Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloweiners!

(One of the kids recently read a book at school about a weiner dog on Halloween. I don't know any more about it, but the fact that kids keep hollaring out "Happy Hallo-weiner Dog!" It's making me a little crazy.)

So... these are my Hallo-wieners. Dressed and ready for their big night of trick-or-treating last evening. We had beautiful fall weather. No rain, thank goodness! Sam was a little apprehensive about dressing up this year, and said he just wanted to stay home and help pass out treats, but thanks to a last minute, dollar-store mask he decided to stop at a few of our neighbors homes. I was glad he decided to go out if even for only a few minutes. He was back home with me in no time, while an older neighbor girl brought the other little ones around. Alice and Emma had a little more freedom to venture off with friends this year, and managed to have a great time as well.

I have to say that the hour or two leading up to the magic moment when kids burst out the door for treats, is mayhem to say the least. Do you all experience that same anticipaton/excitement/chaos? They rush home from school to finish off their homework. Then it's "How much longer mom?" for the rest of the evening. We scramble through supper (I cheated, and ordered in pizza this year.) trying to tidy as we go, just in case someone stops by and wants to actually come in and visit. Once supper is over and cleared, we begin planning the "schedule" of costumes and makeup so that everyone gets dressed in time, and that nobody is ready too soon. Being ready too soon, only exacerbates the anxiety and frustration. This year the older kids were able to help get the younger ones dressed into their very simple costumes, and only a few required "hair and make-up." But neighbor kids were swarming the yards, just waiting for that first porchlight to go on. Once our kids realized the other kids were out...everyone had to be out. Lots of nervous pacing on the driveway...waiting, and more waiting. 3 more minutes. "Mom, can we go yet?! Everyone else is starting!" Porchlights come on 1 by 1, and the kids are off.
Before long, we're all back together at home again, loading up the van to visit grandparents and Dad at work.
We arrive home again late, needing showers and a little quiet to allow them to come down off the ceiling.

Oh, so glad it's over for another year.

Happy Hallo-weiner Dogs!

It must be the morning after...

...trick-or-treat. Frank hopped out of bed, and without a "Good morning," or even a moment's hesitation, he headed straight for the pumpkin. It was too cute to try to stop him. Although the pumpkin is now located on top of the refrigerator...requiring permission to obtain some of the sweet stuff.

Moments later at breakfast...notice the barely nibbled egg sandwich and pinapple chunks. But the boy managed to polish off that chocolate bar.
Really. We don't have candy like this often... and we won't allow this before breakfast again... but it was the first morning. Gotta break the rules every now and then.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

there I go sneaking off again

It feels like just a moment ago, instead it's been several days since I've last posted. Where does time get to?! It was another busy, beautiful weekend. Maybe not beautiful weather-wise, but good times none the less. Friday I spent most of my day in the kitchen it seemed...baking, cooking, making pizza subs for the freezer. I'm fortunate that most of the younger ones are thrilled to spend time at the kitchen table coloring, or playing with playdoh so I can work and still manage to keep an eye on them. On Saturday I joined a few friends for a day of shopping to check out the new Outlet Mall just north of Cincinnati. I had forgotten how good it is to get out with the girls and just laugh and cut up. I did manage to find several bargains in my new (improved) size, which was also a bonus. Saturday evening, John and I met with several other couples for our recently formed "gourmet club." Each month a different couple hosts (or selects a place to dine out) and chooses a theme for the evening. Last month was beer and appetizer pairings, this month was an "Iron Chef" style party in which each couple brought a dish that included pumpkin in the recipe. Good food, good friends, good fun! We had everything from Pumpkin Lasagne, stuffed mini-pumpkins, pumpkin foccacia bread, pumpkin roll for dessert...even pumpkin martinis and pumpkin beer. (Yumm!)
Sunday morning brought a much-needed lazy morning. I'm enjoying that the 4 & 5 year olds have religion class during the 1130 mass, so our mornings are not so rushed as when we used to go to the 10 o'clock mass. We definitely file into the van in a more laid back, ready-to-receive-Jesus frame of mind. Sunday evening we participated in our community's 3rd annual "Pumpkins for Life" memorial. It's such an awesome event in which 400 pumpkins, carved with a cross, are lit and displayed on our church steps in honor of the 3600 babies killed by abortion each day. (Each day!) There is beautiful music & singing by our parish Folk group, a prayer service, treats & socializing. I think what's most amazing and inspiring is that this event is organized and put together each year by this incredible group of teens for life. Just awesome! It was a perfect way to end the weekend, as the kids and I lugged our pumpkin home, placed it by our front porch and relit it to show support for the ProLife movement, and honor those babies who died.
This week our focus is on surviving the Hallow-days. We have a costume party at the K of C Hall tonight, trick-or-treating on Thursday, and a Saint's party on Sunday. Fortunately all the kids were able to find costumes here at home, put together with items from their closets or the bin of old costumes in the basement. (Whew!! What a sewing or crafting original costumes this year!) The biggest stress for me is getting everyone ready and pulling it together despite the usual schedules of homework, (Sam's) Boys Club meeting, and other commitments. It's one of those crazy weeks that has me wishing John was back to working days again.
Just this week, I keep reminding myself...just for this week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

