Life is Worth Living

You Took 7 Kids Where!?!

We loaded up all 7 children and took them to a museum this morning.  And out to eat.

 

Are You Nuts!?!

Yes.  Yes, we are.

But you see, one gets desperate in the wintertime when we’ve had about four weeks of subzero weather.

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Here we are, finally ready to go.  It was quite the production just to get loaded up, as we had to do it twice.  The first time, the baby decided to load her pants and blow out her entire outfit.  So then we had to unload and then reload again, with clean clothes.

So today we drove even further north (not kidding) and made it to a  museum called the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, ND,* where a kind lady met us at the door to charge admission.  This lady took one look at us all, and then decided that we qualified for the Group Rate because we had so many children that she couldn’t do the math to figure out how much to charge us for entry.

Now, did I learn anything at this museum?  Nope, because I was too busy either holding the baby or corralling the little children.

I did notice, however, this sign:

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Enter a caption

After I read that sign, I decided it was a very good thing to be born now, in these days, than to be alive 150 or so years ago.  Can you imagine daily killing rats!  Oh, no thank you.  I’ll gladly change dirty diapers all day.

Back to the Museum

My children thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Thankfully at this museum there were a few wooden chests lying around that one could open up and feel free to get into the spirit of things by dressing up.

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Here’s a shot of the children sporting some fancy furs.

And here are the boys in some other fun coats and hats.

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So in all, the museum was a success.

And so was eating out.  I was a little nervous about this, but we just do what all sensible parents do.  We bribe them.

“Now children, if you’re really good at the diner, we’ll stop at the gas station and buy you fountain pops and candy for the ride home.”

“Yay!”

And that, my friends, is how you do it.

At the diner, I was very thankful that the waitress brought out their milks right away, as this gave them something to do.  But even better was that the milks had lids.  (See photo below.)  No sensible parent buys drinks for children without lids.

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Note the lids.

Secondly, while we waited for the food, I remembered that I had a pack of cards in my purse, so I gave it to the children, and they played Up and Down the River.  This kept them pretty quiet until the food came.

This was one of our most successful Dining Out Trips, for there were no major incidents.  So of course we drove straight to the gas station and bought them fountains pops and candy.

We listened to Anne of Green Gables on the way home.  I love that book.

Happy Presidents’ Day Y’all!

 

*Of course, after the initial fiasco of changing diapers and running back into the house for sundry objects – hats, sunglasses, water – we had to drive straight to a coffee shop.  One must be properly medicated with caffeine to survive this kind of endeavor.  And then we drove north towards the Arctic Tundra.  Might as well be in Canada.

 

Christ-Like Minimalism, Kim's Kitchen

Christ-Like Minimalism: The Kitchen

Today I’ll continue the minimalist discussion with a look at my kitchen.

Disclaimer (Again)

I’ll say it again, always be careful about comparing yourself to other families.  We are all different and are called to different stations in life.  No two families will look alike!  I am only offering one way that works for us.  Maybe an idea or two will stick out for you in the following.

My Kitchen

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So here we go.  The above is my kitchen, which you can see is one big room with the dining room to the east and the living room to the north.  (You can’t see the living room, as I’m standing in it to take the photo.)

I probably don’t need to say that our kitchen is used for preparing food, (I do have 7 perpetually hungry children and 1 husband who is grateful to eat anything) and the dining room is for eating in.  Except that I feel that I do have to mention it.  Not all families cook and eat together.  We do.  So this space is important.

A Note on Beauty

Beauty matters.  Beauty is objective, and it affects us.  I learned this in grad school, studying art and reading what St. Thomas Aquinas and others had to say about it.  But really, I didn’t need to study those great thinkers to know that I am influenced by my surroundings.  Walking into a clean and simple room has a calming, peaceful effect on me.  Walking into a dirty and chaotic room will instantly overwhelm me.

Since I am at home all day, with 7 loud children, I find it very important to live as neatly and simply as possible.  And if I can, I add a touch of beauty.  Maybe it’s a candle; maybe it’s a few flowers for the table.  Wild flowers are readily available where I live in the warmer months, and during the rest of the 10 months of the year, my husband can pick them up from a florist very cheaply, if they’re bought by the stem.  (It’s only arrangements that are expensive.)

