Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ordinary Days

Uniform clean-out.  I hate to do this to them so early :) but the one thing I have learned is that uniform shorts/pants go fast in stores and if I wait until August I can never find the right size. I have load and loads of hand-me-downs, but pants usually don't make it far with the boys.  We had a lot of laughs as Andrew tried to make some pants work-NO they are floods! I'd say, or they would fall right off of him.  

We are still going strong on our summer reading program-Andrew is flying through Harry Potter and Patrick and I are really liking these books he chose.  It makes such a difference when kids can read what they like.  It makes ALL the difference actually.  

Here's what he chose:

We've finished:
 All were excellent-we both really enjoyed them. 

I have always loved the light coming in our living room window in the morning-it seems so peaceful before everyone is up. This room is never perfectly arranged (usually a basketball hoop in obstructing the view slightly) but the light is always beautiful.  I'm so grateful for my lovely house-whenever I pull in the driveway I just feel that great feeling of "home-ahhhh".  I hope my kids feel the same. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ordinary Days

I don't even remember where I left off blogging, time has flown so quickly we are mid-summer already and just counted the weeks till school started and it's 4 1/2 which is terribly sad, we all agreed.  Why do we have to change everything?  Why can't summer break be what it used to be?  I remember getting out around the 5th or 6th of June and going back the last few days of August or even after Labor Day.  Now the kids start mid August!  I am not a conspiracy theorist but I feel like it's creeping slowly purposely to where there will be no summer break anymore by the time my grandkids go to school. Sigh. And I love summer, and no one wants to be sitting in a classroom I don't think during these sunny bright days.

I have been once again awful at taking photos, but it's not a priority right now.

Abbey is back from Europe and loved it but the first thing she said when she walked in the kitchen was "I am so happy to be home, I love this country and I never want to live anywhere else."  That was not what I expected (and after 24 hours of delayed and cancelled flights home) but I loved hearing it, I have to say.  That does not mean she didn't love her traveling just that we take a lot for granted here I think mainly the convenience of what we are used to.  She WILL miss the food in Italy, Greece, France, and Spain for sure, and was amazed at the beautiful museums and building and art everywhere.
But there's no place like home.   

This kid found a new barber, which is probably one of his top priorities in life.  Kidding, but he is picky and it's funny to me.  He is having the summer of his life, biking everywhere with friends and is a very enjoyable happy kid-busy busy busy but always has a plan and is always willing to help at home.  

These two are cuter than ever and best buddies, if they aren't mad at each other which happens occasionally. 

Patrick has been working on basketball plays, and explains them to me every time he makes a new one.

Some pictures from Bethany Beach DE-went over the 4th and it was so so so crowded.  (Sadly Isaac is in the "real world" now so couldn't go with us.) The kids had a blast in the waves, but I think I am going to write down on my things to remember forever page "don't go anywhere over the 4th of July" just to avoid the crowds and traffic.  

Selfies on my phone.

We ate four buckets of caramel corn.  (I probably ate 80% of that honestly.)

Janey saw fireworks for the first time and didn't like them because they were too loud.

Huge waves were really the most fun for everyone-you can't find that everywhere!

One day they were even to big for this fellow who will brave pretty much anything the older kids can handle.

It was nice to get organized again-back to being more scheduled and sleep in our own beds, and all have a little space from each other too. :)  

And sunflowers are out!  My favorite.

I am almost finished with this book and LOVE it.  I've read a few books this summer that I wouldn't put on my recommend list but this is one for sure.  In fact, I ordered all of Paulette Jiles' books with a plan to go on a little binge the rest of summer.
It is a Dust Bowl-Texas-cowboy-western-romance and her writing is wonderful, and so are her characters.  

I feel like time is moving full throttle and life is so busy with just every day things as it is.  There are so many changes as the kids get older-new plans for the future, and angst and excitement and worry, new relationships, changing friendships, so so many unknowns and what-ifs. (And lots of avocado toast-which is a symbol to me that living with soon-to-be or already-adult children isn't always easy for them or for us I think at times.)  I laugh at their "millennial ways", knowing that they are pretty mild ways (or I wouldn't be laughing), and that I was just like them in so many ways when I was that age, whether I had a tag to my generation or not-since the beginning of existence I'm sure this was the same.  And finding time for everyone is hard as a mom. I feel torn sometimes with everyone home, helping the big ones do "big" things-job apps, and college apps, and just listening-and emotional energy on my part-and then just doing the normal-and yes, EASY things with the little three-driving, and fixing lunch and reading a book here or there to them.  And then there's laundry and cleaning the kitchen 10x a day, (EVERYONE NEEDS TO STOP EATING! I've said that a few times) which I better get to now.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Encouragement For The Week

Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home.

Make them long to be with their families.

