"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Friday, March 18, 2016

PHFR: Southwest March


I've shared this view before, but it's always amazing to me to think that people live with a view of the mountains full-time.  It's very exotic to a midwestern gal like me.  I hope I never take it for granted.

Blue blue skies and always sunshine!  But...wind too.  And with the wind, allergies.  I've been hiding indoors this past week.  I did get out to take these pictures yesterday afternoon.



Ever read "Where the Red Fern Grows"?  Have your kids?  Wanna show them a real live "ghost coon"?!  This white raccoon was trapped on my mother-in-law's farm yesterday morning and released into a safe wild area last night.  His ear was chewed on and his tail was as well, but he'd been getting at the farm cat lately.  "Pablo", the farm hand, had seen one before in his life about 30 years ago.  These creatures are pretty rare.  They are also very hard to catch!  We were lucky to get in on this experience.

 And our traveling-doodle Miss Reina!  She is 100% awesome in the car!  A three day roadtrip and nary a whimper from our little companion.  I'm soooo happy she's here with us.  She was a little wary of that big backyard (deserty wilderness) behind our home, but she's learned to love running further than her electric fence will let her back home.  I just need to find a groomer to shave her down--lotsa brambles and prickers for her soft and fluffy fur to catch onto around here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Road Trip Daybook

Outside my window:  Well, not the above Rocky Mountains...but they do loom in the distance.
I'm in the High Desert, and...it's dry!  I think a humidifier would be a good idea, especially at night!
During the day it's been sunny, which I do not take for granted ever...but I also have allergies here that I do not get in the northern midwest.  I'm trying to focus on the plusses.

Celebrating the Liturgical Year: Happy St. Patrick's Day!! My husband has said that our family should hold off to celebrate St. Joseph's Solemnity on Saturday...meaning, no sugar today for those who are giving up such things for Lent.  We'll see if my poor husband doesn't get overruled by his wife...we both have Irish roots and I intend to celebrate.  It may just be corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread this year.  All I'd like to add is a Shamrock Shake from McDonalds!:)

True Confessions: The road trip was a blessed journey.  I think there were so many prayers said for us that the Blessed Mother truly paved our way with perfect weather, sunshine, and clear roads.  We traveled 6 hours on Day 1, twelve on Day 2, and 8 hours for the final day.  Day 2 was the best.  We flew!  And stopped to walk Reina and eat lunch outside of a Wendy's or hit a gas station.  Each night we were totally exhausted, but ready to hit the road again the next morning.

Learning Lessons in:  Letting go.  You know how when you are sick/have a baby/are unable to "keep house" how good it feels to get back into the swing of things?  Well, it's sort of like that when I visit my in-laws.  I try to remember to be thankful for the break from cooking/cleaning/housework...but it's also a little weird having your house/home "taken" from you for an extended period.  I suppose most people are only lucky enough to get away for a weekend or ten days at best.  Most people probably will never have to be away for over a month at a time.  Again, I try to see this as the blessing it is (mostly, because my children get to develop such close relationships with their family on this side of the country), but there is something, for me, of an adjustment, and I would even say a sense of loss, as I learn to make a home in a home that isn't mine, for an extended-yet-temporary time.  Detachment.  I am sure this is very good for me.:)

not-so-much-at-home-Schooling:  We brought some workbooks.  Mostly Math.  So each afternoon we hit our math (and maybe a little spelling/English/Religion, depending on the child (Arwen brought more)).  There also has been a lot of water coloring at the kitchen table and chalk drawing outside.  I don't mind the looser schedule.  I really don't mind the Easter break coming soon!  It hasn't been hard, but there is always the knowing that you have to "get to it" each day, and I think we all enjoy our breaks when they come!  I'm excited about some new books I ordered, under the pretext of Easter, but really just to have more literature around for our visit, and hopefully for the ride home as well (depends on how fast they are read).

That's my update for now--I'll be back with more glorious pictures of where I'm at (not just through my car window en route)...just as soon as my allergies allow me to leave the indoors!!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Day in the Life: Homeschooling 14, 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 2, and pregnant!

Today I am joining up with sharing "a day in our life" with the linkup over at Simple Homeschool.  

Welcome!!  This blog is very much an old school "mom blog", so nothing too fancy, and nothing is sold, here.  

It's funny, I think I'm in the running for "most kids home schooled" on the link-up. . . but I know I'm not alone.  And as I always say, it's having those three little ones that makes super heroes out of us moms.  Honestly, two little ones is enough.  So, if you are a mom with less than, say, 5 kids, and you're wondering  "how do you do it??"…just remember--I'm not dressing my 14 year old! (Even if I still braid her hair for her in a pinch:)).  Actually, my 9 year old will dress my toddler half the time, so--there's encouragement for you!  On to the homeschool!

We used to do school in the basement.  Then, after a good decade of homeschooling, we were able to put on an addition.  I blogged all about it last summer and fall.   

