Monday, January 29, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Well, last week was definitely a strange one! What with the birthday, and dinner out, my plans got all scattered - I never did end up making those Salmon Patties. When I do, I'll share the recipe, ok? This week should be a bit more "normal" - I'm still struggling a bit over how to help dh and I stick to our low carb diet, fix something nutritious for the kids that they'll actually eat, and not end up cooking two separate meals every night! It's definitely a work in progress - when I have lots of great tips, I'll share them. For now, we'll keep plugging away - here's what I have planned for this week:

Monday: Salad with left-over roast beef from Sunday, and shredded sharp cheddar, bread and butter for the kids

Tuesday: Low-carb chili, cornbread for the kids, side salad

Wednesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu (a couple plain chicken breasts for the little ones), rice for the kids (make enough for Friday), and steamed broccoli

Thursday: Low-carb Hamburger Gravy over mashed cauliflower, or egg noodles for the kids, side salad

Friday: Salmon Patties, rice for the kids, creamed spinach for mom&dad, vegies and dip for the kids (they'd never eat creamed spinach, and I've got a hankering for it!)

Saturday: Homemade Pizza (low carb crust for mom and dad), salad

Sunday: Cheesey Chicken and Broccoli soup, salad, biscuits for the kids

Make sure you stop by Organizing Junkie for lots more great ideas!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Getting back into the swing of things...

Remember this post? Well, things went even more slowly than I had originally planned. Some minor illnesses, and J1's 10th birthday a few days ago all combined together to delay our return to our school routine. We officially took a month off! My state law requires me to send in attendence reports, and to provide 180 days of instruction to my children. I looked at my records so far, and consulted my calendar, and this is going to work out really well. I have always preferred to school on a more year-round basis, but by the 4th of July I really am ready to be done. So, this year, after working hard all fall, then taking a month off around Christmas, we will be "officially" done by July 4th, with 10 days to spare, so we've got some wiggle room. I think I really like this schedule, and just might have to make it the "official" school year schedule here at Aquinas Academy. I keep saying "official" because I have a deep belief that education is happening all the time - but I will keep "official" records if that's what I need to do.

Remember our school room? The pictures here show how incredibly disorganized and cluttered it had become. Today I finally finished cleaning and reorganizing that room. It's not completely how I want it, the bookcases are still a bit haphazzard - but it's much better, and much more condusive to learning. What do you think?

These low shelves are just the thing to organize our games and puzzles, utilizing some formerly wasted space under the window.

We added one more bookshelf, which helped a ton with re-organizing everything. I've got our math manipulatives in a nice drawer caddy on the center shelf, and all of J1's books for this year are here, ready for easy access from the desk he uses.

Finally, the other bookcases in the room are cleaner, a little bit more organized, and a lot less cluttered.

I feel so very blessed to have a whole room to devote to our schooling. Even though nowhere near all of our schooling occurs here (in the same way that nowhere near all of our education fits nicely into the state-required 4.5 hours a day for 180 days), it is nice to have a place to keep most of our educational materials, and a quiet place for the kids to work when they need it. It's not done, not by a long shot. It probably never will be, lol! It sure would be nice if everything matched, but the budget says to make due with inexpensive and what we already have. I'd sure like to paint over this funky blue left by the previous owners - we might do that next fall, actually. I'd like more pictures/art work sort of things on the walls, and someday soon I'm going to have to fit more desk space in here since my younger kids will be requiring a place for independant work before I know it.

But for now - I'm pleased, my own visual spatial tendencies are somewhat soothed, the kids were awed and amazed at the transformation, and we're ready for some "high-tide" schooling.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Well, the AAA house has an exciting week this week - it's our oldest son's 10th birthday! Man, they sure do grow up fast! In honor of his 10th birthday, we are taking him to a really, really nice restaurant. It's both a congratulations for hitting double digits, and also a way to start showing him things like etiquette, manners, how to behave like a gentleman. Not that we don't try to do that all the time, but there's just something about a really nice restaurant, you know? We couldn't secure a babysitter for the younger brothers until the day after his birthday, so of course, on his birthday, he's requested the dreaded Golden Arches. At any rate, I have a light cooking week this week - horray!

