Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feels like Sunday...

The kids had the day off school today, and for some reason it's got me thinking it's a Sunday. Unfortunately, John and I had a funeral mass to attend this morning, and he still had to go in to work this evening, but the kids and I managed to turn the day around thanks to a visit from family (lots of cousins!) My sister-in-law and her kids were in town visiting during their school spring break, so they along with some other local family members who also had the day off school came over for an impromptu spaghetti supper. Lets see, there were the 3 moms, along with our 21 kids...that adds up to a house-full pretty quick. Thankfully the rain held off for the most part, so the kids spent much of the time outside shooting hoops, or riding bikes/scooters, etc. The littlest ones spent much of their time in their high-chairs at the kitchen table listening to moms gab, and happy to be tossed a grape or breadstick, or unfinished cake left by an older sibling. I think little Lucy loved having cousin Kate (11 months) sitting next to her, to share forks, sippy cups and already gummed breadsticks. They were pretty cute together, and seemed to entertain each other quite well. We always love having cousins over to visit, and I enjoy the conversation with my sisters-in-law immensely. I was never blessed to have sisters of my own, so I'm grateful for the ones I inherited through marriage.
Anyways, it was a great evening. Our last guests left in time for our kids to get showered and mellowed a little before bed. It's back to school for our bunch tomorrow. Wednesdays here means the kids attend mass before school. We're so fortunate to live in a community where our public school has made it possible for release time so that all students may attend mass together once a week. Tomorrow my 2nd grade class is preparing for the liturgy...doing the readings, bringing up offertory, carrying a banner in the procession, etc. Sam and I are quite excited (and I'm a bit nervous) to see how it all goes. The kids have worked so hard planning and practicing. It should be quite a special morning. I better go, need to double check to be sure I've got things in order.
Blessed night to all!

Just wanted to include our menu for the evening (cause people ask now and then what a meal is like for the 12 of us, so it's fun to think about feeding 2 dozen.)
2# spaghetti
2 lg. jars store-bought sauce
5 dozen breadsticks (fresh baked~Alice helped me knead the dough!)
lg. bowl grapes
few carrots, celery and peppers with dip (I think the kids just used the veggies to get the dip to their mouths)
and a dozen or so pieces of cake, cut in 1/2's to make it go further (assorted flavors, leftover and shared by a neighbor from a luncheon yesterday)
Incredibly simple, wonderfully delicious...tastes even better when eaten in great company!

too delicious to hide in a comment box

Someone requested the recipe, so I thought I'd just share it here for all to read. I called it Buttercream Frostng in my previous cookie post, but now as I'm reading the recipe, I realize technically it's not. Anyhow...it's really yummy!

Homemade Buttery Decorator Icing
1/2 cup butter (don't substitute!) softened
1/4 cup shortening (I prefer butter-flavored crisco sticks)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk

In large bowl, beat butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. Add 2 Tbsp milk, beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add enough additional milk for desired spreading consistency.
Yield: 3cups. Note: Icing stays soft for awhile, so I usually place on plates in the fridge to help icing harden, then store cookies between layers of wax paper in airtight container.

Tip: Can be made 2 weeks in advance (if you can keep your kids/husband out of it that long!) and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp and beat before using.

always room for one more...

It makes me smile when the kids make comments about wanting more siblings. (Not that I have news, or that I'm in a hurry to have news.) I just worry sometimes that the older ones might be noticing more that life in a bigger family means doing without some of the nice things their friends have. Surely they've noticed. And yet, despite the small sacrifices, they also seem to know the joy. We are abundantly blessed.
On this note, it moved me to tears when Emma sat on the edge of my bed early this morning to tell me about the "best dream ever." She whispered "Mom I just dreamt you had another baby. It was a little girl this time, and she was perfect!"
How sweet is that.
She must have enjoyed our night out at the park last night...all 10 kids, myself and 3 school friends we invited along. Quite a van-load to haul around...filled with laughter, and singing and goofing around. Reminds us there's always room for one more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Did I mention I LOVE to bake?!

I take pleasure in rolling out cookie dough, stamping out the perfect little bunnies, snowmen, or whatever the season calls for. It's a real pain in the butt, I think, but I love doing it none-the-less. Last night though, John burst my bubble when he brought home "slice-and-bake" cookie dough from the grocery store. He mentioned, "it must have been a good deal, cause these were the last ones on the shelf." I should have known better than to send him to the store for one item so close to supper. He can't pass up a "deal."

Anyhow, in an attempt to prove him wrong, I sliced up a few tubes of the stuff last night (since the oven was preheated from dinner.) And although it's rare that I'm ever wrong, (this might be the 2nd time, or so) these little babies were delicious!!! Okay, anything could taste good when doctored up with homemade buttercream frosting...but these ranked right up there with homemade. Why have I been dodging them my whole life??!! I'll be happy to simplify my life (no mixing bowls, measuring cups and flour all over the kitchen) for this little treat...especially if they're on sale.

So, if you tend to be a bit "old-fashioned" in the baking department, as I tend to be, I think you'll find these worth a try. (It was an IGA brand to boot...not a name-brand)

You think this looks bad...

...you should see the other guy! Okay, not really. My little prize-fighter took a nose-dive into the edge of our kitchen window bench last evening. Ouch. Lucy handled it like a champ, though. I thought she might be needing stitches the way her brow was split open, but turns out a little "butterfly-ing" with bandaids through the night, and it's healing up just fine.

She saw herself in the mirror for the first time today, and just kept doing double-takes, and grabbing her forehead in disbelief. Too cute.

Charlie's got competition...

