Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Altar Gang

The Altar Gang is a wonderful series of audio cd's for kids that helps to explain various parts of the Faith to them.  We've been listening to the series in the car quite often.  My kids love them and I can even appreciate them.  I will admit the series has even caused me to develop an interest in reading Don Quixote. 

But the Altar Gang also has dangerous side effects.  One of the stories mentions something about an altar boy catching his cassock on fire during Mass and, well, that was the only thing I could think about today at Mass when I saw Bryan and Sean heading down the aisle carrying the candles.  Perhaps it was because the were moving somewhat less than slowly.  Perhaps it was because they have a habit of walking around with shoes untied and wearing robes that are just a tad too long.  This is particularly likely when you are the shortest altar boy and all the robes seem too big for you.  Or perhaps it was just because I can't help but laugh and picture the scene every time I hear "and that time the altar boy caught his cassock on fire" and just hope that my kids don't one day do that themselves.  Either way, one look at Alan this morning confirmed that his mind had wandered to the same place as mine.

But don't let your fear of fire keep you away from this wonderful series. They are available from the folks at Holy Heroes and they are guaranteed to provide you with at least 30 minutes of quiet on those long car trips when everyone is asking "are we there yet" and you are getting tempted to toss that annoying toy out the window.


Alan unpacked his foot locker today and found a few treasures he had hidden to share with everyone.  One of these treasures was an unopened MRE.
He shared this wonderful treasure with all of the kids.  Yes, it looked much better than the MRE's I remember eating as a child but I still could not quite get as excited over this treat as the kids were.  I mean we did have a kitchen full of food just 2 feet away but I gather there is some special joy you get from drinking chocolate milk out of a bag and watching that super cool bag start steaming the second you add water.  Yup, it was an experience they will remember I'm sure.

Saturday Hike

We are hoping to spend more of our weekends actually getting out of the house and doing something with the kids.  Something inexpensive, fun and hopefully something that will tire at least the little ones out a bit.  So on Saturday we loaded the jogging stroller and a couple baby carriers into the van and headed to the local park for a hike.
Look at that happy face.  Robert rather enjoyed the hike because he didn't have to do anything other than hang out with Mom.  Nothing makes him happier than hanging out with Mom.  Except maybe playing with Dad.  It's a toss up.
Hiking with the other boys seems to involve large amounts of sticks which are constantly swinging precariously close to other people's heads until finally someone is smacked and you must declare that all sticks are to be put down NOW. 
It also seems to involve an amazing knack for finding and jumping in every single mud puddle on the planet.  We did not pick the best day for a hike in the woods since the ground was very mucky, mushy, slippery and gross.  Which means we ended up with lots of mud covered shoes, pants, coats and socks.
And yet I have a feeling we will be out there doing it again next weekend.  If we can't find real volksmarches around here, we'll have to plan a few of our own.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Legos and School

Do you want to add Legos to your school experience?  Hey, what better way to get something positive out of all the hours you have likely spent stepping on the small little bricks that inevitably end up scattered all over the floor.  You can request a kit to enter the Lego Smart Creativity Contest today so you are eligible to participate in the contest this fall.  Winners of the contest can get even more free Legos.  Even more little pieces to step on when you aren't wearing any shoes.  But at least when your kids are playing with Legos, you can be pretty darn certain that there is at least a chance they are learning something useful.

Book Review

This one is for Mom's of boys.  Yes, I think you really have to have more than one boy to truly appreciate this one.  Preferably boys in close age to each other.  Let's be realistic.  One boy can cause problems but several boys can reek havoc in ways that you can't even imagine.  So this one is for mom's who have boys back-to-back.  Truly even having boys spaced out or with girls in the middle is truly not the same thing.  Nothing is quite the same as a houseful of boys close in age to one another.  The feats they dream up, the ideas they try, that funky smell that takes up residence in their bedroom and will likely never be removed until they all move out.  If you can relate to these things, you must read the book How Do You Tuck in a Superhero.  Seriously, I have not read a book in a long time that had me literally laughing out loud.  And it's nice to feel as if there are other people out there who can relate to some of the crazy antics my boys get into.  Yes, I love my boys but they sure must have a huge fleet of guardian angels to come out of their antics unscathed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Science Museum

We headed to the science museum today so Bryan could participate in a middle school science day.  He had a blast and was able to participate in several hands-on experiments.  While he was doing that, the rest of us were hanging out and attempting to dodge the rest of the middle school kids.  I swear as a collective lot, children in middle school have got to be some of the most clueless, inconsiderate folks on the planet.  Get 2 or 3 of them together and things are ok.  Get large groups of them together coupled with a lack of adult supervision (the adults with these kids were often talking rather than paying attention) and you have chaos.  Yikes.  We eventually retreated to the snack bar where it was quiet.  Gabe watched the elevator go up and down for quite a while and was thrilled.  We checked out the new dino exhibit, dug for bones, played in the sand, all the normal fun stuff.

