Friday, January 30, 2009
1. I've made it through the most stressful part of my week---Wahoowa! Today will still be a busy day with KT coming home, picking up Hitch and Madden who have a half-day, going to co-op, coming home to clean and shop before the In-laws arrive. But they've been around enough to know how things are, so I'm not stressing too much about that. We're just going to have to skip Cub Scouts tonight. That is more than I can handle.
2. My sweet friend, ML, is still in ICU on the ventilator, but her lung function is improving and we hope she can go home soon. Please keep praying for this wonderful, gentle soul.
3. I'm trying to calm down my frantic fingers. I'm working on a pair of socks now. Not even halfway through the first sock, I have to say that socks are not my favorite thing to knit. The needles are too small. DPNs annoy me for some reason. Maybe I wouldn't mind a big, chunky pair of socks, but I think it will be summer before I can wear these wool socks. The whole point of knitting is to have something to do during those times I'm sitting still (ha!) waiting in carpool lines, watching soccer games, etc. And I really don't do those things. But there are so many beautiful, exciting knits out there in the blogosphere, it's all I can do not to order more yarn and patterns. I feel like an addict.
4. I've given up coffee and caffeine. Why? I'm not sure. Probably to be kind to my liver. In any case, I spent the week tapering off. All I had yesterday was a couple of sips, and I'm done. This will help get the coke out of my life, too. The kids were soooo disappointed when I got gas yesterday and NO 44 oz. Diet Coke to share!!!
5. I was starting to get excited about the Superbowl, and crocheting drink cozies in team colors (!), until I read about the commercials that are shown during football games. I'm so ready to get rid of the TV! Even if there is an acceptable show on, the commercials are way too trashy and we spend our time flipping around to avoid them.
6. Now that my super-busy week is over, I'm looking forward to spending some time down in the room formerly known as The Schoolroom. I have an apron for Pipster cut out and ready to sew and the goods for KT's Emmeline apron waiting. Maybe I can get that one done while she's here. But she'll be back Tuesday for....
7. Madden's Confirmation. That, of course, is the reason Ma and Pa B are coming to visit. And, God bless 'em, they're brave souls to come to this house for 5 days! I'm looking forward to my fine young man becoming a soldier of Christ.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
One of the reasons I homeschool my kids is because of my independent nature, which means that I want to do things my own way. I also want to work with the needs and learning styles of my children. Perhaps as a result of all those things, with a little input from the Master of the World, I've never been completely happy with one curriculum. I've always used parts of different curricula.
We have used Kolbe Academy and Mother of Divine Grace the most. We have dabbled in Seton science, religion, and art, as well as Catholic Heritage Curricula. And we have used other resources that I discovered and loved. The past 2 years, we've been borrowing quite a bit from Elizabeth Foss's Serendipity.
As a result of all this dabbling, changing around their curriculum plans, and homeschooling for 14 years (wow, that's a big number!), I needed something to help me.
I started out, in the early years, spending hours on Sunday nights planning for the week ahead and writing down assignments, which is just way too much work for anyone I know! Yes, the different programs have their own planning guides and tools, but when you substitute as much as I have, you need something else---either in lieu of or in addition to theirs!
When I first got the Tracker, it was free, and wonderful. But then the Gentiles added features every year and it was soooo worth it to buy the Plus edition for the changes.
Some things are so easy to enter into the system, like math, that it's a no-brainer. Math planning for one student can be done for the whole year in less than 5 minutes! Some lessons are more time consuming if you put in a lot of detail (as I did with MODG history). Eventually, I learned a shorthand form that says something like "See MODG syllabus for detailed instructions".
The beauty part of this is that Tracker has several formats for weekly schedules that you can use. We use a calendar and print one out for each child on Monday a.m. This way we can all see what needs to be done and Mom can see if it gets done because they cross them off. I know it's simple, but this little bit has made a huge difference in their work performance.
I know it's shocking, but there used to be times when a child wouldn't do, say, science, for 3 weeks and Mom wouldn't know about it. Yes, I know it should be obvious, especially since that's a subject I normally do with them, but when there are 4 children being schooled and at least 2 toddlers or babies, it's easy to forget what you've covered with whom! So then we'd have to calculate how far behind we had gotten and how much work we would have to do daily to finish by the end of the year. All my summer planning would be for nothing! Sadly, this same scenario was repeated with every child in at least one subject per year. Now, if we get off track because of life happening, it's very easy to hit the "reschedule" button and we're back on track.
