Friday, July 31, 2009

Seeing red!

Today, seeing red is not such a bad thing. It means we have our first tomato ready in the garden. It's just a bit too pink to pluck yet, but tomorrow...Yep, I can taste it already. Sliced, warm with a bit of salt and pepper. Mmmm. My mouth is watering.
The plants have been loaded with tomatoes for sometime, and in a few weeks, they'll be coming faster than I can shake a stick at them. The onions and peppers are coming along nicely too, and will hopefully come together to make some wonderful salsa, which I love to can and enjoy all winter long. Mmm. Bring on the nacho chips. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

blue ribbon af-fair

Okay, this is completely bragging...but I'm the mom, so what the heck.

Alice and Emma both participated in judging at our county fair for their respective projects (Alice-cooking, and Emma-Ohio Birds) and both did very well. As first year 4-h-ers' we really had no idea what to expect as far as the judging process goes. When we arrived to see kids dressed up to match their projects (i.e. a young boy dressed as a cowboy to demonstrate his knot-tying abilities, or a girl all decked in red, white and blue to go along with her Fourth of July themed dessert) the girls got a little nervous. I was nervous for them too. But I know how much time they'd both put into their projects and that they knew their material, so they'd be fine. And they were. Both girls were graded an "A" by the judges and recieved a blue ribbon for participating. I was thrilled for them. They looked surprisingly calm as they each spent time interviewing with a judge, answering questions about all they'd learned and accomplished. I was so darn proud of them. You can imagine my reaction then when I got a phone call today from our County Extension person, that Emma took first prize in her Conservation division, and will be taking her project to the Ohio State Fair.

That's right, her humble little homemade bird feeders and information about the birds she observed landed her First Prize. We're planning a trip to Columbus next Friday so she can participate in judging there, and see what comes of that. She called her Grandpa (John's dad) right away. John and most of his 11 siblings were active in 4h growing up and she thought Grandpa Schmiesing would be tickled for her...and he was. Oh, I tell you...I'm just so darn proud of them both...maturing right before my very eyes. (sigh.)

Alice talking with the judge about her "Mini Meals Magic" project...

...and at home with her Breakfast (sausage, egg, cheese) casserole just out of the oven. Let's roll!

Emma with the director of activities at Otterbein St. Mary's where she donated her homemade feeder (built with John's help) for the residents of the Memory Support unit to enjoy.

...and displaying her 2 homemade feeders and poster she presented for judging at the fair.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Martha

Feast Day, July 29th
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).

I'm digging Martha, and all she seemed to be feeling when Jesus visited that time. She had hosted Him and his friends before, and was good at it. I'm sure she enjoyed her work in the kitchen, taking great pride in attending to all the extra duties that come with having guests. But just as the bread was coming out of the oven, the fish was probably burning in the pan, soup boiling over and there sits younger sister Jesus's feet, which was just not acceptable, especially when there was so much to be done. A few whining words to Jesus ought to get her back in the kitchen, but it doesn't. Rather Jesus reminds Martha gently of the importance of hearing/listening to His word. I don't believe His intention is to belittle Martha her job, instead to point out the fact that His word is lasting, the way to eternal life. So how do I find that balance? Not an easy answer...I'm clearly a Martha...a work in progress. But, perhaps in offering our days work as a form of prayer, doing everything to serve Him by serving others we begin to live His holy word. I think a slow-down from time to time is necessary too, although admittedly difficult in order to think, pray, and more importantly hear the words Jesus is speaking to us...through ordinary people and circumstances. Sometimes we have to leave the dishes and cleaning for a moment, and just sit at his feet and listen.
A prayer: St. Martha, patron of housewives, food service workers, and laundry workers, pray for me that I too may graciously serve Christ. Help me to choose the "better part," to not be distracted by my daily labors, rather to be attentive to His holy word. Amen.

a little stir crazy...

~picnic dinner at the lake (grapes, string cheese, cookies, pretzels, and peanut butter sandwiches)
~playing in the sand (rakes, shovels, buckets, squirt guns)
~swimming at the beach (can you say sand in the britches?!)
~10 kiddos taking their turns in the bathtub, scrubbing sand from all the nooks and crannies (just a little water and sand to clean up from the floor when they're all done)
~followed by some warm buttery popcorn, and what else but a good Christmas movie.

Yep, should be good sleepin' tonight!

Monday, July 27, 2009

off to the county fair

Okay, let me start by singing..."The fair is a veritable smorgasbord, orgasbord!"
Better yet, I'll just let you see it again for yourself...

