Monday, August 27, 2007


Organizational bliss....
Those of you who don't get it have probably already got that glazed over look in your eyes. I'm excited about my progress though.

First, in the area of "managing the paper tiger"...

This filing idea was adapted from Dawn. These are my day to day files...bills, papers needed for church activities, kids activities, homeschooling papers, liturgical year all goes here. There's a hanging folder for each person with manila folders inside these for all their stuff. Maria's, for example, has manila folders for different subjects, a folder for work she is giving to me to be graded, a folder for work I have graded for her to correct, and a "to be filed" folder for school work we are all done with, as well as various artwork and creations from other classes that we want to keep. For bigger kid-created projects, we have space on the big wall-length bookshelves in our dining room for displaying such things. When the shelves get too full, I take a snapshot of some of the projects and put the snapshots in, you guessed it, the "to be filed" folder. There's also a hanging folder for each season with manila folders inside for each week of the year. These folders manage everything from seasonal activities and recipes to those little appointment cards that come in the mail and then disappear into some pile.

The next step in the paper tiger...the accordion file on the left is color coded for all three kids (we are big on color coding around here...more in another post). Each child has several pockets that are labeled with months of the year...all the months, as we school year round. Once a month I pull papers from each child's "to be filed" hanging folder and drop them into the appropriate file. Then, each child has a file box like the one on the right. The folders are labeled infant/toddler, PreK, Kinder, and so on with each grade level. At the end of the school year, I take all the stuff from the accordion file, which now contains every school paper from all year as well as various paper keepsakes, and I sort and pitch, choosing what to save and what to toss. I want a good selection showing what they've done that year, as well as anything of sentimental value. I *do not* keep every math worksheet and cursive practice page. My goal is to have all of their saved paperwork fit into their box by the time they are grown. I can't imagine wanting to reminisce through more than that, even when my kids have moved away and I am feeling the urge to do such things. Maria's box is already more than half full, so in a couple of years I will purge through the older folders again and thin it down some.

The next pictures are of our (drumroll please) new craft room!

This is my craft table, though it is heavily used by the kids. It's just an old dinette we used to have when we were a much smaller family of two. It is heavily stained and scarred, as a good craft table should be. My sewing machine and supplies are handy in the background. There's a rolling cart on the left that is for placing various projects to dry and that sort of thing....because mom's big rule is that you can leave NOTHING ON THE CRAFT TABLE! Then there's another rolling cart that you can't see to the right that has different kinds of craft/construction paper/cardstock, that kind of thing. Excuse the litter box under the table. Nice touch, eh? And not even clean! I have no pride...

This picture is to the left of my craft table. It shows our very old, very ugly, very indestructible kid-sized craft desk. Maria is too big for it now, but Jack is starting to use it. Then that's our easel next to it...chalkboard on one side, painting surface on the other.

And this one is the hoosier cabinet. It contains all kinds of goodies. The bins on the top contain play dough and cutters, glue guns and glue sticks, the middle contains a bajillion craft books and assorted coloring/activity books, the bottom shelves have lots of glue, paint stamps, markers, pencils, color wonder stuff, crayons,,,the top of the cabinet has a Lite Brite and a pottery wheel, and the left side of the cabinet has my sewing/knitting supplies. This is just the top half of the cabinet. The drawers/cabinet underneath contain scissors, paints, and myriad other supplies, as well as a place for "found materials" (i.e., oatmeal canisters, coffee cans, egg cartons). Maria is famous for hanging onto "useful things", things other families refer to as "trash",,,so now she has a space for it, and the rule is that if the cabinet gets too full to close properly mom gets to clean it out with a trashbag.

This last picture is of the back of the craft room door...this shoe hanger holds all kinds of things...craft sticks, pompoms, pipecleaners, glitter, stamps, all those things no self-respecting crafter would be without. And yeah, there's no door trim. There's no trim through most of our house. After we finally finish paining everything, I'll start nagging John to do all the trim.

Maria uses this room *every day*. If she's not in her bedroom, she's in here, making something.

This room is not just a craft room, by the way. On the other side of the hoosier cabinet is a freezer, and a bookcase containing baskets of outdoor toys. On the other side of the easel is the washer and drier, and the back door!

To of the new-but-still-unfinished school room.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

One last day at the pool

I wanted to get some good pics of all the kids...but something about breaking out a camera at a public pool makes me feel a little creepy. I mean, if I saw someone taking pictures at the pool with my child around, I'd be a little creeped out. Anyway, I did manage to get a few quick ones of Jack. It was as hot today as any summer day, but the water was *cold*!

