Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that Baby Girl has made remarkable improvements over the past week (is that an answer to prayer or what?) She still has a bit of testing ahead of her (blood work, labs, allergy testing, etc...) but for now, she is back on Zantac for reflux, drinking rice milk and acting like our sweet, happy Baby Girl.

The bad news any of you remember what a healthy, active seventeen month old can be like?

Yikes! Apparently, I had forgotten. And no one thought to warn me.

But, it's oh so much better than a sick little Baby Girl. And for that I am grateful.

***And thanks for the recent add-ons to my followers list. I think I've added everyone on my end, too. Definitely let me know if I've missed anyone!***

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Can You Do With A Bad Valentine?

I'm don't think I've ever received a bad valentine. And in the words of Tomie DePaola, from The Legend of the Poinsettia, "a gift is a gift because it is given", leaves me quite certain that there is truly no such thing as a *BAD* gift.

But, there sure are some pretty comical ones.

If you have a great *BAD* Valentine gift, don't leave it sitting in your closet. Share it here at Talbots for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree! (Second and Third prizes aren't too shabby either).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Working At Home Depot

Many of you know the Ark well enough to know that The Home Depot holds a special place in our heart. My sister-in-law (Thanks, Amy!) knew it and forwarded it this hysterical email to me. Read on...

Subject: check your child's homework

Hey the picture first...then read the letter that mom wrote.

homework turned in:
pole dancer

the letter that followed:

Dear Mrs. B,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told Sarah how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had. Then I found one more in the back room, and several people were fighting over who would get it.

Sarah's picture does NOT show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly,

Mrs. I

Politics, Corruption and a Biblical Worldview

The state of Illinois seems to be reeling from political corruption. What does this type of scandal mean for a Christian? What does the bible say about politicians, power and its abuse?

Check out the awesome Fr. Robert Barron's commentary on these timely topics.

You can find out more (and hear more of his talks!) at his site Word on Fire!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are You Celebrating?

In betwixt and between doctor visits this week, we are planning quite a celebration (an even bigger one if Baby Girl continues to feel better...and we have some answers!)

This week, in our little homeschool (and at The Boy's parish day school) we are celebrating Catholic Schools Week.

We've arranged for quite an agenda, mimicking the typical Catholic day school's week of events.

Monday is Student Appreciation Day.

We've declared it Pajama Day (everyone--including Mom--will be learning in cozy pajamas and fuzzy slippers!) We'll also do our shared reading/buddy reading time alongside a special Breakfast Buffet prepared (and yes, opening the box = preparing) by Mom.

Tuesday is Teacher Switch Day.

Our students are turning the tables on us today and the teachers will become the students! Hannah and Beulah along with two other good homeschooling buddies will each be presenting a brief lesson to the "class". Rumor has it that we'll be making windsocks and playing UNO in Spanish. So much fun when you get to decide what to learn!

Wednesday is Service Appreciation Day.

Wednesday is our lightest day of school all week. Most of our extracurricular activities are scheduled this day as is our parish's all school Mass. Hopefully, Baby Girl will be feeling up to the morning Mass and we'll be joining a surprise guest for a special treat afterwards. We'll also be dedicating a particular portion of our afternoon to brush up on the Works of Mercy and decide how we'll be putting them into action this coming Lent (which now officially begins in a month!).

Thursday is Teacher Appreciation Day.

We have a special just-for-fun outing planning late morning this day with another homeschool family. We'll also be thanking all of those teachers who go above and beyond to inspire us, to teach us and to nurture our growing souls. (N. B.--If you live on the Ark and are reading this message, this would be the appropriate day to, you know, appreciate a certain teacher who shall remain nameless, but who would be oh so blessed by your thoughtfulness. Ahem.)

Friday is School Spirit Day.

We thought about calling a snow day--just for the fun of it--but decided it would be more fun to throw a SnowFest Day! Look for more to come about this exciting day we have planned!

