Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Mission Field - WIWS

Linking up with all the beautiful women over at Fine Linen and Purple for a WIWS post.

I like reading all the WIWS posts but I do not frequently link up with them because, well, I need a picture of myself.  On a Sunday.  I don't know how everyone else's weekends go but ours are a little bit holy, a little bit hectic with some crazy thrown in for good measure.  So I find it difficult to get a self portrait for these posts.  But today I had time to write up a blog post so I made the effort...
It is raining...
This is the second outfit I tried out.  I had a different dress picked out (thanks to cleaning out my closet recently and finding it hanging in the back).  After trying it on I realized why it was hanging forgotten in the back.  It wasn't all that comfortable.  I will occasionally sacrifice comfort for the sake of style but not today.  I was cantoring this morning and I know from experience to never, ever wear a "not real comfortable" outfit when singing.  It can be hard enough standing at the podium without adding to the nervousness by wearing clothes that distract me.

The pastor at my church is getting ready to retire in a couple months.  The Catholic population in my city is decreasing and because of this and the priest shortage many of the Catholic parishes are combining and having one priest serve two parishes.  This is also the case at my Catholic church, so when Monsignor Jack retires the pastor at a nearby parish, Father Matt, will become the pastor for both churches.  As you can guess, this is leading to a lot of restructuring of liturgical schedules, Mass times, etc.  This hasn't caused a particularly emotional upheaval for me because I did not grow up in this town, attend my church's parish school or get married at this church.  However many of my church family did so it is definitely a tougher transition for them.  In today's homily Monsignor Jack spoke about the recent decisions made about the new Mass times.  As our readings were about Jesus appearing to his disciples and telling them that they were to be His witnesses, Monsignor Jack also commented about our Catholic witness to our neighbors and acquaintances.

Yes, I know this subject well.  Sometimes I feel like I'm on constant display as that Catholic convert that people know.  Sometimes I feel like the only Catholic convert that people know.  Before becoming Catholic myself I honestly knew no one who converted, except in instances of marriage.  I did know a few people who became Catholic because they were engaged to someone who wanted to be married inside the Catholic Church.  I associate with way more non-Catholics, usually Evangelical Christians, in my homeschool circles.  I would bet that many of them are not even aware that I am Catholic.  Because I also attend a protestant church with my family they assume I'm protestant.  The protestant church we attend doesn't even know I'm Catholic.  I volunteered to work in my youngest son's Sunday School class a few weeks ago because they were short of helpers and they asked me to fill out paperwork for a background check.  I always hate filling out paperwork because my answers don't add up.  It asks questions like:

  • How long have you attended services here?  5 years
  • Are you a member of this church?  No, I'm a member of a different church
  • Church previously attended.  My Catholic Church, which I'm still attending
  • Are you an immersed believer?  This is a yes/no question which I would have to answer "no" because I was not baptized by immersion, nor do I believe immersion baptism is the only valid baptism.  My thoughts on baptism.
Then there's the statement of faith they ask you to sign, which is not really different than what I believe as a Catholic except for that one question, Do you believe that trusting in Jesus is the only means of salvation?  Well, I do believe Jesus is the one way to salvation but I also believe that baptism is the sacrament God has provided to wash away sin, and that He has also given us confession as a sacrament to continually wash away the sin in our lives and as an avenue of grace to help us overcome those sins.  But, again, not one of the choices.  Sigh...

As fate would have it I have not been able to attend my family's church for the last two weeks due to staying home with sick children.  So I've been able to conveniently avoid turning in said paperwork.  I suppose I need to speak with someone in leadership there and get things ironed out.  A post for another time.

So back to this Sunday...

Doug and I managed to squeeze in a dinner out, not quite a "date night" but better than nothing.
Took three shots to get this,
We bribed the older boys into watching the little ones for a bit while we went not very far away for a sit down meal.  Food was good and kids were alive when we got home.  We're working our way up to being able to go out to a movie (baby steps).

Boys are outside playing football with Dad waiting for me to finish this post so I can start supper.  Don't forget to click over to Fine Linen and Purple for more WIWS posts!

Friday, April 10, 2015

How Time Flies in 7 Takes

Thanks to Kelly for hosting!!

1.  Today is Firstborn's 15th birthday!  It is also the day he went in to test for his driver's permit...

He passed his test and promptly asked to drive home (uh, no).  I did let him drive in the neighborhood and I think I only said the word BRAKE half a dozen times in the three blocks home.  I'm counting that as a success.

