Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Welcome Baby Abigail

We've never posted pics of the kids on here.  But, she's pictured here "in disguise", so I guess it's O.K.  :)

She was 5 days old in this picture but she'll be one month old already tomorrow!  She is doing just fine.  She was hospitalized for jaundice and was under the lights (hence the protective glasses).  She was probably the healthiest baby in the entire hospital.  Although I have to admit, it took me awhile to get to that point :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another book - another life lesson - The Last Lecture

I recently reread a book called The Last Lecture.  Maybe you're heard of it?  It's a book written by Randy Pausch, a prof at Carnegie Mellon, before he died of cancer.  I had seen an interview on TV with him and his wife years ago and there was something intriguing.  There was acceptance.  There was a positive out of the negative.   I bought the book and read it years ago, promising myself I would read only one chapter at a time...making sure I slowed down to really reflect on it.  Yeah right, I read it straight through. 

This time around something caught my attention - something different than before.  Maybe something I needed to get out of it this time around.  Unfortunately I don't have the book in front of me, so hopefully I don't mess this up.

There is a section in the book about inspiring the dreams of others.   He talks about what a good coach, teacher, parent...should do...inspire others.  He talked not so much on the knowledge passed on, as the inspiration to reach for dreams.  He achieved many!  It got me thinking.  What can we do to inspire our kids to dream? 

Our oldest wants to become a vet.  She is currently applying to colleges and will soon be looking for a job to get her closer to her goal.   She also loves to write.  When she only 14 ( is that right Anna?) she wrote her first novel.  She couldn't publish it because it was fan fiction.  She had read the entire Trixie Belden series and was saddened when she was through...there were no more!  So, she wrote her own.  Did I inspire her to do this?  I am sad to say that I did not.  I wasn't against it by any means, I was just a tired, busy mom whose plate was pretty full.  But, her grandma inspired her!  Every step of the way!  They spent months editing that book...back and forth...until she was finally ready to "publish" it just for her friends.   It was 230 pages.  She became inspired.  She could write a book.  She has since written many short stories, a long running series, and a Catholic Trilogy that she would like to publish.  Again, she's been editing back and forth with her grandma, as well as a few trusted friends (one very good friend who wants to be an editor!  how cool for both of them!) and will soon be contacting publishers.  She knows it's a long shot.  But she's going for it!  I know she's my daughter, but I can honestly say she is a very good writer!  I really think she has a chance!  In fact, I've been trying to get her to push this thing forward much sooner.  But you see, that's my point here.  It was my dream for to try to publish these before she applied to colleges.   Seriously, wouldn't it look great on a resume?  I am a published author, I wrote (I cannot give that one away just yet).  But she writes because she loves it.  Not because she feels it's some sort of job.  She is achieving her dream - not mine.   She wasn't interested in putting life on hold for this.  She began and ran a peer writing club for years, she joined a varsity soccer team, she still takes her younger siblings on special outings.  Her life is balanced. 

All that came about because someone inspired her.  Someone was there to tell her she could do this, and to help her along the way (thanks mom).

Randy Pausch also talks about character.  He helped to choose who would be accepted to the college and who wouldn't.  It wasn't black and white based on grades.  And it wasn't based on a loaded up volunteer list either.  He mentions one young lady in particular.  Her grades weren't stellar.  There really wasn't anything that stood out on her application.  She wasn't immediatley rejected, just put back in the pile to review again if there was still room at the end.  When he opened her file a small thank you card fell out.   He's quick to point out this wasn't a "suck up" thank you card.  The student had actually written it to someone in admissions who helped her to navigate the process.  It was never meant for their eyes, yet the admission counselor had stuck it in her file.  They chose to accept her into the program.  She had integrity.

Integrity and character:  both often overlooked. 

What did I get out of this?  I will try to do more to inspire my kids to achieve their dreams.  To support them along the way.  Maybe point things out they are unaware of.  Give them time to invest of themselves in something they really enjoy.

What can we do to help them?  Whether we have 1 child or 20 makes no difference.  It's not our life to live - it's our childrens'.  Even if we are short on time, we can make sure our kids know we support them and that we will help them achieve their dreams.

So, I guess tomorrow....I better help Terese cut the fabric pieces for the quilt she and Anna want to make in the next month of so.   I'd cut them now since my "insomnia cure" hasn't kicked in, but I have no idea of what they have designed.  It's not always for me to know, just for me to help where I can.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas shopping

I'm not one to do much Christmas shopping ahead of time.  I know many people feel better getting it done ahead of time.  Not me, I'd rather wait until a couple weeks ahead of time and get it all done.  Besides, I've never been much for shopping (yes, I am female :) ) So, I'd rather create my lists - cross referencing everything with where I can find it - and then shop with my regular errands.  There are only a few stores that I go to for Christmas gifts that I don't normally get to (Leaflet, Apostle Books, etc.)  That's me.

Even with a baby due in 3 weeks I'm just not feeling the stress here.  [Could it have something to do with all our time/energy fixed on getting everything out of our old house?  We closed on it yesterday!]

But this year, I think much of my shopping this year will be online.  I think I'll have to do it after bedtime :)  I was looking online for a Holley Shiftwell hotwheels car when Logan (age 3) walked in the room.  He started yelling to his 6 yr old sister to tell her what I found (she really wants one for Christmas - I hear about it many times a day).  Yeah, I'll probably buy this at Target or Wal-mart or something, just wanted to have an idea of what costs.  We're looking at a $7 hotwheels car here!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dairy Free foods

Disclaimer here:  I created this list to send to friends via email.  I am posting it because some other people will benefit.  I cannot promise this is all still correct.  You need to read the labels each and every time you buy something - formulas change - really!   But, hopefully this will get someone started in the right direction without having to start from scratch.  We currently have 4/9 people in this family who cannot handle dairy (3 with allergies, 1 with a lactose intolerance).  Just before our newest little one is born in a couple weeks I will go dairy free as well.  Every single one of our kids (except maybe the 1st) was born with a dairy allergy and what little passed through breastmilk made them sick.  (and...most baby formulas - even soy based ones - have dairy).  [if you find the math confusing it's because the other kids all outgrew the allergy somewhere between ages 1 and 2].

After you get used to the changes (most of them just changing brands of items) it's not too bad.

