Friday, July 31, 2009

New (to us) Piano

Temple Academy has acquired a piano.
Thank you, St Cecilia, for answered prayers.
We wanted small, good sound, dark wood, decent shape, cheap and delivered.
That's what we got.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hello, my name is...

About a week ago, I was talking with a good friend and she made an analogy between self love and addiction. "We're all addicts," she said, "We are all so horribly addicted to ourselves." I liked the analogy immediately and it has only grown on me this past week as I think about the various ways I feed my own "addiction" to myself.

Whether we're looking for a "fix" in the form of attention, admiration, understanding, or affection there are million and one more ways we subtlety seek to satisfy ourselves. I found this week that if I think of myself as a junkie and self love as the poison that is keeping a fuller, healthier and happier life out of my reach, I am much more likely to recognize it in all its subtle forms and a little more able to resist it and pray with St Francis...

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood; as to understand,
to be loved; as to love with all my soul;
for it is in giving that we receive,
and in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

So, I thank my friend for her insight and pass it along with the hopes that it might bless someone else as it has me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In My Kid's Dreams...

...I am the coolest Mom.

Older Boy: So, I had this dream last night that you were driving a monster truck and the boys were all in the back not even buckled in or anything. Then, you went off the road and were driving through woods and mud and then you said "Your turn!" and you jumped out the window and I had to drive the truck.

Me: Oh that's scary. What a nightmare.

Older Boy: Nightmare? It was awesome!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lessons Learned

My husband was chopping down trees yesterday and Jacob snuck up on him from behind. My husband accidentally nicked Jacob in the forehead with the axe. That sounds horrible doesn't it? Well, it wasn't so bad as it sounds. It is a smallish cut that stopped bleeding soon after and the pharmacist thought we could get away with butterfly bandages and avoid taking him in for stitches.

The real damage was probably to my husband's nerves. He had quite a scare (as you might imagine) and emphasized to the boys all afternoon that they need to stay back when he's doing heavy yard work and not come close to watch. Last night at dinner he asked them to repeat the lesson.

Him: So, what did we learn from Jacob's accident today?

Older Boy: That Papa can't be trusted with an axe.

He's definitely learning his father's sense of humor, that one.

As for me, I've put in an order with St Peter for two or three back up guardian angels. One per child just doesn't seem enough sometimes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

We're so Proud

Jacob, pointing to a lawn where children are often seen riding dirt bikes on the grass:

Look, their lawn is worser than ours!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look Who's Crawling

So now the sweeping begins--sweeping the floors constantly and finger sweeping his mouth if ever it looks like he got to something before we did.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

VBS Midweek Roundup

This Vacation Bible school thing is wonderful fun and we are really enjoying it, but we are wiped out. We are so tired, and by "we" I mean mostly ME. I need a nap just thinking about getting them all out the door and checking them all in to their respective classrooms again tomorrow. I'm spoiled. I'm used to morning routines that don't require forcing myself out of bed and getting the kids fed and groomed by a specific--and by our standards--early hour. I'm used to teaching in my pajamas by the comforts of my own coffee pot. And traffic? Who knew there was traffic on our empty roads? I guess there is if you go out on them when everybody else does.

A few readers have emailed asking me to write a bit more about VBS and what the kids are doing. After Mass, I spend the day helping out in the nursery while my kids do their crafts and sing songs and play games centered around the glorious mysteries of the rosary, so I don't see too much of what they do first hand. I hear about it, though, especially on the ride home when the kids are all talking at once.

They told me they were served rocks for snack on the first day, which, it turns out was true in a way. I guess they had round cookies that symbolized the stone that was rolled away from the tomb at the resurrection. Nicholas told me he liked "dumping the water by the humans" which I later learned had something to do with an obstacle course with a Mary's Seven Sorrows theme where the kids learned to identify with the obstacles Mary faced in living God's will for her life. I know one of my neighbors is volunteering in the kitchen. (I didn't even know she was Catholic) I know the crafts are adorable and the whole program is well designed and carried out and I don't know too, too much beyond that.