...in the pew, that is. I was hoping to forget about it completely...but since Amy brought it up in the comment box, I better 'fess up. Truth is, I heard little of the Gospel yesterday, and dear hubby heard even less. 2 year old Frank was a real terror. Okay, maybe not "terror," but distracting to those around us none-the-less. He discovered the echo of his voice yesterday, and for several minutes during the Eucharistic prayer/consecration continued making noises and laughing despite John's attempts to stifle it. Once they stood up and entered the communion line, things were fine. The boy just needed to move. In his defense, it was a tough mass. All of the high school religion students were in attendance to mark the end of their year, and recognize the seniors. They took up the first 2/3 of the pews. So we sat well into the back half of the church. (We're usually in the first couple pews so that the kids can see what's going on, and tend to behave slightly better.) There were also several rows of Knights of Columbus members with their families for their annual family mass. All this meant extra prayers, blessings, songs, etc. It just was more than 2 year olds could sit through without being able to see what was going on. It didn't help that there was a slightly unhappy (albeit grumpy) older couple ahead of us who continued to send sharp, disapproving glances in our direction through most of the mass. (Another reason I love sitting in front...I can't see the disapproval from behind, and then worry about it less.)
Anyways, it was a difficult mass, and we struggle with how exactly to handle this. We don't want to be disruptive, but our kids do need a chance to learn proper church behavior. We don't have a "quiet room" in our church, so if things get too out of hand we have the option of taking them out into the vestibule/entry for a few moments, but I kind of think once they know that's an option, they tend to misbehave just to get a change of scenery. Anyone have any thoughts on this? We started taking most of the kids after age 2, and for the most part, it seems like it's worked well. Just a couple of the boys now want to make it a little crazy. Charlie is still active in the pew, but at least not noisy or disruptive to those around us. And despite the disapproving glances from in front, there were a couple families behind us that commented how well-behaved our kids were in church again (talk about mixed messages?!)
(sigh.) I just keep thinking, next week's another chance for things to go smoother, right?! Feel free to share comments on this.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Giving from the heart

I wanted to try to share these thoughts in my own words, but I think Patricia Fosarelli said it perfect in her Lenten devotional "Coming Home to the Lord." Aside from that, I'm dog-tired from another crazy, busy weekend. I'll fill you in on all of that later. God Bless!

Fifth Sunday of Lent:

So give for alms those things which are within [you]. Luke 11:41

When people speak of giving alms, they usually think of giving money to
poor people. In this passage from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is saying that
when we give to others what is within ourselves, we are also giving alms.
Such "inner things" include our talents, laughter, concern, assistance and
friendship. Everyone, from children to adults, can give alms because they
can give from what they have.
God of generosity, help us to give alms in the ways that we can--sometimes
with money, and always with the gift of ourselves.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Young John called me outside this morning, excited to show me the beautiful flower we had growing in the side flower bed...first signs of spring. Oi. Looks like work to me.
Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Upon further investigation though, we also found a couple daphodils, some Iris plants peeking up out of the ground, Clematic vines budding, rose branches greening up, and several other early signs of nature's beauty. What a lovely day!

a brief retreat...

This morning John and I & the 7 youngest took a drive over to Maria Stein. The weather was just beautiful for a stroll through the woods there at the Spiritual Center. It's been since last summer that we were last there, and I was amazed at all the changes going on. Wow! We always like to take the rosary path through the woods, and were pleasantly surprised to find the trails now paved with concrete sidewalk. There were 1/2 dozen or more new concrete grottos, not yet complete, along the path. I'll be anxious to see what they have in store for them. The kids love to splash there hands in the water of the Respect Life Memorial (which is just beautiful!) I could be wrong, but I also thought the outdoor stations had newly built wooden displays. Everything is just looking amazing and beautiful. I suspect we'll be visiting more often as the weather stays warm just to see how things continue to progress. For those who've never been, the Spiritual Center and retreat house have beautiful woods with trails, complete with Rosary walk, Outdoor Stations, a pond with bridge, and many places throughout for quiet reflection. It's located right behind the Maria Stein Center and Shrine of the Holy Relics which is another must-visit. What a great way to spend an hour, an afternoon, or maybe someday even a weekend retreat. It's on my wish-list somewhere!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

random acts of kindness

"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"- Mother Teresa

I'm recognizing that I've been on the receiving end of more than my share of random acts of kindness lately, and I'm humbled that friends, acquaintences and even strangers would be thinking of us and reflecting Christ's light. I am grateful! And I plan to pay it forward, each opportunity I get. That's the point, right?! Even the smallest of gestures can lift spirits and hearts. God Bless you all! I encourage you to take a moment today to recognize the kindness of others and thank God for those He's placed in your life, and then think of someone who might be in need of your kindness today...perhaps even just a smile. I think you (and they) will be glad you did.

alice's song

I was going through some old pics and found this one. My older girls love to write...poems, stories, even song lyrics (of which they later love to perform!). Alice wrote this a couple years ago. I can still remember her sweet little voice singing along in her own tune. I thought it was a keeper, and now worthy of sharing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

who said "big things come in small packages?"

At our house, the bigger the package, the better! We had diapers delivered to our door today thanks to diapers.com. A friend suggested the site to me a while back, and now I'm hooked.
Anyways, the kids are happy to see the UPS man coming too. Big box = Big fun!

thought for today.

Lent, 2009

"Saint Francis reminds us to do more than look at the cross. We see the external cause of pain. We need to look for the interior love that accepted the pain and gave it meaning."
—Daily Reflections for Lent 2008 (borrowed from americancatholic.org)

feast of the annunciation, march 25th

As we recall the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary, may we also recognize Mary's response...her "fiat" or "Yes!" to the Lord. Her willingness to serve brought Christ to the world, and changed the course of things for all eternity.

