7 Quick Takes - In Which I Need Advice, A Car, and Maybe A Tylenol

I need help or guidance or something.  
Our oldest just started his first bigger activity and is doing baseball this year.  It's fun.  He likes it.  We like him doing it.  But it feels like a lot.  Already.  And he's seven.  At least twice a week and one day of that is a weekend day.   I know that's probably nothing to so many people but it's kind of been a shock to the family and the little routine and life we have.  I have no idea what the right thing to do is.  As of right now we have four boys.  I can't even fathom what our life would look like if they were all involved in something.  Some of the other parents we've talked to said they basically spend their whole weekends at the baseball fields.  (And obviously this would apply to any sport or music lesson or what have you.)  What do you do when it comes to kids and activities???  I don't want to lose our family life but I also want our kids to be able to be involved with things like this and drat it all, they are actually pretty good at this stuff.  I want them to try everything but I know that way too easily and far too often all the activities and extracurriculars replace quality family life (and drive people like me crazy).  Do I just give in?  How do I figure out what to sacrifice?  What do you do?  Help.

On a different note, I also need advice on photo printing.  I know, not as pressing.  Where do you print your photos?  I need cheap but I need professional.  The pics I got printed by Shutterfly were HORRIBLE so don't say them.  And am I the only one who prints out pictures anymore??  Have you tried to buy a photo album lately?  Just try to find one.

So...I don't really ask for prayers for myself very often because I'm silly but I'm going to put it out there.  Would you mind taking a moment to pray that my back is healed?  This is the first time that things didn't just get better after pregnancy and it's been pretty bad.  I haven't been able to sleep or you know, bend over.  I'd appreciate it very much, you know!  Thank you, friends!

And since you're praying anyway, say a prayer that somehow a new/different car gets miraculously and freely placed in our path.  You know things are bad when you LITERALLY have to kick the car to get it started.  But you do get to sort of feel like Fonzie, which is cool.

Do you like bunk beds?  You shouldn't.  They are a necessary evil and I hate them.  If I had a choice we would not have bunk beds.  And if we did not have bunk beds I would be able to check on my boys after they fell asleep and kiss their cute little faces without slamming my head against a wood beam or hanging on for dear life to try to just glance a peek to make sure the top sleeper is still breathing.  And there is no workout on earth equivalent to changing sheets on two sets of bunk beds.   Because of the back thing (and because I really don't want to and he doesn't like when I mutter light obscenities and curse my life because of back-breaking chores) my poor husband will get the awesome open-the-holiday-weekend task tonight of putting sheets and quilts back on the blasted things.  Welcome home, dear :)

Oooh...more advice!  The school year is wrapping up.  It doesn't make sense to me to just STOP during the summer, though.  I'm thinking that I'd like to use the summer time to tackle those subjects and topics that are less core.  So with that in mind, do you have a world geography program that you like??  I'm not into cutesy or lots of mom-work.  I'm thinking that, some math, and some sort of writing routine sounds like the beginnings of a plan.  I should really get on that, shouldn't I?

Because, you know, this weekend begins SUMMER!  (Unofficially at least...good enough for me.)  Man, we need to plan something fun.


  1. Okay 1) with our homeschooling activities, Church, and animals, we don't do anything else. If Tommy was still home during the day we might consider it, but since he's not, spending Friday evenings and Saturday mornings every single weekend at games and practices would all but eliminate the time he spends with the kids. I know it's kind crazy to do that but there it is :)

    #2 I got nothin' for you on the photos. Sorry!

    #3-#5 Definitely praying for you.

    #6 I'm going to have the girls still practice their piano, do math games on the computer and read, read, read, read, read, read, read during the summer. For geography, we use the Top Secret Adventures packets from Highlights magazine (super fun) and they learn geography songs from a CD I ordered from Audio Memory. Everyone seems to enjoy it, so yay!

    1. No, not crazy!! That's how we've been up til now and I'm glad for it! We definitely lean that way which is why just doing baseball has been a big eye opener. Ah, now to reevaluate... Hate having to make these decisions! I mean, what if one of them is supposed to be an all star pro Tebow evangelizing soccer/piano/dance star and our decision is the factor that determines whether they follow that path or not (and I'm only half joking)??? Argh. Thanks for the help and prayers :)

  2. Advice - For us, we value family time more than anything else so we haven't allowed any extra curricular activities yet. I think it's a personal choice and needs to reflect what you most value. I think kids can be exposed to many things without official involvement at such a young age.

    We do a lot of geography, but don't follow an official program. I love the free website Seterra that lets us learn the names of countries and where they are.

    I was greatly relieved when we took down the bunk beds and gave each girl their own room. I love going in at night and being able kiss them before I go to bed!

    Praying for you and your back. Kevin struggles with back issues also.

    1. Thank you! That Seterra looks promising. We just switched to a Mac, though, but they have an online version that I bet they'll enjoy. That's what I need. Simple and easy :)

      Yeah, we're going to need to reevaluate the activities. I don't do a whole lot of outside stuff within our 'school' time so I feel like they should have something and it's hard to do the team stuff with just two or three people! I just wish there was something in between nothing and several-times-a-week expensive commitment.

