Thursday, December 31, 2009

Homeschool Grid

I finally got the chance to print out some homeschool grids like this one that my writing/mothering/homeschooling idol, Jessica Fisher, made. It has so far worked like a charm for us. We can do everything in one day or put it all off until Friday or do it all at a steady pace. Or do all the math in one day or put it off. It's great for teaching the kids how to pace themselves and get their work done ... great prep for college!

Previously I was using lesson plans that came with our Catholic Heritage Curricula workbooks, but we went at a different pace than they wanted us to. Then I was writing everything in a spiral notebook for each kid and that got to be a mess.

I put a blank homeschool grid on our bulletin board in the dining room each week so the kids can easily see it. That way if I'm busy with one of the other kids they can see what they still need to do for the week. And if they need help with something, they just wait on that box. When we've completed something, we put a cross through the box with a highlighter or marker. I save all the grids in a binder ... a tab for each kid. In Kansas we don't have to keep records, but I like to anyway.

Any homeschooling organization tips that work for you?

Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Does anyone have any crazy superstitions like I do?

Like when my kids go with anyone in a car, I wave after them, then cross myself (Catholic-style) once for each kid plus the driver.

And when I REALLY need Divine Intervention, I not only pray to God, but also to everyone in Heaven who could maybe, like, PROD God (hey, it rhymes) to make sure my prayer gets to the top of the list. Like when my kid is sporting a really high fever or when Sam was in the NICU.

Who else, besides Tori Spelling, is nuts like me?

Monday, December 28, 2009

How to Make a Chore Chart

One of my best friends, Ellen, has 5 kids and is one of those totally on-top-of-it moms. She has this great (and cheap!) dry erase boards on her kitchen wall. Across the top she puts the days of the week, and down the side she puts the kids' names. Then she fills in their chores. I have a similar version at my house, except (1) I printed it out at home and (2) we completely ignore it.

These days I'm in new-baby mode still and just ask them to do things for me as I see them (bring up the laundry, put away silverware, take out the recycling, pick up their room, etc.). The boys each get $3 every Saturday, and $1 of that goes to church one week and savings the next week.

The boys call themselves my minions :-)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Have a Very Merry Hairy Kerrie Christmas! I'm hanging out in sweatpants watching my kids open presents. Most likely my dad and stepmom are over. My mom and stepdad are coming over later. I'm happy. It's awesome.

How about you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter 2009

I love getting Christmas letters, but hate writing them. My first draft always sounds like I'm trying to hard to be funny and like Mother of the Year. Then it sounds braggy. Then it sounds too self-deprecating, like I'm trying to downplay all my blessings and good fortune and am looking for something to complain about. So below is the final draft of this year's letter. I decided to just go with normal. I also added some cute little symbols, like a cross for Joel taking First Communion, a swimmer for Michael learning to swim, a music note for Callie wanting to sing (her first "when I grow up I want to be..." was to work at McDonald's), a present for Eva ripping into gifts, a smiley face for Sam hanging on me all the time, an airplane for Aron not traveling and a martini glass for me trying to concentrate on homeschooling (as if I'd rather be drinking). Enjoy ...

Dear Family, Friends and Neighbors,

Merry Christmas! We hope you are all happy and healthy. Here’s what’s been going on in our growing household:

Aron’s travel was minimal this year (he’s on his 11th year with CSI), which gave him some time to tear apart our main bathroom and redo it entirely. As of this writing he’s tiling the floor. He also took on the job of Den Leader for Joel’s Cub Scout den, takes the boys to Religious Ed class every other Tuesday night and took them on 3 fishing trips. He was the hero of the year when he put up a zip line that Ellen Jones gave us in the backyard.

I’ve been writing when I get the chance … assignments for Kansas City Parent, then selling the reprints to other magazines. I like keeping up my blog (, collaborating on another (, writing e-books for fun and sales letters/blog posts for companies. I stare longingly at my scrapbooking projects while I concentrate on homeschooling.