May we also respond with a resounding "yes" to always do God's holy will.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...

(thanks to this blog for the great image of Mary's Fiat.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Guess What Mom!"

..."You're a grandma!!!" Alice and Emma could hardly contain themselves as they burst into the front door from school today. I must have looked more than a little confused, as they stopped to explain. Their baby chicks hatched today...part of a County Extension 4H project in their classrooms at school. They've been watching and waiting for 21 days now, I think. Finally, today the little peeps made their way into the world. Grace, Mary and John were equally excited and proclaimed their new titles and "Aunts and Uncles." Chickies Charlie and Nemo are reportedly doing well. Alice tells me that Charlie's delivery was quick...he pecked a hole, and made his way out in less than an hour. Whew, an uneventful labor and delivery.
I'm hoping to visit them after school tomorrow...I'll try to post pics of the new grand-chickies when I get a chance. We're all so proud.

nature vs. nurture?

I'm sure I've handed the girls (and boys) baby dolls and taught them how to give "Ahhhhhhs" with hugs and little wet kisses. But never (and I'm sure about this) have I pointed an index finger (let alone a real gun) and made a shooting sound. Where do boys learn this?! Is it genetic? The girls don't routinely do this...but Frank (and all the little men for that matter) are packin heat with their index-finger-pistol from the moment they crawl out of bed in the morning. Frank takes aim and chooses his breakfast cereal with one eye closed and the trigger pulled. "Pow" (apparently he's having Fruit Loops, partner.)

"hearty" laughs

As the boys hopped one-legged through the kitchen, little John stopped to tell me he could feel his heartbeat in his chest. I placed my hand there and told him it felt like a galloping horse. Charlie followed right behind him. "Is your heart galloping like a horse?" I asked.
"Nope, mine sounds like a cow! MOOOOO!" was his reply.

The Passion

John and I got a chance to see Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" Saturday night. It was the first we'd seen it again since it came out in theatres 5 years ago. I had forgotten so much about the movie, from the subtitles to the intense graphic depiction of the scourging. Parts of it are difficult to stomach, I'll admit.
You know, I can only speak for myself, but I love this movie in that it brings Jesus' suffering to life. I grew up with a crucifix present throughout our home, our church, and even wear one around my neck most days. We pray the stations, and even hear The Passion read in church, and yet somehow, it seems that while I as a Catholic, embrace the cross, and His sacrifice, I've become almost numb to the real suffering it holds. I manage to forget somehow that our God-made-man, endured not a little, rather incredible suffering for me. For all of us.
John and I remained silent as the credits rolled, and longer. I remember the same "audible" silence as we left the theatre 5 years ago. There are no words necessary. Certainly Christ's ability to love and forgive in spite of the intense suffering and humilitation He endured serves as an example and reminder of our need to do the same in this life.
I think if you've not seen it, or if it's been awhile, it would be a benefit to you this Lent. How 'bout you? What are your thoughts on the movie? And at what age, would you consider it appropriate for your kids? (I'm certain mine are not ready.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday with the girls...

I packed the 6 girls into the van on Saturday for a day at the mall. Alice and Emma couldn't recall their last visit to the Lima mall (school shopping for kindergarden 4 years ago) and the other girls, I'm fairly certain have never been there. I'm not embarassed to admit that if we can't get what we need at a Walmart or Target, we probably don't need it. But every great now and again we like to try something new. Easter is the one occasion in the year that everyone gets something new to wear, so we were on a mission! What an enjoyable day. I'm not sure I've ever had all 6 girls alone for a whole day. We started off soon after breakfast, and made it home in time to fix the men some supper. In between we had a ball trying on all kinds of fun outfits, shoes, etc. We even splurged and went out for a sit-down lunch. (A place with no chicken nuggets on the menu.) Oh it was nothing fancy, Alice requested I-Hop, but it was ordering from a menu, which is definitely a treat!
As for shopping, I was disappointed to find that it's impossible to find a dress in the mall with sleeves. Everything was tank-style, or worse yet, halter/strappy. I'm certain it's a conspiracy for stores to be able to sell the matching sweaters they had hanging next to each dress. (Which we did, for a couple of the girls.) They have you over a barrel. But like I said, Easter's the one time that everyone ('cept John and I, of course...we've been wearing the same stuff for ten years, I think) gets something new. We even slipped into the boys section at one store and picked out new shirts/polos for all the boys. Too cute.
I'm glad we don't shop like that all the time. It's actually a bit stressful to keep track of who's getting what, and who still needs pantyhose to match, etc. But it was a completely enjoyable, different kind of day for the girls in this house...and hopefully they'll have some memories of it a few years down the road when we may try it again.


...no comment for this one. Only that this picture speaks VOLUMES about the kind of silliness that oozes from this house on a daily basis!
Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

the pitfalls of having several conversations going at once..

Several of the kids came into the house at once yesterday. They'd been playing outside in the cool breeze and burst in needing various things (a drink, potty break, question answered, etc.) not the least of which was a tissue. They all had runny trails from their nostrils. As I was assisting Frank with his tissue, Charlie interrupted with a question. At the same moment Charlie finished asking, I was telling Frank to "blow" into the tissue.
Without thinking, Charlie proceeded to blow, as he thought he was being told...without a tissue of course, and all over his face, and my sleeve. (Umm. Charlie, I wasn't talking to you..."Frank, blow.") yuck.

How's it growing?

We're past the half-way point in Lent now. As you can see, some of our plans are fairing well. Others...well, there's still time, right?

