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!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shorter Days...

...make for much longer, at times more difficult evenings. We finished dinner at 5:30 tonight, only to glance out the window into pitch black. Dark already. Dang! Now what? How on earth do we fill 3 hours every evening from here to spring, without losing my mind completely? Good question, one I'm still working on figuring out. Wow, how I long for the days I'd just send them all out into the yard to play after dinner, or we'd walk to the pool or park. Now the kids scatter to the basement, or bedrooms looking for things to fill their time, often forgetting that we're indoors now, and play needs to be a bit different. The logic of 3 and 4 year olds is quite trees? we'll climb bunk beds. No swings to jump out of? we'll bounce off furniture. No wind to carry our tune for miles? we'll just sing loudly through a paper towel tube...YES, VERY LOUDLY!
We're working on remembering our "inside voices" again. We're pulling out puzzles, and coloring books, and matchbox cars, and Lincoln Logs, and Rescue Heroes. We're putting music on to dance to...just to burn off a little energy. Tonight, I filled the tub with water just so Charlie could swim for awhile. It was better than big time wrestling, and the soap didn't hurt either. As the kids get a little older, they want to spread out more so there's some kind of busy going on in nearly every room. On one patrol through the house, I spotted Frank and Rose "traveling" in the top bunk of the boys room with luggage and stuffed animals packed up for their journey. Charlie was swimming in the bath tub while Grace, Mary and Lucy held a dance party in the basement. Alice and Emma were spread out on my bed with their noses tucked in some good books. And Sam & John sprawled out on the living room floor catching a few minutes of Cartoon Network before it was "tv off" time. (I prefer tv to be a last resort for something to do.)
I'm curious how you all are filling your evening hours. Are you settling in okay, or feeling a little cabin-feverish already? Hopefully soon, we'll all have our creative juices flowing as we come up with wonderful ways to entertain our little ones, and maintain some sense of sanity along the way. Certainly can't say there's no time for starting up a family rosary again, or any family prayer time, I 'spose. Or maybe the older kids and I need to revisit the art of letter-writing. Perhaps learn a new craft or hobby. Scrapbooking is something we could all do...
Any suggestions anyone??

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray thee Lord, my soul to keep. Angels watch me through the night, and wake me with the morning light. Amen.
In just a split second, accidents happen. Such was the case yesterday when baby Lucy reached her little hand under the treadmill belt as John was running, while the kids played in the same room. So scary. She has a pretty severe sheer/burn on 2 of her fingers and and palm of her hand. She's going to be fine...just treating it with a prescription creme, antibiotics, and watching for infection as the layers of skin try to heal. Dad, on the other will take a bit longer for the feelings of guilt to subside. Poor guy.
God Bless Lucy. God Bless her dad too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"the talk"

Oh oldest babies are becoming little ladies. Tonight we had "the talk." Not the birds and bees just yet, but a long beautiful conversation about the changes they can expect their bodies to be making over the next couple years. Granted, they're just nearing 10, so they've got time. But they're in middle school now, and have been hearing mumblings of things from friends, and older girls at school about "periods" and various things. A little of which was starting to frighten them a bit. I thought it might be best to lay things out on the table now, and encourage them to ask questions as things come up.
I prayed about it first, which certainly helped. The Holy Spirit was my counsel as the three of us stayed up late to talk about the awesome miracle of a woman's body, created to carry life into the world. We actually cried together as we talked about our Blessed Mother carrying Jesus in her womb, about the dignity of women and how we need to respect our bodies. They asked so many wonderful questions...some I hadn't even thought would come up. Gosh, they seemed so mature taking it all in. And as they got up to head to bed, and gave me the usual kiss goodnight, I got a little choked up again. Gone are the baby girls that would lay on either side of my lap as I'd feed them their bottles each night. They're maturing; becoming little women. Oh my. I ask God's special graces to carry me through this next phase of life.

Oh pickles.