Joel (3rd grade) received his First Communion in May, then in the summer tried his hand at baseball and started going off the diving board at the pool. He enjoys delivering our Meals on Wheels route, Cub Scouts and spending the night with Poppy (my dad). When he grows up, he wants to own some sort of nature sanctuary on Truman Lake.

Michael (1st grade) likes to make interesting things out of just about any material and taught himself cursive this fall. Although he doesn’t want to be an official Cub Scout until next year, Michael attends all the den meetings and participates in all the activities. He learned to swim on his own over the summer. He wants to work in a museum when he grows up and “make the art.”

Callie enjoyed going to 15 different nature centers and museums for the Ernie Miller Passport to Adventure. She likes to sing, dance and color and can write her name. She also loves to have her nails painted by Tutu (my mom). She wants to dance, sing and be a Rescue Hero when she grows up.

Eva is our Tasmanian Devil … into everything and keeps us on our toes with her writing on the walls and herself, dancing on the table, destroying her siblings’ stuff, etc. She’s a happy little imp and chases the other kids around. She enjoyed playing at all our different pools this summer and loves going “bye bye.” Currently we’re teaching her to stop unwrapping the presents under the tree.

Samuel Scott (a.k.a. Samwich or Spam) is our 7th family member. He was born October 7th weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces (labor started at 7 a.m. and he spent 7 days in the NICU due to meconium aspiration). He’s a sweet boy and loves to be toted around and held by his brothers and sisters, although he spends most of his time hanging out on his mom.

We’re praying everyone has the best year ever in 2010. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Love from Aron, Kerrie, Joel, Michael, Callie, Eva and Samta Claus McLoughlin

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Picture Out-takes

With a big family, it's hard to find the perfect time to get everyone dressed up with a smile on their face and antlers on their head. Our official Christmas photo that we're sending out has Sam nursing and you can't even see his face, but everyone else looked decent. And we had to bribe Eva with a candy cane to even get her to sit down, and you can just forget about those dang antlers. So here are a couple of the out-takes for those who enjoy Christmas pictures.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

English as a Screwy Language (ESL)

My friend teaches English as a Second Language, so I know she'll appreciate this one.

So in what universe does "ph" sound like a "v"? Apparently in this one, where the name STEPHEN sounds like SteVen. I should know; it's my son's middle and my dad's first name.

How come once you get to the number TEN, then you don't go Oneteen? Why do we have eleven, twelve, thirteen and fifteen when the rest of the teens are more logical? Why not oneteen, twoteen, threeteen and fiveteen?

Mom and I love when words are screwed up by people. Our current is "volumptuous". As in: Kerrie McLoughlin is volumptuous.

We also like "immaculant". As in: Kerrie's house will never be immaculant.

Gimme some more messed-up words, and be sure to use them in a sentence, Class!

Have a nice week. I'm taking it off to pursue Christmas Craziness.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Water Fun to Buy Some Time

People wonder how I deal with the younger kids while I homeschool the older ones. This picture shows one way: set Eva up at the kitchen sink on a chair and turn on the water. Throw in some plastic dishes that need to be washed, and you have one occupied 2-year-old. Sure, I have to change her wet shirt at the end of the session, but the Water Fun tactic usually buys me about 5 minutes to homeschool, which is like gold.

Oh, and thank you to the readers who told me to write about what I want to write about and not cater to everyone else. Good advice. And the hodge-podge blogging continues ...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Silver Christmas Tree!!! (and parental divorce)

Over the weekend my stepdad brought this aluminum tree over for me. His mom hits auctions and estate sales and sells on eBay, so she finds some really cool stuff. They think this tree might even be from the 1940s. It's the perfect size since I can't get Aron to commit to a full-size aluminum tree. This way, I get my very own little silver tree. My own little retro piece of fun. I teared up when he brought it over. Callie said, "It's so pretty I just wanna nurse it!"