My initial thoughts for lent were to try to fast more often, perhaps 2-3 days of serious fasting per week. I made it through one day. While I feel it was definitely spiritually beneficial, I tend to think now, this would be something better suited to when the kids are out of the house. My first real physical fast pointed me in the direction of the need for a different kind of fast altogether. A fast from unkindness. Let's face it, when I'm hungry, I'm a real bear, and this is no use to the 10 smiling little faces that need a mother with a little compassion. So, instead of starving as a form of penance, I'm focusing instead on recognizing the way I speak to my kids when I'm tired, or frustrated. I'm trying to be the kindler gentler mother they deserve. Some days, I'm doing well...other days...well I'm a work in progress.

Our grass seed is growing beautifully, and we're checking progress daily, wondering when we might need to trim it back in preparation for the lovely Easter gifts they are to become.

So, how 'bout you, how are you growing? Nearly ready to be that lovely Easter "gift" you want to offer to Jesus?

Have a blessed weekend all. BTW~ we've been nearly a month without take-out pizza. The kids (and myself) are very excited to be invited this Sunday to their cousins for pizza to celebrate Grandpa's birthday. It will be a nice little "Happy Birthday" celebration.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Polish Madonna, Our Lady of the Laundry

"She remained hidden for thirty years at Nazareth with the Savior. There her chief concern was to raise her Divine Son, to merit increasingly the confidence of her husband, and to provide her family with what they needed by working as her strength allowed.

The best state for you is not the one you think perfect, but the one in which God has placed you."
~from The Imitation of Mary by Alexander De Rouville

Holy Mother, what a perfect example God's given us in you. Help me to find delight in thinking of God, seeking him in everything, doing all for Him. Amen.

moms...hug yourself! you deserve it.

Okay, so I really should be in bed right now. I'm scheduled to work tomorrow, which means my brain needs to be functional without a mug of coffee glued to my bottom lip, so sleep is a good thing. However...I just checked e-mail before slipping into bed, and my mind is left spinning by a letter my sister-in-law just sent out. I wanted to hug her, cry with her, laugh with her all at the same time. She's having one of those days/weeks/months, that has her venting with frustration, and second-guessing herself. You know how it goes. (I know you do) Sick kids, lack of sleep, nursing baby with a "schedule" all her own, leads to housework malfunction, clutter, more frustration. And it spirals from there. We've all been there. I feel her pain. I wanted to pick up the phone and call, desperately, but feared waking her at one of those rare moments of sleep. So instead, I'm blogging. Wanting to tell her that maybe I've not been keeping it real enough here on the blog. It is my blog afterall, so I only have to tell the good stuff. I'm not required to share that my 8 year old is fascinated with the word "butt-crack" and has found ways to use it as not only a noun, but a verb and an adjective. Or that I scrubbed one of the kids booster seats today, and nearly passed out from what was growing underneath it on the chair. (not to mention that I'm too embarassed to set the chairs out on the curb, for fear someone might take them, and see how I haven't scrubbed the milk splatter off the legs in like, forever!) Or that I could have been in bed hours ago, if it weren't for the 6 baskets of clean laundry piling up in my basement waiting to be folded. (just didn't feel like it the last couple nights.) Nobody needs to hear about my having more than one "junk drawer" for stuff I just don't know what to do with when people come by to visit. Just stick it in the junk drawer!
Truth is, all of us are struggling to keep something together, I think. Sometimes it's easier to manage than others. Or maybe we just get good at letting go of our former expectations. I will have time to keep a clean house someday, I hope. What's important I think, is to be there for each other, to support each other. As moms we're doing exactly what God wants us to be doing, trying our best to bring our kids up to know and love Him...bringing these little souls closer to Heaven.
Give yourself a hug moms! Or better yet, call your friend, sister, mom and tell her how awesome you think she is! (cause she is!) We've been there, done that, knitted the t-shirt, and the odds are good, we'll do it again sometime, and need that hug right back.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

top o' the mornin' to ya.

St. Patrick's Prayer
This day I call to me:
God's strength to direct me,
God's power to sustain me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's vision to light me,
God's ear to my hearing,
God's word to my speaking,
God's hand to uphold me,
God's pathway before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's legions to save me.
—from A Retreat With St. Patrick

Monday, March 16, 2009

a prayer for today

"I want only to live the way you ask me to love,
to love the way you ask me to live."
~borrowed, but can't remember from whom/where.

love mondays, hate mondays

I can't help but love them and hate them all at the same time. I find myself both frustrated that the weekend's come to an end so quickly, and yet relieved to be falling back into a familiar routine. Monday mornings are typically a little slower-paced here, especially on my part, but after the full weekend we just had, it was even more so. John and I both got up with the school kids at the 7o'clock alarm. Little Rose always gets up with her big sisters too, so when John took off to substitute for one of the school bus routes, and the oldest 3 went to school, it was just her and I until the rest crawled out of bed closer to 9am. Wow~ what a strange morning. Typically, all 12 of us have breakfast together.
Anyhow, after coffee, and a slow clearing of countertops...all the green beads, trinkets, candies and remnants of the weekend left behind to clutter...we're able to get on with the day. The weather turned out to be gorgeous here. It called for the kids and I to have our first picnic of the new year. We packed up our PB&J's and headed to Four Seasons park, where all the kids had fun on the playground equipment. It's really gonna take me some time to get used to my baby being one of the big kids. Lucy was up and down the slide, playing with the boys and their trucks in the mulch. She didn't need her mama one bit, except to rescue her from the mud she wandered into, and to peel the mulch from her sticky peanut butter hands.
I brought the kids to mom's for awhile while I headed to a parent meeting at school. Seems as though it's time already to get John and Mary registered for kindergarden in the fall. Oh my. It was nice chatting with the other parents a bit, including My Little Saint's mom. Before I know it, my baby birds will all have flown the coop. Mary & John's start into school in the fall, dips into the bottom half of my 10. My babies are leaving... You would think I'd be too busy to feel this sentimental about it, but they're all so close in age, that I realize when one goes, another is not far behind. Before I know it, we'll be registering for college. Yikes. Slow down, Jamie. It is Monday afterall...back to the here and now. I believe I hear a cup of coffee and some laundry calling my name. Good evening all!

