Advent · Christmas · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week Two.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, last week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

The weather has been cooler this week and I have been busy so far.  Getting things ready for Back to school(ing) and getting ready for the end of summer cabin trip has taken up a bit of time.  This week is Question Week, one of my favorite aspects of planning.   

Week One follow up: The children and I did a good scrub-a-dub on the porch and Kyle helped with re organising the area.  I have a list of outdoor maintenance items that need attended to next month and my lists have been created. 

Week Two: Cleaning:  This week we come indoors.  Here is where my cleaning list departs from the Official Grand Plan list.  And really, that is ok.  My house is laid out differently than the person who made the list.  I don’t have a guest room, master bath or family room.  I do have a home office and if I tried to fit both children’s rooms into one week I would go more than a little batty.  So we switch it up a bit.  This week I am actually NOT doing a room.  Basically because I am going to be gone most of the week.  If you are doing this along with me you might want to take a look at the cleaning schedule that the grand plan uses and think through how to make it work for you home.  We all have different houses and no one list is going to work for everyone.

Preparing for the Holidays:  Taking stock.  Every year I go out after the Holiday’s and snag a few rolls of paper, a bag or two of ribbons and maybe some cute tags and gift bags.  I also try to hit the art supply store and catch their clearance racks in late November and then again after Christmas.  But all of that won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take the time to figure out what I have and where it is.  So my big thing for preparing for the holidays this week is checking out what I’ve already got on hand for Christmas and Advent.

Planning:  Last week I made up my basic lists this week I am fleshing them out and adding to them.  We also have some questions to think about.

Gifts:  What are we buying and how much are we spending and how important is the whole “gift thing” anyhow?   (insert anti-consumerism rant here).  What gifts am I making? 
Cards: How many cards do I need?  Which cards am I cross stitching?
Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party.  Is there anything we want to do differently?
Menus: What can I do ahead?  What are the menus for the feast days? If there are any new recipes I want to try for the big Holiday meals I want to make them at least once before hand.
Decorating: Do I know where my decorating stuff from last year is?  Do I need to replace anything?  Is there anything new I would like?
Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished.  What gifts am I baking?
Devotionals: What worked in years past?  What didn’t? How can we focus more fully on Christ during the Advent season?  When I get home I am goingto be looking around online for some new ideas.  Are there any books I want to look through?
Traditions: Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?

The goal for this week is to get the “theme” of Christmas set.  Note, this isn’t some marathon planning session where I decide in nitty gritty detail what each moment of each day will be.  Nor is the idea to blow Christmas into the focus of the next 12 weeks.  The goal is to set aside a small amount of time for Christmas/Advent planning early enough that I am not stressed and rushing around during Advent.  The other thing I like about the “Grand Plan” is that I will be able to hit each area of my home for a deep clean/organization session.   In theory I would do this anyway, but in practice it doesn’t get done unless I plan for it.

Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha

The Simple Woman’s Daybook – August 25, 2008


he Simple Woman’s Daybook
is hosted by Peggy at the Simple Woman.
Thank you Peggy.

FOR TODAY : August 25, 2008
A bit of rain, a little cooler, summer seems to be giving up on us.  

Outside My Window… There are gray clouds outside.  The apple tree is still heavy with fruit.  The recent rains have watered the lawn and it is starting to green up a bit.  My rosemary has hit a growing streak and I can see the tips of new growth over my window sill.
I am thinking…  This week I am working on so many things it is hard to keep everything straight.
I am thankful for…  My dad and brother getting back from their race car thing safely.
From the kitchen… I have my coffee this morning.  Tonight we are having homemade mac and cheese which will make the children wildly happy. 
I am wearing…  a pink sweater and brown capris.  
I am creating…  This isn’t a creating week, this week is a week to gather all my loose ends and then head out for the cabin.
I am going…  To the Cabin this weekend with the children. 
I am reading…  In Defense of Food. 
I am hoping…  That I get those things I need to get done taken care of.
I am hearing…  A bit of early morning traffic, one lone song bird.   
Around the house…  I need to get the packing done for the cabin.  I am working on week two of my Holiday Grand Plan thing.  
One of my favorite things…  The rich smokey smell when the neighbor is curring salmon.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Lots of cleaning and packing, getting ready for our Cabin trip.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…


Autism · Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · My world

Fun with user’s questions.

