Dear Readers, you asked for it; you got it. Drop me a line, and let me know how it goes. (For those of you who missed the supper post, click HERE for it.) Enjoy!
1 package (16 ounces) linguine
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium peppers, chopped (I like yellow & red.)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef, onions, and peppers until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Combine with linguine and toss with soy sauce and garlic.
1 package (16 ounces) of pasta
1 teaspoon parsley
6 teaspoons of grated lemon peel (about one lemon)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
6 tablespoons of lemon juice (about one lemon)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté parsley, lemon peel, and garlic in oil until garlic is tender. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Drain pasta and combine with lemon mixture. Top with parmesan cheese.
For those of you who are excited about the Birth Story for Baby #7, you’ll just have to wait a bit! It’ll come soon enough.
In the meantime, if you’ve missed any parts of this series and would like to read them, look to the sidebar under “Tags,” and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”
So today we pick up with what happens after dinner.
6pm Dinner Cleanup
When everyone is finished eating, my husband leads us in a brief After Dinner Prayer, which goes as follows:
We give thee thanks for all thy benefits, Almighty God, who lives and reigns forever. And may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Then chaos generally ensues, as everyone clears his place at the table. Ideally, my obedient little children would immediately place their plate, cup, and silverware in the dishwasher and begin their next cleanup task: The Eldest washes, Child #2 dries, Child #3 sweeps the dining room and kitchen, Child #4 straightens up the back entryway, Child #5 throws the dirty napkins in the hamper, and Child #6 plays quietly on the couch with a doll. And this whole process would take ten minutes.
Ha! This whole process takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour because the children are so busy gabbing and laughing and wrestling and giggling. You’d think they were all under the age of 12. (Well, I guess they are.)
And during this loud, chaotic time, I generally hide in the laundry room and fold the last load of laundry for the day. My husband, blessed saint that he is, corrects the Eldest’s math, which she must fix after washing the dishes, if she has any mistakes.
If time allows, my husband and I will sometimes enjoy an after dinner drink. In the warmer months we amble on outside and sit on the deck.
When the children are finished with their after dinner chores, they usually have time to mess around for a bit until the next part of our evening, which is the Rosary. Next time we’ll pick up with this and hopefully finish up the series.
Here we are, back to “A Day in the Life of Crazy Fool: Part 6.” If you missed the earlier parts to this series and would like to read them, look at my sidebar under Tags, and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”
It’s Around 4pm
As the afternoon closes, I’m generally cooking dinner and finishing things up. My husband arrives home around 5pm, and I like the house to be ready for him. I once read somewhere – I think in a Kimberly Hahn book – that if a wife truly loves her husband as Christ, the least thing she could do, would be to greet him when he comes home, at the door. In other words, one must walk over to the door and actually greet him, as you would Christ.
And Now For a Little Harangue
I’ll pause here for a moment. When I read that a few years ago, I was absolutely struck and convicted. For I had been in the habit of not acknowledging my husband – of just continuing whatever I was doing, as if he didn’t matter.
Well, he does matter. I married him after all, and he ought to come before the children and the household chores and all the rest. I can put down the cooking spoon or the baby and walk over to the door, even if I don’t happen to like him at the moment because he was ten minutes late. So what? He is the head of our household, and sometimes, it’s just not about my feelings.
And it’s not always perfect either. Our home is not some Norman Rockwell painting. Yes, babies are sometimes crying and boys are wrestling and girls are whining. Whatever. My husband still ought to come first, and I ought to greet him.
Sometimes this moment can be really fun, by the way. Sometimes I like to surprise him with a martini in hand. I can tell you, when I do something special like that, our evenings are always more fun. For life is worth living, as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us.
So, any of you wives out there, if you don’t already, I want to strongly encourage you to greet your husbands when they arrive home. (Or, if you happen to be a stay-at-home husband, greet your wife when she comes home.)
