Friday, April 29, 2011

Coloring the Easter Eggs

I finally got around to pulling the rest of the pictures off the camera so I thought I would share a few.  Because if the pictures do not appear on the blog, then it must not have happened, right?

We have figured out the best way to make sure we can do projects such as these and include all of the children without having Mom go insane or throw a fit is to have the kids work in shifts.  And cover the table with something that can be thrown away.  And simply accept that there will be a mess. (We've started using a whisk for the youngest ones to hold their eggs to minimize the mess while allowing them to pretty much do everything on their own.) Or in the case of dying Easter eggs, accept that the older children will want to play around and stick the eggs in multiple colors (so let them work last) and that the littlest ones will get upset when their turn is over no matter how many eggs you allowed them to dye.  These moments also remind me that the older ones still enjoy being involved and need permission to do the fun stuff at times, too.

Parenting Your Adult Child

I just finished the book Parenting Your Adult Child by Susan V. Vogt.  Yes, I realize my oldest child is only 13.  I truly believe that the relationship you have with your adult children starts in their teens so I consider books such as this one to be valuable research as we begin to navigate the changes in parenting as our oldest child begins to mature.

This book uses fifteen core virtues to serve as a guide in dealing with the relationship with your adult children.  Each of the short chapters provides you with not only suggestions but also examples for how to navigate the transition from parenting children to parenting adult successfully.  The chapters also end with reflection questions and prayers to help you focus on the immediate issues you may be facing with your own children.

This book was valuable to me as not only as a parent of a teenager but also as a grown child still struggling to figure out the dynamics of an adult relationship with their own parents. The examples used in this book are pulled from real families struggling with the same issues that face each of us in our own lives.

This book provided me with a wonderful quote which feels  particularly relevant to my life at the moment:
"You are not your children!  Your success as a parent does not depend on their successes.  Resist the urge to take credit for your young adult's successes, lest you also take blame for their mistakes. "
I recommend this book to parents of teenagers, parents of young adults and any parent interested in forming a solid adult relationship with their children.  It is not a miracle cure but it is a gentle reminder that many obstacles can be overcome and problems avoided when you keep your mind and heart open

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Parenting Your Adult Child . They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

Free Yogurt at Wegmans

For the local folks, right now you can get free individual containers of Dannon Greek yogurt at Wegmans.  At the registers they have stacks of flyers for the LPGA Championship with coupons inside.  One of the coupons is for 50 cents off on a single container of yogurt. The yogurt is priced at 99 cents each with your shoppers card. The coupon will double to 99 cents making the yogurt free. According to store rules, you can have 4 coupons for the same product doubled in a single transaction so if you want to pick up more than 4, you'll have to run through the line a few times or have your kids buy some.  Yes, I will admit I am hoping to pick up some more tomorrow. We eat a ton of yogurt around here and it is nice to not have to make it all the time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Dave Ramsey Type Success

Just a small happy moment that I'd like to share.  We've been focusing on paying off all of the extra debt we've foolishly accumulated pretty seriously over the past 2 years or so.  Today I was able to hear the wonderful words from our student loan company that our loan was in a "paid in full status" which made me very, very happy.  Never mind that they sat on the stinking check for at least 2 weeks before cashing it.  Sigh.  Yes, we choose to pay off the student loan before the higher interest credit card because the amount going towards the loan every month was significant and the tax deduction each year was dwindling so there was no benefit to it any longer.  But we are now left with just the house and a credit card.  I am a very happy camper right now.  If only grocery and gas prices would go back down to a reasonable level so that the extra money would not immediately be absorbed by those expenses.  Just thankful we have the extra in the budget now since we will obviously need it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Final 40 Bag Count

We managed to officially clean out 43 bags/boxes/items from the house. I guess this means the venture was a success.  I will admit that not everything that left the house made the list and there are still a few things left hanging around because I did not make it to the places I needed to take them.  The bag of books to donate to the library that are sitting next to my desk comes to mind.  Alan was also unable to get to purging the various computer parts from the basement and we have to find a place to take the broken electronics for proper recycling.  We still have more metal scrap to clear out of the yard but we made a ton of progress.  The playroom actually has stayed clean even after having 14 kids in the house all day because the clutter and crud was mostly purged.  I think I am going to keep going and see how much other stuff I can remove from the house.  There is always more room for people when there is less stuff cluttering things up.  It's rather amazing to me how much junk we manage to collect so quickly around here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Just a few Easter pictures.  It's been a crazy few days. The older boys have spent all weekend at church. They were altar servers on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Morning. Don't ask me why no one else signed up but when there was a lack of coverage, they jumped in and did a great job.  Loved hearing all of the Latin during Mass today.  Seriously awesome. Friends came to spend Saturday with us.  Alan was left in charge of 13 of the kids for the morning while my friend and I escaped with Ellie to a diaper store in town.  Everyone survived, the kids were fed lunch, jumped in mud puddles, clothes were washed, naps taken and kids had fun.  All while the Moms spent too much money on diapers.  The dog has discovered the creek at the back edge of our property and keeps jumping in it so the house now has the delightful odor of wet dog.  The kids had an Easter egg hunt this morning.  Great thing about having a large family is that you have enough kids for a super big egg hunt but you don't have to worry about the bigger kids taking all the eggs from the little kids.  Seriously, when you need 100 eggs just for your own family to hunt in the front yard, you just might have a decent sized family. We've been a bit lazy watching movies and hanging out so the eggs will be dyed later tonight.  The kids are getting big and we have very little to complain about at the moment.  I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eco Clean Cleaners

