Saturday, March 31, 2012

What We've Done This Week

I had grand plans for this week.  Then I got kind of sick and a few kids did as well.  Such is life.  We've learned about Abraham Lincoln.  The kids have also watched some science movies.  They've studied city planning and building.
Katie learned what a squat thrust was today.  The younger karate teacher is much better with younger kids and large groups than his dad seems to be which is a bummer since the dad is the instructor for our class.  Katie does not at all like not being able to do something someone else can.  A tad competitive but I think it will serve her well.  Bryan entered a photo contest.  Robert broke my keyboard (who knew a keyboard does not like to have soda and sugar poured all over it). The kids learned that when Mom cleans the schoolroom, a lot more of their stuff ends up in the trash than if they would have just done it themselves.  Nutella muffins are yummy. Credit card fraud sucks.  So do emergency dental appointments and a freezer full of 300 lbs of meat that is suddenly not freezing.  The salesman was wrong when he said I could not get a key for the lock for the freezer.  In other words, it's been a normal week.  Hopefully next week we will focus on Holy Week activities and finding a bit of quiet simplicity to help the kids realize that Holy Week is supposed to be something different.

One other thing. I've learned I can't write a post like this without having the Veggie Tales "What We Have Learned" song run through my head.  And I think it must stink to be Larry. I mean, I can't imagine loosing a hamster AND falling off a counter all in one day.  Must have been a heck of a fall for a cucumber.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Style, Sex, & Substance

When I first picked up the book Style, Sex, & Substance, randomly flipping through the book landed me in the chapter on sex.  After skimming a bit of that chapter I was convinced that this was a book I would truly dislike.  Now that I have read the entire book, I still say it certainly was not the best or most inspiring book I have ever read but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

In Style, Sex, & Substance, 10 popular women writers each tackle one major aspect of being a woman from a Catholic perspective.  The overall perspective of this book can be summed up using the following quote from chapter 3:
We work in the home and in the public square.  We go to Mass every single Sunday (sometimes more), eat bread that we call God and sip wine we call Blood.  We care about what that anciently-robed guy in Rome says, and we spill our sins to another human being.  We mate for life. We shun artificial birth control. Let's face it - we're, umm, different.  We're proudly pope-loving, sterilization-eschewing, Eucharist-adoring, confession-going, twenty-first-century Catholic specimens of femininity who buck societal normal and balk at contemporary expectations.  Yeah, we're the face of the new rebellion.
Each chapter ends with reflection questions to help you pinpoint the areas in your life that might need some extra focus.  These questions would be perfect for allowing you to use the book as part of a group book study since they will easily help spur discussions and thinking.

One thing I often had a hard time relating to in this book was the constant comments about all things girly.  The taking time to do your make-up, buy pretty shoes, wear the right clothes, put on jewelry and sweet smelling lotion to make sure you are pampering yourself properly.  I have never been a girly girl.  Ever.  When I can remember most feeling like myself were the times I was rock-climbing, rappelling, canoeing, running through the mud, spelunking, getting dirty and messy and doing anything other than being "girly."  So these reminders had me almost laughing by the end of book and wondering if perhaps there was something wrong with my way of doing things so I do admit that I wish there was at least one person in the book who mentioned that maybe these things might not work for you.

I still say the chapter on sex was pathetic and laughable.  After reading some of the ideas in that chapter to my husband, he agrees and we now have a few inside jokes that were born in that chapter.  Let's just say having a messy or cluttered bedroom has never hindered our intimacy in any way, shape or form.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Style, Sex, and Substance. They are also a great source for a baptism gifts or first communion gifts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Because I Believe in Transparency. . .

. . .or at least mostly.  And because I don't want to be thought of as someone who just shares the picture perfect life is great moments, I bring you the scene from our kitchen this afternoon.

