"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have had a few friends ask me about chores.  We cannot afford to pay someone to come into our house and help clean it.  Even if we could, I don't think that I would.  If my seven children were ten and under, I might seriously consider it.  A friend once shared that she stopped having someone come and clean her house when she started to think about the message that she was sending to her children, especially her oldest, by having someone clean their house on a regular basis.  Thus, chores are a necessity in our house.

A while back, Danielle Bean shared the chore chart that her family uses and I immediately adapted it for my family's use.  This summer, I made a chore chart based on Managers of their Homes.  It looked nice and neat, but it did not work (the schedule did, but that's another post).

Over the past year or so, I have found that chores work better in our house if:
  1. The children can easily see what they need to do
  2. The chores are reassigned once a month
  3. The children are assigned to specific areas or tasks (i.e. The same child is assigned to sweep the dining room and kitchen throughout the day.)

I uploaded our December and Saturday chore charts (with my children's names omitted) to Google Docs.  If anyone would like them in Word.docx format, please let me know via a comment and I will be happy to e-mail them to you.

Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant,
count as nothing.
~ St. Therese of Lisieux ~

Disclaimer:  This does not mean that we have a clean house at all times.  It does mean that it is usually presentable (except for the off-white carpet that shows every speck of dirt no matter how often it is cleaned).

Friday, November 27, 2009


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, thanks to family near and far.  My father-in-law arrived at our house early in the morning with some stuffing for our turkey.  He visited for a little while before heading to the cemetery to visit my mother-in-law's grave.  After he left, I called and spoke to my dad.  Then, we focused on getting the turkey in the oven.

Once the turkey was cooking, the children watched a movie with their dad.  I made a couple of dishes (yams and green beans); Catherine had made a jello mold the night before.  The meal tasted delicious.  As we finished eating, my oldest sister called and asked us to come over to their house for dessert.  My younger sisters were already there.  I enjoyed seeing all of our children together.  Our nine nieces and nephews, plus our seven children, made for a full house.  I wish that my brother, his wife, and their five children could have been with us, too.

We came home with one of my sisters' dogs.  He (Tommy) will be staying with us for two days and the children are delighted.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I pray that everyone has

a safe, happy, and blessed


I found this story, Florida teacher chips away at Plymouth Rock Thanksgiving myth, interesting.  Thank you to The Black Biretta for sharing the story and the picture, last year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Me:  "Finnian, please skoochy over."

Finnian:  "I can't.  I am superglued."

I love my little boy's imagination.  He often surprises me with his responses.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Win a Free Copy of You Need a Budget 3

We just received an email letting us know that You Need a Budget will be giving away 5 free copies of YNAB 3 when it is released.  This is the same program that I wrote about earlier today.

The email stated:

We're giving away five copies of YNAB 3 when it is released (once it's released)

We've launched a little contest to help spread the word about the upcoming release of YNAB 3. Entering's easy, and we're giving away five free copies of YNAB 3 once it launches! Enter to win your copy of YNAB 3 once released.
Please visit You Need a Budget for all of the details.  I am enjoying using YNAB Pro and I am looking forward to using the newest version of YNAB.  Thank you, Jesse!

Budgeting: One Baby Step at a Time

When my husband and I were first married, a Catholic home-educating friend, Debbie Brock, introduced me to Phil Lenahan's Finances for Today's Catholic Family (updated title: The Catholic Answers Guide to Family Finances).  This book served us well and gave us a proper understanding of budgeting in relation to Church teaching, tithing, and the need to always pay off our credit cards right away (my husband was already aware of the latter).  Eventually, we simply incorporated the principles and stopped budgeting.

This spring and summer, I was constantly telling my husband, "We can't pay this bill or that bill until your paycheck arrives."  A friend, who was completely unaware of my comments and the stress that I was unknowingly inflicting on my husband sent an email to our homeschool group with the subject, "Budget is Not a Four-Letter Word".  She was recommending You Need a Budget.  We started using YNAB Pro in October. After receiving our bank statement, I entered the balance from checking and savings into their respective categories. When our credit card bills arrived, I entered those purchases (some were made in September) under the specific credit card categories, transferring the payment in checking and recording the purchases in our budget. I tried to make sure that our budget equaled $0, but I overspent a little bit in two categories. October showed me the total of my husband’s income (I already knew this number in my head) and what we needed to budget in each category in November. It also made me aware of the fact that money spent on our credit cards was truly spent.

Prior to using YNAB Pro, I had no idea what our credit card bills would be. We always paid them off, but not without a little juggling and stress.  This month, I know what our bills will be in December and we will be able to pay them off without any stress.