I was heartbroken when my parents divorced when I was in my late twenties, but I must say they are now both happy and have married very wonderful and thoughtful people.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Target Sucks

I just heard a Target commercial where the mom is telling the kid her Christmas presents before she gets a chance to open them. I also keep seeing a commercial on TV where the kid tells her parents they spent too much on her presents and that she's been a bad girl. Her parents tell her they didn't spend too much (they went to Target).

Unfortunately, my kids saw and heard these commercials, as well, and you should have seen the look on their faces. It was like, "Um, did I just see that? Should I act like I didn't? Is Santa real? What the hell is going on?"

Target sucks. Didn't I hear something about WalMart blowing it for kids last year in their commercials, as well?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas for Computer Nerds

For some reason earlier this year I got a catalog for a company called Computer Gear. Just for fun, I opened it up and perused it and found some cool crap for computer geeks, engineers, Trekkies, and other nerds like my husband. My favorite item is a T-shirt that says:

"I'll try to be Nicer
If you try to be Smarter"

There's also a T-shirt with the Spam logo on it, which I want to get and save for my son Sam.

Monday, December 7, 2009

No-Bake Drop Cookies

When I'm freaking out for chocolate but have none in the house, I make these 7-ingredient cookies. They're fast and easy, and I usually have everything I need to make them.

You'll need:
1 stick of butter
2 cups of sugar
3 T cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 1/4 cups oatmeal (quick cooking works best)
4 t vanilla

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil (make sure it boils or they won't set up). Remove from heat. Add the peanut butter (stir), then the vanilla (stir), then oatmeal (stir). Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. They should be a little runny ... they'll firm up on the paper.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eva

Today my baby girl turns 2. We're heading to church, then plan to come home to frost her 2-layer circle Devil's Food cake and dig into it. Later we'll give her a gift, which is a baby doll with a stroller and bouncy seat. Her party is next Saturday.

Eva is our Tasmanian Devil (hence the Devil's Food cake). She writes on the walls and gets into EVERYTHING. She's the reason I can't leave out my scrapbooking stuff anymore. Heck, I can't leave out ANYTHING anymore! But that's okay ... she's our smiley, smart, cute, funny kid who is now starting to make sentences like, "I don't know. Bye bye." Which sounds more like "Unnobyby."

We love you, Eva!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Elf Yourself

Check out this link to a cool video of all 5 of my kids as elves, singing! At the bottom right of the box you can make it full-screen.

It's a lot of fun ... just upload a photo and you, too, can be dancing hip hop or singing as an elf. Hey, it's a time-killer!

Pampered Chef Stoneware

This is a weird mixed review. I love Pampered Chef's stoneware, especially the 9x13 baking pans. They bake everything so well and so evenly. Nothing burns, and they are easy to clean. Heavy, but still a good product. Twice now, though, I've had a 9x13 baker break in half on me IN THE OVEN WHILE I WAS COOKING A MEAL. And no, I didn't have the oven on high heat and hadn't put cold water on it or anything crazy like that. I figured you'd ask me that, since I'm so clearly NOT a great cook (or housekeeper, just ask my husband).

Frustrating and messy. I tried to get a replacement, but was beyond the 3-year warranty period. First I had to tell them the name of the hostess I bought it from and the date of the show. I was like, YEAH RIGHT. I can't even remember YESTERDAY, let alone when I bought a freaking baker. But I winged it.

So I love the product; hate the warranty. And the fact that it breaks during the cooking of a normal meal.

Has anyone else had something like this happen to them?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dreaming of a Peaceful Christmas

If you feel pulled in too many directions during the holidays, check out my article, Dreaming of a Peaceful Christmas, published in Edmonton's Child on page 19 and elsewhere this month. It'll take a bit of time to download, but hopefully it'll be worth it!

A different version can be found at Montgomery Parents.


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