Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just Have to Say. . .

. . .that the house is rather quiet with only 3 kids at home. Amazing the difference your perspective makes on that one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

We decided to try something new with the kids this year. We will be working on Lenten Lapbooks with the older 3 boys. I suppose I could work on them with Katie and Liam as well but I have a feeling that I would end up doing all of the work myself so I think we will wait at least another year on that one.
So far we only have the covers done. Bryan and Sean will be working exclusively from the materials provided by Lapbooks for Catholics while Kieran will be using materials from Lapbook Lessons as well. All of the boys are very excited about this project so I'm sure there will be lots more pictures in the future.

Of course, everyone colored the print-outs from the Catholic Mom website and we are working on the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure. While I was browsing the Catholic Mom website, I also found several Lenten file folder games for the kids to play. I think it is rather important that we attempt to emphasize the purpose behind Lent and help the kids understand that it is much more than just meatless Fridays, Ash Wednesday and Easter morning. There is a reason for the penitential season and it should not be glossed over with all the emphasis placed on the silly Easter Bunny.

Gabe Says. . .

. . .that these high heels are just so darn hard to walk in. Actually, the kid was doing a wonderful job until Dad pulled the camera out. Then for some reason, he fell apart. Must have been the pressure of performing for the camera.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pancake Tuesday

We celebrated Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday or Mardi Gras (pick your favorite name) tonight with pancakes for dinner. Of course, they could not just be plain pancakes. We had to have whipped cream and strawberries to top them.
Alan decided it was time to corrupt the youngest child and teach him the best part of certain treats.
Gabe obviously approves. Seriously, the kid was giggling his head off at dinner.

Congrats Kieran

I just wanted to let everyone know that Kieran officially broke 100 bowling this afternoon. His final score was 102. You've got to love those bumpers.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure

The kids enjoyed the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure so I wanted to remind everyone to sign up for the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure. They will send you activities for your children every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during Lent. This family run business also sells lots of coloring books and audio cd's to help your children learn more about their faith. You can also buy their bulk lots of books for your homeschooling group, parish or friends. The Lenten Adventure is offered totally free. Take a look, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lapbooks

If you have never done Lapbooks with your kids before, you have to try them. I love the chance to have the kids show what they learned in a new way. And if you are trying to find activities for your kids to use during Lent, you must try the Lent Faith Folder from Lapbooks for Catholics. Could I put all of this information together on my own? Sure. Do I want to put that much time into it when I can get something already organized for such a low price? No way. I will warn you to make sure you have enough ink in the printer when you sit down to print. The lapbook kit comes with 114 pages of different options. I am trying to print things out for two kids and will have to send Alan to the store tomorrow for more ink. I can see a new category added to our homeschool budget next year: printer ink.

Mad Scientist in Training

Bryan loves science experiments. I don't like having to run all over the place finding everything to do them. So we got a small science kit for him for Christmas this year and problem solved. Everything he needs is in the box, including neat-o plastic gloves to keep him from turning his hands colors.
It looks as if he will soon be running out of supplies for this set so we will once again be on the look-out for another kit for him. As long as you work during naptime (small children are otherwise occupied) and make sure the table is covered, everyone is happy with the results of these kits.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Educator Discount

Did you know that Joann Fabrics offers an educator discount to school teachers and homeschool parents? It is a flat 15% discount on sale and regular prices. I'm not sure if you can use it in addition to coupons but I know I always forget to track down the coupons for Joann's when I go anyway. You do have to renew your discount card at the start of every school year but the process is very simple. If you qualify, check it out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Older Kid Art Time

I found a simple art project in the dollar bins at Target and picked up a few for the older kids. Something they can do without the little ones hanging around at the same time. Granted, these were not fancy projects at all. Little ceramic animals that they were able to paint but I think they like the fact that it's not something the younger ones get to do as well.
Bryan decided to experiment with mixing the paint colors so he could use more than just red, yellow and blue.
Kieran went for every color of the rainbow on his animal.
I think I will have to remind myself to pick up a few more projects like this just for the older ones. I'm not someone who is afraid to let the kids make a mess or worries about what will happen when you get the finger paints out even with small toddlers. But it is still nice to be able to do some projects without so many helping hands.

Do You Sit on the Fence?

