Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Scaling the Walls

This is how we remove wallpaper around here. A week off for Alan means we hope to get a few things fixed around the house.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Question of the Day

Does anyone else have a black hole in their house that sucks up all the cups? Our coffee cups tend to go in two ways. Either they are reproducing in the cabinets behind our backs or they suddenly all disappear. But lately all of the other cups in the house have disappeared as well. I honestly have no clue where they have all gone to. Ok, I have an idea or five. I'm fairly certain if we do a deep clean of all the children's bedrooms and the playroom, we will find a few of them. But seriously, where do they all keep disappearing to? This is a perplexing questions and why we never buy cups anywhere but the thrift store, with a coupon. Maybe the dollar store for kid cups but gracious, where do they all keep going to?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Life Update

Please for give the rambling if it happens. It likely will because, well, who am I kidding. :)

Just wondering who is simply not feeling this Christmas thing this year? I am so raising my hand right now. There are almost no decorations out, the only cookies made so far have been for the cookie party and those were rather universally eaten by the ravenous kidlets. We did make the Advent candles but they admittedly have not been lit very often. I do try to maintain a few traditions for us from year to year but this year they have not been followed. We have a real tree this year which means needles all over the floor. Every stinking day. I think the kids brush up against it just so they can see if they can burst needles off. It also means we did not have our 3rd Sunday in Advent getting out the tree and putting on the lights party. The boys put them on in the middle of the week. I was so bummed. Just not the same and I know several other kids were a bit upset to have missed out. The nativity scene isn't up. Because someone got the box down without asking. Left if where a certain one-year-old could get into it. He broke some of the pieces. I am not supposed to know that the pieces are now hidden in the older child's room where they are being or have been repaired. I'm not enjoying Christmas music at all right now. Yup, still changing the station when it comes on the radio. I had a nice Advent coloring poster for the kids from Illuminated Ink this year. That lasted 24 hrs before Seamus ripped it to shreds. Just that kind of year I guess.

Kieran got glasses a couple weeks ago. He seems to like them. He managed to pick out two pairs which give him very different looks. One makes him look more like Alan and the other one gives him more of a Clark Kent type look. He says they make a significant difference in how well he can see so I feel a tad guilty for not getting them earlier. He also got to try a new type of fencing at class on Tuesday. I do believe he said they were using sabers instead of foils and he rather enjoyed it.

Katie rode a pony at her riding lessons this week. She says it was a lot of fun until the pony decided to try to roll while she was still on its back. That sounds not so much fun to me and I'm rather glad I didn't see it. I do better with the weird possibly dangerous things that happen to the kids if I don't actually have to witness them.

The Ford has been acting up lately. When Alan told me the heater wasn't working, I told him to get back to me in January since I was done dealing with car repairs for the year. A few days later he called from work (over an hour away) to say that the car was over heating on the drive into work that morning. That evening it starting over heating much sooner in the trip. Thankfully it was a problem solved with $10 of coolant but there appears to be a leak in the system somewhere. Hopefully it will hang on until we can get it looked at later.

The oven is acting temperamental lately as well. Which is totally awesome. It is rather new so it shouldn't be acting funny. Appears to be a thermostat issue of sorts. We have replaced every single major appliance in the house in the last 18 months with the exception of the dryer and that is because we just never bothered to fix the dead dryer. And the water heater needed to be repaired as well. It has been an interesting couple of years.

Liam heads back to the physical therapist after Christmas I believe. Need to check the schedule because it might be next week. Hopefully we will see some improvement.

Alan somehow has the entire week after Christmas off. I guess he forgot that he stashed a week of vacation time there when he had to decide when to use everything this year. Hopefully we will be able to use the time to get a few repairs done around the house and help the older kids catch up on some school work. I have a feeling the older crew might end up taking it a movie as well.

The kids received a wooden nativity set a few weeks ago. It has been something Abby and Gabe have been playing with most every day. I love hearing them act out the stories. Really helps you figure out how much they understand.

The boys had their Boy Scout Christmas party. Alan took a couple of the younger kids with him. Everyone got a few new badges and they sent the crew home with a huge pan of leftover pasta which means no need to cook for the next few days.

The parish center in our church is finally repaired from the fire. This means we have finally moved out of the school for Mass. While this does provide the parish a more permanent place to hold Mass, it also means we lost seating space. So now we have to get there even earlier to get seats for our family. The entire situation has also reminded me how important the atmosphere truly is in aiding worship. We are incredibly lucky that no one was hurt in the fire and only things were lost but the lack of a sacred space does matter. WE often attend Mass in another parish that is blessed with a beautiful church and truly reverent priests. The kind of place where they often have 8 altar servers, a lack of extraordinary ministers, reverent music, and a truly inspiring church. The difference in the behavior of the younger children is noticeable because they can look around and sense that they are someplace special. Liturgical art is important it seems.  Makes me realize how much I miss it.

That is a round up of the latest and greatest in our world at the moment. Hope it finds you doing well.

Pictures and Stuff

Just a few pictures. This has been a favorite game the last week. I am hoping that the larger sized checkers will be harder for the kids to lose.
Littlest dude enjoying his ice cream. The best part of Sunday nights.
It is harder than you would think to get a decent picture of this little lady. She seems to always move or start screeching when I try to take her picture. Neither of which makes for awesome picture taking.
Ellie on her birthday. Yes, she cut her hair again and I had to trim it up. The older girl are spending a lot  of time knitting and crocheting and they left a pair of scissors in their room. Ellie is nothing if not stubborn and determined. Thankfully she looks cute with short hair but I wasn't able to truly even it out. If I had cut it truly evenly, it would be a wee bit shorter and I just did not want to do that. Admittedly, now that it is shorter, it does look a lot less messy most of the time. Maybe we just need to leave it be for a while but short hair means more haircuts. And I am just not as comfortable cutting the girls' hair as I am the boys. Hence the longer hair. There you have my secret. It's my fear of giving the girls a really horrid hair cut that keeps their hair long.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Meal Plan

I'm finding with my current crazy schedule, that I really need to get back to meal planning. At the moment I am often spending 2 hours a day driving Alan to work, 2 to 3 hours a day pumping (and it's really not enough to keep up with her), and still trying to fit in life and appointments and school and such. Last week was a 4 doctor appointment kind of week. Since something had to give, dinners were often going unmade. Not so great since we all still need to eat.

M: creamy salsa chicken over rice
T: pot roast
W: Boy Scout Christmas dinner for some, hot dogs for those at home
T: sweet fire chicken
F: spinach tortellini soup, rolls

Charlotte News

The latest on the little one. She's found her own growth pattern so we are able to back off on the visits to the pediatrician and plastic surgeon. This is a good thing because going to one or the other every week was getting to be a bit much.

She had her second hearing test last week. Failed it. Which at this point means nothing. Due to the cleft palate, she pretty much lacks the ability to remove fluid from her ears on her own. The basic newborn hearing screenings require that there is no fluid in the baby's ears for the test to work.  She has fluid in her ears fairly regularly so she failed the tests. This means that there is no way to get an accurate hearing test done until the fluid is removed. The audiologist recommends putting tubes in her ears before another hearing test is performed. Both the tubes and the next level of hearing tests require sedation No one likes to put little babies under anesthesia unnecessarily so nothing will happen until her next surgery. Hopefully tubes can be put in at that point. But we have no clue on what will really happen. It's all a waiting game at this point.

So we are plugging along. And, nope, I don't have more info than that right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent Plans Revised

I had plans this year to buy some new Christmas books to share a book each evening with the kids during Advent. Then the brakes went on the van and the fridge died and had to be replaced and those plans got ditched. I'm hoping to still find some decent ones at the library but far too often you have to pick through the ridiculous and just plain silly books to find one or two decent ones regarding holidays.

The kids made our Advent candles tonight. Yes, a tad late. I ordered them to arrive in time and they got lost in the mail.  Sent to Minnesota. I'm hoping I will be awake early enough tomorrow to take them to Mass to have Father bless them for us. We also have a new Advent poster for the kids to color. I need to get out the Nativity sets later this week. Our best wedding present was a ceramic set made by my Grandmother.  It will be a bit more meaningful now. I will admit that I wish we still had a child friendly Nativity set for the kids to use and play with but over the years the pieces have been misplaced and purged.

