Daily Living/Learning Notes

I really liked the daily records I kept last week, but don’t know that I want to make them a daily blog post. That takes more time each day than I want to devote to it. So this week I’m going to try to just make one weekly post with each day’s notes in a separate subsection instead of trying to do a blog post every day. We’ll see if it works.


Oatmeal stout bread and granola

Oatmeal stout bread and granola

I was on a cooking spree last Saturday. I made a batch of granola, a loaf of oatmeal stout bread, and a big batch of chicken stock.

I also got to run some errands All By Myself: true it was only the grocery store, library, and pharmacy; but boy did it feel like freedom.

chicken stock with oatmeal stout bread and granola

chicken stock with oatmeal stout bread and granola


Ben shows off his drawing. I think it's a truck.

Ben shows off his drawing. I think it’s a truck.

I had my yearly physical today at 8 so naturally I woke up really early doing that thing where I’m so worried of sleeping in I over compensate and wake up before everyone else. Well, I woke Lucy up and nursed her while I said morning prayer and dozed.

I set out the girls’ copy work but it didn’t get done while I was gone. Still, starting at 9 was earlier than we’ve been starting many days of late. Bella and Sophie knocked out their math, reading, and writing pretty quickly and then they all tumbled outside barefoot to enjoy the warmth of the spring day. (Except for Lucy who insisted that she had to wear her new shoes.)

Bella and I read about the Wars of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower. I also read her the first chapter of The Scottish Chiefs, but I’m not sure whether we’re going to stick with it or not. I’ll give it a few chapters. We finished Life of Our Lord for Children (and I really wish there were an equivalent for the Old Testament) and then read about St Molios, the saint of the Arran Islands.

Anthony’s current obsession is The Gingerbread Baby. I think I’ve read it once or twice a day for the past week.

Dinner was soup: vegetables, tomatoes, leftover pork roast, kidney beans, and barley. And the oatmeal stout bread I made yesterday, which was amazing, almost like dessert.

Bella made a beautiful paper chain and was quite proud of herself. Sophie cut paper dolls out of catalogues. Anthony continues to scream “No Lucy!” every few minutes– even when she is nowhere near him and not getting into anything– and he is driving me crazy.

Bella asked me when the first movie was made. I wasn’t sure so we looked it up. And watched Edison’s very first moving pictures. And Louis Lumiere’s films. (Was there ever a more perfect name than Lumiere for the pioneer of moving pictures?) And then for fun a bit of Charlie Chaplin.

Bella really liked the selection from the Letter to the Hebrews in today’s Office of Readings. She often listens to these longer passages and comments on them. I’ve been thinking we need to be better at reading the Bible, but she does usually hear some of it every day in at least one of the daily hours. I’d still like to do some systematic reading, but encountering the scriptures in the liturgy is actually optimal. That is their preferred setting, after all.


Muddy Lucia (you can see Ben's feet in the background)

Muddy Lucia (you can see Ben’s feet in the background)

Dancing Lucia

Dancing Lucia

Naked muddy baby

Naked muddy baby

Ready to come inside for her bath

Ready to come inside for her bath

The girls did copywork after breakfast and then we did math lessons. Except for a handful of lessons that I skipped because they were too messy or I didn’t have the supplies or feel like doing them, Sophie is done with Saxon K math.
Bella hit a wall during her math lesson when suddenly she was required to write the addition problems in vertical columns instead of horizontal sentences. I had no idea what was wrong when she started having a meltdown. Finally I worked out why it was bothering her so much. Phew.

We had to go to Target to get necessities like diapers and toilet paper. Home for lunch. Then the kids played outside for a while and got thoroughly muddy. Lucy fell in a puddle, came in, got undressed and dried off, then went back outside and got coated in mud again. So I put her in the tub and hosed her off. Then I had to hose off the boys too.

Afternoon books were My Pony for Anthony and The Kitchen Knight for Ben– and Ben asked me to read the end note that talked about the source material: Sir Thomas Mallory and William Caxton. Coincidentally, Bella’s chapter in People in History was about William Caxton. I love it when that sort of thing happens. I also read Bella The Yellow Dwarf from the Blue Fairy Book. How terribly depressing! Bella was horrified. I’m not sure she’s going to let me read her any more stories from The Blue Fairy Book.



I made pretzels– sourdough whole wheat pretzels– underestimating how long they would take. So they become dinner along with grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone but Ben loved them. I think I misread the instructions, though, and didn’t boil them long enough or let them proof after shaping. So I need to try them again. Oh well.

