Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cheers to you in 2010

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.- Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year!

I know they've never heard of the Waltons

..but I'd have sworn tonight they were regulars to the show. As I stood in the kitchen dishing out supper, I could here the mumblings of the kids in the basement..."Good night John, good night Mary, Good night Lucy..." and on and on. I snuck down to find out what was going on, and turns out they had the sleeping bags unrolled and were "camping." Bedtime meant good-nights all around. Do you remember watching the Walton's...and the close of the show?!

The girls had one side...

Boys on the other...

and Charlie snuggled in the middle, right under the tree...

On the sixth day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...
6 Bakugon balls, 5 extra pounds, 4 boys still in helmets, 3 Auto-mo-blox, 2 masked marauders, and a song from my new rock star!

(I still have no idea what these things are exactly...but he does, and he's happy. I do know they're magnetic somehow, and pop-open into gnarley little creatures.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

on the fifth day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...FIVE EXTRA POUNDS!

(thanks to scrumptious yummy gifts like these, not to mention all the delicious party foods, and the baking that occured here at home.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On the fourth day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...
FOUR BOYS STILL IN HELMETS, 3 auto-mo-blox, 2 masked marauders, and a song from my new rock star.

There was no shortage on dress-up/role playing toys this year...and the boys are LOVING it!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Sam!

Today, there are three 9-year-olds in my house...the newest of which is Samuel. In just a couple weeks, Alice and Emma (my oldest pair) will be turning 10. We prayed and hoped for all of our children...except for Sam...who took us completely by surprise, born 11 months after our first twins. He's the icing on the cake after 4 1/2 long years of infertility. Thank you God for the perfect pleasant surprise of him! We couldn't have asked for a better Christmas gift!
Happy Birthday Samuel Joseph!!

On the third day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...
THREE AUTO-MO-BLOX, two masked marauders, and a song from my new rock star.

John was excited to get these new wooden cars that can be taken apart and rebuilt endless times. (just like his cousins have!)

On the second day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...
TWO MASKED MARAUDERS , and a song from my new rock star.
Frank and Charlie are LOVING their new dress-up that Santa brought. Mom, can we sleep in it?! (umm. NO.)

On the first day of Christmas...

my true loves gave to me...a song from my new ROCK STAR!

Alice serenaded me with her new guitar. What a wonderful gift...she's so excited! Now we just need a few lessons to get started...

...and the best gift of all.

Having my family together for Christmas...Mom, Dad, brothers Jim & Joe with their families, and my little bunch together for Christmas eve. Our first Christmas together in 8 years. (My niece Jenna was absent...stayed behind in Florida due to job and other commitments. We did miss having her.)

What a wonderful, fun, laughter-filled Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In case I get too busy to mention

Join me this coming Monday, December 28th for another 1 hour program on Radio Maria. 88.7fm or listen live online 11:30a-12:30p

Some of the kids may be joining me on-air for a bit. I'd love to hear from is a call-in show!!! 1-866-333-6279

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas, 2009

May your hearts and homes be filled with peace this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours.
John, Jamie
Alice, Emma, Samuel, Grace, Mary, John, Charlie, Frank, Rose & Lucy

pluggin along.

With Christmas less than 2 days away now...though beginning for us tomorrow, I've made a push to finish a little more Christmas baking, wrap a few gifts (ahead of schedule), and recruited the kids to help with some much needed cleaning. Sam ran the vaccuum in the basement while I was at work, and Emma tackled the upstairs bathroom.
Frequent phone calls with my parents indicate that both of my brothers and families are on their way home from Florida, though slightly behind schedule. They're expected to arrive home sometime around 3am. Yikes. (My big brother who lives in Jacksonville is driving his family home for Christmas, and our younger brother who lives in town here, is returning from a pre-Christmas Disney cruise with his family.) Just so happens they managed to meet up on the interstate and are caravaning home together. It IS a small world afterall!
I'm actually looking forward to scrubbing the kitchen floor tonight (how sad is that?) and have a handful of other things to check off my browning sausage for my Christmas morning brunch, wrapping a few more gifts, maybe even splurging a little and dipping my feet in a warm soak for a little pedicure. I'll be working tomorrow and plan to get home just in time to help everyone get ready for the 4 o'clock Children's mass. That reminds me...I better see who needs ironing done for mass. Add it to my list...

I was going to skip these, but decided last minute that it just isn't Christmas without frosted sugar cookies. Yummm.