I'm thinking things will be kind of low key this year. I picked up gingerbread houses for the kids to make today. We will be planning our cookie party this week.

Saint Nicholas Day arrives this weekend. I do believe this is the biggest day in Advent for our crew. I love seeing how excited they get over a couple of shoes full of candy.

Here's hoping your Advent is a fruitful one.

Baby Update

So Charlotte is 5 weeks now. She had another appointment with the plastic surgeon today. She finally seems to have settled into a consistent growth pattern so we can now put off further visits with them for another 6 weeks. The current plan is for the first surgery to be around 4 months, the second one somewhere after 10 months, and down the road she will need further surgery when she is older. Her palette issues are fairly severe. I'm assuming this girl will have fairly extensive orthodontic issues when she gets older. But for now, she's doing well.  Acting more alert, gaining every day, drinking with no issues. She is over 6 pounds and using a much nicer bottle than the one given to us in the NICU. The current bottle allows for baby led feedings which is much better for everyone. She is still on a 2 week schedule with the pediatrician but he tends to watch newbies closely until he sees them establish a good growth pattern. Hopefully after her visit with him next week, we can back off those visits as well. She has also learned how to pull the tape off her face. I was hoping use would put off learning that trick for another month or so but apparently not.

Next week she has a hearing check scheduled to try to determine if she has hearing issues. They are fairly common in kids with palette issues and she failed her hearing screening in the hospital. Thankfully our pediatrician was able to schedule not only the screening but also an appointment with a doctor to immediately go over results and have her looked at that day. This means just one visit instead of two and makes my life a tad easier right now.

In other news, child number 4 is starting twice weekly physical therapy sessions next week for his arm. He is also due for surgery to have the pin removed from his elbow in about 3 months. Anyone see an issue with this timing? I had spent every follow up visit with the orthopedist asking why surgery couldn't be scheduled now, before the baby was born to make things easier on the entire family. He kept saying no, there is no need to take the pin out until it starts to bother Liam. First follow up visit after the baby is born, the pin needs to come out. But not for another 3 months. Right when Charlotte is due for her surgery. He also spent the past 6 months telling us kids never need physical therapy anymore, don't worry about it. Now the story is he is not regaining full range of monition and needs physical therapy pronto. Yes, the kid does need it. I just wish we had started it 3 months ago.

I also had an unplanned visit to urgent care for an infected c-section incision. Then again, how many urgent care visits are ever scheduled. So the third surgery was just a bit crazy for me. It is definitely taking me longer to bounce back this time but I think that is due in large part to the severe anemia before her birth and the crazy insane schedule since. I've also found myself just sick in general for a while but after spending a day in bed, I'm feeling a bit better. I remember feeling this run down after Abby was born when I had similar anemia issues. I'm just hoping it doesn't take me as long to recover this time as it did then. It seriously took me 6 months to feel back to normal. Hoping for a quicker recovery this time around.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

4 Weeks

She's slowly getting big.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

She is Home

The baby is finally home. Her siblings are enjoying spoiling her. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to have toddlers and babies. Toddlers seem to have an instinctive love for babies. Totally awesome to see. Now to just find a bed for the baby. Yup, we failed in our planning and still need to get a bed for the poor girl. We are a work in progress.

I must say this last visit at the NICU baffled me. We got to the point where even the nurses were saying her forward progress was completely being hindered by the policies in the NICU and simply being there.  The charge nurse insists that every single nurse has been properly trained and knows how to feed her but the nurses tell us something else and we see that they have no clue. The last 3 nurses she had while there had no clue how to even put the bottle together.  The directions the occupations therapist had written out for how to feed her (which must be followed by the nurses) absolutely did not work for how Charlotte actually ate. It was a huge waste of our time.

And yet, we were constantly told that she had to be there. Until they got more super tiny babies than they were expecting. Then it was a suddenly change and we were kicked out. Because they needed her bed.  Trust me when I say I am oh so very happy because just a few hours earlier we had been told to expect to be stuck there for at least another 24 hours. Just seems to me that if they could be so comfortable kicking her out so quickly, she likely did not really need to be there by that point. Sigh. Since this is the second time we have had a very similar experience with the same NICU, it can safely be said that if we are blessed with another child while living here, we will not deliver at this hospital. I also did not enjoy hearing the anesthesiologist explaining to his resident how he was messing up while putting in the spinal. Seriously, some things should not be said in hearing of the patient. And to have the nurse try to distract me by asking if we were planning more kids right at that point. Um, lady, someone is sticking a needle in my back. Can we have this conversation at a later point? It was fun. And yet Charlotte is worth it.

Yes, I am thankful for NICU's for those children who truly need them. My heart breaks for all of the parents of the super micro preemies I saw sharing a room with Charlotte. They got a 23 weeker in those last few hours we were there. I just wish this particular NICU was more willing to view each child as an individual, kept the parents truly involved, and remembered the importance of communication. I also wish they truly encouraged breast feeding with the new moms who were interested but that is an entirely different story. The number of new moms I heard tell their nurses they were no longer going to try to nurse was sad because you could just hear the heart break in their voices.

Anyway, we are home. I was greeted by a broken fridge and another huge pile of medical bills when I arrived home. We have managed to fist he brakes in the van and get new license plates for the truck after one of those fell off. And we are blessed with a full pantry and lots of food for the next week or so from friends dropping meals off. Maybe after another week or so I will feel like tackling putting the house back into some semblance of an order but for now, that can wait while we all enjoy the new baby. And make the zillion and one appointments she will need with various doctors over the next few months. Regular doctor, plastic surgeon, and a hearing specialist (because she failed her hearing screening which is normal for kids with cleft palates) just for starters. I'm really not looking forward to it but I new this first year would be kind of crazy insane.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Week 2

No pictures. I know. That seems mean. But Alan has them all. Maybe soon.

And I know I am supposed to be singing the praises of the NICU and the staff and how amazing they are and such things but I just cannot. Yes, I get that their job is challenging. But I am truly getting frustrated with how they are handling Charlotte. (And we won't even mention the crappy dangerous car seat advice they were giving out today. It got really bad so I had to jump in and correct a few things. Like never ever ever put your baby in a snow suit and then buckle them into their car seat. Never.)

Anyway, we are working on getting her off the feeding tube so she can come home. If we are there to feed her, she takes almost her entire feeding (and sometimes lately the entire thing) from her bottle. If the nurses feed her, she take less than half. Often way less than half. It appears that they just are not taking the time she needs to feed her and since that is their job, it frustrates me. Not to mention the times she is awake and rooting around and hungry and fussing but not allowed to eat because it is not her scheduled feeding time. So then when her scheduled time rolls around, she has worn herself out fussing and is too tired to eat everything. Seriously, this is annoying. I understand why NICU's rely on schedules but there are times when a baby must be fed according to their own cues.

Anyway, it has been a long week so far. Hard on the younger children who have had their lives turned upside down. Hard on the older boys who are being asked to take on so much more work at home, and hard on us as we fight to get the best care for Charlotte but find ourselves unable to do so. Seriously frustrating.

Hopefully things will improve over the next few days. I hope.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tales from the NICU

Just a disclaimer here. This is not to say a NICU is not a valuable place, that the nurses don't work hard or any such thing. It is just my own view of things. If you don't like it, I really frankly don't care. :)

So this is our fourth time with a child in the NICU. Never a fun experience. This is also our second time with a child in this particular NICU. So not a fun time. You get used to the constant beeping of alarms because they must be ignored. You get used to the sound of babies crying because there are not enough hands around to hold them when they are upset so it seems they only get picked up if something is wrong. You get used to never being told ANYTHING because it seems communication is just not a priority. Doctors who are rarely around, parents kicked out when they are around during rounds. This seems to be a policy exclusive to this NICU. When Robert was in the NICU, they made a policy of getting the parent of the child and bringing them into the conversation during rounds. Trust me, this was very reassuring. But this place, well, they drive me bonkers.