I really really love being on the main floor and having the natural light and windows to lift the spirits as we tackle our work every day.  Truth: we still use our dining room table and couches, but at least at the end of the day the books and clutter all end up in here (mostly).

Newcomers may not know that we have rabbits.  Lots of really cute mini-holland lops (well, just four), and we let them visit us in the schoolroom to add to the chaosmess fun.


and of course Miss Reina, our ten month old labradoodle who tries to come in and steal fallen crayons

On to the brass tacks:

This is a curriculum overview (and I'm never very precise about these things).  Skip it if you just want to see what our day looks like:

I use Catholic Heritage Curriculum materials heavily.  I like their pre-K and primary grade workbooks because the lessons are short and to the point.  I use MCP math for primary grades because I really struggle with mom-intensive and manipulative-dependent math.  At 4th grade we switch to Saxon.  Not a program with a lot of bells and whistles, but solid.

I've gone "down the history trail", "alphabet path", and "science" with Elizabeth Foss over at Serendipity.  I love picture books for science and history for younger children.  When my big kids were little I'd read to everyone at once and group everyone together.  Then I discovered the excellent, glossy-paged, history texts over at CHC and let my, now, big kids do those for history on their own.  Occasionally, I have to get involved and read to the big kids out of a more serious history text.  I'm a Christendom College grad, so I'll pull out Warren Carroll on them (yes I will!).  They love history, so it's easy.

I've used Apologia science books, which are explicitly creationist in viewpoint (I've heard others get tired of this strong mantra throughout their books).  I'd rather have creationism than evolution, and I love the glossy pages and pictures.  Science texts can be so dry.  I think these are very appealing.

Did I forget much?? Those are the big subjects, right?

And now it's time for… "A DAY IN THE LIFE":

(I'll try to be honest)

6:00 alarm goes off.  I might be up before this because I'm a morning person and I can never get enough of a jumpstart on my day.  (On the other hand, I might sleep through it and not come down until 7.  Keep in mind that I am pregnant.)

Make coffee, turn heat up, grab prayer books  (I try to say the Morning Office, read the Bible, and journal.  Then I try to check my e-mail and blog.  Given that the kids trickle down about 6:15, I might be reading Dr. Suess at any given point instead).

I wish I could say that at 7:00 I exercise.  Reality is that on a good day I hop on an exercise bike at 7:30 and pedal for ten or fifteen or maybe 20 minutes while yelling at the kids to get ready for Mass.  If the weather is beautiful, I might not be able to resist a quick walk with our dog.  I'm such a morning person, and I cannot ever get over the fresh morning air and sunshine.  However, it's late winter 'round here…and sunshine doesn't always happen.

At 7:50 (more on my awesome timing below) I'll hop into the shower for three glorious minutes (if I haven't exercised, I might just skip the shower--sorry, trying to be real here) and slick my wet hair into a bun.  Throw clothing on myself and whatever toddlers are ambling around in pj's and in need of dry diapers and shove everyone into the van.

8:15: leave for Mass.  Mass starts at 8:15.  We go daily.  We are hopelessly, always late. (Huge sigh).  Someday we will do better.  We know this is not ok.  We try.  We fail.  But we do always go!

Going to daily Mass gives us the obvious spiritual strength for the task of our day ahead, but also ensures that our big family is up, dressed, and out the door at an early hour.  School kids have to be at school at 7:30.  Some people like being in pj's at noon.  For me, in a family this size with a lot of work to do, it's just chaos.  Did I mention I'm a morning person?

9:00 head home.  Pray "Anima Christi" and "Seven Sorrows of Mary" on way home.  If it's not Lent, I often make my husband get me coffee on the way home.  The kids might get to split cookies if I get coffee.  Not a great habit, but it is a nice reward for the huge effort to get to Mass, and it gives me the courage born of coffee and sugar to face the morning ahead.

Sometimes we'll hit Target or Trader Joe's on the way home.  The stores are so wonderfully empty on a Monday morning at 9!  And I can stock up on important things we need for the day without having to load everyone up again later on in the day.  I do NOT bring all of the kids in with me.  I make my daughter (or husband if he's just letting me run in) tell the kids a story.  Yep.  I'll tell a story if he's running in for me.  We tell all kinds of ridiculous tales.  The kids love it.

I need to mention that my husband is with me for all of this.  Yes, I loose all superhero status by admitting that.  I am happy to admit that everyone who does anything remotely close to the above on their own is WAY better than I am.

9:15 (or 10 if we've done errands) home.

Breakfast:  I make a huge breakfast every day.  Eggs.  Pancakes.  Oatmeal.  Smoothies.  Buttered toast. Some combination of the above.  I have the kids do chores and get started on school while I cook (dog out, etc).  I do not make lunch!  By the time we've eaten a huge, hearty, and late breakfast, we are ready to work.  My kids are free to make pbj's or throw together a ham sandwich in the afternoon, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm done in the kitchen until dinner.  (I might make a snack, like popcorn, in the afternoon.)