He's Walking

While at gym class for the older 5 today, I took this video of Robert. He's getting very serious about this walking thing now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Say What?

There are some phrases you can never imagine yourself or your spouse ever uttering.  At least until you have children.  No, not cute adorable little babies who can't even crawl yet. I'm talking children of the walking, talking, independent thinking type.

Today I heard one of those phrases.  Alan comes home from work and looks out in the backyard to see what the children are up to at the moment. Notice I was home the entire time and simply thought hey, they are quiet. They are out of the house.  No one is screaming, there is no blood involved. I'll just go about my day and call them in when it's time to run out the door.  I'd been getting constant updates and peeking out the window every so often.  About every 30 minutes one child or another came back into the house to tell me that some sibling covered them in water or they fell in a puddle or some other calamity occurred which now necessitated a change of clothing.  But actually take the time to investigate everything they are doing outside?  Nope, just didn't happen.  Until Dad came home.

Alan opens the back door, sticks his head out and yells "Brainless children! Do not put that over the mudpit!  Where are your brains?"  At this point I was attempting to stifle some laughter while wanting to tell him that he just asked them where their brains were immediately after telling them they lacked them in the first place.  Instead of telling him these things I waited for him to explain.  Yes, we do have a giant mud pit in the back yard.  It's what happens when you have 6 boys and 5 acres of land.  Do the math.  We are lucky we only have one mud pit with the amount of digging boys can do.  But what were they putting over the mud pit?  The kiddie tent.  The boys were attempting to stake the tent over the mud pit because "we wanted to make sure no one fell in the mud" or some such reason was presented.  Let's not bother to consider that the tent won't hold them up over the muddy puddle of water for long before everyone was drenched anyway.  Let's not think that, well, this just isn't a good idea.  Nope, let's not do any of these things because their eventual goal is to make their parents sound like blithering idiots.  That the children are able to do quite easily.

I Suppose We Reap What We Sow, Huh?

This video brings up many important points. Need I say that the Catholic Church in America is crying out for real, solid, faithful, orthodox leadership? How many older parents are now crying and mourning over their children loosing their faith and leaving the Church? How many young families travel long distances each Sunday in search of a parish led by a faithful priest where they won't have to worry what their children hear each Sunday? I really want to know why our bishops are not standing up and leading their people. Until we start seeing strong truthful leadership, our Church will continue to crumble and we will continue to see huge errors like this in our future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prayers Please

I'm sending out a prayer request.  Hoping it will fall on the ears of like minded folks.  We've been getting lots of interest here and there in our NFP classes from couples but for various reasons, things seem to fall apart.  The latest talk included things such as our parents say it won't work and being responsible and staying on the pill.  I remember hearing such things myself and realize that those who say them are often misguided and have absolutely no clue what NFP actually is, refuse to acknowledge the true health risks associated with hormonal birth control and have turned their hearts away from the teachings of the Church with regard to birth control.  Pray for those couples that they will open their hearts and eventually their marriages to the blessings of NFP.  I can understand the confusion but it breaks my heart to hear of people who choose to ignore the teachings or who choose to say yes, I know I am putting my health at risk by staying on birth control but what other choice do I have?  I know when you are trying to do what is right and good, you often get hit with attacks from the Devil trying to prevent you from following through.  He is attacking families big time right now and we simply can't allow him to gain any farther than he has already gone. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just Lounging Around

Never mind that you are two.  Such things do not matter when you spot an open seat at a party.  Granted, the child does still technically fit in this seat at least weight wise since it will work for a child up to 30 pounds and he is just barely over 20 pounds.  Yup, we have a light weight here.  Then he figured out how to buckle himself in and his parents left him there to fend for himself.  We are so mean.  Someone else had to rescue him when he managed to knock the seat over backwards.
And someone else thought this was a great idea, too. 

