Thursday, May 31, 2007

Laundry Logistics

Laundry is never ending. With that said it's the one household chore that I thoroughly enjoy. Liking laundry must be genetic, see, my mom enjoys laundry. She even worked at a neighborhood laundromat when I was a young child. I loved working with her; I'd fill the soap machines (oh how I loved playing with those miniature boxes of detergent) and hand out change when people came to the door. This was before the days of change machines. At closing time we'd vacuum, wash down the washers and dryers and my personal favorite...collect all dimes and quarters from the machines. Often the dimes were still warm from the heat of the dryer. Backup another generation to my grandma, she does laundry when she's anxious. I called her the day before grandpa's hip replacement and what was she doing? Laundry. Bed sheets and towels and her and grandpa's winter work coats. Even when all she had was a ringer washer she would do laundry to calm her nerves and with eight kids I'm sure her nerves could use a lot of calming. Lucky for her those eight kids produced plenty of laundry to keep her calm.

I'm sharing my laundry details, not to say look at me, look at how my clean clothes are in the closet and not on the dining room table, but to encourage anyone who is laundry challenged to find a system and stick to it. The rewards are great.

Here's what we do:

AM - The child on dirty laundry pickup collects it from every room in the house and places it in the laundry basket in the laundry room. This is one of the AM chores in the monthly rotation. The assigned child does this every morning for one entire month.

Throughout the day, every single day, I sort and wash clothes. I use this laundry soap which keeps my laundry room smelling pleasant and like a room I want to be in. It only takes a minute to sort out the lights, check for stains, Shout it out, throw in the washer, add soap and start machine. Sometime later I stop back in to transfer clean, wet clothes to the dryer. Typically when I open the dryer there's a dry load to be folded. I do not place these clothes on my dining room table or couch or living room floor. I stand in front of my dryer, pulling out each item and fold it. I place the kids clothes in four piles on top of the dryer. The bathroom towels go in one pile, kitchen towels in a pile, laundry bathroom towels I put away immediately since I'm in that room. My clothes and DH's clothes are folded and placed on top of washer and all socks are put in a pile, unmatched and unfolded. I then take DH and my clothes to our room and hang and put away. I go back for the socks and Ray's clothes. The socks get put in the sock basket (picnic basket with lid) and I put away Ray's clothes. He's only two so I still do it for him. Although I'm sure he would put them away, just not my way. The older three's clothes are left on the dryer. Each and every morning they put away their own clothes after breakfast. The dryer is empty and so I throw in the wet clothes and start it up. Now the socks are still hanging out in the sock basket waiting for the assigned child to fold them and put them away in the morning. This is another of the rotating monthly morning chores. There are three, one for each child; the other is taking care of the animals. The bathroom and kitchen towels are still on top of the washer waiting to be put away by the assigned child during afternoon chores. The afternoon chores also rotate monthly. I'll have to post about those another time. This system saves me from having piles of clean, wrinkled clothes on my table or living room floor. It might sound like I'm in the laundry room all day, but I'm not. I typically do two loads of laundry every day, sometimes only one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Isn't it too early to think...

At 5:45 a.m.

Lee: What does deer fly larva look like? I know what dragonfly larva looks like. I saw them on the bulk head boards. Did you know that female praying mantis' eat the male? When can we stay up late and look for stag beetles and June bugs again? All said in one breath.


How do two children celebrate the completion of Saxon Math 3? For starters, they hug like they've never fought with one another and scream freedom...no more math. Then they promptly place the lesson book in the recycle bin and mill around aimlessly, giddy smiles across their faces. And best of all we all celebrated at Pizza Hut for the lunch buffet after violin. Even dad came with us and, bonus for me, the grocery shopping was finally done. Back on May 1 we calculated the day lesson 140 would be done and it worked out to be middle of June. I told them their was no way I wanted to be doing math in June and threw out a bribe. If they finished by May 31, I'd take them to Pizza Hut. I didn't need to say anything more. They found that if they did 4 pages of math a day, the task would be completed. And it was, one day early to boot.

By the way, it's time to sign up for Pizza Hut's BookIt program.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A - Z Mysteries

Just by chance I picked up the A-Z Mysteries Volume 1 CD at the library last week. After listening to the Absent Author we were hooked. Volume 1 has been returned and Volume 2 is on its second go round. Grace listens so intently that sometimes she talks aloud to Ruth Rose. Today she was saying, come on Ruth Rose think fast. Ruth Rose was about to be sunk on a crooks' boat, but everything turned out ok and the Mystery kids solved the case.

Ron Roy has a website with info about all his mysteries and games for kids. So far my favorite has been, The Empty Envelope. These audio books have helped to pass the time on many a drive to town in the last two weeks.