A few minutes of snuggle time with my baby girls and their "naked toes."

Charlie got a boo-boo. Accident with the scissors while "crafting" with his big sisters. Alice made it all better with a much-too-big bandaid.

The girls (and a few young boys) stayed busy in the kitchen making cards and posters to welcome home Jim, Judy and Jamie from Florida. It's Jim's birthday on Christmas eve.
Happy birthday big brother!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Charlie's it. That makes us 12 for 12 with the stomach bug. Yuck.
Good will be over by Christmas!!! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

So honestly...

How are you holding up this Christmas? I'm exhausted, I'll admit it. Thanks to the additional hours at work, the stomach bug that hit us hard last week, and the constant list of things to do...I'm starting to feel the burn. I didn't finish all my Christmas baking...and honestly, not really disappointed. I got a good part of it done. I bought Christmas cards, but have yet to write them out. Starting to feel like it's okay to let that slide too. Aside from the gift exchange gifts for school tomorrow, I've not wrapped the first gift. I should be thinking about that. Actually though, John and I have gotten into the habit (tradition?) of sharing that task late into the night on Christmas eve. It's fun staying up late with him, and it allows him to see what I've accomplished shopping, before the kids actually unwrap it all. So, I'm not really even sweating the wrapping yet.
Oh, but trying to keep the house clean for visitors to stop by, attempting to stay ahead of the laundry so we have clean clothes for the parties and special masses, and wondering if I should get groceries again before the Christmas weekend...when all I really want to do is take a nap...yep. That's what's wearing me out.
I'm so looking forward to entering into Christmas with the 4 o'clock Children's mass on Christmas eve...where Alice and Sam will be singing in the choir, Emma has a reading part, Grace, Mary, John and Charlie will be dressed as angels...leaving just a few of us left in the pew together to enjoy it. We'll follow that up with Christmas eve dinner and celebrating at my parents, where my brother and his family will be home from Florida for our first Christmas together again in 9 years. That will be Christmas!
Yep...I can't wait for it to be here. All this waiting in joyful's exhausting. I can't wait to be in the heart of it...the love of family, the joy of giving, the peace that seems to follow in those 12 days of quiet Christmas at home. I'm ready to soak it all in.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

5th in a series...

This Willow Tree Nativity set was a gift from John on our 10th wedding anniversary. It too, stays out year round, typically on the dresser in our bedroom. I moved it out to the bookshelf in our family room this Christmas though, and added a single white light behind it to make it glow. I believe there are many more pieces now to the set including a creche, animals, kings, etc. But I've never looked into collecting them all. I kind of like it just as it is...simple.

This next one sits very high atop the 7ft bookshelf in our tv room year round. It's a Fontanini set that Grace received when she was born from a dear friend of mine. It looks a bit cheesey with the colored lights around it, but most of our Christmas decor is colored lights. It glows quite beautifully in the evening. And I like it despite the cheese.

thoughts and pics from the weekend

We celebrated our first Christmas party of the season on Saturday evening. My mom's family gathered in St. Henry and we enjoyed a wonderful meal, singing, Santa with gifts for all the children, even some reminiscing about Christmas' past. It was well attended (near 150), with mom and all but 1 of her 10 siblings, their children, grandchildren and great granchildren. What a crowd!
Unfortunately, John had to leave early with one of the girls who was overcome suddenly with the aweful stomach virus that had hit most of the others. By Sunday, 11 of us had been hit. Charlie seems to be walking around with a big red bullseye on his back, and we keep waiting for him to show symptoms. I pray he's just fortunate, and avoids it altogether.
There were enough well here on Sunday to finally celebrate Lucy's 2nd birthday, just 2 days late with cake, and a visit from grandparents... even an unexpected visit from her Godfather who lives 2 hours away. How kind of him to think of her, and make time to stop in!

Happy Birthday Dear Lucy!

Traditionally, Lucy receives another piece to the Nativity set her grandparents started for her when she was born. This year, she got Gabriel, the shepherd. I love the admiring little look she gives as she checks the set out together. This one stays out year round on a little shelf in our bathroom. It's just too pretty to box up after Christmas.

Ever-thankful for you Lucy, God's Little Princess!

