Thursday, December 16, 2010

Small Successes

For more small success stories click on the link above.

  1. I got most of my Christmas Shopping done last Friday.  It was my birthday and every year my parents come down for a visit and my mom hangs out with the kids all day (this last couple of years they made LOADS of Christmas cookies!) and my dad takes me shopping.  He drops me off at the door, I go inside and buy what I need, and he's watching for me when I come out the door, I don't even need to step off the curb!  
  2. I  took Terese and her friend for a service project across town on Saturday (I DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A BLIZZARD!!!).   You know, when you grow up in snow country and you hear reports that there is supposed to be snow, it doesn't stop you.  Well, turns out we got 20" in our city, the 40 minute drive home ended up taking 2 1/2 hours, and the mall I planned to take the other kids to during the time Terese and her friend were busy was closed!  So was McDonald's.  It really made me question my decision to go out in the....ahhh it's just snow.  I guess that's what we get for watching so little TV.  I didn't even know that our Football Stadium Dome collapsed until Anna found out from other kids at her science class.
  3. I finished reading another book (I've discovered that I sleep so much better if I spend 10-20 minutes reading just before bed).  I read The Minds of Boys.  I highly recommend this book for anyone that has boys, especially, but not only, if they are struggling in school.  It explains alot about how when the education system was modified to help girls succeed, it inadvertently made it harder for boys.  They learn differently, for the most part.  Since we homeschool, I have seen first hand, over a number of years, how this is true.  Many of the techniques they mentioned I've already been doing with my boys simply because I've discovered it works well with them (like more Kinesthetic learning, and allowing them to color or draw during read aloud time, which surprisingly enough causes them to remember more of what I read, they just need something to do with their bodies or they are busy fighting the squiggles). 

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's freezing and my boys are hanging Christmas lights

It is 4 degrees BELOW zero and my boys asked if they could have recess outside.  They decided to hang Christmas lights, and everyone driving by stared at them.  It is COLD!

Living on a cul-de-sac provides the best snow plow hill!  The house to the right is a 2 story, the house on the left is a little shorter being a split level.  The hill is big!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

He picks the name, I pick the tie

After a younger child questioned why our last name is that of my in-laws rather than my parents...

Anonymous Child in total seriousness:  "The way it works when people get married is that the man gets to pick the name and the woman gets to pick his bow tie color".  ('cause we do...right?  when we pick those bridesmaids dress colors)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A snowstorm brings out the best in people

My dad and I were just having a conversation yesterday about the lack of generosity among people nowadays.  Things like holding the door open for someone, letting someone go ahead of you in the grocery line or giving up a seat on the bus for someone else.  My dad even experienced it yesterday when he dropped me off at the door of a store to do some Christmas shopping (it was my birthday yesterday and every year my parents give me this dad takes me shopping all over town dropping me off and picking me up at the doors, and my mom stays home and makes sure the kids have a great day...yesterday they baked loads of cookies!).  Anyway, after my dad dropped me off he ran into the store hoping to buy me some flowers quickly before I saw him.  There was only one register open and the lady in front of him had a cart overflowing with stuff.  He asked her if he could go ahead of her since he only had the flowers (in fact, he wouldn't have asked except that he was trying to sneak out before I saw him).  She told him no because she was in a hurry!

Anyway...back to today...

I always knew we lived in a wonderful suburban neighborhood where people help one another.  When it snows, it's not uncommon to see people blowing their own driveway, then starting on a sick, injured, or out of town neighbor's.  When someone else is done blowing their own, they too head over to help on the extra driveway.  In fact, I remember being sent in by neighbor's when I was very pregnant, my kids were too little to be out in the dark shoveling, and my dh was out of town, they did it for me.

Today I got to see this generosity play out in a different sort of neighborhood.  We headed to our state's capital city this afternoon to drop off my dd and her friend for a service project.  I don't really know what the plowing plan is...but what I do know is that the streets were not plowed at all.  The trick, I found, was to stick to the bigger streets where the other trucks/cars had already made ruts (over on the west end...the trick is to stick to the bigger streets because those have been plowed!).  I was driving a vehicle with all wheel drive, so the 12" or so was enough to pull me to the side, but not stop me.  But, what I found amazing were the number of people out walking around in droves pushing cars out.  I don't know if these people were just enjoying a walk during this blowing and drifting snow, or if they were specifically going for walks looking for people who need help.  It was neat to see someone get stuck a block or so in front of us (well, not for the driver!), and before I would even get to the car 4-8 people were there, pushing them out!  I also saw a group of people pushing a USPS jeep, and another group shoveling out a fed ex truck who managed to almost make it to a plowed main road, only he had a 2' pile of snow to get through, courtesy of said plow (no, I'm not complaining about what the plow leaves behind, but for any of you who live in snowy areas, you know what I'm talking about, especially if it's at the end of your driveway!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Small Successes

For more small success stories click on the link above.

1.  Finished reading an amazing book called How to Be a High School Superstar:  A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) by Cal NewportI highly recommend this book for anyone with high school age children (and the child).  In a nutshell, how to spend less time padding the high school years with things that supposedly look good  (numerous AP classes and extracurriculars, etc. and have more time to pursue something you are very interested in.)

2.  Took my girls (along with my MIL) to see our home school co-ops play The Best Christmas Pageant EverIt was great!

3.  Cleaned up the tail end of the basement toy room alone.  That's all I should say on this subject lest one of my children read this.  :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Small Successes

For more small success stories click on the link above.

  1. We survived a bout with the stomach flu.  I had it last week, but for some reason the kids didn't start coming down with it until this week.  I am very thankful for that black box in the corner of my living room that can entertain/distract sick children all night long while their momma sits between them and gets little bits of shut eye.  The 2nd night (and a new pair of sick kids) I got smart.  I picked longer movies instead of those little 20 minute cartoons. 
  2. Took my 5 year old Elizabeth Christmas shopping alone.  She was insistent that no one join us because she didn't want anyone to know what she bought for anyone else. (Every year we give the kids a small amount of money (about $2, sometimes up to $5 if I know it's something the receiver will really appreciate) to purchase gifts for each other.  This is our version of stocking stuffers and it's been a great way to instill in them the giving part of Christmas.  It's fun watching the little ones change from buying things THEY like....uh...your 15 year old sister may like the color orange but I really don't think she'd have a use for that orange hot wheels car.)  Anyway, it was really neat shopping with Elizabeth as she was diligent on finding just the right gift for each person.  It's not easy to do with such a little amount of money.
  3. Made it to the chiropractor 2x this week despite everything going on here (well, maybe the first day should be my dh's success.  He went in to work late so he could stay home with the sick kids and I could get to my appointment.  He reminded me that a sick/hurting momma isn't in the best position to care for sick children).  Sleeping in weird positions on the couch and floor all those nights really jammed my neck and taking Tylenol every 4 hours isn't the best way to keep a raging headache at bay.  I knew I needed a neck adjustment, and sure enough, I was quite out whack.  So out of whack, in fact, that I even went back 2 days later as suggested.
  4. Bonus:  Does this count?  After listening to our pastor urging us from the pulpit to attend daily Mass during advent, and how he'd like to see the chapel so full we need to move into the main church.....I made a firm commitment that we would give it a whirl.  I decided it was only a few weeks and whatever negative impact that may have on our school day would be well worth it spiritually, and we'd make up for it come January.  I even put 2 year old Nathan to bed in something I would deem acceptable to wear to daily Mass (I knew I'd be pulling him out of bed way too early).  But, a couple hours later it became evident we would not be going. that they are all coming out of it......maybe next week?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Logically Learning Logic

My 11th grader is taking Logic, and I'm her teacher.  Now, normally most of her classes are self directed and mom tested.  However, when her Traditional Logic book arrived I knew that I would need to keep up with her.  It's not a subject she could come to me weeks into the text with a question unless I was learning it as well.  So that is what I have been doing.  I haven't been doing the exercises, but I have been taking notes and making sure I understand what is going on - until last week.

