Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homeschooling Materials

I am trying to clear off the shelves a bit and declutter. I have a rather large list of books available for sale super cheap or for free.  If you are possibly interested in anything, let me know and I can send you a list.  Lots of religion books, some math books, English, Latin, science, art, some books for Mom and Dad.  Everything is priced to sell, some books might have pencil in the first few pages. I would just hate to donate everything to Goodwill or some such place if they could be of use to someone.  If you are interested, please let me know.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Meal Plan

I made up a meal plan last week but did not post it.  I kind of figured it was more of a dream than something based in reality given that we had 2 birthdays to celebrate and Alan out of town.  I was right.  I have one ready for this week and I am hoping we will stick with it.  Money to run to the store in non-existent right now so we must make due.  Given that I am down to 1 gallon of milk, about 4 pieces of fruit, and 1 trash bag, it will be interesting.  But I have yogurt in the crockpot and will make granola after the kids are in bed.

Monday: yogurt and granola (B), mac and cheese (L), spanish rice (D)
Tuesday: muffins and fruit (B), chicken salad (L), cheese steak sandwiches (D)
Wednesday: cereal (B), sandwiches (L), chicken azteca over rice (D)
Thursday: baked oatmeal (B), leftovers (L), meatloaf and potatoes (D)
Friday: eggs (B), sandwiches (L), bean burritos (D)
Saturday: blueberry bread (B), family day on base so who knows (L), pizza if we are home (D)
Sunday: cereal (B), leftovers (L), steak (D)

This past week has been fun in the crazy psychotic way.  Turns out I can expect a paycheck that is 1/5 the normal size when Alan gets paid.  A zillion things in the house are falling apart, the kids don't know how to flush the toilet and Ellie keeps playing in it (yes, there were protests when I locked the downstairs bathroom door from the inside, shut the door, and hid the key but you do what you have to do), the emergency fund has already been drained due to other repairs and emergencies, the transmission on the van is acting up (it's what we get for buying an American made piece of crap, they simply aren't made to last and the van has less than 80K miles on it so I'm ticked), I need to get the oil changed this week somehow, the peach trees have no peaches on them, and I just might have had a mental breakdown when I discovered the kids had once again stolen a bunch of food that I needed to last several days and then outright lied to me about it.  Just maybe.  85 more people were laid off with promises of more to come (this is only about the 3rd lay-off this year so we knew it was coming) so it's time to quit being the rats on the sinking ship and jump off already.  So, hm, changes will be looming ahead for us.  Please pray with us and for us that we will make the right choices.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Gabe!

Happy birthday to Gabe who turned 5 on Thursday.  He helped his older brother make his cake and took us all out to dinner.  He says it was his best birthday ever.  Happy birthday little man.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quiet Contemplative Thinking

Hey there. I know I've been rather quiet as of late.  Not too much of note to share and we've been busy with some contemplative thinking and decisions that are simply best not shared with others.  Translation, if you call and ask for more information, you'll get nothing so please don't bother because it just irks me when you do.

Alan is home from his trip and will start transitioning back to working the day shift again so everyone is happy to have him around.  The 5 older kids have passed another test at karate and earned "stripes" which is a halfway step before a new belt.  The two older boys are training for a 5K race in September.  The last of the school books should be trickling in this week so I can get our paperwork put together for the year.  Have I mentioned that I think the paperwork requirements in this state are stupid?  It finally rained last night.  So in a nutshell, life is going on as it should.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Now that Bryan and Sean have moved out of the homeschool class and into the regular teen/adult class, there was room for Abby to join the homeschool karate class.  She's only been to one class so far but she seemed to have enjoyed it.  She looks kind of small in her uniform and I'm really hoping she stops with the constant giggling over everything soon but she seems to at least be holding her own.  A side benefit to having Bryan and Sean move to the regular classes is that I can now leave the younger children at home.  This is a very good thing.  I won't get the time to myself since I will still be keeping an eye on a few other kids during class but I have a feeling with 4 fewer kids in the back room that things will be quieter and easier to manage.  At least I hope.