If it were this simple...

I'd have tried it on myself long ago.

We were discussing halloween, and more important to the kids, trick-or-treat, coming up next week. Everyone seems to be coming up with clever (and thankfully simple) ideas for what they want to dress as this year. Little John though, he's been struggling. Until today, that is. He suggested, "Mom, you can just by that 'invisible spray' and spray my head invisible, and I can go as the headless horseman." Umm. "Yeah John, that'd be really cool. Do you think it'd work?" I played along.
"Sure." He says. "And when we're done you just spray me down with water like Mr. Crab did to Sponge Bob."

Umm. Okay. I'll have to check for that next time I'm at Walmart. sounds handier than hiding out in the bathroom to "just breathe." Imagine what I could get done...invisible!

God love him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lucy's lion

I passed through the house in my usual fashion last night. Kids were in bed, so I began my "sweep" of rooms. The kids usually have to pick up toys before they can watch any tv for the night, so it's just a matter of me rescuing that one "Little People" princess who didn't make it back into her carriage for the night, or the handful of Legos swept under the couch in the hustle of scooping them into a bucket. I typically line up backpacks for the next morning, spot a missing sock that needs thrown down the clothes chute, return a book or two to the shelf, fluff a few pillows on the couch. It's a nightly ritual to assure most things are back in their places for the next day, so that kids can turn it upside down all over again. Actual cleaning is another story...I can live with a little dust, at least till my next official cleaning day.

Anyhow, as I picked up a throw pillow to straighten and fluff it on the couch, I spotted Lucy's lion. For some reason tonight it made me catch my breath...and yep, even get a little misty for a minute. She's been carrying this lion around as her best friend since she got it the other's almost a part of her. Seeing it there curled up on the couch brought back a surge of memories and emotions I wasn't expecting. I recalled in a flash, the days when we were losing hope of ever having children of our own. For some reason the painful memories of infertility seemed fresh in my mind again. Those four years of waiting and trying to have children were very real all over. I was never so grateful for one misplaced toy, as I was last evening. This little lion says there are children in this house. Our God is an awesome God! I am so grateful for His kindness and mercy, that He could find us worthy of not only one, but a whole houseful of blessings. Certainly, I have much to be thankful for, and Lucy and her little lion are just the start.

Thank you God for this gentle reminder of your love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Night Fever