Today's Details

By some act of God, everyone in this house slept in this morning. DH and I didn't wake up until 7:10 a.m. What came over us? I'll never know, but boy did it feel good. I even had a few minutes alone before slowly, very s..l..o..w..l..y, each of the kids awoke. It was 8:25 a.m. before Grace emerged from her twisted sheets. Morning routines had to be done quickly so the entire day didn't end up late. Lee started his morning with a quick canoe ride in the shallows. He enjoys his time alone while he canoes and always comes in with a nature sighting to tell me about. This morning it was a bald eagle flying over the shed and chicken coop. I discovered I had enough laundry soap to wash a pair of socks, so laundry had to be skipped today. Yeah for today, but boo in two days when I finally get to Wal-mart; the pile is going to take on a life of its own by then.

School started for Lee promptly at 8:30; he pulled out his book and began reading, then did spelling. I quizzed him on his words, orally and then he took a short break to help me make sandwiches while we waited for Grace to be ready for math. Today's lesson was plotting coordinates on a graph. They both picked up on this quickly. They took a division timed test. Lee got 99/100, Grace 78/100. Both had improved from last week. Basically, school is done except for math (one lesson left=1 day) and spelling (two lessons left=8 days) and of course they will continue reading all summer. Lou wrote some letters, sounded out a few simple words and did a page in her workbook. Grace did her spelling and reading and then we moved on to more fun.

Today from 10:30 - 2:30 was our annual homeschool pool party. We meet at an area campground, pay a small fee and use their pool. The weather cooperated; we had a sunny and warm day, perfect for swimming and lounging poolside. Old friendships were rekindled, a few phone numbers swapped for hopeful summer get togethers and cheeks pinkened by bright rays of sunshine. The moms swapped reviews of favorite books, stories of dreadful swimsuit shopping and summer vacation plans. Some moms even shared their zealous summer homeschool plans. Blech! No thankyou. I say that now, but come August 1 I will be chomping at the bit to get started. I thrive on the routine of our school days.

Once home, we had a snack of cheese and crackers and Kool-Aid. Grace and Lee went for a canoe ride. Ray napped. Lou played with horses under the table. I prepared chicken potpie for tonight's supper. Yeah, it's Tuesday and we're supposed to have pizza and a movie, but for reasons too long to explain things changed. The winds picked up so Lou and I picked up the yard debris (toys, hoses, watering cans). The rain never came, it went North, but the yard looks nice anyway.

The plan changed again; DH needed to work tonight so everyone piled in the van to take Grace to violin. While she learned music theory, we walked to the grocery store to pick up coffee and bananas. Then I treated the kids to Taco John's since the pizza/movie night was cancelled. I thoroughly tired out four children today and now I'm reaping the benefits of an early tuck-in. I get to relive and blog my day in peace.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Learning the Planets

For two weeks we've been studying the planets. Nothing incredible happened, it wasn't the kids favorite subject. However, after numerous trips to the library and probably 25 books and movies checked out, we found a few of our favorites. Grace and Lee made Solar System file folder books. Basically, I stapled 10 sheets of paper into a folded file folder to make the book. Then they drew and cut out the planets, glued one to each page and wrote three interesting facts below. Neatness was a problem in the beginning, but by the end they did shape up their written presentation skills.

Baby Galileo: Discovering The Sky - 30 minutes, Lou and Ray enjoyed this movie a couple of times, definitely for the younger crowd

Eyewitness - Planets - 27 minutes, recommended for grades 4-8, we all enjoyed this movie even though none of us are in the recommended age category, it did discuss many of the theories regarding the birth of the solar system, except for creation, it did highlight some of the early astronomers and their beliefs, which was interesting

Behold and See 3, Suchi Myjak - chapter 4

Fascinating Facts About The Solar System, Jane Walker - extremely kid friendly, just the right amount of info on each page, this book was a favorite and we had fun with the quiz at the end

The Sun and the Solar System, Franklyn M. Branley - this book was used as a reference book as to what the planets look like, there is a nice chart at the end with lots of useful information about each planet: size, distance from sun, revolution, rotation, composition of surface and atmosphere, moons and rings, this made for easy comparison and reinforced the value of charting information

The Solar System: A Vision Book, Maura Gouck - used mostly for its pictures, although I did read some of it and found it to be quite interesting, but too wordy for a young child

Stars and Planets (Nature Company Discoveries Library), David H. Levy - full of facts and tidbits

Blast Off! A Space Counting Book, Norma Cole - two lines of text, one is the basic counting part and can be enjoyed by the littlest of littles and two is the detailed text on each page, Ray couldn't quite sit through the entire book, although the older three enjoyed it very much, Grace even read it to Lou again