Monday, July 16, 2012

When a Teen Chooses You

The book When a Teen Chooses You by Joseph Moore is a must read for any adult who might find themselves in a position to provide spiritual guidance to teenagers.  The books simple and direct style helps to take the fear out of providing guidance to teenagers.

This book is not one that tells you what to say to a teenager.  It is not one that acts as if teenagers are bumbling idiots who need to be told exactly what to feel, think, say or do.  Instead, this is a book that helps you to understand the questions a teenager might have and how to direct a conversation so that the teen is able to come to their own conclusions within a recognized spiritual framework. 

I particularly enjoyed this book because it encouraged the adult to simply guide the teen through thoughtful questions.  The author assumes that a teenager may need guidance but does not necessarily need black and white, yes and no answers.  By encouraging the adult to guide rather than direct, a door is opened to providing a relationship built on mutual respect.  It is precisely this sort of a relationship that will allow a teenager to feel safe in coming to an adult when they need help sorting out a spiritual or moral concern.

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 When a Teen Chooses You. This is also a great Catholic gift store for all your seasonal shopping needs, such as Christian wedding gifts and Catholic Garden Gifts.

Meal Plan

I'm running a little late getting this posted this week.  We were out of the house this morning and I've been spending the afternoon finalizing school plans for next year, placing orders, and wrangling with the school budget a bit.  It's never as much fun as you think it will be.

Anyway, I had the meal plan done last night but changes have already been made to it so I'll just post a version based on what the kids actually ate.

Monday: cereal (B), turkey sandwiches (L), chicken and rice (D)
Tuesday: biscuits and honey with sausage (B), sandwiches (L), something to use up some cabbage (D)
Wednesday: waffles (B), eating at the park (L), tortellini (D)
Thursday: eggs in toast (B), sandwiches (L), shepherd's pie (D)
Friday: cereal (B), macaroni and cheese (L), beef tips over rice (D)
Saturday: blueberry bread (B), FFY (L), pizza (D)
Sunday: cereal (B), leftovers/clean out the fridge (L), taco soup (D)

This is the hopeful plan. With the older two working during the day all week and Alan out of town part of week, things are always open to changing.  But I'm hopeful that I will stick to the list at least mostly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekly Round-Up

With the older two off at Boy Scout Camp and me nursing a sprained ankle, we really did not get much accomplished this week.  Kieran, Liam, and Katie did an awesome job of stepping up and filling in for the older two boys.  I can easily say that Liam does a much, much better job of cleaning the dining room than  Sean does.  Easily.  But it was a tad weird having to take all 7 kids to the grocery store with me.  Yes, I used to do it all the time but I've gotten out of the habit and tend to view grocery shopping time as my time alone.  This has it's positives and negatives. I'm very grateful to have the chance to get out alone now that Alan tends to be home more often and the older two can babysit.  But it also means the middle/younger kids are not being given the same chances to grow and take on responsibilities that the older ones were given.  I must work to correct that a bit (but without giving up my solo grocery shopping because I need that alone time).

Monday we hosted the Little Flowers bonfire night.  I do believe it was a success and we had many happy girls.  We skipped the movies this week because there are some movies that I just don't think any child needs to see.  Wednesday we dealt with phase one of getting the septic system repaired. Thursday the kids had karate class in the morning and the girls had a Frontier Girls meeting at night.  Friday we dealt we stage two of getting the septic repaired.  On Saturday the older boys came home.  Stories of stolen wallets, ransacked tents, and thieves who thought our bottom of the line digital camera (the older one Alan takes on trips) was not worth keeping so they abandoned it a few days later.  Chances are high the thieves were troop members so I'm a tad peeved.  And it turns out the boys survived camp without DEET laced bug spray and were not carried off by insects.  They insisted they needed it because it was on their list. I overrode the camp packing list by saying as their parent, I refused to allow them to bathe in that much chemical crap every day and that bug spray without  DEET would serve them just as well.  Their Father backed me up with "If I can deploy without DEET (and spend quite a bit of time in Africa), then you can go to Boy Scout camp without it."

