Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Birthday dear Sam!

On this day 8 years ago, we were blessed with 10# 2 oz. Samuel Joseph. I can still feel his weight on my belly as the doctor placed him there for the first time. Wow, he felt big!!

His big sisters, Alice and Emma (just 11 months old) were staying with John's sister Mary for the day. Emma had her first 3 teeth cut through, and was a real "pleasure" to have around, I'm sure! (I still haven't forgotten Mary...thank you!!!)

For a few weeks to come, we'll have 3 eight year olds in the house. The kids like telling everyone that. They mentioned it first thing this morning. I joked, "Yikes. Just wait till I have 3 sixteen year olds." Emma was quick with "Yeah, cool. Maybe we'll plan to go on a triple date that day."
(AHHHHH! don't start with that!)

Happy Birthday Sammy Boy!

patience is a virtue

Patience is indeed a virtue, and one that is given many opportunities for practice and refinement...especially in a large family. Can you imagine having to wait your turn?!

Youngest to oldest is how it worked here on Christmas day. Poor Alice.

(Santa delivered toys to our basement this year, where there was much more room to spread out and yet still be together as gifts with small parts were opened and scattered.)

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Since the sixth century, on December 28, the Church has celebrated the memory of those children killed because of Herod's rage against Christ (cf. Mt 2:16-17). Uncertain of the whereabouts of the Holy Family, he ordered the massacre of all male children under the age of two. Liturgical tradition refers to them as the "Holy Innocents" and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the "tender flock of lambs" with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy.
a prayer:
Lord, as the horror of genocide continues today through the mask of abortion, strengthen us for the battle and enlighten us to the awareness of your beautiful gift of life. We pray for your continued grace. Amen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Blessed Christmas to all

It was a wonderfully exhausting Christmas here for our family! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as well.

Ours kicked off on Christmas eve with 4:00 Children's mass. Our two oldest joined in the choir, Sam played the role of Joseph, and Grace was one of the many angels dressed to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. John and Mary also attended mass with us, but this time we left Charlie along with the other 3 young ones at Grandma's. We arrived at church more than 1/2 hour early, and found it to be standing room only already. Fortunately once mass began, and all the angels found their seats, there were a couple extra pews to fill in, so we did get a seat. What a beautiful celebration it was!

Afterwards, we joined the younger ones at my parent's house for dinner (ham sandwiches and appetizers...HEAVY on the appetizers.) It was all so delicious! Of course there was time for some billiards and dancing (mostly the young ones) to christmas music before it was time to open gifts. And of course more nibbling on delicious appetizers and sweets. This is also my brother's birthday, so a phonecall to Florida to wish him a happy birthday was in order.

Naturally, bedtime took a bit longer than usual after all that excitement. I thought the kids would never fall asleep. Of course they arranged a plate of cookies and a mug of chocolate milk on the coffee table for Santa, and did a last sweep through to pick up toys so that the house would be tidy when he arrived. By 10:30 they were asleep, so the elves got busy. Very busy! I'd not wrapped the first present yet, so we had our work cut out for us. For years we've had the tradition of just 3 gifts per child, as with the 3 wisemen's gift for the Infant King. But I also had a few gifts for godchildren to open at our party on Christmas day. I think we made it to bed by 2:30. It's kind of a blur.

The kids were up at 7am, and John and I lingered in bed just a few minutes longer to listen quietly to their conversations about the gifts left under the tree. Too cute to hear their reactions! Of course, we don't open gifts right away. That'd be too easy. Rather, we let the suspense build while we have a light breakfast, get dressed, showered, fresh coffee, etc. (C'mon mom!!!! Can we open them yet?!?!?!) We managed to hold them off till 10. Everyone seemed more than pleased with their gifts. It was a very good Christmas, and I'm enjoying these years when they're still young, and easy to please. My parents joined us for gift opening, and then a late brunch of egg/sausage casserole, fresh fruit, toast and juice. The kids were able to enjoy their new treasures briefly before we were off to set up for John's family Christmas.

It was our year to host, so we rented a nearby hall...John's one of 12 children who all have families of their own now. The numbers add up fast. It too was a wonderful party complete with a re-enactment skit of the Christmas Story, a pinata and gift giving. We also enjoyed LOTS of food and beverage. The beef I'd been working on earlier in the week seemed to turn out great. Everyone brought plenty of sides and yummies to share. Good times were definitely had by all, I think. John took the kids home sometime after 9:30 to get them off to bed, and I stayed behind with a couple of the older ones to clean up.

In the days since, we've done not much of anything, but continue to enjoy our Christmas blessings. I was able to sneak out the morning after Christmas with my best friend who was home from South Carolina. We enjoyed coffee and an hour or so of wonderful conversation. Later her kids were able to join ours for an afternoon of playtime, trying out all the new Christmas toys. They played together so well, allowing us all time to just relax and enjoy. We've put puzzles together, built Charlie's new bike, downloaded some music for mp3's, continued to munch on christmas sweets, built forts and castles with Legos and Lincoln Logs, played with dollies and strollers, trucks and cars and tractors...and on and on. Tonight we're looking forward to the bounty of Grace's new Easy-Bake oven.

I'm ever grateful for God's greatest Gift, as well as time spent with family and friends this Christmas season. How abundantly we are blessed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

questions for the man in red

Grace (almost 6) is asking for help with a last minute letter to Santa this morning.
"Dear Santa, Why do you take our lists if you have no plan to give us what we want?"


Monday, December 22, 2008

more holiday preparations

Somewhere in the middle of our busy day, Alice (8) asked me "Mom, isn't Christmas on the 25th?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Well, how come you're trying to get all this stuff done, now?"
" I can enjoy Christmas, and not be worrying about cooking then."
"Oh. Good thinking."
(yeah, I thought so too,)

Christmas preparations are coming along nicely, and today was another very productive day. I'm grateful to have the older kids home from school. Everyone seems to play together so well, the older ones include the younger ones while playing "school" or "house" or even organizing talent shows. It's just nice having them around. Today John was home as well for his usual "weekend" from work, so I was able to be even that much more productive. I started the morning by putting 5 nice-sized roasts into the oven to cook for the morning. John splurged and bought us all donuts and juice from the grocery for breakfast to celebrate the start of our Christmas break. (Very nice treat!) After breakfast, the older kids helped me to put another layer of paper mache onto the pinata we're making for our family Christmas party. Lunch crept up on us, and then John and Mary were off to preschool. Their teacher was kind enough to schedule a make-up day since their last two were cancelled due to icey roads. It gave them a chance to celebrate and participate in their gift exchange, and other festivities. Once they were off to school, I started shredding the cooled beef for sandwiches. It's our year to host John's family Christmas. We have the hall booked, and instead of ordering premade shredded beef, I thought I'd try a friend's recipe and make my own. It turned out wonderfully!!! And so simple. Why did I not ever try this sooner? After dishes and kitchen clean-up, I managed a shower for the day. (The kids were starting to wonder if I'd ever get cleaned up.) Then it was back to the kitchen for more holiday treat-making. This time it was Ritz crackers sandwiched with peanut butter, and dipped in white chocolate. Yumm. These are one of my favorites.
After supper, I made one final trip out to Walmart and Aldi's for groceries and party supplies like plates, napkins, etc. I hope not to be back in either store before the new year! It was just nuts, and someone please tell me why they have 36 check-out lines, with only 5 registers working?!
It was a very busy day, and I'm grateful to hubby for being so patient. This is definitely a team effort. He is so good about helping out and taking over with the kids so that I'm able to get the extra things done once in awhile. I truly am blessed to have him in my life.

On my to-do lists for tomorrow:
cook up a few more roasts, and shred (better too much than not enough)
cook and shred chicken for sandwiches (also for John's family party)
one last treat recipe (a toffee-like bar)
another layer to the pinata
christmas cards to get finished and in the mail (better late than never, right?)
fold laundry (I'm getting behind's clean, just not folded)
double check on kids clothes for Christmas eve mass, iron as needed
begin gift-wrapping? (or maybe not just yet)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

St. Joseph, pray for him

Sam came home from church this afternoon wild with excitement. He had just come from practice for the Christmas Eve children's mass. He was chosen for the part of Joseph in the mass, and while it's not a speaking part, he is involved in the processional, and again during the Gospel. Oi! I'm excited for him, and pray he was paying attention!

christmas traditions

We drove over to St. Henry last evening for my mom's family Christmas. She is one of 11 children, who along with all my cousins, and in-laws, and cousins kids, manage to fill up a hall pretty quickly. It's always a nice time, with great food, socializing, and of course Santa. He delivers a gift to every child, who waits in anticipation for their name to be called. My kids were revved up to say the least. One of my older kids, to my dismay was completely ungrateful this year. She got a crafty bracelet kit, that I knew she'd enjoy, but for some reason, she was a real turd about it. I tried to have a talk with her know, about how some kids get nothing at Christmas, etc...but she wouldn't hear it. Of course today she loves it and has been crafting every chance she gets. But, I'm left thinking of her "attitude" and how everyone around her was very aware of her little performance. Geesh, I always thought "beggars can't be choosers," but I guess I was wrong.