Sunday evening, Alice and Sam donned their finest Christmas duds to participate in our parish's Christmas Concert. The evening included Christmas music performed by our Men's Choir, Mixed Choir, Children's Choir, Bell Choir, Folk Group and even the Brass Ensemble. John took Emma and Grace along for the evening, and I stayed home with the rest of the crew. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. I was tickled just to see my two leave here looking so handsome/beautiful! Melted my heart...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

prayer, reflections

Prayer: Come, O come, Emmanuel; ransom captive Israel!

Mary and Joseph waited patiently for the coming of Jesus.
I will try to be patient today, especially when others keep me waiting or do things that bother me.

Mary and Joseph thanked God for a safe trip and the stable to stay in.
I will thank God for all he gives me. I will show my parents I am grateful for all they do for me.

Mary and Joseph were at peace because they trusted God to care for them.
I will trust God to help me today to be a peacemaker in school and at home.

A beautiful, very bright star shone in the night sky over the stable.
I will bring the brightness of joy to everyone I meet today.

Christmas Day
Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus with great love!
I will welcome Jesus with great love also and offer him all my good acts and prayers during the weeks of Advent & Christmas.

A Blessed Christmas to you all!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Welcome winter!

It snowed last night! Wooohhoooooo!

The kids (despite the belly aches and illness plaguing our home) scurried for snow clothes to spend an hour or so outside in the white stuff. Neighbors gathered to help us build this massive snowman. Alice posed with it later in the day for posterity sake.

My baby is two!

Can't believe I missed the opportunity to post about baby Lucy's second birthday on December 18th. Perhaps it was the raging stomach virus that tore through our ranks, that kept me from writing. As a matter of fact it kept us from celebrating at all. From Thursday through tonight, 11 of the 12 of us have been hit hard with a messy, but thankfully short-lived stomach bug.

Lucy's cake went right into the freezer, and we're hoping tomorrow might be a good day to celebrate. Cheers to good health, and another year with our baby girl. (okay, 'spose she's not my "baby," and yet...she'll always be my "baby!")

The birthday girl enjoying cupcake and cocoa earlier in the week.

The cake and candles will have to wait till bellies here can tolerate it.

Happy Belated Birthday baby girl!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

never too old for dress-up

The look on the kids' faces when I walked out in this tonight...was PRICELESS! I couldn't help myself. Tomorrow John and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss. Fifteen! Wow. That makes me feel old. I haven't tried the dress on in a long time...and last time I think I was pregnant when I did, so this is the first time I've had it on and zipped, since my wedding day. Sam told his 'ol mom she looked "pretty" and Mary thought I looked like a princess. Grace even mumbled that she might want to get married in this dress sweet.

Charlie asked me to marry him, and I graciously declined. Although, how could I turn down a plea for a little prince charming. (Just like his dad!)

> Happy 15th Anniversary John!

So grateful for the gift of you in my life, and all the blessings God has provided.

Cheers! many more.

Recipe Box

had a request for these recipes...sorry I didn't get them posted sooner.

Buckeye Bars
1 pkg choco chips (12 oz.)
2 sticks butter
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. brown sugar

Mix together 1 stick melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and br. sugar & spread into 9x13 pan. Melt chocolate chips with 1 stick butter. Mix and spread over peanut butter mixture. Let cool. Cut into small (1 inch square) bars and enjoy! YUMM!

Puppy Chow
(okay, so I usually do not measure for this...just pour in, coat with chocolate, and mix...I'll try to "measure" for you here.) Typically, I double this and mix in my giant popcorn bowl. It disappears too fast!

3 c. Crispix cereal
3 c. Bugles (original) snacks
2c. nuts
2c. raisins
2c. Red & Green M&M's
2-3c. pretzels
1 package of Almond Bark (20 oz.) or white chocolate, melted

Mix all till well coated in chocolate, spread out on lightly greased foil or waxed paper to allow chocolate to harden. Store in ziplocs or airtight containers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

O Come Let Us Adore Him

4th in a series...

...and speaking of Little People. Fisher Price has managed to think of everything, haven't they?

This set was a gift to Sam from his Godmother, when he was just a year or two. It stays out year round mixed in with all of our other Little People. It's all hands on deck when the boys are farming, playing war, or choosing a crew to man the Lego tower they've just built. Poor baby Jesus is probably praying for just one "Silent Night" in this house!