I’ll say it again, beauty matters, especially in our culture of throw-away, plastic ugliness.  We are not utilitarian communists after all.  We are Catholics.  Do you suppose Jesus ever picked a bouquet of wildflowers for his mother?  I’ll bet he did.

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Tulips by the stem.  $12.83.  Always worth it, even if they only live for 5 days.

Back to the Kitchen

So in the kitchen, I’ll point out 3 things I try to do.

  1. I try to put very little on the countertops.  In the above photo, you’ll notice that only the items that get used daily get a place there.  This is for both practical and aesthetic reasons, for it allows for more space to cook, and it makes the space seem cleaner and bigger.
  2. Everything in the kitchen has a place.  If it doesn’t have a place, then it doesn’t belong.  And I try to put things in a logical spot.  For example, since my husband and I drink a bottle or so of wine per week, these items need to be easily accessible.  (See the photo below.)  Of course if wine isn’t your thing, then get rid of all those wine glasses taking up space!
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I realize that to some of you, this may seem ridiculous that we own all these wine glasses, but trust me, we use them.*

And lastly, #3.  If I haven’t used something in a year, then I get rid of it.  I’ll highlight that for you again.

If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it!

Seriously, if you haven’t used that egg separator in over a year, get rid of it.  If you’ve never used that brand new juicer, get rid of it.  If you have two ice cream scoops, get rid of one.  For that matter, how many large, cooking spoons do you have?  Or when’s the last time you used all those cook books crammed in your cabinet?  Or how about those 52 water bottles?

It’s freeing, living with less.  And who knows?  Maybe someone will be overjoyed at finding your mini-muffin tins and champagne flutes at the secondhand store.

Parting Notes

Lastly, I’ll point out a few other practical things that I do in my kitchen.

Here’s a shot of the island.

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Like the countertops, I keep this as clear as possible too, so that it is a space that can be used throughout the day.  Children will do homework here, work on a puzzle, or just sit and watch me chop vegetables.

The other notable thing about the island is that I put all the plates, cups, and bowls in the lower righthand cabinet.  I did this so that the little children need not climb the cabinets to set the table.

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Every day plates and bowls on the bottom shelf, and cups on the top shelf.

The other thing I’ll point out is a shelf by the dining room table.  (See photo below.)

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Note:  Everything has a place.

We keep our laptop here, so that we can listen to audio books during lunch.  (The speakers are on the middle shelf.)  My husband I also enjoy listening to jazz music in the evenings too, so it’s nice to have it readily available.

Next to the laptop are our prayer books for meal times.  This includes the Magnificat for the Mass readings and Butler’s Lives of the Saints.  I also keep the children’s current poetry there too, since we review them at breakfast.

And next to the speakers, you’ll notice a white basket.  This is where we keep our cloth napkins during the day.  After supper, Child #5 empties it into the laundry.

That’s all for today.  If you have any questions, be sure to ask in the Comments Section below.  Others may have the same question!  Or if you have any great ideas to live more simply in the kitchen, post them for us to see.

 

*Two notes here.  1.  We enjoy drinking wine out of proper wine glasses.  Hence all the different stemware.  2.  Did you notice all the glass bowls?  It also may seem ridiculous that I own that many.  And I agree with you.  I think I’ll give away one or two.  But I’ll also have you know that I’ve made progress in this department.  I used to own about 25 beautiful glass bowls.  Not kidding.  People were very generous to us at our wedding.
Motherhood & Parenting

More Migraines

Dear Readers,

Today I ask for prayers.

My son’s migraines have been increasing in frequency lately.  Instead of suffering a major episode once every 3-4 weeks, he’s now experiencing them every 5-10 days.  In case you’re new here, his migraines begin with a headache, but quickly advance to an all-out debilitating migraine.  He quits moving; he quits eating.  He curls up in a ball on the couch or his bed and trembles in pain.  His eyes glass over, and he moans.  Hours later, he vomits and vomits.  It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours to come out of it.