Another beautiful Indian Summer day!
The girls had their first Little Flowers meeting after school till 5. They came home full of excitement and stories of their day. They seemed most excited about their "craft project" which was to make St. Therese sacrifice beads like these. I caught all of the girls looking for opportunities to help out this evening so they might slide a bead over, marking the "sacrifice." The boys did their homework in a quiet house, and then helped me pack up a simple dinner for one last picnic in the park. I couldn't stand to stay in on such a gorgeous day. As soon as nappers awoke and the girls arrived home, we drove over to Ft. Loramie park. We dined on PB&J, homemade zucchini muffins, Fritos and red Gatorades. (Not much balance there, but it is what was available, quick and convenient. (Walmart had the Gatorade in their clearance section for next-to-nothin' last week when I was there...otherwise something we don't keep in the house.) The kids were THRILLED to have their own plastic bottle with lids...big kid drinks, not koolaid in plastic cups.
We returned home to some chores, showers, girls finishing up homework and as usual a little television time to wind down before bed. Tonight however, our VCR was acting up (i.e. "eating tapes") so we turned music on instead. The kids took turns entertaining the rest of us with various dance numbers. It was far from "winding down" time, but hilarious and fun way to end the evening. Lucy was most silly, spinning and jumping like she had ants in her pants. And of course she didn't mind being the center of attention. A little popcorn after the music ended and kids were ready for bed.
The house is quiet now, and after spending most of last (late) evening hours folding laundry, I'm taking a break tonight. It feels good to sit in silence. No tv, no radio, no kids arguing. Just silence. It's quite conducive to hearing what God is trying to get through my sometimes thick skull.
Yep, after all that noise, laughter, dancing & silliness...silence is good. Just gonna grab my rosary and listen.
Goodnight all.

boys being boys

My mind raced, and I had to hold back laughter as I glanced across the back yard and spotted Charlie (4) and Frank (3) lugging a small step-ladder from the garage and through the yard. They were carrying it with a very certain purpose, that's for sure.
I called out "Boys, we need to put the step-ladder away!"
In unison "Aww Mom! We NEED it for something."

Hmm. Not sure what that "something" could be, but they were headed for Emma's favorite climbing tree. Thank you Guardian Angels for helping me to catch them in time.

Big boy plans foiled again. (Thank goodness!)

To honor our Blessed Mother

There are four girls in this house (five counting their mom) who are quite excited about the new girls club "The Little Flowers" coming to our parish. Today is the first meeting of the new group which honors St. Therese as it's patron, and teaches the girls about the Blessed Mother and other saints, virtues and prayers and helps them to grow in their faith and love of Christ. I offered to bring treats for this first meeting, and was excited when a friend referred me to Catholic Cuisine for this awesome cupcake rosary idea. It kept me busy during naptime yesterday, but I believe it turned out beautifully. A perfect treat during this month of the Holy Rosary.

Trick or treat?

The kids weren't really sure how to answer that...
I tried a new recipe today for "Dinner in a pumpkin." Most of the little diners here didn't really give it a chance judging solely on it's looks, but I thought it was delicious. The "stuffing" reminded me of the Stuffed Green Peppers mom used to make when I was younger. A hamburger, tomato, rice mixture that is quite yummy.
Feel free to try it out for a festive Autumn meal...if you dare!

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 medium sugar pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups tomato juice
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1 cup uncooked white rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Wash pumpkin, cut off top, scrape out seeds and discard.
Place hamburger in a large, deep skillet. Crumble and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain fat, add onion and garlic; saute slightly.
Add sugar, Italian herbs, salt, pepper, tomato juice and rice; mix thoroughly.
Layer inside of pumpkin with 1/3 of cabbage, green beans and beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers, replace lid and bake for 2 to 3 hours. Be sure to cook in a jelly roll or roasting pan to catch the juices!

Note: I used canned tomatoes in their juice instead of tomato juice, but would suggest trying Rotel seasoned canned tomatoes next time for a little more flavor. As you serve the stuffing, scrape a little pumpkin flesh from the inside to add to the mix. The pumpkin complements the stuffing wonderfully.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indian Summer

It sure is nice to be able to send the kids outside after dinner to play again. After all the rain and frigid temps last week, we were due for some outdoor fun. Today we took advantage by carving a pumpkin, raking a few more leaves, playing backyard dodgeball with the neighbor kids, and definitely more tree climbing. I really do love this weather with the cool air, warm sun, crunching of leaves underfoot, and gorgeous colors all around. The Lords' blessings are abundant indeed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

a new "must try" recipe

I baked a triple batch of this bread on Friday. It's my first time trying it, and it has been voted a total success, hands down. Tis the season for a little pumpkin in the diet...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup whole milk
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup of chocolate chips (floured)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and flour one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan or two 8½x4½x2½ inch loaf pans.
Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl except the chocolate chips.
Add the chocolate chips to the pumpkin bread batter.
Pour the chocolate chip pumpkin bread batter into the loaf pan(s).
Place in the oven and bake for one hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Note: I used 1 cup of Pumpkin Pie Filling instead of the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices. I also made muffins which baked to perfection in just 20 minutes.

