Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Son's Birthday Cake

Here is the cake I just finished today in anticipation of my son's Birthday party tomorrow night. He will be having some boys over for a sleep over. My son is really into Star Wars and Narnia right now, but I just couldn't force myself to do one of those themes. I am just too tired to do something so elaborate. So, sports it is. I tried a new technique and a new pan that created the round "baseball" shape. I was going to do a baseball field behind the ball, but decided that might be a bit too ambitious for an amateur like me. It turned out pretty good, despite the simplicity of it. Sometimes simple is best. I guess the only thing that matters now is whether it tastes good. I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Lenten Center piece

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, seems to be the night we always plan out our Lent. This year our discussion included reading the article by Fr. James Farfaglia at entitled Getting Serious About Lent. Then each child decided on a positive and negative thing they would do for Lent.

The oldest three kids chose to give up all computer and Internet games. It may not sound like a lot to some, but my kids really look forward to the little time they get to play on EWTNKIDS.COM , PBSKIDS.ORG , and LITTLESTPETSHOP.COM. These seem to be the safest and best sites, I've found that have fun and educational games. Our second youngest daughter, who doesn't get computer time, yet, decided to give up chocolate. I was surprised that she came up with this all on her own. She just turned 3 in January.

For the positives, the kids came up with all sorts of wonderful goals. Everyone is going to read their Bible at least 15 minutes every day. We will pray the family rosary at least twice a week (this is a challenge since dear hubby is gone very often in the evenings for night meetings). The kids wanted to return to visit the nursing home residents again at least 4-5 times during Lent. They also want to make a more conscious effort to be more polite and courteous to one another. My hubby and I added that the kids also work on right-away obedience. They have become a little lax over the past few months.
Lots of things to work on, but we love a challenge!To remind ourselves of what we need to work on, we put a list in our cupboard where we see it frequently.
We also made a Lenten Center piece out of salt dough. We made the crown of thorns together and the kids had lots of fun putting in the tooth picks. As the kids fulfill their Lenten promises they get to take out a "thorn" (toothpick). Once they have taken out all the "thorns" they will glue a silk flower over each whole left by the "thorn".
I got this idea from Adele over at
Here is the Salt Dough Recipe:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
Mix flour and salt together in large bowl. Mix just enough water in to make a stiff clay. (Warm water works best to dissolve the salt.) Knead the dough until smooth to remove any air bubbles. Split dough into three parts and roll each part into long rope. Loosely braid the three ropes together and then shape braid into circle. Make sure to connect the ends to one another. Stick toothpicks into the circular braid loosely by wiggling them a little after they are in position. This way they won't be embedded too deeply and you will be able to pull them out intact.) Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour until dry and light brown.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Homeschool Family Retreat

This weekend we went again to a Homeschooling Family Retreat about two hours away. WOW! What a refreshing experience! We prayed without ceasing all weekend, attended reverent Masses as a family, listened to holy priests, received the Sacraments, visited with other large families, and had the Franciscans of the Immaculate teaching the kids about the ten commandments. This was our second time attending this retreat for homeschooling families. The kids loved it so much (the praying and all) that they are already asking when we can go back again! For my kids, that is a ringing endorsement that they had a wonderful time.

If you can, I highly recommend making a family retreat. Spending all weekend together, without a TV, computer, or radio was very refreshing. It forces you to talk to one another and spend quality time visiting with each other. If you live near Indiana, I would recommend visiting . That is where we were this weekend. If you live near Illinois, I HIGHLY recommend visiting They have retreats every month and an annual conference we attend each year in October. They are wonderful, too. I wish we lived closer to either of these. God bless.

Our Lady's Rosary Maker's Field Trip

Friday we went with the home school group to the headquarters for Our Lady's Rosary Makers. This non-profit organization packages and sells inexpensive rosary parts to individuals wishing to make rosaries to give to missionaries throughout the world. We first visited the show room where they had some very unusual rosaries ranging from very tiny and old to large and new. The show room also included rosary centers, crucifixes, holy cards, and rosaries for sale. Any profit from these items help to supplement the cost of running the rosary makers. The kids really enjoyed seeing the bead sorter and counting machine. Another neat machine was the one that measured out the length of wire. I think the kids liked finding the beads in the cracks of the warehouse floor the best. In all the kids collected enough to make at least two rosaries. I am hoping to make one later today out of the beads. I figured this would be a good way for them to remember their trip.

