Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Monday

~Welcome Home!  We were away for Thanksgiving, from Tuesday to Saturday.  We drove up to Virginia to see dh's family.  As always, it's fun to be with the many cousins and inlaws.  It's a big party! We try to drive it on "off" days so we don't hit the bad traffic, and it seemed to work well this year.  In fact, we made it home an hour faster than normal.  Yeah!

~Outside: it's rainy.  It's supposed to rain heavily all day and cool down dramatically.  We might even get snow tonight!  But we know better than to be excited about it:  it has been so warm, in the high 60's all week, that nothing could possibly stick to the ground.

~Inside:  We have some Advent decorations out.  Advent wreath on the door, and one on the dining room and kitchen tables.  Nativities are out; Santa's are out; stockings are hung.  And I have my buffet decorated with all my milk glass, red berries, and holly sprigs.  I like that.

I don't know why the kids don't like to help with the decorating (or do I???), but they were playing with friends yesterday, and I got just a little help from Katie.  There's So. Much. Stuff. in my "Christmas Closet"!  We decided to trim it down a bit this year, and we have a bag of stuff already to go to Goodwill today.

~Gus Update:  We left him with generous neighbors who are very sweet, and probably have a higher tolerance for dog misbehavior than we do.  They got along fine with him, and he seems a little calmer since we got back.  He grew noticeably, even his whiskers!

We haven't put up our Jesse Tree yet because we're undecided about what to do.  We had planned to use it on a table this year as our Jesse/Christmas tree because we didn't think we could trust him.  Wouldn't you know that the folks we left him with did all their decorating on Friday and he didn't bother their tree at all!

Well, I wasn't up to the task of getting it out yesterday, anyway.  Christmas decorating is a big enough job.  Combining it with coming home from a trip and doing a week's worth of laundry for eight people with a limping dryer is just more than I could bear.

~The Liturgy:  I was so excited for the beginning of Advent and the new Mass translation, yesterday.  It was a bit awkward with people practically shouting "And With Your Spirit!" to make sure we got it right.  I think everyone missed the one at the Gospel reading!  The rest went well.  However, the beauty of the new translation was lost in all the other stuff that bothers me at my parish these days.  Dh went to a different parish, later, because Meg is sick and he stayed with her while I went to sing and the boys to serve the altar.

~Knitting:  I got lots of knitting done on my gray sweater over Thanksgiving, but not as much as I would have liked.  It's going to have to take a backseat now while I work on the sleeping mat for the homeless!

~I'm so happy to be home!  There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed---though I've discovered that I can sleep well on a sleep sofa if my back is already in good shape because of the chiropractor!  Back in the days when my back was in really bad shape, those things were miserable!!!!!

It's time to get Pip up and ready for school, though Meg will be sick on the sofa all day with a fever and sore throat.  There's lots to be done today---is there ever not?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yarn Along

I've had enough sleeping--- knitting and reading, for me, while the household slumbers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Working Weekend

Oh my, I've been busy since my yarn-along on Wednesday.   I finally posted the picture of my sweater, so you can go look at it now!

Except for attending 2 different Masses on Sunday, I've stayed at home working.  I probably could have done more work than I did, but I also managed to throw a little relaxation in there, following the FlyLady principle of taking breaks between chores.  And I managed to check off practically everything on my to-do list.  I'll add more to it today, but that's the way it goes, right?

I've done a fair amount of cooking, preparing a labor-intensive dessert for Thanksgiving---a Raw Chocolate Almond Torte---made with lots of nuts and fat!  And, no, I'm not going "raw" but this is delicious.  I can't find a link for you, but there appear to be lots and lots of similar items out there.

Saturday while I was cooking and cleaning and knitting, I had the TV on.  I think I caught 3 episodes of Fr. Barron's Catholicism on EWTN.  I also watched most of The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, with Ingrid Bergman on TCM.  That's one of my favorite movies!  I would probably forget about it if asked to name my top 10, but it should be in there.  I've seen it several times, and I love it every time.  It makes me drop everything---except my knitting, which I pick up---and watch.  It's about a young, English woman who goes to China to become a missionary despite many obstacles, not the least of which is that her co-missioner dies shortly after her arrival.  When Japan invades, she is faced with a monumental, hopeless task that she accomplishes even though she is "unqualified" to be a missionary in China.  One of those stories of virtue that moves me to tears.

