Greater than Gold

I’m over at Catholic Sistas today chatting baaaaabies!! And why having more is such fun. Even when the car breaks down and your bank account looks as dry as the Sahara.

https://www.catholicsistas.com/2018/08/greater-the-gold-adding-siblings-is-worth-the-sacrifice/

Homeschooling 2018: Our Action Plan

As our 2018 homeschooling year looms in my near future, I am sifting through books and lists and dreaming of field trips. I love peaking into everyone’s curriculum, so I thought I would share a bit of ours with you, too. (Last year’s can be found here.)

If you’ve written about your curriculm, link it below! All the homeschool mamas want to know!

We have four homeschoolers again this year, two high schoolers attending our local Catholic school, and we’ve added an infant, just to shake things up a bit. I envision many a read aloud with a baby on my hip, pacing the room as I read. It will be an adventure, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

My oldest homeschooler will be in sixth grade this year. He needs to hit the writing and grammar hard, so we found Well Ordered Language to make that happen. I’ve used Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons in the past and while I love how sweet and gentle it is, I think we are ready for something a little more intense. He and Bella will do this program together.

For math, PeterXavier will again be using Teaching Textbooks. It was wonderful last year and we plan to just keep plugging along with it. It really removes the full pressure of math from my plate and allows me to focus on subjects that are more my strength. I am all for farming out my weaknesses! I still help him, but it’s not nearly what it once was. I am a huge Teaching Textbooks fan!

Bella will be in fifth grade this year and after an explosion in her reading ability, I anticipate this year being much differnt than years past. She spend her summer in the hammock devouring any book within reach, so I am thrilled with her reading foundation! If you have a struggling reader HAVE PATIENCE! It will all click and then she’ll take off at lightening speed.

Bella will also be using Teaching Textbooks this year and hitting that grammar and writing program with her brother. She will study theology from Faith and Life, as well as King of the Golden City, which we will all read aloud together. Our only sacrament this year is Grace’s confirmation, so home based theology will be pretty straightforward. We also hope to get To Hear His Voice, so that we can all preread the weekly readings to be prepared for Sunday. I know I need this as much as they do!

Avila will be in third grade and ALSO doing Teaching Textbooks. I was happy to be able to purchase level three from a friend and Avila is excited to have work on the computer. Silly girl. We use Math for a Living Education last year and really liked it. I may get one of their lower level books for Kateri. I’ll have her continue on through Primary Language Lessons for her grammar and pull some spelling list for her, as well.

Bella and PeterXavier will be taking a Botany class through the local university and we will supplement that at home. I picked up a book on botany experiments and we also grow so much in our regular life, that I think they’ll learn a ton without too much extra book work.

As a group, we will study American History. We’ve done tons of ancient history together and covered early American History last year, so it will be fun to continue that on. With many trips to St Louis this year, we have to chatted about westward expansion quite a bit. We also hope to take a trip east to see all of the historic sites at some point in the year. I picked up a few picture books at a library book sale and hope to try out American History Stories as well. We have tried other history text in the past, only to abandon them pretty swiftly. I’m hoping this method of picture books, one text, some fun read alouds, and hopefully some field trips will make it all work a little better.

I don’t have trouble getting any of the kids to read, so I don’t worry too much about assigning them books. PeterXavier hesitates to break out of his fantasy genre, though, and Bella is often just searching for a suggestion. I did “assign” them each one book per quarter to read and orally tell me about. PX got: Treasure Island, Little Woman, Robinson Crusoe, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Isabella got: Pollyanna, Little Woman (into which she has already dived, anticipating a viewing of the movie with cousins soon!), Treasure Island, and The Little White Horse. These books are really just for fun!

I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but that’s a basic overview. Feel free to ask questions. I’d love to do a few more posts on the hows and whys of our schooling. Be sure to link your curriculum posts below, too!

I will do a post dedicated to PreK/Kindergarten soon. I am asked about this all the time! It may be short, though. We are big believers in play for the littlest ones.

 

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week. Why is it that anytime (every day!) there is a focus on bringing awareness or praising one lifestyle or way of doing things, the other side stands up offended.

World Breastfeeding Week offends the formula feeders. Mother’s Day offends the single ladies. World Clubfoot Day probably offended someone with normal feet. Who knows.

It’s like we all just like to be offended.

Anyway. I hear that this week is Breastfeeding Week. That’s cool. I’ve been using my body to feed small people for sixteen years. If they aren’t inside me, they’re outside feed off of me. And sometimes even both!

But let me tell you, doesn’t mean I’m special or a better mom than you. In fact, did you notice my radio silence a couple weeks ago when it was NFP awareness? Because I’m a rockstar in that department, too.