After visiting with three of his doctors yesterday, we have yet another CT scan scheduled for tomorrow to check his shunt.  (When he was 3 years old, we discovered an arachnoid cyst that covered 1/3 of his brain.  This shunt continually drains this fluid into his stomach cavity.)  I am not very hopeful, however, that anything will be discovered because he just had an MRI this last fall with everything checking out just fine.

In any case, if you have a minute, stop what you’re doing right now and offer a small prayer for him.  His patron saint is St. Paul, who was no stranger to suffering himself.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-like Minimalism: The Living Room

A Series on Christ-like Minimalism in the Home

Today I’m going to begin a series examining each room in my home, in light of minimalism.  But not the secular minimalism void of any deeper meaning.  No, I hope to have the message of the Gospel at the heart of all of this.  Christ is the beginning and the end after all.

A Disclaimer

I am not an expert.  I don’t know what I’m doing, really.  I just know there is an overwhelming interest in this area lately and many are asking for help and guidance.  I’m only sharing what has worked for me and my family.  Of course my family will be different than yours.  You will have different needs.  I only hope to offer a few ideas that may work for you.

My main source of inspiration comes from Fr. Thomas DuBay’s book, Happy Are You Poor.  And man, let me tell you, I fall so short from where he would have me be.  But I like that because I like a challenge.  If you don’t own this book, you should.  It’s a great one to come back to.

Secondly, though, I was greatly inspirited by Darci Isabella.  She has shown me that a large family – she’s got ten children – can homeschool and live with less.  If you look around on her YouTube channel, you will find videos where she does room tours.  I found them helpful over this last year, even if I didn’t do things exactly the same way she did.  (For example, she doesn’t like owning books.  I do.)

And that’s my goal.  Just so show you an example of a large family, bumbling along, and trying to live a more Christ-like simplicity through what our cultural calls “Minimalism.”

The Living Room

So here we go.

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What is the purpose of your living room?

Certainly our living room is a place for anyone to gather at any time, but it’s real purpose is for us to have a place to pray.  We gather here as a family twice a day for that very thing.  In the early morning, at 6:15am my husband and I begin Lauds with him lighting the four votive candles that you can see on the fireplace mantle.  (We love candles.)  On Sundays, we light the two tall tapers too.

I wanted the focus of this room to be on Jesus, which is why His icon is centrally located above the fireplace.  You can also see the house phone on the mantle, but that has been bothering me lately, so I moved it to a more discreet location in the dining room.  Also on the mantle are two family photos and a vase of flowers.  (I love flowers – fake or real, but preferably real.)

The bookshelf consists of four inner shelves.  The lowest shelf is usually empty because the baby just tears stuff out of it anyway.  However, sometimes I will put a baby toy or two there, as you can see from the photo.  The next shelf up contains the children’s prayer books, since they join us at about 6:40am for prayer.  The shelf above that one holds my grandmother’s King James Version of the Bible that we frequently reference for the beauty of the language and so want it to be easily accessible.  There is also a family photo here and a bowl of rosaries.  The last inner shelf are all current books that my husband and I are reading in addition to our prayer books.

Next to that bookshelf on the floor is a basket full of children’s picture books.

To the right of the fireplace is another chair.  (See photo below.)

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Behind this chair you will see the children’s rosaries on hooks.  We need the rosaries to be in a handy spot because every night after dinner, we kneel before the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a family and pray five mysteries together.IMG_1038.jpg

Here is a shot of the opposite side of the fireplace.  The end table between the chair and loveseat usually has our periodicals on it with a book or two that someone may have been reading and did not put away.  Ideally, I’d put the periodicals in the bottom part of that stand, but I can’t with the baby always tearing things out right now.

The lamp to the right of the loveseat is the only other light we have on in the mornings.  I particularly like its location because is lights up Jesus in the Last Supper directly above it.

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Here’s another shot of the living room.  You may be able to see that to the left of the gray couch, on the floor, are two folded blankets.  They are kind of hiding, but they’re important since we live in the Arctic Circle.  (Not really.)  The children use them every morning to snuggle in.

And that’s all that’s in my living room.  I used to have all kinds of toys in my living room when my older children were younger, but I never liked it.  I hated the mess.  So a few years ago, I said enough.  No more.  And let me tell you, it’s way better.

Now that doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t get drug in throughout the day, but it does mean that it gets put away after dinner.

