Saturday, March 31, 2007

April Fool's Day

As a kid and a single person and a newly married person, I always liked April Fool's Day. Now that I'm a mom with kids that are aware enough to participate, I'm not sure I like it so much. They haven't done anything big. Mostly their tricks are focused on their friends - or their Dad (lucky fella). I have a slight desire to play an April Fool's joke on them -- I've always like the day. But do I really want to open myself to the retaliation of minds that don't know when to quit....hmmmm. I can't decide.

Homeschool Moms

WOW!! This was one PHENOMINAL article about homeschool moms.
I almost cried...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What is your spirituality type?

I thought this was interesting. http://vocation-network.org/articles/read/96 It's mostly a Catholic thing, but it nailed me.

Your Spirituality Type: PATH OF DEVOTION (Augustinian prayer)
The majority of saints are of this spiritual temperament as well as 12 percent of the population (but half of those who go on retreats or belong to small faith groups).This method uses creative imagination to transpose; the world of scripture to our situation today--as if the scripture passage is a personal letter from God a addressed to each one; of us (like Saint Augustine picking up Romans 13 and reading; a message pointed directly at him). The essential element of this spirituality, going back to New Testament times (Jesus, Saint Paul, the early church fathers), is experiencing a personal relationship with God. Because they read between the lines and catchy what is inexpressible and spiritual, those who follow the path of devotion best understand symbols and their use in the liturgy.This path concentrates on meditations that loosen the feelings and expand the ability to relate to and love others. The stress is on the love of self, others, and God. Those on this path can follow the four steps of the Lectio Divina: listen to what God says in scripture; reflect prayerfully and apply it to today; respond to God's word with personal feelings; remain quiet and stay open to new insights.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Classical Method - Stages not ages

In the Classical model of homeschooling, children’s learning is broken up into stages rather than grades. These are stages that roughly correspond to cognitive stages that children go through.

  • Grammar Stage is roughly 1st grade through 3rd or 4th grades and is punctuated by a child who memorizes things (songs, Pig Latin, commercials, Ubby Dubby language from Zoom) really easily, even playfully. They often drive their parents crazy asking for the same book to be read or reciting the same lyrics or joke or riddle over and over and over. This is capitalized on by having children memorize dates, foreign language grammar forms, math facts, bible verses, quotations, poems and anything the parent deems of value that will be of later use or built upon at a later time. This doesn't mean a child shouldn't understand the math facts he's memorizing, but that once he understands them, memorizing them can be a game. Even if he'd rather not play, it will come easier than when he's older and so you're working with the child's natural abilities rather than against their nature.
  • The next is the Logic Stage which roughly compares to 4th or 5th grade through 8th or 9th grade. At this stage children have a natural tendency to question why, particularly their parents - which, again, can be frustrating. Dorothy Sayer talks about this being the "pert" stage. This God-given questioning of life can be utilized by the parent by giving children the larger world view of civilizations or disciplines of science and allowing them to analyze, compare and contrast them. At a time when children think they know better, we can give them the better knowledge with which to base their self-perceived superiority on. We can give them higher thoughts to analyze their own and other’s behavior, even as they continue to give their parents a hard time about the inconsistencies in our own character. You've already given them the basics in reading, grammar, math, logical thought processes, possibly foreign language - now you can dig deeper and expand on that knowlege base while working with their natural tendencies instead of wishing they weren't quite so "pert".
  • The last is the Rhetoric Stage when children are longing to stand out from the crowd and make their mark on the world during high school. They are given this opportunity by using the skills they’ve learned and built upon in the preceding stages and expecting them to speak and write. At this stage they have something concrete to contribute to the world and the skills to do it in a fashion that builds society up and prepares them to make their mark in the world. You are also preparing them with concrete skills to go out into the world.

These are roughly coorelated to the grades 1-4, 5-8 & 9-12. Some people consider a Beginner's Level as Pre-school - 3rd, Grammer as 4th - 6th, Logic as 7th - 9th, & Rhetoric as 10th - 12th.

The same things I like about Montessori - working with the child's natural abilities and trusting them to handle material that others think young children can't handle - the classical method just works for our family.

To read more about this, read the post called the Classical Method.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

101 meaningless things about me

See how I am? The 100th post got by me and I didn't even notice! I had something special planned, too!

So, now I'll have to fudge it and do it for my 101st post - as if that's so significant. Most of the significant things in my life don't seem like that big of a deal anyway - I just think weird.