I have spent the last hour going through the last two chapters trying to figure what I was doing wrong.  My daughter has been receiving A's on her assignments, so thankfully her mother's inability to grasp the information hasn't stopped her.   She is delving deeper and deeper into the 4 stmts of logic.  I have my notes.   They are color coded.  Really.  I like to teach the class using our giant white board with different colors (All A stmts are blue, All I's are red, etc. ) and different lines relating things together.  I even take my notes in Excel so I can put things where I want easier and draw arrows, circles, etc.  I need to see it!  Anna likes a more outline type approach. (Does this explain why she is more into reading/writing and I am more into math?)  Somewhere along the line I inadvertently re-ordered my stmts.  Instead of A, I, E, O they became A, E, I, O (vowels in order).  Hey, that makes more sense to me!  And some of the information I was learning was going with the correct stmt and some was going with the incorrect one (I was mixing up my E's and I's). Anyway, that created all kinds of problems as I was learning about the distribution of terms (don't even ask...that's why I must stay on top of this class.)  So, I just finished fixing my notes.  And...NOW. I. GET. IT.  I generally don't have to "relearn" a subject when my next child takes it.  But with this class, I think I will.  But, I'm keeping my notes.  I think Nathan will more appreciate my colors and arrows (*wink* to Anna).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving has been postponed a week or so at our it took my dd Anna's thankful post to remind me to post one of my own.  I have a ton to be thankful for so I will limit it to only very recent events.

1.  I'm thankful that I was the only one here who was completely taken down by the flu (well, the verdict is still out on little Logan).  When does that ever happen?!  Others have been run down with mild fevers and stuff, but they seem to be rebounding already. 

2.  I'm thankful for a friend who ignored my assurances that everything would be fine and we didn't need anything, after all, my dh was home and some of my older kids can pull off a meal as well.  Instead this person drove up the driveway at 3:00 and proceeded to bring all kinds of  Thanksgiving meal type foods to the door.  They ate half the meal T night, my dh made homemade chicken noodle soup W night, and for Thanksgiving WE ALL ate the rest of our solo Thanksgiving meal, including the pie.  It wasn't necessary.  But it was SO appreciated.

3.  I'm thankful that today was uneventful sickness wise.  We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time ever, as well as Charlie Brown Thanksgiving specials in the evening.  (Our TV goes days without being turned on, but when we're sick like's generally cartoons and EWTN).  

          During the parade my kids pointed out that they are so thankful they don't live in New York City (no offense to anyone reading this who lives/or would like to live there).  They didn't appreciate the giant, well placed Victoria Secret ad on the side of the building that appeared every time the camera moved up to show a balloon coming.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do they realize what their sign says?

I had my oil changed recently and while I was waiting to pay I saw a sign on the wall with these words on it (and the exact words are on my receipt, so yes, these are the exact words). 

[We] only:.....
  1. Measured tread depth in only one place on each tire with a device that provides no exact measurement.........The tread depth may not be the same at all places on a tire.
As I was standing there and everyone was going about there business working or paying...I couldn't  help but think...doesn't anyone else find this 1.  Funny, 2.  Stupid, 3. Both?   Or maybe no one else read it?  They appeared to have gone through the effort of checking mine since each tires tread depth was listed on my receipt, but there's not much point in reading it, apparently it's useless?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Small Successes


For more inspirational small success stories click on the link above.

The....what a day version!
3/4 gal. of oil based paint on the carpet

1.  The Cat in the Hat (or...The Mom in a Hurry)

This was no time for play.
This was no time for fun.
This was no time for games.
There was work to be done.

And then I was in a hurry.
Two kids were leaving soon.
I said, "Hey, you can help me!
Quick, move the dragon cage.
Next move the kitchen island!
Step to the side, I'll move that shelf out of the way."

And, that's when I did it.
I spilled a gallon of paint all over the carpet!
The kids (mine and 2 more) all stared at me.
They thought I would blow.
But I kept rather cool.
(I'm trying to make that a rule.)

Move to the side,
I'm throwing the can out in the snow.
Quick get lots of rags,
Get some garbage bags too.
Let's sop up this mess,
Get the Bissel from the basment,
why I think what else to do.

Call the carpet cleaner.
"What do I do?"
"That wasn't the best kind of paint to spill you know, but
Use the Bissel to sop us as much as you can,
don't let it dry,
throw a wet rag on top,
we'll be there at 8 a.m. on the dot."

I cleaned the Bissel as best I could,
I've thrown out lots of rags,
and got paint on my clothes.

And all I could think,
as I cleaned up one mess after another just like that
Was that this story reminded me of,
The Cat in The Hat.

We'll see what happens at 8 a.m. - who knows. I guess on the bright side I now own a pair of painting jeans and a lovely painting sweatshirt.

I'll offer it up for a safe trip and return home for my husband (he left for Florida for a couple days for work).

 2.  We got all of our snow gear up from the basement storage Saturday morning. (OK...Nathan brought it all up.)  4 bins of coats and snow pants, 3 bins of boots, and numerous other bags full of gloves, hats, etc.  Anna and Therese brought everything back downstairs when we were done.  We set up our temporary drying rack (my dh and the boys intend to make one), hung all the coats on the hooks, and hung all the snow pants on the hooks as well but draped them over the railing alongside the staircase.  The kids got lots of time playing in the snow Saturday.  I was out for awhile but most of my time was spent helping the youngest two on and off....and on and off...and on and off.... with their gear.

3.  Cleaned the floor and the wall before our new oven was installed today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Small Successes


For more inspirational small success stories click on the link above.

1.  Did loads and loads and loads of laundry on Saturday and got it ALL folded all by myself.
2.  Had a birthday party for my 16 year old on Sunday.
3.  I'm headed out on a rare night out with a friend tonight!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What we've been reading

My husband just finished reading this book to the kids.  They all thought it was a great.  My husband even requested we purchase a copy so we would be sure to have it around when our 2 and 5 year old would be old enough to enjoy it.

From the library website:  In 1940, when the Nazi invasion of Norway reaches their village in the far north, twelve-year-old Peter and his friends use their sleds to transport nine million dollars' worth of gold bullion past the German soldiers to the secret harbor where Peter's uncle keeps his ship ready to take the gold for safekeeping in the United States.

I wish I had an image for the book I've been reading but I can't seem to find one.  It is called To Africa with a Dream by Olga Marlin.  In a nutshell, it is story about the life of Olga Marlin, how she came to be a member of Opus Dei, how she went to Africa to start a school, and how she and her friends did that and so much more over the next 30 years or so.  I've had the book for a couple years and never picked it up.  I didn't think I would enjoy it.  I was so very wrong. I didn't want to put it down.

This is what I am reading now.  Another book I've had lying around for a couple years.  I love short stories of miracles!  They do exist!  We prayed to St. Josemaria Escriva 16 years ago when I was pregnant with our first child.  My ob/gyn detected that our babies heart had an extra beat.  That same week we were sent to a perinatologist who called in a couple of cardiologists.  They could find nothing wrong other than the extra beat (which they could plainly see).  We were told that our baby would probably outgrow it sometime after she was born.  We started praying to St. Josemaria and when my next ob/gyn appt. came just a week later the extra heart beat had disappeared.  A priest asked us to write a letter to those who were working on the cause of cannonization for Father Escriva and we did.  This doesn't really qualify as a definitive medical miracle because although uncommon, this could have corrected itself.  But that doesn't matter to us.  Our prayers were answered.

What are you reading? 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

1.  Laid 57 more rolls of sod Saturday.
2.  Tookall  the kids to Mass Monday morning (All Saint's Day) and am taking Anna and Theresa to Mass this morning at her request.  It's Anna's 16th Birthday today!
3.  Went to Father Rocky's talk on Raising Children Wed. night...even though I had a zillion things to do.  I'm glad I went.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Being woken up in the middle of the night when your 5 year old wets the bed (That was to be expected since I forgot to have her use the bathroom before bed).