What I have learned over the past few days (and the previous week long stay) is that this place runs entirely on the concept of standard protocols. No real though given to what is best for an individual child or family. This is not at all a good thing. No child may be treated for jaundice unless the bilirubin levels are dangerously high. This means we are dealing with our second child with numbers that are borderline dangerous, causing excessive sleepiness which leads to feeding issues but they refuse to treat it. Two times in a row. This decision led to a longer than needed stay for Seamus and I believe is doing the same thing with Charlotte. They have a standard rule for when a child may try a bottle the first time. When they may move out of on incubator. They also refuse to allow a child to leave with a feeding tube no matter what. This is our big one right now. Charlotte's cleft is fairly severe. I'm not sure she'll be ok without a tube until after the first surgery. Can we see the problem here?  And oh my goodness. I am so tired of being told simply blah, blah, the doctor hasn't said when I ask a freaking question. Call the guy and get an answer or you will quickly have a very angry mother on your hands.

Yes, we are trying to get her transferred to a local hospital. One that is better at working with parents and has a better support network in place for helping families. One that is  20 minute drive rather than the current hour or more drive. But it is all up to insurance approval. The doctors are ok with moving her but the insurance can easily deny it because insurance companies rarely care about what is easiest on families. And TRICARE especially is notorious about denying anything and everything it can. Already fighting with them on denial of genetic screen done after the cleft was discovered. So here we sit, playing the waiting game. The local hospital will send kids home on feeding tubes if needed. It's where she'll have her plastic surgeries. It's where I had planned to deliver if she was truly early like her sibs but I thought 37 weeks was safe enough to be out of the woods. Big mistake on my part. We are hoping to get in contact with her plastic surgeon on Monday and see if he can help us facilitate a transfer.

So please pray with us that the insurance company will see reason and approve a transfer. Otherwise it will be a very long road ahead of us.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Meal Plan

A hopeful meal plan. We have lots of food in the house and lots of things for easy breakfast meals this week. But we are still in recovery mode from a not so friendly stomach bug so who know how things will pan out this week. Seamus was the first one to get sick and still seems to fighting the bug off but the rest of us appear to either be over it or managed to avoid it. Ok, only 4 boys managed to avoid it. Everyone else got very sick. Not a fun weekend. So I guess we will mostly be playing it by ear over the next few days. Maybe.

M: yogurt (B), tator tot casserole (D)
T: cinnamon raisin English muffins (B), spicy chicken soup, cheddar muffins (D)
W: eggs and toast (B), chicken parmesan casserole (D)
T: cereal (B), leftovers (D)
F: eggs and toast (B), fish sticks (D)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cleaning Out the Freezer

It is no secret that I have not been too involved in the daily running of the kitchen as of later. This is mostly because my job right now is to relax as much as possible. But it is also my job to train the kids to take over the kitchen tasks so I guess it's a bit of both. But I'd noticed lately that the upstairs freezer was kind of a mess and things were falling out when you opened the door. So today I decided it was time to at least somewhat organize it.

My question for you is what is the strangest thing you have unearthed from your freezer? This is always a somewhat interesting experience. Today I found 6 opened half empty bags of frozen waffles. (They will be breakfast on Saturday.) A bag with 3 pepper slices. Another bag with 2 strawberries in it. A single random banana not in the ziplock bag full of bananas right next to it. A few single popsicles just tossed in there somewhere. I did find a last container of pumpkin butter which reminds me we need to make more when we get pumpkins this year. There were a couple bags of beef bones still for when we are ready for more broth and a bag of suet. I really need to get all 3 of those bags processed already. But the winner was the bag full of nothing but a lump of ice. I'm a wee bit confused. I mean, why would you toss a bag full of just water into the freezer? I know, don't ask such questions. Just accept the weirdness that is your life and move on.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Meal Plan

M: pancake sausage muffins, fruit (B), cabbage casserole (D)
T: eggs sandwiches (B), cheesy chicken tator tot casserole (D)
W: overnight breakfast casserole (B), alphabet soup, 1 hour rolls (D)
T: oatmeal (B), drunken honey BBQ chicken (D)
F: cereal (B), tuna casserole (D)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bloggity Bloggity Blog

Been slow around here lately. Still attempting to figure out where to take this little corner of the internet of mine in the next few months. I'm sure there will be occasional updates on the little one when they finally arrive. I had other plans but then my computer died. The one Alan has working for me is incredibly temperamental and just is not handling what I'd like it to so things like adding pictures is proving rather complicated. But computers are a want, not a need so life goes on.

We've been rather busy of late. Still dealing with the orthopedist who know says his plan is to just leave the pin in Liam's arm until it begins to bug him. Then remove it. I've tried to tell him such a theory is rather silly given that it means the possibility of more complications and pretty much guarantees that they pin will need to come out at a most inconvenient time for us. I mean, if it is going to have to come out, why not just remove the darn thing already? Dealt with another child who needed over $2K in dental work. Suddenly. And a dentist who only allowed 30 minute appointments. So we had to come back 5 separate times. And they pretty much refused to use novocaine, instead using laughing gas. The poor kid was high as a kite and starving after every appointment because you can't eat if you are getting laughing gas. (Nevermind bringing in a child on an empty stomach and then having them pretty much always running rather late as well which is just rather annoying for everyone involved.) Then the dentist tried to tell me the kid needed to come in every 3 months for cleanings because "you have insurance and if you don't bring her in, you aren't taking proper care of her." Can you guess who is now looking for a different dentist for the crew?

Katie turned 11. Crazy how quickly that is going. She asked for cheesecake this year. That really means she is getting bigger.

Alan and the older 5 kids ran in a 5K over the weekend. Alan won the race, Sean came in 3rd, Katie took the top price for her category.  The rest of the crew all beat their last times. Everyone had a great time. I'm rather impressed with the progress the kids are making with their running. Makes me wish there was an affordable running club around here for the kids.

So life is plugging along. We're all doing well.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Tiny Saints

I recently won an on-line raffle and received five Tiny Saints charms. I received St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, Mary the Blessed Mother, Padre Pio, and one additional that one of my kiddos has claimed for their own.These adorable little charms are meant to serve as a daily reminder of our patron saints.

Each package comes with a short summary of the saint's life on the back. Just enough to hep you determine if this saint relates to your life. The clasp allows you to attach the Tiny Saints to zipper pulls, key chains or backpacks. With around 80 different charms to chose from, there is sure to be one perfect for you.

My one criticism of the charms is that they are not as sturdy as I would like. Especially if they might be used by children. Our Padre Pio charm fell off the clasp almost immediately. They are, however, incredibly affordable at only $5 per charm and very adorable.

Meal Plan

M: waffles (B), taco salad (D)
T: egg sandwiches (B), leftovers or tuna casserole (D)
W: oatmeal (B), BBQ chicken, baked squash (D)
T: yogurt (B), chili, cheddar muffins (D)
F: cereal (B), potato soup (D)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Meal Plan

M: oatmeal (B), chicken broccoli alfredo (D)
T: cereal (B), leftovers (D)
W: crockpot breakfast casserole (B), beef and mushrooms over rice (D)
T: baked apple pancake (B), cheeseburger soup (D)
F: muffins, fruit (B), bean burritos (D)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Finding Time

Something I've been pondering for a while. How do we as Moms of Many Young Persons make sure to prioritize our needs while taking care of the rest of the family? If there is something I regret since moving here, it is not prioritizing my needs. Suddenly our schedules and lives changed big time. Alan was around on a regular basis which should have helped but actually make it harder to get the time I needed to myself. Why? I was used to having all sorts of time to myself after the kids went to bed and only having to worry about my plans in the evenings. Getting time alone to relax could be as simple as putting the kids to bed early. Add another adult into the mix and it actually made it harder. Plus the kids were older and suddenly had activities outside the house in the evenings. So taking care of me went on the back burner. Big, huge mistake.