Many products have a contains statement on them.  Dairy, wheat, eggs, soy…..are in the list of top 8 allergens.  So, if under the ingredients you see a CONTAINS: wheat, soy, egg, or whatever   and it does not list dairy then it is dairy free.  I was told it’s the law to include milk or dairy if it is in the product and there is a contains statement.  Lots of products still don’t have a contains…then you need to read the label.

When reading the label be wary of casein, lactose, milk, whey, butter, and carmel coloring, there’s more too – I just cannot think of them off the top of head.  Carmel coloring can be made from milk or seaweeds.  It sounds picky.  But, when Nathan was a baby I was eating only dairy free things, then someone brought us meatballs.  Everytime I ate them he got very sick (he was probably on the extreme side) and we found out that the carmel coloring was a potential milk product!  You will find Carmel in almost everything brown.  (And, I do have a carmel recipe that is dairy free if someone really likes carmel for apples or anything).

This list is pretty picky.  You may not have to avoid carmel coloring or anything like that.  We did – so here it is in case you need to as well.


            Sunspire chocolate chips

            Enjoy Life Cholocate chips (very normal tasting) – dairy free, soy free, gluten free – but, like I said, very good!

            Carob chips (aren’t as good)

            Some pricey chocolate bars are dairy free – I can check what they are next time I buy them if you’d like.  They are quite the rare treat around here for Nathan

since they cost $2-$3 a bar.


            Crystal Farms DAIRY FREE sticks.  Blue package and has to have the words DAIRY FREE on the front (they have one that looks exactly the same that isn’t dairy free)

            Fleishmans Light in the tub (has to be light – not normal or olive oil)

            Earth Balance (This is the only dairy free margarine we found that holds up for things like rice krispie bars)


            Almond Breeze (chocolate, vanilla, original)

            Soy Milk – Most people I know agree Silk brand is the best (chocolate, vanilla, original, very vanilla)

            Rice Milk – cheapest usually – I use it for cooking but I cannot stomach it.

            There is a dairy free milk powder called DAIRY FREE.  Buy online at or some health food stores.

Cheese:  Some people can handle goat cheese fine, others can't.


            Country Hearth but NOT split top butter or raisin.  Arnold Bread

            Taystee buns, Cub buns, usually the cheap buns, but NOT WONDER brand

            There are also some others but I usually have to look at the labels to know – most bread DO contain milk

Processed meat:

            Believe it or not, most contain milk.  Be esp. careful of hotdogs and brats.  I know that the Old Fashioned Hotdogs with the red label are dairy free, and so is Hormel Natural Choice 100% natural lunchmeat – it comes in a brown cardboard looking package.  I think Hormel sausage is dairy free but I’m not sure.  We rarely buy it and I have to start picking up and reading labels to find one.  There is a turkey sausage link package that is dairy free.

Cereal:  Most contain milk – but check brands.  Some generic cheerios contain milk while the name brand ones don’t.  

Pop tarts –  again, check brands.  Usually the name brand ones are dairy free unless it’s chocolate. 

Granola Bars:  Most have dairy.   We buy some in a purplish package that don’t have dairy.

Spaghetti Sauce:  Haven’t bought in a long time, we make it from scratch,  but I think the Prego Traditional was dairy free.  Most have cheese.

Salad dressing:   Most have dairy.  Brianna’s doesn’t – in general.  The thing to look for, other than milk or cheese, is carmel coloring.  

Most processed foods have dairy.

Uncle Bens Original Long Grain Wild Rice is dairy free.

Bushes baked beans most/all are dairy free.  Their carmel coloring is NOT dairy.  My mom called the company and asked - and we have NEVER had a problem with it.

Pepsi products:  their carmel coloring is NOT dairy.

Tyson chicken nuggets and stuff are usually dairy free – some types have dairy but the have a CONTAINS statement.  I haven’t found it worth my time to check other brands – everything I’d pick up had dairy.

Foster Farms corndogs are dairy free – State Fair are not

VanDeCamp’s and Wal-mart brand fishsticks are dairy free – most have dairy

Wal-mart has some meatballs that are dairy free – most have dairy.


            Many are fine, but you need to read the boxes.  I know name brand Ritz and name brand saltines are dairy free.  Some off brands have dairy.  Wheat thins are dairy free as long as you stay away from parmesan ones or anything crazy.

Chips:  Most are dairy free – just usually have to watch out for sour cream or cheese flavored.  Even watch for things like Dill Pickle (Lay's are the only Dill Pickle chips we've found dairy free)

Cookies:  I think most have dairy.  But, most Oreos are dairy free.  We don’t buy them much.  You can find other dairy free ones in the “healthy/organic” sections but they cost a lot of money.  

Microwave popcorn:  Act II Butter Lovers flavored is dairy free (nope that wasn’t a typo) – most microwave ones have butter.  Obviously pop your own is dairy free.

Pizza crust:  Unless you make from scratch….Boboli has dairy.  We buy one that comes in a 2 pack and is dairy free.

Papa Johns and Papa Murphy’s have dairy free crusts.  Just ask for no cheese.

Flour tortillas:  Reeser’s is dairy free, there are other that are dairy free too but most, I think, have dairy.

Tofutti makes really yummy soy/tofu based products:  Their ice cream and sandwiches are awesome.  I buy them to have some ice cream for the kids sometime.  But, everyone, including other people’s kids, like them too.  They cost lots more, so we buy a box for Maria and John, and a box of Kemps for everyone else.  Soy dream and rice dream ice creams are kinda gross.   Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese aren’t bad.

Kikoman light soy sauce is dairy free.

Soups:  most have dairy and they say so on the label.  I need to check regarding Lipton’s Onion soup mix.  They list carmel coloring so I’ve never used it – but I’ve got lots of recipes that call for it.  Cream soups have dairy.  I have a recipe for your own if you need it.  

Broths:  Most have dairy.  Imagine foods makes some more pricey organics that are dairy free in cartons.  

Boullion:  Most have dairy  Wyler’s Sodium Free instant chicken boullion and Orrington Farms gourmet chicken base are diary free.  I know I found a beef one once but haven’t been able to find it again.

Pie Crust:  Most have dairy.  Some do not.