We also discovered on Saturday that the air conditioner was not working. On Sunday Alan discovered the line that told the unit when to turn on had been cut.  Alan repaired that and the house is much nicer now.  The afternoon was spent blueberry picking so tonight we'll be freezing most of those.  So a laid back easy week.  No walking this week since the ankle was still healing. Hopefully I'll be back to speed on that one next week.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An Animal Round-up

Several creatures have been entertaining the children this week.
This baby bird fell out of it's nest and the children adopted it.  The mommy bird was not too happy to see all these large creatures taking care of her baby and was frequently seen hopping around and making lots of noise trying to scare them off.  Alan was able to convince the kids (or just force them) to let the poor bird go the other day.  Because apparently when Mom tells you the same thing, you get to ignore her.
A family of kittens has taken up residence somewhere on our property.  We don't know where they are living, only that they have been sleeping under Alan's car at night.  No, you don't really want to know how we discovered that.  This morning Wiley decided to defend her home and chased two of the kittens into a tree in the front yard.  One kitten was easily removed from the tree. The other climbed all they way to the very top of the tree where it got stuck.  Alan eventually resorted to cutting down the branch to get the poor creature out.  No clue what we are going to do about these felines.  No, I'm not a cat person.  No, I won't take care of them.  But they seem to be feral cats and I'm not sure taking them to a shelter will do much good other than having them be put down. 

So there's the excitement from our house this week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Little Flowers Bonfire Night

Monday night we invited the Little Flowers group over for a bonfire.  We kept it a family event because I truly dislike evening events that leave out most of the family so we had a large group of kids hanging around.  I do believe we went through more than 2 bags of marshmallows while the kids made s'mores.  Nothing like sending everyone home entirely hopped up on sugar.  And I am just going to admit that I look at some of these pictures and still have a hard time believing that this is actually our back yard.  I do believe we will have a very hard time ever going back to living in a neighborhood again.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Godparent Question

We are once again struggling with that hard to answer question: who do we know who would make a suitable Godparent to our next child.  It's a harder question than what to name the child.  No, we aren't looking for name suggestions. I can pretty much promise if you suggest something, we simply won't use it.  Anyway, the Godparent question. This one is a huge struggle.

We simply refuse to fall back on the "it's only symbolic, it does not matter" line of thinking here.  We believe the person chosen as a Godparent has a huge responsibility.  They are promising to pray for our child and step in to guide the child in the faith if for some reason we as parents are unable to do so.  We fell for the symbolic routine once and truly regret it.  We now have a child who absolutely needs someone to pray for him and be in his corner because he has a very strong personality and instead of having Godparents who will help guide him at all, he has two adults who have completely left the Church.  One who frequently openly mocks our faith.  And the sad part is if we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit we knew these two people were not good choices at the time.  So it is very important that we do not repeat this mistake again.

So who do you choose when your family does not share your faith and you've already used most of your friends?  Yes, we are trying not to choose folks that we have already chosen in the past but I'm starting to think we just might not have a choice.  For both of us, our Godparents played no role in our lives growing up.  I'm not saying we want someone who will play a huge role. We aren't expecting gifts or constant contact or anything of the like. We simply want people who will commit to praying for our child and support us as we attempt to raise them in the Church.  I never really thought this would such a hard question to answer.

Meal Plan

Here's the hopeful schedule for this week.