So now I have gotten much more intentional about finding ways to prioritize my needs. No, I am not the helicopter Mom who sits front and center at the kids' sport practicing and watches their every move.  I may attend most sessions and pay attention for a time but I figure God gave me an hour or two and I should use it properly. This is not to say I find the kids' sports boring. I don't and would never say that. I vividly remember how deeply it hurt me to have my parent say that to me when I asked why they never bothered to attend any of my sporting events since they did attend them for the other children. Being told that they didn't want to because it was boring was like being kicked in the gut. Then they wondered why I stopped inviting them to things. Figure it out folks. Tell me my interests are boring to you and then get offended when I stop including you.  Sigh. I digress. So what do I do now? I enjoy the quiet with a book. Or catch up on a quick nap while sitting in the tack room. Pay the bills and do the budget. Last year karate time meant me taking a walk around the building when the weather was nice. Occasionally the time is used to run errands alone. Admittedly, now that our oldest son does most of the driving to karate and Boy Scouts, my evenings are different. I'm home more often than not now so I actually have to get on the treadmill every day. And, yes, I've gotten a bit selfish about that time. I've learned that if I don't take care of me, I can't take care of you. And, no, I'm not ok with kids coming in to bug me while I am exercising. Seriously, just leave me be. It will pay off in the end.

So what would my advice be to those Moms of lots of little people? Remember your needs, too. Put yourself first at times. If you neglect yourself, you will burn out. You will get sick. You will be unable to care for your family. Carve out some personal space and guard it. You are more than worth it. Don't listen to the people who say me time is a bad thing. I do think you can take it too far but a little time for yourself pays big dividends for the rest of the family.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Meal Plan

M: cereal (b), pot roast (d)
T: oatmeal (b), pork cutlets, spatzel (d)
W: bagels, fruit (b), stuffed cabbage rolls (d)
T: waffles (b), beef stew, rolls (d)
F: eggs (b), macaroni and cheese with broccoli (d)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Planning Ahead

Serious question. Give me some comments. If you are of the mindset to keep your house stocked with emergency supplies, what items are on your must have list. I'm trying to work on improving our emergency supplies in the next year and looking for suggestions. We have 100 hour candles, some basic first aid supplies (definitely need to work on that one, it's been a crazy year medically speaking), a couple emergency blankets (really should order a few more to keep in the cars), the basics in the pantry. I need to find flashlights that the boys don't ruin after one camping trip. Or just keep ours out of their hands. I need to work on a real plan for alternate heating and cooking sources as well. But give me your must have suggestions please. What would you never want to be caught without.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thankful Tuesday

Today has been a slightly crazy day. Time to step back and count our blessings. I'm super thankful for guardian angels and kind strangers. A fixed freezer even if the repair was crazy expensive. A full freezer and pantry. The gift of hand-me-downs. Being able to still do 4 or more miles on the treadmill. Crazy kids. The mess and clutter because it means we are abundantly blessed. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of all the light underneath the chaos and struggle.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Meal Plan

Do you ever make a meal plan, then go shopping and find deals that cause you to revamp your meal plan when you get home? Today was one of those days. We are sticking with a simple crock pot friendly meal plan this week so I can spend some time getting our pears canned (the trees are full).

M: oatmeal (b), hot dogs, pasta salad (d)
T: bagels, fruit (b), steak and blue cheese roll-roll-ups (d)
W: yogurt and granola (b), ravioli, salad (d)
T: cereal (b), pulled pork, coleslaw (d)
F: eggs and toast (b), spinach tortellini soup (d)
S: waffles (b), pizza (d)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Blessed Mother

Our slightly pathetic Mom is pregnant and tired and her computer is dead so she couldn't print anything nice birthday party for the Blessed Mother. Seamus enjoyed himself.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Meal Plan

S: pancakes (b), pork chops, corn (d)
M: oatmeal (b), chicken parm casserole (d)
T: yogurt and granola (b), cheesy bean dip, veggies (d)
W: breakfast casserole (b), beef and rice (d)
T: eggs (b), burritos (d)
F: cereal (b), Mac and cheese with broccoli (d)

Lunches will be leftovers if we have them, corn dog muffins, quesadillas, sandwiches if we make bread, whatever else we come up with.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Weekly Update

So how has your week been going? Things are a bit hectic around here as usual. The large chest freezer needs a $500 part to fix it. A part that is on back order. Until who knows when. The title we need to get rid of the car is missing somewhere in the house. Don't judge me. I used to be organized once. Then life beat on me a bit. Alan and I went out for a "parent/teacher conference" last night to discuss the craziness of the homeschooling this year. We come home to find someone had tied the van to the car using the slack line. No, I won't tell you who so don't ask. Someone also used the staple gun to put staples into the bumper on the van. Someone else tried to blame said issues on the sheep. Right. I just don't think so but thanks for the laugh kid.

My attempts to make sure we are well stocked with easy to grab food and snacks once the baby arrives are currently being sabotaged by the children. Apparently when something is located behind a locked pantry door, this indicates to my minions that they should immediately devour everything they can. And then dump the empty boxes and wrappers and such things where they stand. Right. Because this won't irritate me or anything. Or cause me to now keep said pantry key on my person at all times, including when I leave the house. Or rant at them like a crazy lunatic. I can only imagine the stories they will tell their children.

I have successfully managed to get several freezer meals put together and into the freezer but given that I am severely anemic and sort of supposed to be taking it easy, we will probably work our way through at least half of them before baby #12 arrives.

We have successfully survived the first full week of homeschooling. A few bumps in the road with the dual enrollment program (don't ask, headache) and the on-line school for child number 3 but I think we will get all the kinks worked out this week. Ellie's box of projects to keep her busy is rather popular. Now to work on the putting everything back into the box when you are done with it part. And maybe making a batch of play-doh to keep her and Robert still. Seriously, when it's not around all the time, play-doh has magic powers and can cause the most squirmy of children to just sit still and be quiet.

Seamus has discovered the joys of emptying the cabinets in the kitchen. We are now on the hunt for decent child locks again. No, not the ones that use magnets because we will lose the magnets or a child would use them to find out what happens when you put a magnet near the tv or computer or something. But the plastic locks seem flimsy  and just don't hold up.Yes, we need child locks for my sanity so I hope we find something soon.

So there's our week in a nutshell. Hope life is being equally interesting for you.

Mass Books for Kids

How do you answer that age old question of what to do with the young children during Mass? I know we've gone through many different ways of managing young kids and seem to have settled on you just expect them to learn to be quiet and bring as few distractions as possible. Because there are few things as annoying as an older child dragging in a toy store or a Happy Meal or a tablet loaded with movies to Mass. Seriously, that sort of thing really bugs me.

One of the few things we will allow our kids to have during Mass are kid friendly Mass books. But how do you know which ones are worth the money? Today I am sharing my views on the books by  Catholic Icing and Holy Heroes.
The booklet by Holy Heroes is really two books in one. On one side, you have the prayers of the Mass. Flip the book over and you'll find a collection of Best Loved Catholic Prayers.  You can also purchase an audio CD to go along with this book with the Holy Heroes kids leading your children through all of the prayers.

The Holy Heroes book does, however, lack pictures. It has a very simply layout that focuses almost exclusively on the words of the various prayers. This allows for more information but means the book is best suited for an older child. The audio CD that can be purchased with the book is great for using in the car to help your kids memorize prayers or during family prayer time. This section of the book includes prayers such as the Angelus, Memorare, the St Michel Prayer, and several common prayers in both English and Latin.  I love this book for the middle kids in the family.
The Mass book by Catholic  Icing is called A Picture Book of the Mass. This book focuses exclusively on the prayers of the Mass. I love this one because of the amazing pictures. The booklet is illustrated using old masters paintings. With at least one picture on every page, it keeps the attention of younger kids. Older kids also enjoy the paintings but this one is my go to book to grab for the toddlers. Even if they can't read the words, they are captivated by paintings in the book.

Price wise, both books are just about the same. Both companies also offer bulk discounts so these would be great books to buy for religious ed classes or homeschooling groups or vbs or just to donate to your parish. They are both soft cover booklets so if yours live in the diaper bag like mine do, they will show wear and tear after a while. But the affordable price makes them easy to replace.  As nice as the hardcover formal books many of us received  as First Communion gifts are, these books are a little more convenient for younger children or larger families. You also know that your purchase is supporting a small at home Catholic business. Which is a win-win situation for everyone.

