Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Family Event - An Awesome Outdoor Concert

Having a large family on one income definitely makes things more difficult in a lot of ways.  What the world says you should have and do is far different from what is attainable (in most cases).  The other day I was reading a blog post about how one family paid off their debt of $150,000 in a few years.  The author made a great point about how, when doing something like this, it is important to realize that you still have to go out and do things that are enjoyable that cost money.

Sure there are lots of free things to do, and that should definitely be a priority in terms of planning things for your family if you are tight on money.  But every once-in-awhile you need to do something that you would all enjoy, even if it costs a bit of cash.

For example, we all decided a few months ago that we would love to go see The Piano Guys.  Who?  The Piano Guys.  Seriously, if you have never heard of them, you have to go check out all of their music videos on youtube.  They are incredibly talented musicians who love to have a good time with their music.

Anyhow, they were going to be playing at an outdoor music venue about 1 1/2 hours away from us, so we decided to get some lawn tickets and go enjoy them as an end-of-the-summer fling.

Having older kids who have jobs comes in handy, because one way to make things like this a bit more doable is to have those who earn an income pay for their own tickets.  That cuts down on the amount of money we are responsible for, which helps immensely.

It was a cool evening, with blankets and sweatshirts galore, but it was a great concert.  We were all so glad to have been able to do this together.  With school starting for everyone, and the variety of work schedules in the family, it isn't that often that everyone is home at the same time.  To spend the evening together outside listening to great music, sure was a nice way to start ending the summer.  We hopefully won't be ending it quite yet (although you can't tell by the weather we've been having), but I can feel that it is starting to wind down.

Be creative in your what you do for fun, try to find ways to do it cheaply, but realize that, even with a big family, sometimes it is just necessary to splurge and have a good time together.

 God Bless!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Welcome 2015-16 School Year! Yay! Yippee!

So did you read the title of this post with sarcasm or with enthusiasm? Chances are, if you've been at this for a long time, there probably was a hint of sarcasm in your mind.  If this is your first year, or one of your first, then you are probably full of enthusiasm!  Good for you!!  

I spent all of Saturday, from morning till night, getting everyone organized with their books, laying out what needs to be done when and by whom, and making up all of my nice little Excel spread sheets for the various classes.  Excel is my best friend when it comes to homeschooling. I urge all homeschooling mothers to learn how to use it.

Anyhow, I thought I'd lay out what our year will look like since I know it helps me to see what other people are doing.  You can find out more detail about a lot of these books on my website.

Math is not her strong suit so we will be spending this year going over things she has already learned to make them more cemented.
Religion - Didache "Understanding Scripture"
English - American Literature using MODG syllabus
History - "Christ and the Americas" book and workbook
Science - Apologia Biology with lab
Spanish - Duolingo

Math - Algebra II using Teaching Textbooks
Religion - Apologetics using various books
Grammar and Vocabulary - one semester of each
Spanish - Duolingo
Science - Apologia Biology with lab
World Geography 

7th Grader:
Math - LOF Fractions and Decimals and Percents
Map skills
Language of God from CHC
Apologia Animals of the Ocean
Geography unit study
Faith and Freedom Readers
All About Spelling

5th Grader:
Math - LOF Fractions and Decimals and Percents
Map Skills
Language of God from CHC
Geography unit study
Faith and Freedom Readers
All About Spelling

While my 5th and 7th graders are doing many of the same subjects, some of them will be together and some will not.  I'm basing my unit study on the book "Trail Guide to World Geography" and adding in some of my own ideas.  If it turns out good, I'll put it out here to share with you.

Overall, I think it all looks doable.  I don't know that any of us is ready for summer to be over, but like I keep telling the kids, the sooner we get started, the more likely we'll be done sometime in May.   

I pray that your school year is a good one and that you can accomplish all that you want to.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When Your Brain Feels like Molasses

Today I'm starting to finalize the plans for the high school kids' school year, which, incidentally, begins on Monday.  I've been mulling it all around in my brain for awhile, now I'm just pulling the books and putting it all on paper.

It has taken me all morning and into the afternoon to do one child.  My brain feels like it is moving at the speed of molasses, making me feel like I'm trudging my way through a thick swamp.

This used to happen because of lack of sleep due to small children and infants.  Now I'm thinking that it might be because I'm approaching menopause.  Or is it something I ate that is dragging me down?  What about all the stressful situations in my life right now?  Could that be slowing me down?  Maybe it is a combination of some of them.  Or even all of them!