Speaking of which, my Dh just wrote a book review on his blog about a book called The Righteous which sounds like it might just do the same thing.  I'll have to pick it up over the holiday week and read some of it.

Blogging will be brief over the next few days.  Have a lovely Thanksgiving Week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gray Day Yarn Along

It's actually more than a gray day; it's downright dark and raining cats and dogs!  A great day to stay inside with the kids, curl up with books and knit.

I'm a huge fan of this book this week.  And probably forever.

When we got Gus, Barbara recommended Good Owners, Great Dogs by the same folks.  I got it, and it's a good book, BUT he said over and over again that I need professional help with the dog that I have because of his (Gus's) personality. My Smart Puppy , OTOH, is full of excellent training lessons for your puppy.  It even comes with a DVD which I watched with Meg and Pip yesterday.

In the past few days, he has come a long way.  That's due in a large part to the training techniques from this book and the other one, but also to the fact that I finally got him to submit by laying him on his side and holding him down (known as the Alpha Roll, which Kilcommons does not recommend).  I know that's a controversial technique, and can be downright dangerous with larger dogs, but Gus just would not submit to authority, and was constantly snapping back when he was told No.  I had been doing it almost daily since the first couple of weeks, but it was having no effect, until the day I held the scruff of his neck while holding him down.  I was able to hold him with much less pressure and he gave in within minutes.  I've only done it a couple more times since then, but he's a much more obedient pup now!  I'm holding on to the expert trainer's phone number that I got from the vet, just in case, but I'm really hoping we won't need it after all.

But, as I said, now that Gus is more compliant, the tips we've gotten from My Smart Puppy  are turning him into a very pleasant pup.  He still has bad days, like yesterday, but I think I'm going to chalk those up to tummy troubles as he eats everything he can find outdoors and then has very...ahem...unusual stools.  There seeems to be a correlation between, say, yesterday's behavior and today's eliminations.

Moving on to knitting now... :-)

(Will upload photo as soon as the computer lets me!  Stop by again!)

I have frogged this sweater completely about 3 times.  I've ripped back 5 or 6 rows several times, and I'm still not sure why I'm messing up a fairly simple project.  I'm almost at the point where I can take the sleeve stitches off the needles and just knit the body, so I'm definitely looking forward to that!  It's a nice...ahem...mindless project for these too busy days.  Or at least it will be when I get to the miles of stockinette that are the body and sleeves!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Planning Miracle!

I did it!  I finally did it!  After years of thinking this would be a good idea, and reading blogs of other moms who do it....

I planned 7 (yes, 7!) weeks of dinner menus!

Back at the beginning of the school year, I was overwhelmed and decided to use my new Everday Paleo book for meal planning.  It came with 4 weeks of menus, including the all-important shopping list to match, and it was just what I needed to make my life easier.

Now that I've been through the whole book, and I saw that we were missing some of our old favorite meals, I decided to plan my own menus.  I sat down Saturday with my cookbooks and went through them, making lists of dishes by category:  chicken, beef, seafood, pork, vegetarian, etc.  Then, I pulled out 6 for each week, varying the categories, and we have 7 weeks worth of menus with no repeats.   

Yesterday and today, I spent my time going through each recipe, making a list of each ingredient for the shopping list.  I put everything on the computer with a spreadsheet for the shopping list for each week.  There are plenty of blank spaces to add special items for lunches and breakfasts, which I don't plan.  We have our staples, plus we eat dinner leftovers a lot.

We went to the store today after I checked the list and scratched out all the things we already had.  It feels so good to be fully prepared for the week!  I'm already thinking ahead to when the weather turns warm again and we won't want chili or soup, but I think it will be pretty easy to simply add a couple of weeks of summer recipes.  

Do you have a meal planning device that saves your sanity?

Monday Musings

Amazingly, I'm caught up on my blog reading this morning, because isn't that the most important way to start the week?  I've developed a habit (a good one?) of mostly staying off the computer on weekends in favor of relaxation or household responsibilities, but the blog posts certainly do pile up!  Last night I went through my reader and judiciously went through them either reading or just deleting.  Feels good!