It's not truly a last day. There's an indoor pool not too far from here that we manage to go to now and then. But it's not the same.

Very busy finishing up plans for the school year...more on that tomorrow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

very odd quiz....

Ok, this quiz is really short and I'm surprised at the conclusions drawn by such vague questions!!! lol...

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

It is a pretty good description though. I like the "life has put you in perpetually untenable situations. Amen!

I tag,,,um...Kelly! And you, that weird lurking blogger that never posts, you too!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

one word meme

I was tagged with this by Angela. This will be *hard*! I am not, ah, a person of few words. heehee. I can tell just by reading through Angela's that I will have issues. But here goes. The rule is that you have to answer in one word only, no explainations allowed.

1. Yourself: overtired
2. Your spouse: wonderful
3. Your hair: brown
4. Your mother: beautiful
5. Your father: absent
6. Your favorite item: photos
7. Your dream last night: forgotten
8. Your favorite drink: caffienated
9. Your dream car: clean
10. The room you are in: messy
11. Your ex: infantile
12. Your fear: bedridden
13. What you want to be in 10 years: meek
14. Who you hung out with last night: daughter
15. What you're not: meek!
16. Muffins: Sure!
17: One of your wish list items: piano
18: Time: fleeting
19. The last thing you did: laundry
20. What you are wearing: capris
21. Your favorite weather: brisk
22. Your favorite book: southern
23. The last thing you ate: indulgent
24. Your life: engaging
25. Your mood: content
26. Your best friend: husband
27. What you're thinking about right now: sleep
28. Your car: cluttered
29. What you are doing at the moment: blogging
30. Your summer: roasting
31. Your relationship status: hitched
32. What is on your TV: blackness
33. What is the weather like: warm
34. When was the last time you laughed: tonight

I! If you'd like to participate, post in the comments, and consider yourself tagged!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Blogiversary....

Actually, my blog turned a year old back on August 13th. I missed it! Actually, I didn't miss it, I remembered it the day *before*, then promptly forgot it. This is why I tend to be so's all about compensation for my swiss-cheese brain.

So, happy birthday to my blog, from the first post that started it all, to the blog that brought you such newsworthy items as the hazards of buying feminine hygiene products on the road and the importance of cleaning hair clogs out of your bathroom sink. And thank you to my faithful readers, all six of you, for realizing that you can't find this kind of literary excellence just anywhere...momma-blogs being such a rarity and all...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Boooooorrrrrn Freeeee

Last night, Jack sent the fish home. Only, well, I'd already cooked them for dinner. We were doing a "eat when you want" kind of thing because Kain was at his Dad's, John was at work, and Maria was swimming at a neighbor's house. So, I made 7 pieces of fish (cuz you gotta have leftovers) and they were sitting on a baking sheet on the counter, already quite cooled. I wanted to clean up the kitchen, so I set Jack up to play at the sink, like this....

...(please ignore the junk on my counter. I *said* was trying to clean the kitchen!
Oh, and the chocolate on his sleeve. Ice cream issues from earlier in the afternoon...) and I pointed out the fish for dinner to him. Then I took this picture because he looked so cute and was having so much fun making a mess. And then the phone rang. When I returned, he had put three of the fish in the sink full of water. "Fish swumming," he said. So much for leftovers....

holier than thou art

Lest you think we are all kinds of pious around here for managing the almost-daily rosary in the car, here's a take for what it sounded like in my car yesterday....

Me- OK, Maria, your turn to lead.

Maria- Ok, um....(much rustling and fussing with the holy card we keep in the car that lists the mysteries)..the second sorrowful mystery, The Scourging at the Parlor.

Me- It's "pillar",,,,The Scourging at the Pillar. He's going to be beaten, not have tea.

Maria- (guilty giggling, not really sure if she should laugh at the mental image this brings)

Me- Ok, let's go, Our Father...

Maria- Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...KAIN, YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO SAY IT YET!...thy kingdom come...KAIN! MOM TELL HIM NOT NOW!!!...

Me- (I whisper in a hiss)...leave him alone! At least he's participating this time! He'll pick up all of that later, right now he's learning the prayers

Maria- (heavy sigh of disgust at not following "the rules") thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread....KAIN! NOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY IT!