One of the features that I asked for (and got!) when I gave my input to the Gentiles was the ability to archive a subject and use it for the next child who needed it. Now, when I spend hours painstakingly entering one of the more challenging plans, I know that I only need to do it once. When the next child reaches that grade, the planning will already be done. Unless I shoot myself in the foot and change texts again! lol. But seriously, that feature alone has made the whole thing worth the $40 dollars I paid for it.
There are many wonderful features to this program. It is very customizable. It's a great resource if you're required to show lots of records to your county. It keeps attendance, grades, field trip reports. It does a very nice report card and transcript. You can decide how to weight grades for tests and quizzes. There are so many features, you just have to look.
We've been using Tracker for at least 8 years now and it has been such an enormous help that I thought I'd share it with all of you. And I'm not even getting compensated for all the referrals because I'm not taking the time to fill out their referral form! Seriously, the best thing that ever happened to my home school!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Just as I finished this and checked my mail, I found out that M. is being put on a ventilator. Please pray!
This is all I'm thinking about today as I go about my daily duties. I read this on Saturday and could only think of my friend M.L. with stage 4 brain cancer. Today after visiting her in ICU, it weighs on my heart even more than before. Why else should such a beautiful, loving woman have to suffer so much? Indeed, why did Jesus?
Thou lovest all things that Thou hast created. Thou art the lover of souls. How then is it, O Lord, that I am in a world so miserable as this is ? Can this be the world which Thou hast created, so full of pain and suffering ? Who among the sons of Adam lives without suffering from his birth to his death ? How many bad sicknesses and diseases are there ! how many frightful accidents ! how many great anxieties ! how are men brought down and broken by grief, distress, the tumult of passions, and continual fear! What dreadful plagues are there ever on the earth : war, famine, and pestilence ! Why is this, O my God ? Why is this, O my soul ? Dwell upon it, and ask Thyself, Why is this ? Has God changed His nature ? yet how evil has the earth become!
2. O my God, I know full well why all these evils are. Thou hast not changed Thy nature, but man has ruined his own. We have sinned, O Lord, and therefore is this change. All these evils which I sec and in which I partake are the fruit of sin. They would not have been, had we not sinned. They are but the first instalment of the punishment of sin. They are an imperfect and dim image of what sin is. Sin is infinitely worse than famine, than war, than pestilence. Take the most hideous of diseases, under which the body wastes away and corrupts, the blood is infected ; the head, the heart, the lungs, every organ disordered, the nerves unstrung and shattered ; pain in every limb, thirst, restlessness, delirium— all is nothing compared with that dreadful sickness of the soul which we call sin. They all are the effects of it, they all are shadows of it, but nothing more. That cause itself is something different in kind, is of a malignity far other and greater than all these things. O my God, teach me this ! Give me to understand the enormity of that evil under which I labour and know it not. Teach me what sin is.
3. All these dreadful pains of body and soul are the fruits of sin, but they are nothing to its punishment in the world to come. The keenest and fiercest of bodily pains is nothing to the fire of hell; the most dire horror or anxiety is nothing to the never-dying worm of conscience ; the greatest bereavement, loss of substance, desertion of friends, and forlorn desolation is nothing compared to the loss of God's countenance. Eternal punishment is the only true measure of the guilt of sin. My God, teach me this. Open my eyes and heart, I earnestly pray Thee, and make me understand how awful a body of death I bear about me. And, not only teach me about it, but in Thy mercy and by Thy grace remove it.
Please say a prayer for my sweet friend, that she'll be able to return home very soon to her family and that God will grant her a miracle.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
So, I'm sharing with
1. Carol, whose blog is all about her love for her kids!
2. Fawndear, who can make lovely things! and
3. Sara S., who writes lovely poems and prayers!
It has been a long, yet lovely, day today with schoolwork this morning and then a trip downtown by Marta to go to the March for Life. I really wanted to stay home and get things done that needed to be done, but the kids wanted to go and I was not at peace with the decision to stay home, so I knew it was the wrong one. We had a snack and headed out the door. It was a very smooth trip---not too many weirdos on the train---we didn't get lost downtown leaving the station---we saw wonderful friends that we don't see enough of before the walk began---dh came over from the office and joined us---we prayed a whole rosary while we walked and it made the walk, and the rosary very short (one of the most contemplative rosaries I have prayed in a while!).
I expected it to take so much more out of my day, but we got our critical schoolwork done; I got the laundry done (well, dh folded it!); got dinner made and made it to my American Heritage Girls Board Meeting in plenty of time.
All in all, an awesome day. All because I've been praying more and trying to find out, and more importantly, DO God's will in my day??? Maybe.