1. I’m pregnant
2. I’m sick & cranky when I’m pregnant
3. I always loose "guess that baby" contests, because I look exactly the same as when I was a kid. (I used to stare in the mirror and wonder what I'd look like as a grown-up - God was already showing me.
4. I complain a lot when I’m pregnant
5. I can’t stand negative people when I’m pregnant (one of us is enough in the world)
6. I had stick straight hair when I was a kid
7. My parents rarely made me brush my teeth when I was a kid
8. I'm excited by thunderstoms
9. I have the opposite reaction of colors that most people do
10. Reds are supposed to be aggressive – I despise most of them
11. Blues and greens, especially light, are exciting and refreshing and freeing to me
12. Sometimes I have to drag myself out of bed because I’d rather stay there all day
13. Sometimes I wake up in the morning feeling like I could conquer the world
14. I’ve always wanted to be able to fly – of my own ability like Superman
15. I really love Jesus (is that really #15?) – uhhhh this list isn’t in order
16. The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Jesus in Confession
17. I’m a party girl (except when I’m pregnant).
18. I believe in spanking children when needed
19. There’s some kids that aren’t mine that I’d like to spank (especially when I’m pregnant)
20. I don’t like reading the bible. It rarely comes alive for me. I do it, some, but not everyday.
21. I’m a terrible housekeeper.
22. I had a grandmother and a great aunt who was a terrible housekeeper – I come by it naturally.
23. I ADORE having "grown-up" conversations with my kids.
24. I love throwing parties and if I go too long without hosting something, I need a fix.
25. I clean the house before I have a party – usually.
26. I don’t know how to bake bread…yet.
27. I’ve always wanted to parasail – Dave has requested I refrain from this dream.
28. I don’t mind loosing in a game – it’s all about fun.
29. If I think I’ll be judged by trying something new, I’ll do it in secret.
30. I have almost no secrets. If anyone asks me anything about myself, I’ll tell it.
31. I overwhelm people easily by being so intense.
32. Dave was the first guy who could “handle” me.
33. I can’t stand controlling or jealous men.
34. I’m a free spirit.
35. I like to work on the computer.
36. I love books.
37. I love dishes.
38. Other than books or dishes, I don’t think I’m very materialistic.
39. I don’t like bugs.
40. I mostly don’t like being outside, unless the weather’s perfect and there’s no bugs.
41. I miss the ocean.
42. I moved every year, sometimes twice, until I got to high school to different schools, often different states.
43. I love looking at houses and dreaming of it would fit or not.
44. Dave and I take the kids to open houses on Sundays very often.
45. I don’t think kids should be sheltered from truth
46. I think kids should be protected against the harsh things of this world (truth that their age can handle).
47. I don’t like to cuddle.
48. I force myself to cuddle my kids because they need it.
49. I love to bake
50. I don’t like to shop
51. I love to read
52. I like leather
53. I like really trashy clothes, although I don’t dress like that…anymore
54. I love to play Uno
55. I hate CandyLand
56. I never liked science until I started homeschooling
57. We have a black lab, 2 hamsters, 2 fish tanks and a newt…the kids want frogs next
58. I’ve killed 2 batches of tadpoles
59. I don’t like driving mini-vans
60. I’m learning to like gardening
61. I crochet in the evenings
62. I love writing lesson plans
63. My books are categorized on shelves by target age & subject in school
64. Our historical fiction books are categorized further by year that their about
65. My favorite poem is “Song for a Fifth Child”
66. My hair is really long right now and I’m desperate to cut it. It keeps me awake at night when I roll over on it and can’t move my head.
67. My favorite animal when I was a kid was cats. My mom was allergic, though.
68. I am a petty person, but I fight it.
69. A lot of people tell me things they don’t tell others – I’ve learned how NOT to talk about other people’s stuff.
70. Getting married to Dave was the best decision I’ve made as an adult.
71. I’m crazy about my husband – I love the way his mind works.
72. I don’t like roller coasters as much as I used to.
73. I can’t hulla hoop.
74. Swimming is the only exercise I can stand because I can’t feel myself sweat.
75. I don’t have vision – I can’t “see” a room completed when I’m decorating until it’s done
76. My sister chooses clothes for me better than I do.
77. I like blogging.
78. I keep a journal and have since 4th grade. (I think I need to burn a few volumes)
79. I have a book of poetry I made up in high school.
80. I wanted to grow up to be an executive when I was 15.
81. Other than when I was 15, I’ve always wanted to be a mom.
82. My high school counselor told me I was throwing away my life to want to be a mom.
83. God’s gift in allowing me to be a mom, was the best gift I’ve received from Him as an adult.
84. I don’t like carrying a purse – it makes me feel burdened with responsibility.
85. I don’t wear any jewelry except my wedding ring, and it has a stone missing.
86. I don’t have 101 things about my life that I can write about.
87. I want a new house so we can have a basement and a huge yard – like 3 acres with a pond.
88. I taught myself to drive a stick shift car after I bought the car. It was my first.
89. Reading about God is my favorite subject.
90. I don’t like to cook, but I love cookbooks.
91. I had terrible handwriting until I had to teach my own kids to write – it’s much better now.
92. The friend I’ve had the longest is Melanie and we only see each other occasionally, sometimes not even every year – but we’ve been friends since highschool.
93. I like 60’s music.
94. Most of my furniture is a version of burgundy, navy & hunter – while my dream furniture is sage.
95. I don’t like doing my girls’ hair and so they look fairly unkempt until they can learn to do it for themselves.
96. Someday I will take happily take advice from my children.
97. One of my deepest fears is that I won’t have a good relationship with my daughters, but I have all hope that God will overcome my fears to create His reality.
98. I like my new digital camera.
99. I love to have a garden, but I don’t like to tend it, harvest it and I’ve never learned to can.
100. I grow herbs every year but I don’t know what do with them once they’ve grown.