2.  Toddler Boy is adjusting to morning preschool.  He missed a few days early this week due to being sick but he's back in the swing of things.  I got him on the afternoon bus schedule, which means I only have to drive out to the school once per day (as opposed to the three times a day I was doing a few weeks ago).  He's loving the bus ride, which makes me think I need to check out some Magic School Bus videos from the library.

3.  As you can see in the above photo, the school dress code does apply to the preschool.  Toddler Boy runs on the small end of the weight/height chart.  We ran out to pick him up a couple of extremely large on him size XS polo shirts which he will probably be wearing for the next two years.  The school pants had no hope of fitting him, so we had to go with the smaller non-school khaki and navy pants.  Which ended up being more expensive even though they were in a smaller size.

4.  I can't believe Firstborn is old enough to be driving and Toddler Boy is in preschool.  A couple of time lapse photos to prove my point...
Group shot at the park, 2011

Same group, four years later in 2015

The picture was taken in the same park on the same rock.  Crazy how fast they grow!

5.  Here's another time lapse photo from Easter...

Princess and her cousin, Easter 2011

Easter 2015

They're getting so big!!  Time slow down, please!

6.  Spring fever is in full swing at our house.  Now that the Easter school break is over it is time to buckle down and finish up the homeschooling for the year and decide what to work on over the summer.  Plus now is when I like to make decisions on what curriculum we'll be working on next year.  I sort of feel like I've spent my Easter break taking care of sick kids and cleaning/decluttering because the house seriously needed it.  This weekend we'll be celebrating Firstborn's birthday, which is the last one in the "birthday season" for us.  Starting next week we will hopefully be back on our normal schedule and be ready to finish up the school year.

7.  I just wanted to add that I really appreciated Kelly's respiratory quick take post this week.  It's really good, especially her take away from the whole thing (scroll down to number 7).  She talked about spending her Easter break in the hospital with one of her kids.  I so, so relate to that this year.  This school year has been really rough for our family in terms of illness.  Especially for Princess, who ended up in the hospital on Christmas.  I have spent a lot of time nursing sick kids and ultimately I've come to discover God's grace in the midst of it.  It has really allowed me to be present in the moment more, to love more deeply and to stretch myself to what I thought was the end of my limits, only to discover that where I end is where God abounds in His endlessness.  God has never failed to meet me in my weaknesses.

That's it for this week...go check out more 7 Quick Takes with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2015

Happy Easter, Alleluia, Alleluia!!  He is risen indeed!

It has been a rough holy week around here with the three younger kids coming down with (what we later found out) Flu B.  We survived on rented videos, snack food and fever meds.  Toddler Boy started running the fever Wednesday night, then Princess and Game Boy on Thursday.  By Sunday they were fever free, so judgment you take them to Easter dinner or not?  We opted to go to my folks house for lunch but the Easter hunting wore them out so we skipped stopping by Doug's folks after that and went home.  Hindsight, I'm glad we did because they started running fevers again when we arrived home.  In fact, I took Soccer Boy to the doctor yesterday when he started running a fever and he tested positive for Flu B.  The doc said that was the first time in his career he's done a positive test for Flu B this late into the season (April).  Lucky us.

To add to the chaos, Soccer Boy was playing 9 square in the air at youth group Friday and twisted his ankle.  He spent Saturday with his foot elevated and applying ice packs.  Saturday was a baking day for me because I was bringing dessert and I also wanted to drop some food off at my grandmother's house.  Her 88th birthday fell on Easter this year!  What a blessing.  My grandmother decided not to renew her driver's license this year.  She told me she really never drives anymore, she only drove one time this past year.  On Saturday my dad went with her so she could drive one last time, which she really enjoyed.  When we heard the story at Easter dinner my BIL made the comment that it really makes you think.  We usually look forward to the first time we get to do something (like us getting to teach Firstborn how to drive).  But you rarely think about the last time you get to experience an event or activity.  Puts things in perspective.

Doug and I did the divide and conquer routine so he attended Saturday Easter services as the Protestant church with Firstborn and then I attended Sunday morning Mass solo.  We did egg dying Saturday while they were out, along with all the holiday baking (because I'm crazy).

