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Friday, December 15, 2006

What's In Your Purse?

The other day, while sitting in doctor's office, DH asked for something. As I rummaged through my purse, I had to take out a few things making it easier to see to the bottom. Here's what I pulled out from my small just going to town purse:


  • mini maglight

  • multiple packs of gum

  • cell phone

  • hand sanitizer

  • Christmas organizer

  • tape measure

  • pocket pack of Kleenex

DH made the sweetest remark about a mother's purse. He said, "A mother's purse....you can make a pipe bomb or dinner from the contents." What in your purse would surprise the world?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Community Reconciliation

Tonight was community reconciliation at church. Four priests preside at one mass and then hear confessions. It's really a beautiful thing, to see all these parishoners coming together to confess ones sins in a very real and deliberate way. I don't confess nearly as often as I want to or should ,so I really had to make a grand examination of conscience. While driving I mentioned to Grace that she might want to think of her sins so she's ready for tonight. Without hesitation she said, "You mean examine my conscience......I already did." Why is it so easy for kids? Are their sins not as sinful or deliberate as our adult sins? Aren't they embarrassed by their sins, especially when it's the same sin over and over again? Do they believe in absolution as easily as they believe that I will always love them? Watching kids prepare for reconciliation can really help one prepare for their own. Walk into that confessional ready to lay it all on the line, make an act of contrition, hear your penance, walk out smiling and tell your younger brother that it's so awesome and you can't wait for him to have his turn. That's what Grace did and she looks refreshed, renewed, pure in heart.

The Christmas Story


For the first time in years we will be attending Christmas Day Mass instead of Christmas Eve Mass. At our parish the kids tell/read/act/sing the story of Jesus' birth, on Christmas morning. Sister called with the assignments: Grace will play "Silent Night, Holy Night" on the violin, Lee will be a shepherd and Lou, an angel. Ray will sit in the pew pointing and yelling at his siblings. Talk of this Christmas pageant is buzzing all around the house. Discussing their rolls and what they'll wear, Lee made a comment that I'm not too sure how to take.

Lee: Well, I'm just glad I'm a shepherd and not Joseph.

Grace: Why?

Lee: Because I'd rather have my feathers pulled out one by one, than walk a donkey and pregnant girl to Bethlehem.

I wanted to probe him on this comment so badly. What's wrong with a pregnant girl? Don't you like walking? I've never seen feathers on you. Why wouldn't you want to be Jesus' "earthly father"? I just continued driving and listened to the conversation change to haircuts and how Lee shouldn't get one before Christmas because, "chances are, shepherds had long hair, mom".

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Something to Ponder

DH and I have been spending a lot of time together, alone at the clinic. He's found out that his C6/C7 disc is herniated. It's severe enough that he's losing quite a bit of strength and surgery is looking immanent. Anyway, all this time together has opened my eyes to his wittiness. We were driving by homes decked out in Christmas lights and he remarked:


The size of your Christmas tree is not directly proportional to the quality of your Christmas.


That comment meant to be slightly light- hearted really hit me. This year. due to all the craziness of DH's arm pain, broken water line and my mom's immanent move to an assisted living home, we put up our fake alpine tree, strung it with lights and added very minimal ornaments. It's a beautiful tree with just our very favorite ornaments and although I thought it small and insignificant, it has turned out to be one of the best trees ever. We've been too busy to remember to water a tree and with a 2 1/2 year old touching every ornament and every branch, a real tree would of been a disaster. How did you choose the size of your tree?

Santa Baby

while making cookies and listening to our local Christmas radio station we heard Santa Baby (the song sung by a woman with a whiny voice)

Lou: What kind of Christmas song IS THIS?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Santa Tales

Conversations are meant to be heard from the beginning. For example, today I got in the middle of this ongoing conversation.

Lee: Santa is not dead.

Lou: Uh-huhuh!

I would've loved to have heard the beginning of this conversation.

Happy Anniversary

Today we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We happened to have dinner, just the two of us, but the circumstances weren't pleasant. DH has been having severe pain in his left shoulder, arm and numbness of the fingers. Last week's trip to the doctor was a waste of time. Yesterday's trip to the Physical Therapist was a waste of time. She called the doctor and said his diagnosis was obviously wrong and she couldn't perform the therapy due to the severe pain he was in. Today we made another trip to the doctor, who manipulated his arm, requested an MRI and referred him to a neurosurgeon. He thinks DH needs surgery next week. We go on Monday for a 2nd opinion and in the meantime try to manage the pain with heavy doses of narcotics. After 4 hours at the clinic we were ready to pick up some take-out and head home to the kids at grandpa's. We called and they were eating pizza with grandpa; he suggested we grab a bite to eat. So that's how we managed to have a dinner date on our anniversary. I'd say we are pretty ingenious.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A Much Needed Vacation

We took a little vacation, despite DH's painful shoulder. With the lack of running water, we didn't need to think too hard about taking a short trip to LaCrosse, to a hotel with running water and a poolside room. We stayed here. Of course, swimming was the highlight of the trip for the kids. If they had their way we would've stayed at the hotel without ever leaving. I, however, love to see things when we visit new communities. We attended mass at St. Joseph of the Workman, which is the cathedral. What a blessing it was to buy my Advent candles right at the church. We headed out to the Shrine to our Lady of Guadalupe. We ate a nice breakfast at the restaurant where Lou commented that she felt like she was eating in a palace. I purchased a book on Patron Saints and a St. Nicholas holy card and we attempted to take a walk to the Votive chapel which was locked. It was about 10 degress and windy and we were not dressed for a hike, but we did make a mental note to come back in the summer when we can enjoy the grounds and walking trails. Another excursion scored high with the kids. A horse drawn carriage ride through Riverside Park to view the Rotary Lights. Approximately 1.5 million lights can be seen and a live nativity viewed. We were even counted by the Roman soldiers as we came into Bethlehem. Monday was a good day to take a drive through farm country. It was cold and the kids were tired from all the swimming. We jumped in the truck and drove through the Cashton area which is home to many Amish families. Grace and I stopped for some homemade cashew crunch and to look at some Amish made furniture. The Amish woman was so friendly and commented to Grace about school. She said she was homeschooled and the woman's face lit up as she remarked, "Not many of your people do that." I simply replied that the number is growing and it is a perfect fit for our family. With a big smile and a twinkle in her eye, she looked at Grace and said, "You'll learn a lot more at home than you ever would in school. You're a fortunate girl." Her accent was fascinating and her voice gentle. To be validated in the work that I do, this was the best part of the trip for me.

Note: Blogger won't let me post any pictures. Sorry, I had some good ones.

With God All Things Are Possible

THE BAD - DH has something wrong with his shoulder causing severe pain, no strength and numbness of his fingers. The doctor isn't offering any solutions except physical therapy for tendonitis. This has been going on for 10 days. Our underground waterline from our well to our house broke last week Wednesday causing us to live like grumpy, unprepared pioneers. The ground was so frozen that the excavator couldn't break through the frost under the road so DH (with the bum shoulder) had to build a 30 foot long campfire across the road with hopes that it would warm the ground enough to break through the frost.

THE GOOD - The fire worked. All the plumbing parts are in and the plumbers are here. There are no guarantees, but we should have water by tomorrow. Thank you Lord for fire and plumbers and outhouses.

Last weeks Family Formation lesson was about Hope. The catechism says that one cannot have despair if they have real Hope. Hope allows us to look to God to create all that we need. I've had moments of despair throughout these troubles, but God is good and I always seem to find Hope in the situation. I praise the Lord for his grace.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Bit More Personal

I've been very selective with the pictures I've published here. But before I took down the Thanksgiving decorations I took a quick picture of a wall quilt I made. I started this before Ray was born. He's almost 2 1/2 now; I finished it just in time for the fall decorating.

Weather is huge at our home. Being cranberry growers makes us very dependent on knowing what's coming our way in the way of weather. Lee has picked up on this fact and decided to create the weather himself. He made a weather TV for Lou so she could "watch" the weather while eating breakfast. Some days his generosity blows me away.

Help!! Does anyone know how to rotate a picture?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Great Links

Advent is approaching and it's none to soon to make plans for an inspiring and meaningful Advent. For a list of books and great Advent "rabbit trails" check out Real Learning.