just monkeying around

It was a gorgeous autumn Sunday today. After all the rain, and cold gray days we've had lately, it was a real treat to be outside enjoying the weather. And that's just what we did. The kids spent much of the afternoon either in the trees or under them, raking & shaking leaves to play in and toss around before finally pushing them to the curb. John's brother and sister-in-law came in from Sandusky and we enjoyed the afternoon in the sun, watching all the kids play.

And this next one...this is why I have gray hair!!!! Yep, that's Emma in the very top branches...not a lick of fear in her!

(not so subtle) name-dropping

Yep, that's me with Danielle. We look just like old friends, not?! (okay, not.) Yes, that is me posing with Mrs. Bean herself (author, senior editor of Faith & Family mag, and web-editor for Faith & Family Live), but old friends we're really not. I was fortunate enough to attend a Women's retreat on Saturday where she spoke. She shared advice on "Mom Management" and finding happiness in our vocation as wives and mothers. I laughed through tears at times at the stories she shared, realizing we as mothers (of two or 10) are indeed sisters, sharing many of the same struggles, joys, and trials as we attempt to bring our family closer to Christ. Just wonderful hearing from her!

The day also included Mass, Holy Hour, Confession and a wonderful talk by Father Barry Stechschulte, who gave us a little insight into the male "wiring" and how to more fully appreciate/understand our husbands. Truly his words about praying for and encouraging our husbands to be the Spiritual Leaders of our families was inspiring.

Oh, and did I mention good eats?! We were treated to wonderful baked goods, and homemade soups. It truly was a "Spa for the Soul" day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

caramel corn follow-up

I raided mom's recipe box to find this old recipe for making caramel corn in the microwave. I have not tried it myself, but several of us commented about remembering our moms making it this way, and said it was super-easy clean-up. Worth a try, I think.

Microwave Caramel Corn

Place 3 quarts of popped corn in large paper grocery bag that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

In microwave-safe bowl, combine: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup Karo syrup, 1/2 cup margarine, 1/2 tsp. salt. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir well. Microwave another 2 minutes, then stir in 1/2 tsp baking soda, mixing well. Pour over popped corn in bag. Close bag and microwave on high for 90 seconds. Shake bag and microwave on high for 45 more seconds. Pour into pan and cool. Store in airtight container.

(I believe the ingredients are exactly the same as my previous recipe, though only 1/2'd. Taste should be great, just not sure how it comes out...crunchy, chewy??) If someone tries this before I do, please let me know in the comments how it went. Sounds super simple and quick!

St. Francis, pray for us.

Lucy's been loving on animals again. Today she found the little blue bird on my window sill too much to resist. She kissed it, and pecked at things with it. She "cheeped" with him, and bounced him along the bench at the kitchen too many times. Darnit. Broken bird beak!!

We're hoping with a little Gorilla Glue and tape to help it hold, he'll be healed up real soon. This is beginning to be an all-to-familiar sight on my kitchen cupboard.

St. Francis, patron saint of animals pray for us.

my lightbulb moment

It occured to me this evening, that I need to be a little better about providing the kids with structured activities once in awhile. (i.e crafts, games, etc.) The free-thinking, use-your-imagination play is a GOOD thing, except that is, when it leads 4 toddlers to remove all the lightbulbs from the lamps in the basement to use as "light-sabers."
Who on earth, removes and plays with lightbulbs?! (My kids.)