Whip Cream:  ALL have dairy EXCEPT Rich’s Richwhip.  Comes in a tiny milk carton looking container in the frozen section.  It’s the kind you beat for 8 minutes or something yourself.  Brooklyn Park Cub foods has it.  MG didn’t – maybe they do now.  It’s on the top shelf above the whip cream.

Sauces:  Brown sauces (steak, etc.) all have carmel coloring.  I’ve always assumed dairy and didn’t check.

I have a cookbook called Marnie’s Kitchen shortcuts.  There are recipes for make your “bisquick” mix, cream soup mix, etc.  They usually call for powdered milk – but – way up above I mentioned that there is a dairy free powdered milk.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Driving by a fatal accident

Friday morning I drove past an accident.  The 4th police car had just arrived on the scene, there were 2 cars stopped on the road.  A pedestrian was killed. It was clear this had just happened.  I could have turned down a side street, but I chose to continue on.  I was only a mile from our old house and needed to stop in there to take care of something quickly before an early morning dentist appointment.   As I was driving past I wish I had avoided the scene - suffice it to say I took a different route when I left.  After my appointment, an hour later,  I noticed that the entire 4 lane road was closed. 
I don't really know what happened except that it was still very dark, and there was no crosswalk there.  I've been praying for the victim as well as the driver.  I've read the accident report online and while the police are investigating, they are treating this as an accident.  How horrible for everyone involved.
While I wish I had turned down a side road and avoided the site, I guess it was good I drove down that road, in a way.  Whether I was there or not has no effect on what happened or on those people, it did have an effect on me.  I drive a big van, it's hard to see out of when backing up. We've done what we can with something that sticks on the back window giving a broader view.  But, it's still hard.  I would venture to say that unless you drive an actual car, you probably deal with the same thing to some degree.
I am also 35 weeks pregnant with a baby who is literally using my cervix as a pillow - and what little organ has the sad state in life to be in such close proximity? - sorry tmi maybe?  But, I am at that point in my pregnancy where I park and step out of my vehicle...and hope I can make it in to the rest room at my destination - and yes, I use it before I leave home (for anyone who has ever been pregnant you know what I mean).  However, ever since then, I have parked in spaces where I can pull through -I still look for those up close - but usually it means I park pretty far away from the door. 
I cannot do anything for the victim, driver, or their families except pray (I don't know anyone involved).  I CAN do what I can to keep others safe around my vehicle. 

In addition, I think it's important to give credit to all those emergency responders.  While in high school I attended a seminar for kids who wanted to be paramedics.  I have always liked medicine.  But, what was I thinking?  I could not handle it.  Police officers and paramedics see this stuff all the time.  It cannot be easy for them, yet they continue to serve us in this manner.  How blessed we are to have people willing and capable to serve us in this capacity.  It was a good reminder to me to be thankful for them as well!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Girl Who Could Fly

My reading time has picked up a bit lately.  Hey, there's got to be a positive side to having insomnia, right?

I've been reading for the first time some of my kids' books, and rereading some of mine.  I think depending on what is going on in your life, different things tend to stand out when you read them.  I think I'll start sharing some of those.

This from  The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

"...At that moment, he was meaner and madder than he'd ever been, but mainly at himself, which is the worst kind of mean and mad to be, because the only thing to do about it is to take it out on someone else...."

That sentence right there hit me.  Haven't we all had a child having a rough day, or a rough string of days?  And quite often, though not always, it's like they are digging their own hole and taking it out on others?  They cause those around them to stand their guard or avoid them completely. This type of mad isn't cured with punishments ('tho still dished out here when behavior is unacceptable).  This type of mad is only curtailed when the one who is angry has a change of heart. 

Very often when a child is misbehaving over and over, there's a reason, and we've tried to keep our eyes open for that reason.  However, I tend to think externally.  Is someone else picking on this child?  Are they coming down with a cold?  Feeling left out?  Needing attention?  I think these are all still important questions to consider (and really, who knows better than a parent when their child will be sick the next day).  But sometimes we need to think internally - within the child - and this little line in a 300 page book reminded me of that.  Sometimes kids need to the tools to accept their own failings, be assured they are loved, and move on.  (Did I say kids?  Don't we all?)

BTW:  This is juvenile fiction book.  I recommend it (especially if you desire some light reading for those insomniatic nights.  It was an easy read, and just like it says on the bottom of the cover, "It's the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men..." 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homeschool Schedules

Someone asked me what our school schedule was like.   I was trying to put it on here - closest I can come is a link.  All of my kids have their own schedule - it's in Excel and each worksheet is a week.

Black:  Child can do pretty much on their own
Red:  Child needs my help or a lesson
Blue:  Something we do as a group

Only Anna is left off this year - she's mainly PSEO

And finally.....this is something I did for the first time ever...we have a lot of "planned" complications for our school year (i.e. baby, etc.)  So...quarter 2 is in 3 pieces and pared down as much as possible.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One homeschool family's day off

People often ask if we take days off school like the brick and mortar school kids do.   My answer?  We do take days off...they are generally not planned but generally happen because of unplanned events.   By not planning our 10 or however many days off per year, I figure we have 10 or so we can take on a whim.  Today was one of those days.   I am a very schedule oriented person - days like this are a challenge to me...ahem...a chance to grow.

Plan for today:
Get myself up at 6:30 am
Begin school at 8:00
Have a short recess, lunch break, rest/nap time
End school at about 3:30
Get some mom work done
Eat dinner
Take Nathan to his dentist appt
Get home and go to bed.

This is what happened - looks like I had spare time?  Nope...just leaving off details here.

Get up at nearly 8 am (sick kids up a lot!)  why is it the insomniac pregnant mom finally gets to sleep only to have sick children wake up???  a chance to practice holiness I guess.  maybe if I was better at it God wouldn't think I needed so much practice.....

Tell kids to work on anything they can alone.

Go to OB appt after calling the nurse and being told to come in right away (everything is fine - uncomfortable but fine) - remember to grab Therese's writing assignments so I can edit them while waiting.

Get everyone and go to old house to prep for a 2nd showing (open house was yesterday and we had no idea how it was looking afterwards)

But...Anna needs a ride to a PSEO class in the middle of all this (she normally takes my van because I am home homeschooling!)

Rush everyone home and drop off all but youngest 2.

