Archive for September, 2006


It is that time of year!

The end of week 2 of school! 

and you know what that means!

…you do, don’t you? 

I want to redo my whole life, but!  before I get started I thougt I had better get things down on paper.  I need to throw away MORE THAN EVER BEFORE!!  YES!  I mean it and if I only had some chocolate, I would be determined AND happy….lol!

I have 1092 sq ft to fit my whole world into…a full basement that is damp and a walk up attic…and a 3 season porch in full view of the world.

please, please send me your tips hints and hugs….and will someone puleeze come over here and help me?  I am sooo tired of being excited to clean on my own….I mean ..ahem…I would like adult company…lol

so what about it?  What things do you have in place in your home that work for you? 

I will try to compile your answers and come up with a blog post or something to  help other organized wanna-be moms that do not want to be buried alive in their homes….

I am thinking…chores, consistency with kids, natural consequences…organization and how to KEEP it…etc….can you help me? 

I figure crawling under my bed sucking my thumb is not a very good alternative so let me try this first….haha! ;o)  jk! 

I am thinking…peaceful home, peaceful mom and dad.  I am sooo tired of pulling everyone to do what they need to…shoes, teeth, laundry, rooms, chores….you name it…they are waiting for me to pull and push…not any more boy!  I have done so much and it is good…but now because of the ages of my kids, it needs to be great!  Now the list will help….I need more of a backbone….lets put our heads together…be outnumbered no more!!  ROFL!

whadda ya say?  …the day in and out…the dawn to dawn nitty gritty….what do YOU have to say?!  Doesn’t anyone else face this too??

I know we have talked about this a bit in the past, but do you have a good perspective that would help others that feel like me feel more like a director of a prepared environment and less like a lion tamer/acrobat/sword swallower extrordinaire!  Share your thoughts!!

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I have to step into my saleswoman shoes for a minute…if you will permit me… 

Usborne has just come out with an incredible package
for September
….You can start your business for only
$25.00 aaand you will receive $25.00 of free additional
books of your choice from me!

502202_1For $25 you get:
~A business start-up kit worth $215.00 total value
($82.70 in great books + $25 in your choice of books +
supplies, website, and more!  See complete details
~Includes 10 Usborne Books (see list below)*
~Includes business supplies
Includes 6 months online store website
Includes 6 months OrderPro (our online ordering system
— no paperwork!)

~And your shipping is FREE

*EXTRA VALUE:  I’ll send you another $25 worth of
books of your choice! 
Just email your list to me once
you order your kit.

*Books included in the kit:
Animal Stencil Book (h)

Big Bug Search (p)

Fox on a Box (p)

Gladiators (h)

Pirates (Beginners, h)

Playtime Baby (board book)

Spooks’ Surprise (p)

That’s Not My Bear (board Book)

Things to Make and Do for Christmas (p)

Under the Ground (h)

513328_1Order your kit today from my site!   

This kit offer is valid only until September 29, 2006
at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

Our company is looking for the biggest month in their
history and they’re giving us incentives and a great
kit to do just that!  The benefit is yours!

Please contact me with any questions you have! I would
love to help you get started!  Even if you just want to sell books to your homeschool shelves.  If you sign up, you can do it for less!

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We live in a smaller home and have to think about space,  the needs and comfort of the individual, and how we can be creative with that space to meet our needs. About a year ago we shocked the salespeople in the furniture store when we asked for three bunk beds and six mattresses…"Would you like to sit down?  How about a cup of coffee…."  LOL…and I kid you not when I say that everything we got that day was very very discounted.  If it were not the case, we never would have been able to afford it!  I love little God-incidences like this!! Woo Hoo!!

Had to buy a NEW bunk bed that would be as safe as we could make it, look open and non confining and would not shake like mad when someone rolled over or …even worse…have the upper mattress fall down on some unsuspecting bunkmate in the middle of the night.  We came up with the Young America collection by Stanley.  As providence would have it, there were two floor models on sale and we were able to order the mate to one of them at a discount as well.  What I love about these sets is the fact that it has a bazillion slats in the bottom of each bunk that are firmly attached on both ends!!