  3. For what it's worth...

    1. We have always had the rule the littles could do two activities each: one each sports and music. We had to put the kabosh on piano lessons due to finances. 3 girls are heavily into 4-H; but I see that more as an extension to our homeschooling. So our sport of choice is soccer. At one point we had 3 playing. Frank and I both coached and Nathaniel was on travel team. BUSY! but they had a ball and for us, it was a family thing. We have had about 2 years off, we will be back into soccer in the Fall with 4 playing, and I will probably be coaching 2 teams (comes out to 5-6 practices and 4-5 games per week) - we shall see how we do. Not much advice, but it can be done: crock-pot is life saver. And we also take the attiitude: I can do anything for 2 months!

    2. no clue!

    3 & 4 Prayers I can do!

    5. UGH! I HATE bunk beds and I don't use that work lightly. I finally had to give in for space. We have 2. NOT FUN. especially since the two littles who occasionally have accidents sleep in the bottom. right there with you!

    6 and 7 I have usually stopped and vegged out during the summer. This year, we will be doing math all summer, a copywork phrase each day and various seasonal/liturgical projects (coloring page = project for me during summer) I am looking to plan our summer. I will have two additioinal littles for 4 weeks this summer: vegging out will not work this year. If you want to do a geographical thing: you could read about a country each week and make a passport/brochure type of paper for each one. It would give the boys something to draw!

    Wow, that was a longer response than the original post - thanks for your patience in me usurping your space!

    Blessings and you will be in my prayers for all your intentions.

    1. Wow, you sound busy!! So are two activities going on for each one all year? Or they get to pick two activities and that's it even when say a sport is over? Yeah, I see how it being a family thing can definitely work. I WISH they could all be on the same team...how awesome would that be?? But I also don't want to just pick something for them because that's what the oldest happened to want to do, know what I mean? I think we're going to need to just take it case by case, year by year, as much as I hate that openness...

      THank you!!

    2. The 4-H for the girls is all year. Nathaniel is in Scouts all year. The soccer is 2 seasons: Fall and Spring. My oldest 2 gravitated to individual activities: karate, dance, gymnastics: all good when I only had 2 children. With 6: not so much. We are blessed in that all the younger ones are major interested in only soccer. And if they could all be on one team! WOW! how wonderful: but alas, we will have 4 teams; 5 if my son does travel as well as town. We did try baseball when my son was much younger: we all hated it. I think the Portuguese Dad's genes took over on this one.

      Case by case, year by year is what we have done. The past 2 years with taking care of my MIL, soccer went out the window. We did nothing on top of 4-H and scouts. They are beyond excited to get back to soccer starting in the Fall.

      Prayers for peace in your decisions

  4. Oooh. #1 is a toughie, isn't it? On the one hand we want great and varied experiences for our kids. On the other, the family MUST come first. We have made the compromise by choosing activities that muiltiple kids can do. So, for example, both of my girls do Irish Stepdancing. It would not work for one of them to stepdance and another to do ballet at a different studio. It would make me crazy. Mama's sanity needs to play into your choice, whatever you decide.

    As for geography, I have no experience with it whatsoever, but I have heard great things about A Child's Geography (link here: http://www.knowledgequestmaps.com/acg1.htm). Again, I've never used it so I can't give you my personal recommendation, but it's likely worth looking into. We were just given some of those Top Secret things Dweej mentions in the comment above, so I'm thinking about playing with those this summer.

    Pictures- I'm using MPix. I just ordered a bunch of photos from them and they are gorgeous. I will never print photos from a cheap print shop again!!!

    1. Thank you!! Oh, John Paul would LOVE to do Irish dancing! My sister is getting married next month and he's already started talking about "my dance" and has requested some Lord of the Dance music to be played. I'll have to break it to him again that the reception will not, in fact, revolve around 'his dance.' Anyway, Irish dancing around here sounds like it's a huge (and expensive) commitment so I haven't even looked into it but that's another of those things I'd love for them to do. I guess this whole topic is one of those things that I need to just take case by case and keep praying that the right opportunities for them open up that work for all of us. Wish there was an easier cut-and-dry answer...

      Just signed up for Mpix, thank you! Hoping they have coupons and sales once in a while. I have a LOT of pics to print out :)

  5. Hey Mary:) I have one idea for you regarding the whole baseball thing. I don't know if this would work for you guys but here goes. When Joey was in second grade I homeschooled him and a homeschooling friend in the same group had a cool idea called "Sports Night". A bunch of families started getting together once a week or every other week and we'd pick a sport..baseball, soccer, football, dodgeball, etc. The moms usually nursed their babies or whatever (not me. I got right in there! ha!) and chatted and the dads and kids played the game.
    Anyway, it was tons of fun, and even after Joey went back to elementary school, they still let us Godless Pagans join in;)There was plenty of laughter and good sportsmanship and all that.It satisfied the need for some kind of team sport without taking away from family time. Maybe you guys can try it!

    1. Thanks, Heather! Yeah, I've said that in the past and so many people say it sounds like a great idea but then nobody wants to be the organizer :) I think something like that might be perfect if we can get enough people committed...that's the other issue. We'll have to bring it up again. John Paul really likes the team aspect and he's good enough that I could see something like that being a bit frustrating for him but maybe that's the best we can do. What I would LOVE is if enough of the homeschool families wanted to start a mini-league... Thanks for the help and just so you know, I broke my rule on not talking to Godless pagans by replying to you ;)


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