5:15pm: Dinner Time
After I’ve greeted my husband, we sit down for dinner together as a family. Fortunately, our schedule allows for this to happen almost every single night. If it’s at all possible, I encourage all of you to do the same. No technology allowed at the table, either.
We also prefer to eat dinner a little more formally than the other meals. For example, the children attempt to set the table set properly. You know, with forks on top of a cloth napkin on the left and spoons and knives on the right, etc. And no, this is not always done well, depending on which child is setting… We do have six messy children under the age of 12. But I’ve noticed that manners improve when form improves.
Also, if there is a salad to be served, I generally have that on the plates prior to the Table Prayer, so that we’re not passing around multiple dishes. After the Table Prayer, we sit down and eat the said salad. When everyone is finished with the salad, my husband commences dishing out the main entree. Again, we have the same format, when everyone is finished, and if there happens to be something for dessert, it will be served then, and we enjoy it together. The point is, we attempt to take our time.
By the way, we also strive to uphold two other rules:
No talking with your mouth full. (I’m especially bad at this one.)
No using your fingers. Ever. Learn to use your knife to get that food on your fork. (Unless it’s pizza or some other finger food being served.)
Lest this sounds too idyllic, let me remind you, that generally I have a baby or a toddler (or both) crying or throwing food or creating whatever mayhem they might. Well, I’ve just made up my mind not to be deterred. Table manners are worthwhile attempting.
And we’re back to “A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool.” If you missed the previous 4 parts and would like to catch up, look on my sidebar under “tags,” and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”
Quiet Time, which I mentioned in Part 4, usually ends at around 1pm, as the children begin sneaking upstairs to see what I’m doing. And so then, we begin the next part of our day.
1pm Outdoor Recess
As the four middle children have usually completed any necessary “book” work earlier, they now have a choice. They may remain downstairs building their lego castles or reading their books, or they may venture back outside. Most of the time, they scramble outside because my husband built them an ice skating rink.
This is the first year we’ve ever attempted building an ice skating rink, and honestly, I don’t know how we survived without one. It has supplied hours and hours of fun. And only one minor accident–Child #3 whacked his head on the ice, resulting in a large bump, which turned into one giant, yellow-brownish bruise. Nothing serious, just a wound to brag about.
1pm is also Afternoon School
So, while the middle children skip and slide around outside and Child #6 naps, the Eldest gets a little one-on-one time with Mom. We work on grammar and writing. And of course, we use Classical Academic Press’s Well-Ordered Language series and their Writing and Rhetoric series, as you can see in the photo below.
I usually need to sit with her for about twenty minutes, and then I move on to a few domestic tasks while she completes her work. For example, I generally switch out and fold laundry and begin any prep work for supper.
I like to keep our afternoons light and flexible, however, because this is when I schedule activities and appointments. For example, on Tuesdays, the older children attend choir practice. On Thursdays, they have piano lessons. Sometimes we attend PE sessions with a larger group of homeschoolers. Sometimes we invite other families over to visit.
4pm Getting Ready for Supper
The end of the afternoon requires more work dedicated to supper, of course. (Eating. It’s just a never-ending task!) All the children help with setting the table, and sometimes the older ones do some chopping or other minor prep work.
Let me remind you once again, that this is just what works for our family. Your routine will of course be different, as your family needs are different! And so, here is Part 4.
While I’m reheating yesterday’s beef enchiladas or some other such appetizing dish, the children are setting the table. Then it’s time for lunch, which begins with the Angelus and Meal Prayer.
While we eat, we listen to audio books from Audible, because on most days I just want to zone out. (The children are forever asking me questions all. day. long. and my brain needs a rest.) Recently, we finished Ralph Moody’s 3rd book, The Home Ranch, in his Little Britches series. Now we’re listening to The Return of the King. (Both of these are excellent books, by the way, if you’re looking for a good read aloud.)