O Come Let Us Adore Him

3rd in Nativity photo series

This set is kept at eye-level to a toddler, for the kids to handle and enjoy. John and I purchased it for just a couple dollars at a yard sale many years ago (pre-kids). It's previous owner was a sweet elderly woman who was down-sizing, selling her home and belongings to move into something smaller and easier to maintain. She admitted she'd had it for many years, but couldn't recall where it had come from. John and I imagined it to have a nice little history, so we picked it up. It's made of a plastic material, appears to be handpainted (as much of the paint is starting to chip), and each piece is signed and numbered on the bottom as if one of a series. The manger is made of a heavy cardboard which has been glued several times now.

The kids love to rearrange the figures frequently throughout the day. Frank likes to line them up in a row, Charlie tends to point everyone facing baby Jesus, and later one of the older kids comes through and sets up a traditional scene. Lucy...well, lets just say she enjoys touring them through the house in her Little People bus, where there's room for everyone...even a donkey!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lets talk!

(Radio, that is.)
Please join me this Monday morning (yes that's tomorrow!) for my Family Spirit Alive program on Radio Maria (88.7fm) or listen live online from 11:30am to 12:30pm, and plan to CALL in with comments, questions, thoughts, you-name-it. I'm relying on you listeners to call and help make this an interactive program! (I get tired of hearing myself...)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

3rd Week of Advent

continued prayers/reflections.

Prayer: I will be happy, O Lord, for you are near.

Mary and Joseph were offered only a poor stable to stay in. They accepted gratefully.
I will excuse others when they are thoughtless, and I will try to be more thoughtful of others today.

The animals helped to warm the stable by being there.
I will share the warmth of my friendship with others, especially with someone I do not like.

Joseph cleaned the stable for Mary and for Jesus, who would soon be born.
I will keep my heart pure today by thinking and doing only pure things and by saying only kind things about others.

Mary put fresh straw in the manger to make a bed for the Christ Child.
I will brighten the day for others by smiling and showing how happy I am that Jesus is coming.

Joseph made a bed of clean straw for Mary to sleep on during the night.
I will secretly do a kind act for someone who is not very friendly toward me.

Mary unpacked the swaddling clothes that would keep the baby Jesus warm.
I will warm my heart with love for Jesus by doing a kind act for each one in my family.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

making my list & checking it twice

Okay, so my shopping's all done. But that's not the end to my list-making, Oh no! Yesterday I started my baking/candy-making list. There are a handful of traditional items I love to make this time of year including Chex mix, sugar cookies laden with buttery decorator icing, Peanut Butter cookies with a Kiss on top, and mini brownies with the Reeces cup tucked in the top, just to name a few. (mmmm. My mouth is watering just typing.) And of course each year I add a few new recipes to the list...suggestions from friends, or tasty treats from seasons prior. Anyhow, I think I've finalized my list and would love to hear suggestions, recipes, or favorites from your list. (and I use the term "baking" lightly, cause much of my delight is just dipping anything in chocolate!)

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies with Red & Green M&M's -DONE
  • Caramel Corn -DONE
  • Buckeye Bars (same great taste as the Buckeye treats, but spread into a pan...much easier!) -DONE
  • Brownie Bites with a Reeses cup tucked in-DONE
  • Chex Mix -DONE
  • Ranch Snack mix -DONE
  • Peanut Brittle (this year will be my first attempt, any hints?)-DONE
  • Fudge-DONE
  • Spiced Pecans
  • Puppy Chow-DONE
  • Oreo Truffles
  • Chocolate Truffles
  • Crunch Toffee Bars
  • Pecan Shortbread Cookies (a new recipe that looks simple and yummy!)-DONE
  • Peanut Butter/Kisses cookies
  • Pretzels topped with Kiss and M&M smushed in-DONE
  • Spritz cookies (we made these with my mom as a kid...and now my kids love to decorate them)
  • Decorated Sugar cookies

Of course we don't eat all this ourselves. Much of it is shared with neighbors, teachers, coworkers, etc. A sample of each is set out on trays to greet visitors on Christmas morning, and through the 12 days of Christmas (or as long as it lasts.) Can't wait to hear what you're cooking up!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary, Dec. 8

St. Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary
Jean Bellegambe The Elder

"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854.)

A Prayer
Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son.You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death,and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,one God for ever and ever. Amen
The Liturgy of the Hours

Let it snow!

It was the first accumulating snow of the season today...not much, but a nice dusting of the white stuff fell last night, and lingered on the ground most of the day. Yippee!
The kids reeled and screamed with delight this morning to see their long lost friend. It meant an emergency scramble for hats and mittens for the school kids. Fortunately I had pulled the bin of snow clothes out of storage last week with the best intentions for going through them soon. Today was soon. Even the youngest ones picked through our mound of hats and mismatched gloves, earwarmers and scarves. Something for everyone, and more.

