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Byzantine Catholic convert, wife, mother of seven.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Potty Training and Confession

I admit, I'm a little bit lazy when it comes to potty training my kids. Having the first four children in fewer than four years contributed to making me slothful in this area. There really is no efficient way (at least none that I have discovered) to aid the two year old so she doesn't fall through the public toilet, and at the same time attempt to keep the one year old from crawling over to the next stall to go fishing, all the while sporting a very large prego belly in confined quarters. I'd much rather just change a diaper.

Back when child #1 was 18 months old I tried everything in the book to get her to cooperate. We kept on with this endeavor all through her second year of life, and it wasn't until she was three years and three months that she decided she was finally ready. After much frustration, I learned that when she really was ready it was easy as pie....or M&Ms, or whatever the bribe of the day happened to be. We had no accidents and no problems from that time forward, but each child is a little different.

At any rate, things have become slightly easier in this department now that most of my children are older and are willing to help train the toddlers. Last year, all three of the older girls thought it was a lark to put their little sister on the toilet and encourage her to go. Who need's a Baby Alive doll when you've got the real thing? This worked out wonderfully well until the girls lost interest and Kathleen suddenly decided she didn't want anything to do with the potty. So we put things on the back burner until recently. Now Kathleen has been going half the time on the potty and having accidents the rest of the time. The thing is, she knows how to go on the potty, she wants to go on the potty, but sometimes she chooses not to. The other day I caught her grunting and turning red in the kitchen. When she saw me looking at her she said, "don't mommy" and ran out of the room so I couldn't see what she was doing (as if the scent wouldn't give her away). As I am cleaning her up after every accident she very sincerely proclaims, "I'm never going to go in my pants again mom." She has a firm resolve that she will never do it again.....but she does do it again, and again, and again. We are making progress, and eventually she will overcome, but it's a process.

All of this got me thinking about confession. When we sin, it is kind of like making a stink in our pants. We may not really want to do it, but we give into a sudden urge and we find ourselves in a mess once again. Sometimes we run and hide because we don't want God to see what we are doing, but he does know because our sin stinks to high heaven. We are heartily sorry, and we confess our sins, we firmly resolve to sin no more with the help of God's grace, and we are sincere in that resolution. However, we often find ourselves, once again, in a pile of poo. At that point we have a choice, we can wallow in our filth, or we can humbly submit ourselves over to be cleansed by confessing the same sin, yet again, in the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation. We may find ourselves confessing the same thing numerous times before we overcome, but if we are consistent, God will give us the strength we need to persevere and conquer one sin at time.

The Church, in her wisdom, gives us this season of Lent to spend a little extra time reflecting on the sins that need to be rooted out of our souls as we look forward to celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord with a clean heart. I am so thankful we have a loving Father who is so patiently merciful with our messes.

I'd love to meditate on this a little longer, but I see that there is a puddle on the floor behind me to mop up.


Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
 Psalm 51: 1-2
  















Thursday, February 2, 2012

5 Educational Tools To Save Your Sanity

When I started homeschooling my older children I had fine dreams of an old-fashioned, perfectly ordered, one room school house. I even sacrificed an entire room of our home to the noble cause of education by
painting it bright red like an old school building, complete with table, chairs,cute posters and a bell.I would spend a nice morning in our little room working with my Kindergartner and Pre-schooler while the other two (toddlers at the time) played happily away....at least that is how I choose to remember that time of my life. Incidentally, that room is now painted pink and lodging three girls. The exterior of my home is painted in that lovely red color instead. The symbolic significance of that fact just struck me and it speaks volumes about how the whole house, and really the whole of life, is now our classroom.

Amazingly, I was able to hold on to my delusional home school fantasies(at least some of them) until my fifth child was born. Enter kid #5, John Michael. By the time Johnny was 14 months old I could no longer contain him in crib or pen. By the time he was 15 months old he had discovered multiple ways to escape the house. He would grab my keys (knowing exactly which one started the ignition to the Suburban)and run out the door yelling,"I want to drive". Two years and nine months after John was born his female counterpart, Kathleen, came along. The two of them have dedicated their existence to making sure I never have a boring moment ever again. So far they are doing an awesome job. Now, after seven years of homeschooling, with a total of seven children, I have become very thankful for online programs and various products that do some of the drill work for me, and help to take just a little bit of the "crazy" out of my day. The following list of  items are both fun and educational and some of them are worth their weight in gold to me.

Headsprout Reading Program:   

This one is a little expensive, but I've found that it is well worth the price, and they do offer a 50% discount on successive children using the program. I use it as a big part of my Kindergarten, 1st, or even occasionally 2nd grade curriculum. It takes care of a lot of the drill work I used to do freeing up my time to work with the kids in other areas. At the end of each lesson I spend a few minutes using the Sprout Stories and Flash Cards online with them to make sure they are truly understanding the new concepts before they move on. They also have a reading comprehension program available for older kids that I have not tried out yet. Maybe when that child tax credit rolls in I'll give it a go.

Timez Attack:  

Once again this program does a lot of the drill work with the kids in a fun video game format. This has radically transformed multiplication study time from that of total dread to a sought after privilege. Big Brainz actually gives you the basic package for free, but you only get one of the "worlds" which can get a little boring by the time you get to the 4x's. It is however, a great way to sample the program before you buy to see if your child does well with it. Purchasing the full package is well worth the money, especially since you can use it with multiple (no pun intended) children. You can also get a division attack add on for $20 more, and they are currently working on addition and subtraction versions as well.

Oregon Scientific Smart Globe: 
This is one of our new Christmas toys. I grabbed the last box at Costco on Christmas Eve for about $70.00. This interactive globe has a ton of facts and games that make learning geography a blast. You are able to select levels from Kindergarten to adult, making it a fun tool for the whole family. Last year CBS reported that 6 in 10 young Americans can't even find Iraq on a map. In this age of information there really is no excuse for that.This globe has already increased our family's knowledge of history and geography. I"m just itching for that category to pop up on Jeopardy now!

Gospel Champions: 

Gospel Champions is a video game that helps kids learn Bible stories and prayers. They have both a Catholic (Gospel Champions) and a Non-Catholic (Bible Champions) version as it was developed by a Catholic and a Baptist working together. How cool is that? We've found that it is a fun way to supplement our home catechism lessons. This is one game that I have been known to be caught playing from time to time as well.

Starfall:

This internet freebie is a reading program for K-2nd grade. They just added a version you can pay a modest yearly fee for that has more games including basic low level math. It is nice to let the kids play with this when you need to give them a fun and productive break from the routine.

Well, this is obviously not an extensive list, but each one of these has been a blessing to our educational life.
What learning product gems have you discovered? Which ones have been the most useful to your family?