Alice and Emma joined 4H this year, and are both bringing projects to the county fair for judging. Emma chose a project called "Ohio Birds" which required her to build a couple simple feeders and watch to identify 20 or so different birds. It was fun and fairly simple. It also led her to build a nice wood feeder with her Dad's help, which she later donated to the Retirement Community where I work. I think the residents there will really enjoy it. She had judging last week, and scored an "A" on her project. We'll find out later how she placed among the others.
Alice chose a cooking project which has had us busy in the kitchen trying all kinds of recipes. One last late night in the kitchen tonight, and we're off for judging tomorrow. I've complained with her a bit about how much I've spent on groceries for all her unusual recipes, but in all it's been a wonderful experience as she's gotten quite good at reading recipes, following directions, and feeling her way around the kitchen...even learning about cleanup. (Yeah me!) She'll be fixing a breakfast egg/sausage casserole tomorrow morning. I've made it hundreds of times myself. It's super simple, no-fail (I hope) and should be a good first-year recipe for her to try. I'm excited for her, for them both...and perhaps even more excited for when the work is done and we can visit the fair next week, check out the various booths and exhibits...and of course enjoy all the good food!! (What can I say, I'm a rat at heart apparently.)

Happy Birthday Charlie!!

My little man is 4 today. Our "CHarley Davidson" as Grace first announced him to the world, born July 27th, 2005. It's Charles David, but with grandparents and an uncle who are Harley owners/riders, you can see where the confusion came in.
He's number 7 in our line-up. I remember having a bit of fear and anxiety before he was born that this was to be the one that would "put me over the edge" so to speak. I imagined constant chaos and perhaps even mayhem with seven children. What we found instead was a child that brought peace into our home, even more love in our hearts. He was a perfect fit...pure joy.
He is four now...and a at times the chaos ensues, but he has me wrapped around that chubby, dirt-stained little finger. My world is better because he's in it. I love you Charlie!

I promise I'm still here...

Sorry to those of you who are kind enough to still check in on us from time to time. I promise my days are full of blog-worthy moments and yet, by days end lately, I feel as if I have nothing to say. Just too pooped to find the words, I 'spose.

This little moment, which I was lucky enough to catch on film melted my heart instantly. It was Sunday, getting ready for church. That hour before 10 o'clock mass is often racked with chaos, yelling over missing shoes, and other silly nonsense. I try to have clothing laid out the night before, but there's always some drama. (A friend once suggested this was Satan's way of spoiling our mood, and attempting to turn us away from the Mass). Some mornings I have to wonder. Anyhow, this past Sunday Rosie was frustrated that she couldn't find someone with a spare moment to help her with her shoes. Without missing a beat, twin Frank was there to her rescue...trying his best to help her buckle up. How sweet are these moments?!

Touche` Satan. Love never fails!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

couple pics from the weekend...

like second nature...

I wanted so badly just to fall into bed last night. I believe it's true, that old saying "Nobody needs a vacation more than the person who just returned from one." Oi. I was exhausted.
But just like I'd never been gone, I fell into my old routine of switching the laundry around from washer to dryer, setting up the coffee pot for morning, checking on the kiddos, and so on. Nope. Not much has changed at first glance...except my "check engine soon" light has just gone off, as I'm refueled and reenergized from a wonderful weekend of R&R with my longtime BFF.
Good thing...I'm gonna need it. The three I had with me are now all suffering from fevers and ear pain (swimmer's ear) and 4 of the little ones who stayed home with dear hubby have had high fevers and sore throats (Strep throat) all weekend. I took the worst from each of the two groups to our family physician today and 2 co-pays, and 7 prescriptions later ...I'm hoping we're on the mend. Lots of extra attention needed by little ones who "hurt too bad" to swallow.
That lounge chair by the pool seems more than just miles away now...more like a dream. If it weren't for the itchy, healing sunburn on my backside, I'd wonder if it really ever happened.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Were you afraid I fell in?

Well, I did actually. Just returned, refreshed & rejuvinated from visiting my BFF and her family near Charlotte, NC. Just the 3 oldest and I made the 9 hour trip south...dear husband manned the fort with the seven youngest back here at home. (Yes, he is a saint!) It was an absolutely wonderful visit. I'm catching up on a week's worth of laundry and cleaning tonight, so I 'll be sure to post more tomorrow.
Peaceful night all!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I love you more than...

Charlie caught me carrying a package of fresh-baked brownies down to the freezer tonight. His eyes lit up as if I were going to offer him one. "Mmmm. Mom I love brownies." I stopped for a minute to show him the package. It's one of several baked yummies I've been putting in the freezer for this coming weekend, when the oldest 3 and I take off for a quick trip down south. I'm still feeling a bit guilty that we're not all taking a family trip together, so I'm trying to stock the freezer with homemade surprises for when I'm gone.
I went on to tell Charlie that the brownies were for the weekend...and that while I'm gone, he can ask Dad to get them out, and share them, and remember "how much mom loves you." These brownies can be a little hug from mom while I'm gone. He smiled wide. "Thanks mom! I sure love brownies."
"You're welcome Charlie...I love YOU even more."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

for a giggle...