All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I was not compensated in anyway for my review. Just sharing one Mom's opinion.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Meal Plan and an Update

You will start to see a pattern in the next few weeks. We are starting school and hitting the 3rd trimester and the super mobile I want to scale everything in my path realm of toddlerhood all at the same time. So meals will be simple for a while. I may soon break down and buy some paper plates.

I found an awesome deal on yogurt this past week so the fridge in the basement is full of store bought yogurt. I think my kids went slightly into shock over that one since we normally only have homemade stuff. I can make a gallon of yogurt for under $3 right now. This stuff came in at about $4 a gallon so going with that whole simple thing, I filled the cart.

The large freezer is just not acting right again so hopefully it will be fixed tomorrow. Or you just might find me in panic mode as I try to find a way to save all that organic grass fed beef and organic pork. And the budget in the process.

We will soon be bidding a fond farewell to Alan's car and going back to two cars for a while. Turns out the poor thing just could not handle a couple of teenage accidents and a few other issues. Just need to decide the best way to get rid of it. Hopefully a few months with lower car insurance will allow us to save up a bit for another older used commuter car eventually.

Discovered why I have been so stinking tired (beyond the pregnant thing) and am working on fixing that. Hopefully I will be successful before more drastic measures are needed. The words blood transfusion just don't make me a happy camper.

We had guests in town last week who were kind enough to leave us with a fridge full of lunch meat and such things so we are working our way through the leftovers. Too bad I'm not really supposed to eat lunch meat at the moment. Seriously, how many other stupid rules will they come up for pregnant ladies? Admittedly, I do eat it. Just try to stick with the freshest options possible so not stuff the kids have been pawing through for several days.

M: yogurt, granola (B), leftovers (L), sloppy joe/corn bread casserole, veggies (D)
T: waffles, fruit (B), leftovers (L), enchilada skillet (D)
W: breakfast casserole (B), leftovers or sandwiches (L), pasta and crockpot spaghetti sauce (D)
T: yogurt, granola (B), leftovers if we have them/sandwiches (L), curry chicken (D)
F: oatmeal (B), sandwiches (L), bean and rice burritos (D)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Meal Plan

Hoping to fill in the blanks tomorrow. It will be a crazy week. 3 doctor's appointments for different people, online courses starting, canning still going in full swing, and visitors in town. Seamus turns 1 (but we won't celebrate on his actual birthday because we will be busy and he won't know the difference). So a busy week. I think I need to go back to making actual daily lists for myself so that I stand a chance of actually getting things done.

M: Apple baked oatmeal (b), meatloaf muffins, fruit (l), baked ziti (d)
T: waffles, fruit (b), chicken salad sandwiches (l), sloppy Joes (d)
W: yogurt, granola (b)
T: crockpot breakfast casserole, fruit (b),
F: eggs and toast (b), tuna melts (l), Mac and cheese (d)
S: cereal (b), leftovers (l), pizza (d)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Meal Plan

S: oatmeal (B), meatloaf, corn, zucchini (D)
M: eggs, raisin toast (B), cream cheese chicken over rice (D)
T: oatmeal (B), Dr. Pepper pulled pork, coleslaw (D)
W: bagels, fruit (B), broccoli beef over rice (D)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (B), leftovers (D)
F: waffles, fruit (B), quiche (D)
S: maple French toast, fruit (B), pizza (D)

Working on starting to stock the freezer with freezer meals. Made 10 yesterday. I have more to make tomorrow along with a batch of shredded chicken and peach butter. I just ordered a pressure canner so I am hoping to turn the last of the beef bones into broth and can that rather than freezing it. Slowly making progress on restocking the pantry.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fr. Murphy 5K and Fun Run

Most of the family participated in the Fr. Murphy 5K and Fun Run a while back. This run is part of the St. Pius County Fair held every year as a parish fund raiser. This year, Bryan and Sean were both out of town. So Alan and Kieran ran the 5K. The other kids (not counting Seamus) ran the fun run. The fun run is a free 1 mile kids' race. We keep the kids in the fun run as long as possible because, well, it's free and because we don't want to push their bodies to run the longer distances often when they aren't truly physically ready for it.

 Liam came in first in the fun ran, Katie took second, Gabe was in 5th place, Abby and Robert were somewhere in the middle, and Ellie came in last place. Alan was in 7th place overall, first for his age bracket. And Kieran improved on his time from last year. Everyone did a great job and loved the ice cream reward after the race (bribing all the children to get them to run, I think).

Monday, August 10, 2015

I am really struggling with meal plans lately. Totally lacking motivation, among other things. Starting to try stocking up on quick snacks and things for the last month of pregnancy and first month post partum. The crazy times. And hoping the kids don't find them and eat them beforehand. Hoping to start freezer meals later this month as well.

M: eggs and toast (B), cheesy beef and rice (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), not a clue (D)
W: oatmeal (B), broccoli beef (D)
T: breakfast casserole (B), spaghetti (D)
F: cereal (B), no clue (D)

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Weekly Round-Up

I remember thinking this past week would be quiet. I was a bit wrong. Ah well, better than boring, right? Lots of craziness, unexpected running around, water heater suffering a serious injury, two boys sent off to two different camps, Alan working the weekend, canning craziness on Saturday. Yup, craziness.

So the water heater was yet another unplanned expensive repair. But on a positive note, I can now take a hot shower again. Sigh, hot water is a wonderful thing. The main floor tv died. I found a working one of the side of the road for free and sent Bryan to pick it up. We were gifted free tickets to the chicken dinner at church on Saturday. I am so looking forward to the break from cleaning up the kitchen.

So while I was shopping on Saturday I happened upon a great deal on organic tomato soup, maple syrup (the real stuff), and some produce for canning. Now, keep in mind that I am of the mindset that everyone (yes, even you) should do their best to maintain a well stocked 3 to 6 supply of food in their home at pretty much all times. Just to make sure they are protected and prepared for things. And when that food pantry is full of home canned foods, my heart is seriously in a place of total happiness. So I am working on canning as much produce and such things as possible right now. And while I was putting things away and organizing the pantry the other night, I found myself talking to the canned goods. Yes, I am crazy. I admit that. But I have frequent discussions with the canned goods in the basement. They often include me griping about children putting the groceries away in entirely the wrong place (why is it so hard to understand that like all of the spaghetti sauce or peanut butter or whatever should be on the same shelf and not in 5 different places?),  someone not telling me they used the last of a certain item, and griping about how eating the food while hiding in the basement pantry and then leaving the empty containers/wrappers/whatever laying on the floor is a thing that really irritates me. Seriously, I will notice if you leave an empty can of fruit on the floor or twelve popsicle wrappers on the floor. But there are other days when I just kind of look at the supplies and breathe a sign of relief knowing that the family will eat well even when I am unable to go shopping after the baby is born. Or if Alan loses his job. Or if the medical bills spiral out of control. Or something. And maintaining the pantry is providing certain children with job training skills. They will be able to stock and rotate grocery store shelves with the best of them.

Ok, I am rambling. It is what I do.

Seamus has decided he likes to sing in church. Loudly. Thankfully he has learned  to mostly only sing when everyone else  is singing. So he  sings very loudly, with his hands over his ears. Seriously, it is adorable. And, yes, most everyone near us can hear him. Because he sings loudly.  Just enjoying life, that boy.