11:45am Cleanup and Read Aloud
When we’ve finished lunch, each child clears away his or her dishes and has another chore to do. For example, the Eldest wipes the table, Child #2 sweeps the floor, Child #3 hand washes any dishes that cannot go in the dishwasher, and Child #4 dries.
At this point, I read aloud. Generally I chose something we’re reading for history, as I prefer to do history as a group. We just finished reading Knights of Art, which detailed the lives of the Italian Renaissance painters, and today we began Saint Francis of the Seven Seas by Albert Nevins.
12:15pm Blessed Quiet Time
I usually read to the children until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. You know, for like 15 minutes. Then it’s that blessed time called Quiet Time, wherein all children are herded to the basement for about an hour. They are forbidden to come upstairs during this time, unless of course something serious happens, in which case there had better be blood to prove its gravity.
In any case, almost every day I lie down for about twenty minutes. Then, I make myself a cup of steaming, hot tea. I usually have Lord Bergamot Blend No. 55, from Steven Smith Teamaker, which my husband orders online.
Then, I head over to the computer to do a little work in peace, and if time allows, I read a book too.
Stay tuned for “A Day in the Life of Crazy Fool: Part 5.”
I have one refrigerator. Now this is a problem with a family of 8, almost 9, for I am always running out of room.
The easy solution would be to purchase another refrigerator. But if we did that, we’d have to put the thing in the middle of the living room, because that’s the only space available, and that’s not going to happen.
The only alternative is to be creative. If you find yourself in this same predicament, check out my five tips below.
Five Tips For Saving Space in Your Refrigerator
Pop or Beer?
Now many people enjoy drinking pop. Some like beer. Some do both. We, however, have had to make a choice, for there is only room for one. Priorities must be set, so beer it is. Check out the top shelf in the photo. It’s for beer. And the parmesan cheese. (Ok, ok, occasionally cans of pop make an appearance up there too. A girl’s gotta be able to make Moscow Mules in the summer in order to play pinochle* properly.)
2. Who needs condiments?
While we do have some condiments, as you can see in the photo, we have had to cut back and keep only the essentials. You know, like pickles for the children, jalapeños for the husband, sauerkraut because we’re German, and Greek yogurt and kalamata olives because we’re Greek. (Just kidding. We’re not Greek.)
3. Orange Juice or Milk?
I grew up drinking orange juice every morning, but I really don’t have room for this one because we buy 5 gallons of milk a week. And lest you think we’re Milk Hogs, we only allow one small glass of milk at breakfast and another at supper, and that’s it. Well, once a week, on Sundays, the children do get cold cereal, and that does drain away a good gallon or more at one sitting. Furthermore, orange juice is expensive, and I’ve got a grocery budget that doesn’t allow for it, because we have priorities. Like Wine. And Date Night. (More on those in a future post.)
4. Just eat the leftovers.
Eating the leftovers is a virtuous and sacrificial act, as most leftovers are not appetizing. Who wants to eat yesterday’s scalloped potatoes and hamburger that Mom slopped into a frying pan mixed with gravy and whatever leftover vegetables that might be lingering about? Well, we do. I hate wasting. Unless there’s visible mold, we eat it. (And even then, I just cut the mold off.)
5. Finally, finish that wine off.
When one pops open a bottle of wine, just finish it. There’s no room to be storing such things in the refrigerator. Life’s too short anyway to not enjoy a whole bottle with your husband. And yes, when I’m pregnant, I have no problems drinking a glass, and our children have mostly turned out undamaged and normal. Mostly.
*Pinochle requires alcoholic drinks to play. Why? Because playing pinochle is stressful for it requires a lot of math and complicated bidding. So, in order to make it more tolerable, one must have a drink. Like a Moscow Mule.
Some of you may be wondering how it might be possible to survive sickness in your household and teach school all day? Yes? Then read on.