Need rosaries?

I think I mentioned last week that our next project for Lent is rosary-making. The girls in this house (and even the boys at times,) love to string beads. I thought it would be a great idea then to get the kids started on stringing rosaries. The couple that are finished so far, I think are just beautiful, and there are a few more in the works that I think will be just as nice. A friend picked us up some beads at Walmart, and I was able to get the crucifixes and center pieces through a catalog order. A friend of mine suggested using dental floss to string them with, it's super easy for the kids to handle, and knots well. I think it's working great. I have enough supplies to do 10 or 12 I think. Although, I think we'll be making more in the future. But we have no plans for whom to share these with just yet. Anyone planning a mission trip, or having need of these rosaries, we'd love to donate them. Just let me know. It would give the project even more special meaning to know they're going to someone who would need/use/appreciate them! Just drop me a comment.

Alice's joke of the day

In light of our very 'green' weekend (St. Patty's dance on Saturday, 5k and parade on Sunday)...

What's Irish and hangs around on your porch all night long??

answer: Patty O'Furniture

Friday, March 13, 2009

busy weekend ahead

Our crew seems to be on the mend, with only a couple lingering coughs and fevers. I'm praying that tomorrow will find us well enough to dive into the weekend head first. We've got a handful of fun things planned, we'll see what works out. The kids helped me to finish the housecleaning tonight, so sleeping in and enjoying a slower-paced morning is the start. Although, my dad called this evening to report he's finished building the 2 new 7ft. oak dining benches for our kitchen table. That means I've got some staining and finish work to do. I may just have to get over there in the morning to get a start on that.
Emma's got a bowling birthday party to attend around noon. Our afternoon is free, then we're planning to get to confession and 5:00 mass, at which Alice and Emma will be singing in the children's choir. Saturday evening we have a ticket for a family St. Patrick's Day dance sponsored by our local Knights of Columbus. That should be good fun for everyone (that is if everyone's healthy enough to attend.) Sunday morning Alice, Emma and I are heading to St. Henry for a 5k run/walk. (I intend to run, but with lack of training, I'm guessing there'll be more walking then planned.) John and the rest of the kids will join us later for their St. Patty's day parade. It's a fun little parade with lots of treats and green trinkets given out, so the kids are really looking forward to that. Sometime in between, the girls have plans to do some beading. We started the next of our Lenten projects tonight which is hand-beading rosaries to share. Emma got one finished tonight and it's beautiful. Grace and Mary have each started on one as well, and are anxious to complete theirs. I'll have to post about that project as we get further along with it, and decide exactly where they'll be going, etc.
Overall, we shouldn't be lacking for things to do this weekend. I'm guessing there won't be much posting time, so I'll catch up when I can. In the mean time, thanks for your support and prayers, and have a blessed weekend!

and who will celebrate our mass for us?

The whole crazy conversation started because "The Music Man" dvd just hit our mailbox from Netflix yesterday. It's one of our favorite musicals, so the kids know the lyrics to all the songs about as well as I do now. Every time we see the movie, I remind John (and the kids) that when we celebrate our Golden anniversary, I will sing "till there was you" for John as his gift. (poor guy). Anyhow, the subject came up again, and I asked the boys if any of them would like to celebrate the mass for us. (cause there's a chance one of them could be a priest, right?) Sam, shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't think it will be me Mom, but if so then, yeah whatever." Conversation moved on, and a few minutes later Charlie pulled on my sleeve and mumbled "Mom I'll hold your anniversary mass for you." My heart skipped a little beat, excited at the thought that he would even imagine wanting to be a priest someday. I smiled and thanked him. "Charlie that would be wonderful if you would be the priest and have our anniversary mass for us."
He continued "No, mom! I don't want to be the priest. I want to be the pirate, and I'll hold your anniversary MASK!"
(sigh.) Okay, 3 might be a bit young for vocational discernment. We're not even on the same page. One can never say conversation is dull here, though.

still have 35 more years to practice...

I've promised (maybe threatened) John that if God willing, we both live to see the day, I'm going to be singing to him on our 5oth wedding anniversary a song from The Music Man. Because I'm cookey that's why. (and because at the rate his hearing's going...he should love the sound of it!) Sorry for the rest of the family who has to sit through that party.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

sorry I've been away...

Our entire team took a hit this week. That's right, all twelve of us. Remember last time we were ill, I mentioned something about wishing it would hit us all at once, so we could be done...well I'm watching what I'm wishing for! 90 Tylenol tablets, 1 bottle of liquid Tylenol and 1 bottle of Children's motrin later, and we're on the mend!! Fevers are lower and less often, and last night nearly everyone slept through the night without waking in chills or sweats. I've kept lists for temps and dosages that make my head spin, but so necessary. Lots of snuggling and more snuggling going on here. I did manage to get out to Aldi's and Sam's club this morning for much needed groceries and supplies. Kids are moving away from the couch to play...it's already a better day! Thanks for the prayers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

current roster...

...showing 9 on the D.L.(that's "disabled list") Fever, body aches, cough and lots of WHINE with that cheese. We could definitely use another couch for all the bodies laying around here. Looks like a bad college hangover. The good news is I'm optimistic that we'll be over it soon rather than taking turns and dragging it out for weeks.

