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.

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.

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.

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.