Bedtime stories: Harold and the Purple Crayon and Little Red Riding Hood.

Muddy Anthony

Muddy Anthony


Brothers eating a snack.

Brothers eating a snack.

Park day!

No copywork because I forgot to prepare it and Dom had to go in early for an appointment so I was solo for breakfast prep which he usually does the bulk of. Just math for Bella. Then we headed out to meet a local homeschooling family at our favorite nearby playground. Bella made a new friend and I enjoyed chatting with another adult. I was surprised at Anthony’s independence, he was out of my sight a good deal of the time, running and playing with Ben and Sophie. Last time we were there he panicked every time he lost sight of me. We had one episode of panic when he was abandoned by Ben but a minute later he was off an running again. Lucy thought she was in heaven. She toddled around, frequently in company with a big brother or sister, sometimes out of my line of sight but I always knew where she was and that she was with a sibling. When it was time to go she cried and said she wanted to go “back.”

My picnic lunch was a bit of a fail. I brought bread and tortillas and peanut butter and jelly but neglected to pack the knife. The kids ate granola and fruit and pretzels and crackers and complained about being hungry.

Stopped at the library on the way home to pick up on-hold books. We read a Baba Yaga story, Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by K.Y. Craft. Biographies of Horace Pippin, Jane Goodall, and Peter Tchaikovsky by Mike Venezia. Then Bella was so inspired by Horace Pippin that she wanted to paint the light coming in through the kitchen window. Everyone joined her and I put on Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Pathetique.

Then the stomach bug Dom had the last couple of days hit me and I decided to hide in my room and let Dom serve the kids fish sticks and leftover meatloaf for dinner.


Ben with the flower from the grocery store pinned to his shirt.

Ben with the flower from the grocery store pinned to his shirt.

Fortunately I was feeling better today and Lucy had another good night in her string of good nights. We had a grocery day today. Bella and Sophie did copywork after breakfast and then we headed out.

I made Bella a little scavenger hunt, a list of about a dozen words for her to look for in the grocery store. She was very excited to wander the aisles hunting for her words. I had to help her with at least half of them, but the point was getting her to read the words, and she did.

The guy who works at the fish counter who always chats with us gave each of the kids a flower pin, which he said his sister made. It was really sweet.

We came home and had lunch. We read the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. I’m hoping to read through all four Gospels, a bit at a time. Then I read Baba Yaga and Vasilisa again and a book about passenger pigeons and I think there was something else, but I can’t recall. Then I fell asleep in the chair. Since Lucy was napping I went with it. When I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open I sent the kids outside to play in the yard. I think I snoozed for about fifteen minutes and then Lucia woke up and wanted to nurse.

April Photos23

April Photos25

I put the ham and sweet potatoes in the oven and then sat down and read the Jonah book, this time reading the historical appendix in the back, which everyone else found boring but Bella really liked. I had Bella read me a few sentences. Then I cooked up the ground beef I bought today that needed to be used by tomorrow and portioned it into freezer bags. I made some asparagus, Dom came home, we ate dinner.

Bedtime story was a book about a dodo who goes to New York.

I ended the day making a batch of yogurt. This time I tried heating the milk in the microwave. I’m not sure it really saved much time over the stove top method.


April Photos21

Today was the homeschoolers Lenten retreat. So no school work an we left the house before Dom did so we could get into Boston on time. It was a great day.

In the car on the way there Bella was talking about wanting to learn to play a musical instrument. I asked which one and she said the flute. Sophie wants to play the harp. Ben wants to play the piano. And Anthony wants to play the drums. The drums. Oh boy! Doesn’t that figure?

It was lovely to see new friends, old friends, and best of all, cousins! I got to hold my youngest niece and she gratefully spit up all over me. Lucy is well past the spit up stage and I enjoyed the tiny cuddles.

There was a reading and enactment of Genesis 1 and 3– all the kids brought paper cut outs of plants and animals and sun and moon. And then a discussion of Mary as the new Eve and Jesus as the new Adam. The the kids were divided into groups for activities while the moms got to watch a short Fr Barron video, which was very good.