Anyway, the evening went on a success, and even little Lucy had the time of her life...walking all over the place! She got new shoes for her birthday earlier this week, and I think it was just what she needed to motivate. Too cute. (and yes, she had shoes before, but I'm not big on putting shoes on little ones before they're walking...seems unnecessary.)

As we drove home after 9, the kids pointed out one farm just outside of St. Henry that had a large lighted star mounted high up on their silo. I got little goosebumps, that for as long as I can remember back to my childhood, we watched for this same star as we drove home from my grandparents every Christmas eve. Little Christmas traditions. For these I'm grateful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 17th, 2008

14 years ago today...
I said "I do," and I'd do it all over again! (and I'm pretty certain he would too.)

A Marriage Blessing
We thank you, O God, for the Love You have implanted in our hearts.
May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feelings, and concerned for each other's needs and wishes.
Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings.
Increase our Faith and Trust in You and may Your Prudence guide our life and love.
Bless our Marriage, O God, with Peace and Happiness, and make our Love Fruitful for Your Glory and our joy both here and in eternity.

holiday preparations.

Sorry for infrequent posting, lately. John's home from his weekend shift on Mon, Tues, Weds. so this has allowed me more time to concentrate on Christmas details. My shopping is now finished. (Wooohooo!) Wrapping usually waits till Christmas eve. I don't stress about it, and just plan to do it last minute with John's help while the kiddies are sleeping. I think he enjoys seeing everything before it's torn open too.
I've also been busy in the kitchen making all the favorite Christmas treats. I try to make several batches of everything, to share with friends, etc. So far, I've finished Peanut Butter cups, M&M cookies, Brownie bites with Reeses cups, Pretzel Hugs, and a huge batch of "Puppy Chow." I've got a few more recipes to complete before the week's up, but I'm pleased to have so much done at this point. Alice and Emma and I went shopping last night for some new dresses. They have a Christmas concert at church as well as a Childrens mass, and a wedding in early February, so they'll get some wear out of them. They have such completely different taste in clothes, so it's fun to see what they're willing to try on. I was completely shocked (and a little excited) to come home with matching dresses. They chose them together and agreed immediately. They haven't dressed alike in years. The trip was a success and I look forward to not being in a mall again for a long, long time!
Now if only we could see a little of the white stuff on the ground...

angels among us?

At the breakfast table yesterday morning, Mary (4) commented to Charlie (3) "Charlie, you know you have an angel sitting next to you right now."
I happen to sit on Charlie's left, and caught his sideways, disbelieving glance in my direction as he followed with "That ain't no angel!"
(What, did the bed head and flannel jammies give me away?!)

Mary went on to try to explain about guardian angels, and I tried to help her, but the image in his head must have been blown, as he continued to glance at his disheveled mom and argue, "She's NOT an angel!"

(sigh) Even my kids know the truth about me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

celebrating St. Lucy

The braided bread turned out absolutely delightful!!! This was my first effort at baking "real" know with kneading, and rising, and punching down the dough. Alice and Emma each took turns with kneading and had great fun!

...and this was the closest we came to little girls parading with wreaths of "lit" candles on their heads. (as apparently is customary in Sweden?)

St. Lucy, feast day

St. Lucy (Lucia) whose name means light, bacame part of our Advent tradition last year. We offered up many prayers of intercession for the safe delivery and health of our own little Lucy (her namesake) who turns one this Dec 18th.

This year we're going to attempt a traditional St. Lucia bread. We'll see how that goes.

a prayer from Catholic Online:
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation -- every corner of our day. Amen

Thursday, December 11, 2008

if you like brocolli...

I made the most wonderful (super-easy!!) Brocolli Cheese Soup yesterday, thanks to a recipe I found over at Kathryn's Kitchen. Tonight, I turned the leftovers into a wonderful chicken bake for supper. In a 9x13 I layered cooked white rice, then chicken breasts, poured the leftover soup on top of that, and finished with some dry stuffing (bread crumbs) for crunch. Baked for an hour, and voila...wonderful.

more holiday (curses) spirit!

Nothing says "Joy to the world!" like black smoke billowing out of an oven. Oh, I've had burnt items on the bottom of the oven before, but this was the real billowing smoke, that had the kids wondering if they should laugh or cry. I was crying, of course, from the smoke burning my retinas. In my first baking effort of the season, attempting chocolate chip bar cookies (with little red and green M&M's), the mix rose over the edges of the pan and proceeded to drip all over the floor of the oven. I think it was the M&M candies that really added to the smoke. I found myself reaching in, scraping the hardened goo off with a spatula, as the cookies continued to bake and splatter. Nothing like having to open every window and door in the house when it's 32 degrees outside.

Anyhow, by dinner time the house was nearly emptied of the smokey haze, which returned when I preheated the oven to bake the chicken breasts. On a side note, the cookies turned out perfectly!!! I cut them into 1 inch (bitesize) squares and placed them prompltly in the freezer, hoping they'll last to see the likes of the jolliest elf.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The holiday spirit...

I'm finally starting to feel that excited anticipation for Christmas around here. The kids have been feeling it since the stockings went up...but it's taken me a bit longer. I just kept looking at my list of shopping, baking, school exchange gifts, decorating, party planning...and I was just not in the mood. But something's come over me, and starting today, I've got the fever. The younger kids and I started our day by cleaning out the basement toy room. Our intention when we started was to clean up, then sort out and part with our gently used toys to be donated to a nearby Women's domestic violence shelter. It was just the motivation we needed and Grace, Mary and John and I got the job done in less than an hour. And while we cleaned up, and tossed many broken, neglected toys, "gently used" is unfortunately not in our vocabulary. We did not have anything worthy of donating this time. (Our cleaning sweep mid-summer though, sent many nice things to Agape, so perhaps next round).

Anyhow, from basement, we moved on to more holiday decorating. I finally got our large nativity set out and Mary helped me to arrange it "just so" on the pie safe in the kitchen. We added a few small Christmas trees with lights surrounding it, and it looks beautiful. This evening, the boys kept turning the kitchen lights out just to stare at it in wonder.

During afternoon naptime (while the older ones were at school) I added more lights outdoors. This time decorating the back porch, and stringing one tree full of lights. I always like adding something out back that's "just ours" to enjoy. The tree I decorated is the one that has several bird feeders hanging in it..visible from our kitchen window for bird-watching. I got a kick out of the black-capped chickadee who kept calling to me as I strung lights. I'm not sure if he was as excited about the decorations, or just wanted his supper perch back. He was good company, none the less. The kids excitement as they all gathered home after school was priceless as they checked out the new lights and decor. I get such joy doing these silly little things, knowing how much they find pleasure in it.

By evening, John got the big star hanging outside above our lighted yard nativity. The lights had burnt out after last season, so it needed completely restrung. (God's always providing us with exercises to grow in patience. Thank you Lord.) It looks beautiful, I think. The four oldest kids got out for an evening of Christmas movies at our Parish Center. So they came home all giddy and talkative about the movies, meeting Santa, etc. Seems as though we're all getting anxious.

Anyhow, tomorrow's another day and I'm hoping to get the baking "bug." I love trying new recipes every year, and I've got a couple yummies up my sleeve for this Christmas. Bring on the chocolate!
Peaceful night all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

reminiscing about St. Nick

Meant to post over the weekend...just didn't get around to it. Anyhow, was thinking back this morning to St. Nick's feast day (Saturday) and what a nice day it was here. Other than the fact that the kids were up before 7a checking stockings. But fortunately, they let Lucy and I sleep in just a bit longer. Although when I got up a little closer to the 8 o'clock mark, I'd wished I would have joined them earlier. Most of their chocolates were gone, the orange slices (though there were only a handful) now gone, and they were working on the shelled peanuts. Who needs breakfast?!

Later that morning, the older kids organized a "gift exchange" for all the kids. (I should mention that we don't typically draw names or exchange gifts in this house, so it was cute that they came up with it...and with such organized formality.) Alice and Emma helped everyone to draw a name, and then helped them to "shop" from the toys in the basement. They were incredibly thoughtful about it...choosing favorite toys that they knew the recipient would love, then wrapping them with plastic grocery bags. Their efforts culminated under the tree where each child patiently waited to give. It was priceless. Charlie got his favorite plastic wrench from Rose, Sam recieved his favorite black high tops that Alice remembered "He wears everyday, so I know he'll love them!" (and he did.)

