Saturday, January 31, 2009

They Raided the Art Supplies

I am a big believer in the importance of filling your home with lots of art supplies. I think this is extra important in a home school environment because your kids won't get the chance to play with different art supplies at school. I keep a decent stash of art supplies in our upstairs school area. This can be good and bad. Today I have discovered a downside to this arrangement. The children have raided the supplies and I am out of the materials I needed for a project this week. Aack!
I've been searching for a project to celebrate St. Brigid's Day or Candlemas and I finally settled on making a St. Brigid's Cross. Yes, I know the feast day is tomorrow. I work best under pressure it seems. So I go to fetch the pipe cleaners. They are all gone. In my search I discovered that the kids seem to love pipe cleaners, yarn, oil pastels, paints of all types, glue (I have some kids who think simply adding a generous amount of glue to any object turns it into an art project), scissors (but hey, what kid does not), construction paper, origami paper and tissue paper. They also had a short lived love affair with glitter that ended the day the dumped every single container of glitter and liberal amounts of glue all over the playroom. Seems the colored noodles, foam shapes, pom poms, feathers and assorted sticky eye balls are not such a hit.

My options now are to go digging in the overflow cabinets in the basement and hope that I have a stash of pipe cleaners hidden down there or make a quick run into town tomorrow in search of some. If I do that, I'll likely pick up the supplies to make candles since you are supposed to make candles on Candlemas and have them blessed. Lighting the blessed candles during storms and times of danger will provide protection (obviously only when done in a pious manner, not a superstitious one). I love the smell of real beeswax candles so I must admit that option is starting to sound very appealing.

Current Baptism Schedule

As of now, the baptism for the new baby is scheduled on June 20 at 10:00 am. This is, of course, assuming that there are no serious issues or schedule changes in the next few months. So if you plan on be around, let us know.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gabe and the Stairs

Last night Alan decided to see if Gabe could go down the stairs on his own. This has been an ongoing concern of ours since the older children often forget to lock the gate properly. So after his bath, Alan tells Gabe to go downstairs. Well, the kid crawled down the stairs giggling the entire way. They went back up, and down, and up and down. I think he's figured it out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Question of the Day

So the question of the day is why do toddlers find it fun to take their diapers off during naptime? And then to poop in their crib? Seriously, what person would find such activities fun?

I Love This Song, Just Had to Share

The kids are outside and I should be doing something productive. But the wash is already going, dishwasher is running, floors have been swept and I made bread yesterday. Besides, it is much more fun to waste a bit of time on YouTube. Very addicting, I must say. Just wanted to share a little something with you.


You can't quite tell from this picture because I was not in the mood to step outside to get a better shot but the snow right off the porch is up to Liam's hips. Every child over the age of two has been sent outside for mandatory fun time. One child was heard saying that he did not need to go outside because he did not have any energy to burn off. Perhaps but he did have an attitude to burn off so out he went. The kids are enjoying their snowshoes and skis and tromping in the snow and I am enjoying a wee bit of calm in the house. Seriously, I am so amazed at how quiet it is with only 2 kids in the house.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Molasses-on-Snow Candy

Today it is snowing. Started sometime last night and still has not let up. So what do you do on a day with freshly fallen snow? You make molasses-on-snow-candy. This is our current favorite recipe from the Little House Cookbook. It is a variation of the maple-sugar-on-snow candy that was typically made to celebrate maple sugaring time.
From your kitchen you need brown sugar and dark molasses. 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 3/4 cup of molasses. This will make about 3/4 lb of candy so we doubled the recipe.
Bring it to a boil and cook until the syrup reaches the hard ball stage, at least 5 minutes.
From outside, you need enough snow to fill a few pans. I shouldn't have to say this but just in case, please be sure you use clean snow. This is why I like to make the candy on days when it is actually snowing. Don't fetch snow from places where the creatures may roam.
Simply pour the hot syrup over the cold snow. I really should have made sure we had 3 pans of snow so we could have made designs or something. Some of our candy stuck hard to the bottom of the pans since it melted all the snow so make sure you have tons of room.
Once the candy has hardened, take it out and break into manageable pieces.
Let the hungry kids have at it.
Obviously, they all approved.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