Happy Birthday Robert!

Yes, the little dude is one.  We officially have a one-year-old, two-year-old and three-year-old in the house.  At least until next month.
Robert was lucky enough to share his day with his Great-Grandpa Heim who was celebrating his 87th birthday.  Or maybe Grandpa shared with Robert.  Either way, by the time the cakes were out and everyone was singing, Robert looked a wee bit tired. Until he had a chance to dig into the cake himself.
Here's the neat picture.
And here's the messier one after he realized how yummy the cake was.  The child has learned and never once tossed cake onto the floor. 

He's still taking a few steps here and there but has not yet taken off running.  I'm sure it won't be long before he is taking off on his own. 

Hope you had a great day little dude.

The Tent

The kids are having fun right now playing with this tent in the side yard.  I have to say I love this picture. Not because it is a super incredible picture but rather for what it represents.  This shows a tent that big brother set up all on his own specifically so the younger kids would have something to play in.  It shows just a small portion of our amazing yard.  Yup, some days I don't like living this far away from neighbors but for the most part I realize how incredibly blessed we are to have this much room for the kids to roam, run and explore.  Land to raise our own food and animals.  A place to be ourselves without worrying about crazy rules and nosey neighbors in one of those hellish deed restricted neighborhoods.  We would have gotten into major trouble for setting this tent up in our yard in Florida.

DiGiorno House Party

DiGiorno came out with a new product and we were given the chance to share lots of free samples with our friends.  We had a great group of folks over for the evening.  I love a house full of kids and with over 25 kids here last night, it certainly fit the bill.  My favorite line of the evening was hearing one of the Dad's saying "Don't chase the chickens with a golf club."  Somehow that made me feel as if my kids were a bit more normal.  For some odd reason the chickens are not laying as normal today.  I think perhaps they had the bejeebers scared out of them by golf club wielding children.  But I'm sure they will be back to normal tomorrow.

We also used this party as a chance to celebrate Robert's birthday.  Nothing goes better with pizza, breadsticks and friends than cake.
The little dude is officially one now.  As for the House Party, it is a wonderful chance to get loads of free samples and spend some time enjoying yourself with friends.  Check out their website for information on how you can host a House Party of your own.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Playing the Wii

The lighting is not the greatest on this video but watch the camaraderie. Watch the fun. Then watch the fighting at the end. Yup, family fun at it's greatest. The night isn't over until someone gets hit in the head with something.

The Obligatory Pasta Face

Here is our chub monster enjoying his dinner.  He ate 4 bowls of ziti.  Perhaps this is why he is such a chub. 

More Painting

The last of the kitchen painting is finally done.  Yes, it would have been done much quicker if I had actually worked on prepping the wall while Alan was gone but sometimes the best laid plans just fall flat on their face. 
Can't you just tell how much fun Gabe is having painting this wall?  This particular portion of the job received a lot of extra attention from the children so it took a few extra hours to dry.
Yes, we have decided to stick mostly with darker colors that will hide the errant artistic marks from the wonderful resident artists in the house.  It does not, however, hide fingerprint ink when a small child finds it left laying around and covers an entire section of the wall with it.  In that case, you must repaint.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homeschool Discounts and Giveaways

We love Catholic Heritage Curricula around here for their gentle approach, child-friendly materials, mom-friendly lay-out and for their relatively low cost. Now they have gotten even better. This year they are offering even more discounts and giveaway opportunities. Get a group of friends together to place a group order $500 and you can earn free shipping. Organize an order of $1000 and you earn not only free shipping but up to $250 in materials free. This month they are also featuring their 3rd grade science text at 25% off.  This is a wonderful example of a family run business doing their part to made home education a reality for other people.  Thank them for their hard work by giving them some of your business this year. 