So much sin could be avoided if our people really loved their homes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Encouragement For The Week

"The biggest lie, the biggest deception of popular culture is the infantile notion that we can have it all. 
We can't-everything has a price. 
Wealth almost always comes at a cost to family well-being. 
Hurry erodes love. 
Self-centeredness costs us in the loneliness it leaves behind, in the relationships we neglected to build because building them involved giving them our time.

The lesson of all of this is a tough one-we have to choose.  
We have to sequence things. 
We have to let some things go. 
We have to give something up to get something more precious."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Encouragement For The Week

"Oh, women in homes, love them. Think of those who are daily torn from homes to stay all day inside closed walls, surrounded with office fixtures-no pretty curtains, no gay cushions, no little piano to drop down to in a stolen moment, no radio to tune in one, no books or magazines to read and sketch from, no real relaxation until night. 

Oh, yes there are duties in a home, little children to soothe, dress and feed, and work aplenty. But after all, they are your very own and it's your home. When the suds foam high in the washtub and you hang garments under a blue sky, think just a moment of office workers who long for homes with curtains at the windows, clothes waving in the sunshine, and beets in a jar."

Iowa-October 1933

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Primal Loss by Leila Miller

This book is so necessary.  It's one of those books I think should be required reading for every couple before marrying, it is that profound.  As devastating and heartbreaking as it is to read testimony from adult children of divorce, it is encouraging and inspiring in a way that makes me realize the incredible importance and preciousness of marriage and how it should never be taken for granted. I finished the bulk of this book very early Sunday-and I went to Mass and a couple's 68th anniversary was being celebrated. Yes, 68 years!  Imagine all the good and bad and fun and struggle and heartbreak and hard work and dedication and sickness and health that couple had shared together for 68 years.

I am not a child of divorce, nor is the author Leila Miller. I read the author's blog and admire her writing, which is why I bought the book.  She says that writing a book on divorce was never in her radar until she began hearing from friends about their parent's divorce and the impact it had on them not just as children but as adults.  She compiled seventy "testimonies"-she describes her book as people telling stories-adult children of divorce who answered several questions-the effects of the divorce, how you felt as a child vs. adult, how divorce has affected your view of marriage, are children resilient?, what do you want to tell society, etc.  Her "primary concern is giving voice to those who have had none for so long."

She says, "This book then is a chance for everyone else to be "silent", and for the children of divorce to speak freely, without having to be mindful of the grown-ups feelings". 

Two things I can say when I finished this book:

1. I never knew. Yes, I knew divorce was hard for kids and 'bad'.  I know now more as a mom who sees kid's friends tossed between houses, and I know it isn't easy and that it is painful and difficult in so many ways and it often seems like the children are the ones that pay the highest cost. But this book is raw, and real and eye-opening to the immense life-long struggle and pain, even after forgiveness. As many different circumstances there were, there were such shockingly similar testimonies of the emotions of the adults now and as children. Like Leila says in her foreword, I have realized how absolutely blessed my husband and I have been to have parents who have been completely dedicated to each other since day one, and who taught us to be the same, and I completely took that for granted before I read this book.

Here are two powerful quotes, although it's difficult to choose just two because every story to me was profound.

"For parents who think their children will be happy when they are happy:  I went to a counselor as a kid. I don't remember it helping much, but I remember counselors telling my mom that her kids "needed to see her happy." They advised that she should do basically whatever she wanted, because that would make her happy and fulfilled, and that's what mattered most to us kids-not the marriage itself, but for the kids to see their parents "happy and fulfilled."  NO, NO, NO!! That is not developmentally appropriate for children. They don't care one iota how "happy" their parents are! And they should't have to! They are children! The  parents are the ones who should be looking out for the emotional and psychological wellbeing of their children, not the other way around. That counselor's advice was just a justification for my mother to do whatever she pleased, without guilt. It was terrible advice. No, your children do not care about seeing you "fulfilled." They don't even understand that concept. They want you to step up and act like a parent, to problem-solve like an adult, to learn to be humble and sacrificial, and to keep the vows you made on your wedding day."

"Divorce breaks a chain of both future-building and legacies of the past, which the next generation would normally benefit from. When this continuity is broken, the culture itself fragments-and it happens in one or two generations. The betrayal of a divorce pulls the rug of security and commitment out from under children, and they in turn do not believe in commitment nor do they have the tools and example to be successful in a  long-term relationship. The ability to overcome the more destructive elements of human nature is damaged or ruined. "

2. It cements my view that marriage is absolutely precious, not to just the couple, and their children but to society as a whole.
"I want people to find out what true happiness is. I want them to know that keeping their family as a unit is so much more powerful than they know. I want them to understand that if we take all the energy we give "to the world"-whether it be helping others or our own endeavors put that energy toward meeting our husband's basic needs and being more present to our children, we can change the world! Parents, do not underestimate the power you have in influencing your children toward the virtue of commitment. Even if that is all that they learn from your marital struggles, it will be powerful."