If you have been hit by one of the many viruses or wish to remain virus free, check out Danielle Bean's post on, "I hab a code". We just got our flu shots today; hopefully we'll escape any major illnesses.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Coloring Contest

For a fun way to introduce the O Antiphons, click here. You will find a coloring contest printable picture and a simple explantion of the prayers and when they should be prayed. Send in the colored picture and you might win a prize package from Illuminated Ink.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Free Range Children

Organic goat's milk, hormone free meat, flax seed bread, daily multi-vitamins, free range chicken.......we do the best for our children when it comes to nutrition, but do we encourage and allow time for them to commune with nature? To be free range children? Recently, I've been thinking about this; I have a son who is happiest at home and left to explore the out-of-doors. He will come in with turtle eggs, clam shells, various bones, mushrooms, lichens, sticks that "look like something", and lots of stories. Stories about animal tracks, bird calls, screeches in the woods that "freaked" him out, holes in the earth that weren't there yesterday, cloud formations and so many more. He eagerly grabs his siblings and takes them out to see all these awesome finds. Putting on town clothes, riding in a van for at least 30 minutes and trekking through numerous stores is not his idea of a good day. Rather it elevates him, makes him irritable, difficult to work with. As a matter of fact, all my children love the outdoors. When a day is particularly difficult we take a trek to the mailbox or go for a walk around the marsh or if I need time to get something done, I send them out to swing or play on the sandpile. They come in refreshed and ready to tackle the next school task or chore. Children need time to explore nature, to learn how it works and to discover God's amazing design. I've learned that kids need time outside to just be kids. Even on vacation we make sure to get plenty of time outdoors noticing new landforms, interesting patterns in rocks and more. I encourage all parents to schedule time into everyday to get outside and take the kids with. A breath of fresh air is like renewing yourself with the serenity of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

HAPPY THANKSGIVING


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


The pies are baked, potatoes mashed and cheese tray made. My contribution to the buffet table is ready and I have so much for which to be thankful. My husband is healthy and strong and able to work hard for our family....the crop was exceptional....my children are homeschooled....my quilted Christmas wall hanging is finished....my grandparents are well and are blessings to their great-grandchildren....my mom is making progress towards assisted living....the freezer is filled with deer....I took time to play the piano today....kids were singing along....and the list goes on and on.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Deer Hunting

At our home, deer hunting is a holiday. Weeks of preparation are involved. The licenses have to be bought, the hunting videos watched and rewatched (training children to be quiet and whisper), snacks are purchased, gear is aired out, rifles sighted in, extra ammo bought and packed, last year's stories have to be remembered, relatives are called, beds are prepared for relatives, and finally the thermoses are filled with coffee or hot cocoa. It's 5:00 am on opening morning and the hunt begins. We have many hunters who hunt our property, which means many stories at 5:30 pm. The excitement fills the air; the kids are giddy all day wondering what's happening out in the woods. We lean over the back of the couch, peering through the window, trying to spot any glimpses of blaze orange in the thick poplar. Lee gets out his walkie talkie and tunes into different channels trying to listen in as hunters talk to one another on their walkie talkies. He hears only a few scratchy words.

It's been a good hunt. I shot a small doe. DH shot a 6 point buck and two does. Grace was lucky enough to be with him for the 2nd doe. She tracked the deer to a spot 100 yards from where it was shot. Here in Wisconsin there is a push to get 10 year olds out hunting (within arms reach of an adult). That means Grace could hunt next year if the law gets passed. Lee is out hunting with daddy today. They left about 1 1/2 hours ago, hopefully they get a deer. This year plenty of tags are available due to us being in a herd control zone. We'd like to put 6 deer in our freezer this year and then give a couple to some friends in need. My father-in-law has given up hunting due to his lack of mobility, so we like to stock his freezer with meat. We have so much for which to be thankful.

At the Breakfast Table

Lee lets out an uncharacteristic burp, loud and a bit juicy.

Grace: "You're disgusting."

Lee: "Thank you!"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Socialization Overload

The words homeschooling and socializtion often are in the same sentence. Typically, we as homeschoolers, are being accused of sheltering our children, not giving them enough opportunities to interact with peers. And to that I say, "Yes, I am sheltering my children, but not neccessarily from peers." I diligently keep them away from the magazine aisle, so as not to think that beauty comes in only one form, skinny or muscular. I protect them from hate in the world by limiting the amount of news they are allowed to view or hear. We have sleepovers at our home so I can be sure the activities are appropriate. I attend activites and events with them (the oldest is 9), friends are formed because of family relationships. Not too many years ago this was considered to be smart parenting, now the "world" wants us to believe that we are being intrusive and over protective. I can't even count the number of times I've heard people say that if kids aren't toughened up they'll never survive when they're on their own. I believe children need plenty of time to develop in a stable and moral environment. Of course, life happens, and they will be exposed to all the hate, anger and immorality of the world, but with a foundation based on Faith, virtue, morality and love they stand a much better chance of seeing the bad for what it is and avoiding it.

Now for the peer issue, which I call socializing, not socialization. We did an awful lot of it this past week. That's reason #1 for not blogging since last weekend. Tuesday we went to the homeschool rollerskating party, then Grace went home with a friend for the afternoon. Wednesday we went to violin and stopped for a playtime at the mall play area. My children easily made friends with the other children whom we didn't know. Thursday was the monthly quilting session at Dawn's, where again my four and her four came together for 6 hours of socializing. Friday was another day of fun; one of our schooling friends had the day off, so we took advantage of that and played again. This weekend being opening gun deer season meant we had house guests and you guessed it more socializing. We can't wait to have a normal day tomorrow....practicing spelling words, doing math, finishing the last science experiement for the unit on Matter and Spirit, cooking, cleaning and having fun with one another.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Frugal Family Tips


I've always liked Maureen's Thrifty Homeschooler site. She includes all the things I'm interested in: cooking, canning, homeschooling, books. But, most recently, I've run across Thrifty Mommy. Her site is a bit more varied and is a nice complement to Thrifty Homeschooler. She also has many links to other thrifty websites. Her most recent posts include: cleaning remedies, thrifty and safe carseats, toy shopping and how to indulge without feeling guilty (use cash). I have a couple of my own frugal family tips.

  • USE MEN'S SHAVING CREAM - I recently bought 14 oz. of Colgate shaving cream for $0.97 at Walmart. The Equate brand of shaving cream was $1.87 for only 7 or 9 oz. Although the men's smells masculine, it doesn't stay with me long and I can easily cover it up by moisturizing my legs, once out of the shower. Now you just have to take the time to shave.
  • USE 1/2 OF A DRYER SHEET - Dryer sheets can be torn in half very easily. I buy bounce free, 80 count and by tearing them in half, get 160 dryer loads. At 14 loads per week, I get about 11 weeks of drying instead of about 6 weeks. My clothes are still static free and soft.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Matter and Spirit

Chapter 2 of the Behold and See 3 CHC science text is titled Matter and Spirit. Since I have 4 children all needing a different level of science, I need to be creative in order to use our time wisely. Here is what I do: Grace is 9 and studies at the 3rd grade level. Lee is 7 1/2 and studies at the 2nd grade level. When we start a new chapter in Behold and See 3 I begin by reading to them. I add to the text by asking them questions and giving some examples of how this area of science fits into my life as a mom. When it comes to the experiments, Grace and Lee work together. They both read the directions, gather supplies, carry out the experiment, discuss the questions and then Grace writes in the answers. I expect her to construct adequate sentences to answer the questions. They clean up and close the book. Then to incorporate Lou and Ray (barely), I check out books from the library. We read these during the day, sometimes while the others are doing the experiment or as bedtime stories. We also schedule Wednesday and music lesson, errand and Family Formation day, so the afternoon is usually free to persue other interests. On occasion we read on those afternoons and I try to incorporate some "schoolly" type books. Here are two suggestions for supplemental reading for Chapter 2, Matter and Spirit.

Matter: see it, touch it, taste it, smell it by Darlene Stille

What Is the World Made Of? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Cranberry Pecan Pie


This is my newest favorite cranberry recipe, which is quite an honor since I try lots of cranberry recipes. To qualify as a winner it must be simple, use basic ingredients that I keep on hand and be extremely tasty. This cranberry pecan pie fits the bill. In general I like pecan pie, once a year at Thanksgiving, that is. Since I often take pies to our potluck Thanksgiving, I gave this recipe a chance and it won. It will definitely be on the dessert table this year. For the original crust recipe use the link in the title of this post, otherwise do as I did, use your favorite crust recipe. This time I used a basic homemade crust.

Filling:
3 eggs
1 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans (I chopped slightly, leaving lots of whole pecan halves)

Roll out pastry to fit a 9 inch pie plate; flute edges. Combine eggs, syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla and mix until blended. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Pour into crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is almost set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight before slicing. Serve with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream, if desired (which we did desire).

Personal Update

Since my last post on Halloween, I've been hopping every minute. November 1st was crazy. I started it with Mass at 9am, followed by a canceled violin lesson and then we headed back to church to prepare lunch for the NET Ministries group. Our church hosted them for a few days so another lady and I made an awesome taco lunch for them. The other lady brought a corn bake which I will post the recipe for soon. It was so good, I couldn't resist seconds. The kids (young adults) polished it off, as well as all the soft tortillas, black olives and apples with caramel dip. Once home we had our annual harvest party for all the seasonal employees and their families. My fun at the party had to stop short due to a prior committment to Hospice. Hospice hosted a large fundraising event in our town and I agreed to host two tables, which meant I needed to convince 15 people to dress up, eat cavier, sob while listening to the presenters share their Hospice stories and then give generously from the heart while Karen Taylor-Good sang incredibly sad songs. The services provided by Hospice are truly remarkable. The staff must be angels in disguise. Once our eyes were dried some friends and I sat in the lobby of the hotel for almost three hours talking about Faith, dreams, husbands, babies, why our husbands don't want anymore babies, what we can do to convince them they do want more babies, Catholic school, homeschool, recipes, frugal living ideas and more. You know how we women can go from one topic to the next without even taking a breath.