Another consideration we had to face was that we needed dresser drawers that would not fall out and dump clothing on the floor..the worst mess maker ever is a faulty drawer, especially when trying to train a young person to put his/her laundry away.   

Gunne_sax_rose_trellisThe theme for the girls’ room is a Garden of Roses for our Lady…across the beds are Guinne Sax Rose Trellis comforters of rose trellis design of pink cream sage lavender and white….with matching home made accent pillows.The furniture store had this and this(with this) to help out the girls…what was nice about this piece was that when between the bunks, the older girls in the top bunks have an end table for their special treasures!  We found that if we pushed the dresser (with the mirror) in the closet and placed shelves for hanging and basket storage on each side, we made the best use of that space.  The former closet storage shelving was used as monkey bars waaay too often and of course fell apart ;o)  To soften the lines a bit we swagged a pair of sheer white curtains over the closet opening…with some silk roses as tie backs and a trail of a vine on the top, it looks like a very special girls room!  It is painted a sweet pink with white trim with a special paint treatment on the ceiling similar to the one in the boys room….(for that read on!)  They have a white bookcase in the room holding a basket for each one of them and the extra shelves hold favorite books like the Bethlehem books,  My Book House books (a wonderful collection of stories found on ebay !), and Story Library  of the Saints by Joan Windham (oop but look for them!! The 3 hardcover books  are read voraciously by both the boys and girls!…we looove them!)    Around the top of the wall are the art prints from CHC of the Hail Mary. 

Gift_of_the_shepherdThe theme of the boys’ room is heavenly comfort!  The boys have a dresser, and a chest of drawers and three bookcases (all in great condition matching their bunk beds and FREE…another God-incidence!!)  lining the walls…which match this very well!   Instead of being confining in this small room, it is a cozy place to relax and read,  They have shelves for their favorite possessions, a rock collection in a tackle box, a fire engine, air planes and various boy treasures.  Their room is painted a buttery yellow with dark blue star and moon curtains …and…when you look up…(in both rooms) there is a beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds overhead…it makes the ceiling disappear and it is as if God is looking down on you resting at night.(Thanks to the little woolly kit from Home Depot ;o) CHC’s Our Father prints are across the top of one wall…easily seen from the top bunk as well as an astronomy poster.  Our Lady of Grace is atop one of the bookcases keeping close watch on my precious sons. And this picture, (The Gift of the Shepherd) is on the wall…it reminds me of the many days the boys spent picking dandelions for their earthly mom as well as filling many vases for their heavenly mother.  All of my children love the image of the Good Shepherd and this is a sweet reminder for the boys as well. 

Now that the scene has been set for them, we are learning to use it without having it be overwhelming.  Toys are kept in another part of the house.   The only exception to this is a FEW special things that have a place.  The girls have a few dolls and a drawer for doll clothing.  The boys have a few of their latest interests (like the tackle box type thing with rocks) and a model airplane…anything easily stored on the shelves.  If the shelves get full or it gets dumped on the floor, it won’t work.  It has to mean something to you to be in your room.  If you outgrow it or don’t want to care for it, it gets a new home in the house or is passed on to someone who will.  The kids made up these rules after being tired of cleaning all the time.  It means more when it comes from them.  The same thing goes for stuffed animals…we keep the ones we care about…the ones that are REAL!  The others we round up and give to a local shelter.  This is also a kid choice…it is much easier to say goodbye if you know someone else will love what you are giving up!

I constantly purge the laundry for excess things and clothing that has holes and such.  The sheets are kept to a minimum too…there is a drawer or shelf in each room that has an extra set of sheets.  When the bed linens are changed, the new one goes on right away and the old set is put into the waiting washer right away….it saves on the sheets that don’t make it back…haha!  We keep it simple…fitted sheets in one pile, flat sheets in another and pillowcases (there are extras of these) in another.  We keep these linens and such in good shape too…old ones are put in a pile for dress up or in the in case of emergency container…if you ever had a run of killer flu, you know what I mean when I say it pays to be prepared!