That's it. No more Star Wars movies from the library.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Little Charlie Nutkin

Mary, John and Charlie began preschool/kindergarden religion classes this past Sunday. Instead of attending mass with the rest of us, they join with other kids their age in a classroom setting to learn more about Jesus, and our faith. They were all very excited to begin, especially Charlie who asked over breakfast that morning if he'd meet any "pretty girls." (oh my.)
Anhow, Charlie's classroom activities involved cutting and pasting a little construction paper acorn with a message attached that read 'Your child is like a little acorn. As they grow, learn and feel God's love, they will grow in faith like the mighty oak tree."
I thought this was adorable, and he was very proud of his work. We stopped at my parents house after church for our usual Sunday coffee and donuts, and Charlie was quick to show grandma his work. He asked excitedly "What's it say Grandma?" Without missing a beat, she laughed "It says you're NUTS!" (I nearly spewed my coffee!) Charlie loved it even more.
Honestly, I love the little message, and think it's a perfect little way to talk with our kids about their faith and it's potential as we surround ourselves with God's awesome Autumn wonders.

and while the oven's still warm...

Homemade Caramel Corn.
Fall's not complete without it.

...and a simple recipe ('cause my mom said I should start including a recipe now and then.)

7 1/2 quarts popped corn
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup nuts (if desired).
In sauce pan, mix butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, stirring occasionally. When mixture comes to a full boil cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn and stir. Bake in greased pan for 1 hour at 200 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool on wax paper or foil, then store in airtight containers. Enjoy.

simple smiles

One look out the window, and my day's plans stretched to include baking. So, when I stopped at the grocery for a couple of essentials I was really excited to find and try a new cookie mix from the dollar aisle. Does your local supermarket have a dollar section (yep, everything for a buck)? I like to sample things every now and then, and have been pleasantly surprised by several of my finds. Today was no exception. I found boxed sugar cookie mix, 2 for $1. Each box made roughly 2+ dozen cookies (I make mine a little small.) They were/are delicious!! Just add egg and butter, and voila. Oh, and of course you can't have sugar cookies without buttery decorator icing. And while we're at it, a little food coloring to make it more festive. Of course the cookies would have been just wonderful (and simple) with just the recommended dusting of sugar, or even colored sugar sprinkles, but we like a good icing here.
$1, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 sticks butter, 1 hour of my time (with little ones helping of course)...presto! Instant delicious treats.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm not a barber

...but I've been known to play one from time to time. Today was one such occasion. The boys here haven't had a good haircut for a couple months now, and are beyond shaggy. It's making my dad a bit crazy to see his grandsons with hair covering their ears. We typically keep the boys hair cut "high and tight." All except for Frank that is...he for some reason looks good in longer hair. Perhaps to cover the bumps and bruises he's always sporting on his forehead. Although, come to think of it, maybe he wouldn't bump into so many things if he could see where he was going. Hmmmm...thoughts to ponder.
Anyhow, with the colder weather, I was forced to cut hair in the bathroom rather than my usual spot on the back patio. Lucy seemed to love to sneak in and walk through the piles of hair...then track it back out through the hallway. Yikes. I much prefer keeping this mess outside. I even snuck in a trim for little Rose. This was the first time I've ever touched her ringlet curls. She's always begging me to, but I never know where to begin. Now at three years old, I thought it might not hurt to "trim" them a bit. She giggled with excitement as I began, but giggles turned to tears as she spotted the little pinwheel curls on the floor. My heart broke as she cried "Don't cut off all my curls mommy." I quickly showed her in the mirror how they sprung right back in to curls again, which helped. But I don't think she'll be asking me for a trim anytime soon.
Four little ones got haircuts today, and are looking quite spectacular I think. They may just be return customers...they surely can't beat the price, although they were quick to remind me I don't give out suckers like the real barber does!

October, Lovely Lady prayer

Alice and Emma were asked to read this simple prayer a couple years back at mass for the May Crowning of our Blessed Mother. The ceremony took place just one week after their First Holy Communion, and the new communicants were invited to wear their suits and dresses once again. I can still picture them in their white dresses and veils, reading these sweet words as they took turns with the verses at the lectern. The words still ring in my ears at times, and it seemed fitting to share them this month of Our Lady's Holy Rosary.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy.
Tell me what to say!
Did you lift Him up sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?
Did you hold his hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling Him stories of the world?
Oh! And did he ever cry?
Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things--
Little things that happen?
And do the Angels' wings
Make a noise?
And can He hear Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me--for you know.
Lovely Lady dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
And you must know the way!