101. Sometimes I resent the telephone – sometimes I thank God for it. That’s true of most things in my life.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The view out my window

It's through my kitchen screen
A couple of friends came to visit today

This is one of my favorite parts about homeschooling - FUN! Whenever the weather hits.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Dave has cut all the kids' hair since we've had kids. He's recently been asking me to take the girls' to have it cut (he doesn't like the criticism once he's done - they can be merciless). When I'm pregnant & sick, he often cuts my hair, too. He doesn't prefer to cut mine, but I can force him into it. As he gets out his hair cutting kit that he asked for his birthday several years ago from Value City we always refer to him as Daviid (du-veed) the Hair Specialist.
Ds#3 does not like his hair long. It's curly and it just looks wild and uncared for when it's long. This picture was taken after soaking his head in water, dousing it with gel and combing it though. The picture above really doesn't show you how silly he looks with long hair. Recently, Daviid hasn't been able to take the time to cut anyone's hair since he's been working evenings and weekends and working from home. It's just a busy time for him, and I know his heart would rather be with us, so we make the best of it. He's the one who's making the larger sacrifice. But Ds#3 REALLY needed a haircut.

After working 9 hours on Saturday, Dave came home to a boy begging for a haircut before church the next day. Dave took him to Wal-mart (I had some groceries to pick up) to get his first professional cut. I said I'd like it short, but I didn't want anything too rough looking. Dave took both boys and had them look through the books to pick out a cut. Even though it's more attitude than I thought I wanted, he's just sooo cute! Dave was a little embarrased to admit to the lady that he's always cut the boys' hair. She gave him an excellent compliment, though and said that he'd been doing a terrific job.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Wedding Meme

1. Where/How did you meet? At a Catholic church that held Mass for Campus Ministries. I had just gotten dumped from a year long boyfriend I thought I wanted to marry and was looking for a fresh start and new friends (I always lost my old friends in a break-up).
2. How long have you known each other? 17 years
3. How long after you met did you start dating? 3 years. We were good friends while he had a steady girlfriend and then was engaged to her. She and I started as friends, but I ended up drifting away from her as she got engaged. I had no designs on Dave, but they just didn't seem to "belong" together. REALLY! I then started dating her ex-boyfriend and discussing marriage. All 4 of us broke up within several months of each other and Dave and I started getting together to "comfort" our friend (each other) who was in pain from a bad break-up.
4. How long did you date before you were engaged? Unofficially, 3 weeks. Officially 4 months (we were very good friends in the 3 years before we started dating and had worked through a lot of deeper issues being good friens).
5. How long was your engagement? 9 months. Our priest told us we had to wait the Church's mandatory 6 months, which we thought would physically deform us to wait that long before we could consumate our relationship. The priest was firm. Then we couldn't get married during "tax season" because of Dave's work.
6. How long have you been married? I don't keep track of those things..let me see 1995 - 2007 - 12 years?
7. What is your anniversary? April 30, 1995
8. How many people came to your wedding reception? 200
9. What kind of cake did you serve? White with buttercream frosting. I taste-tested cakes all around town during our engagement because I was raised to understand that wedding cake is one of the best tasting cakes, but you have to be sure the baker is doing it for more than just good looks. I made all the decorations for the tables and Dave blew up the balloons I wanted the hall decorated with.
10. Where was your wedding? The same church we met at.
11. What did you serve for your meal? My mom made all the food in her kitchen and brought it to the reception - meat trays with ham & roast beef, cheese tray & condiments for cold meat sandwhiches. She had relish trays, fresh chicken salad, jello salad, pasta salad, potato salad, cucumber sandwiches, and I think I made her make my favorite kind of cookie - mexican wedding rings. It was her gift to us and she gave us the money she had left-over. It was a wonderful gift!
12. How many people were in your wedding party? 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, and 2 flower girls. Many of our friends were Eucharistic Ministers, etc during the ceremony. At our first meeting with the priest to prepare for marriage he handed us the liturgy planning guide and told us not to bother to look through it until closer to the wedding. We sat down and spent all evening that first night planning the liturgy of the wedding. It was so fun! Dave & I each read the reading that had been special to us as a single person. Dave read Habakuk (Write down the vision clearly on the tablets...If the vision delays, wait for it for it shall surely come.) and I read Hosea (I espouse you to me in love and fidelity.)
13. Are you still friends with them all? My sister & s-i-l & Dave's brothers. We don't see my maid of honor or one of Dave's groomsmen, much.
14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony? We laughed and giggled through the whole thing.
15. Most special moment of your wedding day? My sister forcing herself at 16 to get her hair done, put on make-up & put on a satin dress when she had the flu and a fever with chills. She didn't show it at all until she asked to leave the reception early because she wasn't feeling well.
16. Any funny moments? The wedding coordinator that was required by the church pushed me down the isle. I was waiting for a particular bar of the song I had chosen, but she wanted me down that isle. I tripped when she pushed me and caught myself by running - so I ran the whole way to Dave. It wasn't exactly the Sound of Music wedding march I envisioned, but definately more my style. Then at the reception, Dave's 3 cousins who were 4 & 5 took handfuls of cake to taste it before we got a chance to cut it.
17. Any big disasters? I was determined not to view anything that happened as a disaster. It was going to be a wonderful day no matter what happened. I had planned as well as possible and everything else was going to just be a good story, someday.
18. Where did you go on your honeymoon? We could either afford a wedding or a honeymoon and we chose the wedding. We went to a state park and stayed at the inn. It was boring, so we went to another state park. We shopped & talked & went sight-seeing.
19. How long were you gone? 1 week
20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change? I'd have chosen the dresses I wanted rather than choosing the color my mom suggested and I would have chosen something not so trendy (read dated, now). I'd have asked my friend Melanie to be my maid of honor. I'd have spent more money on the photographer. I may have allowed my dad to walk me down the isle. At the time I felt like I still needed to protect myself. Now that I've been loved for the last 12 years, I see God as my protector more.
21. What side of the bed do you sleep on? Left in this house. Dave has this thing about getting to sleep near the door... I don't understand it, but whatever.
22. What size is your bed? King
23. Greatest strength as a couple? Joint sense of priorities and common ideas of disciplining children. We work as good team by maintaining our own "jobs".
24. Greatest challenge as a couple? Not getting so caught up in the "work" & efficiency of life that we forget to meet the other person's emotional needs.
25. Who literally pays the bills? Dave
26. What is your song? He thinks we have lots - I don't associate one with us.
27. What did you dance your first dance to? Barry Manilow - We made it through the rain? Dave would remember better than I would. He's got a more romantic memory than I do.
28. Describe your wedding dress: A princess neckline and simple lines with little beading and no cutwork. Some lace and beading on the bodice. A long dress with a train and bustle. It was on sale.
29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding? artificial (they were cheaper) white roses. The little girls carried daisies.
30. Are your wedding bands engraved? Nope. They were on sale (are you seeing a theme, here?)
31. How old were you when you got married? 26