My mom came home from Colorado, we had violin repertoire and more. Usually I am focused on protecting my time. I really want to enjoy everything and let my kids have plenty of playtime, without worrying about what's next on the agenda. But it doesn't always work. Last week was a perfect example.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween


Now that my children's (and my own) teeth are coated in sugar, tummies are bloated from Twizzlers and blood sugar levels are out of control it's time to say Good Bye to another year of Halloween and Trick or Treating. This year we hit 7 homes and the pumpkins were full. When I was a kid we got a roll of Smarties or a Dum Dum at each stop. Now they get a juice box, baggie of candy bars and granola bar at each stop. Ray's pumpkin was so heavy he could hardly carry it. I was lucky enough to come away with a pile of Almond Joys, one of my favorites; lucky for me no one else likes them.

UW-Madison is known for their huge Halloween party. This year local officials tamed it slightly. Still there were 230 arrests, a police officer broke his wrist and a total of 30,000 party animals in attendance. The title of the news article included the word calm. How can that be? It's everything but calm in my livingroom after a good night of trick or treating and that's with only 4 kids and 2 adults. There were no arrests, no broken wrists, but still not calm. Our local newspaper reported on this Madison party as well and the last line was a quote by a police officer saying this year was a success. Is this how our society defines success? A party that gets so out of hand that police officers and the mayor have to barracade State St. and charge an admission to 30,000 (down from 100,000 last year) mostly drunk costumed college students? A police officer breaks his wrist in a chase and that's called a success? 230 people were arrested and that's called success? How can 230 people be arrested if it was a calm night of partying? Don't arrests happen when things get out of control? I'm baffled by all of this! Read more here and here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

God's Amazing Grace


I blogged about this little girl before and now she's famous. Her mother Dawn Johnson has written a book about her life (all 20 months of it) and you won't believe her story. Grace's scripture is from Ps. 118:17 - I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. Here is a bit from the dust jacket of the newly published book.
  • Baby Grace as a brand-new infant was abandoned naked in this field in southern Ethiopia. Hidden under the bush, by this tree, she was found with a noose tied tight around her neck. Baby Grace was left to die in desolation, surrounded by hyenas, wild dogs, and vultures, not to mention the scorching sun.....laid over her fragile, weak body in hopes of her not being found. But God.....she was found gasping for breath, barely alive........

The biggest news ever is that she is a perfectly healthy walking, talking testimony of God's love for each and every human being. Looks like she's getting a brother within the next 6 months, too. This family is incredibly obedient to our Lord and is always working to do His will.

Silly Science

Today the funniest thing was said during science. We were talking about states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. Lee jumped in with examples of each: "Solids are rocks, liquids are drinks and gases are farts." Why was this so funny? He was so serious when he said it. Grace chuckled, Lee roared with laughter and I couldn't help, but join in.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Setting up the Sprayers

Elevating the Cranberries into the Dump Truck

Cranberries Crossing the Cleaning Belt

Harvest is Almost Over

We will be done harvesting cranberries by Tuesday morning and although it is such a relief to see that last truckload leave, it's also sad in a way. This is the culmination of a year's work. DH preps the beds for winter, waits for a below zero weather forecast, floods the marsh, makes ice, rolls the snow, sands the beds, drains the water, waits for spring melting weather to come, lays the irrigation pipe in the beds, protects the new buds against frost, fertilizes, combats worms, does some hand weeding, kills weeds with Round-up, brings in pallets of honeybees to aid in pollination, waters during drought conditions and extreme heat, makes a crop estimate, protects against frost again, preps all the harvest equipment, removes the irrigation pipes, floods the beds, beats the cranberries, booms the cranberries and loads them into dump trucks. Then the cycle repeats itself year after year. In between all this hard work is so much beauty. The after harvest frost on the beds is icy white, the spring greening of the vines, the Fourth of July bloom, the August fruit set, the coloring and sizing of the berries; it's all so beautiful and now we have to wait again. Then the questions come: Did I fertilize at the right times? Should I do it differently next year? Do I need more bees? Should I place the bees in a different spot? What about sanding? Maybe I should've sanded bed #3. Is my soil nutrition proper? What about the tissue nutrition? A new plan is made and then this year's questions will be answered next year at harvest time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cranberry Apple Spice Bars

These are awesome as a coffee cake for breakfast.

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup cranberries, whole or chopped
1 cup diced, peeled apple
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine ingredients in order listed. Place in greased 9x13 or 10x15 pan. Top with a mixture of 2 T. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes depending on which is used. They are done when the top looks set and dry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How to Learn

Can the Cabela's Master Catalog teach a 7 year old boy anything? My answer is a resounding yes!! Take the knife section, Lee has learned how to measure out to the nearest 1/16" by using a ruler to check the lengths, widths and thicknesses of each and every knife blade in the catalog. He is learning that each line on the ruler stands for either 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 or 1 whole inch. He is comparing lengths and thinking about the use for each different knife. In the binocular section he is learning that the higher the number the higher the magnification. He now knows how magnification is written (9 x 21 for ex.). He's learned the difference between bi and mono, as in binoculars and monoculars. ("Dad, did you know they came out with monoculars, so you only have to use one eye to look?") A young boy can also learn the different types of terrain, landscapes, leaf patterns and seasons by studying the huge variety of camo patterns. ("Mom, now that only the oak leaves are left on the trees, do you think I would need Mossy Oak or Realtree camo?") And don't forget the all important math concept of rounding money to the nearest dollar. ("I'd need about $15.00 for this $14.95 face mask.")

Here's another way we learn at our house. Marbles are named according to the states that were introduced during map skills. Then Grace teaches Lou how to say each name and where that marble should "play" according to where it's located in relation to Wisconsin. This sounds like a confusing game, but for some unknown reason they like to play this.

And another. If you fall in the ditch during cranberry harvest and your hip waders get wet, you'll learn quickly, when you put your boots on the PEET boot dryer, that heat rises.

I would not call us unschoolers, however, I do have unschooling tendencies and the idea is so tempting to me. Children learn so much by living and enjoying life. I learn so much by patiently watching my children live and enjoy life.

A Little Bit of Comedy

Proudly, Lou announced tonight, "Mom, I put on clean underwear.....first time in three days."
  • Now that's something to be proud of.

Lou wants Faith to come over to play; I had to explain that Faith doesn't like to come over unless her mother comes along, but we'll be going to her house in November so the moms can quilt and all the kids can play. Her response, "moms, moms, moms....all they do is stuff for themself".

  • At that I just bit my lip and continued clearing the table, making bedtime reminders, loading the dishwasher, washing the overflow dishes by hand and switching over the laundry.

How a cranberry grower's wife knows it's harvest time

  • she opens up the travel coffee mug to find cranberry leaves mixed in with the remains of the cold coffee

The Marsh in the Morning

Cleaning the Cranberries

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Getting Setup to Load Cranberries

Our Cranberry Harvest

Day 10
Everyone is tired. Ice covered the beds until 11 am. A hydraulic pump blew a gasket. They are working until dark. The kids miss having daddy at our regular meal times. The kids miss having regular meal times. Only 8(?) more days of this. DH said it's time for me to start planning an after harvest vacation. YES!!!! Oh, and the sun shone all day. Praise the Lord.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Ultimate Compliment

Before harvest started, I made a trip to Wal-Mart to stock up on a few things. I bought Lee some thin, stretchy gloves for under his rubber gauntlets. I handed them over to him and his response was a classic Lee response, "Thanks mom, I'll use these. These'll come in handy......real handy." It was a nice compliment, to know I had picked, out of the millions of items sold at Wal-Mart, just the right thing for this seven year old working boy. Later reflecting on this moment, I wondered why that comment stroked my ego so well. I realized this was the ultimate compliment because I am a very practical person. A few Christmas' ago, DH gave me jewelry and a Nesco roaster. I wear the earrings often; each time I place them in my ears I think about how beautiful they are and how nice they will go with my outfit. But, each time I use the the Nesco, I think, this is great, it sure comes in handy. For me, "coming in handy" is far more important than being "beautiful". Just look at my house, my wardrobe, my garden, my quilts, my attitude (some days) and even my faith. Sometimes these things just aren't beautiful, but they sure are handy. I think about the ripped US map on the closet door, the mismatched long underwear pajamas, the row of mildewy bean plants, the not so perfect stitch in the ditches, the persevering attitude that comes out as pushy and forceful and Confession, NFP and works of charity. All of these are handy, but not always beautiful to the untrained eye. This makes me think of the PBS show, The Red Green Show. His motto is: "If they can't call you handsome, at least they can call you handy." Come to think of it I should make a roast chicken for supper, in the Nesco, of course.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Difference Between Girls and Boys

On our way back from dropping some letters in the mailbox, I was reminded that there is a real difference between girls and boys. I'll set the scene: Lou was riding her bike (she's been a two wheel rider for about 1 month), I was pushing Ray in the stroller and Lee was zipping around on the 50cc Honda dirt bike. Now for the difference in gender: Lee approached fast from behind; Lou heard the engine rev and not knowing how to brake confidently, just veered way off to the side and ditched the bike; she fearfully watched Lee pass by. On the other hand, Ray heard the engine rev and excitedly waited for Lee to approach. As he rode by, Ray put is arms in the air, opened his eyes wide and said, with a smile on his face, "whoa, ho". Who said there's no difference? I know the truth.