I'll have to try again tomorrow because tomorrow is day that definitely requires prayer to get through.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Since Little Princess is in first grade and will be receiving her First Holy Communion in a little more than a year, I've been trying to help her get more out of the Mass, which is hard to do when I'm on the other side of the church with the choir!
We recently subscribed to a free resource that sends the weekly readings and some activities, but I also discovered that CatholicMom.com has a similar setup that I like better. (You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page, unless you subscribe to her feed, and then they come to your Reader.) She has the readings for upcoming Sundays, puzzles, worksheets for different age-levels, and ways to live your faith during the week. Plus, I really like the heads-up on which Saints' days will be celebrated in the coming week.
Now, one of our school days is devoted to the coming Sunday and when they get to Mass on Sunday, I hope the readings will catch their little ears. They can say, wow, I've heard this story before. And maybe it will prompt them to listen (a little) to the homily to see what Father has to say about it!
If you're not a homeschooler, these can be done on Saturdays or Sundays before Mass. Personally, I think it's better to do them before, so that Mass is more memorable, rather than the other way around because they have a hard time listening, but it would still be beneficial on a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I had some stew meat leftover, so we decided to have chili again which ended up being a cross between Mark's and mine. His was not quite primal because of the beer; mine was not quite primal because of the beans. But it was fabulous, if I do say so myself. So here is the recipe. If you try it, be sure to let me know how you like it!
Sara's Semi-Primal Chili
1 lb. stew beef
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lg. onion
4 fire-roasted red peppers (from a jar or fresh), chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 20 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 lg. can chili beans
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Cook meat, onions, and peppers together. Let the fat re-absorb into the meat. Slightly carmelize the onions, if you want. Add tomatoes, beans, and spices. Simmer 2 hours. Just before serving, remove chunks of stew meat, shred them and return to pot. Serve with shredded queso fresco, and sour cream.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Yes, it's just a hubcap. KT gave it to us for Christmas since she was the one who had the honor of driving the car when the original met an untimely demise.
I'm thrilled, because now we don't look like....hmmm, what do you call those people missing hubcaps? Nothing that comes to mind is charitable. So, now we don't look (as) shabby.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I went on a mini-retreat this morning and ran into (actually, she invited me) a friend. I don't know whether to call Kalynne a new friend, or an old one! We met about 10 years ago when the Pipster was a baby; a mutual friend introduced us at daily Mass. We must have hit it off because we ended up going, of all places, to the Grand Opening of the Publix a mile from my house! I'm sure we ran into each other off and on, but we were busy with lots of little children and I eventually started going to daily Mass at my home parish instead of the one where me met. So, we fell out of touch and life went on.
Then, about a year ago (?), when I was just dipping my toes into the blogosphere, another blogger, who I think may have been Amy Welborn, linked to one of Kalynne's posts. I went to read it and thought her name was familiar, but I didn't know why since she lives in Alabama. Well, her post cracked me up and I went on to read some of her "Essential Philosopher Mom" posts. All hysterical---you should read them sometime. As I read, I discovered that she went to The University and homeschooled and had lived near Richmond. That must be why her name was so familiar!
So, I emailed her and rudely asked, "Do I know you?" She was kind enough to pursue the line of possible associations. Funnily enough, it was when I mentioned the name of a person who used to live in Richmond and now lives here, that she realized how we met. In fact, she's the one who remembered that we went to the Grand Opening together, not I. I can remember going with someone now, but I would not have been able to tell you who she was!
It was fun to see Kalynne again, today. She's a sweetheart and I'm sorry we didn't spend more time together before she moved away from here. I wish I had a picture of the two of us together, but ya know, those pictures you take of yourself generally turn out looking pretty goofy!
All that is to say that the retreat was wonderful and just what I needed. Even though the talk(s) was on Charity and not Mortification or Humility (2 virtues I could probably use work on), I'm sure I heard what God thought I needed. I "heard" messages related to my marriage, my children and my blogging! Of course, the best parts were to receive the Sacrament of Confession from a wonderful priest who knows when to be gentle and when to be firm, and to receive spiritual nourishment in the form the of Body of Christ.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Reading Speed Cleaning on Shannon's recommendation. Since we had a free afternoon, I and my 3 little helpers, cleaned 2/3 of our house together. (We saved the basement for the big boys tomorrow when they're home!) It didn't take the 42 minutes they say in the book, but it was fast for us and cleaner than usual. Plus, I haven't even finished reading the book, so I'm sure we didn't do it right!
