Thursday, February 25, 2010
The recent Blizzard left so much snow on the ground for such an extended period of time, that the squirrels were beginning to look thin and desperate. Larry threw a few peanuts out the back door and made himself a new friend. This squirrel now comes to the back door daily to get his peanuts. He was not afraid of us sitting inside watching him and he retrieved about 10 peanuts, one at a time. Some he nibbled up in a tree and others he took to a near-by hiding place. I'm not sure how much longer we want to keep feeding him, especially when I realized that there were actually two squirrels coming onto the deck!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Then, the Moms and Grandpa had a mini Homeschooling Conference on the strengths and weaknesses and the benefits and challenges of both providing and receiving a high quality education at home. There was a lot of discussion on balancing the needs of High Schoolers with those of students in the Primary grades, particularly with a nursing baby in the family! It was a lively discussion with much encouragement and many suggestions offered for the very real difficulties we face. Perseverance and praying for guidance along with sacrificial amounts of hard work were deemed necessary. At the end of it, we were happy to pick up our own crosses and thank God for the privilege we share pouring our time, talent and treasure into these kids and letting the Grace of God fill in the gaps.
Monday, February 22, 2010
When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a" play date". If I wanted to play with my friends, I opened the door, walked outside and selected from any one or all of the 65 (no exaggeration) kids that lived on my street. There were both boys and girls in every age group. We had large outside games of cops and robbers, Hide and Seek and Ghost in the Graveyard. We played Jump- rope, T.V. Tag and practiced hand stands and cartwheels by the hour. The girls played Barbie dolls and baby dolls. We danced to records, formed clubs of all kinds and put on many plays.We built forts in the woods and made pretend campgrounds. We played on the railroad tracks and on occasion rode our bikes to Daily Mass at the Convent down the street. With our friends,we walked to and from school every day, even through a Vermont winter for all 12 years. There was constant interaction with friends and neighbors, most all of it good.
Fast forward 40 years(ouch!) to today. Although our neighborhood is safe, and has beautiful natural features, there is a lack of playmates for our boys. Thankfully, we have been blessed with neighbors who are a homeschooling family with three fun and creative girls, now teen-agers.That has been great for our older girls. However, there is not another boy of any age in our neighborhood. Our boys do have each other, but at this point, I am seeing a real need for other boys for them to play with. Personality development is very subtle and friends offer a great way to discover who we are and how we need to adjust ourselves to become a better person.
Which brings us to the "play date" which doesn't sound very masculine at all. I have overcome inertia in this area and have started to pick up the phone to arrange get- togethers with a friend that the boys really enjoy. We are also going to continue to make a point to spend time with our cousins, who are all good kids. This is worth the time and has become a high priority for me. My goal is to, with God's help, raise great men. In order to do that, these boys need to spend time with other boys in good activities and just hanging out.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
This is Our "Lil Orphan Annie" costume purchased for her 20 year old sister when she was in Kindergarten and taking Ballet lessons. Miss J. got the movie from Meg for Christmas and now dresses up and sings "It's a Hard Knock Life". I think we got our money's worth with this costume.
Costumes are worth their weight in gold for the play opportunities that they provide.
We are impressed at the power this machine has and it is very clear that this is not to be driven by children. I am very thankful that Larry is willing to wear the helmet. We bought a second one for the kids to wear if they get a ride. He has spent the afternoon plowing the driveway. We are very grateful for this new tool and hope to get many years of safe plowing, deer hunting, and firewood hauling with it. We will keep it in our big garage out of the weather to extend its life.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Before doing the laundry, we separate the whites from the dark clothes so that we can use bleach and sometimes hot water for the whites.Then, the towels and undershirts are hung up to dry. The socks, washcloths and unmentionables are thrown into the dryer. After about 10-12 days, probably three such baskets of whites need to be sorted and brought to people's rooms.This job is too complicated to give to only young members of the family because they are not astute nor concerned enough to appreciate the subtle nuances of what actually constitutes a match! This becomes a project that may be undertaken in front of the T.V. while watching a movie. It is assigned to an older and a younger member of the family and then the piles are delivered to each person's dresser top.
Monday, February 15, 2010
About a year ago, I realized that I could pay 5.00 dollars/pound or more for sliced deli meat that would provide a lunch or two or I could buy a large spiral ham that would easily feed us for five meals or more at a fraction of the cost. The ham in this picture weighed 8.02 pounds and cost $12.67. It was $1.58/pound. Yes, there is a bone in this ham that impacts on the total cost per pound but this bone is the base for a wonderful soup for which I will share my recipe.
The great thing about spiral ham is that it can be served cold right out of the package for the first meal as it is sold, fully cooked. That is what we usually do. For me, the secret is to take the time to trim the small amount of fat and edging off each piece which can be done for large sections if I angle it right. Then, I lay it on the plate for sandwiches like in the picture above. Covered with saran wrap, the whole plate can be warmed in the microwave for sandwiches which makes them even better! For a big homeschooling family, this is a quick and fantastic lunch. I will then serve this ham for the next few days and that reduces my cooking time in the late afternoon.
When the ham is toward the end of the bone and is no longer spiral cut, I simply slice it by hand for more sandwiches or maybe as a main dish with potatoes and a vegetable. I'll just lay the ham on a plate and heat it in the microwave.We also serve these cut pieces of ham in omelets or macaroni and cheese. (Those are red onions on the plate in the above picture).When the easily usable ham is all gone, I have a choice. I can wrap the bone in saran and then aluminum foil and freeze it until I am ready to make soup or go ahead and soak a bag of dried beans to make a pot of delicious soup the next day.
2.Put the entire ham bone (defrosted) and the beans in a pot, cover with fresh water, boil once and then simmer for about an hour or a little more until the beans are soft but not mushy.
3.Pull out the ham bone and cut off all the good meat from it, discarding the fat, gristle and the bone itself.
4.Cut up celery and carrots (I use a lot ), an onion and 3 cloves of garlic and throw these with the ham bits back into the bean pot with the broth.
5.Add a can of Diced Tomatoes, a teaspoonful of lemon juice, a little red hot or chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 30 minutes until the carrots are done. By the way, I process my vegetables so that they cook faster but that isn't necessary. If you think it is too sour, add a little sugar to the pot at the end.
6. Serve with crackers in a bowl. My husband likes to eat this over a couple of slices of white bread which was how his father ate it.My children will eat this and actually enjoy it because it is very tasty.
Bless Us O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive through Christ, Our Lord. Amen