World Mission Sunday

Words from our guest mission priest: Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Go and serve your people, your family.

We have a parish mission this week, Sunday through Tuesday. The topic is healing our relationships with others by healing our relationship with God. I truly yearn to attend. Mass will be at 7:00pm, which will definitely not work for us for many reasons. We tend to eat dinner around 6 pm, we are in the middle of cranberry harvest and our schedule is very unpredictable, I refuse to take 4 children to a mass that interferes with their bedtime routine. I guess I won't be going. DH reminds me that charity begins at home. He doesn't mean we should be self serving, but should take care of the basic needs of those at home, first. Once those needs are met, there will be plenty of opportunities to help and give freely, without feeling guilty about letting down those closest to us. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then everyone at home pays for it as I scurry around trying to take care of home and the obligation, neither being done well. Soon enough, too soon, I'll be able to attend all the missions I want, as my sweet children will grow up and move on. For now, my most important mission: supporting my hardworking husband and caring for my children.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Loaves and Fishes


DH sent in a crop estimate earlier in the summer. The crop looked good and the estimate reflected that; late summer fertilizing came and the crop estimate was looking a little over zealous. He flooded each bed and watched as the dark red berries disappeared into the dark acidic water. He was disappointed, the crop that was thought to be there, just wasn't. As he started beating, one by one the cranberries just floated to the top. The beds were 2/3 covered (and in some cases, even more) with beautiful crimson colored fruit. All he could do is think of the loaves and fishes story. He commented that he knew how those 5000 people must of felt when the food never stopped coming. He witnessed the miracle for himself, right in central Wisconsin during cranberry harvest.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Maureen at Thrifty Homeschooler has just posted a recipe for canned vanilla pears. She notes to buy real vanilla extract, not the imitation stuff. Real vanilla is quite expensive, in my opinion. So, I use this recipe, which I got from a member of our Parish Council of Catholic Women.

1 bottle of good Vodka
2-3 whole vanilla beans

Place the vanilla beans in the Vodka and let steep. Ready to use when the Vodka smells like strong vanilla.

Science and Scripture

Just yesterday we started the CHC science book, Behold and See. One of the first things to read is scripture from Wisdom. Then a little bit of intro and then more scripture from Romans. Having a Bachelor's degree in Biology with an emphasis is education, I don't remember one time that a teacher ever introduced science using scripture, nor have I ever used scripture to teach science.....until yesterday. Who knew it could be done? The premise in the book is that if you can see the beauty and understand the workings of science, then you will understand God as the creator of all. My husband, an avid outdoorsman (hunter, trapper, fisherman) could of told you that years ago. He has always said that a good evening in the tree stand doesn't always end with a deer to register; part of the fun is being in nature, being quiet, being observant of your surroundings. It's hard not to be spiritual when surrounded by all the beauty of the woods or water. So after just a couple of pages, we delved head first into the Scientific Method. Our questions was: Do cranberries float? Even though we already knew the answer it was an easy way to follow the steps of the Scientific Method without actually having to do any experiments. Though, they did ask when we were going to do more experiments from 101 Cool Science Experiments by Glen Singleton. My response, "Let's just get through harvest, first."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Baked Chicken with Cranberry Sauce

3 lb. chicken, cut into pieces (or enough chicken to feed your family)
1 can cranberry sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix
2/3 cup French dressing

Put chicken, single layer, in baking dish. Heat remaining 3 ingredients and stir until blended; pour over chicken. Cover with foil; bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Then uncover and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve with rice.

Cranberry Harvest Day 3
What was once a bounce in their step has now become more of a dragging of the feet. Everyone's muscles are sore and they are wet and cold to the bone. Tomorrow's weather is predicted to be sunny and the crew will have the day off; DH has to beat a couple more beds before trucking can resume. Tonight we might actually get some snow/sleet mix, but it won't be the first time in October that we've had snow. Usually cranberry harvest brings: hot sun, driving winds, pouring rain, unnecessary snow and bone chilling cold all in a two week time span. They say if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin, stick around a few minutes, it'll change.

Kids say the cutest things

This morning Lou caught Ray playing with her princess wand and said, "Stop using my wand, you're going to turn yourself into a frog."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Harvest: Day One

Day one went great, even with the rain; 6 seasonal employees showed up and only one said they wouldn't be back the next day. The work is hard and she thought she was slowing up the other workers. Her regular job is as a hair stylist, so I asked her to cut my hair Thursday. What a great deal for me, she's coming right to my house to cut my hair. It'll be a good morning to set the kids up with a Little House episode. The crop is looking exceptional, but it's probably too early to get excited. Grace and Lee put in 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours of work, respectively. It's amazing how fast they get to their seat work in the morning, having harvest work to look forward.

Cranberry Bread
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. oil
grated zest from 1 orange
juice from 1 orange plus water to make 3/4 cup total
1 beaten egg
1 cup cranberries (whole or chopped)
1 cup nuts (I like walnuts)

Sift or fork together first 5 ingredients, set aside. Beat egg and add oil, zest and juice. Stir in dry ingredients. fold in cranberries and nuts. Pour into greased 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Use toothpick to test for doneness.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Another Conversation

Walking into the house Lou said, "Mom, Ray gets crabby when he's tired, right?" "Yeah", I said. She replied, "Are you tired?"

I think that was a very sweet way of saying that I was a bit crabby last night. Kids who normally have no tact sometimes surprise me with their thoughtful truths.

Looking Dumb

Lee has been carrying around the Cabela's master catalog for quite some time searching for the perfect knife to purchase. Yesterday he was on the couch, with ruler in hand, paging through the knife section carefully running his finger along the ruler until he arrived at the said length of blade. Every once in a while an "oh, that's a big one" and "too little" was mumbled. After finding the perfect one for that day he came over to me and said, "I think this one with the serrated knife, you know what serrated means?" I said, "yes I know". "I think this one will work well for cutting brush". I hope I'm not as dumb as I look to a 7 year old.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Broccoli Cranberry Salad

This is a favorite of mine to take to funeral luncheons, picnics and potlucks and I always serve at our annual cranberry harvest party.

5 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon pieces
1 cup sunflower kernels (salted or unsalted)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Combine in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Dressing:
1 cup salad dressing (Miracle Whip Light is my favorite)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined using a fork or wire whisk. Add dressing to salad mixture and mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Heard This Today in the Van

DH: Pointing out the van window, "There's a Chihuahua."

Lee: "I didn't think that (Chihuahua) was a dog, I thought it was one of those animals...."

Mom: Interrupting Lee, "You're thinking of a Chincilla."

Lee: ".....that climbed and hugged trees."

DH: "A Koala"

Lee: "Yeah, that's it."

Lou: "I thought that was a food."

DH: "That's a chimichanga."

We all got a good laugh out of this and I just had to preserve this memory by blogging it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Heard on Relevant Radio

Driving home at midnight, after Grace's violin recital, a trip to Culver's and taking Grandma home, I was listening to Relevant Radio. They were replaying Chuck Neff's program and talking to Father David Ciminetti (spelling?). Father David was absolutely riveting to listen to. He was sharing with a listener that God only provides light for you to see a few feet, because you are not ready for everything that's in store for you. God does this to help you grow in faith and trust in him. How beautiful a comment to someone who is wondering why.....my husband is divorcing me?.....my child is terminally ill?.......my parents need my help when I'm already in over my head with my own family?.......I was laid off?......why I can't get pregnant?......my children are struggling with school? I've found myself talking with friends in crisis and reminding them that God has plan. They don't like to hear that because they can't see farther than a few feet. I now have some truth to share with them and maybe it will help. The key is this, God is always encouraging us to grow in faith and trust. Sometimes these times of growth come because of crisis, other times because of abundance. I can only think that God is protecting us by only revealing small amounts of his plan for us at a time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Robinson Crusoe Reader


For the 2nd year in a row I get to listen to this book read aloud by one of my children. Robinson Crusoe (unabridged) is a great story. This version, which is just right for a skilled beginning reader, is a lovely story with simple sketches that have intrigued both of my readers so far. The text is very repetitive, but never boring. The words used are basic words that all children use in their everyday conversations and writing. It helps them to identify these words quickly and gives them a chance to learn to spell these words. After only 4 days of Lee reading this he can already spell the word "water" correctly; I believe because he's seen and read it so many times in the story so far. The so called chapters are only a few paragraphs which, for a young boy who has so many more important things to do, is just right.

Today's Recipe

If I had to pick something other than pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread......as a favorite baked good the following recipe would be it. These cranberry bars are so good that sometimes we don't even get the frosting on them before the pan is half gone.

