idea of it being part of my child's namesake.

Ellison Caoimhe:

Ellison honors my mother's family name. Thus, she completed all 4 of our parents/families being represented in our children's names. I have also seen in baby name books that it means "My God is the Lord," so that is cool too!

We chose an Irish name for her middle name. It is pronounced "Kee-va" in case you are still trying to figure it out. ;-) It is a feminine version of St. Kevin. St. Kevin or St. Caoimhin was an Irish hermit who gave up his life of solitude and founded a monastery that was in Glendalough. When in Ireland, we would often go to Glendalough with Brian's parents and even got to take my mother there when she came once. It is just beautiful.
Above is the Monastic Site and St. Kevin's church and below is a picture of Glendalough we have in our home:

Baby #5:


Friday, November 8, 2013

Traditions - Pumpkins

My H&H group has a new blog assignment topic: Traditions. 

Since we just celebrated Halloween, I decided to write about a tradition that I have been doing since I was a little kid: carving pumpkins.

It is a memory I have from way back when my parents were married of the big, huge pumpkin sitting on the dining room table and my parents helping me gut it and cut out the face I drew. What is funny is that I LOVED it and never thought that grown ups might not love the mess, smell, and time consuming activity.

Brian, (although from Ireland, ironically where carving gourds began!), didn't have this tradition growing up. I wanted to carry on the tradition and have been having our family carve pumpkins since Grace was little. Brian has not been a huge fan of the whole event- willing to lift them and clean up, but never wanting to gut them or carve them. This year, he did BOTH! And you know what, I think the kids had more fun this year than ever before and of course Brian did too!

A blast from the past:
2009 Cian, Zoe & Grace

2009 Grace & Cian

And from this year:
Cian 2013

Zoe 2013

Ellie 2013

Grace 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Homeschoolers in college at 12- crazy or genius

A friend linked an article to her Facebook about a family sending all 10 of their kids to college at age 12. Click here to go to the article. I read the article as well, and it really got me thinking. Then, I read the comments people had left and was pleasantly surprised at how many people were encouraged and/or supportive of the family. Let me just state that I don't plan on sending my kids to college at age 12, but I think this family is fantastic that they did. If you read the article, you'll see it says the kids are taking college classes, but live at home. It's not like their 12-year-olds are out drinking at frat parties. I think this is a great example of letting children reach their potential and not stifling the potential because of their age or where their birthday fell on the calendar.

I'll be the first to say I am overprotective of my children. I can't imagine right now sending a 12 year old to sit in a classroom when I am nervous with my 9 year old running into the gas station alone. However, I at the same time, can respect greatly that this family didn't put their kids into the lie that you have to be a certain age to learn. Baloney. Kids are capable of so much more than the same cookie cutter education that is given to each and every enrolled school child.

We decided to homeschool for many, many reasons. We want our kids to have a Catholic education, we want them to learn in their style and to their potential, and at their own speed etc. etc.
I would be lying, however, if I didn't say that one reason that we decided to homeschool is the cookie-cutter education system. Every child is different. Every child learns in different ways.