Isn't she just perfectly proud of the mess she made?  Can't you just picture the powdered sugar foot prints that are now trailing all through the house? Can't you just see the look on Alan's face when he sees the floor he just mopped the other day?  Can't you just see her older brother who is standing in the corner for his role in this escapade because we are always finding the child with his hand in the cereal, in the craisins, in the bread, in anything he thinks he can snatch (but oddly he never snatches chocolate chips)?  Yup, just another day in the Hitchings' house where we try to put out fires and clean up messes faster than you'd think was humanly possible and on some small level truly look forward to bedtime every night.  And not because the kids look so darn cute when they are sleeping.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Meal Plan for the Week

I don't have a clue what we will be having for lunches this week.  Likely a mix of leftovers and sandwiches.  A lack of ideas while putting the meal plan together last night means I have left lunch off for the week.  We'll figure it out as we go.

Monday: maple bread, eggs (B), cream cheese chicken (D)
Tuesday: cereal (B), beef tips over rice (D)
Wednesday: baked oatmeal (B), potato soup (D)
Thursday: cereal (B), hearty Italian soup (D)
Friday: eggs (B), tuna casserole (D)
Saturday: muffins (B), pizza (D)
Sunday: no clue due to the above mentioned lack of ideas, hopefully we'll have a few leftovers

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Maple Sugar Festival

Our favorite local living history museum has been holding a maple sugar festival the past 2 weekends.  We have participated in maple sugar trail field trips twice but have never managed to make it out to the maple sugar festival on a regular weekend. Part of it was wanting to make sure we miss crowds but I have to say that there really were no crowds today. Perhaps the weather played a role in that since we've had a bit of a cold snap this weekend.

Bryan has been volunteering for the entire festival and enjoying himself.  This morning they were short on volunteers and Bryan called to ask if Sean could come in to help as well.  Sean was thrilled since he has been begging to be allowed to volunteer as well for quite some time.
This afternoon I took Katie, Liam, Abby, Gabe, and Ellie to museum.  It was a tad odd to be out with only 5 kids.  You quickly forget how easy it was to only manage a small crew.  We had a lot of walking to do so I'm rather glad that Robert stayed home with Alan.  Strollers aren't fun in the village due to uneven ground and Robert does not keep up with walking as easily as the other kids yet.
We visited several village shops and learned a bit about the ways maple sugar was used.  We also watched a chocolate making demonstration, sampled maple cough syrup, visited the cooper's shop to watch them make wooden buckets, sampled different types of syrup from different types of trees, and sampled maple sugar on snow candy.
The kids also made some maple leaf crafts and collected puzzle pieces for their maple passport at various houses in the village.  At the end of our tour they were able to turn the passports in for a piece of candy.
If you are wiling to pay for it, there is a wonderful pancake breakfast during the mornings of the festivals.  Bryan tells us that the pancakes were delicious (the volunteers were fed the first day) but we opted out of the pay activities this year, just using our membership for general admission.  Next year I think we will try to attend again but perhaps remember to bring some cash so we can try some maple cotton candy and popcorn or some vintage hot chocolate (made with a different form of the chocolate than we use in making hot chocolate today).
We were also able to see the pictures of the kids that are being used in the advertisements for the summer camps this year.  What can I say, the kids were cute.  Hm, wonder if that will earn us a tuition break on camp this September?

What We've Learned This Week

I'm hoping to start a weekly round up of what we are working on in school and life.  Sort of a way to keep be a tad more motivated and accountable.  I can remember planning lots of rather neat projects with the older kids when they were younger and I tend not to do that as often lately.  The current little ones deserve just as much fun stuff as the older kids did so I must get better.  And it is nice to give myself a reminder of what we actually have accomplished when it feels like Saturday night is ending with the same chaos and mess that greeted us at the beginning of the week.

This week everyone learned a bit about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad.  Not a ton but a brief introduction. Katie and Liam started new math books this week. Kieran finished reading the Matchlock Gun and finished his current math book. He'll start the next one on Monday. Several kids went to Genesee Country Village with me for the Maple Sugar Festival.  We've done the maple sugar trips several times so the history of maple sugar in this area is not really new but we did learn a bit about the history of chocolate production.  The older 6 kids participated in the Homeschool Expo this weekend. Bryan built a computer, Sean did a project on car seat safety, Kieran did a project on space, Liam worked on rocket engines,  Katie studied dolphins, and Abby shared some of her projects from Little Flowers.  Bryan is starting to work on his second quarter tests for Kolbe.  Hopefully we will get those done this week.  So we are making progress. Maybe not totally on track but that really isn't too important in my book.





Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nursing a Toddler

I have decided that nursing a toddler is a lot like wrestling an octopus.  There are arms and legs flailing in all directions.  There is pinching and poking and prodding. There is screaming and crying (mine, not hers). The constant up and down game.  Biting.  A child trying to flash as many people as possible (I think in my nursing career I have flashed at least 1 mailman, a few UPS drivers, a few pediatricians, a priest or two, a waitress and likely countless others because kids love to pop off and say hi at the worst moments).  And yet I truly would not trade it for anything.  Nothing quite tops that look they give you.  The feeling you get when they fall asleep nestled in your arms.  The mommy milk induced haze in their eyes.  Yup, I'm going to enjoy wrestling this octopus for as long as she'll let me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homeschool Paperwork

For those who know me well, it is no secret that I find the homeschooling regulations in NY state to be beyond ridiculous.  I'm sure the paperwork is all supposed to assure that each child receives an appropriate education but frankly they do nothing but waste valuable time.  The paperwork is beyond easy to lie on anyway so I'm not sure what it really is supposed to prove.  Other than Mom or Dad are capable of filling in the blanks.  I can understand a need to track which children are being educated outside of the public school system.  I can understand the value of yearly testing (although I don't agree with that either since standardized tests are, um, of little real value when all is said and done).  But I don't understand the point of quarterly paperwork, yearly letters of intent or yearly IHIPs.  I value flexibility and being able to tailor each year or month to each child.  I value being able to take a month off in the middle of the school year if our family needs dictate it.  I value being able to teach each child at their own pace.  I value being the one responsible for my child's education.

The problem with the quarterly paperwork is that it is paperwork.  Many of the parents who choose to home educate their children come from the background of being school educators themselves. These are people who seem to thrive on paperwork so when you go to your local support group meeting and ask for help on filling out the reports, these wonderful ladies are apt to give you a rather lengthy explanation.  Since moving here, I have been relying on this way of doing things and every quarter I would gripe and complain and tell Alan (and anyone else who was listening) how pointless all of this paperwork truly was for our family.   But no longer.

Last night as I sat down to catch up on my quarterly paperwork, I started with an internet search.  Sigh, why did I not think of this sooner?  What I came upon was an easy form letter to send in that meets all of the necessary requirements but takes the parent about 1 minute per child per quarter. It also leaves you with flexibility and prevents you from giving the district too much information.  Here's a link to form letter I found and a thank you to the wonderful mom who took the time to make this resource available to other folks.  Maybe it will help someone else out.  My plan now is to stick with this form letter until or unless my district decides to ask for more information.  My secret theory is that for the most part, the districts don't like dealing with the paperwork either and just need something to put in a file somewhere to prove they asked us what we were doing.

A Day At the Park

We went to the park today so the older kids could get together with some friends to practice karate.  May I admit I am just a tad frustrated with the current karate set up?  May have to think about it a bit. The kids seem to like it but everyone else gets 2 classes a week and now the instructor wants to cut down the class by 15 minutes for most of the kids so he can work with just the older ones. I'd really prefer he give us a second session a week or work an extra 15 minutes after class with the older ones.   Instead we are stuck meeting outside on our own time. Not fun. 

But the positive of going to the park is I usually come home with tired kids. And today I came home with some great pictures.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Robert!

Robert is now 3.  For the next few weeks, we have a 3, 4, and 5-year-old in the house. Pretty darn cool if you ask me.
We celebrated Robert's birthday a day early.  All of the older kids were told to just pretend Tuesday was his birthday and Robert never knew the difference.  Younger children are so much fun.  Robert treated us all to dinner at Applebee's, then we came home for cake and ice cream.  
Robert is very much into trains at the moment so he was very happy with his presents.  Three new Thomas trains, 2 hats, and a few small trains that were on his cake.  He also received an outside climbing toy from his grandparents and a basketball net that hooks onto the back of his bedroom door.  The kid was very happy. 