I typically don't sit around lamenting my difficult life. I really don't. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that at times I feel a bit under-appreciated. It goes with the title of being mom though, so really, I'm okay with it. As a matter of fact, I've become quite used to being invisible, and with a whole lot of prayers for help from the Blessed Mother, and the Holy Spirit...I can go about my day trying to give my best anyway.
It so happened the other night that I baked fish for supper (which John had been hinting about for days). Unfortunately we had no tarter sauce in the house, so I made some from scratch...simple mayo, chopped pickles...nothing special. Anyhow, the kids threw a big fuss about dinner (as is often the case when feeding toddlers, right? Please tell me I'm not alone on this.) Unfortunately a lot went to waste, 'cause leftover fish is just blech! As I was clearing the dinner table, John mentioned the tarter sauce. He had noticed it was homemade, and that I probably had to chop the pickles, cause he knew there was no relish in the fridge. Anyways, long story short...he said something to the effect of "Nobody here really realizes that dinners don't just fall on the table. You put a lot of effort into feeding everyone 3 times a day, don't you." (no duh.) The conversation pretty much ended there, but it was enough to make me aware that A. he notices (how sweet is that?!) and B. I'm okay with the fact that my kids don't notice. Oh sure, those precious moments when one of them says "thanks mom" or "this is delicious" or even a grubby little thumbs up my direction is nice, but not necessary. I keep reminding myself that one day these kids aren't going to be little ones to bathe, or cook for, or help dress, or teach or read with, or pray with. Someday, silence will prevail. For now, I must find joy in the doing for, in the being with, in the sharing of all that I have to offer. I think I've mentioned before (and need to remind myelf once and again too) that it is in our daily service to our family, that we are honoring God in our true vocation as wives/mothers. May our days work become a form of prayer when done out of love. peace.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Singing it's praises!

Around 11:00 last night, I decided it wise to scrub the bathtub. It needed it really bad, but worse was the un-scrubbable mildew that collects on the caulk that lines the edge of the tub. Eeewww! Disgusting. We have no ventilation in that bathroom, hence the mildew, and for some reason, it just can't be removed from the caulk. So every so often, it's necessary to scrape away the old caulk, clean it well, and re-caulk. Last night I was on a mission! I tore down the shower curtain and liner along with the rubber bath mat and heaved them into the washing machine. I removed all the soap & shampoo, scrunchies, and other tub paraphenelia and was ready to get down to business. One trip to my cleaning supply closet though, made my heart sink. Darnit. I forgot to put tub cleaner on the list last time I used it, and ran out. Okay, I'll just use Comet...all gone. Dang! Nothing appropriate for scouring away mildew and soap scum. Now what?! I just tore apart the bathroom. And I have my caulk scraping tools ready and waiting.
I googled homemade cleaners and decided to try a little vinegar and baking soda. OMG!!!! It's a miracle. That stuff either used separately or later as a paste (I did it both ways) was AMAZING!! As a matter of fact, I should be embarassed to admit...there has been a black area of stains on the outside edge of the old porcelain tub since we moved here...looked just like hair dye drippings (not that I'd know anything about that.) I've tried everything from bleach, to comet, to Scrubbing Bubbles, and several generic tub & tile cleaners along the way and have never been able to remove it. The vinegar and baking soda literally took it off in one swipe. (Are you hearing the choirs of heaven singing too?!) Yep, nothing short of miraculous. Praise God!!!
I am certain to never use anything else again...unless perhaps I forget to put this on my list too. (oops.)
So, anyone else have any super-incredible cleaning supply must-haves?! (Cause I'm slow to catch on that simple is sometimes better.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

crispy or chewy?

How do you like your bacon?
It's split at this house. As for me, I'm a crispy gal...and since I do the fryin', well, there's a good chance it's gonna be crispy.

(Not that we have bacon often. But I was frying it up as a treat for breakfast tomorrow...and well...I got to talking with myself...and just wondered.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

fashion faux pas

Yep, this is just wrong. Worse than wearing white after labor day, I'm sure. I'm choosing my battles though. Like when Charlie decided to wear a much-too-tight sleeveless "muscle" shirt yesterday. Whatev' I'm down with that. (choosing my battles. encouraging independence. biting my lip...yada, yada.)

It's tough telling this little curly-top that her toes-in-tights don't look "fabulous" in flip-flops! What can I say? She's my princess.

Celebrating the Saints

Our parish's newly formed "Little Flowers" group celebrated the Feast of All Saints by dressing up as various saints, and taking part in the 11:30 mass today. There were probably 40 or more young ones who processed into church. Present were the likes of St. Isadore, St. Jacinta, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese, St. Juan Diego and many more. We celebrated with other families afterwards with a party of games and treats for the kids.

Alice (St. Rose of Lima), Emma (St. Catherine of Siena), Mary (Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha), Grace (Mary, our Blessed Mother)...the boys weren't keen about dressing up this year, but after seeing other "dudes" with Armor & Swords(St. Michael & St. George), or even prison uniforms (St. Maximilian Kolbe) they're already planning their costumes for next year.

Prayer for the Solemnity of All Saints

God our Father, source of all holiness, the work of Your hands is manifest in Your saints, the beauty of Your truth is reflected in their faith. May we who aspire to have part in their joy be filled with the spirit that blessed their lives, so that having shared their faith on earth may we also know their peace in your kingdom. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.