The low carb diet's going well, incidently. Dh and I feel great, and between the two of us we've lost over 30lbs! We've got a ways to go, so we'll continue on this path for quite some time. It is a challenge improving the kids diet, and making their meals healthy while making our meals low-carb, and not cooking two separate meals every night. I'm working up some plans in that regard, when I get everything figured out (ha! like that will ever happen - when I get things *mostly* figured out!) I'll post about it here.

So, here's our week this week...

Monday: Chicken Fajitas, tortillas for the boys, and a small side salad

Tuesday: Birthday day, fast food and cake, horray! J1 has requested my absolute favorite, German Chocolate Cake with coconut-pecan frosting - oh yum!! Dh and I will try to be content with a small piece of cake and have a nice steak salad instead of fast food.

Wednesday: I'll drop off hot dogs and chips with the younger 3 boys, so my friend will have a quick easy meal to fix while she watches them, and dh, J1 and I will have our wonderful 10th birthday dinner. I am SO not worrying too much about the diet on this very special day! I won't go crazy, but I also want to enjoy ourselves.

Thursday: Meatloaf, spiced potatoes for the kids, brussel sprouts, small salad

Friday: A dear friend sent me a really good recipe for low-carb salmon patties, so we'll have those, some rice for the kids, and this broccoli-cauiflour gratin as a hearty side dish.

Saturday: Hamburgers, chipes, and vegies and dip

Sunday: Sirloin Tip Roast, leftover spiced potatoes for the kids, salad, and Cheesy Broccoli casserole

Head on over to Organizing Junky to see what everyone else is up to! Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today Is Your Birthday!!!

If you're the AAA family's paternal grandma that is! In her honor, we have the following messages:

For Christmas she sent us some yummy, yummy treats! The boys wanted to say something about that:

Finally, because the only thing she asked for was more pictures of her grandkids, we are here to fulfill her request! :-)

Here is J1, who will have a birthday of his own next week! He sure is growing up fast!

Here is A2, who always takes a good picture, the only AAA child I don't have to coax into a nice smile for the camera:

Here is S3, who is so rambunctious and energetic he's hard to capture on film (but so very cute with that newly lost tooth!)

Finally, here is N4, who lately is reluctant to smile for the camera because he says he's "afraid of the light!" My poor blue-eyed babe - cute, though, isn't he?

And, of course, they couldn't resist a silly picture!

This post's for you grandma! Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Well, after taking a not-quite planned break during the Christmas holidays, I'd like to get back to participating in menu-plan Monday. There's been a slight change in my menu planning. Dh and I both have significant amounts of weight to lose, and are low-carbing it. It is a challenge to me to plan menus that will be low-carb and the kids will still eat. I'm working on improving the kids diet, too, as I've gotten really lazy in that regard lately. One step at a time, though! Here's my menu for this week:

Monday: Pork Butt Roast with vegetables (I'll probably just cook this with onions and garlic), sauteed cabbage, rice for the kids

Tuesday: We're having late-lunch company over today, so I'm planning a nice luncheon and then just leftover munchies for dinner. Lunch will be: Curry Chicken Salad (I'll add a bit of onion and a handful of walnuts to this recipe), plain chicken chunks for the kids, simple lettuce and tomato salad, good bread or rolls for kids and guests, and a low-carb cheesecake for dessert.

Wednesday: Vegetable Beef Soup (I'll minimize the carrots, peas, and corn, perhaps cooking them separately and only adding them to the kids' bowls), bread and butter for the kids, and a small side salad

Thursday: Spaghetti Pork Chops (thanks Org Junkie - sounds yummy!) made with low-carb tomato soup, pasta for the kids, broccoli with cheese sauce

Friday: low-carb Tuna Casserole, egg noodles for kids, green beans with butter

Saturday: Pizza day! Easy Pizza for the kids, and for mom and dad's crust, we'll try this.

Sunday: Beef roast, french fries for the kids (frozen, no trans fat kind), some sort of vegie, maybe something else...

Well, that's my week - how are all of you doing? I've missed this!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A better picture

I saw them again - got a slightly better picture this time:

There's definitely 4 birds, and at least one female. Maybe we'll have 2 nesting pairs?

Dh stopped on the way home from church and got me a tray feeder, some suet nuggets and dried mealworms. The bird store lady said bluebirds really prefer their food moving, and they sell live mealworms. Just not sure I can handle that, even for the bluebirds, so we'll see how they like this stuff. Apparently their beaks are so soft they can't eat seeds, except for the very tiny ones, the way other birds can. So they eat insects and berries and suet. The bird store lady also told dh to come back in in about 2 weeks, cuz they'd have more bluebird houses in then, and the bluebirds start nesting here in February.