Every so often I like to go through the searches that bring people to my little corner of the web and see just what people were looking for when the stumble in here.  Which inevitably yields a fine selection of “Questions people weren’t afraid to ask but probably didn’t find an answer for.”  at least not here.  So, being me, I will attempt to fill in the gaps.

How do you teach autistic children about the Sacrament of Communion?   I think a lot depends on the level of the child.  Some autistic individuals are more capable of abstract thinking than others.  But that can be said about normal children at that age as well.  Here is the real kicker, I honestly don’t think the Eucharist as it is, that being the blood and flesh of God, can actually be explained to anyone.  It is something that the Holy Spirit testifies to, it is a matter of miraculousfaith, it isn’t something teachable by human means.

So, I would say if you are trying to teach the truthfulness of the Sacrament, don’t,  just pray for the Spirit of God to teach that thing that defies all human understanding.  Your example of faithful life probably teaches best.  When you attend mass be sure that you are focusing on the sacrament, receive reverently, pray afterward in thanksgiving, talk about how much it means to you personally.  You can use picture stories or social stories, you can use picture books, you can use words and lessons depending on the mental and verbal understanding of the communicant but for the them to understand the miracle that is the Eucharist is going to take and act of God (but it does for all of us, so trust Him in this).

If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on autism and the sacrament of communion you can read them here.  There I have some more nitty-gritty, how to make it actually work, sorts of advice.

Where do you find (inexpensive) white dishes?  I really like white dishes.  My new favorite place to shop is Ikea.  They have white dishes in their catalogue.  I think these are beautiful and plan on giving them a try very soon. 

When does Advent 2008 start?   This year the first Sunday of Advent is November 30.   I am hopeful that I will have most of my Holiday preparations done before the beginning of Advent this year so that I can focus more clearly on the family, spiritual and faith aspects of the Advent and Christmas season without the clutter of culture, consumerism and materialism clogging up my life.

What is Catholic Homemaking?  Homemaking when a Catholic chick is the one doing it?   Ok, for another not quite so tonguein check answer: There are some things that  mark Catholic homes.  No, I am not talking about plastic statues of Mary or St Francis in the yard, though that can be part of it.  What marks all that Catholic homes I am blessed to be surrounded with is a sense of the flow of the liturgical year.  There is also a sense of being just a tad counter cultural.   I know when I am looking to see if I am in the right place for an activity with my homeschool group all I need to lookfor is the club vans with the pro-life stickers on the bumpers.  We are a group of mostly big families, five or six being average.  It is the sort of group where, when the woman with seven kids announces that number eight is on the way everyone is honestly happy and no one makes snide comments or asks “how will the older kids feel about ANOTHER one?” because the older kids are all bragging about having another one to their friends.  We tend to be somewhat kids centric, rather eccentric and just a touch touched in the head compared to the rest of the world. 

Who is Carol Race?  Carol is a mom in Bertha, Minn.  Her son Adam is autistic and the parish of St Joeseph took a restraining order out to keep the family from bringing Adam to mass.  In response to that Carol started a website called Project: Adam’s Pew.  I like Carol.  I have spoken to her several times and she is really a delightful person to talk to.   I don’t completely agree with everything she has said or done in this situation, but I do like her and I understand that she is trying to be the best mom and advocate for her son that she can be.  This is one of those cases where what is read in the media is just a tiny slice of the whole story.  The Oregonian ran a piece on this on August 14th and the comments that the paper ran a few days later displayed the predicatable gross bigotry to the Catholic Church that these kinds of stories bring out.  Bad, bad evil priest, poor innocent little boy being kicked out, WWJD and not so vague hopes that the priest rot in hell.    If you want to read my previous thoughts on this story you can check them out on the sidebar under autism

What are the lyrics to “Things you don’t say to your wife”?  A lot of people seem to be looking for the lyrics to this funny song so I went ahead and transcribed them:

 Hey honey have you gained some weight in your rear end?
The dress you wear reminds me of my old girl friend
And where’d you get those shoes I think they’re pretty lame?
Would you stop talking ’cause I’m trying to watch the game?