Yesterday was a nice, busy Sunday starting with Mass.  I went to sing in the choir, but the rest of the family went to a different parish to check it out.  I think I've said that we're not generally fans of "parish shopping," but there comes a point when something needs to change.  If you've done your best to change your attitude and heart, and going to a certain parish is making you crazy, and possibly sinful, it's time for a change.

I got dinner going before I went to book club where we ate lots of lovely, wheat-free foods. If you look at the recipe, it calls for both beer and flour; I used the beer, but left out the flour, so it was low-carb, but not gluten-free.  There are gluten-free beers, though, which I'm trying to get dh to buy.  This is a FABULOUS recipe, made better by grass-fed rump roast and a tasty beer.

We ate so much earlier than usual that we had time to watch one of the movies that Barbara recommended:  A Shine of Rainbows.  Meg and I really enjoyed it, and cried a lot.

There's a lot on my schedule today.  Hopefully, I'll get a lot done and tell you about it later this week.  Do you have a lot of plans for the week?

 Have a beautiful Monday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I woke up to a very frisky, naughty puppy this morning...well, after the very nice kiss from my hubby...After I sat (figuratively speaking) on him (the dog, not the husband) for half an hour , he was much more inclined to listen to me.  I have a new dog training book from the library to read (four, actually!).  I'm very interested in the first one which came with a DVD, too. That will be good for the kids who certainly won't be inclined to read the book.

--- 2 ---

We had a lovely, little candlelight ceremony for our newest American Heritage Girls last night who were earning their Joining Awards---the first badge they receive after learning the oath, the creed, and meeting a few other requirements.  It was the first time we had done a Joining Award ceremony and it turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself!

--- 3 ---

We'll be wearing our red, white, and blue uniforms to co-op today in honor of the many veterans and their families who give so generously to keep our country safe and free.  God bless them!

--- 4 ---

As soon as I'm done here, I'm going to start sewing a flannel nightshirt for Pipster.  He plays Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, so he'll need a nightshirt.  Those are a little difficult to find at a reasonable price, but I can make him one for less than $10.  Let's just hope it's as easy as it looks and I don't regret not paying $50!

--- 5 ---

I was just reading some more of the disgusting news from Penn State.  Doesn't it shock you that a man can witness a grown man raping an obviously young boy and not call the police immediately?  Moral relativism has gone too far when we don't recognize something like that as a crime.

--- 6 ---

No time for more Takes, Quick or otherwise; the puppy's behavior needs to be redirected...again.

--- 7 ---
Have a Great Weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Teach Your Child to Read!

It's great when your children come back to you and tell you that something you did was a success.

Has that ever happened to you?  I think I got my first real kudos the other day!  (I was tempted to say 'kudo' just to make my husband roll his eyes, but I didn't.  Teachable moment here:

kudos |ˈk(y)o͞oˌdōs-ˌdōz-ˌdäs|nounpraise and honor received for an achievement.informal compliments or congratulations: kudos to everyone who put the event together.ORIGIN late 18th cent.Greek.

usage: Kudos comes from Greek and means ‘glory.’ Despite appearances, it is not a plural form. This means that there is no singular form kudo and that use as a plural, as in the following sentence, is incorrect: he received many kudos for his work (correct use is he receivedmuch kudos for his work).

Okay, so, back to the story...

TMax has been doing a lot of reading aloud in English class and he's shocked by the number of kids in his Honors English class who can't read without struggling through the sentences! He doesn't assume that he can read because he's so smart, he assumes it's because I used a great text to teach him:

I love. this. book.  I used it for all 6 kids and they all read fluently.  In fact, they all read fluently on a second grade level when they finished the book, no matter what age they were.  Now, I will admit for the sake of people who know me and my kids, that I think they're all very smart and I'm lucky in the homeschooling department, but they don't all love to read.  They do it for school, but a couple of them only read if they're forced to.  Yet they CAN read very well aloud.  Comprehension is another issue entirely.