Then, being woken up again because your pull up wearing 2 1/2 year old is crying and doesn't seem to know what's wrong....and you finally realize he just needs to go use the bathroom.

We were a little bit tired after having laid another 57 rolls of sod.  We still have more to go, but it will likely wait until spring.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Prayer Request

A relative of my husband's  was in a serious car accident earlier this week.  Josh was struck by a car on the freeway while trying to catch his dog.  He is improving but the accident was pretty serious (70 mph auto vs. ped is never good) and the recovery is expected to take 6 - 24 months.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Small Successes


For more inspirational small success stories click on the link above.

My successes this week have come about due to failures reaching other goals

  1. Took the 3 oldest kids to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the St. John's Illuminated Bible before the exhibit left town (umm..Anna has been wanting to go since it got here maybe a year ago?)
  2. Ordered pants for Wyatt.  I have found that Hanna Anderson's sweat pants fit my very active/very 40 lb 7 year old.  What else do you do when tightening all the adjustable pants as much as possible still leaves my poor guy with his pants falling off.  He gets the "Hanna's".  The other kids get the "Target's"
  3. Took time out of our school day to contact our ISP - it's been anyone's guess for the last week if they can get on the Internet here and stay on.  Now that Anna has an online PSEO class, we can't continue this way.  I better let her know it's working at the moment.  And, after the dishwasher repair man comes and goes I will be calling them again..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Individually wrapped

Individually wrapped items were not meant for large families.  We only buy prepackaged food to have on hand for times when cooking would be rather inconvenient (like today, Sunday, when we are all "working" on our toy train hobby together).

The convenience is almost lost by running to the freezer, grabbing the box of egg rolls, and unwrapping...each...individual.....egg roll....for a family of nine.

yeah yeah....I life is so hard..............

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Appliance Wars

So, we need a new range and I am heavily leaning toward a double oven/dual fuel model with gas cook top.  (Although I am a little weary about that bottom oven opening so low to the floor).   But last night our dishwasher went out again (we run the beast 2-3X per day, it wasn't cheap and the extended warranty is good for 2 more years anyway) and the warranty company won't be out to fix it until next TH. In all fairness, I do have to say that T was also an option, but with a total of 25 kids in my house for science/art classes running around my kitchen/family room during the time they had available, I opted to wait.

But, if I lose my electric glass cook top in favor of a gas stove...where will I dry all my dishes when the dishwasher goes on the fritz again?

I guess we do what we did when we had the ant infestation this summer.  Clear the counters of everything that isn't used every singe day- put them in the pantry/cupboards, and have less food on hand, and grocery shop more often..............Oh how I am spoiled.  My Grandma would probably give a little smirk when she thinks about all the work she had to do to get groceries and wash dishes.

Suz, I'll offer my dish washing up for you.  You do it daily.  I don't envy you.  But the thought of sending 6 of the 7 kids to school to reduce the number of dishes we dirty during the day is enticing.  Or...we'll just get some paper paper plates and cups, let the kids wash the rest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Successes

    For more small success stories (and great ideas!) click on the link above.
    • Made a doll quilt for my god daughter with Terese
    • Took 3 days off school to regroup - see below
    • I've been teaching Terese (11) to cook dinner every night this week.  She chose the meals (with my help).  The goals here:  teach my kids some skills for life & get some help here in this area.  An unexpected bonus has been that the two of us are alone in the kitchen together spending some time and I can get the table set while helping her, freeing up my other kids for other jobs (laundry folding, etc.)  I plan to rotate through the kids one week at a time doing the same thing.  Once I'm confident they can pull off a meal I may change it to assigning them one or two nights per week.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Saving Time is like Saving Money

    Crunchy Mama and I were having a discussion recently about how you have to find time to save time.  The idea is very similar to having money to save money.

    My dh and I got married right out of college and we both had loans.  We scrimped and saved until we had enough money to pay off  the balance of our smallest loan.  Then we took the amount we were paying each month for that loan and saved it to help pay off the next smallest, and so on.  We had to accumulate a little money in order to save the interest on that smallest loan and hence on the subsequent loans.

    Flash forward almost 18 years.  The loans are paid off.  I am a homeschooling mom of 7 kids ages 2-15.  My husband has a demanding job with hours that can get crazy in cyclical whirlwinds four times per year.  This leave me with some (but certainly not all) of the the other items around the house.

    It's hard to find time to get the extras done.  I am a very organized person and love my spreadsheets but I've been feeling like if only I could find a little time to make up a list for (    ) then everyone would know what is expected and I can expect them to take care of things a little more without my direct input.

    So, the very first thing I did was to email Crunchy Mamma to see if she has created something like this already (we are quite similar in this odd sort of way), but she hasn't.  Therefore, I took time off school today in order to save time.  I may take time off tomorrow as well, but we will be back on schedule by Wed.  (BTW, this is the reason I don't take MEA and other holidays off, I take them off when I we need them).

    In addition to making Esme's doll quilt for her birthday (with help from Terese), I am working on some lists.

    So far the only one that is totally complete is for the bathroom.  I listed everything that needs to be done daily (with little boxes to check when it's complete), weekly, and monthly.  It looks like something you would find on the back of the restroom at Target (which is where I got the idea).

    My kids have their chores divided up by zones.  One child wipes the bathroom daily, cleans it once a week, etc.  Another takes care of the living room, entry, and hallway....

    Now, the daily items they pretty much knew but they would sometimes forget the small details, like bringing the used/wet hand towels to the laundry room.  They have gotten pretty good at the weekly cleaning as well but don't necessarily remember all the little details.   And....when it came to the monthly cleaning I would have to sort of monitor the whole thing.... it's about time the shower curtain is washed, etc.

    I have a lot of good workers here and they are all assigned something age appropriate, but multiply this by 4 kids and I would pretty much be walking around directing for 2 hours, at the same time I am trying to directly direct my 2, 5 and 7 year olds.   This is certainly not the best way to manage a work crew.  I am pretty certain they would all be done in about an hour, or less, if only they had a list to go off instead of waiting for me to get back to them. 

    So, I will take time off tomorrow morning as well so that I can save some time by completing  these lists.  I intend to hang them someplace virtually unnoticed in each room, like on the inside of cabinet door.

    Until then

    Please help me wish a big  
      to my god daughter ESME, Crunchy Momma's dd.


    to two of my god sons  

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Every Thursday we list our small successes.  It's a nice reminder that we did accomplish something during the week other than survive (although some weeks that in and of itself is a major success).  Since our homeschool has started up again this fall my successes have become much smaller, and more helpful to me to remind myself they do still exist. 
    For more small successes click on the link above.

    1.  I took Nathan grocery shopping Sat. morning and we filled up TWO carts.  I had let the pantry run down, trying to use up some of those things that have just been sitting there.  Buying for 9 when the pantry isn't depleted is a lot of work! I dread grocery shopping, I would rather clean toilets.  And I am totally serious about that.   I tried to order groceries the night before but the local grocery delivery service was having some sort of problem with their website.   So, taking Nathan with me was the next best thing.   It's a lot more fun, I can send him down an aisle for one item and he can meet up with me in the next, and he is a better/faster bagger than we get at most stores that bag it for you.  But, when he asked if he could get some dairy free ice cream I didn't realize he put THREE boxes in the cart.  Really Nate?  THREE?  I bought them anyway.  We don't always get to Cub Foods and I haven't seen this particular item anywhere else.

    2.  I allowed the kids to have ice cream as a treat for Christopher Columbus day.  I was a hit, although it was Nathan's idea.  He found a way to get some of that ice cream he bought and we pretty much save it for special days.

