Easter 2014

This has been a hard lenten season for me. I’ve been grumpy and moody; feeling like I can’t get anything crossed off my ever ending to-do list.

I’ve been trying to channel it all in prayer and thinking about the suffering of Jesus and Mary. But still feel like I’m failing everywhere. So much to do and not enough time. Life is so busy. Am I not prioritizing things appropriately? Am I putting others needs before my own? Shouldn’t I do that as a good Christian?

We didn’t get to attend as many Stations of the Cross on Fridays and I definitely haven’t been as prayerful as I should’ve been.
 
We did start doing a decade of the Rosary with the boys before bed. That’s actually gone a lot smoother than I ever expected; that alone proves the power of Mary’s intercession :) Some nights we don’t get to it, but for the most part it’s become part of our routine. 
This chaotic and busy Lent led us to Easter Sunday, which I was hoping would be this beautiful turning pointing. In reality it was a mess! I only got a few hours sleep the night before (thank you pregnancy insomnia), so it was already off to a bad start. We somehow didn’t make it out the door early enough for Mass. There literally was no where to park in the church parking lot. We had to park across the street in a nearby subdivision and cross a busy intersection with 3 little ones. Awesome! We went to mass in our newly renovated parish center where the AC apparently didn’t want to work and the chairs setup in rows were moving all over the place. It was a mess; I was on edge and I just felt uninspired during Mass. All I could think about were why swarms of people come out on Easter and not any other Sunday?!? I should’ve been happy that these fallen away Catholics were here to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection and pray that they all come back into the fullness of their beautiful faith. But it was easier to have a bad attitude. Shame on me!
 
This picture below, with my kids and their aunt, pretty much sums up Lent and our morning :)
 
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I’m hoping next Lent and Easter will be more calming and uplifting. I think I need to let go of certain things. I was running around frantic getting Easter baskets ready, making Easter desserts and fitting in decorating eggs and Easter egg hunts. It’s all too much with 3 toddlers plus being pregnant and I think I need to accept it and stop looking at everyone else who seems to be able to do it all. Work in progress.
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Happy Easter from our family and I hope your Lent and Easter was less chaotic and more enjoyable than ours :)
 
 
 
 

Online Read Alouds

I’ve been looking into audio books for the boys, hoping I can have one boy listen to a book while I work one-on-one with another during school. So far I’ve tried it on Noah (our oldest) and he doesn’t seem too interested. We’ll see how the other boys take to it.

I’ve ordered some audio books from the library, but also found these online sites:

Barnes & Noble Online Storytime

Barefoot Books 

Let us know if your family have any favorites you’d like to share.

Happy reading!

–Linda
+JMJ+

Pregnancy Update at 20 Weeks

I’m at the half way mark and I already feel like I’m 8 mths along and practically look it. This pregnancy has me feeling huge!

I had my check up today with a routine ultrasound. This visit included a 45 minute wait in the waiting room, not cool.  So I was definitely frustrated by the end of this visit. The ultrasound was amazing as always. I love being able to get a glimpse of this little human growing inside me. And I’m always in awe when I see my baby on the screen. Truly such a beautiful miracle.

I really wanted to wait to find out the sex of the baby at delivery. Everyone around me couldn’t seem to handle it, so we did things a little different this time. We had the nurse place the gender in a sealed envelope where we opened it with all the family this evening vs just finding out there and relaying the news.

I’ve always wanted a girl, so I thought. But now with 3 boys, I love having boys. They’re so sweet and beyond funny and can practically engineer anything. I love it! I could have a dozen of them :)  Of course, we’d be happy with either though.

Excited to report it’s a..

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BOY!

Baby is healthy and right on track! Please keep us in your prayers!

Blessings,
Linda
+JMJ+

Dishwasher Wars

I have a love/hate relationship with my dishwasher. Many times I’d rather just hand wash the dishes as I go, as it seems more manageable. My husband thinks this crazy. But I thoroughly hate unloading a fully loaded dishwasher. I don’t know why this bothers me so. Maybe because it feels like it takes way too long to put all the dishes back where they belong. I just hate waking up every morning to a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded. This is definitely one of my labors of love I take on throughout my day.

And why do I have to practically prewash the dishes before I even put them in the dishwasher?!?! And yet still some don’t come out clean. I might as well hand wash, right?!?

And why does my husband think that EVERYTHING can go into the dishwasher? Pots and pans, cheap plastic cups, and baking sheets! AAAHHHH! He definitely LOVES the dishwasher. How many times have I told him just place them in the sink for me to wash or if you’re unsure about an item don’t place it in there?!? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful I can complain about these nuances of my wonderful husband, but not EVERYTHING can go into the dishwasher!  I’m sure one of these days he’ll write a post about my wonderful nuances too :)

Anyway I feel better getting my rant out about the dishwasher :)

Do you love or hate the dishwasher? Do you do one large load or multiple smaller loads throughout the day? Or do you just hand wash all your dishes?

St. Valentine, Pray for Us!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day! We love celebrating our beloved saints in our house. We always do our best to share with the boys about the saint on the popular feast days like St. Patrick’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, which get easily lost in our secular society.

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This week, we read a story about St. Valentine, learning more about who was and what he did and the boys enjoyed decorating hearts.