We finally have a  way to pull  pictures off the camera. So hopefully the next post will contain actual pictures. How amazing would that be?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Meal Plan

S: waffles, fruit (B), homemade taco helper (D)
M: oatmeal (B), sloppy joes (D)
T: egg breakfast muffins (B), leftovers (D)
W: bagels, fruit (B), cheesy beef and rice (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), leftovers (D)
F: cereal  (B), assorted snacks after the race at church (D)
S: not sure yet (B), dinner at church (D)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


So do you ever find yourself part way through this parenting gig and realize you have veered rather off the course you want for your family? My older kids had a much more involved parent. Not involved in the sense of entertain you every second of the day because, um, no way am I ever doing that.  But involved in the sense of going on field trips and exploring things together. Admittedly,  no air conditioning in the van means trips further than church just do not happen in the summer. The poor kids roast in the van because the back windows don't open. It is miserable for them. And a new van is not in the picture for the time being. I have come to view car payments as an evil thing and, well, we can either have a car payment or pay for groceries. Not both. Anyway, just trying to figure out how to add joy back to our life a bit. Or maybe just  some excitement. Or just something that excites me every so often.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Snapshot of our Life, Without the Snapshots

Yes, I do have plans to get back to blogging. Really, I truly do. I know it's been a long time since much of anything meaningful showed up here. I have a bazillion pictures trapped on the new camera. Ok, just maybe 150 or so. But the only way to remove them right now is to track down the old camera and move the memory card to the old camera. Or wait until the replacement USB cord arrives. I know the camera  came with one. But it disappeared about 2 minutes after it was removed from the package. I kid you not. There is a black hole somewhere in the kitchen, I swear there is.

The kids are alive and well. Just ignore the child who is wearing snow boots in the middle of summer. It is not my fault he ruined his sneakers at camp and can't seem to find his sandals in his mess of a room. Also ignore the other boy who refuses to ever find his sneakers or put them on his feet or in general act his age, preferring instead to throw fits and cry and whine and expect other people to do for him what any child his age (including him) is capable of doing. Yes, Mom is clamping down on his attitude and he is slowly getting into line. Slowly.

I somehow managed to forget to order the 4th grade spelling and English books Abby needs for this school year so am waiting on the next discount shipping day. Don't ask me how I did that. It baffles me as well since I ordered the rest of her books and they all come from the same company. I also still need to order Sean's books for his college classes. Scratch that, just for his French class. The history class starts midway through the semester so I have time. And figure out his paperwork for the district giving that we won't  know what college classes he will take in January until, oh, December. Still trying to figure out the basics of planners and organizing 8 students this year with two surgeries on two different kids scheduled for the first 6 months or so of the school year. And that new baby thing. If you find someone babbling incoherently in a corner, that will be me.

I have several book reviews and product reviews I really want to get posted. Granted, one of said book reviews requires that I find the books because I asked on the kids to read them first (he loved them) and have not seen the books since handing them over. I know I can't be the only person this happens to, just perhaps the only one who will admit it.

Seamus just decided that he does not like formula. Smart boy, he is. That stuff is disgusting. Seriously. I know it is nutritionally sound and such stuff but  nothing compares to giving your kid the real stuff from the tap. Nothing else at all. Anyone who knows me at all knows how much of a heart break it was to not be able to continue nursing Seamus. Granted, some people are just plain clueless and make stupid comments anyway. I do not understand such people. With the issues the next little one is expected to have, nursing will be pretty much an impossibility there, too. This really bugs me. Oh so much. Terribly hard to accept. So I am praying that just maybe the issues will not be as severe as expected so just maybe some nursing will be possible.

So that is our life in a nutshell lately. Hope life is wonderful in your neck of the woods.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Meal Plan

Last week was the first week with all the boys back in the house. We seriously went through half as much food as normal the week all 4 older boys were at camp. Seriously.  4 teen/almost teen boys eat a ton of food. Just in case you were wondering.  So one of my goals this year is to work on teaching them how to choose foods that will actually fill them up and provide energy without being just a plain sugar rush. So, no, a bowl of cereal really is not the best snack choice. Protein is a necessary and needed thing. And, really, talk to your parents before snatching food without permission because I bet Mom had plans for the 3 lbs container of cottage cheese you just scarfed down. And, again, remove the empty boxes from the cupboards because otherwise you are just messing with my head and irritating me. But anyway, here's the meal plan for the week.  Hopefully.

M: eggs (B), tacos (D)
T: oatmeal (B), chicken azteca over rice (D)
W: muffins (B), spaghetti (D)
T: breakfast casserole (B), easy Mexican casserole (D)
F: pumpkin bread (B), bean dip, assorted finger foods (D)

I am working on getting the pantry shelves stocked again. With multiple military trips and lots of extra medical bills over the past year,  our pantry shelves were pretty much decimated. Combine that with the constant increase in food costs and the consumption levels of teenagers, and I have been fighting a losing battle in my attempts to restock. The goal for August is to work on both home canned foods  and store bought ones. Yesterday I managed to find an awesome deal on some produce and we made some progress by canning 7 quarts of pickled jalapenos. This week I hope to can triple berry jam, strawberry syrup, and blueberry syrup if I can get out to pick some more blueberries. We also have about 15 bell peppers to get processed for the freezer and rhubarb to process. Also hoping to get a triple batch of laundry detergent made before we run out of detergent completely.

And we are hoping for a calmer week. Two cars needed major repairs this week. Both died on the same day, at the same time, in the same location. One tow truck, one busted radiator, one really horrible messed up brake system. I have decided that no more money will be put into Alan's car because it really makes no sense at this point. And now that the radiator has been replaced on the teenagers' car, it will hopefully hold up well for a few more years.

On a more positive note, I won two raffles this past week. One from the library for a multi-colored cat shaped solar light (seriously, it changes colors all night long) and a gift card to Bill Gray's. Another one for two years worth of art classes on DVD. I picked the 3rd and 4th grade lessons. My crew seems to love DVD based art lessons and I love them now that the local college is no longer offering art classes to homeschoolers. This keeps  art classes much more interesting that what I can manage on my own and affordable. Seriously, that affordable part is what is really important here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Meal Plan

M: oatmeal (B), creamy salsa enchiladas (D)
T: eggs in toast (B), pork chops, potatoes (D)
W: cereal (B), beef teriyaki (D)
T: eggs (B), Spanish rice or leftovers (D)
F: bagels (B), macaroni and cheese with broccoli (D)
S: pancakes (B), pizza (D)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Meal Plan

I tell you, I am in a major meal plan slump as of late. My motivation has gone completely out the window. Guess I'd better do something about that.  Cooking for only 8 this week. The older boys are all at camp. I guess I should say 7 because Seamus doesn't really eat much as of yet. Unless his siblings set him down in front of a basket full of raspberries. Then he just might try to eat the entire thing. And end up with a tummy ache.

M: eggs and toast (B), cream cheese chicken over rice (D)
T: yogurt (B), homemade taco helper (D)
W: oatmeal (B), leftovers (D)
T: crockpot breakfast casserole (B), creamy salsa enchilada casserole (D)
F: cereal (B), tuna salad (D)

Lunches will be leftovers, sandwiches, corndog muffins, assorted finger foods.
Snacks will be mostly fruit, baby carrots, celery, perhaps string cheese.

Baby on the Way

Baby number 12 is officially on the way. Life is going to get super crazy and fun around here.  We are asking for prayers as it appears the little one on the way has a cleft lip and palette and will obviously need surgery. This is one of those cases where we are thankful to be able to plan ahead of time and have access to the proper medical care. It will be an interesting few months for everyone. Please keep our little one in your prayers.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meal Plan

We took the kids strawberry picking on Sunday so this week will be full of processing the strawberries. I plan to make 3 batches of strawberry jam, one batch of strawberry syrup, hopefully two batches of triple berry jam, and put at least 6 quarts into the freezer. Of course, the kids plan to eat as many as possible so we will see who wins.

We still don't have much chicken in the house since the freezers are too full and we are working on turning the beef bones into bone broth this week as well. Hopefully next week I'll be able to get the suet processed. Not quite sure what we will do with it yet. We may just turn it into bird food.

Still working on a few dietary changes, at least for me. I'm hoping to bring the rest of the family along slowly. Certain folks are probably not completely ready but most of the kids are young enough to not protest at all. I really hope to get back to making our own bread next week. If not, I need to verify that a locally sourced brand is truly ok to eat. Yup, changing the way we are thinking a bit.