Cranberry Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cranberries, whole or sliced
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together the sugar and butter; add beaten eggs and stir well. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Mix in nuts and cranberries. If using frozen cranberries and butter the batter will be very stiff and hard to spread in the pan, but will work out great. I always use that combo. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly golden and looks set. Let cool completely (in hiding).

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. soft cream cheese
1/4 cup soft butter
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cheese and butter, add vanilla and milk. Gradually mix in sugar. Spread over cooled cranberry bars.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I Love Cranberries


Although this photo isn't from our cranberry harvest, it's from our neck of the woods and was featured in our local newspaper last week. This is what I see for two weeks every October. It's a beautiful sight. Cranberry marsh tours are available in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon and maybe Michigan. Check it out. It's a great idea for a homeschool tour. Any fruit or vegetable harvest can be interesting.

Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce

1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups cranberries, sliced or whole

Beat well first 3 ingredients, add milk and stir. Sift together dry ingr. and add to liquid mixture. Stir in cranberries. Place into greased 9 inch pan and bake at 375 degrees, 35 - 45 minutes. Check for doneness using the toothpick method.

Cook slowly in double boiler or microwave until sugar dissolves, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup cream. This sauce does not thicken. Serve warm over cranberry cake.

This recipe came from my mother-in-law. She was a great cook and this is one of my husband's favorites. He likes to taste the tartness of the cranberry so I leave the berries whole and we do not serve with butter sauce unless having company.

Christmas in October

October, and it's snowing, lightly, but still snowing. Grace pulled out her Christmas tunes and played for us on the violin while Lou jingled the bells "all the way". The music ceased and Lee and Lou talked about Christmas. Lou commented that Santa is like God because he's "magical". Lee agreed that they both "bring good things", but that God is bigger. Lou said "yah, God is bigger than the boogie man." Sounds like those Veggie Tales silly songs really do pay off.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Cranberry Recipes

Cranberry harvest is upon us and so I will again be freezing 100 pounds of cranberries. I use these cranberries in all sorts of recipes during the year. If you are in an area where fresh cranberries are in abundance, by all means buy some and throw them in the freezer. Remember to wash them before cooking with them. The prepackaged 12 oz. bags in the produce dept. can be tossed in the freezer as is. Make sure they aren't wet or they'll freeze into an ice ball. Over the next few weeks I will be posting cranberry recipes that are sure to be winners with you. I have my favorites and maybe some will be your favorites, too.

Cranberry Sauce
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups cranberries

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Boil hard 5 minutes. Add cranberries; boil gently for 15 minutes, stirring ocassionally. For whole berry sauce, pour directly into a mold or glass bowl. Cover loosely and refrigerate until jelled (at least 4 hours). Whole berry sauce may also be served warm. For strained sauce (no skins and few seeds), press through a mesh strainer with the back of a wooden spoon. Or my favorite way to do this is to triple the recipe and then strain using my Back to Basics food mill with the berry screen. I pour the cranberries into the hopper and turn the handle until all the sauce has come through. Stir and pour into hot sterilized jars pint jars and seal. Invert for 5 minutes. Turn upright and listen for lids to seal.

For tips on find canning jars or other canning info check out Thrifty Homeschooler.

Pasties

The pasties turned out great and the house still smells delicious. They were extremly filling and went over pretty good with the kids. However, they did have more fun making them than eating them. We went easy on the rutabaga and good thing because they do have a strong flavor when cooked. The italian pork sausage worked well and then I heavily peppered the filling. We talked about miners during lunch and DH answered lots of questions like: How did they blow holes in the earth with dynamite? Did miners die if holes collapsed on them?

We took in two deer to be processed. We'll be getting back italian sausage links, hot italian sausage links, bratwurst patties, garlic summer sausage and breakfast links. What a blessing it was for DH to get two deer in one night. The meat is always welcome when the freezer gets low. We'll cut the gun deer into steaks, stew meat, roasts and hamburger, that's assuming we get deer during the gun deer hunt.

No Time to Blog

I haven't been here since Sept. 11 and boy do I miss it. At the end of each month I like to reread that months posts just to be reminded of all that happened. September 30 came and there wasn't much to read. It almost felt as if the month never happened, but I know better.

The Civil War was the topic for our "Today's Lesson". What I thought would take 3 weeks ended up taking about 6 weeks. We read about the events leading to the war, President Abe Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant and a number of historical fiction picture books. The kids colored pictures of soldiers, drummer boys and nurses; labeled a map of the United States and identified the free and slave states. We watched two great animated videos, one on Abe Lincoln, the other about Harriet Tubman. We made hardtack and gingerbread. Grace made a paper mache project and Lee made a parachute; both of these ideas came from a Civil War activity book. Later today they are going to draw and color flags while I finish reading one last book to them. I've had a great time learning about the Civil War, it seems like I'm learning most of it for the first time, even though I'm a college graduate. That's not too surprising, though.

Today we made pasties for lunch. They are cooling now and making the whole house smell yummy. The basic recipe is: 2 cups rutabaga, 2 cups potato, 1 cup onion, 1 lb. ground meat and lots of pie crust. We used seasoned pork sausage and homemade pie crust (enough for 2 double crust pies). Each one of us made our own and suited it to our taste and hunger. Now for the test; time to ring the dinner bell.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My New Daily Prayer

Lord, elevate me to an awareness of your grace. Amen.

Don't Worry....Get the Dictionary

The phrase used as the title needs to be said with a slightly sing songy voice. We've used this phrase for about a year now. Grace came up with the phrase one night at supper when I got the dictionary. I tend to get the dictionary quite often and the kids sort of make fun of me. This phrase has stuck and Lee said it just the other morning after asking me the difference between a mountain and butte. Well, I had a vague idea, but needed to confirm it. I grabbed the red book from the shelf and we started on a quest that took quite some time. First, mountain. Then, summit and butte and plateau. This led into Power's Bluff and the Rocky Mountains. All this and we hadn't even finished breakfast yet. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity and flexibility to do this. We don't have to worry about being late for the bus.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Billy and Blaze


Billy and Blaze books by C.W. Anderson are some of my favorite books. I've found that they appeal to boys because the stories are very adventurous and to girls because of the horse factor. Today Lee checked out a couple to read to me this week. For early readers they are a little long, but the text is fairly simple. Sometimes we take turns reading pages and that seems to keep him very interested in the story.

RV the movie

Over Labor Day weekend we had lots of birthday plans for Lou who turned 5 on Monday. We went mini-golfing and to McDonald's and rented RV. What a fun movie. Turned out it's rated PG and has a few swear words and the homeschool mom wears very showy clothing, but when it was over my kids asked, "were there any bad words?" I guess most of it just goes over their heads. Yes, this movie has a homeschooling family as one of the main characters. Robin Williams tricks his high tech, disconnected family to take an RV to Colorado (for a business meeting which the family doesn't know about) for a vacation instead of going to Hawaii. After many hilarious mishaps (especially if you've ever taken a camper or RV anywhere) they meet up with a family; turns out, they homeschool on the road. Although they have their quirks, they are happy with one another and well grounded people. Robin William's family learns a lot from them and in the end his family realizes that together is where they want to be. I can't wait to see it again.

As for Lou's 5th birthday it turned out great except for the part where we had to cancel the party because of grandma needing emergency care. Everything is better now and turns out she has a bad case of arthritis in her knee.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Beautiful Morning

Violin lessons started up for the year this morning. We arrived 20 minutes early because we grocery shopped quickly. Lessons are held at St. Lawrence school so we stopped in at the church and found the tabernacle, talked about genuflecting, blessed ourselves with holy water, too many times to count and said one decade of the rosary. What a beautiful way to start the day.

Just a note: Grace asked to have her bangs cut, so I offered to let her cut them. She only has a few wispy hairs. Well she cut them all right. They are about 1 inch now.

Pancakes and Syrup

My favorite standby meal has to be pancakes and homemade fake maple syrup. First the pancake recipe I use is my husband's grandma's recipe. It has been passed down through the generations and for good reason; it is delicious. I make up 4 ziploc bags of the dry ingredients at a time and keep them for busy mornings or hectic lunches. In the past I used dry buttermilk because I never seemed to have fresh buttermilk around, but I've since realized that buttermilk tastes better as it ages. I buy a half gallon at the beginning of each month and use it until it's gone, even after the expiration date. Homemade fake maple syrup sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. I got this recipe from a MOPS mom that I knew in year's past. Her Aunt Judy introduced her to the recipe. It is superior to all other fake syrups out there. One batch fits in a quart size canning jar (1/8 in. head space) and will seal itself.

MARIAN'S PANCAKES
2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 c. flour
3 T. melted butter

Mix together lightly, leaving small lumps in batter. Don't beat. Fry on hot griddle, flipping once.