Since I am in the midst of caring for Barfing Children right now, I thought I’d offer a few tips of advice. This is mostly to encourage myself and cheer on the rest of you, who may be suffering from this most taxing and exhausting dilemma.
8 Tips to Survive Barfing Children, Ear Infections & Other Nasty Stuff While Teaching School, Cooking for a Family, and Cleaning a House:
1.Don’t clean your house. Or if you must, just make your bed and call it good. Heck, your bed is probably still made from yesterday because you didn’t sleep in it anyway. You were sitting in the rocking chair, holding a screaming baby all night. I know it’s a big deal in this household to get a load of laundry done every day too, but I guess it won’t go anywhere, so that can be left alone.* (See note below.) The children can turn their clothes inside-out and wear them again, for the 3rd day in a row, unless of course there’s vomit on them…
2. Put lipstick on. This should go without saying. Not only is lipstick fun, but it brightens everyone’s day. Especially if you’re not in the habit of wearing it. Your husband and children will wonder what came over you. And when you look in the mirror, you will not notice the dark circles around your eyes, but will instead, be stunned by the awesomeness of Hot Pink Lips. You might even laugh at yourself, which is good.
3. Reduce school to a minimum. This is a very good time to renew your subscription to Audible, purchase The Story of Civilization, and commence History Class. When your children are finished with this, send the healthy ones outside for the remainder of the day for Nature Study. If the healthy children do not want to do Nature Study, offer House-Cleaning 101, wherein all children scrub floors, walls, and toilets.
4. Spend an extra amount of time styling your hair. Why? Because you’re sleep deprived and look like it. There are statistics out there saying that if you look put-together, you will feel put-together. Paul Harvey, the decades-long iconic radio broadcaster, used to wear a suit and tie every day for his program. And his studio was in his house, where virtually no one saw him. But he knew that his performance was always better if he dressed the part. So, this morning, I dug out my curling iron and spent five extra minutes curling my hair. Then, I sprayed it with lots of hair spray. And yes, it made me feel better about not sleeping last night.
Paul Harvey. Great guy. My dad was named after him, literally.
5. Decide not to yell at your children. You are going to have a demanding day. Just face it. If the baby was up all night crying, he’s going to be crabby and cry all day too. So, your nerves are shot. You will be seriously tempted to yell at your other children. Just don’t do it. This will take a tremendous amount of effort and a lot of prayer. And in some cases, like mine, it will take a minor miracle. See my post HERE on that one.
6. Eat takeout or something frozen for supper. Eating Little Caesar’s Pizza every once in awhile won’t kill you. In fact, it might save your sanity. And I’ve found that those $4.98 rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club are handy too. The best part is, they’re hot and ready to eat, and I’ve done nothing to prepare them. Someone I know gave me that great bit of advice. She also said to top it off with a bag of baby carrots and a bag of buns. Smart, smart woman.
7. Spend more time in prayer. Why? Because you’re sleep-deprived and well, crazy from holding a screaming baby all night. All sleep-deprived, crazy people need a lot of prayer. I know this from experience. The tricky part is making time to do it. I suggest leaving your house and spending an hour in silent Adoration. Hire a babysitter, call grandma, ask your husband to take sick leave…anything. This hour of Adoration may be the only time you will get to sleep, until the illnesses go away. And yes, sleeping in Adoration still counts as prayer.
8. Drink More Coffee. It’s a given that this helps, right?
I’ve also heard that having a teenager helps too, because then she can babysit. Well, I’m working on that one. But I’m afraid it’s still going to be two more years until that one becomes a reality.
I have a friend who got a day behind on laundry. So the next day, she washed and dried multiple loads and then carried them to her bed. She made a nice, heaping pile and then promptly forgot about them until bedtime. Well, what to do then? Spend six hours folding them? No! She smartly remembered her clean bathtub and quickly deposited them there and pulled the shower curtain shut until the following day. Then she didn’t have to stare at it. Just an idea.