I'm not fasting today, but offering much up as sacrifice and penance. Clinging to the cross, and holding on for dear life.

Yes, he gave me the okay to post this!

John, a.k.a. "Captain Underpants," seems more than a little tickled with his new all-white underwear. He's officially moved on from Big Bird and Rugrats to tidy-whities just like Dad and Sam.

With pajama shirt as his cape, he couldn't wait to put them on right over his flannel pants this morning, awake now for all of 15 seconds.

(what a fun way to start the morning!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

As if...

Do you ever find yourself making ignorant threats to your kids that you have no intention whatsoever of following through with?! Just moments ago, I hollered upstairs to some more-than-noisy, borderline beligerant, talkative young girls to "Settle down, or I'll have to seperate you two!"

As if. Where exactly would I put them once seperated?! (Not thinking clearly there.) I should have followed up with the "Never mind...you're gonna be sleeping in the same bed till you move out." But I just rolled my eyes and moved on. They're giggling quietly now.

sometimes He speaks so clearly...

...it's like a knock upside the head. Okay, I get it already.
Anyhow, that was the case for me today. I've been sharing frustrations, and mostly small successes with Amy about our struggles with losing weight. I've been working at it for nearly a year now after my doctor kindly suggested (without saying exactly) that if I'd like to live to see my kids grow old, I'd better take control of my weight. Enough said. I've not dieted, but I've made small lifestyle/eating changes (i.e. portion control) that has equaled a 34# loss so far. The next big stepping stone for me is exercise. I'm signed up for a 5k this weekend which I was planning to run, but without practice, it appears as though I'll be walking most of it.
As I pondered Amy's latest entries, I realized that I'd kinda hit a road block, and have started reverting to old ways. I want to be my best, healthiest self, but it's so easy just to go with what feels good, even when we know it's not what's best.
This afternoon as I opened "My Daily Bread" for some prayers and daily reflection, the words jumped right off the page to me. Certainly, I was to be reading this at this exact moment. The Holy Spirit is working on me, and I do know that God wants me to be my best, healthiest self as well.

" ...I need not be surprised at my changing feelings and moods. They are not the
higher self within me. God will honor me only for what I am trying to be. I
would improve much if I begged His help more frequently by prayer and the
sacraments. Too often I fail to put up a fight against my unreasonable feelings
and blind desires. At other times I try to fight them alone. Only with God's
help can I make any permanent progress. With the knowledge He gives me through
His holy church and with the strength He offers me in His sacraments, I can live
a Holy life in spite of the restless lower self within me.

Dear Lord, my smallness and weakness are perfectly known to you. Have pity
on me. Pull me out of the mud of self, so that I may not be stuck in it forever.
Consider the labors and trials of my daily life. Please stand by me in my
efforts. Strengthen me in my resolutions. I have often failed because I depended
on myself alone. Now, however, I shall seek advice and direction as often as I
need it. Only in this way can I hope to make progress in true and solid virtue.
Make me wise and honest in my daily efforts, so that I may no longer waste
valuable time. I hope to become at last the kind of person You want me to be.
Without you I can do nothing. Lord, help me. Amen. "

The issues I have with food, and my struggles over the years with weight loss (and trust me they started well before having these beautiful babies) are just one of my many human weaknesses, the "restless, lower self within me." I'm grateful for His support as I continue in the right direction towards the me He wants me to be!
Kleenex (check)
Tylenol/Motrin (check)
cool wash clothes (check)
cough medicine (check)

Seems as though the flu bug is visiting. We're trying desperately not to make it feel welcome! Sam started with a cough Sunday morning, but I chalked it up to being out all day in the cool air on Saturday. No such luck. By last evening he was wracked with body aches, fever/chills and a nasty cough that kept him (and me) awake most of the night. He's home from school and on the couch today. I'm back to using Lysol on everything, hoping to keep this one at bay. Pray for us.

It's 37 degrees this morning!!

What on earth happened to our taste of spring? I know, I know. It's still winter. But come on!

We had no plans for the weekend with the exeption of Sunday mass. So we took full advantage of our wonderfully warm weather. We took a long walk Saturday morning...that is John and I walked pulling 3 in the wagon and 7 more sped ahead on scooters. What a funny sight. I baked a small turkey Saturday afternoon while the little ones napped, but didn't feel like messing with all the sides, so we had a picnic supper in the backyard of cold turkey sandwiches, grapes, and chips. By late afternoon most of the neighbor kids had drifted into our yard to play, so we had a couple extra for our picnic supper, but it all worked out fine. Later in the evening as dark crept in the older kids stayed out playing "ghost in the graveyard" and "kick the can" with the neighbors. What a sweet taste of summer. Are we there yet?!
Anyhow, with the time change it was a struggle getting out of bed and ready in time for 10:00 mass, but we made it. All but Lucy who still goes to my parents. Frank and Rose have been coming to mass now that John's with us too. They sure are making a great transition I think. They behave pretty well. Even Alice commented that "Mom, 2 seems to be the right age for starting the little kids at church. Why didn't we start taking Charlie then, so he'd behave better." We did. He just hasn't caught on yet.
Anyhow, mom and dad had a wonderful brunch ready after mass for us...all our Sunday morning favorites, eggs, bacon, toast, fresh fruit, and of course donuts. Yumm.
Dad's starting on a woodworking project for us. We've decided to get rid of the chairs around our kitchen table and go with wood benches instead. Nobody seems to know how to keep chairs straight, with feet under the table which causes more arguments than we need. We're hoping it will give us more room in the kitchen as well. Anyways, after pricing them online, we're thrilled that Dad's willing to undertake this project for us.
We finished out the weekend with a 4H meeting Sunday evening. John and most of his siblings were members of the Minster Livestock group for years, and now our girls have expressed an interest, so we're going to see how it goes. My one condition is that they can't take animals to the fair. We have no room in our home for pets, and fortunately free-range chickens, goats and other larger animals are not allowed in town. Emma's decided on a bird project...one that involves building a feeder, and identifying birds. Alice is interested in cooking or arts and crafts. After attending the meeting last night, I'm certain it will be a very enjoyable, rewarding experience for them. This morning it's raining and cold again. The kids are happily playing with the dollhouse which was on hiatus in the attic for 6 months...for this very reason...it is new and exciting all over again, with enough accessories to keep everyone (boys and girls) happy for hours. Me, I'm drinking coffee, lots of it, trying to get motivated for another day in winter paradise.