After listening to the folks at Applebee's sing happy birthday to him after dinner, he joined us all in singing for him at home.  "Happy Birthday to Me!"  Here's to another wonderful year with a wonderful little boy.

My Storytime Bible

 We have children in this house of many different ages.  This means we also have a rather large assortment of bibles in the house to cover many different ages.  And yet I am still always on the look out for another book that just might grab the interest of another child because each child seems to learn in a slightly different manner.  It was with this in mind that I picked up a copy of My Storytime Bible.

In this book, many popular bible stories are told using easy to understand language for the littlest readers.  Every story is accompanied by bright attractive pictures. 

The stories are condensed into very small chunks.  This means that it is very easy to sit down and read 4 or 5 selections to your child at a time. 

My toddlers and preschooler enjoyed listening to this book but I found the stories were a bit too simple for even my younger elementary aged kids.  Personally, I would suggest this book for the 2-3 year-old range.  The pictures will keep their interest while the simple story lines won't go over their heads.  I would not rely on it for the only source of bible stories shared with young children because at times the stories are a bit too simple.  I found it was great for a quick story but not so much for in depth learning.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on My Storytime Bible. They are also a great source for a baptism gifts or first communion gifts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Other End of the Teeter Totter

We have a rather nice teeter totter in our backyard.  It was given to us by friends who found it in their yard when they bought a house.  Having only a baby at the time, they had no use for this large wooden teeter totter.  It appears to be homemade and it's obvious someone put a  lot of thought into its construction.  It is big enough for several children, the pivot point in the middle is adjustable so that different sized kids can play together.  In short, I am very glad Alan tossed it in the back of the van and brought it home.
Every time I see a group of kids playing on the teeter totter, I am reminded of a picture often used to describe the job of parenting a large family: that teeter totter.  You see, when you have a house chock full of young children, you are on the heavy end of the teeter totter.  You are the only one available to pull those kids up.  The only one around to buckle car seats, zip coats, hold hands in parking lots, change a diaper, make lunch, kiss a scraped knee, comfort a scared toddler, rock the sick baby to sleep.  But as your kids grow, the teeter totter starts to change.  Suddenly you have help.  You look around you and realize you have children sitting next to you on that other end of the teeter totter.  You have a wonderful group of older siblings who naturally reach down for that hand in the parking lot, a favored buddy that the crying toddler naturally runs to when he bumps his head, someone else available to make lunch, a willing volunteer to sit and rock that sick baby.  And slowly you find that the burdens of raising a large group of children are being lifted off your shoulders.  You are now starting to spend more time on the light end of the teeter totter.

Today I was able to go out with just my littlest one to pick up a birthday present for our soon-to-be three-year-old.  Even though my oldest child is still in bed recovering from whatever sickness struck our house this weekend, I was able to leave the other children in the hands of the second oldest.  Yes, it is likely that all the kids did while I was gone was sit in front of the tv and zone out.  But I didn't have to wait for Dad to get home from work to go birthday shopping.  When I came home, the preschoolers were napping, the lunch dishes were in the sink, the kitchen table had been cleared.  No, things were not perfect but the house had not fallen in on itself either.  I walked in (after twisting my ankle checking the mail) and was able to ask the children to help get the baby out of the van, get the box out of the back and help put the new toy together.  And then I was able to sit back and watch the pure excitement on the faces of the older children as they watched the younger ones enjoy the toy they had built for them.  Yes, I am on the other end of that teeter totter now.  And yes, I feel incredibly blessed.

Our Weekly Menu

As I sat down to write up our weekly menu last night, I was hit with a major case of lack of inspiration.  Then I found myself forgetting our schedule for the week and failing to account for the fridge full of leftovers that is sitting in the kitchen at the moment.  Yes, I have become rather strict about using up leftovers.  At times that makes for interesting lunches but for the most part the kids don't complain.  They just eat because they have learned the drill around here: you eat what you are given and you don't complain. 