The hopeful meal plan this week is as follows:

M: blueberry muffins (B), soup (L), pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad (D)
T: eggs (B), ham or turkey sandwiches (L), taco soup, corn bread (D)
W: yogurt, granola (B), leftovers (L), pork chops, broccoli, potatoes (D)
T: breakfast casserole (B), sandwiches/leftovers (D), creamy salsa chicken (D)
F: cereal (B), sandwiches (L), cheesy bean dip, veggies (D)
S: waffles (B), pizza (D)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Life, Meal Plans, and Other Stuff

It has been a rather crazy month around here. A couple of boys earned their black belts, Alan has been traveling for work, one kid broke his arm, another kid is starting to pull himself up and try to walk a bit but thinks crawling is for the birds. One boy turned 16, another turns 18 later this week. Some idiots at Alan's second job decided it would be a good idea to tow his car while he was out of town. Because apparently male stupidity does not stop when you turn 18. The boys have been camping, Alan ran a half marathon. My Grandmother passed away. We are trying to finish up the math and English books so we can go to a slower summer school schedule. For some kids this is easier said than done. I've done the best I can to keep things running normally but some days I'm wondering what the word normal means.

I'm feeling rather burned out on the meal planning thing lately but it is a necessary evil. The freezers are currently filled with pork and almost nothing else. I wasn't expecting our pork delivery for another week. The beef arrives in another 10 days or so I think. You'd think this would be easier now that there is actual food to work with but alas, it is not at the moment.

T: eggs and toast (B), creamy salsa chicken (D)
W: overnight breakfast casserole (B), pasta and sauce with Italian sausage (D)
T: cereal (B), Frontier Girls Bonfire Night (D)
F: pumpkin baked oatmeal (B), tuna something or other (D)
S: bagels (B), pizza (D)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meal Plan

M: overnight breakfast casserole (b), turkey soup (d)
T: bagels, fruit (b), spicy Dr. Pepper pork (d)
W: oatmeal (b), pasta, salad (d)
T: breakfast sandwiches (b), leftovers (d)
F: cereal (b), baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese sauce (d)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stations of the Cross Candles

This is a project I have intended to do for the past several years. This year I finally got around to actually buying the materials. I think I just couldn't resist the $1 bottles of lodge podge at Target and needed a reason to justify buying some.

This would be wonderful project to do with your kids and then use every week as your family says stations together. Of course, I did the project myself and we have been attending stations as a family at a local parish. The Knights there love having our boys on hand to carry the cross because other than our family, it has almost always been elderly folks. But the kids have enjoyed looking at the candles anyway.

You can find I instructions and printable for your own candles all over the place. I got my printables .here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Meal Plan

S: donuts and toast (b), leftovers (d)
M: English muffins (b), curry chicken (d)
T: eggs and toast (b), hearty Italian soup (d)
W: cereal (b), bean burritos (d)
T: breakfast casserole (b), homemade taco helper (d)
F: cereal (b), stuffed shells (d)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Planning for Next School Year

So you ever have everything all planned out and you are happy with the plan and then life throws something new at you? I know, I know, this has only been my constant refrain the last few years but it somehow still surprises me.  We'd gotten to the point (meaning Alan and I together) where we finally both agreed we needed to make a few tweaks here and there to our school plans for the crew. Because, well, there is one of me and a few more than one of them. Child number one will be in college next year and no longer my direct concern. Yay! I'm happy. Just hoping he finds a way to afford it. Seriously. Because he's learning the hard way that when you ignore Mom and Dad's advice you just might pay when it comes time to apply for certain scholarships and things. But, hey, better the lesson is learned now. Child number two will start dual enrollment at the same school number one is attending. Because that has worked out wonderfully, gives them someone other than me to be accountable to, gives them college credit, is much cheaper than regular college tuition, and has always been my plan but I listened to other folks for a few years and got lost a bit.

Although I like to say find what you love, keep your head down, and don't look for other options when it comes to homeschool stuff, I had to admit that what I loved just wasn't working for child number three. Not at all. This is the kid who is falling through the cracks a bit. He fights, he fusses, he doesn't like being included as one of the middle ones but also doesn't like to have the extra responsibilities of the older ones if they are around. He does, of course, want the privileges that come with all the extra help those older ones provide. He's also prone to emotional outbursts as of late because he's just struggling to figure out where he fits in I think. And he's mastered the fine art of hiding all day and just not doing his work. So we narrowed down the choices for him to an online school or an actual authentically Catholic school in the area that recently moved back to our end of town. In the end, we've decided on the online school for him. I'm praying that having someone else to be accountable to will be a good thing for him.

Numbers 4 and 5 are the tricky ones. I wanted to put them in the same school as number 3. This would not work if it were the brick and mortar school because basically all 3 would be in the same class and that would just not be something I could inflict upon someone else. We've been looking at the online school for the two of them and I love the looks of it. But, and this is a big but, tuition for the 3 of them plus books plus each needing their own computers is out of our budget this year.  It would be almost 10% of our income and that is a huge chunk of change for just 3 kids. Financial decisions must be made and getting the house back to a less toxic state is much more important. So hopefully they will do well with the same school we used this year. We'll use the same one for 6, 7, and 8. Number 9, still debating preschool vs kindergarten for her. We can always just play it by ear.

So here's hoping things will go smoothly this coming year. We've been cutting back on outside activities as well because I realized I just was not enjoying the running around at all at this point. Even if an activity is a good thing, that does not mean it has to play a role in your schedule right at this point in time. So just keep your head down and quit looking for the next best thing. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Frugal Friday

Ok, I am totally willing to call this week a frugal failure. Seriously. Not that we have done anything extravagant. Except maybe that one night when Alan and I looked at the lack of food after the kids had devoured dinner and decided to order a pizza for the two of us (call it date night and a sanity saver folks). I have done a freezer inventory so I know how much food we have to use up before our meat arrives in May. But I have also splurged a bit on about 5 or 6 or more different types of pie for our pi party tomorrow. Yes, there will be a strawberry pie, a peanut butter pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie, quiche, and pizza. Even if it's just us tomorrow, it will be fun. A food coma might occur.

I received my yearly shipment of dental health month supplies. Translation: there is a big red box sitting on the kitchen counter full of 25 toothbrush and toothpaste samples. It also contains 25 booklets on dental health and a nifty DVD. We don't keep all of the toothbrushes because they are all the same color but I've learned I can take the included toothpaste coupons to dollar general for free toothpaste.  Yup, I will be making several trips so as not to clear their shelves. I try to be nice like that.

The bathroom de-molding has not been as successful as we hoped. Alan has done what he can do alone and it appears the bedroom is still rather toxic to us. So now we move onto phase 2 and try to figure out who we can hire and how to afford it to get the rest of it done. Wish us luck. Please. I love that Seamus can breathe as long as we are sleeping in the living room but I do kind of miss my bedroom. Sigh.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Meal Plan

I just placed our yearly order for a side of beef and a whole pig. I feel much better prioritizing organic, hormone free meat for the family and frankly, the meat tastes much better than conventional meat. However, this year our animals will not go to the butcher until May 15. Until that point, we will be attempting to empty out the freezers. Given how little meat we have left, the greater challenge will actually be trying to get the meat to last until May. This is not to say that we can't afford or won't buy more meat if we need it but I'm hoping to completely clean out the freezers and save a few bucks in the process.

M: eggs in toast (b), ramen (l), chicken and rice casserole (d)
T: oatmeal packets (b), pbj (l), Dr Pepper pulled pork (d)
W: yogurt, granola (b), tuna sandwiches (l), bean enchiladas (d)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (b), leftovers (l), chili, cornbread (d)
F: cranberry bread (b), tomato soup (l), fish sandwiches (d)
S: French toast, bacon (b), leftovers (l), pizza (d)

That Great Lenten Clean Out

The purging of the house is still underway. Yesterday the younger boys made an attempt to tackle their room and I started putting the master bedroom back together.   So far we have 5 more bags of trash and two large bags of items to donate.  But we are still working on both rooms. The older boys need to attack their rooms this week and if they seem unable to purge some unnecessary items, they just might end up with help. I'm hoping today to do some work on the basement after putting the downstairs back together. I swear it falls apart faster than I can blink. But right now I am just hoping we can get out the driveway to Mass since it snowed again last night but  Alan had to leave early for work so the van was not turned around nor was the driveway cleared. His car can make it through stuff the van cannot. The older boys are attempting to work on it now.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Frugal Friday

I'm trying to think of what we've done this week. The biggest thing is Alan doing the work on the bathroom. He won't be able to do the window replacement himself but he's managed the rest of it. Hopefully he can also do the work needed in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.