Hope you have a wonderful week!

And Now For Something Completely Unimportant

I've been trying to streamline my blog habit. Initially, Google Reader was my hero. I could put all of the blogs I like to follow in one place and read new posts all together.

Super efficient, right?

Then, Blogger introduced the "Followers" widget. Genius, I could simply click and add blogs I read instantly from said site without the *inconvenience* of needing to be in Google Reader.

And, through the beautiful marriage of Google and Blogger, I had the added bonus of being able to import all of these blogs into my Google Reader.

But, I'm wanting more.

One of the best things about blogging, in my opinion, is the opportunity to connect with other bloggers. So, if you are visiting here on the Ark, and you have a blog of your own (even if you just started it yesterday), let me know you're here by "following" this blog and then I can click on over and "follow" yours.

Now that would make me smile.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Back To The Hospital

It's been a rough week.

On top of the normally hectic goings-on of nine people(minus the Captain who was out-of-town for work mid-week), the baby got sick. She's spent the past seven plus days alternating between lethargic, limp, sleep-twenty-hours-a-day behavior and refusing to sleep coupled with a banshee's wail to rival the best in Ireland.

Two doctor appointments and one fruitless trip to our local ER left us with little choice but to contact her team of pediatric specialists yesterday morning at the hospital an hour's drive from our house. This resulted in a full day of testing, orchestrating childcare for six other children--not to mention rides to and from scheduled activities, and the first "date" the Captain and I have had in a while--even if it was in the pediatric ER department.

Fortunately, every single test came back normal. Unfortunately, we are no further along than we were a week ago. So, this coming week, we are staring down a minimum of three additional doctor visits: pediatric allergist, pediatric GI, and our primary doctor.

I'll be spending this weekend trying to recoup what I can from last week and preparing for next week's agenda.

Now, I know Thursday was a day of penance.

And, I know the Ark is full of over-achievers, but next time I think I'd rather be blissfully average.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do You Know Laminin?

If you don't, you'll be amazed once you do!

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1: 15-17
H/T My MIL via email

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Theatrical Look At Teaching Multi-Age Learners

(Subtitled: Wow, Jonesee! This was too good to be left in the comments!)

I am not certain if I have ever even heard of this movie. But I'll be clicking right over to Netflix to add it to my queue.

Although not a movie specifically about home education, this documentary style film tells the story of a teacher in a small French village educating 13 students, ages 4 to 12.

Certainly sounds like several homeschool families I know...

You can read the full summary of To Be and To Have here.

Homeschooling Kindergarten--A Follow-Up Question

I have really appreciated the comments about homeschooling in Kindergarten. If you haven't had a chance to add your two cents, please visit this post and let me hear about your Kindergarten ideas.

Ouiz asked a great question about homeschooling several, multi-age children. Unfortunately, I am not well-equipped to answer it, as my only two homeschoolers this year are a pair of fourth graders. Next year, I'll add to that pair, a pair of Kindergarteners, which will double my enrollment, but still leave me to only teach two grade levels.

So, how do you do it? How do you balance the needs (academic as well as physical and emotional) of many levels of learners?

What kind of schedules/routines work? Which ones don't? I'd love to hear! And I'll be thinking about the things we do here on the Ark to help make our school day run (somewhat!) smoothly.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Here's A Great Way to Celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Week!

Maybe you're not being called right now to adopt a child, but supporting the families and the agencies who do just such a thing is an excellent way to live out our Christian belief in the dignity of each human person. Take a look at this newsletter sent out from our adoption agency and see if you might be able to help. A donation of the cost of a package of diapers, wipes or formula would go a long way towards helping them meet their needs.

And just LOOK at all those beautiful babies!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday

When we woke up this morning, the red sliver of mercury was a balmy 31 degrees below zero. (No, that's not a typo). Schools were canceled throughout Chicagoland for the second straight day in a row.

And what did we, on The Ark do?