The older kids were able to try their hands at making a rosary while the second half of the group took the tour. My Mom even tried her hand at it. She got a few beads strong before it was time to go. It is actually pretty easy. The hard part is tying the knots. If you really want to do something more difficult, try making the wire kind where you even have to make your own chain. My dear husband can do it, but I haven't even tried. I'll stick with the rope kind. That is more my skill level.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Grammy and Paw-paw visit

Here are just about the only pictures I took of my parents while they came for a short surprise visit Wednesday through Friday. I keep meaning to get a nice picture of them with the kids sitting on the couch, but that never seems to happen. The kids are always wanting to play dress-up, or with the Fisher Price Little People, or bake something with Grammy. Although the kids played a lot with Grammy and Paw-paw, my parents also helped me out by working around the house. My dad fixed the broken gate between my kitchen and the school room. THANK YOU DAD! It is much easier now to keep the baby out of the school room, or at least when the older kids remember to close the gate. My mom spent hours talking to me while we folded mountains of laundry. I am sure she thinks that I save it all up and wait until she comes to visit to pull it out. (That may be a little true, but not really.) I do laundry when she is not around, it just so happens that it gets folded when she comes to visit. Hey, if people could get together to quilt, why can't we get together to fold each other's laundry? If women are so fond of airing their dirty laundry, why not help fold the clean laundry? I guess I should conclude by saying THANK YOU, MOM! I love you. (Please come back soon. The laundry is piling up already!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Awesome 12 Year Old Girl's Pro-Life Speech

I highly recommend you take the five minutes to watch the following video! And it sounds like this took place in Canada! I am truly amazed. Please watch and pass on to others. Truly awesome!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Two pieces of big news today.

The first is the addition of a 100 year old piano. A wonderful Catholic friend was looking to get rid of his piano and after a little prayer and thought we came to mind. I am very grateful. We've been looking into getting a piano, but even used ones are very expensive. Piano's aren't as easy to bargain hunt for as clothes or food.

I could not neglect to also thank my dear husband and a friend of ours from church. They literally pick-up the piano in Illinois after a men's retreat and drove it home late last night. Today the piano made its final journey into our school room with the help of a few guys from church. I am sure it will have many hours of use. Thank you Larry, Reid, James, Dub, and Dear Hubby! The kids will hopefully be learning more than just banging on the piano very soon. I am almost sick of the banging already!

Now for the second addition...


After Mass this morning, we took the kids to a local restaurant to tell them the good news and celebrate. They were all very happy, when they realized what we meant. Dear hubby told them, "You have a new brother or sister". Only our oldest understood what he meant. I had to add, "I am pregnant and in September we'll be able to meet the new baby." My son's jaw dropped when he finally understood and he was ecstatic! He has been very diligent about praying for a little brother for a long time now.
We had to remind them that God knows if we need another boy or a girl. God will give us what we need, but not always what we want. My oldest daughter quickly stated, "We'll love the baby whether it is a boy or a girl!" Of course my son agreed, but you could tell he is still praying for a brother.

The pregnancy has been going well so far, but I am a lot more nauseous and tired with this pregnancy than most. (I guess I am getting old!) That seems to be fueling my husband's hopes that it is a boy. I am just hoping that it is not twins. I don't think I could handle twins with five older kids already. We should be able to find out the sex of the baby sometime in late April around our 10th wedding anniversary. When we know, you'll know. I would appreciate your prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy. Thanks and God bless you and yours.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Busy Week, Again

The past week has been busy like always. Last Saturday, Dear Hubby and I went to see Father Benedict Groeschel in the big city near us. He had so many good things to say. He is always so insightful. He spoke mostly about Pope Benedict XVI and his teachings. We are very blessed to have such a holy and intelligent pope, as well as, a good and holy priest in Father Benedict Groeschel. I think what also made the day so great was that we were able to have lunch with another couple we know at the conference. It is so important for older couples to mentor us younger, still struggling couples.

To add to an even busier day, we had friends over to play and have dinner. The kids were so wound up, but I think wore themselves out sufficiently because they went to bed and never said a peep.

Sunday was no different. We started teaching a new class series for NFP and were busy discussing things with the newly engaged couples for 3 hours. As soon as we got home, dear hubby took the older two to a basketball game while I took a much needed rest.

