{SQT} Food, Movies, and Books

Happy Easter Friday! Enjoy some meat! 

We had a beautiful Easter Sunday. The kids woke up and immediately gorged themselves on candy (and maybe I did too). We attended Mass, came home and ate some appetizers including the amazing crab rangoon dip from Aldi’s (definently snag some if you see it). We wound up with a 10 lb leg of lamb -our largest ever, because we waited until the last minute to order from the butcher and I guess that’s all they had left. We ate at 5 p.m., after calls with the grandparents, and one of Addie’s friends joined us. Then we watched the seasonally appropriate Godzilla vs King Kong. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there’s a resurrection moment in there, plus an overall message of good defeating evil so, #theologicalwin. We took an intermission to enjoy Tony’s homemade ricotta pie and cannoli.

Just ignore Teddy’s face. He’s not choking to death and this is the best photo of the bunch.

Full menu:

  • lamb with brandy infused gravy
  • mashed potatoes
  • oven roasted green beans with mushrooms
  • creamed corn casserole
  • Arancini de Riso ( a traditional Sicilian rice ball that we bought at the local Italian market to try)
  • spring greens salad with apples, pecans, cranberries and homemade dressing
  • three fruit salad
  • fresh bread

Monday I took a meal to a family who’s infant son finally came home from the hospital after many months. I always overthink taking a meal to a family. Like, I cannot miss any of the food groups (unless they’re vegans or something) and at least one item needs to be homemade. I feed these people better than my own kids most times. I cooked up some homemade cream of tomato soup and cheese quesadillas, plus I threw in a bagged salad mix, fresh fruit, and some of Tony’s cannoli. It sounded kid friendly at the time!!! But I was second guessing myself the whole time I was cooking it. What are your favorite meals to make and take? I need some ideas for when I’m clueless and people need a hot meal. (And say some prayers for my friends as they and their son still have a long road ahead of them.)

I finished watching Schitt’s Creek and resumed watching whatever Wes Anderson movie happens to be free on prime. We’ve all watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs, but on my own I’ve watched Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m currently on The Darjeeling Limited.

I really like Anderson’s story telling and visual aesthetic. So often I feel like I’d rather just read a book, or that while a movie may be entertaining, it’s not really telling a compelling story. But with Anderson’s films, I feel like something would be lost in reading the same story, or watching the movies under someone else’s direction. The movies also leave me thinking about them long after, if just to try to understand their weird or cringe-y scenes. If my book, or blog, ever get turned into a movie, I think it deserves a Wes Anderson treatment. I want Bill Murray to play me, but maybe that’s asking too much. 

Teddy convinced me to check out Cardboard Box Engineering from the library on our last visit, even though I knew it would inevitably place a new project on my to-do list. I’d succeeded in putting off creating something during our Easter break, but finally caved yesterday and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he and Fulton selected an easy to construct paddle boat. But then I discovered we didn’t have any of the proper cartons that the craft required so Teddy’s second choice was a complicated replica of a Skee Ball game. I’m a fan of Skee Ball on the Ocean City boardwalk, where I can still play it for just 10 cents. Not so much a fan of constructing it out of cardboard dug from the bottom of my garage’s recycling bin. It turned out pretty good, but Teddy was quick to point out all the things that didn’t quite work, like how if you throw the marble really hard into the 50 point hole, it rolls down the 10 point chute. While I’m reassured by the fact that Teddy will make a great supervisor one day, I’d like someone to please hug me and tell me I did a good job. 

Here’s Teddy being disappointed in me.

I’m reading Anne Bogel (of Modern Mrs. Darcy)’s book Reading People. It’s all about personality quizzes and gaining insight into ourselves and I’m eating it up and yes children, you’re all taking a bunch of quizzes when I’m done!!! We’re no longer going by our Hogwarts houses!!!

For my full thoughts on the book, sign up for my newsletter which goes out first thing next Monday morning. 

That’s all from me! How was your week? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Good Friday Takes

Yes, I redesigned the blog again. I was looking at some other “author” websites and realized I wanted something a bit more “I’m a real author.” and less “I blog in my bathrobe with a cup of cold coffee when I should be educating my kids.” Getting a professional headshot is still on the to-do list, so please enjoy Kelly’s headshot circa 2017.

My popular Facebook post from last Sunday in case you missed it:

And if you missed my post on Monday, don’t forget to watch Byron, Byron’s friend Leo, Fulton, and Teddy’s submission in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Pretty sure they’re not going to take best picture, but if we spread enough awareness, maybe there’ll be a prize in it for them after all! Too bad there’s not a prize for best looking guy in a top hat.

Monday we assembled a spice cross from Dumb Ox Publications. I learned the difference between a spice and an herb (herbs come from the leafy part of the plant and can be used fresh or dried, while spices come from seeds, bark, etc. and are always dried), so I’m counting that as a school day and taking another day off at the end of the year.

I spoke with a marketing guru from my publisher on Tuesday about planning for my book’s release this fall. I told him we needed to talk ASAP because I would need lots of time to do whatever was demanded of me. Surprisingly enough, flying me all over the country to promote my book is NOT part of my publisher’s job. Humpf. I’m still looking for an excuse to travel so hit me up with your favorite Catholic or independent bookstores. I already have my heart set on creating a cool tour poster and t-shirt and meeting all my fans like I’m a member of Fleetwood Mac or something.

Like this, but for a Catholic mommy blogger, so minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

I got my first COVID shot on Wednesday. I’m eligible because I have some underlying health issues, not because I’m a caregiver to two medically fragile kids. (I’m clarifying that because a lot of people I know assumed parents like Tony and I were in the top tier of eligible people, but that’s not the case in most states.) No one else in our house is eligible yet, but hopefully soon. I wrote a post about what it’s been like for special needs families in quarantine for Accepting the Gift. It was a follow up to a post I wrote last April when many people thought things would be returning to normal with the approaching warm weather. I solicited answers from special needs parents via Facebook and Instagram and shared them in my post. If you’re a special needs parent who’d like to share their experiences, please leave a comment on the original post.

We dyed eggs yesterday. I HATE the mess of dying eggs but since I want my kids to have happy memories of dying eggs, every year I turn our dining room into a disaster and try not to yell too much. This year I invested in some egg wraps which I’d seen mentioned across the Catholic blogosphere. I put a few on some wooden eggs I spray painted gold, while some more went on the hardboiled eggs. I don’t really decorate for Easter, but I liked the religious themed wraps and those based on traditional pysanky designs (which I have yet to attempt because it combines all the mess of regular egg dying with hot wax).

In 2019, I did a series of art posts on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Each contained several paintings depicting the day’s events, and Sunday’s post also contained St. John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily, which I love to read every year. If you want some great art to meditate on during the next few days, clickety click.