Friday, May 25, 2007

Nature Observations

The geese are traveling as families, now that the goslings have hatched. The pair in front of the house have two and the upper pond pair have at least six goslings. We've been watching a Bald Eagle fly over quite often, one time with a fish in its talons. Quite possibly it's waiting for the Loon babies. Last year one baby perished by the talons of an eagle, hopefully this year the Loons all survive. The bullfrogs are out in full force. Last night they were calling loudly, garumph, garumph. Today the kids were trying to catch them in the main ditch, no luck. The nets were worked hard last year and not much is left to them. We'll have to check out the dollar stores; that's where we found them last year for two bucks a piece. More than worth it. Wednesday morning we noticed the swarms of dragonflies. That could only mean one thing, the deer flies are out. Dragonflies feast on deer flies, which make them my friend. Not to mention their lacy, and sometimes colorful, wings and bodies. DH has actually had a dragonfly swoop down, capture a deer fly and munch on it right on his arm. Snake season is upon us. This is the time of year I do not wear flip flops around the yard. Those sneaky snakes have a way of appearing out of nowhere. Yesterday DH and I saw an almost 5 foot pine snake on our way to the mailbox. Sara, the not real bright dog, just walked over top the snake, stepped on its head and then was snapped at and looked at us like, what just happened? We've seen a couple of garter snakes on the road sunning themselves, as well.

Now, in the line of plants. The roses are beginning to bloom. It's going to be a spectacular bloom year, all the bushes are just loaded with buds. Blackberry picking, in August, can't come soon enough for Lee and I. We've been noticing the brambles are loaded with blooms. We've had good rain this week, with just enough warmth that pollination should be good. The petals are fully
open and inviting. The kids and I took a wildflower walk this week. Grace brought along her Wildflowers of Wisconsin book and we noted all the flowers we found.

Indian Hemp
Wild Strawberry
Star Flower

Common Cinquefoil

White and Blue Violets
False Lily of the Valley

By just slowing our walk to an almost crawl, it's amazing what can be seen when one peers closely at the forest floor. This week's walk was in an upland deciduous habitat. Next week we plan on taking a walk in the creek bottoms where we'll have a different variety of wild flowers.

Words by Lee

Lee: Talking about chicken feed, we need to get more Grape-Nuts.

and another...

Lee: Will you set my alarm for 5:30 a.m.?

Me: 5:30? What for?

Lee: I want to enjoy my Saturday. I want it to last a real long time.

And by enjoy, I'm sure he means this...


Gourmet Cicadas

Cicadas live underground for 17 years before emerging, mating and making lots of noise for 30 days. Then it's quiet for another 17 years. The science of the Cicada is interesting. Read more at ABCnews. But what really drew me in was the interest people have in eating them. Watch the video clip for more info. Cicada sushi, Cicada tempura, Cicadatini (martini). Yuck! The reporter says they taste like ham. Well, then I'll just eat ham.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On Star

Jokingly, my husband and I tease each other about having OnStar. Really, I don't have OnStar; I have a Honda van and I have a mechanical husband. He's my OnStar. I know he'd rather be doing so many other things than receive an OnStar type call from me, but you'd never guess it. Like last night. I left at 6:00, with four fully inflated tires, to meet some friends at a restaurant. L. is moving away because of her husband's job and we wanted to drink wine and indulge in low-cal desserts one last time with her. I turned off the expressway, only 3/4 mile to go. As I started to turn there was no denying I had a very flat tire. I pulled over assessed the situation. Indeed the driver's rear tire was down to the rim, a large piece of gravel had slashed and was still stuck in the tire. I could hear the air hissing out. I called my OnStar, figuring my evening out had been doomed or very postponed. Guess what he said. Just lock the doors and walk to your party, I'll take care of it. From his point of view, this must of been miserable. He loaded up four kids, changed a tire (first time for this van), tried to get it patched at 8:00 p.m., found out the slash was just too big to patch. He dropped off the van at the restaurant and then walked with four kids back to the truck and headed home. What a guy. OnStar has some tough competition.

*The night out was a blast. Tons of laughter, a few tears, lots of great stories.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Butterflies and More

The butterflies are here! As we biked and then drove around looking for our runaway dog we spotted butterflies everywhere. I really need to get better at identifying them quickly. We saw white, orange, black and yellow, some with black spots, some with white stripes. I did identify a monarch, but the rest flitted by so quickly I could hardly focus on them. Summer is definitely approaching. Last night after dark I was out monkeying with the sprinklers and hoards of stag beetles or June bugs were creeping along the edge of the grass. As I shone the light, the ground just crawled. Nature at work, but not my favorite kind.