    3.  I figured out how to work my cell phone!  No, it's not new, and no, it's not fancy.  But for the last couple weeks it wasn't ringing when someone called me from home.  As it turns out, even my very basic phone has an option to change the ring style based on the number calling.  I think one of my younger kids might have messed that up - it was on silent.  It is silent no more!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Small Successes

    1.  Read an entire book,  Das Americaniska.  Yes, it was in English, these are small successes remember.

    2.  Rearranged my meal planner page.  It used to be 4-5 weeks worth of meals.  After talking to Crunchy Momma recently we were lamenting how that USED to work for us.  But now that our lives are busier we needed to be able to look and plan around the events of the week.  One week we might need 2 crockpot meals, a quick meal, and something that someone else can throw in, etc.  So Crunchy Momma made a new spreadsheet with columns titled crockpot, early start, late start, and sides.  She then divided them horizontally for beef, chicken, other.  So really I just copied her using my meals...but did take 5 whole minutes.  AND...she needs to add more dairy/tomato free meals so I can get more ideas off her in that way too!

    3.  Pulled out all the snow pants and winter coats to see what sizes, if any, we needed to buy this year.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Romantic Comedies

    The Faith and Family Blog contains this post  with many people's favorite romantic comedies.  If you are looking for a good movie check it out. 

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    A good tip I learned from a banker

    It's a good idea to have a 2nd checking account with a debit/cash card and a small balance.  This is the card to carry to the zoo, a bike ride, etc.  It's also the card to use when ordering, say, pizza, where you wonder if they are writing down your number somewhere, and if they are safely disposing of the number.

    This way, if someone were to get a hold of the card or the number that person has access to maybe $100 or $300 or whatever you keep in there, rather than the amount you keep in your regular checking account that you may use to pay all your monthly bills.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Small Successes

    1.  Flexible!  Took my kids to Underwater World a the Mall of America this week since we could get in for home school days for $24.50 (otherwise it would cost $84 and we would NOT have gone!)  The day got totally off schedule since I planned to arrive at 9 am to give us enough time to enjoy the sights before leaving at 11 am for a nearby appointment.  But, I hadn't planned ahead, the place didn't open until 10 am.  I was getting frustrated looking around the MOA (I seriously dislike the constant background noise of this mall).  I saw Nathan there with sort of a sad look on his face, and he had been so excited to come, I realized my attitude was ruining it.  So, I decided to forgo all my afternoon school/cleaning plans and come back after our appointment, pay the price of mall lunches for 8, and get home at 4:00.  It was a good choice.

    2.  Found my Righstart math manipulatives.  I've been working around them for a week and was actually on my way to order them when Terese asked me to help her with a math question.  I sat down to help her and there it was - the box of manipulatives and cards - someone had cleaned and shoved it under the desk hutch behind the CD's).

    3.  Filled out my home school form and accompanying letter to send to the school district this morning.  It's due before tomorrow.  I'd been putting it off because I need to have a letter notarized to go with it. I have NEVER been this late with the form.  I guess I'll be heading to get the letter notarized and then directly to the district office to hand deliver it.  Oh joy.  

    I seem to be stuck in an "always behind" rut the last year or so.  I used to have this stuff done way ahead of time.  Sometimes so far ahead of time I actually had to set things aside because it was  too soon to mail them ( and...I didn't lose them in the process either).  I know I'm adding extra work (like driving to the district office today) and extra stress.  I am working hard on changing this.  Maybe a couple cans of Jolt will give me an extra 8 hours (overnight) to catch up a bit and get ahead.  No, that always ends badly.  Maybe a 2 hour movie some night for the kiddos, yeah, and that will help my 9 year old get his 5-7 hours of TV time that we find so hard to find  (OK - eye patch time - but unless he is absorbed into TV land it's really bothersome for his weaker eye to work so hard - and it was the ophthalmologist's suggestion).  Or...I could have spent this last 5 minutes organizing my bills instead of's enjoyable and I only spend less than 10 minutes a day on it.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Small Successes

    1.  Took all kids, except our 5 year old,  to Mass Monday morning when my ds served.  And...I didn't complain that I spent most of Mass in the hallway with my 2 year old.

    2.  Packed a lunch and schoolwork for the kids when we had an appt. across town over lunch time.  Usually we grab fast food to eat in the van on the way home so we don't lose more school time at home making a late lunch (yeah yeah... I could have had the kids pack the lunch except they were busy doing their schoolwork and I was listening to one of my kids read his reading lesson to me.)

    3.   Read an entire book in one week!  Insomnia has a way of making time.  It was a child's book (hey...when I have insomnia I am so not into reading something that takes effort!) about Albert Einstein.  Did you know he played a key part in WWII and without him the outcome could have been significantly different?  I'd have my kids read it but I was so excited to share the information with them this morning I am sure I spoiled any interested in reading the book.

    Monday, September 20, 2010


    OK - but I expect Crunchy Mama to chime in with her list too.

    10 odd things about me most people don't know:
    1. I have my very own pair of 2 buckle boots
    2. Early to bed and early to rise (unless I have insomnia!)
    3. I would rather scrub toilets than grocery shop (I do both)
    4. I have always lived within a 20 mile or so radius
    5. I am not a cradle Catholic.  I was baptized, received my First Communion, and was confirmed on Easter Sunday when I was 18
    6. I married my high school sweetheart and have 7 kids on earth and a bunch in Heaven
    7. I have a BA in Math with a minor in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science
    8. I was thrilled when my oldest started Algebra - she wasn't
    9. I played Cymbals in our high school marching band and marched (backwards) in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Mackinaw Island, and Canada
    10. I don't understand writers but love them anyway

    Writers...who knew?

    So, I am driving Anna home from soccer one evening along with a guy  from her team.  Little did we moms know when we set this carpool up strictly for our convenience that both of our kids were writers.

    It's been interesting listening to the conversations back and forth.  In fact, on our very first ride home this kid was telling me about a Catholic trilogy he is writing.  Seriously.  The reason this is so shocking is because my Anna is nearly done with the massive editing faze of her Catholic trilogy (she has many editors).  Next faze?  Trying to publish!

    But the best conversation by far was this...they were talking about how the story just progresses as they write.  They don't always know where they are going but the characters lead them there.  Then Anna says something about how the characters in her story fell in love....and that made her so mad because she hates it when characters fall in love in stories and it messes up the whole plot line.  And...this other kid totally agrees.  Seriously.  In fact, he just scrapped a story he had been working hard on because the characters fell in love and that was NOT in the plan.

    You think I am making this up?  Seriously...this is what happened!  At that point I looked over and said something apparently very stupid, "um, guys, if you are writing the stories how can it just happen?  They aren't real.  YOU are writing it.  Change it!"  They both looked at me in shock.  "But it just happened.  The characters are so real it just happened.  We can't change that!"

    OK - I guess I am seriously NOT an author.  I'll stick to algebra.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Small Successes


    For more small success stories click on the link above.

    1.  Accepted my dh's offer to run the Monday afternoon soccer carpool and stay home Tuesday morning when I down with allergies and a sinus infection (not accepting help and pushing it probably got me to the point I was).

    2.  Did NOT laugh as I was cleaning up a public bathroom floor when my 2.5 yr old, while sitting on the toilet, couldn't wait any longer for me to get a little toilet paper properly positioned.  For some odd reason I found the whole thing quite comical, but I don't want him to repeat that experience.

    3.  Let 8 families into my house on T afternoon for science and art classeseven though it was embarrassingly messy.  (A sick mama has that effect on a house). Or should the success really be that I chose not to scream and bark out orders at my kids for the hour before the class so I wouldn't be as embarrassed. :)

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Small Successes


    For more small success stories click on the link above. 