We had some issues with the education our kids were receiving when they were enrolled in school. I won't go into all the issues here and now, but a perfect example that fits this story is Grace in 2nd grade math. First off, they never even began multiplication. Lots of curriculum's for 2nd grade actually include this. Homeschool sidenote- Cian is 6, in 2nd grade and he is on division! Anyhow, Grace's 2nd grade class had to memorize their additional facts in fall semester and subtraction facts in spring semester passing all the number time tests to move on. Grace was done with ALL of them (addition and subtraction) by Thanksgiving. This is where she should have been given multiplication and moved on to her potential. Parents, you've got to advocate for your child(ren). I'm not saying the answer is that everyone has to homeschool, but if you know your child can do more, find a way to let them. There are some rare, amazing, wonderful teachers out there who go out of their way to make more work for themselves by seeing that all their students get work at their own level. I know a couple myself. I also know one who was scolded by her principal for getting her 1st grade student 5th grade material to read. "What would he do when he got to 5th grade," scolded her principal. That is the difference between the school system and the homeschooling parents in this article. What would they do in 5th grade? What a fabulous question to have to ask! The sky's the limit! Why not take High School level classes if he capable of the work!
 I have a friend who loves the public school her 2 girls attend, but if the girls have an interest in learning something the school isn't teaching she's got them at the library or they do it at home. To me, that's what this article is all about. Letting kids achieve what they can- not by pushing them where they are not able, but by guiding and encouraging them in what fascinates them and excites them.
My 6 year old loves to study world geography - he can tell you where every single country goes on a map. I couldn't do it for a million dollars. I didn't get a bad education, I went to college, graduated college summa cum laude, but I don't ever remember being excited and inspired to learn something until I was in college. I know I never got to have something I was passionate about and just learn it for fun. We are studying world geography this year because he loves it. My 4 year old is learning it right along side them. Why? Because she can and she is capable of it. Last year at 3 she learned all the US states. My others didn't learn that in "regular" preschool, but she did because it interested my kids and we decided to learned it. Learning is FUN. Somewhere this has gotten lost and learning has become this mundane, ritual that most dread. I am a homeschooling mom now, but my kids were in a school until last year and I taught high school for nearly a decade. Someone has sucked the fun out of learning and it is truly disheartening. So, I guess what this helicopter mom has concluded in my ramblings is that if a child of mine wants to start college courses and they are capable of it, I'm on board. (I will probably also be hiding in the back of the class the first few weeks making sure my "baby" is okay though!)

A college friend of one of the boys in the article says, "It makes you wonder, are they advanced or are we just really behind?" Well, as a country, we rank 17th in education. I think that says enough.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm expecting everyone will want to read this one

Let's try that title again with punctuation!

I'm expecting!!! Everyone will want to read this one!

You read it correctly! We have decided to add one more to our family. :-)

Here is how we told the relatives:

I was tempted to use this funny one I caught on camera. Definitely not flattering to Ellie, but hysterical! Of course, she has no idea what her shirt says nor what the sign means, but since she "rules the roost," her not being the baby will be a VERY good thing ;-)

My blog readers will probably have notice it has been almost a month since I last posted. Well, that is because I have been soooooo sick. If I ever have 10 free minutes I prefer to curl up in the fetal position on the couch- blogging has not been on my top "to do list."

I'm on Zofran - the highest level one. And my doctor is letting me take it every 5 hours instead of every 6-8, so that helps. (Except when I puke it up - sorry TMI.) My OB has now written me the dissolve in the mouth one, so I cannot wait to fill it when my insurance company lets me get a refill (they are pretty strict on the days it should last and getting it only near then.)

And yes, I have already had to do the IVs again. This new doctor had me check into the hospital and do the regular sugar water one, but then made me stay for an 8 HOUR one! I've never had to do that before. The only cool thing about it is that it looked like Mt. Dew! That would be an IV I would love, lol!

But, that same day I was chillin' at the hospital all day and feeling dehydrated and crummy, I got my perspective set straight. I didn't have to stay, I am not seriously or terminally ill, and I didn't have to have surgery. I was there because I am blessed to be growing a precious new life. We got to have baby's 1st ultrasound while we were there. (Side note- my doctor thought it might be twins since I have been SO sick! It is NOT!) We were excited to see one beautiful little baby on the ultrasound screen:

He or she waved their cute little 9 1/2 week arms at us, and the hormonal mess I am cried with joy. What an amazing gift life is. How blessed we are that God has given us this great joy.

For those "Nosy Nellie" folks out there, I'll save you from asking your tacky question. YES, we planned to have another baby. YES, we can count and know this is baby #5. And yes, it's okay if you "don't get it."

I went to pack up Ellie's baby stuff as a friend of mine is expecting and I thought she might be able to use some of it. I sobbed and sobbed. Something in my heart and soul knew that that chapter of our life wasn't over. We talked and prayed and felt if God was placing this in my heart that there must be something to it. There is a beautifulness to being open to God's will and placing that trust in Him. God has blessed us with another child and we are humbled and honored to be parents again.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaching a TWO

Ellison's 1st Day of TOT SCHOOL

Ellie began Tot School today. I found a great program on the 1+1+1=1 website that I really like and was SO excited to start it with her. She always wants to be included in the big kids stuff. In fact, last year, I had to make her little velcro tabs for her workbox bins and put her toys in them as she was so jealous of the kids getting school books out of theirs. I knew at newly 2 that she would most definitely want to do school with the big kids. 