I am so excited! Bet you couldn't tell, huh?

They came back!

Our bluebirds came back! I'm so happy! I'm home this morning with a terrible cold and sniffly, coughing kids, while dh went to church. About the time we normally leave, I glanced out at our feeder and saw the bluebirds! There are definitely at least 3 of them, and they hung around for a little bit longer. I managed to get a picture - not a great one as my camera isn't that good at distance shots, and I didn't want to scare them away - but look!

Do you see him there, above and just to the right of the feeder? Oh, he's so beautiful!

So - does anyone have bluebirds around their houses? Any hints and tips for making them happy? I know I don't have the right food for them, from what I'm reading they eat berries and insects. I'm thinking of sending dh to the bird store on the way home today! :-) Another feeder with mealworms or a food with dried berries might attract them more. In another few weeks I'll set up some houses, I think.

How wonderfully exciting!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Big excitement at the bird feeder!

Guess what we saw at our feeder today?

An Eastern Bluebird!

I can remember being a little girl at my grandma's vacation place in northern Michigan, and she just loved the bluebirds. She had feeders and nesting boxes and it was just wonderful. By the time I was 10, the bluebirds there were all gone.

My boys didn't really understand my excitement today, but when I told them I hadn't seen one since I was J1's age, they were excited, too.

I saw 3 or 4 of the bluebirds, I think. One male bird perched on the top of my feeder, looking lovely, for a good minute and a half or so. The other birds flitted around the bushes and trees behind my fence. I don't have the right kind of food for them, apparently, and they didn't stay long, just a few minutes. I hope they come back!

I must do research on feeding them, and the best place in my yard for some bluebird boxes.

I'm just SO excited!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

School-ish stuff...

Yes, we are still sort of on Christmas break. Yes, dh has been sick early this week, working from home in the very blue room/school room that I need to clean and organize before school "officially" starts, so that it is Thursday tomorrow (today!) and I have not even started to clean and organize said school room. But, guess what I realized? We have done LOTS of school work over Christmas break.

J1 is on his 3rd Redwall book in the last 3 weeks. He is actually on something like #10 of this series, and he was quite upset this evening when he couldn't read in bed because his book light broke and his brothers were trying to get to sleep and whining about the lamp being on. The other thing that has been wonderful is the games he got this Christmas season. In particular, he got a nice Scrabble set for the Epiphany. And playing it with him was very interesting. For one thing, for his very first game, he got a really respectable score - 162 - despite the fact that he absolutely refused all but a couple of hints of help. The best thing is - I could see this game forcing him to think in a different way, spatially, than he's used to. For the first part of the game, it was very difficult for him to realize that you "read" the board left to right and up and down. I could *see* his brain working to place words in space in relation to the letters on the board. It was awesome to see. J1 struggles with spatial relations - he is like my exact opposite of the visual-spatial learner. He struggles with geometric math problems, and obviously struggled with Scrabble. There were tears at first, with the game, and about 1/3rd of the way through it, he claimed, teary-eyed, that he hated the game. But, by the end of the game, he was laughing and talking about how it was the best game ever! I liked it because it took something J1 is good at (vocabularly, spelling, words in general - he is my intensely verbal child) and combined it with something he isn't good at (spatial relations) and putting them together really made his brain stretch - I could *see* it, it was awesome! And he had fun besides, how great is that?