I've been thinking lately about Pelosi and her talk with the Pope. It causes me to ask one simple question. If you refuse to follow the teachings or rules of any organized group, why insist on claiming membership in said group? If you refuse to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church with regard to abortion or birth control or marriage, quit calling yourself Catholic. I don't see why this is such a hard thing to do. No one is forcing you to believe in anything. They are just saying quit making a mockery of my Church by behaving in such a manner. If you don't agree with the beliefs of any group, it's time to cancel your membership and join a group that is in line with your beliefs. As a Catholic, it is truly painful for me to see friends and family members who don't follow the teachings of the Church continue to receive Communion every week knowing that they are putting their immortal souls at risk by such actions. The Church teaches what it teaches. If you don't agree with it, sit down and stop making a mockery of the Church. Do more reading and ask more questions. If you find in the end that you still can't agree with the teachings of the Church, it is time to find another church. I don't see why this is such a hard thing for folks to do. Own up to what you claim to believe and show some real conviction folks. Quit arguing and making a stink. The Truth does not change and won't change no matter how many self-serving politicians stand up and yell that it should. Quit leading other folks astray by your actions. I think it is time people were adult enough to admit that either they need to get to confession and get things right with God, or they don't hold to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

Dentist Field Trip

We took a trip to the dentist today for a field trip. The kids got to ask all of their questions, see x-rays and play with all the equipment. Even better, they all got new toothbrushes. Even Gabe. The little dude is very proud of his new toothbrush and has been walking around all afternoon brushing his teeth.

In an effort to spend a little time on dental health month (and keep the state of NY happy), the children have also worked on worksheets from Enchanted Learning and the younger crowd has been coloring print outs from DLTK-Kids. Next week sometime I will pull out the DVD we got from Colgate. I think this means we can safely check off that we have covered dental health this year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Dad Comes Home Sick. . .

. . .this is what he decides to do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day Activities

We decided to take the day off school like most other folks around us. I had way too much work to catch up since we've all been sick for so darn long. But we did spend a little time learning about President's Day.
The older two boys worked on their President's Day worksheets from Enchanted Learning late last week. Today Kieran made a President's Day Word Book using worksheets from the same place.
After naptime, everyone made a log-cabin like the one Lincoln lived in. Ok, they were not all exactly like that but everyone had fun and got a chance to use liberal amounts of glue. Have I ever mentioned how much glue we tend to use in this house?
Katie is almost done.
Liam decided to do things his own way and quickly ran out of extra craft sticks.
Kieran discovered that when you don't close the glue properly, it is rather hard to use it next time.
Bryan was providing supervision and instruction for the activity today.
For some reason Sean looks rather bored today.
One of the finished products.
And here is another one. This activity has officially used up the last of our craft sticks. I have a feeling I will no longer be able to put off a trip to the craft store to restock supplies. Maybe that will be my escape next weekend. I can easily see myself getting lost for a few hours at the craft store.

Big Brother Strikes Again

In a pathetic attempt to protect children from lead poisoning, congress has passed the Child Protection Safety Improvement Act. This act is a pathetic sham. Due to this act, all children's books produced prior to 1985 have been removed from shelves in libraries, books stores and resellers. Most owners of these establishments have elected to destroy the books rather than face possible prosecution. I don't recall ever hearing of someone getting lead poisoning from reading a book before. I've heard of many issues from cheaply made crap imported from China and produced by certain large manufacturers that care more for their bottom lines than their consumers. But this terrible act is impacting many small-time hand-made toy manufacturers. It is resulting in censoring the books that are now available to our children. The older original editions of many loved books are now considered illegal to posses or give to a child. The older books full of true morality and religious stories are being destroyed. Does this remind anyone else of the Nazi book burnings to keep their citizens thinking only the "right" things? I am truly starting to wonder what sort of country we are going to be leaving behind for our children if this sort of thing is considered acceptable.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cheesecake

While I was out doing the large monthly shopping yesterday, Alan and the kids were making this cheesecake for me. They made a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake topped with a few strawberries. They are under the impression that if they ask nicely enough that I may share with them. I think they underestimate the draw of cheesecake. Ok, maybe if they are really nice I'll share. After all, they did all the work to make it.

Backyard Sightings

The kids were looking out the back window and saw this owl hanging out in one of our trees. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, it was taken through a closed window. I'm just hoping the bird was not stalking the rabbit that lives in our front bushes. We have lots of animals living in our yard. A bunch of deer seem to have made the back half of the property their home. Lots of birds have nests in our trees and there are all sorts of animals making homes on the back half of our property. Maybe this year we can work on getting more pictures of them all.