Monday was busy with school work. Tuesday we had school, voice lessons for the oldest, and then we did a service project at the local nursing home. The best part of the day was making the Valentines Day cards and chocolate covered pretzels with the residents. I think we really made their day. Wednesday was filled with school work, Mass, and chores. Laundry was threatening to take over, but I think we've won that battle for the moment. Thursday, thank goodness was a little of a break for me. I left the kids with Dear Hubby while I got groceries that night. Friday we had a marathon day. We attended Mass, did school work, went to the Catholic book club, and then went for a play date after that. By the end of it, I was ready to throw in the towel and I buckled under the pressure and bought pizza for dinner to feed the remainder of the family. (Dear hubby is on retreat for the weekend and our oldest is at a sleep over.)

Today, thank goodness doesn't seem to be too terribly busy... so far. I am excited to see Dear Hubby, of course to see him, but also because he is bringing home a piano with him! Our good friend from IL. is giving us a piano for the kids to use. Since dear hubby is on retreat only an hour away from the free piano, he is making a detour on the way home to pick it up! I am hopeful that after getting it tuned, I might be able to start teaching the kids how to play! LOL! I say that as if I know how to play! LOL! I only know a very small amount, but I am hopeful that they can quickly surpass my ability to play. If nothing else, this will be a way to encourage them to do some independent study. Maybe they can teach themselves how to play.

When the piano arrives, I'll be sure to post a picture.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Candlemas Day (Monday) and First Friday Activities

Monday we celebrated Candlemas Day at a parish over in the neighboring large city. The priest there had invited all the home schooling families to participate in a procession. Since the kids all had lit candles, I had my hands full trying to keep them from burning themselves or others. My real fear was that one of the girls' hair would catch on fire. After many close calls, we blew out the candles in church unharmed. Because of all of this, I didn't get any pictures of the kid in the procession to share with you.

After Mass and after lunch the kids enjoyed some edible candles. Of course these wouldn't really ones that you could light. We used a chocolate wafer roll cookie and squashed a marshmallow and red hots together to make the shape of a flame on top. The kids really like eating these. We had never tried that type of cookie before. Anything involving marshmallows is always a hit with my kids.

Today we enjoyed going to the First Friday Activities at the nursing home where our home school group meets. Since it is February, the tradition is to cover facial tissue boxes (new ones) in plain white paper. Then we let the kids decorate them with crayons and stickers to give to the nursing home residents. When they are finished, the kids frost a heart shaped cookie and eat it for their snack.

After the snack, the kids decorate white bags for their Valentines Day cards. Then they exchange the cards and give out little candies to each other. It is one of those First Friday activities that the kids really look forward to doing. This is our third year doing this activity with the group. It is great how the group has grown. There were over 50 kids there today!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Recommended Resources & Websites For Prepairing for First Eucharist:

This is in NO WAY all inclusive! This is only a very short list I compiled for the parents of the First Communion students I have this year. I hope it helps you, too. God bless.


"New Catholic Picture Bible" by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D. published by Catholic Book Publishing Company (about $10 at

"Saint Joseph Picture Books"---Many titles are included in this series, ALL of them are EXCELLENT! I highly recommend these titles: The Seven Sacraments, The Holy Eucharist, God Loves Us All, and My First Catholic Picture Dictionary. All are written by Father Lovasik and published by Catholic Book Publishing Co. (They range in price from $1.50 to $2.50, some stores sell boxed sets)

"Today I Made My First Communion" by Dianne Ahern published by Aunt Dee’s Attic (about $20. It is also a keepsake book with places for pictures and the child to describe the day. I recommend buying this ahead of time to read with your child in anticipation of First Holy Communion.)

"Faith and Life Series" by Ignatius Press (Excellent religion text book to read with your child!
Available at both and

"Little Nellie of Holy God" by Sister Mary Dominic, R.G.S. published by Tan Books and
Publishers, INC. (about $8. A wonderful book about a little girl whose story influenced even Pope St. Pius X)

"If Jesus Came to My House" by Joan Gale Thomas published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
Books (about $7. We read this story book in class and the kids loved it.)

"Let the Children Come to Me" (CD) Sung by the Foxhoven Kids (about $15. We’ve used
some of these songs in class)

Websites: (Faith and Life series and music CD can be purchased here.) (St. Joseph series can be purchased here.) (very kid friendly website where kids can play faith-based games and take online quizzes about the Faith. It is FREE to register.) (Little Nellie of Holy God can be purchased here.) (Faith and Life Series can be purchased here.) (they have a wonderful catalogue, but also an on-line library of facts you can search through if you have questions about the Catholic Faith)