Yesterday a sad moment turned out to be very educational. While playing in the little woods, Lou found a dead bird and being who she is, she quickly cradled it in her shirt and ran to me crying, A bird is dead...A bird is dead...A bird is dead. I heard her all the way in the house. As she mourned the death of this bird and wondered what kind of beast could have killed it, I quickly grabbed the bird book because off hand I just didn't know what it could be. My first thought was a young blue jay, then maybe a juvenile Starling, but finally I settled on Whip-poor-will. When I spread out the tail feathers the outermost feathers had a wide white band, which the bird book noted was a telltale sign of a Whip-poor-will. Although it didn't look like the picture, however it appeared the picture was taken at night using a strong flash, so the colors were a little distorted. Lee helped Lou bury the bird, well she cried, he dug the hole and buried it. Today the bird has been forgotten, but now we have a new pet.

Lou came in with a toad, which is now living in my childhood yellow and green picnic basket. She's been finding worms and cutting them into small pieces and decorating the basket with stones, leaves and grass so the toad is as comfortable as possible.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Purple Lupine

After Aunt J's baby shower yesterday, we (sisters-in-law and cousins) stopped by the cemetery to visit grandma's grave. Lou loves going to grandma's grave. She's always the first to run for flowers. Often times she collects silk flowers petals tumbleweeding by, most likely blown from other arrangements. She places these on the stone and pulls a few weeds. Yesterday the most beautiful Purple Lupines were blooming in the back field, so off she went to collect a couple. First she brought back two and meticulously placed them on the stone trying to get it just right. And if two are good, then more can only be better. She was off collecting fist fulls of Lupine and decorating grandma's grave. She misses grandma, although she's never met her, and talked about grandma all evening. Then she insisted on me showing her the necklaces from grandma's jewelry collection and we decided that Lou and Grace can wear one of the necklaces next week to church. We'll have to get two shorter chains this week to be ready. Grace made sure to write down chanes (her spelling) on the shopping list.

While reading Maureen Wittmann's article, I discovered many suggested reading lists to peruse. I came across a book which happened to fit in so well with our little run in with Lupine and it was a complete coincidence. Today Grace read Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney to me while I started my bread machine with foccacia bread dough. How excited we were to find out that this book is about a lady who is supposed to make the world a prettier place. And she does it by sowing Lupine seeds on every hillside and in every prairie. Later I'll have to read this to Lou as well, she'll just love the message of the story, which happens to be: do something nice for others and you will feel better yourself.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Birds

The bird sightings have gone up significantly. In the past week we've spied these species, in addition to the usual ones.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - made a quick appearance, stopping at the impatiens

Rose-breasted Grossbeak -we have two pair frequenting the bird feeder

American Eagle - with a fish in its talons

Owl of some sort - today on the way home from church

White-breasted Nuthatch - saw only once on the trunk of the Oak on the South side

Common Loon - we listen to them calling every night around 10:30

Eastern Bluebird - although I haven't cleaned out the bluebird houses in years, they still come back

Purple Finch - seems to be only one traveling with the Goldfinches

Whip-or-Will - haven't actually seen it, but we sleep with our window open and it actually woke me up one night from its continual call

White-crowned Sparrow - the bird book says it's not in our area, but seeing is believing

Killdeer update - two of the five eggs hatched, but no little ones scattering about yet

Canada goose - lots of goslings now

Red-bellied Woodpecker - very skittish, but does seem to like black-oil sunflower seeds

Bird watching is so much fun and not something that has to take a lot of time. I used to think that I had to spend time walking the woods trails at 5:30 a.m. to see a variety of birds. So untrue. With a few, or in our case, one bird feeder and one hanging cage type feeder, we attract many birds. Whenever I go by a window I take a quick glance out, looking at the trees, ground, fence or feeders. By just getting in the habit of looking, we've seen so many more birds. That's how we had the hummingbird sighting. Grace just happened to peek out a window down at the new flower basket and their it was. Then we all came running and away he flew. I also like to have a couple different field guides. I like them to be arranged differently. In my National Audubon Society FG, birds are arranged by general group and then by color. Very handy to have when I see a bird I don't recognize. I can scan through that color and narrow it down. Then next time I see it I can look for any distinguishing features. I also have a Golden Guide which is arranged by species of birds. I like this for those times I know it's a sparrow, but just don't know which one. I can page through the entire sparrow section narrowing down the possibilities. It's also easier to check differences between male and female in a book arranged by species. One last tip is to keep a pair of binoculars nearby and not in the case. I keep mine focused in at the distance from my kitchen window to the main feeder. In a matter of seconds I can pick them up and glance at a new bird at the feeder looking for distinguishing characteristics.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's Nice to Have a Man Around Here