The kids woke up to their annual Easter baskets, which I didn't get a photo of before they demolished them.  I am proud of the fact I was ahead of the game and bought them early.  Like, early early, when the stores first had them out.  This is only because in previous years I waited until the last minute and baskets are the hardest thing to find.  You can wait until Holy Week to buy plastic eggs and candy but baskets are in short supply.  Princess got a Frozen basket and Toddler Boy got TMNT, which is his latest addiction.  Game Boy was with me on basket shopping day and got to pick his own, he had a camo design.  Game Boy and Soccer Boy are my shoppers, they love picking out gifts for other people.  I also picked up some little toys and such to fill the baskets, then I spent all of Lent keeping them hidden.

Princess has been begging to wear the Easter dress that Doug's mom got her and she finally got to wear it to Easter lunch and egg hunting...

After lunch we sent our faithful teenage egg hiders out to assist the Easter bunny...

They did the job a little too good this year, some of the eggs were a bit difficult to hunt.  Really, when dealing with a large field, all you have to do is lay them in the grass.

More egg hunting pics...

Toddler Boy with Daddy

Favorite TMNT shirt

Great Grandma's house in background

Me, my mom and sister Julie

View from the porch

After the egg hunt there was dessert and then the older boys went fishing while the younger kids took a nap because they were so wiped out.  The adults played a few rounds of dominoes, trash talking abounds, even on holidays in our family.  I think Mom won all three rounds, we're still trying to figure out how she cheats at this game.

As I'm typing this the weather radio keeps going off, Spring has arrived in the Midwest.  I think we're in for some rough weather over the next couple days.  Stay safe and Happy Easter to all my blogger friends!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chickens and Farm Fresh Eggs

Hello Gorgeous!

Super excited about finally getting some straight from the farm fresh eggs around here.  We don't have chickens but we have connections (my in-laws know some chicken people).  My MIL brought us some lovely brown eggs that we have been enjoying all week.  Soccer Boy lamented yesterday that now he is ruined because scrambled eggs taste so much better with fresh eggs that he'll never be able to go back to the old ones.  Their bright yellow yolks make me so happy, and I don't even personally eat eggs.

Our family got to attend a "chicken seminar" a couple weeks ago held at the local Rural King.  The kids were all over that...
Game Boy holding a hen

They had baby bunnies too

Princess with a bunny

Checking out the ducklings

They learned the proper way to hold a chicken and a trick to calming a chicken down quickly (you have to tuck their head under their wing and gently swing them).  Other fascinating items:

  • Both chickens and ducks lay unfertilized eggs.
  • Duck eggs are slightly bigger and have more cholesterol.
  • The color of the egg depends on the color of the chicken's earlobes
  • You can test the freshness of an egg by putting it in a bowl of cold water, fresher eggs sink and lay on their side, old eggs will float.
  • Fresh laid eggs have a natural anti-bacterial coating on them.
  • Wash the eggs with soap and cool water (hot water can permeate the shell).
  • Once you've washed the eggs you should refrigerate them because you have removed the natural anti-bacterial coating.
  • The average egg purchased at the grocery store is about two months old.
  • Grocery store eggs are laid by white leghorn (pronounced leggern) chickens.

They also taught us how to read an egg carton to estimate the age of the eggs inside.  You don't go by the "use by" date, you look at the Julian dating printed on the carton.  There should be a three digit number listed on the carton.  Sometimes they run the numbers all together, so you look at the last three digits.  This is the packaging date.  Eggs are usually packaged within six weeks of being laid.  So add six weeks to that date to get the oldest date the egg should be.

FYI, the Julian dating system gives a number to each date of the year as follows:

001 = Jan 1
002 = Jan 2, etc...

So on the picture above, the number 065 translates to our calendar date March 6.  So these eggs were graded and packed on March 6 and given a "sell by" date of April 4 (30 days after the packed date).  If they were packed within six weeks of laying that would mean the eggs inside this carton might have been collected around the end of January, at the earliest.  We purchased these last week, a little over a week after they were packed.  They might be a little short of two months old, but ultimately there is no way of knowing exactly how old the eggs inside are.  We did do the water test last week and discovered they do not lay completely flat on their side, they are moving towards standing on end at the bottom of the bowl.  Now that we have our farm fresh eggs we will probably turn these eggs into Easter eggs with our dye kits.

There you go, a little introduction to chickens and eggs.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Seven Quick Takes - March!!

Thanks to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for hosting...