Today we celebrated Chinese New Year. The older 3 boys all worked on various books and print-outs from EnchantedLearning. Then we made Chinese lanterns.
I don't quite trust 2-year-olds with scissors so Abby got to color a picture of an ox instead of making a lantern. 2009 is the year of the ox.
We used our brand new chopsticks for the first time tonight. The kids watched the short how to use chopsticks video on the Kung Fu Panda movie right before dinner.
They all gave chopsticks a decent try. With varying results. Abby refused to use a fork even though she was having a bit of trouble with the chopsticks. Katie eventually succumbed to the fork after giving it a good try.
The older boys seemed to figure it out rather quickly.
And Gabe just enjoyed dinner in general.
As for the cake, well, I firmly believe you should never pass up a chance to make something special for your own family. Why save desserts just for when folks come over? Besides, I was craving chocolate. I made this super easy depression era cake. I've seen it called a Wacky Cake or a Chocolate Depression Era cake. Either way it goes together in 5 minutes, uses no eggs or milk, is super thrifty and super yummy.
And you must ignore the messy stove in the above picture. This is a working kitchen we are talking about so sometimes there are messes that did not get cleaned up right away. Such is life.

You Know You Have A Large Family When. . .

. . .you think it is perfectly normal and sensible to have 25 lbs of rice stored in your basement pantry. This is, of course, in addition to the 10 lbs of rice we keep in the kitchen pantry and a few large sized boxes of Minute rice we keep on hand for those nights when we need a quick meal.
As for why are they in juice bottles? Well, since we are looking at having them stored in the basement for a few months, this way we can be pretty well certain that they will remain bug proof.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Purple Popcorn

In November we went to a local pumpkin farm. We brought home plenty of pumpkin (I have bags and bags of pumpkin puree in the freezer) and several ears of locally grown popcorn. After letting it sit in a mesh bag and dry for a few weeks, we got the popcorn back out. At this point it was still on the cob. Bryan and Sean helped us get the kernels off the cobs. This task was not quite as easy as you would think. When all was said and done, Alan had a nice blood blister on his thumb. But we ended up with about 1 and a half pounds of very colorful popcorn. We have white, yellow and purple popcorn.
When you pop the popcorn, you can see different shades in the popped corn as well. They aren't as uniform in size and shape as commercially grown popcorn but it tastes just as delicious. I have a feeling we'll buy even more of it this year.


Alan finally gave in and admitted he was sick last night. So he stayed home with the younger kids this morning while the older ones went to Mass with me. While I was gone, Gabe got to play with Play-Doh for the first time ever. I normally only use homemade play-doh until they are over the eating it stage but we got the real stuff on sale super cheap a few weeks ago. Gabe sure looks like he had a great time and he only tasted a little of it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Views of Our Weekend So Far

Mr. Blockhead
Abby seems to have a thing for wearing her clothes backwards.
Just Mr. Gabe
He's driving a car. It's not a chair, it's a car.
Snuggling with Daddy.

Audio Breakfast with the Kids

Good morning,

Today the kids and their dad made breakfast for the family and thought they would share some of the madness that goes with that. So enjoy this special audio version of, breakfast with the kids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

National Pie Day

Today is National Pie Day. Can you guess what we will be having for dessert tonight? Everyone needs to quickly put a pie in the oven. I mean, you all have homemade pie filling in your freezer, right? You can't let an opportunity to have pie for dessert go by uncelebrated.
Yes, the apple pie filling is still a tad frozen in this picture since it had just come out of the freezer.
Alan has been yearning for strawberry rhubarb pie for quite some time so he threw this together when he got home. Yup, we have lots of rhubarb and strawberries in the freezer as well.

You'll have to deal with the pre-baked pictures because I'm pretty sure there will be nothing left over after they are baked.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank You Katie

She brings me a drink. I say thank you Katie, that is very helpful. She says yes it is. You have got to love the simple honesty of a four-year-old.

Why I am Grateful for Alan this Week

I think the van has gotten stuck in the driveway at least 4 times this week. Not a fun experience for anyone involved. It is a nasty combination of ice and snow and wind causing thick drifts. And he's managed to get it unstuck for us without me having to get out of the van. Yup, you've got to like that. I guess unless you are the one doing the shoveling and pushing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm Not Tired. . . .

. . .and I won't go to sleep.

One of Those Days. . .