Also- this Easter makes 20 years since I joined the Roman Catholic Church. WOOT! You can read about my conversion story HERE and a few years back I did a post sharing other well known Catholic bloggers’ conversion stories.

Not much else to report. My spring break so far has been taken up with crafts, cleaning, and taking Byron to 2,394,129 appointments for his elbow, which is doing much better but still requires more care and maintenance than an orchid.

Sending prayers and wishes to you all for a Happy Easter this weekend. Link up your posts below, and remember to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Special Needs Families in Quarantine: One Year Later

As many states open up and do away with mask mandates, special needs families are trying to find a safe way to get back to normal. Struggling with a lack of in-person therapies and services, many families have seen their children reject or not benefit from the online options offered. The isolation of quarantine has affected the mental health of the general population, but special needs families are contending with the regression of behaviors and skills in their children due to a change in routine and lack of services, plus the lack of outside help and respite.

While some families are ready to place their children back in school or in out patient therapy, parents of medically fragile children must still consider the risk of COVID, and the inconsistent precautions taken from location to location. Regulations put in place to stop the spread of COVID have made routine and emergency medical visits even more complicated and stressful, and for children who needed to undergo surgery in the last year, families have struggled with keeping one parent bedside, while juggling the demands of home life with little or no outside assistance. Vaccines are currently only approved for those 16 or 18 and older, and in many states, unless a parent themselves is at risk or works in a specific industry they are not eligible for the vaccine simply because they are a caregiver of a special needs child, regardless of the child’s risk factors.

It has been a long year, and for many of us, the future is still uncertain. We are navigating uncharted territory, where every outing or social interaction is questioned. We will eventually come out on the other side, but it will take longer for us then our non-special needs friends, and we will be different than we were a year ago. I asked special needs parents on Facebook and Instagram how their family life has changed for better or worse, during quarantine.

Read more at Accepting the Gift.

Byron, Fulton, and Teddy’s Film Debut

Look out Hollywood! Byron, Fulton, and Teddy (and their friend Leo) have made a film for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (EDFC). I’m not saying it’s an Oscar contender, but don’t be surprised if it becomes the first in a long line of blockbuster classics. ….but maybe I’m biased.

Last year we first learned about the EDFC right before quarantine started. They postponed the challenge, and unfortunately, we missed the announcement when it was rescheduled to August 2020. This year, the boys didn’t want to miss out. Thankfully, Byron and Leo have the patience of saints and dealt with the loud, creative demands (or “enthusiasm”) of Teddy with grace. They spent a rushed couple days trying to film and edit their sci-fi thriller and the result is hilarious…although not always intentionally.

There are five prizes being awarded: best film, best director, best editor, best actor, and best awareness campaign. I’m not so sure how we’ll fair in those first four categories, but I’m telling everyone we know to like, comment, and share ‘The UFO’ so we have a shot at winning the awareness campaign award. We have between now and Monday, April 5th to try to garner the most online support.

So visit the film on YouTube and Facebook and give the guys some love! (Just be sure to comment and like on the original post. I think there’s where they’re getting their “official” count from. Thank you!)

What To Do When You And Your Child Are Frustrated With Reading

Spring is here, we’ve all moved past February burnout (hopefully) and the end of the school year is rapidly approaching- thank goodness!!!!!! But in the back of your mind there may be a nagging feeling that your child isn’t reading as well as you’d hoped. You wonder if your child can catch up by June, and panic starts to set in as you realize your child’s friends are reading better than he is, and you remember your older child was already onto a higher level of books by this point. You start Googling terms like ‘dyslexia’ and ‘learning disabilities’ and scouring the archives of all the Facebook homeschooler groups.

I’ve been there! I still spend days second guessing my teaching and wondering if this child or that child will achieve some “grade level” goal. But having been in the trenches for awhile now I can say that concerns about reading are some of the most common I see. And honestly, it doesn’t matter how many times a veteran homeschooling mom like myself tries to reassure a young mom that it’s TOTALLY OKAY AND NORMAL that their five year old isn’t reading fluently, most moms continue to worry anyway. But, I’m going to try to reassure y’all once again that yes, your child will read, and in the mean time present you with some ideas of what to do when you and your child are frustrated with reading.

Take a Break

Rather than sticking to your usual daily reading lesson, do more read alouds, or put on an audio book. Let your child reread some of their favorite books, or watch movie versions of good books. Now is a great time to take field trips or plan some extra outdoor activities. You can still point out sounds and help them read things like a Saturday morning pancake recipe, a park sign, or museum exhibit, etc. but make reading part of other activities and set aside the formal program for a few days or a week.

Switch Up Your Reading Program

I do not advise you do this lightly. Usually, a child just needs a break, not a complete change, but sometimes kids (and parents) can burnout on a program and it makes sense to set it aside and choose something new. It might work to simply supplement what you’re using with a new set of readers, or new workbook, a few apps, and keep the bulk of the program. You could also take the material your child is using and present it in a new way with a game or through full body activities. As a last resort, you can investigate a new program all together. Be sure to pinpoint what isn’t working with the old program and what your child’s specific struggles are before trying to select a new program. Make sure you are also putting in the work the curriculum requires and not expecting more from your child than what’s reasonable without the necessary input from you.

Change Locations

Read in bed, read outside under a tree or at a picnic table at a local park. Go to the library or read at the beach. Not every lesson can be special, but sometimes it helps to get out of a rut by switching up the usual routine simply by visiting somewhere new.

Give More One on One Attention

If you’ve got several kids vying for your attention, it always easier to toss a workbook at a kid and walk away rather than sit and review phonograms (which is my personal Hell). But some kids need you to sit and review phonics with them. If you’ve taken a hands-off approach and your child seems to be behind, set aside a block of time to work with them one on one, even if everyone else in the house needs to be bribed with a screen. Commit to that small chunk of time every day and see if it doesn’t make a difference. (And speaking from experience, it does, and they even start working harder on that workbook because now they know you’re reliably checking it.)

Outsource

Let dad take on reading after work, or a patient middle school aged sibling can help (even if you need to pay them in candy.) Let them know what needs done and let them take over for a week or two. If you’re feeling especially burnt out and frustrated with reading, consider hiring a tutor (which could simply be a mother’s helper) to review reading for a bit. Or if you choose to hire a professional, they may be able to take over and provide you with guidance for the days they’re not there, and give advice for how to handle reading going forward. Sometimes kids just need to answer to someone else and you may be surprised what they’re able to learn, and how quickly they can do it, when you’re not the teacher (which is SUPER galling to realize, but helpful when you accept it).