A Hammer and Some Nails

In our attempt to avoid junk toys and provide the kids with real experiences, we bought Liam a woodworking kit for Christmas. This is really the perfect gift for Liam since he is always getting a hold of the hammers, screw drivers and such anyway. Now he has a chance to spend some quality time with Dad and learn how to actually use the tools properly. Hopefully this will help us avoid having him hand Alan a handful of 30 or so screws again that he "found" all over the house.
Yesterday Liam got a little help and made a piggy bank with his woodworking kit. It still needs to have a hole cut in the bottom so you can actually get the money out but he is very proud of his work.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Treats


The kids all got mail today. Valentine's cards from Grandma who always manages to remember all of the little holidays for the kids. This is the highlight of their week, I swear. Then again, anytime they get mail just for them they are thrilled. I'd planned to have the kids help me make cookies and do something a tad more elaborate but since everyone is sick, I decided to make them myself. Less chance of someone sneezing all over the cookies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Geography Games

In an effort to make geography a bit more fun and easier to remember, I do my best to supplement the book learning with games, puzzles, videos and audio CD's. I have a feeling the kids will retain the information better if they are active while learning it. We use GeoPuzzles to learn where all the different countries are located. We also have several board games to cover geography ranging from Made for Trade and the Great States! game to Name that Country and Where in the World. And we can't forget the Carmen Sandiego computer games. The goal here is to take what is often a boring subject in school and liven it up enough for the kids to actually remember and enjoy it.
One of the current favorite games is Scrambled States of America. This card game has kept Bryan and Sean interested for several weeks now and they are learning more as they play.
It involves trying to slap the cards to claim them before your opponent which is, I believe, their favorite part of the game. Here's hoping after a few more rounds of this game that they boys will have learned the states and capitals painlessly.

Art Time

The rain and fog rolled in this afternoon so we needed something to keep little hands busy. So it was time to bring out the Do A Dot Art Paint Markers and some print outs from DLTK-Kids. These paint markers let the kids paint in little circles. The print outs provide them with pictures full of little circles to try to fill in. A great combination for both creativity and hand-eye coordination. These markers are also great for when the kids want to paint but you don't want to have to deal with the bigger mess involved with finger paints. They are, of course, washable so even if the kids do manage to paint on themselves, it comes off super easy.
Katie is taking her time and being very serious.
Liam is working on filling in his heart so he can get to the important picture-the monster truck.
Kieran is very proud of his work.
I was rather surprised when Abby made sure to keep her dots in the right place after I showed her the first one.
This picture is from yesterday. Gabe wanted to try using the Color Wonder markers, too. So his big brother showed him how to color and I swear it was the first time Gabe smiled all day.

Just a Picture, Again

Poor sick Gabe finally gave up and fell asleep in Dad's arms this morning. He insists on wearing his poncho in the house all the time. I guess that means he likes it. He looks rather cute when he's asleep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Color Wonder

Liam is one of those kids who seem to always be in motion. So anything that keeps him still for an hour is more than welcome around here.
Today I got the Color Wonder books out from Christmas. Liam sat at the little table for an hour and colored in his book. These books are very nice since in theory the markers only color on the Color Wonder paper. Granted, they will color on a few odd things but we've never had that happen to us. When the kids stick the markers in their mouths, you'll find the color left behind on their lips but they are other wise safe. Which makes these a perfect toy to take with you to those family gatherings or long appointments when the kids need to be occupied. Of course, if you know the same people we do you may still have people freak out on you without asking first because "Oh my gosh, the kids have markers!" I just have to ask, do you really think I would allow the middle and younger kids to have markers if they could actually write on other stuff? As Alan has been known to tell folks, nothing comes into our house unless it is washable.

A View From my Front Door

It does not appear to be February if you look outside right now. The yard is full of melting snow and plenty of mud puddles. The kids have been outside over the past few days discovering all of the toys they neglected to pick up before the snow began to fall and jumping in plenty of mud puddles. But it is supposed to get cold, wet and wintery again before the weekend so I figure they should enjoy the nicer weather while they can.