You know those days where you just start thinking I wish I could go back to bed? Well, first off things would be much easier around here if Gabe would just sleep all night already. You can only take so much of the kicking and climbing and playing in your bed at 4 every morning before you go batty. Then most of us are either sick or getting over colds. Van had a, um, mostly flat tire but at least that was remedied on the way home from church. Getting into the driveway proved hazardous and we abandoned the van at the end of the driveway and walked to the house. While trying to back the van back out of the driveway to get gas for the snow blower, Alan managed to get the van very firmly stuck in a drift. This would be the second time this week. Last time it ended in me missing a midwife appointment. This time it ended up in one snapped tow cable, lots of frustration and eventually a free van. Alan returns with the gas and discovers that the snow blower is still refusing to work. Go figure. So the driveway must indeed be shoveled. Then the dog goes out. Runs off, gets hit by a car. Not a good ending to things. We've opted against digging a grave for the poor animal in the back because, well, the ground is frozen and to dig deep enough to keep the foxes and wolves from digging him back up would just not be fun. So later tonight Alan is going to take the dog to the vet so they can dispose of his remains. Sad thing is Alan was 100 yards away from the dog when he got hit, just couldn't catch him. And the car did not bother to stop. Not that it was anyone's fault, just one of those things. But you'd think if you hit something that big you would stop to see what it was and make sure it wasn't a child or something. Anyway, I think Alan in particular is ready for a drink and bed. It's just been one of those days.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good Job George W. Bush

Yet another reason to like George W. Bush. One of the last acts of his time in office was one that shows an unwavering support of all human life. He has declared January 18, 2009, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

New Diaper

Look what arrived in the mail today. A super cute, super tiny new diaper for the baby. I always seem to forget how small newborn diapers are until I pull them back out again. Ok, maybe this means I need a life. I am excited about new diapers. A thank you goes to Jenny for sending us our first new baby gift. We are blessed to have some friends who still get excited with us when we announce another blessing.

I'm still debating buying a BerryPlush diaper for the baby after another friend sent me two of them for Gabe that he son had outgrown. Wow, those are adorable and so soft.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cooking Oops

Guess what happens when you are making dinner and forget that you already doubled the recipe when you printed it out. So you go ahead and double everything in your head as you are cooking because that is what you always have to do. Hm, well, potato soup all weekend. At least it is something warm because it is cold and we have sick kids.

Please Help to Fight Foca

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm asking everyone to please contact their representatives, send emails, letters, do anything you can to fight the signing of FOCA. I have to say this "Freedom of Choice Act" scares me. If it does become law (and Obama has pledged to Planned Parenthood that it will be one of his first acts in office), many Catholic hospitals will shut down. They will be left with the option of providing abortion on demand which goes against their intrinsic beliefs or shutting their doors. Many have said they would rather close before killing babies. This is a very frightening prospect when so many people are already having trouble finding access to decent medical care. Think of the role Catholic hospitals have played in our medical community. If this act does become law, it will basically deny many folks the right to truly practice their religious beliefs. The doctors and hospitals who will be forced to provide abortions against their beliefs. The long term ramifications of such a law are very, very sad to consider. I am not naive. I understand that there is no real way to stop abortions in this country. But to force people who don't believe in them to provide them is wrong. To take away parental notification is wrong if for no other reason than because those poor girls will need emotional support afterwards. They will need adults in their life who know what happened so they don't spiral into a massive depression. Allowing abortion at anytime up to delivery is murder, plain and simple. If you can be charged for killing a baby in utero after they are considered "viable," then you should not be allowed to abort them. The lack of true information being given to abortion sufferers saddens me. The lack of compassion our society has for these ladies saddens me. Sure, some of them say they have no regret and are so happy to have gotten rid of their problem. But many if not most of them feel a true sense of regret, longing and depression. They need our support and prayers. They don't need us to pass a law that will basically say what they went through was no big deal. I'm sure I am rambling. I'm sure some of you are thinking just show me a picture of the kids. But I can't right now. When we visited the Planned Parenthood office this year to pray, I was shocked when I saw the anger of some of the "peaceful protesters" outside the office. Do you really think screaming at someone and telling them to repent, there is a priest here to hear your confession will work? Telling them they are wrong but offering them no help. Granted, there were many folks there who did nothing of the sort. One lady who had baby clothes to give away. And the simple prescence of so many children probably caused a few people to maybe stop and think. A few babies maybe helped, too. Off on another tangent here. Oops. Anyway, pray that our next president will change his mind. That he will instead focus on the economy or something else and let this act sit on the side and get buried and forgotten.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Snowman

I was looking out the kitchen window this afternoon and discovered this creation in the backyard.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Narnia Invasion

This adorable looking gang has been reeking havoc on our house for the past few weeks. I think we may soon be in need of an intervention.

Cute Pictures

This picture of Abby just makes me smile. This is how the kids are normally carried around by Mom and Dad in the winter until they are old enough to march through the snow and muck by themselves. Which is normally when they are about Abby's age since our kids seem to stay small for so long that we can't find real snow boots that fit them properly until they are 2. Today she decided this was the perfect way to carry her baby around.
Gabe woke up for one of his late night snuggle sessions and promptly fell asleep in my arms.