Toys are a big problem for most families these days, and I hope to address that one as I go along in this series.  For now all I can say is, less is better.  I’ve never regretted giving away toys.  And strangely enough, neither have my children.

That completes my living room tour.  If you have any comments or questions, be sure to put them below in the Comments Section, as others may be interested in what you have to say.  In a week or so I hope to examine another room, but I want to leave you with a memory that popped into my head while typing this out.

The Family Whose House Burned Down

A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire.  It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs.  Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.

So I thought, what can I give?  I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase.  (I thought they might as well have that.)  And I began to fill it.  I had an extra quilt.  I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels.  I had a few kids’ games that were never used.  I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.

Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used.  I held the wooden box in my hands.  It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding.  I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.

I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no.  This lovely silverware set was not meant for me.  It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.

The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things.  The mother of the family was so thankful.  So thankful.  But you know what?  I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give.  I walked away with Love burning in my heart.

Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all.  But that one time I did get to see.  And it was worth it.

But it is always worth it, no matter what.  For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.

 

Kim's Kitchen

Lentil Stew For Me & You!

Awhile back a friend gave me a great recipe for Lentil Stew, which we loved, but had to modify a little to feed everybody.  As it’s one of our favorites, I offer it to you today.

Lentil Stew

Here’s how I made it.  (See the bottom of the post for the actual recipe.)

Step 1: Chop up your vegetables and sauté them for a few minutes in olive oil.

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A large onion, 5 stalks of celery, and a couple handfuls of baby carrots

Step 2: Start dumping stuff in your crockpot while the vegetables cook.

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I had a quart of my mother’s canned tomatoes, so I used those in addition to another can of diced tomatoes.

Step 3: Add 5 cloves of garlic to the vegetables and sauté for just a minute or two longer.  (Don’t  burn the garlic!)

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By the way, do you have a garlic press?  No?  You need one.

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Pampered Chef Garlic Press.  Probably one of my most used kitchen utensils ever.

Step 4: Add the vegetables and everything else to the crockpot.

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I like to rinse my black beans, for a brighter colored soup, but you don’t have to.
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These are green lentils, but I’ve used brown too.

Step 5: Bring it all to a boil, and then let it simmer for about thirty minutes.  Then turn your crockpot down to warm until you’re ready to eat it.

And what to serve with the stew?

Salad, Anyone?

Most days I make my own salad dressing, but if I’m in a hurry or feeling lazy, I go for this because it comes with dressing.

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Asian Chopped Kit

But I have to dress it up and add more so that it feeds my family.  I usually add spinach, dried cranberries, and unsalted cashews.  If I’m not feeling so very lazy, and if I have it on hand, I especially love to add green onion.

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Here it is, doctored up a bit.

Now the children generally set the table, and I always fill the salad bowls at the last minute, before we pray and sit down to eat.  I’ve found this to be much less chaotic, than attempting to pass around the salad bowl with everyone making a mess.  It’s just better to have the salad waiting in everyone’s bowls.

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What’s wrong with this photo?*

And here we are, after the salads, eating our soup.

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A Note About the Wine

This evening we drank a Petite Sirah, which is not my favorite, but it paired well with this soup, because of its strong, spicy flavors.

And because I wanted to know the difference, I’ll share this with you too.

  1. A Petite Sirah is not a Shiraz or Syrah.  A Petite Sirah is the American name for the French Durif grape, which is a cross between the Sirah and Peloursin grape.  It is not a lighter version of Syrah.  In fact, from what I’ve read, it’s higher in tannin, making for a bolder taste.
  2. Shiraz and Syrah are also full-bodied red wines, but these are made from the Syrah grape.  Shiraz is made exclusively in Australia.
  3. Shiraz and Syrah wines pair well with barbecue and barbecue sauce, especially spareribs.  Petite Sirahs need rich or fatty foods with exotic spices.  (Hence, the Lentil Stew did do nicely.)

 

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Notice the deep purple color.

Recipe for Lentil Stew

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
carrots, chopped
5 stalks of celery, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of broth
3 cans petite tomatoes
2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16 oz.) package of lentils
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Sauté vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add garlic for a minute or two more.  Combine everything else in a crockpot and bring it to a boil.  Let it simmer for about thirty minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked.