Tonight the man around here helped set the table and cheerfully cleared the table, too. He had plans for this family. We were to all help clear away a fallen tree from Monday's storm. The man around here reminded us to put on work clothes and bring along work gloves, if we have them. He gathered up the needed supplies - a hatchet, folding camp saw and goggles. The man around here drove the littles, on the four-wheeler, to the work site. He promptly called out commands, who would drag brush off to the woods, who would chop firewood with the hatchet, who would cut 1 1/2 inch branches using the camp saw and who would just stay out of the way. The man around here worked us hard, never forgetting to remind us of safety first. If you use the hatchet, you must wear goggles. If the camp saw blade wiggles, just give the screw a tightening. Keep the little ones back so I don't hit them in the face with the hatchet. The temperature was dropping, we were in T-shirts. The mosquitoes and gnats were in our face and on our arms. Some of us were ready to go home, just then the man around here hollered out a heart felt Thank you to all of us and said if we stick it out, and mom agrees, maybe we could all have an Eskimo Pie when done. We finished, drove the four-wheeler back with a pile of wood and kindling, stacked it in the wood shed and indulged in a well-deserved treat.

Did I mention the man around here is only eight years old. He's learned from a real man, his dad, my husband.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

St. Isidore the Farmer

365 Fun Facts for Catholic Kids by Bernadette McCarver Snyder was a FHC gift for Lee. This fun little book is a compilation of fun little ideas, one for each day. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Isidore the Farmer and in this book we learned that he prayed as he plowed. In Mexico, his feast day is still celebrated by farmers decorating their animals with wreaths of flowers. We didn't want to be left out so in the spirit of St. Isidore we, well actually I didn't get involved except for the picture taking, decorated the chickens with bows and ribbons. Imagine making a wreath and slipping it over the head of a calf, challenging, but manageable. Now imagine trying to stick a bow to the head of a chicken and tying a lavender ribbon around it mid-section, challenging, almost impossible. For your viewing pleasure here are a few pics.

And yes, those chickens are in the house. I couldn't get outside fast enough with the camera so they brought them to me.

Murphy's Law

If your Mother's birthday is tomorrow and you frantically fill out the card, getting all the kids to sign their own name and walk to the mailbox with plenty of time to spare......the mailman will have already come, an hour early.

If you email the person you bought books from, through Cathswap, early in the morning wondering where your stuff is, the mailman will deliver the items that day making you look impatient and maybe even a bit irritating.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May Altar

May may be half over, but with preparation for First Holy Communion happening the first week and then getting back into the routine in week two, we were left with this week to prepare a May Altar. Getting a late start also provided me with all the necessary materials to create a fun project. First of all let me say that last year I saved the golden foil covered cake cardboard from Grace's FHC cake with the intention of giving it to my aunt who makes cakes. However, a year later and the cardboard was still in my laundry room behind the metal picnic basket which holds all my laundry products. Everyday I was reminded of my absent-mindedness when I looked at that cardboard and thought about how many times I'd seen my aunt. However, I was blessed when Lee's cake came on the exact cardboard. Now I have two and surely I can be resourceful enough to come up with a use for those.

Next thing I know I'm at the Catholic gift store in town and I see a reduced price Mary calendar. I really don't need another calendar, but the pictures are lovely. I had an AHA! moment and bought the calendar. Here you can see the cake cardboards and the calendar.

I explained to the kids that we were going to make Mary May Altars, but instead of placing a statue and flowers, we would use pictures and flower stickers. I got out some supplies: decorative scissors, stickers, matting paper, glue and the kids went to work.

And here are the finished "May Altars".

While putting together their Mary boards, I even had a chance to tie in the virtue of patience. Grace and Lou worked together; of course (being 9 and 5) they had differing opinions of just how many stickers should be displayed next to Mary. Grace had a good lesson in being like Mary and excepting that beautiful comes in many forms. Lou had a good lesson in being like Mary and not fighting for her way.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Powers Bluff Hike...

...and photo shoot.
triliums in shades of pink, lavendar and white
carpets of them everywhere
a bell shaped flower Grace will identify using her Wildflowers of Wisconsin book
a beautiful variety of greenery
a maidenhair fern, my personal favorite even though its blurry

a clutch of turkey eggs, we saw the hen run off and then DH with his eagle eye noticed the nest

Grace perfecting the sand-makes-me-go-faster slide

Safe in daddy's arms

four reasons why I celebrate Mother's Day
**note: this is the first picture of me on my blog**

National Wear An Apron Day

I was reminded by Elizabeth that today is National Wear An Apron Day. How ironic, I already have a loaf of bread rising and have plans on baking with rhubarb. I will definitely cover myself in my favorite cranberry stenciled apron. The apron was a birthday gift from my fiance and now he's my awesome husband and I still get thoughtful, useful gifts.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What Was I Thinking

Yes, today is Mother's Day. Yes, my dear husband did sweet little things for me like rub my back to wake me, buy me a rose at church, take us all out for a surprise breakfast at one of our favorite little cafes and even put Ray down for a nap and grilled spicy brats for dinner. Yes, the kids did sweet things like give me so many squeezing bear hugs I feel thinner, baked me a Mother's Day cake, made cards with rainbow words, hearts and flowers and brought me a bouquet of lilacs.