Monday: oatmeal (B), pbj (L), Little Flowers bonfire night (D)
Tuesday: blueberry or cranberry bread, sausage (B), grilled cheese (L), cabbage rolls (D)
Wednesday: eggs and biscuits (B), mac and cheese (L), chicken and gnocchi soup (D)
Thursday: cereal (B), pbj (L), burritos (D)
Friday: eggs (B), tuna melts (L), beef tips (D)
Saturday: French toast (B), leftovers (L), pizza (D)
Sunday: cereal (B), FFY (L), steak (D)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What We've Been Doing

It's been one of those weeks where we have kept busy and yet not really done anything new or amazing.  The kids and I went to the summer movies on Tuesday morning, then the kids had karate in the afternoon.  On Wednesday Alan was actually home for a holiday. This rarely, rarely happens.  Heck, this will be the first year that he has plans to be home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in years.  Not quite sure what that will be like since it has been forever since that has happened. I do know it will be much, much better than the last time he missed both of them.  Since he was home, he took the older 6 to see Brave as a treat from their Grandparents.  We made a red, white, and blue poke cake for dessert and had a bonfire after dinner.  We weren't able to see the fireworks from GCV this year but the kids saw tons of fireflies instead.  I took some of the kids blueberry picking and the older boys spent time packing for camp.  On Saturday Liam and Katie went with me to the farmer's market, to pick up our vegetable share from our CSA, and then to Home Depot for the kids' workshop.  Saturday night the boys headed over to a friend's house to spend the night so that I would not have to wake up the entire house to drop them off for  Boy Scout camp this morning.  Alan is working and leaves the house between 5 and 5:30.  Waking up the little folks did not excite me so I was thrilled when a friend offered to keep the kids for the night since she had to drop her husband and son off for camp this morning as well.  Yes, it is weird to have the boys gone for a week.  I'm sure they will have fun but I will admit to being a tad nervous.  Something about working at a residential camp and seeing what goes on behind the scenes does that to you.  It's not usually the kids you have to worry about, but the counselors instead.  Anyway, I'm sure they'll enjoy themselves and the middle kids will enjoy the chance to take on the role as the big kids.  I'm nursing a sprained ankle (have no earthly clue how I managed to do that) today so they are getting lots of practice in helping me out while I try to rest.  And my total miles walked for exercise this week is 11 1/2.  I was hoping for more but the ankle thing kind of threw a wrench into my plans. Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow.  Now, how is that for one big gigantic wandering rambling paragraph?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Home Depot Workshop

Liam and Katie went with me to the Home Depot Kids' Workshop today.  They built these awesome looking Penske trucks.  (Yes, that's only one but we did bring home two.)  I  don't like Penske trucks.  Ever since Bryan fell out of the back of one on our move from MO when he was 4 and hit his head on the driveway they've given me bad memories. But these trucks are small enough to look innocent and be loved.
These workshops provide me with a bit of Saturday morning entertainment.  The parents who are so stinking type A that they won't let their child build the project themselves baffle me.  Oh my gosh, there's a hammer, he might get hurt.  Oh my gosh, there's paint. What if it gets on his hands?  What if he does not put the project together perfectly?  Yup, they baffle me and amuse me at the same time.  The grandparents who come with a single small child and have to take a bazillion and one pictures all the while giggling and using that fake high pitched voice that adults often think is necessary for children other than their own.  (Who are you kidding, we all know when you are at home alone with your child you scream like a monster when the kid gets into trouble.)  Today I got to watch a Dad try to paint his son's truck while the Mom stood there telling the Dad to just let him do it himself.  Dad replied with "But I need to show him how not to use too much paint."  Yup, that's a loosing battle right there.  It all cracks me up and takes my mind off the pain in my fingers from being hit by hammers (holding nails and pieces of wood together can be dangerous business).

The kids always have a great time and today was no exception.  I'm looking forward to taking them again next month.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blueberry Picking

I took 6 of the kids blueberry picking today.  We only brought home 6 lbs of blueberries because I'm pretty darn sure the kids ate another 6 lbs or so while in the fields.  And I was told that I am not supposed to go out with the kids without a camera.  Apparently without 20 bazillion pictures, your child's life never happened. Or something. 