Note: This is a great recipe for meatless Fridays.  I will, however, frequently add meat, if I’ve got some on hand.  For example, today I added a few cups of chopped ham.  I’ve also done sausage and bacon too.

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Mmm, good.

 

*No wine, of course!  (I hadn’t poured it yet.)  And the silverware does not match, but that cannot be helped.

 

 

Christ-Like Minimalism, Flashback Friday

Minimalism & Sceptic Pumps

  1. Yep, it’s Thursday.  But I have a busy day tomorrow and would like this post to go out today.
  2. I was recently interviewed by Mrs. Laura Gardner for her company’s blog.  The topic was Minimalism.  If you’re curious click HERE for it.  All the photos in her article are from my home.

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    Like this one.  It’s my living room.
  3. I want to highlight the book she mentions at the beginning of her article.  This book was life-changing for me.  If you need a little kick in the behind to get rid of some of your stuff, then read THIS.  It’s Fr. Thomas DuBay’s Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom.
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  4. Man, this book is tough to swallow.  But it’s true.  Your exterior surroundings are a reflection of what’s going on inside you.  One ought to live, in his words, “Gospel Frugality.”  (I have a long, long way to go.)  This is the key, however.  I like DuBay’s phrase – Gospel Frugality – because it suggests something that “Minimalism” doesn’t.  In short, it means that God cares how you live.  And unless you get that, you’re not going to simplify your life.  Or your possessions.  (And no, it doesn’t mean living in squalor with zero possessions.)
  5. This week our sceptic pump went out.  That was exciting.  Actually, the pump probably gave way some time ago, but we didn’t know it.  We thought maybe a kid shoved something down the toilet in the basement, as that toilet wasn’t flushing properly.  We shrugged it off and told everyone to use the upstairs toilet, hoping to get around to having it fixed sometime in February.  Well, then my husband noticed that the water level was much higher in the furnace room drain.  Then the upstairs toilet wouldn’t flush fully.  Then my husband investigated and discovered that the sceptic tank wasn’t draining because the pump wasn’t working.
  6. Do you have any idea how big of a disaster this might have been?  Imagine the nastiest fecal matter you can.  Imagine the stench.  Imagine it inches deep all over your house!  Oh praise God for observant and inquisitive husbands!
  7. In case you’re wondering, the matter has now been resolved.  We have a new sceptic pump, and everything is functioning properly.  Deo gratias.
  8. How was your week?
Book Review

I’d Rather Be Reading: Book Review

The other day I was wandering around the religion section at Barnes and Noble, when I spotted a pretty little book, tucked in between some really humdrum-looking titles.  It caught my eye, as the cover was face out and, like I said, beautiful.

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See?  Beautiful.

I immediately picked it up upon recognizing the author, Anne Bogel.  She’s the creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy, a fun website that I’ve perused for book titles.  I’ve also heard her interviewed on Sarah Mackenzie’s podcasts.

But this particular book caught my eye not only because of it’s pretty cover, but also because of it’s snarky title and quaint size.  (It’s about as long as my hand.  I love small, hardcover books.)

I immediately and randomly flipped it open to Chapter 8 How to Organize Your Bookshelves, and I was hooked.  I love books.  And I love organizing.  But I snapped it shut.  No!  I won’t buy another book for myself.  I’m here to find something for my husband after all.  (Our anniversary was just days away.)

Somehow, though, the book stayed in my hand.

I wandered over to the Beer and Wine section.  Hmmm, maybe he hasn’t gotten me anything yet?  Maybe I should help him out and buy Anne Bogel’s book and then gave it to him, so that he can give it to me?  Yes!  That’s just it.

And that’s just what I did.  I bought the book, gave it to my husband, who gladly accepted it, and then had to wait two days before opening it at dinner on our 13th Anniversary.

Thank you, Honey!

So, I’d Rather Be Reading

I read this book in 24 hours, and this was restraining myself.  You know, like putting the book down to make supper and attending to the baby.  It was such a short, fun read, though, that I didn’t even have to lock myself in the bathroom to finish it.