Moments like these, when everyone cooperates with such generosity, is one of the greatest graces I receive. Thank you Lord for everyday blessings!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Surely I'm not the only person in this world who spent the majority of my life confused about this feast day. It wasn't until recent years (embarassingly enough) that I realized we were talking about our Blessed Mother, conceived without the stain of original sin.

Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.

children's thoughts on "sisterhood"

Grace (5) and Emma (8) were conversing over breakfast this morning about marriage verses the single life. I somehow missed how the conversation started, but the ending went something like this...

Emma: "No Grace. Like, Fr. Rick, he's single!"
Grace: "Oh, I thought he was married."
Emma: "No. Since you're a girl, you'll either get married, or be single. And if you're single you can be a nun." (pause) "Nun's pray a lot!"
Grace: (making the sign of the cross) "Dear God please send me a husband."

I nearly snorted milk out of my nose, and had to calm myself to explain to John what he'd just missed. Where do they come up with this stuff?!

and the ultrasound shows....

...ONE healthy tiny miracle!

I never cease to be amazed at the perfect miracle of God's handiwork growing in the womb! This 9 week old life inside me with a beating heart, tiny arms and's just beyond belief. I'm so grateful and humbled to be entrusted once again with this beautiful gift of motherhood. My estimated due date is July 6th. I continue to experience morning sickness (most of the day) and coma-like fatigue, but I keep reminding myself that this means baby is healthy and growing...and if all goes as before, the magic 3 month mark means freedom from these nagging symptoms. (somewhere just into the new year.)

Hope to have a widget up on the blog soon, to track new baby's development, as we count down the days.

Thanks for all the prayers. God Bless!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

on the feast of St. Nicholas

God of joy and cheer,

we thank you for your servant,the good bishop Nicholas.

In loving the poor, he showed us your kindness;

in caring for your children, he revealed your love.

Make us thoughtful without need of reward

so that we, too, may be good followers of Jesus.

From All Through the Day, All Through the Year: Family Prayers and Celebrations, by David B. Batchelder

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sam's First Reconciliation day

"I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15: 7

Our Sam celebrated the sacrament of Reconciliation this evening. With much nervous anticipation, he escaped to his room just prior for a "thorough" examination of conscience, and made notes of the sins he'd committed. He did not wish for John or I to read them, but assured us, he wrote "4 or 5 good ones," and used "complete sentences" to boot. I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat when he took those steps into the confessional for the first time. Flashbacks to his Baptism, and the promises we made to raise him to know Christ were coming to fruition now. I said a prayer of blessing for him, and the 60-some children joining him this evening. That they grow to love this sacrament, and share in it often, that they may remain close to Jesus, as He so wants us all to be. God Bless Sam!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

I got the dreaded question today. Surprisingly though, not from one of my own children, but one of the kids in my 2nd grade religion class. It caught me completely off guard, as I had just asked for questions relating to their First Reconcilation tomorrow night. Out of nowhere, one sharp little student took the opportunity to ask what was apparently hot on her mind. "Mrs. Schmiesing, is Santa Claus real?" (panic, cringe) I realized that I was so unprepared for this question, or for when my own kids might spring it on me.
I dodged the bullet by responding as simply as I could. "Yes, the spirit of Santa Claus is VERY real!" "You should ask your parents so tonight." ...and then "any questions about First Reconciliation?!" (Please!)

'spose it would be wise for me to visit the confessional tomorrow as well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

boys, beds, blankets, and battles

At 2 in the morning, I tend to lose my sense of humor. So what started as a cute little episode between brothers, soon had me seeing red. It went something like this:
2am: Frank comes sliding in under the covers of my bed with frigid little hands and feet. Poor boy had probably been without blankets for some time. I scooped him up and brought him back to his own bed and tucked him in tight. I had to gently tug the covers away from his big brother Charlie, who was apparently hoarding them.
2:05 am: Charlie's at my bedside now, crying. "Mom! Frank stole all the blankets!" Arrg. I scoop him up, and carry him back to his own bed where sure enough I find Frank with their full-size comforter rolled into a ball and holding on tight on his side of the bed. I give them both a little reminder about sharing, spread out the blankets again, and back to bed I go.
2:10am: Frank's back and crying this time. More blanket stealing going on. More reminders about sharing.
2:13am: Frank's back again. Crying louder and with a different tone know the kind...the "I've just been punched in the head for no reason" cry. Another return to his bed...more talk of sharing, couple of kisses. (Did I mention little John's sleeping like a king across the room alone in his bed?!)
2:20: Charlie's turn to cry again. Alright's losing it. Time to share...time to sleep!!!! The threats begin...I think I may have mentioned stapling them to the sheets. I was tired, and cranky...and losing patience to say the least. Not my finest hour.

Anyhow...they did manage to fall back asleep with only a couple more visits to my room.
Can you believe that Charlie mentioned at breakfast that he didn't sleep well?! Arrg. Praying that tonight's a better, more peaceful night. Loving husband John suggested I could always pin one corner of the blanket to each of their pajamas. Funny. He obviously didn't hear a thing last night.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Frank's big day

He's growing up right before my very eyes, and I get a little misty-eyed just thinking about it. Today, Frank left the crib behind to move into the "big" double bed with brother Charlie. For about a week now he's been climbing out of his crib, so to prevent injury, it's time to move on. This means young John officially moved up to a bed of his longer sharing, but sleeping in his own twin-size bed. Oh my. It created a little chaos at bedtime. Charlie seemed to take it the worst, not certain he liked sharing his bed with someone new. But Frank and John were quite pleased with their new nests, and were sleeping like kings when I peaked in. I put Frank's twin Rosie to bed (still in her crib in the girls room) she seemed a bit miffed that she's still a "baby." She pointed to her crib and shrugged with a "what the heck's up with this?!" kinda look. I promised her she'd be moving into a "big" bed soon too. For now though, she stays put. It's nice knowing where I'll find her in the morning.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

survived black friday

Whew. What a day that was. It's a darn good thing I spent all day Thursday "bulking up," in order to survive the marathon at the malls on Friday. I'll admit it...I love being out there in the thick of it on Black Friday. I'm not one of the 4am "door busters" but I think I've only missed once in the last 10 years or so. My sisters-in-law and I take off for the day around 7:30 am, and it's rare to be home before midnight. The last few years I've driven our 15 passenger van with the back bench removed...and we manage to pack that baby full, stocking up for the holidays. 6 women on a mission to get as much checked off our lists as possible. There were a few years I completed all my shopping in that one day. Not this year. I just wasn't as prepared with ideas as I could have been. But the day was a success, no less. Good company, good food, a few good bargains. Good times!

Needless to say, I'm "hung over" of sorts today. With first trimester fatigue/nausea and an 18 hour shopping spree under my belt, I feel drained of any energy. We did manage to start a little holiday decorating though, bringing out some snowmen, a small tree, the advent wreath, and advent calendar. It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A blessed thanksgiving to you all!

Thank you, God, for everything

Thank you, God, for everything,
The big things and the small.
For "every good gift comes from God"...
The giver of them all.
And all too often we accept, without any thanks or praise,
The gifts God sends as blessings, each day in many ways.
And so at this Thanksgiving Time, we offer up a prayer...
To thank you, God, for giving us a lot more than our share.

First, thank you for the little things
That often come our way,
The things we take for granted
But don't mention when we pray,
The unexpected courtesy, the thoughtful, kindly deed,
A hand reached out to help us in the time of sudden need.
Oh, make us more aware, dear God, of little daily graces
That come to us with "sweet surprise"
From never-dreamed-of places.

Then, thank you for the "Miracles"
We are much too blind to see,
And give us new awareness of our many gifts from Thee,
And help us to remember that the Key of Life and Living
Is to make each prayer a Prayer of Thanks
And every day Thanksgiving
--Helen Steiner Rice

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

family ties...or knots?

On the same subject I last posted...I found myself in another puzzler today, this time involving John's side of the family. We attended the funeral mass for his Aunt Clara this morning. When discussing before-hand, her children's names, late husband, etc. I mentioned to John "Now this is your Dad's sister-in-law right?" His reply..."Yes, and his aunt." And so the untangling of family ties began.

Turns out (and this is not the only example within his family) that John's uncle (on his dad's side) Eddie married Clara who also happens to be John's great aunt (on his mom's side.) It was nice though, seeing both sides of John's family tree at church.

I mentioned this happens more than once in his family...another example, John's aunt Edna (his dad's sister) married John's great uncle (from mom's side.) Clear as mud, right? I just ask John to remind me from time to time, who's who, and how we're related.

ps...if I messed this up (family) feel free to let me know.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I know I'm getting older when...

