Friday, October 31, 2008

Not a jailbird

Hi everyone, this is Alan. I wanted it made perfectly clear that I am not in jail at the moment. I am home safe and sound. I was not in jail, nor was I detained in any way by the officials.

Thanks for you concern. I was getting milk and gas for the van

Now, let me tell you about the Aliens that I ran into...

My Children Baffle Me

Katie just came inside and announces that she thinks Dad is in jail. Seriously, I have no clue where the children get these things from sometimes. Since he is running a little late on getting home tonight, maybe I should keep you updated. :)

Chicken Update

Since someone decided to start asking, there are 12 chickens in the picture. Yes, 12. They are hiding everywhere.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Had to Share

Dinner tonight for 9 people. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits and gravy. Enough for everyone to eat plus leftovers. We spent under $10. And it was much more filling and better tasting than anything you'd get at KFC. By the time we are done cleaning up from dinner, we will have not only leftovers from dinner in the fridge but also a bag of homemade chicken broth in the freezer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chickens and Trees

This is where our chickens like to sleep at night. High up off the ground nestled in their favorite tree. There are a few problems with this arrangement. The poor tree is getting a bit beat up by the extra weight it's carrying all the time. Seriously, have you ever seen a tree suddenly start to have drooping branches? The other issue involves the weather. It's getting fairly cold around here at night and when it gets too cold, it's just not safe to leave the chickens in the tree overnight. Removing the chickens from the tree is a somewhat complicated process. It involves using a rake. First you must poke the chicken to get it to stand up. Then you have to use the rake to "guide" the chicken off the tree branch. If you are lucky, the chicken in question will just come right out of the tree and that will be that. But in most cases, the chicken just lands a lower branch and settles itself in on a new perch. Yes, these are stubborn feathered garbage disposals we have here. By the time Alan managed to remove all of the chickens from the tree last night (except the one that was just too high up to reach), he was rather frozen. Once the birds are in the barn, they are always happy to be warm and out of the wind. We are hoping that after a few days of colder temperatures, the birds will get the idea that it is a good idea to sleep in the barn rather than the tree.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Please Join Us

We have started a rosary novena for the upcoming elections. Please join us in praying for the elections, for our country and for our government. No matter what the media will have you believe, this election is not about the war, it is not about oil, it is not even about the economy. It is about life. Any nation that continues to refuse to defend the innocent can simply not expect to stand. Please take a few moments every day to pray for this election and to consider what is in your heart and who you will cast your vote for.

Meal Plan Update

Three weeks in and we have stuck with the meal plans. I need to adjust this week a bit since I realized I have a new, slightly labor intensive meal planned for Saturday and Alan has reserve duty this weekend. Not a good day to plan a meal when I might want his help. So that will be pushed back to another week but overall I am very happy with our progress. Leftover nights are successfully cleaning out the fridge for us and any leftovers not eaten can then be given to the chickens. So everyone is happy. Now to just keep going with the meal plan and see if it makes a difference for us budget wise.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Innocent or . . .

Look at that sweet innocent face. He certainly can't get into any trouble. He certainly would never think to sneak around and snatch things from unsuspecting folks. And if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. . .

Today was pizza and movie night. Which means things are a bit more casual than normal. Picture various kids laying on the floor watching a movie, various kids running to the kitchen to grab more pizza. Picture Abby standing in the kitchen talking to Dad with a piece of pizza on the plate in her hands. Picture Gabe walk up behind her, reach around her from behind and steal the pizza right off her plate. In true poetic justice fashion, a few minutes later the dog had snatched said pizza from Gabe and scarfed it down in record time. Lesson learned tonight is that in this house all food should be guarded closely. And kept out of reach of the furry shedding one.