Stop by Jen's to see who else has 7 Quick Takes!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
I had been interested in homeschooling since our first was born, especially since I'd been hanging around with counter-cultural wackos from La Leche League, like myself, but the Master of the World thought it would be too difficult. As luck would have it, or God, we met some people through Couple to Couple league who were homeschoolers and started inviting us to all their family events where me met others and learned what kind of resources were available curriculum-wise. We also noticed that they had really great kids who were able to work and play with different ages and converse with adults!
This was also when we were actively seeking God's actions in our lives, so when KT's parochial school raised tuition out of our reach, we saw it as a clear sign. Why didn't we just put her in public school? Because we thought (and still do!) we could give her a much better education at home, without the negative aspects that come with public school.
I'm glad I get to keep my husband and kids, because I like them. I think the only real regret I have is not taking advantage of some things that were available to me in college---like piano and voice lessons.
Sometimes I think knitting is one of the scars left by my stepmother who always said, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop!" Not in a nice way, in a "you're so lazy, get off your butt and do something" way. But she did teach me to crochet. My favorite grandmother was a knitter and I loved to watch her. Knitting brings back those happy memories, and I just love to create things. I learned in college when one of my sisters was knitting a tiny Irish sweater for a new baby. She taught a bunch of us and we sat around watching soaps and knitting.
I always use dh as the litmus test when I'm tempted to be dogmatic about something, because I was afraid of them at first, so he read the first one and approved it. I read it next, and all the others before the kids did. The witchcraft still concerns me a little, but the kids have informed me over and over again that it is fantasy. I think the broader message is an excellent one---that every person has value and their race (magic or muggle; jew or aryan; muslim or Christian; born or unborn) shouldn't matter and no one has the right to decide that they should be exterminated because of it. I see Voldemort as Hitler.
Yes, Harry is the Chosen One and does things wrong. He's not perfect. It would have been great if he had access to confession! But he's a good kid who grew up and learned his morality by seeing the terrible example of his aunt and uncle. His heart is in the right place and he rarely goes down the wrong path and does things with malicious intent.
It drives me up a wall to read Christian or Catholic writers who bash the series and say things like: "One character said "such and such" and we know that's wrong." Yes, but, those characters saying those things are THE BAD GUYS, not Harry or Dumbledore. And we're not supposed to like it even more now that we know Dumbledore was gay. Well, Dumbledore never did anything during the series that was reprehensible in that way. For all we know he was living a perfectly chaste life. Being gay doesn't make a person evil. Hate the sin, love the sinner.
Getting down off my soapbox now....
IDK, the Sermon on the Mount? Just to hear Him talk and be warmed by His words and to be able to sit at His feet. And maybe make some personal contact. One of the miracles would be great, but I think I wouldn't like the emotion and negativity that surrounded those. Or the Wedding at Cana would be cool because He was unknown then and you could sit across from Him at the table and converse. Bask in the glow without all the other thousands of people clamoring for His attention. Yeah, that's the one. Wedding at Cana.
Who wants to play along? Send me a comment and let me know---especially you lurkers so we can get to know you! :-D
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I have Little Princess's fish lips done, and I'm going pretty slowly. I think I'll manage to stretch this 4 day project out for another week and a half. Pipster's wasn't even done until the day AFTER his birthday---I still had to sew on the eyes.
Yesterday while we were out, he and TMax got a big kick out of wearing them down over their faces to see the reactions of people they walked past. It was mostly little children who did the staring!
What do you think? Would you take a second look if you saw this at Target?
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Please join in 9 days of prayer and fasting to stop President-elect Barack Obama from signing the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he takes office. Or ever.
Even if you believe that a woman has a right to abortion, I don't believe you would want your daughter to go through the whole procedure without your consent or knowledge.
This bill will take away all restrictions on abortion. It will not be good for our country, or women.
If you are opposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon.Please pray. If you are Catholic, please pray the rosary daily. If not, pray however you like, just pray.
For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is
set to be signed if congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The
FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion. If made a law
then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in
1) All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals will be
required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens Bishops
vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30% of all
hospitals in the United States.
2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no
3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.
4) Parental notification will no longer be required.
5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of
Perhaps most importantly the government will now have
control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future
amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain
situations (rape, down syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate
how many children women are allowed to have.
Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly
true. As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the
needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must
stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.