Today, we celebrated with breakfast for lunch. The boys love pancakes, but I couldn’t help to add some heart sprinkles and a few M&Ms, along with heart shaped strawberries :)

photo 1 (12)The boys received some workbooks and chocolates from their Aunt Kim. That made their day of course, as chocolate always

does! And the boys surprised me with some beautiful roses and some items I was needing in the kitchen. I guess they want me to continue to cook :)

We hope you all are enjoying St. Valentine’s feast day with the ones you love! St. Valentine, pray for us!

Learn more about St. Valentine.

Our Journey to Homeschooling

Never in my life did I ever think I would homeschool my children. I honestly never really knew anything about homeschooling or its existence really, and when I came to learn that families actually did this, my first thought was that’s just plain weird, who does that?!?  I obviously had the same stereotypes that most of society has – they’re not sociable, they’re shy/awkward, ignorant of the real world, and wear pioneer-like clothing (because of course they make their own).  I’m an idiot, I know!!!  When in all actuality the children I’ve now met that are homeschooled are well mannered, smart and articulate.

Oh yes how the Lord has a sense of humor! Now I must endure these same ridicules and judgements. As the boys get older, closer to the age of 6, I always get the remark, “Oh he’ll be starting kindergarten soon.”  I usually just nod and smile and think in my head, “Yes, he will, but just at home.”  I’m still not real comfortable telling people we are going to homeschool (I’m working on that) because many times I know they’re thinking just what I used to think.
So how did we get here? My husband grew up in a small town where his parents were teachers. He attended the local, small public school. I grew up in a large city and since we didn’t live in the best area, my parents sent me to Catholic schools for my entire education.
I always knew my children would go to Catholic schools because that’s where I went. I also of course liked the fact that they’re Catholic, the small size and students wear uniforms.  My overall Catholic school education experience was positive. Grade school especially was great!  During middle school I had to change schools since my existing one closed due to low enrollment. Those years were terrible. The kids were just plain hateful and mean.  But I grew and learned from it and never compromised my morals to try to fit in.  There was plenty of bad language, bullying, drugs/drinking and sexual behavior going in middle and high school in a Catholic school, just like in public schools.
When it came time to decide on schools for our children, it was tough. We toured a couple Catholic schools and were generally happy with one. However, the reality of expensive tuition and fees with a Catholic education were looming ahead and I knew in the end we just wouldn’t be happy with the education and what unwanted information our children would inevitably pick up and be exposed to from their peers. I also knew teaching of the Catechism would be lacking as I really didn’t learn the fullness of my Catholic faith until marriage prep. The public schools in our area are highly rated, but they’re so large and full of the same immoral pollution that just seems inevitable in any school setting, that I couldn’t bear putting my children in such an environment. Many times I get the whole argument, you can’t protect them forever. One day they’ll know all about the ugly in society; it is everywhere. But as their parent, I know I should dictate when they are exposed to such knowledge and make sure they’re mature enough to process and handle that information and hopefully use their good morals to know what is right and wrong in such an immoral, chaotic world we live in.  We want them to have a strong moral foundation that doesn’t get polluted by second grade with the knowledge of the world by some random kids in class on the playground.
So we’re homeschooling. Do we know what we’re doing exactly? Are we scared? Is it stressful? YES! But all the same questions and answer applies with sending them to public or private school. So far we’re using the Seton kindergarten curriculum and love their workbooks. The boys have really done well with it, especially for not being at the age to officially start kindergarten. We really enjoy being 100% involved in what they’re learning and what they’re struggling with. We learn so much from them as well. I’m always amazed at how well they reason and ask such insightful questions. They’re critical thinking and reasoning skills are way better than mine at my age.  I feel when I was going through the school it was more about just getting an answer right versus truly understanding why an answer is right. We can really embrace what they’re interested in at the moment and work it into their school.
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We’re fully aware of the challenges and know we’ll even be surprised by things we never thought of, but we know there’s a lot of joy in educating own own children too. We’re completely trusting in God to give us the graces to get through those hardships, especially when the kids just aren’t gettting it, just don’t want to do school or they’re just driving me crazy because I’m with them 24/7!
Deciding on public, private or homeschool education is no easy decision.  We dwelled and prayed and discussed it all, over and over. I knew God was leading us there, just like He led me to stay home with my children. So if it’s something you’re thinking about and not sure how you would even begin to teach your children, don’t let that fear deter you. There’s a wealth of valuable information out there to help you. I highly encourage you to attend a homeschooling conference.  We went to one last summer and that really sealed the deal for us. And pray!
Resources
Catholic Icing – Lacy has lots of great Catholic craft ideas to do with your children and get them excited about the faith!
The Kennedy Adventures – Offers great, practical advice for large and homeschooling families.
Raising Arrows – Lots of great posts on general homeschooling life and tips/how to’s.
Seton Homeschooling - We love the curriculum and how integrated Catholicism flows through all subjects. Support is great too. My only concern is that it is very workbook intensive which doesn’t always work well with boys. So I am always looking for hands-on activities to enforce workbook concepts.

Blessings,
Linda
+JMJ+

P.S. There’s no easy decision when it comes to what road to take to educate your children. There are so many factors and circumstances unique to each family. I know this is what God called me to do, at least for now. Our diocese unfortunately doesn’t have a very strong Catholic education system in place, so in other areas, strong, affordable Catholic schools may be a real option, even though I’m sure some immoral behavior still takes place. So in the end, pray about it. God will lead you to the right place!