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday;
I didn’t ask you but I knew it’d be ok.
Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show.
I taped it over our old wedding video.

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

Your cooking is ok but not like mother makes.
The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake.
Your eyes look puffy, dear, are you feeling ill?
Happy anniversary I bought you a treadmill.

If you’re a man who wants to live
a long and happy life
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

If you’re a man who doesn’t want
to get killed with a knife
these are the things you don’t say to your wife.

So, that is it for this round of answering those pressing questions that readers ask on their way to Simply Catholic.

Catholic homemaking · Catholic Homeschooling · Christmas · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · My world · Simplicity

Holiday Grand Plan Week One.

The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31.  In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.

Week One
It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner.  It is also a busy time for moms.  School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat. 

Cleaning:  The front porch is the space on the agenda this week.    While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance.  The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start. 

Planning:  I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner.  This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists.  I have the following that I am making:

Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.

The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.

I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already.   Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.

Advent · Catholic homemaking · Christmas · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Christmas and Advent 2008

I walked into Fred Meyer’s the other day and tucked away near the cards and the books was the first Christmas display, the American Greetings ornaments I believe.   Normally I am rather perturbed by the consumer driven tendency to market Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but this year I looked at it and thought about how dizzying the Advent/Christmas season is.  Every year I hope to be more organised and for the last few years I have note of “The Holiday Grand Plan” which starts holiday planning in the last week of August and finishes it in the main planning endeavors by the middle of December. 

Normally I forget all about the “Grand Plan” until mid October.  This year I actually remembered about it early enough to bump it back two weeks so I can use it for Advent and Christmas.  I plan to bump the Grand Plan back to August 17 and “Tweak” it so that I can focus on Advent too.

Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · Simplicity

$100 a week for groceries

I found this article over at Old Fashioned Girl and read the original MSN article

A family of four eating on $100 a week for a month I believe.   I agree with a lot of what Amandasaid.  The woman in the story is spoiled and it shows.  She also knows this is an “experiment” not a way of life.  I  had to wonder what their normal diet is like when I read  “By midweek, we were all a little sick of rice and potatoes. By the end of the week, I never wanted to see another raisin, carrot, pretzel or piece of puffed rice again. ”  Seriously?   What kind of snacks do they normally have?  It seemed odd to me.  The article is worth reading at least for the “welcome to the real world” factor.   Nothing ground breaking or even inspiring to me, but it did make me giggle.

Blogs I Know · Fun · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

Tightwad Tuesday – bulk fun in more ways than one.

Big families mean big fun. But going fun places can be hard on the budget.

Tightwad Tuesday is hosted by Mary at Raising 4 godly men.

One thing we do is invest in memberships to our favorite places. 

For me to take Ashley and the four younger children to the zoo is $40 and it is almost $50 if Kyle comes too.
A year long membership to the Zoo at the lowest family level costs $69.  It is a cost savings of nearly $30 if we use the Zoo twice in a whole year.

For the art Museum it would cost  the kids and I $24 and $34 if Kyle is with us.   The membership is $65 with $40 tax deductible.   Here we only need to go 3 times and the whole year is paid for.

The children’s Museum is $48 for one trip for the kids and I $54 with Kyle and a membership is $80 but only covers four children so we might spend $8 out of pocket each visit, but the pass is still covered after two visits.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry breaks down like this:  $49 for the kids and I, $60 if dad is with us,  the family plus plan allows for four child and one guest (the other child can be the guest) and costs $115 but comes with some nice perks.  Again two visits and we are covered.

Even our local pool/community center is a deal.  It would cost the children and I $16.75 to go swimming once, the annual pass is $38.25 a month which includes the fitness center, drop in activities and roller skating.   It makes for a good deal considering we love swimming and the center has a lovely indoor pool which we use year round.