Warning: Rant Ahead

Ok, I'm sure I am not the only person annoyed by this attitude. You know the one perpetuated by the commercials that you simply cannot feed your family healthy food without spending a ton. I'm sure you've all seen that KFC commercial where the family can't seem to manage to make a fried chicken dinner for 3 or 4 and spend less than $10. May I laugh? Seriously, if you cannot manage that one you need help. Perhaps this is my jaded side coming through here. Maybe it's because my grocery budget for 9 people is less than many families of 4 or so spend in a month. Yes, it means doing more cooking on your own. Oh my goodness. What a radical notion. Yes, it means rather than ordering pizza out we make it at home. Yes, it means we go through about 20 lbs of flour a month minimum. Yes, it means every so often having meatless meals or something along those lines. Yes, it means stocking up on sales and seasonal items and filling the freezer and pantries when they are cheap. And if you say you don't have storage room, I say take another look and reconsider. Everyone has some storage space they can use if they get creative. Yes, at times I struggle with stretching the budget as far as it needs to go but there is always another way of looking at things. Maybe we don't always eat what we want but we always eat. Anyone who has been paying a bit of attention knows that we can all look forward to rising prices and pinched budgets over the next few years. But I think it's time we stopped complaining quite as much and started being a bit proactive. I'm sure most people can find some place to plant a few veggies in their yard or in a pot on the back porch. Even if you won't use it, maybe your neighbor could. Everyone can learn to do a bit more cooking and baking. Learning just one new skill or recipe can save your family a bit of money. I guess I'm getting tired of folks complaining but being unwilling to do anything real to change their situation. And seriously, learn to make a chicken dinner for 4 for under $10. Please.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homemade Tortillas

Homemade tortillas. Very labor and time intensive for me right now still. Very affordable. Very delicious. I made a decent sized batch this morning so we have enough for lunch and dinner. Beans and rice in tortillas for lunch. 7 very happy kids. Not much more you can ask for. And, yes, this means we do eat beans and rice on occasion. You simply can't beat this kind of meal for simplicity, cost or for filling up a bunch of hungry kids.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Milestone

We had something wonderful occur tonight. I handed the oldest child a recipe and told him to make dinner. Which he did successfully all on his own. He only needed help with lifting the hot pan full of pasta and water to the sink to drain. And let's face it, 2 pounds of pasta plus enough water to cook it in is very heavy. He even did a decent job cleaning up after himself. Ok, we still need to work on that one a bit but he did much better than he does after making sandwiches for lunch. Now to teach the 9-year-old the same level of cooking skills (he is great at making scrambled eggs and flipping pancakes but has not yet ventured outside of breakfast) and I can plan on turning dinner over to the children 2 nights a week. We can just call it home-ec. Or the proper training necessary to be a helpful husband. Either option works great for me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sewing Machine Woes

I am beginning to have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. It is a very nice machine, automatic everything. Which is where the problem lies. The darn thing will not thread. And with an automatic threader, there is no way for me to do it myself. Which means the machine has to be serviced. We don't even want to talk about how much that will cost just to have the machine looked at. I guess it is time for me to learn to love sewing by hand for a while. On days like today I really wish I had not given away my other sewing machine. But I'm sure the lady who ended up with it was happy. Oh well. I just have way too many projects piling up on me right now. Such is life I guess.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I have but one thing to say. It is snowing. And the winter coats are still packed away. I am in trouble.

I Need an Intervention

I am in need of help. We still have some of the original diaper covers we bought almost 7 years ago when we switched back to cloth diapers. Most of them have been in near constant use since then. Needless to say, they are starting to die out on me. In the past 2 days I have had 3 covers totally fail on me. The child just pees right through them. And yet I am having a hard time convincing myself to just buy new ones. I guess I could make new covers but I want snaps, not velcro. Fold-over elastic and I do not get along that well so a snapping PUL cover is out. And the touch-tape I bought last time is not the greatest so even velcro would not make me happy. Besides, Gabe takes those off way too easy. And the touch tape is slated for use in the gift bags. I can make plain soakers or pants with fleece easy enough but the fleece I have at home right now is really not diaper cover quality unless it's two layers. I have a little bit of the quality Malden Mills fleece left but I think only enough really for a few hats. So the easy answer is potty train Abby and order new covers for Gabe already. And yet I am still debating with myself. I need help. Seriously. You'd think I enjoy having a child sit on me with wet pants.