Speaking of the downstairs bathroom. The toilet over flowed last night, flooding the bathroom and basement. Yup, fun times. Ok, Seamus woke up so I got to put him back to sleep while Alan cleaned it up. But we are having terrible luck with water issues lately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Bathroom

Since Alan and the older children were going to be interviewed bright and early on the morning news, Alan decided to take the day off work and use the day to start tackling the master bathroom. I decided to simply admit early that school work likely would not get accomplished because the kids would want to help Dad. And they would be a bit tired from getting up before 5 am.

Alan has made a decent amount of progress in dealing with the mold. Part of the ceiling had been removed, the bottom of the cabinet has been torn out, the Windows have been sanded, treated, and sealed. They were unable to remove the tub so he's hoping sealing and recaulking it will be enough. One of the windows had so much damage that it will have to be removed when the weather improves.

Once the bathroom is done, some more repairs will have to be made to the kitchen as well.

I spent most of the day helping the girls shovel out their room and attempting to finish organizing the school room. I've decided that clutter and junk multiplies when we are sleeping.  In a few days, I'll start helping the younger boys tackles their room. Hopefully this weekend I can also take another pass through the playroom. Maybe by the end of Lent, we'll have removed enough excess stuff to feel more comfortable with our stuff.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Frugal Friday

Trying to think of how things went this week. I managed to save $100 on the new cabinet for the kitchen by asking for a discount because of minor damage that won't be noticeable once the counter goes on. Saved $30 at least using coupons on groceries. Sorted hand-me-downs and found almost all the clothes Seamus will need in the next size. Stocked the pantry a bit with sales. Pulled 3 kids from karate because of issues with the staff. This will save us a little money and a significant amount of time and mental stress. Not to mention a bit of gas savings. The three boys still in karate are too close to black belt to pull right now. But I'm a bit tempted since I'm getting a bit tired of giving our money to people who often treat the kids badly.

House Related Projects

Alan has been busy working on various projects around the house. Most of them are things we have talking about doing for years but we're just never able to get done for one reason or another.
When our last microwave died, we decided it was officially time to put in an over the stove model. This meant putting a new cabinet in to provide the proper clearance but ended up being a much easier job than we were thinking. Alan is now working on putting in a new cabinet where the desk was in the kitchen so that we will have both more storage space and more counter space.

This house has many light switches that do not go with any light or outlet in the house. We've tested just about everything and still have switches that go no where. No junction boxes have been located in the ceilings and attempts to trace electrical wires using the house plans have proven fruitless. All this is to say that we've lacked decent lighting in the living room for years. Floor lamps just tend to get broken around here so we really wanted a light (and ceiling fan) installed. But there was no box to be found in the ceiling. We finally found a kit to allow Alan to safely run a wire across the room and down to the one outlet that does connect to a switch. So we now have lights in the living room. I'm oh so very happy.
The current project being tackled is dealing with the mold issues in the master bathroom and bedroom. This might be simple and might be hard. We know all four Windows need to be stripped, treated, and sealed. Part of the ceiling needs to come down. At the very least, part of the vanity cabinet needs to be pulled out. The tub needs to be removed so we can see what lies beneath it. Until it's been fixed, Alan, Seamus, and I are sleeping in the living room because it turns out it is making us sick (headaches, breathing issues, etc.). There has been water damage done to the kitchen floor from the dishwasher leaking and to the cabinet under the sink from a constant on and off leak. These might need to be ripped out as well but for now we are focusing on the bathroom.

I am hoping Alan and the boys are able to do most of the work themselves. Since the mold issues seem to be responsible for a significant amount of my recent health issues, he wants me no where near the repair work. So I'm sure the boys will end up learning a lot from this task.

Meal Plan

M: eggs, toast (B), chicken divan casserole (D)
T: bagels, fruit (B), creamy salsa chicken (D)
W: yogurt, fruit (B), spaghetti, salad (D)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (B), cheeseburger soup (D)
F: eggs, toast (B), ravioli, salad (D)
S: waffles (B), pizza (D)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days

Ok, I totally caved and am now just tracking for 40 bags in 40 days. After doing the first sweep of the basement rec room area, I am not taking a break so that I don't get angry at my children and finish the sweep by removing every single one of their toys from the house to make up for the sheer amounts of food related trash I found down there. Where no food is allowed. Sigh. I have a feeling that since they are having so much trouble keeping their stuff cleaned up anyway, more of the toys are going to find a new home than would have otherwise.

I am also actually sorting through the bookshelves again. I've made an initial pass through all of them. Hoping to go through them all at least one more time in the next few weeks. Books are awesome but having so many books that you can't find the awesome ones mixed in among the junky ones, well, that is just not so awesome.

Later tonight I am hoping to make a pass through the kitchen cupboards and remove the extra stuff. Like that wine rack that really has no place in our home since we really don't drink around here.

10 assorted bags/boxes/items removed from the house in the beginning of February, now I'm working on getting 40 more bags/boxes out by Easter. Seriously, I think the junk just multiples when we aren't looking.

Meal Plans

S: waffles (B), leftovers (L), pot roast (D)
M: yogurt (B), ramen (L), taco soup (D)
T: overnight breakfast casserole (B), pbj (L), honey gazed chicken (D)
W: eggs and toast (B), leftovers (L), pork chops (D)
T: oatmeal (B), alphabet soup (L), turkey and rice (D)
F: cereal (B), tuna sandwiches (L), tilapia (D)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Frugal Friday

I know, I'm late again. Story of my life it seems. Just bare with me. Or not. Your choice.

So what have we managed this week?
-7 kids have been given haircuts. Those boys were getting shaggy looking. Seriously. And Ellie's hair needed to be shaped a bit because it is growing in all kind of funky because she has hacked it off to many times in so many places. I seriously doubt she will have a normal looking head of hair for a few more years.
-Alan's repairs to the truck were successful so we did not have to take it anywhere.  Which is good since Bryan dinged up the car in a fight with a guard rail and a light needs to be replaced now.
-Alan and the kids pulled multiple cars out of the ditch on the side of our road. Not sure if this counts truly as frugal since we already pay for roadside assistance and they were on their way. And Alan got frostbite from his efforts but no one was injured, all of the vehicles are fine, and everything is back to normal. Until the next time it snows.

In other news, Ellie decided to swing from a rope tied to the basement ceiling like it was a vine or something. And face planted on the tile floor. Major bleeding, lots of tears. Took her to urgent care since she wasn't really opening her eyes and was acting sleeping. I was concerned about a possible concussion. And they REFUSED to see her. Seriously. This is the same place I took her for her last head injury over a year ago. At that time she was old enough to be seen there for a head injury. This time the nurse practitioner came out and said "Well, I can tell you her nose is bleeding." Seriously, no way! Hello Captain Obvious. And the entire stinking reason for an urgent care is so you can avoid the germ infested over run pediatric ER. Call me crazy. But by the time I got home again (was going to get the directions for the step down ER so I could avoid the large pediatric one), she was acting fine, 30 minutes later, she was tap dancing in the living room.

Anyway, that has been our life in a nut shell this week.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meal Plans

M: omelettes, toast (b), pepper steak sandwiches (d)
T: muffins,fruit (b), pancakes, strawberries, whipped cream, sausage (d)
W: eggs in toast (b), bean and cheese burritos (d)
T: yogurt, granola, fruit (b), broccoli beef, fried rice, egg rolls (d)
F: oatmeal (b), fish, coleslaw (d)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Family Rosary Time

Attempts at the family rosary usually don't last long around here. I just don't think the yelling and fighting and craziness that ensues is at all inspiring. A near occasion of sin would be more like it. But I am going to attempt it again for Lent. I'm trying to work the younger ones up to a full rosary. What have I learned tonight? I need to work on basic prayers with the younger ones. The Hail Mary according to the younger ones is as follows:

    ~Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with me.~

Gotta love it. And check out these awesome roses made by Grandma to help the kids pray. They were so cool looking that even Gabe wanted to participate.