Friday, March 6, 2009

kodak moment

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, so I'll have to try to paint the picture for you. As I was coming down the sidewalk toward home this morning around 9, just finishing my morning jog/walk, I was greeted by the sweetest sight. 2 year olds Frank and Rose were out front playing (boy do we love small town living). Rosie dressed all in hotpink, sweatpants and matching hoodie with the hood up, and Frank all in blue. They were moving slowly down the sidewalk side by side. Frank was pulling his little red wagon behind him as Rosie struggled on her big sister's pink Barbie scooter. It was adorable, and I could only imagine the conversation the two might have been sharing (had they been able to speak in more than two word sentences.) They continued on together up the driveway and to the back yard where the big kids were playing, and then went their seperate ways. I can't imagine life without those two.
Thank you God for this beautiful spring-like weather, and the gift of children to enjoy it.

Spring has sprung!

(Or at least bounced for a bit!)

I think it's safe to say everyones heads hit the pillows hard last night. We were teased with a bit of spring weather yesterday, so we took full advantage of it. After school and homework, we headed outdoors. It took only seconds for all the neighbor kids to converge in our driveway, which is how I love it. There were enough kids to have games going in every corner of the yard...from jumping rope, basketball, scootering, kids playing in the fort. I love it!
After supper, we all walked to the school park for the last 45 minutes before dark crept in. The kids all played so well. There were no other kids there for the older ones to pair up with, so it was nice to see my older ones helping the little ones try the monkey bars, or climb up high to the "swirly slide." This was Lucy's first real park adventure, as last year she spent most of her summer in a stroller or carrier, oblivious. She LOVED the slide! It made me a little sad to realize that there would be no baby in my arms, or stroller to push around all summer. My kids are growing up, and wanting to do things independently. It's bittersweet. I long for the tiny baby stage, and yet it's liberating to be able to just grab a wagon for the toddlers and take off. And now I'm hands free to join in on the fun. (I loved the slide too.)
Anyhow, after showers the girls voted for a pedicure night. Alice got a foot bath for Christmas and some peidicure supplies for all the girls. I had an older foot bath as well, so we filled them both, and took turns treating each other to a little pampering. Sam was off to his Catholic Boys club meeting, so even the young boys enjoyed the attention, and soaking in a warm foot bath. After everyone was duly pampered and relaxed, we settled in with some library books, and rounded out the night with the Stations of the Cross, with the help of some simple homemade Station booklets Sam and I made in religion class. (I'll try to get the link for the printable accordion-fold booklets...very cute and simple)
It was a truly enjoyable evening. I'm looking forward to warmer weather coming and making itself at home for awhile.

(I wish I could say my night ended at 9 too, but that's when I pour another cup of coffee, and am just getting warmed up. I managed time for my prayers and Lenten reflections, a little computer time, chatted briefly with mom on the phone, scrubbed the kitchen floor, ran the dishwasher, folded 4 loads of laundry, picked up a few toys in the basement...and shoes someone would be looking for desperately come morning, and finally fell into bed around 12:30 with my rosary. John woke me when he got home at 1:30 and I was still gripping the second decade tightly. Didn't quite get through it, but hoping the Blessed Mother understands...)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

taking things literally

John helped young Charlie choose his clothes and get dressed this morning. A few minutes later Charlie lifted up his sweatshirt and asked me to feel his belly. "Is it sweaty yet mom?" I did as asked, with a puzzled look on my face, I'm sure. He continued, "Dad says this is a SWEATshirt, so am I sweating yet?!" Ummm. "Give it some time to work." I replied.

inbox insight

Okay, I'm not really big on e-mail forwards, but this was one I'd not read before, and thought it was too cute not to share. (And I think there's a lesson in there too.)

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.
"That laundry is not very clean", she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly.
Perhaps she needs better laundry soap" ..
Her husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.
About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her how?"
The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.
May God always grant that you and I see clearly...
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

sowing seeds of love

Our next Lenten project idea came from my second grade religion class. It ties in nicely with the Parable of the Sower from Matthew, which we'd talked about in relation to the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.

We decorated flower pots (at home here, we used styrofoam cups) with colorful spring flower designs and the saying "Jesus gives us new life." The kids then filled them with potting soil and grass seed. We're watering them, keeping them in the sunlit window sill, and waiting patiently for the first sign of new growth. Just as we are growing closer to Jesus, nourished by His Holy Word, so do the seeds grow (we hope) carefully tended and nurtured. Our intention (here at home) is to add a few homemade treats to the grass-filled pots and and share them at Easter time. Although the kids have not been able to decide just who to share them with yet. For some reason, I'm thinking we'll be making more pots to accomodate everyone on their list. I hope I have enough windowsill space. Did I mention everyone LOVED this project with lots of dirt to run their fingers through!! (and to sweep up afterwards.)