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Actually, I’m just lazy. I stink at NFP, because I’m lazy. I breastfeed, because I’m lazy. You ladies out there getting up in the middle of the night to make your baby a bottle- you totally rock. I could never in a million years do what you do.

I don’t know why you chose formula over breast. It’s not my business and I don’t really care. But I know that you clearly love your babies enough to drag yourself out of your cozy bed to make a bottle. Or think ahead every time you leave the house to make sure you have what you need.

I can barely remember diapers (and I just thank the heavens I haven’t yet forgotten the baby!). But lazy mama can remember the breast milk, since it’s attached to me! And I can feed my baby at night, because all I have to do is roll over! Yay, me!

Keep on keeping on, no matter who tries to raise awareness this week or next. You’re doing a great job, mamas!

5 Ways Seven Kids are Easier the Two

When I was very pregnant with Blaise, I found myself at Mass with Andrew, but with none of the kids. I kindly woman approached us afterwards and asked “Is this your first?”

Of course, once you answer honestly (I admit to being tempted to skirt the truth, but I was still standing in the church!), the questioners eyes kind of pop out and you get a reply along the lines of “I couldn’t handle the two I had!”

I get it! When I had a gaggle of littles, the smallest activity could seem overwhelming. The grocery store, stopping by a friends house, hitting a drive thru. No matter what it was, it was an event. And then the activities that actually *where* events, became nearly impossible. I remember doing swimming lessons one year, with just a couple small kids, and it was so difficult, I swore we’d never return. We tried again this year and had an absolute blast! And I had a newborn this time!

Once you’re through the first overwhelming years in the trenches, it’s like the sun shining through the clouds after a storm. It’s pretty glorious.

Here are a just a few reasons why more isn’t all that much more difficult than a handful.

Built In Friends – We don’t have neighbor kids where we live, but our kids are never without playmates! Dressing up, having tea parties, or a pick up game of ball are always easy to organize, because there are plenty of people around to join in. It’s also great when the bickering starts – just go find a different sibling to play with!

You’ve Done it All Before – This on is particularly great right now. Number seven has been so much fun, because we know what we are doing! His infancy hasn’t been typical, with his clubfeet, but all has been made easier with the wisdom of experience. Even the bigger kids remember how it all goes and are more able to help out. I no longer stand around wondering how to take a shower, like I did with my first! (true story. I think I cried and called my mom!)

Arms to Carry – There are always arms to help out, when there are so many arms around. Someone is always willing to hold the baby, but there are also times when a bag or a toddler need hauling as well. Having big strong helpers makes it all that much easier. Sometimes, my arms will actually be empty! I remember outings being so overwhelming, because it’s so nearly impossible to carry a baby, a diaper bag, and some random child’s abandoned shoes, all while keeping the toddler from being squashed by an oncoming car. All this, just to run into the store for a gallon of milk! It isn’t easy.

Enough for Cards or Baseball – Big families, big games. We love a good round of Euchre or a rousing board game, but many games take lots of people. We always have plenty! Little kids can double up with big kids to make everyone happy. Remember playing baseball or kickball and having “ghost man on second”? Not in a family filled with kids! Bases are loaded and there’s still a batter up.

Always a Baby to Hold! – Is there anything better than a sweet baby to snuggle? I really don’t think there is! Besides the time between Kateri and Blaise, we’ve never gone much beyond a two year old without having a new baby. I figure, at the rate we are going, by the time I don’t have my own baby to hold, it won’t be long until my biggest kids are married and starting their own families. The circle goes on and there’s never much time without a snuggly squish. That’s just how life should be!

It’s not always easy to be open to welcoming the many little people God may see fit to send you. But the laughs outweigh to hardships. And the friendships you’re giving your children are immeasurable.

What are your favorite advantages to having a houseful of little people?

Guide to Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime day is a great time to stock up on gifts for Christmas or birthdays. The deals this year are looking pretty great.

(This post contains affiliate links)

I’ve mentioned before that we really like Kindles around here and there are a few on sale today. We like the Fire for little kids, because of the audio book option. Just be careful to turn on AAAALLLL the parental controls.

For the bigger kids, we stick with the regular Kindle. We have one older child with a Kindle Fire, but we have to watch it carefully. It’s pretty easy to pretend to read a book whilst browsing Pinterest.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard great things about Audible. It looks like Amazon is a pretty hot discount today, too.

Not a Prime member? There’s a 30 day trial for that. Try it, grab the prime deals, and bug out if it’s not for you!

Have you tried Prime Pantry? We love it for regularly stocking up on things like dried goods and cleaning supplies. I’m a huge fan of avoiding the grocery or big box stores, so Prime Pantry really works well for us.