I took a walk to the mailbox (which is actually a bit farther than it sounds) only to find that the mail was outside my front door.  That's okay, the short walk in the cool temperatures and sunshine felt nice.

I feel like gorging on chocolate and just vegging out rather than sitting down to tackle the next student who is eagerly awaiting their school schedule (haha, I know you laughed, too!).  

Some days when I get like this, I forge ahead with what needs to be done, and other days I give in and quit thinking.  This day, after analyzing the situation to the best of my ability, I think I must forge ahead and at least get that next student underway.  Then it's cooking dinner and meal planning for next week; both of which should thoroughly utilize any existing brain cells I have left.

What do you do on days like this?  Go for the chocolate or push through it?  I'd love to hear your insight.

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Surviving Grocery Shopping

I was thinking last week, while whizzing through Aldi and Wal-Mart, how my grocery shopping has changed and evolved over the past years.  

I actually detest meal planning and grocery shopping but I know that my life is much better if I take the time to do it.  Well, let me clarify, all our lives are better if I grocery shop, for without food...well, you know.  In reality, I guess all of our lives are better, too, if I take the time to meal plan since I save my sanity, my time and our money.

When my kids were much smaller, I would go grocery shopping in the evening so I could leave them home with my husband.  It would be a grueling task to drag my tired body through Wal-Mart for hours on end; because, really, who gets out of there in under an hour?  But far worse than trudging through the store at night was trudging through the store during the day with seven children.  This happened ONLY in extreme emergencies.  If this is your only option (taking everyone with you) then I will pray that another option makes itself available to you!

Once I had some old enough to stay home with the littles, I moved my shopping to the daytime hours.  I still went by myself whenever possible, but doing it during the afternoon made it go a little bit faster because I wasn't quite as tired.  If needed, I would still go in the evening.

Now that I've transitioned into older children, I still go during the day, but here's the difference.  I now try to take one of them with me.  Why, you might ask?  Well, because I despise standing in line at the deli counter and so I take said child with me, give them the deli list and send them on their way.  Usually by the time they are done at the deli, I've completed 90% of the shopping.  The only thing left is to stand in the checkout line, which can usually take as much time as the shopping did.

I've also begun shopping at Aldi again because the quality of their food choices has gotten much better over the past few years and the lower prices help in the budget area.  It has become a challenge to me to see how fast I can do my Aldi shopping because, well, you have to make it interesting somehow.  Last week was my personal best:  22 minutes.  It is also important to be accurate and last week I actually didn't forget anything even though I flew through the store.

My daughter and I then moved on to Wal-Mart, where I know the time is at least double that of Aldi.  I asked her if she was up to the challenge to make it another personal best time and she said she was, so in we went.  Now granted, I didn't have that complicated of a list, but many times that doesn't mean anything.  So I sent her off to the deli with her short list and before I had even made it out of the personal and household sections, she was done.  It was looking promising at that point.  We made our way through the food aisles and then headed to the checkout, where I knew that everything we had accomplished thus far could be thrown out the window.  Miracle upon miracle abounded and we were out of the store 35 minutes after we entered.  Our entire trip, from leaving to getting home, was 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Unbelievable!

So if you hate this whole process as much as I do, then try to find ways to make it easier and more fun.  Take a helpful child along with you, make it a game, buy yourself that special treat once a week, whatever it takes to make it more tolerable.  

As always, feel free to share your favorite shopping tips so others can benefit.

God Bless!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Join in the National 54 Day Rosary Novena

I just wanted to jump in and encourage you to join in the National 54 Day Rosary Novena.  If you aren't sure what that is, it is a series of 6 novenas of rosaries.  The first 27 days are days of petition and the second 27 days are days of thanksgiving.

The novena starts today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and ends on October 7th, the Feast of the Rosary.  How providential that these two Marian feast days are 54 days apart!  Coincidence?  I think not.

If you've been wanting to start praying the rosary together as a family, then now would be a great time to start.  This website has all of the information about the national novena, including the intention and the prayers (in case you are unsure of how to pray it).  You can even sign up to get  email reminders, which I did, of course!

Happy Feast day and I hope you'll join in this national effort to bring our country back to God.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A New Venture

Recently I did some cleaning up on my blog.  I removed and reassigned my labels so that there were fewer of them.  This, of course, meant that I had to skim through all of my almost 2000 posts and made me realize that I've been at this blogging thing for a very long time.