Enchanted Learning

If you have children and you haven't ever visited the Enchanted Learning website, you are missing out. I'll admit we pay for a membership to this website so we can access all the printable sheets without ads. So far in the past few weeks I have used this site to put together booklets for the kids on MLK day, Chinese New Year, Presidents' Day, counting money, kindergarten level counting, number lines, letters and several other subjects. The have everything ranging from art project ideas to coloring sheets to grammar and spelling and math and everything in between. It's been an easy way to add a few fun extras to our day without having to search all over the place for ideas. So if you have kids in your life, I suggest you check the site out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Picture

So the only thing I can't figure out is are the older kids playing with Gabe or torturing the poor boy?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Guess What This Is

Do you know what this is? No, not the homemade raspberry jam which is delicious by the way. But the canning jar. I have one of these in my huge supply of jars. It is a blue glass Ball canning jar. Which I think is super cool. These are often considered collectors items and I have one full of homemade jam. Small things make me happy right now. Course, I am regretting only making 12 quarts of jam this year because we are rapidly running out and once you've crossed the thresh hold into eating the real stuff, store bought just does not taste the same.

Just a Picture

After our adventure over the weekend, Alan was rather worn out and Katie started to feel sick. The two of them crashed on the couch and I just could not resist taking a picture. I'm sure Alan will pay me back at some point for this one but I thought it was too cute not to share. Yes, Katie is hanging onto his ear for some reason. We have no clue why.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Dental Freebie

This one is for everyone. Colgate has another program to participate in that will award your child with a free toothbrush at the end of the program. They allow up to 10 kids per email address.
Colgate's Healthy Bedtime Habits

Dental Health Awareness Month

Ok, not much new going on around here right now. A few sick kids, bowling today for the healthy ones, school just plodding along mostly on schedule. Things are normal and boring which is kind of nice every so often. But did you know that February is Dental Health Awareness month? We've arranged a field trip for our homeschooling group to visit our dentist and get a behind the scenes tour. Now hopefully a few families will actually join us in this venture so it's not just my family. That would be a bit awkward. And for the homeschoolers out there, did you know that Colgate has a Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program for teachers that you are eligible to participate in? We signed up last year and got a shipment packed full of toothbrush and toothpaste samples, coloring books, a poster and a DVD for the kids to watch. The smallest size they will send out is I believe for a class of 25 kids so we still have a decent stash of toothbrushes from last year and I am expecting our new box full of samples this year to arrive soon. Check out the program and put in your request for free materials. Every family has to use toothbrushes, you might as well get a few for free.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Monk's Bread

Our parish had an Eat to Heat fund raiser this past month. They teamed up with the makers of Monk's Bread to offer the bread to us at a nice discount with all proceeds going to the local food banks. If I buy bread, I love to buy Monk's Bread. It is made by a local order of monks with all natural ingredients, no preservatives and even more important, no high fructose corn syrup.
We ordered 10 loaves. I'm planning on putting the maple loaves in the freezer to use for french toast over the weekend. We have 2 loaves of white, wheat, sunflower, raisin and maple. This means that I get a 5 day reprieve from baking bread. I know I may complain about baking bread at times. The truth is I rather enjoy it. It is much cheaper than buying bread at the store all the time and I can control what is in it. I have a big problem with corn syrup in bread. I don't care what the FDA or corn growers want you to believe. High fructose corn syrup is not healthy for you. Especially not in the quantities consumed by the average American. If it were truly safe to consume at such high levels, it would not be banned or seriously limited in almost all other developed countries. High fructose corn syrup is nothing more than a cheap sweetener. But bad for your health and contributes in a big way to the behavioral issues you see in many children today.

A Day in the Snow

Today we decided to let everyone try cross-country skiing. Alan, Bryan and Sean had all been on cross-country skis before. Bryan and Sean had never been off our property on them though. Our local nature center rents skis and snow shoes on the weekends so we decided to head out and give it a try.
Here is Sean waiting for the rest of the crew.
Liam is that little person. He did a great job on his skis and says he can't wait to try it again.
Here's Bryan and Kieran taking a rest to let Mom and Katie catch back up.
I gave it a good shot but have decided that for the rest of this winter, I will stick to snow shoes. You should not attempt cross country skiing for the very first time when you are 29 weeks pregnant and have a toddler on your back. Let's just say there are some major center of gravity issues involved should you fall over.
Gabe enjoyed the ride and loved looking at all the snow.
Here's Katie. She tried real hard and by the end of the day was very tired. She fell a few too many times for her liking but kept plugging along. She says next time she wants to try snow shoes instead.

Abby spent the afternoon hanging out on Alan's back. Alan spent the afternoon helping to pick people up out of the snow. I think he got a very decent work out by the time all was said and done. We likely will be heading back to the nature center again to use their trails but I think we've decided that spending $10 per pair of skis just for rental is a bit silly over and over again so we are on the search for a few used pairs of skis and boots.