Saturday, December 1, 2018

First Communion Resources

Child number 9 is currently preparing for First Communion. Over the years, we have tweaked what we have used with the kids a bit here and there but the one constant that has remained is that we never rely on the parish materials to provide real preparation. Some of our parishes have provided ok resources but most have been very lacking.  Our current parish sadly falls pretty squarely into the very much lacking end of the spectrum.

This year we are using a variety of resources at home including read alouds, audio stories, DVD's, and hand-on materials.
The backbone of of our religious ed at home for this age is the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (No. 0). Yes, this is the good old fashioned Baltimore Catechism with all the wonderful pictures and explanations.  I don't focus on memorization at this age but rather on becoming familiar with the answers and a basic understanding of what they mean.  We also use the 2nd grade Faith and Life books.
For read alouds we are using The Weight of the Mass, Patron Saint of First Communicants: the Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Patrick's Summer,King of the Golden City,  and a short story about St. Tarcisius which can be found in the book True Stories for First Communicants. I have also found an audio version of the story on LibriVox.
We use several resources from Holy Heroes.  Their DVDs on The Holy Mass and The Eucharist achieve the goal of explaining concepts to children and keeping their interest WITHOUT talking down to them.  The Altar Gang audio CD volume 3 is all about First Communion and great to listen to in the car or during quiet time.
One of my favorite resources for combining solid teaching with hands-on projects is the Preparing to Receive Jesus program by Catholic Heritage Curricula.  This program teaches through a combination of stories and hands-on projects. The stories included in the program are older traditional stories that I love sharing with the children.  This program also has us making sacrifice beads, a personalized Mass book, and learning about the various sacred vessels used in the Mass.

With every child, I purchase a banner kit from Illuminated Ink. Not only do these kits help me avoid having to collect all of the materials and creative juices for a banner, they also include in depth explanations of the symbolism behind all of the items included in the banner.

With some of our older kids, we made lapbooks from Holy Learning. These wonderful resources allow you to customize your project for each child so you can easily work with younger and older kids at the same time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Advent Read Alouds

For several years now, I have intended to collect enough Advent books to read one book aloud each evening as a family. But I have always managed to put off collecting the books long enough that I was never able to make it happen. This year, I have actually managed to get the books together in time to make this happen. I won't mention how many of these books have sat on our shelves unread for the past several years waiting for me to get my act together.

So what will we be reading this Advent?

I have seen many people suggest wrapping up all of the books so that your kids can unwrap one to read each night. If you keep wrapping paper in the house, I can see this being a nice touch. We do our best to avoid wrapping paper so I'm planning to just put all of the books into one bin and pick a book each evening.

I will probably pick up a few more from the library to add to the pile as time allows and hopefully add to our collection over the next few months so that we have different selections for next year.

What is on your Advent reading list this year?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Get Ready 4 Kindergarten Birthday Box

Do you have a preschooler in your house who is just dying to jump into school like the big kids? Or are you just looking for fun and easy projects to do with your preschooler that require zero prep time on your part? The Get Ready 4 Kindergarten Activity Boxes are the answer to either problem.

These activity boxes are designed to help little ones get ready for kindergarten while providing a guided program for parents that incorporates literature, crafts, games, and more.  We received the Birthday Box to review with our 3 toddlers.
Our box focused on shapes. Included in the box were two craft projects, plastic shape tiles with pictures the child could attempt to copy, an Eric Carle book, and shape related flash cards for the child to match with the designated shapes.
The plastic shapes and book were the hands down favorites of the kiddos.  One of the pictures they were asked to copy was of a caterpillar. We are currently watching a bunch of caterpillars at home and waiting for them to turn into butterflies so this was an instant favorite for Seamus.
The book arrived wrapped like a birthday present. Instant bonus. What kid doesn't like opening presents?

The craft projects included in the kit were making bird feeders and writing a thank you note. Nothing fancy or out of this world BUT every single item for the projects were included in a single bag per project. No chasing down glue or paper or anything. It is all right there at your finger tips. This is simply wonderful. This means you can open the box and go or hand a project off to an older sibling without worrying about them needing anything.