Monday, October 12, 2009

a stitch in time

I pieced the top for this patchwork quilt more than 12 years ago. John and I were living in the 5 bedroom farm house he'd grown up in, leaving me plenty of space for keeping my sewing machine set up all the time. I had my grandmothers' old Singer in a large wooden cabinet that folded out into a sewing table. I loved having it set up and experimenting with various craft projects from curtains and pillows to this larger first quilt. I pulled together scraps of fabrics I already had on hand including the 8 tiny floral squares that were curtains in the laundry room at the farm when we moved in. (They didn't last long as curtains, but made a cute little accent square on the quilt, I thought.) Anyhow. Times were certainly different then. I worked part-time in a physicians office, had no children, and certainly plenty of time on my hands. I cut and pieced this together in just a matter of days or so, found a background fabric and sandwiched a piece of batting in between...and that's where it ended. I had no idea what to do next, or how to finish it off. I'd never done anything like this before, and certainly was intimidated by the idea of finish-quilting it. So I didn't. I folded it neatly and bagged it up. It's moved with us twice now and remained in that bag until about a week or so ago.

For some reason, that silly quilt came to mind recently and I felt the need to just jump in and finish it. I still know nothing more about quilting than I did 12 years ago, but I figured I had to just get beyond the fear of messing it up, and get it done. I retrieved it from the storage area of our basement, along with my newer sewing machine that stays packed away until moments when the kids are sleeping, and something needs mended. I pulled the unfinished quilt out of the bag, pressed some of the wrinkles out of it, including the circle line from the hoop that I'd placed on it 12 years ago, as I had considered hand stitching a bit, then quit.

I managed to finish the edges in just an hour or so, and on my next free evening, I machine quilted a simple pattern onto it. Just like that. Twelve years of fear, overcome in just a couple short hours. How silly is that?! It certainly has it's imperfections...seems that don't quite line up, or puckering in the fabric as I quilted the layers together...but look! I think it's simply beautiful! And its done!

The same story applies to other things I manage to put off as well. How many times have I allowed fear (of whatever...embarrassment, failure, mistakes) keep me from doing something. God seems to know I have "fear issues" and has really given me opportunity for growth in this area as of late. A few weeks back I spoke to a group of ladies as part of a Women's Retreat. I was frightened beyond words, but the Holy Spirit worked through me, allowing God's perfect message to shine through. And more recently, I've received a very generous, albeit out-of-my-league offer to begin a weekly radio talk show on our local Christian radio station. Every bone in my body wanted to yell "NO" at the top of my lungs and run as fast and as far as possible away from that offer. But I know for as many reasons as I have to say "no," there is one very real reason why I must say "yes." God has put people and experiences into my life, leading up to this, and I feel certain it's what I'm being called to do. I prayed (A LOT) about it, and have decided to to give it a shot. Certainly this is way outside of my comfortable little box, and outside of anything I happen to know about anything. Our loving God certainly has a sense of humor! Again, I'm reminded he does not call the equipped (as I am most certainly not in this case!), rather equips the called.
The outline and schedule of the show are still up in the air, but I'll be certain to keep you posted as it comes to fruition. Would love to have you tune in, call in and weigh in with your comments, advice, support. Maybe I should offer the quilt as a prize (bribe?) to my first caller. ;)

(finding comfort/courage in these words) Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