John and I were having a discussion about someone we prayed for in church...not quite sure who the person was. Which led to...who were her siblings?...or was that her cousin?...and her parents were "so and so"...oh, no I think she belonged to "so and so." We had to call John's sister to settle things. She was closer in age, and knew the circle of folks better. We both laughed when the conversation was over. It sounded like one of a million of the same we'd had with our mothers who were always quick to remind us how we were related to "so and so" in some way. And would then proceed to map it all out for us. I remember dreading those conversations, not paying as close attention as I should have...and now I'm at the heart of them. Oi.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

O-H, I-O

So, we may not be the Buckeyes' biggest fans. But there's strength in numbers, and at this house we believe OSU-Michigan game should be on the liturgical calendar...or at least a Hallmark Holiday. At any rate, it's cause for anticipation, reflux-ation (from all the good eats) and hopefully celebration! We have the game on at our house...and we're primed for a win!
Go Bucks!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

on feeding the masses...

I made chex mix 2 days ago. 4 batches to be exact. (that's nearly 4 boxes of cereal, plus all the extras.) This evening, it sounded like a good snack, but hmmmm...funny, there's just a handful left. I'll just grab the other bag out of the freezer, right?! Nope. All gone. Turns out all the kids (and their dad) LOVE the stuff. On the up side, I'm thinking there should be no issues with irregularity in the house these next couple days, anyhow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

on faith, and family

It occured to me, as I was driving home from work today, that it seems necessary for me to share a few thoughts on our big family. More importantly I guess, to share that trusting in God's plan, has not always been easy for me.
I'll start at the beginning, by remembering that having children, at first, did not come easy at all. John and I both had our share of infertility issues, and after procedures, surgeries, and even unsuccessful attempts at artificial insemination (at that time I couldn't begin to understand the Catholic church's stance on these issues), I finally prayed...really prayed, and released my pain to God. I begged him to just take over, and help me to deal with whatever He wanted for us. Perhaps I wasn't meant to be a mother afterall. I just wanted Him to lead, and to help me heal (and deal). Within a month I was pregnant with our twin daughters. I understand now, I just needed to allow Him to lead. After our fourth child was born, a new anxiety was taking over me. This time, I wanted to control again, my plan for our family. I felt overwhelmed with 4 children in just 3 years. I turned to contraception and prayed fiercely to the Blessed Mother. I'm ever grateful for her intercession. I felt horrible on the pill, so stopped it and was soon pregnant with our second set of twins. In that time, I learned even more to trust in the Lord. His plans are far greater than we can imagine for ourselves. And time and time again, He's helped us to realize that He will provide for us. There continue to be times when I question that we're doing what is "right." There are so many people who are quick to ask "How will you pay for college?" or "Where will they all sleep?" I just have faith, and pray. I've come to realize that as a mother, I'm building a cathedral here... the work I commit to raising our children may never be realized or fully appreciated in my lifetime. But I'm laying the foundation for something beautiful and magnificent to come, I hope.
Truth be told, I could never have imagined this life for myself. I couldn't have in my wildest dreams. I wasn't born or raised with any greater knowledge than anyone else about raising a large family. I had just two brothers. But as I grow in faith of our Father who loves us, I know more each day..."he does not call the equipped, rather he equips the called." It's difficult to move beyond the fear, but so necessary to grow closer to Him.

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

some real news...

okay, today I've got news. I'd hoped to wait a little longer to share, but the kids now know, so everyone is finding out quickly!

Jamie's perfect 10 is soon to be 11!

We're thrilled to announce that we're expecting another little miracle (sometime in July).

I'm a little more tired than usual, but otherwise feeling great!

Pray for us as we grow.

jamie & john

Sunday, November 16, 2008

help! (bak, bak!)

As I sit here googling good recipes for roasted chicken, I figure, why not ask for a tried and true recipe from someone who knows...
so. What are you waiting for? Please send me your (simple) delicious oven roasted chicken recipe. I'm thinking of doing up a pan of legs, since this is the kids favorites. You can post as a comment, or e-mail me if you'd rather. Thanks.

schmiesings playdoh fun factory...

It's rare that any toy, craft or game can hold the attention of everyone for any length of time. Playdoh rocks! I happened across 4 new cans today, probably stashed away from Easter baskets, and forgotten. It was like finding lost treasure. 9 of the kids circled the kitchen table to pound, roll, squish and create until the cows came home. (Lucy and I enjoyed a few minutes of quiet...priceless!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nothing new...

I haven't been writing much lately. It seems that even in the grocery store line, when someone asks "What's new?" I stumble for an answer. Truth is, many days feel just like the day before. And with cold weather setting in, and all of our time being spent indoors, it feels even more so. As I struggled for something "inspiring" to write about tonight, it occured to me to mention the little details of our day. Perhaps not inspiring, but grace-filled none the less. I'll start by mentioning that on Saturdays, there are no alarm clocks in this house. (Except for John who leaves for work very early...before my brain can hear, let alone respond to an alarm.) Anyways, I awoke to the sound of boys tip-toeing down the hallway, sneaking into my room, and climbing in under the covers to snuggle just a bit before the others wake up. God Bless John and Charlie. It doesn't take Lucy long to stir in her crib, next to my bed. She doesn't cry though, just giggles and begins bouncing in her bed to get my attention. I quickly pull her into my bed also. Frank's awake now, and hollering to get out of his crib. Unfortunately Sam is ignoring him, so up we go to retrieve Frank, and 5 of us snuggle onto the couch. It's a great way to wake in the morning. I strongly recommend this slower pace if you're able.
Did I mention it snowed here today?! Our first snowfall of the season. Big wet beautiful flakes, that even managed to accumulate on rooftops, and over grass, before melting away in the rain later. The snow lasted most of the afternoon, which prompted us to move furniture. Our couch always sits in front of the big picture window in the living room, and rather than have the kids sitting on the back of the couch all day, we opted instead to move furniture. Have you ever tried moving couches with a baby, 2 toddlers and a handful of other pint-size helpers? It's a challenge to say the least. But it was so worth it to see them lined up in the window all afternoon just watching the snow fall. Beautiful!! (naturally, my camera batteries are dead, and Sam just put the last 8 or so into his remote control monster truck. Drats!)
The day was even more special in that we attended church as a family (or at least the majority of us.) The babies went to grandmas as usual, but John made it home from work early, and was able to join us to hear Alice and Emma singing in the childrens choir at 5 o'clock mass. I had forgotten how nice it is to have him in the pew with us. I so look forward to a time when his schedule might change that he can join us every Sunday.
I am grateful for simple blessings in my life...for days when "nothing new" means "all is good."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the birds are back in town...

Within 24 hours after hanging the feeders in the tree for the winter...the birds are back. Already we've been graced by the presence of 2 blue jays, a downy woodpecker, a nuthatch, a few finches, and a handful of juncos. As if we've nothing better to do, we manage to drop everything and birdwatch when a new one appears. It's like welcoming back old friends, and a sure reminder that winter's moving in.

A couple Christmases back, the kids helped me to pick out a nice birdfeeder for John from Lowes, and a book we ordered online about birds native to Ohio. It took us no time at all to move the book and a pair of binoculars to the cupboard nearest the kitchen window, for quick access. The flagged, dog-eared pages are more like a family album now, as we thumb through to see who's back, and who's yet to return as the weather gets colder, and food more scarce. It's been a wonderful source of entertainment for the kids of all ages in our home, and several of the kids have brought the book in for show-and-tell, to share some of what they've learned from keeping company with the birds in our own backyard.

Good Saint Francis, patron of animals: Help us to follow your example of treating every living thing with kindness. Amen.

pizza for lunch...

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. ~Mother Teresa

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

family movie night

Just for something different...
We moved the coffee table out, brought in bed pillows and spread out blankets for a special feature "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Lucy thought it was gymboree time, and little Rose, struggling to find the perfect spot, spent most of the movie hauling around a pillow twice her size, falling over bodies. She finally settled in on the couch with mom. Just in time for the movie to end, and bed time to begin.
...Who needs a big screen?

a family favorite

With the holidays fast approaching, I'm so grateful to my Aunt Betty for e-mailing her one-of-a-kind fruitcake recipe. I think I may give this one a try some evening (after I get the kiddies off to bed, of course!)


Betty's Fruitcake

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups dried fruit
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
lemon juice
1 gallon good whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Take a large dring of the whiskey again
to be sure it is of the highest quality. Fill cup and drink again. Repeat. Turn on electric mixer. Beat one egg in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and beat again. Make sure wiskey is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off mixer. Break 2 legs into the bowl and chcuk in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the table. If fried fruit gets stuck in the
beaters, pry loose with a screwdriver. Taste the wisky to check for tonsisticity. Next sift two cups of something. Who cares? Check the wisky. Now sift the lemon Juice over your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar, or something. Whatever. Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to set the tuner. Throw the bowl out the window. Check the wisky. Gotobed. Who the hell likes gruitcake any ways???
Have a Merry Christmas, Ya'll.