Also! Get $5 of $20 in books with code PRIMEBOOKS18

I am sure my most beloved Instant Pot will have a deal, too. I’ll let you know if I find one! {UPDATE} Found the deal! You won’t be sad.

How to Make a Nature Journal

The kids went to an outdoor event a couple years ago and came home with the most fantastic nature journals! They were made with typical household items, plus a stick they’d found. It was so cute and so easy.

I thought I’d write it all out to share with others, but also to encourage us to recreate the project at home. This is a perfect project for a rainy summer day.

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Materials:

copy paper (water color paper would also work and make a lovely book)

brown paper grocery bag

rubber band

small stick, about 6-7 inches long

Scissors

Hole Punch or Awl

Decorating Options:

Markers

Nature Magazine to cut and paste pictures

Scrap Fabric

Instructions:

Cut 3 pieces of copy paper in half, so you have six sheets. Fold in half, so you have a little booklet.

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Cut a piece of the paper sack about half an inch larger than the cut copy paper. Fold in half.

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Decorate the front of the brown paper with markers, pictures from a magazine, or fabric scraps. Label it as a “Nature Journal” and put the date somewhere, so you’ll always remember when you made and recorded your nature findings.

Now put the copy paper into the folded brown paper. With the hole punch or awl, put a hole about an inch from the top, along the fold and another an inch from the bottom, along the fold.

Thread the rubber band through the top hole, along the inside of the booklet, and out the bottom hole. Put the stick through the rubber band at both the top and the bottom to secure everything.

Now tuck it into your adventure bag, along with your colored pencils or water colors and you’re ready for your next adventure!

Make A Nature Journal with Kids

Best Cocktails from the Back Yard

Just a quick post, because we love this book SO MUCH! It’s been such fun to browse, learn, and create the cocktails.

Gift giving (or receiving) is not my love language and because of this, I kind of stink at it. I’m just not very creative or thoughtful in this regard, even though I want to be!

But this book actually went over really well! I got it for Andrew to Father’s Day and it seemed to hit a number of his interests – outdoors, nature hikes, and drinking!

It is called The Wildcrafted Cocktail. It’s a book of cocktail, syrup, and infusion recipes using wild foraged ingredients.

We made the mulberry liqueur using mulberries from the yard. It made a beautiful spritzer when we mixed it with club soda!

It’s definitely a book that will take us a long time to work though completely. It’s full of ideas and recipes, some of which have to steep or sit for long periods of time. Also, since it is all foraged ingredients, you can only get them at certain times of the year!

I’ll be sending the kids out to harvest young walnuts for the nocino (I don’t know what that is!), that goes into the drink called Ducati, soon! I wonder what young walnuts even taste like!

And nettle cordial! It’s hard to choose what to make next.

Wild Things Garden Update

As we approach the Summer Solstice, gardens everywhere are bursting with goodness. Little flowers on long stems are slowly turning to the beans or squash or tomatoes that will soon grace the family table.

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This hasn’t been the easiest year to get the garden in, here at Wild Things Farm. I was still enormously pregnant when it was time to start the seeds in late winter. And as the time came to move seedlings into the garden, we had a sweet, fresh baby. None the less, we all worked together to get the garden in. It was a bit late, so some of our plants are a little behind, but even still, I think we will end up with a decent harvest this year.

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After a couple years of trial and error, we finally set our garden up as 8×4 boxes with four foot mulched pathways. This is our third year with this set up and it has worked beautifully for us. It truly does keep weeding down to a minimum.

Mulch can be expensive, if you buy it bagged or even by the truck load from a landscaping company. We get it for FREE! by flagging down the county road crews as they are trimming trees. They love it, because they don’t have to drive all the way back to their dump site. We love it, because we use so much mulch in the garden, pig shed, and chicken coops.

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A couple years ago, Andrew and a couple  kids made some trellises from our garden boxes. They’ve held up really well and are perfect for beans and peas. We have planted Kentucky Pole Beans every year and just this year we added Asparagus Yard Long Beans. The plant is beautiful, but the beans are yet to be tested.

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My squash plants were taking over the pathways, so I knew I needed another trellis. I mentioned it to Andrew and the next thing I knew, I had a hog panel trellis arching over the box of squash! Easy, beautiful!

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My one other experimental plant this season is luffa. Have you planted luffa before? I’m excited to see how it does. One plant is huge, but the other is still small and neither have flowered.

What are your growing or experimenting with this season?Wild Things Garden Update

The Hog That (Almost) Got Away

Hogs are graceful in the way they run up and down steep ravines with only a two-pointed hooves to balance their massive bodies. Yet, they can also be found unrecognizable while wallowing in self-made waterholes. They are gentle, yet powerful and sweet, but also destructive. A picture tells a thousand words, and this one tells a story.