    This is the back to homeschooling version.  The successes look pretty small

    1.  Went to an Opus Dei Recollection for the first time in a long time.
    2. Cleaned and dusted 1/2 of the master bedroom.
    3. Remained flexible during our first week of school and am making some revisions to our schedule.
      1. Allowed my 1st grader to be the art assistant to my 6th grader while she does art projects with the K and pre-schooler.  This was supposed to be the time where I would be teaching my 1st grader and 3rd graders their reading lessons.  I forgot my 1st grader thrives on projects (hmm...I smell an incentive here).
      2. Did only 1/2 this weeks planned history lesson to make room for an extra geography lesson after my kids asked for more (isn't this what it's all about?!)  It will all get done in the end.  (another incentive here.......)  BTW:  For Geography we are reading Paddle to the Sea and working on the accompanying lesson plans and map pack.  There are 4 or 5 books written by Holling C. Holling in the set.  I'm hoping the excitement continues, it does seem fun.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Potty Training

    After 6 other kids...I've finally learned the secret to potty training.

    1.  Buy 2 giant boxes of diapers from
    2.  Wait until your dryer breaks and your washer is having issues. has very good diapers prices if you are tired of filling your cart up with those boxes, and there is free shipping after spending $49...hence the TWO boxes.

    Logan is the only one here who is proud to see his undies blowing in the wind.  (The rest get sent to Grandma's or along with my dd to her babysitting job).

    The diapers are going to my cousin.


    Little Logan is doing great - I'd say he's 90% daytime trained.  He was just ready.  We only had one other child be this successful at 2 1/2.  The rest were all 3.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Small Successes

    "The secret of all progress and of every victory is, in fact, to 'know how to begin again', to learn from a failure and to try once more."  G. Chevrot 


    For more inspirational small success stories, click on the link above.

    1. Created a new chore list for everyone.....and crunchy mama is already adding to it...which means I will be incorporating those new ideas.  I think every excel spreadsheet we've ever created (and there are many) have gone back and forth and improved upon.  Thanks Crunchy
    2. Got most of my school schedules complete.   We are trying something a little different this year.  The kids are 11th, 7th, 6th, 3rd, 1st, K, and a 2 year old.  Logistics get a little more complicated each year and it doesn't work if I wing it.  I need a plan, it's just me, and the fact that 2 people cannot be using the computer at the same time......and I am utilizing my 6th and 7th graders as student teachers for a subject each.
    3. Brought my focus back INSIDE the house after spending a lot of time on our outdoor projects.   I've spent a lot of time on #2 above as well as directing some cleaning efforts, and digging through bills and paperwork.
    School officially begins next week....back to what will appear to be very very small successes....but they'll be huge to me.  And that's when I need this the most!

    BTW:  Someone asked about our outdoor projects...they consisted of removing a backyard pool, regrading the backyard (so the water flows AWAY from the house),  replacing the driveway and garage floor, and making larger patio spaces in the front and the backyards.  We've been saving for this for years (both in time and money).  In the middle of that we still headed up north to visit Crunchy Mamma and her family. 

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Cribs aren't for animals

    We haven't used a crib at our house for the last 4 kids.  I'm not opposed to using one, they just don't fit our needs.  So, we were out this morning at a different church and my 2 year old spotted a hotel type crib in the corner.  "Is that for a Sir Kate (our rabbit)?"  he asked excitedly?

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Small Successes

    For more inspirational small successes click on the link above.

    1. Hung most of my laundry out to dry this week.  I actually enjoyed it.  But, I am looking forward to the washer and dryer (did you catch that AND) repairman visit today.  I did send a couple loads home with my MIL.  Hanging everyone's personal items out to dry while workmen were working in our backyard just didn't seem right.  Besides, my kids gasped in fear when I hung the underwear for my potty training 2 1/2 year old.  He was proud, they would have been humiliated.
    2. Entered all appointments for September and October into my outlook calendar simply for an easy to reference chart showing me all the times I need to be in 2 places at once (manage carpooling).  My lovely little calendar (which I find incredibly awesome) was looking a bit discombobulated.  Next step, plan how to get kids on opposite ends of town at the same time...many times during September.
    3. Finally began reading Master Your Metabolism, a book I bought a couple months ago on a whim.  It is very enlightening.  I already knew I had some issues with hormonal imbalance, but other than my sluggish thyroid I had no idea all the rest impacted weight loss too.  I guess that's the place to start.  And my next book will be The Schwarzbein Principal.

    And.....I didn't cry when the repairman said it would take 10 days to get the parts for both my washer and dryer :(

        Tuesday, August 24, 2010

        Nothing to lose

        Someone told me I had nothing to lose by calling the repair company and asking this question.  They were wrong. 

        1. Washing machine isn't working quite right.  The electronic dial doesn't always move.  It's been getting worse.  I called the warranty company last week and they said they'd have someone out on Wed.
        2. Dyer quit drying.
        3. I called the warranty company and they set that up for Thurs.
        4. Now, with a quick phone call I thought I might be able to make this a little easier.
        1. Explain to the lady that I have 2 appointments and can they either A) look at both on Wed. or B) Switch them so the dryer is looked at on W and the washing machine on TH.
        2. She put me on hold to see what she could do.
        3. When she came back she informed me that they would both be looked at on TH!  What no!!!!!  I need my dryer to work.  Soon.  We have a giant laundry producing outdoor project going on right now with a bunch of guys here and some of my kids helping.  We are generating more laundry than the 9 of us already create.  We are still being cautious with my son's MRSA infection.  He has his own towels, we're bleaching them often, etc.
        4. So, I asked if there really wasn't any way that my dryer could be looked at in that W timeslot.  Her answer?  "That slot is already taken".
        So, I realized that although this is a big hassle it really isn't the end of the world.  We have a yard.  We have twine.  We have 9 clothes pins.  It's summer.  People hang things out to dry all the time.  Why am I complaining.  I guess I should just be happy my washing machine is still somewhat functioning.  That would be a real hassle.

        The ants are back...................................

        Sunday, August 22, 2010

        Getting rid of the Ants

        This is how we finally got rid of the ants:

        1. Over the years we've tried many different kinds of ant bait traps.  They kept the population low, but they were still always present.
        2. We also made sure the kitchen was cleaned up every night.  If someone had a snack after the dishes had been washed they were supposed to wash it themselves (didn't always happen - and then we'd wake up to loads of ants.)
        3. We tried cream of wheat.  Apparently they really like it but cannot digest it.  I ended up with more and more ants (like well over 100 at once...gross!)...many dead..many crawling....and they expanded their search area.  I only kept this up for a week.  It's possible if I had continued it would have worked.
        4. Tried bleaching the counters every night.   This was only moderately effective.
        5. My dh finally suggested calling an exterminator (we've had them every summer for years).  When I told my MIL she gave me a spray can of HotShot Kitchen bug killer to try.  She said it always worked for her.  
        6. I am very leery of poison type chemicals on my counters.  So, Nathan and I cleaned off the entire corner of the kitchen counter.  Every night for a week I sprayed HotShot.  Every morning I awoke to maybe 20-30 tiny dead ants.  I'd wipe them off then bleach the entire area before the rest of my family used it for the day.
        7. At the end of the week we went out of town for 4 days.  The counters were cleared and I sprayed HotShot all over them before leaving.  When we came back there were almost no ants.  
        8. We've been home for almost a week and I haven't seen an ant on the counter yet!
        9. The counters are still nearly bare.  I love it.  I am the type of person that would gladly jam everything inconveniently into the cupboards so that the counter is empty.  HA!  I live with 8 other people.  I have consented to leaving the coffee maker and toaster on the counter, as well as a smaller spice rack since it really didn't fit anywhere else.  I have stored the blender, Giant Magic Bullet, Bread Machine, and Mixer.  Only the mixer might make it's way back.  The others aren't used all that often.

        If you have ants.....good luck.  It could be worse.  At least it's not snakes or cockroaches or something.  But I'm still glad they are gone.

        Thursday, August 19, 2010

        Small Successes

        1.  Played at the playground with my 2 youngest for an hour rather than take that time to make a bunch of phone calls on my to do list.  (I did make 2 quick necessary calls).