A2 - ah, my challenging child. What I will share with you seems to be not very school-ish at all. This is the child I worry will never read, and perhaps I should be more concerned with that. But today! Oh, today was just beautiful. We had company, as I shared in my last post. They got here rather early, and as most of my brood are night owls, the only one up when they arrived was A2. This is my child who barely talked at all till he was almost 4, and who didn't have much to say at all until about a year ago. This is my child who was/is an intense introvert. This is my child who I worry about endlessly. The one who I lied to the pediatrician about for a couple years, because I knew if I shared what was really going on when he was 3, 4 and 5 years old, the pedi would have insisted on speech therapy, where they would have diagnosed him with Asperger's or ADD or some such thing (not that there aren't those of you out there who struggle with those diagnoses, and therapies, just that I *knew*, deep down, that wasn't my A2), and who I just knew was fine, and just needed time. This child, who is now almost 7 1/2 years old, handled himself SO WELL with our company this morning. They had lots of questions about a new game we have, and A2 answered them clearly and engagingly. I very unobtrusively watched him with his friends, and he was just so very charming! He just had absolutely no trouble at all speaking with, interacting with these children. He nurtured the baby, was patient with the 3 year old, and thoroughly engaged with the 5 year old and 8 year old. He even was kind of charming with the girls! I just sat there in complete and utter awe. My shy introvert child is blossoming before my eyes. Ok, so he's 7.5 and can't read yet. But he can talk, and interact with children, and adults, perfectly normally. He is such a unique, beautiful child, and I was so darn proud of him this morning, I can't even begin to tell you. Oh - and I must share another A2-ism. He has such a wonderful, unique way of looking at life. Last night he asked if he could have the last candy cane. "They are so good, and so wierd! They make your mouth feel funny! They have breath sugar, mommy!" Mint flavor is breath sugar - isn't that cool?

S3 is my sneaky-smart child. He appears, on the surface, to be kind of space-y and easy-going, but he holds hidden depths, he does. I have realized, over the last few weeks, that he is reading an AMAZING amount. I would have to say that 60-70% of everything he encounters, he's reading. He's not using phonics, he's not exactly sounding out unfamiliar words, and I wouldn't call him a fluent reader yet, but he is reading a LOT. Lots of sight words, cleverly inferrring words he doesn't know from context - it is not going to be long before it all clicks with him and he's reading voraciously like his oldest brother. He's also having lots of brain development through some video games. Daddy got a game called, Sword of Stars for Christmas. It is a fairly complex strategy game. In fact, J1 had some trouble with it at first, which is unusual for J1. At one point, dh and J1 couldn't find the rule book, and S3 found it for them right away when they asked. I didn't think too much about it, because S3 is known as our "finder dude" child - he can find anything! But, S3 asked to start a game, and dh became a little wierded out when he realized S3 (just 6 years old) had started his mission and was doing better than J1, and in some ways better than dh himself! So he asked him how he did what he was doing, and he said, "Well, dad, I read the rule book and it's pretty simple." Now - did he *really* read the rule book? I have no idea. Dh insists that his scenario was really complex, and he was doing amazing things. So I just kind of go - hmmm... Then, recently, he's become obssessed with some online games, in particular Bejeweled 2. It's a fairly simple - but really fun! - game, and my 6 year old got to level 8 - Level 8! - before running out of moves. He's definitely stretching his brain with all these games. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next!

N4 (4 years old) has become obsessed with math the last few days. He came up to me, out of the blue this afternoon, and said, "Mom, what is 3 plus 3?" So I showed him 3 fingers on one hand, plus 3 fingers on the other hand, and he counted them out and came up with 6. He proceeded to go through all the permutations of addition, up through 8+3 =11. Pretty good for a 4 year old, I think. The sparkle in his eyes as he "got" it was priceless - he has a very expressive face!

Even though we've taken a big long break for Christmas - they're all learning, each in their own way. I love watching them grow and develop, it is just the most amazing blessing I can ever hope to experience!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Boys and Girls...

The Difference Between Boys and Girls:

Ok, I'm a mom of 4 boys. Boys are all I've ever known, as a mother. I sometimes listen to moms who have boys and girls talk about how wild and crazy their boys are, and I wonder - do I have particularly wonderful children, or do I just not know any better, lol?

Today I doubled my children for about 6 hours, watching my friend's 4 kids while she's in the hospital, awaiting the birth of #5. My friend has 3 girls, ages 8, 3, and almost 2, and a boy age 5. The kids have been around us long enough now that they have become comfortable, so I feel that I really saw their true selves today, and something struck me.

One of the most vital differences between boys and girls lie in bathroom habits. Ok, besides the obvious - let me explain!

Now, I'm the lone woman in a houseful of men, and I have officially thrown up my hands at the boys' bathroom. 4 young boys sharing a tiny bathroom is just a recipe for disaster. I clean that bathroom at least twice a week, and I strive toward once a day. Honestly - it will never be enough. Not to share too much information about my life or anything, so turn back now if you're squeamish...