tis the season declutter. Yep, there's something about cooler, gray, rainy days that inspire me to organize, toss, sort, separate, donate and pitch. Today our basement toy room was the subject of my autumn energy. I started with a trash bag and began pitching broken, unmatched, no-longer-loved toys. This is great to do with a handful of toddlers because they're not attached to anything! As a matter of fact...they LOVE putting things into the bag. After we pitched and sorted things back into bins and buckets, we chose a few nice toys to put up into the attic...items we're not ready to part with yet. We have a couple large toys like a dollhouse with rooms full of play furniture and people, and some antique school desks that get rotated in and out of the attic to change things up now and again. Today the school desks were put away, and the dollhouse made it's prescence known again. It's magic when an old favorite toy comes out of the play so beautifully together, and enjoy it again. HEAVEN.
John pulled our old (but much too small) kitchen table for 6 out of storage today. It was not nice enough to donate after spending some time as the kids coloring table in the basement here, but was shuffled into storage when larger toys took it's place. Anyhow, he cut the legs down to about 18 inches or so. It's now a perfect train/lego/racetrack table for the boys to build on and the storage bins for these toys slide neatly underneath. All the boys were tickled when they came together after school and naps and spent most of the evening working together on various building projects. WONDERFUL!!
I'd like to give the basement walls a fresh coat of paint before it's too cold to keep the windows open while I work. 4 years and 10 kids in this house...and many crayons and markers later...have really shown some wear. Maybe I can work my way around, one wall at a time getting that painting done during nap times. The last couple years we've had our Christmas tree down there because it gives us more space to spread out and yet still be together on Christmas morning. It would be nice to have it freshened up before then. We'll see how much time and energy I can muster up.
Of course I still need to get through closets and clothes...a seemingly never-ending battle. It's a wonderful reminder though, of all the blessings and God's providence. He does provide, often times in ways we could not imagine. But certainly our needs are met.
I'm reminded of Psalm 23. My cup does indeed overflow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hey kids, how was your day?

Serving up snacks, old school.

I can't be alone when I say my kids come home from school HUNGRY! They eat lunch before noon, so by 3:30 they're likely to nibble a finger or two if I don't have some sort of snacks available. Often times someone is still wearing a backpack and jacket as they're reaching into the fridge for something to munch. No "Hey Mom! Whassup?!" Just "What is there to eat?!"

"Welcome home honey, I love you too...there are snacks in the cupboard."

As for those munchies...I'm constantly striving to come up with something healthy, filling...oh, and inexpensive doesn't hurt either. I've tried prepackaged crackers, fruit snacks (which don't even fill a bird's belly...and have nothing to do with real fruit), granola bars (which when flavored as 'smores or chocolate chunk...have very little to do with granola) and other convenience-type snacks, but they're expensive and usually leave the kids looking for seconds in no time. Apples and carrots are favorites, but not always what they're looking for. Today I pulled an old classic out of my I came home to many a childhood day...peanut butter on saltine crackers, with a side of hot cocoa (the hot cocoa wasn't so common place, but it sounded like a nice treat on this windy day). It was a hit. I can remember eating saltines with plain butter as a kid too, or even saltines crumbled in a bowl with milk. Yumm. My kids would gag and make faces if I suggested such a snack now. Any good after school snacking memories for you? And what are your kids eating to hold them through till supper? I'd love to hear some simple goodies.

an afterthought on hot cocoa...
I was thinking again about making hot chocolate at our house as kids. We never had marshmallows...I think those were only in the pantry of the very wealthy. Shoot. Who had a pantry, come to think of it ? I remember robbing those little tiny hard marshmallows out of the sugary cereals mom bought for us, to throw into our hot chocolate. (How pathetic is that?!) I can recall feeling as though I were sitting in the lap of luxury when, after helping my best friend deliver newspapers one cold day, her mom served us hot chocolate with REAL marshmallows. WOW! So that's how the other half lives.

Feast, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

October 7, 2009

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted to honor Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Pope St. Pius V and all Christians had prayed the Rosary for victory. The Rosary, or the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the best prayers to Mary, the Mother of God.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To You we come; before You we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

(sigh) my babies are home.

My parents drove down to Jacksonville, FL for the weekend to visit my brother and his family, and took my oldest two girls with them. Alice and Emma returned today, tan and seemingly and inch taller. They're filled with stories and adventures shared with my brother Jim (Emma's godfather), his wife Judy, and their children Jenna and Jamie. It's been 4 years this Oktoberfest weekend since we've seen any of them. I'm so grateful the girls had this opportunity to catch up and enjoy each other's company, and grateful too that they're back home safely.
...and now, catching up on more laundry.


Okay, so I grabbed for my camera...and first there was no digital picture card (left it in the computer). I ran back and grabbed that...then, no battery life! Dang! Sometimes it's just not even worth trying. So I tossed the camera aside, and enjoyed the moment for what it was...PRECIOUS!