I enjoyed watching the kids dressing up in their hats and mittens tonight in the basement "pretending" to build snowmen and forts with their toys. Hopefully won't be pretending for long. Anyone else still a big "kid" on the inside when it comes to snow. I know I am.

(Note to self: stock up on hot cocoa mix next time it's on sale. 'Tis the season!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Second in the Nativity photo series.
This has been our Nativity set since we were first married, 15 years ago next week.

I still love the muted colors, and the light it casts. This year it's been moved to the top of the armoire in our bedroom. Guests who stop by usually throw their coats in there, and it's right off our main hallway, so I like having a bit of Christmas there too.

~with flash to show details

Let's not forget Lucy

It's tradition for us to leave our christmas lists in our stocking for St. Nicholas to find. In return he'll leave us an orange, some peanuts, perhaps a candy cane, or some other small treat. Oh, and of course a toothbrush...St. Nick and Easter Bunny are always wise to leave us each a new toothbrush.

Anyhow, we realized at bedtime this evening, that all the kids had a list prepared except for Lucy. We had fun interviewing her about what she was hoping the man in red might bring. Of course she said "yes" to everything. We were all in stitches.

Lucy, would you like a new baby doll? ..."YES!"
Would you like some clip-clop shoes? ...."YES!"
How about a pet buffalo? ...."YES!"

Too cute. (Let's pray he doesn't bring the pet buffalo.)

On the feast of St. Nicholas, Dec. 6

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,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2nd Week of Advent

(A continuation of prayers/reflections for Advent...not my own, but borrowed from our parish library. We're reading ours with breakfast prayers, and it's been nice. More to follow for next week.)

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, and save all the nations.
Mary and Joseph traveled with many different people on their way to Bethlehem. They were kind to all.
I will be kind to all I meet today- and in a special way to someone I do not like.
Mary and Joseph were very tired at the end of the day because travel was uncomfortable and hard.
I will help my parents with some chores to give them time to relax after a hard day's work.
When Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem, they were pushed and pressed by the crowd. They stayed calm.
I will keep calm and not lose my temper when I am pushed or treated rudely.
Joseph tried for Mary's sake, to find a clean, comfortable place to stay.
I will honor Mary in a special way today by being cheerful. I will pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary.
Joseph went from door to door, but in every place he heard "No room!"
I will make room in my heart for others and will try to show special love for someone who seems lonely or unhappy.
Mary felt sorry for those who had no room. She knew they would like to have helped.
I will ask Mary to help me make room for Jesus in my heart by doing what he wants me to.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

O Come Let Us Adore Him

(1st in a series of Nativity photos)
As I continue to unpack a few last decorations for the Advent and Christmas seasons, I'm finding that I've accumulated a handful of Nativity sets over the years. Several of them stay out year round, and some make their way out of the boxes only for a month or two. It's a shame really, to keep them hidden away, so I thought it would be fun to share some pics of a few of them over the next couple weeks.

Here's the first stop on our photo-tour. It's new for this Christmas, a Mother's Day gift that John and the boys picked out while the girls and I were spending a day out together. I was flabbergasted to receive it...certainly nothing I could have ever asked for. But I LOVE it! I've kept the large Holy Family figurines out on the armoire in our bedroom year-round, but was excited to bring out the large Sanctuary and animals. I moved it to the top of our old pie-safe in the kitchen and adorned it with a few evergreen trees and white lights. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but the Sanctuary is over 2 feet tall, and statues are close to 16 inches. It glows beautifully through the evening, and provides a perfect focal point when we gather in for meals.

This photo below (taken with a flash) shows a bit more of the color and detail.

a bit misleading...

Thought I should explain, just in case you hear my boys mention something about this...

Charlie came rushing over to me excitedly today, reminiscing about our family Thanksgiving party last week. "Mom, remember the gun party we went to? and that one big guy shot me in the eye?"

It's true, but you're not getting the whole story. You see, John's family has grown in numbers so that we reserve a hall to celebrate the holidays. This Thanksgiving his sister rented an old school house that provided plenty of room in the basement for the family to gather and enjoy the meal. In addition the entire main floor was empty for the kids to bring along their nerf guns (and there were MANY), jumpropes, and other fun toys to keep them entertained and burning off some of that extra energy. It got a bit rough at times when the older boys would join in. Hence...the "gun party" and being "shot in the eye." was a "G" rated party, I promise!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Week of Advent

(btw~My advent wreath isn't near this pretty. I aspire to have REAL candles someday. For now, it's felt fuzzy candles with fake flames for the tiny fingers who like to grab.)

