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



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.

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.