My children were varying ages when we started the 100 lessons, and they took different amounts of time to go through it.  We breezed through certain sections when they were doing well, and we slowed to a crawl or took a break entirely when it got too much for them, but they all finished eventually, well before 2nd grade.  In fact, Brendan finished it just after his 4th birthday.  Remember what I said about reading on a 2nd grade level?  Yeah.  But that was him, not me.  He's like that.   :-)

So, I highly recommend this book, whether you are starting later or earlier.  But even better, is the praise from my son who recognizes that he got a good start in homeschooling.  He acknowledged some other area which I'll tell you about later....after I ask him again what it was.  lol.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Daybook

Outside my window...
The sun is coming up earlier than usual, and it's clear and balmy this morning.  It promises to be another fabulous fall day.  I've pretty much decided that fall is my favorite season as the leaf colors are just stunning!  It's hard to match that crisp air and colorful foliage with anything else during the year.

I am thinking...
Elizabeth's post on children and their free will, and a neighbor that my boys used to play with (the brother of Meg's buddy), who has been arrested for armed robbery at the start of his college career.  I'm so sad for him, and for her, and their whole family.

I am thankful...
for the relative peace in my home!  We have our ups and downs, and God willing, we'll never go down that path.

From the learning rooms...
Yesterday was an amazingly good day for a Monday!  We usually struggle with attitude and the amount of work.  For some reason, we got it all done with a good will in time for our noon dentist visit!
In the kitchen...
I'm gearing up to make a couple of months worth of weekly menu plans with shopping lists.  The weekly lists in
were a HUGE help when I was desperate.  Now that I've been through the book, I want to make my own menus and leave out the few recipes I didn't care for.  Plus, I want to make room for some of our old favorites.  

Is there a program out there that will help me compile all these recipes and lists?
I am wearing...
my workout clothes.  Go, me!
I did my workout, and it was mercifully short, but I can feel it.
I am creating...
a V-neck cotton sweater.  
I am going...
I'm hoping to stay home today to wait for the Tree Guy to come give us an estimate on removing 2 trees.  If I get out before after-school pickup, I will go to the thrift stores in search of costume items!

I am reading...
Still reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D..  I noticed last night that I've read only 75 pages of 260-ish, but I'm completely convinced.  That, and the testimonials on his blog are very compelling.  But I have to finish soon because our book club meeting is coming up!
I am hoping...
My dog gets potty trained soon!  He's just not good at letting us know what he wants.  We take him out on a pretty good schedule, and once in a while he'll sit at the front door (and in a greater while, he'll actually whine!), but there are other times when he just wanders off, with no notice that we can tell, and pees upstairs or in the library.  What's up with that?
I am listening on my ipod to...
my favorite podcasts:  Just a Catholic Dad, Catholic Weekend, the Rosary Army rosary, and a new to me one:  Among Women.
I am hearing...
The jingle of doggie tags as you-know-who wanders around.
Around the house...
Trying to maintain a certain level of decent living during this very busy and hectic time, and I'm wondering how to incorporate Advent and Christmas this year.  Simple, beautiful, and doggie-proof.

Any ideas?

One of my favorite things...
As I posted on FB the other day, one of my favorite things is a family dinner where everyone is engaged in the conversation and there is laughter and fun.   It would be perfect if the whole family were present, though!  

I also love introducing the kids to something new and laughing together over it.  Last night, it was Bill Cosby and The Cosby Show.  I watched 4 episodes with Meg and Pippo---they loved it.  
A few plans for the rest of the week...
The usual:  BSA, Choir, AHG.
 Trivia on Friday?

Friday, November 4, 2011

--- 1 ---
I can't believe it's Friday already!  What happened to Tuesday and Wednesday?  I know what happened to Thursday---it was just busy!

--- 2 ---
Loving Simcha's post from yesterday about stem cell research and the Church!  If I were having babies still, I'd definitely be saving their cord blood, if not for my family, for anyone else who needs it.  And I think everyone should be registered as a bone marrow donor because it really does save lives.  My favorite quote:

And yet the field has shown mixed results, if by “mixed results” you mean “dismal and unmitigated failure.”  When asked to list “diseases cured by embryonic stem cell therapy,” Google Chrome said,  “Aw, snap.  The information you are looking for does not appear to exist.”  It then asked, “Did you mean ‘adult stem cell cures?’”  and offered 13,700,000 results. 
--- 3 ---
Last night was my regular AHG board meeting, and, instead of rushing around trying to make dinner before I left, I let Meg do it for her Cooking badge.  She had to make pizza dough from scratch.  (I let her do the rest of it, too.)  She used Barbara's easy, yummy recipe.  From what I heard, everyone enjoyed it very much.  