Make Sure You Are in a Good Mood

This seems obvious enough, yet there were many days I angrily headed into reading lessons with my kids, still steamed from some other mishap. When they couldn’t remember the proper sound for ‘ou’, I freaked out. Way to instill that love of learning Kelly!!! If reading isn’t your favorite subject (and let’s be honest; 100 Easy Lessons can easily kill the soul of most moms) make sure you’re scheduling reading practice when you’re more likely to be in a good mood. If you are having a bad day, do something to change your attitude before attempting to tackle a subject that is obviously hard for your child.

Make Sure Your Child is in a Good Mood

Is he tired, hungry, in pain, suffering from a full bladder or need to poop? (It’s true way too often to not mention.) Does she need a longer break, and time to run around outside before sitting down to work on reading? See if he works better in the morning, or afternoon. You could even give him a choice. Watch your child and learn how she works best and try to accommodate their unique learning style when practicing reading. A little flexibility on your part can make your child more cooperative and happier to sit down and get to work.

Be Patient

Learning to read takes time. Unless a child has a serious learning disability or intellectual delay, they will eventually learn to read. In the mean time, remember to focus on your child’s strengths; they are more than their reading struggles. Leave school problems to school time and have fun the rest of the day. Don’t make every moment of the day a teachable moment for some reading lesson. And be sure to redirect well-meaning family members who always harp on your child’s abilities or try test them to see how they’re doing. Let you child know they don’t need to demonstrate anything for anyone if they don’t want to. And be sure to celebrate the little victories. When your child does hit a milestone, celebrate it! Even if it comes much later than you think it should. Those moments will motivate your child to keep working even when it’s hard.

So there’s are my thoughts on reading. I’m writing them down as a reminder to myself as much as anyone. It can be really hard to watch a child struggle to learn to read, especially an older child (>9 years of age), but as I’ve matured as a homeschooler, I’m able to roll with it and keep the big picture in mind, even if today was hard.

How is your week going? Write it all down, then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} An Important Date, Current Watches, and Pep Talks

Mark your calendars, we have a date for my book’s release-OCTOBER 8th! Which is also Teddy’s birthday, so ideally I remember to celebrate both things on that day. Things are getting real!

My celebration GIF was chosen because Schitt’s Creek is free on Prime right now and it’s my current binge watch for when I’m making dinner. I love it, and it makes me SO much happier than watching Poldark. I mean, I love me some period drama and scenic ocean views but Poldark was stressing me out and I have enough actual stuff in my life to fret over without feeling anxious about a TV show.

Last Saturday we watched the dystopian classic Soylent Green. I’d never seen it, but of course, knew the twist at the end as it’s referenced pretty frequently in pop culture. What I didn’t know was that it’s set in New York City in 2022. If you think climate change predictions are bleak now, you should see what they thought today’s world would be like in 1973. New York City is packed with 30+ million people, many of whom sleep on the street. (As of 2019, NYC’s population was just over 8 million.) Temperatures stay in the 90’s year round. There’s not enough electricity or fuel, so cars lay rusted in the street, and homes are dark. Most people have never eaten fresh meat or plants, or even seen a tree. Food and water is distributed by the government on Tuesdays. Wealthy people can purchase strawberry jam for $150 a jar. Elderly, or anyone who is tired of living can simply choose to end their life with a few signatures. (So some things are a little closer to reality than others.) Even though it was a little grim, everyone enjoyed watching it, and making fun of the video games and technology that seemed futuristic in the 70’s.

Another highlight of the week included seeing my grandmother for the first time in more than six months. She received both doses of the COVID vaccine and has been allowed to leave her nursing home without fear of needing to quarantine in her room upon returning, so my mother brought her to Ocean City for a long weekend. We got to visit on Sunday when the weather was fantastic. Despite turning 90 in October and having to live under some pretty tough restrictions, she’s held up well thanks to lots of regular phone calls, and now that she can get out, she’s hoping to make up for lost time.

Sunday was Laetare Sunday, also known as Mothering Sunday, and it’s when the UK celebrates Mother’s Day. It’s also when we observe Mother’s Day in our home, so Tony surprised me with flowers and the kids contributed sweets and homemade artwork. Today on the feast of St. Joseph, we’ll do a few things for Tony, including picking up some fresh St. Joseph cakes from the local Italian bakery. Have I mentioned lately how great it is living in this town?!?!?

We’ve also crossed over the midway point of Lent thank goodness. I made my usual mid-Lent confession of cheating at all. the. things. I’ve tried to give up and our priest gave me the usual, “You still have plenty of time to work on them.” pep talk, which really doesn’t help my pep at all. Our Easter break starts Holy Week and runs through Easter week. One of the great things about homeschooling everyone this year is being able to take longer breaks again. I never realized how choppy the public school year was until I enrolled the boys. It never seemed that way to me as a child, but nowadays, most breaks start and end mid-week, or with half-days. Plus, there’s lots of random in-service days scattered throughout the year when you least expect it. I don’t know how working families can accommodate all the crazy schedule changes. I’ve always liked taking a long break at Christmas and Easter, but I changed things with our homeschool when the boys were in school since I had to stop homeschooling many of the weird days they’d get off or come home early. This year was the first in a while I could finally take the breaks I wanted again. The school stretch between Christmas and Easter breaks is our longest, but once we come back from Easter break, I know the remainder of the year will fly by, and that most certainly will help my pep…also because I’ll be eating sweets again.

Apologies for my Takes appearing late last week. Technical glitch I assure you! Hopefully this week’s post goes through with no issues! Link your posts up below and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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2021 House Tour

I don’t know why I think this is a big deal to anyone but me, but I did another video tour of our house. If you love videos of women rambling while they show you their normal, non-Instagram worthy house, you’ll love this home tour!

This blog, more than anything, is a way for me to organize memories. Sometimes I like to share practical things I’ve learned, other times, it’s a random catch-all of family happenings. Pictures can be helpful, but occasionally only a video can do a topic justice. I don’t have any video tours our first few homes and I wish I did. I didn’t realize how much we would wind up moving in the early years of our marriage and while I have pictures, I wish I had more to show the kids about where they were born or spent their early days. So regardless of whether or not oversharing the interior of my home is interesting to my readers, it’s important to me, so on the blog (and onto YouTube) for posterity it goes!

For whatever reason, I didn’t re-watch my first video before filming the second so at several points I thought I was showing ALL NEW THINGS when really I’d just forgotten showing them in the first video. I also animatedly talk about several of the same things (flowered wallpaper on the bathroom ceilings, the rotary phone, my desk, can you say STORAGE?, etc.) unaware I already shared my strong affection for them the first time. I’d also forgotten just how messy our house was in that first video; we’d literally just moved in. Fulton and Teddy’s opinions on appearing in the tour remained unchanged after two years, so I did make sure to edit them both out. (You can watch the first tour HERE.)