Just Wow

Ok, this just shows how much the perspective has changed over the past few months. But I just paid only $2.79 per gallon for gas. I filled the van for just under $70. This is quite amazing considering I used to get to the $100 point and the pump would shut off even though the van was not yet full. I'm very excited.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a Normal Day Around Here, I Think

Why is it on a day when you have more to do than truly reasonable, you just lack the motivation to do it all? The house is a total mess because we've had sick people for a week. Even when it's mostly just the kids, sick people tends to lead to a messy house. I don't even want to think about the last time the kitchen was mopped (not counting when Bryan had to do it to get out some extra energy and only mopped the middle of the floor). I guess I have already accomplished a decent amount of stuff but the to do list is still daunting. The bread is made, dinner is in the crockpot and there are pumpkin bars in the oven. Second load of laundry is almost done. It's almost time to start the third load in the dishwasher. The kitchen counters have been located. We went to church to pick a bag of quinces for jam. I'll make the jam probably on Wednesday. The pumpkins and popcorn were finally rescued from the back of the van. The kids have run the vacuum and mostly cleared the floor in the living room. But school work has not yet been started on for the day. That will happen at naptime. I still have at least 3 more loads of laundry. I need to fix the curtains that some child managed to pull down in the living room. I need to sew some hats and gift bags at some point today. And we don't even want to think about the mounds of laundry waiting to be folded, sorted and put away. And a couple kids still need winter clothes brought out. For some reason they thought it was a good idea to wear shorts this morning. I did not agree with them. The last of the peppers were finally packed away in the freezer but the cauliflower is still waiting to be dealt with. And I really need to start working on turning at least one of the pie pumpkins into puree because it went for a little ride in the van and got stuck under a seat and got a few chunks taken out of the outside. So I must deal with it before it starts to rot or something equally unpleasant. Have I mentioned how much I would like to take a nap today? And I must call the midwife so she can get started on dealing with the insurance crud. Stinking red tape drives me insane. Hopefully this time I won't have to deal with them lying again and refusing coverage based on some fanciful story they made up in their heads. Amazing thing happens when you get the state insurance commission involved and fax them copies of the lies your insurance company has sent you. Complete with proof that they are lying to you. Truly amazing how quickly they are then forced to fork out the money. But I'd love to not have to deal with that again this time. It does get old after a while. So what do you have planned for today?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Owe Several Rounds of Thank-you's

This week we have been on the receiving end of several very nice gifts. On Saturday I stopped at the produce stand with Kieran, Liam and Gabe intending to buy some fruit for the week. We came home with 3 boxes full of bell peppers, 2 heads of cauliflower in addition to the apples and grapes. And the vegetables were all free. Yes, they are the seconds, been around for a while stuff. But free is free and I'll be able to put 3 gallon sized bags stuffed full of pepper slices in the freezer for winter.

Today a friend brought over two huge bags of hand-me-downs that are just the right size for Kieran. It included a brand new with tags jacket that Kieran has been wearing all day, 2 winter coats, a pair of snow boots in just the right size for this year and a gladiator costume that would be perfect for someone to use as St. Michael the Archangel at our All Saints Day party. The bags were stuffed full of almost brand new name brand stuff. Apparently her son is very neat and careful with his clothes, something I don't see often around here. We were very happy to see that the bag was full of almost everything Kieran will need to wear this winter.

On Tuesday a friend made dinner for us so I could have a break from cooking and dealing with morning sickness. The moron who named it morning sickness has obviously never dealt with 24 hr all day sickness before. Dinner complete with apple crisp for dessert made everyone happy.

Pumpkins and Popcorn

We visited a pumpkin farm today. I don't have too many pictures because the stupid camera and I were having an argument. The darn thing eats batteries as if they were chocolate. And Snapfish always complains about the photo quality. The next camera will have rechargeable batteries at the very least. But this is not about the camera.The farm we visited was a small family run affair. The kids were able to pet goats, a cow, rabbits and see turkeys. They also had a corn maze and an area where you could make your own scarecrow. I am half tempted to go back with the kids later this week and make one. We brought home 3 large pumpkins and 6 pie pumpkins. We also brought home 7 ears of popcorn to dry out. It should be ready by Thanksgiving to pop. And yes, all of the seeds from the pumpkins will be snacks and the rest of the pumpkins will be cooked down and turned into puree to keep in the freezer for the rest of the year. I am very much against cutting up a pumpkin just for a decoration and then tossing it. That idea seriously bothers me considering how much you often pay for the darn things. The ones we got today were very cheap but it is still food and will be used as such.Here is Katie shucking an ear of popcorn.
And here is Gabe trying to escape the hay mountain.