Classical Method

A philosophy that we use is the Classical Method. In many books, this defies definition as they often conflict. The two descriptions that I liked best came from

Both of these books may be available in you local library. I'll try and tell you through my reading, what I take from the Classical Method.

Classical Homeschooling is traditional taken a step beyond, or back, as it were. Classical models believe in teaching the way it used to be. An article by Dorothy Sayers entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning” really brought this thought process into the conscience of those looking for an academically rigorous type of school that taught children how to think. Dorothy Sayers only provided an outline of the stages used to teach in the classical method. There is a lot of variation from program to program. Usually, there is a thread that ties many if not all subjects into a cohesive whole. Often it is history studies as the focus of the classical school and often Latin or Greek is part of the overall program. Memoria Press has some fantastic articles on why children should be taught Latin, as well as an excellent Latin curriculum, Latina Christiana.

The Well-Trained Mind uses history as the thread and ties many subjects together based on history including science. RC History does this with Catholicism as the guiding principle incorporating writing, science, religion, bible history, and art into the scope of history.

To read more about the Classical Method, read the post on Classical Method - stages not ages.

Continue to look around concerning Classical Homeschooling. Many homeschoolers end up with a main focus of one type of homeschooling, such as classical, but supplement with other points of interest or balance and toss in Eclectic facets to their school. There are enough options in homeschooling to find the right fit for your school and your children.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Indoor Sandbox

Great for winter or rainy days...
Nonhardening Modeling Sand from Lakeshore Learning http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/ is the secret ingredient. It's $20 for 5 lbs. It's not a ton of sand for the money -- but do you really want a ton of sand on your carpet? It vacuums up great and even though it's dry, it molds like wet sand.

We bought a 16x11x7 rubbermaid tub and filled it with sand & little cars & measuring spoons. The size of the box fits 2 small children on opposite sides of the box perfectly. We only take it out during school hours to keep a kid (or two) busy. We keep an old sheet with the box and lay that out first. Then the sandbox goes on top of it. If they start to get sand out of the box, we close it up for the day. They learn very quickly not to get sand all over.

The big question is clean-up : We scoop up whatever sand we can, pick up the sheet by the edges so the sand stays in the middle of the sheet, and shake out the sheet (outside). You can vacuum if you need to and I haven't found pieces of sand sticking to my feet after I've vacuumed the carpet. (We're barefoot most of the time around here.)

It's my favorite indoor winter keep-the-kids-busy-so-I-can-get-school-done item. It's also a great motivator for the bigger kids because they want to get done quickly so they can play, too! I love this as a Christmas gift - but you have to get permission from the mom, first. The idea of this can be scarey, but the reality hasn't been any big deal for us. Just fun!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Slow Days

As I sit here, I have a boy (Ds#4) sitting on my lap pushing down on my fingers while I'm trying to type -- it's a little slow going.

All but Ds#4 have the flu. I came down with it first, hence my silent blogging this week. Who gets the flu just as it's getting nice out? I'm huddled up with the heater cranked, and tons of clothes on trying to keep my head from falling off my shoulders. Ds#3 woke up with it today, so he's in the tub. Dd#1 & 2 came down with it, too. No one has actually gotten sick, we all just feel like it. Dd#2, as usual, has had the lightest case and is running around taking care of everyone. All her activity and her very high metabolism usually makes me crazy -- and then some days...She is a visit from Athene coming to attend mere mortals (we'll be ending our unit on Greece next month and you can look forward to Roman metaphors).