Since we did not bring home anywhere near enough blueberries, I put just about all of them immediately into the freezer.  We'll head back next week or so to get some more.  It was getting a tad warm for our neck of the woods (yes, you do tend to acclimate to the climate you are living in so even though 90 degree weather was not a big deal in Florida, it's a bit warm here after almost 6 years) and the kids were getting squirrely so we headed home.  I will say the nicely manicured blueberry patches around here truly make me miss the blueberry farm in Florida on Hudson Avenue.  Those bushes were so close together you felt like you could get lost in them.  And they kept you cool.  And we never managed to come home with only a meager 6 lbs of blueberries.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Menu Plan

Monday: yogurt and cinnamon toast (B), ham sandwiches (L), tator tot casserole (D)
Tuesday: eggs (B), peanut butter and jelly (L), fish (D)
Wednesday: pancakes (B), leftovers (L), BBQ chicken (D)
Thursday: cereal (B), peanut butter and jelly (L), cabbage casserole (D)
Friday: baked oatmeal (B), mac and cheese (L), chicken divan (D)
Saturday: blueberry bread (B), leftovers (L), hot dogs (D)
Sunday: cereal (B), sandwiches (L),  pork chops (D)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What We've Been Doing

We've actually managed to stay rather busy this week.  Tuesday morning was spent at the movies (Ellie is not quite ready to sit still for that long but she did a great job for the first half and Robert seems to think movies mean lots of potty breaks), that afternoon was spent at the library where the kids signed up for the summer reading program.  On Wednesday we went to the park.  Thursday the kids had karate class and we celebrated Liam's birthday.  Friday we hosted a campout for a great group of boys and their dads.  Then on Saturday Alan took the older 6 kids to a Rhinos soccer game. They were offering free tickets to students so we only had to pay for Alan's seat.  So I took advantage and bumped them up to a better section since $10 seemed more than reasonable for 7 seats.  Everyone had a great time but several of the kids expressed dismay over the half-dressed gyrating cheerleaders.  Yup, those are my kids saying ladies should act like ladies and not flaunt themselves or their bodies for money.  Alan also said the goalkeeper had a major ego. 
And a picture from a few weeks ago.  Proof that I did indeed take the older children to the waterpark for their birthdays. 

Boys' Campout

On Friday night we had a group of guys descend upon the yard for a campout.  Something we really should do more often since we have so much space and rarely get full use out of the land.  This was a guy only event because it is ever so important to give boys a chance to just be with other boys.  Let's face it, most Moms are a bunch of wimps who  don't like the more active stuff boys enjoy and usually do their best to ruin the fun.  Boys need time to get away from that influence and just be.
All the tents gave the yard a decidedly different look. This picture only shows one of the areas with the tents.
From what I saw, the favorite activity for many of the boys seemed to be chopping up fire wood.  Every time I walked out to bring more food or fetch a child, a new boy was wielding the hatchet.  They had set up plenty of wood around themselves as a barrier to keep other kids out of the way although I do kind of wish they would refer to it as a safety circle, not a circle of blood.  Apparently that is the new phrase in Boy Scouts and it seems just a tad too real for me.
There were flashlights running past the front windows playing man hunt well past sundown and I don't think most folks got to bed until after midnight.  Our parish pastor came out to spend the evening with the boys and from what I understand, everyone loved listening to him share his stories and just hang out with the boys.  He also made sure everyone sang happy birthday to Liam.

We escaped the evening with only one injury, an unfortunate incident involving the grape lines.  I'm thinking the boys will up for hosting again next year if all goes well.

Happy Birthday Liam!

Liam turned 9 on Friday.  He's a kid who knows how to celebrate in style.  We went to Buffalo Wild Wings and came home to a Heath Bar cake (made by Sean).  We had our family birthday celebration a day early because we hosted a camp out for the older boys in our homeschooling group on Liam's actual birthday. Which worked out wonderfully for Liam since it meant an amazingly great time on his birthday.
This year Liam has truly grown and is now in charge of most building projects around the house.  He's been known to take it upon himself to fix a loose porch step and put together book shelves.  I see great things in his future as long as we continue to make an effort to find ways to harness his natural interests and give him ways to use them rather than trying to discourage his creative side.  Happy birthday kid.