Seamus, Charlie, and Kolbe all loved the box and playing with it. I recommend this resource to any parent who is looking for an easy way to add some fun to their school time with their toddlers.

I received a free activity box in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Planting the Seeds of Faith

Every year about this time, I find myself searching for some inspiration to carry me through yet another homeschool year. Let's be honest here. Homeschooling our brood is a bit of a challenge.  Even if I feel that it is the absolute best option for our family, I still sometimes go kicking and screaming into the next school year.

This year I read Planting the Seeds of Faith. This short book contains a collection of articles by 10 homeschooling supporters. Some are long time homeschooling parents, others are priests who strongly support Catholic homeschooling as a way of providing an authentic Catholic education today.

Although every single chapter had something to offer, I have to admit I got the most out of the first chapter written by Mary Ellen Barrett. I heard her speak on a similar topic at a homeschooling conference a few years ago and found her thoughts in this book to be incredibly moving and inspiring.

I'm still looking for another book or two to read so please give me your favorite resources for homeschool inspiration.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Multi-Student Catholic Planner

Since we've been homeschooling for 16 or 17 years, I would say the biggest challenge over the years has been managing to keep multiple students organized and on track at the same time. In those early years with only one or two students, keeping everyone organized was a fairly simply process.  As more students have been added, the challenge has gotten bigger. Throw in a few years with premature babies, deployments, and serious medical needs and chaos was sure to ensue.

Into this picture enters the Multi-student Catholic Planner by Jennifer Harbor Rainey.  This planner has so much to love for the large family mom. First, it is uncluttered. I'm a huge fan of keeping things simple. Too much extra is simply sometimes just too much.

The 36 weeks of planning pages are undated. This means you can start and end your schooling on your schedule. Take a few weeks off and not lose a single weekly layout due to the wrong dates.  These planning pages provide a 1 page layout for every day of the week preceded by a weekly general planning sheet that includes space for meal plans, a grocery list, a weekly scripture memory verse, and a saint of the week. 5 subjects are labeled leaving 3 spaces unlabeled for your own personal touch.

After these planning pages, you will find monthly calendar and planning sheets. These pages provide space to track long term goals, field trips, spiritual goals, and provide a list of feast days.

In the back you will find pages to track reading lists, student grades, and more. The final section of the planner includes basic Catholic prayers providing the perfect resource to keep on hand through out your day.

This planner is also very reasonably priced and not too bulky so it can easily be carried with you during your day.  This should provide a handy organizational tool for moms of many this school year.

I have received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review of said product. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Meal Plan

M: yogurt, granola, fruit (B), sandwiches (L), 3-cheese crockpot pasta (D)
T: eggs, toast (B), pbj (L), beef stroganoff (D)
W: cereal, fruit (B), soup (L), simple green chili chicken (D)
T: baked oatmeal, apple butter (B), BLT wraps (L), leftover night (D)
F: eggs, hashbrowns (B), macaroni and cheese (L), May the 4th Party (D)
S: bagels (B), Cinco de Mayo Feast (D)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Money Monday

We are still fighting our battle to pay down all of our consumer debt. This battle seems to be one sometimes of two steps forward, one step back. In the last couple years, we have dealt with huge amounts of medical bills (we had an 18 month period with 6 different surgeries), way too many car repairs, actually replacing 3 different vehicles, house repairs, and just lots of assorted chaos.  Even with all of this, we are committing ourselves to taking the time to plan a vacation for the family each year as frugally as possible.  We simply do not have many years left with all of the kids at home. Making time for family time and memories is important to us.

Replacing two cars in a two month span (both unexpected) has left us with a very tight budget for the year. Even used vehicles add up when the replacement fund was empty to begin with. Sigh. So I am hoping by giving myself a bit more accountability, I will make continued forward progress on keeping under budget, putting money in savings, and continuing to pay off the debt.