And what did I do for myself. Well, I decided today had to be the day to start potty training Ray. I washed tons of training underwear, pants, socks and even a set of bed sheets. Just a gentle reminder of what it means to be a mother. A real mother.

Promise Prayer

from the "explaining GOD'S WORD" leaflet

Promise Prayer
I'm promising, dear Jesus,
to follow you today,
and to obey your every rule
in all I do or say;
to always be a loving child,
helpful, kind, and sweet;
to give the love you give to me
to everyone I meet.
But if this promise I should break
or if I bring you sorrow,
then help me to begin again
and keep my promise tomorrow.

This looks like a great morning offering prayer. The kids should find the language easy to learn and understand.

More on Mother's Day

Thanks to Father S. for reminding me of these quotes.

"Men are what their mothers made them." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother." - -- Abraham Lincoln

And here is a list of words from the Mother word search.


Looking over this list can be a little daunting. As mothers we have so many opportunities to be an example. Today I vow not to become overwhelmed by the many motherly ways listed above, but stand tall and take pride in being a mother and rejoice in all I can be for my children. And again, Happy Mother's Day!

**originally I had a link to the wordsearch, however it had other inappropriate material; I deleted it

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day Prayer for Modern Moms

We deliver our children once, in joy and pain,then deliver them a hundred times more—to school, to practices, to doctors’ appointments.Watch over us, Lord, and keep us safe, as the mother eagle who guards her young.

We teach our little ones to stand and walk, carefully coaxing balance,then jump in when we can to teach them balance in work, in friendship, in serving others.Guide them Lord, and keep them upright, falling neither into harm nor selfishness.

We congregate as moms and family, whispering about worries and passing on what works,sharing wisdom from Grandma or Oprah, stories heard in parking lots or bleachers.Teach us, Lord, to lead with our love instead of our fears, trusting that you are there beside us.

God of Leah and Rebekah, of Elizabeth and Mary, be ever near all mothers today—in minivans and meetings, in busy mornings and tired evenings, and grant us your peace.

--Mary Lynn Hendrickson

Friday's Details

The morning started early. I was up blogging, doing laundry and taking quilt pictures. Gradually everyone joined me by 7:00. Lee rushed through his morning routine and was ready to do math by 8:00. I, however, would not be ready until 8:30. Not wanting to squelch his enthusiasm, I belted out math help while I loaded the dishwasher, brushed my teeth, and continued with the laundry. Technically, we began the math lessons at 8:30, learning about functions, factors and prime numbers. Lou and Ray set up a store on the book shelf. Of course, later in the day I had to straighten the books. While Grace and Lee practiced for their spelling tests, I defrosted a roast and got that going in the crock-pot. Tonight's supper will be roast venison with gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls and mixed fruit. Spelling test time turned out well; both kids got 15/15, unlike last week. Grace and Lee added a page about Earth to their Solar System Books. I do need to work with them in regards to neatness when it comes to research type work. I did a quick email check, more laundry and then started on lunch (leftovers). Dad, Lee and Ray took a few quick casts before coming in for lunch. After lunch I was treated to a pre-Mother's Day trip to the greenhouse. This year I was involved in picking out flowers for myself. It was fun watching the kids run up and down the greenhouse aisles wanting everything in bloom. Finally we agreed on a variety of annuals for the hanging baskets and the planter and bought one high bush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). We made many stops before finding all the needed sprinkler supplies, stopped for ice cream sandwiches and headed home. The lawn got mowed, flowers planted and sprinklers set up. The evening was lovely, very few bugs yet, a slight breeze and a true feeling of accomplishment. We all sat on the patio, enjoying the view. Then reality set in and we realized it was 7:15 p.m. and still no supper. Grace and Lee were sent in to take showers; DH and I pulled rhubarb, lots of rhubarb. We were pleasantly surprised when we got in and found Grace had set the table. Luckily, I had put in that roast in the morning and everything just needed to be warmed. By 8:00 I was washing and cutting rhubarb. DH gave Lou and Ray a bath and finally the kids were all in bed. By 10:00 the rhubarb was finished and the kitchen was back to normal. I turned on the dishwasher, sat down with DH and a bowl of popcorn and watched the news. Goodnight! Flower pictures coming soon.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Here's a quick meme I found over at By Sun and Candlelight.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 161.
3. Find the fifth full sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.

Don't search around looking for the coolest book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Here's mine (actually the book only has 146 pages so my line is from page 61)

The white man is charged with attempted murder, but acquitted.