This is our Athene during her 1st Communion photo shoot. We have a dear friend who has taken the most beautiful pictures of our children through the years. Laura has been like a sister to me and is Godmother to Ds#4. All the kids think of her more as a fairy godmother.

Dd#1 and I went to a mother-daughter banquet at a neighboring parish on Sunday. The kids went iceskating while I was starting to come down with it on Monday. Other than that, we've cancelled all our stuff this week. We cancelled the playdate with friends, piano lessons, our visit with our cousins, we're not going to Game Club today, we cancelled out "learn to bake homemade bread" lesson I've been pressuring Julie about, and the Talent Show on Sunday. We're just taking it easy and trying to get school in as we feel good enough to do it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Describe your relationship with your kids during school?

How would you describe the relationship between you and your child(ren) in the learning environment?

For the older children, my relationship in regard to school is that of a coach with high expectations. I see my role as one of helping them gain confidence to accomplish what they will eventually seek out for themselves. Our goal is to foster indepenant learning.
Our relationship is characterized by competence and effective transmission of values & knowledge. We are very focused on accomplishing the task at hand during school time. Without coddling them, I also take their individual needs and interests into account.

For the younger children, my relationship in the school setting is one of a nurturing mother and having fun.

This was an intersting question to ponder...post your answers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What do I DO with the kids all day?

This question is an amalgam from a couple of different friends.

Homeschooling is working. We're getting tons of academics done in a remarkable amount of time. But then...for the rest of the day...they're looking to me for something to do. The little ones want to be entertained, the big ones want to play on the computer for hours or watch TV.

Lists & Routines are what help us.

*Routines - little kids eat them up. You could establish set times of the day where they work/play in certain ares of the house at certain times of the day. As much as possible I encourage my young children to dress themselves, make their beds, brush their own teeth, and pick up their own room. (that takes them a little bit of time.) Block Time, puzzle time, or dress-up time is in the morning after school. Lunch, then a task or two for the kids. Afternoon is a CD or book on tape or read aloud from Mom -- whatever you choose. You may want to have a backyard time depending on where you are located. It's a huge hassle, but my kids also clean, fold clothes & cook with me - even the littlest ones. I get less done, but they're right there (sometimes it feels like they're too close) and occupied (meaning they're not messing up something else.)
*Lists. I love lists. At the moment that I'm trying to get something done, I can't think of all my options to keep the kids busy. I have a list of all the things they can do in a certain room so that while I'm straitening that room, they can choose between 2 or 3 activities that I suggest (too many options for little kids can be overwhelming) - or you may want them in a different room than you. I also have lists of things they can do that need little attention from me that we only pull out occasionally (their indoor sandbox or bean box). I also have learning activities they can "play" with when I want to keep them busy.

Then, there's the wise advice of "Don't keep them too busy." Our culture highly promotes keeping kids in tons of activities and entertained (with TV or other things) all the time. The shocking concept is that "This isn't actually good for the kids." Children can be easily overwhelmed and overstimulated to their detriment. Regularity is the mother's milk that our children grow from. Providing children with a fertile environment to explore...and enough unscheduled time to explore it is a tremendous gift we give them. (Pictured at right are Dd#2 & Ds#4 making a 'camp'.) They need time to think their own thoughts and to learn to listen to that little voice inside. I've heard several people say as adults that they don't even know what that voice sounds like. If they're constantly barraged with noise (TV, radio, computer sounds) and visual stimulation or constant activity...when do they have time to just BE? (Pictured below is Ds#3 preparing his garden for his strawberries. I didn't ask him or suggest to him to do this - it was all him left to his own devices on a sunny March day).

We also want them to have enough time to be bored and discover God in the stillness and quiet. They will find Him there. He wants to be found. "Be still and know that I am God." It resonates with truth. Therefore it can sound sharp and painful to our ears when we're not in tune with God's will.

So, I'm saying routines give the child something to rely on. Lists can help you think of things while your brain is otherwise engaged on something else. Then...let go. Let them discover some of themselves...and God...and the world He's created for them.

Monday, March 12, 2007

30 Day Cooking (and then some)

My goal this weekend was to put enough food in the freezer to last at least a month, and some dinners to pull out still in the second month - to get us through until we're on summer break (April 27th is our end date).

Saturday morning I put a pork roast in the crock pot, cleaned out my fridge & wore gloves to reorganize my freezer. Then I spruced up the kitchen and went shopping. I shopped for about 3 hours to the tune of about $700.

I bought 45 # of hamburger and fried up 25 of it (5# was made into taco meat for nachos, tacos & burritos). I had bought 80% lean, so each 5# only made up 4 meals. I have a 14" skillet that easily handles 7# and can handle 10# of hamburger at a pop, so it doesn't take but a couple to three hours to fry up that much meat. I fried up 5# of sausage. I made 20# into meatloaf and of that made several batches of meatballs. I made 11# of grilled chicken breast on my XL George Foreman grill (I use it ALL the time since Dave doesn't grill). I bought 10 dz eggs & made them into meatloaf, egg casserole, & hard boiled 36 eggs for egg salad & to eat just for a snack leaving 3 dz raw to be used later. I bought a cooked ham and had the meat dept. slice it for sandwiches & bought swiss in bulk to go with it. 2 beef roasts for beef & noodles & shredded beef sandwiches.

