Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lunch and Dinner Dilemma.


Seems like I've finally reached my breaking point in the lunch and dinner menu department. Frequent trips to the grocery store (like 4 per week!!), too many meals at the restaurant, and scrambling to make something quick before the whole family melts down...this has been my life for the past couple of months. It's driving me to insanity!!!

So after a meal of leftovers and cheese pizza, I decided to get my life back on track in the cooking department. I've always done menus and it has been a wonderful help to me. I'm a BIG buyer and believer of organic and natural foods, so planning my shopping trip is important if I want to buy the kinds of foods we eat and save money. Believe me, buying prepared meals at Whole Foods is not cheap!

I began by taking a look at some of our favorite family meals for both lunch and dinner. I love allrecipes.com and I have most of our favorite dinner recipes stored through their Recipe Box feature. My next step was to download an empty dinner menu planner from Donna Young's website. Finally, I just filled it in for the whole month. (I did the same for a lunch menu.)

I started with our Friday meals, since we don't eat meat on those days. After that, I planned our Wednesday meals since we have faith formation on those days and having slow cooker meals is most convenient. The rest just fell into place. Leaving the weekends open for leftovers or family trips to the restaurant works well for us too.


I opted for doing a whole month of planning in advance. I think this will prevent my weekend rushing around of trying to come up with something. And once the month is over, I can just start at the beginning again...maybe switching some recipes for others. But at least I don't have to think about what's for dinner (or lunch!) for a whole month!!

My grocery shopping trips are now being planned for every two weeks, with perhaps a small trip in-between for fresh produce. This will give me so much more time for when I have our babysitter watching the kids...and I'm sure she'll appreciate knowing what to make for lunch whenever she is here!

I have included a link to both my dinner and lunch menus. All my lunch meals don't require a recipe, I just make them off the top of my head. If you want the recipes for my dinner menus, a quick search at Allrecipes.com will help you find what you need! If not, just drop me a comment and I'll send it over!!


It feels good to go back to having a plan, especially now that I have a new baby on the way in less than 2 months! Now to start organizing other parts of my life...... :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thinking About Easter Already?

I know Easter is still some time away as we are barely a couple of weeks into the Lenten season. I wanted to post this, however, because sometimes getting ready for Easter (much like getting ready for Advent or other liturgical seasons) can take some prep time.

For many, Easter Sunday is a day for gathering with family and friends...egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, pretty baskets filled with brightly colored eggs, toys for the kids, etc. It's almost like Christmas day! All these things are wonderful memory-makers for not just the kids, but parents too.

For me, Easter always reminds me of traditions that I grew up with. My favorite being Cascarones!! (Or Confetti Eggs). This has been a family tradition since before I was born. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve getting together for Easter with my entire family...cousins, aunts, uncles, friends...and having the funnest time cracking cascarones over each others heads. It was the funnest time because it was fair game for everyone to take part in the celebration, not just the kids.




Of course, having such a big extended family meant that we needed LOTS of cascarones. I remember my mom carefully cracking eggs for weeks before Easter to collect the eggshells. She would crack the tip of the egg, slowly peel away the tip of the eggshell, and then empty the egg into a bowl that she would use to make us scrambled eggs, pancakes, etc. She would then rinse out all the empty eggshells and place them to dry in an empty egg carton.

Some time before Easter, we would take out all the now-full egg cartons in order to color and dye all the eggshells. When that was done, we'd fill them up with confetti and glue colored tissue paper over the openings. (Of course, I had sneaky cousins who would fill some of their eggs with flour...not something I'm recommending).

Now that I have a "big" family of my own, however, I find that collecting the eggshells for Easter is not as hard as it used to be!

Want to learn more about this Mexican tradition? You can read this article from Highlights with your kids and get them excited about it! Need some detailed, step-by-step instructions? Check this article from eHow.com.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Commentary?

So lately I'm scurrying around, looking for my NFP (Natural Family Planning) book and reviewing what I can. I have a class I'm scheduled to take at church for a brush up soon and I'm wondering how on earth I am going to get back into the swing of using NFP.

Which brings me to the use of actual birth control (AKA, the "pill") and how the number of Catholics who use it seems pretty staggering. I've read anywhere from 60% to 75%!!!! Now I can go on and on about why it's wrong (besides being an abortifacient). But the fact of the matter is that it is AGAINST CATHOLIC TEACHING! And for excellent reasons!!!

I guess making up our religion is the easy way to do things. Being one of those "cafeteria Catholics" might seem OK to many. Let me see...I'll take Mass on Sundays and some Holy Days, the Holy Trinity, and even some of the Sacraments. That was easy! Picking and choosing is fun!!!

But seriously...do most Catholics realize what they are putting in jeopardy when they do this? By choosing to take contraception (AKA the "pill), they are committing a mortal sin!! The only way to remove that mortal sin is by going to confession. And how many of those people who are committing this mortal sin go to Mass on Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist??