I knew we were having company this morning, so I wanted to do a quick run through of the main bathroom last night, the one the boys share and is most convenient for company (we have 3 baths, one is the main one the boys share, one is the master bath, and the other is in our partially finished basement). As I was cleaning the main bathroom, I went to empty the trash, and there was pee all over the bottom of the trash can! As in, pee on the floor so that it seeped under the trash can and I found it when I picked up the trash can to empty it. Yuck!! At that point, I threw up my hands, perhaps forever. I sought out my husband and said, "Look. You're a man. They're all boys. Girls do not pee on the floor. It is simply impossible! We may get a drip or two on the seat, but other than that, the pee goes in the toilet where it belongs. I call on the few privledges that exist, being a lone woman in a houseful of men and I tell you - I will not clean their bathroom anymore. You are a man - these are your sons! You will clean this bathroom! You will teach them to clean it, because I have tried for many, many months and it is a losing battle I will not fight. This is your job now." And my husband, dear man that he is, said, "Of course, my sweet!" and proceeded to clean that bathroom.

Fast forward to this morning. First, a caveat. I will admit to you, that we hold to the theory, "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down!" school of toilet habits. With 6 people in the house, if we each flushed every time, our water bill would be through the roof! It's something I don't even think about anymore.

Then our company came. With these 3 sweet girls. Within an hour, the oldest girl called out to me, "Mrs Jen! I need to use the bathroom, and whoever was in there last didn't flush! There's a wad of toilet paper in there and I'm afraid to use it!" Um - ok. I flush for the dear girl, and laugh it off. A little while later, younger sister, 3 years old, needs to use the potty. She needs a bit of help, and calls me in there. And then says, "There's pee in there!" Well, yeah, but it's ok, I explain. "But, but - I want you to flush it!" But hon, it's just pee (cuz you know, a *boy* used it last, and 9 times out of 10 they have no need of toilet paper!) "No, I want you to flush it!" she says in a mildly panicked voice. Like that vaguely yellow water would leap up and attack her while she took care of business.

I obliged, of course. A good hostess I am, yessirree!

But, as dh and I were talking after our company left, contrast the attitude of these two girls with the attitude of boys. Flushing? That's for the birds! Boys think, " I can pee all the way to the wall - isn't that neat? Look - I can pee at the same time as all 3 of my brothers, and we'll race to see who finishes - who finishes last! Isn't that nifty! He peed the longest, he wins the pee race, horray! Oh, look, pee on the floor, and pee footprints, that's kinda neat! "

I swear to you, I am trying, trying so very hard to civilize these young boys. Earnestly, trying, really! But, you know - girls freak out if the toilet water is vaguely yellow. Boys might get a bit bothered by the brown stuff, but other than that, it's all just a game, or a mild incovenience! I see now, I really do, why I struggle.

And I laugh. I laugh as I say to my husband, "Guess what? *You* are in charge of the boys' bathroom, oh yes you are!" And me, queen of my house, gets my way! :-)

Oh, and ya know what else happened? The not quite 2 year old, who is still in diapers, and thus did not participate in our potty dramas, guess what she did? She was here just 3 hours before she found the only baby doll we own, who must have been burried deep in our toy chest, in our basement play area, because I haven't seen this particular baby doll since well before we moved 5 months ago. Teddy bears and blankets, my boys are all over that. But no one has ever gotten into the baby doll, even though a couple of my guys are just nuts about babies. But somehow, someway, the not even 2 year old baby girl found this one, raggedy doll and carried it around the rest of her time here.

And I just laugh. Yes, I am the mother of 4 sons, with dirty bathrooms and only one forgotten doll. And as my youngest came out of his room at 11pm tonight and said, "Mom, give me a big hug. I love you so much!" I laughed.

Because I LOVE having boys! :-)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A little indoor nature study

And unfortunately, I was too freaked out to take a picture! While taking down the Christmas lights around our dining room window, I pushed aside the curtain and out ran a very large, very scary looking spider. I can tell you that it looked exactly like the picture in this link:

Carolina Wolf Spider

We're calling our pest control company tomorrow. I'd really rather do my nature study outside, thank you!

Ok, here goes...

This week we are going to sssslllllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyyy start back to school. Basically, our main concern is waiting on our new books (math and Latin), letting mom do some planning for the upcoming months, and doing some organizing and cleaning. Boy, do we need it bad around here. We had our big pre-Christmas clean-up, and since then, I pretty much haven't done, well, anything!