Our current grocery budget is quite a bit lower than I would like it to be. Doable if I stick to a meal plan and freezer meals so I am hoping once we use up a bit of the meat in the freezers, I can rearrange a bit to make space for freezer meals. Yes, I see the irony. The freezers are jam packed so full of beef that we lack room for other stuff. Our yearly beef purchase always comes from our tax refund and is a blessing with an otherwise tight grocery budget. I don't have to plan for buying meat. Chicken, pork, fish, beans. Those all come out of the grocery budget this year.  We were unable to purchase our usual whole pig this year due to replacing a car after an accident. A bit of a bummer but that is the way things work out.

So the reality is that living on a tight budget requires constant planning and rethinking. Constantly searching for new ways to cut costs or reuse or rethink.  Yes, I realize some folks would say go out and get a job. I've considered that. Repeatedly. Every time I got ready to apply for one, one of our cars died.  Every single time.  When we are down a car, there is no way to add another work schedule to the chaos. I figured this was God's way to saying stay home for now. It's where you belong. I'll revisit the idea in a few months perhaps.

So what have we done recently to save some extra cash?

I finally found a way to cut the older girls' hair that we are all happy with. This takes care of not only haircuts for them but also for me. Haircuts are one of those things I hate to pay for. Heck, I think the last time I paid for one for myself was sometime in the first year we were married. Instead I was having Alan trim it once a year or so. If you are someone who enjoys haircuts and pampering and such, this probably sounds awful to you. But I do not enjoy having someone else cut my hair at all so it never bugged me.  I was, however, struggling to find a decent way to cut the girls' hair without leaving them horrified at the results.  This has finally been achieved. On haircut day last week, 10 folks received haircuts. The three-year-old will need some finishing touches later this week when we can get him to sit still but otherwise, everyone looks great.

When we received the party pack from Kikkoman for our house party, it came with several coupons for free items. After our guests took some home, we still had a few left. I've been able to use these for free items to put in our pantry for meals. I have one more coupon waiting to be used.

We are starting to sort through the extras in the house and look for things to list for sale to bring in a bit of extra cash. Although I normally try to donate everything we can, right now we are in need of the extra funds enough to try selling a few items first. I still plan to purge and donate a bunch as well since you do save money when there is less in your house and things are better organized but I have my eye on a few items specifically for selling.

I've been using Swagbucks to earn gift cards a bit more than usual. Last month I was able to pay for a huge case of disposable diapers for bedtime. Yes, we SHOULD be using cloth and for a very long time, not using it would not have been thinkable. I do intend to move back to cloth at night but for right now, this is where we are. Several of the toddlers like to climb in bed with older siblings at night so it is just easier to use disposables at the moment. And when I can get the diapers for free, I can live with that. This month I plan to save up the gift cards to replace the leaking coffee pot and broken reusable filter. Although I am totally ok with never having coffee in the house, several of my family members think this is something unthinkable.

Last week was break week for the local schools which meant many of the children's activities were cancelled. Combine this with sick kids for most of the week and the van was parked in the driveway for most of the week. This saved quite a bit of gas for the week. The realities of driving a large van include the fact that it costs at least $5 every time you pull out of the driveway to go somewhere. I do my best to combine errands and put more than one kid in the same activity to cut down on driving but we are rather busy right now in this season of life and constantly filling that van.

What creative ways do you have for saving a few pennies?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Divine Mercy Sunday

We decided to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday in style this year. At least in OUR style. And that means crafts and food.
 I had other plans. Grand plans. They feel by the wayside and I am completely ok with that.
This year the younger crew made these Divine Mercy crafts from CatholicIcing. You can see each kid has their own take on things.
We made brownie sundaes this year as well.  I had intended to read one of our favorite books on the subject with the kids but, alas, I cannot find it. I know it is one the shelves and I know I just saw it and had it in my hands a week or so ago. But today, today I could not find it. So so frustrating. I'm hoping to find it later this week and share it with the kids.
Tomorrow we will break out the HolyHeroes CD during quiet time. And perhaps send up a few prayers to find that missing book.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Divine Mercy Sunday!