Hello out there! You are not supposed to receive communion if you are in a state of mortal sin!!!

Ok....call this a rant or commentary. But perhaps this stems from all the crazy comments I get for choosing life. Maybe it's my raging pregnancy hormones. Perhaps it's personally knowing people who choose to use birth control every day and still go up for communion. Should I even care? Am I being judgmental? I don't know and I don't let it stop me from praying about it.

But at least I know I'm not wrong.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today marks the beginning of Lent! I've actually been really excited to start this season, which has been the case more and more each year. The reason for this is that every year my kids get older, their understanding increases, and they are more fully able to participate! It's really wonderful to be able to celebrate Lent as a family with mostly understanding persons (as opposed to celebrating Lent as a family of mom & dad with a couple of toddlers who don't know the difference between wearing diapers and wearing underwear!).

We started the day with our usual morning prayers/offerings. But we added a few more things into our religion. We started our Lenten learning with "The Reading of the Strips"...or at least that's what one of the kids yelled out when I told them to gather around the table so that I can read all the Lenten Deed tickets to them. "Guys!!!! Mom's gonna do the reading of the strips!!!"

Now our Lenten Deed jar is full and the kids are all itching to see what deed they get to work on for the week. "Can we switch tickets if we don't like what we get?" NO!!!

Another fun addition to our day today was the beginning of our Lent Lapbook from Lapbooks for Catholics. We worked on the cover and the kids were coloring and cutting while I read to them the history of Lent and asked them questions. We'll be working on the lapbook for another week or so and then I'm planning on taking it out during our religion time to review from it.




Of course, Isabella will be working on 2 different faith lapbooks. This past Sunday, she had her Sacramental Prep class and they went over the things we see in church. This was perfect since she is currently working on "The Things We See in Church" lapbook from Lapbooks for Catholics. It's so much fun to be able to do all these fun and educational things with the kids!




But what about the littlest members of our Catholic crew? Well, lets just say that they have plenty on their minds to keep them busy. Ummm....yea. That's little Jimmy with a box on his head. He was pretty adamant about putting it on and walking around. The kids and I got a good laugh from it!



And let's not forget about our little school room altar. Our Father Nick just got a change of vestments to go with the season! And you'll notice that we have yet to change the color of our tablecloth. I know I put that purple "altar cloth" somewhere!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Good Deeds for Lent.

I've been working hard on making some preparations for Lent not only for my children, but also for my 5th grade Faith Formation class. It's nice that I can use the same resources for both! A Lenten activity we have done in the past is making a sacrifice/good deed jar. It's a great way to get kids more involved during Lent.

So I decided to go ahead with this activity for my 5th grade class as well. In the past, I would have my kids put a bean into a jar for every good deed or sacrifice they did. This year I am changing things up a bit to make it easier for classroom use. I created "Lenten Deeds" tickets to put in a bowl instead. Each ticket has a certain deed that has to be done in a week. The "deeds" correspond to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Whether it be giving up video games for a week (fasting), reading from the Bible (prayer), or collecting food for the needy (almsgiving)...it's something that kids can do and feel good about.

The tickets have a space for the kids to sign their name once they complete their deeds as well as a space for the parents to sign as well. Coming up with good deeds and sacrifices was a lot harder than I thought!! But I think I have a good mix to keep things going all through Lent. Take a look at my tickets below!



I'll probably be printing this on some light purple, colored paper. But I'm loving that it's done and am excited to have it out for both my Faith Formation class and my kids at home!

Love it too? Well, just click on the links below and you can print them out for personal use! I made 3 different pages. Yes...I'm just that nice. ;)

Lenten Deeds Page 1
Lenten Deeds Page 2
Lenten Deeds Page 3

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fun Science From Co-op.

I've been neglecting taking pictures of a lot of things we do in our homeschool. Not only do I forget to charge the battery to my camera, but I constantly leave my camera where it's not supposed to be. So if I'm in the school room, the camera is in the keeping room downstairs. If I'm downstairs, the camera is upstairs in the school room. In my state of pregnancy I have grown lazy when it comes to going up and down the stairs.

But I did manage to take some pictures of some fun experiments we've been doing at co-op and bringing home. I teach our co-op science class using the Mind Blowing Science Kite for Young Scientists. It's fun and the kids love it! Anthony and Isabella are in my class and they are constantly asking "What are we doing in class next??" This week we made colorful crystals using the kit's polyacrylamide crystals. They've been playing with them all week and even Christian is having fun with them.





The science kit is an awesome little addition to any homeschool. It's perfect for my crew and the experiments are easy and fun for them to do. Best part is that everything is included (except water and some other easy to find stuff)!

Co-op is always fun for the kids and we are blessed to have such a great group of families that help make it such a success!!