We will be celebrating Robert's birthday a day early this year because the older boys have scouts on Wednesday.  And Robert is too little to care if we bump his birthday by a day.  Please note that I am calling him Robert.  No, his name is not Bob or Butch or anything else.  Names are very important and really should not be messed with.  Please, please, please call my children by the names they have been given and prefer.  In our family we find it rude to ignore a child's request (or parents request when the child is still young) to use or not use a certain name.  Because names are frankly important.  Sigh.

Anyway here's the weekly schedule:

Monday: yogurt and granola (B), leftovers (L), tostadas (D)
Tuesday: eggs (B), chicken (L), Robert's birthday dinner out as long as the card arrives in time, otherwise we will swap this out with Thursday (D)
Wednesday: peanut butter and jelly muffins (B), macaroni and cheese (L), cheesesteak sandwiches (D)
Thursday: cereal (B), sandwiches (L), chicken noodle soup (D)
Friday: waffles, fruit (B), leftovers/sandwiches (L), parmesan crusted tilapia (D)
Saturday: pancakes, sausage (B), pizza at the homeschool expo (L), birthday cake maybe (D)
Sunday: breakfast burritos (B), FFY (L), pork fried rice (D)

This is all, of course, assuming that the last of the sickness leaves the house today and it does not hang around for a second (or third) round this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Comments

I just want to say that I love to hear from the folks reading these missives that I am sending out into cyberspace.  So if you are out there, let me know what you think please.  I'm starting to think I am talking to myself.  Ok, I totally admit that I am talking to myself.  It's called a parent/teacher conference.  But every so often it is nice to hear that someone else is reading.  Or not.  Maybe you are just rolling your eyes and thinking "There she goes again. Why can't she just stick to cute pictures of the kids and ignore everything else?"  Either way, I'd love to hear from you.  It's like a small pat on the back every so often.  Thanks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Did I Waste My Time?

So have you ever run into a book that just absolutely stinks?  And yet you can't for some reason put the darn thing down until you have finished it?  I am about 50 pages from the end of just such a book.  I hate to admit it but I'm pretty darn sure that I will indeed finish the book.  Mostly because half the house is full of sick people.  Ellie is sick (as she tends to get every single time I think just maybe she is starting to wean and I'll be back to just being accountable to myself again for a short while but I think in some subtle way someone is trying to tell me something.  Like it's best to keep nursing that wee tiny little thing for goodness sake.) and as such wants to be literally attached to me unless she is sleeping.  I am fighting the urge to succumb to the same sickness.  Several other children are laying about letting the fevers do their good work and a few others are hoping they don't get hit.  Alan is busy cleaning the house from top to bottom because he is just awesome like that.  So I am spending most of the day hiding upstairs reading a book that positively sucks.

Julie & Julia.  I picked it up from the books for sale pile at the library because the movie was pretty good and the book was under a buck.  I naively assumed that if they managed to make a decent movie out of it, the book had to have something good in it.  Wow was I wrong.  They did some massive editing for the movie.  I think if you just got rid of all the swearing in the book, you could cut a fourth of the pages out. Imagine the trees that would have been saved.  Even without the swearing, there isn't much redeeming about the book. I think perhaps my standards for reading material are just slightly above the general masses.  Perhaps.  Or at least I hope.  But honestly I am hoping I can save someone a little time and tell them to avoid this rather pointless waste of a time book and go read something decent instead.  I beg of you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's Pi Day

Yup, today is Pi Day.   I know it is Lent but really, who wants to always pass up the fun opportunities to do something small and special with your family?  Personally I don't.  Of course, I totally stink in the prior planning department. Or maybe it's the knowing exactly what is in my pantry department.  See, today is grocery shopping day. I will be going tonight during Boy Scouts since I have to be in that end of town anyway.  So I won't be running to the store until later.  I knew I had pie crusts in the house and thought I had enough pie filling. But we did not can much pie filling this year and have used most of what we had up.  So we did not have enough left for a full pie.  So instead I made a chocolate pie. 
Not the greatest looking but I'm sure it will be yummy and that is all that counts.  Just ask Alan about the first time I made a banana cream pie from scratch. It looked wonderful but I was afraid to try it because that kind of pie filling really stinks when you are making it until the very last instant when you add the vanilla and the magic happens. So I sat back and fed it to my guests and just waited for a reaction before trying it myself.  Because I am that nice.  And they were all family anyway.  And it was blessedly delicious.  This one, well, it came out of a pudding box and I'm totally ok with that.  So happy Pi Day folks.  Hope you are enjoying it with a slice of something yummy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Painting

I wanted a quick and easy art project for the middle kids. Something we haven't done before. But have I mentioned that I am not at all creative?  Really, I'm not. I just read everything I can and constantly search for new ideas.  My inspiration for today's craft came from the wonderful family at Ten Kids and a Dog.