(note: in class, the kids pasted a photo of themselves onto a cutout flower form, attached to a popsicle stick. They look just adorable "blooming" from the grassy pots!)

A prayer: "Lord, faith in your Word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it".

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

borrowed from EWTN, the Holy Season of Lent

Tuesday, First Week of Lent
"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father....’" (Matthew 6:8-9)

Reflection.. . .
I asked God to take away my pride,
And God said "No."
He said it was not for Him to take away,But for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole,
and God said, "No."
He said her spirit is eternal,While her body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
And God said, "No."He said patience is a by-product of tribulation.It isn't granted - it is earned.I asked God to give me happiness,
And God said "No."
He said He gives blessings, Happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain,
And God said "No."
He said, "Suffering draws you apart fromWorldly cares and brings you close to Me."
I asked God to make my spirit grow,
And God said "No."
He said I must grow on my own,But he will prune me to make it fruitful.
I asked God if He loved me,
And God said "Yes."
He gave me His only Son, who died for me,And I will be in heaven somedayBecause I believe.
I asked God to help me love othersAs much as He loves me,
And God said,"Ah, finally you have the idea."
~by Claudia Minden Welsz

ashes, ashes. We all fall down.

After breaking out of the starting blocks of Ash Wednesday, ready for a spiritual rebirth, today (less than a week later) I feel as though I'm already failing miserably. Our beautifully crayoned stations of the cross lasted just hours on the wall. I had forgotten that Lucy is interested in everything within reach now...she tore them down and crumbled them in no time. Our family rosary this evening ended after just one decade. I was so frustrated by the time we got that far...kids giggling, disrespectful, our worst yet. Off to bed they went. Even my 1/2 hour at Adoration yesterday left me feeling terribly guilt-ridden. The harder I tried to focus on Him in prayer and silent reflection, the harder I had to fight being overcome with sleep. I've never had anything like that happen before. It took everything in me just to stay awake, and spend time with Him. I'm understanding now how it must have been for the apostles at Gethsemene. I never did fall asleep, but I was close. How horrible is that. For each step I try to take forward, I feel as though I'm stumbling back a bit.
The good news is (I must keep telling myself) there's lots more time to keep picking myself up and trying again. Surely there will be more hurdles and roadblocks along this journey, but through perserverance and much prayer, I hope to maintain focus and draw nearer to Him and His will for me.
In the meantime, instead of a snack (which is what I usually choose when I'm feeling bummed) I opted for a snuggle. Charlie asked me to squeeze in between him and Frank tonight, so I did just that. I laid with them for a good half an hour before I couldn't resist the call of the kitchen needing cleaned up for the night, oh and laundry, bathroom, etc. I'm grateful for the little moments with the kids, when all is right with the world...ending the day on a good note.

Monday, March 2, 2009

a thing of beauty...

who cares what's going in it! The hardest part is done, and she's a thing of beauty...

As far as I'm concerned, attaining a perfect pie crust is indeed a lenten penance. I've had several thanksgivings past, where prayer was the only thing that kept me from tossing entire pies out into the back yard.

John loves homemade pie though, and so I made the crust tonight, and will fill it and bake it tomorrow for lunch. I've got apple pie filling thawing, from the bushels of apples I prepared ahead last fall. Last time I baked one I added blueberries to the mix too which is probably what I'll do tomorrow. It's a nice twist.

No, we didn't give up sweets in this house...perhaps we should have.

another exhausting weekend

It's almost a relief today to be back into the routine of another week. (said with a sigh) I had a brunch Saturday morning with the mom's group I'm a part of. It meant starting off early with baking. I made a wonderfully simple baked French Toast, and in order to leave the house by myself without feeling guilty, I also baked a pull-apart monkey bread for the hungry mouths here. The kitchen smelled divine!
Saturday evening John and I got together with a group of friends we just don't keep in touch with like we should. A group of his high school classmates and their spouses gathered for a wine party at the home of one of the couples. We had many laughs about how far we've come from beer parties with chips and salsa. Karla had a beautiful spread of appetizers from bruschetta to chocolate dipped strawberries. We all brought a bottle of wine and even took part in a wine-guessing game. It was all so "grown up." It turned out to be quite a late night for us "old farts" though...I think we hit the bed around 2. Wow. Morning came around quicker than usual. I'm so glad we could catch up with good friends though, and look forward to trying to get together more often, especially now that John has his weekends off.
Anyhow we made it off to a later mass than usual, had donuts and coffee at mom and dad's afterwards, and later John brought the 3 oldest girls to the roller skating rink. I so wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Sounds like they had a blast. It was our kids' first visit there, and sounds like there will be many more trips in the future. I stayed home with the nappers, and did some baking. I tried a new recipe for a no-knead wheat bread. It came out a little more dense than I prefer, but the taste is delicious. It won't go to waste, I'm sure.
Anyhow, the highlight of the weekend was the realization that we have Saturday mornings again. At our house that means that the alarm clock is replaced by the sensation of cold little feet snuggling in between us in our bed. We just let them pile in until there's no more room. I think there were 8 in the bed this weekend...not everyone made it under the covers, but several brought in snuggle blankets and curled up at our feet like kittens. It truly is a wonderful way to wake up in the morning. Apart from summers, we haven't had this since before John started his weekend shift more than four years ago. One more reason to love his new schedule.
I'm feeling very blessed today, and so continue on with this Lenten journey, attempting to stay focused, to recognize His great love for me, and to reciprocate in some small way that love in return. Lord, make me worthy...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.Genesis 9:13

Lord, help me to be like Noah, trusting in you even when it seems difficult. Let me remain focused on you and your Holy will that I might be found worthy of the eternal gift of Heaven.