Why, we went to the dentist, of course.

What? Doesn't everyone spend 30 minutes bundling seven children up to brave the bitter cold to have their teeth cleaned?

And then write poetry about it?

Why does taking five
kids to the dentist office
make me want to floss?

Thanks, Laura, for the inspiration. Visit Catholic Teacher Musings for more Bad Haikus.

First Day of Kindergarten

You might think I'd never had a child, or two go to Kindergarten.

You might also think I'd never, you know, taught other people's children for nearly a decade.

However, standing on the cusp (oh, alright, 6 months) of Kindergarten, I am at a standstill when it comes to deciding on curriculum for the upcoming school year.

Any suggestions?

I know there is an excellent combination of public school, private/Catholic school, and homeschool teachers who occasionally stop by here.

What have you used that you liked? That you didn't like?

Please help! Otherwise, I might just cry on my first day of Kindergarten.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Every Joke is Half Truth

Apparently I have angered the Tylenol gods.

I made the mistake of suggesting that everyone I know buy stock in Infant Tylenol for a certain Baby Girl who is in the process of cutting not one or two but EIGHT teeth at warp speed. This will bring her pearly white count up to 16 total, and no one will be happier than her drool-covered momma when it is finished.

However, my oh-so-funny joke has come back around to bite me in the, well, you know.

Making such a bold assumption that Tylenol is only good for teeth will get you nothing but a big fat virus with bonus fever for the aforementioned baby, which, incidentally, needs Tylenol.

In large quantities.

Unless you want to carry around 24-and-a-half pounds of crabby, drooling, lethargic baby until your arms ache and burn like the last time ( somewhere in the late 80s) you worked them out that hard.

Not me. So this afternoon, to appease the Tylenol gods, I'm loving me all the many uses for their magic purple (purple is a flavor) sugar syrup.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

California Dreamin'

(Subtitled: Why The Boy wants to move to San Diego)
I like cold and snow just as well as the next hearty New Englander, but this is getting ridiculous.

Hey, Mom...send Dad out here and I'll go to the Caymans with you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Success! Well, Almost...

I have managed to make my post titles appear in Google Reader and on Blogger. All by myself! Big success for a 8th grade Algebra drop-out. I now know more about atoms and rssesses (seriously, what is the plural of that? rssi?) than I ever intended or wanted to know. I believe I even fixed the feed problem in Bloglines (who decided to dis the Ark earlier today for some unknown feed-related issue).

Now, if I could just figure out why my alphabetized Google Reader list shows my blog after the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Post-Christmas Discovery

If I'm your friend on Facebook, you're well aware that today is our "un-decorating" party; which commemorates the official end to the Ark's 2008 Christmas season.

If you've been reading here for a while, you know that our family has been growing over the past few years (exponentially some might say, although I beg to differ). And you'd also know from reading that we've just now finally solved our vehicle conundrum that has befuddled us for many months now.

But I'll be that none of you know that this year, when it came time to hang our matching stockings by the chimney with care, that we were one stocking short of a perfect match. Due to my resourceful Yankee sensibility, I had saved a matching set of six stockings from a few children ago. This thrifty move allowed me to resurrect the old Mom and Dad stocking, leaving not the needed seven--but EIGHT--extra kid stockings. All was right with the world.

And then my mother-in-law visited.

Having an eye for attention to detail, is, shall we say, one of her strengths. She picked out my two deviant stockings faster than you could say after-Christmas sale. But, as is her nature, she didn't just point out the problem, she also provided the solution. She just happened to have one extra stocking to match the other kid stockings, which (including the one I didn't use this year) bring us back up to NINE matching stockings--one for each of us. Amazing. I love this woman. Again all was right with the world.

Until today when I started packing up our Christmas decorations.

It suddenly occurred to me that if we kept the old Mom and Dad stocking and combined them with the newer set of nine matching stockings, we'd have two extra stockings. The same number of extra seats afforded us by the new vehicle seating arrangement.