Believe it or not, the hardest part of this project was finding shamrock stickers.  Apparently you have to plan a month or so ahead of time for everything. The stores simply don't seem to understand that one week before St. Patrick's Day, frantic homeschooling moms are thinking about St. Patrick's Day crafts, not Easter ones.  So I searched for quite a while before I found them.  Paint, paint brushes, paint canvases, all easy to find.  The stinking shamrock stickers: next to impossible.

So what do you think?  Now to find a project that actually allows us to focus on St. Patrick in some way.  Maybe we'll make a bunch of snakes.  That would excite my kids who were out in the yard trying to catch the mice yesterday.  No, I don't condone such activities. I just try to pretend they aren't happening while telling the children "NO, you may not have any peanut butter to put in my canning jars to use to entice the poor mice with.  NO. Leave the poor creatures alone."  Until they venture into our house. Then they are free to capture the things and drown them in the creek.  I do have my limits.

Movies for Lent

Today I am trying to find something light hearted and fun to do with the kids. So right now 3 kids are in the dining room wielding paint brushes.  Hopefully the paint will stay where it belongs and not venture too far onto the table. At least I can hope.

Movies and lent. It seems almost to not go together because movies are fun and lent is supposed to be a penitential time.  But there are many movies out there that can help your kids experience lent on their level.  One the kids have been watching this week is The Legend of the Three Trees.  This short movie tells the story of the role 3 different trees play in the life of Jesus.

In our queue for next week is The Miracle Maker.  This one tells the story of Jesus' life. I will admit that since it is only $6.99 at Amazon right now, I am debating adding that one to our library.

With St. Patrick's Day always falling during lent, the St. Patrick movie from CCC is often pulled out as well. In fact, it is time to find that before Saturday.  We used to be able to borrow this entire series and many other wonderful movies from our parish lending library in Florida.  Oh, how I miss that wonderful resource. I'll have to see what I can do to get a similar program put together here.

Ok, I have to add in the Easter Story KeepersVeggie Tales Easter Carol and Twas the Night Before Easter. How on earth did I forget about those? Must dig those out this week as well.

But we've seen all of these before so I am looking for a few new ideas.  Preferably something that is available via Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Viewing.  What are you watching with your family this year?

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Leaving Our Parish

I made the official move of pulling our name from our previous parish this morning.  Sean is obligated to serve on Saturday but that will be the end of our time at St. Columba's.  To say this makes me sad is an understatement.  But it was also in the end an easy decision to make. We spent a decent amount of time researching the situation in the parish.  We read and researched canon law.  We read the Bishop's writings on the subject.  We spoke with many different people regarding the situation.  Funny thing is the only people who told us nothing was wrong in our parish were the lay pastoral minister (in other words the lay person appointed by the bishop to lead the parish which makes no stinking sense when there are priests and deacons available to do the job) and the newly assigned priest in our parish.  Even the Bishop's own writings state that what is happening in the parish is not allowed and against canon law.

I am frustrated by this situation for many reasons.  One, the people in charge seemed to tell us that they had absolutely no interest in doing any research on the situation themselves and were quite happy to just do what they had been doing.  I have a big problem with people who choose to pass the buck in this way and refuse to educate themselves.  Two, women have a huge important role in the Church already.  Their place is not to usurp the authority of the priest or to preach during Mass.  Sorry, not allowed.  Third, we frankly were no longer being fed spiritually.  To pull a quote from the book Fatherless ". . .you don't feed us.  We're hungry.  We've had a taste of the whole truth, and we want more."