Me- QUIT correcting him! I am the mom, and I am right here! I will correct him if I think he needs it! Just LEAD THE DECADE!!!! KAIN, QUIT LASSOING JACK WITH YOUR ROSARY!!

Kain- Jack plays with his rosary!

Me- Jack is two! He will learn how to handle it properly by watching you, now set a GOOD EXAMPLE! (giant sigh and huge mental effort to quit hollering). Maria, (I say very calmly) please finish the decade, and do not stop unless the car is on fire.

Maria- Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses...

Jack- DONALDS! DONALDS, DONALDS, DONALDS! (we are stopped at an intersection with McDonalds)

Me- Just ignore him, keep going..

Maria- as we forgive those who trespass against us...

Kain- Punch Buggy!

Me- heavy sigh, but decide to let it go

Kain- Punch Buggy, Punch Buggy, Punch Buggy, Punch Buggy, Punch...

Me- KAIN! (we were, no joke, passing a VW dealership) Ok, no more Punch Buggy-ing during the rosary.

Kain- Aunt Mel! You HAVE to say Punch Buggy if you see a Punch Buggy! That's the RULE!

Me- Well, the rules during the rosary are NO PUNCH BUGGY! And prayer rules are more important than Punch Buggy rules! Maria, GO!

Maria- and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil


It's not always this bad. Many days there is near silence and it goes really smoothly. Seems to depend on the moods of the kids, and the moods of the mom. I was in a bit of an impatient mood yesterday, so it was all irritating, but funny now. Later on we had a nice moment when Kain agreed to lead his own decade for the first time...sort of

Kain- Our Father, who art in heaven....AUNT MEL, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!

Me- You were just saying it by yourself, you know these prayers!


Me- Ok, ok...Hallowed be thy name...

Kain- Hallowed be thy name...

Me- Thy kingdom come, thy will be done... (suppressed sigh)

Kain- Thy kingdom come, they will be done...

Me- On Earth as it is in Heaven

Kain- On Earth as it is in Heaven

Yadda, yadda,,,you know the rest. Painfully slow, I know, but since this was the first time he'd ever had any interest in leading and I didn't want to squash it. Later, on the last half of the decade, he decided he did know the Hail Mary well enough and wanted to lead on his own...

Kain, in his heavy lisp- Holy Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed is thy womb, Jesus...

Me- (grinning at his attempt and elbowing Maria to keep quiet about his mistakes) Great job Kain!!! Just four more!

Jack- DONALDS! DONALDS, DONALDS, DONALDS! (as we pass *another* McDonald's).

It is very distracting for me to say the rosary this way of course, and I don't feel like I get much from praying it. Between keeping the prayer moving, fielding interruptions, and, oh yeah, the actual DRIVING of the car, it's very much a rote prayer for me, not much meditation going on or anything. But this is the only way we've consistently gotten it done, and much like going to mass, prayer with the children is not for me but for them. Or, at least not for me in the way that praying the rosary alone would be...because I know, really, praying with them *is* very much for me in a different way. I am a horribly impatient person by nature. Every time I manage to squash my irritation and respond well to my kids, I grow up a little bit too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mom's Car Rules

1. We will always say the rosary upon getting in the car for the first time in a given day...partly because it's a good use of our time in the car and partly because it guarantees me 15 minutes of peace and relative quiet.

2. If you use your rosary as a lasso on the person sitting in front of you, or as a leash for your dinosaur, I will confiscate the rosary and you will be reduced to counting on your fingers.

3. I will not, I repeat, WILL NOT mediate arguments about who won the "punch buggy, no punch backs". Even if you did say the addendum, "to infinity, 1,2,3 no take backs" and the other person did not.

4. I am removing the 70's box set from the car and replacing it with selections from our music appreciation pieces for the school year....partly because it's a good use of our time in the car and partly because I'm a little unnerved with hearing my kids sing these songs. There are certain songs that you don't think are too bad until you hear them come out of your kids' mouths. It was bad enough when Jack learned how to sing "Brick House". It was really bad enough when Kain learned the "Bertha Butt Boogie". But listening to Maria singing "we made love in my Chevy van and that's all right with me" was the last straw. They have been officially retired.

Feast of the Assumption

Our Assumption altar....

...with several Marian holy cards (and one lone St. Rose of Lima one...her feast day is coming up), Maria's Marian bouquet from the Little Flower's tea party, and Assumption banners she and Kain made today. Usually we make a special dessert for feast days....but I was not so motivated today, so we made a Krispy Kreme run after mass instead. I'm sure I could come up with a religious significance for donuts if hard-pressed.

