Thursday, June 30, 2011

Small Successes

For more small success stories click here

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

For more small success stories click here

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

For more small success stories click here

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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life is a maze (ing)

7 year old Wyatt has been busy making a maze.  As I walked past the room, he was so excited, wanting to share his creation with me.  While I do enjoy looking at the kids' creations, I am extra glad that I stopped to look at this one.

The first thing he pointed out was that at the beginning there are 3 choices of paths to follow. can get to finish by starting on any of those paths.  He even showed me how each path worked, including some backtracking when a wrong turn was made.

As I was watching and listening to him I was thinking that this maze is a metaphor for life.  How many times do we neglect to reach our goal because we are paralyzed by that first decision, fearing failure?  How often do we pick a path and get frustrated at having to backtrack?  It takes us a little longer, but if we backtrack rather than quit, we will still reach the desired goal.  And we learn something along the way, we learn to become better at making decisions.

So, yes, life is a maze.  We know where we are and we know where we want to get.  We won't get there unless we start down one of the paths.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Suffering has a purpose

I'm embarassed to say, I've been feeling a tad bit sorry for myself lately.  I am nearly 14 weeks pregnant and the "not so fun" effects haven't stopped yet.  This one has thrown a curve ball my direction.  It could be worse.  I know people with infertility issues, another mom of many who keeps having children despite the fact that she gets so sick she is hospitalized multiple times with each pregnancy, I know people who have given birth to stillborn children, I know people who've had miscarriages (we've had many).

I drug myself out of bed too early this morning.  I've noticed a direct link between how early I get up and how early the real crumminess hits.  My ds serves Mass every Tuesday and I need to get him there.  We got there early and people were praying the Rosary.  I sat and prayed in my head.  I was too tired to even mouth the words.  Then a new priest showed up and he was full of energy.  His homily was about how when something good happens, the suffering comes first.  This hit me extra hard this morning.  This baby is a great blessing, and really, the suffering I am experiencing is slowing me down, it's not stopping me in my tracks.

Afterwards, I learned of some other sufferings....

1.  The mom of a 6 year old special needs boy named Peter was there.  She told us he is having some tests done over the next few days to find a cause for his internal bleeding.

2.  The priest told us he has just finished rounds of chemotherapy, and goes in today to receive his test results to see how things are progressing.  He asked for our prayers.

3.  Our pastor has just taken a medical sabatical to deal with some serious health issues.

4.  I checked one of my favorite blogs this morning and the blogger's special needs dd is sick, and when she loses weight it throws of her meds and her seizures increase. first I was thinking...."what an idiot...there are people with much bigger issues than my own".  Then I realized, I was meant to be at that Mass this morning, I was meant to hear all the news, I was meant to hear the homily.  My little sufferings have a purpose if I offer them up.  They are wasted if I don't.

If you have any sufferings of your own today...maybe you, too, could offer something up for the people I listed.  They surely need it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sand, Sun and More Sand

I have five amazing kiddos. My oldest is 13 and the youngest is 4. We go halfway across the country once every two years to visit Real and her family and a whole bunch of other people. On the opposite year we try to make it to the beach. This year is a beach year. I have a few tips for those of you who will be going to the beach or other sandy location this summer.

First, sunscreen is a must (duh), but you will also want to pack the baby powder. Wet sand is sticky and tough to get off of hands when it is time to eat and feet when you need to get back into your sandals. When applied to sandy skin and rubbed a bit, the baby powder will take the moisture off of the skin and the sand will fall off! You will need to apply a good amount so get the big one.

Second, you must bring drinks and lots of them! Each person has a large reusable water bottle that we fill before we leave and we bring another gallon of water with us to the beach. When we are at home outside of meal times, my kids drink water. Luckily, they all like ice water and no one complains. However, at the beach I sweeten the pot. The deal is if the kids drink their entire water bottle by the time lunch is over, then they can have Gatorade after lunch. Getting the powdered Gatorade in the individual sleeves makes it easy to fill their reusable bottles. I do not recommend trying to get a large bottle and pour it into the drink containers; one little spill and you are in for a sticky mess! Or a little sand in that big bottle and suddenly it is much less appealing. Disposable single serving bottles are an option but my crunchy side hates all of the wasted packaging. With the amount of boogie boarding, running around, body surfing, wave skimming, swimming, ball playing and general horsing around my kiddos do, I think they need to electrolytes and the extra calories.

Third, snacks! I often tease my 13 year-old son that if he went to public school and could not eat during class, he would starve to death between breakfast and lunch. This is only amplified at the beach. Our favorite healthy beach snacks are seedless grapes and what my kids call granola pouches. A granola pouch is homemade granola put into a 3x4 inch baggie that they sell at craft stores. The kids can open the top and pour the granola into their mouth without getting the contents sandy. You can also do this with trail mix but be careful using one with chocolate because on a hot day the chocolate will melt making it hard to get out of the bag.