Barn Update

Here are the latest pictures of the barn progress. Alan ran out of tar paper just a bit short of the end.

It still needs doors and shingles. And a coat of paint. But the chickens have figured out where they should stay when it gets cold. So that is progress. We also have fewer chickens now who insist on escaping and wandering the yard. Which means the eggs are getting a tad easier to find lately.

Frost Already

We woke up this morning to frost covered grass. It's a rather pretty sight as long as you are not the one sent out first thing in the morning to tend to the chickens. And the weather report for later this week is predicting snow. I guess this means I need to officially stop procrastinating and get all the winter clothes out for the kids.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Gift Question

Ok, here's the problem. It's child number 7. They don't need anything. Heck, what 1 year old needs much anyway? You need 3 small gifts for the kid so that the older children don't notice a lack. But what do you get the kid when they truly need nothing? You don't want to bring more stuffed animals or riding toys or junk toys into the house because, well, this is child number 7 and you already have more than enough of that. Can't think of a book the kid needs. So what do you do? Alan says I can't buy a new diaper for him. Give me your best ideas, please. I'm getting desperate. I do have all the nieces and Godchildren figured out already so now it's just our own children. Really, after a certain point this gets a tad frustrating. Especially when you don't believe a small child needs all the latest and greatest gadgets in the store. Maybe I'll just wrap up an empty box. You know you've all considered doing that at one point in time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gabe's First Words

This kid cracks me up. Most of the kids have started talking with the typical DaDa or something similar. I think one started with no. A few have ventured into sign language and mastered that before trying to speak much. Gabe decides to start talking today with something totally different. The dog decided as usual that Gabe was an easy target. He's going to steal the child's cookie. Gabe has had enough of the dog taking his food away from him. He says "Bad dog." Yup, learn the really important stuff first.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Day, Another Field Trip

Today we took a trip to a 17th century Seneca village. We walked the Trail of Peace and learned about a historic battle between the French and the Seneca people in 1687. We also heard the legend of the Peacemaker who united several Indian Nations into a Confederacy. Ok, I missed most of that story chasing down the little dude. Then we visited a longhouse and were able to see how the Seneca people lived in this area.
Some trade items in the Longhouse.
Some furs on the bed in the Longhouse.
Bryan is not sure what he took this picture of to be honest.
The outside of the Longhouse.
A view of the Longhouse from the door.
Their garden.
One of the tour guides.
Just a beautiful view.
The little dude I was chasing.
I hope you know what this one is a picture of.

Seeing a longhouse in person really gives you a new appreciation for how much space we have in our own homes. Just another one of those reminders that in general Americans have become incredibly spoiled and demand way more of everything than they really need. I know I can think of at least one home we "outgrew" simply because we bought too much stuff for the kids. Could you imagine sharing a home like that with your entire extended family?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tried Something New Today

I was in the mood to make a cake this afternoon.It started out looking like this.
Then like this.
The end result was something like this. The kids all loved it.

Meal Plan Success

I just wanted to share that so far the meal plans have been a success. I have not had a case of life getting in the way yet. Granted, it has only been one week but I am going to employ the power of positive thinking here. I must also admit that things will be switched a bit this week. There was a request for cabbage casserole from the kids while we were at the grocery store. So I will be substituting that in place of the Shepard's Pie this week and a wonderful friend is providing a meal for us this week as well since I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately. But I am thinking that both of these are perfectly good reasons to make a change since it is still the first day of the week. Dinner for tonight is cooking in the crock pot and smells delicious. I think everyone should have at least one crock pot in their house. They are serious life and sanity savers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kate and Liam spin some yarns!

The recording above is of Katie's and Liam's Stories. Enjoy!

Just a warning, it devolves into a giggle fest!

Some Recent Pictures

Liam is putting together his favorite puzzles.
Katie and her birthday presents.
Take one small child, add one slice of bread covered with Nutella. End result is a chocolate covered mess.
It's an oatmeal kind of morning.
Liam has been building lots of forts lately. This is one of his smaller creations.
This chicken decided to join Alan up on the roof of the barn. She seems quite proud of herself.
Look at how big he is getting. If only I could convince him to always sit in the chairs instead of standing up and dancing around on them.

