Wednesday, June 30, 2010

C-Span Classroom

If you haven't already checked them out, head over to C-Span Classroom. They provide free primary source history resources for educators.  Lesson plans and videos are available on their website.  We received in the mail today a free American Presidents Timeline Poster that you can request on their website.  The sucker is huge and full of extra material including information on supreme court decisions, ratification of constitutional amendments and much more.  I am wondering where I am going to be able to hang it up but up it will go since it is full of valuable information.  Check them out today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Liam!

Liam turned 7 today.  We went to the free movies this morning, met Alan for lunch and had Liam's favorite dinner.  If I have to tell you what he requested for dinner, well you just don't know the kid very well.  :)  He was even happy with a cake from the store which made me happy since I am not super mom and hold no illusions.  Sometimes you just have to cut a few corners.  Besides, the Toy Story legos more than made up for the store cake.  Happy birthday little man.  Given your constant energy and talent for taking things a part and trying to put them back together, I have a feeling you have a very interesting life ahead of you.  So do we as we try to keep up and keep you from getting hurt.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kids Bowl Free at AMF

Just a heads up for parents looking for a free activity for their kids this summer. Every day all summer, your kids can bowl 2 free games at participating AMF bowling alleys.  Most will require shoe rentals but you can purchase an umlimited shoe rental pass at the bowling alley.  Our bowling alley told me they will likely give me 2 of the passes for free since I'll be bringing in so many kids.  So make sure to ask. 

For the Crib Users

Please make sure you are keeping track of all of the crib recalls.  9 more were announced yesterday.  Check www.cpsc.gov for more information.  This is why we only use pack-n-plays now.  Every crib we ever owned was recalled.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Holy Heroes Summer Adventure

Just a reminder to sign up for the Holy Heroes Summer Faith Adventure.  This is a wonderful free Catholic VBS type program that you can run for your children in the comfort of your own home.  Each day you will receive an email with videos, music, craft ideas and snack ideas.  We participated last summer and my kids loved it.  The program this year is the same as last year but this year they are offering a DVD that you can purchase to have all of the videos away from your computer.  You can also purchase activity books that will have all of the worksheets and craft project directions in one place for you.  This is great if you don't have easy access to a printer or just prefer to have everything already printed.  Hope your kids enjoy it as much as mine did.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Little Boys and Ice Cream

Not sure if this needs any words.

Strawberry Picking

Saturday morning was spent picking strawberries.  I really must remember to do the math better.  9 people picking strawberries means you rapidly end up with more than you thought you would get.  Not that we won't use them all but we really didn't intend to buy 45 lbs of strawberries.  The berries were mostly on the smaller side this year so by the time all of the containers were full, we'd picked a lot.
May I say that for some reason Katie seems to be suddenly very grown up to me lately.
Gabe actually did a very good job picking strawberries this year. As long as you count green ones as good and you ignored the child eating pretty darn close to his weight in berries.
The older boys make up a pretty decent work crew and do a great job.  But some of them still tire out before the job is done.
Here is Robert with his mouth full of the strawberry he finally managed to get from Dad. Alan had this issue about having juice running down his back and insisted that no one share with the poor boy.  I think this must have really ruined Robert's day because he refused to smile for the camera.
 Since we spent so much time out in the strawberry field, the ladies directing traffic to the appropriate rows took pity on the children and gave them a ride back to the car in their super special green tractor.  This was, I do believe, the highlight of the day for at least a few of the kids.

The next few days will be spent making jam, strawberry pancake syrup (yum, the no corn syrup kind), strawberry muffins, strawberry shortcake, chocolate covered strawberries and putting quite a few in the freezer for later this year.  No, we will not buy any strawberries from the store for the rest of the year.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Took So Long?

Book Review: Fatherless

I recently read the book Fatherless by Brian J Gail.  This book just left me with a wow kind of feeling.  I was actually in the middle of reading a different book when this one arrived in the mail.  I thought I would just skim a few pages to get a feel for the book and was instantly sucked in.  Yup, the book I was reading before is still sitting on my desk unfinished while I quickly devoured Fatherless.