        2.  Confidently navigated my way through the great outdoors (aka boonies) alone with my 9 year old son (and my GPS).  We were on vacation, miles from a city big enough to have an ER, but small enough that the ER was my only option.  My ds developed another cellulitis MSRA staph infection, he just finished antibiotics for the first infection about 3 weeks ago.  We needed more meds, and this is not an infection to mess around with (he is doing much better...and we do have a plan to try to stop this from reoccurring but any prayers offered  would be greatly appreciated)

        3.  Cleared everything unnecessary off my schedule for the next 1 1/2 weeks.  We've got a huge outdoor project going on.
        For more encouraging small success stories click on the link above.  Have a great week!

        Thursday, August 12, 2010

        Small Successes


        It's been a busy week with what seemed like a zillion necessary errands

        1. Requested a new driver's license yesterday (after losing mine over a month ago ).  Then found it this morning, really (along with the cc which I had  immediately cancelled after discovering that I had lost it).  I prayed to St. Anthony but instead of helping me find them I think he was trying to teach me a more careful.  (this is by far the first time it's happened).   And...instead of shoving them in a pocket when I go somewhere I don't want to risk losing my purse...I finally purchased a wrist wallet.  But really, waiting until I actually FOUND my DL?  I think St. Anthony has a sense of humor :)
        2. I finally prayed to St. Francis asking him to please ask the ants to leave my kitchen.  Then my MIL gave me a bottle of a bug killer she has used.  It worked!  We've been battling these tiny little grease ants every summer.  Taro, bait traps, bleach....nothing has worked.  I think St. Francis sent my MIL.  Maybe the ants were disobedient.  One extra bonus kitchen has never been so clean.  Nathan and I removed almost everything from my counters and found them new homes, I've been spraying every night.  When the spraying is over...most of the things will not be going back on my counter.
        3. I finally contacted someone who ran a camp one of my children attended and was injured at after mulling over Crunchy Mamma's post.  It wasn't serious.  But it was incredibly out of the ordinary and I think I should have been informed by someone other than my dd.  I am so the type of person that just shrugs things off.  I don't want to take the time and I really don't like confrontation.  But I think this one required me to act. 
        4. I've finally learned to Bi-locate.  O.K.  so that's stretching it.  But I did set up a few carpools to help out with my inability to be in 2 places at once.   And, I finally called my SIL to ask about helping with driving for a class Anna will be taking this year.  Anna told me she really enjoys spending time with my SIL on these rides (she's helped out in the past as well).  Although we do benefit from her being able and willing to drive during the day we are still praying for her to find a job in this economy (a little prayer for her and all the others still looking for work?)

        Sunday, August 8, 2010

        Help is relative.

        After being friends with Real for a decade, sometimes I am not sure who came up with what and what stories are mine and which are hers. While it is fun to have a friend for this long, sometimes I feel a little touched by dementia. The saying, "Help is relative" is an example of this. Real says it and so do I, but I am not sure who said it first. What it means is sometimes help is not really help. When someone comes over "helps" by holding your three day old baby while you vacuum, that is not help. Vacuuming for you, so you can hold your new baby, that is help.

        Last night, I was experiencing a bit of "help" myself. Esme (age 3) wanted to help get ready for our trip to see Real and her family. (I AM SO EXCITED!) She promptly snuck off with her suitcase and loaded several outfits. I was impressed.... until she came back to show me that she had added the dogs kibble to the top of it all. Not help. So now I have to wash everything again.

        It was late and I could see that we were both overtired. Instead of pouting about this small setback, I gave her something she could do to help. She folded washcloths. Then she matched socks and put them away. Finally, my smartie pants determined these things were not getting ready for the trip. So we decided she could help by loading the water into the cooler, getting the crayons ready to go, and petting the doggies and telling them what they would be doing while we were gone. Suddenly, she was help!

        It would do me good to remember that even the smallest of helpers can be real help if I take the time to give them jobs they can succeed at.

        Thursday, August 5, 2010

        Small Successes


        For more inspiring small success stories click on the link above

        1. Managed to sort of keep the laundry and kitchen moving in a positive direction while working on our giant backyard pool removal project.
        2. Found out that my desk is brown (notice desk was not a priority last week).
        3. Finally posted the names of some of our favorite fiction math books.  I love math, some of my kids will grimace when they read this.
         Here are a couple pics of the progress of our project.  And...a new respect for people who lay sod.  We reused our sod on about 1/2 our yard.  Those were 12" by 36" rolls.  Apparently the ones we will need to buy are 2' by 6', woah.  And, although the kids look a little down in the picture, our backyard has been kid heaven and they have been thoroughly enjoying it!

        Tuesday, August 3, 2010

        Fiction Math books

        Some time ago I mentioned that we would be reading a lot of fiction math books from the library this summer.  Well, we've been through a lot of them and they need to go back to the library later today so I thought I would share some of our favorites (and then it's off to requesting similar art books).

        • Circumference math adventure books
          • Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi
          • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table
          • Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone
          • I cannot remember the title but we checked out a really neat book about Inners and Edges (Area, and Perimeter) with a fun game to play.
        • Cut Down to Size (about ratios)
        • Beanstalk:  The Measure of a Giant (about ratios)
        • Zachary Zormer Shape Transformer (my kids amazed their friends making moebius strips and expanding frames for many days)
        My 5-11 year old kids enjoyed these most of all.  I got all these ideas from Maureen Wittman's book For the Love of Literature 

        I haven't checked out her blog much, although I hear it's pretty good.

        And...while I am on the subject of books I just gotta tell someone about this one.  Not quality literature or anything, it's one of those bizarre books.  We found this one at the pediatrician while waiting.

        Storyline goes something like this:
        1.  3 french hens are on their way from Paris to America to see someone.
        2.  They get separated from all the other stuff but manage to catch a plane and get to America.
        3.  They look up their friend's name in the phone book and locate his address.
        4.  Go to the Bronx to find their friend, they got the wrong one but didn't know it.
        5.  They are now living with a starving fox who intends to eat them, but the give pedicures and make him a wonderful french dinner so he has second thoughts.
        6.  They give him a bunch of Christmas presents and decorate the tree, etc.
        7.  Fox feels guilty and offers them some gifts.
        8.  They politely decline, saying they cannot accept Christmas gifts because they are HANUKA chickens.
        9.  The end.
        10.  Complete silence no the part of my kids...then I hear a very quiet..."that was weird" 

        Friday, July 30, 2010

        Small Successes


        1. Sub-coached Anna's last soccer game.
        2. Kept up on laundry and the kitchen while our backyard pool demolition project is going on.
        3. Did not freak out when Anna came home from zoo camp and informed us she was the first person bitten by a shark there in 30 years.  They were feeding sharks in the estuary.  Her fingers are bruised, scraped, and have a few bite marks.  She got put back together and went back to pet them....that didn't surprise me.
        I'm a day late here due to the pool/backyard project.  There has been a bobcat stuck in the hole that used to be the deep end of our pool for the last few hours.  The track busted off.  But, it appears we are back in business!

        Monday, July 26, 2010

        Accidental Insight

        This past weekend two friends and I met for dinner. Jessica and I have been friends for about five years and I feel like she knows me fairly well. We were enjoying dessert as Jess was telling April and I about a problem she had a few weeks ago with an adult relative of hers being too aggressive while playing with her eleven year old son. Her son was moderately injured by the adult while they were playing. However, it was obvious with some caution the situation could have been avoided and it is not the first time this type of thing has happened with this person. Once the son was out of danger and the necessary medical care was being given, Jessica found herself alone with the adult that injured her child. I asked, "What happened then?"

        Jess said, "I almost walked away and silently grumbled, but then I thought of you and did what I thought you would do. I was very even tempered about it but I let him know what I thought of the situation in no uncertain terms, as well as, what the terms are for interacting with my children going forward." What she said stunned me. I have never considered myself aggressive, although I can be bossy at times. Then I thought again. Looking back at several situations I realized I do tend to be a Momma Moose. But I would have never considered myself that way before. Isn't it funny when someone tells you something about yourself that you never considered before?