Every Christmas they get something new for their room…a set of sheets each or a new blanket for the bed or a new pillow.  I love wrapping them too…I line them up on the couch wrapped in special wire ribbon that I reuse for this purpose every year.  Yes, you are a simple people when you get joy out of "little" things like this! 

Clothing is kept simple too.  The kids looove turtlenecks and sweats and sweatshirts in the cooler months as a staple for their fashions…they go well with other things too!  They switch to T-shirts and sweat shorts in the warmer months…they are always comfy and they love it….so I don’t fight it!  When selecting clothing, it is wash and wear…no dry clean products, nothing that has to be super fussy before you can wear it.  For this reason the girls love jumpers and the boys love their rugby shirts and dockers for church clothes.  We don’t have a lot of clothing storage, so why keep clothing in the drawers that they will never wear? 

The kids are doing their own laundry so I want to keep the rules simple while they learn too! 
We divide laundry days by room.  We do all the linens on Saturday mornings first thing!  Rooms are then dusted and straightened and we hit the rest of the house.  The goal is to be done before confessions and ready for FAMILY NIGHT Food and Fun!  on Saturday nights where we all make a special effort to be together!

Are we perfect at this?!!  Noooooo!  But we have a system in the process of being more user friendly.  Sometimes the rooms blow up, but take heart!  We know HOW to put it back together…always tweaking the plan, always looking to make the rooms nice to look at, easy to use and fun to be in…a personal space that is growing with them. ( sniff…say they will always be around me!)  I want to make the most of the precious time we have together, give them their special spaces  and I want them to OWN the skills we need to be a functional family-centered family both now and when they are off to start their own….

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090_madonnafraangelico_1 The Birthday of Our Queen (September 8)

All hail, O new world! Come and see
Here in a cradle lies our Queen,

Mother of God, one day to be,

O come and see this heavenly scene.

A beauteous, fragrant rose-bud,

Immaculate! God’s own flower,

His masterpiece of royal blood

Who came to earth this midnight hour!

Thousands of angels stand to guard

This mystical counterpart of God

And Seraphs play sweet lullabies

Upon their harps, as Cherubs laud.

Hail holy babe! Hail full of grace!

With wee hands clasped, with eyelids closed

She talks with God – face to face!

HT to Castle of the Immaculate for the beautiful poem!
Sr. Francis Marie
Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God’s Mother and Mine. Poughkeepsie, NY: Marist Press, 1946
Art, the Virgin Mary being glorified by the Angels,  by Fra Angelico

Our Lady’s Birthday Flower :  Italian Aster

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As I mentioned before here and here 
The Book Party is over as of 11:59 pm tonight!

Please feel free to order books from my site following this link and take a chance in our free book drawing.  Remember the top purchaser will receive FREE SHIPPING…Thank you so much for all your kind words and support!  I love to hear from you all! Enjoy perusing the site and feel free to ask any questions!!

If you are interested in hosting your own on-line book party…please contact me!  They are very easy and fun and you can get DOUBLE free books during my first 12 weeks!  What a great way of adding painless learning to your school year!  Yippee for that!

ooh yes!  one more thing…Usborne has a great special for those of you who would like to sign on and sell Usborne.  For this month, Usborne has a special kit for 25.OO and if you sign on, I will give you a bonus of 25.00 worth of free books!  More information is here.  Even if you just want to sell to yourself at great savings, here is a good opportunity for doing just that!  (I still have one of the half priced base kits available for around 100.  if you are interesed in that too!  That particular kit is the one I have and has a alot more books!)  Contact me for details!!


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Kissingfacegod_1In our home, every corner of it is a learning space…  A place for us to know, love, and serve God in our daily duties.  This house has children in it and we are not afraid to show that in our decor.  This house is full of holy reminders and I have been told (rather jokingly) that it looks like a convent.  It has framed holy pictures on its walls and strewn rosaries all about.