CTC Math

One popular math program in homeschooling circles right now is CTC Math. CTC Math is an online program covering grades K-12, from beginning counting all the way through to calculus. We tested it out in our home over the past month.

The positive aspects of this program are many. This program is online so you can access it anywhere with an internet connection. You pay one fee and have access to all the grades for all of your students. This is beneficial both for students who excell at math and for students who struggle. With access to all grade levels, a student can just keep moving along when they finish a level and there is no need to purchase new materials. A student who is struggling can easily repeat lessons and get extra practice until they understand a concept.

If you have a student who is easily overwhelmed by seeing a whole page full of problems at once, this program can help alleviate those feelings because problems are presented one at a time. This was a tremendous benefit to my 3rd grader who just gets anxious when he sees a page full of problems stretching out before him.

This program provides skill assessments so you can place your student at exactly the right place in the program. No need to review material already mastered. You can assign tasks for your student to complete by a certain date and give quizzes and quarterly tests all through the program.

One of my favorite features is the weekly update that is emailed to the parent which details exactly what each student accomplished that week. You get a list of log in times, lessons covered, grades, and more. This is incredibly helpful to me with one particular student who likes to fib about what they have done that day.  I can log in on the parent side and immediately check on what the student has accomplished that day and immediately verify if progress was made or not. This simply lowers stress levels and avoids confrontations and frankly removes the temptation to fib about what you've done that day because you know Mom can check immediately from her computer. Maybe you don't have a student who likes to stretch the truth but then again, maybe you do.

There are a few negatives.  This program is online. I know I listed that as a positive but bear with me here. Online only means you can't pack it along in the car. Online means it is all on the computer. Personally, I'm not a fan of lots of computer time for elementary and middle school aged kids. I've even seen a negative side in lots of online classes for high schoolers at times. For younger kids, I really prefer to keep them off the computer as much as possible and working in other ways.  So I really would not attempt to use this program with anyone under 3rd grade. 

The yearly subscription fee does mean that you have to plan to pay every year. Although the cost is fairly minimal if you have several children using the program, it will add up over time compared to some other computer based programs that are a one time purchase.

The program was not as user friendly as others we have used. It did take me a few days to figure everything out and there are still a few features that I am still getting used to.

After using the program with an elementary student and a high school student, I am overall very pleased with the program. We do plan to continue the program with two of our students for the rest of the year. 

I received a free year subscription to CTC Math in exchange for this review. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Getting Real About all the Laundry

Laundry. It is the nemesis of almost any large family. Or small family for that matter. Because it just NEVER STOPS. EVER.  This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because oh my gosh, we have all these clothes to wear and keep us warm and not naked. The world is relieved. A curse because it must constantly be dealt with. Constantly.

Once upon a time, I could handle the laundry easily. A few years later and laundry became my nightly ritual. Folding the clothes after the kids were in bed. The was somehow easier with a laundry room on the first floor. 

But it has been years since the laundry situation has been anything other than OUT OF CONTROL around here. There is laundry in the laundry room, in the bedrooms, spilling out of baskets everywhere. And it stresses me out big time. It always did but now it is oh so much worse.

See, here's a secret. When I was in labor with Isabel I passed the time by folding laundry. Lots of laundry. Loads of laundry. Hours of  laundry. And now I just cannot stand to look at it all. One load I can handle. But we don't have one load around here. It is more like 12 loads or so.  And dealing with that much laundry. Well, it takes me places I just don't want to go. So the laundry situation is frankly quite dire around here as of late. And when I say as of late, what I really mean is for the last 5 years or so.