1.  Ah, March!  I told myself I was going to be more committed to blogging on a more or less regular basis.  I seem to have forgotten the small detail that March is birthday month at our house.  Add to that we have made lots of friends who also have birthdays this month.  So we have been hopping from party to party to party with still more parties left to go!!  We went to our favorite local indoor pool/water park to celebrate Princess' 7th birthday this year and took an underwater camera (leftover from vacation).  Prints still not back yet so I'll have to do a separate post for those.  In the meantime here are some of the other pictures from our celebrations:
Happy 7th!!

Her friends came for a "princess party"

Excitement about new TMNT crocks!

Our newest 4 year old
2.  The weather around here has been moving from one extreme to the other.  When we went to the pool on Princess' birthday there was 4 feet of snow on the ground.  The very next weekend it all melted in the 70 degree warm up.  Today is a rainy 50 degrees outside, which is causing my sinuses to go crazy.  I woke up to another headache this morning and didn't hesitate to down 2 ibuprofen with my coffee to try and hold it off.  Which reminds me of the one thing I hate about Spring and the Midwest...allergy season!

3.  So I have been faithfully avoiding Facebook during this Lenten season and I have to admit that I don't really miss it.  I would like to say that I have spent my off line time in prayer and devotion, cultivating virtue and all that.  But the reality is I've recently become a Suduko expert on my smartphone.  Addicting.  Sadly, Downton Abbey is now off until who knows when.  It seems all my favorite tv shows have taken a hiatus and are playing reruns, although happily Grimm will be showing a new episode this Friday!  We finally get to find out what will happen with Juliette being a hexenbiest and what's up with that cliffhanger?!  Adalind is going to have another baby?!  Would that be Nick's baby??  (I realize I'm way too emotionally vested in this storyline).  I know Juliette isn't that thrilled about being wesen, but I got to say if you get to choose hexenbiest is totally the way to go.

4.  We just received a call this week that someone moved and the preschool has an opening so Toddler Boy (I really need to change his blog name, considering he just turned 4) gets to go to school!  Yes, still a homeschooling family but he's doing speech therapy and would really benefit getting it on the daily.  He'll be going a few hours to the same school Princess attends.  Already dreaming about what I'll get done without Toddler Boy creating craziness in the house.  Reality is it's only about 2 months until school is out, so not much.  We'll just have a bit more quiet time to get the older kids schooling finished before the summer pandemonium hits.

5.  Firstborn gets to start a new class next week too...driver's ed.  It is still hard to believe that Doug and I have a child who is old enough to drive.  Crazy!  It seems like just yesterday I was taking driver's ed class, then I have to be honest and admit it really has been 26 years.  Can a quarter century pass by that quickly?  I'm still in denial about my age.  Doug is not looking forward to him being behind the wheel but he's very responsible so I know he's ready (or at least as ready as anyone really can be at 15).  Maybe your not truly ready to be a driver until you're older and have children of your own so you know what's at stake.  Or you've lived long enough and seen enough car accidents to respect the power behind the wheel.  Those self driving cars are looking better and better everyday...
Look out world!
6.  My girlfriends and I are supposed to go out tomorrow for lunch to celebrate our birthdays.  I mentioned how March is the birthday month, and that includes my birthday too.  My friends' also have birthdays this month.  Last year we went all fancy and took our hubby's out to dinner in St. Louis while the kids spent the night at grandma's.  Or was that the year before?  Starting to lose track.  We also went to the Melting Pot one year.  I value my girlfriends so much, they provide playmates for my kids (see Take 1), share rides to school, and in general help me keep my sanity.  One of my friends is getting ready to deliver twins, very exciting!
Flashback...the Melting Pot
7.  Ugh, I am really not feeling well this morning.  I feel like I'm fighting a sinus infection/cold.  Can homeschool teachers take a sick day?  Especially on a Friday (which is when our Lyceum classes meet).  Today is the last archery class too, and Toddler Boy has a doctor's appointment.  What I really want to do is drink hot tea and stay in a warm bed with the humidifier cranked up full blast.  I need to schedule it, maybe after the doctor's appointment and before archery (wait...that's when I'm supposed to make lunch).  Maybe they can fend for themselves at lunchtime?  The older boys could but the younger ones probably wouldn't fare well with that arrangement.  I'll shoot for making an early lunch after the dr. appointment and grab a nap before archery...

Looking forward to the warmer temperatures coming back this weekend!!  Click over to This Ain't The Lyceum to catch up on more Quick Takes.