The Plan :
To say a novena ( 9 days of prayer ) along with fasting
starting on January 11th. For Catholics, the prayer of choice will be
the rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA. For non Catholics I
encourage you to pray your strongest prayers with the same intentions,
also for nine consecutive days. The hope is that this will branch and
blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact. We have very
little time so we all must act fast. Just do three things:
1) Pass this letter to 5 or more people
2) Do it in three days or less
3) Start the novena on January 11th and pray for nine
(Please also fast for at least two days during the novena)
Remember that with God all things are possible and the
power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless
killing of defenseless children then the time is now to do something
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I baked the cake in a glass, oven-safe bowl to get it round. I'd rather buy a bowl that can be used for other purposes than a ball cake pan that only gets used on the occasions a child asks for a round cake. And this is the first time in 19 years I've had this request! I didn't have any trouble getting the cake out of the bowl when it was done. I have yet to see if it is cooked all the way through, but I think it is. 350º for 1 hour 15 minutes!
I cut off the top so it would sit flat on the platter. Now that I think about it, I also should have sliced it in half and put a layer of frosting inside.
I got some gold powder to sprinkle on top to make it sparkle. I don't think you can tell in the pictures, but it was kind of cool. A lot more would have been better, but I didn't have a good shaker for it and it was taking too long, one pinch at a time!
Then I got some vellum from the scrapbooking aisle to make the wings. It's kind of pearly. I wanted gold sparkles, but I couldn't find that! I think they turned out pretty well.
Pip was very excited when he came home and saw it. I had hoped his excitement would soothe his disappointment about not getting to help, but I was afraid I would be frustrated and testy, so I did it without him.
Good thing, too. I was frustrated and testy with just myself. It very nearly turned into a Friday Fail, but we won't go into that.
Once he got out of the hospital, he put on all that weight he had missed out on. I expect him to be a giant of a man; he reminds me of a bear cub---solid muscle and big paws! He's smart and playful, funny and kind, and very energetic. Lots of fun to have around!
We love you!!!!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Unfortunately, I had to stay up late putting away the ornaments.
Fortunately, I had bought a new tree stand at Hobby Lobby for $3 yesterday (80% off!), so we shouldn't have this problem next year. The tree has been like the leaning tower of Pisa for weeks, getting lower every day.
I will miss my tree, but I'll be happy to have my living room back. Well, after I get the sundry ornaments put away and vacuum up all the pine needles left behind by the artificial tree. Can you see me rolling my eyes?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Another Happy Day today----It's TMax's birthday!
My sweet boy turns 13! I can't believe this precious boy is a teenager. And I can't believe I have FOUR teenagers now, but that's beside the point.
He's such a joy to have around. He's smart and funny, talented and creative, quiet and helpful. I'm so proud that he's my son. I just love having him around all day long.
I'll spare him the rest of my embarrassing gushing and just say how happy I am that God gave us the privilege of raising him.
We love you!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Here's a pic of the Pipster 24 hours after his shot in the fanny! When he woke up Saturday, his face was not quite as puffy and it was starting to show the rash and get crusty, but it was itching more and spreading to other places. His fingers were really fat and oozing and painful, so we took him in for what turned out to be a shot and 20 days worth of hyperactivity and hunger-inducing steroids. So far he hasn't been very hyper or hungry, so that's good!
Our oldest 3 are really cute together (though Madden wasn't in the mood for a photo shoot at this time). They play around and get silly just like little kids. Only they're bigger and LOUDER.
This one is after KT and Lil Princess made up. LP is kind of going through a rough phase and she's taking it out on her big sister. And everyone else, at times, but I think KT gets the worst of it because LP misses her so much.
We also went out for a family dinner at CPK before KT goes back to school and to celebrate the birthdays and play with our new camera. How do you think the pictures look?
LP and Pipster enjoyed their birthday sundaes! I think he got a little brain-freeze there!
Yes, Pipster and Little Princess had a second dessert.
I didn't touch them since I'm on the "I Hate Sugar and Sugar Hates Me" Diet.
Since it IS the Feast of the Epiphany, I hid baby Jesus inside one of them, which TMax found. The prize is that he gets to make the King Cake for next year's Epiphany.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The Pipster is a reckless little devil who likes to play in the woods. I think this last trip into the woods may convince him that he has to be more observant and careful. They don't go in as much during the summer, but it seems safer in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. But here in Hotlanta, the poison ivy doesn't die. I'm assuming that it goes dormant in other places....does it?TMax made the fancy duck-tape eye-patch for him. It does double duty keeping him from scratching and giving him a rakish look. When considering the pros and cons of wearing it to Trader Joe's we decided that it would be better to look like a 9 year-old with a piratey penchant than to have people gasping in horror at his deformity. I think we made the right choice because we only got comments on the "cool patch".
BTW, the swelling has gone down some. That pic included morning puffiness and his eye does open most of the way!