What I really need is someone who can come in and help get it all back in order. Help sort and purge and toss and rearrange. Someone who can be both organized and non-judgemental. I wonder if such a person exists. Sigh. A person can dream.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Our Easter in Pictures

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Meal Plan

M: eggs (B), cheesy chicken and rice (D)
T: muffin melts (B), tacos (D)
W: yogurt and granola (B), leftovers (D)
T: oatmeal (B), beef stroganoff (D)
F: breakfast potluck (B), baked ravioli (D)
S: mini bagels, frozen waffles (B), pizza night (D)

S: English muffins (B), ham and potato casserole (D)
M: eggs, toast (B), alphabet soup (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), taco pasta (D)
W: baked oatmeal (B), chicken divan (D)
T: cereal (B), leftovers (D)
F: Abby's birthday

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Meal Plan

The freezers are blessedly full of beef. Hopefully what is there will last all year. I also pick up a 40 lb order of chicken on Monday. The chickens are starting to lay FINALLY. The kids have maple sap boiling away to make some syrup. So we are starting to get back to normal.  This will make meal planning quite a bit easier for me now so I am a happy person.

S: cinnamon raisin English Muffins (B), FFY(L), hamburgers (D)
M: baked oatmeal (B), soup (L), rice bowls (D)
T: egg sandwiches (B), pbj (L), chicken divan over rice (D)
W: cereal (B), tuna sandwiches (L), meatloaf (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), macaroni and cheese (L), chili and cornbread (D)
F: mini bagels (B), sandwiches (L), spaghetti (D)
S: French toast (B), leftovers (L), snack night (D)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Kikkoman House Party

We were given the opportunity to host a Cooking for Kids House Party. This provided the perfect backdrop for our favorite kind of afternoon: good food, friends, and just relaxing.
Kikkoman provided us with a box full of goodies to make our party a reality.  Aprons for all the kids and washable markers to use to decorate them.  Recipe cards with new ways to use the Kikkoman brand products.  A gift card to fund the party supplies and coupons to send home with our guests for Kikkoman products.
We made teriyaki meatballs, Mongolian beef, and sweet-n-sour chicken to share with our guests.  The meatballs were a hit with the kids and the Mongolian beef had that wonderful spicy kick we love.  The Takumi Teriyaki sauce is a favorite around here for making beef teriyaki and made the teriyaki meatballs taste wonderful.
Thanks Kikkoman and House Party for this fun afternoon.

I received a free party pack to host this party but was not compensated in any other way for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. #Kikkoman Kids #Sponsored

Monday, March 12, 2018

Meal Plan

So something happens when you decide that you are not buying any meat until either the meat you order arrives or you use up every last bit of meat left in the freezer. What happens is the teen boy discovers the place on the fridge to write down food that we are out of and should add to the grocery list and writes in really big letters "MEAT." He was a bit disappointed to learn that I have no plans to buy more meat until we use up what we have.

M: baked oatmeal (B), BBQ chicken (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), taco soup (D)
W: cereal (B), leftovers (D)
T: egg sandwiches (B), pulled pork (D)
F: oatmeal (B), stuffed shells (D)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Meal Plan

We are still working on cleaning out the freezers. This is testing my creativity a bit more than usual because we have the cuts of meat left that we aren't as crazy about or that are just a bit harder to use.  I am also doing my best to not buy anymore meat until what is currently in the house is gone.  So if you have any creative uses for pork hocks, I'd love to hear them.

S: cereal (B), leftovers (L), spaghetti (D)
M: eggs and toast (B), sandwiches (L), short ribs (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), leftovers (L), hot dogs (D)
W: egg and cheese sandwiches (B), pbj (L), honey glazed chicken (D)
T: cereal (B), soup (L), leftovers (D)
F: oatmeal (B), tuna melts (L), spinach tortellini soup (D)
S: French toast (B), leftovers (L) pizza (D)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

For the Boy Moms Out There

Today was one of those days where I had planned on mostly staying home all day. Doing not much but relaxing while waiting for the rest of the snow on the driveway to melt away because a 15 passenger van vs snow and ice on a gravel driveway is just not always fun.  But I quickly discovered we were completely out of chicken food and the birds must be fed so my plans changed. As I was walking out the door, I was informed of a few more items that we were also completely out of that just could not wait until payday in another 10 days. This does make me wonder why no one else can write down on the fridge when we are low on items but I digress.