Then lunch and after that stations of the cross (since we were in the church basement, there were none on the walls so the kids held up laminated stations. Bella and Sophie each held one. Then after that adoration and then time to go home. In between, plenty of time to run and play (for the kids) to chat and socialize (for the parents and, yes, there were dads there and grandmothers, too.) Ben and Anthony joined the procession to take the Blessed Sacrament back upstairs to the tabernacle and Anthony ran to embrace “my St Anthony” statue and we had to say hi to St Joseph too. Then Ben shocked me by actually bowing to the altar and both boys blew me away by executing perfect genuflections. I’ve been trying to get them to do that forever.

April Photos18

On the way home we listened to Prince Caspian. And this time Bella got Lucy’s War of the Roses reference since we just read about them in history. Then the kids played outside, except for Anthony who’d fallen asleep on the way home and who took a very long nap on the couch. No story time since we got home so late and the book in the car totally counted. Bella called me outside into the warm sunny afternoon to admire a surprise crocus growing in the back corner of the back yard. We have a bunch of crocuses in the front yard, but never have had any in the back. I guess this one migrated! Also, I noticed that the daffodils were blooming. When I exclaimed over them, the kids acted like it was old hat. When I complained that they hadn’t told me Bella said she had tried a few days ago but I was making dinner and yelled at her to get out of the kitchen. A plausible story.

April Photos15

Tonight I made spaghetti and marinara sauce for dinner– Anthony’s request and he was very grateful. And green salad and dinner was made with no yelling at the kids even when Ben and Anthony got into a fight over who could stand on the stool.

Bedtime story was Jonah again and the Dodo book.

Lucia the littlest pirate

Lucia the littlest pirate


Me and my monkey minions.

Me and my monkey minions.

I made granola first thing, before I even brushed my teeth. This batch finally stuck together like a granola bar which I ten broke into chunks. I didn’t bother with adding fruit. I describe the flavor as pecan pie. I flavored with maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and almond extract. To the base of oats I added coconut flakes, pecan pieces, sliced almonds, and flax seeds. Once it was in the oven I made eggs with ham and mushrooms and cheese. Yummy!

Lucia and I went shopping. We went to the local Catholic store to get Easter basket trinkets: some plastic rosaries, holy cards, and cute little egg ornaments with flowers and inspirational sayings on them. Also two wall crucifixes for the boys. Then we went to the grocery store and got Easter candy (I was miffed they didn’t have any chocolate crosses) and some steak to grill for dinner. Our first grilling day of the year!

Anthony admires the steaks

Anthony admires the steaks

When we got home I had lunch while Lucy ran straight for the back yard. I did some yard work after lunch, pulling up the dead stalks in the front bed and pulling weeds.

Lucia in the swing

Lucia in the swing

It was a glorious day, sunny and warm with a cool breeze. Sophie said today’s spring weather, “contents my heart.” Lucy spent more than an hour contentedly sitting in the swing watching the big kids build a castle in the sand. I think she even figured out how to get herself moving by leaning back and forth. Though I think the kids did go over and give her a push every once in a while. Their castle was this fabulous structure that evolved from a simple earthen wall with a palisade of sticks on the top to a fortification with towers and high walls.

The steaks were fabulous. The kids had a bath. Bedtime stories were Madeline and the Gypsy Carnival and My Pony.

building a castle

building a castle

building a castle

building a castle

8 Responses to Daily Living/Learning Notes

  1. Anne April 13, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    I love these!

  2. Jocelyn April 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Yes, yes! I do too 🙂

  3. Melanie Bettinelli April 13, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Do you think it’s too long when I do a whole week’s worth as one post? Would it be better to break it up?

  4. Mary April 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Love these stories. Oh my — when I see those bare feet (especially in the mud!) I can only imagine the cleaning and vacuuming you must have to do when they track it all inside!

    • Melanie Bettinelli April 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

      Mary, I’ve long since given up on having not-stained carpets. I try to sweep once or twice a day in the dining room where the back door opens. Mostly I’m learning to resign myself to the chaos and mess. Mostly.

  5. Marilyn H April 16, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Just wanted to let you know that Rite Aid is carrying Whitman chocolate bars with beautiful religious artwork and Scripture passages about the Resurrection. I just bought out the selection at my local store. Think I’ll pass them out to friends and family, but part of me just wanted to support Whitman so they keep producing them! They also had chocolate crosses. The bars and the crosses are on sale now for 88 cents. This is in New York, but I thought I remembered that Rite Aid actually came down to us from New England. A blessed Holy Week to you and your beautiful family.

  6. Melanie Bettinelli April 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Oh thank you. I think there’s a Rite Aid not too far away. I may try there if CVS doesn’t have anything. .

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