What I hadn't planned for was her liking it TOO MUCH! LOL!
Every single thing I have read about tot schooling talks about the short attention spans and not to be discouraged if you print all these awesome sheets for them to do and they want to do them for about 5 minutes if at all. I wasn't nervous about that and since I have 3 other to homeschool, I was totally fine with her doing school for 5-10 minutes then going back to playing or follow me around.

She decided that she wanted to do more, more, and more. Here is how we spent over an HOUR this morning. The kids kept needing odds and ends of help, so I tried to switch her to crayons and markers instead of paint daubers! She likes sitting in her high chair because she can do her own buckles, so I pulled her desk over to it and that is her favorite place to do school.
 Dotting the "A"s with do-a-dot paint daubers. Her FAV!

Doing a worksheet from a do-a-dot art book:

I convinced her to color it with crayons after she dotted all the circles. That lasted about 5 minutes before she wanted the do-a-dot paint daubers back:

Here she is coloring with markers. Blessings on whomever it was that invented the washable ones!

When I finally got her to get down, she climbed up at her desk and wanted MORE!

Here she is coloring again:

A huge part of Ellie's TOT School is reading! She LOVES books! Nanny stopped by with a few items and of course read Ellie some more books while she was here:

P.E.- A girl and her bike:
 (She thinks she needs a bike helmet, because, yep, you guessed it, the big kids all wear one!)

So that is a day in the life of a toddler in Tot School.

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day Photos 2013-2014

Today was our first day of homeschooling for the 2013-2014 school year. Here are our "not-back-to-school" back-to-school photos!

Ellison - Tot School

 Most of her photos looked like this, but I did get one of her face showing:

 Zoe - K4

Cian - 2nd Grade

 Grace - 4th Grade

All the kiddos:


Monday, August 12, 2013

Where Do We School?

Thanks to a fellow homeschool mom I have found the iHomeschool Network's blog hop. I have added my Curriculum for 2013-2014 to last week's. On last week's, I'm blog number 289, lol! The next topic is School Room Week and I loved the topic and decided to post on where we school!

Here is a link if you want to check them all out! Lots of great blogs and ideas!

iHomeschool Network Curriculum Week
Curriculum Week in the 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop

Where we school:

We do lots of field trips and adventures so my 1st answer is to say the world is our classroom! :-)

However, we use a lot of our home to school as well so I thought I'd show some of what we do in pictures.



We spend quite a bit of our time working at the dining room table. The kids have a great routine of clearing their spots for breakfast, snack and lunch then using it in between for school. Also in our dining room are our charts for morning calendar:
This pic is from last year so it has lots of COAH's Letter of the Week on it!
Also, the state we did each week, the Saint of the week, etc..
 In our dining room is also our workboxes:
My now newly 2 year old wanted to be included last year, so I made her Dora ones for hers ;-)
 We also begin our day with the Bible and/or a story of a Saint. I keep these books on top of my china cabinet so they are near my charts. 


Also upstairs is our family computer. It's so messy right now getting ready for back-to-school, but here's a pic from last year of that work area: 



The kids have desks in their rooms in case they want to have a quieter work area. This is my 6 year old's, I found this at a re-sale shop- it is an old school classroom desk. 


I have a couple book cases downstairs that are full of my homeschooling stuff. One is all books in alphabetical order. Another is curriculum and books by subjects (such as math books like counting M&Ms etc..).
 Next to that, I have a new addition this year! Trofast shelves and bins from IKEA! These are so great! I organized them this summer. I have one for each school month and the extras are odds and ends of subjects such as science, music, etc..

 I bought a second Trofast system this summer. The other design I chose was this one:
I plan to use this like I would use busy bags. I have puzzles, games, puppets, magnetic letters, legos, etc... These can be used by my 4, 6 or 9 year old if they need a break or I need one-on-one with one and the others are done. I call this my Busy Time Center.