AUNT JUDY'S MAPLE SYRUP
2 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
1 3/4 c. water
1/2 t. maple extract
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a 3 qt. pot and put on stove. Stir to combine. NO MORE STIRRING. Bring to a boil, NO STIRRING, boil for 3 minutes (reduce heat slightly or it will boil over) NO STIRRING. Remove from heat. Gently stir in extracts. Store in fridge.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Catholic Heritage Curricula

I just received a few items from CHC. They are spectacular; crisp white paper, spiral bound so they lay flat. Grace and Lee looked over their materials and seem excited to begin. Lou looked throught the Little Folk's workbooks and we started yesterday. She loves gluing yarn to the number and alphabet shape. The books help to strengthen their Catholic Faith by incorporating pictures and spelling words into everyday subjects. I think it will be a good starting point for questions they might have.

Heard on Dr. Ray

I don't get to listen to Dr. Ray much anymore, now that he's on from 11-12 instead of 11-1, but yesterday I heard a great call about having more children. A man had called in stating his desire to adopt. He's 48, his wife is 44. She's worried about having young children in the house when they are "old". Dr. Ray's comment on that was basically this.......if you don't have a 12 year old around when you are 60 what else is there to do. Are we waiting until the day we are free of kids in the house to live? If you don't adopt that child he will not have a family when you are 60. Just to put it in perspective. Thanks for your call.

My desire for more children grows everyday! Bring it on.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Preparing For the School Year

Nancy asks how we prepare our lesson plans for the school year. For History and Science I layout a monthly plan. Within each month it is very loose. I list some topics to cover, books to read and ideas I have for activities or field trips. DH also looks over the schedule and adds to it. A couple weeks before the start of the month I start placing holds on books, CDs, DVDs, games, from the library. When the month is over we leave it at that unless someone has a question about something and we need to get it answered before moving on to the next topic. Math is easy because we do a lesson almost everyday until the book is done and depending on when we finish we might get the next level and keep working or just be done for the year. Religion is covered weekly using the Church of Saint Paul family formation program, as well as daily life conversations. Reading is part of everyday with books chosen based on the liturgical year, history and science. This year I also ordered CHC spellers and map skills workbooks which again we will divide the number of pages or lessons by the weeks of our school year and complete them by the end of the year. Of course life happens and we learn from those lessons as well.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Meaning of Life and Death According to a 4 Year Old

While driving by a firefighter's memorial we started to talk about the idea of a memorial, that it's to honor the ones who died fighting fires. Lou piped up with this:

"The fireman isn't dead because you have to die from earth to live forever in heaven, right mom?"

All I could do was agree. How can they have such clear acceptance of eternal life (something much bigger than themself), yet cannot accept that we can't go to grandma's until tomorrow because she's working today. Life through the eyes of a child must be beautiful!

Date Night

DH and I had a great date yesterday afternoon. We did a little Christmas shopping (never too early), looked at Honda vans (decided that we'd rather drive what we have until January in order to save more money), went to Tony Roma's for dinner and then walked through Gander Mountain. We had fun just talking and shopping without being asked why we have to look at this and when can we go home and I'm hungry and I'm thirsty. Once home we were a little (more than a little) surprised to see Grace and Lee still up (it was 10:30pm) and the house a complete mess. At $8.00/hr. we expect a little more than that. I wonder if we pay too much. It's hard to ask others how much they pay; people don't like to reveal it for the fear of looking cheap. Any input would be appreciated.

Today is overcast, but still warm. We've been jumping rope again. I can't believe how much fun it is. The kids are picking up on the rhythm quickly. Today will bring more corn to eat and freeze. Cucumbers are coming out of our ears and I plan on making potato salad with the baby reds from the garden. We were invited by another church family to have a cookout tomorrow afternoon. They have one 4 year old boy who loves Lou; she's not too sure of him, though.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beautiful Day

The weather couldn't be better. After all that hot and steamy weather we had in July, it's nice to get outside and actually enjoy it again. We bought a great jump rope yesterday. It's an extra long that two people twirl and then another jumps. Grace, Lee and I were out practicing by 8:00am and then jumped for quite some time after Kendra came. After lunch I took the two girls to Kendra's mom's workplace and they headed off to horseback riding lessons and then for a sleepover. Tomorrow we'll meet at the library so Kendra's mom doesn't have to travel all the way to our place. The kids are loving this great weather, too. They went swimming, caught frogs, found a clam that was sifting water, played with the chickens, jumped rope, shucked corn and had lunch. Talking about corn, I have an abundance of sweet corn and don't see enough people to give it away. I've been freezing corn and here's my favorite way to do it.

FROZEN CORN
6 cups uncooked corn, cut from cob
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add butter. Cool. Put in containers and freeze. I use quart size freezer bags. I also double this recipe and cook for 3-4 minutes.

This is one of many treasured recipes from my mother-in-law.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Holy Day - Assumption

We attended the vigil mass of Assumption tonight. What an enjoyable mass (except for Ray the superball boy). I love singing all the songs honoring Mary. The music is sweet and they all have catchy refrains. The evening is cooling off nicely, so the windows are open and I can here the children running, laughing, eating popsicles, and now Lou is crying because the dog knocked her over. How quickly a Norman Rockwell moment can turn into a Murphy's Law moment.

At the homefront we've been freezing our excess of sweet corn and canning blackberry jam and jelly. I'm hoping to do some blueberry picking at an area farm this week before the season is over. I washed the outside windows yesterday with Lou and maybe this week we'll wash from the insides. Grace is almost finished with Meet Addy and we'll be heading to the library on Thursday to get book 2. Grace also has plans to do school with Lou and wants to find pre-school books with art project ideas. That sounds like a great idea to me. I can do some reading to Ray without someone else always pointing to the pictures first. Time to relieve DH with the lawn mowing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Love to Learn Catalog

I received the newest Love to Learn catalog in today's mail. This catalog is not catholic in content, but a very well put together catalog. It's like having a library at your fingertips (without the wait of dial-up internet). I find so many great resources from this catalog. I have ordered many, but often times just check out the books from the library. In the first 10 pages I already have a library list that will keep me and our family read alouds going for quite some time. Here's the list so far.

Dear America Boxed Set Collection - Civil War - A Nation At War
Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories
Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty
Poems for Memorization
Beautiful Girlhood
I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better
A Case of Tattle Tongue
My Mouth Is A Volcano!

Tonight I hope to make applesauce and can it. I planned ahead by using my crockpot. For dinner tonight, it's pork chops and sweet corn. But first to plant the hostas that have been waiting for two weeks.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Today while walking through Shop-Ko I heard a preschool age child screaming about wanting some particular pair of socks. A mother and two well behaved young boys walked by me and the one boy said to his mother, "Well, I'd say that kid's good for nothing." I made eye contact with the mom, chuckled and was glad to be alone today.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Quilting Party

Two moms + eight kids = 1 fun day! Us moms plan on quilting, the boys have plans to collect sticks for the winters' fires and the girls will most likely play the piano, dress up and go swimming. We'll have grilled cheese and sweet corn for lunch and then they'll round up the afternoon with a movie and popcorn. Let the fun begin.

24 Game Single Digits

This weekend we visited my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and three kids. The kids go to public school and starting in 4th grade they play this series of games. There is a variety of levels, including single digits, double digits, fractions, algebra. They have class competitions and all three kids talked fondly of the game. They sent home the single digits with us since they are done with it. The idea of the game is to add, subtract, multiply and/or divide the 4 numbers given on the card to total 24. It sounds easy, but is actually quite difficult. It helps the mind look at a group of numbers and then find patterns or number combinations. After just a couple of cards my mind was frazzled, but I like to use pencil and paper to do math and this is a mind game. We have to get the times table memorized before bringing out this game.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Typing Class

I am looking for a good typing or keyboarding program/curriculum. Any good ones out there?

Sewing Project

Grace loves to make something for her godmother for her birthday and Christmas. Last year she made her a hanging kitchen towel out of a towel and potholder and a braided rag bowl. Both projects turned out incredible. She doesn't really like to follow directions and would rather just start making something, completely unlike me. This year she tried her hand at a full fledge sewing project. She found a tote bag project in McCall's Quilting magazine and was determined to make it. We happened to have just the right fabric on hand and only had to buy some fusible fleece. With plenty of help from me we finished the project yesterday. I wish I had my digital camera working so I could post a picture of the finished bag; it turned out fabulously.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Debut Photo Post

I tried my hand at posting a photo in the last post. I have to work on getting the photo bigger. Next time it will be better. What a fun way to add life to my blog.

Civil War Unit


September will bring a new beginning. Another school year will begin. In preparation for our Civil War unit, I've been reading to prepare myself for the hundreds of questions that will come my way. While browsing the Civil War section in the library I came across this book, Civil War Women: Their Quilts, Their Roles, Activities for Re-Enactors by Barbara Brackman. It's a wonderful book which highlights nine women from the Civil War era, presents a quilt project to go with each bio and then a re-enacting activity to go along with her particular interest during the Civil War. So far, I've read about Lucy Stone (a women's lib girl) and Susie King Taylor (one of the first slaves to be freed). Next up is Julia Louisa Lovejoy, a newspaper correspondent.