Quilt Pictures

I'm kicking myself for not getting pictures of D's quilt, but I did manage to take a few of my quilt after the marathon quilting bee.

This is the main quilt top.

These are the four pieced borders.

My little guy always hamming it up.

My newest fabric purchases.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quilting with Kids

Well, us moms are not actually quilting with our kids today. They will be playing, all eight of them. We will be quilting, in between the sprinkler, popsicle, drink, he said and she said problems. They are due to arrive any minute now and I have a sewing machine to set up and a pile of pictures to put away. The garbage needs to be emptied and rubber knee boots lined up. I gotta go.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Princess Ponderings

said by DH to Lou as she whined about setting the table

Remember, you're not the princess of the family, you are part of the family.

That line will definitely be used again.

More Cuteness by Lou

Lou: Why are you spraying your magic soap(Shout) on my pants?

Me: Because they are filthy.

Lou: Well, I was playing where their were lots of stains.

Pizza and Movie Night - Postponed

It's not a bad thing though. We will make homemade pizzas for tonight's supper before violin. In lieu of the typical movie night we will attend a Tom Pease concert. We can't wait to hear, Free Ride In and The Belly Button Song.

More on Tom Pease
Click here, scroll down to Love Grows One by One and click to hear
Click here to see our favorite album

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pinecone Pick-up

Do you have any jobs I can do? I'm asked this at least once a day by upwards of three children each day. If the question stopped there, I'd give myself a pat on the back for raising thoughtful and work-willing kids. However, the question doesn't stop there. Do you have any jobs I can do to make money? Now those are the kids I raised. Everyday their wish lists grow longer and they want jobs and they want to make big money. Desperately I've been thinking of extra jobs they can do to earn money. We do not pay our children for everyday work, the kind of work involved in just being a family. I will elaborate on our daily chores in future posts. Today I want to share how empty my wallet is since my last great idea. We have a huge country yard which continues into woods. Where do I stop raking? I decided to rake the entire yard inside the circle drive and everything outside of that would just be left to nature's way. But the pine cones, they were everywhere and I didn't want to just mow over all of them. I suggested that if they wanted to pick-up pine cones and dump them in the woods they could earn 1 cent for each pine cone. How many could there really be? Maybe a couple hundred. I could surely spare $2.00. Grace, Lee and Lou picked up pine cones until their hands were black with pitch. And the final count...........................................2,135 pine cones were collected and dumped into the woods. Here's the breakdown:

  • Grace - $10.32

  • Lee - $10.73

  • Lou - $0.30

Here's the work in progress:

Lee... tired after counting 1,073 pine cones.

Grace...just plain tired. Do I see more pine cones in the background?

First Holy Communion

There's our boy in the red tie.

I could go on and on about yesterday. But none of my words could ever capture the excitement in Lee as he prepared for his First Holy Communion. I could not begin to explain how we both felt Saturday night as the buffet table was "coming together". The way he ran and jumped up on me wrapping his legs around me, hugging me so tight I almost gasped for air. I could not put into words how happily nervous he was for us to just get into the van and go. There are no words to describe how proudly he sat during Mass taking in every moment. The only explanation is Jesus was present, eagerly awaiting His time to become a part of Lee. Lee must of felt that presence.
Buffet Table
(starting at the top of the photo)

Baked Ham in Crock-pot

Potato Rolls

Chicken Salad on Croissants

Mashed Potato Casserole in Black Roaster Pan

Homemade Apple Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Veggies w/Dill Dip

Deviled Eggs

Fresh Fruit

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Zucchini Chip Bread


Cranberry Bread

Saturday, May 5, 2007

First Holy Communion Preparations

Tomorrow's the day Lee will receive the fullness of Jesus into his body. We've prepared intensively for this day. We've read and read, played communion (don't all Catholic kids do this), and made a good First Confession. He seems more prepared than I was five years ago when I became Catholic. Now for today, we will be preparing the clothes and for the gathering. First the clothes, ironing, sewing, finding missing tights for Lou, snugging up Lee's shoes with heel huggers (still need to buy). Then comes the food.

  • Bake ham and slice
  • Pull chicken from the bone and make into chicken salad
  • Prepare deviled eggs
  • Cut fruit and arrange
  • Cut veggies and arrange
  • Prepare mashed potato casserole
  • Make cinnamon swirl bread
  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Pick up cake and rolls and dill dip

Then comes the house preparations. Not to much needs to be done in the line of cleaning, but lots needs to be done to organize the house the hold and feed 27 people. We need to rearrange the furniture and add some tables. Then cover tables and set out the candles and table settings. Just writing this, I'm getting slightly nervous about it all happening before bed tonight. So I'm off to work.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Too Nice To Stay Indoors