Okay, we don't actually school in the garage! :-)
But, we have balls and games and items for PE time, so that counts!
Also, I have to mention the van!


The final area that we do school is in the VAN! We have become pretty great at carschooling! When driving to tumbling or YMCA PE or whatever fieldtrip we have that week, the kids bring along some independent work in their backpacks. They love that they can "knock out" some work before we get home. My now 2 year old was so used to seeing the kids with their backpacks that she INSISTED that she "needed" to have a Dora backpack. I let her use some of her birthday money and buy one we found at Walmart. It is about as big as she is:

So, that's where we school at Teach Academy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Busy Bag Exchange

Yesterday, I attended a busy bag exchange with my local homeschool group. I have loved the ideas of busy bags and have randomly pinned them on Pinterest to my Homeschool board, Tot School Board, and K4 board, until realizing I should try and combine them into their own board!

Here is what I have moved together so far, and of course while doing that I got sidetracked and searched for new ones, until I remembered I was trying to write this post during naptime! Lol! It's a small board so far, but after yesterday, I am super excited for busy bags and I am sure it will continue to grow ;-)

-Click here for a link to my Pinterest Busy Bag Board-

For the exchange, each mom attending makes the total number attending of the same bag. For example, this one yesterday there was 9 moms, so each mom made 9 of a busy bag they either found an idea online, on Pinterest, or created themselves. Then, at the exchange we basically trade with every other mom one of the ones we made, so that we come with only one of ours and 8 different ones! It's such a great idea!

I am super excited about all these great bags! Both my tot and my K4 kiddo will enjoy these. Here is a look at what we each left with yesterday. (One awesome mom made 2 so we would have 10 bags!)

1. Animal Sorting - this is SOOO cute! This mom used velcro sticky back dots to have a sorting busy bag. I adore this! 

I could NOT get over all the work these moms put into their bags! I love them all and am so excited to use them!!

2. Funny Faces-  this one is too cute! You can arrange them to make funny faces or sort by like items! Great ideas! PLUS- she put magnets on them and gave us the magnetic tray! SO awesome!

 3. Pizza Place- This one is going to be a huge hit with all the little pizza fans! What a great idea! This mom used felt to make pizza ingredients! What is even cooler than just playing pizza maker, (which is already pretty awesome!) is the booklet has menu requests for the kids to practice numbers!

4. This was a Dollar Store score that the awesome mom who organized this exchange found these and decided to make us all a 10th bag to even out our school weeks with the busy bags! Above and beyond! She is such a sweet, amazing person!

5. Color Sort Busy Bag - This is SO fun! I love all the little pieces for the color sort! Mine will probably sit and just play with all the little fun pieces too! This mom used 1/2 an egg carton, colored it the 6 colors, then added TONS of little pieces to sort! I love how they are all different kinds of items too!

6. Marble Maze- seriously! I am so impressed! This mom MADE this herself! She sewed the maze and a marble is inside! The kids move the marble through the maze. This is SO cool! I am in awe of anyone who can sew successfully, lol. I can fix a button, the end.

7. Pool Noodle Threading and Patterning - These are so bright, colorful, and fun! My kids all wanted to know what these were as soon as they saw them! I am so excited for these for Ellison, as she will actually be able to grasp these well! Awesome idea!

8. Rainbow Fish Number Game -  this game has pretty little sequins and little kids can put them on the fish and bigger kids can use the addition and subtraction cards to the fish. For example, your fish has 3 then you get the -1 card, they remove one and count how many they have! We love the Rainbow Fish book, so I am sure we will incorporate this game with that too!

9. Shades of Color - the kids put the colors in the correct column for the correct hue of the color. This will be great for my K4 also as she can do them in darkest to lightest too!

10. Clothesline Busy Bag -  This is the one I brought! I mentioned that the ones above were either ones the moms invented or found online or Pinterest etc. so I couldn't say where they were from, but this one I can! I found this on Pinterest and you can see it on my Busy Bag Pinterest board. (The link is at the top of the post.) The link I used had the print out, clothing outline and instructions. It was just SO adorable!

This was so fun! I can't wait for hours of fun for the kids with these bags! I can't wait until the next exchange!