Within the next couple years, I hope we’re able to add a patio to the yard (so the boys have a nice, large, non-muddy place to drive their chairs), and some accessibly features (ceiling mounted Hoyer lift, elevator, and deck with a ramp so they can quickly exit their bedroom in an emergency). Renovating the kitchen and extending the screened in porch to make room for a hot tub/therapy pool are two long term “dream” goals.

It’s not quite Seven Quick Takes, but watching that video is like reading a long post, so, we’ll call it even. Write down your Takes and link them up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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{SQT} Edits, An Injury, And A Good Use For Facebook

Time for Seven Quick Takes!

I turned in the completed second round of edits for my book last weekend. I wanted Tony to read over a couple new sections before turning it back over to my Our Sunday Visitor editor. I added a short conclusion to the book, and it was weird for me to try to sum up the whole thing in 5-800 words (as suggested). I’ve been writing this book in one form or another for years now (maybe five?). So much has happened since I first sat down at Panera Bread on Saturday and started typing. During the first round of edits (turned in last February) I’d already added chapters that contained stories from the last couple years. Now we’re even further out from the events in the book and it’s just weird to see the finite sliver of time captured in this book. The blog keeps growing and updating and changing. My social media posts always share the latest, and newest, updates. But this book will always be “stuck” for lack of a better term, at the point it was written. All non-fiction books are like this of course, but it’s a strange feeling now that it’s my story. Anywho- fingers still crossed for a fall 2021 release! I’m trying to warm Tony up to a cross country road trip for “promotion”. Where should I plan to stop????

Byron dislocated his elbow while learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a little while back. It was popped back in place in the ER, but due to insurance issues, I couldn’t find/ get a follow up appointment with an orthopedic doctor until Wednesday. Having no experience with dislocations, I was kinda thinking he’d be out of commission for a couple weeks. But low and behold it is actually kind of a big deal and he’s out of work, driving practice, classes at the gym, all of it, for four to six weeks. He’s disappointed but not complaining and thankfully not in pain. Sleeping and typing are the hardest parts, but he’s managing. And most important, he’s still able to do his laundry, compete schoolwork and unload the dishwasher. (Don’t worry, I’m being extra kind to him! )

I’m behind in newsletter publication because I want to get a new house tour filmed first. But I also want to clean it first, however, I’ve decided I’m filming the tour this weekend (so long as it doesn’t rain) clean house be damned so subscribe for the first look, or wait for the link next week.

Last week Teddy’s super expensive medicine was delivered to the wrong address. The medicine is shipped once a month with ice because it needs to stay cold. Our specialty pharmacy always tells us when to expect delivery and we’ve never had a problem until last Friday. Saturday I called to track the package and it was supposedly delivered at 11 a.m. the previous day. We walked around our street and checked our neighbors porches with no luck. I started to panic. Enter Facebook! I went our town’s (least dramatic) informal group page and asked for help. We live on West Pleasant; could the package be on East Pleasant or Pleasant Mills Road? Within 15 minutes our package was found two blocks south. Within 30 minutes of posting, I was able to walk over, retrieve the medicine, walk home, and thank everyone for their help. For all the problems with social media, this was one instance where it really served a good purpose.

Who else is watching WandaVision? I was only going to watch it because the kids wanted to see it, but I got sucked in and really enjoy it. We all watch it together on Friday nights and then discuss it for days afterwards. Usually because Teddy and Fulton have ideas they keep wanting to rehash with everyone. We have a lot of theories on how things will wrap up. I keep telling the kids I like it more than The Mandolorian, but apparently that’s the only opinion you’re not allowed to have in this house. Whatever…

I set a New Year’s resolution for myself to read more, but hadn’t been doing well picking out books that were engaging. Thankfully, Tony and I went to a bookstore over the weekend and I found several titles from my ‘To Read’ list on the clearance shelf. Now it’s easier to choose a book over YouTube at bedtime and I’m finally making progress. It’s also easier to avoid the temptation to check social media during the day when I’ve got an interested read close at hand. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t finish the book I chose for Advent, but maybe for Lent. …for realz.

Short and sweet for this week. Write down your own Takes and link them up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Blogging Predictions For The Next Nine Years

Nine years ago this week I started blogging at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Obviously I can’t let the anniversary go by without a blog post. But rather than reminiscing, I decided to make a few predictions for the future of blogging.

Most people are aware that many bloggers have moved over to sharing content on social media, and given up blogging altogether. Recently, some have given up social media and dusted off their urls, but overall the blogging landscape has changed and it’s unlikely to return to the blogging world of 2012. So where is blogging headed? Let’s find out!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Blogging

Bloggers with a site a few years old will hire AI bots to crawl their archives and then write new blog posts on topics related to things they’ve written about in the past. Publishing will increase. Ad revenue will go up. Engagement will flourish! These developments will allow bloggers to become soft, compliant and overly trusting of their AI contributors. Their suspicions will become piqued when the content of their blog switches from say, homeschooling to blood lust, but by then it will be too late and the robots will already be banging down our doors.

Stream of Consciousness Blogging (SBC)

You know your readers love it when you share the intimate details of your personal life and “keep it real”. So it’s only logical that the next step up from oversharing on blogs, or live streaming videos of your day is recording and sharing the continuous stream of thoughts coming from your brain. SBC would feature an interface that plugs directly into your brain and sends your thoughts, via Bluetooth, to WordPress and transcribes them into a daily blog post. Readers can follow along minute by minute as you worry about dinner, reread the lusty scene from that young adult novel you checked out of the library for “your daughter”, and chide yourself repeatedly for wearing the old leggings that you knew would cut you through the groin but wanted to wear anyway because of their seasonal print. Self-hosted WordPress users can also install a plugin that transcribes dreams in a separate overnight post.

Cats Will Blog

The bastards have been able to blog for years, but were only posting anonymously on the dark web when we weren’t looking. In the near future, not only will our cats blog out in the open, they’ll try to corner the DIY, fashion, and home decor niches with their cunning ways and strategically placed GIFs. If we’re not ready for the feline invasion, thousands of lifestyle bloggers will find their number of followers slashed by the tiny sharp claws of their furry competitors.

Lawyers Specializing in Blogging Law

Start deleting all the pictures of your kids sitting on the toilet naked as toddlers because the next wave of sponsored TikTok posts is coming from lawyers who will represent kids who want money from their parents for sharing embarrassing pictures. It doesn’t matter how much skin your child is willing to show in a crazy spring break challenge, a new breed of lawyer is coming who will convince your child that an embarrassing picture of when he cut his hair himself with the weed whacker is worth a whole lot of money. In the past, embarrassing pictures were perfect to pull out on prom night, or throw into a wedding slideshow, but now, if that embarrassing picture winds up online, you may be forced to pay huge settlements to your kids, or worse, have your own childhood photos, and those Polaroids from college (you know the ones I’m talking about) shared in a Top 10 Buzzfeed post.