Sunday Ramblings

Since we gave our witness talk this weekend, we attended all 3 Masses. I was reminded of something that I have to say I find rather funny. It appears that Catholics have a universal fear of the front pews in church. At every single Mass, the front few rows were noticeably empty. I guess folks are afraid that if they sit too close to the front they will actually have to pay attention. Or maybe someone will notice they are there or something. It just cracks me up on some level. I've seen people go to great lengths to cram themselves into the back pews when they are already rather full so they can avoid having to sit up front. On the positive side, our family can pretty much be guaranteed to always find room for all 9 of us in the front.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Witness Talk

Hey folks. We will be giving our NFP witness talk at all 3 Masses this weekend. Please pray for us and for those hearing us. Thanks.

We'll also be heading to the local Planned Parenthood office to pray. I'm hoping everything goes smoothly today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Story by Bryan

Date: Tuesday March 19th 1945
Time 2:30 Pm
Place London, England

So many times he had walked this road and so many times he had come upon, battle tanks, damaged planes and dead bodies of men who had fought for freedom from the Nazis. But the war was over, and there was nothing or anyone to worry about. Nothing but the black smog of the burnt gun powder, that came of the guns.
It was as if he James Henry Jr. was the last person thing alive. james walked the road for many miles until he stumbled on a device that looked oddly like a rock, but he could not be sure. he pushed a button and ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th 2010
Time 2:40 PM
Place London, England

James found himself in the same place that he started from, only it looked newer. There were skyscrapers as tall a hundred suburban houses put together. Oh well it must me my imagination. He moved on. The place that he called home was up ahead. It was a really a building that had been destroyed by bombs during the war. He soon came to a building that looked like his, but it was some how different, in a way that he could not put his finger on. It had been repaired of course and painted white, had doors of glass, but there was more to it than that. He looked down at his shoes. His clothes were different.
A man rushed out of the building, and said quickly, "The meeting was suposed to be started already. But because you were late, we were late to start."
"But, but," James said.
"No buts," said the man who had come out of the building. "Lets go," he said pulling his arm.
"Ouch!" James said. "My name is James Henry."
"No matter," said the man.
"let go," said James "I came from the year 1945. What year is this?"
"This is 2010," said the man urgently pulling on his arm. "I come from the year 1920, but still they don't believe me."
"But I..." he was hauled on to an elevator. he thought, I wonder if I will ever get home.
They entered the meeting room, and greeting them was a jumble of noise. "Welcome to the meeting," the man at the head of the table said. "My name is Phil Smith. Sit down and enjoy one of our doughnuts, and some coffee."
James found a seat and happily enjoyed a Boston cream, one of his favorites, it hit the spot because he was starving. When the meeting ended he left the building and he immediately found the time remote, and pushed the button on it. ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th. 1945
Time 2:50 PM
Place London, England

He returned to the destroyed building, knowing that one day it would be inhabited by people again.

Pray for Our Priests

Today I received an email update regarding one of our favorite priest's from our time in Florida. Fr. Tomy John came to the US as a missionary priest from India. You could tell that he had a gift for working with children. His eyes lit up when he was around children and he could handle large groups of kids with ease. He even managed to remember everyone's names. When Alan was away at school, he used to make sure he had a chance to talk to the boys after Mass and let them know if he thought they had been behaving or not. Nothing like a little extra help when Mom is totally outnumbered and alone. Fr. Tomy John is now back in India living in a very dangerous area for Catholics. They are frequently attacked and even killed. He's still as busy as ever but now living in a much more dangerous place. He will be staying with a neighboring priest who was attacked and is now afraid to be alone. Obviously, these men are dealing with real physical dangers for living their faith. A reality many of us will never know. But all of our priests need our prayers. They are constantly under attack by the secular media and culture we live in. And sadly many times by their own parish members as well. We have been very blessed to find a priest here who reminds me in many ways of Fr. Tomy John. You can see the same spark in his eyes around children and he always seems busy with one thing or another. I can't count the number of times I have been told by folks who don't attend our parish that they just love our priest and spent time with him at one event or another. Please, pray for these men who minister to our families and children. After everything they do for us, it is the least we can do for them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Important Announcement

I have found the bottom of one hamper. Amazing. The bottom of a second one is visible. The third hamper is lost somewhere in the basement bedroom so no clue on that one. The boys down there tend to postpone lugging it upstairs until they reach a point where they have absolutely no clean clothes left anywhere in their room. The kitchen hamper is decidedly full and normally is by this point in the day and the diaper pail is full but there is one empty hamper in the house. This is a major feat. Come celebrate with me.