Today was beautiful. The sun shone brightly, hardly a cloud in the sky. Temps hovered around 68 degrees F. It didn't feel overly warm due to the strong East winds. We spent a good deal of time outside. Grace and Lee took turns mowing the lawn, first time this year and first time ever for Lee. Lou and Ray played on the swing set and sand pile. I weeded and pulled away last year's dead plant material from each of my small flower garden areas. The Cat Mint is almost a foot tall already and smelling lovely. The Coreopsis hasn't even broke ground in either garden. The blueberries have tight blossoms, hopefully we can keep the rabbits away this year. Last year we only had five blueberries left after the rabbits had their fill. All the Hostas are up; the Bleeding Heart recovered from the April freeze, the earlier growth was all frozen, turned soft and then died off. The growth is noticeable daily; it's about 15 inches tall already. The Sedum (live forever) is still living and thriving in the rock garden under the bird feeder. The Brewer's Blackbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds stayed at the feeder all day, even with the commotion of us doing yard work.

My list of shrubs and perennials to buy this year
Euonymus (burning bush) - after all the Moses studies we have to get one of these
Phlox - the tall species, in reds and white
Anything hardy and colorful

Grace and Lee put out a new seed block in the hanging feed outside Grace and Lou's window. We've found that the birds do not like the peanut butter and suet block, they like the Bird Watcher brand of seed blocks. Lou sat in the rock garden watching the window feeder and identifying birds. It's quite amazing what all she said she saw. We measured for yard sprinklers and went to the drive-in for supper.

Today wasn't all fun, er I mean nature study. We did control ourselves enough to get some seat work done. Grace and Lee did a math lesson, finished their Egypt chapter books and practiced their spelling words. Lou wrote the alphabet and made a birthday card for her friend. She set up a tea party for her and Ray and set a puzzle with him. They rolled balls down the hallway and played dress-up. It was one of those days I could have never planned for.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What's On Top of My Fridge

Usually all I'd find is a lot of dust however, due to a new afternoon chore schedule, the dust is gone. Now I have a clean place to put all the weapons Ray uses to beat on the rest of us. Today's choice of weapons: foam sword, fly swatter, binoculars (which really hurt) and stick/duct tape/packing tape sword.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pizza Party

It was the 2nd weekly, Tuesday night pizza party. And looking at the picture, I'd say someone was excited. It all started last week with March of the Penguins. This week it was Portesi pizza, strawberries, water and The Prince of Egypt. Everyone enjoyed the movie. The older kids saw it a few years back so they could give insight to Lou who was having trouble understanding the plot. Watching this is taking our history a little out of order. We haven't quite gotten to the story of Moses in Story of the World: Ancient Times, but when library requested items come in you have to take advantage of them when you can. So far this week has been a Moses week. Yesterday we listened to Moses in Egypt, an audio version, while running errands in preparation for Lee's First Holy Communion. The Rabbit Ears production is intense. Grace and Lee truly enjoyed listening, Lou was a little scared, especially by the music which only intensified the magnitude of the plagues. I highly recommend this CD for anyone wishing to hear a great story told by Danny Glover (awesome voice) and music by Sounds of Blackness.

Moon Studies

It was late one winter night,

long past my bedtime,

when Pa and I went owling.

The first line of Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is so serene, so relaxing, so loving. This was the read aloud during snack time today. Although, more about owls than the moon, it still fits in nicely with moon studies. I like the way shadows are described and how the cold bite of a clear, full moon, winter night can be felt, even though I'm warm in my house. We're using Behold and See 3 for a loose guideline to our science studies. I like to have a general outline laid out before me and then I can add children's literature, fiction and non-fiction to our studies. I also like to infuse nature study into every science unit. We watch as the moon changes phases and are planning to take a night hike May 2 (I guess that's already tomorrow).

I read about keeping time according to the earth's revolution around the sun (1 year) and the moon's revolution around the earth (29 days) and the earth's rotation on its axis (24 hours). The activity called for shining a flashlight on a globe recognizing when the earth is lit up it's day and when it's dark it's night. I offered to Grace and Lee they could choose if they wanted to do this or not. Quickly they decided it was unnecessary. According to Grace, "Dad and you have been teaching us about these things for years. We've read that (gesturing to What Makes Day and Night?) book a million times. We know this stuff by heart." Well, if I've ever despaired about the quality of education in this home I should just knock it off. Why am I so hard on myself? After Lee agreed with Grace about knowing this stuff by heart, he came back with, "What I do want to know is, if we are on the outside of the earth, then what is inside?" Good question, even if a little off the topic of the moon. We perused, Oxford Illustrated Science Encyclopedia, and found a basic, but acceptable answer to what's inside the earth. Plans are underway to get more info from the library next week. Also I'm digging deep into my brain searching for the title of a book read years ago about a boy who digs his way to the center of the earth, discovering all the layers in the process.