So after the feed store, I headed off to the grocery store. Alone without any children, the grocery store suddenly becomes a lot more interesting than it would be otherwise and I find myself wandering aisles, wasting some time, and enjoying the relative quiet.

While wandering, I overheard a few parents having one of those discussions. The oh my gosh, it is so hard having x number of kids. One Mom piped up with "And I have all boys so that just makes it worse." As a mom to 8 boys, this is what I wanted to say:

I get it. Being a mom to a bunch of boys is hard. Oh so hard when they are little. They are a huge ball of energy and often never stop moving. Jumping off stairs and bouncing on the couch.  Climbing trees and finding every single mud puddle in a 10 mile radius. They are loud. Oh so loud that it can drive you to distraction. The nerf guns that have darts flying by your head with uncanny accuracy followed by a chorus of "But I was aiming for my brother, not you." And the smell. When you have more than one boy sharing a room, it has a way of developing what we lovingly call the boy funk around here. And those appetites. Where do they put all that food? And the growth spurts and holes in the knees of every single pair of pants they own and so many holes in their sneakers from using their feet as brakes on their bikes. Holes you are likely to not notice until the day they can't find their dress shoes and thus wear their sneakers to church.

I get it. It's hard. Wonderful but sometimes oh so hard. But then one day it changes. It changes because we aren't just raising boys. We are raising men.

Men who can help and take care of things on their own. I now have 4 boys who are much older. 2 are actually adults now. How the heck did that happen? I can't remember the last time I had to clear the snow off the van. In the winter, I almost never have to pump gas. I never shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. They can change the oil and change tires. They can pull a car out of a ditch or rescue me when the van is stuck in the driveway AGAIN. (Not like this happened this morning when I put the van into a snow bank at the end of the driveway or anything.)

One of them has a gift with building things and has made his own tool bench without plans using only scrap lumber. He's building shelves in the garage to help keep everything off the ground.  He still manages to leave tools all over the yard but he's starting to get a little better now that he has his own set.

Raising a handful of boys is not easy. Society certainly does not help us in this challenge anymore. There is very little real guidance provided for these young men as they try to navigate what being a man truly means.

They still eat a ton. They still grow like weeds. They still love to get messy and obsess over things that have no meaning to me. But they have become such a tremendous blessing now that they are older. So just hang in there. And remember that they don't stay this little forever.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Walmart Grocery Pick-up: Is It Worth It?

Ok, let's be real for a minute here. There are some days when going into the grocery store is just the last thing you want to do. Especially Walmart. I don't know about your experiences but it seems like any time we attempt to shop at Walmart, we spend at least 10 minutes standing in the darn check out lane. No matter what day, what time, or what lane you get in. There is no such thing as a quick exit from Walmart.

Grocery shopping with 3, 4, 5, or more kids? Not always fun. Grocery shopping when you have 20 other errands to run or sick kids or a super tight budget? None of these things are fun. Avoiding the hassles are all reasons I like using Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Service.

This service is super simple. You create an account on the Walmart website, go to the Walmart Grocery section and browse the items available at your local store. Prices do vary by location so if you have more than one store close by, you might want to compare prices.  Add your groceries to your cart, pick a day and time to pick-up your order, and check out as normal. If you realize you have forgotten an item, you have time to add things to your order before pick up.

The day your order is scheduled for delivery, you will receive an email telling you when it is ready. You can also sign up for texts but I just never have my phone on or the ringer is turned off because we were in church or something so for me, emails are better.  You drive up to the pick up location at your local store, call to tell them you are there, and they bring your order out to your car and load it for you.

So what is there NOT to like? At the current moment, they do not accept coupons or gift cards with this service.  There is a minimum order requirement so you can't use the service just for the cold medicine and ginger ale you need for the sick kid at home. But the minimum order is only $30 so it is fairly easy to reach. 