I have to admit that a quote from Pierced By a Sword often popped into my mind while we pondered what to do with regard to this situation.  In this book one of the characters says (and I am paraphrasing since it has been a few years since I reread the book and I can't find the quote right now) "Your brand of Catholicism has been tried and found wanting."  The liberal washed out everything goes type of faith just isn't what we are looking for right now. It isn't what we NEED right now.  It is the type of faith that has left us with an entire generation of lost souls  It is the type of faith that has emptied our churches, seminaries, and monasteries. It is the reason it is all too common now to see in families with a long Catholic heritage that maybe one or two children still hold to their faith while the others have long ago abandoned it. Our girls don't need to be taught that they can become priests.  It is our boys who need that message.

I realize that we have an obligation to stay in our home parish and try to make changes.  We have tried that.  We have written letters and attempted to engage the involved parties in discussion.  We have done our research.  We have prayed.  In the end, our greater obligation is to our children.  Our children need to see the truth when possible.  That is one of the blessings of living in the United States and having so many parishes in our vicinity.  We have found a parish in a neighboring town with a priest who is on fire with his faith.  He seems to not be afraid to call it like he sees it.  I have a feeling we will be challenged by his example and not find ourselves having to tell the children on the way home from Mass that what they saw or heard was wrong. I understand that the job of a priest is a hard one.  Trust me when I say that I would never want to shoulder the immense burden they carry.  But with a position like theirs comes a responsibility to lead those under them in the right direction.  I am hoping that the priest in our previous parish is simply somewhat inexperienced and afraid to stand out and step on toes with the truth as of yet.  We will continue to pray for the priests in the Rochester diocese every day and for it's misguided Bishop.  But until we see real change, we will be driving a bit further every week to a parish where we will be fed spiritually because frankly I have been hungry for far too long.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This Week's Menu

We are attempting to bring back "Sunday Dinner" and attempting to make an effort to do something special on Sunday nights.  So right now we have a whole chicken in the crock pot.  After dinner we'll have ice cream for our "sundaes on Sunday" tradition.    This past week was really a fly by the seat of your pants kind of week since we were all getting over being so darn sick.  By the end of the week my motivation to cook had returned and we had sauerbraten and homemade spaetzle for dinner (must admit Alan made the spaetzle and it was yummy).  But onto the coming week.  Monday night's dinner is debatable since we will toss the chicken carcass back into the crock pot, cover it with water, and let it cook all night so we'll have fresh broth in the morning.  I'm debating using that for dinner on Monday night and making soup of some sort.  Otherwise, here is what is planned:

Monday: blueberry French toast bake (crock pot meal) (B), grilled cheese (L), quiche, salad (D)
Tuesday: apple baked oatmeal (B), ham and potato chowder (L), BBQ beef sandwiches (D)
Wednesday: eggs, toast (B), pbj sandwiches (L), potato soup, rolls (D)
Thursday: cereal (B), Pizza Hut Book-It rewards between Little Flowers and karate (L), hearty Italian soup (D)
Friday: waffles, fruit (B), macaroni and cheese (L), fish of some sort (D)
Saturday: Pancakes, sausage (B), sandwiches or leftovers (L), pizza/movie night (D)
Sunday: muffins (B), sandwiches or leftovers (L), pot roast, potatoes, rolls, salad (D)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

School Supplies

The best school supplies ever made.
I actually bought these erasers to put into the kids' stockings this past Christmas. As you can see, they got lost in my bedroom and were found just a week or so ago.  I just love the sentiment on them since it is almost always what you are thinking when you need to find an eraser.

Planning for Holy Week

Here's a small confession.  I still struggle with finding the right way to celebrate liturgical seasons.  I grew up in what I would call a culturally Catholic home.  Perhaps what you have heard called a nominally Catholic home.  Meaning we went to Mass, said grace before meals, and that was pretty much it.  Yes, we went to CCD until we were confirmed.  But that was about the extent of things.  Liturgical celebrations were not acknowledged in any way at home other than in a secular manner.  Granted, this is fairly normal for most folks.  This was normal for most of my friends and still is normal today.  It's hard to change the pattern from what you have always known.  And yet change we must I believe.  Once I started getting to know Catholic homeschooling families who took their faith seriously and thought of it is a real vital important part of their daily lives, I started to see things differently.  I had to adjust to the idea that everyone was expected to stay home on Good Friday.  You would only get together on Good Friday if you were meeting for Stations of the Cross or something similar.  People expect you to give up everything sweet or special for ALL of Lent.  It's been a new experience and one that I hope my children think of as normal.