Baby Gate

Why is it that the only child who remembers to stop and take the time to close the gate properly is the one-year-old? I shouldn't complain because the time he takes to make sure he has the gate shut properly is enough time to hear him mess with it and go get him off the stairs. But if the older children would be as careful about closing the gate as he is, well, I wouldn't have to worry about getting him off the stairs. At least someone is listening to me when I say "Make sure that gate is closed" 30 times a day. The little dude can go down stairs safely if they are wider than ours. The stairs in our home are just a bit narrow for him to manage yet. Hopefully he will figure it out soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Few Extra Pennies

I'm sure most of you are watching your budget just a tad closer lately. Yes, we are all happy that gas prices have gone down lately but the darn grocery costs seem to still be rising or staying higher than we would like. I find myself spending more time searching for coupons on-line and trying to find the best deal on getting the Sunday paper delivered so we can get more. I do have one person who gives me their coupons since they don't use them which is very wonderful. If anyone else wants to send some along, we won't turn them away. We have one local grocery store that doubles coupons so if I plan things properly, they can help cut costs quite a bit.

But what else can you do from home to earn a few extra bucks when you are not interested in getting a job out of the home? Let's face it, family time is at a premium for many folks. We've decided that having Alan working 2 jobs is enough and I don't need to be doing anything that takes me out of the house. The laws in NY state make it very hard for me to do daycare from home and the headaches associated with that are not always fun. No, I'm not someone who is ok with working under the table doing daycare for a friend even though I know many folks do it. It just does not sit right with me. So beyond watching what we spend, I've found two painless ways to bring in a few extra bucks. Thought I would share them with you in case they'd help you.

Both Alan and I have been doing MyPoints for a few years now. This program basically rewards you for reading emails. You can also earn points for shopping at certain stores or doing surveys. We both normally stick to the email reading so we earn the points slowly but a few times a year we are able to redeem them for gift certificates that we can use towards our grocery shopping. I just recently started using another program called Swagbucks. With this program, you can earn points by using their search engine for your on-line searches. You can also earn points by shopping at their on-line retailers and a few other ways. I'm currently sticking with simple and using the search engine. Eventually the accrued points will be able to be redeemed for gift certificates. I figure if I can bring in a little extra money buy spending a few extra minutes here and there, it's worth it. Let me know if either of these helps you out at all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Must Read Article

I saw an interesting article today regarding the man who helped to develop the birth control pill. Amazing to me how so many years later, the folks involved in these sorts of cases regret their involvement. It reminds me of the lady involved in the Roe V Wade case who is now working tirelessly for the prolife movement. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read this article. Pill Inventor Slams Pill

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our Famous Sean

Sean made it into the newspaper, and we thought we would share. Enjoy!

New Baby Ramblings

It is time to start asking the question of what do we need to do to make sure we are ready for the next baby. Ok, it's a bit early. But we waited with the last baby and the little guy decided to surprise us all by coming early so I'm trying to avoid that this time. We've already done the great car seat swap and moved Gabe into a new seat so the infant seat is ready. I guess in a few more weeks I'll have to check on the clothes situation. But we don't do ultrasounds without a medical reason so we won't know if this one is a boy or a girl so there is no point in buying any clothes that we may need. I guess the only question left to answer is will we be buying a new diaper or two for the little dude. I tend to think that every new baby deserves to have at least one diaper that no one else wore. Gabe didn't get any new ones until he was about 6 months and I finally sat down and sewed up a new stash of mediums for him. I'm hoping to not wait so long for this one. So do we get a cute, slightly overpriced newborn diaper or buy something to grow into? Or do I take the cheap route and just make a few. Guess my motivation level over the next few weeks will answer that one. For now I should just enjoy the fact that the babe is still safely inside where I don't have any extra work to do to take care of it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