Except maybe that this is about coming together with friends and neighbors and praying as a community. It is about making new friends and learning more about our faith. It's about building memories and building up a community and it is a wonderful thing to be a part of it. Did I mention how tired I am?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Me: Simeon, how did you make Micah happy?

Him: Easy, I gargled the Superman and Star Wars themes to him and when that didn't work, I sang "MaMa" to the Indiana Jones theme MUM MUM MUM MA MA MAA...

Or Maybe his Knapkin

I was examining a tick bite on Zachary and wondered aloud about a black mark at its center.

"Did he leave behind his straw?" Zachary asked.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homeschoolers at VBS

Today was our first day of Vacation Bible School. My kids are loving the novelty of name tags, child sized desks, attention from staff, snacks and just generally, the exciting and "schoolish" atmosphere of it all. It is a lovely theme this year, the glorious mysteries of the rosary, and now we all have pale blue T shirts with Mary on the front and the mysteries on the back. This is Catholic bible school, folks, and we're proud.

Tonight at dinner I told my husband how Nicholas had a little trouble being "dropped off." I've never dropped him off anywhere, ever. My husband said, "Well, he was with Zachary, right?"

"No," I explained,"We were all separated. Each kid was in a different classroom."

"I didn't understand that part," Alex chimed in, "We all did the same things, so why did they have to rate us?"

"Rate you?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said,"like... grade one, grade two, grade three..."

He was thinking of "grade" like it's done with maple syrup, you know?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


These look like quotation marks, so I suppose they aren't just any cukes--they're "cukes."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coloring Vermont

...with recycled chunky crayons made from last year's nubs. And now my kitchen smells like fresh baked Crayolas.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Somehow, I don't Think that's what He had in Mind

Alex: Mom, what can I buy with $15.00?

Me: 20 rolls of toilet paper, one pound of Filet Mignon, your language workbook, three pizzas from Little Ceasars, 5 gallons of milk, a jumbo pack of diapers, laundry detergent, OR a package of socks and a package of underwear. Your choice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Notes From the Back Porch

American Crinkle

We've finally found a use for the American Girl catalog.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BBQ Sauce

Sometimes you wonder what that substance is on your van floor or carpet similar in color to something else found on a child's shoe. Then, your sister in law emails a picture like this one to your mother who forwards it on to you...and you wonder no more.

Zachary partied hard on the fourth. Thank you Uncle P and Aunt K for a great time!

Homeschooling Boys Q and A

Part I Diet and Nutrition:

From the inbox...

Where do you find gum that does not contain dyes and preservatives?

A: Excellent question. And the answer is we have been chewing gum which absolutely is NOT free of artificial colors, preservatives or even aspartame. This one slipped under my radar because I wasn't thinking of gum as food. This just goes to show how difficult it can be for a busy mom to live preservative and dye free. We do our best, and so now I'll need to switch brands. Thank you for pointing this out.

A little research turns up Glee Gum, a natural gum made from chicle harvested from Sapodilla trees. Another is Xylichew, sweetened with Xylitol, a natural product proven to prevent cavities. Both are available from Amazon. I'll order both and see if one works for us. Reviewers seem to think Glee gum is very sticky and Xylichew doesn't seem to hold its flavor too long. We'll see...and I'll let you know.

Q: Where did you learn about Omega 3s and their effect on the brain?

A: I've heard a great deal about Omega 3s from a great variety of sources and I'm sure you have, too. As interested as I am in the subject, I'm never sure what to believe when it comes to diet and nutrition. The field seems prone to passing fads and overemphasis of nutrients due to real discoveries which then become a marketing blitz only to fizzle out. We have so much more to learn and understand about nutrition and the balance of nutrients in particular. I've found the best approach for us is to keep myself informed and then see what really works for my family. That is to say, I don't use Omega 3 supplements simply because our grandmothers as well as dietitians and learning specialists recommended it. I use Omega 3 supplements because I have seen for myself the difference they make in my children. Expert advice is all well and good, but our job as mothers is to apply this advice to individuals and we know those individuals better than anybody else.