my kids (and me too) LOVE this...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I need to wear a sign

"Choosing my battles"

That's what my sign would say. It would very neatly sum up why it is that Mary is wearing black long pants in 85 degree heat, and Frank has blue socks with red trim boasting dancing penguins in santa hats...with gym shorts and brown dress shoes. Yes, I suggested alternatives to each of them, but rather than get into a full blown argument about something so silly, I just sigh a "Whatever" and let them roll with it. Needless to say I'm sure there were some parents at the park tonight wondering what I was thinking allowing them out of the house that way. I'm cool with that...if only I had my sign.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

bike parade

Where was a camera when I needed it most?! (or better yet, some bystander to take the darn picture!)

The kids and I headed out this evening for our weekly (or more often) visit to the library. Backpacks loaded with books, it just seemed too nice to hop into the van. Instead we biked it. The nine oldest kids had their own bikes (Frank and Rosie with training wheels of course) and Lucy rode in the carrier on my bike. Ten, yes 10 bikes parading down the sidewalk for the 4 or 5 block trek to the library. The older kids were quite speedy, and waited patiently at each stop sign for the younger ones to catch up. Walking may have been faster, I'm not sure. But I giggled out loud a couple times at how we looked filing down the street. Too darn cute!

Emma led on her light purple bike, then Alice on dark purple, Sam on his yellow mountain-type bike, Grace on her fuschia bike, Mary on pink, John on blue, Charlie's blue with green wheels, Frank on his red and black racer, Rosie with pale pink and powder blue, and last Lucy and I sporting an electric blue number....wheels, wheels and more wheels!

more holiday pics

Dad and Charlie enjoying the fireworks display...
Sweet sisters, Grace and Mary after the parade on Saturday...
Frank and Rose checking out their parade loot...
The twelve of us at Uncle Clete and Aunt Mary's for the Independence Day Parade, say cheese!

Sweet Independence Weekend (review)

John had the night off of work Friday so we took the 7 oldest to a minor league baseball game (Dayton Dragons.) We arrived at the game plenty early, with time for a quick picnic supper of cold meat sandwiches, homebaked cookies and grapes. We headed into the gates early for a nice seat in the lawn section of the ballpark. We learned after attending a game last year that the lawn fills up fast, so with blankets in hand, we were determined to find a great spot. We were met at the gates by the mascots (Heater and Gem) and the "fun crew" who helped plan various games and events throughout the evening. John and Mary felt like they'd hit the lotto when they were invited to run the bases after the first inning. We quickly found a perfect spot, near the end of first base line, and spread out our blankets for the game. John, Mary and I headed off to meet the fun crew as previously planned, and were excited to find that they led us under the stadium and into the dugout where we were introduced to the coach and a few players. They competed against each other in a race around the bases, with a stop at each base where they were assisted in donning pieces of their assigned costume. John dressed as Uncle Sam, and Mary as Betsy Ross. It was aweful cute. John was given a huge hat to wear, which fell to his shoulders, covering his entire head. It made putting on the much-too-large pants at 3rd base he and the entire crowd seem tickled when the helper just scooped him up and helped him finish the race. Mary won...she'll be quick to tell you that, but truth is, they both won. It was great fun for them, and they each received a free Dragon's t-shirt for their efforts. Who could ask for more than that.
Oh but there is more. As we left the fun crew behind, and headed back to our own "fun crew" in the grass, a fly ball landed on the ground right in front of us. An usher was quick to pick it up and hand it to Mary. (Can it get any sweeter?!)
The night ended with an awesome fireworks display over the nearby river, put on by the city of Dayton. Fireworks started just moments after the game ended (by sheer coincidence) and our grass seats at the game provided the perfect viewing location. Fifteen minutes of the most beautiful fireworks I've ever seen. (not that I've seen many...but still) Just awesome!
Despite our late night, I woke early, and headed out for a nearby Fourth of July 5k run. I ran it in it's entirety, for which I'm quite proud. I'm hoping to continue to improve and shave a few minutes off my time for my next 5k in August. Around lunch time the entire family watched the Independence Day parade and visited with relatives at John's Aunt and Uncle's home. It's become tradition to sit on their curb every year where other cousins and distant relatives meet. It was a short parade with lots of candy...everyone left happy. The rain moved in later that afternoon, so our plans for sparklers were put on hold...something to look forward to for next week perhaps.
We ended the weekend with a birthday party for John's godson. Ice cream, baseball, and playing/visiting with cousins is always a treat. The kids spent time catching lightning bugs and putting them into a plastic mayonaisse jar. It was to become a night-light for the older kids camping in tents in the yard there.
Overall it was quite an enjoyable weekend, one that was not over-planned, yet held pleasant surprises for all. I'm thinking these are the kinds of weekends memories are made of.