Take them to the doc.  6 yr old Elizabeth probably has another sinus infection.   (incidentally...she was supposed to get 2 vaccines last week in hopes of reducing the number and duration of sinus infections she gets...but she couldn't get them because she was......sick)

Stop at Target for meds

Get home in time to make dinner (gee....if I had planned ahead I would have one of the kids at home do this).


Help Nathan with some homework

Take Nathan to his dentist appt (and make weekly meal plan while waiting :) )

Swing back to old house to turn off all the lights.

Get back home and finish helping Nathan and get everyone in bed.

I was exhausted.  But...yes...I missed that window!  Now I cannot sleep.  Usually I stay off the computer because that never helps me fall asleep....but decided to try something new tonight.

I pray that tomorrow will be a more productive day :)  But....I guess that's why I called it our day off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vocabulary words at their finest

I overheard this conversation between 2 of our kids.

1.  Older child:  "Do you think Mom knows what that word means?"
2.  Younger child:  "Of course, she's probably read the dictionary like a million times by now."

Not sure if I should take that as a she's ancient or a she's smart comment.

If I actually did read the dictionary I would know what my kids' vocab words are from their writing class - for now I just ask them to write the synonym above it so I can edit their papers without a dictionary.

insipid, quintessential, thwart...those I can handle.

But, seriously, do you know any of the following?!
fetid, lachrymose, timorous, lucubrate

Have to say I love that they are taking this class.  And I really do love that they are learning the difficult vocabulary.  It's fun seeing them use the words in their papers without a second long as they write the synonym above.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We interupt this important English lesson

...because the elementary age kids have just been freaked out by finding a Garter snake near the slide.....and they need their big brother to come out and dispose of it :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Prayers Please

We have a showing on our old home this evening.  Please pray for a quick and speedy sale at a decent price (am I asking too much?).  Paying for and taking care of two homes isn't easy.....If our old home sells soon it will be worth it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A homeschool mom's (almost) first day of school

Taken by 3 year old Logan.

We also have apple trees (apples anyone?  please?) and everyone appeared ready at 8am with an apple for me.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

This is why...I am not a bookkeeper

O.K.  Well, I really am the bookkeeper of the family.  Just not a very good one if you ask me.  I handle the bills, etc.  My husband is the accountant.  A tax accountant.  Really.  He gets paid for this stuff.  It's in his brain.  He gets it.  He looks things over things once in a while (at least at tax time) and graciously explains to me the error of my ways :)   Apparently it's not acceptable to consider it a wash if you are under 100 in the expenses  and over 100 in the credits.  It works our mathematically so I can reconcile, but when it comes down to it - it has caused some problems. 

After doing this for 16 years (I took over when I became a stay at home mom) I thought I was finally getting the hang of this.  Until 4 little pieces of mail arrived over the last 3 days that make absolutely no sense to me (or didn't).  It doesn't help that we recently bought a foreclosed house and are in the process of selling our old one.

1.  A late pmt notice for a loan that we have never received a bill for. 
2.  A stmt for said loan that tells me the amount due in the next couple of weeks - yet includes no return envelope, nothing to include along with a check, and get favorite...NO ADDRESS ANYWHERE on this notice.  Not even in the fine print.

(well...I did receive a call from that bank this morning stating that they are new to this, no one is being charged late fees, that that was indeed my billing stmt, and giving me the address to mail my check (although it was on the late pmt notice).  So...none of that was my fault and they are fixing things on their end.  Just in case, I photocopied the information and wrote down the address for future pmts - Quicken will let me know when they are due. :)

3.  A refund check.  This may be an escrow refund - but it doesn't seem big enough.  I really don't know.  I'll have to ask my dh accountant about this one.  The notice does contain a transaction ID.  But, no phone number or anything to ask anyone about this.

4.  This one isn't so confusing.  Just a little unfair I think.  I received the first bill for another loan.  Pmt due date in 3 days.  I don't have a problem mailing a check tomorrow - but I hope there aren't any delays - sheeesh.  Again, Quicken will let me know when the next one is due, so I'll be ready.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Funerals...for the young and the old

This week we attended the funeral for two people.  A 6 year old boy from our parish and my 87 year old grandmother.  The funerals were very different.  But one thing was clear.  Everyone has a purpose.  Everyone has an impact.  God is in charge. 

My grandma lived a long full life leaving 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.  I look at my own kids and marvel at the fact that neither they (nor I) would be here right now if it weren't for her.  She was one of the sweetest, quietest people I ever knew.   Before stopping for a visit, my kids would always remind me to buy her some chocolate covered raisins.   She loved chocolate :)  When she moved to a nursing hom a bit farther away, our trips became less frequent (this I am sad about).  But, my kids enjoyed going to the nursing home and playing piano music for her and she would just watch everyone and smile.  She was hard of hearing, and hard to hear, but her smile said it all.

Peter, age 6, wasn't even supposed to survive.  He was born with Trisomy 18 and his parents had to fight for medical care after his birth - the same medical care a "normal" child would have received without question.  They were told his life wouldn't really amount to anything.  Well, they were wrong.  Peter laughed.  Peter smiled.  Peter had an impact on everyone around him.   His mom started   so that other families with adverse prenatal diagnosis could receive the love and support they need.   Peter will not be forgotten.  The world is a better place because of him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

...finding out a loved one died...on facebook

I'm not so annoyed about this as I was at first...but I still feel the need to bring this up in my little corner of cyber-space.  I still don't like it.  I've just accepted it.

There was a message on my phone late Saturday from my dad.  No information, just to please call him on his cell phone when I got his message.  My elderly grandmother had been in the hospital for a few days and things weren't looking too good.  So, I presumed that was probably what my dad had called about.  My dad has tact, he would never call and leave a message like that over the phone.  In fact, when my aunt died somewhat tragically a few years ago he called and told my husband.  My dad didn't want to share that over the phone with me.  He wanted to make sure there was someone there who cared about me that would give me the news compassionately since he could not possibly be there.

Back to my grandma.  I don't use facebook very often, but I figured I'd check to see if someone posted something about her.  Sure enough, they did...only about 20-30 minutes after she had passed away.  I don't fault the people who did this.  I am sure that in their grief they were reaching out in their own way.  However, had I not received that call from my dad (giving me the idea to check facebook), and I was just looking at facebook (like my sister had), I would have been even more upset. 