We do our best to avoid chemical laden mainstream cleaners around here.  Yes, we have them in the house every so often but they certainly are not the first things we like to reach for.  We have lots of reasons to avoid them.  They are not at all suggested for use with septic systems.  They give off terrible fumes many times which bother those of us who suffer from respiratory issues.  Nothing says clean like not being able to breathe in your own bathroom.  They are not friendly for the environment and they can be dangerous if little hands get a hold of them.  So we normally clean mostly with baking soda, vinegar, micro fiber towels and a bit of elbow grease. 

However, a few months ago I was given a chance to enter a giveway over at MommyLife for Eco Clean All purpose cleaner and Hand Soap.  After a won, I was sent two bottles of each.  I love the scents. I love that they are child friendly. I love that there is no animal testing or petro chemicals or phosphates.  I even love the way they work. 

They are more expensive than baking soda and vinegar obviously.  I have found them the cheapest at Alice with free shipping.  Amazon does carry them if you are using Swagbucks to earn Amazon giftcards.  While I have a feeling we won't entirely abandon our simpler cleaning methods, I love the idea of having this stuff around for the ease of use. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Baskets

Someone needs to remind me next year that filling Easter baskets is way more expensive than you will think it will be when you have 9 to fill. Ok, this year it's only 8 but if you are reminding me for next year, it will be 9.  I figured Ellie could do without this year. She won't know the difference.

Ok, I bought them all the fancy  spinning toothbrushes.  Yes, each child actually has a somewhat unique one.  But at $5 a pop, that added up quickly.  I'm just hoping it allows me to go a few weeks without hearing from some child or another that their toothbrush is missing again.  Seriously, where do all the toothbrushes go to in this house?  They must be hiding with the missing socks.

I also bought an inexpensive movie for everyone to share for movie night.  And found that the store would not accept a return on a duplicate movie we'd been given a few weeks ago so I guess that messed with my budgeting plans.  I should have walked next door to the store that doubles coupons but was in a lazy mood.  Including 8 toothbrushes and a movie, I think I spent $60 on the Easter baskets. On a positive note, I won't be dealing with a house chock full of dollar store crud that has to be tossed in 5 minutes because it broke. And yet the sticker shock is killing me.  Yikes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Palm Sunday Movie

Wonderful reminder of what we so often take for granted.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Abby's Bike

We headed to Target and let Abby pick out a bike on Sunday.  The pickings were a bit slim at Target and I really wanted to avoid a longer trip to get the bike so we settled for a pink princess bike.  Yup, she got a dreaded princess bike. But it's much better than the other choice which was Barbie.  I'm not a fan of commercial advertising on kids' toys but if I have to choose between Barbie and Disney Princess, the princess stuff wins.
Abby is thrilled because it is pink and it has a doll seat on the back so it's just like Mom's bike.  Too bad the weather kind of stinks right now so she is stuck riding it in the garage.  Snow does not exactly make for good bike riding weather. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Boys' Club

 We had a houseful of older boys today.  They built rockets and attempted to launch them.  The soda bottle rockets launched fairly well but the rocket kits ran into a bit of technical difficulties with the ignitors.  Don't ask since I don't have a clue. 
Notice everyone conferring around the launch pad?  Because when one person can't figure out the issue, apparently you need to add several more.  The rain even stopped while the guys were trying to launch the rockets. Even without a successful launch, I have a feeling everyone had a good time.  At least I hope so.  At the very least, they were all introduced to Beakman's World.  Seriously, I thought just about everyone knew about Beakman's World.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Abby!

Little Miss Abby turned 5 today.  This means she is officially joining the ranks of the big kids around here (otherwise known as those who do not have to take a nap every day although they are still certainly encouraged to do so every so often).  She treated us all to dinner out, then we came home for chocolate cake and presents.  Later this week we will head to the store so she can pick out a new bike.  I do believe we will be bringing home a pink one if she has her way.  Just hope we can find one that is not all Disney Princess covered or something.  That just may be more than my not so girly-girl self can take.  Anyway, happy birthday Little Lady. Hope you enjoyed your day.