Fatherless chronicles the lives of several fictional Catholic families during the 1980's.  It shows how the rapid changes in the Church impacted each family in ways none of them expected.  This book is full of real characters and true to life experiences.  These families could be your neighbors and friends.  The folks you see in church each Sunday and the folks you don't.

Even though this book is a work of fiction, it seemed to me to be a very real book dealing with the real issues facing many members of the Catholic Church in America today.  In a strange way is has helped me to understand in some way the disconnect I often feel between those in my parents generation and our own family when it comes to matters of faith.  An atmosphere of such confusion had to have an impact.

My favorite quote from this book is "Father, we love love.  We really do.  But. . .you don't feed us.  We're hungry.  We've had a taste of the whole truth, and we want more."  This line spoke rather loudly to me when I read it.

I encourage you to add this book to your summer reading list.  It packs a very powerful punch and you won't be disappointed.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Fatherless.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Children and the Internet

Ok, I will admit we are the type of parents who just don't believe in giving kids free range on-line.  None of the kids will be involved in any sort of social network on-line until they are at least part way through high school.  Yes, this even includes the Neopet and other assorted things aimed at youngsters.  We just don't think it is necessary or appropriate.  We believe it gives them a false sense of security at a young age before they are really able to realize what they are putting out there.

Yes, the kids have email address but they are all linked to a parent account and we do have access to them.  Yes, they do school work on-line and play games here and there and use the internet for research.  But most of the reason we allow this is because Alan is still able to stay very much ahead of their computer skills.  To make it easier for me to monitor their computer usage, we have started using a program called Glubble. This is a family friendly add-on to Firefox that allows you to set limits on what each child can access.  Once their accounts are set as child accounts, it will require a parent to log-in to change it.  No, I don't think this will prevent all unwanted things from ending up in front of the kids but I do think it will help.  As long as Alan stays ahead of their computer skills and we never allow computers out of the school room.

Friday, June 11, 2010

CatholicVote's New Ad

Something that needs to be shared with everyone. Are WE listening?

Books, Books and More Books

This is what I call really getting into your reading.

Caution: Children in Training

Liam appears to be a bit eager to pass his daily chore down to one of the younger ones.
No more waiting for Mom and Dad to do the chore training. He's going to take on the effort himself.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Free Stuff in the Mail

I love when freebies arrive in the mail that I wasn't expecting.  Yes, I often request so many free samples and such that I tend to forget what is heading my way.  Today I received a reusable grocery bag along with some produce coupons, a coupon for a free candy bar and a free book. The book I was expecting but the other stuff I had totally forgotten about. Small things truly make me happy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Free Educational Resources from NASA

Thanks to a friend for sharing this information.

Head over to the NASA website and order a copy of the Journey to the Stars DVD along with educational materials for all of your students.  A quote from the webpage:  "We want every classroom in the country to have a copy," says Lika Guhathakurta of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington DC. "Kids of all ages from K through 12 will enjoy the show—and never look at the night sky the same way again."

Free Family Movie Festival


Don't forget to take advantage of Regal Cinema's free family movie festival this year.  This is something my kids look forward to every year.  Once a week we spend a quiet 2 hours in a nice cool movie theater watching a free movie. Since the theater is full of other families with small children, you don't have to worry if your little folks aren't totally quiet the entire time.  Trust me when I say there will be parents taking little ones out or walking with a fussy baby every now and again.   But it never ruins the experience for us. They offer 2 selections a week and most theaters offer the movies 2 or 3 days a week so if you are up to it, you can catch 2 free movies a week.  We do often purchase popcorn to share so it's not totally free but still well worth it for us.  Check out their schedule to see if there is a participating theater near you.  Just remember that it does not have to be expensive to make memories with your kids.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Small Steps for Catholic Moms - Companion Journal

I spent some time this weekend while Alan was working reading the book Small Steps for Catholic Moms Companion Journal.  I loved this short book. It is meant to be used during the year to help guide you in living out your vocation as a mom.  There are monthly entries focusing on a single topic, followed by several questions to get you thinking about what changes you need to make in your life to more fully live out your calling as a Catholic mom.

My favorite part of the book was the section daily prompts for Lent.  This section gives you daily ideas of things to fast from, pray about and ways to give more to those in your life.  I found many quotes in this section that truly jumped out at me and caused me to question how I am living out my own vocation and allowed me to reconsider the influence of others in my life. 