Monday, July 6, 2009

just remembering...

It was 6 months ago that we lost him. Today was our "due date."
While I know it's not my place to question His perfect plan for us, I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder from time to time, how things may have been different.

Not a day has passed that we haven't thought of you, prayed for your Cy, I love you and look forward to holding you one day in Heaven. ~Mom.

this crazy thing called life...

I'm frequently asked, how it is that I manage to keep up with a blog...what, with 10 kids and all. Well quite frankly, as of late I can't. But I think about it often. Does that count? This computer is actually the last place I should be right now, but kids are in bed, I just put 4 loaves of Zucchini Bread in the oven (first zucc. from the garden!), dishwasher and washing machine are both hard at it, and I have 3 baskets of laundry waiting to be folded on the kitchen table. I'd like to get 30 minutes on the treadmill tonight as I may as well take a break, right?!
Grab a cup of coffee...I'll try to catch you up.
I'll start by mentioning that I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the "crazy summer" tunnel. The girls ended their softball season tonight with a loss in their first round of tournament play. Emma had some really nice hits (she's a lefty and is often signaled to bunt, which she's gotten really good at), and Alice had a nice game as well. It was enjoyable to watch, win or lose. Their coaches treated the team to pizza and pop which not only took their minds off losing rather quickly, but made for quite a fun ending to the season. This week will also mark the end of their swim team season, with their last regular meet on Thursday. No more daily 9am practices...although I liked them having motivation to get going in the morning.
Sam's baseball team starts tournament play Wednesday evening. We'll see how that plays out. He's got quite a young team this year, although I think they've all improved over the season. Grace still has a few more tee ball games on the calendar (Tuesday nights), but her games last only an hour, and everyone bats/plays, and no score is kept. It's really quite cute to watch.
Little John was to the eye doctor today after failing his kindergarden vision screening. Turns out his cerebral palsy (have I mentioned that before?) affects the muscles in his eyes as well. He's farsighted in his left eye, which means glasses for the little guy. I must say, as much as I expect it to be a pain in the hiney, he's pretty darn excited...and I think he'll look rather handsome in his new specs. He told all of his friends at the ball game tonight "I'm blind. But I'm getting glasses and then I'll see better." He was feeling pretty cool in his lime green Ninja Turtle sunglasses after having his eyes dilated for the testing. Too cute.
The younger kids are just moving through summer like good little campers, guaging their days by moments on the slip-n-slide, popsicles, bike-rides up and down the front sidewalks, or even story books under the shade tree out back. Life is good, indeed.
John is keeping busy as ever working evening shift, and although the hours aren't ideal we've managed to make the best of it, and are just grateful in times like these that he has his job.
I'm managing to carve a little time out of my day for exercise. I've been on the treadmill at least 4 or 5 nights per week, and even finished a 5k this past weekend (without walking at all.)
It's so easy to find myself "wrapped up" in all the going-ons of daily life, without giving proper time/credit/attention to our Loving Father who makes it all possible. I'm so painfully aware of my shortcomings in the area of the spiritual formation of these little blessings I've been bestowed. I'm making an effort as of late, to just listen and be led by the Spirit. I felt as if this past Sunday's reading (St. Paul's letter to the Corinthian's) was addressed specifically to me...
"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I
will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of
Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am
weak, then I am strong.

For all the times I'm feeling weak, incapable, incompetent to accept let alone deal with all these blessings, I can know His grace is sufficient.
Peaceful night all!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shhhhh....quiet time.

I took the kids to the library last evening. It had been a week since we were last there, and we were in dire need of new books for the summer reading club. The 6 oldest are signed up, and keeping track of all the books they read in an attempt to collect small prizes and ice cream coupons, as well as earn chances to win bigger prizes given away at club's end. Little do they know, mom's happy to see them keeping up/improving their reading skills before next school year, as well as exstatic about the quiet time it brings to our home. It's all good.
Anyway, as luck would have it there was a magician scheduled to perform upstairs soon after we arrived. The kids quickly checked in their finished books and I escorted the 10 little indians upstairs for the show. The room was filling up fast, so Lucy and I ducked back downstairs for an entire hour of one-on-one quiet time. It was wonderful!! She seemed to know it was special time, and we snuggled into a reading nook to look at picture books, play with puppets, and later chose new books for 4 of the older ones who would let me. For a moment Lucy was busy playing with a toy "barrel of monkeys" allowing me a brief chat with the librarians about reading material I've heard other moms checking out. I toyed with the idea of taking a book home for myself...but honestly, I know something would have to dinner or I didn't. I did however put my name on a wait list for one popular read, so we'll see what comes of that when it's available.
I have to admit, it's little quiet moments like these that can turn another "ordinary" day into something extraordinary. I'm grateful for opportunities to spend quality time with each of the kids when it comes along. Life is good, indeed.