9:30-11:00 School!  (11 is too late, but in reality, if we do lots of errands, it happens from time to time.  We might have morning dentist/doctor/orthodontist appointments).

All kids in desks (big kids might move out for more quiet).  I float between desks and get kids started on lessons.  I check little kids' math work, I praise 3-year-old handwriting, I praise 2-year-olds' scribbling.  I work through spelling and english workbooks.  I do reading lessons with my 5 year old on the couch.  Usually I start loosing the little kids around 12:30 (think whining and crying).

At this point I will read storybooks to my 2-and 3-year old (or turn on Curious George if we're really desperate) while I set the kids over 4th grade to finish math with their dad.  I am going to admit right here that I'm good on math through 3rd grade.  Yes, I am a college grad.  An English major.  Judge as you will. ;)  (My husband's really good at math).

If I'm really lucky, my dad will fit us in on his lunch hour and come read a classic work of literature to my kids from 12:30-1.  Over the years they have read Adventure Isle, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Where the Red Fern Grows, Robin Hood and on and on.  "Poppy" is our "classics program"!:)
Before my dad started to come we did more books on tape in the afternoon to give me a break.

1:00 Big kids finish reading history, science, writing projects, scripture copy work, religion (Faith and Life series), on their own.  They typically finish by about 2-3 pm, other than maybe my 14-year-old who has the biggest work load (and maybe gets side-tracked by her artistic instincts aka doodling in the margins!:)).
Galadriel- age 9- scripture copy work
By the time the neighborhood school kids are home from school, we're done.  If the weather is good, my kids will run outside and play with their friends.  Winters are long, though, and we're all pretty cooped up by March. Basketball season brought lots of practices in the late afternoon and evenings.

2 or 3:00 I start vacuuming, doing dishes, getting started on dinner.  I might have a sister drop by to have coffee and let the kids play.  Once in a while we have co-op from 2-4.  When the weather is good we meet friends at the park once a week from 2-4.  When weather is bad I have a friend who hosts an "open house" from 2-4 once a week.  We try to make what we can.  However, I'm going to say that if I'm out or entertaining during the afternoon, the house suffers.  I have to find a balance as best I can.

I'll run to the grocery store for last minute items needed for dinner.  Have coffee, check e-mail/blogs/shop on-line.  I like to take my dog on a walk if I can get out.  I might have a few along in a stroller or walking with me.

3:00 hour we pray the Divine Mercy chaplet. (Unless I'm at co-op or a friend's house).

4:45/5:00 I usually have a pre-dinner clean up session for the family.  We take out trash and sweep and pick up the main floor.  If the kids have been outside they get called in to clean up the yard (bikes and balls in, etc).  I'm just finishing dinner and probably getting it served too.

5:30/6 dinner

any evening practices or games

7:00 read aloud with Dad.  We're currently going through the Narnia series (third time through, and it just keeps getting better!)  We've done Lord of the Rings, Little House books, and lots of historical fiction from the Bethlehem book list.

8:00 family rosary

8:15/30 bed!

My older kids have a "lights out" time so my 14-year-old can read/draw/journal in bed until 9:30 (or  ten, because, well, she's 14).  I'd usually stay up until ten-ish myself, but as I mentioned, I'm pregnant.  So, lately…I'm in bed before my kids are asleep.

That's it! A pretty realistic "day in the life".

Friday, March 4, 2016

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real::March Comes in like a Lion


It's March!  And yes, it came in like a lion.

You all have seen the epic film "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,"correct?  If not, you will watch it tonight.  With your entire family.  Then you will be singing with me the "winter is oh-so-long" song of the kidnapped brides-to-be: "March comes in like a lion, what else? Still the snow never melts!"  I cannot tell you how much I love that movie.  


If it just had to snow, it sure was a nice surprise when the neighborhood girls rang our doorbell and asked to play!  I had five out back making snow igloo homes yesterday.  I will absolutely never ever ever take for granted having neighborhood friends that are sweet and the same ages as my kids.  It's a home schooling mother's boon.  A boon, I say!:)


After almost surviving February, we got a bout of stomach flu on the 29th.  Now we've got some coughs and body aches and a few warm foreheads.  Please, Spring, come quickly!

I think I had the chills, or else it was actually just cold in our house, but I had the kids build a couple of fires for us this week.  They never complain about that fun task!

I am 100% crazy about pure beeswax candles.  The flames are so much brighter than other candles!
I got a bunch blessed on Candlemas, but I know they'll never last the year.  

The pink and red of Valentine's Day and February has given way to the green of St. Patrick and his Shamrocks.


Ouch!  Little Cricket got a broken leg!! This is why we must never own any such dainty breed.  Cricket is getting pampered over at her home with her very devoted owners, who are keeping that cast dry and Cricket as sedentary as a little puppy can possibly be kept.

With as many times as Cricket has been mentioned in our family rosary, I have no doubt that this little friend will be all healed up in no time!