I've identified 4 areas that are negatively impacting our lives the most. First is our/my on-going struggle with the laundry. I've got laundry in my washer and in my dryer, plus one remaining basket that's dirty. I've also got 4 baskets of clean, but unfolded laundry hanging out in my dining room. Need to work on a new system, that's for certain, but in the meantime I at least have to catch up with it all.

Next on my list is our school room. It's high on my priority list with school starting back up. To motivate myself, I've decided to share some before pictures. Gulp. Here goes!

Yes, that box on the floor *is* from when we moved in 5 1/2 months ago!

Ok, I've got two other areas - my kitchen desk area, and my upstairs pantry - but I think I've got enough to do over the next few days with our "blue room" (we didn't choose this color, btw - I'm sure it will be called the "blue room" even we finally get around to painting it!) and catching up on the laundry. I will *definitely* post "after" pictures, hopefully by the end of the week. I'll also be putting down my thoughts and plans for the next "term" of school, too. It'll be a busy week!

3 down, 1 to go...

Only one of my children now has all his baby teeth. S3 ended last week by losing his first tooth. He was very brave, and is the first child to actually keep his first tooth. J1 got his first tooth knocked out while playing outside, and his tooth was lost forever in grandma's backyard. A2 lost his first tooth while eating an apple and, unfortunately, swallowed it. S3 patiently worked his loose and let daddy pull it out with a very minimum of fuss. That's my guy!

Goodbye to the Christmas season!

Today, the day after the Epiphany, we took down all our decorations.

Can I tell you how relieved I am? I feel tremendous amounts of stress and pressure around the holidays (mostly self-inflicted!), and while I always try to make it a happy, joyous season for my family, it is never much fun for me. This year was really tough for me. I had all these great ideas, and I feel like I accomplished nothing. I had books I wanted to read to the kids, we never finished our St. Nicholas icons, didn't do any of the other fun projects I had planned. I was particularly disappointed because our internet went down for most of the day on the Epiphany, and because I hadn't planned ahead, I was not able to access the sites for the Epiphany tea or even the Epiphany house blessing! :-( Note to self - print out all those great ideas from the internet, just in case you lose your connectivity!

A great part of the problem was being under the influence of some medications that made me feel particularly nasty the last two weeks - I'm off of it now, thank goodness, and already feel more myself. Plus, the kids were sick most of the last few weeks, and this weekend dh has gotten very ill, too.

But still, I'm rather disappointed. I had hoped to do more meaningful things this year, I had fabulous ideas, but I feel like I totally dropped the ball. I think what I can learn from this is to not plan quite so much, pick two or three ideas that are meaningful and speak to your heart, and do just that. Put a bit more forethought into it (print out anything you need well before the actual day it's needed! :-) And relax. The key for me is that *I* need to relax about the season. I definitely think I need a whole year to work on that!

The good thing is, as we were taking down our decorations, the kids were talking about how this was the best Christmas ever. They loved Midnight Mass and our nativity scene activities. They loved the presents, too, of course. But, they really do understand that Christmas is about the birth of Our Lord and Savior, and that is all that matters to me!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The 11th Day of Christmas...

Merry Christmas to all of you! Blogging and computer time has been light the last few weeks as we enjoy the Christmas season here at the AAA house. This morning I decided to quit worrying about the fact that I have done nothing to get ready for the start of our next school "term" next week, and instead just enjoy the last few days of this Christmas season. Next week, rather than start back full-speed, we will go slowly. We'll re-organize our school room (needs it *desperately*! - I'll post before and after pictures - you will laugh - how did we ever get work done there in the way it looks now?!), order the new math and Latin books for J1 (still haven't done that yet!), give the house a thorough post-Christmas cleaning, and gently introduce some of the new routines I hope to have this term. I'll detail some of these new routines next week - look for lots more blogging here soon!

On Saturday, the Epiphany, the kids will get a few more presents (including new soft fuzzy blankets and handmade rosaries that I got from our parish's Christmas bazare), and I hope to have our own "Epiphany Tea". This is so lovely, I think the boys will love it (it involves food, after all!), and it's presented in such a way that I think even *I* can do it! If we manage to do it, I will post pictures - I have great hope!

Hope all of you are having a Merry Christmas!