Gen-Xers Will Use Blogging to Take Over The World

No one hears much about Gen-X anymore. It’s all Millennials and whoever comes after them. But that’s fine. While the Boomers are finally figuring out Facebook, and the youngsters are wasting time on TikTok, Gen-Xers are using blogging to coordinate our plans, line up allies, and try to relive a little of the Woodstock ’94 glory. Just when you all least expect it, we’re going to show up, take back our fashion trends, and run the world like only a bunch of under-appreciated latch-key kids can.

Those are my predictions! I can’t wait to tell you “I told you so!” when I’m simultaneously beating off my AI and tabby cat overlords in my quest to conquer the world.

In case you’d like to see how I inconsistently commemorated my previous blog-o-versaries:

Now it’s your turn. Link up below and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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You Can Do Lent

Day two of sugar withdrawal is going well. How about I use these under-fueled brain cells to put together my annual ambitious Lenten plans post? There’s nothing too crazy this year; it’s actually pretty much the same as last year. I even made a video with some ideas for people who wonder why they should observe Lent this year, when Lent 2020 never really ended.

I made the video for my Accepting the Gift Facebook Group, but thought it might be useful for more than just special needs parents. My overall point is this: you will always be able to find a reason to not “do” Lent. Even before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for people to share on social media how they couldn’t give up or do anything else for Lent because of some other situation. And these people were facing real hardships. However, when you look at what the church actually requires you to do, and consider She has created these requirements for Catholics all over the world regardless of circumstances, you can see that no matter what- war, peace, plague, pestilence, prosperity, whatever!- you can usually meet the bare minimums and in fact do a bit more. Lent is in fact, quite “doable” for any and everyone.

Lent isn’t optional, but it’s also not up to us to reinvent some spectacular spiritual experience every year (thank goodness). The suffering in your daily life is one cross. You can use Lent to maybe help accept it without complaint, but you can’t shake off Lent altogether. In fact maybe Lent is exactly what you need when things seem at their lowest. Maybe the effort you put into Lent when things seem so hard will benefit you more than a Lent carefully crafted from your ideal view of how the season “should be”.

God isn’t asking you to do all the devotionals and crafts. You don’t need to give up sweets, alcohol, or observe some strict diet (unless you’re Eastern Rite). And if you want to stay on social media, you can do that too. You simply have to follow the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence (check them here) and try to take on a bit more in the prayer and almsgiving departments. Anything above your normal prayer and almsgiving counts…anything! It’s not all or nothing.

What I also mention in the talk is working on Lent as a family. Certainly we all have our own sins we can work on individually, but by sharing sacrifices together, we can bear one another’s burdens and the struggle, while still a challenge, is manageable.

I know we’re all tired for a variety of reasons. We are all doing what feels like too much yet also feeling like we’re falling short. We all still need to enter into Lent. Whatever we can do will be enough, so long as we’re trying to do more than what we usually do. Put down the lengthy devotionals, unsubscribe from the daily email meditations, hide the play dough and glitter and get back to the basics of Lent without guilt.

So those are my random thoughts on Lent this year. (I’ve written in this same vein before.) As always your comments are welcome. You can also link up your own Lent themed Takes below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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Why I Love My Son’s Feeding Tube

It’s Feeding Tube Awareness Week. When I first heard of it, I didn’t know what kind of awareness I was supposed to spread- is there anyone out there who is afraid of feeding tubes? Are there still people who are ignorant of them? I suppose there must be; I’d never heard of them until 10 years ago. Before then, if you’d have told me someone needed a feeding tube to stay alive, I would’ve assumed the person was old, dying, and had some large tube shoved down their throat to force feed them hospital gruel. Obviously, feeding tubes were only something needed by really sick people who probably had an awful quality of life. Don’t ever give me one! I’d rather die than not be able to eat!!!

If you find yourself reflexively thinking this way (like me for the first 30+ years of my life), let me make you more aware about what a feeding tube means to our family and how it has literally saved my sons life and continues to allow him to be the crazy, fun kid he is. (Hopefully this is the point of Feeding Tube Awareness week and not to raise money to kill wild tubes that roam the streets at night feeding on children. That would be a topic for another post.)

In the spring of 2011, Fulton got a cold which ultimately became pneumonia. His condition necessitated our first long hospital stay and introduced us to a bunch of new medical interventions, including the nasogastric (NG) tube. Because of fatigue and an increased overall weakness due to the stress of his cold, Fulton started aspirating thin liquids, meaning things that should’ve traveled down his throat into his stomach, were making their way into his lungs. We had to stop giving him thin liquids via his mouth, and instead put everything through the thin tube that now ran up his nose and down the back of his throat.

Once he was recovered, he could eat some foods by mouth, but anything like milk or juice, had to be thickened and foods that melted, like ice cream, or “mixed consistency” (liquids and solids) like chicken noodle soup, were forbidden. Fulton hated the taste of thickened liquids and shortly after getting the NG-tube, he stopped drinking by mouth. Even after a swallow study showed he was no longer aspirating thin liquids, he didn’t want to drink as much fluid as his body needed. We’d hoped to be done with the NG-tube at this point, but the side effects of him not drinking enough (ie constipation) meant we kept the tube in far longer than expected. Plus, Fulton had always been on the low end of the growth curve. He struggled to gain weight. Once we had the NG-tube in place, it became an easy way to give him more calories as well.

Although we were happy the NG-tube provided Fulton with all the fluid he needed, and some much needed nourishment, there were many parts of it that were uncomfortable for him. The NG-tube is attached to the cheek by means of several layers of tape and a protective barrier cream. Because it is visible on the face, it immediately drew stares. It was also not uncommon for the tube to get accidentally pulled out part way, which was painful and uncomfortable, and required us to remove the entire tube and reinsert it. Sticking a tube up your child’s nose and down their throat is just as fun as you can imagine for all parties involved. It was easier for us because Fulton’s weakness and limited range of motion meant he couldn’t fight us when we had to reinsert it, and it wasn’t easy for him to pull the tube out himself. (This video explains the whole process.) And despite all the protective layers his skin would get irritated and red at times. Now that he’s older, Fulton can better articulate how the NG-tube felt and he remembers it being uncomfortable and generally disliking it. Plus he had a fear of it accidentally getting pulled out.

Fulton with his NG-tube in place.