But man is she crazy!  I’m not sure she sleeps at all, with all those books she’s reading, and I found this a little inspiring.  I really shouldn’t waste time putzing around on my phone or the internet.  Rather, I should just pick up a book.  And this should never be a problem either because I should keep a book on me at all times.  (Another reason that I love small, hardcovers.  They easily fit into my purse/diaper bag.)

Anyway, I thought I’d answer a few of her questions that she poses in her book.

  1. What was the last story you wished would never end?
    Easy.  My kids’ book, Jock’s Island by Elizabeth Coatsworth.  If she was still alive, I’d write her a letter and beg her to write an extended adult version.  Like 10 volumes long.  Who doesn’t like volcanoes and islands and seas and a hopeful, young couple separated by it all?
  2. Which was the last volume you hurled across the room?
    Hmmm…besides Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford?  Maybe Anthony Trollope’s The Warden.  I tried reading that one last week.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  Boring!
  3. Can every devoted reader point back to the book that hooked them on the story?  …one that made them decide, for themselves, to make reading a part of their life, forever?
    The first book I ever remember reading, on my own, and loving, was L.M. Montomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  I still love that book.

And finally I’ll recommend Bogel’s book for the following kinds of people:

  1. Those of you who max out your library check-outs.
  2. Those of you who like to rearrange your bookshelves for the practical reason that you do not have enough space.
  3. Those of you who think Dust Jackets present a Dilemma.  (I hate them and chuck them, by the way.  If there happens to be any interesting material on them, I will cut it out and tape it to the inside cover of that book, but the rest goes.)
  4. Those of you who have “ever finished a book under the covers with a flashlight when they were supposed to be sleeping.”  (That’s Bogel’s official Book Dedication.)

In the end, I am a bit concerned for myself, however, after reading I’d Rather Be Reading.  You see, she has a chapter titled Book Bossy, and I’m afraid that I fit the bill, and this is not good.  Dear Readers, I sincerely apologize for all my bossiness.  You should pray for me.

P.S.  She’s read all of Evelyn Waugh’s books and loves Brideshead Revisited.  Ergo, she can’t be that crazy because Waugh is awesome.

Kim's Kitchen

Menu Planning & Groceries for 9 People

Some of you have expressed interest in how I plan for meals.  Meal planning a big deal for my family.  There are 9 of us after all.  I can’t just wing it every day, unless we want to eat frozen pizza and corndogs for supper.  So, a few years ago, I began intentionally making a weekly supper menu.  And let me tell you, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  About anything.  Seriously.

Today, I’m going to break it down for y’all.

But first, this is where the menu is posted:

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Can you see it?  It’s on the refrigerator, on the left.

Close up:

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Each day gets a clothespin, where I slip the paper into.  As you may or may not be able to see, I begin my week with Friday because that’s the day I get groceries.  I actually make the menu out on Thursday and put any recipes I may need in the clothespin next to the meals, as seen above.

Here’s a close up of a pin:

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And here’s a look at the back side.

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As you can see, I bought some little square magnets from Hobby Lobby and stuck them on the clothespin.  On the back side of the paper, I’ve put an abbreviation for the recipe book where that particular meal can be found with the page number.

At first I wrote up new slips of paper every week after discarding the old ones, but then I quickly realized that that was a stupid waste of time, as I usually make most of the same things anyway.  So, I started saving the slips and putting them into jars.

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Meals on slips of paper in jars.

I have one jar for main dishes and one jar for sides, like salads or vegetables.  I store these jars in the same cupboard that holds my recipe books and my recipe box.

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See the jars on the middle shelf?  And do notice my sweet Betty Crocker cookbook to the left.  My recipe box is sitting on top of it.

And there you have it!

Recap

When Thursday morning rolls around, I take all the clothespins off the refrigerator and pull last weeks’ slips of paper off.  I grab my two little jars.  I flip through the main dishes and select 7 new entrees, which I arrange next the most suitable days.  Then I add any sides.

I then pull the corresponding recipes from my box and start writing down any ingredients I need to buy on my Grocery List.  I do the same for the sides.  Then I put the new menu back on the refrigerator, for all to see (and sometimes to complain about).  I put the recipes that I’ll need into the Recipe Clothespin and put it also on the refrigerator for easy access.