The real payoff for these passes isn’t just that they are cost savings, but that they are also incentives to use our favorite places more.  We don’t mind going to the zoo for a couple hours for a picnic dinner after Kyle gets off work when we just have to flash the pass and walk in.  

These also make great gifts.  My parents have given us zoo passes for  Christmas each year and we love getting them.   If your parents are the type to ask for “hints” memberships are a wonderfully easy solution for the whole family.  Check with your employer (or husband’s employer) to see if the company has a discount arrangement with the institution – some do.  Some institutions also offer discounted rates for lower income families.

The only warning I would like to offer is to check the membership restrictions to make sure that your family membership will cover your family and that there aren’t “black out times” or other restrictions which diminish the usefulness of your membership. 

But next time you are considering a fun outing for your family consider purchasing a membership instead of tickets.

Blogs I Know · Homemaking · My world · Simplicity

The Simple Woman’s Daybook – July 21


he Simple Woman’s Daybook
is hosted by Peggy at the Simple Woman.
Thank you Peggy, this is so much fun!

FOR TODAY : July 21, 2008
This is going to be a busy week.

Outside My Window… I  can see the moon.  I love a “Children’s Moon”.  The summer is wearing on and there are lots of apples in the tree.  The berries will be ready before much longer.
I am thinking… That I am starving.  I really am not starving I am just fasting before this morning’s blood draw, but I feel like I might waste away in that time.  Silly mind tricks.
I am thankful for… My Sister in law who gifted us about a ton of clothing.  I think I just got about 12 bags of stuff in my living room.  More on this later today.
From the kitchen… I am a moron and forgot to buy milk when I went to the store yesterday.  I also can’t eat at the moment. 
I am wearing…  Brown slacks and a brown/white sweater-t thing.  
I am creating…  Apple sauce.  The neighbor lady generously allowed me to denude her apple tree.  We will make a big batch and freeze some.
I am going…  To my blood draw this morning.  Just a routine metabolic screening to see how diabetic I might be.
I am reading…  Laundry, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell and It’s All Too Much. 
I am hoping…  That  the draw isn’t bad, that the apple sauce turns out well and that my adventure through “gifted clothing land” goes quickly.
I am hearing…  The evil crow.  This bird looks evil and I think he is bugging Mr Fluff-Butt the backyard Squirrel.
Around the house…Bags of clothing.
One of my favorite things… Breakfast (giggle).
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:  We are going to a wedding this Saturday so I need to get everything together for that.

Here is picture thought I am sharing…

Homemaking · My world

What a deal.

I took Hannah to summer ballet today at the parish and walked out with a Jonti Cart Storage Island — free!  I almost feel badly because it is such a fantastic deal.  I mean how can you beat free?  It is in great shape, but I will have to replace some of the bins.  All I can say is WOW!  We really needed it too.  One of those things to be thankful for.

here is what it looks like:

 

Blogs I Know · Homemaking · Simplicity

Works for me – Simple White Dishes

 

I find that simple useful things usually have a great deal of beauty to them. Today I am singing the praises of simple white dishware, the kind you can find almost anywhere, stoneware, solid, usually creamy white in basic shapes. It is inexpensive, easy to clean, usually dishwasher and microwave safe and sometimes even oven safe. The essence of kitchen simplicity

But, its boring. Yes, sort of. If you are the type who has to have something colorful and exciting then I suppose they are sort of boring. Fiestaware or something might be your choice. But for me I like the simplicity of white.

Since you can find them anywhere they are very easy to replace. The five year old dropping a plate will not be a tragedy. White also makes for easy cleanup. Even a young child can learn to wash a dish. Unadulterated white makes it easy to see that a through job has been done.

On the flip side I love fine china. There is something really nice about having dinner on fine plates. I have three patterns that I collect when I have the chance. These are items that bring a good deal of pleasure to me, one set has been handed down from my father’s mother and the other are just two sets I love. My hope is that my daughters and granddaughters will also love them.

But for everyday use nothing beat those nice little white stoneware dishes.

You can find other great “Works for me ideas” at Shannon’s blog Rocks in my Dryer.