My parents were still grieving themselves (30 minutes after they got the news) when they received a phone call from another family member who was notified by someone else who saw the post on facebook.  The caller was pretty upset wondering why no one called her...and rightly so.  While I don't think my parents should have jumped on the phone immediately (I think grieving first and telling only immediate family members is more important)...I do know that they would have called this person as soon as possible.  And, this person would have compassionately been given the news by someone who cares about both the caller and my grandmother. 

Information moves fast in cyberspace...we need to remember that.  I am not against the post itself (maybe they aren't called posts...see how much I use facebook...I just read other people's stuff once in awhile) I do think a little more thought needs to go in to what people put out there and when.  How many other people find things out in this way?

and...just for the record...I know of no friends or relatives that read my blog who don't already know about my grandma.  I waited a day, watching all the facebook comments to be sure.  And..I am glad I did.  I was a lot more annoyed last night, and this post is really about slowing down and thinking if this should be said?  and should it be said now?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Small Successes

Short Version this week.  For more inspiring stories click here

  1. I ordered nearly all of our schoolbooks.  Only 1-2 left to go (I forgot them :) )
  2. Created a skeleton of a school schedule for next year which will give us a greatly reduced schedule for both Dec (baby due and Christmas) and Jan (our snowmobiling month - well...maybe not me as much this year). 
  3. Admist all the chaos of moving and getting our new home liveable and our old home sellable, I finally finally finally took the time to start taking care of myself.  Swelling from this pregnancy (and probably being in the heat and not sitting much) had finally spread to make my arms and hands look almost as bad as my legs and feet.  But took my stubborn self to end up with carpal tunnel and exasperated tendonitis in my hands to make me step back and realize I wasn't being martyr, I was being stupid.  Today my swelling is finally down to a manageable point. I was sitting alone in my room one morning feeling sorry for myself because my hands hurt so bad I couldn't do anything....I pulled out my prayer book.  The page I opened to was something about sadness being "stupid" and getting me nowhere.  I needed to offer my pain up.  I've been offering it up for all the people who really have carpal tunnel...not like mine that will go away in 3-4 months, but people that have to live their lives with it, people that likely earned their livings with their hands. 
And....a little prayer plea?
My father-in-law is undergoing radiation.
My grandmother is in the hospital with another bout of UTI (causing sepsis) and pnemonia.

May God Bless your day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Small Successes

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Well....right now it almost seems like the smallest things are my biggest successes...the stuff that only takes a couple minutes to do but need to be squeezed in among the big things and have been put on the back burner :)

So...that being said I am going to list big successes and little successes this time- 'cause they both matter have overtaken my life!!!!!!!

The small overlooked items:
1.  Filled in my calendar for August - along with homeschool co-op classes for the school year.  My email calendar seems to work the best every summer - but I'm a paper and pencil (no longer pen :) ) gal once the school year begins.
2.  Called and made numerous appts (ha!  I can do that now that I have the my calendar in order).
3.  Am starting to take a few minutes for myself and some more time to do something fun with the kids (I'm giving myself 5 minutes for this blog today)
4.  Made rice krispie bars for the guys working on replacing our septic system.  I wish Terese were here.  Yesterday she made them delicious sugar cookies for them!  But, she's off today finishing her quilt she had started at quilt camp in June.

The big all consuming items:
1.  All necessary rooms have been unpacked after moving 2 weeks ago.  While we should be back at our old house working to get it on the market...we have numerous workers coming here for fixing items we cannot do ourselves (septic system, sandblasting, etc.) and I need to be here.
2.  Cleaned out much of the bsmt of our old house.
3.  Gave the kids much of the day off yesterday.  How could I make them work when they could sit and watch/video tape the removal and installation of the septic tanks and pretreatment tank?  This is a once in a lifetime situation! ( should be!)

Next week:  I'm hoping my small successes will include having ordered all our school books - I am literally months behind my comfort zone on this. I don't like that, but when I look back and see what has been taking all our time.....I don't feel bad.  This is the way it should be.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My favorite spice cabinet

We are now living in our new home (still working on the old one too :( )

I absolutely love the spice rack/cabinet here.  I've never seen one like it.  In fact, we even took a picture of this on one of our walk throughs so if we didn't get it (it was foreclosed with more than one offer) we might be able to make this at home.  See, it has this swing out rack on the left side.  No more lost spices :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Transformational vs Transactional Parenting

I heard a talk on relative radio this morning with a former sports coach (unfortunately I don't know who or even what sport he coached - if you know - please leave the info. in the comments :) )

He talked a little about tranformative vs transactional coaching.  It got me thinking.  Can't this same information be applied to life?  In particular, to parenting?

Much of our parenting is transactional.   It gets the job done so to speak.  It's quicker.  It's easier. 

But as they kids get older it needs to switch over to more and more transformational.

I'll use just one of my kids as an example.  My dh has taught our oldest son (and he's teaching the others too) to be able to think about things - not just do them.  I've seen it in action.  My son is a much better assistant when my dh is working on a project than I am.  He can anticipate what tool may be needed next, etc.  He has taught him skills for life (however, I do believe that this is partly due to that being my son's strength - but if it hadn't been brought to the surface with the help of my dh it wouldn't be what it is today).  I even see this when other people come to work for/with us.  My son, barely a teen, quickly earns their respect.  They will ask for his help and his opinion.  

Today we unpacked our schoolroom/office/etc area.  It took us all day.  (we just moved in a week ago and are still go back and forth between houses working on both)  While I was having kids put books on shelves, removing empty boxes, sort craft items, etc. it was pretty clear where their strengths lie.  They can all follow directions (transactional).  But they have their own skills for particular jobs that allow me to "let them loose" on them (they had been previously "transformed").   Someone mentioned that the screen door off that room didn't close right.  My oldest son then stopped what he was doing and took it upon himself to get the appropriate tools to fix the door.  Very likely whatever I had him doing before that was something anyone could step in to finish.  He was more of a help filling a need that only he (well my dh certainly could have done it but he was away at work) could do.