Veterans Day Prayer

to honor my dad, my father-in-law, brothers, in-laws, and friends who so proudly served...

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the selfless service of those who gave their lives to protect our nation, preserve our freedoms, and restore peace in the face of brutal aggressors. Grant relief to those who continue to experience emotional or physical agony from their days of combat. Give us a sense of responsibility for their welfare. Comfort those who mourn for loved ones who died while performing their duty to our country. Enlist all who are in our military forces into your church militant, that they may pledge eternal loyalty to Christ, our King, and know his peace. Amen

Monday, November 10, 2008

everybody clap your hands!

Here's what we're moving to at our house. It's a beat that makes everyone drop what they're doing and start moving to the lyrics...even Lucy. 12 bodies packed around the computer, getting "funky!"


More phone-time funnies...

Little John embarassed his Dad something terrible today. The phone rang, and 4 year old John was the first one there. "Hello Shmeeshingsh!" (pause) followed by (quite loudly) "Dad! It's your girlfriend!"
Dad quickly answers the phone to the roaring laughter of our parish secretary, calling to see if he would be able to drive bus today for the religious ed. students. I think it made her day, and mine to see my husband turn 10 different shades of red in embarassment!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

perseverance pays off

It can be tricky to get those sticky marshmallows from the bottom of the hot chocolate mug, but as Charlie shows, "Where there's a will, there's a way!"

Friday, November 7, 2008

...from the trenches

Sorry for the silence. The same fever and cold symptoms the kids were passing around earlier this week has hit their mom with a vengeance. I felt grateful that there was no school yesterday or today so that I had the older kids home to help. Yesterday we had a fun day at Coldwater park, despite the cough and sniffles. We picniced with some friends and made the best of the last warm day for awhile. Today I was feeling even worse, so Alice and Emma walked John and Mary to preschool (which is just around the corner,) and all the kids played outside most of the day. Lucy seemed especially happy today (now that she can breathe through her nose again.) It was nice that she wasn't as clingy as she's been the last few days. Not that I minded it then, but with fever and cough, I just wasn't in a snuggly mood. Anyhow, we still managed some fun crafts this afternoon, and I made comfort food for supper...homemade pancakes with lots of butter and syrup. I'm feeling slightly better already this evening...except for the cough, and my "rudolph" red nose. Praying tomorrow we're all feeling much better.
It's a busy day on Saturday with a bridal shower for my neice, and dinner out with my parents & my brother Joe and his wife to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. (no kids!) I'll find a way to feel better for that, no's been a loooong time since we've been out on a date. We're overdue!
Blessed weekend to all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

a few thoughts on the election

I watched the election returns with optimism last night, certain that there was a good chance that polls could be wrong, and that John McCain would in fact be the next president of our great nation. Unfortunately, that just wasn't the case. I was moved to tears and in complete disbelief when Senator McCain gave his concession speach. I'm certain I could never have been so gracious.
As I finally pulled my defeated self to bed, the words "healing" kept coming to mind. I considered the reactions I'd seen on tv to the election of our first black president. Words spoken such as "historic" and "I never imagined I'd live to see the day!" Words from people who'd lived through segregation and race riots, and horrors I could never begin to imagine. I realized how blessed, indifferent and perhaps ignorant I was to have never lived through those times. Never, did the thought occur to me to vote (or not vote) for him because of the color of his skin. I saw grown men and women weeping at the sight of a black man holding the highest office of our country. And as I lay in bed praying for the future of our nation, again the words "healing" kept coming to my mind. Perhaps while our future is uncertain, a part of our past may heal because of the election of this new president. While I am apprehensive of where he may lead us, I'm more aware that God is always providing opportunities for his Goodness to be revealed. I pray that many may experience healing through the renewed hope provided that anyone can do anything they put their mind to here in America, regardless of religion, economic status, or color of their skin.
God be with us, bless us and help this nation to heal. May the sacredness of all life be preserved. Be with our new President and allow him to be guided by your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

behind every good man...

As we were cleaning up the kitchen after supper tonight, John mentioned that I should write down all the dosage intructions for Tylenol, Motrin, etc. for our four youngest who've been running fevers, in case they need anything while I'm at work tomorrow. (It's already written in the medicine cabinet, so I told him to just call me at work with any questions.) He went on to say that he told some young coworkers recently that they "should meet a good woman who happens to be a nurse, so they won't have to worry about what to do with sick kids." He said he was going to teach his boys the same thing some day. I gave him a sideways glance as I continued sweeping the floor, and suggested it might be better to teach his sons to think for themselves, so that they would know how to dose their kids with tylenol while their wives are at work. (hint, hint) Encourage self-sufficiency and all. He laughed, "Nah, they'll have a good parish secretary to do their thinking for them." (alluding to the idea that they'll be called to a priestly vocation someday.)
He went on to jab that perhaps a certain priest's blog that I read frequently isn't even really written by said priest, but just his genious secretary in disguise. "Blog about that!" he laughed. And so I did.

just in the nick of time...

It's cold and flu season again, and anyone with children knows what a hassle it is to check the temperature of a screaming, feverish baby at 4 in the morning. Multiply that time 5 or 6 (or more) sick kids, and it's enough to drive a mom mad!
I found this thermometer at Walmart this week, just in time for 4 of the kids to be passing around fevers and cold symptoms. It's already worth it's weight in gold, and certainly worth the $35. it cost at Walmart. (There's even a $5 rebate right now on the Exergen web site.) Just a quick pass across the forehead, and voila instant, accurate temperature! Woohoo.

feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Nov. 4th

Prayer to St. Charles, patron of catechists.

O Saintly reformer, animator of spiritual renewal of priests and religious, you organized true seminaries and wrote a standard catechism. Inspire all religious teachers and authors of catechetical books. Move them to love and transmit only that which can form true followers of the Teacher who was divine. Amen.

...and patron of our own little saint charles born 7-27-05...pray for us!

Monday, November 3, 2008

busy monday

Hello all. I'm feeling too exhausted tonight to be clever with words, so I'll just share a little of our hectic day...
7am: up and at 'em. We're out of cereal, so it's scrambled eggs, toast and juice for all. 3 oldest off to school
spent the morning folding laundry, bathing babies, and munching on halloween candy. (oh, and coffee.)
John mowed the grass, and raked some leaves with the help of the boys.
Homemade pizza for lunch, kitchen cleanup. 3 more out the door for afternoon school.
I did some quick shopping at Walmart and Aldi's for groceries, and a bridal shower gift. Made it home in time to unload and pick up 2 from preschool.
Grace came home from school in tears because she'd left her homework papers in her desk, so Alice and Emma were kind enough to walk back with her. (grateful for tiny graces.)
After homework, we packed a picnic for the park to enjoy one more unseasonably warm evening. It was wonderful!
7:00 Rosary for the elections. John and I and the 6 oldest went. It was the coolest. We prayed for all the souls of each of the 50 states. One for each Hail Mary. Patriotic was all beautiful, and the kids did very well through it.
7:45 John headed home with the kids and I went on to our WhyCatholic small group meeting. Very nice conversation, and spiritually uplifting as usual.
9:00-10:00 spent an hour at Adoration, praying for conversion of souls, for the elections, for our priests and vocations, and much more. How quickly that hour went! Wonderful.
Came home and sampled some of mom's homemade black bean salsa. Delicious!! (I need that recipe.)
Attempted to clear some papers and mail off of the kitchen cupboard, loaded the dishwasher, and now, finally calling it a day...tomorrow's another day.

A thought on Psalm 34 (from the song "Taste and See")
I will bless the Lord at all times. Praise shall always be on my lips. My soul shall glory in the Lord, for He has been so good to me.

tomorrow's the day...

...have you considered prayerfully, the upcoming election? It's not too late.

Lord, as the November Election draws near we ask
That the same hands lifted up to You in prayer
Are the hands that mark the ballot in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read Your Word
Are the eyes that read the names and issues on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Song of the Saints

thought this was too cute...had to share.

Saturday: Cleaning Day. NOT!