        Thursday, July 22, 2010

        Small Successes

        1. Prayed for (and received an answer!) for a dilemma.  I have a child who really wants to take part in an activity and I don't have a lot of extra time for the driving involved, yet I really feel that this is a positive thing and would like to make it work for her.  Solution:  she will compensate me for my time....with her time.  Now I am praying for a carpool.  And, I'm guessing she is too :)
        2. Gave Wyatt the watch we were saving for him for Christmas.   This kid has a fascination with time like none of my others.  All day long I was hearing things like, "Mom, it's 11:15", "Mom, it's 10 minutes to 3", "Mom, it's 9 minutes to 3", "Mom, it's 5 minutes to 3".  And...if we are in the van I hear it even more.  You might be thinking something was supposed to happen say, at 3:00?  Nope.  He just likes time and likes watching the clock change.  In fact, he has a favorite time.  It's 7:00 because he is 7.  Well, this just seemed like one those child led learning situations and we gave him the watch.  It's not digital like most of the clocks in our house.  He's learning to tell time on an analog watch and almost never takes it off.
        3. I've been allowing my kids (and a couple neighbours) to spend countless hours net fishing for all kinds of strange bugs in our "set for destruction" swimming pool.   The shallow end is empty, the water in the deep end is murky, the liner is gone, and there are plants growing from the bottom and the sides.   It's a bug lovers dream!  They have all kinds of little container along the edge of the pool filled with all kinds of interesting bugs.  AND...I let them set up yet another aquarium in our house to enjoy these things.  My only requirements were that it doesn't smell and they cannot escape. 

        Wednesday, July 21, 2010

        Life with a 5 year old

        We have one of those 2 minute sand in the hourglass timers, compliments of the dentist.  Brushing for 2 minutes can seem like a very long time.

        Elizabeth and I went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and her brother was already in there using the timer.  She didn't get angry.  Instead she said, "GREAT!  I can just join Henry on his timer."  Ummmm, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the timer?

        Wednesday, July 14, 2010

        Getting out...too much or too little?

        Crunchy Mama and I were talking recently about the differences between the kids in our families.  We both have kids who like lots of extra activity and others who prefer a more peaceful existence.  It is hard to strike a balance when I plan out our week.  How much do we get out?

        Nathan and I would love to run all our errands on one big day and be done with it.  This simply doesn't work well for all the kids.  They don't like to go somewhere every day, but they most certainly DO NOT enjoy an all day errand run. 

        Along these same lines is the kids who thrive on extra activity and those who melt at the prospect.   My question to you is this, how do you handle the different needs of different children to get out and experience other things?  If I try to strike a balance I feel like I am making more kids unhappy than I am making kids happy (i.e.  if we are out too much one day the next day at home is still off for those home bodies).  Any tried and true advice?

        Friday, July 9, 2010

        What I enjoy most about summer

        Time to sit at the computer and "play"  while my teething 2 year old sleeps on my lap.....and not feel rushed to put him down and get something else done.  (yeah, the list is huge....but this moment is fleeting...and there's always tomorrow.)

        Time to relax and play.

        Time to (hopefully) make 4 train quilts for our boys.  Therese and I (and Anna as time permits) will make Logan's first using the blue fabric. We need to buy more co-ordinating fabric and create a simple machine pieced design.  If it's not simple it'll be hard to get all 4 done anytime soon.  [I found a website that sells train fabric and just bought a bunch for the boys to pick from and piece together.  Wyatt is leaning towards the blacks, Nathan likes the Union Pacific signs with the routes on the background, Henry is still deciding...but I think most are in the running.  I figured with 4 quilts all that fabric is bound to get used somewhere.]

        Thursday, July 8, 2010

        Small Successes

        The vacationing version........

        1.  Climbed a 100 ft fire tower at a tourist site because my kids and a nephew really wanted to and they needed an adult.  Then did it again since only 4 people are allowed on the tower at a time.  (I really hate heights, I don't even go on the roof of our rambler.)

        2.  Swam in frigid lake water so my dd would have someone to play with in the water when all the other older kids were canoeing and stuff.  I actually enjoyed it.  I'm glad she convinced me.

        3.  Attempted water skiing.  Yes, attempting it was a success :)

        Wednesday, July 7, 2010

        Laziness.... not good.  This morning my husband woke me at 5:15 as usual.  I normally drag myself out of bed to begin the day no matter how tired I am.  This morning was different.  I was kinda tired, but not that tired.  This was the first day in my recent memory (that may be the problem) that I didn't have to rush out of bed to get ahead of the day.  I layed there trying to think of all that was on the agenda for today. I thought we had a lot of free time.  I checked my planner after waking at 7am and discovered I was wrong.  It all worked out...but it would have worked out much smoother if I had been awake earlier.  I am still waiting for that slower paced day.  Maybe it will be tomorrow after I bring my van in again at 7am for more repair work.  Well, lesson learned.  Laziness gets you nowhere and it's best to conquer that "heroic minute".

        Thursday, July 1, 2010

        Small Successes

        Sometimes our successes are very very small.  That's when we need to celebrate them the most.  Cleaning my entire house top to bottom isn't necessarily a huge thing if my younger kids are gone all day.  Dusting one room can be huge if it's a very busy week.   It's been a busy week.

        1. Successfully threw a birthday party for my 7 and 9 year old boys.  It was supposed to be a water party complete with squirt guns and games to soak 'em.  The weather didn't quite co-operate.  But it still worked out.  This was a biggie.  We don't have parties every year.
        2. Surprised Therese with a trip to a movie for on her birthday.  Just Therese and her friend, Anna and her friend, and myself.
        3. Remained very very flexible this week (not a strong suit for this ultra planning mama).  We had way too many appointments (what was I thinking when I scheduled 3 well child checks (2 trips) and 1 ophthalmologist appt over 2 days.  Of course those ended up being the two days our vans needed to get in for repair....but mine was, thankfully, back in time for a chiropractor trip across town on W).
        Next week will be smoother.  I've already blocked one date on the calendar next week for a mom doesn't drive anywhere and no extra kids here day.

        Monday, June 28, 2010

        Drivin' the race car

        My younger kids think I'm pretty cool.  I left early this morning with a 12 passenger van and came home in a small car with words on the side, to them that means race car.  I didn't tell them it said, "Miller Chevrolet Courtesy Car", I'd rather let them think I'm cool.

        It's very different from driving the 12 passenger (AKA The Bus).  This trips race car is a 2005 Buick La Sabre.  I feel like I am literally inches off the ground, it's unnerving yet fun. 
        My 12 passenger is normally one of the tallest vehicles on the road (and if you are in the market for one....they don't fit in many ramps or personal garages due to the height!).  Today I was driving on of the lowest vehicles I've ever been in.  I prefer to see over, rather than under, all the cars in front of me

        I expect to be exchanging vehicles later today, maybe tomorrow.  Mine is only in for a transmission flush, nothing major.  But, I have to admit, the fact that they let customers drive a loaner vehicle home for free certainly puts them at the top of my list for any needed repair work, even if it sits on the ground.

        Thursday, June 24, 2010

        Small Successes


        For more small successes and inspriations click on the link above.

        As for mine this week...