With the help of our parish "librarian" I found this great little advent calendar of prayers/reflections to share daily with the kids.

Prayer: To you, my God, I lift my soul. I trust in you.

Mary and Joseph lived happily at Nazareth, doing their daily work with joy.
I will do my daily work well today, and with joy- for God.

Joseph received the order from the Roman ruler to go to Bethlehem and register. He obeyed the order and got ready to go.
I will obey my parents, teachers, and others in charge of me.

Mary got their house ready and began to pack what they would need for the trip. She did so without complaint.
I will not complain today, even if I must do things I do not like.

Mary and Joseph traveled by donkey.
I will be happy with the things I have and will not ask my family for more or better things.

Mary and Joseph ate the food of the poor on their journey.
I will eat healthful foods today rather than those that are not good for me. I will thank God for the food I have and pray for the hungry.

After traveling all day, Mary made Joseph a meal, and he found her a resting place.
I will do something special to bring joy to my parents and family today.

I'll update next weeks prayers before Sunday. Check back...

best of intentions...

There I go again, disappearing for a few days. I wish I could say I was up to something really crazy or mischeivous, but alas, I was just consumed by the events of ordinary days. Well mostly. There was Thanksgiving (2 full meals!) on Thursday, All day (19 hours to be exact!) shopping on Friday, and our Gourmet Club dinner on Saturday. Sunday (ah, rest!) rang in the first day of Advent and a nice day to put out the Christmas lights and get a few of the decorations out. Monday I was back to work, and still getting out more Christmas decorations in my spare time, which brings us to today...still more christmas decorating. Oh, and did I mention a mild stomach virus is working it's way through our home, one little trooper at a time. Fortunately it's mostly belly aching, with not much actual "activity" and only mild fevers that seem to run it's course pretty quickly. So far 7 have been hit. (Thank goodness it is VERY mild!)
I'm tackling christmas decorations in small bits this dusty shelf or nook at a time. I'm quite glad to report, that I'm nearly finished with the decorating and the shopping. So now I can breathe, and spend my time doing what's meant to be done this Advent season...waiting and anticipating the coming of our King.
I came across some great little daily prayers/reflections for Advent. I'll try to post them early each day or perhaps weekly, if you're interested in sharing them with your family. We'll be saying ours at breakfast time...the only meal we can all be together.
In putting out the decorations, I've also come to the realization that I've collected quite a few Nativity sets over the years, and will try to share pictures of some of those in the days ahead.
Peaceful night everyone!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving, a prayer of thanks to our Lord…

Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of my husband and our marriage covenant, and for the 10 beautiful children I hold in my arms, and the one I can hold only in my heart. I am thankful for family and friends and a warm home. For the means to provide even when ends sometimes don’t quite meet. I am grateful for the tears, and the tantrums, the homework and the laundry, the cleaning and the dishes, the sharp torturous pain of stepping on a Lego or Barbie shoe in the middle of the night. For accidents, and on-purposes. For dancing at dinner time, for kissing ouchies, and mending holes, and swatting away spiders, and tucking in tight. For bad dreams, warm beds, a dusty home, and stacks of papers that I’ll go through tomorrow. For all these things, I’m grateful.
But most of all Lord, I thank you for the gift of your son Jesus, who’s suffering and sacrifice is our salvation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

what's cookin?

T minus 2 days and counting until the Holiday feasting begins. Have you pulled out all your recipe cards, and started your last minute grocery list? It's been 8 years or so since I've prepared the big Thanksgiving meal for our then tiny family and my parents. I can't remember now why we broke from tradition that year, as typically my mom prefers to cook for the main event. Anyhow. Our Thanksgiving plans are pretty much the same each year, with lunch at my parents' house, and on to dinner with John's family. He's one of twelve, so renting a hall to accomodate everyone has become the norm. My mom still prefers to cook the whole meal...or at least claims to. So, I've offered to bring a pecan pie for lunch. John's side is more of a carry-in, where each sibling is responsible for some part of the meal. This year (feeling a bit guilty) most of the traditional sides were already spoken for, so I'm bringing a vegetable tray, and dinner rolls. (Shamefully simple, I know.) I've already pulled out a couple extra recipes though for things like pumpkin muffins, sugar coated pecans (doesn't that sound yummy to crunch on?!), and I'm hoping to make chocolate truffles for a get-together this weekend. Oh, and since I'm rolling out pie crust, may as well make a pumpkin pie too, right? Yep. Looking forward to tomorrow night this time, when the house is filled with the aroma of baked goods. It has my mouth watering already. Mmmm...can you smell it?
So, what's cookin' at your house?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whew, I made the cut.