Friday, February 27, 2015

See Me Homeschool

Theresa over at Ordinary Lovely and Micaela at California to Korea are hosting a blog hop asking homeschooling bloggers to show a typical homeschooling day in pictures (no words)!!  I did a interview post for Micaela's link-up last year How I Homeschool so I thought the new link up would be a great way to see how we actually implement that into our days.

My teenager commented to me yesterday "the only typical thing about our homeschooling days are that they are untypical".  No truer words!  Confession:  I snapped these pictures over two days for the same reasons everyone else has given (namely, you can't take pictures and get the homeschooling done at the same time).  Also, I may or may not have bribed my older children with a gas station soda to allow me to photograph them doing their work.

Last but not least...I didn't do much cropping to these so you can still see the laundry that needs to be put away in the background.  Just keeping it real life...

Head over to Theresa at Ordinary Lovely to click on more See Me Homeschool posts by my fellow homeschoolers in the trenches!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Quick Takes - Beach Vacation!!

Thanks to Kelly for hosting!!

So we just returned from vacation in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and I wanted to photo dump...

Sunrise at the beach
1.  We stayed in a condo right on the beach.  The beach = awesome!  It was white sand with very few sea shells, which was actually nice because you could walk barefoot all day long and not step on anything but sand.  The condo was beautiful but Doug and I decided that maybe condo living is not really built for large families?  We spent the first couple of days hissing at the kids to be quiet...use your indoor voice...not so loud (you get the picture).  Our family did a lot of day trips because it was impossible to keep the younger kids quiet and cooped up for long blocks of time and we didn't want to annoy our elderly neighbors.  Typically we would plan a morning activity, come back to eat lunch, and then go out on an afternoon activity.  We would come back to eat supper and then everyone was tired out enough to watch a movie and go to bed.

Balcony on beach
I should mention that the condo was on the fifth floor with a balcony.  Plus all the windows open!  Whose brilliant idea was that?!  We were ever vigilant parents for the first couple of days and made sure the windows stayed locked and blocked off.  The little kids were not allowed on the balcony without Mom or Dad out there.  I will admit that at night we totally blocked off the balcony door with chairs that made lots of noise if you moved them (we have some sleepwalkers).  However, it did make a very nice place to drink my morning cup of coffee.
Morning cup of coffee...awesome!

2.  The drive down was not too bad.  We stayed in a hotel outside Atlanta on the way down and in Chattanooga, TN on the way home.  Both places had heated indoor pools and enough beds to sleep all seven in our family.  I used to help us find some places big enough for our group.  We also had lots of snack food, our smartphones, the Kindle Fire HD, two ipods, and a DVD player with double screens and headphones.

Princess at Florida welcome center
Florida welcome center

3.  The older two boys spent a lot of time fishing.  On Thursday they went out on a fishing charter and caught some redfish, which we fried up that night for supper.  They were also brave enough to swim in the surf (the temps were in the 60s and 70s when we were down there).  The kids claimed the water was warmer than the air once you got used to it.


Heading for the surf

Riding some waves

4.  We took an afternoon drive north to St. Augustine to visit Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest American fort.  We studied St. Augustine and the fort last year for history when my folks went there for a visit.  When we were planning this vacation it was someplace I wanted to take the kids.  The entire fort is made of coquina, which is a limestone made of sea shells.  You can see all the shells embedded in the walls, it was really neat.
The gang outside Castillo de San Marcos

Group shot

Princess with the cannons on the top deck

Toddler Boy loved the cannonballs
He wanted to take one home

5.  We also spent some time walking along the beaches.
Shot of the guys...

Game Boy

Racing the waves!

Toddler Boy with me
Still light enough to be carried...
6.  While the older boys were out on their fishing charter we took the younger kids on a boat ride to look for dolphins.  The kids even got to drive the boat for an extra treat...

Captain for the day

Dolphin family

7.  The last day there my hubby and I got to go out on a date!  We went out to lunch at the Sea Shack and then went for a walk down Flagler Ave. where I picked up some nice jewelry...

My Valentine's gift from my
sweet hubby!
Me and my man

We could have stayed an extra day but I'm glad we didn't because there was a weather system coming in and we don't love driving through the mountains on ice covered roads.  We picked up our dogs from the kennel and made it home in time to do some grocery shopping before this:

Back to reality...

Hope you're all staying warm in the final days of winter!  Click over to Kelly @ This Ain't the Lyceum for more Quick Takes.