        1. Took our 4 youngest to the community center pool for the first time in years.
        2. Took the same 4 kids on a walk to the lake in the rain.
        3. Made 5 meals for the freezer, and it took almost no time less than 30 extra minutes all together.
          1. 1 Lime Chicken with Rice
          2. 2 different versions of Chicken/Rice Stir Fry
          3. 1 Chicken Fried Rice to pair with egg rolls we already have
          4. 2 dairy free/tomato free homemade pizzas for my allergic family members
        At this point in my life I cannot set aside an entire day to do once a month cooking, but I'm trying to do something to make those busy days a little easier at dinner time.  So, I made the pizzas while my kids made homemade pizza for dinner that night.  The Lime Chicken is simply frozen chicken breasts thrown in a Ziploc bag with all the spices and lime, ready to be thrown into a fry pan or crock pot.  For the chicken stir fry I just made extra chicken one night and threw into two different Ziploc bags with different veggies and spices in each.  I made the rice another night and put it in different Ziploc bags after it cooled.  Those bags were then put into the other meal bags keeping the rice separate since it really won't need to cook long now.
        My plan is to continue making meals to freezer meals.  For next week I am planning to brown a lot of ground beef (I use my crock pot to brown 3 lbs at a time) and season most of it for tacos/burritos/etc.  I'll keep some unseasoned just to have for last minute sloppy joes/hash/or whatever else it may come in handy for.

        Tuesday, June 22, 2010

        We've been flocked

        Logan tells everyone about the "mingos" in our yard.  I looked out the window Monday to see 19 Pink Flamingos in our yard.  It's a fundraiser for my sister's church youth group.  Great fundraiser!

        It sure does draw the neighbors out.  Everyone comes over to see what the big event is and to read the sign in our yard.  I've never heard of anyone being flocked before.  It is so funny to watch Logan and Elizabeth run amongst the flamingos. 

        Wish I could upload a pic but am having difficulty with that right now and my bloggin' dd is camping with her grandparents. 

        Thursday, June 17, 2010

        Small Successes

        1. Volunteered at Vacation Bible School this week for the first time. 
        2. Squeezed grocery shopping in and only took 5 year old Elizabeth.  It was really fun for both of us.
        3. Managed to stay relatively calm and peaceful during a very busy week here.  Really, I only let my frustrations get the best of me once.  About 10 things hit simultaneously that all threatened my well thought out plan for the evening, one of those being a crying toddler.  I am not good at this onslaught sort of stuff.  I know other people who handle it all very well.  Me?  I just need 5 minutes of complete silence, alone, to assimilate it all in my head and make a plan. It worked.

        Monday, June 14, 2010

        On Being RealMom

        When we see other people's lives we often don't see the chaos.  We see what they want us to see.  My life is normally very organized, I didn't say perfect, but we are creatures of routine here.  Once in awhile I think God likes to shake things up for us a bit, I think HE thinks it's comical.  (It's thinking like that that keeps me smiling and doing the best I can).  Well, today we had a bizarre day.  This is not incredibly out of the ordinary. My life isn't perfect, and that's OK.  But, looking back on this day we all had to sort of a chuckle.  So, a not quite so ordinary, but not completely infrequent kind of day....
        • Spent half the day working at VBS (my first time). I brought my 2 year old Logan with.  He enjoyed it for the first hour, not the next 3.  Have you ever tied Rosary knot after Rosary knot while holding a 25 lb child?
        • Got home and fed the kids, then took a 20 min. nap.
        • Rushed out to the grocery store with 5 year old Elizabeth.  I'm dealing with an upper back injury and everything was fine until I started loading those groceries.
        • Got home and iced my back while the kids put the groceries away.
        • Realized how late it was and we needed to leave for the soccer field in less than 1 hour.
        • Doled out jobs to make that happen, and took the youngest 4  on a semi-necessary errand.
        • Brought dinner to the game and did my best to get there on time.  I took a wrong turn and we got there 5 minutes late (we were supposed to be there 20 minutes early).  I have to say in my defense, we've been going to Anna's soccer games for years and we have NEVER ever even been close to being late.
        • Park the van and start to dig out dinner in the van since it's pouring rain, and Anna doesn't know anyone on this new team well enough to ask for a ride.  There was certainly the potential that game would be cancelled with the weather we were having.
        • See Anna at the window.  Her team isn't there.  I must have written the time down wrong.  Again, in my defense, in all these years this has never happened.  And, after getting home I double checked all the times, this was the only one I wrote down wrong.
        • Drive home and eat our dinner there.
        • Drive Anna back to soccer, bring Teresa.
        • Drive back home to pick up Logan, and drop off Teresa.
        • Drive back to soccer and get there just in time for half time. 
        • We had the half time snack.
        • Logan and I watched Anna play.  It was a great game, and the kids were obviously having fun in the rain and muck.  It's really fun to see 8-11th grade girls have fun in the rain and muck.
        • My husband was home from work by this time and had everyone in their PJ's.  We said our prayers and sent the kids to bed.  I was tired.  I still needed to change Logan.  I layed him on the bed, and, well, he's a boy, and he hasn't done that since he was a newborn.  This time he found it hilarious!  Need I say more?
        • Follow Logan to the bathroom where he excitedly finishes.   Get him ready for bed, take off our bedspread. 
        • Stay up late waiting for those VBS shirts to get done in the washing machine.  We need them in the morning. 
        • Lament the fact that this is the first day in 2 weeks I didn't go on a bike ride.  I should have ordered my groceries to be delivered like I had planned to do.  I could be doing that right now and I could have taken my bike ride,  And I wouldn't have hurt my back again.
        So, that is partly why I use the name RealMom4Life.  I am a real mom.  I have bizarre days, I have great days, I have, well, less than great days...trying to keep those to a minimum.  4Life has a double meaning....I hope to always be real and keep smiling through the less than perfectness of my life.  And, hey, I am pro-life.

        Friday, June 11, 2010


        Do you have any idea how many things you can find to do when you are procrastinating working on your homeschool portfolios? The possibilities are endless! Right now, I have managed to make myself think it is a near emergency that the outdoor faucets need recaulked.

        Thursday, June 10, 2010

        Small Successes

        1. I've ridden my bike for 1 hour every day this week.  (well, except for twice.....those 30 minute rides were a huge success given circumstances beyond my control).   I LOVE bike riding, always have.  Up until now I haven't made the commitment to carve out the time.
        2. Went to the doc to get a prescription for allergy meds.  I really prefer not to be on meds, but driving doesn't work so well when your eyes are watered shut :)
        3. Finally bought a long overdue birthday gift for someone special.  (see below).  Now I have to get it to her.

        Saturday, June 5, 2010


        New Year's resolutions never work so well for me.  I find it difficult to implement something new when starting back into the school year after a nice Christmas break.  However, I am setting some summer resolutions.  Our summer seems to get away from us every year.  I don't want to fill up the calendar and feel like we are always running somewhere, thus I don't plan as much as I should.   At the end of the summer we always feel like it was too busy, but busy doing what?  Who knows.  A little planning here will help.  So, here are some things I have planned, please feel free to comment if you have any more suggestions...or if you think I have gone crazy and have set myself up for failure.  I'd like to know now. :)

        1. Get to Mass at least once during the week (in addition to Sundays). 
        2. Plan one day a week at home with no friends here and no driving anywhere. 
        3. Extend our story time.  I always read books that each of the youngest 4 pick out.  I am going to also start reading a book I pick out.  I have a hidden agenda here, I have been requesting some great books at the library after a Lit talk I recently attended and I want them to hear those books AND I want to increase their listening attention span in preparation for school next fall. 
        4. Be more consistent with family nightly read-a-loud time. 
        5. Take a couple weeks off but then start reading/phonics up for my 1st and 3rd graders, plus math for everyone.  I'm thinking of having math 2-3 days per week for only 30 minutes.  For reading/phonics I just want them each to finish the Little Angel Readers volume they are in.
        6. Take advantage of across town appointments and add in some fun stops
        7. Go on a 1 hour power bike ride at least 5 days/week.  (So far so good). 
        8. Involve my kids in the weekly planning process.  I'd like them to have goals for the summer and for the week as well.  I think those will be better accomplished if I have a heads up.
        9. Go to bed on time every night.  Which is why I should quit now.  I should have gone to bed 3 hours ago.  I don't think I can sleep yet, but screen time isn't going to get me there.