We live in a 1923 bungalow style home, typical of that era.  There is a living room/dining room combination in the center of the house.  It is in the center of our home that we typically gather for school.  There is something in here for everyone…from the 19mo toddler to the eldest children….it is user-friendly for its purposes no matter if you are young or old…you BELONG here!!   There is a smaller version of our dining room table in front of the bookcases for the littler children to bring their treasures to when they want to explore them.  We have 3 floor to ceiling bookshelves against our only solid wall.  Other pieces of furniture include the  dining room table as well as a 1/2 high bookcase(where most of our individual schoolbooks are kept…), china cabinet and a secretary desk.  The room has the look of an elegant early colonial oak/maple  library to it.  We keep it simple and hide our "office/classroom" as a dining room while we have company.  Have you ever seen those interior design shows where they do this type of thing hiding the office behind the dining room facade?  Well, this is my inspired decorating scheme!

In the secretary desk I have the pocket charts folded up with a few folders of pocket chart centers for the 3,6 and 7yo dc.  There are three drawers below the fold down part of the desk that serves as our notebooking/ scrapbooking/lapbooking assembly area with large drawers for papers and a basket on the top of the secretary for additional supplies in containers and baskets…next to that basket is the science supply basket.  I pull items down from these baskets to the fold down desk part as items are needed.  If they are not needed, they are up high…out of the toddlers reach, labeled and ready to go for the time they need to be in use…it is easy…pull down the desk part and get to work!  Everything needed is right there!..it is by a window that has the most beautifully colored leaves in the spring and fall and is a favorite place to sit and write!

Gift_of_the_shepherd_2In the china cabinet… it LOOKS like a china cabinet, but hidden under this guise is Math/Language centers and supplies.  There are 3 large baskets atop the cabinet and one is for Math, one for art supplies…(art games and whatever didn’t fit in the art cabinet in the kitchen)… and the other for language.  Here I keep the extra Montessori supplies and center items that I pull down only a few at a time for use.  I spent much of the summer getting them ready.  Behind one of the china cabinet doors are some decorative jars, boxes and small baskets that hide some of the more needed manipulative items….handy, but hidden and once again out of the toddlers reach….want to know where I ‘hid’ the dishes??  Most of them are in the other two sections and half of the area below the china cabinet.  Right next to it is a door leading to a walk-up attic…I have several shelves of dishes ready to be used at the top of the stairs in that attic…I just have to give them a quick wash before company and we have it made!  It makes it so much easy to care for my special treasures with children around if I handle it this way.  Besides I feel kind of elegant opening and closing the doors on the china cabinet when gathering the things for school.  It somehow gives even something as tedious as math a special air.

Across the 3 large bookcases are 4 more large baskets….laundry like wood-stained  wicker baskets with fabric liners….  History (movable time line items) More Science items(3 part Montessori cards and interesting manipulatives) Games, and Sewing Stuff can be found there.

Still_the_favorite_weistlingThe shelves are divided by sections by subject …full of books!!….and the highest shelves hold items that we want away from the baby…a display shelf for our latest project….like a miniature medieval  village made of Model Magic on a painted cardboard base and landscape…precious books….and handiwork shelf…sewing baskets with projects inside…klutz books..potholder loom…whatever we are working on NOW for fun or to flesh out one subject or another.  The bottom most shelves hold a basket of baby toys and younger books for easy perusal.

There is one long decorative window higher up on the wall near the dining room table and under the molding around this window we have cup hooks that hold our maps and pocket charts when in use…we use every surface we can find and use it in a way that is uncluttered…easy to clean and deliberate.  Even the baby knows where it goes and that has some great effect on all of us.

I also run cup hooks under the fireplace mantle in the Living Room….it is for hanging Montessori bead chains and maps and charts …at least most of the time, and for stockings at Christmas! ;o)

SharingabookOn either side of the fireplace are 1/2 high built-in bookcases and on these shelves we have pull out drawers for papers and manipulatives in hardware drawers on the top shelves and Montessori tackle boxes on the middle shelves and puzzles on the bottom shelves.  (I loooove these…the baby cannot open them!!  woo hoo!!)  I also have my computer/TV set up in the living room on a large oak table.  The TV sits up higher on 2 large drawers that house the video tapes/DVDs and clip boards for our TV schooling!  Under the table almost out of sight are two filing cabinets full of interesting project parts.  On the side of this table is an unusual  piece of furniture that houses some of the Montessori manipulatives and trays. ( I found some very sturdy decorative wooden cherry trays at a garage sale for 1.00 that suit this purpose well!)  The pink tower, the brown stair and the red rods are here as well as the metal insets and one set of the knobbed cylinders.  I keep any other manipulatives like the three part cards on one of the top shelves (encased in a tackle box or hardware drawer)  of the mantle bookcases…the kids know to go there to find the work…I will only put out a few things at a time to keep the pokiest fingers from spreading all we have in every possible direction.