Virtual Homeschool Conference

For those of you who have always wanted to attend a homeschool conference but have a hard time coming up with the funds or a babysitter or the time, Catholic Heritage Curricula has the answer for you this year: a virtual conference. You can see product videos, grade level guides, get answers to your questions all without dealing with lines, crowds, chaos or even getting out of your pj's! Check them out today.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Signs of Spring

Yes, the snow is melting. Yes, it is warming up.  Yes, the chickens are laying again.  But the best sign of the coming of spring has got to be this:
Gabe was outside playing with the big kids yesterday.  He runs back inside and goes off to dig in the hat/mitten box.  He comes back through the house ready to head outside. Notice the lack of coat.  Notice the lack of shoes.  Notice pink and green mittens and the pink/purple/white hat.  He is prepared for anything.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ordinary Time

Alan shared this with me today and it was something I needed a reminder of lately. Yes, I love Marie Bellet's songs and the way they seem to relate to my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Van is Back

The van made it's way home today.  All is repaired including the side door that had nothing to do with the accident.  Seems our back doors collect a bunch of road grime in the hinges and then get stuck and don't open.  The mechanic fixed one side and we discovered tonight that the other side is sticking terribly now as well so Alan will try to fix that this weekend we hope.

This has been a crazy week or so.  Have I mentioned swimming lessons all the way on the east side of Rochester twice a week?  Plus bowling, art and gym classes.  Every afternoon we have somewhere to go.  Yes, the kids are enjoying themselves. The younger three are even being mostly well behaved while waiting and watching the big kids.  But I have fallen off the meal planning track with the constant running and really need to get back on track.  I have a feeling the crock pots will be pressed into service often the rest of this month.  The crew is getting a bit tired of being told to grab a granola bar and a piece of fruit on your way out the door for lunch.

Bryan will be involved in a living Stations of the Cross tomorrow.  Here's hoping everyone does well and that the kids in the religious ed classes listen and pay attention.  Bryan seems rather excited. He is playing the role of Pontius Pilate I believe he said.

That is our life in a nutshell at the moment.  Sorry for being so scarce.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book-It Program

Just a reminder for folks to submit their enrollment forms for Pizza Hut's Book-It program for next year.  All students in grades k-6 are eligible to participate.  Free pizza every month for 6 months.  We've started using our coupons for take-out orders to supplement family pizza night.  4 personal sized pizzas at home can feed more kids than it does at the restaurant and we don't have to buy drinks that way so it makes for an affordable take-out pizza night and gives us a break from cooking.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Van vs Deer

It finally happened. We had a collision with a deer.  Alan and I had been wondering which of us would be the first to hit a deer since it is pretty darn close to impossible to drive around here on a regular basis without seeing groups of deer crossing the road now and again.  Or almost every other night some weeks.  The answer to the famous question is that I was the first to hit a deer. Let's just hope Alan doesn't end up doing it as well since I sincerely doubt his car would hold up well at all.  Perhaps this is just what happens when you pay a vehicle off early or something. 
Fortunately other than Bambi no one was harmed.  The kids weren't with me so they did not have to witness the destruction of Bambi.  As for my attempt to get out of the house alone to pick up a movie at the library, I guess I should have known better.  The car seat company insists that the car seats are fine.  Not so sure I believe them but at $1200 to $1400 to replace 5 car seats and 2 booster seats, we will have to debate it I think.  The car insurance has a laughable rental policy in regards to covering a rental vehicle for a large family (let's just say the coverage will only cover maybe 1/3 of it) but otherwise I can't really complain.  Everyone is fine and life goes on.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Build and Grow Clinics

On Saturday Alan took Liam and Kieran with him to one of the Build and Grow Clinics at Lowe's.  The boys built a LoweBot.  It is a wooden car that turns into a robot.  They both did a great job.  Alan says Liam is very business like when it comes to building anything.  Gets out his kit, reads all of the directions and quickly gets to work.  Building things is obviously one of Liam's talents. Kieran still needs a bit more help but did a great job. 

After attending these clinics at both Home Depot and Lowe's, we can give you a comparison of the two.  At Home Depot, you can just walk-in and spare parts are available if something should break.  Each kid also gets their own apron their first time attending no matter what.  Their classes are held the first weekend of the month.  At Lowe's, you need to register on-line before the class. If you don't register, a it won't be available for your child.  You'll only get an apron for your child if you are one of the first few kids there that morning and spare parts are not available at all so if something breaks, good luck.  Their clinics are offered on the 2nd and 4th weekend of the month.  Both are free and the kids have enjoyed them all.  They fit nicely into our homeschool program (practical arts) and free is always a good thing.  I have recently discovered that you can order some of the kits from Home Depot's website to build at home or in larger quantities for group projects or parties.  Lowe's is not able to sell their kits at all but they did give us one for free for Liam last year. So there you have it.  Hope you can fit one of these classes into your schedule one day.