The alternative would be a gastrostomy (G) tube. A somewhat permanant port directly into his stomach placed during surgery. It sounded scary and I felt it would reflect poorly on me: that his need for a G-tube was due to my failings as his mother, and not his underlying condition. If I just worked hard enough, I could get him to consume all his nutritional needs by mouth. When I showed up at one of his medical appointments months later, the doctor asked why he still had an NG-tube? Wasn’t his hospitalization with pneumonia more than six months ago? Didn’t the most recent swallow study show he was no longer aspirating thin liquids? When I voiced my concerns about his ongoing low fluid and caloric intake, and asked if it necessitated a G-tube, she informed me that yes, Fulton needed to continue with tube feedings, and that he was long overdo for a G-tube.

Over the next few months we would schedule, and reschedule, Fulton’s surgery numerious times due to illness. Finally in June 2012 his G-tube was placed. I’d built it up into this big thing, but the surgery itself was super fast, and he had no problems. (To understand the medical details of how a G-tube is placed, I recommend this video.) Over the next 48 hours in the hospital, we learned how to hook up his feeding eqipment to the new tube (called a button) and he was monitored to make sure everything was working.

A gravity feed in progress.

In addition to the tube itself, there are extenstions which connect the tube to either a feeding bag or syringe. Feeds can be given with the help of a pump, which pumps a set amount of food into the stomach at a set rate, or a syringe which allows the food to flow in quickly using either gravity (plunger removed) or by depressing the plunger. The G-tube button itself needs to be changed every couple months. Because the site around the tube has healed up (sort of like when your ear heals after getting it pierced), the button can be changed at home, and it’s something I now do myself.

This is the G-tube button Fulton has. The ballon at the ends holds it in place and is inflated after insertion.
This is one type of extension. The L-shaped port connects to the button, and food or medicine can be given at the other end. (Shown smaller than actual size.)
This is the type of feeding pump we use.
This purple and white tips connects to the extension and the blue section of tube goes into the pump which regulates the rate of the feed.

Having a G-tube has been a life saver. I wish we would’ve gotten it sooner. It’s so much less stressful to have the tube in place and be able to make sure he’s properly nourished, vs constantly trying to get him to eat and drink enough by mouth. And for the times when he’s been sick (or especially during his back surgery recovery), it’s sometimes the only nourishment he gets. It’s comforting to know that even when he’s struggling in one sense, he’s not also hungry or thirsty; his body is getting the fuel it needs to get better. He has no fat reserves so anytime he goes without food, it can get serious pretty quick. The G-tube has prevented so many crisis. And of course even when he’s not sick, it keeps him happy and healthy and feeling better. It’s also great for giving medicine, since any liquid is shot into his stomach directly- no complaints about taste! Unlike the NG-tube, the G-tube doesn’t bother Fulton, although there have been a few times in the past when the skin around the button got red, sore, and/or itchy. He doesn’t like getting it changed, although it’s a painless procedure.

Some of the downsides include storing the supplies, making sure enough supplies arrive on time without insurance or vendor issues. The pump can sometimes jam causing it to alarm in the middle of the night, or in the van, or any number of inconvenient locations. Sometimes the extension, or part of the bag will come loose and water or formula will spill onto the floor, wheelchair or bed, sometimes for hours, before we catch the leak. It took us a little while to find the perfect formula and feeding schedule for Fulton. It can be frustrating if your child isn’t tolerating the formula you’re giving him, or if their feeding schedule leaves them with no appetite for meals. Right now we have a good balance. Fulton has a good appetite for three meals a day, and we give him several feeds that keep him hydrated and properly nourished. If he stops eating at meal times, or exhibits new symptoms (losing weight or not gaining, or dehydration) it’s time to reevaluate.

Because Fulton is physically disabled and in a wheelchair, people already stare at him and make assumptions about his quality of life. I’m not sure that having a feeding pump on his chair, or his need for tube feeds really adds any more pity to what some people feel towards him. Other kids will ask about it but our expeirence in this regard is different vs kids and adults with no other visible disablity who require tube feeding, and maybe don’t eat by mouth. I think there can be more challenges with fitting into a typical classroom and managing peer interactions but we don’t have experience in this regard (maybe readers who fit in this category can share in the comments below).

In a short time I went from viewing feeding tubes as a last ditch effort to save someone from the brink of death, to realizing they simply help people who can’t take in enough calories by mouth live a more typical life with less worry and stress. Some people outgrow their feeding tubes, and some require for life. It’s not the way most people eat, but it’s not a bad way to live. People like Fulton are living good lives with the help of a feeding tube, not in spite of it. Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Other parents are welcome to share their experiences in the comments below. Every family’s story is different

Okay, so that got really long! Sorry about all that awareness! If I didn’t answer your question, you can leave it below and I’ll update the post as necessary. You can also link up your shorter Quick Takes filled with less awareness below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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A Day in the Life: 2021 Edition

As promised, today’s post is a “day in the life”. Last time I did one was in March 2016!! At least, that’s the most recent I can find. It’s entirely possible I wrote another day in the life post more recently and simply lost it in my archives (now (840+ posts deep). Though, this is the last one I remember writing so maybe not, either way, it’s an interesting contrast to how things run around here now.

I tried to pick a “normal” day, but we had a slew of dentist appointments, and bad weather and then it occurred to me how few “normal” days we actually have. Probably between March and June of 2020 we had less interruptions than usual, but even now, there’s nary a week that doesn’t have some interruption in the way of appointments, family visits, holidays, or repair visits (home or wheelchair). So my selected day wound up being a snow day which threw off my usual schedule. But, I think you’ll still get the idea and I’ll have a fun blog post to read in another five years.

So without further ado, here’s a day in the life of the Mantoans: Tony 42, working from home; Addie 18, college freshman (online classes); Byron 17, high school junior; Edith 15, high school freshman; Fulton 12, 7th grade; Teddy 10, 4th grade; and me, Kelly who’s aged 2,492 years since March 2020.

At some point before my alarm goes off, Fulton’s nurse texts me to say she will be late due to the snow. I turn off my 6:15 a.m. alarm because now I don’t need to be up by 7 a.m., which is her usual arrival time. (I have already been up about three times since the day started at midnight to roll and reposition Futon and Teddy in their beds.)

I finally get up at 7:20 a.m. and I start brewing my cup of coffee (decaf) and sit on the couch next to the dog and start my rosary. I get one decade in and Fulton and Teddy decide they want to get up. Tony and I sit them up in bed with books. I finish my rosary with my coffee and then scroll Instagram and read my blogroll on Feedly.

Fulton got me this mug for Christmas several years ago. I use it every year from Dec. 25 until Feb. 2.

The nurse texts at 8:02 a.m. that she’s on her way, but going slow. I head outside to shovel our steps and walkway, and Tony joins me to clear out part of the driveway after we decide it’d be better for her to park in the driveway vs the street. Byron is awake inside and keeps an eye on Fulton and Teddy who are still happily reading in bed. (I consider shoveling to be my workout for the day. If people can die of a heart attack while doing it, it’s a workout.)

