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)