This is something I need to work on myself.  Transactional parenting comes easy.  I am good at dictating.  It's quicker.  I have 7 kids.  I have a lot to do.  But, although my dh is just as busy/busier he has slowed down over the years and become more transformational in his parenting.  My kids have benefited from this and so have I.  And....I am working on transformational parenting as well.  It not only helps get more done around here, they are becoming more and more interesting people to spend time with, and their abilities to think outside the box and be not only a follower (I do think everyone needs to know how to put their heads down and follow directions - so to speak) but a leader and a go getter as well. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We're here

We are finally (mostly) moved into our new home.  It's been a challenging ride both physically and mentally.  How do you possibly pack and move a family of 9 (with a lot of stuff) to a new house in a week?!  I would have liked to pack more thoughtfully; maybe donate some items, toss others, etc.  Instead there was no time for thinking about that.  We had a lot of help cleaning, fixing, packing, and moving, (THANK YOU!!!).  We still have a fair amount of stuff at our old house, and a fair amount of work to do to put it on the market.  And we need to do it pretty quickly.  I stopped by today to pick up a few more things and it was sad.  Our old neighborhood is nice, we had been doing a lot of work on the house, etc.  That's when it hit me.  We need to leave it completely and soon.   Normally when you move you don't go back, it's sold and someone is living there!  We need to make that break soon - both financially and emotionally.   We do have prospective buyers very very interested.  As much as we'd like it to work (hey - a great family with kids who wants to live on our cul-de-sac, they don't even want us to patch the holes in the wall,etc.) - not sure if it's going to work out for both of us.  We'll be in contact with them again shortly.  If you are so inclined, please offer some prayers :)  Thank you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Big Blue

It's been an interesting ride and we finally found out at 5:30 this evening we got the house!  We went through the closing last Friday but the seller never showed and didn't sign everything until very late this afternoon (apparently that's not all that uncommon with a foreclosure....weird.)  But, that part of the journey is the real work begins.

ahhhh...anyone know how to get year old iron stains out of toilets?  I'm heading over tomorrow with a pumice stone and gloves among all the other cleaning items. 

But, I will NOT complain.  I still prefer scrubbing toilets to grocery shopping :) 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Small Successes

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  1. Made a bunch of phone calls to cancel appointments because we did NOT close on our house last Friday.
  2. Spent a lot of time packing and cleaning up....because we are supposed to close THIS Friday now (more phone calls Th afternoon to reschedule things).
  3. I kept my sense of humor through my ultrasound (below).
  4. Made a somewhat uncomfortable phone call (for me) that may turn out to be quite profitable.  The family that was considering our house (but hadn't seen the inside yet) had changed their minds.  They decided they would move but take a different route.  At my dh's suggestion I called them back and offered to let them look at it in the condition it is in (we were going to stage it somewhat first after getting the painting done.)  Turns out they were having second thoughts and will be over tomorrow!  Yeah!  They'd really like to live on this cul-de-sac, near some good friends of theirs, and our house is much bigger than theirs.  We're hoping, AND PRAYING, they want it and we can work out some sort of win-win deal.  If not, that's fine.  They know what they want in a house and this simply might not fit the bill for them.  But if it did it could save us a lot of time and money!
Here's to a peaceful day for us all.

Needing permission to use the restroom

The funniest thing happened to me today during my almost 20 week ultrasound.  I had to ask for a break to use the restroom.  Funny?  No.  But with 7 kids at home I have never had to ask for a break to use the restroom.  I'm guessing that most of you understand, I really needed to take that break.  When I asked the technician she said matter of factly, "I'll finish this and then I will check your bladder." 

What?  Check my bladder.  I am 43 years old.  I know when I have to go!  But, she checked and decided to stop immediately and let me go.  I would have gone anyway, but luckily I passed the test.  When she came back she told me that I didn't need to come with a full bladder. 

Well, this may be TMI but I told her I'd already gone 3 times since I got there, and one of those times was on the way into the exam room.  But the baby was moving around a lot while she was trying to get all the information she wanted and which organ was taking the brunt of those moves?!  She just looked at me and said, "Well then, you've got really good kidneys," and that was it. 

After she left the room I high tailed it back across the hall to the restroom, getting back just in time for the perinatoligt to appear.  He looked so glum I thought something was wrong.  He never smiled and spoke so quietly and seriously.  Long story short....everything is fine!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Small Successes

For more small success click here

This is the "we are preparing to close on a new (to us) house on Friday" version.  So, my successes are limited to this project...while the other things I should also be doing get pushed aside (big failures post?  j/k...can't do everything!)
  1. Packed lots of boxes and ran numerous errands for our painters (dh and kids).
  2. I took the kids down to the end of the cul-de-sac to watch fireworks when I just wanted to go to bed after the long day working around here.
  3. Made numerous numerous phone calls for appointments and co-ordinating estimates for our house next week for things we can't do ourself (check/charge the AC, etc.)
  4. Only slightly panicked when I received a call that there are some last minute problems and we may not close on the house tomorrow.  Well, OK inside I was stressing more.  But a call to explain all this to my dh put it all in perspective.  He's so calm under pressure.
We haven't sold our current house yet.  So, although frustrating and inconvenient (hopefully next week's successes won't entail cancelling all the appointments), it could be worse.  And if it falls through, we'll happily stay put.  The foreclosed house is just an amazing opportunity for us, it's not a necessity. 

We've been praying all along that God's will be done, and all along many many issues kept falling into place for us.  (Like....a dramatic price drop after we decided it was too much, then our lowball offer being accepted over two others, etc. )  We pray that if this is God's will these will fall into place as well, and if it's not, then He'll put the kabosh on the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm not that old

"Mom, that car looks like it's from the '80s!"  That's what one of my kids told me when they saw a car similar to the one pictured above.  Turns out it was a 1951 Buick!   I guess when you are quite young....the 80s is a LONG time ago.  ahem...I graduated in the late 80s.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Logan (age 3) at Mass

We arrived a little bit late to Mass today and didn't want to head to our usual spot in the front pew during the opening prayers.  (hey...for all you that know me we are rarely late...we used to come in this late far too rarely).

Instead we sat near the middle (not enough space in the back pews for a family of 9) - thankfully in a place where Logan could still see.  He is pretty good at Mass, but today had a few questions he whispered to me.