Only time will tell.
No A for this Q

While I appreciate your vast knowledge of the infomercial market, I am still stuck with a title-less feed.

Help! How do I fix this?

I mean what good is a blog with no titles?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sanctity of Human Life Week Coming Soon!

From Focus on the Family:

Five years ago, Focus on the Family® launched the Option Ultrasound™ Program--a groundbreaking initiative providing grants for ultrasound machines and sonography training to pregnancy medical clinics across the country. As a result, it's estimated that as many as 63,000 babies who may have been aborted have potentially been saved.

Lee's just one of the many, many moms who decided to keep their babies after experiencing an ultrasound--and with your help, there will be many, many more.

So celebrate with us! You can read more stories of moms and babies impacted by Option Ultrasound at

You can find exciting (and easy!) ways to be "pro-life and pro-active" during Sanctity of Human Life Week at

Mark your calendars---Sanctity of Human Life Week runs from January 18th through the 25th.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Checking In and Checking Off

With some of the recent hubbub around here, our "to-do" list was growing ever so long. But, finally, things are beginning to be checked off!

One of the most crucial was checked off just the other day when we placed an order for this, adding not one, not two, but THREE more seats to my Suburban!

Now, we can all fit comfortably as a family in one vehicle. And (as an added bonus) we have two new empty seats to fill! ;-)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Beanie Edition

(These handmade, one-of-a-kind beanies were loving crocheted by Grandma for Christmas. I'm thinking she should look into an Etsy shop start-up. And I think I know where she can get a few models...)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Q & A

  1. How is it that I type a cleverly thought out title ::snort:: for each of my posts, see said title when post publishes and yet, nary a title appears in any feeds (Google Reader, Blogger, etc...)!-800-TECH-HELP!
  2. What is the deal with that Shamwow thing? Jamie reminded me of this intriguing product which is the recent obsession of a certain someone on the Ark. Does it work? We're thinking of ordering a few of them to throw in our drainage ditch to get the water out...Or maybe keep a few on hand to use if the sump pump backs up again...Or strategically place one in the baby's diaper...the possibilities are endless.
  3. My daughters' preschool is having pajama day today. When will the world at large see the great beauty in this idea and allow pajama day to join the ranks of cultural norms such as casual Friday?
  4. Is Facebook better than blogging? I'm not sure, but I'm starting to wonder...
  5. And why isn't Billy Mays hocking the shamwow? Was he too expensive to hire? Or is it an indictment of the shamwow that he won't sell it?
Too many questions, too few answers...must have coffee.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Home Another Way

We're getting ready to celebrate Epiphany on the Ark tonight. Big hands will hurry to be the first to light the incense and to bless the first room in the house. Little hands will fumble with the hefty chalk pieces as they inscribe the blessing on the slate tile which hangs near the entry way of our home. And we will start the year anew together.

Sitting in the cry room with a quiet Baby Girl this morning, I listened to our beloved pastor preach on the wise men, the three kings, the magi who were sent to do King Herod's bidding. But amazingly enough, in a dream, they were warned of Herod's scheme (shouldn't we all be so lucky?!?) and made their way home another way.

I couldn't help but hum this James Taylor song as I listened to the rest of his sermon. This isn't a story told once, long ago, about three really intelligent, wealthy old men. No sir. It's a yearly reminder to us all of the very real, very present, constant struggle between good and evil. And it's a sign of the power wrought by the Incarnation. If there's one thing I'd like for my children to know, to really understand, and to always remember, it's to follow that "lucky star." There are no shortage of Herods out there, waiting to take "take a mile" if we give an inch. Don't be afraid, I'll assure them, to stand up to your Herods and go home another way. It's as simple as following the Star.

Safe home, friends. Safe home.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Greetings

From Baby New Year and the rest of the Ark crew...
May God bless your 2009 and grant you much happiness and good health in the New Year!