Most of my art supplies are kept in a locked Black and Decker cabinet that I haven’t decided where the final resting place should be.  Right now it is in the mud room, but I need to find it a newer home.   It is great for storing paints and messy things!  I loooove having all I need there, including small pieces parts for all sorts of art discoveries without worrying that the little ones will make waste of the whole thing in one sitting.  I hated the idea of locking it, but it has worked very well and the children all know that it is a great place to keep the fun things they get as gifts.  "Quick Mom!  Lock this up so the baby can’t eat it!!"…Yes, it works well!  It is full of collage things ..wood shapes, mosaic paper squares, glue and even paperboard treasure chests awaiting creative hands!!

I do NOT have much wall space in this house.  But I do have a nice frame hanging on one wall and we change the art work in it frequently.  I have different sized mats to go in it to accomodate a post card sizd pic all the way up to an 11X …(.oh whatever is the standard for that sized picture!)  We used this idea for CHC’s Art Masterpieces last year!  I want to get a framed pic of The Gleaners and The Angelus in matching frames to hang in my kitchen.  I saw this idea in someone’s home once and LOVED it!…Ora Et Labora!…in addition we have many other art books strewn around for gleaning more inspiration and great conversations…all within easy reach of the children…like the DK book A Child’s Book of Art.…and Discovering Great Paintings. …not to mention The Child Sized Masterpieces  series…encased in color coded folders in a lovely basket…a favorite too!!   I could do another whole thread on this subject alone!!

We play classical and sacred music frequently here…I usually burn the cd’s to the computer to save them being eaten by little teeth.  In addition, the sound system on the computer is a pretty good one for this.  We are looking forward to using the CD’s that Elizabeth mentioned at her blog.  We listened to one of them so far and I loved how it soothed the savage daddy home from a hard day of work!

SecretadmirerMy house is NOT perfect…it and we are always works in progress.  But it has some assemblance of order and when it gets messed up, it doesn’t take long to clean up because it doesn’t house sooo much that we cannot clean it in a reasonable amount of time….besides that WHO WANTS TO CLEAN ALL OF THE TIME?? We want to explore and invent and be creative and learn good things!!  We intersperse quick clean up times here and there and the reward is more time for creativity!!  Being consistent with this was hard to start with…it is FINALLY coming together!! 

Most of the toys are stored in the attic and they can bring one container down at a time and can trade for other things when they are done with that first container…works great…especially for entertaining the younger set.  it took me a long time to figure this out…but where there is a will….I HAD to find a way!  God created order out of the chaos of the universe…He helped me (with me pleading quite a bit) with my little dilemma.  I wanted my house to be uncluttered and user friendly.  It had to be a school house and a home and a bazillion other things too….and I didn’t want to cry at the end of the day seeing my hard work undone to such a degree that it would take weeks to put it back together!    They layout is open and it is easy to see everyone.  The learning  spaces we have are structured for creativity and for having fun…no matter how big or little you are…you have a place here where you feel comfortable working.  Even all of the hardware type drawers and things alongside the fireplace aren’t too out of place-looking.  We know where to put things and we NEVER knew that before. 

The local Home Goods store has many wonderful things that will inspire anyone to make an elegant looking home-office!  Garage sales are goldmines for found objects that can be recycled in unusual creative ways….like my trays for example.  "They are sooo beautiful" …so my 6yo dd says…that she feels like a lady using them and wants to use them quite frequently….so I feel like I really found something special there…I thought of her and how I could make her space as special as my space.  It really is a home for ALL of us!  …and….All of us LEARNING all the time!!