Just thought I would add that I have now found the bottom of all 3 hampers. And the kitchen hamper is empty as well. Quite amazing.

Question of the Day

Someone please explain to me why it is that we cannot go a single day without someone spilling at least one drink all over the place? Seriously, this is just slightly annoying. At this point, a bit more than slightly annoying but that is likely because I am tired of children knocking cups over because they are goofing off and then not cleaning up the mess properly. One day with no spilled drinks. That is all I'm asking.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

5 Weeks of Meal Plans

So what do we eat around here? Especially since I said I can easily feed the crew for less than $225 a week. I'd estimate we spend between $600 and $700 a month on groceries. That is to feed 9 although I normally cook for at least 10 because usually at least one kid is going through a growth spurt. And our grocery budget includes everything other than softener salt and dog food because I prefer to have Alan lug home those huge sized bags. When it's more than 20 lbs, I prefer to delegate when possible. Anyway, here's 5 weeks of dinner plans. Just to prove it can be done and you don't have to eat rice and beans. Lunches are normally sandwiches or leftovers with boxed mac and cheese thrown in once in a while. Breakfast is often eggs, oatmeal, cereal, muffins, pancakes, something along those lines. So we don't eat junk and we don't eat just beans. And we don't tolerate picky eaters. Probably one of the main ways we are able to keep costs down. The lists only include 6 days because we eat leftovers one day a week to clean out the fridge and I don't plan sides too far in advance so they may be left off.

Week 1
sloppy joes, fries, applesauce
chicken divan over rice, peaches
spaghetti with meatballs and sausage
chicken patties, fries, some other vegetable
homemade macaroni and cheese
homemade pizza

Week 2
slow cooker Mexican pork over rice
baja burritos
chicken cacciatore
shepherd's pie
tuna casserole
homemade pizza

Week 3
slow cooker burgundy stew with dumplings
Spanish rice, corn
tomato feta pasta
baked ziti with salad
bean burritos
homemade pizza

Week 4
grilled slow-cooker ribs
pizza bread
veal parmigiana
sticky chicken (crockpot recipe)
tuna melts
schnitzel and spaetzel

Week 5
bean soup
BBQ chicken, baked beans
spaghetti and meatballs
ham and potatoes
homemade macaroni and cheese
All Saints Day party (hot dogs, chips, whatever sides are brought by other folks, lots of cookies and candy and assorted junk I am sure)

Honestly, I can go another couple weeks easily with what's in the house. And my grocery list is rather short other than the supplies for the All Saints Day party we are hosting. I guess now the test will be if I actually stick to this list or if life gets in the way.

Been Busy

Ok, I have been slacking a wee bit around here lately. Or the kids have not been up to much to write about over the past few days. I don't know. I think I am just lacking in inspiration and motivation. We did have a fairly busy day yesterday. Katie managed to crack her head open smashing it into the corner of the wall playing horsey with Kieran. Never mind that I had told them to calm down and cut it out, not in the house. But who needs to listen to Mom when we can wait it out and bleed on the floor. The older 5 kids started their homeschool bowling league yesterday. Not too exciting but they seemed to have fun. Alan put the last of the wooden panels on the barn roof. 2 of said panels fell on top of Kieran who decided this was the end of the world. (Alan would like me to note at this point that said boards were leaning against the barn when they fell on him and did not fall off the roof onto the child.) Successfully tried out a new recipe for dinner. Super cheap and delicious. I have to say I am starting to develop an appreciation for the Hillbillyhousewife and her ways to stretch your food budget. Made a batch of rocky road brownies for date night. I figured if I made them last night, Alan and I actually had a chance to try one before the kids devoured them. Finished the first 3 weeks of meal plans using mostly what is in the house. Again, attempting to stretch that food budget a wee bit and clean out the freezer. I am planning on doing at least 2 more weeks today, maybe 3. I do have a small grocery list but it is just basics. I mean, you can't go 3 or 4 weeks without buying more milk, flour, produce and juice. The goal for today is to get a new batch of pumpkin butter made using the frozen puree from the basement. And a few more loads of laundry. I despise laundry. Just had to throw that one out there. Maybe it would be nicer if either one of the machines worked totally properly. But that is not life around here. And we must not forget the pile of dishes in the sink. Alan made pancakes for the kids for breakfast. Which resulted in finishing off a bag of pancake mix (the secret is out, we do use pancake mix), a jar of strawberry syrup, a jar of apple butter, the rest of the maple syrup and discovering that the jar of pumpkin butter had sat in the fridge too long. Seriously, have I mentioned how much my kids can eat in one meal? Well, the microwave just beeped at me so I'd best get the pumpkin butter into the crock pot. I'm hoping today has fewer kids getting hurt and results in locating the bottom of at least one of the 3 hampers.