I wanted to add an explanation of our altar for non-Catholic friends and family that read my blog. This is a family is not an altar of worship as in "we worship Mary on this day, so let's put all these pictures of her up there"'s an altar of prayer, and of remembrance. The liturgical seasons and feasts have great significance in our faith, and when I pick items for our altar I am looking for items to do with remembrances for that month...for example, in June, I put a flower from our wedding because our anniversary is during that month, and in January I put my grandfather's scapular and funeral card because he died in January. Jesus is always on the altar, always higher than anything else that's on it, and He is the only one we worship.

I'm a busy girl....

with no time to blog! I've been frantically trying to get ready for our new school year in the amount of time these pesky kids will allow me,,, :) I'm actually having a good time with it. As I've mentioned, we moved our school room at the beginning of the summer, so I've been forced to do some fierce reorganization and purging...piles of old school papers, toys that need organizing, new school supplies to set up, materials to gather for Jack...I'll post some pictures when I'm done. I was hoping to paint the room before the school year started, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. It's just as well...Jack is still sleeping in that room too, and I didn't really know what I was going to do with him while we painted. We are still working on getting Kain to settle well enough at night that we can put the two of them in the same bedroom. But I did pick a color...a bright, energetic apple green. Maybe this fall.... I'm also stewing over the best arrangement of the room, but it's a waste of time right now, really...we've got a third of the room being used as Jack's bedroom, and when he moves out it'll all change around again anyway! I did turn in my homeschooling notice of intent to the school district yesterday, so we are all official and legal for another year.

Friday, August 10, 2007

one lone picture....

was all I got at the aquarium...

This was taken in the coral reef room, a room enclosed on three sides from floor to ceiling by an aquarium. This picture doesn't really capture the coolness. But Jack was captivated and we stayed in here for a long time. After taking this pic, I put Jack in the back carrier and stashed the camera,,,then forgot all about taking it out again. :( Too bad, because we had a great time. Kain adored the shark room, the jellyfish, and the turtles especially. Maria roamed the place several times over with a friend in our group. Her favorites were the seahorses and the alligators, and petting the stingrays. We even got to see a pair of enormously fat beavers which timed nicely with our recently spotted beaver lodge. Then Kain and Maria blew their allowance at the gift shop buying shark teeth necklaces and rubber dophins, while John picked out a stuffed macaroni penguin for Jack. He has been fond of these since reading "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear".

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Aquarium trip preparations....

When the kids couldn't locate their nature journals for our trip to the aquarium this morning.....

Maria---Look Mom, I have a folder with some blank sketch paper clipped into it and a pencil in the other pocket so I can draw the creatures that we see.

Kain---Look, I have my Pokemon book so I can see which Pokemon the creatures look like.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

works for me Wednesday

I've seen these on other blogs and have wanted to do this on mine for several weeks now...but I usually forget when Wednesday comes around, haha! But finally, I remembered, and now I get to pass out unsolicited advice....

Here's my brilliant idea of the week...take a fresh look at those moments in your day that cause you irritation. Often they are so easily fixable and you wonder why you never fixed them before. For example, yesterday we were baking blueberry scones (recipe from here,,,they are YUMMMY!). I enjoy baking, and most of the things I bake are pretty simple and can be quickly done, but often I avoid doing it because it creates extra mess, especially measuring flour. I have a lovely set of canisters I received as a wedding gift. I keep white flour in one, wheat in another, and sugar in another. But the mouths of the canisters are just a smidge to narrow to measure neatly over, especially with know, where you have to scoop and level carefully. Each time I spill flour over everything and the canister and counter then have to be cleaned. Also, the canisters, while standard canister size, really just don't hold a ton of flour for someone that bakes several times a week and they have to be filled often...another messy job. So, while measuring and leveling flour for the scones, I had a scathingly brilliant idea...under the sink I had stashed one of those big 5 gallon plastic ice cream tubs. I dumped the flour in there, added a scoop and a butter knife to live in there for quick and easy measuring, and stashed the tub in a cabinet. I plan to get two more tubs to replace the other canisters, then I will wash the canisters and put them upstairs in our "master bathroom in progress" to hold cotton balls and hair scrunchies and that kind of stuff. The lids to the canisters are yellow and blue, and coincidentally our bathroom will be painted yellow. Now I've just got to eat my way through 10 gallons of ice cream...such is the price of brilliant organization...