  • 16 hamburger - casseroles (I have about 4 different ones we eat), chilis & stews, & meat sandwiches (sloppy joe).

  • 4 taco/nacho/burrito options

  • 2 sausage & rice casseroles

  • 3 egg casseroles

  • 120 meatballs = 6 meals' worth

  • 8 meatloaves (I've got a new recipe to try to make them cupcake size and put ingredients [like a ho-ho] inside the meatloaf and there's about 4 different kinds of meatloves to made & try) *See the boys mixing up the meat mixture? I didn't trust them to not get it all over their clothes. They enjoyed helping!

  • 11 chicken meals (5 shredded or diced for chicken salad, chicken & noodles, chicken casserole & 6 whole breasts to be decided later)

  • 14 lunches of ham & swiss divided into meal-sized portions - Dd#1 seperates the ham in the picture.

We had pork roast for dinner and I froze the left-overs for a pork & noodle dinner. I already had 8 alfredo sauce packets, 2 spinach lasagna, 3 frozen fish meals & hamburger patties. I bought 10 pkgs of hotdogs, 10-bologna, 10-frzn. french fry pkgs. and lots of misc. pantry items to complete the dinners above.

By Saturday night I was tired -- but thrilled that it's done for a loooong time....!!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Carrot Boy

The girls are busy doing school (well...I'm yelling at them alot reminding them to do school) and my son, Ds#3, who does school without being asked gets put on KP duty. Peeling carrots is a great job for a 6 year old. We're going to a friends' farm this afternoon and I thought I'd take a snack to share...

We're really doing fine on school, but since I'm thinking about the nice weather coming, I'm anxious for them to keep on track.

Alfredo Sauce

When I take this somewhere or have people over, this is a much requested recipe.

I just have a recipe for the alfredo sauce - the rest of the recipe is just tossing in a variety of (some kind of pasta, some kind of meat, some kind of veggie).

The recipe makes 10 meal portion servings (~3 1/2 cups - 4cups) that I freeze in quart-sized. Then I add whatever meat / vegetable / noodle combination that sounds good and I have on hand. Sometimes I'll add potato, cheddar & ham. Or ham, mixed veggies & whatever noodle I have (it's a little salty). I've used it to make in a white chicken/spinach lasagna roll-ups / over chicken-stuffed mannicoti / or over cheese-filled large shells. My family's favorite is frozen broccoli, chicken breasts (grilled on my george forman) & ziti - it's one of our favorite family meals as all the kids will eat broccoli.

Put it in a huge stockpot (it ends up making around 40 cups) and plan to spend a
couple of hours on the sauce (not exclusively, but you need to keep coming back
to it) I actually burnt the stuff I served last time and everyone still
loved it. I could taste it, but I didn't think anyone else would

White Sauce: used in 9 dishes (fettuccine alfredo, chicken & spinach shells, chicken & broccoli shells, straw & hay, creamy chipped beef, creamy ham scalloped potatoes, scalloped potatoes, creamy beef stroganoff, chicken & spinach lasagna)

  • 6 cups cream
  • 7 cups milk
  • 2-3 sticks butter
  • (~3 Tblsp of fresh minced) garlic
  • 9 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 7 sticks cream cheese
  • 7 cups sour cream

Cook over low/medium heat until melted through. Divide into 9 meals in freezer storage bags. Add 1 lb chosen cooked meat to each dish and freeze.

I don't add my meat when I freeze it. I melt the cream cheese first (I usually have a kid do this part - it's a little boring) then add milk & rest of ingredients one by one that need melted. My first batch didn't have the cream cheese completely melted
and it was good enough to make again, but I didn't like the chunkiness.
When it's cooled a tad, I label the zip-lock bag & put it in a narrow bowl, or coffee can and ladel it into the bag that way. Freeze flat.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Recipe Organization

OH MY Heavens!! I LOVE the idea of...

laminating recipe cards. Right now, I have mine in a binder, but it's so big, that the weight of the pages pull open the metal rings. Also, pulling something out to work with is a pain (and I think it's a 4"!). I already have a printed comb binder cookbook of many of my recipes (I made one to give as inexpensive $4each? Christmas gifts). However, I keep adding to my recipes!! I think alphabetically, not main dish/appetizer ( I just think weird). Also, many of my recipes have variations that may turn it from a side dish into a main dish or from a dessert into a snack. I love the idea of printing & pasting onto index card (or printing onto cardstock & cutting up) and then laminating the tried and true ones (that I've already made my changes to).

I don't know when I'll have the time to do this....but it's a great solution for me!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Decimal Street

I got a comment (*I just LOVE those*) on my Learning Environment post asking for more pictures of the Math-U-See Decimal Street Extended that I showed. It's an extended version teaching place value to the trillions. In 3rd & 4th grades a few of my children have benefited from this, so I thought I would share...

Start with 2 file folders. They will be attached on the middle edge (I used packing tape) so that they accordian fold flat or spread out into 4 distinct "pages."

