Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Fabulously Long Day Book (and Some Answers for Curious Kendra!)

Outside my window...
It's gray and cold.  It's that time of year here when is 70 degrees one day and 35 the next.  Today's a 35 day.  Oh wait - it took me so long to write this it's now sunny and 43.  

I'm hearing...
Mostly blessed silence.  It's my peaceful afternoon time.  The three youngest are sleeping and the boys have their quiet time in the basement.  All I can hear, apart from the tapping of these keys, are strains of Jim Weiss' voice regaling the boys with his version of Kipling's Just So Stories.  We're big Jim Weiss fans around here :)  We have several of his recordings already, but I've started plotting which new ones I'll buy for our summer road trip to Cape Cod...  I'm thinking "Good Luck Duck," "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," "Treasure Island," and the "Adventures of Tom Sawyer."  

From the kitchen...
We certainly feasted on Easter!  We had a big brunch after Mass (which included my favorite homemade baked good of all time - orange kisses.  If only I didn't have kids... I could eat the whole batch myself!) and a delicious grilled salmon dinner.

For the rest of this week, not a whole lot.  I've been struggling lately to keep the grocery bill within the grocery budget.  It seems like by the time I buy all the fresh fruit and vegetables that we eat for breakfast, lunch, and snack, I have just enough left for everyone to have a grain of rice and a black bean for dinner.  I know plenty of "larger" families eat well on a budget, but I haven't yet mastered the art of thrifty grocery-getting.

Anyway...  I just got a loaf of bread started in the bread machine for tonight. Soup is what's for dinner.  It's cool enough for a soup night :)

Around the house...
Things are in a bit of a state around here as I transition the clothes and gear from winter to spring.  In addition to the messy confusion that inevitably accompanies the wardrobe switch, things are also a bit crazy as I experiment with a new laundry system.  We've always kept everyone's dirty laundry separate and washed each  load once a week.  It's not working so well anymore because (1) the kids get really dirty outside but I won't let them be around the house with dirty clothes, so sometimes they change two or three times a day and they run out of clothes before their designated laundry day and (2) I want to stop buying as many clothes for the kids as I have in the past.  So, we're testing out the old everyone-throws-their-clothes-down-the-chute-in-the-evening-and-it-all-gets-washed-together-overnight system of doing laundry.  I still have to figure out when we'll work in towels, linens, and adult whites...  It's a work in progress.  

I'm watching...
Woah.  There's a lot on my list.  Having given up Internet movie and tv show watching for Lent, there's much to catch up on :)  - a few episodes of "Elementary" on, and waiting for me at Netflix are "Foyle's War,"  "Endeavor," "The Paradise," and "Upstairs, Downstairs."  Oh, British television, how I love you!  

Books I'm reading...
I just finished Dumbing Us Down, by John Taylor Gatto and The Hurried Child, by David Elkind.  Lots of thought-provoking stuff to mull over on parenting, childhood, and educational choices.

I have a gigantic stack of books out of the library right now.  I think next I'll be cracking open  Evangelical Catholicism, by George Weigel and a few John Holt classics - Teach Your Own and How Children Learn.

Books I'm reading with the kids...
The Horse and His Boy, by good old Clive Staples
The Story of Money, by Betsy Maestro (we all really enjoyed this one as a social studies / history supplement)
and I just bought a long-time library loan favorite, The Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen.  (For this and other kids books that we love, check out this post here!)

From the Interwebs...
Another thought-provoking read: Newsflash: Motherhood is not the World's Hardest Job.  (If you're a mom and think that it's the hardest job in the world, you're doing it wrong.  And you're probably also doing your children a disservice.)  Read it.  It's good.

I'm pondering...
Oh so many things. 

Kids and money.  We're on the cusp of giving the boys (and maybe Ruth) more responsibility over their own piggy bank money.  I know how we are going to organize it; just have to do it.  But also, the boys in particular, are interested in earning some money to save up for Lego sets they have their eyes on.  I'm still unsure what type of work around the house would merit payment.  We certainly won't be paying them for their daily chores, but I'm having a hard time dreaming up other tasks they could do that I'd be willing to pay them for.  Any ideas?  Russ and I were thinking of 50 cents per extra "chore" (they're still young!)  

Our home and yard.  They are feel considerably smaller than when we moved in here five years ago with just two children!  What accommodations can we make so that our house continues to serve us well?  What can I do for my kiddos so that they can have more outdoor space to explore and create and learn?  

Planning for the summer months...
Stuff to do in Cape Cod.  Really, the only things on my "must do" list are the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and taking the kids to do some really good tide-pooling.  We don't travel a lot, but when we do, we're going to do some awesome location-specific educational things, goshdarnit.  You can't explore tide pools in Western New York, so that's what we're going to do.  How one goes about finding a really good place to go tide-pooling, I do not know.  Maybe ask at Woods Hole, I guess...

I'm also committed to finding another hot air balloon launch we can go to.  Maybe we'll see you at one!  (Here's a schedule for you!)

I'm looking forward to...
My sister, brother-in-law and nephew are moving here this weekend!  Yipee!!!!  And I'm praying for their safe travels and a smooth transition!

I'm creating...
Two crochet blankets, simultaneously.  The boys asked for them, so I jumped right on it!  I chose the pattern and colors according to what I thought would suit each boy.  Here's a sneak preview.  I'll post more when they're done.

I am so very happy that I rediscovered crocheting last fall!  I've enjoyed it so much and I really need "creative time" to re-energize me.  It's much easier to pick up a crochet project around the house whenever I get a spare moment than it is to find time to get up to my attic sewing space.  