Isn't it nice to be on someone's list. Well, depends on the list, I guess. Charlie brought home his little Gratitude Turkey from religion class this Sunday, and I'm happy to report I (well, WE, as in the whole family) made his top 4 list of things he's grateful for...right up there between Star Wars things, Indians with Mohawks, and his cousin/religion teacher Averie.

Oh yah. Bring on the pie.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those on your "list."

pray for me

Or perhaps...pray instead to the family members I've coerced into listening.

I'm heading out to the studio shortly to broadcast my first show on Radio Maria. (88.7 fm here) or listen live online from 11:30am to 12:30. Our pastor, Fr. Rick Nieberding is kind enough to join me for the first half as I get a feel for how things work. He has his own show on Monday mornings from 10-10:30 called "Living the Lectionary."

Feel free to call in with questions, comments, thoughts...anything to give me a moment to catch my breath (ie. shut me up!) I'll be giving the call-in number on the show.
Have a blessed day all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

stringing them along with the classics

Do you remember spending hours on end as a child, twisting a loop of yarn around your fingers? No? Boy, did you miss out. I remember it well, and tonight I showed the kids a thing or kitten's whiskers, jacob's ladder, jacob's pants. There were many more I used to do, that I just can't remember anymore...witch's broom, crow's feet. Can you still do them all? Give it a try! This was all-evening entertainment for my 8 and 9 year-olds who can't wait to show their friends at school tomorrow.
It's funny how quickly it came back..."over one, under one" or "over two, under one, drop the thumbs." Giggling at feeling like a kid again.

Sam's favorite: Kitten's whiskers
Alice trying not to get tangled up...
Emma mastered Jacob's ladder pretty quickly...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oh, and did I also mention

...that starting next week, I'll be hosting a 1 hour weekly (or perhaps bi-weekly) radio show on Radio Maria. Nope, no stress there. What will I be talking about? Heaven only knows. The show is called Family Spirit Alive, and will involve me sharing thoughts/stories from the trenches about motherhood, large family blessings, living the faith, loving what I'm doing, and whatever else the Spirit leads me to.
I'm scared out of my pants...but someone asked...and darnit, I said yes.

I'm still working out the details, but it's formatted to be a call-in show. (HELP! That means YOU should listen and call in!)

Monday November 23rd, 11:30a-12:30. 88.7 fm in our area, or check out the Radio Maria website for other stations or to listen live online.

Pray for me, for I know not what I've gotten myself into!

12 weeks.

A good friend and coworker of mine was diagnosed this past week with Stage 4 Colon cancer, with spots on her liver as well. She had been having some abdominal pain, and decreased appetite, which she chalked up to her gallbladder, so when those tests came back negative, she was a bit surprised. Just days later, she found the real culprit. If you think to add her to your prayer list, that would be wonderful.
I am blessed to job-share in a small nursing clinic for independent residents at a long-term care facility with the aforementioned, and a third nurse as well. What this means to me, is that for the last several years, I've been able to work a very flexible schedule, only filling in when the other 2 couldn't fill the 9a-1:30p, 5day/week schedule. Maternity leave was never an issue, I'd just start working a day or two hear and there as needed. I truly am blessed! However with one nurse off the schedule with health issues, and the other already committed to covering elsewhere for someone's 12 week maternity leave (starting this week), I'll be working more hours than I have in a very long time: 3 days/week for the next 12 weeks. It sounds so silly, I know. It's still a light-load compared to so many moms working full-time or more. Still, it's already got me "watching the clock" so to speak as I count down the next 12 weeks.
I keep reminding myself, that these wonderful women have "covered" for me and carried the heaviest load in the schedule for years. I also realize that God is providing. Prayers for a means to help make ends meet through the holiday season are answered. Though, I didn't anticipate it quite this. Certainly I must be grateful: for the years I've been able to stay at home caring for these many blessings, for God's providence, for good health in this family.
Must go now...and kiss the foreheads of sleeping little ones, thanking God for each one of them! God is good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

random thoughts

It's Tuesday
Just a mismatch of random thoughts to share. Things I want to put down for posterity sake.