Monday, October 6, 2008


These two boys seem to be best buddies. I can always count on Bryan to take care of Gabe when I need help and Gabe absolutely loves his big brother. Gabe will actually try to jump out of your arms to go to Bryan, something he does not do with anyone else. One of the joys of raising a large family is watching these sort of relationships develop. You are sometimes surprised by which kids become best buddies.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Katie!

Katie celebrated her birthday late last night with spaghetti, garlic bread, a butterfly cake and pink ice cream. She seems to have had a wonderful day.

Friday, October 3, 2008


All I have to say is that my daughter is very, very weird. She got a birthday card in the mail today. She runs outside with it and very excitedly shows it to the chickens. Seriously, she is weird. Perhaps this is a sign that we need to get out more.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Guardian Angels. I can't think of a better reason to make angel food cake for dessert than that. The kids also watched a movie about your guardian angel and colored pictures of guardian angels. Kieran made an angel for his religion lesson today and we worked on memorizing the Guardian Angel Prayer.

This morning Father Mickey enrolled all 5 older kids in the Scapular. Yes, it took us this long to coordinate everything. And Alan and I renewed our wedding vows at Mass. When he tries, Alan can actually think of romantic things to do. He just can't seem to figure out how to keep me from figuring out what his plans are ahead of time. Father did a great job at keeping it a secret and although Alan tried to do the same, it just didn't work out. Add to all this the normal laundry, dishes, dryer that likes to pop open on it's own and stop working, dishwasher that decided to stop working in the middle of a load, school work, the discovery of a nest full of 16 eggs, rain, spilled drinks, meals, cleaned bedrooms (at least they pretended to clean them) and I think we've had a rather busy and somewhat productive day.

Science Project

Bryan has been begging to this science project for days but there are certain things I prefer not to do while the little folks are running around and trying to help. Last night he finally was able to get out everything and make soap. He was supposed to use herbs that grew in his light box but apparently when the cord for the light bulb in the light box keeps being moved to work on the barn, the herbs you plant tend not to grow. So instead we just used some essential oils and he added some colorant. We just did melt and pour glycerin based soap so super easy and he honestly could do it himself with very minimal supervision (assuming small folks are out of range). Personally, I would love to learn to make more complicated soaps one of these days but for now we will stick to the easy stuff.

I Can't Believe It Happened

It happened. I was so hoping we would avoid this awful mess. But this morning one of the children took it upon themselves to hack off a huge chunk of Katie's hair. Ok, it's just hair. It will grow back. But she just does not look like Katie anymore. I actually think I may have to take her in to get it straightened out a bit because I am not so great at getting short haircuts straight. Especially when the head in question keeps moving. It's easier with boys. If you mess up, you just give them a buzz cut. Sigh, I'm hoping her hair grows back quickly.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Little Flower

October 1 is the feast day of St. Therese the Little Flower. I didn't quite have my act together this year so we did not have everything we needed to make sacrifice beads. But we did manage to pull a few things together. We read a story about her life, found a picture to color, listened to a song about her and had pink rice crispy treats. Why pink? Well, St. Therese is often associated with flowers or roses. People say they receive flowers as a sign that she has heard their prayers. In most pictures, you see red roses. So I was trying to make red rice crispy treats and the food coloring turned pink instead. But they were still delicious.