Know of anyone else experiencing Sick Children? If so, share these tips with them?
Hello Dear Readers! Welcome to “A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 2.”
But before we begin, remember that the following routine is just what works for our family. Of course your routines and daily schedules will be different, as your families are different!
8:15 am Breakfast
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. One of the best decisions we’ve made was to Eat Breakfast Like a Prison Camp. It works well for us. Everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together. We eat peanut butter toast every single morning, except Saturdays and Sundays. (Saturday is generally oatmeal, and Sunday is cold cereal, which the children think is the best thing ever.) I like this arrangement because it’s not stressful. There’s no complaining because the children know what to expect.
While the Toast Master is doing his thing, Child #4 sets the cups, Child #5 sets the napkins, and I am putting the first load of laundry in. Then we’re ready for action.
After Meal Prayer, I read the Mass readings of the day while the children eat. This is the beginning of what some call “Morning Time.” If you haven’t heard of it, check out Pam Barnhill on my sidebar and look for podcasts with Cindy Rollins. Rollins is the Queen of Morning Time, and later this week I’ll post my review of her great book, Mere Motherhood.
I have chosen to use breakfast as our Morning Time for two reasons. 1.) We are all naturally gathered together anyway. And 2.) The children have food in their mouths, so it’s generally quieter.
After I read the Mass readings, we do talk about them, but only briefly. Then I eat my food, and we finish with our Poetry. The children are always memorizing something, and most of the time, I have them all do the same thing. We just finished John 1 for the Christmas season, and now we’ve moved onto “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.
After all the children have had a chance to recite, they put their dishes away, and we break up for the next part of the morning.
At this point the children brush their teeth and take turns at the piano. (Child #2 and Child #3 have usually finished their piano before breakfast.) And I sweep the upstairs floors and switch out the laundry for a second load.
One-by-one, as they finish piano, they come back upstairs and begin Round Two of school. The Eldest works on a Science workbook from Seton, a little history reading from RC History, and Latin from Classical Academic Press. (Classical Academic Press, by the way, is now my favorite place for curriculum. More on that later.)
Child #2 and Child #3 commence Spelling and Phonics from Seton. Child #4 works on Math, also from Seton. Child #5 “plays” with Child #6, which means, that Child #5 is supposed to keep the Toddler busy and distracted enough so that she’ll not destroy everything when my back is turned.
And during this time, I pull aside Child #3, my slow reader, and have him read to me. Then Child #4 reads to me.
Then I pour myself a stiff drink* and get ready for Mid-Morning Prayer Time, which I’ll detail in Part 3 of “A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool.” Stay tuned.
I’ve been homeschooling now for almost six years. This has been the hardest job I’ve ever had. (Certainly harder than teaching sophomores at a high school. Or the time I shelved books in a library. Or the time I cleaned toilets at a state park. Or, well, you get the idea.) And I hate to break it to those of you just beginning, but it does get harder. For example, six years ago, I only had a kindergartner. Now I’ve got a fifth-grader, two third-graders, a first-grader, and a preschooler. (Not to mention a toddler and another in the womb.) But the good news is, it’s all worth it.
Well, to celebrate six almost down and about twenty-five more years to go, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned.
10 Things I Wish I Knew Six Years Ago
Get up before the children do.
Yep, you just need to do it. You’d never stroll into your old job at the office without being ready for it. I mean, praying, showering, putting on “real” clothes… If you can do this, your day is set. Now that said, there are seasons when this is not possible. For example, the three-month-old baby screamed all night and Susie puked and Timmy wet the bed. Prudence, mama.
But just because I think this one is really important, I’ll give you Jennifer Fulwiler’s thoughts too:
“It’s not always possible, but if you can make a habit of getting up an hour before everyone else in the house, it will change your life. (I say this as the biggest non-morning-person in the universe. There are vampires who enjoy watching the sun rise more than I do.)”**
**Click HERE for Fulwiler’s complete list of things she’s learned while parenting. She’s hilarious.
It is a bad idea to compare yourself to others.