November 1st and temps were in the upper 60's today. Who woulda' thought?! In light of the unseasonably warm weather, we skipped all cleaning for the day. (Woohoo!! confetti, streamers, crowds cheering.) Well, sorta. (letdown)
The kids and I spent the day outdoors cleaning the garage and shed. I actually enjoyed it immensely. My husband is a packrat to his core, and when I ask him to throw something out, it inevitably ends up in the shed with the thought that he'll find another use for it later. It makes me crazy!!! Anyhow, with him at work today, I got busy. The kids were great help, most of the time. And when they weren't helping, they were playing together which is just as helpful. We unloaded the garage first, sorting through broken squirt guns and other summer toys that needed to be tossed. We hung up a few bikes, sorted through balls and bats, and every imagineable outdoor plaything. We paired up skates, lined up scooters. It was wonderful.
After lunch we tackled the shed. It required more effort on my part, as this is where John keeps all of his recycleables (aka: junk). After stacking lumber, throwing away broken christmas decorations from last season, putting a few tools away, and cleaning up a bit, it was time to start pitching. I found a broken quilt rack that I asked him to pitch 2 years ago. It's still broken, and still useless. (Lord, help me!) It took me no time to fill a few garbage cans, and soon I found room for the patio table and chairs, and the bench and rocker from the front porch. It's all organized with the snow blower shifted to the front for easy access. (Hopefully, this will mean we won't need it too much.)
Anyhow, it was a wonderfully productive day. And we ended it by watching the Minster HS girls cross country team parade through town on firetrucks as the new Div III State Champions. Woohoo! We joined them at the high school for a welcome home pep rally. Two of our neices ran today, and we're sooo proud of them. Way to go Lei and Averie! I think they're amazing!
Have a peaceful weekend everyone. A blessed All Saints Day to all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

got candy?

It was trick-or-treat here in town last evening. Can you say "chocolate?!" Oh my. I'm estimating that we had 150 beggars here based on the number of treats we gave away. Unfortunately, the kids brought home 9 times that much. (Lucy stayed here with me, while John took 7, and the 2 oldest were out with friends.) I had to pull suckers out of the mouths of babes last night, literally, as they were climbing into bed.
Needless to say, an emergency sort and stash was necessary while they were sleeping in order to prevent them (me) from binging all day today. I filled 2 gallon size bags of chocolate bars for the freezer, and 1 quart size bag of tiny goodies that will look cute on our Christmas gingerbread house. I stashed one quart jar of bubble gum in the cupboard for all the times the kids beg for a piece. There's a small pumpkin of "chewy" candies that the littler kids can pick from today, and I still have at least 5# more chocolate on top of the fridge for when someone thinks to ask. I'm praying it's still there at Easter, at which time we can toss it. (Please, let me forget. Please let me forget!) I filled the snack cupboard with bags of chips and crackers, oh did I mention about 5# of suckers, tootsie rolls, jawbreakers and other candy that Emma wants to cash in at the dentist next week. (Our local dentist buys back candy for $1/lb. and then sends it to our soldiers in Iraq) Emma's all about the cash and could care less about the sweets. (Reminds me of her Godfather.) Anyhow, I'm thinking I'll just set this little pumpkin of sweets on the coffee table and let the kids have at it this morning for all the times I've pulled someone off the cupboard by now. As for me, I'm hanging in there. It's 9:07 and I've yet to have my first Reese's cup for the day. (Praying for self discipline!)

Have a blessed day all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

there's no blocking!

Growing up with my 2 brothers, one of the rottenest things we could do to each other is point a toe in their direction and "bzzzz" them. It was as low-down as you could get, and inevitibly, the person on the receiving end would holler "Mom!!! Jamie just buzzed me!" It meant war. And bzzzing would abound!
Anyhow, today while laying on the couch for a moment with little Lucy, I found myself pointing my sock-covered foot in little John's direction and "bzzzzing" at him. (socks or barefeet were more criminal than shoes.) Without flinching, or missing a beat, he calmly responded. "Who cares, I got a blocker on." ("What?!" I thought in outrage. "There's no blocking!") I bzzzed him again, this time with a little more stretch and point to the toe. Still without faltering, he shrugged at me. "I don't care, I got my blocker on."
I was furious (to myself). There's no blocking! You can't change the rules to a game we created 30 some years ago. I've been bzzzing for years. Hmmmph. Blocking is just wrong. I bzzzed him again just because, as he turned to walk away. Ha. I got the last bzzz.
I know we've all heard it before, but this one sends chills down my spine. As a nurse, mother, human being...I can not even imagine! Please pray that people will be moved and awakened to vote with a conscience.

future plumber brothers?

Always interested in how things work, I recently found myself bringing young John and Charlie on a field trip into the basement. Mission: follow the "poop pipe." That's right, the question came up "Where does the poop go after you flush?" I tried the line from Nemo about all pipes lead to the ocean but in midwest Ohio, that doesn't really fly. So, after taking care of business, I explained in brief how the toilet works and and we pointed (on hands and knees) the path of the water until it went down through the floor. This took us into the basement to see...the "poop pipe." We continue to trace the path through the pipes and out of the basement through the backyard and towards the alley. I showed them the manhole in the alley, and that's where our journey ended. Although, we did have to take turns flushing the toilet while one of the boys stood in the basement to hear the water going through the pipes.
This morning I walked by the bathroom and found John and Charlie again, doing their bathroom business and talking a hundred miles an hour. They were retracing verbally the path of things through the "poop pipe." It was too funny! Perhaps we have a few "Joe Plumbers" in our midst here. A family business perhaps. (Someone please help me to know we're not the only ones having conversations like these.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Don't be alarmed if this strange brew shows up on your doorsteps...'tis the season for tricks and treats. Tonight we attended our Knights of Columbus annual Halloween costume contest. I'm excited (and a little embarassed) to report that the Schmiesings nearly swept the contest with a win in 4 of the 5 age groups. CIA Special Agent (Sam), Mummy (Grace), Vampire (John), and Clown (Lucy) all took home cash prizes.
I had to laugh as we drove home, everyone thrilled with an evening of silly fun with friends, and cookies & juice to boot. Emma started "talking trash" about her loss for the evening. It went something like this (and in good humor):
Emma: "Man, what a rip-off! I should have won with my 100% recycled costume!"
Mom: "Maybe you just didn't work it Emma. Take little Lucy. All 10 of you kids have worn that outfit (we have two that I made when Alice and Emma were babies) and Lucy is the first one to bring home a prize with it. First one out of 10!"
Dad: "Yeah Emma, Lucy know's how to work it with the judges."
Sam: "Way to go it!"
Lucy: (gumming on her clown hat, oblivious): "bla, bla, bla, bla"
Emma continued (laughing now) to trash talk the whole evening, and everyone laughingly gave it right back. Face it Emma, you were outplayed by a 10 month old.
Back at home, everyone exited the van, high-fiving Lucy for her big win, and tickled with a fun night out. Two more days till trick-or-treat! Wooo hooooo! Bring on the chocolate.

the family that prays together...

...well, you know. We're in the early, experimental phases, but it's going very well, so I need to share the idea of a family rosary. I've heard other people mention it, but communal prayer at home other than at meals or bedtime just really was a foreign concept to me. Sorry, but just wasn't raised that way. Anyhow, to celebrate October as the month of the Holy Rosary, I started having my second grade religion students pray a decade each time we met. They loved it, and were so enthusiastic about it, that a little lightbulb went off, and I had to bring the idea home. I started with just a decade the first couple days with the younger kids while John was at work. (For some reason, I expected it to go terribly and was a little afraid of failure in front of John.) Silly, I know! Anyhow, the kids loved it at home too, and asked about doing it again. I checked a few Catholic websites for tips about praying a family rosary with young kids, and this is what seems to be working for us so far. At the kids usual bedtime, I mention that we're going to pray a rosary, and whoever would like to stay up the extra 15-20 minutes may do so. (this makes praying together a treat) So far everyone's all for it. I usually put the youngest to bed after the first decade...when they're starting to show signs of breaking...and Dad and the others continue on, and I join in after just a few missed Hail Marys. We take turns leading the prayers, so that the kids are very involved, and on their toes waiting for their next chance. And for the young ones who still stumble over some of the words, we help them along. They're learning so fast! Today I picked up some simple "How to pray the rosary" pamphlets that include pictures of each of the mysteries, which I'm hoping will help us all to better focus and meditate as we pray the words. In talking about how things went afterwards, John mentioned that he had thought about suggesting this years ago, but was embarassed. And as terrible as it sounds, I may not have been as open to the idea a few years ago either. We all come to things in our own time, by the grace and movement of the Spirit. I'm so grateful that this came to our home now, while our children are so young. I pray that we continue to make time for the rosary, and devotion to our Blessed Mother. What a gift for our children, I think. I encourage you all to try it, especially if you've thought about it but are procrastinating for whatever reason. Just do it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

flickers of hope

39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. ~Mark 4:39 (NIV)