I then, cut out of construction paper 4 red hundreds' castles (NOT 400 castles / but 4 - castles that are for the MUS hundreds blocks) , 4 blue tens' houses and 4 green units' (ones) houses (one for each "page"). These aren't the normal width - I made mine 2" wide, but are the regular height to fit MUS blocks. I also cut a road out of black construction paper with a cul-de-sac at the beginning of the street (to remind you where you start counting).

The blacktop road looked boring, so I added yellow dashes in the middle of the street for color (it doesn't add anything for function).
The most important part of this are the lakes (in the shape of a comma) between the housing additions down Decimal Street. You'll need to cut 6 of these (I made mine in light blue for water) at the biggest width they are 2 1/2 " wide. 3 will go on the folds between the housing additions (where the commas go in a number to the trillions) and 3 will be the cards used to play Decimal Street.

I used tape that I doubled over to make it sticky on each side and taped each house and all 3 lakes in place.
Next I made the number cards. 0-9 in each color the same width as the houses.

If you want to label the 3 lakes that are playing cards now you can. (Don't put any numers or label the lakes that you've pasted onto Decimal Street) They are labeled :
  • Lake Million
  • Lake Billion
  • Lake Trillion

Then I had all the cards, lakes, and Decimal Street itself laminated at the teacher store. That way they wouldn't rip up the road while they played with it. I had to bring it home and cut everything away from the plastic (and each other), but that was an evening's labor of love.

I put a zipper pouch that has adhesive on the back of my decimal street after it was laminated.

I got a SHMILY today!

On my bathroom mirror this morning was this.

I was considering yelling at the kids when Dave asked me if I saw the SHMILY he left me.

What's a SHMILY? See How Much I Love You

He had put all the kids to bed, which he does almost everynight (because I'm not a very nice person to them by that time of night.) But he had been particularly sweet and cuddled with them a long time - and they had needed it. Then he left me my love note - soap on the mirror in a SHMILY.

We asked him where he got it (it didn't occur to us at he'd thought it up himself.) He said Todd Wilson.

Todd Wilson, http://www.familymanweb.com, came to speak at our homeschool group and he was a RIOT!! I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. He was FANTASTIC! He has a ministry which directly encourages homeschool dads. He has a few cartoon books...some great ideas...he's just a great guy with a great mission. Since Dave is my main encourager and go-to-guy, I appreciate someone out there encouraging my husband! Dave subscribes to Todd Wilson's e-magazine - I guess my SHMILY was part of that. Yesterday was a particularly rought day ...I needed it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Newt News

Dd#2 got a fish tank for Christmas. Since Dave is a fish enthusiast (and gave a bunch of our family fish tanks for Christmas) he didn't want to give Dd#2 just a fish tank. She got one with a duel habitat of water in the bottom third and slate rock on suction cups above the water for amphibians with a waterfall (hiding the aerator, heater & filter) coming out from the top.

We were going to buy crickets at the pet store yesterday for Dd#2's Newts. Dave suggested we just catch & use those pesky carpenter ants. (I wish we didn't have ants...this is our first winter to have them and I have to wait until spring to make Dave rip up our house - literally, to find them.)

7:20 am this morning:

Ds#3 "I found an ant for her fishtank !!!!"

Ds#4 "I want to catch it!!"

Ds#3 "No, I'm going to catch it and give it to the newt."

Ds#4 "NO! It's my FRIEND!"

Dd#2 "Let me catch it!"

Ds#3 "No, I saw it first, I want to catch it."

Dd#2 "It's my fish tank."

Dd#1 - completely silent thinking they were all gross to be fighting over catching bugs *BLECH*

Ds#3 "I got it!"

Ds#4 "NO! It's my FRIEND!"

Dd#2 "Let ME put it in."

Ds#3 "I caught it!"

Ds#4 "NO! It's my FRIEND!"

Dd#2 "I feel sorry for it. Let's not let it die such a horrible death as DROWNING!"

Ds#4 "Yea! It's my FRIEND!"

Daddy "Mama's not going to let that ant live so it's going to die some death, it might as well feed your newt."

Ds#4 "NO! It's my FRIEND!"

Dd#2 "OK, let's watch it."

Ds#3 "I'll put it in."

Ds#4 "Let me see!" as a fish came by and gobbled it up.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Can I homeschool?

I am basically an unorganized person. I’m a perfectionist. I procrastinate. I dread failure, but have grown accustomed to it. Occasionally, I struggle with self-esteem. My kids drive my crazy. Often, money is tight. I work outside the home. I have an only child. I have a big family. We are having a baby. I have a disability. My child has a disability. We’re moving. We live way out in the country. I do, however, love my kids. I love my child. I love my kids.

I’ve heard it all. These and many more reasons people feel they can’t homeschool. Everyone who is homeschooling now, has asked themselves at one time, “Can I homeschool?” You may be asking yourself this same question. The short answer is, “yes, “ but let’s look into a little deeper than that.

Do you know any homeschoolers? Do you like them? If you don’t know any, meet some. If you’ve met some that don’t quite “fit” with your family’s priorities, meet some more. Finding other families you can identify with and seeing them homeschool successfully can go a long way in boosting your confidence. So many people homeschool for so many different reasons. It’s important to find homeschoolers who align with your family’s values.