NFP Classes

We taught round two of our NFP classes tonight. I have to say I am starting to enjoy these classes quite a bit lately. We are starting to see a stream of young couples who are eager to learn the truth behind the teachings of the Church when it comes to family planning. So many couples coming in because they don't want to swallow the lies of "contraception is ok and doesn't hurt anyone." Which means folks are doing research on their own and hearing from their priests that it is not ok to use contraception or get sterilized. I'm also rather excited about the number of folks who come to the class not because they are Catholic but because they have learned how dangerous contraception is and what they have been doing to their bodies. Folks who no longer want to risk blood clots (always said to be of unknown origin but there is almost no other reason for young, vibrant, healthy young ladies to develop blood clots), strokes, cardiac issues, long term damage to their fertility. Not to mention the frequently complained about side affects of weight gain, moodiness, depression. We are seeing folks who want to reclaim their bodies and take full control of their lives. It makes me realize that it is worth putting up with the hardship that sometimes comes from teaching. It is worth giving up a night of family time. It is worth the spiritual warfare you experience as you get further into teaching NFP. And if we can help save one woman from developing long-term health issues from the use of hormonal contraception, it is more than worth it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Celebrating Epiphany

So why do we bother to celebrate the liturgical year with the kids? There are so many reasons that it is hard to narrow it down to just one. But seriously, how could you turn down a chance to celebrate something with a cake or cookies or a special meal? Religion should be much more than going to church once a week and saying prayers before meals. Religion should be fun. When it is fun, it is more likely to lead to a lifelong love of the faith and a real relationship with God and the Saints. After all, who could not be drawn to people who give us a reason to have cake.Today we are celebrating the Epiphany. Yes, the traditional feast day is celebrated on January 6th and in the Eastern Churches, that day holds as the big day with much celebration. In the Western Church, the feast day is moved to Sunday so we celebrate today.
The wise men have finished their journey and arrived to pay homage to their King.
I debating making a real King cake but decided that baking trinkets and such into the cake would not be a good idea with so many little ones that would have to be watched. So we settled instead on a regular cake.
Crowns all around. Perhaps next year we will fit in the traditional house blessing and procession but I think we covered enough for this year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fixing the Wall

Gabe has figured out how to knock over the pressure gate and climb the stairs so Alan decided that the time had come to fix the wall so we could hang the swing gate back up.These projects are perfect learning opportunities for the kids. Yup, it's much easier to do on your own without kids slowing you down and getting in the way. But the positives of allowing the boys to do real work and spend time with Dad and learn some valuable life skills greatly outweigh the speed issue.
Everyone got a turn to use the saw.
And now we simply wait for the mud to dry so we can sand and hang the gate back up. One of these days we'll start working on painting. Hopefully one day soon.

Car Seat Poncho

The creative urge struck today and collided with the need to keep the kids warm yet safe in the car. We all know that winter jackets, snowsuits, and most car seat cover devices ( the bundle me covers and the like) are a big no-no in car seats. If you are in a collision, the fabric can compress leaving a huge gap between your child and the straps on the seat resulting in a child falling out of a car seat. The low tech solution is to simply cover your child with a blanket once you have them safely buckled in. The high tech solution is a car seat poncho. With a poncho, there is nothing between your child and the buckles, nothing between your child and the back of the car seat. You simply place the back of the poncho over the top of the car seat as you place the child in and put the straps on under the top of the poncho. Once the child is buckled in, you can cover them back up with the front of the poncho and keep them warm. No taking coats on and off every time you get in and out of the car.I made ponchos today for Gabe and Abby. A big plus is I found most of the material in the remnant bin at the fabric store and they were an additional 70% off so under $2 per yard of fleece is a very good deal. I made these ponchos double layer because things get a tad cold around here in the winter. And this way they can stay warm from the car to the buildings and we can simply leave their coats at home for playing in the snow. I'd hoped to make them a tad longer but was working off directions for an infant poncho and forgot to get a bit of extra fleece to compensate for the taller child.
By the time I'd finished Abby's up, I'd figured out how to do the hood properly so her poncho looks much better than Gabe's. That's the price you pay for Mom made, working on the fly handiwork. But they are cute and the kids are happy.

On a side note, if you are one of those parents who are buckling your kid into the car seat with a heavy coat on or a snowsuit or a bundle-me because you want them to stay warm, please do a bit more reading on the safety of such usage. Keeping them safe is much more important than the time saved by not taking the coats on and off all the time.

Borax Snowflakes

Last night Alan helped the older kids make borax snowflakes. Because we don't have enough snow outside yet, we want it in the house as well. The directions are super simple if you feel the urge to try it with your kids. You can find them here. All you need is borax, boiling water, a wide-mouthed jar, a pencil, string and a pipe cleaner. This experiment gives you wonder looking crystals.
The work in progress.
Now they have to sit undisturbed overnight.
The finished product.
Learn from us if you decide to try this. Make sure you really are using wide-mouthed jars or that you make small pipe cleaner snowflake shapes for the crystals to attach themselves to. We are having trouble getting the snowflakes out of the jars because they are a tad bigger than the openings.