I'm also about to turn 50.  I'm not really bothered by it because I've always felt that age is more about how you feel about it than what the number says you are.  I still feel a lot younger than that, so turning the numbers up one digit higher doesn't really bother me.  Now my youngest son, it bothers him.  He says it kind of "creeps him out" to think about me and his dad being 50.  

So, after much pondering about this space here, I've decided that I'm old enough now to be more of a mentor, so I'm looking to have the posts in this ole blog be more in line with my organizing book "A Plan for Joy in the Home"; which is why I reassigned all of my labels.  I'm hoping to help people more than just keep them up to date on our doings.  Of course, that will all still find its way in here, but maybe with more of a purpose.

I hope you'll join me on this new venture and share this space with your friends and homeschooling groups.  It's so much more fun when we can interact and share, so I'm hoping you'll be game to do that.

Hopefully, God willing, this will also mean more consistent posting.  I won't be surprised, however, if there is still some sporadic moments!  Overall, I'm looking forward to see what comes of this space in the future.

God Bless!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rosaries Aren't Just for Teething on a Retreat

Way back and a day ago, I was on retreat.  That's how long ago it seems, although in reality it has only been about three weeks.  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are the retreat of all retreats, and when you can go to one of them preached by the priests of Miles Christi, well then, my friend, you are in Heaven.  Once a year they hold a retreat that goes from Monday afternoon until late Thursday afternoon.  The rest of the time they are weekend retreats, so this gives you about one extra day which translates into more talks and more time to pray and meditate.  There's also more free time so I like to walk around and do all of that praying and meditating stuff outdoors.  

This is the first year I had a decent camera on my phone, so I took a few minutes to take some pictures of the grounds.  

Isn't it just beautiful?  This Shrine is run by the Franciscans and has had Perpetual Adoration EVERY DAY, no matter what, since the 1930s.  Unbelievable.

So on that Monday I was preparing to go and I looked up on my information sheet to see what time the retreat started.  I saw that registration began at 4:00 and so I knew that meant that the rosary was at 4:30.  Good.  I left my house about 3:15 and knew I would be in time for the rosary.  

Except that I wasn't, because registration really began at 3:00, the rosary was at 4:00 and I arrived at 4:25 with Mass to begin at 4:30.  Ugh.  I ran up the stairs, threw my stuff in the room and ran back to the chapel so that I could be on time for Mass. 

I'm still not sure how that all happened, but later that night I realized WHY it happened.  I decided later on that evening to go to the chapel in the photo above to pray my rosary since I had missed it earlier.  I remembered that I had won a copy of "Rosaries Aren't Just for Teething" a few weeks back from Cari and had the urge to read it along with my prayers.

This, of course, meant taking my phone out to read it on my Kindle app.  That meant possibly seeing a message or an email or a notification and then having to fight the major temptation NOT to look at it.  But the urge persisted and so I went directly to the app and began reading the meditations for the Joyful mysteries.

Wow, they were just what I needed to hear.  Had I not missed the rosary, I would not have gotten these messages that I needed to get.  For example, from the meditation on the Annunciation, "Rather than shake His head at us with a condescending grin, He mercifully offers us something better".  I struggle at times with the "loving" God and so this was a great thing to read to set me on the right path.

From the Visitation, "Miracles surround me through the everydayness of life and the suffering and the joys".  How often I forget this.  Especially the suffering part.  Miracles are there...everyday.  We just need to look really hard sometimes to see them.

From the Nativity, "God's plans are always better and the stories He writes are always more interesting."  Much more interesting and much, much better than anything I could ever write.

Finally, from the Presentation, "Motherhood isn't just about our own pleasure.  It is a sharing in the self-giving love of God.  It is also a sharing in the suffering of the cross."  The cross.  Oh how I need to learn to love to embrace the cross.  Right now I run away as fast as I can.  Much more work to be done there, that's for sure.

I continued to read the other three sections of the book over the next three days I was there.  They were chock full of great quotes and insights that really helped me during my retreat.  One of the way God typically speaks to me is through the written word and once again, He came through for me. 

I hardly ever win things, so I am thrilled that this was one of those rare times.  The book is a gem and if you can, you should get yourself a copy and use it to mediate on the mysteries.  And, if you haven't done so this year already, you should make time for some kind of retreat with the Lord.  I know times are busy, but even an afternoon away at an Adoration chapel will be well worth it.

God Bless!