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Yes, this is the picture I took when I arrived to the butchering facility and checked on the hog before I went in to fill out my “livestock drop-off” paperwork. Except that, I had NO LIVESTOCK to drop off! I could blame it on a thousand reasons, but here are the top 5:

  1. I should have reinforced the crate with 2x4s across the sides.
  2. When I was driving, I didn’t check the passenger side rear view mirror often enough.
  3. My co-pilot and son, PeterXavier, fell asleep on the drive, exhausted from a day of pig wrangling.
  4. I was driving too slow.
  5. I am being punished by the corporate gods for raising free-spirited, pasture roaming, all natural pork.

At any rate, I had no hog. She was about 250lbs that just vanished into thin air. She was our Christmas ham, our sausage and gravy breakfast on the weekends, our pull pork BBQ sandwiches, and the list goes on. Then, to think we were splitting her with another family and they too had lost out on all those wonderful meals and family gatherings centered around a delicious free-roaming and pasture raised hog.

What happens next?

We called the sheriff’s department on the off-chance that someone would call it into Animal Control. They were very friendly and helpful, even suggesting we post our lost hog on the local Lost and Found Pets page on Facebook! Then we drove the same route back to the house scanning for a slow-moving black and white mass on the side of the road or rooting up a McMansion’s perfectly manicured lawn (praying for the latter).

Finally, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we may never see her again. We said a few peayers to St Anthony and headed to the ball field for PeterXavier’s game. We were sitting on a picnic bench waiting for the baseball game to start when my wife got the call from the sheriff’s department. A farmer had our hog in his barn! Our call in to Animal Control had paid off.

I headed home to repair and reinforce the crate, before heading off to retrieve my livestock. I also picked up my teenaged son, for some personal reinforcements!

When I got to his house, you can imagine my gratitude and excitment. We backed the trailer to pen in the barn and loaded her up. He said a neighbor from a few houses down the road had called him to say that a large pig was eating her flowers, digging up the lawn, and making a mess of the landscaping (I teach my hogs well). He walked her down to his place via the road, got her into the barn, then called it into the Sheriff’s office.

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As it turned out, the processing facility had another drop-off time the next morning and I could still bring her in for processing. I have no idea how I got so lucky. This time, the crate was reinforced with added 2×4 boards, I made sure PeterXavier was looking out his side view mirror the entire drive, and not taking any naps on the way. It worked!

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Oink!

We got her dropped off at 7am and she had a live weight of 254lbs. When I pick up the meat, I’ll be sure to stop by the generous rescue farmer’s house and give him a share of the bounty!

The Hog the (Almost) Got Away

5 Most Forgotten Necessities for New Seasoned Moms

Our Blaisey boy has been here for one month now. Talk about time flying. We’ve been intentionally savoring every cute little moment with him, but it’s still bittersweet to see him grow so quickly!

After a five year span with no babies, this little guy has been a real treat.

After a five year span with no babies, this mama has become very rusty!

In the first few days after he was here, I began to realize just how out of practice I’d become and just how much I’d forgotten.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

To help any other rusty mamas out, here’s my list of my Top Five Forgotten (or nearly forgotten) Necessities!

Nursing Bras – after a few years of living a more free and hippie style of dress, the need for a good bra completely fell off my radar, as they say. It literally never crossed my mind. Oops. Let’s just say it’s more of a necessity these days! I’m loving this brand that I purchased, a couple days after Blaise was born.

Nursing Pads – these go hand in hand. You forget what engorgment is. And it has to go somewhere! Maybe grab some extra t-shirts while you’re at it. You’ll need them for those middle of the night soaked t-shirt changes.

After Pains Remedy – this was actually on my list, but Blaisey boy showed up before I made it to the store. Especially if you already have a few kids, this is a must. Oy. The pain can be worse than labor!

Diapers – obviously, right? This is somewhere in the back of my mind. I love cloth diapers, so I was pretty excited about it all, but I don’t think I really acted on that. Thankfully, a couple sweet friends made sure I had what I needed before his arrival.  I had this brand on my amazon wish list and was gifted some. For the price, they’re pretty wonderful.

Boho Bandeau – my sisters have been singing the praises of the Boho Bandeau for years, but I’d never actually purchased one for myself. After long nights and showerless days, I figured it was time. This makes me look a bit more put together and hides my dirty hair pretty well!

Bonus Item: The Diaper Bag. I don’t think I’ve carried a diaper bag since I had some cutesie thing with my first. Diaper bags are less diaper baggie these days and my hands are a little more busy. I caved and joind the diaper bag club. It’s really nice to have everything all ready to go and to have what we need when we are out. Gone are the long days at home with babies and this little guy is often out and about. The diaper bag has been a savior.