I will never be a crafty mother. I detest finger-painting, gingerbread-house-making, and sticker charts. If my children can’t do the project on their own, forget about it. Now I know some of you are very talented in these artistic areas. This is a good thing, and I’m genuinely glad for your family. I’ve decided not to worry about my creative disabilities, however, and it’s freeing.
Quit worrying about your children not learning anything.
This one’s absurd. Anyone remember Andrew Pudewa relating his experience in a public prison, er, I mean in a public school? How he would get so bored, he’d see how hard he could bite himself? Then, when he’d get sick of that, he’d see how long he could hold his breath. (I actually remember doing that one in public school too.) The point is, our children are learning. And in the very least, they shouldn’t have to resort to arm-biting and breath-holding.
Make a “Rule” or schedule for your days and stick to it.
This is really freeing–almost as much as not comparing yourself to others. With my Rule, my priorities are set, and I know what I’m supposed to be doing at all times during the day. If you’re looking for more about this, I recommend Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life. She’s really intense, but insightful.
Just because one child seems born to learn quickly, don’t think they all will.
I had a child who sat down and read the Old Testament for fun, at the age of five. I can tell you, it was a piece of cake teaching that one to read. And now, I’ve spent the last three years in purgatory, just sitting on my couch, praying to Jesus to give me the patience to not rip the book out of the kid’s hand, chuck it across the room, and storm out myself. (May it please God to not test my patience any further with slow readers, for I may not make it. Amen.)
Outsource those terrible subjects you hate.
I hate math. And guess what? When I attempt to teach math, my loathing for the subject comes out, no matter how hard I try to hide it. But my husband loves math, so last year, he took it over. (I will love him forever for it.) In our household, math starts at 7am. Yep, before breakfast, and it still goes well. If there’s a subject you despise, think creatively. Maybe switch a subject with another homeschool mom? Or, budget for and hire a tutor? Enroll in an online program?
Eat breakfast like a prison camp.
In our house, everybody eats breakfast at the same time; everybody eats the same thing; everybody cleans up their spot together. We eat peanut butter toast every single morning. We’ve done it for years. There’s never any complaining about it because they know what to expect. And I never have to worry about meal planning for breakfast. (On the weekend, there is a reprieve. Saturday is oatmeal. Sunday is cold cereal, which is their favorite.) You can imagine their excitement when my parents give them orange juice, as a present.
Learn to say no.
You want to destroy your family life? Then frantically run from event to event, never eat a meal together, and never pray together. As a culture, we are far too busy. Little Sally does not need to participate in gymnastics and tee-ball while playing on the soccer team and taking violin, piano, and voice lessons. This is ridiculous. Pick one. And let your children experience a childhood of climbing trees with their siblings, reading a book on the grass, eating dinner as a family, and receiving Dad’s blessing at night. This other Chosen Busyness is Satan’s great attempt to divide families. And it’s crept right into Catholic and home schools.
Are you going crazy?
From time to time, I have to put myself in time-out. As I have a small house, this gets tricky. I mostly prefer to hide in the bathroom, but there isn’t anywhere comfortable to sit, unless I take a bath. This year has been the Year of the Bath. I bought myself some lavender epsom salt. It smells nicely. I also prefer to take a martini and my book in there with me too. What do you do to get away? Furthermore, I recommend instituting quiet time every afternoon. And if possible, take a few Saturdays off a month, and go on a monthly date with your husband. Life is too short to do otherwise.
Lastly, think of all you’ve learned!
Yes, I finally have a fifth grade education. Whenever I feel poorly about my job as a mother and educator, I console myself with the thought that at least my children know more now thanI ever did at their age.
If you’ve found this post helpful, send it to someone else who might appreciate it.
Anyone have other thoughts or ideas? I’d enjoy hearing about them.