  • Where is the bed?  huh?  Oh...the casket?   Our pastor (Father Hogan)'s funeral was held there a couple weeks ago.
  • I can't see Father Hogan!...fortunately he meant he couldn't see Father Hermann preaching - he has a little problem mixing up their names.
  • When everyone started getting up for communion he sort of panicked and said, "What's everyone doing?!"  He's not used too seeing a bunch of people get up in front of him since we sit in the front.  Apparently it looked a little more unnerving than the slower stream of people walking past after receiving communion.
  • He was sadder than usual when the Eucharistic minister didn't bless him.  I'm not going to get into the argument about whether or not they should bless people.  There is no harm in someone blessing my child, but I also don't expect that it should happen.  To me, if it happens it happens.  To Logan, it's the highlight of his morning.  So, my dh took him to see Father, explained the sadness, and asked for a blessing.  Father treated him to a very special blessing, and Logan treated Father to a big smile and a thank you.

Meals with toddlers

Ever notice how a toddler cannot stand having something on his plate that he doesn't want.   I.E.  He cannot possibly have that plate near him with that one bean on it?

Ever notice how a toddler can take too big of a bite, spit his food out onto his plate, and still continue to eat off that plate?  Maybe even "re-eat" that same piece of food?

We are working on...tolerance and napkins...both for him.

(On an aside...I do remember when I was younger going out to restaurants and always ordering my food with NO guacamole.  If it came on my plate I wouldn't eat it.  I don't remember if we sent it back or put my napkin over the plate and ate nothing.  Just knowing it was there started a gag reflex.  Long story involving and avocado and my cousin's tooth.   You really don't want to know.  Suffice it to say, I'm somewhat forgiving with the children in not wanting something on their plate...but tolerance is still expected...and we never have guacamole or avocados.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Logan's take on moving

We were talking about packing and moving and Logan (age 3.5) was pretty happy about the whole thing. 

Then he got sort of a strange look on his face and said, “It’s going to be a little weird always having to call that guy so we can get in all the time.”  (right now the realtor needs to let us in for inspections, etc.)

His face lit up when I explained to him that we would get the keys and we’d lock and unlock the doors just like this house.  He thought that was very cool!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Small Successes

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Small Successes...the we just found out that we are closing on our foreclosed dream home next Friday, July long as no more wrenches are thrown in game.  So, along with Catholic Vacation Bible School this week and all the driving back and forth for that....there have been last minute documents, meetings , etc. to squeeze in.

1.  I haven't cried :)   Life has been crazy busy chaotic here - ya think?!  I am not one to roll with the punches very well.   You'd think I could being the mom of 7 homeschooled kids - but I am so schedule orientated (and so are a couple of my kids....I get them)

2.  I only yelled on Monday.  And I only yelled that I didn't want to move...on Monday.  (I really do want to move - but the packing stress - I don't need.)  I came home home to a house in utter disaray. My idea of cleaning and packing is piece meal - I'm a SAHM ya know.  We don't get 4 hour chunks.  So, when I attack, say cleaning the closet?  I don't pull it all out.  I do one shelf/etc.  at a time.  Not everyone operates that way I've discovered.  So when I walk in and find 3 rooms I cannot even walk in - it's really really hard for me.  But seriously, the kids needed a little direction and then had all that taken care of in 45 minutes.  They are good kids.  We're going to have to understand each other's packing styles here.  I need them to help - I'm going to have to give a little.

3.  I cancelled a meeting of my own to take Anna back to the doc.  She sprained her ankle 2 months ago and it seemed pretty bad.  When I took her in the on call doc we got said she's be fine - it'll just take a little time - it wasn't that bad.  I wanted to get her into our regular pediatrician (the one we've chosen for a reason...) and with our schedules and the docs it was either cancel my meeting or wait another month.  So glad I took her in, turns out she had a very bad 2nd degree sprain, her tendons probably tore (although not completely) and they are still stretched out and not where they should be.  No wonder she doesn't have full range of motion and it swells when she runs.  So, we've been referred for physical therapy and a brace (she's taken the summer off soccer to heal but wants to play her senior year this fall).  All things being put into's only her will get better but not back to where it was...she loves soccer....but isn't going to play in college or anything.   It will all work out - she's a trooper.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday Henry (6/26) and Happy 12th Birthday Therese (6/27)

Well, this picture is 4 years old, but it is my favorite "anonymous" picture of Henry.

The only "anonymous" picture I could find of Therese - taken last year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Small Successes

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Small Successes...and sometimes they are very small...
and it's when they are very small that I need this the most.  I like to see that, yes, I did accomplish something!

1.  I printed and layed out my schedule for the week again.  It is so good to see where the time will go and the empty spaces I need to take advantage of.

2.  I didn't go ANYWHERE yesterday!  It was the only day on the calendar that we didn't need to go anywhere - so I safe guarded it.  I used to do this...when I saw  only 1 day that we don't need to be anywhere and don't have company coming...I would cross that day off and plan nothing!  I did let the kids have friends come over though.  I will go back to making it a totally quiet zone in the future.  But, it was Wyatt's birthday...

3.  I sent about 30 books we are no longer using for school this year to the bsmt.  It only took a minute but sometimes those minutes are really hard to find.  It feels so good to to get the other stuff off the floor and onto that open shelf space :)

4.  I made a plan for teaching my nephew his multiplication facts this summer.  Well, turns out he knows quite a few, but there are some gaps to fill in.   He's got a good attitude.  That will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy 8th Birthday Wyatt!

We'll be celebrating 3 kid birthdays over the next 5 days.  Wyatt's is the first!  Happy birthday Wyatt!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A special day

This morning we attended the funeral Mass for our pastor, Father Richard Hogan.  I have never been to a Mass before with probably 50+ priests at the altar during the consecration.  Also, our Archbishop, three bishops, and our Deacon.  It was incredibly spiritual.

This evening we are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary by ordering pizza to be delivered.  Neither of us generally enjoy going out for dinner.  We rarely went before we got married, and we still rarely go.  But, having our food delivered, that's a treat!

And to those of you that know my dh has a dairy and tomato allergy...we just order the pizza without sauce and without cheese, then shred some goat cheese and toss the pizza in the oven for a few minutes.  Voila!  Real pizza!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer Art & Music History

Maureen Wittmann's book (For the Love of Literature),  as well as the talk she gave at our homeschooling conference a year or two ago, inspired me to set a focus for library books/music over the summer months. 