What else is there to like? You can earn a $10 referral credit for each friend you refer, up to $100 in a year. Here's my referral link, if you are so inclined. If you place your first order using that link, I will receive a credit so thanks! If you place your first order using a referral link, you also receive a discount off your first order. In order to use the referral credits, you need to place a $50 order before any discounts. Again, not too terribly hard to reach.  And if you are on a tight budget, you can track your order due and tell exactly what you will need to pay before you check out. This certainly is more convenient than doing your grocery shopping with a calculator in hand.  You can also place your order and have someone else pick it up. This means my husband can pick up the groceries on his way home from work and save us extra time and gas money.

Give it a try. Anything to make life run a little smoother is welcome around here.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Meal Plan

We are in working on emptying the freezers right now. Cleaning them out and using up the last of our beef and pork from last year. This means we are down to all the odds and ends that are not likely to get cooked quickly during the year and a few items that I found on sale. It is time to get a little creative with the last few roasts and and make room in the freezers for our meat order this year. I have an order of ground beef coming from a local farm this week sometime and I also managed to get an incredible deal on boneless skinless chicken breasts through Zaycon Fresh a few weeks ago (under $1/lb for a 40 lb case) and will pick that up near the end of March. Our normal order of beef and pork is usually ready in March or April so I'm hoping to have the freezers ready by then.  With the money allocated for future purchases (of mostly locally sourced, ethically raised, organic free-range meat), the current grocery budget is a bit tight to encourage us to stick to the plan and use up what we have. 

S: donuts after Mass (B). schnitzel and spaetzle (D)
M: eggs and toast (B), leftovers (D)
T: bagels, fruit (B), spicy chicken soup and cheddar muffins (D)
W: egg sandwiches (B), sweet n sour pork (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), steak and cheese sandwiches (D)
F: breakfast potluck (B), rice bowls (D)
S: cereal (B), pizza night (D)

What's on Your Reading List?

I don't know about you but I tend to go through times when I am not reading a darn thing followed by times when I am reading 2, 3, or 4 books at a time. Right now finds me smack dab in the later of the two. So here's my list. What's on yours?

The Baker's Secret. I recently finished this one and loved it. It is set in a coastal village in the Normandy region of France during WWII. A village which witnesses the storming of the beaches after several years of occupation. This one is full of real characters and gives a realistic picture of life for the villagers left behind to live through the occupation.
The Three Things Divorced Catholics Need to Know. This is a short book that gives a brief yet thorough look at the most important things divorced Catholics need to know in order to reconcile the faith as a Catholic with the realities of a marriage that has ended.  This one is a must read not only for divorced Catholics but also for anyone who works in marriage ministry in any fashion in the Church.

My Lenten Journey 2018.  I'm working my way through this one when I remember. It is exactly what it sounds like: a journal for Lent that provides inspirational quotes as well as space to keep track of who you are praying for and your Lenten sacrifices. Perfect for the busy Mom who just needs a quick spiritual shot to recharge.
The Girl Who Survived. This is a read aloud book with Abby and Gabe. It is a a true story about a young girl named Bronia who survived the Holocaust and was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. I love that this book is not too intense for younger readers so I don't have to chase little people out of the room but it is also not a sugar coated story either.
Hidden Figures. I took this one with me to karate today to start but got kind of distracted by the karate class. That tends to happen sometimes. But I have a copy of the movie waiting to be watched and I have a rule about not watching the movie until I read the book. Although I must say I've been interested in reading this one for a while anyway.
A Philadelphia Catholic in King James's Court. Kieran is reading this on for a basic apologetics course. This fictional story follows a Catholic teen boy and his family after the death of his father causes them to move closer to family for support. The relatives they are living near are decidedly anti-Catholic and make it their mission to attempt to convert this boy away from his faith.  Instead they are met with a child who is solidly grounded in his faith and able to easily refute all of their arguments. I had Bryan read this book in high school as well and am rereading it now so I can keep up with Kieran's homework assignments. This book is a must read for high schoolers.

The Diary of Anne Frank. The three high schoolers (and Abby) will be attending this play in March so they are covering the book before we go. I'm reading along with them because it is so much easier to keep up with the assignments when the book is fresh in my mind as well.

What's on your list that I should read in the future?