"My parents' divorce taught me that we should be saving the majority of our "yeses" for God, each other, and our family. If we pour out too much of ourselves to the outside world, we have nothing left to offer God and our spouse."

I highly recommend the book.  It is a book for everyone-those that experienced divorce firsthand, those that have friends who are struggling in marriage or who are divorcing, those who know children who are victims of divorce, those that counsel, and love and advise, and married couples-it is a simple book but the testimonies are stronger than any psychological analysis or mathematical statistics.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Encouragement For The Week

"Love is not just something you say, it is something you do! My grandfather passed on an old saying to me that goes, "You can fake like you care but you can't fake being there." 

To send messages of love to your children, you must show up. Love is not a spectator sport. Most kids would probably not articulate it, but almost every kid spells "love" T-I-M-E.

There is a fallacy loose in the world. Parents try to rationalize a lack of time for their children by saying, "We give quality time to our kids."  Baloney! It is impossible to turn on quality time. 
We adults can't turn on quality time with each other and it is even more impossible to do with our children.

There is TIME, period."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Learning/Boy Books

Almost every year I've had a small easy plan for the kids to keep their brains "warm" all summer long.  Some summers we have started strong and eased up, which is ok, and others I just didn't have the energy to add it to my things "to do".  This summer I made sure Andrew (13) and Patrick (9) had a plan.  

In the past I've used Summer Bridge books.  I wanted to make learning more personal this year so I asked Andrew what he would like to do.  He is reading the entire Harry Potter series  (I really wanted him to finish the vocab book that came home almost unused but we made a trade-off.)  He's been wanting to read them all again, but didn't have time during school.  He has a book light and reads before he falls asleep.  I also found this short language lesson that he is doing every day in Spanish.  I would LOVE to add one other daily short video lesson (history or Catholicism?) for him, if you have any suggestions let me know please!

For this guy, we picked out a bunch of books-he has told me he likes biographies, or fiction or fact about dogs.  I went to work and found some of our old favorites and new ones too.  A workbook is NOT a way to this kid's heart, so I went the heart route (except with math.)

We are reading these great books together (just finished Henry Ford and loved it).  I read one chapter, he reads another.  

We've always loved Who Was books:

Who Was (Is)-

Childhood of Famous Americans-another favorite around here:

I also bought this book for him to read at night by himself.  It's hard for to find books at his level to read on his own without struggling and that aren't silly.  This one is great so far, I'm on the lookout for more like this.

For writing work, we are taking his favorite book ever, and choosing a dog, drawing a picture, and writing 3-4 factual sentences about the dog in a blank book I bought at Target a couple years ago that summarize the dog's traits.

I originally bought this math book that a friend suggested to me (and I really do like-the pace it moves and practice it gives is perfect for us) but we took a small break to finish the next one and really practice math facts.

So far this has been great. It introduces "tiers" very slowly and with a little "trick" to teach each number.  Math facts are so easy for some kids to learn and so hard for others.  For me, they were torturous.  I still remember standing in the living room with my dad or mom while they flashed me cards and it would take me so long.  I didn't have the memory or concentration for it and it just stressed me out so much I couldn't think straight.  I hate flashcards to this day-and math.  I just read a very interesting theory on math required to be done quickly and how that creates math hatred and is unnecessary how some of the smartest mathematicians work very slowly and struggled with timed tests.  Our school doesn't do that and uses a very different math program that I love (and would have helped me understand as a child), but they still need to know facts of course as we move on to multiplication.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Anyush: A Favorite Book

My sister-in-law lent me this book to read-her daughter befriended the author's daughter, who was studying abroad at my niece's college.  It sat on my shelf too long till this last weekend when my SIL asked if I read it.  I went home and started it that night and finished it as quickly as I could-it called my name when I couldn't get to it-I thought about it when it wasn't in my hands.

It was so so good and I will remember this story forever.  It is historical fiction-a love story at it's foundation- but most of the characters are based on real people, and I learned so so much about something I knew nothing about-the Armenian Genocide.  Some parts are hard to read-heartbreakingly difficult, but how could they not be-the atrocities were real and horrific and Martine Madden turns historical facts and statistics into a tender story.

A very memorable book, and I believe that if had enough press it would be (should be!) on best-seller lists.

Here's the synopsis:

On the Black Sea coast, Anyush Charcoudian dances at her friend’s wedding, dreaming of a life beyond her small Armenian village. Defying tradition, she embarks on a secret and dangerous affair with a Turkish officer, Captain Jahan Orfalea. As the First World War rages, the Armenian people are branded enemies of the state, and atrocities grow day by day. Torn apart and catapulted into a struggle to survive in the face of persecution and hatred, the lovers strive desperately to be reunited.