Last year I focused on Math.  We read a lot of the Sir Cumference series books as well as some other fun/interesting math books.  My kids made mobious strips for weeks!

The year the focus will be on Art and Music History.  I highly recommend the Classical Kids series CD's, my personal favorite is Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  I requested some from the library that we haven't heard.  I've requested many art books such as What Makes a Raphael a Raphael, Katie Meets the Impressionists,  Degas and the Little Dancer, and Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series (apparently these are fun cartoon books).   I've requested 25 items in all.

 I got all my ideas from Maureen's book For the Love of Literature.  I then went back to my library list and suspended some of the books so that everything within a given time period will arrive at once.  So, my intent is to "study" one time period at a time.  I knew the likelihood of me pulling out the book every few weeks and requesting the next set of books would be pretty small.

My intent isn't to spend a ton of time this summer drilling art and music history into my kids' heads.  But rather, to have a pile of library books that are all somewhat related that we can read and talk about.  I want to expose the kids to more and more "subjects" in a lighthearted/fun way as part of life.  I want them to learn that learning doesn't always have to take place with a syllabus and a set goal that we are trying to attain.  I will pull out our add a century history timeline (I absolutely love this!) and put people in their proper places though :)   That's about the only part of it that they'll likely relate to school...and that's O.K.  They do enjoy putting people on the timeline and "discovering" things like Mozart was alive at the same time as George Washington!  It helps them achieve a better understanding of history as a whole rather than a bunch of little subjects.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Small Successes

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Someone recently told me that the human brain generally holds 3 "to do" type things, some people can do up to 7.  So that explains all those trips to the bsmt to fetch something and come up 10 minutes later (after throwing in a load of laundry, grabbing something from the freezer, etc.) without the item I went down for.  I'm guessing pretty much everyone can relate!  So, I've decided to get back into planning things.  I used to be so organized.  Really, it takes me about 10 minutes on a Monday morning and really does save me a lot of time in the end.  That's what this week was about.

  1. Took my planner outside on Monday morning and "planned" out the week.  I used to do this ALL THE TIME.  Flying by the seat of my pants isn't my thing, though I feel like I've been doing it for years.  I figured out what I could realistically get done and then I set Monday aside simply for making scheduling phone calls.  I made 5 doctor appts as well as numerous other little things I've been pushing aside.
  2. THEN I entered my entire schedule into my Outlook calendar.  I have tried numerous times to use electronic organizer type items for scheduling and I cannot wrap my brain around the whole thing.  I really need to see the entire "month at a glance" as well as be able to general times and details on that page.  Then I like the "week at a glance" for the details.  My IPod just didn't cut it.  At the same time I like the color coded visual presentation I can get from my Outlook calendar with the whole week on one page but each day having all the time blocks and filled in over the blocks.  So, if something is going on from 8 - 12:30 and another thing is going on from 1:00 - 3:00 I can easily see that that gives me 1/2 hour to get to another location if need be.  Just having times listed doesn't quite do it for me.  So, I am still searching for something electronic I can take with me that will fulfill my every quirky desire :)  I'm open to suggestions here :) :) :)
  3. Went shopping for maternity clothes.  I had donated or thrown away nearly everything after Logan was born.  Not because I thought we were necessarily done.  Because after 6 kids they were stained and had holes (to the trash), or were so not me anymore.  A cutesy bright pink shirt wtih the little ties on the front is "fashionable" when you are 26.  Not so when you're 43.
  4. I made some progress on my plan to tweak my chore system.  Each room will have a little (eventually laminated so things can be crossed off with a dry erase marker and reused.  These items will also be color coded to help stand out.  Funny my sister is color blind so color coding doesn't work for her so well - I LOVE color codes.  Maybe I got her genes.  I plan to hang these on rings under people's names with pretty fronts (this will be the back) so I can easily look and see who has completed their chores.  Here's a little peak.  Nothing fancy yet.
Couch / blankets tidy tidy tidy tidy tidy tidy
TV/ VCR Area tidy tidy tidy tidy dust tidy
Bookshelves tidy tidy tidy tidy dust tidy
End tables tidy tidy tidy tidy dust tidy
3 lights dust
Aquarium area dust
Pictures dust
Floor & Edges Vacuum Vacuum
First week of the month WASH WINDOW


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father Hogan rest in peace

Please pray for the repose of the soul of our Pastor Father Richard Hogan.  He's had health issues for some time now and began a medical sabbatical a couple weeks ago to better take care of them.  He died Tuesday morning.  He was an amazing and incredibly intelligent priest. 

My older kids remember him for his "on the edge of your seat" homilies, especially those related to church history - he had a degree in Medieval History (which happens to be Anna's favorite time period). 

My younger kids remember him for the way he would wink at them as he passed them during the recessional.  Little Logan remembers the way Father Hogan always used to come and shake his hand.   I remember the genuine smile he had when talking to adults and children.

When word got out that he would be our new Pastor I had friends from various parishes tell us how wonderful he was and how lucky we were.  He had quite the reputation. 

I soon found out how blessed we were to have him as our Pastor.  He also worked for Priests for Life for a number of years as well as wrote a  number of books.   I didn't know this, but he was also one of the authors and editors on the Image of God series.

I will continue to pray for the repose of his soul.  But something tells me to pray for his intercession as well :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Small Successes

For more small successes click here

1.  Anna got her driver's license yesterday - that was her success!  But mine?  I let her drive to go pick up her sister later that SAME DAY...and I didn't hide in the back of the 12 passenger van either. :)

2.  I'm working on the basics here.  There are extra kids with extra time.  While I am normally quite good about assigning chores (think very complete chore chart here :) ) I am not so good at assigning the miscellaneous stuff like cleaning up the pile behind the shed, straightening up the laundry room, etc.  Been better this week.

3.  I have decided to do something a maze (ing) - see my post below.  I have been mulling over ideas for a different type of chore system complete with the information that needs to be done in each room.  I already have a list for the bathroom (what needs to be done daily and weekly) and want to do it for every room.  That should also make things easier when I reassign jobs...less training time.  And...when other kids fill in for each other.  I've been working on this in my head for quite some time but was somewhat paralyzed by beginning.  Today's assignment:  make a list of things that need to be done to accomplish this.