Grace is reading Meet Addy from the American Girl series. So far chapters 2 and 3 made us cry. Often I cry while reading from the Little House series and the kids have no understanding of why I do that. Now Grace understands that when you are the reader the words have so much more meaning. Her eyes well up and next thing tears are falling on the pages. She doesn't want to continue, however, I told her the sign of a good book is one where you can feel the feelings of the characters. She agreed to continue and we made it through chapter 4 without tears.

Organic Tobacco

I've been reading a lot about organic food. Is it really better for my health? How about the expense? How does buying organic fit into a budget? I've been discussing these and other questions with my husband quite extensively and while we were eating breakfast (alone) at Country Kitchen the other morning he shot me these questions. Do you think they grow organic tobacco? Can you buy organic beer? I got a kick out of these questions and we decided: no organic tobacco, but yes to the organic beer. I'll have to check the web for the right answers.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Berry Picking

My berry picker is home from his sleepover; I can't wait for the day to cool so we can head out with long pants and sleeves to harvest the crop. This weekend we have a wedding to attend of my college roommate, so it looks like the jam making will have to wait until Monday. I like to make blackberry jam by first letting the berries juice and drip and then I add just enough pulp to make it chunky, but not excessively seedy. There's nothing better than blackberry jam on homemade bread, toasted, on a chilly fall or winter morning. Last night on a canoe ride I discovered what looked like very large blueberry bushes all along the old dike in the reservoir. I picked a branch and brought it home to key it out and found out that they are most likely huckleberries. They are quite seedy, but I plan on making a batch of jelly next week. Something else to look forward, too.

Tonight it's pancakes and scrambled eggs. And here's a household tip: Save old sport socks. Turn them inside out, so that the bumpier side is out and use them to dust, wash walls, wash the van, etc. They work great and can be tossed without guilt or washed. Windex works great for getting old sticky tape marks off painted bedroom doors, especially when used in combo with the sock.

Friends and Divorce

My longtime friend is getting a divorce. We've been friends for 16 years and they've been married for 19. He served her the papers in March and they have a court date set for August 28. Between child placement and finances there really isn't much time to think or do anything else. I've been noticeably more irritable and I think it's a response to her divorce and our changing friendship. We are more different than alike and it seems to be a wedge in our friendship now. The divorce is changing the way she looks at life, she's never been a real strong believer in Christ and even less so now. The kids seem more needy and demanding and the discipline is lacking. Now they are considering medicating their 8 year old daughter due to her anger outbursts. I think it's a normal response for a child going through a divorce, to be angry. She's lost control of her life and is now being bounced around from her dad's apartment to her home. Dad is making drastic changes in his appearance and hobbies and mom cries and yells all the time. Anyway back to my irritability, since we only talk about the divorce, the possible other woman, problems with her kids, extreme financial troubles, etc. etc., I can't really talk about anything from my side. My "troubles" are nothing near her troubles. I can only pray that in time this will work itself out and our friendship will be like it use to be (kind of).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Canning Beans

Thrifty Homeschooler is blogging about canning this week. Turns out it couldn't be at a better time. My green beans are ready to be harvested and canned for use on cold winter days. Yesterday Lee helped pick and then we all snipped. Grace helped me with the canning process. She was intrigued by all the steps necessary for proper preservation. They all watched Princess and the Pea in the heat of the day and then Grace biked to Grandpa's to vaccuum his bedroom and wash his kitchen floor. She's been looking for extra jobs (that pay) in order to save money for camp, which she might do next summer. I used my favorite line on her, "We'll see". So, we'll see if she goes to camp next summer; it's hard to think about not having her around for a full week.

Monday, July 24, 2006

July?

Where did July go? First it was the 4th of July and now it's almost over. I can't even begin to blog about the entire month, so it will forever be a lost month in my life. However, we did have a blog worthy event happen on Saturday. Together DH and I butchered 13 chickens. Grace plucked one and then the smell was too much to handle. She helped me wash out the insides, bag and weigh each chicken. We've never done 13 in one day. We usually split the butchering into two days. This year was great, set up and clean up only once. The garden is in full production now. I'll be canning green beans this week and hopefully we'll have corn in another week. Everyone looks forward to lunches of only fresh sweet corn, butter and salt.

I'm gearing up for the start of another school year. I put together a general plan for history and science. I'm looking for a nice balance for Saxon Math and I might buy a couple of Christian Readers from Keepers of the Faith. We need to survey our art supplies and other traditional school supplies, now that these things are on sale at ShopKo.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pet Bugs

I am just thrilled! Recently I picked up this book from our library. No catchy cover, no color pictures and the copywrite is 1994. But none the less the title looked interesting enough for summer. Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects by Sally Kneidel. We've looked at other similar books and this one is far superior. First of all, the introduction is riveting. Sally writes as if she were walking and talking beside you on a bug safari. Twenty six insects (a couple spiders and a couple segmented worms) are highlighted in this book. Each chapter has line drawings of the insect and then the following sections: What They Look Like, Where to Find Them, How to Catch Them, How to Keep Them and What They Act Like. Each section is so straightforward that even the youngest bug lover will feel smarter after hearing it read. And each section is so full of fun information that even the most squeemish will be tempted to turn over rotten logs. Lee (7) is so interested in hearing me read about the insects that we have read and reread almost every chapter. We did go on a search for a millipede; didn't have any luck finding one, but came home with a blue skink and saw ant egg sacks (an added bonus). We've been watching the house for a praying mantis and daddy longlegs. Seems like when you want one you can't find one and when you don't want to be startled by one you always are. This book is so fun and informative that I plan on buying a used copy soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Look at Literacy

I've always wanted a reader, a child who carried a book everywhere. Once Grace began to read I thought she would love reading so much that she would be reading all the time. Boy, was I wrong. She is only 8, so maybe I'm jumping the gun on this, but honestly she doesn't enjoy reading (unless it's the calendar to see what's on the agenda for the day) as much as I thought she would. I've always enjoyed reading and we read as a family a lot, so I just thought that it would carry through to our children. She does love the idea of reading. She checks out piles of chapter books from the library with plans to read them all and then reality sets in and after three weeks she's read 2 chapters from only one book. I encourage her to read in bed at night and after a couple of pages she turns out the light. I don't know why I worry about this issue so much. She has so many other interests. She stays focused when she practices her violin daily and is excelling at that. She is very kinesthetic; she's had 3 sessions of swim lessons spread out over her eight years and has become an avid swimmer and now learned to dive this summer just by watching her friend. She dances with perfect rhythm and has lots of unique moves. She has very good control of her body; she rollerblades, bikes, scooters and ice skates all with excellent skill (and without lessons). She is very intuitive to the needs of others and is always the first to help out when trying to get out the door on time or when it's meal time. She is thoughtful and always writes Thank You notes and possesses excellent speaking skills, especially on the telephone. She is an entrepreneur, always looking for ways to earn money. She once wrote up flyers to hang on our rural neighbors' doors letting them know she had eggs to sell. Most recently she called some of those same neighbors asking if they had any odd jobs she could do. She is a lovely child (whom I would miss dearly if she got her way and went to a week long resident camp) and after reading this post I realize that reading consistently would not make her any better than she is already. My prayer for today: Dear Lord, thank you for entrusting me with 4 beautiful and talented children. Help me to mother my children in the best way for each of them. Lord, I ask that you give my children opportunities to develop the skills that you know they will need to carry out their vocation. Amen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh Shut Up!

Last night Lou was crying in bed because she was scared. Never mind that the bedroom lamp was on and the hall light was on. The problem was that Grace was staying up a little longer which meant that Lou was alone in the room. I had had it! It had been a day of lots of bickering, not listening and begging to just watch movies. It was 8:30 and I was already tired; Lee was insisting that I read to him about bugs that he wanted to catch. So in the heat of the moment, I mumbled, "Oh Shut Up Lou", then I realized that Grace was sitting right there. I quickly apologized for my behavior, but not before getting "the look". The look is the one that I'm sure I give them when they say something sarcastic, rude or down right hurtful. How embarassing to be the mom and given the look by her child. At that moment be both realized that we are human and all make mistakes. Lesson learned.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Rabbits Like Asters

Liquid Fence works great if you remember to spray it on the plants. As the young shoots were emerging this spring I sprayed them after every rain and had no problems with rabbits chewing on them. I got a little lazy about spraying the asters and now one entire plant is gone. So out came the Liquid Fence again and I was reminded of how awful it smells. I don't know what's worse letting the rabbits eat the butterfly garden or trying to enjoy the garden with that awful urine odor.

