Changing the game time rules. Last week I got tired of the amount of time the boys were spending playing video games and/or thinking about them. Their father designs computer games for a living so it is a fine balance but I felt they were dropping off the far end of the Golden Mean. Paddy in particular was getting more emotional and less wise in his behavior (read: making more impulse decisions) So I am making it a twice a week thing instead of daily.
This made a big difference. Paddy has tripled his activity level. He's always making up some game or other. Right now he's bouncing a ping pong ball off the wall over and over again. I think it makes a difference in how I function as a Mom, too. So I'm motivated to keep up the limits. It will be easier when we can go outside but we still have 10 feet of snow in front of our door!
I am still keeping up my focus on teaching the kids skills as I move through the day. The habit I'm trying to acquire is noticing whenever they ask me to do something, and then making sure I show them the skill (if not then, then later). Aidan was a real help today in my morning routine -- he helped me bake and get a fire started.
Paddy has started piano lessons -- we found a teacher who has moved up to our area, which is very fortunate. So far he is moderately having fun. The teacher is very firm about daily practice and hands out sheets where you sign with your initials for each day of practice. Paddy has a habit of making a game of everything and he likes the imaginative aspect of making sound on the keyboard. The teacher also emphasizes composing which will be good since Liam (our oldest) likes to compose music and Paddy will have fun competing with him, I'm sure.
Aidan learned to read! He has been on the border for about 8 years. He knew all his sounds, then got stuck on blending. He got past that by reading words enough times to memorize them, but though he could do it, it was just mechanical. Yesterday he asked me if he could read my Kindle. I had the New National First Reader on it, and he started reading from Page 1 and got through about 20 Lessons before he got stuck (I helped a little). He was so delighted to read things like "The cat is in the nest." He thought it was hilarious. WHY was the cat in the nest? It seems to me that this is a milestone. He read a brand new sentence and understood it, and got the incongruity of it too. I can't wait to see what comes of this.
I continue to work with Aidan and Paddy on First Communion which is going to be sometime in May (we don't know when yet because it depends on when Father S can come up to our station church). Last week I read My Jesus and I to each of them separately It's a sweet, simple book that is solid on early catechesis. All of my kids have really pored over the pictures. Often they don't like Official Catholic Illustrations but these pass their sugar-shock test. I think because there are pictures of devils among all the angels and flowers. This "rings" with my boys. Paddy sighed enviously at the picture of St Michael the Archangel with his sword, fighting the devil! Aidan's middle name is Michael while Paddy's is Gabriel, and though I try to convince Paddy that Gabriel is a great patron too, he would dearly like him to be just a bit more warlike.
I'm also trying to teach them how the Mass goes. Of course, they go with us to Mass every week, but judging from my own experience that probably isn't enough to give them a sense of the meaning and structure. I have a little book called My See and Pray Missal and it shows pictures of the different parts of the Mass (Tridentine, which they only attend rarely, but the Novus Ordo which they attend weekly is similar enough at this basic level ).
We're finally getting some spring-like weather. The glaciers in our yard look like they are there to stay but when you go outside it feels comparatively warm and the sun is bright. And it's almost Easter!