That said, Here's an interesting video that was sent to me by author, Susan Allport.

Q: Which Omega 3 supplements do you use?

A: I use these for the little ones and these for the boys who can swallow a pill. I've heard from many that their kids don't like the chewable Omega 3s (my kids don't mind them). If that's the case, look to diet to add Omega 3s. Flax seed or flax oil are a convenient food source for Omega 3s.

Q: Do you have any tips for getting protein into every meal?

A: Certainly.

Breakfast Proteins: Besides the obvious eggs and bacon, yogurt is an excellent and convenient source of protein for breakfast. You can add nuts, fruits or seeds to yogurt for added protein. Also, peanut butter on toast is a great protein breakfast. Bananas and blueberries are sources of protein, too. Serve them with a whole grain cereal in milk. Even just a glass of milk rather than orange juice with pancakes can help concentration. Remember, the point is not to consume large amounts of protein, just to consume protein consistently.

Lunch Proteins: Besides the obvious ham and cheese, peanut butter or tuna fish sandwich, there are breads that contain protein. You might consider using these for vegetable sandwiches. Also, serve trail mix with dried fruit and nuts on the side rather than cheezits or teddy grahams.

Dinner Proteins: Chicken and beef are obvious, but less known sources of protein for dinner include beans and rice, mushrooms, cauliflower, and quinoa. Quinoa is a seed that cooks like a grain and can be added to soups, pastas, or used as a side dish. Add quality cheese to pasta rather than red sauces, or add meat to your tomato sauce.

Protein on the Go: Cheese sticks are a wholesome protein snack that fit nicely in a pool bag. Also, raw almonds are convenient and we've found them particularly helpful for stabilizing blood sugar. Trail mix works for this purpose, too. Pumpkin or sunflower seeds are also good snacks. And there are protein drinks. Bolthouse Farms makes a Vanilla Chai drink with soy protein we like, but you can also make your own protein drinks with whey powders at home. These are easy to take out in thermoses.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Year of the Priest

In honor of the year of the priest, we're reading aloud this story of St. John Vianney, traditionally the patron of parish priests, but now Universal patron for priests on the 150th anniversary of his death.

Pray for vocations
pray for our priests.

From the Archives

Here's an old post on homeschooling with toddlers. I had two very active toddlers when I wrote this.

Suzanne's Top Ten Suggested Solutions for Handling Homeschooling While There's a Toddler in the House (Or Two)

  1. The Containment Solution: Enclose small children in a playpen, playroom, or an outside deck where they can be seen easily enough. Give them balls or favorite toys that are only used during school time.
  2. The Great Outdoors Solution: Weather permitting, take it outside. Small children are usually happier outdoors. While they swing or play in the sandbox, you can work with older children at a pic-nic table.
  3. TV/Books-on-Tape Solution: While we don't want to just "plug" our little ones in and forget about them, we shouldn't feel guilty about buying time in this way, especially if we choose wholesome entertainment.
  4. Make the Most of Nap Times: Need I say more?
  5. Whole-Family Education: As much as possible, plan activities in which the whole family can participate, each at their own level. Take a nature walk, tour a museum, or go to the zoo. At home indoors, read lower age level books so all can follow along. One of our favorite "whole-family" books is an illustrated dictionary. The younger children like the illustrations, the preschoolers build vocabulary, and the older children learn second or third meanings of words they already knew.
  6. Change Your Perspective: Look at the whole day, or maybe even the whole week as an opportunity to get work done. Do not limit yourself to the first few hours of the morning Monday through Friday. While those hours are generally the best for concentration, they may not work for you and your family every day. Also, rethink where learning is done. Use driving time and times when you are folding laundry or preparing food to work one-on-one with a child. (Tip: Clipboards are very useful for making worksheets portable.)
  7. Use Smaller Blocks of Time: I suppose this is a corollary to the last one. The logic is simple, buying 10-45 minutes from a toddler is easier than buying 3 hours.
  8. Rotate Subjects in the Best Time Slot: Determine the time slot in which you get the most done. Is it first thing in the morning, nap time, or in the evening when Dad is home? Rotate the subject studied in that time slot to gain a more uniform benefit.
  9. Get Some Help:If you don't have older children to help out with the little ones, consider getting some extra help. A mother's helper or a grandmother could make life a little easier at this time.
  10. Make A Plan: No one of these solutions will serve you all day, every day. Variety is key to keeping the little ones happy and you on track to providing all the children with a well rounded education. Take some time each week to lay out a reasonable plan of action. For example, solution one may work well on Mondays and solution three on Tuesdays...etc.
I would add to these...