But now we get to Holy Week.  How do you mark this week in a meaningful way?  How do you find a way to get the point of the week across to your kids without doing too much and having them think of you as over zealous?  Exactly how much is just enough?

For this year I want to try something different.  Something to mark the week in a decidedly different way.  Yes, I want to do some sort of craft activity with the kids and we really need to get out the Passion of Christ movie to watch (may I sheepishly admit we have owned the movie since it first came out and have yet to watch it?).  I'm thinking that we will try eating only soup for lunch and dinner for the week.  That would definitely be something the kids would remember but would it help them realize why the week is different?  That is the real question. Guess we'll find out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day in the Life of Ellie

Having a Tea Party with Her Big Sister

Desperately Trying to Convince a Friend to Play with Her

Making a Fashion Statement

Really Getting into Her Books

Crashing After a Busy Day

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Corning Museum of Glass

Just in case I haven't said it before, I believe that field trips are a very important part of every child's education.  In our family, we believe that the ability to take field trips on a regular basis is one of the benefits of homeschooling.  I will admit to being frankly baffled by those families who choose to avoid field trips in favor of more book time at home and view field trips as just a nice little small extra to be added in only when everything else is totally caught up or finished.  I've watched many times as a new interest was sparked by a field trip and a child made huge leaps in a skill after one.  They are also a wonderful way to give your kids inexpensive experiences that would normally not fit into the budget.  I've found educational discounts are often half off or more making the trips very affordable.  We've also been to many free trips.  Think outside the box and make sure to add field trips to your school year.  If for no other reason, the memories are priceless.

Today we visited the Corning Museum of Glass.  Alan and I have been talking about taking the kids to this museum for quite a while and were given the chance when a trip was arranged to see astronaut Cady Coleman talk about her time living on the International Space Station.  Basically two trips in one.


We saw a glass blowing demonstration and learned about the history of glass making.  For a few of the kids, the best part of the trip was probably the ride back to the parking lot on a bus.  I've found that all of my kids have been positively thrilled with bus rides when little. Probably because they always get to see buses on the road, but don't get to ride in them.


There was a lot to see and learn at the museum but I will admit that due to two young ones who were overtired and cranky, we were not able to see everything.  However I think the kids had a great time. 

Children and teens are free at this museum and they offer a military discount making this a very affordable trip.  You can also add in a ticket to an art museum in downtown Corning if you have the time and just ride the free bus shuttle to get there.  We opted out of that this time but might try visiting it if we have another chance to get to that area.

Katie in the Kitchen

Katie was in charge of dinner last night.  She did at least 90% of the work to make this alphabet soup for dinner.  She even helped with cutting up the meat.  It was absolutely delicious and super easy to make since you just put everything in the crock pot. 
We doubled the recipe and honestly should have tripled it or more.  As written the recipe really makes about 4 servings I think.  Or it could be that the crock pot we used does cook a bit hot so a bit of the broth was cooked off and I didn't quite add enough water back in during the day.  We used small shells instead of alphabet shaped pasta because that was what we had in the house.  I plan on picking up the alphabet pasta on the next shopping trip for the next time we make this soup.  I never buy stewed tomatoes so we just used diced instead and I'd imagine any tomatoes you have in the house would work.  I would just make sure you use something that is bigger than a puree so you actually see the tomatoes in the soup.  You can also easily keep the amount of beef in the soup small (only double the beef amount while quadrupling the soup recipe) without loosing out on taste which helps keep the cost in an economical range.  With the only processed food truly being the onion soup mix (which you can just switch out and use diced onions and a bit of beef broth instead), this is a wonderful meal to start your kids cooking.  Real food, real simple, really delicious.