You Know Better Than I

There is a lot rolling around in my mind today.  Many reminders today of how much we've been given.  It's a birthday day so the kids are getting a bit of a break and watching a movie.  I forgot how much some of the songs from the movie seem to speak to me.  I needed to hear this one today so I thought I would share it.  I hope it speaks to you as well. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fish Hatchery

Today we took a trip to our local fish hatchery.  I'm hoping the kids were paying attention because we learned quite a bit today.  The Caledonia Fish Hatchery was the first hatchery in the western hemisphere. It was started during the Civil War. It is also the place where the Department of Environmental Conservation was founded. 
Due to various disease related issues, the hatchery only stocks brown trout at the moment. They stock lakes in a several county area and provide all of the two year old brown trout for the entire state. 
We learned that the dead fish are collected each day to be given to a man who feeds them to bald eagles.  Given that the hatchery is home to thousands of fish, I just can't quite imagine how many dead fish they must have to remove every day.
All of the kids got a chance to feed the fish at the end of our tour.  I have to say that I was not quite sure what to expect when I arranged this field trip but ended up pleasantly surprised by everything we learned today.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Homeschool Expo 2011

Today we put the finishing touches on projects and headed to the Homeschool Expo.  The Expo is a function put together by our homeschool support group to give the kids a chance to share a project or talent that they have with their friends.  It's also a great excuse to get together with each other, socialize and eat pizza. 
This year Bryan did a project on rocket engines and built a rocket car.
Sean did a project on the planets.  Poor kid had the cooler of water get knocked over in the van all over his project but was able to put it back together and get it to dry most of the way in time for the festivities.
Kieran showcased several weaving projects.
Liam did a dinosaur excavation.  If you'd like to get a kit like the one he used, I sell them.  Hint, hint. :)
Katie and Abby tried their hand at dying flowers different colors. They even tried adding vanilla to the water for one flower to see if it would change scents but I don't think it worked.
Everyone did a great job and had a wonderful time seeing their friends.  Can't wait to do it again next year.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sacrifice Beads

Katie and Liam are preparing for First Communion this year.  One of the activities we decided to do this year to help them is making sacrifice beads.  We used a ready made kit from Give Glory Arts and Crafts.  It's much easier on me when all of the parts and pieces for a project are included in one place.  We've used these kits before to make scapulars and rosaries. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  The finished products look wonderful.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Staying Faithful Today

I recently read the book Staying Faithful Today by Fr. Alfred McBride.  This books uses a combination of short personal stories, Scripture passages and discussion questions to help show how you can maintain fidelity in our secular society.

Fr. McBride describes fidelity as ". . .keeping your promises to God, family, and flag."  Each of the chapters in this book touch on fidelity in a different aspect of your life. He discusses being faithful to your community,your parish,  your friends, yourself, your spouse.

This book is a very quick read.  I believe you would gain the most from this book if it is read in a group format.  Each chapter contains discussion questions and scripture meditations that would be best shared with a group but you can still gain much from the book if you read it and complete the exercises alone.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Staying Faithful Today - To God, Ourselves, One An. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Crock Pot Brownies

Yesterday I decided to try this recipe.  Who knew you could make brownies in the crock pot?  Yes, I know it is faster to make them in the oven.  Much faster.  But they turned out incredibly rich and delicious.  I used a 7 quart crock pot since the 6 quart was in the dishwasher.  I'd honestly suggest something smaller because the edges burned a bit but the middle was perfect.  Yes, I over cooked it a tad but the kids certainly did not mind.  Have I mentioned that cooking blogs can be a bit addictive?  I'm now trying to come up with a way to justify buying a 2 quart crock pot just for making things of this sort.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Free Sample of Rice

Uncle Ben's is offering a free sample of their Ready Rice right now.  One sample per household.  Yes, this is a small sample so you might be wondering why we would want it here since it obviously won't feed the entire family.  It would be perfect for adding to a date night meal for just the grown-ups.  Or to keep in the stash of quick meals for those nights when chaos reigns and making dinner just isn't happening.  Small samples are also wonderful for adding to your pantry/stock-pile because they allow you to spend even a little extra money on something else.  Yes, I am one of those folks who thinks everyone really should have at least 6 to 12 weeks of food on hand for their family at all times.  You just never know when you'll get hit with an illness, job loss, family emergency or weather issue that could prevent you from going to the store.  Once you establish your food supply, you should be able to put off buying you main staple items until they hit rock bottom prices which will save you even more in the future.  Just remember to store only what you would use and use what you store.  And don't be afraid to seek out new places to find food cheaply. often runs amazing sales in their grocery department.  Bakery outlet stores can help you save on bread.  Learn the tricks to combining store and manufacturer's coupons.  You can often find free offers on Facebook pages.  And you just might get lucky and find a source for free coupons from a family member or friend who doesn't use them.  As gas prices continue to rise, grocery prices will continue to go up as well.  Every penny saved in some way will help stretch your budget and keep your family full of healthy food.  We don't really want to be stuck resorting to Ramen every night, we're not in college anymore.