Thursday, March 29, 2012

M is for Meals

...'cause with a family of 10 we NEED to plan those ahead of time.  I've tried a few different menu plans including a rotating calendar.  Most things worked short term, none worked long term.  What I found that works the best for me is to have many complete meals (including the sides) on a spreadsheet.  I have 6-8 weeks worth of different meal ideas that look something like this.

Wild Rice Hotdish           
Green Beans                     
Homemade Bread

Stir Fry
Pasta or Rice

Tarragon Chicken

Greek Fish
Greek Salad

When I make my menu for the week I take into consideration
  1. What we have in the freezer and pantry already (I'd rather scrub toilets than grocery shop :) )
  2. Do I need a crockpot meal for a busy day?
  3. Are there any nights I'll be cooking without the benefit of my older children being home?  If so, I want something fairly simple/quick to make.
  4. Are there any nights the kids will be cooking?  (I need to get back to my kids each cooking a day with me.  I'll start assigning people again this summer but for now I just pick someone(s) available and have them help me.)
Then I just look at all my options and copy and paste (the sides are easily replaceable, but by having them listed I save myself the hassle of having to figure that out too).

*Greek Fish and Mac-n-cheese???????  While I refuse to be a short order cook, I do realize that there are some meals that the younger crew here are not too thrilled about.  I try to make sure there is something everyone will eat at each meal.   I would rather serve a weird meal of Greek Fish and mac-n-cheese (though my kids don't know it's weird :) ) than either force my children to eat something they find disgusting or allow them to think they can be so choosy that I will make something else for them on the spot.

I have, however, allowed PB&J in come circumstances.  Tonight I made Homemade Chicken Pot Pie and really didn't have time to add any sides.  My little one was a bit fussy and I preferred to let the other kids play with their cousins as long as they could.  I knew my 4 year old would NOT like it so I simply made him a sandwich and put it on his plate.  Peace. 

Until he dumped his cup of milk over his shoulder (and all over his hair, clothes, chair, and floor) - so much for peace ;)  Not sure why he did this, but he was truly surprised to find that his cup was full of milk.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A high school senior needing some votes, not my high school senior.  Monica's testimony is beautiful.!

Good morning to you all! My name is Monica and I am a senior in high school. I am planning to attend a Catholic liberal arts college next year, though as of yet I am unsure of where. I am the oldest of 7 (soon to be 8!) home schooled children. Last year, I lost my little sister and goddaughter, Genevieve Marie, who was born prematurely at 24 weeks gestation. She lived for 4 months, fighting bravely with all sorts of problems, including a hole in her heart, until dying of kidney failure. Although she only lived for 4 months, Genevieve was a wonderful blessing to me and my family. I decided to write about only a few of the many beautiful ways that “Baby G”, as we called her, had impacted me and my family. My essay is currently entered in a scholarship essay contest, but in order to make it to the final round I need many votes. This money would help to finance my future Catholic education, which is very important to me; my Catholic education at home has given me the ability to look at everything from the perspective of the truth of the faith, and has made me desire nothing less than this kind of education for college. Please, please click on the link below and read my essay and vote. I promise you, it only takes a minute! I would appreciate every one of your votes so much! Thank you, and God bless you all!

L is for Love

"Love is deeds not sweet words," said St. Josemaria Escriva

Mother Teresa, "Do ordinary things with extraordinary love."

"You must give what will cost your something...This giving until it hurts - this sacrifice - is also what I call love in action."  Again, Mother Teresa.

I can't say anything better than that, so I won't even try. 

I will say this though, Mother Teresa:  A Simple Path is a great book.  So is anything by St. Josemaria Escriva including The Way, Furrow, Forge, Friends of God, etc.

K is for kitchen

I like my new kitchen
But the island is a mess
To keep it clean I'm itchen
But the whole thing causes such distress

I'll continue to try
And hope to use it for food prep
But by and by
It will get better with each small step

Sunday, March 25, 2012

J is for juggling

...we WILL homeschool this week.  Amidst all the doc appointments we MUST go to.  We WILL homeschool :)

I am back to planning our schooling AROUND our interuptions.  I did this years ago when we had a very sick child.  Right now we don't have anyone quite in that situation (Thank God!), but our 6 year old, infant, and 17 year old are all seeing specialists right now.  I don't know how people do it with chronic issues.  They are my heroes.  They are the ones I look to at times like this to remind myself that this could be much harder than it is.  And I am thankful for what we have.

A prayer request for our 6 year old.  I took her to the optomitrist after suspecting a slight vision problem (book pulling closer while reading and getting very frustrated by the moving objects games on Reading Eggs online).  Turns out one of her eyes is so bad they can only get it corrected TO 80/20.  Basically, with the best glasses they have she can see that giant E.  (The other eye is, thank God, perfect). 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I is for ill

I promised my dd I would post daily based on letters (alphabetical order).  I'm a bit behind.  One reason is because I've been very busy, another because my internet time is nursing time and my little girl is 3.5 months....learning to roll...and being too distractable by a keyboard inches from her head.  The other reason...I've been sick.   I wasn't going to make a post about being ill.  After all, I only have a sinus infection.  It's miserable, I admit.  But, it's not a chronic issue, not life threatening, not the flu, it's life....and I have antibiotics and a neti pot :)   So, we're plugging away and that's all I have to say about being ill.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

H is for History class and history timeline

...a subject I despised in school.  I don't remember being taught any story, just basically a listing of facts and dates.  Memorizing facts and dates was definitely NOT my strong suit.  (I think that's why I did well in math, beyond memorizing the basic facts most study was comprised of working through problems and learning through doing - it wasn't memorizing an outline or random facts.)  But, back to history.  We use a classical Catholic curriculum and our history is based more on stories - big picture stuff.