First, I have a love hate relationship with the smell of Lysol in my home. I'm taking a proactive approach to germ warfare this season. I'm attempting to keep bathrooms, doorknobs and other surfaces cleaner, and more importantly...disinfected. Hence the Lysol. I love the smell (it means clean) and HATE the smell (makes my nose hairs tingle.) Any suggestions for a more nasal-friendly disinfectant?
Second, today was "special hair" day for some of the girls. That doesn't mean a lot, except that we spend a little extra time "fussing" over hair for things like french braids, or piggy tails with matching bows. (Not just the usual brush and a clip on top.) It also means the spaghetti pot comes out. John looked at me in utter confusion when Mary asked for braids today, and I responded "sure, just go get the spaghetti pot." She knew what I meant. The pan we use to make soups and spaghetti (hence the name) when turned over, is the perfect stool for little ones to sit on comfortably while mom fusses with hairdos. It's kept in a bottom cabinet in the kitchen, so it's easily accessible as well.
"Yeah mom, we cleaned our room." doesn't neccesarily mean just that. Better double check. (the scissors, shredded paper, and clean laundry spread all over the floor apparently didn't count.)
The only difference between a size 5 1/2 boys shoe, and 5 1/2 mens is $20. (c'mon! It's the same shoe!!)
Santa is at the mall already! Isn't there a rule about defrosting the turkey first?!

Hmm. That's all for now. Will try to post a little better later.
God Bless!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tour du Freeze

As I continue my journey through the deep freeze, I'm realizing I have NO IDEA what some of the various cuts of meat are exactly. Our neighbors, I mentioned previously, still partake in the dying artform of home butchering along with their family members who still farm. Each year, we usually buy a side of beef, and half a hog. We love it. But after we make our way through all the bulk hamburger and sausage, and then patties, a few roasts, and later steaks, I start to come across packages labeled with parts I have no clue about. There's chuck and arm and flank and english and rump to name just a few. (Those are the easy ones.) This afternoon I pulled out a ham...sounded simple enough. Except knowing that it wasn't precooked or smoked, and was labeled "Fresh Ham" I thought I better read up a bit, to see how I might prepare it differently. Turns out, my recipe would work just fine, except...a fresh ham turns out more like a roast than the "sandwich" ham I was hoping for. So, my attempts at slicing it (and watching it fall apart into pieces) turned into "pulling" it apart, and mixing it with a little barbecue sauce. It should make for some delicious shredded barbecue pork sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. Not what I was expecting...but yummy none the less.
Okay, so what does this nonsense have to do with anything? I really don't know, but thought I'd share my little tour of the freezer with you all, as this old dog learns a few tricks along the way.
Being able to roll with the punches is pretty much the name of the game after all...when life hands you "Fresh Ham," make pulled pork sandwiches...that's what I always say.
Peaceful night all.

We give thee thanks Almighty God, for all the benefits which we have received, from your bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

necessity is the mother of what?!

Delicious chicken tenders, that's what!

I'm working my way through the deep freeze. I typically try to keep it well stocked with beef and pork we purchase from our neighbors who still butcher, as well as convenience things for the kids...chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and all kinds of bulk things I can find at Sams Club. Lately though, for reasons both practical (trying to use it up before it goes bad) and financial (John's paydays were changed to every-other-week as we adjust to the new budget, we can't run to the grocery quite as often) I've been trying to get a little more creative with the meats we have on hand.
Today I set a half-dozen chicken breasts out to thaw, and began wondering what I could make that would please most of the crowd. John and I LOVE chicken breasts...grilled, baked, marinated, whatever, but the kids...well they prefer the nugget.
I happened upon this recipe for oven baked chicken tenders. Thought it sounded a little "grown up" in that the parts wouldn't be shaped like extinct creatures, and hoped the kids would love it too. Boy did they! (Sam said he was "in love!") I cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces (more like popcorn chicken size) and followed the directions (mostly.) Of course I didn't have any bread crumbs on hand, so I substited crumbled Ritz crackers. YUMMY! Can you say, "all gone!" (both cookie sheets full!)
And to think, we thought chicken pieces came only from a box. hee, hee. ENJOY!