L_innocenceThe most important area is  over the fireplace on the looong mantle.  Here is our prayer area that we decorate frequently with whatever special things move the hearts of the children…including a home-made paschal candle and some of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd items.  In the center of this mantle is a liturgical cloth under a statue of Our Lady of Fatima….she is wearing a necklace of heart shaped beads as a gift of love from a little girl’s heart….and she is wearing a halo of white beads around her crown from a little boy who felt that he needed to show in some small way his love for his heavenly Mother. 

Behind the statue is this picture that my dh and I fell in love with right before we celebrated our first Christmas together. Almosthomelg816154119_4 It is funny that it seems to still speak to our hearts as one of familial love and togetherness…a place for the whole family to live and work together amongst each other.  The church is in the center of it and a warm glowing home is awaiting  its occupants promising shelter and love. 

On either side of this statue and picture are two divided light windows.  One is our St Joseph window with a statue of St. Joseph holding the sleeping Child Jesus and the other has a statue of the Good Shepherd with His sheep.  The children were once given lambs for one of the 12 days of Christmas one year.  They immediately placed these lambs around the Good Shepherd.  "Look Mom!  This is me and I want to be near Jesus!"  …and so I want it to be in our learning space as well.  A place where the Divine Guest can move in and amongst us as we come to know, love and serve Him in our daily struggles and duties. …to grow closer to His presence as we grow ourselves…both physically and spiritually till we really do find our way home.

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Sk01bmothersgenA cool rainy day here is making us feel like winter will be long.  It doesn’t help that we all suffer from the general plague….I mean…er… bad cold, and Mother must exercise the Corporal works of mercy to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and not to mention the various Spiritual works of Mercy that must be exercised in order to just get dinner on the table!! 

Finally, realizing that I could not wish dinner to suddenly appear I thought…."nothing is more comforting that a huge bowl of fragrant chicken soup"….and so I set out with a definite purpose to serve valiantly….um …yeah!…(gee, I guess that means I can’t whine like my children?)   I must be of good cheer!  That is what I am going to do!!…summoning all my courage and stiffling the urge to curl up into the fetal position in the darkest corner of my room  and all the tissues I could muster, I set out to work! 

Being impatient for the outcome, I used the pressure cooker.  Being the sized family that we are, I had to cook this in stages….and to think I thought this pot was huge when we got it when we were first married…
BTW…(you have to love the way I measure things….)

Comforting Real Life
Chicken Soup:

  • Blindly grab at freshly washed random chicken pieces and plunk them in the cooker.
  • Fill to liquid line with water.
  • Place fresh herbs…(quantity unknown)on chicken…aim for the "looks good" measurement and  avoid overdoing it…use one precious tearing eye for this step.
  • Promise yourself that it is ok to start cooking this without some of the other ingredients now because it takes 25 minutes after it starts rocking to take the pot off the heat.
  • oh yeah…make sure seals and ring are in good shape and praise yourself for remembering to put the rocker in a good findable place after last use.
  • Bribe  Request children to take up residence around table armed with peelers, knives and assorted dangerous kitchen paraphernalia….(dangerous to the blind that is…)
  • Cut up loads of onions and garlic …loads of garlic…at least 2 bulbs to scare out the general ick and any unwanted company…for medicinal purposes, and saute till mush…add a little celery if desired.
  • Wash, slice, and reserve any veggies out of the fridge that are considered usable   fresh
  • after rocker rocks for 25 minutes, cool pot and take out chicken …add mushed onions and garlic, carrots, cabbage and assorted other veggies…return to pot …adding extra water if needed and cook till it rocks for about 2 minutes
  • make cheese tortellini ahead of time and leave in colander when you need to be somewhere else in the house
  • when you return and notice the lighter look of the colander and the stuffed cheeks of several children who are attempting to look busy…take remaining tortellini and add to soup mixture with cooled chicken pieces
  • serve with crusty bread so that you have lots of crumbs to clean up later  to make this a genuine comfort food
  • Appear to look gracious and well composed when approaching the table and do not give in to the GREAT urge to sneeze yourself into the next county….yes!  a FEAST for the afflicted masses!
  • ACHOO!!  God Bless your day!!

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