Lastly, I stuff my Grocery List in my purse, so it’s ready for grocery shopping on Friday.

Anyone else have a good system?

Motherhood & Parenting

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

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This is my mom and me.

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

  1. She doesn’t mind that I call her obnoxiously, like every other day.  I’m a natural chatterbox and like to talk.  Who better to call?
  2. When she visits, she likes hanging out with me.  I mean, she’ll actually ditch the grandkids and willing do something with just me.  She’ll even go to a coffee shop, even though she–gasp–hates coffee!
  3. She’s sacrificial.  Like I just said.  Furthermore, even though she despises onions–horror of horrors!–she’ll feign to eat them for my sake, for I can’t live without them and put them into practically everything.  She just smiles and nibbles away at them.
  4. She also hates running, but guess what?  She’s ran a few road races with me.  And one time, we even convinced my sister to run one too.  But that was awful because she complained the whole time that she was going to die, which she obviously didn’t.  (Speaking of, want to do another one, Mom?)
  5. Did I mention that she’s seriously sacrificial?  When she visits, if my dishes need washing, she’ll wash them.  If my cupboards need cleaning, she’ll clean them.  If my toilet needs scrubbing, she’ll scrub it.

I’ve got a lot to learn from my mother.

Thank you, Mom!  I love you!

Final Note

Today, since it’s January 22 and the anniversary of that horrible Supreme Court decision to allow for abortion in this country, and since you’re obviously alive and reading this, give your mother a call and thank her for giving birth to you.  (Especially if you were born after 1973, the year that satanic law went into place.)

Secondly, pray for an end to the Scourge of Abortion.  Do an act of penance.  Today our family will be eating plain bread for breakfast.

Book Review, Homeschooling

Poetry & Books

Poetry

Some of you may be wondering what the children have been memorizing as of late?

Every winter there are a few poems that I like to go back to, for I think it is better to repeat poems and truly have them interiorized, rather than to continually introduce new material.

So recently my little children ages 5 and 7 just finished up Robert Louis Stevenson’s Wintertime, which can be found in his A Child’s Garden of Verses.  (This is a book that you must own, by the way, for all the poems in it are gems.)  Now the little children are memorizing Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.  I can’t help liking this poem too because it’s one of the few poems I remember memorizing as a child.

The twins, age 10, have recently revisited the The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson because my husband wanted to learn it.  It also happens to be one of their all-time favorites anyway, so they were more than happy to, “Forward, the Light Brigade!  Charge for the guns!”  Now, however, they’ve moved onto the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, which is Psalm 43 [42].

My Eldest has been working on the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel for her homeschool coop.  She also has another poem for her online Writing and Rhetoric class, but I haven’t seen it, so I can’t tell you what it is at the moment.

Books: Read Alouds and Lunchtime with Audible

Our last two read alouds were excellent.  In fact, you should own them too.  The first was Mary Fabyan Windeatt’s The Children of Fatima.

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This true story blows me away every time I read it.  I mean, 70,000 people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun.  70,000!  And there are real newspaper photos from it.  Just google it.

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Like this one.
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Or this one.

This book is just inspiring too.  If those little children can sacrifice the way they did, then I need to step it up.

The second book we just read was also very good, but too short!  I didn’t want it to end.  It was Elizabeth Coatsworth’s Jock’s Island.  And if you can get the version illustrated by Lilian Obligado, you’ll love it even more.  The pictures are lovely.

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Check out these lovely illustrations.

On Audible we just finished listening to Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes.  This book was entertaining, but a little sad because someone steals the children’s puppy and mistreats him.  However, it ends well.

Currently we’re listening to The Moffats, also by Eleanor Estes because the children can’t get enough of her right now.

And what about me?

I recently read Suzanne Wolfe’s The Confessions of X, which is a historical fiction account of St. Augustine’s concubine.  I was a little worried going in that it would be full of immorality, but that wasn’t the case.  I found the book entertaining, but lacking in something.  Depth, maybe?  I can’t analyze it at the moment because I have three children begging for breakfast, so maybe I’ll come back to it later.

Now I’m reading Robert Hugh Benson’s By What Authority?  It is gripping.  I love it.

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These are the other books on my list.