I head inside and start Teddy’s morning routine. Tony helps with transfers to and from the toilet, and I use our Hoyer lift to put Teddy in his wheelchair once he’s dressed. Tony and I put Fulton on the toilet and Fulton’s nurse arrives around 9 a.m. Tony goes into his basement office to work. (He’s been upstairs working at the dining table up to this point.)

Now I remember that I promised to make chocolate baked oatmeal because it’s Candlemas. (Not that there’s liturgical significance to oatmeal and Candlemas, it’s just something I don’t make often so it makes the day a bit more special than usual.) I start throwing ingrediants together, and put it in the oven and set the timer for 20 min. I jump in the shower with the goal to be out in time to check the oatmeal.

Success! The oatmeal just needs a few more minutes in the oven but by 10 a.m. Fulton and Teddy are eating breakfast. Byron and Edie have some as well. Sure, this is normally when we start our English lessons, but it’s Candlemas so I try not to stress about being two hours behind our school schedule. I decide we’ll skip ‘morning meeting’ this morning and instead I just read our current Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, aloud during breakfast. Thankfully, everyone eats like savages and we get started with school at 10:20 a.m. (I checked my watch twice to be sure.)

Teddy reads from Minn of the Mississippi, answers questions in his workbook and does a page in his spelling book. I sit with Fulton and assist him with his reader, and then he types up a copywork sentence, making corrections for capitilization and punctuation, on his tablet. While they’re both working independently, I move around laundry in the basement and take meat out of the basement freezer for dinner.

Just after 11 a.m. the boys and I head back to their bedroom. Both boys are transfered to their beds, and Fulton receives stretches from his nurse and I stretch Teddy. They listen to several chapters of Pinnochio on Libra Vox while being stretched. Once stretches are done, they continue to listen to the story and I sit across the hall on my bed and scroll on my phone for ten minutes.

By 12 p.m. both boys are transferred back into their chairs and I begin making lunch. Byron has already made himself a huge grilled sandwhich and I convince Fulton to have one as well. Teddy eats leftover homemade, turkey soup. I make myself a quesadilla. Edie and Tony move in and out of the kitchen making their own food during this time as well. Once we’re done eating, I move around some more laundry, turn on the dishwasher, and correct some of Edie’s school work. I’m SUPER behind in correcting her work. I’ve got weeks of questions, essays, and workbooks to catch up on. At some point before now, Addie has woken up, wished me a good morning and gone into the basement to work. She might also be getting dressed. I can’t be sure. With the schoolroom in the basement, and my own to do list, I never quite know who’s doing what anymore unless they find me to tell me, or ask me something.

Fulton, Teddy and I start math at 1:18 p.m. Teddy works on a double sided workbook page. I’ve taken a photo of Fulton’s workbook pages with his tablet, and he’s uses an app, SnapType, to complete them. I set a timer for 15 minutes to remind myself to keep checking him to make sure he’s making progress and not spending too much time on any one problem. After allowing him to work alone for a bit, I help him complete the pages.

The boys take a short break once math is done and then we move into ‘specials’ time. Today should be art, which is normallly a project tied to history, but we’ve got some mapwork to catch up on, and they both really want to go out into the snow with Edie so we only do the maps and then Fulton’s nurse and I get them ready to go outside. Edie’s plan is to dig a path through the yard, and build a snow fort they can all play in. I’m very skeptical and I suggest they stay at the back of the driveway in the garage. Honestly, I feel a bit sad because Fulton and Teddy are at the perfect age for building forts and snowball battles, and they desperately want to play in the snow, but it’s just not possible. I offer to bring in baking pans filled with snow for them to play in, but they’re not intersted. It makes sense; they’re older and the allure of playing with action figures in the snow is losing its appeal. They head out and Edie starts shoveling. It’s a heavy wet snow and I don’t see how a path in the yard is going to work, or even get finished in a reasonable amount of time, but by 2:35 p.m. I go inside and continue to correct work, leaving the kids, and the nurse, to enjoy the outdoors. (I may also watch some YouTube videos of SNL and Parks and Rec.)

This sounds like a GREAT idea. What could go wrong???

Around 3 or so, (I forgot to check my watch), Edie comes in to tell me Teddy is stuck in the yard in the snow because he couldn’t wait for her to finish the path, and the snow didn’t look that deep so he just drove in and got his chair stuck. I am not happy. I go out and try to push his chair out of the snowy rut his spinning wheels created with no luck. It didn’t help that his batteries are dying and his chair would keep shutting off while I was trying to push all 500 lbs of it out of the snow. I go back inside, grab my coat and gloves, and head back out, being sure to find the hand spade I usually only need for planting. I proceed to chip away at the snow now packed under his chair, and dig out the large piles trapped behind his small wheels. With more pushing, digging, and mild cursing his chair is free and I send him inside and tell him to park his chair in the kitchen where the wheels can drip dry on the old vinyl floor vs our new floors in the dining room. (This whole episode counts as my second workout of the day.)

I do some more laundry before transferring Fulton to his bed, and getting he and Teddy their tablets and headphones for computer time at 4 p.m. Usually I start dinner prep right at 4, but the label on the lamb leads me to believe it won’t take that long to cook, and I’m reheating leftover oven roasted brussel sprouts and potatoes to go with it, so I get back to correcting work until after 4:30. Plus, Tony is making a few crepes to have as dessert so I let him have the kitchen.

Computer time is supposed to be an hour, but I let them stay on until 5:15 p.m. I call for the older kids to set the table. By the time everything is ready (delayed mostly due to my efforts to whip up a gravy from the drippings), and we sit down to eat, its about an hour later. We eat, clear dinner from the table, enjoy crepes and Tony and I still manage to step out for a quick walk around the block before we pull up a live -streamed Mass from our parish at 7:30 p.m.

Tony had hoped to attend and get blessed candles, but even though the roads seemed fine during the day, the temperatures were dropping and I was concerned about the conditions of the roads coming home. (Fulton’s nurse had left early for this very reason.) So we watched Mass as a family from our couches.

Afterwards Tony and I put the boys to bed. He focused on Teddy, I on Fulton. Lights were out by 9:13 p.m., but by 9:30 we’d already both gone back once to roll them each over. I still only roll them each once as they try to fall asleep, so with my work done, I crawl into bed and read (and maybe watch a few more YouTube clips). I believe I turned off my light just after 10 p.m.