Little Lucy has been in the habit of spreading her wings a bit, and climbing into Sam's top bunk to hang out. Once there, she's after a couple minutes she hollars for someone to come get her down. Today though was different. I saw her climb up, and as I went about my business getting clothes out for little ones I realized she was up there longer than usual...and quiet. I glanced up to hear her mumbling/singing in no legible words...just usual baby babble. She was laying snuggled in Sam's blankets with a large wooden rosary clutched in her hands. So darn sweet! She was oblivious to my watching her, so I called for John to come in. He stood by the bed and would say the words to the Hail Mary prayer, and she would imitate them. (Of course this is when I run for camera...and begin to curse a bit...then realize the moment is worth more than the picture, so just enjoy.)
I am so grateful to have witnessed a tender moment like this between a child and her Blessed Mother. Certainly Our Lady was enjoying the company as well. Just precious!

Mark 10: 13-16 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

if at first we don't succeed...

We've tried several times to make praying a family rosary part of our routine. A few times we've lasted a couple weeks or better. But for one reason or another we can't seem to make the habit stick. I first introduced the kids to the rosary very casually. We sat together on the floor of our family room, rosaries in hand (or around necks for the younger ones who don't know better) and prayed just a decade. It was a little chaotic and with plenty of interruptions, but for the most part was encouraging for me to try again. We continued for a few days, until I had the nerve to invite my husband to join us. He welcomed the invitation.
From then on, our attempts at making it a routine were geared around bedtime. We allowed kids to stay up past bedtime if they wanted to pray with us. Some did, some didn't and that was okay. Some lasted only a decade before I'd carry them off to bed while John and the others continued and I'd join them again when I could.
For whatever reason though, like anything new...a few missed evenings and soon the habit was gone. Grace brought home a brochure "The Rosary for Children" today from religion class, and I'm finding myself inspired to try again. Tonight we turned the tv off early, and said a decade together, just the oldest 6 and myself. It was a perfect end to our day, and I'm hoping to try to include this in our evenings more often than not.
Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Ein Prosit!

(a toast) surviving yet another Oktoberfest weekend. Here, here!

Our small community (population 2700) draws in nearly 10,000 visitors annually for it's Oktoberfest celebration. The fest runs Friday through Sunday, and you can bet our family doesn't miss much of it. From polkas at the Gazebo to chicken dancing in the Spass Platz, cabbage rolls to cream puffs, queen contest, crafts and parade, car show, 1 mile fun run and 1oK...just to name a few. We try to sample a little of it all. Oh...and did I mention draft beer. Yep, we sampled a bit of that too.
It made for a very busy, lack-of-nappy, crazy-scheduled weekend. One that we look forward to every year with great anticipation, and are immensely grateful when it's over.

Today I'm on catch-up duty...with laundry, cleaning and all the things we leave go for just one weekend to fully experience/celebrate our German Heritage.

Selige nacht für alle.
(Blessed night to all.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Month of the Holy Rosary

We've been spending our days this week, sprucing up the yard a bit. Our community is hosting it's annual Oktoberfest this weekend, which brings folks in by the thousands. It's the perfect opportunity for pulling weeds, laying fresh mulch in the flower beds, and adding a few pumpkins and mums for decoration. As I was weeding around our grotto in the back, and laying some new (reclaimed) pavers around the roses, I realized that the white lights and spot light had been burned out for some time. We typically have our statue of the Blessed Mother well-lit throughout the nights. It has been a source of consolation and strength through those middle-of-the-night feedings or as I paced the floor with crying, sick little ones. One glance out of my kitchen window, and her beauty radiated through the night giving a sense of peace. A trip to the hardware for new lights quickly had her glowing again.

As I glanced out at her tonight, I was struck by how beautiful she looks with roses and geraniums still blooming, lights twinkling in the rain. I remembered that the timing was perfect too for it is October, the month of the Holy Rosary. May the statue serve again as a reminder each evening to end the day with prayer, in particular the rosary. I pray also that I can bring the kids a little closer to their Heavenly Mother by reinstituting the Family Rosary in the house.