American Family

I've always wanted a flag pole in front of our house. We had a house bracket for a while, but the wind bent the pole and then after residing we just never fixed it up again. So for my birthday this year DH bought me a 15 foot flag pole and installed it by the front fence. I finally feel like a real American Family.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

"Happy" Graduation

We attended a graduation party for my cousin this last Saturday. The weather was beautiful, I visited with lots of out of town relatives, ate great food, listened to fun live music, watched my kids make friends with the other kids (no social problems to speak of) and unfortunately, watched 40-50 teenagers drink alcoholic beverages without their parents or the host of the party having any concern about it. Thinking back to that day I am saddened that the adults didn't put higher expectations on these youth, our future. Listening in on a couple of conversations I heard them swear incessantly, belittle their older siblings who are in college, talk disrespectfully to their parents (on cell phones) and talk of having no plans for their future except to live at home until "kicked out". I hope this is not an average cross section of the youth of today because if it is we are in for a lot of trouble. All I can say is that I am so sad for these young "adults". Their spirits have been crushed and now they are left to find a purpose for themself. My prayer today: Lord, help those young people to come to you. Show them their purpose and give them the will to follow your lead. Help me, O Lord, to develop a love for you in my children, that they will follow your lead and know that you have a plan for them if they just listen. Give me the strength to set high expectations for my children and not back down when "everyone else is doing it". Amen

Remembering Good Times

I was home alone with Lee the other day, so we took advantage of it and went for a canoe ride. The peacefulness of the water and quietness of the morning really got his mind thinking about times past. Each memory began with, "Remember when......" and each one ended with, ".......you read (fill in the blank with a good book)."

Remember when we took our after harvest trip to Eau Claire and you read from the Little House books.

Remember when we went to Cabelas and you and dad bought us the bow with the nerf balls; you read The Last of the Mohicans to us.

Remember when you read Indian in the Cupboard and then Uncle Nate brought the movie to us to watch.

When good books and memories are tied together they will last a lifetime. I am so happy my children will have the memories of "good books".

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Holy Day - Ascension

We attended mass at Sacred Heart today. All the school kids were there in the front rows - 4 kids to a pew, evenly spaced. I suppose they don't want them to pester each other. I sat with my four kids in a pew and we only took up about 4 or 5 feet of space. We are crammed together, not because church is packed, but because we love one another. Granted there are times when I wish we were evenly spaced so I could let down my guard and relax without fear of being elbowed, stepped on, pinched, etc., but for now I have the pleasure of being well loved by my kids. The school kids took part in mass by reading scripture, serving, taking up the gifts and saying the prayer intentions. It was a nice mass to attend. It felt so full of life!

I think I forgot to note in my blog that Grace made her First Holy Communion on May 7, 2006. It was a beautiful day. Mass has taken on a new meaning to her. She thoroughly looks forward to receiving the eucharist each week and has a renewed desire to play church at home during the week.

Nature Findings

A large moth was spotted on Amy's porch after Lee's guitar lesson. We brought it home in a jar to identify and watch it for a while. After paging through Peterson's Butterfly and Moth Guide we noted it to be a Polyphemus moth, female. It was about 4-5 inches across and had beautiful coloration, light tan/yellow with 4 large eyespots in blue and black and pink/lavendar striping across its wings. It just so happens to be female - the jar was loaded with eggs by the time we got home. We'll watch to see what happens to the eggs. Lou kept it in a screen bug box on her dresser until Grace called me in last night to "get it out, it's keeping me awake". Come to find out that it flutters its wings continuously and even drove DH and myself crazy as it sat on the kitchen counter. It was let go this morning, not without tears from Lou.

While doing the morning dog and chicken chores we checked out the killdeer nest. The eggs hatched and their in the ground nest cuddled four tiny birds. Mama was not happy to have us near. She pretended to be injured to lure us away. It's tempting to want to check on the birds more often, but I told the kids we could check again tomorrow. They need to stay warm with their mama, especially with the rain today.

Speaking of rain, it's great for my flower beds and terrible for DH who wants to fertilize the cranberry vines.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Life in the Outdoors

Recently, I read somewhere about living in the outdoors. The writer commented: why would anyone stay inside when a perfectly made world is waiting to be enjoyed outside. Why not eat outside, read outside, play outside? Well, I've taken that comment to heart and have been literally outside for as much of my day as possible. We've been reading outside, gardening, fishing, mowing lawn, collecting rocks, swimming in both the wading pool and swimming hole, walking around the yard just looking up and down at all there is to see. I've found more wild blueberries than I new about, a swallow nest with eggs, an unfound Easter egg, and some new oak seedlings. We are seriously wrapping up the school year. Today we did some reading, math and phonics and then lived life to the fullest.

I tried a new recipe this morning, Jeff's Oat Bran Pancakes. They were tasty, but too tough. I'm sure they are healthier, too, with the oat bran, whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I might try adding a smidge of these ingredients to my regular buttermilk pancake recipe, just to add a little extra nutrition.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Frogs.....Always a Favorite

Lee is currently very interested in frogs. It happens like clockwork, every spring and late summer. In the spring they collect lots of tadpoles, hold them in buckets for awhile and then release them back to the pond. Late summer brings low water levels and thus the frogs are in plain view. We've been reading books about frogs and today made a water viewer. Cut out both ends of a can (we used a coffee can), cover one end tightly with plastic wrap and secure with a thick rubberband. Put the covered end into the pond and view the underwater world through the open end of the can. After they finish watching Westward Ho!, they plan on taking the can to the pond.

Note: Salamanders and Skinks are uncommon (so says the Wisconsin Turtle book), yet we've found three this spring. If looking to see some check under rotting leaves in a cool place.

In the Garden

We've been working outside alot lately. On the NW corner of the house we added a small garden, with sandstone stepping stones, blueberry bushes and various perennials. In my greenhouse I have 216 vegetable and flower seedlings growing, as well as two semi-dead clematis. We stopped by a couple of Amish greenhouses yesterday in the Granton area and picked up some red geraniums for the front yard. I put out flag swags on the front fence during the summer and like the look of red geraniums with them. Next is the vegetable garden. It needs to be tilled, fertilized and then planted.

Caring for the chickens gives us something to do outside as well. They are two weeks old now and getting pretty big, relatively speaking. Now that Grace is 8 and Lee is 7 they are real helpers now. They can be trusted to take care of the chickens and water plants, without me retracing their steps.

The kids, with dad's help, built a 4' x 4' cranberry bed. They have big plans of harvesting a crop and making juice to sell.

I've Heard Some Interesting Things Lately......

"Mom, we have a big problem. Floam is stuck on the ceiling."-Lee

"Swing your partner round and round, pick her up and throw her to the ground."-Lee

"I want to go hunting in Africa some day. Do they have alligators?" -Lou

"I have little rugs in my dance shoes." -Lou (referring to the soft lining in her ballet slippers)

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Note about Practicing Instruments

Grace has been playing violin for 4 years now and Lee, guitar, for just over 1 year. They both practice almost daily, five to seven days per week. It wasn't always like this and the other day I had some thoughts about why that is. First off when a young child begins learning a new instrument I can imagine they really have no idea why they need to practice. They haven't formed any goals as to what they want to accomplish with that instrument. Being new, it's hard to know what to practice, how to practice, what sounds good and what doesn't. After watching 2 youngsters tackle a new instrument, I truly believe that if they are destined to be a musician it will happen in its own time. When Grace first started violin I assumed she would attend a lesson and then practice all the material with a smile on her face for 6 days before returning for another lesson. Obviously that was nothing like what happened. I nagged her about practicing, offered suggestions, encouraged her to try hard, etc. After finding that this was not working I talked to her teacher who gave me great advice (although I didn't realize it at the time). She said that practicing an instrument is the responsibility of the student. She need to develop their own routine, way of practicing, time of day to practice and that I should stay out of it. She also said that not everyone will be a musician. At first that seemed so laizze fair, but I backed off anyway and what happened? At the year mark she started practicing every morning; it became part of her morning routine. Her practice schedule varies anywhere from 5 minutes to an occassional 45 minutes when we play together or she starts jammin' with Lee. Lee's story is almost exactly the same as Grace's. He incorporated daily practice into his routine at about the 10 month mark. Now he practices anywhere from 15-30 minutes daily. He has fun playing all his favorite songs and he notices his own progress. I'm sure it's better for him to notice the results of practice as a way to encourage himself, rather than me trying to encourage him through compliments. A good healthy dose of each is needed.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The Perfect Day

This morning we were out the door by 8:30 to do our grocery shopping before violin and guitar lessons. We met the Johnson's in the ShopKo parking lot and brought home Derek and Haley for the afternoon. The sun is out and they are having a ball biking, sailing boats, climbing trees, turtle hunting, dart gun fighting, BB gun shooting and whatever else was done in between that I'm not aware of. I hardly see them when friends are over; they are on the property somewhere searching for new findings.

Saxon Math 3 arrived in the mail yesterday. Both Grace and Lee are going to begin on that program this month and then we'll take a break for the summer, before starting up in September. We used the book Math For Your First and Second Grader for the first two years of math with Grace; Lee just finished up the first grade program, but looking at Saxon Math 3, I think Lee will be able to jump right into it. The beginning of the book is all review of 2nd grade material and he's a fast learner with math.

Last night was the deanery spring meeting for women. I attended and am highly motivated to make it to adoration before Sunday. My plan is to take all four kids before picking up our chicks tomorrow. We'll enter reverently, say the Our Father and then possible a few Hail Mary's and go. I don't think Ray will last more than 5 minutes and as I understand, it needs to remain completely silent. My prayer for tomorrow: Lord, bring peace to my children as they enter the chapel of your body. Amen.