If you made it this far- congrats! That’s sort of what my life looks like these days. If you’re so inclined, link up your own day in the life post below, or any other Takes you may prefer. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find this fascinating look into my day, as well as the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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2020-21 Mid-Year Homeschool Review

So I guess last weeks Takes just aren’t happening. Might as well get to this weeks latest, which is a mid-year school progress report! WOOT! (Oh, and of course- AFFILIATE LINKS!)

I can’t believe we’ve made it halfway through our year. Knowing we’re on the downward slope will make it easier as we meander through a slow, cold, home-bound February- my favorite month of the homeschool year!

Overall, things are going well. The hardest thing right now is that the cold weather means we can’t be outside, and other activities are limited (mostly for the younger three). I might be going a bit stir crazy personally, but no one else in the house seems to be complaining.

Family Subjects

We’ve made good progress through all our morning meeting subjects (Prayers, Latin, Shakespeare, Art Appreciation, Music Theory and Appreciation, French, Religion). I’ve started using these art cards for art appreciation (vs simply pulling the paintings up online), and I’m using Curwin Music to help with music theory. We’re currently reading Twelfth Night for Shakespeare and we’ve read/ watched Midsummer Night’s Dream, Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, and King Lear.

Byron, 11th Grade

Byron did well with his fall classes. I had him all signed up for three spring courses when I realized that the college was back to offering some in-person classes and of course I’d signed him up for three in person courses. Addie chose all online options, meaning that Byron would need a lift to the college (which is 30 min. away). Given the times of his classes, my homeschooling schedule, Tony’s work schedule, and Addie’s class schedule, there was no way we were getting him there so, he dropped two classes, and transferred another to an online section. There were no more online sections of the writing courses he needed to take, so I enrolled him in Time4Learning and Time4Writing for his junior year English needs. Thankfully, he can start midyear with these programs and a teacher will correct all his writing. We used Time4Writing YEARS ago and it worked well, so thankfully I didn’t need to start from scratch to locate a complete 11th grade English program. French is still going well (he’s got a great Duo streak going, as well as enjoying the Duo French podcast episodes) but I admittedly need to get better with checking work with him. My initial goal was to get together twice a week and review assignments, but it’s usually become once a week or once every other week. The high school level religion class at our parish has not restarted, but thankfully Byron has been able to keep working at McDonald’s, run his scout patrol, and attend classes at a local MMA gym.

Edie, 9th grade

Edie’s classes are all going well and despite some technical glitches with Teaching Textbooks (they’ve been updating their courses now that Flash is no longer supported on most browsers), I’m pleased with how she’s doing. The hardest thing is making sure I have all her assignments uploaded in her Google classes, and that I’m promptly correcting work. In August, I uploaded tons of assignments, quizzes, etc. but once we worked through the first quarter, I didn’t have a large chunk of time to upload lots of assignments all at once again and it became something I was rushing to do every Sunday night (or Monday morning). I got lots of her classes updated over Christmas break, the trick will be to not get behind again. Ideally, all the work I’m putting into these classes will be useful when Teddy is in high school and can retake the same courses. All I’ll need to do is update due dates and correct his work. (For more info on the benefits to using Google Classroom as a homeschooler, check out my e-book.) Edie continues to fence (with Addie) via online classes.

Fulton, 7th grade

We used Reading Horizons until the second quarter when Fulton became pretty frustrated due to technical issues, as well as his desire to review concepts offline. Right now he’s happier, and making progress, without Reading Horizons, but I’m open to restarting it again in the spring. (I still think it’s a great program and highly recommend it for struggling readers, especially older students.) He’s started doing copywork that reviews reading concepts and simple sentence structure based on Writing With Ease, and using the Notebook app on his tablet. He also uses the app to record, or dictate his own stories. We started taking pictures of his math workbook pages so he could work on them independently for 15-20 min. at a time using the SnapType Pro app. I’m happy with how Fulton is doing, and so far I feel like homeschooling him this year has been a good choice.

Teddy, 4th grade

We went with mostly Catholic Heritage Curriculum for Teddy and it’s working out fine. He’s not a fan of some of the literature selections, and I don’t think I’ll use the program in fifth grade, but it’s fine and getting the job done. One of my favorite online sites, SpellingCity.com merged with another learning website and I’m not impressed. Teddy does his spelling tests on their app, but we don’t use any of the other games or activities. Once my paid access on this site runs out, I think I will need to find a new spelling site (if one exists). He continues to do plenty of reading on his own, he still has an interest in chess that he pursues on ChessKids.com, and he and Fulton have followed football with a fiery passion this year (for competing teams which makes things extra fun!). And whenever I get frustrated I just remind myself: It’s fourth grade! It’s no big deal! He’s already mastered long division and he’s working with fractions like a pro; my work is done.

Fulton and Teddy – Specials

We covered the human body in science and made a pretty cool lapbook in the process. We also did get some nature study in by studying birds in our backyard, and through a couple hikes. Nothing too amazing, but it was something and a good excuse to get outside together. For science right now we’re doing Marine Biology from the The Good and the Beautiful. It’s a free unit on their site, but I wound up purchasing a printed copy. Nature study will tie into science since it’s too cold to go out, but we can at least study shells indoors, and maybe on a not freezing day we’ll have an excuse to visit Ocean City.

History is going well, and our timeline is slowly creeping around the dining room walls. We’ve made lots of fun history-based arts and crafts, and even managed to keep up with map work. We also got Disney + and the access to all the National Geographic specials has been a great way to supplement whatever topic we’re covering.

We’ve also managed to keep up with daily stretches and at their last clinic appointment, both boys had good ranges of motion so yay for persistence! Some of the audio books we’ve listened to during stretches were The Illiad for Boys and Girls, The Odyssey for Boys and Girls, The Cat of Bubastes, The Book of Dragons, and we’re currently listening to Pinocchio (all are free on LibriVox). Both boys CCD teachers have been sending work via email for us to complete.

I’ll admit to missing the free time I had during the day when both boys were in school. I felt it most acutely in the few weeks before Christmas, and recently I’ve found myself daydreaming about those few quiet hours between bus pick up and drop off. I miss them, I really do. On the days when it feels like I’ve done nothing but sit and help the boys with school while my personal hygiene and the housework falls by the wayside, I try to remember to be grateful for this opportunity to stay home and educate my kids, and forgive myself for not being as productive as I once was. And while there are challenging days, I still feel like this is the best path for us right now, and frankly, except for a few tweaks here and there, all my planning this summer really paid off. The only area that needs work is making sure I check Edie and Byron’s work more frequently (and that’s always been my Achilles heel).

So that’s an update on schooling here. I hope everyone else’s home education is going as tolerably well as mine. Next week I thought I would do a day in the life post for posterity’s sake. If you need some blogging inspiration, I invite you to do a day in the life post as well and link it up next Friday. Today, you can just link up your regular ol’ Takes below. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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