As we walked down the street to our church last evening for the Pro-Life Pumpkin Memorial, John and I both whispered prayers for the wind to calm. The cooler temperatures were bearable, but the gusting winds would never allow for all those pumpkins to be lit. We arrived to the front of our church along with several other hundred who had gathered. The folk group was singing/playing beautifully, and the kids unbundled just enough to sample some cookies from the refreshment table. We chatted briefly with friends and family, then found a spot near the street light pole to sit with the kids up front.
The teens organizing the event, started with a few abortion statistics. May we find hope in the fact that the number of abortions have declined since last year, but still 3,600 babies die every day in the US from abortion. There were 400 pumpkins on the steps, each memorializing 9 of those babies. Our parish priest, Fr. Rick prayed with us, and music continued as the teens proceeded to light the 400 pumpkins...with only a slight breeze. Prayers were answered as the wind had been calmed! Thank you Jesus! I got goosebumps as the crowd of hundreds sang together "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman." It was just beautiful. Afterwards everyone was welcome to take a pumkin (or several) home with them to light and show support for Life. We pulled our little red wagon home, this time in winds that nearly pushed the little ones over. Thank you Lord, for allowing the calm, if only for 1/2 an hour!
I am so inspired by the youth of our parish, and hopeful that this ugly battle for Life will one day end. I continue to remain optimistic that the ProLife ticket will prevail next Tuesday. You're just in time to begin a Novena for the Election...join me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin carving 101

Imagine if you will, one knife weilding adult, and 10 very enthusiastic scoopers waiting for their turn to scrape the "guts" out of a pumpkin. I can't seem to get the tops off fast enough, and enthusiasm soon turns to pandemonium. Lucy's under the table eating seeds, Frank and Rose are taking turns trying to grab the knife when I lay it down (which I quickly learn NOT to do.) and the others are just squeezing into my hips tighter and tighter trying to be the next in line to scoop out the guts. Charlie eventually gives up on scooping and decides its more fun to run his trucks and cars through the piles of pumkin seeds and pulp on the table. The purring of his little engine noises and beeping as he backs up to drive through again, are awful cute, but not helping the mess as more seeds are being thrown down to Lucy. After a few tries at pulling the squishy slop out, the girls quickly decided they'd rather carry the pumpkins in and out of the house for me. Somehow we managed to get them all cleaned, and saved carving for naptime, when I had a few less helpers.
The busted pumpkin was cleaned and baked, and used to make pumpkin raisin bread which smells absolutely wonderful. We may have to try it for breakfast tomorrow. And despite the chaos, I'm grateful the kids were able to participate in it, and for such a greater good. These were just a dozen of the 400 pumpkins that will be lit in tomorrow's ProLife pumpkin memorial at our church. I'm grateful to be such a small part of something so amazing and touching. I hope it brings greater awareness to the number of babies being killed each year by abortion, especially at this election time, when the ProLife movement is in such jeopardy of a terrible setback.

okay I was being optimistic!

I didn't make it through the entire list, and a few things were altered slightly, but we kept busy today! (and happy to report it was another t.v.-free day.)

Basement cleaned (check)
Family rosary (check)
12 pumpkins carved (check) oops one fell and busted
so, instead of cookies it was pumpkin bread...4 loaves (check)
pictures sorted (check)...For now, each of the kids has a photo box. No albums yet
kitchen floor scrubbed (check) ...see above note about busted pumpkin!
pot roast for supper (check) ...and oh, so yummy
Lucy snuggle (check) and Rose, and Charlie too!
laundry (check)

I do have to mention that I'm trying something new with laundry. We'll see how it goes. But, I'd heard a few folks mention that they don't sort laundry anymore, they just wash everything for the day in one load. This means one load per day. Hmmm. After doing a laundry marathon earlier in the week just to catch up, I'm ready to give it a try. For 2 nights now, I empty the laundry chute right into the washer (with the exception of socks and underwear, cause that just grosses me out and needs to be washed seperately.) So, I do one load of laundry each night, and in the morning I fold it and put it away. I did run a second load yesterday of socks, underwear and washrags, and today a second load of delicates. But wow! So far, so good. I'll keep you posted. The rest of the list, well that will be waiting for me tomorrow. Or, Monday.

My to-do list for the day...

Rather than tell you what I actually accomplish, I'll let you wonder in amazement and believe that I might actually pull it off.

basement cleaned, vacuumed and dusted
carve pumpkins (for the ProLife Pumpkin memorial)
bake cookies
sort 600 pictures (just printed a years worth from snapfish)
shovel out the girls' rooms and rearrange their furniture (per their request)
snuggle with Lucy again (it's addictive)
pot roast for supper
family rosary (yesterday's attempt was inspiring)
scrub kitchen floor (WAY over-due!)
clean bathrooms
vaccum dust family room
finish a cup of coffee before it's cold (never happens!)

that's in addition to changing diapers, cooking, playing with the kids, kissing ouchies, etc. Should be a good one.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Would it be a sacrilege?

The boys in my house have quite the imagination. It's not at all unusual to see them in dress up throughout most of the worker, fireman, army man, cowboy, football or baseball player, or anything else they come up with. I caught Charlie in his fireman hat and badge out on the patio tonight putting out a "fire" with his tree branch "firehose." So, my question is real...would it be a sacrilege to have a priest outfit in the dressup box? If we're trying out potential vocations, is it wrong to play mass, annoint, or baptize? Just wondering.

Lucy's lullaby

Little Lucy woke early from her nap today. Often times a pacifier and snuggly blanket will hush her right back to dreamland, but today that wasn't the case. She looked really tired yet, but wanted some mom-time, so I scooped her out of her crib and together we snuggled in the rocking chair. She hummed along as I sang her the words to a lullaby I'd learned years ago when I competed in a Solo and Ensemble contest back in high school. (Funny that I can remember still.) I have never been a good singer, but I can dream. Anyways, as I gazed into her sleepy eyes and sang lovingly to her, I remembered quite clearly the contest for which I first learned the song. The judge told me afterwards that while the notes were right, it just "wasn't believable." He told me I wasn't really singing it as a lullaby. Huh?! I'm sure I shrugged my "whatever" shrug, and left the room with my 2 rating, and whatever was left of my pride. I really didn't get what he meant till just now...20 years later. (sometimes it takes me awhile) I didn't understand how to sing a lullaby then, any more than I could tell you what it's like to walk on the moon. But now, as I hold this child with complete and unconditional love, and sing so that she feels the love outpoured, love that gives peace and rest, I understand what it means to sing a real lullaby...and to love and trust completely.

Sleep now little baby.
Close your sleepy eyes.
Sandman's waiting for you,
with a big surprise.
He'll take you to dreamland,
flying through the night,
to find hidden in slumber
visions of delight...
Ice Cream mountains, and soda fountains,
and candy orchards you'll see.
Chocolate makers and apple pie bakers
are waiting there, for thee.
Sleep now little baby, let there be no more cries.
You'll find your mother and father, when you open your eyes.

too pooped to post

Sorry for no post yesterday, was just too tired. I was up later than usual Tuesday night catching up on laundry (1am), and had to punch a time clock on Wednesday. I absolutely love going to work though, so it's a good kind of exhaustion. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had to go in everyday, but I don't know, it's a pretty nice job.
Anyhow, by last evening, I had the laundry monster tamed. The kids new chore lists are really helping a lot. They have things tidied before they can turn on any bedtime tv, and as part of the new list we've added a second cleaning...Wednedsay night:bonus night. The cleaning they do on Wednesday nights earns them 50 everyone's happy. What a wonderful feeling it is to settle on the couch at 9:30 with house clean, kids sleeping peacefully, last of the laundry folded (for now.) John grabbed for the newspaper, and I sat with the computer, and needless to say, woke up at 10:00 with the computer on my lap, and nothing typed. High ho, high ho, off to bed I go!

We're back at this morning now, rejuvinated, and ready to roll. The house is turned upside down again, and I've already washed 2 loads of laundry...didn't I just say I was caught up?? (sigh)That was then. The sun is shining though, kids are healthy, chili's on the stove for supper and smells wonderful. I think I might fire 'ol Herbie up and bake us some bread to go with.
Have a blessed day all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkins for Life

Several youth in our parish have once again organized a Pro-Life Pumpkin Memorial to take place on the steps of our St. Augustine Parish. 400 pumpkins are carved with a cross and lit to represent the children killed by abortion each year. It will take place this Sunday, October 26th at 7:30pm. What a unique and amazing show of support for life. I am truly inspired by the teens who work so hard to get the message out. Check out pictures from last years event at (you'll want to click on "index" to view the flyer.)

Hope to see you there!

Do you believe in miracles?

I do.
This morning was one of those rare ocassions where silence in the house doesn't mean someone's up to something they shouldn't be...

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, October 20, 2008

on the subject of chores...