--- 4 ---
I didn't get to post on Wednesday's yarn along because I was busy deciding what to knit next.  I tried on the Slinky Ribs (Wendy Barnard) sweater I've been working on which fit much better than I expected, but I had made some choices and mistakes that I didn't really care for, so  I'm frogging it in favor of this V-neck.  I'll go back to it eventually because I love it.
--- 5 ---
Have you heard that Advent is just around the corner?  Yikes.  I mean, it's a good thing, and I love the New Church year, but I'm so not ready.  Not ready to keep the dog away from the Christmas tree!  Maybe the theme this year will be Simplicity.  Simplicity, all the way around, sounds like a really good thing.

--- 6 ---
Are you disliking the new Google Reader, too?  I can't stand it.  I miss the sharing button, not that I did very much of that, but I always knew that I could!  Mostly I hate it because it's white and blinding.  It occurs to me that the people designing this new nightmare have young eyes.  The "updated blogger interface" is the same way, which I don't use because I can't stand the excessive white space.  Who do you complain to?  

--- 7 ---
Normally, or Last Week, I would've just clicked the Share button on this one, but even then you might not see it or click over.  You should, though.  Go read what Elizabeth has to say about children growing up.  Sometimes I feel like such a failure, and I have to remind myself that my job is to do God's will for myself.  My children have to follow their own path and use the free will that God gave them.  I might not like how they use it, but that's not my choice, and it doesn't reflect on my parenting the way I think it does.

I'll keep telling myself that, and I'll keep praying!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Halloween and All Saints, all done!  The party last night was fun.  I was very, very stressed by the time I got there, but we managed to fill in the last few gaps with games and prizes.  I relaxed as I realized that most of the pressure was coming from myself and not others' expectations of me!  The kids had a lot of fun, as usual, with the games.  There were long lines to play!

These are just a few of the games---mainly the ones I was responsible for providing!
St. Cecelia's Musical Mystery/Cake Walk

My St. Agnes---next year I may need to make her a new costume!

Bl. JP II running the bingo game.

Pinning the halo on our favorite new saint.

St. Nicholas's Coin Toss
I got to visit with some of my friends as I made the rounds, making sure the teens were staffing the games and not just taking over playing them.  One very popular new attraction was the St. Nicholas Coin Toss that I got from Charlotte---the boys just loooved slamming those bags of gold up against the wall and watching them drop into the chimney!

We said our family prayers when we got home, and I took the advice of a grocery-store cashier:  I took an hour-long hot bath with a large glass of wine and a book!  It was awesome!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Obligatory Halloween Post

Our Sunday dessert were Candy Corn Cupcakes which we whipped up out of the box of coconut cake.  The lighting is terrible and somone pointed out on FB that they look radioactive!  They were yummy, though.  Everyone thought the orange-flavored buttercream was genius!

I post this bad picture, of cupcake and Katie, because I want you to see it and her black fingernails with spiderwebs.   She's so creative!

Pip went out as Mojo Jojo from the Powerpuff Girls.  He made his hat out of posterboard and duck tape (white and silver).  The cape is an old, purple, crushed velvet maternity top that I turned into a cape.  I don't know why it came out royal blue in the photo!

The pumpkin: They did a great job on the creative aspect, not to mention the execution.  Katie thinks the little pumpkin being eaten looks bored, not scared.  

Meg went as Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls.  Her BFF went as the one in green, whose name slips my mind.  I made both of their costumes, and I wanted to make a mask of the big eyeballs, but they weren't into it.  So they were very simple.  Fine by me!

Pip and his cohort went to every house in the neighborhood, as usual.  He even dropped off his first pillowcase halfway through and pick up another!  Meg had about half as much, most of which she put in the "Do Not Like" pile.  :-)

We made up a few "movie theater bags" for special events, and I'll let them eat it at certain times for a couple of days, and then we'll get rid of the rest.  Thank God the days of 4-5 kids trick-or-treating are over!  I remember one year with a laundry basket full of candy!

Now, it's on to the real feast:  All Saints Day!  I was running around, printing, laminating, and generally planning party games yesterday.  Let's pray that we have all we need!  I'm very thankful for all those wonderful bloggers that post their pics and their ideas every year!


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