Other snacks we enjoy at the beach are:

Bait and Dip. Each person gets a small container of peanut butter, a few pretzel rods and a sandwich sized container with a handful of goldfish snacks in it. The idea is to go fishing by baiting your hook with some sticky peanut butter and then trying to pick up the goldfish with the rod. You end up chasing those last few fish around the container and that always gets a few laughs. The boys have always really enjoyed this game/snack and it gets them to sit on the blanket for a few minutes and take a break.

Chocolate covered snacks. For this snack we put some chocolate chips in a plastic container with a lid. When someone wants a snack their container out of the cooler and stick it in the sun to melt it. If the sun is nice and hot, melting only takes a few minutes. Then they dip strawberries, cherries with a stem, pretzel rods or anything you can put on a skewer into the chocolate. Yummy!

Another word about snacks... I pack everything I can in individual containers with lids (reusable when possible). Everything is labeled with people's name with Sharpie on masking tape. This prevents fighting over who got more, allows the person to reseal the contents and come back to it, keeps the sand out (hopefully) and prevents people from mindlessly eating the entire snack. Also, if someone gets sand in one portion, the entire snack is not ruined.

Another rule of ours is only Mom gets food out of the cooler and bags. One set of sandy hands can ruin an entire loaf of bread, a bag of chips or put sand on everyone's plate.

Meals. The beach is surrounded by food. Most of it is unhealthy (Never ask for the nutritional breakdown of a dinner plate sized funnel cake with whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, powdered sugar and sprinkles.), some of it is unappetizing (Deep fried cheesecake, anyone?) and all of it is horribly expensive ($3 for a 16-ounce bottle of water, really?) Plus, hunting food can take a big bite out of your time at the beach. With our big family, we can easily spend over $100 on a meal and take over an hour to hunt it down. Instead, we try to rent a condo with a kitchen. This has not always been an option. One time I cooked for all seven of us in a hotel with a kitchenette. Kitchenette meant a small sink, a tiny microwave, and a 2x2 foot fridge. Thankfully, I brought a crockpot, a can opener and a sense of humor! But in general, we do fine.

My beach time is greatly impacted by the amount of time it takes me to prepare food. So, I have streamlined it a bit. Maybe somethings I have learned will help you. First, find a grocer in the area with online shopping. Being able to preplan your meals, click on what you need, have someone else shop for you and you pick it up when you arrive is worth the $15 service charge. Second, lunch starts the night before. No one wants to drag all the stuff in from the beach to go get lunch. So, I take orders the night before and come in to make sandwiches or wraps while my hubby watches the kiddos. With sandwiches, I suggest using chunks of baguette or mini bagels. People often are in such a hurry to eat that their hands are not quite dry and wet bread is icky. Third, I know you are only taking it a hundred yards to the blanket but wrap everything! Seagulls will feel free to dive bomb and steal open food. A not watching tourist can bump you and leave a sandy, suntan-tasting imprint on your sandwich. A sudden wind can make it all sandy and pointless. Or someone will not want to eat right away and theirs might be a little worse for the wear by the time they get to eat it. WRAP EVERYTHING! Third, bring the crockpot! Chicken enchiladas, spaghetti, pulled beef sandwiches are a cinch to make for dinner. But be sure to make more than you would at home. All the sun, surf, and fun makes for hungry tummies!

We do not avoid the boardwalk all together. It is fun to take in the sights and sounds and tastes. But we have found that our kiddos would have a familiar dinner at the condo, then buy ice cream at a local shop and wander down the boardwalk than have to sit in a restaurant for an hour.

Plus, I do not cook every night. One night towards the week, we get the kiddos whatever they want out for dinner. Then tuck them into bed early and my hubby goes to a terrific seafood place (I always ask locals where they get seafood at. We have found some great hole in the wall places this way.) to get us take out. We sit on the patio or balcony eating out of paper cartons with a bottle of wine.

That is all of the surf and turf wisdom I have for today. I hope this helps! Hope to see you at the beach soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Small Successes

For more small successes click here

1.  Picked out paint and flooring, helped with the prep work, and kept everything else moving around here while my dh painted our main bathroom and the wall above our staircase.  (we're still waiting on word about out potential move...and decided to get started on a few long overdue projects).

2.   I took Henry(9) on a bike ride on Sunday.  He's been asking...and asking...and asking (and I've stayed inside dealing with my dd's severe allergies).  I'm glad I did it, it really made his day.  I had a good time too.

3.  Got Elizabeth's(6) allergies mostly under control.  She has some new meds and I've adjusted the dosage timing.  She can play outside once again!  And...she is no longer feeling entirely crummy all day long.   The meds reduced her constant headaches to only 3 times a week.  Then I took her to our chiropractor and found out her tailbone was out of alignment as well.  He adjusted her, and voila! no more headaches.  Now for her throat.  That allergy throat is really no fun, and we've tried so many different things for her.  Any ideas?  I'm calling the doc on this one today.

4.  Took my 2 youngest out on some errands with me on Saturday and topped it off with a stop at Cold Stone Creamery.  Going out for ice cream only happens about once a year here, especially since more than 1/2 of our family cannot have dairy products.  I did see a Raspberry Sorbet that claimed to be dairy free though :)