This simple, easy to read book has the potential to have a very powerful impact on your life.  Constant encouragement and gentle reminders of ways you can improve will change the life of any mom who is willing to take the book to heart.  I strongly recommend this book to all Catholic moms who feel the need to be refreshed and reminded of why they are doing what they do.

This review was written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Small Steps for Catholic Moms - Companion Journal .

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If You Choose to Watch Astronaut Movies with your Kids

Saturday night is movie night around here.  Tonight I decided we would watch The Reluctant Astronaut with Don Knotts.  Very cute movie.  Love the older movies since they lack the bathroom humor that seems to be a requirement in kiddie movies today.  But as a fair warning, if you choose to watch astronaut movies with your kids, be prepared to be told "Mom, I'm flying" as your 2-year-old launches himself off the couch.  Said 2-year-old was then told that even Superman's Mom told him he was not allowed to fly in the house.  Sigh, at least no one was injured this time around.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Overheard at the Grocery Store

Robert and I headed out to the grocery store early this morning.  While we were shopping we saw a mom there with 3 young boys.  An older gentleman came over to her and commented on the boys and asked where she got them from.  You know, the typical comments.  The oldest of the 3 boys pipes up with "Well, my brother came from Mommy's tummy."  All I could think was well, you ask a silly question. . .   That and I could absolutely see on of my  kids spouting off with exact same response.  It certainly brought a smile to my face.

More Freebies

It is no secret. I love free samples and discounts. In the past few days I have received totally for free a ClickN Spell account (for writing a review), 5 boxes of Ronzoni pasta, shampoo, body wash and deodorant. I found a free desk yesterday for the older boys' room.  I've already requested free samples of toilet paper and dog food today.  But what I got in the mail this afternoon was an even better freebie.  I received a copy of the book Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Inc.  A nice thick book of read aloud stories to share with the kids.  I'm rather looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Usborne

I just wanted to let you know that I have recently decided to start selling Usborne books again.  Yes, I tried this once earlier and with 5 kids under 7 and a lack of babysitters and Alan gone most of the time, it just did not work out.  I am hoping to be able to be able to think of this as a part-time way to help pay for school expenses as well as add these wonderful books to our own home library.  Yes, my kids love the books. When the box arrived yesterday the kids all grabbed a book and sat down to read.  They've been reading them all day today as well.  Great, wonderful books for science and history if you are a homeschooler.  Wonderful books for toddlers and beginning readers and struggling readers.  Yup, we love them around here.  If anyone would be interested in helping me get things off to a great start by hosting a show in your home or on the web, let me know.  I'd love to help you earn some free books for your kids. 

ClickN Kids

I wanted to share about this wonderful program we've been using for the past several years.  Kieran used it to learn to read and now Katie and Liam are using it.  They are halfway through the program and making wonderful progress.  Uh oh. Did I just admit that my 5 and 6-year-olds are not already reading fluently on their own even though their oldest brother was doing so at 4?  Um, yup.  They are each progressing at their own pace and level.   It is a wonderful thing to see.

We have been using ClickN Kids phonics with our middle 3 kids and I have to say I have been very pleased.  This internet based program allows each child to work at their own speed while still giving me constant feed back on their progress so I can adjust the program as I need to.  I can easily have a child repeat a lesson or skip ahead if needed.  The kids love the program because they can work without having to wait for me to be available.  Let's face it, as a Mom of 8 there are some times when I just can't drop what I'm doing to sit and read RIGHT THAT MOMENT.  ClickN Kids solves that problem for me.  I appreciate the help with teaching and the kids are motivated by the  constant encouragement from the characters in the program.  This program is a one-time purchase and can be used over and over again with all of your children.  It has made learning to read much easier and enjoyable in our homeschool.  If you are interested in trying it out with your family, drop me a line and I'll send you a referral so you can get a bit of a discount on the program.  I have a feeling you won't be disappointed.

Fort Leavenworth

Ok, who is reading the blog from Ft. Leavenworth?  I don't know anyone who lives there any longer.  If it's you, please leave me a comment.  Thanks.