11. If You can't beat Them, Let Them Join you: My little ones liked being at the school table with us and having their own "work" to get done. Scissors, crayons, glue and Kumon books are great for this. Button sorting on a mat or playing in a sink of soapy water nearby works well, too.

12. Hold Em and Teach: I think I'll be homeschooling with Micah in my arms most of this year. He's happy so long as he's with me. He'll be grabbing at everything and so I'll keep some baby toys handy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tide, I Will Never Cheat on you Again

Several months ago I switched from Tide to the Trader Joe's brand of HE detergent. The TJ's brand was cheaper and I liked the lavender smell. I really didn't notice any difference in how clean my clothes came out either....not after the first several loads anyway. Then, when we returned from this last vacation I found myself out of detergent with piles of laundry to do. I couldn't get over to Trader Joe's so I picked up some Tide at a local market, Pure Essentials with baking soda in a lovely white lilac scent.

I am not kidding when I say that I was shocked at how much cleaner my clothes came out from that first load. I wasn't looking to be surprised either, but when I opened the dryer I just had to stand there in admiration because the load of fluffy, sweet smelling clothes was so much cleaner than the loads I had become accustomed to folding.

Tide, I love you and I always will. I hope you can forgive me and take me back because life is so much better with you than without.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Picture of the Day

by Jacob

Sometimes it is a small comfort to realize that "we're all in the same boat."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Boys Will be Boys...

...even in their dreams.

Overheard just now from older boys' bedroom where both are "sound" asleep...

"I think it's a bomb. I think it is!"

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Scenes From the New Hampshire Shore

Our First Communicant

Alexander with some of his brothers and some of his cousins on the day of his first communion, Sunday June 28th.

Alexander with Fr. Bevins, pastor of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, who interviewed Alex and gave him his first communion.

Alex waited so long for this day and prepared so thoroughly. He had missed his first communion by a few weeks when we moved last year and it has been difficult to get him in with the group down here. We actually found it easier to just go back and have him receive at our old parish. Fr Bevins was so accommodating and many, many thanks to my sister, Helene, (some of her adorable children pictured above) for hosting us all and making his day so special.

My father enrolled him in the brown scapular and he wears it faithfully day and night. My mother gave him an icon of Christ, Light of the World and he carries it under his arm throughout the day. We gave him a small prayer book and I see him thumbing through the pages. He's so proud and it makes us proud to see him so proud. God bless you, sweet Alex, and may you grow ever closer to Christ through this beautiful sacrament.

We're Back!

Look who Micah got to meet on the way home yesterday! As you can see, Sarah is much better at sitting.

She's such a darling little girl in her summery pink cherry outfit. She wasn't too sure of me, but let me hold her so long as she could keep an eye on her big brother, Patrick.

I was so pleased to meet Elizabeth. She fed us a delicious brunch (my kids want me to get that french toast recipe) and my boys really welcomed the opportunity to run around and play with other kids after so many hours in the car and more hours ahead. I could have talked with Elizabeth forever. She's so interesting and I feel we have many things in common.

And I'm not just saying that because we happened to be wearing the same pants.

We're home but not quite in the swing of things yet. There's laundry to do, grass to mow, weeds to pull, mail to sort, and grocery shopping to be done and that's just real life. I'll get caught up on blogs and email as I can, maybe post some pictures from our trip. It was a good trip. We're really not happy that the deer ate all Micah's pears while we were away, but we're glad to be home.