What's up with the kids...
One day a couple weeks ago Ruth asked Russ to take the training wheels off her bike.  Two minutes later she was flying down the street!  What a girl!

Dominic has been begging me to do a sewing project, so I just got him started with something simple.  (Ruth joins in doing lacing.)

Aaron's progressing with reading.  He read an entire "Billy and Blaze" book yesterday, and enjoyed it!  Yay!

Clare is a cute handful.  She learned to climb out of her crib.  'Nuf said.

James is so smiley and talkative!  I think he's ridiculously adorable, but I'm his mother, so what do you expect!  

*  *  *  *  *  *

And Curious Kendra asks... (via "Answer Me This" at Catholic All Year

What did we wear for Mass on Easter Sunday?   
It's actually a wonder we were even all wearing clothes at Mass on Easter Sunday.   Getting out the door for 8 o'clock Mass is cuh-razy with kids who don't know how to button and buckle and zip and tuck in on their own.  But we made it.  Barely.  I was getting dressed as Russ was buckling the kids in van.  I had wet, unstyled hair and I slopped some makeup on during the 3-minute drive.  As for what we wore, we went for thrifty over nifty this year.  Here it is...

I wore the green dress that I wore when I was the Matron of Honor at aforementioned sister's wedding two and a half years ago... when I was pregnant with Clare.  In fact, that was the last time I wore a dress at all (if you don't count a hospital gown...)  (If you know me at all, you know I'd be perfectly happy to wear sweats all day every day, even Easter if I thought I could get away with it...  Oh  wait, I did change into sweats after Mass when I remembered one of the reasons I don't wear dresses is because they make it very difficult to nurse a baby...)

Russ wore the suit and shirt he wore for our wedding. The boys wore the same shirts and ties they wore last Easter.  Ruth and Clare wore dresses that were lingering in the attic.  I had to buy them new shoes :)  And James, well, he's baby no. 5.  He wore hand-me-downs.  

Easter Bunny - thumbs up or thumbs down?
Thumbs way down.   We just don't do stuff like that around here.  
The "significant" reason (insofar as it applies to me and my family and I don't apply it to anyone else's personal or familial practices...) is that we try to avoid a thing that might minimize or distract  from the Truth of the celebration.   I have a hard enough time with the monumental task of dispensing the truths of the Faith to my children, I hardly need to juggle the confusion that holiday "characters" breed.  (Easter Bunny!!  Breed!!  Get it?!?) There are other serious reasons, but perhaps another time...
The casual, flippant reason, is I just don't get it.  And I don't want to spend my time cultivating... whatever it is.  And if the Mom doesn't want to do it, we don't do it.  (I didn't even manage to pull together an Easter basket this year.  The kids got bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and a chocolate bunny in a plastic shopping bag.  I don't think they're scarred for life...)

Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at our place or elsewhere?  
HERE!!  Absolutely, here!  I am a homebody through and through.  Then there's the convenience of being where all our "stuff" is - the diapers and wipes, clean clothes, cribs and favorite blankets.  And there's also the breath-easy aspect of being at home - if something gets dirty or broken, it's ours, not someone else's thing that we dirtied or broke :)  

Favorite kind of candy?
This question is killing me, as I'm trying to avoid candy right now...  what a dumb idea.  (Have to avoid it because I love it too much!)  I love Sour Patch Kids and Take 5 candy bars.  

Do I like video games?
I don't know.  Does computer Tetris of the 1990's count?  I've never played a real video game.  Sometimes I wonder if my kids wouldn't benefit from something like a Wii Fit, but when I start talking about it I realize I have no idea what I'm talking about.  Russ says maybe they'd like an Atari.  But I don't know what that is either.  It must be really cutting edge if I haven't heard of it yet...

Do I speak another language?
Huh.  I have a degree in French.  Do I speak it?  I used to be decent, but now?  Non.   I can say my prayers in French, so I do that occasionally to keep up the accent.  Once in a while, I bust out with a mean and melodious rendition of Frere Jacques.  But these days, with the boys doing Song School Latin, you're much more likely to hear me going around the house singing (to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic), "I am a mighty miles, I can swing a sword.  My gladius is my best friend when I go off to war... A bellum is a tragedy, but a miles still must go.  Pugno in rain or snow!"  So, yeah.  I speak Latin.  Er, I mean, Dico Latin.  

And if you're still reading all this... wow.  You must really be a fan!  Thanks!  

Happy Wednesday!  


  1. I'm a fan...Loved the update!!!

  2. I'm loving Dumbing Us Down by Gatto! Do you own The Hurried Child? Looking for more hospital reading material. :)

    1. The Hurried Child is from the library but I did buy a used copy of Teach Your Own (Holt) from Amazon. You're welcome to take it. However, I'm forced to ask the obvious question... won't you be CROCHETING in the hospital?? Who has time for reading when there's yarn to be used?!?

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  4. I think it would be pretty hard to really believe in the Easter Bunny. He isn't a very realistic character and his realness isn't constantly insisted upon by society like Santa's. If my kids were asked, some of them would say there is a Santa and Easter Bunny but I'm pretty sure they just like the fantasy and don't really think they are actually real since we have told them otherwise.

    I pretty much only shop at Aldi's and Niagara Produce because I get sticker shock when I go elsewhere.

    1. I've never been to N.P. It always seems like a long drive for groceries, but I guess I should check it out. And I definitely need to get back into the habit of going to Aldi. Definitely.

  5. I really enjoyed this post and your thoughts on Easter. We do a hodge podge and I'm happy with that, I love all your pictures and seeing the books your reading - lots of inspiration here!


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