Thanks to You Need a Budget (and the principles that I learned from Phil Lenahan), we have taken our first baby step towards not experiencing financial stress.  Now, we need to start working on Rule 1: Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck; we need to start making a buffer.
This is an unsolicited recommendation.

Dominus providebit!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grocery Budget Challenge

We are a family of nine and usually spend between $850 and $1000 per month on groceries. This month, I budgeted $750 and it looks like we might actually be able to pull it off. Don't worry, the children are being very well fed and I have most of my Thanksgiving shopping done.

I usually shop at two grocery/wholesale stores once a week, Winco (employee owned) and Costco. If a store is advertising a loss leader (a grocery item at a very low price) that we usually buy, then I have my husband stop on his way home and pick up that item only.

What I Changed and Rules that I Made:

1. Made Wednesday the only day of the week that I can go grocery shopping.

2. Visited Winco and Costco on a bi-weekly, instead of a weekly, basis (i.e. I went to Costco this week, so I go to Winco next week).

3. Limited my family's milk consumption to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are only allowed one (breakfast) bowl or glass of milk at each meal. We were drinking ten or more gallons of milk a week; now, we are drinking 8 gallons of milk a week.

4. Only purchased meat or chicken breasts if they were under $2 a pound. Only purchased whole chicken if it was under $0.80 per pound. Turkey was purchased for $0.27 per pound (or less) and I bought two of them (one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas). I want to buy one more turkey for whenever.

5. Only cooked chicken or meat two nights a week. Cut up the leftover meat or chicken and mixed it into other dishes (no recipes, just something that I threw together). This means that we are having meat or chicken at least four times a week, sometimes five.

6. On the remaining two or three nights a week, I made a lentil or bean dish. I bought lentils and beans in bulk or in bags, not canned (the latter gets expensive). To soften the beans, I added a pinch of sugar to the water when I cooked them. I made enough for two nights and lunch one day. I varied the dish slightly by throwing in some new ingredients the second night (vegetables, spices, barley, brown rice, etc.).

7. I alternated what we had for breakfast each morning. We used to always have breakfast cereal, but this gets expensive.

Now our breakfast menu looks like this:
  • Sunday: Eggs, bacon/sausage, and orange juice (made from frozen concentrate)
  • Monday: Oatmeal
  • Tuesday: Ceareal
  • Wednesday: Oatmeal
  • Thursday: Eggs, bacon/sausage, and orange juice
  • Friday: Cereal
  • Saturday: Oatmeal (I want to change it to pancakes or homemade waffles)

8. Limited fruit consumption to one a day. Reminded the children that "An apple a day (not two apples a day) keeps the doctor away." Cut up apples and/or oranges for snacks...this guaranteed that my little boys did not waste any wasted less fruit.

9. Reminded the children that I had purchased plenty of food for the entire week and that it needed to last us a week. In other words, it is not okay for seven children to eat a 2 pound loaf of cheese in one day. Nor is it okay, to eat three or four bananas each in one day (this goes along with number 8).

10. Made a running list of what we needed throughout the week, so that my husband did not need to stop at the grocery store for forgotten items.

What I Need to Do:

1. Encourage the children to eat carrots, celery, etc. for snacks.

2. Be better about alternating our lunches.

Thank you to my husband, my older sister, and my friend (Elena) for their support and ideas.  Thank you to my mom for her example as I was growing up and her advice during the first few years of my marriage (I miss her).  Thank you to my dad who used to enjoy cooking eggs, bacon, and tomatoes for us on Sunday mornings.

Dominus providebit!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All Saints Day Photos - Finally!

Finnian trying on his St. Dominic de Guzman, O.P. costume.

All Saints Day Cupcakes of the North American Martyrs (parish patrons) made by Catherine.

Saint-O-Lantern:  St. Jean Vianney's profile carved by my husband.

A very happy St. Isaac Jogues

St. Isidore's Pumpkin Patch: Pumpkin Roll (thank you, Jessica, for the idea)

St. Francis of Assisi rolling the pumpkin.

St. Alice: Our "nun on the run"

Our little St. Dominic looking at our pastor like he is St. Nicholas.

St. Agnes speaking with Father.

Saint-O-Lanterns Carved by Parishioners

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

All Saints Party Group Photo

This is just a sneak peak of our parish's All Saints Party that took place after Mass on Sunday, November 1.  More photos will hopefully follow throughout the week.  If you're a member of our parish, we will be uploading the photos to Costco and sharing them that way.

Thank you, Elizabeth, Regina, and Meredith for all that you did!

My boys are still talking about St. George's Dragon Hunt.
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