I've found that focusing more on dates than on the story we lose much of the understanding.  One example, "In 1492 there was a great conquest, Europe sought more land to the west..." (yeah...I do think that date is important if for no other reason than everyone knows it).  Why didn't Queen Elizabeth immediately fund Columbus's expedition?  Because their funds were going to fighting a war.  Now, simply studying American history one year and memorizing dates, studying European history another year and memorizing dates...these two don't automatically mesh in everyone's brains.  Now, I am not saying that putting more of an emphasis on dates will automatically NOT give someone the big picture.  Some people can mesh the two quite well I am sure.  But, in my experience going through the school system, that didn't happen.  At least for me.
We've used Famous Men or Rome, Famous Men of Greece, Story of the World vol. I, American History sing-a-long CD, etc.  My kids look forward to history.  It's the one class that we all gather together  (except my 12th grader who has her own PSEO history class) while I read and those kids that choose to, color accompanying pictures while I read (currently from the Story of the World Activity book).  Sometimes I stop and we discuss things along the way, sometimes I read all the way through and have the kids answer the questions afterward.  I also bought the audio CDs and used those at first (I figured with a new baby history wouldn't have to stop for a diaper change, etc.)  But, honestly, the kids didn't particularly like the voice, it wasn't engaging.  And, I found that I was able to stop and emphasize something that was really important when we came to it when I read.  I love asking questions like, "How was life in Athens different from life in Sparta?"  The youngest gets to answer first...up to the oldest, and they can't repeat an answer someone else already gave.  Puts a bit of of pressure on those older kids and reinforces to all that the younger kids have something important to add as well.  My younger kids, especially, would enjoy having history more than one afternoon a week.  But, I simply can't fit it in more than that.  And, it's one of the classes that works best for us to do an entire chapter or two in one long afternoon session rather than break it up throughout the week.

I highly recommend add a century history timeline.  Did you know that Joseph Hayden (composer), Daniel Boone, and Napolean all lived at the same time?  Most history books that I have seen don't address music or art history.  That's another subject.  But, by taping their pictures on our timeline we were easily able to see that and discuss it.  What a funny contrast.  Hayden with his wig and Boone with his skins - living at the same time in different parts of the world.

Friday, March 16, 2012

G is for Grandparents

My mom and my dad
Will be visiting today
And leave tomorrow

Kids are excited
Mommy is excited too
Dad is on retreat

We will all miss dad
But the visit will be good
Fewer I miss dads

*as you can tell my haikus are all about syllables - nothing more :)  I'll try to get better

Thursday, March 15, 2012

F is for friends

...that my kids have made in our new neighborhood.  It's nice to, again, have good kids right in the neighborhood to be able to play with without organizing drop-offs :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

E is for earth

You are all over the yard yearning for sod
Entering the house on my children's feet
Accompanied by smiles on their faces

Dug up last fall with a wink and a nod
During the time of immense heat
To make room for new septic system cases

Having fun be an atrocious poet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

D is for doubling

...every recipe we make.

Crunchy Mamma and I were just talking about how, back when we had 2 kids each, the thought of doubling a recipe was daunting.  We knew it would save us time in the long run to double a recipe and freeze one for later.  Now, with her 4 boys and a girl, and my 4 boys and 3 girls (plus an infant) we NEED to double and sometimes triple meals just to feed everyone.  That's reality.  It's really kind of funny considering that now I am more apt to make double meals to freeze one (ahem...quadrupling the recipes!).  I think maybe it's because now I have kids old enough to help.

Monday, March 12, 2012

C is for Chickens

Yes, that's right, chickens.  Due to the size of our lot we could have 1/2 a horse, 1/4 ? cow, or some whole chickens.  We (meaning dh and kids dor now) are currently researching to figure out what kind of chicks we'd like to buy come spring.  We're searching for some decent egg layers that are docile and like people.  Our neighbor has some that come running when his son goes out.  That's what we want.  It will require lots of time holding them as chicks, that shouldn't be a problem here!  We'll also want to build some sort of moveable chicken coop.  10 yr old Henry is really getting into this! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

B Haikus

Continuing with the tag from my dd.  One post per day, one new letter per day.

B is for the bed
Snuggly, cozy, and comfy
Waiting for me now

B is for the bed
Two kids need to learn to make
Everyday now

B is for the bed
We have nine of them right now
Lots of sheets to wash

B is for the bed
Only outnumbered by us
And many pillows

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A post

My dd has tagged me to write a post daily, something that starts with the letter A...and 26 days later starts with the letter Z.  Should be fun.  Tag, you're it too.  If you're interested, please link back or put a comment so we can read yours too :)

Alphabet.   The word alphabet comes from the first 2 letters in the Greek alphabet (alpha and beta).  Seems pretty obvious but either I didn't learn this in school myself, or I forgot.  Either way, I find it very cool.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Congrats to my girls

Congratulations to my 17 yr old dd for placing very well in a worldwide story writing competition.  Hopefully, one day, we'll see your name on one of your novels.

Congratulations, also, to my 12 yr old dd who submitted a few wonderful entries.  The judges enjoyed them and offered some suggestions, I fully expect her name to be on this list someday too.

  • Kuddos to the two adults in their lives that really impact their writing abilities