I'm sure my kids will tell you how hard they have it. Their incredibly mean mom insists they do chores. In addition to helping with Saturday: Cleaning day, they also have a rotating chore schedule. Nothing major. Just a little job each day. The oldest 3 were doing jobs like "empty dishwasher" or "sort laundry" or "set dinner table" while the next 3 shared simpler jobs like picking up toys and books. Nobody was terribly upset you can imagine, when Lucy got ahold of and chewed up the chore list. I went without help for 2 or 3 weeks, before making a new one this weekend. Today was the maiden voyage for our new list, and I think things went quite well. I changed all of the jobs, giving the older kids more flexibility with their busy schedules, and giving the younger ones new responsiblities. 4 year old John wasn't crazy about helping the 3 and 2 year olds to put toothpaste on their brushes, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. And 2 year old Rosie was tickled beyond words to have the help. It's a simple process, I tried to explain to John..."Put a tiny bit on, let them brush, rinse, tap it on the edge of the sink, and back in the cup. Dry with a towel, and voila." Rosie agreed. "Voila!" she giggled. He thinks he's gonna like setting the lunch table better tomorrow.
It's all good.

where to begin?!

It's been such a beautiful past couple days, it's hard to know where to begin. I'll start with Sunday mass, which, with Charlie is always a treat. (hint of sarcasm). Early in the mass, while checking out everything but what's going on up front, Charlie notices the stations of the cross. More specifically he mentions "Look mom, that guy has a hammer!" I whisper to him a little about what's going on in that mosaic...that Jesus is being nailed to the cross, etc." We both agreed "he wasn't a nice worker." Later in mass, when Charlie attempted a left hook in my direction (upset with me for taking away his offering envelope...punishment for his being disruptive.) I reminded him that his angry actions were just like the "bad worker" and when we allow our anger to get the best of us, we're helping to nail Jesus to the cross. His expression changed abit as he glanced again to the mosaic...and apologized. I gave him his envelope back, and he sat still with me, if only for a brief moment. He had to question the woman sitting to his right about the contents of her "pretty little purse." She smiled, but was not amused.

Sunday evening, in light of the beautiful fall weather, we had one last campfire in the back yard. I made hot chocolate with marshmallows for all the kids, including a stray neighbor or two. We toasted marshmallows, and even made popcorn. It was a wonderful treat, and the kids loved staying outdoors past dark on a school night. It's as if they too realized that our outdoor days are numbered before winter sets in. My mom and dad had stopped by, and joined us for a bit. My dad, while playing kickball with the kids, got a ball stuck in the top of the tree. The ensuing attempts to retrieve it were quite entertaining to say the least. Parents and grandparents were tossing baseballs and anything else into the tip-top of the tree, while kids wearing bike helmets stood underneath retrieving fly balls. I had to stop more than once just to laugh out loud. How silly are we...and easily amused!

Anyway, it was a wonderful end to a beautiful fall weekend, and I'm grateful as always for God's abundant blessings.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

my quandry for the day...

How in the world are we expected to parent/discipline our kids when they are complete clowns? They are crackin' me up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

okay, I did a little digging, and just had to share the music and lyrics while I had it on my mind...

Saturday afternoon dance party.

I just love days when we don't see the tv. Today was one of those days (for the most part.) It started off in our usual fashion, kids waking quietly and watching a little cartoons until everyone else is up. Then breakfast of oatmeal & toast, and cold cereal for those who prefer it. After that it was off to the bedrooms for dressing, bedmaking and straightening up. Emma had another soccer game today, so we did a quick clean-up of the basement, vaccumed and dusted the living room, swept and wiped down kitchen, and just skimmed over the bathrooms quickly. Grandma offered to take Emma to her game, so the rest of us stayed home and played; boys outside in the swingset fort with rubberband guns in tow, girls in the house coloring.
Emma returned in time for lunch, and from there the day just got more fun. While I cleaned up the kitchen, the boys returned outside for more gun-slingin', and the girls moved the living room furniture around for a "dance party." Music was blaring, and the girls were having a ball. Even Lucy enjoyed the attention she got from her older sisters who swayed with her and dipped her. She just squeeled with delight. When the dancing faded, the girls started in on halloween coloring and crafting. Some budding artists, I must say. Before long, while the little ones settled in for afternoon naps, the older ones had talked me into bringing up the halloween costume trunk from the basement. They were dressing up in every imaginable ensemble trying to choose what they'd be this year. I've made all of their costumes over the years, and so it's nice now...the young ones choose what we already have, and I don't have to do much sewing anymore. I think everyone found something they liked...a clown, a cheerleader, a fireman, a vampire, a mummy and an indian to name a few.
Despite a few episodes of drama (mostly over minor things like spilled milk, falling Hannah Montana posters, and kids trying get by without shoes or jackets in the much cooler temps) it was truly another blessed day!

An old Martina McBride song popped in my head just now..."I have been blessed. And I feel like I've found my way. I thank God for all I've been given, at the end of every day...I have been blessed!" I'm gonna have to give that song a listen again...remember the rest of the words.

Friday, October 17, 2008

while the big cats are away...

...these are the mice left to play. My four babies at home, while the 6 oldest are off to elementary, kindergarden, and preschool.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

tongue twister

I noticed a small scab on one of the boys and asked what happened..."It was a scooter bite, mom."
me: "You mean a 'skeeter bite?"
he just giggled.
I went on... "A scooter is something you ride, a 'skeeter is something that bites."
"Ya mom, I got a skeeber dite."

(almost got it.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

on bread machines and shaving cream

Just a few random thoughts here today...
First of all, how many of us received bread machines for Christmas, or weddings, anniversaries maybe. You know, like 10 years ago when bread machines were all the rage. I know I did, at least 10 years ago, pre-kids. Anyhow, I just dug mine out of the closet a few weeks back. It was a good find, cause I thought it went on the garage sale years ago. Nonetheless, we got it out, and fired that baby up. Low and behold, it still works, and it's soooooo simple!!! Homemade bread for supper without any effort! I've been making a loaf daily here lately, and the kids (and hubs) are loving it!!! Mine came with a recipe book for any variety under the sun, so I can make a flavor to match any meal. Although the smell of plain old white bread baking still has to be the best. The kids have named the machine "Herbie" and this morning were pleasantly surprised that Herbie baked us fresh bread for breakfast while the rest of us slept. How cool is that!? If you still have one buried in the basement or attic somewhere...I'm suggesting you dig that puppy out!

Now to shaving cream. As I finished fixing all the girls' hair in the bathroom this morning, Frank stood at my ankles begging for some "fixin" time himself. He has a butch haircut, so there's not much primping I can do with him. So instead, I filled the sink with water (just like Dad) and put a little shaving cream on his face (just like Dad) and proceeded to give him a "shave" with a plastic spoon. It took all of 3 minutes from start to finish, but the ear-to-ear grin was priceless when we were done. He just loved being a big boy, "just like dad." Easy fun for the little men in your lives.

Have a good day everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ring around the ghosties

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a big kid when it comes to decorating for the holidays, and halloween is no different. I try to stay away from the scary stuff...just good fun. So the last couple evenings here the kids have helped me to decorate the front porch with corn stalks, pumpkins, mums, orange lights, a scarecrow, and of course our big plastic light-up vultures that stand guard on either side of the door. Tonight, we added a cute ring of ghosts around the front tree that appear to be playing "ring-around-the-rosey." It's a cute idea I found in our Family Fun magazine a few years back, and finally decided to try it. All the kids loved helping me make the "ghosties." Even Frank and Rose, who donned the leftover scraps of bedsheets and became "ghosties" themselves. Too cute.
Anyway, after the decorating was done 9 of our kids along with 2 of the neighbors started their own game of "Ring-around-the-ghosties." The 11 of them joined hand in hand, circled the ring of ghosts and made up their own words..."Ring around the ghosties, a pocket full of candy, Pumpkins, Goblins, We all shout BOO!"
It was pretty cute. Just wish the batteries were charged for the video camera. Doggonit!

It's independence day!

As usual this morning, I brought Rosie into her room and picked clothes for her to get dressed. But unlike usual, today she gave me a firm NO. She proceeded to show me exactly what she intended to wear. Oh my. It doesn't quite match, but in time we moms learn to choose our battles and clothing is not one of mine. So, here's my independent 2 year old...putting her own mark on fashion. The world will never be the same.

Monday, October 13, 2008

to end the day

as always...

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom God's love,
commits me here.
Ever this day,
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.

just a few pics

finally getting around to sharing these pics from oktoberfest parade... super pooper scoopers, Alice and Emma (with a friend in the middle)

...little Lucy (sorry, couldn't figure out how to rotate the pic)...

...and the rest of the gang.