Another confidence issue may be that you don’t have a teaching degree. Unless it’s required by your state laws, it isn’t necessary. That’s what Teacher’s Manuals are for – to help you teach the lesson. There are so many teaching aides available, too : CDs for foreign languages, DVDs of lessons, software of educational games, online classes…the list is endless. Take heart, help is available. You learned how to be a parent, you can learn this, too.

So, now you’ve met a few homeschoolers or maybe quite a few. You may have even made a friend or two. Next, you should look at what requirements are needed by your state law to homeschool. Don’t panic. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association runs a website, http://www.hslda.org , which has a plethora of information available at no cost on their website. Please don’t rely on what you may have been told by someone else. Check out their site and see what the legal requirements are for homeschooling in your state. Even if you’re in a state that has several requirements to homeschool, remember that there are quite a few people in your state who have done this same research, made the plunge into homeschooling, and may have a hint, or 50 hints, to help you be successful and meet the requirements of your state. There are even software programs available, based on a particular state’s requirements, designed to help homeschoolers track and report specific information needed in that state.

Now you’ve got confidence from seeing your new homeschool friends’ success. As you meet more homeschoolers, you will also share in their struggles. Since we don’t live in Eden, our kids are still going to act like kids. Our own shortcomings will still be with us. If keeping our house clean is important to you, it will stay a priority (if even just for your own sanity), even if you’re homeschooling. If your house wasn’t a priority before you started homeschooling…well, it won’t clean itself.

Having confidence, a little support for homeschooling, and knowledge about what’s needed for homeschooling in your state lays the groundwork to answering the question, “Can I homeschool?” Yes, you can. I know parents with disabilities who homeschool successfully. I know people who’s kids have disabilities who homeschool successfully. I’ve met people with lots of kids and babies and toddlers; and I’ve known some with an only child who all successfully homeschool. I know people who move often, and some who live so far out in the country they can’t see a neighbor from their home who all run successful homeschools. Whether you’re a doctor or lawyer or barely finished highschool, you can have a successful homeschool. I know single moms and families who run a home-based business who have success in homeschooling.
The short answer is, “Yes, you can homeschool.” I believe everyone should at least try to homeschool. It may not be a lifestyle everyone would choose as best for their family, but it can be an incredibly freeing experience to see how joyfully learning can occur.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Quote of the Day

Ds#4 after watching the Leap Frog DVD "Storybook Factory" :

"A comma is to pause for a moment. When you see a period, you need to come to a full STOP."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

How do I find homeschoolers in my area?

This question was posed in a comment on my blog - THANK YOU to the person who commented!

The first place I'd try is the internet (since we're here anyway). Type in your city and state name and the words "homeschool", "home school" or "homesschoolers" in a search engine. If you get nothing, try each of those words with just your state name. Many websites have incomplete lists of homeschool support groups listed by state. (homeschool groups pop up all the time.)

Your state organization may have lists of support groups in your area or as close as you can get.

Libraries and bookstores are traditional hang-outs for homeschoolers. If that librarian isn't helpful, ask a branch manager or the head librarian or the children's librarian. Many homeschool newsletters end up on librarian bulletin boards or on library shelves. Your library, or the one in the next town, may have programs specifically for homeschoolers. Even if you aren't homeschooling, yet, you could go to the program and ask the librarian to make an announcement at the beginning of storytime (or whatever the program is) that you are [state you name] and are looking for information about homeschooling or homeschool groups, etc. Your local bookstore may have a group of homeschoolers who meet there once a month. You might want to leave your name and number with the bookstore clerk, who can spot a homeschooler a mile away, and ask him to make an initial contact for you.

Ask around. My newspaper has featured a few stories about homeschoolers in the last few years and in many areas lots of people know at least someone who homeschools. Even if that person isn't your style, they may have a contact name or number for you.

Go to a convention and ask the people who are taking your money when you walk in EVERYONE IN THAT BUILDING IS A HOMESCHOOLER AND KNOWS OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS. We advertise our Catholic group's annual gathering on the Catholic radio station, in the Diocese newspaper and in church bulletins of larger parishes. This would be true of almost any group of any denomination or no denomination. We want to find you to help you. We know how overwhelming it can be at first and know that a friendly ear or the knowlege of where to find books in the area can be invaluable.

I see homeschoolers I've never met in my daily errands. Moms at the grocery store with a bunch of kids during school hours on a day when I know school is in session. At the Salvation Army or bookstores or Target. If you see someone who you think may be homeschooling ask them if they know of anyone in the area who homeschools because you're looking into it.

Some areas have very organized homeschool groups. My town has all of the above things mentioned in an effort to inform new or prospective homeschoolers. They have websites, formal groups, newsletters, conventions, library programs, bookstore meetings, even initial meetings for new homeschoolers to find the resources in our area. Some areas (particularly sparsely populated areas) have less.

Once you find a group or an individual to contact, make the effort. It can be hard when you don't know anyone. It can be even harder if you've gone to one group and had a less than complimentary experience. Even if you have to travel a fair distance, go to a support group meeting (or try a couple of groups) until you find one that seems to fit with you. Finding other homeschoolers can mean the difference between quitting or success in homeschooling for you and your child.

Make the effort and good luck! And thanks for the comment!! (It makes me feel heard here in cyberspace.)